Saturday, 12 January 2019

Vampire Counts: Blood Feuds

Nagash is gone. Vlad Von Carstein has renounced the undead and joined the Empire. A new world awaits... but what does it mean for the Vampire Counts and their allies?


This ran longer than I expected. I think it's because I wanted to redress a few issues. Mannfred Von Carstein always used to be portrayed as a charismatic, manipulative individual who used guile instead of brute force. So why has the depiction of him in the last couple of editions become that what would happen if Brock Lesnar had a teleporter accident with an angry bat? I decided that it must have been an affectation, a 'war form' if you like. But I think Mannfred works better as the master manipulator. You'll see what this means in the notes. There's a callback to 'The Safe Zone' here. A character we met then reappears. And yes, I cast Jason Isaacs as Mannfred. 

On a similar note, I wanted to examine Balthasar Gelt. One of the stronger aspects of the End Times was Gelt's tortured morality, and his descent into damnation for all the right reasons. As with everything else, GW managed to make a pig's ear of this promising notion, so I thought I'd revisit it. 

I'm a bit tired, but if anything else comes to me I'll let you know!

Sunday, 30 December 2018

Age of Rebuilding: the Gaels of Albion

One of the things I really wanted to do with Warhammer: Age of Rebuilding was to bring more emphasis to the races and nations we hadn't seen much of before. With Chaos in remission and returned to the strange, episodic threat it should always have been, with the established powers all having taken a beating, the time is here for forgotten peoples to make their presence felt. 

This supplement doesn't have any new rules: Mathias Eliasson of the Warhammer Armies Project has done an excellent job of creating a full army list, and given that it is an army which has to be sourced from an eclectic mix of ranges, I don't think hobbyists will want for challenging conversion projects. 

Rather, this supplement is about introducing the Gaels of Albion to the outer world as a power. How will they change the balance of power in the Old World? We'll just have to wait and see.

Saturday, 22 December 2018

Bigger and more skanky

It's at moments like this when I find myself very confusing by my own feelings towards Games Workshop. On the one hand, some of the lore they've been writing seems to me to be bad to the point of self-satire (bigly marines, holes through the universe, Age of Sigmar etc). On the other hand, there's no doubt that some of the models they're producing are off the chart brilliant, and certainty aren't afraid of shying away from some bold and unsettling concepts.

The Gellerpox Infected could have been designed for me. I love the horrific, body-horror side of Nurgle and the grimly industrialised, Blachnian visions of the 4ok universe. These encompass such ideas perfectly.

There are so many brilliant aspects to these models. The horrible jumbled amalgam of man and machine, the ramshacckle stitching an the implied loss of self expressed through the multiple faces are all spot-on. These models are grotesque. This is Chaos at its demented finest, horrific enough and nonsensical enough to send all right-minded onlookers running for an Aquila to hide behind. The vestiges of the original crew's clothing just adds to the jarring sense of the obscene living nightmarre of the Ruinous Powers.

For these models, I wanted to put extra emphasis on the infections, crusted blood and bruising. Nobody here is having a good time, even if they've convinced themselves that they are. The models are very helpful in this regard: they're covered in cuts, wounds and crude sutures, as well as ripped an creased fabric, which is easy to mess up with a few good paint smears.

I'm not sure what if anything I'll use them as in games. The Rogue Trader supplement they come in has the vaguely puzzling tyranny of insisting that all of the Nurgle lads from that set must be taken together. My friends are easy going though, as I imagine I could get away with deploying them as a single unit as long as everyone understood. Or I could use them as Ogryns. Either way, it's always good to see the Lost and the Damned in any form!

Thursday, 20 December 2018

The Doctor of Damnation is back

Well, it hath been a while.
For the last few months, I’ve been caught up in my Warhammer Fantasy revival project, Age of Rebuilding. This is working out nicely and getting some feedback, but the other day I found myself hankering for some skanky body horror (very festive, I know). I think it’s because I’d just painted a bunch of models for elves and Lizardmen, neither of which have much in the way of gross-factor. So I decided that it was time to get back to one of my favourite projects, the Death Guard Plague Company known as the Synod of Suffering.

There are a bunch of reasons why I chose the Plague Surgeon: for a start, he was one of the more interesting unpainted models in my Death Guard case. For another, I liked the characterization of the Plague Surgeon in Lords of Silence. Thirdly, there’s a feeling of cyclical synchronicity: at the beginning of the year, I started this blog with a converted Plague Surgeon. I thought it would be nice to come full circle and restart the Death Guard with one of his brethren.

