[WFB] Battle Reports: The March on Caerdydd

Once, perhaps, this had been a Good Place. There had been grand towers and a safe harbour; a shining light of civilisation in the grim darkness of what the inhabitants, in their folly, called the Old World.

Then the elves had left. And then others had come. Columns of them, marching in perfect step, their ragged uniforms hanging loose on old bones and mouldering grave-meat, the howls of wolves in their vanguard and the shriek of a thousand bats in their train.

Lord Ruthven spurred his horse, more out of habit than anything – the beast would do as it was bade by an effort of will, but he wanted to put the boot into something today and by all the Powers, the horse was right there. Trotting up the wide old steps of the curtain wall, it bore him to a vantage point, and came to a halt without a hand on the rein.

He had not been wrong. To the north, a trail of destruction marked the ride of the Chaos hordes – trees felled for crude bridges, buildings toppled purely because they were in the way. Their wake offended his eyes – it was like a void in the world, the Winds of Magic deformed around one almighty Presence at their head.

Yet as his eyes turned to the west, he saw the dragonship riding at anchor. Ulthuan had come to punish the previous year’s raids; Ulthuan had come to reclaim its own. The High Elves were striking their camp by the shore already; they would be at the Shrine of the Old Ones well before dawn.

Lord Ruthven kicked his horse again, this time out of sheer frustration, and drove it into a canter, riding back along the column. Where was the degenerate when he was needed…

“Varney! Take your knights and ride north! Hold the hill forts until sunrise, no matter what comes your way. I ride for the Shrine!”

There were interlopers in his domain.

This would not do.

They have come, as the prophecy hath foretold. They have arrived in a land of permanent gloom, of mist-shrouded valleys and muttering suspicious yokels, where a castle looms ominous from every craggen hilltop. Am I talking about Wales or Sylvania? Does it really matter?

Look at them. Look at their foolish, optimistic little faces.

By the time I had risen from the crypt and invoked the black arts of Trafnidiaeth Cymru to deliver me, Daemon Dan Wilson’s Hordes of Chaos were already ready to Breakthrough. A third of the Chaos host would have to get them behind me in order to break the line and win the day (and as luck would have it, that’s 666 points’ worth, an ill omen if there ever was one).

There’s rather a lot of them, aren’t there?

Daemon Prince: Mark of Khorne, Soul Hunger, Aether Blade, Master of Mortals
Exalted Hero: Mark of Khorne, shield, barded Chaos horsey, Sword of Might
Aspiring Hero: Mark of Khorne, shield
16 Warriors of Chaos: Mark of Khorne, full command
12 Chosen Warriors of Chaos: Mark of Khorne, full command
5 Knights of Chaos: Mark of Khorne, full command
5 Chosen Knights of Chaos: Mark of Khorne, full command, Banner of Rage

Subtlety , as you can see, is not a priority here.

We do not throw games to beginners.
We give beginners the stand-up fights for which their souls cry out.
We tailor and we’re proud of it.

Sir Francis Varney: Blood Dragon Vampire Count with extra magic level, Cursed Shield of Mousillon, Ring of the Night, Black Periapt and Blademaster (Necromancy: Invocation of Nehek, Hand of Dust)
Emmanuelle: Wraith with Cursed Book
Rosenkratz: Necromancer with extra magic level and Book of Arkhan (Necromancy: Invocation of Nehek, Curse of Years)
Guildenstern: Necromancer with extra magic level and Staff of Damnation (Necromancy: Vanhel’s Danse Macabre, Curse of Years)
First of Foot: 18 Skeletons with spears, light armour, flag waggler, drum bonker
Templehof Militia: 15 Zombies
Templehof Levy: 15 Zombies
Black Monks of St. Herod: 5 Spirit Host bases
Old Knights of the Black Cross: 8 Black Knights with barding, full command group, and Banner of the Dead Legion
New Knights of the Black Cross: 8 Black Knights with barding, full command group, and War Banner

