Just a quick post today to share some photos of some new units for my dwarf army. Astute readers may know that I have a long-running dwarf throng composed of figures from a wide variety of companies and manufacturers. I really enjoy blending different sculpts and designs together under a (somewhat) cohesive paint scheme.
First up is a unit of heavily armored dwarves. These figures are from MOM Miniatures, a boutique studio located in Spain. Vince and I went in on a group purchase last year to save on shipping costs.
These guys check all the boxes for me: heavy plate armor, expansive beards, and a variety of two-handed weapons. They’ll be right at home battering down the barricades of a goblin encampment, or marching in lockstep through a narrow canyon defile.
Up next is a dwarven sharpshooter, also from MOM Miniatures. This guy will serve as a ranger or maybe even an engineer-type role in my army. He’s on a slightly larger scenic base which makes him really stand out alongside the rank-and-file troops.
Lastly we have a real gem of a figure, and I can bear-ly contain my excitement to show it to you.
This dwarf bear rider is from Scibor Monstrous Miniatures, and it’s a hefty piece of resin!
I’ve adored Scibor’s delightfully chunky dwarf models for a long time, and just last year I painted up some figures for my army. The golden armor scheme really makes these guys pop on the battlefield, and I knew I wanted to try it out on this bear cavalry guy.
I’ve already got one bear rider on a polar bear in my army, so this guy’s mount got a more traditional boreal ursine paint job. And by that, I mean: it’s a brown bear.
There are tons of little details and design flourishes on this model, such as the severed orc head and the slash marks on the bear’s flank. But my inner 12-year-old wouldn’t let me write this post without pointing out that this bear model is, ahem, anatomically correct. A quick visual check confirms that Mr. Bear is a male.
So if, like me, you hadn’t yet checked “paint bear scrotum” off your miniatures painting bucket list, be sure to check out the lineup of bear cavalry from Scibor Monstrous Miniatures.
That’s it for now! These guys will march to the battlefield soon enough in a game of Age of Fantasy, or Saga, or Dragon Rampant, or … you get the idea.
Earlier this month we gathered in John’s garage war room to cross swords with Age of Fantasy, the rules-lite iteration of classic fantasy wargaming from One Page Rules.
Given how much we enjoyed last month’s outing with Grimdark Future: Firefight last month, it seemed like a logical progression to explore Age of Fantasy. As the name implies, Age of Fantasy is a slimmed-down ruleset that supports Warhammer-lite gameplay, with nifty army lists approximating all the major races and factions from the classic tabletop game. As a bonus, it also includes rules and army lists for most of the newer factions from Age of Sigmar, if that’s your cup o’ tea.
For our game, we set up a 2-vs-1 match whereupon John and Vince combined their human and dwarven forces to take on my bloodthirsty chaos army. This was my first time getting my entire chaos army on the table since I began piecing it together a year or two ago, and I was really chomping at the bit to lay it all out there on the table and bask in the blood-soaked glory.
Please indulge, if you will, these photos of my seething chaos battle line as it took to the field.
John’s human forces and Vincent’s dwarven milita were similarly arrayed, though I noted a concerning lack of skulls and spikes on their side of the board, as well as 100% more pegasus knights and bear riders.
We set up 5 objectives per the standard scenario in the rulebook. I wrote “rulebook” but One Page Rules is not joking about its name; the core rules for Age of Fantasy occupy less than two letter-sized pages, with the full rulebook encompassing scarcely more than a dozen.
The rules are spare, but they do a great job capturing the flavor and tone of a typical game of Warhammer. You’re still rolling dice and counting bonuses and removing casualties and cursing the gods when things go terribly awry, but Age of Fantasy seems to strip away a lot of the bloat that plagued most modern editions of Warhammer.
And so, amid the clatter of spears and the scrape of boiled leather, our game got underway. We opted to use the “Ebb and Flow” rules for the turn sequence, meaning we put a number of colored poker chits equal to the number of units in our armies into a sack, then took turns drawing a chit to determine unit activation order each turn. It was great fun, but it also set up some high stakes moments, because when one side sees several of their chits come up in a row, they know that means the opposing player will have a series of unopposed activations coming later in the turn.
With bloodlust in my eyes, I sent my forces surging forward.
Did I mention I had zero ranged combat in my army? It was all melee, so the only direction to go was forward.
On the right flank, a unit of Putrid Blightkings plodded through the muck, churning the soil beneath their steel-shod feet/hooves. They seized the first objective: a recently abandoned campsite with a roast pheasant still sizzling on the spit. This hapless game hen would become the focal point of absolutely insane butchery as the game unfolded.
