Chaos Knights – A Review

TaleOfTwoArmies copyThe final part of the Warriors of Chaos Battalion box reviews comes in the form of the Chaos Knights. Saving if not the best, then certainly the spikiest, until last.

Warhammer-logoThis set of Chaos Knights makes the third version I’ve owned since starting a Chaos army all those years ago. To put a chronology, and a bit of history, to it, I bought the Chaos army book, and possibly some unbuilt models, off my brother because he, having read the book, decided he didn’t particularly like Chaos.

Me, at 15/16, being crap with money, always on the look for a bargain and deeply covetous of the army book and models snapped up the offer. I read the book and then did…feck all with the models. They just sat there on a shelf directly below my TV mocking me because (A) I was quite lazy with hobby projects – and before I get awash with comments, I’m not lazy now, I just have no time – and (B) I had no one to play against.

And then I met Ian of The Chaps. He was returning to wargaming and was collecting an Orc and Goblin army. Seeing this as a sign, perhaps even from God, I sprang into action, frantically building my smallish Chaos army and slapping paint on it so Ian and I could get a game in. And from that game a friendship was forged that has last almost half my life. So understandably I remember those old Chaos Knight models, that were the pride of place in my army back then, with some fondness. Despite the fact they were rubbish. And my paint job was pretty terrible too.

They served a purpose but when the second lot of Chaos Knights came out, about 3 years later, I jumped at the chance to not only replace the, by now, fairly tatty and shit looking ones I already had, but expanded the army further. In so much as I bought 40 of them. Because I was stuff. And because it was cheap. And because I may have been a bit mental. Still, seeing your opponents face when deployed an entirely mounted Chaos army was priceless.

Those that have kept up with the AToTA articles thus far will know that I stopped playing shortly after so I return to the hobby to find yet another range of Chaos Knights. Obviously I was aware of the models but I’d never really bothered to give them any attention. And on reflection that was rather silly. Because they’re awesome.

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The first thing is, as with most regiments these days, is that they’re all plastic. And they’re only £20 RRP. That seems rather decent value for Games Workshop considering 12 warriors is the same and there’s roughly the same amount of plastic. Granted you need two boxes to get a full regiment but I’m sure the old metal/plastic kits before this iteration of knights was the same money.

Plus the hybrid metal/plastic kits never really worked. Granted working with metal is far more satisfying than working with plastic, resin or Finecast but plastic and metal make uneasy bedfellows and require superglue to keep them together, look a dog-eared book of sexual positions. But ultimately we know what’s going to happen. I don’t know a single gamer who hasn’t had to rebuild at least one metal/plastic model. Hell, even an all metal one.

So the move to plastic, for me, was a welcome one. If for no other reason than it means no longer working with those fucking awful old barded steeds and trying to glue metal heads and tails on to them which weren’t very well cast and so never properly fit. Those days, however are long gone. The casting quality was superb and any cleaning up was from clipping the models off the sprues. It meant that I had all 5 clipped, filed, glued and sanded in an evening. That isn’t bad going at all.

So, the horsies are all plastic, and massive, and covered in spikes. And did I mention massive? They actually feel like corrupted versions of the warsteeds bred in the days of Sigmar. Only the likes of Kurt Helborg Ludwig Schwartzhelm can match them in stature. And the nice thing is that the barding feels both worn and apart of the steed’s body, which is exactly as it should be. Some of the best Chaos models are those that walk the fine line between the man-made and the organic. The only downside is that the horsie heads don’t fit on all the horsie bodies and the wrong combination will stop the steeds from ranking up properly which is a pain and reduces the variety in the models, especially if you’re planning to have a couple of big-ish units.

The Knights themselves, as one would expect, are beefier, pointier and scarier versions of the Chaos Warriors. The helmets are arguably a tad over the top in places but nothing the careful application of clippers couldn’t fix. I’m not entirely sure of the logic of casting the legs in two halves as it’s just one more thing to stick and mixing and matching the leg halves isn’t really an option as they’ve been sculpted very distinctly. I suspect it’s entirely down to keeping the size of the sprues down as single piece legs stick out and would mean either more cardboard or less stuff in the box overall.

They’re also designed to tie in with the rider’s torsos, shoulder guards and, to a lesser extent, the steed but there’s enough deviation that you can mix or match depending on how you want your units to look. Its subtle but when presented overall as a finished piece it does work very well.

What’s also clever is the body and arms are a ball and socket joint which means quite a lot of freedom to pose the model. A raised arm and a turned head suddenly tells a very different story. Plus the way cool shoulder pads are separate pieces so you can stick them over the joint once you’re happy. Again, the downside is that without proper planning you can end up with some freaking awesome looking Chaos Knights…that don’t rank up.

The weapons are awesome though and because of the look and feel of the unit mixing lances with hand weapons wouldn’t look out-of-place: just make sure your opponent knows what you’re taking. It just adds to that narrative that each knight has his preferred fighting style and chosen weapon and little would persuade them to change.

Knights on the game board are nasty. Obviously. They’re Chaos Warriors on steeds, there’s nothing not to like about them. Although where it gets tasty is that they cause fear – which is so close to broken its untrue – and they get to choose between lances at +2 strength on the turn they charge or Ensorcelled Weapons at +1 Strength every turn. Strength 6 knights is tempting but strength 5 with 2 attacks, 3 for the champion, or in my case 3 and 4 attacks a piece for the mark of Khorne, basically makes them the heavy bolters of Warhammer World.

Throw in the barded steed, the Chaos Armour and the shield and Chaos Knights are pretty much the tanks of the Warhammer World too. Chaos Knights are absolutely nails but for 40 points a model one would hope so. Although for their potential they’re not badly pointed really considering Knights get everything for free and lances or Ensorcelled Weapons are only 2 & 3 points repsectively. And no you can’t take both upgrades. Throw in fear as well and Chaos Knights are one of the nastiest units in the entire game.

It rather goes without saying the Chaos Knights are a must in any Warriors of Chaos army. The only thing you’d ever debate is how many to take as it will mean sacrificing other things. But for the hitting power it’d be a tough sell to convince me not to take two units of ten. They’re just far too good. High in points, but good.

Warriors of Chaos Knights are available from Firestorm Games priced £18.00.

Chaos Marauders – A Review

TaleOfTwoArmies copyAnd now my attention falls to the Chaos Marauders. I actually had dozens of these when I last had a Chaos army. I forget how I acquired them. I suspect they were part of the army box or some such. But I didn’t build any of them. When the Chaos army went – about 8 years ago now – they went right along with it, apart from some sprues I found about two years ago at the bottom of a huge plastic storage box full of sprues whilst having a clear out. I shortly after gave them to Lee for his Slanneshi army. Because I’m nice like that.

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So, up to now, Marauders have not had much, read any, love from me at all. As Lee and I had opted for the battalion boxes to kick off A Tale of Two Armies it did mean that I’d be taking at least one unit of the bare topped bastards in my army. Gaming wise this didn’t bother me as they’re more than a match for the average human but as a rule I resent paying points for anything that doesn’t come with Chaos Armour.

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So what do you get in the kit? Well, lots and lots of space. The Marauders are a few years old now so haven’t benefited from the advancements the Games Workshop has made in cramming sprues with lots of stuff. But you do get parts enough to make your barbarian horde with hand weapon and shield or flails. Flail equipped marauders are obviously proper badass but the point of save the shield gives makes it an even toss up over what to arm them with.