The thing which I probably like most about this model is how simple it is: He didn’t take more than a couple of hours in total, and there aren’t many fiddly areas. 

In an era of sometimes absurdist sculpts (Stormcasts etc), the Death Guard have generally done very well, and the Plague Surgeon is no exception. There's a nice sense of deadly restraint to him, and his slight height advantage gives him a lean, reaper-like quality. 

All in all, a really nice, quick model to paint. I've got a cold since starting on him, by the way. I'm taking it as Grandfather's blessing to paint more Nurgle during the Christmas holiday.

Wednesday, 5 December 2018

Druchii Cult of Slaanesh designer's notes

When I was sitting down to brainstorm new units for the Age of Rebuilding project, elves gave me relentless trouble. The reason for this is actually pretty simple: elves are highly intelligent, have a very distinct look and have been making war for thousands of years. And unlike Dwarfs, they presumably don't have a testing period for innovations which the Adeptus Mechanicus might think is a bit long. If they haven't already developed a method of making war, the odds are that it is be cause they simply don't want to make war that way, or don't think it will improve their battlefield efficiency. 

Now, with High Elves I came up with the Shadowflame Guard, based on a similarly named unit in the End Times. With the Wood Elves... treeish things can be relied upon. But with the Dark Elves, I spent a while staring at my notepad in idiocy. The answer came to me, rather bizarrely, whilst I was sitting by a fjord in western Norway.

Eidfjord. Possibly the most beautiful place I've ever been. And rather bizarrely, a good place for hobby inspiration.

The Cult of Slaanesh, of course! One of the most colourful armies to come out of 2004's much underrated Storm of Chaos campaign, the Cult of Slaanesh combined units from the Dark Elves and Hordes of Chaos books. Now, creating a coherent list in the manner of that original supplement is on my list, but I'm also mindful that armies can be expensive. So my first thought was to create units which 'plug-in' to the 8th edition Dark Elves book so that a hobbyist could, if so inspired, use these new units with their existing collection. Now, a few explanatory notes. 


Veteran hobbyists will note that the presence of 'forbidden units' in the rules I've created created a bit of an old-school feel (though there are no 0-1 choices). I didn't want to do this at first, but in good conscience I couldn't envision a lore-abiding army where Slaaneshi and Khainites are making friends. 


The Druchii Anointed was always a rather cool idea to me - the idea of a warped Dark Elf so consumed by Slaanesh that they can't even pass for normal elven. I tweaked the background a little to have it that a small number of modern Druchii have metamorphosed rather than all of them being impossibly ancient. 

The model is a Black Dragon Dreadlord with a daemonette's head, a Hellstrider's shield and the Daemonic Mount from the Lord of Slaanesh. 

Rules wise, I kept the Anointed as a combat machine, but removed the magical capabilities to keep his role clear. I removed the rule where he can't be the army's general. High point Lords who can't lead armies tend to get ignored even in the most narrative games.


I love the look of Steeds of Slaanesh and of Cold One Knights. That's basically where this came from. I wanted them to seem more in control than Hellstriders, with the same noble arrogance as Cold One Knights. 

The models are a simple rider-swap of Cold One Knights onto Hellstrider Steeds. Warning - it's harder than it looks. 

Rules wise, I wanted them to be incredibly quick and hard-hitting, but a bit glass-cannon-y. With T3 and a 3+ maximum save, you're going to want to be careful where you strike with them.


Who doesn't want a Steed of Slaanesh chariot?! I did this purely because I thought it would be visually striking and fit the idea of depraved hunters well. 

The model is simply a Dark Elf chariot with Steeds swapped in. The charioteers are: a beastmistress with one of her arms replaced with a daemonette claw, and a charioteer with a Hellstrider's head. 

I was going to give this thing some really funky rules, ut ultimately I decided that a chariot which is so incredibly fast really didn't need anything else. 


Straight up: in 2013, when the 8th edition Dark Elves book was on preorder, I honestly thought that the Medusa was a Cult of Slaanesh concession. It's just so perfect that I had to make a unit using her. I decided to make her a kind of preacher-figure. I've got a feeling I got the inspiration from a scene of a Slaaneshi temple in Fulgrim.

