Category Archives: Warhammer Fantasy

Stupid Graffiti Paint

. . . it shot out really fast and was super thick, so now my goblins that I spent weeks slowly cleaning and basing in spare moments look like a three-year old dipped them in blue sludge.  Oh and I got it all over the cement on my new courtyard and all over the keys on my laptop.

I’m pretty annoyed, I planned this really carefully and it was supposed to be a triumphant display of ingenuity and new materials.  Oh well, back to the drawing board I suppose. The thing about deviating from the way things are normally done and taking risks is that sometimes you crash and burn.

Looking forward to the tournament on Sunday though.  We’ve managed to play a few practice games and it’s got me excited for 40k.  I’ll report back how it went in the next post.

Two Hobby Victories and a Thought

So the last month or so of my life has been a total blur.  As well as baby-wrangling I’ve been battling against house-unpacking and marking people’s assignments (which takes WAY longer than I anticipated) to try to get just a little bit of game stuff done.  Now the house is pretty much habitable and I’ve managed to steal some tiny hobby victories:

Victory One: My regular opponent Cap’n Stoogey and I are going in a 1200 point doubles 40k tourney in a couple of weeks, 600 points each.  For the first time his Ultramarines and my Guard will be fighting side by side.  600 points is not much and we aren’t aiming for the top tables so we just decided to choose a few must-have units that we really wanted to field.  I’ve mustered a rag-tag band of misfits – two squads of penal legionnaires, my ogryns, and my demolisher Anathema led by a Primaris Psyker.  In fact this little army has really captured my imagination, and got me thinking about a full-sized force of penals, abhumans and psykers, supported by assault battle tanks.  I think an army like that would be fun to play and really capture the weird undertone of the Imperial Guard fluff that lurks underneath the “normal army dudes” surface.

Victory Two: After unsuccessfully scouring every art, hardware and car store in town (and the internet) for matt finish spray paint for my Night Goblins I noticed a street art and graffiti shop hiding up some pokey little stairs in the city centre.  They had 200 colours imported from Germany for ten bucks each, and the guy even threw in a smaller nozzle for free for detail work.  It was just an amazing lucky break.  Anyone who’s been to Canberra knows that shops like that don’t exactly grow on trees here so I hope they stay open.  The owners were super-cool and there was all this loud hip-hop and mad pieces on the walls yo, and I felt like a total dork buying graffiti paint for my Night Goblins.  I just kind of pretended I was an aerosol artist (despite having no real idea how an aerosol artist looks or acts).  It was awesome.

Oh yeah, I was listening to the D6 Generation’s 100th episode the other day and all three of the hosts (who are crazy hard-core gamers compared with me) were saying that they were past the point where they could ever see themselves buying an army for an army scale miniatures system ever again.  Not just GW, but any army sized system (I think they specifically mentioned PP, Battlefront and something else as well as GW).

I know how they feel (uh… despite what I just wrote above!)  It made me think about this post where I suggested that all these miniature games companies have really jumped the shark if you’re an adult gamer with grown-up responsibilities.  And by responsibilities I’m not just talking kids either, I’m talking real jobs and other games to play.  All of these things make the demands of games like 40k and HoMachine seem ri-godamn-diculous.

I’m genuinely curious about how the demographic will change in the future.  Are we stepping boldly into a world where Little Lord Fauntleroys with weatlhy absent parents play vast games of Warhammer against each other, while the rest of us whip out our phones or throw down a quick skirmish game?  Who knows?

Till next time.  Hopefully I’ll have pictures from the tournament 😀

Night Goblins!

I found this nice Night Goblins picture on Deviant Art, click for original link.

I’ve been thinking more and more about what I wrote in this article, about finding imaginative ways to quickly paint the large armies that the current editions of 40k and Warhammer demand.  I’m getting excited about the project, so I’ve decided to give it a go and start an army for a system I don’t currently play or have any models for – Warhammer Fantasy Battle.

