[Warhammer] Another Way To (Un)Die

Well, I made it. Slightly later than ideal, still just in time. 1500 points of painted Empire of Dust Tomb Kings, ready to be flung at the invading High Elves of Prince Panting this weekend and stage an incursion upon Dr. Shiny and his Bretonnians in September.

What fate awaits them after that I cannot say: I profoundly disliked painting them, probably because I had no vision for the army going in and only figured out what I shall laughingly call “the technique” on the last models, the Mummies, whom I genuinely abhor as being almost fucking impossible to rank up even with the traditional spacers. But if they’re fun to play with, they may be spared.

Do not look too closely at these Ushabti. You will see all the details I couldnae be arsed to paint proper like or mould lines I couldnae be arsed to clean up. I really didn’t care about this army. Nothing is prepped. It’s all been banged out in six months for the sake of a little variety.

These close-ups of the abominable Mummies may show the faded turquoise of their garments, which I FINALLY figured out how to do. They also show the three characters: Prince Thotmanho the Frequently Abbreviated (who actually looks quite nice, the swine), Bhakgamun the Liche Priest (whose staff is frankly not to be trusted) and an Icon Bearer who will get a name if I decide it’s worth taking an Icon Bearer again. They may also also show the Magic life counter I’m using to mark wounds, since this unit occupies a 4×5 formation even though only 2×6 of actual models are involved. They are REALLY hard to rank up. Quite characterful though.

Meat and potatoes, neither of which are involved in the daily habits of these units. Neither are bread and butter. But anyway; horrible mixed media Skeletons I haven’t filled because arseholes to that, but they look OK from four feet away when it’s cloudy out. And a Skull Chucker, cheerfully sized for fifth edition, dramatically undersized for anything else. I do quite like the rat as the extra crewman, as well as the flaming skull token I made to mark the shot.

You might be thinking I hate this army already. I don’t. It is very much built to be played, though, and the assembly and painting have been phoned in on a very big phone to that end.

The painting queue currently contains this Mausoleum terrain set, but once that’s done, I’d like to set up something a bit smaller scale and take my time on it, just to confirm that I can still paint. The Blood Bowl teams have been here the longest, but my Bad Squiddo stuff needs priming as it’s starting to discolour now some of it’s been unpainted for a year or two, and half a dozen Orc adventurers plus some Gothic horror vignettes may be just the palate cleanser I need after these big monotonous drybrush-and-ink fests. But first: GAME TIME.

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[WFB] Three Lists of a Thursday Night (Sixth Edition)

The first is simple enough: a to-do list, if you will. All in, the Mantic miniatures I own amount to 1200 points and will make a fine, upstanding start to a greater Tomb Kings force. They’re already primed, unlike the rest of my wastrels, and I’ve just this moment had a bit of a revelation about how I might like to proceed with this project. It involves using exactly one (1) Citadel Miniature, that being Neferata, and building the rest of the army out of stuff that’s currently available from companies who are actively making things. I mean: the only reason I went looking for Citadel chariots in the first place was because Mantic don’t make them, but now I know Tabletop Miniatures Solutions exist…

That seems like a pretty righteous solution. But in the meantime, here’s an army/to-do list:

Various Empire of Dust miniatures, spray-primed a nice sandy colour.
Nothing else remains, beside that great decay –
The lone and level sands stretch far away

Hero: Tomb Prince: 152
light armour, Crook and Flail of Radiance

Hero: Liche Priest: 160
Cloak of the Dunes, Hieratic Jar

Hero: Icon Bearer: 107
light armour, Icon of Rakaph

Core: 10 Skeletons: 90
light armour, bows

Core: 10 Skeletons: 90
light armour, bows

Core: 20 Skeletons: 210
light armour, standard, musician, Champion

Special: 3 Ushabti: 195

Special: 3 Ushabti: 195

Rare: Screaming Skull Catapult: 110
Skulls of the Foe

Total: 1199

Basic tactic is And Let The Heavens Be Darkened With Arrows, right out of the book: castle up around the Catapult, let rip with as much firepower as I can get up and in the air, and counter-attack with the Skeletons and Ushabti once the enemy are within scrobbling distance. The Prince is kitted out to strike fast and first, the Liche Priest to flee if the formation becomes insecure and also to potentially whack out an extra Incantation if necessary, and the Icon Bearer to put a bit of hustle in the Skeleton Warriors if they end up out of position.

