Thursday, 30 June 2011

Tactical Review: Spiders & Bones


This was one of those nicely tight games.

Playing against my wife is always a pleasure. We tend to takes things fairly slowly, playing a couple of turns a day over half a week. That laid back method is kind of cool. She doesn't feel under too much pressure to play and we both get the pleasure of the game spread over a longer period.

The likely winner went back and forth but at the beginning of the game I was smug enough not to charge her Hierophant because I didn't think it would be fair: she obviously hadn't understood how important he was when she moved him close enough for me to do it.

Later on though, I was really struggling and plunging into one of my patented in-game bouts of despair. The placement of a magical vortex cast by one of my Goblin Shamans really got in my troops' way and prevented me getting my flanking reserves into position until much later in the game.

I'm really not sure I like magical vortexes.

Now, the Arachnarok Spider... How hard is he!?!? I stand by my decision not to add the catapult or great Shaman and he did very well. Not as well as I'd hoped - the Undead Rhino posed a difficult challenge that drained my wounds, but I got him in the end.

My chariots did well, providing a versatile troubleshooting group who would stay together or operate apart.


My big spider units weren't as good as I would have hoped but that was partly because of the following...

What would I have changed if I could...?

I think a Battle Standard Bearer is absolutely critical for all Warhammer armies, and none more so than low-Leadership Goblins. I had at least one too many Goblin Shamans (too many actually to have cards for them - I had to cheat a bit and use Orc spells until one got killed). I should have had the Battle Standard Bearer instead.

If only I had a model to represent him!

Maybe I'll get one of my Shaman's with a pole and work my conversion magic...

Monday, 27 June 2011

Spiders & Bones

Tim (Spider Goblins) vs Gill  (Tomb Kings)

The Chittering Horde of the Spider King had never been defeated.

From the dark bowers of Razor Web Forest, a carpet of creeping and crawling monstrosities came, for the first time arrayed in all their grisly splendour.Never before had so many spiders been seen, goaded and driven by their sinister Goblin masters.

But their enemy was every bit as terrifying. Every bit as implacable.

Their enemy were the Tomb Kings of the Undead Nation.

The Tomb King forces had been driven back, almost to their lair of Barak Varr, the former stronghold of the Dwarfs, but they were still far from defeat or surrender and the silent legions marched on the scurrying ranks of the Spider Goblins!

The huge form of an Arachnarok Spider led the advance but the Tomb Princess riding one of her Undead Rhinos charged forward to meet it, both of them incredibly powerful and apparently undefeatable.

The behemoths crashed into one another, shattering the boughs of trees and sending up clouds of dust as the goblins on the spider's howdah cackled and screeched, poking forward with their spears. The Arachnarok Spider was amazingly potent but the Undead Rhino was every bit as tough as Warsphinx whose powers it emulated. The spider brought it down but at a cost and as the Tomb King Gashorah charged it he brought it down with a single blow of his terrible sword. 

Skeleton Horsemen, forming a vanguard force on their far right flank, circled in to deliver a punishing side blow, but their blank eye sockets didn't see the approaching chariots until it was too late. 


Three goblin chariots smashed through them without slowing, the initial impact alone enough to destroy them utterly.

 But it wasn't going to be so easy.

The Spider King and his riders were set to rout and even with the army's Hierophant vanquished, the undead marched on, their Tomb King and Tomb Princess leaders spurring them forth as the goblins bickered, only advancing sporadically.

Both armies had taken huge losses but they still fought on, circling and closing, until the last vestiges of the battle charged in, spiders crawling up and over the bony shoulders of their enemies and dragging them down.


The tide was turning. The resilience of the Tomb Kings could only hold out for so long against such overwhelming numbers. 

The last of the skeletons fought on but the fight was over. 

The spiders ground their bones into the muddy earth and then crept away and onwards. 

Barak Varr was growing close now. So close. And only one army now lay before the spiders and their quarry. One army of undead warriors, determined to enact their vengeance! 

