The trees stir and vermin pour forth...Having worked solidly on my Imperial Knights for a couple of months, I decided that it was time to take a break from giant robots in the 41st millennium and revisit an army which I have neglected for far too long...
In the wake of the Age of Sigmar 2.0 release, shockingly, I am making more of an effort to actually play some games! I'm happy to report that I have started an Age or Sigmar Path to Glory campaign with a few friends at our local gaming centre in Sheffield, The Outpost (As well as giving a flat 20% discount on GW products on the web and in store, they also have a pretty large gaming area with tons of terrain to choose from!).
For my faction, I chose Skaven as I have a lot of miniatures which I've lovingly crafted then left to gather dust in the garage as I ran out of steam on the project. Being a typical model maker / collector, I tend to get easily distracted by shiny things. If I were in Lord of the Rings, I'd love to think I'd be Aragorn, but realistically I'd be Gollum; crawling around in a dirty cave with my collection of stuff covered in my own filth.
In fairness, the end of the WFB world and the advent of the Age of Sigmar also killed off my motivation to finish them as the thought of rebasing and reorganising an army while the fledgling game system was still in flux didn't exactly fill me with joy!
As such, my partly assembled Skaven army lay unpainted and requiring attention! I did have a brief liaison with the Sylvaneth faction when GW ran the Malign Portents campaign. Unfortunately, the campaign wasn't particularly well supported and I lost interest after a couple of months. The result was a small Sylvaneth army and a converted Lord Ordinator:
|The Forest Awakens!|
|BranchWych. Doesn't fear the reaper...|
|Each Sylvaneth model in my army has a different animal spirit guide - inspired by Phillip Pullman's epic 'His Dark Materials' trilogy. See if you can spot them all!|
|Branch Nymph - ready for her close-up...|
|My autumnal Treelord with his 3 wise owls...|
|Malign Portents Lord Ordinator. Helping the trees get ready for hammer time...|
One good thing which came out of this short-lived exercise in army building (apart from a battle ready army in a relatively short space of time!) was the fact that I played my first couple of Age of Sigmar games and thoroughly enjoyed them! In retrospect, the Sylvaneth probably weren't the best choice for a starting army as their rules are complex and situational. This is especially true with the placement of woods and the stacking of powers to fully utilise them. That said, as I'm entirely driven by the models rather than rules, I doubt I would have made a different choice! But I digress...
The Path... To Glory!!
Now that Age of Sigmar has been freshened up, streamlined with 2.0 and more recently expanded with the amazing new Malign Sorcery add-on, I thought it was time to dive back in! I picked up the Path to Glory book as I thought it would be a good way to encourage me to pull my finger out of my butt and get some Skaven units finished!
If you're unfamiliar with Path to Glory, I would highly recommend giving it a try as it's a nice way to break into AoS or a new army because it provides a basic framework for gaming and expanding your warband. It's flexible enough that you can add in unusual units like Forgeworld models without breaking the campaign whilst still remaining fairly balanced on the tabletop. The games start small with only a General and a few units each then as the campaign progresses, you can upgrade units or characters and add units to your army. Perfect for someone requiring motivation to get things finished!
Including myself, we have four players in our little campaign. It's a friendly, easy going group of new players / players with new armies, so it works perfectly as we all get to grips with the rules together. To be brutally honest, competitive play turns me off completely. I prefer to play friendly narrative games where I can play at my own pace without the pressure of winning at the cost of fun!
I'm playing Skaven, Tom is using Beastclaw Raiders, Albie is taking Blades of Khorne and our newest player is Sam with Stormcast Eternals.
My intention is to report back on how we all get on with our endeavour and what our opinions are on Path to Glory, AoS 2.0, our armies and the use of Malign Sorcery (which we've agreed to allow the use of as a 'pick' instead of a new unit).
At this point, we have organised our forces and played our first few games. I started with a Skaven Arch-Warlock which is a solid choice for my General as he has a single use Warpfire thrower, nasty close combat attacks and some solid magic ability, being able to cast twice and unbind one spell per turn. Accompanying him was a Hellpit abomination, a unit of two rat ogres and a packmaster. I played Tom's Beastclaw Raiders in my first game. We decided to use games from the PTG book in this first session as they are great for smaller games; we rolled the rewards of Chaos which gives buffs from 4 corner located shrines.
The shrines played no part in the battle which was short and brutal! I feel I was extremely lucky not to get completely stomped in this game! I rolled high for mortal wounds with spells and my warpfire thrower, managing to wear down Tom's Huskard Stonehorn enough to (only just!) batter him to death in combat with my hellpit abomination whilst it was distractedly chewing on the remains of my poor old rat ogres!
I cannot stress enough how terrifying a Stonehorn is - and that was a huskard, not a Frostlord! Tom's Mournfang riders didn't take as much killing, but they are still as tough as nails! After the battle, Tom used his 'pick' and his only glory point to add two more Mournfang riders and I chose to stash the 3 glory points I'd earned and chose to bring in my 6 Wolf Rats (although they are Monstrous Arcanum units, everyone was happy for me to use them as a normal 'pick' for my force). I hoped that their massive 12" moved would help me to manoeuvre around the board a bit quicker in future games.
The second game Tom and I played was Lair of the Beast which I think is an amazing scenario where you are both attempting to slay a chosen monster in the centre of the table and then claim its eggs so that you can raise the baby creature as part of your warband!
