Back in October I did a fair amount of prattling on about Mordheim (which can be read here and here) and one of the things that I thought would be fun would be to get The Chaps to write about their warbands and take you on part of their journey to domination over the Damned City. The first installment is brough to you by Ian, the most senior of all The Chaps.
I’ve known Ian for 13 years now and he is without doubt one of my best friends despite being a certain number of years my senior. He was even a groomsman at my wedding, as was his son and junior Chap; Neil. Ian and I met through, strangely enough, my mum who worked with Ian at the time. During a lunch break she noticed Ian reading a White Dwarf and commented ‘My son plays those games’. And so started an enduring friendship despite me wiping the floor with him all these years. We’ve played countless games and been an invaluable sounding board for Project Awesome.
So without further ado, I give you Ian and his Undead warband…Sigmar help you.
I recently received an email inviting me as senior, OK oldest, member of The Chaps to contribute a piece to The Shell Case explaining how I came to pick my latest Mordheim war band so, for better or worse, here it is.
Firstly a brief history lesson, or ‘How I came to the wonderful world of wargaming’. I started back in the 1970s with a group of friends from school, a lot of Airfix plastic Napoleonics (mostly unpainted) and a home-grown set of rules based on the works of Donald Featherstone & Terence Wise. A brief flirtation with fantasy gaming followed using SELWGs Lord of the Rings rules, but by then we had left school, the group had broken up so I was left with a couple of armies and no one to play with. The rules and figures got dusted off once Neil, (eldest son and junior Chap), was old enough to play but the rules were so complicated that the games were not very satisfying – and let’s face it why play a game if you don’t enjoy it?
About 17 years ago I discovered Warhammer Quest, Games Workshop, acrylic paints and spray undercoat (no more Humbrol enamels on bare metal!). A series of chance encounters lead to the formation of The Chaps and I now divide my time between historical gaming, (mainly the Sudan campaign of the 1880s & 90s & the English Civil War), and GW games mostly Mordheim and 40k. I’m currently working on an Imperial Guard army inspired by the 1942 German invasion of Russia (TSC: Yeah and they looking freaking awesome).
When we started our last Mordheim campaign I was using my Sisters of Sigmar warband; I found the idea of a bunch of psycho nuns running around a ruined city dealing out death and retribution with hammers rather appealing, which is why the Sisters of Little Mercy came into being. However I found them difficult to use, mainly due to their lack of long-range firepower and my crap dice rolling when in hand to hand combat. The Chaps will attest to my ability to roll dice like a drunken chimp (TSC: I can, indeed, attest to this.)
By the end of the first game my Matriarch, a Sister Superior and a Sister were out of action. Some horrendous rolls during the recovery phase at the end of the game resulted in the Matriarch and the Sister Superior dying so with insufficient gold to replace even one of them I had to the start warband again. As the campaign moved on I was able to upgrade weapons and armour but at last the time came when I wanted to recruit more nuns, it was at this point that I discovered that the Sisters of Sigmar are only available as a boxed set plus a couple of loose figures, (eBay?! – it’s an age thing). I ended up purchasing a Matriarch armed with a steel whip to be a third Sister Superior and a blister pack of Sisters of Battle Repentias which I converted by clipping off their chainswords and replacing them with hammers; the eagle-eyed among you will have realised that between the initial and the later purchase my painting had undergone a radical change mainly due to a switch to black undercoat and a darker pallet of colours.
When the new campaign started I decided I needed a change, the sisters no longer look like a coherent group and to be frank I wanted to try something new. I considered pit fighters as I have a warband painted up and unused, but again they are only available as a single boxed set, which makes buying extra figures awkward, and to be honest each member of the band specialises in a single style of fighting, the idea of kitting them out with extra weapons and armour just doesn’t feel right.
During a conversation with Neil the idea of an undead war band was floated (TSC: Who do you think gave Neil the idea?!); ‘why not fight on the side of evil for once?’ I liked the idea of an agent working in the city to further the evil machinations of the Von Carsteins, especially as there are opportunities for him to ‘go native’ and start pursuing his own agenda. At some point we could also indulge in a little father and son alliance against the rest as at the time Neil’s Skaven warband were our token ‘baddies’. Checking the warband out online I realised that the metal zombies that come with it are a Sister of Sigmar (my old warband), a witch hunter (Caito’s warband), a Marienburger (Jeremy’s and Lee’s warband) and a generic ‘posh bloke’, I was sold.