Before it was too late...

Crisis Averted!

This is what I found in my war room the other morning when I woke up.

The screws were half way out of the wall; the shelf with all my Vampire Counts and Tomb Kings poised, ready to fall.

Man, just imagine the horror if that lot had plummeted to the ground!

See my Undead Rhino at the far end? He would have been the first to shatter!


But ten minutes later with my son on the case, the Undead nation was safe once more!

Thanks Raish!

Monday, 20 June 2011

Tactical Review: Massacre at Fortress Malefic


Well! I finally beat Mike! 

But was it a fair fight?

Certainly I can assure you that there was no skullduggery on my part, but the Siege rules as they currently stand are extremely dodgy and severaly disadvantgae certain armies. Fortunately for me, I was up against Skaven, probably the worst army to be defending a castle. 

Mike fought hard but he as fighting an uphill battle. In a building, Skaven can't call upon their ranks and Strength in Numbers to hold on tight. The battle comes down to kills, pure and simple, which they struggle to inflict with their normal infantry. 

Things could still have possibly worked out but for two further elements.
  1. Mike chose to bring Warlock Engineers to the battle. Not a bad choice for the magic, but they didn't have the Leadership or combat accumen to lead the defence sadly (for them).
  2. I very carefully chose my own forces to maximise my hitting power and minimise Mike's ability to strike back. With my Varghulf and ethereal units leading the assault and elite units and characters following on from behind, I was in a superior position from the get go. 
 The Siege rules are very sketchy at best and get very weird when units start fleeing in all directions at once. Who knows if we interpretted what sketchy rules we had correctly but none of it made much sense realistically! 

Next time we're going to just use the fortress as a back-drop and fight a normal game. It's a shame but until GW release a proper update, I would advise you all to steer clear. 


Well I got it all wrong.  I hadn’t played a siege battle before and after this result I’m not sure that I want to again. 

After a very brief look at the rules that Tim sent me I understood it that I had to hold as many parts of the castle as possible so I stayed rooted to the spot.  Unfortunately in a low leadership army like those little rat bastardo’s as soon as you lose in combat you are stuffed.  I lost every combat, I fled every time and I lost by the end of round 2!

For the future I think that it is a must to charge out of the castle and meet them on the battlefield!  Still a lesson learned…

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Massacre at Fortress Malefic

Tim (Vampire Counts) vs Mike (Skaven) 

It was simply the end for the Vampire Counts.

Fortress Malefic - the ancient castle in the World's Edge Mountains, flanking the entrance to the Devil's Pathway, most direct route from the Land of the Dead and the Empire - had fallen to the Skaven weeks earlier. Now, the entire realm of the Undead Nation was under threat as the lands previously captured lay perilously unguarded as, in desperation, the remnants of what had once seemed an unstoppable horde returned to their former home... to take it back!

 The Skaven scrambled into position on the battlements. They had fought hard at Still Water to stop the Vampire armies from reaching their walls but had failed. Still, their recent string of victories had left them smug. Perhaps even... complacent?

They squealed, baiting the silent undead horde slowly encircling their walls to come and do their worst.

At the centre of the undying ranks, Spheric, the Vampire's most deadly general, smiled grimly. He was more than happy to meet their request and gave the order.In a broad circle, the footsoldiers of the Undead Nation started to close the noose.

The order of attack had been meticulously preplanned by Spheric and his Vampire officers. Leading the attack were the most powerful and invulnerable elements of the force. Spheric knew that the Skaven, by their nature, were tactically crippled by having to fight within the confines of a castle, unable to bring their ranks and numbers to bear. He was confident that a hammer blow would not just crack this nut, but pulverise it.

His one concern was that powerful Skaven Warlords would be manning the walls. He chuckled to see only Warlock Engineers in place. This was going to be easier than he thought.