With a little help from my chaos sorceress, I managed to goad my unit of Centigors into charging a unit of crossbowmen that had just finished unleashing their arrows into the flanks of my chaos knights. The Centigors thundered in amid a storm of hooves and spears, laying waste to the crossbowmen …
…before finding themselves on the receiving end of a devastating counter-charge from John’s winged pegasus knights!
Nothing like a good ol’ charge/counter-charge bloodbath.
As these maneuvers were playing out, we again remarked on how Age of Fantasy captured the spirit and general gameplay mechanics of classic Warhammer. Sure, we weren’t flipping through army books and cross-referencing arcane rule interactions, but the general spirit of the game definitely emerged as block of troops wheeled and charged and fell back.
By this point, we were about two turns into the game, and the chaos cavalry was advancing up the left flank to menace the dwarf handgunners. The center of the battlefield was dominated by several units of Vince’s heavily armored dwarves, backed up by a fearsome artillery piece.
Over at Waypoint Pheasant (the campfire objective marker featuring the oversized chicken tenders), John was making a determined defense with his block of 20 spearmen, led by the inimitable Grand Marshal Bartholomieu Begovic (standing tall on his ubiquitous supply crate).
The spearmen had a special ability that allowed them to inflict fierce casualties whenever they receive a charge, which really had me scratching my head about how to crack this particular nut.
Ultimately, I had to commit three units to the fight in order to pry John’s spearmen off this particular objective. The final sledgehammer came in the form of a devastating charge by my chariot, which circled around and took the hedgehog on its flank. (Age of Fantasy doesn’t have unit facings, so flank charges exist only in my imagination, but it seemed fitting here.)
The arrival of the chariot tipped things in my favor. A series of spectacularly poor morale rolls from John resulted in Marshal Begovic fleeing the field with the surviving spearmen! Discretion was the better part of valor, it seems, and our dear Marshal didn’t wish the get bloodstains on his pantaloons.
The Ebb and Flow activation rules we were using for this game continued to present unexpected and extremely fun decision points. Both sides had the opportunity to pull off “combo activations” to push the advantage. By the end of the second turn, repeated ativations by the chaos army had finally seized the initiative, culminating in this devastating charge by the chaos knights against the surviving members of a dwarf handgunner brigade.
The demise of the handgunners meant that there wasn’t much to stop the knights from rolling into the dwarves’ backfield, slaughtering the artillery crew and disrupting the reserves that were waiting to plug the gap in the main battleline.
We concluded that the game was in the bag for me, and the two allied players wisely decided to quit the field and retreat to their strongholds.
Age of Fantasy provided a great game worthy of the history books (for me, anyway, since I was the victor). It is a very playable, rules-lite game which seems like it can easily accommodate some very large armies without a lot of complexity or rulebook flipping.
The Ebb & Flow activation rules (optional in the Age of Fantasy rulebook) were absolutely electrifying. I understand they also form the core mechanics for games like Bolt Action and Warlords of Erehwon.
By the end of the game, we were already sketching out ideas for larger games featuring more gloriously painted miniatures from our collections. Stay tuned for more!
Hark, dear reader — do you hear? The bell has tolled thirteen dolorous peals, signifying the completion of the great task which I set before myself two years prior. It is time to share with you my newly completed Skaven army in all its creeping, coiling, loathsome glory!
Regular readers will know that collecting and painting up a Skaven army composed of the old-school metal figures that I coveted as a kid is a goal that I’ve striven toward since the middle of 2018. I certainly took my sweet time with this project, chipping away in bits and pieces between several 40k projects and a couple other fantasy endeavors. Now it is time to show off the fruits of my labors!
Keen-eyed readers will immediately notice that this isn’t a Warhammer-sized army. It’s true — I collected and assembled this army primarily to play mid-sized skirmish games like Dragon Rampant and Saga: Age of Magic. Most of the unit sizes are in multiples of 6 and 12 figures, which align well with those rulesets. With a little work, I can probably reconfigure this lot for Warlords of Erehwon or Kings of War.
For those who want to catch up on this series, here are links to past entries:
I’ll share some detail shots a little later in the post, but for now let’s run through the units in the big photo above.
A. Warp Lightning Cannon – what’s that, a plastic model? Yes, it’s true. Purists need read no further. I have included just a handful of plastic models in this army … mostly larger models. In this case, I acquired this Warp Lightning Cannon nicely painted and finished, so it was an easy one to include.
