The Daughter of Lahmia

As I mentioned in my return post, I’m working on an Undead warband for Mordheim. I’ve always toyed with Undead armies. I’ve found the background fascinating and the models – for the most part – pretty awesome. The two things that always stayed my hand were the fairly (and by fairly I mean very) dull core choices and I fucking hate painting skeletons. Actually no, I don’t. I fucking hate painting lots of skeletons. And a I have a general, roll my eyes, dislike of zombies.

So a Mordheim warband is a good fit as I get t avoid the things that bug me about the Undead army whilst indulging in the stuff I like. Namely vampires. Plus, with all the End Times stuff going on, I wouldn’t know where to start with a Warhammer army at the moment. My brother has kindly leant me the first 4 books and so far I’ve read…none of them. In my defence Batman comic books are an easier read right now.

On to the Vampires themselves. For a long time the Undead army was just the von Carstein dynasty – or more accurately a rip off of the hammer horror vampires of old right down to the silly outfits and the . The introduction of the Necrarchs, Blood Dragons, Lahmians and (latterly) Strigoi was a seminal moment in the evolution of the Vampire Counts and suddenly presented us with noble families that conjured images of a supernatural war of the roses-esque Undead fight for power. Which is actually pretty cool.

For gaming the Blood Dragons were the lure. For uniqueness of army selection and awesomeness of vampire model the Strigoi won out. But for background and pure fascination the Lahmians has always been my go to house of choice. The Lahmian Court is where it all began. Lahmians are the purest of all the Vampires. They are bewitching, beguiling, enthralling and yet utterly savage and evil. The juxtaposition amuses me.

Needless to say when I toyed with the idea of an Undead warband it was always with a Lahmian at its head. Then I impulsively bought one on eBay. Then I bought a few more things and I had to conclude: well, shit, looks like I’m doing a Lahmian warband…

The story I wanted to tell with my Lahmian was one akin to a wandering succubus. Forever displaced from her homeland and unable to stay in one place for too long, I wanted the Necromancer and her thralls to reflect a journey that would have taken her from one corner of the Warhammer world to the other. If the numbers of models available to me weren’t so limited I could have told a far richer story.

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The Necromancer is actually the Wight King model. I liked the idea of a Sorcerer King, ruling a land tucked out of sight from the prying eyes of Gods and men, so utterly convinced of his magical might and right to subjugate, having his will and all he built stripped away in the face of the Lahmian’s ancient power and beguiling beauty. Even in death the sorcerer cannot slip the bewitching bonds of his mistress, being driven mad as in his undeath he has all the urges and desires of a living man. He hungers but cannot eat. He tires but cannot sleep. He lusts but can never feel. He’s forced to watch an endless parade of simpering fools fawn over his beloved, all cursed to fall from favour, all blessed to die at her hand or someone else’s.

Thralls

The Beloved and Thralls I wanted to feel like great warriors fallen from grace. Their souls, minds and very bodies a secondary consideration in favour of their mistress. In the same way I chose a sorcerer king type for my necromancer, the thralls all had to feel far flung. They don’t get much further flung than a Dark Elf Blackark Fleetmaster. Both Neil and Lee raised eyebrows at this choice more so than the Empire Duellist and a Bretonnian Grail Knight, but the important thing to remember is the powerlessness that mortal minds have against something as ancient as a vampire, even the iron hard will of an Elf. There was something aptly perverse about having a Grail Knight as a thrall. The idea of a Grail Knight abandoning his sacred oaths is all but unheard of. And for the Grail Knight his soul would be forever tormented by that fact. Utterly committed to the Lahmian yet disgusted at the dishonourable wretch staring back from his reflection. The Empire Duellist is an entirely more straight forward affair. Enthralled and yet emasculated by the presence of a Fleetmaster and a Grail Knight he pledges the service of his household guard to her cause, foolishly believing it has trucked favour. A man so hopelessly lost spends as much time challenging his tenuous allies as he does fighting the enemies of his beloved.