The battle-lines are drawn up…
Rosenkratz has had a splitting headache ever since that Daemon-thing gave him the side-eye, and he has utterly forgotten how to cast spells. No… Khorne is here, Khorne is watching, and Khorne demands valour and strength at arms! And who is Rosenkrantz to argue, when he stands alone against a charge that has ripped his bodyguard out of the world?
Hounded by a curse that won’t seem to shift, these Warriors of Chaos meet the Undead counter-charge head-on. Though Varney cuts down their Hero before he can finish saying “I challenge you to a duel before the Blood God’s gaze!”, they are made of sterner stuff, and hold…
The Daemon descends, and Varney orders his skeletons to part their ranks. This one is for him. This was the battle he was reborn to fight. In a flurry of steel and claws, the air heavy with the Cursed Book’s foul aura, Varney fights the Prince of Daemons to a standstill; each can land a blow or two upon the other, but the killing stroke eludes them. Khorne is watching, and permits no Hand of Dust be raised – so Varney has to do this the hard way…
Carnage has ensued. The levies of the Black Cross lie devastated, the Black Monks banished, but the back of the Chaos invasion is broken as the Prince vanishes to realms best left unmentioned. While the Chosen Knights are still at large, victory belongs to the Undead!

This game turned on a handful of dice rolls, but it didn’t feel like that – not at all. It felt tense as hell, largely because Dan had a good dozen dice to throw at every combat, and I had similar numbers for every spell. But mechanically, it came down to:

  1. Me rolling two Curse of Years spells at the start.
  2. Me casting one Curse of Years with Irresistible Force, and the other with a Miscast that cast the spell with Irresistible Force, in turn one of all things. Dan spent most of the game trying to Dispel these but couldn’t show a ten to save his life, so they stayed in play and whittled down his infantry until he removed the Necromancers the old-fashioned way – by ramming Chaos Knights into them.
  3. Dan failing one crucial Instability check with his Daemon Prince right when backup was on the way, his Chosen Knights having spent slightly too long chewing through Spirit Hosts, raised Zombies, and not-raised Zombies.

Meanwhile, within the ruined city proper, Lord Ruthven prepares to contest with the High Elves for the ruined Shrine of the Cytherai in a Capture scenario. Intrigue at court meant the People’s Prince Ben Panting would have to leave after the minimum four turns… and that wasn’t the only intrigue that held him back.

Prince Thanadin’s expedition advances in column, driving for the ruined Shrine, with skirmishers from Nagarythe covering the flanks…

Prince Thanadin: Elf… Prince… on a barded Steed, with Armour of Protection and the Amulet of the Purifying Flame
Cerith: Elf Mage, with extra magic level, a barded Elven Steed, the Seer honour, and a Dispel Scroll (High Magic: Flames of the Phoenix, Vaul’s Unmaking, Drain Magic.)
Daveorn: Elf Mage, with extra magic level, the Pure of Heart honour, and the Ring of Fury (Light Magic: I’d like to say I could remember but he never got to cast anything.)
10 Archers
10 Archers
20 Spearmen with full command group
10 Silver Helms with shields, heavy armour, full command group and the Lion Standard
20 Swordmasters with full command group and the Banner of Ellryian
8 Shadow Warriors
2 Repeater Bolt Throwers

Lord Ruthven’s Redoubt prepare to contest the ground; such precious ground, saturated with Dark Magic, must not be given up without a fight!

Lord Ruthven: Von Carstein Vampire Lord with extra magic level, barded Nightmare, additional hand weapon and the Carstein Ring (Necromancy: Invocation of Nehek, Vanhel’s Danse Macabre, Curse of Years)
Romuald: Von Carstein Vampire Thrall with heavy armour, Battle Standard and Walking Death
Mama Haeckel: Necromancer with extra magic level and a Power Familiar (Necromancy: Invocation of Nehek, Hellish Vigour)
First of Foot: 30 Skeletons: light armour, spears, full command group
Local Yokels: 10 Ghouls with Ghast
Children of the Night (assorted):
2 units of 5 Dire Wolves
1 Bat Swarm base
1 Spirit Hose base
Old Knights of the Black Cross: 6 Black Knights with barding, full command, and Banner of the Barrows
New Knights of the Black Cross: 6 Black Knights with barding, full command, and War Banner
Wailing Nell: Banshee
Wuthering Nancy: Banshee

Once more, unto the breach, dear friends…

Sadly, we didn’t have as much photographic evidence for this one, so you’re just going to have to trust me when I say that Ben… did his best.