But the Skaven weren't going to go down easily and hidden behind the parapets were devastatingly powerful weapon teams. As Fell Bats swept in toward the closest tower, the disguising covers were thrown back and the cackling Skaven revealed the grinding barrels of a Ratling Gun.

They fired it up and the barrels started spinning, burning heat sizzling the air. Greedy for destruction they ratcheted up the pace, preparing to unleash an even more powerful salvo, and then let rip.

There was a brief explosion on the tower top and the weapon team vanished in a puff of blood and metal.

First to the wall was a powerful Vargulf. Spiking its claws into the mortar, it bounded up the wall and tore into the Stormvermin standing guard, brushing off the rocks they poured down the wall onto its mighty shoulders.

The Stormvermin were the Skaven elite. Of all the horde, they alone were perfectly placed to stand firm against any onslaught.

Their weapons failed to draw blood and the Vargulf ripped the heads off rat after rat as they floundered in terror. It roared and the Stormvermin fled under the mighty upthrust of its wings.

It was at this point that the Skaven commander started to realise that this might not end well.

Unable to rely on their strength of numbers on the narrow battlements, the ratmen lacked the confidence to hold firm. All the forces of the vampires had to do was hit hard and their units would flee. And as the Warlock Engineer looked out across the opposing forces his blood grew cold he saw the genius of his opponent. Half of the enemy battalions were powerful enough to destroy all enemies and the other half were simply impossible to wound.

Deep in his brain, he feverishly tired to work out who was to blame for this.

And then the Fell Bats hit; swooping past his crazed Warplock Pistol shot and smacking hard into him. He fought back desperately but they were too big, the mass of each one more than double his own. With their claws raking his back he fled through the trapdoor and down into the courtyard, past the Clanrats and Plague Monks eager for battle.

Down in the courtyard, he sighed in relief, glad to be away from the battle. This was all going so wrong. They had been in such a powerful position: two capitals under their control; and now it was all teetering on the brink of dissolution. What could have all gone wrong?!?

Then he heard a low growl and from the shadows beneath the parapet he saw the glowing eyes of the Vargulf.

And then he saw no more.

At the front of the fortress a massive horde of skeleton warriors approached the gate with Spheric at its centre. The dark lord was in no hurry. He wanted to relish this slaughter. And that was what it was. The Fortress was like a wooden crate filled with rats. Nowhere for them to go as he reached in casually with a hammer and pummelled them to death one by one.

A poisoned wind mortar blast fell into the skeleton ranks, obliterating almost a dozen fleshless warriors but the rest of them didn't pause, striding forward and a with a flick of his wrist, Spheric activated the incantation to bring them back to life.

Undeterred, the surviving Warlock Engineer conjured a scorching shower of fire in the approaching ranks of Crypt Guard, cackling madly as the rear ranks were stripped from the battalion.

But still they came, soulless and uncaring at the death of their brothers.

Cairn Wraiths and Spirit Hosts glided soundlessly over the walls and where the Wraiths found the battlements empty, the ghostly spirits ignored the panicked attacks of the clanrat defenders before hacking them apart with their fell blades, setting them to rout. Cornered and surrounded in the courtyard, the clanrats were cut down.

The rats were still trapped in their box and the hammer was falling again and again. At each hammer strike a unit was being crushed and the ratmen were running out of troops.

"It isn't fair," stammered their remaining Warlock Engineer, casting the powerful Death Frenzy on the Plague Monks guarding the front of the fortress in the hopes of at least maintaining the defence there.But he couldn't take this anymore.He fled from the walls, dropping down to the ground and trying to get away from this terrible trap, but he was hacked down by the waiting Crypt Guard that he had used his magic on and his bones were shattered.

The Plague Monks on the walls slavered and foamed as the Death Frenzy took over, making them more than powerful enough to take on any enemy, but rather than attacking, Spheric called his skeleton warriors to halt. He looked up at the gatway and the frenzied Plague Monks and he actually laughed out loud.