B. Packmaster and Giant rats – barely glimpsed behind that hill!
C. HQ units – various beautiful old models including Thanquol, Lord Skrolk, and the “Middlehammer” version of Deathmaster Snikch, plus a few more.
D. Weapon teams – Warp Grinder and Warpfire Thrower
F. Poison Wind Globadiers – possibly my favorite individual Skaven models, and strangely pricey these days due to the fact that they’re still a valid unit choice in Age of Sigmar despite being available only as metal, 20-year-old sculpts.
G. Weapon teams – Ratling guns x2
H. Rat Ogres – another pair of plastic figures, also acquired nicely painted and ready to play.
J. Skaven Slaves – Another batch of metal models that are rather pricey these days. Just basic slaves with spears and leg irons.
K. Stormfiend – The newest addition to the army, I acquired this plastic model nicely painted a few weeks ago. I like the idea of a single Stormfiend lumbering at the rear of my army, hissing and clanking and ready to exploit a break in the enemy’s line.
L. Plague Monks – featuring a custom banner vinyl banner
M. Stormvermin – the classic Skaven shock troops.
N. Gutter Runners – eight sneaky assassins plus their leader, Veskit the Executioner
Now it’s time for some close-up photos! I borrowed a nicer camera to take some macro shots, which really give the sense of a mass of chittering rats surging forward on the battlefield.
Note: All photos should be clickable, so you can view slightly larger versions if that is your desire.
Miniatures photography is almost as fun as actually playing games with these guys!
More pics below showing the spear-wielding guys at the vanguard of the assault.
I had a lot of fun acquiring and painting up some of these nifty character models. Here’s a closer look!
Now back to the rank and file! Imagine this gnawing horde charging at you across the battlefield, slashing the air with their rusted weapons and chittering in their foul rat-pidgin.
After I took these fun new photos, I realized I had missed one model: my Doomwheel! It sat ignored and unloved on a shelf while I was gleefully arranging these pics. Oops! Here it is, lest it get overlooked.
This army project was a real joy to tackle over the last few years. From researching to acquiring the models to painting up the units, I learned a lot about the Oldhammer-era history of this fun fantasy faction. I am pleased to report that I ended up with the exact army that I wanted, beholden to no particularly game or ruleset or army list or special rule.
I hope to do a similar post later this year for my dwarf army, with lots of nice photos and group shots — stay tuned!
I must admit, I was saving the best for the last when I embarked upon a journey two years ago to paint up a Skaven army featuring the vintage metal figures that had so inspired me as a younger person. I knew the last batch of figures I’d be painting would be my beloved clanrats: those scrappy fighters who make up the bulk of most Skaven armies.
By this point, I’ve already painted Stormvermin and Plague Monks and Gutter Runners and weapons teams galore to give my army some versatility. All that remains is that solid core of warriors. OK, maybe not so solid — these are Skaven we’re talking about, after all.
I knocked these guys out in the waning days of 2020, so although this blog post is dated January 1, 2021, these figures represent my output in the previous year. Most of the sculpts are from the famous C47 range of Skaven sculpted by Jes Goodwin in the late 80s and early 90s. I adore them as examples of how Skaven looked and behaved before the lore had been fully developed.
As with the other units I’ve painted up so far, I did 12 of these guys. Twelve is a number that is well suited to both Saga: Age of Magic and Dragon Rampant, which are the two rulesets where I’m most likely to field these guys.
I’m particularly enamored with these figures, as they’re armed with a hodgepodge of weapons and armor that really represents the essence of the Skaven to me — grab whatever’s handy, strap on some armor bits looted from a still-warm corpse, and rush back into battle!
Now we’ll walk through some close-ups of the various figures in this unit.
On the right in the photo above is Throt the Unclean, an early example of the zaniness that infests the Skaven range. Look closely and you’ll see he is sporting a third arm! Interestingly, Throt lacks a tail, which suggests to me that the arm was grafted onto his body to replace his tail. Neat detail!
The standard bearer is a bit of a slapdash effort. I painted him up and realized I didn’t have a suitable battle flag to affix to his standard. So I dug around in my bits box and found a couple clipped off tattered robe bits from some Nurgle models. A bit of repositioning and they can do an acceptable job as some flapping rags to inspire the Skaven warriors.
I love the variety of weapons on these figures. On the three figures above, we have four distinct weapons: a pick, a dirk, a morning star, and a butcher knife. Plus two shields! And that duel-wielding Skaven is wearing like one-quarter of a suit of ill-fitting armor.