Intrigue at Court shafted him by putting Cerith in charge of the army, which left the Silver Helms vulnerable to a stereo performance from my Banshees that ripped a rank off them. That rank would be crucial, because it meant he couldn’t quite amass the combat resolution to get past my Ethereal units (who were supported by the nearby Battle Standard), and his Silver Helms spent the rest of the battle pinned in place by wailing tarts.

Things started to turn around when he cast Flames of the Phoenix and barbecued my Ghouls, and Vaul’s Unmaking to make the Power Familiar go away, but rapidly turned back around when both the Archer units broke in the face of Black Knights and a Curse of Years killed half the Swordmasters off. Daveorn helped by Miscasting his second spell, killing a Swordmaster and injuring his daft self into the bargain, which meant the Curse got him too.

A charge from the First of Foot routed the rest of the Swordmasters, and left the Skeletons and Lord Ruthven parked squarely in the middle of the Shrine while everyone else was fighting ghosts. Had the game gone on a little longer, the surviving Black Knights would have been lined up for some rear charges and, one would hope, thus turned the tide.

I actually felt a bit bad about this one. The Power Familiar in my army was a bit much, and I failed to notice Ben’s utter lack of magic weapons when putting Ethereal units into my army. (In my defence, I expected more magic missiles than what he could bring to bear – the Ring of Fury in particular was a letdown, only doing one wound on one Banshee during the entire battle.)

However! Both the lads seemed to have a nice time, and both remarked on the comparative cleanliness of sixth edition and how it’d be nice to play a 3000 point game of this thing at some stage. I’m down if you are, gentlemen. I may even bring the Dragon.

[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…

The Power of a Good Pledge

As you’ll already know if you’re following my nonsense on the Twitters or the Instagrams @propergoffick, I’m doing the #hobby300 challenge. It’s very, very simple: you do hobby, in some form or another, for 300 days out of 365. Even scratching your arse reading old White Dwarfs counts, if you want it to.

I’ve also joined the Brush Wielders’ Union, in an attempt to break through the Pile O’Shame (I’ve never really had one of these before – must be coming up in the world if I can afford to have miniatures just sitting there). Instead of big grand resolutions for the whole year, which invariably fizzle by the end of February in the absence of any short term milestones to tie them to, I’m going quarter by quarter, proper turning hobbies into jobs territory. Capitalism must be so proud of me. Anyway, Q1’s mission is to assemble the Goblin and Undead Blood Bowl teams (I went all-in on the Undead team, because I’m a slave to my appetites. Bought the custom pitch and everything) and also finish everything I have on the table for the Vampire Counts. This amounts to:

  • 10 Ghouls
  • 5 Dire Wolves
  • 1 Black Coach
  • 1 Zombie Dragon
  • 1 Army Standard Bearer (still needs modelling)
  • 1 Witch
  • 1 Necromancer
Mordheim Bad Caster Crew, together at last
Someone has to take charge of this nonsense.

It’s started pretty well. I’ve patched over the Master Necromancer’s chips, sallowed his skin, drabbed his robes, and generally brought him into line with the fairly mediocre quality of the original army. Same deal with the Witch, who I’ve been meaning to paint up as a third Necromancer for years: it’s all about getting stuff done and looking coherent together, matching the low-effort paint jobs I put in at the age of eighteen. Which is all to the good, since I can’t really be arsed doing high-effort paint jobs these days.

A Battle Standard Bearer, Bearing the Battle Standard, and friend

Showing here are a couple of efforts to really round out the sixth/seventh edition lists. The second Black Coach is an option for Von Carstein theme forces, the Army of Sylvania, and for any old Vampire Counts army under seventh edition rules, so it makes sense to have two of them together. I’ve also finally picked up the Von Carstein upgrade pack, which means my new/old Battle Standard Bearer can finally have a banner top. I know Wight Lords are better for most Bloodlines, but I really rate the Von Carstein Thralls; their Bloodline powers allow for more static combat resolution stacking and/or magical interference and that helps the army a lot.