Conjuring a Curse of Years, he unleashed one his most powerful magics, causing the Plague Monks to drop from old age, one by one. The Death frenzy was too draining. It was burning out their hearts, making them drop and die, even as they waited for battle.

Spheric laughed and laughed. He didn't even need to attack. Their own magic was going to wipe out the last defenders. Already overunning most of the castle, the forces of the Vampire Counts grew still, all of them watching as the last of the Skaven fell.

This hadn't been a battle. It had been a massacre.

Fortress Malefic belonged once more to the vampires!

Monday, 13 June 2011

Spotlight On... Forest Spirits of the Wood Elves

Going full steam ahead over on Conflict Valorax, my Warhamnmer 40,000 site, is leaving me precious little time to dedicate to that other most precious endeavour: Warhammer Fantasy. Still, I was perusing some of my Wood Elf Forest Spirits this morning and thought I'd bring them down off the shelf to get a closer look.

Dryads are lovely models. They aren't too expensive and they're reasonably quick to build (though sticking the arms on is a bit annoying with such a small surface area of join. It's possible to put a whole army of these together pretty quickly and in the old rules I'd have been more inclined to as these guys had great advantages in woody terrain. Now though... Not so much. They're still good, and with 2 Attacks each and high Strength and Weapon Skill they're nice to have around.

I painted mine the same colour as I did my trees: a Scorched Brown first coat and then Codex and Fortress Grey as highlights, picking out the leafy skirts in dark and lighter greens. I wanted to go a little further though so I purchased some of the amazing Clump Foliage; available from model shops, Hobbycraft, etc; and gave a suggestion of foliage on those bare upper branches.

Now this Treeman is one of the joint first Warhammer miniatures I ever bought (in a bulk buy from a kid in the paper) and for years I didn't use him because I thought he was crap. I didn't like his pose and he was far too small. I tried various ideas to change his pose but none panned out.

Then I had the idea of adding some spare branches from the Citadel Forest set. Some clump foliage later and voila! NOW he's one of my favourite models and the only one that I've managed to pull off (to my satisfaction) the glowing red eyes. Astute readers will have noticed that I FEAR eyes and tend to leave them shaded. I went a little further on this chap and am glad I did.

Friday, 10 June 2011

On the Painting Table: My Ogres…

Well this is my first “freelance” post for my good chum Tim’s blog, The Last Chance War.

Firstly I had to decide what I was to write about. Do I cover my Chaos Warriors army that I’ve painted but only used once? Or perhaps I those amazing rat bastards also known as the Skaven horde?

Well I decided against both of these options and instead opted for my small Ogre detachment. 

A while ago I ordered a box of 6 Ogre Bulls from Wayland Games online store (which is an excellent resource by the way and I thoroughly recommend that you take a look when you can) as I wanted a stand alone detachment of either Ogres or Trolls.  In another life I’d ordered some Leadbeltchers which are fantastic models so I knew pretty much what I’d be getting when they arrived. 

Originally I thought about heavily converting them to the ways of the chaos but if you read their section in the codex it states that ogres are resistant to mutation and with the excellent Forge World Ogres a reasonable price I thought that I’d leave them as God had intended. 

So with the small conversion bug on my shoulder I thought that perhaps I’d put more effort into the bases.  Normally I decide to use static grass, sand and bird grit which gives an excellent result but I wanted something a little different this time.  Luckily at work there are many flower beds that have the slate shingle around them, one lunchtime I foraged for small pieces of slate that would suit my needs and hey presto, I found plenty.  Admittedly I may have looked a little crazy and I did get some rather odd looks but it was worth it.

With the slate in hand I then wanted to embellish the base a little more.  I added a Gnoblar on a barrel, a couple of shields and a broken dagger to each individual base which I thought would bring the three models together. 
I hope that you’ll agree that they look really good.  I think that having the Gnoblar to the left of the detachment it gives the impression that he’s giving the orders.  Here’s a close up of one of them, giving a good look at his scenic base.