The only conversion to the piece is the Slaanesh icon. 

Rules wise, I thought about giving her the standard Hatred power, but decided that it would make more sense for her to impart Frenzy (excess and all that). 

I hope all this makes sense. And fear not, I shall be tackling the concept of a true Cult of Slaanesh as seen in the glory days at a later date!

Saturday, 27 October 2018

Warhammer Fantasy: Age of Rebuilding Compendium

Warhammer Fantasy: Age of Rebuilding is a project I started a few years ago, after The End Times concluded. Strangely enough, I came up with the name before anyone knew about Age of Sigmar, so it's a total co-incidence that the names are almost the same.

Anyway, after a couple of years of blithering about I'm finally cracking on with it, and I thought it would be best if I created a compendium where people can find bits without having to wade about in the Facebook group. 

Connecting the End Times to the Age of Rebuilding

The Empire is in ruins. Ulthuan, Naggaroth and Bretonnia are lost, Khemri is smashed, Sylvania overrun, Cathay and Nippon on their knees, the Lustrians fled. The Everchosen's hordes rampage almost unchecked. In Averheim, the Emperor Karl Franz conceives of a desperate, last gamble to save the world and change what's happening. Read Endgame to find out what happens next...

Presented in the format of Warhammer Fantasy army books and supplements, these are intended to provide expansions, complementing those of the Warhammer Armies Project.

The Safe Zone: the world has survived. The Empire is living in a new and unexpected age. But the war has cost the heirs of Sigmar dearly. The first thing Karl Franz must do is get his nation back on its feet. Read The Safe Zone to get more perspective on this. Please be aware that this particular document is the most 'draft' on those here, with unfinished parts such as contents pages etc.

Blood beneath Darkling Boughs: the fall of the Everchosen has at once vindicated the Beastmen and put them into a state of total anarchy. However, new warlords are on the verge of emergence. Will this be the hour of the Cloven Ones? Read this Beastmen supplement to judge for yourself.

A very Uncivil War: the Skaven are collectively embarrassed about being duped by the Everchosen. They've decided to address this by doing the only sensible thing - find someone to blame! Given the naturally devious habits of Skaven, this will get messy before it gets better. Read this if you want to be bemused and confused (much like the Skaven themselves). 

The Occupation of Altdorf: as the Emperor makes his plans in Averheim, the Empire's greatest city languishes under chaotic oppression. The melancholic but deadly Brynjar Aesling, Last Sword of Chaos, sits on a stolen throne and broods over better days. Read the Occupation of Altdorf to see if you feel like visiting.

It's a brave new world, and the greenskins are as happy to take advantage of that as anyone else. Warlord Skarsnik is looking for new Warbeasts. Borgut Facebeater is completely lost but thankfully has some humies to crump. Grimgor Ironhide is looking to settle old scores. And a Warboss named Gruzbarg Snulfest is... training goblin butlers...

Read more to find out why!

In the Land of Chill, the infamous Malus Darkblade has used the departure of the Eternity King to seize the throne of Naggarond. But Darkblade knows that his days are numbered unless he can unite the Druchii behind him. The Bastard King hatches a plot to deflect attention from himself...  a plot which will awaken an ancient and outlawed cult...

Read more to find out what Darkblade's up to!

When the entire life of your civilisation has been based on a mathematically perfect, ordered plan for the world, what can you do when you face an age which nobody expected to see? The Lizardmen, as ever, are pragmatic. Lustria survives, but is sealed beyond a vast energy barrier. The mission to reach it will lead the cold blooded men of Lustria to strange places... and old, half-remembered cousins.

Read more about the new designs of the Lizardmen. 

After many centuries of quiet near-isolation on their misty isle, the Gaels of Albion are finally ready to make their presence felt. The dark years have shown the Gaels that the arrogant peoples of the Old World cannot be trusted to respect the earth. Queen Gwenlaen is ready to take matters into her own hands...

Read more about the rise of Albion.

Nagash is gone. Vlad Von Carstein has renounced the undead and joined the Empire. A new world awaits... but what does it mean for the Vampire Counts and their allies?

Monday, 1 October 2018

Reikmarshal Von Vincke

The life of Blucher Von Vincke has been a long and interesting one. There will be few friezes depicting his heroic feats, but his contribution to the Empire’s military cannot be underestimated. His elevation to Reikmarshal in 2528 was initially met with bemusement. But time has already begun to tell that this was a wise decision.