The second list is a response to Mr. Panting’s little challenge. As he aligns himself with the King of Editions, the Edition of Kings, he’s asking those of us who were right all along to produce a 2000 point army list that we like. I produced a lot of 2000 point army lists back in the day, some more likeable than others, but here’s the current one that’s tickling my bristles. It’s an Army of Sylvania, by the way:

Lord + Hero: Vampire Lord: 439
Level 3 Wizard, additional hand weapon, barded Nightmare, Aura of Dark Majesty, Book of Arkhan, Ring of the Night

Hero: Necromancer: 140
Level 2 Wizard, Spell Familiar, Dispel Scroll

Hero: Vampire Thrall: 159
Army Standard, heavy armour, Walking Death, Talisman of Protection

Core: 30 Skeletons: 355
Light armour, spears, standard bearer, musician, Champion

Core: 10 Ghouls: 90
Ghast

Core: 5 Dire Wolves: 50

Core: 5 Dire Wolves: 50

Core: Bat Swarm: 120
2 bases

Special: 5 Black Knights: 141
Barding, standard bearer

Special: 5 Black Knights: 141
Barding, standard bearer

Special: Spirit Host: 130
2 bases

Rare: Banshee: 90

Rare: Banshee: 90

Total: 1995

There are several ways to play this one. It can form a block around the Skeletons, with the Dire Wolves, Bats and Spirit Host screening for the Skeletons, Vampire and Knights behind, and come on in waves; it can refuse a flank, with the two Swarm units set up there to interfere and press while the cavalry stack on one side and push like billy-o. Unlike many of my original lists, this one lacks the top-heavy hammer of the single Knight unit in favour of a combined arms approach. It also has a certain amount of baiting, switching and speedbumping capacity, with two Banshees and the Ghouls able to chill within 12″ of the Army Standard and make themselves useful. Incidentally, the Vampire Lord will probably take the Lore of Death, naturally hoping for that good Doom and Darkness (it stacks so well with an army that has two Banshee screams to play with).

But once I’d started, I couldn’t stop. Alternatives thronged my mind. I was briefly tempted by the Von Carstein theme force, but let’s stick to armies for which I actually have the models (dangerous, I know) and revisit an old friend with a new one:

Lord + Hero + Hero: Vampire Lord: 735
Level 3 Wizard, Zombie Dragon, Summon Wolves, Earthbind, Wolf Lord, Book of Arkhan, Wristbands of Black Gold

Hero: Vampire Thrall: 154
Army Standard, heavy armour, Spectral Attendants, Earthbind

Core: 19 Sylvanian Militia: 215
Spears, standard bearer, musician, Champion

Core: 11 Dire Wolves: 131
Doom Wolf, Scouts

Core: Bat Swarm: 60

Core: Bat Swarm: 60

Special: Black Coach: 175

Special: Black Coach: 175

Rare: 8 Drakenhof Templars: 290
Barding, standard bearer, musician, Champion, Drakenhof Banner

Total: 1995 points

Yes, I’m back on this bullshit again. This one has everything and then some, and it’s never even heard the words “top heavy”. The Lord starts in the lines to give everything a good yeeting forward, then flies out to join the cavalry for a mass push in turn two, popping Summon Wolves for the extra unit of D3x2 right when she can Danse them into some unsuspecting fool. The Skeletons plod upfield, helping out any Coach which bogs down, and are gradually Grave Markered into an unyielding tide. And if any other Grave Markers go off and spring some Skeleton Crossbowmen out of the ground like daisies, well: the more the merrier, eh?

I don’t know if it’s good, but it’s got three Terror-causing models, Magic Resistance coming out of its ears, and casts four Invocations and hopefully two Danses per turn. And a Dragon. At the very least, the games will be quick…

[WFB] I Have A Problem

Would you like to see my Problem? This is what my Problem looks like.

Last year, I hit on the idea of taking a Tomb Kings army to a sixth edition tournament in Essex, at the start of March THIS year. Circumstances have conspired against me and I haven’t been able to make the tournament, but I have still ended up with… all this. From different manufacturers, in different scales, primed different colours, but all adding up to a potentially v. interesting second army. Playable under fourth to eight edition rules, tactically distinct from my Vampire Counts while still running off the same reliable Undead core I know, love, and arguably can’t play WFB without. In particular, those SAGA Revenants provide a Liche, and 48 could-be-zombies could-be-ghouls. Wild thoughts of a Followers of Nagash army, a tip of the hat to Total War, are even now athrong in my noggin regions.

