Sigmar’s Angels

Von of the Game Over blog commented on my Mordheim and the Comtessa post saying that the concept of female Witch Hunters intrigued him and he’d like to know more.

As I’m always one to pander to my readers in the vain hope of boosting my figures, I thought I’d write a little bit about how I came to have all female Witch Hunters in my Morheim warband.

Having established that The Chaps were up for a Mordheim campaign a year or so ago, I immediately set about trying to decide what warband to collect. It didn’t take long to settle on Witch Hunters because the background was awesome, warhounds and mental and they’re the only ‘good guys’ in the game other than the Sisters of Sigmar, and in the original campaign (we’re on the second campaign now) our most senior member already had a fully painted Sisters warband and wanted to use them.

So Witch Hunters it was. The problems I now faced were (A) I didn’t like the Mordheim Witch Hunter box set and (B) the models you got didn’t give you anywhere near enough for a full warband. Now, looking back, had I just bought a couple of boxes it probably would have cost me considerably less than the end result, but I never would have been happy with them and therefore, probably would have lost interest in the campaign.

Having ruled out the box set I needed to figure out how I could get Witch Hunters, a Warrior Priest, Zealots, Flagellants and Warhounds. Needless to say, the Warrior Priest was an easy fix.

I’ve always been a massive fan of this model and it was the perfect excuse I needed to finally get my hands on one. As it goes the model I picked up from my local Hobby Centre was slightly miscast on its head but in such a way that made the model look like he had a horrendous scar running his left cheek, over his eye and across the top of his head. So I left it and Brother Tarsis as he became known was walking into the City of the Damned already a seasoned veteran of many a campaign.

The Witch Hunters were proving really difficult as I was looking at a variety of websites trying to find models that fit the bill and were also the right scale. I’d already decided I wanted a female Witch Hunter as I wanted all 4 of them to be very different in look as the job hardly comes with a uniform. So putting a pin in that part of the project I turned to the zealots and flagellants. Again, this was a no brainer as by this point the multipart plastic kit had been out for a while and, again, it’s a box set I’d had my eye on for a while.

The variety in the kit allowed me to make 4 very distinct models with armaments to reflect their role in the warband so although painted roughly the same, they were visually very different. And of course, the bonus with buying a regiment box over a blister pack is that as my warband develops I have the luxury of building alternative weapon load outs for my merry bunch of mentalists and swapping them out as needed.

The warhounds were slightly more difficult as I couldn’t anything that looked remotely like a Warhound and the Mordheim ones weren’t available singly and were going for a fortune on eBay. During a lunch break I got chatting to the then manager of my Hobby Centre and between us we realised that with a clever bit of converting the Chaos Warhounds would be amazing dogs for a Witch Hunter warband. Massive, slavering, brutal creatures who exist to tear heretics limb from limb.

A strategic bit of clipping and green-stuffing gave me three hulking black beasts ready to bring my own personal brand of retribution on my opponents. Plus the utterly ridiculous size of the models gives me quite the psychological advantage in games. That’s not to say dogs aren’t ferocious opponents but they’re limited in what they can do and need to hunt in packs. A loan Flagellant with a flail will cause you far more pain than a single dog. But anyway…

By this point my intended 12 model warband had already cost me quite a bit so I’d given up worrying money and focussed on finding models that I really liked. And having bought a couple of Freebooter models in the past, it didnt’ take me long to find myself browsing their site. As I said I’d already decided I wanted a female Witch Hunter as I saw them as agents of the Empire, moving through towns and cities their presence unfelt by heretics until it was too late and I always felt that a female ‘agent of th Empire’ made complete sense. It wasn’t long before I had found 4 models that I really liked and sat their trying to decide which one I was going to buy. Then a thought struck me. Just get them all.

4 female Witch Hunters. Now at first, being a bit of a background puritan, it didn’t sit that well with me. One female Witch Hunter I could justify, but 4? Really? But I started to think about how the Witch Hunters would operate, realistically. In any other Imperial city a Witch Hunter could walk through the streets as a symbol of Sigmar’s wrath and be feared. In the City of the Damned? Subterfuge would be their primary weapon and who better than a team of female Witch Hunters. Just to be clear at this point, this isn’t sexism, this a fantasy civilisation with its origins set in a pseudo feudal, pre-industrial Germanic empire. It’s reasonable to assume that ‘the little woman stayed home’.

But more than anything it was the variety of the models. That each Witch Hunter has a different method of waging the unseen war. One is dressed in a floor length dress, another looks like she’s spent her years amongst the docks and warehouses of Marienburg or other coastal settlements and so on. The models tell a story before I’ve even rolled a dice and I love that. The impending purchase of the Comtessa model will move the story on again, giving a whole new persona to Izabella Von Strauss, and in turn to Penelope who will go from being a great sword wielding adventurer to the aforementioned cutlass wielding, grog swilling, pistol toting seadog.

