[WFB] The Twin Princes of Tiernmas

Barrow Kings.

That’s the lede, lest it not be buried. Now, the explanation.

I love the idea of the Tomb Kings: the ancient and eternal watchers over dead kingdoms, enacting timeless rituals over resting bones, rising and slaying when the living transgress on their domains.

I quite like the gameplay of the Tomb Kings: the distinction between Hierophant and General allows me to take risks with the army’s best fighter while keeping the army’s best wizard safe, and the magic, although subtle, is satisfying in its sheer reliability. As with my Vampires I find them a bit lacking in mid-sized games when I have to bring a narratively superfluous caster along just to keep my magical heft up, but that’s not their fault.

What I don’t like is the Tomb Kings models that I own. Most of my line troops are brittle mixed-medium Mantic kits that fall apart as soon as I look at them (yes I have heard of pinning; no I am not doing it for forty sodding Skeleton Archers); the “prime Zandri Dust and paint the details” approach hasn’t worked out as well as I’d like either, and they’re so samey, the worst thing for a reluctant painted like me.

What I also don’t like is that I have a huge bag of Gripping Beast Revenants (technically they are Mindless now, but I bought them as Revenants and Revenants they shall always be) which I don’t use because I live many miles away from any kind of SAGA scene.

But if you squint, those are solid single piece undead miniatures, off of which bits do not fall. And if you happen to go peeking online, you’ll know that Gripping Beast now do a wider range of undead infantry. And if you happen to be me, permanently frustrated in the search for third party cavalry and chariot figures that look remotely modern, the whole issue can be sidestepped if you go old-school and load up on whatever chunky single piece cavalry take your fancy.

The Twin Princes resolve all of this. Selling off my Mantic and TTCombat Tomb Kings should generate enough currency for additional Gripping Beast figures: an armoured warlord, a crowned and spectral sorcerer, a goodly number of armoured sword and board skeletons and some skeletons with bows. Put these alongside my existing big wizard and zombie horde, and that might be a credible (if slow) undead army. I can play that lot as about 1000-1500 points of…

Tomb Kings, with the new characters playing the part of Tomb Prince and Liche Priest respectively, and the Mindless Revenants serving as Skeleton infantry.

Army of Sylvania, since the Revenants also came with two big plague pits that make ideal Grave Markers and a suitably nefarious looking not-Vampire (probably going to brandish the Rod of Flaming Death so I get a third Bound Spell in there somewhere).

Undead, going all the way back to fourth edition: plenty of Wight Champions among the Gripping Beast Hearthguard figures, a unit of archers to provide covering fire, and a suitably vast blobule of Zombies for raising and disposing. And a Liche as my general!

The Revenants are already primed and inked, and they will set the tone for the proceedings nicely; all they’ll need is a coat of paint on their dead skin and some suitably incoherent, desaturated colours on their clothes.

Of course, the whole thing needs background, and this is where we turn to the narrative I worked up for The Maven & The Witch. We know that there are cairns of ancient civilisations dotted all over Bretonnia and Athel Loren, from the dark times between the fall of Nagash and the rise of Giles le Breton. We know also that such a collection of tombs lies within the region of High Tessonfroid, the chill high place overlooking La Vallee des Manchots Frenetique and the domain of Hiver le Sable, because my Wood Elves have been hard at work on ensuring that said tombs’ occupants remain firmly indoors.

And so we have it. Twin princes, from the ancient kingdom of Tiernmas that was before Tessonfroid. A warrior and a warlock, unalike in dignity, united in their goal: to take back what was theirs, to see the cursed winter never end, to drive out the living and reign as two kings!

Being no fool, and having struggled with Tomb Kings in my handful of games so far, I intend to try before I buy, taking “the build” in sixth edition, sneaking them in as the third-round opponents for The Maven & The Witch and nudging the points value of that engagement up to compensate. I am so in love with the concept and the painting possibilities here that I’ll probably do it anyway, but it doesn’t hurt to try. “The build”, incidentally, looks a bit like this:

Tomb Prince                154
Blade of Mourning, light armour, shield
Liche Priest               165
Cloak of the Dunes, Neferra's Plaque of Mighty Incantations

24 Skeletons (shields)     192
24 Skeletons (shields)     192
16 Skeletons (bows)        128

24 Tomb Guard              368
Champion, musician, standard (Icon of Rakaph)

1200 points: eggs, meet basket. I wouldn’t take an army like this to a pick-up game, but it’ll do to test the basic principle. They’ll be up against the Maven and her forest friends, not a force with a great deal of spell denial under their belt, so I’m hoping two Incantations will do the job, especially with a reroll to any embarrassing snake eyes from the Hierophant. The Blade of Mourning is in purely because I like its name, and it will help with shooing away the Dryads in the absence of auto-breaking.

