Friday, 20 May 2016

The Shadows Return: Game 7

The hours after the battle with the Dark Elves were a blur for Korhiel. He rode blindly through the swamps in the gathering darkness, trusting in his elven steed’s instincts to guide him safely. He gave little thought to the perils of the terrain; he was mainly trying to put as much distance as possible between himself and the battlefield. He needed to get away. Away from the enemy. Away from those lunatic Witches and the psychotic hatred in their eyes. Away from where Eldain had fallen.

It took him a long time to calm down enough to realize that the enemy had not pursued him. Perhaps they had realized that they would not overtake him on foot. Or perhaps they were content to let the deadly swamps do their work for them. This was entirely possible, Korhiel realized – by the time he stopped, he had no idea where he was and he realized he was very fortunate to have made it this far without accident. Tired and heartbroken, he eventually dismounted, dressed his wounds as best he could, and lay down to wait out the darkness.

He awoke from a fitful sleep in the dim light before dawn to discover that he was no longer alone. His trail through the swamps had been followed after all. A sorry band of battered High Elves was working its way toward him. Swordmasters, White Lions, Silver Helms on foot – the other survivors of the previous day’s battle. At their head was the banner bearer of the Sea Guard, however he no longer carried his regiment’s standard. Instead he carried the muddied and tattered banner of Lord Eldain – the very same banner that Korhiel had lost as he fled the field.

They looked to Korhiel to lead them, as the highest ranked survivor. This was embarrassing given his lack of experience and his panicked flight from his first battle, but he swallowed his doubts in the face of their need. He did refuse to take back the banner, however. “You saved it from the field, the honour is now yours,” he told him.

Together they made their way through the swamps, in the direction Korhiel best guessed might lead them back to their ships. There were only a score of them, but if they could reach the beaches they would be able to be reinforced. They were certainly in no condition to continue their campaign at they were. It was unfortunate then, that they stumbled straight into a band of Nurgle worshippers as they played in the foul mud of the swamps…


*****

Lord Scroltch and his followers were frolicking in the mud when the High Elves came into view. The Chaos Warriors were absolutely coated in filth. The weapons were lying all over the place, and their shields had been left behind somewhere (nobody really seemed sure where). On the bright side, they had constructed a glorious array of mud castles, complete with moats, drawbridges made of rotting wood and flagpoles using leaves.

Upon sighting the Elves, Lord Scroltch gurgled delightedly. The Elves were muddy and disheveled. Clearly they liked playing in the swamps too. He splashed forward through the fens toward them, his warriors charging alongside enthusiastically, roaring in their excitement.


*****

In the swamps not far away, a pair of giants were lumbering along behind a Truthsayer. The druid took care as he walked, making sure to find a safe path through the marshes. The giants were less concerned with where they stepped, sploshing through and trusting in their immense size to protect them from any potential hazards.

The three of them stopped suddenly when they heard the roaring of the Chaos Warriors. The Truthsayer’s eyes widened in alarm. It sounded like the enemy had found his target before he could. They would have to hurry.

Nick Gentile's High Elves had been soundly thrashed in their first game against the Dark Elves, so they were clearly on the back foot. It might seem unfair that they then have to face Owen's victorious Chaos Warriors, but these games are not as much about even battles as they are about telling a story.

This game was another unusual scenario. The High Elves started with a miserable 500 points or so of survivors, deployed first and got the second turn, however they then had 1500 points of reinforcements arrive in Turn 1. The Fen Beasts were permitted to deploy in any swamp, whilst the Giants and Truthsayer had to walk on from a table edge.


Game 7: With a Little Help From My Friends

500 points vs 2000. It's funny, but it doesn't look that uneven on the table. Stupid expensive Chaos characters.

Thursday, 19 May 2016

Ogre Siegebreaker prototype done

My previous post showed that I was back into the habit of sculpting and converting Ogre bits in order to make some new models. Specifically I want Ogres in very heavy armour with huge shields and large, two-handed weapons. I have a few uses in mind for these guys, but one of the main goals is to have some Ogre Siegebreakers for Kings of War.

Production has been a confused mix of creating copies of components using existing moulds, and creating new master components and moulds for those. Given I never plan these things very carefully, it's taken me a while to get to the point where I can actually assemble a complete model. I would find myself with a dozen legs and no left arm, or something equally useful. Anyway, I am there now. I have assembled my first new Ogre!
One very heavily armoured Ogre at the ready. The axe is double-handed, although he is obviously carrying it in only one hand because of the shield.
I'm going to have to be careful with these models or they will never ever rank up. The shields are really very big.
Still very plain on the back of the breastplate. I have no immediate plans to address this.
Having a completed model feels like a milestone. At the very least, this means I have the means to create more of this same sort of thing, given I have moulds for every bit of him. But there are more things either ready to go, or still in the pipeline...
Whosoever holds this hammer, if he be worthy, shall possess the power of Thor. Actually no, it's just a very large hammer, made from a Lego brick. Don't worry, I won't carve up any more Lego. This is just the master, and it's obviously still a WIP. 
The master for the axe you see the prototype carrying, and a new left arm (I only had a single pose in full armour for that arm).
Even though I have multiple poses of things, I still find myself cutting and twisting things to give me more poses. If it's an important change I might re-make a new mould of it, but often it's just to tweak an individual model.
Such tidiness. Hard to believe I ever get anything done, really.
Anyway, between all this stuff and being a bit busier with work recently, I have fallen behind in terms of my campaign reporting. I'll try to address this without slacking off on the modelling front. Never enough hours in the day...