Of course, this leaves me with twelve (12) decidedly late-period shields on my hands. Now, back in the day I was a very salty boy about the lack of visual coherence between the Vampire Counts ranges of then and now, to the extent that I sold the army rather than modernise it. Things are different now, and the reason they’re different is visible in the background there.

Tomb Kings. Work with me here. Basically, I was working on a Tomb Kings army, to be done with Mantic miniatures and to sit on the side doing its own thing. But I needed Chariots, and I couldn’t find any better than the old GW ones, so I started eBay trawling for those. And then I lucked into an old Battalion set, so that’s more Chariots and some Skeleton Heavy Horse and some Skeletons that are… actually in scale with my old Vampire Counts army… and that’s when it started.

Basically, there was a lot of potential.

The current plan is to build the Battalion as two units of 16 Skeleton Archers, and stick the remaining 4 Skeletons onto my spare Steeds, which have plumes on and therefore make worthy mounts for unit champions and standard bearers. Those then join the 8 Heavy Horse from the Battalion (who will be made up with all the helmeted heads and armoured bodies I can put together) and give me two units of six, which happens to be the exact number of modern angled batwing shields I have lying around. I’ll also have three units of Chariots, plus one spare, which (when I glue Krell to the back of it and find the top of Kemmler’s staff) will give me all the bits I need for a small yet aggressively formed Barrow Kings army – Tomb Kings without the Egyptian aesthetic.

It’ll also give me Skeleton Archers and Horsemen with which to put together a fourth edition list if I want to, and a load of spare swords that I can use to bring my old Skeleton Warriors into line as light armour/shield line infantry. And those same units open up Blood Dragon or Lahmian theme forces, too! And there’d be enough elements of the new kits in there for me to finally feel like my Sartosan Vampire has a place to belong. It’s all falling into place quite nicely.

Of course, that has left me needing some new horseys for the Black Coaches. Enter these antiquated plastic dobbins, who have come out looking a bit like My Little Ponies (Friendship Is Dark Magic edition). This is an awkward bit of legacy around my Black Knights being on purple ghost horses as of seventh edition, but now that I have some other Black Knights, I’m going to reclassify those old lags as Blood Knights, repaint their horses, and repaint these horses so they look a bit less silly.

They are a bit chunky for the Black Coach yokes, but I’m sure I’ll figure out a fix for that in time.

Various Ws in P. Spooky dobbins, dead dogs, horrible Wraiths…

Of course, this has left me with some Egyptian-looking Mantic undead who are now a bit surplus to requirements. I’m not sure what to do with them. I might put them (and my Age of Sigmar starter set) up for sale, or I may keep them around as alternatives to paint up if and when I feel like it. I’m currently edging towards “sell”, if only because this many undead feels redundant, and I’m only really happy when I’m adding stuff to my old army and playing the rules sets I remember from adolescence, rather than trying to keep up with the modern Joneses.

Well. Mostly. There’s still those Blood Bowl lads, after all. I don’t dislike the new Undead. It’s just that they look out of place next to my old figures, which is why I’m starting to think I should save them for skirmish games. That would scratch the new-school itch without hooking me into army-level building projects for games I don’t actually want to play.

If you squint, you can see the results of some Coach conversions in back…

Keep your eyes on eBay (once again, @propergoffick) over the next few days. I’ll probably have some stuff going up.

[WFB] Fantasy Fifth B.I.G. Bash

“Hello, my friends! Yes, yes, hello!

“I see from your frowns that you do not recognise me – truth be told I would not recognise myself, tied upside down to a tree in this gloomy wilderness so far from my humble home. Yet I assure you, it is I – honest Akbar! Yes, yes, that Akbar! Honest Akbar of Honest Akbar’s Discount Machineries and Magics! You have heard of me perhaps? You have heard my claim of over one thousand generals satisfied with the performance of Akbar produce?

“No doubt you are wondering how your old friend and comrade Akbar ended up in this mess, mm? Do not worry. I remember it all. Well, bits of it. The violent bits.