In preparation for this scenario, I pulled together 4 different beasts and made 4 unique nest markers for them. The beasts up for grabs are a Cockatrice, a Hydra, a Griffon (which you may recognise from a previous post!) and finally, a Dragon Ogre Shaggoth. I will post some pictures of the beasts and their nest markers in the near future! I love adding a bit of narrative flare to games, as I feel it really enriches the game and encourages creativity in the group.
Tom and I rolled for the beast and it turned out that we would be battling for the fate of a Cockatrice. To say that the battle was short would be a massive understatement. Tom won the first turn roll off and proceeded to carry out a first turn death charge on the unsuspecting Cockatrice with his Stonehorn ending the game after only three dice rolls!!
While Tom's Huskard was picking Cockatrice guts out of his Stonehorn's hoofs, I made my second 'pick' in preparation for my next game in the campaign. In the end, I settled on a unit of 8 Skryre Acolytes as they have a fairly nasty short ranged shooting attack which they can use without needing line of sight - perfectly in keeping with my cowardly Skaven!
Albie and Sam played their first scenario which turned out to be an utter bloodbath. Where Tom and I tore lumps out of each other's small monstrous units, Albie and Sam rolled the Sacrifice scenario, leaving poor old Sam with the unenviable task of trying to rescue a character from behind a wall of 30+ bloodthirsty Khorne warriors!
Although he accounted for almost all of Albie's foot troops in a hellish melee, he was unceremoniously run down by Albie's Juggernaut riding Skullcrushers. In all honesty, it was like watching an articulated lorry drive through a petting zoo!
In conclusion, I am very much looking forward to our next session; the Path to Glory rules are great fun and easy to follow. I like that the games start small, giving you a chance to get used to your ruleset, slowly adding to your warband at a pace where you don't feel overwhelmed with rules.
We are hopefully going to play some more games next week and I intend to make another post shortly after including some actual pictures!
What comes next...
As I already have a decent sized Skaven collection, I wanted to add something new and unique to my army as a centrepiece. I decided on adding a Monstrous Arcanum Brood Horror to my army, but I have never really been a big fan of the official miniature. As such, I decided that I would use some spare components (and a lot of putty) to make my very own disgusting rat monster! Below is a sort of diary covering my progress so far - I've noted down some tips for anyone thinking about attempting a larger sculpt such as this one - enjoy!
Initially, I looked closely at rat skeletons to get the right internal structure for my beasty. I put together a bone frame using wire (I find flower arranging wire is perfect) and then shored it up with a pure Milliput core. I use Milliput as a core for two main reasons - it's very cheap for bulking out your initial shapes and it's hard as rock when fully cured. This helps to avoid any retardation from handling while you are sculpting. At this point, I added a few spare parts from my bits box which I think really suited what I was trying to achieve with the model...
|Basic shape over wire skeleton|
|The shapes are pretty rough, but the cured putty keeps the model nicely locked in position|
|I knew those Boneripper spares would come in handy!|
The next stage was similar to the first, with more bulking, but with more attention to the rat's muscle groups and the intended final look. This may be an obvious point to make, but I'll say it anyway! NEVER TRY AND DO THE WHOLE THING IN ONE GO! If you try to sculpt the whole thing in one sitting, the putty will shift, dent, delaminate and you'll end up with a mess and a feeling of major disappointment.
Attack the project in stages; get the skeletal form right, put on enough putty to secure all of the wire components and make sure that they don't shift, then bulk out the overall form of the model, trying to render the basic muscle groups without surface detail. When you carry out this stage, you should be looking to leave 2 - 3mm of surface area to add in your detail layer once Stage 2 has fully cured.
In terms of putty, I still used Milliput at this stage, but added in some greenstuff to the mix. The reason for this is twofold. It adds stretchiness to the Milliput (which is prone to tearing in its pure form) while also tempering its stickiness. It also makes a bulkier more pliant mixture than Greenstuff on its own (which I find too hard and resistant for large models). Generally, I make a 50/50 Milliput batch and mix around a third of that volume in greenstuff separately before mixing the two elements together. Make sure that you fold and knead the mixture so that you have an even (not stripey) mix before sculpting with it.
As I was starting to form the creature's flesh, I also used some more real life reference in the form of the naked mole rat. A creature so hideous that making it into an actual sausage would probably be an improvement!
|I salute you nature, for you have created something more hideous than I ever could...|
|When you've gotta go...|
Now we're starting the first detailing phase, which is where all of the hard work starts to pay off and you get to make some lovely basic surface details! For this stage I use a different putty mix altogether. I'd normally use pure Greenstuff or ProCreate putty, but as there was still quite a lot of surface area and bulking to do, I made up a mix of equal volumes 50/50 Milliput and 50/50 ProCreate.
The reason for this is simple. ProCreate is an amazingly versatile putty which has the best properties which I personally rate as the best on the market. It's one major problem is... it's bloody expensive!! It costs approximately 4-5 times as much as the same volume in Milliput, so I use it sparingly in it's pure form where I need to pick out extremely fine detail. The rest of the time, I settle for a mix to try and make it go further without compromising too much on detail...
Stage 4 will involve adding more fine detail such as the claws, better skin texture, minor gap filling and the addition of the rider and a suitable base. I'm hoping to finish this stage before my next post where I will provide a progress update!