Thursday, 15 April 2021

Taking Stock, Part 1

Warcry Warbands, Allies & Thralls

As shops re-opened in England, I rushed to the Warhammer Manchester store, where my copies of the Warcry Grand Alliance books and the Tome of Champions 2020 were waiting for me since last December. That's a long time but that's what happens when you are abroad on release day and then a lockdown is called while you are quarantining... I guess we all have similar stories from the past year!
Anyway, I sat down with the books and my collection of Age of Sigmar models. Now that every infantry, cavalry and some monster kit has rules for Warcry, I can arrange them into 8 warbands and a few assorted Allies and Thralls I can use to spice up games. Here they are!

Destruction: Ironjaw Krushamob - Badruk’s Boyz (1350 points)

1 x Ardboy Boss (Leader), 190 points
3 x Ardboys with ardboy choppas, 330 points
3 x Ardboys with big choppa, 330 points
4 x Ardboys with ardboy choppa & orruk-forged shield, 500 points

These boyz are my plainest warband, assembled out of the box and painted for mass ranking during the 7th edition of Warhammer Fantasy. They can be used in all type of games, but I will mostly keep them as Adversaries in Challenge Battles and as NPCs in campaigns.

Destruction: Mawtribe Wanderglutt - The Ironforged (1470 points)

1 x Tyrant (Leader), 335 points
1 x Crusher (Hero), 285 points
2 x Maneaters, 440 points
2 x Ogor Gluttons with clubs, 410 points

The Maneaters were done for Mordheim, as Ogre Mercenaries to go with my Dwarfs and Witch Hunters, which are now Cities of Sigmar warbands (scroll down for them!). The Tyrant and the Gluttons were done, together with the Free Companies of the Gilded Hand (they too are further down!) as a tribute to the 4th edition range of Dogs of War and Regiments of Renown. Like Badruk's Boyz, they can be used for all kind of play and I'm sure they'll see some action as main characters at some point.

Destruction: Allies and Thralls/Roaming Beasts (1250 points)

1 x Loonsboss (Ally), 175 points
1 x Fungoid Cave-Shaman (Ally), 175 points
1 x Wardokk (Ally), 205 points
1 x Savage Arrow Boss (Ally), 125 points
3 x Rockgut Troggoths (Thralls/Roaming Beasts), 570 points

Ruglud, together with his whole Regiment of Renown was done at the same time as the Ironforged Gluttons and the Free Companies. The other models, like Badruk's Boyz, were part of my Warhammer Fantasy Orcs & Goblins. I have some rebased Gloomspite Gitz and old-style Orruks that could stand in as Bonesplitterz, but they are all out of the box and 'badly' painted, plus I'm using them as adversaries in my current solo campaing, so I'm not really motivated to turn them into Warcry warbands. But who knows, some day I may!

Order: Anvilgard Shieldband - The Grudgebreakers (2185 points)

1 x Ironbeard with drakefire pistol & cinderblast bomb (Leader), 175 points
1 x Cogsmith (Hero), 185 points
1 x Freeguild Sergeant (Hero), 130 points
1 x Battlemage (Hero), 175 points
8 x Irondrakes, 760 points
8 x Ironbreakers, 760 points

These Duardin Privateers and their human mates started their life as a Mordheim warband, while at the same time being an unconscious tribute to Long Drong's Slayers. They make for another warband ready for all type of play. Given the amount of shooters, chosing the rules for Greywater Fastness would have been a sensible gameplay choice, but they are privateers and rule of cool demands to use the rules for Anvilgard! I'm most likely to use them only with regular opponents as they are on the extreme end of the 'count-as' acceptability. Let's face it, crossbows don't look anything like flamethrowers, pistols and cudgels are a far cry from hand weapons and shields, not to mention the complete lack of heavy armour...

Phoenicium Shieldband - The Church of Sigmar’s Retribution (1725 points)

1 x Freeguild General (Leader), 180 points
1 x Prophet (Hero), 130 points
1 x Keeper of the Gate (Hero), 175 points
7 x Freeguild Handgunners, 560 points
2 x Freeguild Crossbowmen, 160
8 x Flagellants, 520 points

Here's another former Mordheim warband, bashed from Empire Militia and Flagellants, ready for all kind of Warcry play. With the recent announcement of Witch Hunters returning to the Age of Sigmar range, I hope we'll know more about the Order of Azyr and get Warcry rules for them as well. Should that happen, I'll have to rework the roster, but until then the Phoenicium rules are great to represent a god-touched, fanatical rabble.

