Back to My True Passion – Dwarves

I have such a tendency to disappear for months on end. My last stint was well over 2 years away and between my last post and this one it’s been an incredible amount of time!

Many of you may not know this, but I was first introduced to wargaming after a lucky chance upon a Games Workshop store. I can’t remember where it was – somewhere in London, but I recall my parents showing my brother and I around. I fell in love with the Dwarves (Dwarfs? Duardin?) and picked up a bunch of blisters with the old metal models (longbeards, ironbreakers, thunderers a daemon slayer, slayers and a catapult + crew).

I actually still own all of the models, the majority of which are unpainted! I started off by painting the daemon slayer and couldn’t believe how much I hated my lack of talent. Try as I may, I just couldn’t replicate the ‘Games Workshop’ style of painting (and I’m talking well before the ‘Eavy Metal team here.

As a result, I found myself losing interest fast. Back then, the models were cheaper (by A LOT) and so my mum would pick me up a bunch of random boxes that took my fancy. Skeleton horsemen, Skaven, Chaos Warriors to name just a few. I had such a huge collection of grey plastic that in total, the cost these days would translate to well over £8000.

Every time I started a new project, I grew frustrated at my lack of painting skills and lost interest. This pattern went on for years, right up until 2014. I saw the new Dwarf models from Games Workshop and fell in love with them (well, the Ironbreakers at least). I then set about purchasing a few boxes (£30 for 10?!) and took to my painting station again – a station that has been upgraded time and again over the years.

I dedicated a few months to getting these guys done, including purchasing models from other manufacturers and converting a few particular models:

After 15 solid years of painting, I was finally satisfied with the results, so then what?

Age of Sigmar dropped.

Goodbye to my rank and file units, toodles to my structured formations. Now don’t get me wrong, I did try to get in to it. My son and I often battled over a 6×4 table, his Greenskins vs my Dwarves. It’s actually great fun, but at the back of my mind I longed to have the World That Was back. It was a world that I grew up with and I felt like the rug had been pulled out from under my feet.

Instead of giving up, I created some matching scenery to complement both my models and our gaming table/ dinner table:

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I’m a massive fan of realism and so set about creating a set that I could be proud of. The hill-type things are tree bark, the walls are from an old set, the towers are made of clay and the trees are small hand-crafted branches flocked to realism.

I spent a couple more months playing Age of Sigmar and trying to say that the board was in the Realm of Life – the closest thing to the Old World in my opinion, but still the idea wouldn’t gel.

And that’s when it hit me. I felt like a traitor of sorts, but one that needed a way to find a balance again and so I turned to Kings of War. People told me that it was a simplified version of Warhammer FB, or a cheap take on the genre, but in reality it’s a very well thought-out game that can be fun and exciting in equal measure.

At this point, I looked at my dwarf army and their little square bases and thought fantastic – a few movement trays and we’re sorted. But then I saw the Dwarves from Mom Miniatures. Oh lord do they look good. So realistic, with great proportions and a gritty, natural look.

I picked up 20 for 20 (euros) and had them shipped out to my new home in the Mediterranean. I scrapped the shields as they were oddly shaped and non-symmetric. I did the same for the weapons as the handles are as thick as legs and hardly the most realistic. I then went about converting each and every model (painstaking!), but the end of it, I had 20 dwarves with spears. My original intention was to use them as Bulwarkers (a spear + shield wielding unit in Kings of War), but after careful consideration they became my Ironguard (the equivalent of Ironbreakers for general purposes).

I picked up another 20 dwarves (16 of which are in the same pose, albeit with different helmets and armour). From the total 40, I had 8 models that I simply didn’t want to use as their pose was completely different to the regimented look that I was after (not that dissimilar to the Dwarf army in the final Hobbit film).

You will spot the ‘differently-posed’ dwarf in the photo below; now acting as my cannon crew (flame cannon for game purposes).

My main concern was to ensure that my army matched, after all I think that OCD runs in my family and I like uniformity. I now have 30 Dwarves (20 with spears and shields and 10 acting as rangers – an AMAZING unit in Kings of War).

I also bought the Dwarf Hero/ Lord from the aforementioned company, as well as a cannon barrel from somewhere in Poland before cutting a few pieces from a 40K scenery box to act as the cannon’s frame/ housing.

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And there they are ^^. A very small army as far as Kings of War is concerned, but just enough to be played with enjoyably. I’ll be adding more to them as time goes by and although their colour scheme is similar to my Games Workshop Dwarves (+ the extra models in the army), I opted for a more realistic feel this time around. I love the whole look and feel of a phalanx, so larger shields were a must for me. They were hand made because I couldn’t find anywhere online that did similar. You might notice that the bases match the scenery, as well as them being ‘multi-based’ for simplicity. Kings of War works with damage, as opposed to wounds. The more that you accumulate the greater the chance that the unit will break and so single bases aren’t necessary – but not discouraged.

So where do things stand now? Well Age of Sigmar is no longer on the cards, nor is WFB. My son and I now enjoy a game of Kings of War at least once per weekend. I’m really hoping that they improve their special items in the next edition as I was always a fan of hero-building.