“It all started the day I sold the Wand of Jet. I knew the customer was not to be trusted. The foul texture of his skin – the crack and grumble of his bones – that wild, unkempt beard – I knew him for a student of the dark arts the moment I laid eyes on him. But his gold was good, you see, and Akbar, Honest Akbar… he does not discriminate.

“Yes, yes. Perhaps I should explain.

“As I say, it started the day I sold the Wand of Jet…”

Continue reading “[WFB] Fantasy Fifth B.I.G. Bash”

[WFB] Herohammer: An Experiment In Betrayal

You all know me. I’m a Vampire Counts man to the bone. I don’t entertain any of this twittering, wittering and doo-dah-de-lally about how ‘splitting the Undead was the worst decision GW ever made’. I like the Tomb Kings and I wish I’d had the money to buy into them during eighth edition when they had all those lovely kits, but that’s beside the point today.

The point is, I’m a loyalist. But…

… as I find myself putting together 3000 point lists for the purposes of chasing Mr. Ben Panting, Esq. back across the Border to whence he came, I find myself really wanting to use the fourth edition Warhammer Armies: Undead list.

OK, so I can’t cower behind Call Winds in a proper old-fashioned Undead army, and neither the Black Coach nor the Spirit Host will be making an appearance, but there are… rewards.

It’s the special characters, you see. Vlad and Isabella and Mannfred as they’re presented in the fifth edition book are good, but they’re not good enough. Their selections of powers and items are… OK, but there are essential support items and nice-to-have fun stuff that has to go onto a generic character if I want to include it.

Whereas in fourth edition, the special characters have some items set… but they also have free slots. They can be customised, integrated into the army build as a whole. They don’t need to be weighed against the flexibility of the generic options. And Isabella is still a proper Countess, i.e. a spellcaster.

Characters

Vlad von Carstein – 500
Sword of Unholy Power, Carstein Ring
(Summon Undead Horde, Wind of Death)

Isabella von Carstein – 290
Ruby Chalice, Staff of Damnation
(Dark Magic spell: to be drawn randomly)

Mannfred von Carstein – 587
Skeleton Steed
Skull Staff, Dragon Blade, Dispel Scroll
(Vanhel’s Danse Macabre, Raise the Dead, Gaze of Nagash, Hand of Dust)

Regiments

18 Skeletons – 196
Spears, shields, standard, musician

5 Skeletons – 55
Crossbows

5 Wights – 294
Skeleton Steeds, spears, shields, heavy armour, standard, musician

5 Wraiths – 375

Monsters

2 Bat Swarms – 200

Zombie Dragon – 500

2997 points

The army deploys in oblique line, with the Crossbows (never gonna move) at one end, and the rest escalating in increasing order of hastiness. Skeletons (led by Vlad and Isabella), then Wraiths, then Wights, then the Dragon, assuming he doesn’t have anything better to do like fly high and descend like the fist of ages. The Bat Swarm runs interference, racing across the line to deflect anything I don’t feel like fighting until it’s had a few doom spells shoved down it.

You could probably shit better lists than this but that’s not the point. The point is to walk my old collection back an edition and slap three special characters on the board without that nagging voice going “but generic characters support the army better” in the back of my head. I agree it’d be nice to have some Skull Chuckers. Buy me some and I’ll fit ’em in somehow. I’d like the Mantic ones please, they fit the aesthetic of this army better.

[WFB] Been Painting: Von Carsteins (Middlehammer)

Better late than never, eh?

I never owned the original Vlad and Isabella models from 1994. Back when they were current, I was more of a Necrarch man (ah, the follies of youth).

They never had rules in my beloved sixth edition (although it wouldn’t be too hard to cobble together a set: they’d be ‘special’ insofar as Isabella would have a couple of Lahmian powers and Vlad would have more magic items than were strictly proper).

By the time seventh edition rolled around and gave the Von Carstein family some decent rules (finally, you could fit all of them into 2000 points, and there was none of that OH SPECIAL CHARACTERS WHAT A BEARDMONGER talk around either), I was starting to fall out of love with WFB and the models had been superseded anyway.