Hammerhall Shieldband - Free Companies of the Gilded Hand (1925 points)

1 x Freeguild General (Leader), 180 points
1 x Battlemage (Hero), 175 points
5 x Freeguild Guard with spear, 325 points
5 x Freeguild Guard with sword and shield, 400 points
5 x Freeguild Crossbowmen, 400 points
1 x Freeguild Outrider, 165 points
2 x Freeguild Pistoliers, 280 points

They have seen plenty of AoS Skirmish action in the past few years, but I'm still madly in love with my tribute to the Regiments of Renown. The Hammerhall rules, with their emphasis on disciplined shieldwalls fighting around inspirational leaders work perfectly with the fluff I have developed for them so far. And like all the other warbands so far, they are ready for all styles of play.

Khainite Shadowstalkers - The Shadowflames (1330 points)

1 x Shroud Queen (Leader), 190 points
1 x Auric Runefather (Ally), 195 points
1 x Vulkite Berzerker Karl (Ally), 170 points
1 x Hearthguard Berzerker Karl with berzerker broadaxe (Ally), 185 points
5 x Darkflame Warlocks with repeater crossbows, 500 points
1 x Shroudblade with cursed swords, 90 points

That's my only Order warband exclusively rooted into the Age of Sigmar background and only using recent models. I first thought of running them as Free Cities with Fyreslayers allies, as I had done in Age of Sigmar Skirmish. However, none of the Free Cities abilities really captured the fighting style I envisaged for the aelfs. The Khainite Shadowstalker, on the other hand, are perfect. For now, they are about 2-3 Shadowstalker models short for using them in campaign play, but deploying all the aelfs and the Runefather they work perfectly for open and matched play. And of course, they can always be used as Adversaries in Challenge battles. Needless to say, I fully intend to add those 2-3 models needed for campaign play...

Order: Allies (600 points)

1 x Doomseeker, 180 points
1 x Knight-Questor, 245 points
1 x Assassin, 175 points

Like for the assorted Destruction models, I don't see myself building warbands around these models right now. However, a mercenary Fyreslayer will sit nicely as an Ally for the Free Companies, while the Knight-Questor and the Assassin scream to fight alongside the Church of Sigmar's Retribution. They will definetely not fight with the Grudgebreakers and the Shadowflames as they don't fit their themes... not to mention that the Hero/Ally allocation for those warbands is already fully taken up.

Chaos: Tzeentch Arcanite Coven - Denizens of the Silver Tower (1135 points)

1 x Kairic Adept (Leader/Hero), 150 points
1 x Gaunt Summoner (Leader/Hero), 195 points
1 x Ogroid Thamaturge (Leader/Hero), 265 points
1 x Tzaangor with pair of savage blades, 75 points
1 x Tzaangor with savage blade and arcanite shield, 85 points
1 x Tzaangors with savage greatblade, 105 points
1 x Kairic Acolytes with cursed blade and arcanite shield, 85 points
1 x Kairic Acolytes with cursed glaive and arcanite shield, 90 points
1 x Kairic Acolyte with paired cursed blades, 85 points

Like the Shadowstalkers, this Tzeentch coven is 2-3 models short for campaign play except as Adversaries in Challenge battles. Using the Gaunt Summoner and the Ogroid Thaumaturge as Leader and Hero respectively, they are perfect for open and matched play. Technically, I have enough extra Silver Tower Acolytes and Tzaangors to make them playable in a campaign, but that will mean deploying a few identical models and that's against the rule of cool!

Chaos: Allies (775 points)

1 x Darkoath Chieftain, 190 points
1 x Deathmaster, 200 points
1 x Iridescent Horror, 190 points
2 Blue Horrors and 2 Brimstone Horrors (free with Split abilities)
1 x Great Bray-Shaman, 195 points

Another bunch of models for which I have no immediate plans, but that can be used alongisde the Denizens of the Silver Tower in open and matched play or as Adversaries.