I’m more of a collector/ painter by nature, so don’t expect this blog to explode with KoW related chats, but I really should visit it more often.

Thanks for your time!

73rd

My Thoughts on the Age of Sigmar

I don’t get to post here half as much as I’d like – three quarters as much in fact, but after trying out Age of Sigmar, I had to come back and share my thoughts with the small collection of people that may be interested.

For those of you that don’t know me, my name is Michael and I’m 28 years old. I’ve been blogging for roughly 10 years now, and trace my roots back to the likes of Ron Zaikowski, Admiral Drax and Master Darksol. I’ve been collecting, painting and playing Games Workshops’ Warhammer Fantasy Battles since I was 8, when I picked up my first box of Skeleton Horsemen.

Over the years, I’ve amassed a collection of 3500 miniatures, with my first solid army being Dwarfs. Back then, I lacked the skills to paint, and so I put my models to one side and went from army to army, honing my skills (and wasting my parents money). Recently, I decided to go back to my roots, and started a Dwarf army (pics to follow soon). So it was with a heavy heart that I said goodbye to my beloved game, and then I played my first battle using the new Age of Sigmar rules.

I used my Dwarfs, and my son used his Empire models. Just 30 (3 units of 10) a side not including our generals. We decided to study the rules before playing, so it was fairly straight forward to set up. At this point, I’d like to mention that I’d followed the Age of Sigmar rumours from very early on, and so I was already a little dismayed at the thought of round bases for my perfectly aligned units. Fortunately, there is literally no penalty that I can see for using square bases – I simply created a movement tray that spaced my models apart ever so slightly (photos on their way).

A lot of the detailed game play is gone, as in completely removed. No flank bonuses for a start was a strange thing to adapt to, and my Ironbreakers had their permanent parry rule replaced with the option to form a shield wall. Not ideal, but it was effective when being charged. In fact, I noticed that other options were also simplified, such as the ability to customise my Dwarf Lord – who now found himself the owner of a Rune Axe (pretty impressive) and an Ancestor Shield (+1 AS). But if I’m honest, that was an aspect of the game that I loved – the potential to customise my models and units.

Anyway, the game went on, my Lord lasted far longer than I imagined (thanks to the new 5 wounds as standard for most Generals and Heroes). The special abilities were pretty decent, the charging and close combat phases merged well (what with the ability to stop just short in the charge phase, and then pile in in the combat phase). In fact, the game was far more enjoyable than I had previously imagined. So what did we do? We played another 2 games that evening – all in the space of 2 hours.

I walked away quite happy that night, I spent some quality time with my son – he understood the rules without much need for clarification, and we both spoke about the games that we’d had well in to the next day. So what was the problem?

I miss my fantasy.

This new setting, this new style of game play, it’s just not the same. It’s enjoyable when playing, but I just couldn’t help but feel like the love of my life had walked away from me, only for me to settle with her cheaper, less intelligent sister just to feel closer to the person that I’d lost. I enjoyed the game, that’s a fact (I’ve currently enjoyed 8 of them so far). But it’s difficult to get in to a world when you know that it’s one of 8 or 9, when compared to the fantastical Old World where explorers would stumble across trolls, Dwarfs would protect their holds from invading orcs, and Bretonnia were mystical knights filled with honour. This new take on fantasy just isn’t fantasy – Skyrim is fantasy. Lord of the Rings is fantasy. Age of Sigmar is some sort of steam-punkish, advanced metropolis styled game, where Chaos is actually a little reluctant to push its luck. Perhaps the unique worlds will add a bit of depth to the game – particularly the ‘life’ world, which in my eyes should resemble the Old World.

So to summarise:

I loved playing the game. It’s great fun. But I can’t help but feel saddened at the loss of all that existed before. I’ve been involved with Games Workshop for longer than the majority of its employees. I understand that they needed to make changes to keep up with the times, and I’ve heard many people complain that the veteran collectors and gamers of WFB were too few – but what Games Workshop, and those critics don’t realise, is that I was one of the new gamers that are currently being targetted. I was 8 years old, and I grew with the game, and we can’t be blamed for being so few, because back then we were so few. I won’t be putting a stop to my gaming, I’m open to change and my son really enjoyed himself, and I’d definitely urge you all to give the game a go at least a few times. It’s fast paced and action packed. But if you’re looking for epic fantasy, perhaps don’t stop your search.

Thanks guys.

73rd

My Skeleton Warriors

I can’t remember posting these guys up before, but if I did then oops! Here’s a quick few snaps of my skeleton warriors and my converted Vampire Lord using parts from the Dark Elf Corsair box and a couple of other pieces. I filed every single flipping scale off of the back of the cape which took several hours. Although I don’t use this fella anymore, he’s made a decent Dreadlord for my son’s Dark Elf host. I’m really diving back in to Warhammer Fantasy and I currently have roughly 1500 points of my Vampire Count army put together.IMAG5661 IMAG5663 IMAG5670 IMAG5671