These figures date back to an era when models were created based solely on how badass or awesome they looked, rather than how they might conform to a set of wargame rules. Ah, the glory days! Bless you, Jes Goodwin.
As with many early Warhammer figures, these models are loaded up with satchels, pouches, scabbards, scrolls, vials, and other accoutrements of battle. I particularly love these details because it makes these guys look like raiders and battlefield scavengers. They’ll lop off your hand in combat, but they’re just as likely to pause and yank the rings off your fingers before loping back to the melee.
I sprinkled on some rust effects, nothing major, just a hint here and there to suggest that these blades and armor bits have seen better days.
Astute Oldhammer fans will probably notice that, strictly speaking, not all of these figures were sold as “clanrats” back in the day. A few are slaves, or warlords, or whatever. I acknowledge this, and dismiss it out of hand with a stern yet friendly admonition: once a figure has crossed my workbench, it loses all trappings of its former life and becomes precisely what I wish it to be in my army. Thus, these are clanrats.
With the completion of these 12 figures, I’ve officially completed the last unit in my all-metal Skaven army. I have a few single figures left that I’d like to get around to painting, but in general this project is complete. I will do a wrap-up post later in January with some photos of the whole army (including some recent additions that haven’t yet been seen by my blog comrades). Stay tuned!
I pivoted away from working on my Skaven army last month and returned (after an extended absence) to my beloved dwarf army. I originally built this army for Kings of War, and I haven’t touched it in 5 or 6 years.
Here’s a look at where it stood back in 2015. The core of the army used a bunch of old school Ral Partha metal models sculpted by Bob Olley, plus assorted figures from various other manufacturers, including Warhammer, Reaper, Heartbreaker Hobbies, Alternative Armies, plus some Kickstarter offerings. In its present form, it can easily work for Saga: Age of Magic or Dragon Rampant (our two go-to rulesets for mid-sized fantasy battles).
In any case, I was gripped by dwarf fever (is that a thing?) in May, and I started rummaging through the huge box of unpainted dwarf stuff that I had earmarked for this army back when I first started building it.
Up first was a simple palette cleanser — some plastic Warhammer dwarves, as a no frills, low pressure way to ease back into painting stout bearded warriors. Was I up to the task, after years of focusing on Skaven and undead? You be the judge.
With those fellows out of the way, it was time to start addressing some needs. I have a number of artillery pieces in this army, but not a lot of crew-type figures to man the cannons. So I found a couple crewmen and added them to the painting queue.
After that, I dug out a Rune Lord that I had acquired in a job lot rather recently. He is resin finecast, which I wasn’t excited about, and I was also frankly bewildered by the sculpt — it’s covered by these little circular runic medallions, and I had a really hard time figuring out how to paint this guy. Circles everywhere! Just when you think you’ve painted them all, you find another one tucked away behind a swathe of beard. But I persevered, and here is the result.
He’s missing a small piece — there’s a pipe that supposed to be sticking out of his mouth. No idea where it ended up.
I’m thinking that staff in his hands is some sort of magic wand, and he’s in the middle of casting a runic enchantment of some sort, maybe targeting a chaos barbarian’s mid-thigh area. He’s got a big ol’ hammer on his back in case magic just doesn’t cut it.
Lastly, I decided to have a little fun. Years ago I snagged a few Reaper blisters (metal, not Bones) including this zany dwarf berserker on a wild boar.
Wow! Check out that sculpt. He’s missing a shoe, barely holding on to a length of chain, holding an axe that’s as big as he is. What more could you want?
Normally, mounted models exhaust me, because you’re basically painting two figures disguised as one. I feel betrayed by the time I’m done with the model. For this figure, I tackled the boar primarily with contrast paint, and it worked swimmingly. Consequently, I was able to focus most of my effort on the berserker.
After that, I pulled out a few figures from the Song of Hammer & Forge Kickstarter, which I backed in 2014. I received 40+ figures for my pledge and basically haven’t touched them since they arrived in the mail. They’re nifty figures, a mix of familiar poses along with some new and exciting stuff. Everything looks like it will fit just fine in my rather traditional dwarf army. Here are the first two basic warriors and a female rogue-type that I painted up as a test.
There’s more to come. In particular, I plan to paint up 12 metal Warhammer Thunderers to fill in as levies for my Saga: Age of Magic army. That’s one of several distinct needs I identified whilst rummaging through my box of unpainted dwarf stuff. I’m also looking to paint up some heavily armored dwarves to serve as hearthguard. Stay tuned for more!