Death: Legions of Nagash Thrallband - Kalyustar’s Cursed Company (1210 points)

1 x Necromancer (Leader), 195 points
2 x Grave Guards with great wight blade, 170 points
3 x Skeleton Champions, 240 points
5 x Skeletons with ancient spears, 275 points
6 x Skeletons with ancient blades, 330 points

And that's my last tribute to the Regiments of Renown, and my favourite narrative-driven warband as it emerged from the campaigns we played. I haven't taken a new picture of them, just recycled the one I took when I made the first batch. You can see them all in action in the battle reports for our campaign that got frozen by the pandemic. Once we resume that, they'll be slightly limited in the later stages of the campaign when you can deploy more fighters. Of course, I'm planning to add a few more fighters and the release of the new Soulblight range could have not come at a better time! And, obviously, the Skeletons and Grave Guards can all be used as Restless Dead!

Sunday, 11 April 2021

The Scouring of Pale Gorge, Part 4

Many Meetings

Steve stared into the fire, his expression lost as he recalled the pain. The woodsmen waited, holding their breath.
'And then?' asked the Shyishian Trade Pioneer, thrusting a freshly filled tankard into Steve's hands.
The halfling blinked, took a long sip of ale and resumed his story.
'I was drifting between Ghyran and Shyish... my soul was. I remember being carried on an improvised stretcher, Kalyustar ahead and Rodrik at the back. And Kalyustar hold a strange lantern in front of him. It bathed the woods in a spectral glow.

The next thing I remember is a bow stretched in front of us and grinning skulls staring down at me. And a voice, like the rustling of dried leaves. "You bring an evil light into our Glade, wizard" it said.

Then, I came to my senses in one of the halls of the Forest Spirits. A Tree Revenant stood next to me, her hand outstretched.
"It is done" she said. "Rest, Steve of Venythia, for you have come close to threading the path to Shyish. And you, Captain Rodrik, go with my guards and feed, for it is not to be said that Gnarlroot Glade has no gratitude for those that fight the enemies of our lands."

"You, Kalyustar of the Gilded Hand, come, for I, Yltriana Grimroot, much desire to know from you".
They moved away from the bed of greenery where I laid, but I could still hear their voices.

"You carry a heavy burden, manling. Tell me what it is".
"I... I have been touched by something, Lady Yltriana. Early in our travel, I brought back Rodrik, like you brought back Steve..."
"He speaks to you, doesn't he?"
"Yes... with a voice cold and harsh, like the wind of Everdusk. And he whispers that Death is next".
"And in this, he is not lying, for the following season is indeed that of Death. But do not fall for his treachery. There is no true power in Death alone, but only in the eternal cycle of the Realms, as the Everqueen teaches us. And after Death comes Rebirth, so that balance is restored. Look at us, we do carry emblems of death, but to remind ourselves of what we have to cross before life comes again".
I then slipped again into a deep sleep. For a few more days we stayed with the Fay People. During that time, I didn't see much of Kalyustar or Yltriana, as the two spent nearly all their time away from the rest of us. When I was fully restored, we resumed our hunt.

It didn't take long to trace the minions of the 'Eadsplitta again and soon we were faced by some Ironjawz and their grot underlings.

We moved where we could shoot at the Ardboyz, knowing that if we could rout them, the grots would loose any fighting spirit. Alas, the first salvo was not enough and we found ourselves crossing blades with the grots.

As always, they were not much of a problem for the three of us, but they pinned us in place while the Ardboyz advanced.

They charged at Rodrik and though he put up quite a fight, they dragged him down.

Kalyustar summoned his bolts of eldritch force and created a hopening that allowed us to put some distance from the Ardboyz.

But they were fast and caught up with me before I could notch an arrow. I'm sure they'd have killed me if Kalyustar had not blasted another one and hold the boss while I dragged myself away.

Then the song of the Fay People came from where Rodrik had fallen and that spooked the Arboy boss.

We rushed back and found Rodrick surrounded by a Branchwych and her retinue.