But even before that adjustment to the background, by having female Witch Hunters it brings a new twist to their entourage’s motives. The zealots and flagellants fight all the harder for these Witch Hunters, their righteous zeal caught up and twisted by an unhealthy infatuation with their betters that could consume as readily as Chaos would, with equally disasterous results. And Brother Tarsis who struggles to keep the shattered souls of his flock pure, reluctantly following the instructions of his masters whilst inwardly affording them a grudging and hard-earned respect.

And so I present to you my Witch Hunter warband – Sigmar’s Wrath

Mordheim and the Comtessa

So after a long day at work I was able to make it to a game of Mordheim with The Chaps. It’d been a little while since playing and I still haven’t written the after action report from the last game so it felt great to take to the streets once more and have my female band of Witch Hunters and their entourage of pervy zealots and flagellants bring misery to the denizens of the city of the damned.

We played a straight forward wyrdstone hunt that ultimately ended with all four players with 2 shards each. It was, as is always the case with The Chaps, a highly entertaining game with Dire Wolves being curb stomped to second death by Marienburger halberdiers, whilst their problem drinker captain (Baron Ludwig Von Bomberg) stood atop a barrel goblet of wine in hand and shot at anything that moved with his duelling pistols. But, proving that alcohol is Slannesh’s moob milk, he did nothing more than make a lot of noise and almost fall of said barrel.

My Witch Hunters weren’t much more effective; two of them being taken out of action by a Skaven henchman – which should have been taking all on your own tests I’ve just remembered!! – thanks to the critical hit rule. I’ve always sat on the fence with regards to this rule, but after last night I feel that it shouldn’t be open to henchman because (A) they lack the skills at arms for a ‘killing blow’ and (B) they’re at their best when grouped together. This may smack of sour grapes but it’s utterly nonsense to me that a shitty little Skaven can take on a Warhound, a Witch Hunter and a Witch Hunter Captain and walk away unscathed…well until the dog got his act together and ripped the little rat bastard to bleeding, fur covered, chunks.

To be fair, the Witch Hunter Captain had just taken out a Skaven hero with a pointblank shot the eye. The bullet it seemed was possessed by some form of enchantment, causing multiple injures, entering the hapless Skaven’s eye, exiting his chest before imbedding itself in his thigh, rather ruining the ratman for future games. Another rather amusing moment was when one of my flagellants bombed through the Garden of Morr and caved in the skull of a fleeing Skaven hero, wyrdstone clutched in his twisted claws, with a spectacular swing of his flail. The whole thing has got me thinking a lot about house rules and the associated advantages and disadvantages and decided to cover the topic in more depth in another post.

But the biggest revelation for me was that my Witch Hunter armed with a great weapon is pap. At least right now. Running around in a high mobile warband with a weapon that strikes last makes her highly vulnerable – not only to shooting – but in any combat she makes it into. She’s the back up plan – if the first Witch Hunter doesn’t kill the target then she can finish her off. Except any gamer with half a brain will just direct their attacks that the model with the strength 5 weapon who hasn’t had a pop yet. Needless to say she spends games running around snatching objectives or being stabbed a lot. It’s only my often unbelievable luck when rolling dice that has kept her injury free.

So, following a healthy exploration phase and a jammy roll to get my Witch Hunter Captain a brace of duelling pistols, I decided that the great weapon had to go. Which had the added bonus of me getting rid of a model I’ve gone off a bit. So after a little bit of equipment reshuffling and a brief look on Freebooter I decided that the model I’m currently using as the captain will be demoted to a normal Witch Hunter and the Captain, also known as Boss Bird, shall now be played by the rather excellent Comtessa model…

She totally fits in with the image I’ve created for my Witch Hunters and it actually starts to paint a picture that, perhaps, they’re not sanctioned Witch Hunters at all and, instead a moneyed Countess that has put her personal fortune behind an expedition to cleanse the streets of Mordheim, for reasons unknown.

The detailing is brilliant, although I may need to do a spot of converting for weapons, although the back of the dress does rather look like it could conceal an arsenal.

Once the wee lady is bought and painted I’ll post the end result, perhaps with the rest of the warband.

We also threw around some cracking ideas for scenarios so once they’re written I’ll make them available to download in the gaming resources section of the site.

