Forge World Empire Landship – A Review

fw-logo

 

When the idea for ‘A Tale of Two Armies’ was first mooted, the understandable wrangling over which armies we would collect ensued with both Phil and I swinging between various options.  The decision to collect an Empire army, and then base it on my Marienburger warband I collected for Mordheim, was swung in the end by a very large and very impressive model – The Empire’s Marienburg Class Landship from Forgeworld.

landship1

When I first laid eyes on it I just knew it would be the centre piece for my Empire army, serving as Ludvig von Bomberg’s (ahem) Flagship.  The character of the army was to include the weird and wonderful – and most expensive pieces a general could ever wish for, and this was a perfect fit.  And I reasoned any Marienburger with the means to own such a mighty machine of war would insist on riding in it personally over a mere horse, or Sigmar forbid, on foot.  Unfortunately the rules don’t allow for it to be used as either a mount or a Chariot (they really should look into that) so he would only ever be present as a decoration. The kit even comes with a suitable character model in the form of the ship’s Captain – along with 5 other crewmen.  All are fantastic sculpts in their own right and represent great value for money if you were to weigh up how much a set of 6 would cost to purchase separately.

landship13

The fine sculpting doesn’t stop with the crew either, the whole model is covered in nice details – like the individually designed shields covering the fo’castle, or the figurehead that’s seen better days.  All these details on a model of this size make it quite daunting to tackle painting wise, the photographs on the Forgeworld website show it in comparison to things like a Giant and a Steam Tank, and it’s no less impressive in the flesh – it’s massive, and will tower over most things.  Thankfully, the hull and boiler are cast together in just two very hefty pieces which helps cut down on the number of parts (of which there are still many), but it does mean a lot of time and effort needs to go into making sure these fit together as perfectly as possible and a lot of dry fitting and test assembly is recommended.  Unfortunately due its size and complexity, the Landship falls firmly into the category of subassemblies, which will need painting separately and then putting together afterwards – which is something I’m always keen to avoid but is understandable on something this size.  For example, the location of the cannon makes the area impossible to paint if the fo’castle is glued in place – and still difficult if not.  And the mast is definitely a piece to leave gluing in until last as it obstructs the whole interior. Ditto the Skaven Doomwheel-esque rear wheels.

landship15

Rules wise, the Landship is not quite the beast I would have expected – especially given its points cost.  Offensively it falls significantly short of the only model you could really compare it to – the Steam Tank.  Its cannon is the lighter Strength 7 version instead of the standard 10, and it doesn’t have the same destructive potential in combat, doing only D6 impact hits compared with the D6 plus D3 per Steam Point expended in moving for the Steam Tank.  It does have the advantage of having Thunderstomp and close combat attacks to win a combat with – but it’s only D6 attacks at a lowly Weapon Skill and Strength of 3.  In comparison to the Steam Tank’s ‘Grind’, which again does D3 automatic hits per Steam Point at its usual Strength of 6, you’d have to say again the Steam Tank is the better.  The Land Ship’s secondary ranged attack of a Fusillade comprising D6 Hand Gun shots is not really something you can compare with the Steam Gun on the Tank as they are very different weapons, but with the premium placed on template weapons in 8th Edition Warhammer, yet again the Steam Tank is looking the winner.  Weapon for weapon, it’s quite easy to see which unit will be doing the most damage on the battlefield.

Defensively it’s a bit more even.  They have the same toughness of 6, and although the Steam Tank has the better Armour save of 1+ to the Landship’s 3+, the Landship has 2 more wounds (for a whopping 12!) and a 6+ Ward Save.  It also doesn’t have to rely on Steam Point generation to carry out its actions and potentially damage itself in the process.

They are of course very similar machines with merely a slightly different focus. The Steam Tank has the sheer brute force and damage potential, whereas the Landship is the more reliable (somehow!) of the two and more likely to see the end of the battle, even if it does have a scarily unforgiving misfire table for when it goes wrong – just pray you don’t roll a double 1 or 6 when charging.

Generally I can see myself using the Landship to proxy a second Steam Tank most of the time and then using it as intended for larger battles or special scenarios.  It’s an effective war machine that will terrify your opponent through its sheer size if not its damage output, but at 300 points it’s a tough decision as to whether it will be worth the points.  It’s certainly a hard task for your opponent to get points out of it and the non-reliance on Steam generation is a definitive advantage – but is it enough to overlook the raw destructive power of the 50 point cheaper Steam Tank (who I’ve just remembered also has an Engineer with another gun)?  If it was based on looks alone it’s an all hands down yes, but as always the choice is yours.

Lee

The Empire Marienburg Class Landship is available from Forgeworld priced £118.50

Project Middenheim

So four of The Chaps and I, including the newest member; John (follow him @InformationHead), played a game of Mordheim last week. We played a slight variation of the Quayside scenario that can be downloaded for free in the gaming reources section of this blog.

The board looked smashing, sporting a quay (obviously), a jetty, fenced off ‘warehousing’ and even a hooker beneath a lamp post. We even threw in the rule that anyone straying too close had to pass an initiative test or fall foul of her charms and spend a turn being…serviced shall we say?