I did seriously consider getting an Ogre Bodyguard as the Warband progresses to convey just how far the alluring immortal had travelled. Essentially the dimwitted Ogre would follow the Lahmian around in a state of childlike infatuation. In the end, however I decided to opt for a Vargheist instead. It tells a very different story but, I think a far more compelling one. The creature is all that remains of the Lahmians once true love. Driven to ever greater acts of wickedness through insane jealousy he embraced too deeply the creature that lurked within him. Devolved into a near mindless beast, the Vargheist is the Lahmian’s shadow, protecting her from any and all. Too savage to be instinct, too bestial to be anything other than a lost creature.

If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times – this is why I love Mordheim. A few simple decisions surrounding model selection and the story changes from a wandering vampire with a drooling lustful Ogre in tow, to a once great Lahmian princess with a gaggle of enthralled hangers-on and the twisted shadow of her true love, devotedly at her side.

As I get the models together I’ll write some more solid background and maybe a short story or two. And maybe you might even see some photos of painted models. But let’s not get a nose bleed about it.

FaQs are dead! Long live the FaQs!

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One of the immediate hot topics of conversation (OK hobby rage) after the launch of the new Games Workshop web site was the notable absence of the FaQs section. Any attempt to access them via saved links was met with a pretty clear message:

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Well it would appear that all is not lost. People are reporting receiving a common response to their enquiries to Games Workshop customer services about the missing FaQs which looks like this:

Thanks for the email regarding the FAQs on the new website.

Currently the FaQ’s are not available on the website, as the design team are taking this opportunity to fully update all the FAQ and Errata articles. This is only temporary and these FAQ’s will be made available again in the very near future. 

So, really it’s a case of “good news everyone!” as it would appear that not only are the FaQs not dead, they aren’t even just sleeping, they are getting a full refresh! Hopefully that’ll see some of the more glaring issues with some of the newer codices and army books dealt with (Lizardmen, I’m looking at you with your skink characters on terradons not being able to join units) and a nice fresh set of random rules (undead crumbling randomness, you know what you did) for us all to pore over.

 

Tower of the Necromancer

As mentioned on Twitter I’ve been working on a scenario called the Tower of the Necromancer. Inspired by the Skullvane Manse kit I reviewed recently, I wanted to write a multiplayer Mordheim scenario that not only had a big centre piece like the Manse at its heart but an element that would make the game fast paced and throw up some genuine tactical decision-making, aside from the usual mang stuff in the face.

Some of you may have seen the photo below that I tweeted on Tuesday. It’s of the board Lee put together using our various scenery kits. Mine is easy to spot. They’re the ones with no paint on them… You’ll also notice the awesome explosion markers from Lemon Painting, rather proving my point that they look great as fires in buildings.

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But I digress. The snap is of the original iteration of the scenario. Since Tuesday I have been tinkering with the scenario with the help of Lee and have ended up with two versions. Ambush and Rush. Although essentially the same in terms of premise and special rules, the variations between the two make for very different games.

The scenario is freely available for you to download here and from the Gaming Resources page. I hope you enjoy it.
The background should have been like a parchment but my PDF writer wasn’t playing ball so had to get rid. I’ll fit it at some point and reload.

Vampire Counts Army Book Sneak Peek

Pages have been made available of the new Vampire Counts book. As we’ve come to expect from the latest incarnations of the Warhammer Armies books, it is beautifully realised. And judging by the book, articles on the Games Workshop website and elsewhere, they’ve finally figured out how to have varied armies.

Presumably the answer was to create new units. Seems obvious when you say it out loud.

Anyway, below is some shiny images, after which I’ve provided the interview with Phil Kelly. If it’s anything like his Dreadfleet interview I’d save for when you can’t sleep…

Vampire Counts Model Preview

This natty little video has hit the interwebs showcasing some of the new Vampire Counts models due for release. As one would expect, there’s a massive and completely bonkers warmachine, but I kinda like it. And the character models are awesome.
Enjoy.

Undead Teaser

Just in case any of you were in any doubt that the Undead Hordes were about to be (re-re-re-) released upon the inhabitants of the Warhammer world, this little teaser is doing the rounds.
Enoy.

The Chaps & Mordheim – The Undead

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…