As with many of the older regiment kits the Marauders come in many parts. Many many parts. So many parts that they took longer to build than the rest of the battalion. This does rather beg the question; are they worth the bother considering they will get carved up. Yes and no but more on that later.

Despite the woeful amount of clipping, filing and gluing it’s a pretty good kit. Although some of the poses are on the rigid side, a couple of the heads are a bit shit, and the detail is a little light compared to newer kits. But considering there’s twenty of them that’s no bad thing from a painting perspective. Doubly so from a gaming one considering the rate at which they’ll die. Despite those things they still look cool and there’s enough nice touches (and the shields are way cool) on the models that you’ll manage to batch paint them without blowing your brains out.

That said there is a lot of skin on those models which, again, means will boil down to the technique you use to paint them. Otherwise I can see it being the one unit in your army that doesn’t get past base coating. And that would be a shame because the Marauders do have a lot going for them and when they’re all ranked up they look brilliant and I totally get the appeal of hordes.

Which brings me to whether or not Marauders are worth the bother and the yes/no answer. The no they’ll take fooking ages to paint. On top of the time it takes to build them you can be left feeling like you’ve climbed a hobby mountain. And as they’re really at their best in units of two or three it could make one groan somewhat. I certainly did as I worked on my army lists and concluded a second battalion would probably be the way to go to get a solid core to my army.

However, the Marauders in the game are extremely useful. They’re cheap enough that you can use them to screen your harder hitting, and therefore more expensive, units. You can use them to protect your flanks when your warhounds inevitably get munched by knights. Or you can just send them right up the middle to kick face. Which they will do quite comfortably.

It’s certainly a bonus having an expendable unit on hand that will give a good account of itself. Or against a softer target, punch a hole or hold a flank long enough for the rest of the army to respond. It being a largely elite – and therefore high points – force, Marauders represent a real boon thanks to their low-cost and above average combat performance. The big minus is their lack of armour but that’s fine too. If the enemy is shooting them or hacking them into bleeding chunks of meat then they’re not threatening the flank of another more vital unit.

Point for point and penny for penny I don’t like them as much as Warhounds but there is no denying they have a genuine use on the field. And there’s no denying the damage they can do given half a chance plus the added bonus of forcing opponents into choosing the lesser or two evils to tussle with. Either way it presents a marked advantage.

The Marauders of Chaos box is available from Firestorm Games priced £18.

Chaos Warhounds – A Review

TaleOfTwoArmies copyWhen it came to choosing our army compositions one of my first thought – past knights, warriors and Skullcrushers – was the need for Warhounds. As my army had a powerful urge to go hooning off to kick and mang face regardless of whether or not it’s a terribly sensible, or safe, idea it was obvious that Warhounds would be needed to both deal with warmachines as well as protect my flanks from cavalry, or at least, slow them down for a turn.

Warhammer-logoI actually have a couple of Warhounds that I’ve used for my Witch Hunter Mordheim warband but I converted them so never really took the time to appreciate them beyond fulfilling a need that didn’t require me using the utterly awful hound models available from the Mordheim range, now lost to the ages.

Back when I last rolled dice in anger with a Chaos army I had two units of the metal Warhounds and I must be honest, they were some of my favourite models. From the posing to the casting quality they were some of the best models around at the time. They were quick to clean, easy to build and fun to paint so I must admit to mixed feelings about using the new plastic Warhounds instead.

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This was mainly because they were a big change from the old models. The metal models were very much a case of mutated hounds or wolves. Feral dogs that had fallen foul of Chaos. The new ones, however, didn’t quite tell the same story. Instead, and rightly so, the new Warhounds are now creatures that exist in the Northern Wastes, their bodies twisted by mutation, their form evolving to into powerful, vicious killers.

WoCWarhoundsMainThe fact that the models are now plastic is a bit of a double-edged sword because, on the one hand, the variety of tales and horns means that you can get a surprising amount of variety in the models when mixed and matched across all the various poses the dogs are in. This means that, in theory, two units should look suitably different. The downside is that the sculpting and the layout of the frames were a tad on the lazy side which means that the big shaggy manes lack definition in places, coupled with scrunched up features the overall effect is a tad comical. It does resolve itself once you start slapping paint on them but I can see it putting some off.

The other thing is that the bodies come in two halves which means a join line runs along the length of the model which does mean the muzzles of the Warhounds are spoilt a bit but considering they’re only 6 points a model and will never see the end of the game it’s not worth putting in the work to plug the gaps. And I suppose that’s the compromise. For the money you get a full unit of Warhounds that look good – slight bugbears aside – that’ll be quick to paint and will do the job they’re intended to do once on the board.

Even when I worked for the company a unit the same size would have cost a lot more. Yes they’d have been metal and yes they probably would have looked cooler but it’s a changing world and had they not been re-released as a plastic kit they would have gone up further in price or been turned into Finecast and no one, in their right mind, would buy them for the cost alone.

And that would be a shame because for the points Warhounds are fantastic. They’re quick, they’re better than the average human in a fight, they’re cheap and that means reasonable units to run interference and tie up Imperial Knights who, thanks to the new rules, won’t strike first. Which in way is quite cinematic. Noble knights charging forward in the name of Emperor and country only to get pounced on by a park or rabid and starving hounds, the need to feed overriding any sense of self-preservation. And they don’t count towards your total force allocations.

And the cherry on the cake is that you can give them upgrades. Like Scaly Skin. Granted percentile-wise the increases are quite high but the overall cost to the army is low and potential rewards significant. Obviously in small games you’d never bother but there’s definitely benefit to juicing your dogs in bigger games as holding up a big expensive unit for a turn or two with a comparatively cheap and worthless unit of dogs is a huge tactical boon, especially to the army I’m collecting.

For the money and for the point Warhounds are ace. The models aren’t perfect and to get the best out of them warrants more attention than their points value deserves but it’s a preference thing at the end of the day. You can do an outstanding job on them because they have the detail on the heads to really make each one pop, I just doubt I would.

Regardless of how I paint them they’ll be in my army in spades because they’re just too good not to.

Chaos Warhounds are available from Firestorm Games priced £13.95.

Chaos Warriors – A Review

TaleOfTwoArmies copyLee and I have been hard at work building and painting the first 500 points of our armies in time of the deadline at the end of the month at which point we shall attempt to kick each other’s faces in across a 4×4 board.

Needless to say, a part of this adventure is looking at and reviewing the units featuring in our armies as we add to them. I kicked things off a little while ago with the review of the plastic Chaos Lord and so it seems only logical to next look at the main stay of most Warriors of Chaos armies…the Chaos Warriors.

Warhammer-logoNow, the last time I owned a unit of Chaos Warriors they were the first multipart models to come out back in the days yo got piles of toys for £15. They had metal halberds, standard and champion weapons and just as I was getting out of the game those metals were replaced with plastic icons etc. They were, to a man, units of hunched, awkward, malnourished, looking fellows but at the time, they were the best basic models Chaos had going. But they were a bugger to build and rank up thanks, in part to the huge amount of freedom the old kit gave you. And because the standard-bearer and champion fell over with an unpleasant thud every time the unit was moved they were annoying to use too.

So what of the ‘new’ kits? I appreciate they’re not new but they’re new to me and I’ve not properly looked at the before.