I was going to go with Skaven.  The new models just look fantastic.  But I’ve discovered that a potential future opponent has already claimed them.  I’m glad really because it made me think about something different, and brought me back to an army I’ve always wanted to try: Night Goblins.  Ever since the 90s when they first appeared I just really liked the hooded creepy-cute look, and the background about them being madcap mushroom-eating freaks with units like fanatics and squig hoppers was just the icing on the cake.  They’re evil little goblins, they’re cute, they’re crazy and they’re fun.  Heh.  Night Goblins rule.

So, since I don’t do things by halves I’m now set on coming up with a super-efficient but great-looking way to paint an army, and I’ve gone with a horde.  Good plan right?

My basic plan is this:

  1. Base them with gravel
  2. Spray them all midnight blue
  3. Blast them from above with a lighter blue for a bold zenith highlight
  4. Wash them with black and brown and other dirty colours
  5. Give the impression of glinting weapons and shield rims with some quick strokes of metallic
  6. Pick out the eyes in bright yellow

If this works I’m thinking it’ll give them a sort of two-tone anime style light-and-shadow effect and make them look like they are scuttling in the dark with glowing eyes.  Something like this:

Drawing by me.

For consistency I need to do everything the same way, but I know it’ll be hard not to put extra touches on the characters, so I’ll try to give them reeeally subtle highlights at the highest points that blend into the lighter blue.  Oh and I’m doing the army on the cheap too because I don’t hate myself that much. I’m really looking forward to making some awesome unit fillers for extra cheapiness.

So I grabbed twenty gobbos from eBay and they’re waiting.  The first hitch has been sourcing midnight blue matte finish spray paint.  It’s harder than you think.  Even artist quality spray paint seems to be made in gloss only.  Buying gloss and then spraying them all with a matte sealer seems a bit wasteful, but I might have to.

Do GW games expect too much of the player?

A small Empire patrol ready for a minor skirmish.

I bet that headline is something you don’t read every day, but I don’t mean “too much” intellectually or tactically or whatever.  This is just something I’ve been thinking about recently.  The GW flagship games are expecting more and more from the hobbyist in terms of commitment.  As discussed in this article about scale, they attempt to mash together a skirmish-game level of detail with squad-level game scale.  Historically this is because they started as skirmish games, but some bright spark noticed that skirmish games inherently limit how many models you need to buy.

Nowadays the “standard” game of a GW game is going to involve several hours, probably close to or more than a hundred models on each side (give or take; depending on the factions being fielded) and all of these models are supposed to be assembled from multi-part kits and painted.  This is all fine I suppose.  It’s traditionally how it’s been done in toy soldier wargaming.  But is the modern gamer really capable of committing this much energy to one game?  I definitely don’t think so, based on my experience.  Now that gaming has stopped being a sporadic activity and become a way of life for many, the number and sorts of games available have exploded.  You can either try and keep up, or stop calling yourself a gamer, because you can be damn sure there’ll be plenty of people out there ready to tell you that you lack the gamer cred to even have an opinion unless gaming takes up a significant amount of your time.

But are companies like GW expecting too much from us?  I can see at least two ways of looking at this.

Yes, they are operating on an old-fashioned model from before the “gamer revolution”.  Modern gamers (most of whom, statistically, are adults) just don’t have the time to commit the amount of energy these games demand without exluding other games they want to play.  There are many other games with an equal, though different measure of depth and player satisfaction that don’t expect anything like the creative energy and sheer monetary cost.  Video games for example, as Fulgrim discusses here on Tears of Istvaan.  GW and companies like them need to adapt or die.

No.  Games Workshop games and other mixed-scale miniature games are for kids.  The company is assuming you are obsessive, play only their game, and have plenty of free time because you are a kid: You aren’t out drinking, or working overtime, or at a party, or playing another game because it’s better suited to pick up and play and you only have an hour.  The company only seems to be expecting too much because you’ve made the mistake of thinking that you, as an adult, can successfully balance the demands of their game with the rest of your life.  It’s not meant to be like that.  You’re meant to play Warhammer as a gateway to adult games.  That’s their niche, and the ridiculous scale and cost in time and money is the signal that sensible grown-ups shouldn’t be playing.