I’d be interested in hearing what everyone thinks of them as I have another 3 models with scenic bases to make up in the very near future.

Happy dweebing as my girlfriend would say.

Michael “Thorgrim” Batten.

Thursday, 9 June 2011

On The Painting Table: Rat Ogres

Well, I have a confession. I didn't just paint these guys but I thought I'd do a quick showcase.

They're a combination of regular and Island of Blood Rat Ogres that I only recently built up into a nice sized unit.

I kind of regret not doing white-furred Skaven across the whole army (that's a project for another day) so I went with that on these guys to make them really stand out. I used Codex and Fortress Grey with a White highlight. The brown bits are Scorched and Bestial Brown. The metal parts are Boltgun Metal with a black ink wash.

One of my fondest Skaven wishes is that they'll bring out a model for the Skaven Warlord mount choice that has them riding a Rat Ogre. That would be amazing, and though I could do a passable conversion myself probably, I wouldn't want them to bring out a model after that that outdid me.

Rat Ogres have mixed success in games in my opinion. I've noticed my good friend Mike often doesn't field them by choice and I've certainly not done that well with them myself in previous games.

But they do look good! And as I often say, that's the main thing that matters.

Friday, 3 June 2011

Tactical Review: Massacre on the Old Silk Road


This was a difficult one to call.  The deployment meant that my army was squashed into one corner of the board and with the amount of terrain pieces I was unable to effectively close the gap on the Tomb Kings. 

Luckily I got rid of both the Screaming Catapult and Casket of Souls without too much bother and without the casket even opening.  Tim had decided to retreat to garrison his units in houses rather than face my little rat bastards in hand to hand conflict.  Ultimately this was his undoing, I couldn’t get to him  and the winds of magic ran dry the whole game.  Although casualties were kept to a minimum I prevailed by only killing 3 units. 

The battle was more tactical than blood and guts which made a nice change of pace. 


Oh. My. God.

As determined as I am to beat Mike sometime, I messed this up badly.

Well, put it this way, I had a really good plan that would have probably won me the game but after deployment was the wrong time to come up with it. If Mike had assualted me in the buildings, I would have kicked his ass. Instead, he didn't reach the units I withdrew and the units left behind gave him enough victory points to win the game.

Having said that, my Undead Rhino kicked ass using the rules for the Necrosphinx. I used to use him as a chariot (which made NO sense. Now the rules fit him perfectly (although Mike grumbled a bit).

The biggest disaster though was forgetting to use the Casket of Souls TWICE IN A ROW.

And forgetting the power dice enhancement!

Man, forgetting stuff is my Achiles Heel!

Mike and I have agreed to remind one another if this kind of stuff happens again so hopefully he can help me not screw up so much.

As an aside, the terrain looked great!

And keeping the Hierophant in a unit of horsemen worked fairly well. I hate having a single model who can lose the game for me who is also a points sink and powerful magic user. Keeping him safe tends to mean not using him to full potential.

God, I wish they'd got rid of that in the latest army book!

Thursday, 2 June 2011

The Creeping Dead

Mike (Skaven) vs Tim (Tomb Kings)

There were only scant miles now between the undead horde of the Tomb Kings and the Skaven capital of Spike Hole, thousands of skeletal forms marching hard toward the doomed home of the evil ratmen.

But the Skaven were far from ready to prostrate themselves before their aggressors. Despite fighting wars on many fronts and holding on to dwindling lands, the Skaven had achieved much and the string of recent victories had made them confident.

But dramatic changes to the magic of the Tomb Kings had occurred since last the unbreathing ones had fought, granting significant changes to their ability to make war; changes that might allow them to overwhelm their enemies without pause.

The Skaven had chosen the village of Willow Leaves to make a holding action, blocking the advance of the Undead Nation. They formed a battle line and surged up the slope into the village.