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Having the battalion box allowed me to compare the frames to the newer plastic knights and in that respect they’re showing their age. The new knights are extremely tightly packed by comparison.

Either way, you get 12 blokes for your money which for Chaos Warriors is more than enough to kick face. I did get myself the box of three warriors to juice the unit to a full 15 but that’s another story.

The most obvious thing about the kits is they are a colossal, massive, giant zero gravity leap forward from the last kit. For a start they’re standing up straight so that’s an improvement. They’re also much easier to build. The difference between the old kits and the new is that you only have to worry about sticking hands holding weapons and shields into sockets set into the torso. The up shot is that aside from looking fantastically intimidating, they all rank up very nicely together.

 

It gives gamers the options of building units with a hand weapon and shield or two hand weapons. There’s also enough axes and other blunt instruments to make the units suitably Khorne, which is good news for me. However, the stiff ranks and limited weapon and shield options do, on the surface, can make the warriors a bit faceless and repetitive. But that too has its advantages, especially as hordes of Chaos Warriors should be faceless and repetitive. It also means that once you’ve got your colours and technique down you can smash through a unit in a weekend, providing there are no interruptions.

However, with a slight adjustment of a weapon or the turn of the head you can add in the subtle variations across the unit which tell a story far greater than one would expect.

The look of the Chaos Warriors are a nice evolution and find the balance between knights on foot from a time past and group of double hard bastards with the winds of foul Gods at their backs. The broad stance, when ranked up, give off an implacable feel that promises extreme and unrelenting violence, weapons held up before them almost mechanical in nature just adds to the menace.

But my favourite part of the Chaos Warrior kit, buy a mile, are the helmets. They’re an evolution not only of the helmets from the previous metal kits but all the Chaos Warrior models that came before it and, obviously, the metal knights that replaced the truly rubbish metal/plastic regiments that came out at the same time as the old Chaos Warrior box. Some feel more Chaotic in nature, others are the warping the helms of the warriors of the North. There’s that perfect blend of hand-made and warp spawned influence. And those heads go a surprisingly long way to giving the models their intimidating feel over all the other components.

Because of the simple design and build the models are straight forward enough to paint with the shields, heads and detailing on the armour offering up enough variation that you won’t go completely mental building and painting them.

In game terms Chaos Warriors couldn’t be more essential if you tried especially with the new rules surrounding initiative and the fact that Chaos Warriors are initiative 5. And they have 2 attacks. Or, in my case, 3. With the right load out, at the right moment, Chaos Warriors would crush just about anything they come into contact with from any core section of any army book in the game. But 14 points a model, plus upgrades, one would bloody well hope so. They’ve also got Chaos armour back – something that was taken out of the last Chaos book I owned – so they’ll be difficult to kill. Which is nice.

The Chaos Warriors box is a brilliant kit with some nicely sculpted and intelligently designed models inside. They are hands down my favourite regiment box in the entire Fantasy range. It was these models that had me fixed on doing a Chaos army the second Lee and I discussed A Tale of Two Gamers. And seeing as they’re such a brutal and immovable core unit for my army, I couldn’t be more pleased with them.

The Chaos Warriors box is available from Firestorm Games priced £18.00.

 

 

A Tale of Two Armies – The First 500

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Lee and I have been debating, deliberating and…something else beginning with ‘d’ to come up with our first 500 point army lists. We decided that the most effective way of kicking things off would be to base them on the contents of the Warhammer Battalion boxes. This would also give us a healthy jump on the next 500 points we’d have to get built and painted next month.

So we give you the first 500…points.

Khorne

Exalted Champion – von Strauss the Red – 110 points
Mark of Khorne +10
Additional Hand Weapon +3
TOTAL 123 points

10 Chaos Warriors – 140 points
Mark of Khorne +20
Shields +10
TOTAL 170 points

15 Chaos Marauders – 90 points
Mark of Khorne +30
Light Armour +15
Shields +15
Chieftan +10
Standard +10
TOTAL 170 points

6 Chaos Warhounds – 36 points
TOTAL 36 points

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OVERALL TOTAL 499 points

Empire

Captain – Ludwig von Bomburg – 60 points
Full Plate Armour +6
Sword of Might +20
Enchanted Shield +5
TOTAL 91 points

19 Halberdiers – 114 points
Sergeant +10
Standard +10
Musician +10
TOTAL 144 points

5 Archers (detachment) – 35 points
TOTAL 35 points

5 Imperial Knights – 110 points
Greatweapons – FREE
TOTAL 110 points

Great Cannon – 120 points
TOTAL 120 points

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OVERALL TOTAL 500 points

Chaos Lord on Foot – A Review

TaleOfTwoArmies copyFollowers on Twitter will know that I got rather excited by the A Tale of Two Armies. So much so that I went out during my lunch hour and bought the Chaos Lord on foot so I’d have a nice army general ahead of the fun and games of putting together the first 500 points (army lists to follow). And this was also before I’d got my hands on the army book. So it’s fair to say that I was a bit keen…

Warhammer-logoI opted for the Lord on foot because it occurred to me that I wouldn’t need a mounted lord until my army was knocking on the door of 1500 points or possibly even 2000. Plus the plastic model is really quite cool and gave me the luxury of painting something man-sized that wouldn’t mean too much money wasted if I totally ruined it.

ChaosLordThere’s an awful lot of controversy about the growing number of plastic character models that have been coming these last few years. It started off as a multipart plastic Space Marine captain for £12 and everyone went mental. Then the plastic lord sets for Empire, Orcs, and High Elves which have stayed at a fairly reasonable £18 for two blokes – one mounted, one on foot – which everyone quite liked despite the limited poses. But as armies have come out single character models have been released for comparatively high prices.

So what do you get for your money aside from a character made of plastic? Well he’s a fair old size, helped along by the handy piece of rock he’s perched on top of, and that’s discounting the thoroughly badass spear and the thoroughly Pans Labyrinth horns growing from his head.

It’s a brilliant model. Aside from looking fantastic and being cast all but perfectly, it’s very cleverly designed so everything slots together seamlessly without any horrid gaps that some of the newer plastic kits have been guilty of. He was clipped, cleaned glued and undercoated in the space of an hour which is pretty good going.

And that included the time to swap out the head. Yes, I swapped the head. I have nothing against the head the model comes with. It’s perfectly fine, and I think the slightly bovine features is an inspired touch along with horns that actually look like they may have grown over time. It just doesn’t work with what I’m doing with the narrative of A Tale of Two Armies. So I acquired a Chaos Warrior head (thanks Lee) and with some tinkering discovered that repositioning the head to be looking to the side completely changed the look and feel of the model.

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The standard pose exudes almost a thuggishness that works brilliantly well and one can imagine him gradually building up to a relentless charge with horns lowered. By turning the head it just makes the model seem like violence is much more immanent and going to be personally much more unpleasant.  Both versions give the impression of an unpleasant end, they just come at it from a different point of view. Which suits me fie.

And actually highlights one of the best things about plastic kits – they’re so easy to convert. Just a head swap totally changed the look of the model. Imagine what a change or armament would do. And on top of it all, the basic model that you have to work with looks so cool. Some careful snipping could see the torso mounted on the legs of Chaos Knight model as an alternative to the current mounted lord. Not cheap mind, but our hobby isn’t so crap or get off the pot.