The figures will be proxied by elements of my Sylvanian family: Skeletons will be acting as Skeletons, albeit with some spears and crossbows that aren’t really there. A Wraith and a Necromancer will do for the Prince and the Priest. My Drakenhof Guard have consented to lower themselves to pretending they’re ordinary sword and board boys for the outing. You are welcome to imagine members of this range hanging about the battlefield instead, or to picture my “they’re playing pieces so let’s ‘paint’ them as such” Revenants, from the featured image.

I shall be in touch. But right now, it’s back to painting trees.

[WFB] Of Angharad the Aghol and the Trouble with Chaos Lists

Ever since I acquired a Middlehammer Giant (the rather feral looking metal one who arrived with the sixth edition Greenskins book) I’ve had this fantasy of doing a Marauder tribe, led by that new female chieftain they’ve done for Age of Sigmar and with perhaps a lone Exalted Daemon fluttering around as her patron spirit. The Giant, of course, is her overgrown and perpetually drunk “big brother”, the heart and soul of the clan even if he was at the back when the brain cells were being handed out.

Angharad the Aghol begins her career as an Aspiring Champion, lowest of the low pointed, Unmarked and barely equipped. She remains as such in Warbands and Border Patrol games, acquiring either a Sorcerer pal or an Exalted Daemon patron and maybe a magic item or two during the move into 1000 pointers. At 1500 she levels up to Exalted Champion, at 2000 to Chaos Lord: perhaps a Daemon Prince beyond, or perhaps that fate will be reserved for her pal (actually, yes, he can reveal his true colours as the army grows, shucking off his mortal shell, or perhaps the Familiar is a possessing spirit that finally takes over: that works for me).

It’s very compelling and yet for some reason I can’t settle into an army list for it. I think it keeps getting tangled up with all the other thoughts I have on Chaos – that “Knights of Ashteth” concept I have knocking around that I originally came up with for some fanfiction I wrote when I was about fourteen a Black Legion force for Rogue Trader, and my longing to get a Greater Daemon onto the battlefield and “flip the script” by having the object of worship turn up to lead its followers. That might actually work better in a Beastman context, with a tribe worshipping Ashteth the Keeper of Secrets as the ultimate expression of the Gor form, and the Knights joining up alongside the Daemon itself as additional troop types. (And that’s a 2000 point army to sit alongside this now apparently discrete 3000 points of Marauders… to which I could add those Dragon Ogres I am apparently half crazed with.)

The thing is, Chaos lists are quite hard to build even if you’re sticking to one troop type. I find myself flirting and fiddling with Chaos armies and I can never quite get the sense of scale I want for them: there’s no redundancy. Everything has to be corners-and-costs-cut to fit into 2000 points and I end up with no extra units, no redundancy, no feeling of horde.

To be clear, I’d only do this if I were suddenly taken wealthy, and I’d be painting it forever and a day. BUT.

SMALL WARBAND                           188/200

Angharad the Aghol                      92
Aspiring Champion with shield

Men of the Aghol Tribe                  96        
4x4 Chaos Marauders with flails
LARGE WARBAND/BORDER PATROL                             492/500

Angharad the Aghol                                      120
Aspiring Champion with Mark of Slaanesh
> Biting Blade, Enchanted Shield

Men of the Aghol Tribe                                  90 
10 Marauders with flails
Champion, musician and standard

Men of the Aghol Tribe                                  90 
10 Marauders with flails
Champion, musician and standard

Aghol Outriders                                         96
5 Marauder Horsemen with spears and throwing spears
> musician

Aghol Outriders                                         96
5 Marauder Horsemen with spears and throwing spears
> musician
SMALL ARMY                                                  997/1000

Angharad the Aghol                                          140
Exalted Champion with Mark of Slaanesh
> Biting Blade, Enchanted Shield

Aesmar the Pale                                             145
Sorcerer
> magic level 2
> Spell Familiar
> Dispel Scroll

Men of the Aghol Tribe                                      150 
20 Marauders with flails
Champion, musician and standard

Men of the Aghol Tribe                                      150 
20 Marauders with flails
Champion, musician and standard

Aghol Outriders                                             96
5 Marauder Horsemen with spears and throwing spears
> musician

Aghol Outriders                                             96
5 Marauder Horsemen with spears and throwing spears
> musician

Oglaf the Giant                                             205
GROWING ARMY                                                1497/1500

Angharad the Aghol                                          170
Exalted Champion with Mark of Slaanesh
> Biting Blade, Enchanted Shield, Gaze of the Gods

Aesmar the Pale                                             165
Sorcerer with Mark of Slaanesh
> magic level 2
> Spell Familiar
> Dispel Scroll