I don’t think it’s that easy to tell which (if either) of these is the right answer to the question.  I’m leaning towards no, I have to say.

I only just noticed Warhammer Fantasy Battle unit fillers

That’s the old Warhammer spirit! Creative modeling and a dark fantasy feel.

I just read this post on House of Paincakes, from Jungles of Lustria, and it really interested me.  I don’t play Warhammer Fantasy Battle these days so I hadn’t realized that this was going on in the community, but seriously, what a great idea!  Apparently there’s some controversy, some people think it’s cheating or whatever, but unless you love being punished by Games Workshop and think we should all line up and take our medicine I can’t see how you could object.

This looks to me like an obvious adaptation to the increasing problem of scale in Games Workshop’s flagship games.  It really warms my heart.  Companies will naturally try to push you into spending as much money as you can bear, but the humble consumer will always find a way around their tricks eventually if the price is seen as exploitative.  Unit fillers solve the problem of the wallet- excruciating, game-retarding number of models WHFB requires these days, and simultaneously encourage imaginative modeling.  Win-win!

If only 40k wasn’t a fake skirmish game I could make some for my Imperial Guard platoons . . .

Warhammer 1995

I was looking for something in my storage unit the other day and I found this, a photo of a diorama I set up way back in 1995 when I was in high school.  I would have been 17 or 18 when I painted these guys.  I used to play Fantasy a lot more than 40k and my Dwarfs far outnumbered my Orks, but somewhere along the line I lost interest in the Old World.

That Daemonslayer is a fantastic model.  It was the mini I was most proud of back then, and I painted that wraith dude for my little brother’s Undead army.  As I remember, I put their bases in a bowl of dirt with a twig for a tree, and set up a glossy hard-cover book with a landscape picture behind them.  I then took a photo with my SLR film camera(!)  Unlike today, when gamer culture is everywhere and nerds rule the earth, it was definitely not cool to be a geek in 1995.  I remember being really hesitant to get this picture developed because the camera shop people would see that I played Warhammer.

When I moved away from the little town I grew up in, I left my Dwarfs with a friend of mine to look after.  I saw him a couple of years later and he’d sold them without asking me, so I have no idea where they are now.  The wraith is in a box, covered in dust at my brother’s place.

For maximum authenticity I have done nothing to this picture in Photoshop but change the size.

Unseen Influences: Michael Moorcock

Michael Moorcock's Elric


No mortal nightmare could encompass such a terrible vision . . . Every so often, the ground heaved and erupted and any human beings unfortunate enough to be in the area were either engulfed and totally transformed or had their bodies warped in indescribable ways. The noise was dreadful, a blending of human voices and roaring Chaos sounds, devil’s wailing laughter, and quite often, the tortured scream of a human soul who had perhaps relented his choice of loyalty and now suffered madness. – Michael Moorcock, Stormbringer (1965)

The fictional universes created by Games Workshop are pretty amazing beasts.  They have grown from the quaint open settings of the 1970s and 80s to the unique visions people all over the world enjoy today.  It would be fair to say that the GW universes now have a strong influence on new fantasy and sci-fi, particularly the latter.  It is quite common to hear the sentiment that the best thing about the GW games is their rich and unique backgrounds.

In this new series of articles I’m going to briefly shed some light on some of the lesser known early influences that have helped to make GW’s lore so rich and diverse.  Of course, all creative work is informed by earlier stuff.  No-one creates in a vacuum and anyone who claims to have told a story that has never been told before is either naive or a liar.  I’m not accusing GW of being unoriginal, or suggesting that these works were the first of their kind and were somehow stolen – I just think it’s important to know where you’re coming from.

So, with the intro out of the way, let’s start with one of the most iconic of GW’s factions, the warriors of Chaos!  In Today’s Unseen Influences we are going to look at the early work of the British fantasy author Michael Moorcock. Continue reading

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