Having got the models in my hot sticky hands the first thing that I decided was that I didn’t like the silly crocodile jaw head on the vampire’s halberd; knowing my ability to roll badly I decided that I would arm him with 2 swords instead – 2 ST 5 attacks are all very well but this way he would get 3 attacks at ST 4, so there will still be modifier to the armour save, and he would gain a parry and re roll. Luckily the hand holding the halberd is separate so it was just a case of lopping off a plastic hand holding a sword and sticking it onto the model. Using parts from Neil’s bit box I managed to build a zombie skaven (TSC: Also my idea via Neil. Dance my puppets dance!) and with a couple of stand in models I was ready to roll. The starting line up consisted of the Vampire armed with 2 swords, a Necromancer, 2 dregs, a couple of dire wolves and 6 zombies. By the end of that first game I realised that I needed a third Igor – as an homage to Terry Pratchett all of my dregs are called Igor – and some ghouls.
The good thing about The Chaps is that none of us are precious about using the ‘correct’ models; as Caito has already explained on this very blog, most of the characters in his Witch Hunters are Freebooter figures and some of Jeremy’s hand gunners started life as Wargames Foundry swashbucklers. When I discovered that the third dreg I was after is in fact a limited edition GW figure that sells for sums in excess of £50 I decided to look elsewhere. (TSC: Funny that…)
While checking out the Freebooter website I spotted a cracking model called Romerto the street assassin, he’s big so how could I justify using him? Once again Neil came to the rescue (TSC: This actually was Neil that time) by pointing out that dregs are the lowest of the low, which would include thieves and murderers, nothing says they have to be hunchbacks, so ‘Big (Dim) Igor’ was born. I wanted a 6th zombie that wasn’t just the least worst painted member of my old undead army; this had to be Freebooter’s Lady Death – yes I know she has a naked skull and is armed with a scythe, but it’s such a cool model. That just left the ghouls – I don’t like the classic GW models and the new plastic ones are fine but I didn’t want to buy a whole box for 2 or 3 models. It was then that I stumbled on the website for Heresy Miniatures, their ghoul models are so full of character that I bought the ghouls crawling set, the models arrived the day after I placed the order, which is pretty good service in my book, and although they are a bit fiddly to put together they really look the business when painted.
I’ve now played 4 games with the warband and I’m enjoying the steep learning curve I’m on. I quickly leaned that trying to use zombies as a screen of living impaired ablative armour doesn’t work – they’re too slow! My Vampire, to be frank, is rubbish; in the first game, due to the night fighting rules of the Blood in the Barrows scenario, he fell flat on his back the first time he declared a charge and got a bloody good kicking. Once in action he managed to knock several opponents down but failed to finish them off (he finally achieved this in game 3) then at the end of game 3 he got his sodding hand cut off. The Chaps, being their usual sporting selves, suggested that rather than suffer a penalty to his stats he instead now has a crossbow pistol grafted onto the stump and cannot be replaced by anything else. That cloak can hide a multitude of things.
To be frank he’s so inept I think that von Carstein is going to cut him adrift. On the other hand my spear armed Igor is brilliant! In the Blood in the Barrows game he was jumped by a werewolf which by any estimate should have torn the poor little dreg limb from pale limb. But, despite being only WS2 and as much use as a chocolate teapot, Igor impaled the werewolf on his spear. The Chaps were so impressed that they all agreed he deserved an extra experience point and awarded him the honorary title of Igor Wolfsbane. Big Igor on the other hand is all but a cripple having sustained an old battle wounds which may cause him to miss some games (I can’t complain though – he had to make 5 rolls on the serious injury chart at the end of his first game).
What makes Mordheim so enjoyable is that the wee metal men start to take on a ‘life’ and character of their own and even if you do badly during the game you can still improve things with your exploration and experience rolls; for instance, Wolf’s Bane is now ST4 but still only WS2, but he’ll get there. When he does I’ll let you know (if Caito will have me back).
Thanks Ian for taking the time to tell us about your shambling little bastards. Passion for the force you’re collecting is, for me, everything and it’s been great fun watching you engage with your Undead warband and your Imperial Guard. In fact, I might have to get you to write another article about the Emperor’s Cannon Fodder.
Coming up on The Shell Case will be posts from Jeremy, Lee & Neil but before then I thought I’d write a ‘story so far’ for the campaign. You have been warned…