So, what with one thing and another, there was no need to own them. It’s only in the last year or so that the completionist’s urge has take me and I’ve felt inclined to pick them up.

It’s been a while since I last did any painting (over a year in fact), so the first afternoon was a leisurely “try to remember how this works” affair. Here we can see the end of an hour or so’s work.

Colours were blocked out first, to get a feel for the overall composition, with the diffuseness of my old Bleached Bone and Ghostly Grey serving as early stage highlights on skin and clothes. Mannfred’s been wheeled out to serve as a palette reference: I also took the opportunity to refresh his paint job a bit, livening up his cloak lining and looking for opportunities to put some different colours on him. The goal was to have them looking a little bit better than the rest of the army; not so amazing and modern that they stand out, but good enough that they stand close inspection.

The day after, I started in on highlights.

My old leather jacket has been pressed into service for this bit – it’s worn to an off-white around the edges, and I’m mindful that pure black doesn’t really exist out there in the world, so its combination of brown-black and damage is perfect as a reference. The heavy travelling capes worn by the Von Carsteins all have a spot of edge highlighting to weather them a bit, breaking up those large areas of black and pushing them just over the quality boundary compared to the rough and ready army at large. It’s helped Mannfred’s “two thirds black” colourscheme look a bit less tosh, too.

Finally, there are the deets. The blood on Isabella’s chalice and Vlad’s sword; the gem on the Carstein Ring; everyone’s red eyes; and a bit of black lining on Mannfred’s mouth to put some detail back in.

I’m very happy with Vlad, and… mostly happy… with Isabella. There’s some sort of casting imperfection on one of her fangs, which didn’t show up until highlighting and shading really brought it out. I’m going to leave it there, partly because eighteen year old me left a lot of mould lines and so she’ll fit in nicely with eighteen year old me’s collection, but partly because I like the idea that she wasn’t the flawless beauty the Von Carstein propaganda claims she was. Anyway, check out Vlad’s sneer. That’s worth it, right?

I’ve also livened Mannfred up a bit further with a few layers of purple and grey glaze on his sword and staff, saturating them with Dark Magic (TM). The sword looks OK, but I kinda botched the staff; there are too many layers on there now to fix it without stripping the whole model, and it looks all right. If you squint. From three feet away.

Fortunately, I’m a three-feet-away kind of painter; unfortunately, I’m all about that “bases, faces and implements” approach. Get those elements looking right and the rest is easy. Mannfred’s not quite there. At least we have some new problems with his colour scheme now…

While I was picking out eyes and teeth and so on, I also took the opportunity to doll up Clarimonde and Romuald in the same style. Of course, under the harsh eye of macrophotography it becomes clear that Clari’s face needs a tidy up, but the main thing I wanted to show was the edge highlighting and the gold on what was previously undifferentiated black.

All that detail work was doing my crust so I started on the other two Banshees while I was at it. Ethereal stuff makes a nice break from detail work ’cause it’s mostly just slapping glazes together and making sure they don’t go absolutely everywhere.

I wouldn’t do the bases like this if I were painting these models on their own, knowing what I know now, but if you think I’m snapping all my brittle fourteen-year-old kitbashes apart to rebase them, think again, chummy.

The odds of my using all of these together are… well, I could do it in fifth edition, if playing a three thousand point game and not needing a level five wizard to ward off High Elven superiority. I’d be more likely to do it in seventh edition, where Mannfred the Acolyte is around to offer a cheap Loremaster and Vlad is a solid generalist Vampire Lord; he’s not the best at anything except Not Dying, but that’s honestly what I look for in a general. I wouldn’t do it in eighth, I don’t think: like fifth edition, that’s a “you need a level four wizard to handle other level four wizards” deal. Maybe if I can take Count Mannfred and Vlad, but who’d let me do that? Only a yoghurt.

I think that’s an unsung strength of the King of Editions and Edition of Kings: because caster level didn’t factor into what you actually needed to roll on the dice, you could play into a fourth level wizard with only a couple of level ones and still stand a reasonable chance in the magic phase.