"Fear not!" she said "He is alive. But my Lady Yltriana asks you pay a price for her healing of the halfling".
Kalyustar made to protest, but the Branchwych cut him short.
"Remember the cycle we are all bound to. Rebirth and life lead to death, and from death will come rebirth again. At the end of seven years we'll return your friend to you, your debt paid in full. And as a token of our good will, we gift you a Greenglade Flask. It will keep you strong in your fighting. Farewell, Venythian Rovers".
And suddenly, they disappeared with Rodrik, as if they had never been there. Only their song lingered under the trees for a while.
And I think, amidst those harmonies, I heard Kalyustar murmuring "This is too high a price"'.


The Venythian Rovers

Exploration rolls: 11 - Threat Level: 5 - Map Fragments: 0 - Spectral Lanterns: 0 - Battles Won: 5
Kalyustar of the Gilded Hand (Archmage, from Grand Alliance: Order): Realmblood (Ghyran Spell), Master of Defence (Order Trait). Wounds suffered: 3 - Enemies killed: 22
Captain Rodrik (Freeguild General, from Grand Alliance: Order): Tenacious (Order Trait). Wounds suffered: 6, DEAD - Enemies killed: 27
Steve Boffin, restored by Sylvaneth magic (Huntmarshal, from The Empire Compendium): Greenglade Flask (Artefact of Ghyran). Wounds suffered: 4 - Enemies killed: 1

Thursday, 8 April 2021

Project Backlog, Part 9

Silver Tower: the Final Trial

Yes, you have counted right... that's 18 models painted in less than two weeks! When the release date for Cursed City was confirmed on March 27, I challenged myself to have my copy of Silver Tower fully painted before April 10. Luckly, I was on holiday from the university, and with no teaching to do, I had plenty of spare hobby time.

The Darkoath Chieftain was the last adventurer left to paint. For him, I went for a classic Chaos palette of reds, metals and browns, but kept the black for the warpaint only. And credit must be given to the source of inspiration... the mighty Arnie in 'Conan the Barbarian'.

The second group of Kairic Acolytes, which I call the Blue Coven, are painted in the same palette as the previous group, but swapping the position of the blue and purple on their armour and clothes. Again, I've squeezed in a minor conversion, by swapping the pointing hand of the Acolyte with glaive for the hand holding the flaming skull, again from the Cities of Sigmar Battlemage kit.

I've used the same palette for the Gaunt Summoner as well, but kept the purple and blue areas roughly of the same size, so that neither is dominant. The skin, of course, is considerably paler than that of the Acolytes. His base was decorated using cuts of cardboard, a skull and textured paint, like I did for the Ogroid Thamaturge.

The Blue Horrors and the Grotling Scuttlers were painted in their respective canonical schemes: bright blue for the Horrors, black clothes and touches of red for the Scuttlers.

Now, I'm on a tight budget at the moment, so couldn't buy Cursed City. Hopefully, it will be back in the not so distant future. In the meantime, I've still plenty of sprues in my Pile of Shame to keep me busy...

Sunday, 28 March 2021

Project Backlog, Part 8

Silver Tower: Deathrunner

This cunning murderer has been dispatched to the battlefield on a mission of assassination. By poisoned blade and shadow magic does he seek to strike down his mark. With the uncanny ability to appear in two places at once, the Deathrunner flickers impossibly through the smoke and flame of the battlefield. He conceals his advance with clouds of alchemical fume before springing forth to plunge his blades into his victim's unprotected back.

To paint the Deathrunner, I went back to a snippet of lore that appeared in all Warhammer Fantasy Army Books but that seems to have gone from the Age of Sigmar Battletomes. It read:

'Skaven fur ranges in colour, most often shades of brown or piebald. The rank of a ratman can often be distinguished by its fur, as larger specimens tend to be darker. Assassins and Stormvermin are marked by darker shades from brooding browns to jet black'.

And to that, I stuck, contrasting the black body with muted green or brown clothes, dull metal armour and shades of grey for the tail and longer fur.
The yellowish green shine on the blades and armour runes is there to suggest they are laced with warpstone. The brandings on the shoulder and thigh were instead painted with Nihilah Oxide, as if glowing with sourcerous energies.

