Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Project: Kislev

One of the great joys in the Warhammer hobby is seeing (or participating in) massive games. If Warhammer is a spectacle, then huge games with enormous armies are doubly so. Even though I know they have just been staged, I still find the pictures of huge armies arrayed against each other In White Dwarf and the rulebook rather entrancing. I cant help but count the ranks and files of the units to work out just how massive they really are. Sometimes we might be inclined to even estimate how many points the army might total (often followed shortly by the realisation: “Its illegal!”)…
A recreation of the Slaughter at Volganof from the big rulebook. It is surprisingly hard to find GW's pictures of huge armies online...
Many years ago, pulling together as many points as possible for a “gathering of might” was a fairly frequent occurrence for our circle of friends. Wed stretch things as far as possible to make the game as epic as we could. Considerations like “is it painted?” fell by the wayside why would you care about such things when you could be fielding more models without such restrictions?

Time passes and some things change. Its probably been 15 years since we last attempted a “gathering of might”. Nowadays I have 8 different armies, spread across the Forces of Order and Destruction (although with a decided slant towards the former), and they probably total around 70,000 points. There comes a point where “use everything youve got” gets a little impractical. And so it stopped happening. 

When you have too much stuff, you also start to get picky. Whats the point in putting all the effort into organising a big game if youre not going to take photos? And if youre going to take photos, you really want it to look good. So you want to use painted models. This is a big hurdle for a number of us, who might have vast piles of miniatures, but only a fraction of them are painted.

A game also feels a lot less thrown together if the armies on either side come from only 1 or 2 races, who are obvious allies in accordance with the background. When I see pictures of a report where Empire line up alongside Daemons, I tend to kind of lose interest. Maybe Im just fussy.

Having said all this, I am still a big fan of huge games, and want to be involved in more of them. Ive talked about this desire before (Size Matters). As such, I am constantly idly wondering what can be done to make these things happen. But for the last year or so, my plotting has been slightly more focused and less idle than normal.

As I mentioned in that earlier article, the legendary battles in the Warhammer world are a great thing to focus on when planning a large game. Accounts of these battles provide you with background details that a random game just wont have. They give a reason for the battle, and cover any twists that might have occurred. They also tend to detail the nature of the forces involved. All of these things can be used to help give the game focus, whether it be through army selection (even the inclusion of certain characters) and scenario rules. This makes the whole thing more interesting for everyone involved.

At the start of the year, I declared (to nobody in particular) that this would be the Year of the Empire. I would use the Empire in any tournaments I attended, and keep painting throughout the year in order to produce as large a painted force as I could. This was partly to ensure that the army didnt stall at a barely usable level (like my Ogres and Dwarfs), but it was also in aid of a larger goal. I want to recreate the Battle at the Gates of Kislev (the climactic battle during the Great War against Chaos). For anyone who is not familiar with the battle, you can find one of the accounts here. I say “one of the accounts” because I have found at least 4 vaguely conflicting accounts of the battle in various GW resources. There is not a great deal of consistency. Ive observed this in the description of other great battles in Warhammer lore, however this one gets more coverage than most, so has the most opportunity to present inconsistent details.

The Battle at the Gates of Kislev gets a lot of coverage because it is apparently the single largest battle to have occurred in the Old World. Obviously this makes it a pretty ambitious target for my big game plans, but it has a lot to recommend it. For starters, the armies involved (Empire, Dwarfs, Kislev, all 3 flavours of Chaos and a smattering of High Elves) suits the collections of some of the people at the club rather well. In addition, the detail around the battle and the naming of so many personalities involved promises to give the game a lot of character.

I say the armies involved suit our collections well, but the single biggest hole in the plan is the Empire. They are providing the bulk of the troops for the Forces of Order, and those painted Empire armies that are floating around are not large enough. Additionally, there is meant to be an entire army of Empire cavalry one large enough to have a definite impact on the flank of the Chaos hordes. And so it falls to me…
How I spent my Saturday afternoon (with help)... A few are missing, but this will be my regiment of Knights Panther/Snow Leopard. The rubber bands are holding the tails hard against the bodies to try to strengthen the join. Horse tails are the bane of my existence.
"Six Thousand (points) will not be enough to break the lines of Mordor (or Chaos, for that matter)"...
We will also want as many Kislevites as possible in the battle, given it is being fought around their capital city. Admittedly most of their army was probably killed in the earlier ill-fated battle north of Praag. Still, I have gathered what models I can (within reason the price of Kislevite Kossars online is extortionate nowadays). We also have plans to construct some of our own.
Kislev Winged Lancers, Horse Archers and Tsar Boris on his fuzzy bear.
Tsar Boris himself. I never thought I would get this model, but a chance discovery on EBay and he is all mine...
It will be a balancing act to decide how many points I need to paint before I have enough to make the game work as I want it to. I figure the armies will be commanded by 3-4 players per side. There are logical separations for the Infantry and Cavalry of the Empire, the Dwarfs on the flank, and the Dwarfs and Kislevites trapped inside the city. The Chaos will be a bit more nebulous, but if nothing else, they will be fighting a battle on 4 fronts.

In aid of my plotting (and for future sinister plans too), I have managed to acquire a copy of Empire at War, which is a source book from a few years ago. It covers the Battle at the Gates of Kislev, as well as Hel Fenn, the Battle of Black Fire Pass and a couple of others. This book provides me with further conflicting and confusing details of the battle. Ultimately I will be picking and choosing details as I see fit, to best suit our resources and the flow of the game.
Not the greatest publication they've ever produced, but I'm glad I managed to get it.
The scenario itself is still something to be finalised, but the general flow is something we have from the descriptions of the battle. Once I have assembled a workable set of rules, I will publish them here. At least we can play-test them without the need for all the models to be painted…


  1. An admirable project. I have similar notions to build an enormous undead army, I reckon I'm up to about 30,000 points, but only a fraction is painted. I'm very intrigued by your Kislev army, I love themed forces.

  2. Preliminary work on the Konverted Kislev Kossars has commenced. And ceased to commence... and started to commence again!

  3. ...and they look awesome!


  4. What ever happened to this? Did you ever do it or is it abandoned?

    1. I always intended to do it eventually, but in the end my efforts have been trumped. This is what you should be following if you want to see a big reenactment of The Gates of Kislev nowadays... http://thegatesofkislev.blogspot.com.au/