The Tomb Kings had formed a battle line in opposition but oddly, as the battle began, half of the army withdrew to the line of buildings, hoping to lure the ratmen closer and limit their ability to bring their numbers to bear.

Astrid, the Tomb Princess, raged at her lieutenants' imbecilic actions. The strategy was sound but it was too late for the manoeuvring. The warriors should have followed her orders and remained committed to their initial deployment!

She leapt up to the howdah of her gigantic Undead Rhino, every bit as powerful as a necrosphinx and urged it forward, hoping to undo what her lietenants' indecision had cost them. The rhino struck unit after unit, destroying them or sending them fleeing, but she could not win the battle by herself, no matter her passion and drive.

The Vermin Lord slunk past her as she battled on against the onrushing horde, going after Caleb, the Liche Priest whose magic allowed the army to exist at all but Caleb fled, keeping his distance from the towering monstrosity.

The Skaven tore through the Screaming Bell and Casket of Souls that the Tomb Kings had left in their path, mindlessly devouring the space between them and their skeletal enemies. Time was running out and the bulk of the Tomb King strength had yet to join the battle.

Astrid fought on but it was a losing combat now and in the trees a hundred yards away, the Vermin Lord caught up with Caleb and ripped the remnants of his bodyguard horsemen in seconds.

This looked like the end. The Vermin Lord pummelled Caleb over and over again, but despite his power he could not break through the Hierophant's protective magics and suddenly, with a murmur of ancient poetry, Caleb vanished, spirited away.

The Vermin Lord roared in triumph and frustration as the rest of the Tomb King force shimmered and dissolved, reappearing yet closer to Spike Hole.

The Skaven had won the battle - there was no doubt about that, the Tomb King strategy had been optimistically incompetent - but as far as the ratmen were concerned, with two great undead armies poised before their capital, perhaps the war was soon to be lost.

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Arachnarok Spider: Which Version Is Best?

The Orcs and Goblins newest mega monster is the Arachnarok Spider and never has a model come closer to giving me a genuine wargasm.

But there are various options open to the Orcs & Goblins player regarding kitting out this beast and as the options tend to involve irrevocable super glue activity it's worth giving some thought up front to the possibilities.

Basically there are three options:
  1. Straight up, with just Forest Goblins on the back
  2. With a catapult
  3. With a Goblin Great Shaman
Let's look at these one by one:

Straight Up

The Spider is an amazing close combat monster, great at kicking ass in any environment. It's focused on doing one thing and it does it well.

With a Catapult

Well... I like the idea of the catapult and it looks great. But suddenly your spider is trying to do two things and it can't do them both without marginalising one or the other.

You can't shoot and march so getting into combat becomes a problem. For the points, if you're not in combat you're wasting your time. Meanwhile, if you get into combat you can't shoot!

And the catapult really isn't that great!

Nice try, but bad idea. I don't see anything positive to this option really.

With a Goblin Great Shaman

I was almost tempted with this option. Then decided against it.

Being on a monster allows your general to have an 18" Leadership bonus but the Shaman's Leadership isn't great really. Upgrading to the Spider Shrine is cool and gives a nice but slightly expensive bonus and the high line of sight gives some bonus to the spell casting.

But really, we're in a similar problem to the catapult build. This version is too diverse as one aspect penalises the other. And the expensive Shaman is FAR from safe on the back of the spider. FAR FAR from safe.

He can be shot at easily (and is likely to die quickly from bowfire), but worse yet, when the spider gets into combat (as it should as quickly as possible), attacks can be allocated against the Shaman by anyone in base contact. As he's so easy to kill and worth so many points, it's a no-brainer for your opponent to do so.

He really won't last long.

Overall Recommendation

  • I recommend building the basic spider and keeping it focused.
  • Build a separate Catapult and use it as a Stone Thrower like I did.
  • Build the Shaman as a separate model (he is really cool), but like I did, build him so that he can go on the Spider if you ever change your mind. But I wouldn't bother.