Tuesday, 10 May 2016

Regaining my hobby mojo

The Ogres are breeding again. It's been a number of months since I last did any work on my home-made Ogres, but I have a particular purpose in mind for some of them in our Albion campaign. Things are moving along in the campaign, which means if I want to actually have the Ogres ready in time, I need to get a move on.
The Ogrepocalypse begins again.

Thursday, 5 May 2016

The Shadows Return: Game 6

The damp night air was filled with howls and shrieks as the Witch Elves capered in the flickering firelight around the altar of Khaine. Wounded High Elves were dragged into groups nearby, under the close guard of the Executioners. They would soon be sacrificed, and their blood added to the cauldron. Already their fallen general’s head had been mounted on one of the spikes of the altar, to the jubilation of the surrounding Witches.

Their own general had also fallen; cut down by the Asur prince’s blade. But Erathi was not yet finished. The wounded Death Hag had dragged herself up the steps of the altar, her blood leaving a trail behind her as it pumped from the mortal wound between her ribs. As the last of her strength left her, she hauled herself up to the rim of the bubbling cauldron of blood and with a final dedication to her bloody god, she toppled in. The cauldron attendants standing nearby brandished their ceremonial daggers overhead and gave ululating shrieks of triumph as they witnessed her final sacrifice. Her blood would be pleasing to Khaine.

It was into this scene that the Sorceress Moreki arrived, swooping down upon the wings of her Dark Pegasus. Shortly behind her came the shattered remnant of her army, trotting in from the darkness – a pitiful handful of Darkshards and Dreadspears, led by a slightly crestfallen-looking Assassin. 

Dropping from the back of her mount, the Sorceress strode up to the foot of the altar. The attendants moved immediately to prevent her from ascending. She was not devoted to Khaine – the stairs were not hers to climb. 

Moreki halted. “Where are your leaders?” she asked them with a sneer. Her fingers adjusted their grip upon her sorcerer’s staff – a reminder for them of her power. It was not really a threat. Not really.

Not yet.

“They have fallen.” There was no deference in the Witch Elf’s response, but nor was there any obvious hostility. “Their sacrifice is pleasing to Khaine.”

Moreki suppressed a sigh. These Khainite zealots were so tiresome. On the other hand, the power vacuum was convenient. “Then you are in need of new leadership,” she said this loudly so that others nearby would hear and take heed. “I will assume command of your army.”

The frenzied shrieking of the Witch Elves quieted and then died out completely. All of the assembled Druchii were now focused on what was taking place. Would anyone challenge her right to seize power?

One of the Witch Elf champions hissed and shoved her way past her comrades, then stopped and drew a poisoned blade with each hand. She glared at Moreki in a manner that the cauldron attendant had not. Perhaps she just didn’t like Sorcerers.  She snarled as she spoke, “We are the brides of Khaine. We will not bow to some upstart conjurer!”

Her snarls turned quickly to shrieks as dark energies flayed the skin from her bones with a back-handed gesture from Moreki. Within moments she was nothing more than a pile of bones in a silly metal bikini. Some of the surrounding Witch Elves hissed and growled, but none of them made a move toward the Sorceress.

“Is there anyone else?” she asked in a mocking voice.

It was at this moment that the light of the fires around them seemed to dim. The quiet bubbling of the cauldron rose steadily until it was boiling violently, steaming blood sloshing over the sides and onto the altar around it. A deep red glow emanated from the liquid, and as all turned their focus upon it, a dark silhouette rose from its depths.

“What manner of coup is this, Moreki? Do you dare to try and steal control of my army?” The voice that spoke was that of Erathi, however it had another, underlying tone that seemed to give it a strength and menace that it had lacked previously.

Moreki smiled sourly at this new arrival. Perhaps this was not going to go as well as she had hoped. “Hello, my sister.”
*****

Wednesday, 4 May 2016

Dark Shadows painting progress


The Dark Shadows campaign and its associated models were created 15 years ago, and I've been sitting on these unpainted models for at least 10. Thanks to this campaign, I finally have a reason to paint them. Here is my progress so far. Admittedly none of these vintage models has received the love and attention they probably deserve. The Fenbeasts in particular are pretty rough. But then they're confusing models to paint, and they look done enough. So I'm calling them done, at least for now.