The only snag? My case foam is full of damn Vampires, and their associates. And I don’t exactly play stacks of WFB any more. A man in my position looks at large collections and wonders… is it worth it, or should it be liquidated? But it would be nice to have a spare army to host games with, and a big force to draw on for big games of the sort I’m more free to play now.

What would you do if you were me?

YOU WOULD PULL OUT YOU FINGER AND BUILD MORE DAMN SKELLIES IS WHAT YOU’D DO.

After a sleep-deprived night in which I was once again graced by Nurgle with Uncontrollable Flatulence (my first Chaos Reward, earned long ago when I first stepped on the path to damnation and running strong this weekend), I am learning all about a) multi-pose archers and b) regiment bases, none of which have featured prominently in my hobbying to date. Teddy did nearly leave the pram on a few occasions but at last I have sixteen plastic bowmen together, along with four ‘heavy’ horsemen mostly done. I’ve used all my Beastman skulls on the ‘heavy’ cavalry, on the grounds that something has to make them tougher than normal and they’re not wearing any sort of actually visible armour. If anyone asks, they’re clearly devotees of a ram-headed god of knocking your nut into a wall until either it breaks or you do. Them being Skeletons, I predict the latter.

My rough and ready plan is to use the relatively resilient Citadel plastics as an “away” army I can bung in a case and afford to abuse a bit. The more brittle and temperamental Mantic figures require more delicate handling (and superglue to fix) so I’m planning on treating those with a little more care, saving them for bigger games (maybe eighth edition, where the Tomb Kings seem to want swarms of relatively low-level characters to provide bonuses to their key units).

I’ve also – did I mention I didn’t sleep well last night? – remembered that Wargods of Aegyptus exist (and they do neat, chunky Ghouls, as well as a range of exciting animal-headed mummies and even a unit of chunky lads with spears who could pass for Tomb Guard), and discovered Tabletop Miniatures Solutions, who do a range of stuff which more than adequately fills in the eighth edition range of large monsters and additional character types. And there’s the rather excitingly posed Reaper Bones skeletal giants, too… Far better to give money to people who make things than people who hoard things for years and then charge triple RRP for them like they’ve done anything to earn it, if you ask me.

This army’s at the risk of turning into an incoherent mess, but I think as long as I stick to a simple colour palette based on Zandri Dust and things that look good over the top of it, it should all tie itself together. It’s a nice excuse to break out my favourite Polished Blue again, as well as that Totally Not Hawk Turquoise I’ve been looking for an excuse to use up…

Let’s have a little throwback to my Corehammer days and play ourselves out with a tune, eh?

[WFB] Mantic Empire Of Dust Actual Build Review

My previous contact with Mantic miniatures has been limited and sweary. After putting together a bunch of their early Ghouls (which, honestly, I wasn’t really enthusiastic about to begin with) and having a miserable time of it, I wrote them off as pound shop Citadel and sacked off a whole edition of WFB rather than have to deal with them again.

Having put together an Empire of Dust army box, two sets of Enslaved Guardians, and the Revenant Champion (in “waving a flag about” configuration), I have… not exactly and completely made my peace with Mantic, but I’ve found them no worse than others in a lot of ways.

I’ll work my way through the contents in order of assembly and have a good gripe about the bits that weren’t good. I’m a French-dictation kind of reviewer: everything starts off a 5/5 and for everything that pisses me off I deduct a point.

Skeleton Archers: These were quite fun to do once I’d worked out that specific plastic legs off the sprue needed to go with specific metal bodies (some have a locating lug for the upper body and a slightly chunker back than the skinny ones that slot right into the upper body, no lug required). While I was slightly worried about some of the lunging sideways shooting legs they look neat now they’re done. 4/5.

Skeleton Warriors: Oh no, metal accessories on plastic bodies! These always used to annoy me back in the day and I had to take a little salt break after putting the standard bearer together (still not sure he’s gonna stand up on his own, and I’m starting to think I should have used a metal body).

It took me a while to realise I was slightly short of heads (only eighteen, which means picking some fun options from the plastic sprue) and, as with the Archers, some of the bodies are fussy about which legs they fit onto. These felt like rougher casts too, as I had to shave off some metal and plastic to get them to go together; perhaps putting all the Skeleton legs on bases and then testing all the bodies for fit in turn might have been a better way to go about this, or perhaps Mantic could have stretched a point and put in some instructions?