Von Vincke’s early life was similar to many nobles: the eldest son of a wealthy Reikland dynasty, he cut a fine if unexceptional figure in the high society of Altdorf. Von Vincke was quiet but confident, strong but reserved. Emperor Luitpold was relieved when Von Vincke submitted his application to the Reiksguard. Luitpold had formed a good impression of the lad, and service in the Reiksguard would likely secure the allegiance of his family – and their considerable resources.
Von Vincke served with the Reiksguard in active service for seven years. He was a robust, competent warrior, more given to minimising friendly casualties than striking down enemies. He was noted as saying that he would always save the lives of his men over killing his enemies. When asked why this was, he simply replied “Our enemies will still be around later. Let’s make sure we are too.”
After seven years, however, Von Vincke suffered a major setback. A rabble of goblins was attempting to set up a racket in Mad Dog Pass and a taskforce was sent to root them out – Imperial trade into the east would suffer if greenskins were robbing or extorting illegitimate tolls from merchant caravans. The goblins were put to flight with relative ease. However, Von Vincke was close to a ramshackle stone thrower, pursuing a broken mob of night goblins, when a cannon ball demolished the war machine. A flying piece of shrapnel caught Von Vincke high in the right leg. Remarkably, he kept his saddle and managed to stay in formation. But after the battle, it was clear that his days as an active knight were over.

In the Reiksguard's barracks, Von Vincke made a slow but full recovery. It took several months, but he regained his ability to walk and even ride. He would grumble of stiffness and aches in the cold or wet for the rest of his life, but he escaped crippling due to his own determination to recover and the work of the surgeons.
During this time, Von Vincke requested to work on the Reiksguard’s inventories and internal policies. He didn’t have much interest in the work at first, but it gave him something to do stop him from becoming bored during his recovery. After a while, Von Vincke found himself growing more interested in the work. He had identified several infrastructural and recruitment issues which could be improved. He took his findings to the quartermasters and senior commanders of the Reiksguard, who were amazed. Von Vincke took a permanent role overseeing recruitment, deployment, stores and training. By the end of his ten years of service within the Reiksguard, he was well established and everyone expected him to remain within the order. 

But Von Vincke surprised all observers by purchasing a commission within the Reikland State Military. His seniority within the Reiksguard made a transition at the rank of Major relatively smooth, and Von Vincke took up a position in the 16th Altdorf Regiment of Heavy Infantry (often listed in gazetteers as the 16th Halberdiers or more colloquially as the Griffon Feathers). Von Vincke's feeling was that he could do more good in the vast state armies, having essentially already smoothed out as many of the issues of the Reiksguard as was possible.

Von Vincke quickly proved as methodical on the battlefield as with stores: his regiment was well prepared, well provisioned, excellently briefed before each battle and used the terrain to perfection. The 16th conducted battles in an orderly, well co-ordinated fashion, never rushing, never taking unnecessary risks. Sometimes, victory took longer. But the survival rate of the regiment soared.

It wasn't long before Von Vincke was promoted to Colonel and within a handful of years, he was seconded to the General Staff of the Reikland. He argued passionately for a wider approach to the military: better supply pacts with the guilds, more investment into road maintenance, stringent requirements for equipment standards.

"Glory is useless, honour is subjective and righteousness gets you killed," he once famously barked during an argument with Kurt Helborg, "we need exacting standards, better layers defences, and soldiers who stay alive!"

Von Vincke eventually ascended to the rank of Grand Marshal of the Reikland. His was not a glorious approach to war, but it was a very successful one which reduced waste of men and materiel.

After Surtha Lenk's invasion under the guise the Empire has come to know as the 'False Archaon', in the war loosely called 'the Storm of Chaos', Von Vincke retired quietly, without fanfare. But his work was not yet done. His greatest test was yet to come.

The dark years are over, years during which Von Vincke's organisation abilities were pushed to the limit. Yet the task is not done. The Empire has survived, but taken a tremendous beating. Now is not the time for great heroes like the lte Kurt Helborg. Now is the time for rebuilding smashed institutions, training new armies and approaching wars with a disciplined, unglamorous approach to victory.

Von Vincke is an old man. But there is work to do, plans to make and problems to solve. His steely blue eyes see all, and the mind behind them is as sharp as ever.