Men of the Aghol Tribe                                      150 
20 Marauders with flails
Champion, musician and standard

Men of the Aghol Tribe                                      150 
20 Marauders with flails
Champion, musician and standard

Aghol Outriders                                             96
5 Marauder Horsemen with spears and throwing spears
> musician

Aghol Outriders                                             96
5 Marauder Horsemen with spears and throwing spears
> musician

Hounds of Aesmar                                            30
5 Warhounds

Knights of Aesmar                                           285
5 Chaos Knights with Mark of Slaanesh
> Champion, musician and standard
> Rapturous Standard

Fiends of Aesmar                                            150
10 Furies

Oglaf the Giant                                             205
ARMY                                                             1997/2000

Angharad the Aghol                                                     285
Chaos Lord with Mark of Slaanesh
> Biting Blade, Enchanted Shield, Gaze of the Gods

Aesmar the Pale                                                        370
Exalted Daemon of Slaanesh
> magic level 2
> Spell Breaker, Diabolic Splendour

Men of the Aghol Tribe                                                 150 
20 Marauders with flails
Champion, musician and standard

Men of the Aghol Tribe                                                 150 
20 Marauders with flails
Champion, musician and standard

Aghol Outriders                                                         96
5 Marauder Horsemen with spears and throwing spears
> musician

Aghol Outriders                                                         96
5 Marauder Horsemen with spears and throwing spears
> musician

Hounds of Aghol                                                         60
10 Warhounds

Knights of Aesmar                                                      285
5 Chaos Knights with Mark of Slaanesh
> Champion, musician and standard
> Rapturous Standard

Fiends of Aesmar                                                       300
20 Furies

Oglaf the Giant                                                        205
HORDE                                                            3000/3000

Angharad the Aghol                                                     335
Chaos Lord with Mark of Slaanesh
> Biting Blade, Armour of Damnation, Enchanted Shield, Gaze of the Gods, Pendant of Slaanesh

Baalmung                                                               346
Shaggoth Champion with Mark of Slaanesh
> great weapon, light armour

Grishnov the Pale                                                      370
Exalted Daemon of Slaanesh
> magic level 2
> Spell Breaker, Diabolic Splendour

Men of the Aghol Tribe                                                 150 
20 Marauders with flails
Champion, musician and standard

Men of the Aghol Tribe                                                 150 
20 Marauders with flails
Champion, musician and standard

Champions of the Aghol Tribe                                           250
10 Chosen Warriors with Mark of Slaanesh
Champion, musiican and standard

Aghol Outriders                                                         96
5 Marauder Horsemen with spears and throwing spears
> musician

Aghol Outriders                                                         96
5 Marauder Horsemen with spears and throwing spears
> musician

Hounds of Aesmar                                                        60
10 Warhounds

Hounds of Baalmung                                                      60
10 Warhounds

Knights of Aesmar                                                      345
5 Chosen Knights with Mark of Slaanesh
Champion, musician and standard
> Rapturous Standard

Fiends of Aesmar                                                       300
20 Furies

Oglaf the Giant                                                        205

Sons of Baalmung                                                       237
3 Dragon Ogres with great weapons and light armour

There it is. Very magic light, and will approach this deficiency by attempting to brutally murder enemy wizards as early as possible. Probably not very good, but it nails the sense of development, the path to glory that’s crucial to a Chaos warband. If the formatting’s a bit busted I can only apologise, it was three in the morning and I just wanted to get the lists written. I’ll fix it later. In the meantime, what do you think?

[WFB] In Which Mr. E Contemplates a Sylvan Future

Every so often I get really into a faction on the Total War: Warhammer and come over all “what if I did them on the tabletop?” Normally this wears off after a weekend or two, but sometimes it sticks, and the last time it stuck I ended up with a Tomb Kings army.

This time around it’s Wood Elves. Now, I have many memories of being kicked around the table by armies that only have three actual Wood Elves in them (all Spellsingers) and no desire to lose friends and alienate people – but I have rather fallen for the Drycha army and the Forest Spirit models are the easiest to lay hands on in this day and age.

Further commentary to follow the units themselves, but first, the list!