The Scouring of Pale Gorge, Part 3

The Breaking of the Rovers

'And that would be how your Kalyustar ended the Runt Waaagh?' intervened the inn-keeper of the Prancing Gryph-hound. 'By just blasting a Loonboss nobody ever heard about?'
'Is that what I've said? Is it? No!' Steve's snappy reply drew a chuckle from the crowd, as always quite fond of the two's constant bickering.
'We knew Gripe Backstabba was just an underling to Badruk 'Eadsplitta, but if he had taken an interest in us, it meant the Warboss couldn't be far. So, at dawn we set off, keeping to the edges of the swamp and venturing deeper into Pale Gorge.

We could still see the sunken gate in the distance and suddenly it pulsed, brawny orruks and a few grots rushing out of it.

The grots and some arrer boyz pushed ahead, their crooked arrows pattering against the trees where we had taken position.

We returned fire and halted the grots' advance, but the arrer boyz made it through and surrounded Kalyustar. But we had learned a thing or two in matters of strategic defence and Rodrick was quick to jump in and send most of the orruks flying in dissaray.

Still, the one stubborn orruk that stood his ground bought time enough for a bunch of Ardboyz to kick the grots back into line and charge in.

Rodrick and Kalyustar stood back to back, pouring hammer blows and arcane bolts onto the Ardboyz. As for me, I used the trees to my advantage and felled two grots as they came forward.

Kalyustar broke off and I could sense he drew onto the realmblood of Ghyran to heal himself while Rodrick and I sorted things out with the grot boss and arrer boy.

We regrouped and realised that a few boyz had lingered back and were coming for us now. As they advanced, we felt obliged to introduce them to properly placed arrows and pistol shots.

And as the boss alone trudged through the muck, I met him in single combat.

And then Rodrick stepped in and robbed me of the kill'.

As one, the woodsmen burst into laughter. Steve looked around, his carefully staged outrage at Rodrick's intervention turning into uncomfortable disbelief.
'Fellows, you should know, the Little People are much better fighters on solid, wooded ground'.
It was the Shyishan Trade Priooner that spoke, his voice strangely silencing the laughter.
'I am sure he would have had the orruk boss on the tip of his short sword if it wasn't for the mud sucking at his feet. Isn't it so, sir?'
'Well... yes... indeed... That was it, the mud! Anyway... where was I? Ah, yes! So... the orruks were gone and we turned away from the swamp towards more solid ground. We came upon a rocky arch and there found a corpse, one of those Azyrite witch hunters, by the look of his half-rotten gear. The only salvageable thing was a whickedly sharp and warm stake that Rodrick took for himself. .

As we were busy searching the corpse, the orruk came back and sprung an ambush on us. At our backs, arrer boyz loosed a salvo.

Boarboyz emerged from the woods in front of us and leveled their spears.

And from our left two massive boulders came whistling down, hurled by troggoths.

We retread out of range, putting the base of the arch between us and the troggoths, but the boarboyz were quick to redirect their charge and came roaring for us.

With the troggoths and arrer boyz slowed down by the rocky terrain, we managed to push back the boarboyz.

Arrows and boulders started to fall around us again and the only thing we could do was falling back into a thicket.

The troggoths tried to charge, but they were still on treacherous ground and didn't reach us.

We took our chance and countercharged. I saw Rodrick drawing the witch hunter's stake and slamm it into the belly of the closest troggoth. It splintered against its rocky hide and the brute pushed forward, sending me arse over tit. But if nothing else, Kalyustar blasted the other down.

From the ground and blinded by my own blood, the commontion of the fight came to me as a distant noise. Whistling of arrows, bestial grunts, the ring of metal on stony skin and then a deep thud.

The ringing of hooves and armoured boots on rocks, guttural screams... and then blackness and the deepest silence'.


The Venythian Rovers

Exploration rolls: 8 - Threat Level: 3 - Map Fragments: 0 - Spectral Lanterns: 1 - Battles Won: 5
Kalyustar of the Gilded Hand (Archmage, from Grand Alliance: Order): Realmblood (Ghyran Spell), Master of Defence (Order Trait). Wounds suffered: 2 - Enemies killed: 18
Captain Rodrik (Freeguild General, from Grand Alliance: Order): Tenacious (Order Trait). Wounds suffered: 5 - Enemies killed: 23
Steve Boffin (Huntmarshal, from The Empire Compendium). Wounds suffered: 5, DEAD - Enemies killed: 14