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

The Shadows Return: Game 5


By this point all 8 players had played one game. Rather than launch straight into the next round of games without really giving things much shape, I had something particular in mind for James, our Undead player who had suffered so badly in the first round. His next game represented an opportunity to get his campaign back on track (albeit a slightly different track) and would be against an NPC army controlled by Peter Spiller in a cameo appearance.


Game 5: Hail to the King


Norbert gasped and wheezed as he stumbled through the seemingly endless swamps. He had been fleeing for hours, and could no longer hear the sounds of the Chaos worshippers’ pursuit. His old and frail body would have long since failed him however, half-dead as it was, he had been able to make some use of his necromantic magic to keep himself moving. This was unsustainable, though; the more he pressed on using his deathly powers, the more he could feel his remaining life essence wavering.  Eventually he sagged to a halt against a rotten tree trunk, his legs half-submerged in the foetid water around him. Surely he was safe enough now.

“Well that was humiliating.” The voice seemed to come out of nowhere, shattering the relative quiet of the fens. Norbert scrambled about in the mud to discover that he was not nearly as alone as he had imagined. Sitting nearby on a old tree stump was a figure wrapped from head to toe in dark, ragged robes. He held a crude wooden staff in a twisted, taloned hand that was a sickly grey colour. Norbert could make out nothing of his face within the darkness of his hood.

The new arrival didn't bother waiting for him to respond, “I had thought you mistress to be a useful ally, but it seems I was mistaken. No doubt I am wasting my time with you also.” He leaned forward slightly as he spoke, the tattered fringes of his cowl swaying as his words dripped with contempt.

“Who are you?” Norbert managed to gasp. He considered reaching for his concealed dagger, but something told him that such a move would be of little use and only incur greater mockery from this new tormentor.

“It doesn't matter who I am. All that matters is who I represent, and you have not proven yourself worthy of that much information,” sneered the hooded creature. “I was sent to invite your mistress to this island, but the minute she arrived, she got herself killed!” He shook his head reprovingly. “Clearly my master overestimated her. I thought Vampires were made of sterner stuff.”

Norbert considered his options. He was currently lost, alone on an island he knew next to nothing about. He needed allies – ones who knew more about Albion than he did. He had no intention of serving anyone, but perhaps this condescending stranger had something useful to offer. “Perhaps I might be of some assistance,” he offered, rising slowly to his feet and ignoring the way his ancient body protested and the mud and swamp water streamed from his own tattered robes. “I am not a Vampire, but I have resources of my own.”

The stranger laughed briefly – a shrill bark of a laugh that immediately brought to mind some of the mad hermits Norbert had encountered during his travels. “You mean your petty magicks?” the mockery had not changed a jot, “What use would my master have for a necromancer? And one with no army of the dead at his back?”

Norbert ignored the stranger’s tone. “A true master of the necromantic arts has no need to travel with an army,” he explained with exaggerated patience. “He can find a willing army wherever he goes.”

Skeletal hands burst forth from the brackish water around the strangers feet, seizing his ankles and clawing at his robes. All around him the swamps were suddenly shifting and heaving as long-dead corpses dragged themselves from the muck. This stranger was a fool if he thought Norbert would have collapsed in a place where he could not defend himself. He could feel the weight of the dead underfoot. This place had seen its share of death and misery.

The stranger gave a quick shriek that may have been either alarm or his crazed laughter as he swept his staff about in front of his feet. Dark fire blazed in its path, and the skeletons that had looked to drag him down were shattered in a splinter of bone. Another sweep of the staff sent out a wave of fire in all directions, tearing through the undead that had started to emerge from the waters and blasting them back down from whence they came. 

Norbert raised a hand to shrug aside the fire as it swept toward him, and continued his own spell to summon more of the long-dead warriors that slumbered fit fully beneath the fens. 

“Enough!” shouted the stranger suddenly. The tone was a dismissive command, but there was something of a threat underneath it, and it gave Norbert some pause. He was, after all, only try to get this dark emissary’s attention. He needed his assistance for now, and needed to show that he might have something to offer in return. The undead all around halted their advance and waited silently upon the will of their master.

The hooded stranger leaned upon his staff and looked straight at Norbert, ignoring the enemies all about him. “Your feeble dead things are no real threat to my master’s enemies, but perhaps you might be of some use, if your skills are up to the challenge. Not too distant from here lie the burial grounds of a once mighty army. An entire legion of Wights rest there, waiting for one with the will to claim them. Take control of these, and you will have a force worthy of my master’s attention.”

Norbert smiled slightly. This was precisely the sort of local knowledge that he lacked. An army of Wights should not prove too difficult for him to control, and once he had them he would indeed be a force to be reckoned with. Then he could deal with the stranger’s insolence in an appropriate fashion.

He could not see the stranger’s wicked smirk, hidden in the shadows of his cowl.

Some painting progress

My Ostland Elector Count model is finished!

This is a relief, because I almost failed to get him done within the April window for the "Empire model per month" challenge. You know you're not doing very well when getting a single model painted in an entire month is proving difficult. I blame distractions and things.
Valmir von Raukov, Elector Count of Ostland