HEROES
The Maven of Deadwood          165
Branchwraith                    65
Level 1 wizard                  50
Cluster of Radiants             25
Annoyance of Netlings           25
                                160
Spellsinger                     90
Glamourweave Kindred            20
Dispel Magic Scroll             25
Divination Orb                  25
                                158
Noble                           75
Alter Kindred                   25
Helm of the Hunt                20
Glamourweave                    30
light armour, shield            4
great weapon                    4
                                150
Noble                           75
Battle Standard                 25
Moonstone of the Hidden Ways    35
Briarsheath                     15
CORE
10 Glade Guard                  120
10 Glade Guard                  120
10 Glade Guard                  120
8 Dryads                        96
8 Dryads                        96
SPECIAL
5 Tree Kin                      325
5 Wild Riders                   130
musician
RARE
Treeman                         285
Great Eagle                      50

The rough (and at this stage still hypothetical) plan is to pick up the post-Wood-Elf warband for that Warhammer Underworlds thing to make my characters, the Start Collecting box for the angry tree faction to… start collecting, boxes of Tree-Revenants and Wild Riders to round things out and then use third party ranges for the archers and eagle. The specific ranges and sets I have in mind will make it very easy to build bigger units if I decide this “MSU” malarkey is a bridge too far. Regiments of 16 Glade Guard and Dryads would take the edge off.

The Trees? Well, it’s not a proper Wood Elf army without a Treeman in my ever-humbles, and while the current miniature is very much a Bigger Giant it’ll go nicely with the Bigger Giants occasionally adorning my opponents’ armies. The Tree-Kin are there partly because I like the newer models and partly because all my armies have a big wedge of 40mm bases to take point or hold a flank and worry people.

I’m not entirely sure about the odd 180 points. The Great Eagle is there because the giant budgies are such classic pestering units, while the Wild Riders are a frivolous “whyever not?” choice largely motivated by my wanting at least some cavalry and them being still in production.

I want to go fairly light on magic and not bother with a Lord choice, just to provide a firm contrast to my top-heavy Vampire Counts army. I’m hoping that five Dispel dice, a bonus from the Divination Orb on any big casts and an emergency Scroll will be enough to nurse me through most magical nonsense, while my own magic phases will be two (three?) casts of Tree Singing to see what happens.

The Alter Noble is there largely because I know Dr. Shiny has some bad memories with them and I delight in causing him the conniptions. Certainly seems to throw out a lot of attacks, and I opted for mixed weaponry to keep my options open. Finally, there’s a Battle Standard Bearer whose job is to teleport key units out of peril and stay close to the Treeman to ensure the big lug remains in the fight. (I am tempted by the Bow of Loren and Alter Kindred on this fellow instead of the Big Flag, and would appreciate insight on this front from people who know what they’re talking about).

There is also the matter of colourscheme. While I flirted with the idea of an autumnal army, all reds and oranges, and while autumn is my favourite time of year, there are many pressing influences in another direction. I have a winter-styled board at home – it may not be at ease with my old-fashioned DIY approach to terrain, but the battlemat and the mausoleum pieces I have somehow ended up with are already snow-encrusted and I am likely to buy the plastic Citadel wood simply because… the free wood for being Wood Elves is part of your army, it should be models, and these are of a good standard size with the hole in the middle for moving your units about in.

Beyond this, I must think of my opponents. Dr. Shiny’s Bretonnian army hails from a realm of eternal and unnatural snow because he’s a big old goth like that. Discussion with my learned colleague reveals he was thinking of doing a companion force of Wood Elves, and is rather glad that one of us has finally acted on the impulse. Basing my army to match his (dark earth and piled snow) would create two armies that look like they’re from the same place, and we can synergise our backgrounds around the Curse of Tessingfroid to justify a sort of on-and-off alliance between our forces, turning nasty on each other but uniting against outside interference.

Ruminating on the concept suggests an isolated, deep-frozen and withered heathland of Athel Loren, bereft of leadership and long neglected. Its inhabitants have become more spectral and quixotic than even the average elf, and their leadership is doing the best it can with gnawing cold robbing them of what sense they had. Occasional friendly contact with the local Bretonnians does occur – at least, when Amaranth the Damsel of the Lady speaks, the Maven stares intently and does not kill her, for reasons that don’t bear too much analysis – but when the seasons of the world should turn the Deadwood Conclave have a habit of forgetting pacts once signed and sealed. The Deadwood Conclave, or something like that.

A strong argument for the pale kin of bleak midwinter, then. Dryad Bark and Drakenhof Nightshade on the two-tone Tree-Kin of modern times, with red and yellow leaves clinging on here and there to denote the units; some blue-greys and smoother mid browns on the archers’ clothes to create variety. I like the idea of doing everyone with blue-tinged skin though, really ham up that magical curse aesthetic. I may even break out the Polished Blue for trinkets and things: it’s a very rich colour for Wood Elves but they don’t have much metal so it should be allowed to pop.

This is all assuming the enthusiasm doesn’t wear off in a week or two, anyway. I might end up spending the money on more Ghouls or something equally mundane.

UPDATE: it looks like the enthusiasm has not, in fact, worn off, and we are, in fact, doing this.