The armour is incredibly detailed and thanks to the plastic it’s crisply cast, easy to see and easy to paint. Nothing feels half done or bodged like it can do with the likes of the, now old, Space Marine tactical squad. Everything feels very deliberate and has none of the unpleasant angular look that has dogged some of the newer plastics. I especially like the cloak and how it’s split with the chuffing massive sword sticking out the back. Which goes nicely with the chuffing massive spear. Which is chuffing massive. And has the coolest blade ever. And, again, because the detail is so crisp it’s very straight forward to paint. Which means it’s fun to paint. Like the rest of the model. And with none of the faff that cleaning metal characters came with in the old days.

In game terms a Chaos Lord doesn’t get much nastier. A stat line that makes a Vampire Lord nervous, a menagerie of creatures to sit atop – although we’ll not talk about those here – and a hand dandy selection of magical items too. Although the mutations available does make him proper bonkers. 5 points to cause fear? Don’t mind if I do. Or Soul Feeder for 10 points which allows the model to regain a wound for each wound inflicted. I’m sorry but that’s mad. And that’s on top of the magic items. It does mean of course that the average lord will rock up at least 250 points and it’ll still get its face blown off by a cannon.  Still, if I were to let that happen I’d kinda deserve it.

The plastic Chaos Lord on foot is a superb model. The armour is well thought out and I love the vambraces that protrude out beyond the gauntlets which will puncture faces long before the fists make contact. Which is nice. The weapons are suitably exaggerated and the overall menace of the model is pretty much perfect. To lead my fledgling Khorne army it’s perfect and to (eventually) be demoted to a Hero leading the warrior regiments it’s justly so again.

The Chaos Lord on foot is available from Firestorm Games priced £13.50.

Warriors of Chaos – A Review

TaleOfTwoArmies copyA Tale of Two Armies is well under way now – I’ve even painted something (review to follow) – and the next step is to review the army books. First up is Warriors of Chaos. I use to collect these bad boys back when you could take daemons and Beastmen. You could also only use a Hellcannon with your opponents permission. And it was made of metal. And weighed a tonne. When it wasn’t falling apart.

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Since then there’s been a couple of rule books and a couple of army books and it’s been all change in many ways. Daemons have their own book, Beastmen have their own book and Warriors of Chaos is written by someone who overpowers the armies he likes and screws over the armies he doesn’t. I refer, of course, to Robin Cruddace. I can point fingers because (A) I use to work with him and (B) It’s his fault the faith point system exists for Sisters of Battle. An army he collects it’ll surprise you to hear.

Fortunately for me Robin likes Chaos in Fantasy. So much so that I almost feel embarrassed to be fielding the army at all. But more on that later.

This is the first hardback Warhammer Armies book I’ve properly looked at I have to say I think the format suits Fantasy much better than 40k. Don’t get me wrong, the 40k books are still wonderfully presented but the old-fashioned styling just suits Warhammer.

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Credit where credit’s due for the first time ever I find that I understand the Warriors of Chaos as a people. In the old days the background largely pointed towards disgruntled and disillusioned knights of Bretonnia and nobles of the Empire buggering off in search of glory or just someone’s face to kick. Building on the work done with the Libre Chaotica, the Warriors of Chaos now feel like a nation all of their own rather than a vague wasteland full of stuff and things.

It also has the added effect of stripping any shred of nobility of redemption from the army. Gone are the days of players fielding an army with a back story where the lord is just misunderstood or he’s fighting for Chaos but really he’s a good guy and he’s doing it to save the soul of his sister’s neighbour’s best friend’s dog. The tribesmen of the North are all a mad bunch of blood thirsty bastards. The downside of this is that, as an army, they’re now harder to relate to. Obviously that’s not uncommon in a fantasy wargame but as it’s a human faction, of sorts, that can be a bit of an issue for some gamers. I certainly wrestled with the fact that there was nothing even slightly redeemable about the army now. It’s by no means a complaint but if you’re a gamer that needs to have a cause to fight for, Warriors of Chaos may not be for you.

As I say, things have moved on and everything feels, perversely, much more sensible. Although it does get laid on a bit thick that there are hundreds of thousands of big beasties that’ll gobble you up and use your bones as toothpicks. Which is fine but it does beg the question: how have any of the marauder tribes survived? I mean if there are that many monster and they’re all massive, gribbly and nigh on unkillable how they hell is anyone left? But that aside, I feel like one could not only choose a marauder tribe to base their army on but have the freedom to invent their own fairly confident that they can create something compelling  and without flying in the face of the background.

The Realm of Chaos also feels more coherent now. Mr Cruddace has gone to lengths to divide the three ‘kingdoms’ of Chaos between Troll Country, the Northern Wastes and the Realm of Chaos. These aren’t new but they all just felt like an extension of each other – one and the same thing. It has the added benefit that it clarifies the pecking order somewhat. Lords and other mentalists have, at some point, been in the Realm of Chaos. The bulk of your army occupies the Northern Wastes and all the bonkers shit lives in Troll Country. Simples.

Which brings me on to the army list and the aforementioned near embarrassment. Now, even back in my earlier years of Warhammer, Chaos have been nails. Those nails, for this iteration, seem to be tipped with industrial diamonds. Everything has gotten much cheaper. And everything vaguely Chaos Warrior shaped get to be initiative 5. Considering combat is now fought in initiative order now that makes most of the army utterly ridiculous and the rest still pretty awesome. Throw in high weapon skill largely across the board, more attacks than everyone else, good leadership free Chaos armour and it all starts to feel like your opponents have quite the mountain to climb. And just to really brighten the day of everyone not collecting Chaos armies, Marauders are now only 1 point more expensive than an Empire swordsman but have a point better weapon skill and a point better initiative. Which makes them horrid. Chuck in some flails and it gets worse. Granted they’ll probably die in droves as they lack armour but at 6 points basic they’re amazing value.

Chuck in the fact that the characters have been juiced and their magic items have got cheaper. Not just a bit cheaper though. The sword of change – which may as well come with Lords and Heroes as standard because it’s that good – is 40 points cheaper. 4. 0. Fucking really?! Even as someone collecting a Chaos I feel guilty about fielding that combination. That’s not to say that they get everything their own way but the point of difference is barely worth mentioning.

The marks are still unpleasant although one of the nastiest now being Nurgle as units attacking them suffer a -1 to hit. Which although isn’t quite the same as +1 Toughness it’s, I think, worse as most models in Warhammer are already struggling to wound Chaos Warriors anyway. Throw in making it hard to hit, on top of the usual modifiers for range etc and they become a very difficult army to kill with shooting which is where most armies have some shred of an edge over Warriors of Chaos.

There’s also piles and piles of characters and big beasties now. Too many I hate to say. Reading through the bestiary I found myself getting rather bored. This is partly to do with Mr Cruddace’s poor writing. The phrases ‘torn to pieces’ & ‘ripped to shreds’ had been used at least once a page for the first 15 pages. The standard of the writing swings wildly between clumsy and an attempt to imitate Aaron Dembski-Bowden’s knack for extreme graphic violence. The result is much of the descriptions all seem a bit unnecessary and blunts the impact that some of the more brutal units should make. Coupled with the commercially leaning unit/monster options and it is, as mentioned, an embarrassment of riches.