I do like that their hands are open, and allow for the choice of spear or sword, and I also like the plethora of spears and swords on the sprue, which suits me a lot more than the grab-bag of assorted ‘hand weapons’ GW’s original Skeleton Warriors ended up with. I like my Grave Monarchs to look a bit more orderly and have matching weapons, that’s all. I’m slightly less keen on the historical-style open hands into which the swords have to slot. The plastic ones were OK, but some of the metal ones were a bit tight or crooked, and the arms are so spindly that trying to bend the fingers open exerts too much pressure on the lower arm. I cheated on a few of them and chopped the hilts off the swords, aligning them with the top of the hands. I’ll go back and fill those gaps later on, or eventually. 3/5.

Balefire Catapult: This is where the lack of instructions made me gnash my teeth a couple of times. It wasn’t hard to work out how it should fit together, based on the box image, but the angle of photography on the box images isn’t very clear as an assembly guide. Also, some of the parts on the plastic sprue are a bit… nondescript, and I was very glad that one of my crew could just have a metal body stuck on his legs and call it a day. Also, for a small model it doesn’t half have a lot of bits that overhang bases; I’ve bunged it on a Mantic unit filler that’s about 40mm by 60mm and it’s still poking off in a couple of places. At least they did ship it with a base though, and it was infinitely easier to assemble than the original metal Skull Chucker (at least all the pieces had lugs and sockets), so it’s not too bad. 4/5. 

Pharoah: He was fine. Took me a minute to sit his arms naturally but I’m used to that. My only complaint was not having a proper solid base for him – I fixed it by gluing a flat one from my stash over the socket, but I could easily have filled it with some jank off the Skeleton sprue instead. 4/5.

Cursed High Priest: Take a good look at that whisper-thin white metal staff which has no points of contact with the rest of the miniature and ask yourself how long that’ll last in a figure case. Also, the head doesn’t fit at all snugly on the body; I’m still not sure if it’s cast properly or if I should have cut something off or what. 3/5.

Revenant Champion: It’s 2018. I thought we, as a hobby, were past bullshit like this spindly little shite with his separate arms, hands on flagpole and body. That’s four points of contact, on a metal model so requiring superglue, and all of them have to be aligned perfectly for the pose to look right. One of the worst cases of Privateer Elbow I’ve ever seen, managing to come off with it in both arms. Some liquid green stuff in the one joint I couldn’t quite be arsed with and he’ll look fine, but I’m not happy about this one. I get that they wanted to make a multi part kit but I’d have thrown that idea out and gone for a nice solid two piece job – body and banner. 2/5. 

Enslaved Soldiers: Small gripe: I know Mantic probably uses generic packaging for all its regiments, and the boxes have to be big enough to fit plastic sprues, but every time someone ships me a huge cardboard box full of inflatable fillers and a tiny bag of metal bits at the bottom, I roll my eyes.

Wooden bases? OK, I can live with that, although it does low-key annoy me that not everyone’s at the same basic height. They have tiny feet which don’t sit flush with the sheer, toothless surface of the base, so I had to assemble them upside down and let gravity do a lot of the work for me.

They also have a mild case of Privateer Elbow, but at least it’s only one arm that has to line up with a hand and a shoulder, and at least the shoulders are nice chunky ball and socket jobs with some flexibility to them. Once again, I think I’ve been spoiled by GW plastic sprues where there’d be clearly labelled pairs of limbs that went together; I had to do a bit too much guessing and squinting at lugs, and coupled with their unstable relationship with bases, Teddy ended up leaving the pram a couple of times.

They look weirdly small on their bases – I think because they’re compact and sit fully within the 40mm rather than being all lanky and overhangy like the GW Ushabti. It’s a better design, but it looks slightly off and I’ll have to busy up those bases with something later on. 2/5 for assembly but 4/5 when they’re done, because they do look boss.

Overall: A resoundingly average hobby experience. I want to mess around with these kits some more and see if I can’t kitbash some Skeleton Horsemen, but it’ll depend on what the joints are like on Mantic cavalry kits (whether they have the same peg and lug arrangement as the infantry, and whether or not the heads are separate). I’d really like it if I could order more Guardian bodies and put the spare arms to use.

I’m not sure how well they’ll fare when they’re put in a case – there’s a lot of brittle joins in here – but at least an effort’s been made to keep poses within their base area for the most part, and they annoyed me much less than the Ghouls did, so either Mantic have improved their casting/cutting or I’ve mellowed over the last six years. Either way. 3/5.