If only the game, for me, had been as fun as setting up the board. This had nothing to do with the game as such, or the company. I’ve been struggling to get into the campaign from the word go and I’m yet to have any measured success at all with my Witch Hunters. I’m not entirely sure why that is, although I think I can stand to review my tactics ahead of my game with John on Friday.

I’ve concluded that the reason I’ve not been enjoying myself is for the following reasons:
1. We’ve been playing far too many big games which almost always results in one warband taking a good kicking from all the others. When you have an ‘elite’ warband like mine each kicking is acutely felt.
2. The larger games have meant that even in defeat certain warbands have benefitted better than they should have and allows for abuse of victory conditions.
3. I’m not enjoying my warband. That’s not to say that I’m not very fond of Izabella von Strauss and her merry band of warrior women (and her pervy hangers on) but my enthusiasm has diminished.

This had me thinking about the future of the campaign and whether or not to:
A. Stop the campaign
B. Restart the campaign – especially in light of John’s addition to the group
C. Start a new game and a new campaign
D. B & C
E. Start a new warband and possible B and/or C

Needless to say, I’m leaning towards E. And as narrative is very important to me, I wanted to make sure that if I were to embark on a new warband that I’d be just as passionate about whoever they are as much as my Witch Hunters. To be honest, my choices were limited as we already have Marienburg and Reikland warbands in the campaign but I was already strongly leaning towards Middenheim because it allows me to start a completely fresh project on a style of models I never had before, with lots of personality but also allowing me to get stuck into finding some cracking models to make my warband unique.

Queue Freebooter Miniatures. Regular readers will know that I’m very fond of Freebooter as my Witch Hunters characters are all made up of their models. This time round I was looking for strapping chaps with beards rather birds with sharp sticks. And although I found a couple I also had to squeeze in a couple of girls too because the models are too good.

So below are four models from Freebooter that I quite fancy getting to kick the warband off with:

image

Intended to be used as the captain, this big bugger tells a story that he was once at the head of a proud army. His build suggests that although gone slightly to seed, he can still pack a punch. Especially with that chuffing great hammer.

image

This model is another beauty and comes with a fecking great hammer. Again, I’m thinking that he is most likely to be an ex-soldier, possibly having served beneath the captain and is now his bodyguard.

image

I’ve always loved this model and think it would play the role of the captain’s hot headed daughter having followed him to the City of the Damned, forcing him to add her to his roster of warriors just to keep her where he can see her.

image

And finally, a simple yet striking pose; this model would be the daughter’s maid/lady in waiting and circumstance has forced her to swap darning needles for short swords in an effort to keep her and her charge out of harms way. But being a Middenheimer, she’s not afraid of a fight.

It’s early days and I’ve not even orderd anything yet but it’s all very exciting. I just need to figure out how many more models I need, and where I can find them as accurate models that aren’t the very dated Free Company models are very hard to find.

A Certain Point of View

I’ve mentioned in an earlier post, recently decided to restart Necromunda with The Chaps. It’s a cracking game and, like any narrative driven game, it really gets the creative juices flowing as I get to write an exciting campaign pack as well as after action reports which I format appropriately and then circulate. I do this for two reasons. 1) It’s fun. 2) It keeps the interest in the campaign high which can be real challenge considering we’re all attached and have demanding day jobs that can make the thought of arranging another game of toys and the associated logistics seem a bit much. The After Action Reports help to dispel some of that and keep things fresh.

I’ve also been building my samples ahead of my ‘first look’ review for Studio McVey’s Sedition Wars and I found myself thinking how good many of the models would be as an Escher gang and also a KemVar squad for MERCS, also in the review pipeline. This made me cast my mind back to Scibor Miniatures and their plethora of beautifully sculpted ‘sci-fi warriors’. If you’ve never seen their stuff then you should. Because they’re epic.

But my point is that these beautifully sculpted models are intended to serve as proxy Space Marines but their origins lie outside of the Games Workshop and so offer a whole new take on the most used army in the game. Aside from the Sanguinius-esque model above and the Emperor like model below offering a tremendous sense of drama and occasion, as well as the option of fighting heresy games, Scibor takes the ideas established by the GW one step further.

So rather than implied Space Vikings in the form of Space Wolves, it gives you Space Celts. And similarly, Spartans in Space etc. And do you know what? That’s fine with me because originality is what keeps hobbies fresh.

And who wouldn’t be more than happy to use the above models to proxy Thunderwolf cavalry? Although at around £28 each you need deep pockets. And fielding an army of Spartan Space Marines would be awesome. And it comes back to one of my favourite things which is writing. The opportunity to create a chapter around the Spartan ideals or the Celtic traditions would be brilliant fun. It’d change the feel of the game for the user and their opponent. Their background would impact on the campaign and, at a basic level, look eye-catching on the board just because they’ll look a bit different.

I guess the point of this post is that providing your opponent is happy there’s no reason why you shouldn’t use anything that captures your imagination for your army because at the end of the day it’s all about having fun and it gives us the opportunity to explore our hobby with new eyes. It challenges us to create our own little part of the canon and share it with others and, ultimately, have a bloody good laugh in the process.

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!