By the time I got to the Warshrine, Mutalith and Slaughterbrute I’d already established that the army was extremely powerful for the points value. Not over powered, I hasten to add, because they are supposed to be bonkers and a genuine challenge to break the back of. But the big kits just seemed to be in there because they were big kits not because they actually filled a requirement in the army list. And they’re proper bonkers so you’d be mad not to take them – which again, seems a tad commercial and one of two reasons why I won’t take them. The first being the models look rubbish. I wouldn’t go so far as to say something with a daemonic flavour shouldn’t be in the book as I certainly miss that side of things compared to the book I last owned. But such big beasties coupled with the giant, trolls and ogres makes a veritable menagerie of mentalness which is a bit over the top. That said they do allow for some pretty cool themed armies with those models as centerpieces.

I do love the Skullcrushers though. The models look brilliant but even if they weren’t the rules would make me buy them. Who wouldn’t want a mentalist Chaos Warrior on top of mentalist daemonic monstrous cavalry that is as capable as its rider at kicking face. And it causes fear. Which is awesome.

Warriors of Chaos, then is a fairly brutal army book. The units are all tough to fight and tough to kill. They’re also not very expensive compared to what you get for the points in other armies. Equally the magic items have gotten cheaper but there are fewer of them. And the truly bonkers stuff doesn’t appear to have made the cut. Which is no bad thing. Although a few of the fairly bonkers items have unnecessarily been juiced to become bonkers in their stead.

And the final thing to wind up everyone who doesn’t play Chaos is that characters, aside from being forced to challenge all enemy champions, heroes, lords etc get to roll on a table once they inevitably kick face and boost their stats, permanently. Of course there is a chance your (extremely expensive) Lord could get turned into a Chaos Spawn but it’s not that likely.

Warriors of Chaos is a powerful army. If put together in the right way: too powerful and utterly broken. The variety of powerful units coupled with reduced points costs, powerful mutations and cheaper magic items doesn’t give many opponents anywhere to go other than lots of magic and lots and lots of shooting. That said, they are still an elite force and that means they are vulnerable to Hordes and if you can bog them down you don’t need to kill em to win depending on your scenario.  They also lack any ranged fire power beyond the Hellcannon which is just as likely to run off as shoot anything, and there’s no flyers in the army beyond the Chimera at 230 points, Galrauch at 510 points or a Manticore (150 points) or Chaos Dragon (330 points) upgrade for your lord. This does leave them vulnerable to…just about every other army in those respects. Out manoeuvring a Warriors of Chaos army is, it seems, easier than ever.

I maintain that they are still a challenging army to use. For all their advantages they will rely on deployment just as much as any army, more likely more as they’ll always be out numbered. And as I’m going to be collecting Khorne that applies double as Khorne are easy to lure into traps. I can’t wait to find out if they’re tough enough to fight their way out the other side.

Warriors of Chaos is available from Firestorm Games priced £27.00.

A Tale of Two Armies – The Prologue

TaleOfTwoArmies copyPart of A Tale of Two Armies will be a story running along side the battle reports that Lee & I will be writing as our respective armies grow. It was a foregone conclusion that Lee’s army commander would be none other than Baron Ludwig von Bomburg, his captain of his Marienburger warband.

As we discussed the narrative we decided to set this story a few short years before the hapless noblemen found his way to the City of the Damned. It is a tale of ruin and betrayal and although we know Bomburg ends up within the walls of Mordheim, the how is the important part of this story. So without further ado I give you I give you the prologue to the Ruin of House von Bomburg…

The two forces collided with a clash of steel, the thud of muscle and the cry of a thousand voices shouting their denial that Morr had come for them all. Amongst the slopes of the Midden Moors the soldiers of Altdorf and Marienburg smote their ruin upon one another in the name of those that would be their rulers. 

All around Baron Ludwig von Bomburg his men hacked with swords and stabbed with spears, each action met with a scream and the spray of vital fluids. Next to him his bodyguard, Viktor, swatted aside assailants with a shield that had no place on that side of the grey mountains, and caved in skulls with a spiked mace. An immovable man of unparalleled brutality, he was ever-present at von Bomburg’s side and had saved the Baron’s life countless times.

von Bomburg hacked and stabbed with his own blade. He had spent years studying the art of the sword but had long ago learned that in the press of combat the person who survived was entirely down to how quickly you could raise and drop your sword arm. It was an unsavoury business but necessary if order was to be restored to the Empire. von Bomburg side-stepped a clumsy thrust from a soldier in the red & blue of Altdorf and split the man’s head open with an over-arm swing of his sword. The soldier crumpled taking von Bomburg’s bldae with him. Momentarily defenceless he yanked his antique duelling pistols free from their chest holsters and fired them point-blank in to the chests of two warriors swinging notched and tarnished great swords as they charged towards him.

As the greatswords crumpled with ragged holes blown in their chests, two more swordsmen took their place lunging forward with savage stabs. von Bomburg batted one blade aside with the barrel of one pistol, flipping the other in his grip and shattering his attacker’s skull with its grip. The second blade plunged forward unabated and von Bomburg braced for the deep, burning, pain and a slow death drowning in his own blood. The blade met the solid oak of an over sized, brightly coloured shield, sticking fast in the thick wood. A spiked mace arched downwards and the startled soldier’s expression was ruined as it connected and burst open his head. Viktor nodded to his lord before turning and laying into fresh targets.

von Bomburg knew the Altdorf force was doomed. The Marienburgers out numbered them five to one and already the carrion birds began to circle, eager for the living to be clear of their meal. It was a pointless waste of life, von Bomburg thought, as he split the belly of a man open, stepping past as the hapless soul fell to his knees in an effort to scoop up his guts. Honour demanded little more than the surrender of the army commander and a percentage of his force taken as prisoners. Nothing more, nothing less. And everyone got to go home with their pride in tact and their heads attached.

Yet here they were, in the thick of it killing soldiers of the Empire all because the Grand Theogonist couldn’t accept that Empress Magritta was the rightful heir to the Imperial throne. von Bomburg had met the woman several times and had no doubt she was fearsome enough to unite the Empire. No one would be damn fool enough to defy her.

von Bomburg was snapped from his musings by the sudden absence of an opponent. He cast his gaze about him to see only his own men left standing. The moors were littered with the blue and red of Altdorf soldiers like a lurid carpet. He noted with regret that too many of his own men had fallen. Despite the Marienburgers taking the initiative the men of Imperial capital had fought bravely and to the last man. Cries of victory rippled through the Marienburg army. Oathes to the Empress, Sigmar and the great city of Marienburg being offered to the bird chocked sky.

‘Such a waste.’ He said a loud.

‘Sir?’ Viktor looked up from the grizzly business of giving the mortally wounded their peace.

‘Nothing, nothing.’ von Bomburg waved Viktor back to his task. Although it wasn’t nothing. It didn’t make sense for the Altdorf army to fight to the last. They were never going to survive, let alone prevail against such numbers. And von Bomburg’s reputation surely preceded him. He would honour terms of a surrender. But maybe that was the point. Had there been a surrender he would have moved his army out of the Moors. And that would mean…

‘Form ranks!’ He bellowed. ‘Reform damn you!’ von Bomburg was hauling men to their feet, kicking the backsides of those moving too slowly. Viktor, ever obedient immediately started shouting and shoving men into formation, von Bomburg’s lieutenants following in good order. Banners were once more raised and his ranged units frantically readied their weapons for a volley. Horns sounded and the men roared in ascent. Despite his pre-occupation von Bomburg was filled with pride. Despite their losses and the fatigue that was no dount gripping every soul under his command, they had mustered in good order.

von Bomburg moved amongst the rank and file, boots slurping through the churned up mud or the moors and scanned every hill and rise for a sign of movement. The engagement had been a diversion, designed to keep them on the low ground and drain his men of their fighting strength. They were weakened and vulnerable. He kept scanning until he heard it. The tramp of boots and the jangle of armour-plate. Then with a unified roar an Altdorf army twice the size of his own crested the hills of the Midden Moor on three sides.