By Proxy

Those that follow me on Twitter will know that I’ve started writing a Necromunda campaign for me and the chaps. This was inspired by two things. The first being the restarting of the Mordheim campaign, for which the campaign pack and some scenarios I’ve written can be downloaded, for free, here. The second was discovering my Necromunda rulebook (and my Epic Armageddon rulebook as it goes) in amongst my back issues of White Dwarf. I was particularly pleased as I had assumed I’d just sold them.

Skirmish games suit our merry little band of gamers because:
1). The financial outlay is low.
2). There are few figures required to build and paint – at least to start with.
3). There’s a strong narrative and progression
4). The games are (relatively) quick.
So it seemed like  a natural progression to run Necromunda along side Mordheim especially as the game mechanic is almost identical. If nothing else, I really enjoy getting people psyched about gaming and sharing their enthusiasm for the modelling projects they’ve embarked upon.

But anyway; starting a Necromunda campaign meant getting a gang. Unfortunately I sold my Goliath, Orlock & Escher gangs years ago. Years and years and years ago in fact. Which left me with a problem in so much as, because the Games Workshop doesn’t actively support the Specialist Games range any more, of which Necromunda is a part, models are expensive on eBay. More so for the original Orlock and Goliath models as the newer ones the Games Workshop did are just shit.

This got me to thinking how I could create a gang, at low-cost, but would still look the part – essentially proxy models. That wonderful catch-all method used by new/young gamers to field armies using models they are yet to buy/build/paint/whatever. My favourite example of this was from the long dead Turn Signals on a Land Raider web comic in which a scale model of a Tyrannosaurus Rex with a turret glued to its head proxied for a Leman Russ battle tank. Or the coke counting as a Tyranid Carnifex.

Having established that Necromunda Orlock models were going for at least a fiver a model on eBay (so around £40+ for the equivalent starter gang) I had to look elsewhere and it took about fifteen minutes to realise that the original metal Catachan Jungle Fighters would make an excellent alternative. An unpainted squad of 10 were going for around £20 on eBay which is far more reasonable. Fortunately for me my friends have an abundance of these excellent, and I would argue pioneering, models from the mid 90’s going spare. So a gang for free. Winners.

But this got me thinking about what else could be used to proxy models for both Necromunda & Mordheim as the games have all but been consigned to the scrap heap. And just a cursory search on the interwebs reveals a plethora of model companies like Scibor Miniatures (who do some truly stunning sci-fi and fantasy models), Mantic, Infinity amongst many others that provide excellent alternatives to old or just plain shite models. If you can save yourself some pennies then bobby.

Mordheim anyone? (Mantic Zombies)

I could be teaching the veteran gamer readers how to suck eggs with this article but being an exclusively Games Workshop gamer, up until about 6 months ago, the thought of using anything other than Games Workshop models for Games Workshop games just didn’t compute. Granted I doubt I’d use anything other than Space Marine models for my Ultramarines, but for a game like Necromunda which is only ever going to be played at home or as part of a games club, there is absolutely no reason why models shouldn’t be swapped out for alternatives.

This Infinity character model would rock it as an Escher gang leader.

And it’s not always about economy. Sometimes it’s just about not liking the models available. The aforementioned Orlock and Goliath gangs for example. I, personally, hate the available Witch Hunter models for Mordheim. All of them. Even the dogs. So instead I bought a flagellant box, a Chaos warhound box, an Empire Warrior Priest (two hammers of course) and 4 characters from Freebooter.

You may notice that they all have lady parts and breaty-lumps. And you’d be shrewd indeed. But the models are lovely and thought of a band of female Witch Hunters really intrigued me and allowed a whole new aspect to the campaign to come to light. Not only were these Witch Hunters, some of the most hated and feared individuals in the Empire, but women to boot! Plus I love the individuality of each of them. It tells a story in of itself. ‘Sophia’ armed with her gunblade is an undercover agent. ‘Penelope’ the assassin-esque one in the middle prefers to stalk her prey, moving amongst the shadows until it’s time to strike… It mixes things up in the best possible way and makes the story fun. Although, be warned, to replicate my 12 model warband be prepared to put your hand in your pocket. At £9 a pop for the Freebooter models they’re not cheap, plus a warrior priest, & two regiment boxes the whole warband cost me £60. Granted I had many spare bits left over which I can use at a later date, but this is, by no means, the economy option.

For a game like Necromunda having different models on the board gives a game approaching the 20 years old a fresh feel. Ultimately, it boils down to that same old thing of if you’re passionate about the models you collect then you’ll be passionate about them on the board. The temptation to use MERCS models in Necromunda is immense, but I don’t have any and the Catachans are free so what ya gonna do? But the potential to do some pretty special stuff with Necromunda and Mordheim is there you just have to have the will to do and the soul to dare!