 

[WFB] An Ancient Scroll Has Been Unearthed…

With the B.I.G. Bash out of the way, my next target is the imaginatively named Bringing Back Sixth Edition in Upminster: a 1500 point event for the King of Editions, the Edition of Kings!

(I’m mentally referring to the event as ‘Bringing Sixthy Back’. Let’s see if that catches on…)

I’d originally planned to roll up with the original Sylvanian Nightmare (Black Knights with the Drakenhof Banner, three Vampire Thralls with Summon Wolves, two Black Coaches, two single base Bat Swarms, chaff to fill and all the Skeleton Crossbowmen I can raise), but two things put me off. One: I don’t have enough Wolves or Crossbowmen any more. Two: I’d quite like to have some friends at the end of the event.

If I’m going to be buying a bunch of new models anyway, why not pick something a bit less… fun-hostile… and a lot more affordable? (I like Iron Wind’s Skeleton Crossbowmen and $30 for 12 isn’t bad money, but in the quantities I’ll be needing them…)

And the thing is, I’ve always wanted a Tomb Kings army. I just never quite got around to it back in the day. But B.I.G. had a Mantic ‘Totally Not Tomb Kings’ box deal and I like to pay where I play and circumstances dictated and here we are.

Image may contain: text

Here’s some rationale and rhyme and reason.

The Crook and Flail on the Prince are a bargain. Always Strikes First and extra attacks? Give it ‘ere. He doesn’t get defensive kit because at T5 and W3 he’s already one of the beefiest Heroes around, and anything which can put the hurt on him will probably not blink at a paltry 6+ armour save.

The Staff of Ravening is a bit of a choice. I’m sticking to my guns here and leaning into more aggressive spellcasting rather than Dispel Scrolls and bunkering up: it may turn out not to be a great decision and I may resort to the traditional and boring Golden Ankhra if my Liche proves too hard to protect. As it is he’s going to chill near but not in the Tomb Guard and try to stay out of trouble.

The Skeleton Archers are what they are: they fill Core slots, give a presence in the shooting phase, and don’t give up too many Victory Points if sent to their death. I am very much looking forward to actually doing something in the shooting phase, by the way, thanks for asking.

Ushabti may not be the best choice around but I don’t care. I’ve always wanted some, Mantic’s substitute models are nice enough, and they fulfil the role that the classic line of six heavy cavalry does in most 6e armies – corralling the opponent, threatening double charges, and guiding the battle to where I want it. Because I’m going Construct-heavy I also want a Battle Standard Bearer and because the Icon Bearer profile is comparatively squishy I’ll forgo magic banners and give him an extra wound and an actual saving throw that’s worth a whole fart in a tin cup.

The Tomb Guard are there to protect my characters, by offering a Look Out Sir and a 5+ Ward from their standard, and to deny some Victory Points. VP denial armies were very common down our way in 6e: between a third and a half of the army’s total value would be concentrated in one unit which was quite hard to kill and if the enemy wanted to win big they’d have to concentrate on wiping that out, meaning that the rest of your forces had free reign. Or they could deal with the other stuff but know that a Major Victory was out of reach because they hadn’t touched the big box o’ points at the army’s heart.

Tomb Guard are pretty good for this, and certainly the best melee infantry the Kings have to offer. Toughness 4, reasonable saves (not as good as Grave Guard but they do have the Ward banner), and crucially, they come back. Being able to spring d6 models back into this unit at the drop of an Invocation could be massive, and it puts them just ahead of their Old World cousins in my estimation.

Finally, there’s the Screaming Skull Catapult. It’s a cheap Rare choice and honestly, one of these might not be the best pick I could make. I’m sure a Bone Giant would be more aggressive, or a Casket of Souls better at keeping my Liche alive. But the Skull Chucker, as I continue to know it, is dirt cheap, and it’s more of that novel ‘shooting’ stuff to play with, and… I’ve just realised it doesn’t have the Skulls of the Foe upgrade, so I might drop a couple of Tomb Guard to make room for that.

I have most of this stuff in hand now – merely need to decide if it’s worth chasing another Mantic box deal to expand the army or whether picking up the individual units will please me more. I’ve already had recommendations for Bone Giants (there’s a nice pair of sculpts from Reaper that should do the trick) and part of me’s getting thirsty for an eighth edition build-up.

Of course, Necrosphinxes and the like currently go for mad money on Fleabay, so I might have to resort to… desperate measures.

Bit excessive, maybe?