At the head of the army, on foot but unmistakably the army general, stood a man in red and silver plate army. Clutched in his hands was ornate greatsword that seemed too big to hold let alone swing without the elevation that a warhorse granted. Despite the distance von Bomburg could feel the warriors gaze bore into him and he failed to repress a shudder. Something primitive in him told him that there was something fundamentally wrong with the man and that honourable surrender would not be an option.

Drawing his sword once more, feeling its weight in his aching limbs he readied himself. Being butchered on the field of battle is not the end von Bomburg had envisioned for himself. If he were honest he had always hoped it involved old age, a large bed and at least three concubines.

It all became academic as the warrior in red and silver hefted his sword and issued a wordless roar of challenge before surging forward with his army at his heels. von Bomburg let out a world-weary sigh, lifted his own blade and gave the order to charge.

***

von Bomburg was dumped unceremoniously in front of a grand throne raised on marble steps. On the throne a man use to good living and wealthy indulgences, reclined, a ring encrusted hand loosely cupping a golden chalice from which slopped wine that spilled onto the white marble with wet slapping sounds.

von Bomburg slowly pulled himself upright, the oversized shackles at his wrists rubbing them raw, his muscles protesting from the pummelling he’d taken at the hands of the warrior in silver and red. He was currently stood behind von Bomburg, hand casually rested on the pommel of the sword he had used to cut down dozens of  von Bomburg’s men.

He tried not to relive it but it was all too fresh. von Strauss had cut left and right in great, sweeping, arcs; breaking and bursting bodies as he charged heedless into the mass of the Marienburg lines. His mouth had been open in a soundless roar, eyes ablaze with crazed blood lust. He butchered any and all that stood in his way. When he reached von Bomburg, the enemy general was little more than a blood drenched berserker and attacked with equal fury. It was all von Bomburg could do defend himself his enemy moved impossibly fast. It was only his years of training that kept von Bomburg alive. Were it not for Viktor, his death would have been all but assured. Hid bodyguard’s mace had smashed into the red and silver breast plate of his attacker just as his blade had found a hole in von Bomburg’s guard and had bit into his ribs.

Viktor’s blow had halted the slice short of smashing von Bomburg’s ribs apart and pulping his lungs. The victory was short-lived however as Viktor was smashed aside with near superhuman force. It gave von Bomburg the chance he needed and hauled himself onto quivering feet. He had turned and ran screaming an order he’d never had to give in his entire life. ‘Retreat!’

von Bomburg shook his head free of the memory as a voice called his name. He raised his red rimmed eyes from the exquisitely crafted floor to the man lounging on the throne.

‘Ludwig!’ The voice said.

‘I don’t think Siegfried would appreciate you sitting in his chair, brother.’

Otto von Bomburg tutted noisily, wagging a playful finger as he swung his legs over the arm and turned to face his defeated sibling. Whereas his brother was average height but possessed the musculature of a warrior, Otto was tall, lean and sinewy. His blond hair was loose over his slender shoulders and woven with silver thread. Ludwig was no stranger to the benefits and indulgences his title entitled him to but Otto had always imbibed longer and deeper.

‘Now now, Ludwig, let’s not be petty. It’s the Imperial throne. One that, last I heard, you were fighting for control of.’

Ludwig rolled his eyes. Otto made the perfect candidate for Marienburg’s representative to the Imperial capital. He was a smarmy, silver-tongued fop who had a knack for embedding himself wherever he ended up, like a tick enjoying all the excesses his position – and diplomatic immunity – afforded him. 

‘Which begs the question, brother, why you are sat upon it?’ Ludwig tried to rise to his feet but a blow to the back of his head from the warrior that still loomed behind him dropped him hard to the marble floor, the crash of his shackles echoing around the vast and ostentatious throne room. Ludwig couldn’t help but consider how far the Empire had fallen from the glory days depicted in the tapestries that hung from the walls and ceiling. A wave of sadness struck him as his eyes fell upon a hanging depicting Sigmar’s defeat of the undead sorcerer, Nagash, and how ashamed the warrior God must be of his people.

Otto slid from the throne like a serpent made of quick silver and drained his goblet. ‘Oh come brother, it’s all in fun. Siegfried is elsewhere and he thought it political expedient that I receive you rather than he.’ He glanced up and waved a dismissive hand. ‘von Strauss, leave us.’

The warrior grunted, turned and marched out of the chamber, his armoured boots clanging against the ornate floor. Lugwig von Bomburg made a mental note of that name and vowed to never forget it. If only he knew how right he’d be.

‘Brother,’ He begun but Otto silenced him with an up held hand. It was long and elegant, pampered and with delicate ink work creeping out from his sleeves and around his hand like creepers. It was both beautiful and disturbing and quite at odds with Ludwig’s own course and scabbed hands. The different paths he and his brother had chosen couldn’t have been more divergent if they’d tried. He suspected the only common ground they shared was their love of fine wine and loose women.

‘Ludwig, you are in disgrace. You had fought wars against the would be Emperor and been defeated. You are lucky to still have your head attached to your neck. And you irksome bodyguard for that matter.’ Ludwig failed to hide his surprise and Otto made no effort to hide how much he was enjoying himself. ‘A little gift to you brother. I know how fond you are of your man and I’d hate for you to have to go to the trouble of training up another. Such things are so tiresome.’

‘Indeed.’ Ludwig managed, biting back a caustic reply. As representative of Marienburg, Otto held the rank of an ambassador which far outstripped his own title of Baron. Right now, shackled and humbled as Ludwig as he was, Otto held all the cards.

‘I’ve arranged your extradition back to Marienburg. You are to remain under house arrest for no less than a year. You are to be killed on site should you stray beyond its walls.’ Otto once again held up a hand to silence his brother’s protests. ‘And you are to forfeit fully half of your armies to atone for the losses you inflicted on the great city of Altdorf.’

Ludwig opened his mouth but paused, waiting for a sign from his brother that he may speak. Otto nodded with far more flamboyance than was really necessary. 

‘I would happily give up half my army, brother, but I have no army to give. That bastard von Strauss butchered them to a man. The men we killed drew us out and refused surrender or to flee. They gave us little choice. They were a diversion to allow von Strauss to strike. We sounded the retreat. We signalled our surrender and when the fighting stopped he betrayed us. It was a massacre the likes of which I’ve never seen before and pray to Sigmar and grim-faced Morr that I never will again.’

He reached up with shaking hands and tried to rub the visions from his mind.

‘There was no honour brother. No mercy. My men were hacked to the ground and set upon and that animal von Strauss was in the  thick of it. They made me watch Otto, they forced me to watch as von Strauss and his army tore mine apart. We’d surrendered dammit! We’d laid down arms. Sigmar bless Viktor, he tried to reach me but was struck a blow that I was sure had killed him. He’s a tough old bastard, that one.’ Ludwig added with a sad smile.

Otto’s good humour had, for the moment, dwindled as he listened to Ludwig’s account. His brother’s haunted, hollow, eyes looked at him pleadingly and any doubt that Ludwig’s story was anything but true vanished from his mind. Otto pursed his lips thoughtfully. Assuming what Ludwig had told him was true it meant that this pointless civil war had escalated into one of conquest rather than political rivalries. And butchering the good and hardy soldiery of the Empire would only hurt them in the long run. The Empire was not short of enemies and reports were already reaching him from the North and East that trouble was brewing.

‘Guard.’ Otto stalked down the steps from the throne to stand before his brother. He moved more like Elf than a man and even Ludwig found it unsettling. Too much grace, too much poise and far too much duplicity. The heavy oak doors of drew open and a two of the palace greatswords marched smartly in, standing ram-rod straight. ‘Unshackle this man and have him placed in my chambers. Put a guard at the door. Should he attempt to leave kill him.’ The men nodded and pulled Ludwig to his feet and a moment later the iron shackles dropped to the floor with a clang. ‘I will take your report to Siegfried. For all his posturing and boorish shouting he’s an honourable man. He never would have allowed this.’

Ludwig didn’t have time to respond before Otto left via an elegantly carved side door and he was all but dragged from the throne room of the Empire.

***

The next few days passed in a blur for Ludwig von Bomburg. The morning after his audience with his brother he’d been summoned before Siegfried the Pretender and he’d been forced to relive the ordeal yet again. Siegfried had flown into a rage and Ludwig was waiting for the inevitable order to end his life. But the order didn’t come. Instead he was placed in comfortable chambers and given clothes and food. Periodically aides to Siegfried would come and ask him details of the engagement. Often times asking the same questions at various points in the day, testing him for any holes or changes in his story.

On the fifth day he was once again summoned before Siegfried. And once again steeled himself for whatever may come. The victim of savagery he may be but in the eyes of Altdof he was a traitor to the crown and death was the obvious sentence were his accusations to be found false. He had stood to attention, flanked by twenty palace greatswords, weapons drawn and held rigidly before them at attention. He had waited patiently as Siegfried had prattled on about the nasty business of war, the disappointing turn of events and how he could use a man like von Bomburg should he be willing. von Bomburg had politely declined and Siegfried had nodded in understanding.

Eventually Siegfried got down to business and von Bomburg mentally prepared himself for the third or forth time that week to meet his maker. But instead he was told that von Strauss had all but confessed to the massacre at the Midden Moors. He had railed against Siegfried when questioned. He denied any wrong doing, arguing it was his job to decimate the enemy not let them scurry home to heal and return seeking revenge. von Strauss had became furious that he was being censured and only stopped short of striking Siegfried when his personal guard reached for their blades. Siefried had dismissed von Strauss and banished him from the Empire.

von Bomburg took the information in with growing disbelief. Not only did look like he would survive but the bastard von Strauss was getting what he deserved. The Pretender even offered von Bomburg the armies of von Strauss as recompense. von Bomburg answered instinctively and declined. Dragging hundreds of men from their homes only to be forced to fight their former comrades was no army at all. And Marienburgers had no trouble mustering armies with money purses as deep as theirs. What von Bomburg couldn’t have known was that upon his refusal, Siegfried banished them along side von Strauss.

***

Ludwig stood on his brother’s balcony, hands braced against the artisan hewn stone. The sun was setting over the capital city of the Empire and despite his mood he had to concede it was stunning city. The brass roof tops of the Reiksguard training houses glistened like the sun. Far below the exiled army marched through the streets in a long, winding line. Their banners hung limp in the wind, dipped low in a sign of mourning. At its head rode von Strauss, proud and tall, his oversized blade sheathed at his hip. Otto joined him on the balcony sipping a heady wine from a gold goblet. He offered Ludwig a goblet of his own but he declined. Otto shrugged and tipped the contents into his own before taking a deep draught.

‘He’s a proud old dog I’ll give him that.’ Otto muttered before draining the goblet. Despite the distance they could make out what could only be a small girl in a red dress ran out to von Strauss. The column halted as he dismounted and scooped the little girl into his arms. Ludwig felt a wave of guilt hit him as he saw von Strauss hand the girl to another figure that could only be her mother. He then turned and drew his mighty sword and bellowed an oath. Ludwig couldn’t make out the words but he felt a chill pass through him and knew as sure as night followed day that he would meet that man again.

‘Where’s he heading?’ Asked Ludwig turning away from the seemingly endless procession of soldiers. Otto shrugged as he poured himself another concoction from a nearby ewer.

‘Troll country I suspect. It’s just about the only place a man like him can ever hope to redeem himself after what he did.’

‘Or indulge in those same desires beyond the eyes of men.’ Retorted Ludwig.

Otto shrugged again. ‘What different does it make? He’ll be dead within the year.’

Ludwig wasn’t so sure. Men that ferocious in combat didn’t just roll over and die.

‘But it’s not our concern any more brother.’ Otto placed a hand on his brother’s shoulder.

‘Oh?’

Otto nodded. ‘You’re being taken back to Marienburg by armoured coach. A gesture of good will, but let me be clear: if you find yourself at the mercy of Altdorf again, nothing can protect you.’

‘What about you?’

Otto smiled as much to himself as to his brother. ‘I’m being expelled from the city. It seems this whole incident has focussed Siegfried’s mind somewhat and the banishment of several hundred of the city’s sons has not gone down well with the citizenry. So I shall pack up my chattels and wears and heading off to pastures new.’

‘With this war escalating, I’m not likely to see you again, am I?’

It was Otto’s turn to look sad, but it was gone just as quickly as it arrived. ‘I wouldn’t say that brother. We’ll meet again, soon enough.’ He gave his brother a warm smile that troubled Ludwig rather than comforted him. ‘Now begone with you. You have battles to fight and I have diplomats to bend to my will.’

***

The wind whipped and howled around Hector von Strauss as he trudged ever closer to the Realm of Chaos. After the march across Troll Country and the journey across the sea, barely a hundred of his men had survived but they were, every one of them, relentless. As they crossed the Northern Wastes they had encountered roving bands of nomad barbarians. Any challenges were met with explosive violence. Those survivors that could, joined his growing warband so by now he commanded a force to even rival Altdorf. And for every man who fell to one of the foul creatures that lurked in the wilderness meant he was one step closer to the realm of darkness and limitless power. Frost limned his armour and turned his hair brittle but the fires of revenge kept him warm. He cast his mind back to when he last saw his daughter Izabella who had run to him and begged him not to go. He had had his wits about himself enough to lie and told him he was off on a great mission. It had been easier than the truth and the disgrace it would have heaped upon her. She had set her jaw and nodded in understanding and he had felt his heart break.

‘von Bomburg will play.’ It took a moment for von Strauss to realise it wasn’t his voice but it was his mouth moving. Something powerful and ancient lurked within his mind, whispering the promises of power, tremendous armies and most importantly his revenge. As he bartered away his soul he looked back at the way he came as he warriors struggled to keep pace. Some were being smote by lightning strikes and other set upon by beasts, but they all made for ample sacrifice. von Strauss could already feel the change  in his own body and then the voice spoke again.

‘Embrace me as your lord and I will grant upon thee the most bountiful gifts with which to inflict woe on your enemies.’

Looking to the horizon, knowing the distant Empire lay beyond his sight, he drew his sword and lifted it high in to the air bellowing at the top of his voice the name of Khorne, the blood God. And in that moment the winds died down and he roared a challenge to Ludwig von Bomburg. And high up the heavens a dark God chuckled his approval and commanded his armies forward.

A Tale of Two Armies

TaleOfTwoArmies copy

Followers on Twitter will have gotten wind by now that Lee (@leefaccini) and I will be setting sail for the Olde World after a break of a fair few years. Rather than run the risk of starting with great gumption and fizzling out after gathering too many models and those models gathering too little paint, we’ll be embarking on a Tale of Two Armies.

The concept is common enough and been attempted by the various White Dwarf teams over the years under the title of a Tale of Two Gamers, but let’s be honest; you’re all far more interested in the toys than Lee and I.

So, what’s the plan? Well, put simply we shall be collecting two brand spanking new armies. Lee shall be collecting Empire and I shall be doing a pure Khorne Warriors of Chaos army.

Following from the review of the Warhammer rulebook coming up in the next few days, we’ll be reviewing our respective army books and then we’ll get down to the nitty gritty of collecting armies and kicking face…and remembering which end of the brush you’re supposed to put the paint on.

The rules will be simple:

Each month we shall collect and paint 500 points of our chosen army and play a game. As an incentive if a unit is unpainted when we meet up for the game we won’t be allowed to use it. The target will be 3,000 points after which point we’ll reward ourselves with something large and barmy from Forge World as a centre piece.

Alongside hobby articles chronicling our progress and battle reports they’ll also be reviews of all the units we collect and a growing narrative which will expand after each game is fought. Regular readers and followers will by now have heard of Ludwig Von Bomburg, Lee’s mercenary captain for Mordheim. He will be leading the Empire army in this tale in the days before he became an alcohol guzzling, womanising boar.

It’s an exciting challenge for us as between time commitments on my part and Lee taking a million years to paint anything we both struggle to complete projects and we’re looking forward to sharing it with you all. And as you may have seen at the top of the page, every article about A Tale of Two Armies will feature that banner as well as the tag. And it wouldn’t be possible without the truly humbling level of support given to The Shell Case by Firestorm Games.

So stay tuned folks…

Warriors of Chaos New Releases

The rumour mill was alarmingly accurate on this one. That’s right even more Chaos releases, but this time of the Warhammer Fantasy variety. Not new units, just models of  units that hadn’t been released at launch. Hold on to your wallets.

Skullcrushers of Khorne – £35.00 RRP

Only those Chaos Knights who devote themselves utterly to the Lord of Slaughter and offer to him a mountain of skulls are destined to become Skullcrushers. They are completely without mercy and they leave only a trail of broken bodies and a river of spilt gore in their wake.

The Skullcrushers of Khorne are ferocious-looking, thick-set models. The Mark of Khorne is emblazoned across their tough armour, they’re festooned with chains and skulls, and they each carry immense lances. The Skullcrushers ride upon muscular Juggernaughts, each of which possess bladed crests and spiked collars. The creatures are encased in armour and display barbs, pistons, chains, blades as well as the symbol of Khorne. The kit features command options including a banner, musician and a champion, who holds a massive double-headed axe.

Hellstriders of Slannesh – £20.00 RRP

Hellstriders are devotees of torment who hunt from the back of impossibly swift daemonic steeds. They fight to inflict pain and despair, landing mortal blows upon their victims where they are most likely to prolong the agonising moment of death.

The Hellstriders of Slaanesh are muscular miniatures who ride atop Steeds of Slaanesh. They sport Classical-styled helmets, featuring plumes or curved blades, and also wear unusual angular armour covered in sigils. Each of them carries circular shields bearing the icon of Slaanesh and comes armed with enormous, whip-like, barb-ended hellscourges, while some of the Hellstriders even have spears fused to their arms. The kit comes with command options including a musician, champion and standard bearer who holds aloft a banner with a sculpted symbol of Slaanesh. The Steeds themselves are long, reptilian creatures with serpentine tongues, a variety of skin textures, thick claws and an elongated tail, and they stand in a variety of dynamic poses.

Chaos Warshrine – £35.00 RRP

The prayers and sacrifices that are offered up from Warshrines are like sweet nectar to the otherworldly beings of the Realm of Chaos, and the air crackles with power around each shrine with the eye of the gods turns their way. The presence of these mobile altars empowers and emboldens the warriors that fight before them.

The Chaos Warshrine is a towering and baroque model. Two huge, lumbering creatures, one of which possesses two heads, hold the Warshrine above their shoulders. Rings of fat droop over loincloths, broken shackles and loose chains are attached to their wrists, and the Mark of Chaos appears as a scar upon their hide. The gilded carriage of the Warshrine is embellished with features including icons, horns, spikes, rune-etched details, braziers and large flames. The central feature is a massive 8-pointed Chaos Star propped up by a gargoyle; at the centre of it an interchangeable icon can be fixed in place to represent the desired Chaos god. There is also an on-board altar that can be fitted onto the model (into which an axe can be embedded). This decadent model comes with a Chaos Sorcerer that can be assembled with a choice of different heads and hands, allowing even further personalisation.

Scyla Anfingrimm – £30.00 RRP

Scyla Anfingrimm was once the bane of the coastlands from frozen Norsca to exotic Ind. Now little more than a mountain of muscle and unquenchable rage, goaded into battle as a beast of war, Scyla’s only desire is to kill and maim in the name of Khorne.

Scyla is a huge ape-like miniature whose body is a mass of sculpted muscle, bubbling flesh, spikes, fur, scales, flaring tendons and horns. A metal collar of Khorne hangs from his neck, whilst a finely detailed Khorne symbol is branded upon his chest. His face features huge ungainly teeth protruding from his bulky gums, bulging eyes, and his tail leads down to a vicious serpent’s head.

Valkia the Bloody – £15.00 RRP

Valkia the Bloody is said to be the consort of Khorne himself. Her violent deeds are watched over by her battle-hungry patron and it is said that those who earn her blessing will fight in the halls of the Blood God for all eternity.

Valkia the Bloody is a vicious-looking model. Her expression is fearsome, as are the two ribbed horns that protrude from her forehead. Two enormous, thick wings are unfurled high up, and she is posed rising up from a pile of flaming skulls. In studded armour she carries her Daemonshield, which features a hideous maw as well as horns, and she stands ready to unleash the barbed Spear Slaupnir on her foes.

Festus the Leechlord – £11.00 RRP

Festus is the Leechlord of Nurgle. Woe betide the fool who crosses him, for he is not above force-feeding his latest concoctions to his victims in his quest to bring even more repugnant forms of life into the world.

Festus is largely made up of layers of fat, immense jowls, and boil-infested skin. His helpless victim kneels before him with his head snapped back, his jaws wide open, clawing his throat with a bony hand. Whatever filthy substance Festus is forcing down his neck has ended up burning through the poor man’s guts, which have since erupted across his thighs. As well as wearing an apron, on Festus’s back sits an immense vat of flesh, offal and marginally more coherent body parts, all of which is helpfully (and probably mindlessly) tended to by a slimy, one-eyed Nurgling. Finally, a tentacle unfurls from Festus to grip a staff that is caked with skulls, fungus, parchment and a quill. It is rare to see a more disgusting model grace the tabletop.

The Warriors of Chais new releases will be on sale from the 3rd November and are available from Firestorm Games.