ISSUE 06 OCT – NOV 2010
Colonel Mustard’s weapon of choice
KINGS OF WAR EXPOSÉ Von Blackmoor Must Die:
DWARFS vs UNDEAD MASSIVE PRIZES TO BE WON:
Undead Cavalry GF9 stuff
AND AN ENTIRE ARMY!
INSIDER’S COVERAGE MATT BIRDOFF’S
OLD SCHOOL CHAOS WARRIORS
A magazine for gamers, hobbyists and collectors
CHAOS WARRIORS Check it out on page 26
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WIN STUFF By subscribing to Unseen Lerker you automatically go into the draw to win the following: • Gale Force 9 Turn Marker • Gale Force 9 Wound Markers • 5 Mantic Undead Cavalry • 5 Mantic Undead Cavalry
And if that isn’t enough for you, we are having a very special competition where we give away one of the armies played in this issue’s battle report! For more details on how to enter see page 49.
THE UNSEEN LERKER TEAM Editor: Isaac “Bobo” Alexander
Business Overseer: Bryan “Ubertechie” Carmichael
Has it been a whole year? Really? Wowzer did that go fast. My perceptions of time and reality aren’t strong at the best of times, but the 12 months since we started this magazine have flown past like a flock of highly motivated (possibly just high) sparrows.
Editorial Consultant: Chris “Fitz” Fitzsimmons Proofreading: Owen “Stickler” Bell Creative Splatter: Joe “Kittens” Sturge
I feel it’s probably worth catching our breaths for a minute to look back at where we started: in a spare bedroom in Sweden, with lots of inspiration and very little sleep. Of those three only the spare bedroom has changed – into a fully furnished office from which to spread the Lerker love. I would like to thank all of you for helping us get through our first year, the hardest by all accounts. If you were to speak to some of my contributors or housemates they might tell you that I’m not very much fun to be around at a certain time every month, when all the deadlines are closing in. But I’ve hit upon a solution: whenever the (Jack Bauer digital-style) clock is ticking and it feels like the walls are all closing in, I just go back and read through some of the encouraging emails we’ve received from our readers, and that makes it all worth it.
Lead Artiste: Max “Brakken” Karpsten Lergy Comic: Zach “MacDuff ” KinWilde Graphic Design: Heath “WizKid” Moritz Contributors: Mantic Games, Ronnie Renton, Josh Roberts, Matt Birdoff, Jimmi Stender, Russ Wakelin, Asger Sams Granerud, Wayne Kemp, Ryan Addison, Jack Belumi, Greg Dann, Dan Comeau Special Thanks: Ibis Miniatures, Middle Earth Games, Arcane Scenery and Models www.unseenlerker.com email@example.com
Unseen Lerker started as a casual project for a bunch of idle gaming friends, but now we’re read by people in 26 countries and our reader base increases by about 25% with each new issue.
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CONTENTS 4 22 Event Spotlight
Giant Fanatic is back! Reporter Jimmi Stender spills the beans.
The Dark Side
Wayne’s World The first in a new series of articles in which Señor Kemp chops stuff up then glues it back together. And they call it art…
Featuring Mantic Games CEO Ronnie Renton.
THE TEST DUMMIES
Joe is crazy. Crazy like lobsters.
Russ Wakelin talks about Battlelore, a miniatureboard game.
Spiky and retro: old school Chaos from the USA.
Dwarfs vs Undead in the Dawn Attack scenario.
Dan and Greg give us a breakdown of the Kings of War rules.
LEGAL DISCLAIMER This magazine is completely unofficial and in no way endorsed by Games Workshop Limited. The Chaos devices, the Chaos logo, Citadel, Citadel Device, the Double-Headed/Imperial Eagle device, ‘Eavy Metal, Forge World, Games Workshop, Games Workshop logo, Golden Demon, Great Unclean One, the Hammer of Sigmar logo, Horned Rat logo, Keeper of Secrets, Khemri, Khorne, Lord of Change, Nurgle, Skaven, the Skaven symbol devices, Slaanesh, Tomb Kings, Trio of Warriors, Twin Tailed Comet Logo, Tzeentch, Warhammer, Warhammer Online, Warhammer World logo, White Dwarf, the White Dwarf logo, and all associated marks, names, races, race insignia, characters, vehicles, locations, units, illustrations and images from the Warhammer world are either ®, TM and/or © Copyright Games Workshop Ltd 2000-2009, variably registered in the UK and other countries around the world. Used without permission. No challenge to their status intended. All Rights Reserved to their respective owners.
Anyway, enough gushing. This issue we’ve got a whole selection of stuff for you to pick your way through: reviews, ramblings, reports, maybe even a rhetoric or two. Oh, and we’re giving away an entire army so make sure you stick around for that (winner announced in issue 7). On that note we’re also giving away ANOTHER Island of Blood box, this time to one of our subscribers who have been with us since issue 1, as our way of saying thank you for your dedication. Speaking of dedication, our chief reporter and turnip inspector Chris Fitzsimmons recently got engaged to his lovely fiancé Narinder. Those crazy kids! We wish them all the best. Here’s to Year One - bring on the future! Isaac Alexander, Editor
EVENT SPOTLIGHT By Jimmi Stender
A legend never dies! Giant Fanatic Coverage Giant Fanatic is the biggest wargaming event in Denmark. Last year we were on-site to report back and GF became the very first event ever to receive a spotlight in Unseen Lerker. Unfortunately this year our team of usually able bodied reporters found themselves held hostage by a group of highly intelligent iguanas, so were unable to be there in person. However, we managed to get our Danish agent in the field to report back on this superb event. Take it away, Jimmi…
Overview Jimmi: The Horned Rat was pleased in the month of October, as the Giant Fanatic tournament was being held for the 13th year in a row in the heart of Copenhagen. Giant Fanatic is held annually in the first weekend of October, and I had the pleasure to take part in this great event for the second time. The event itself features tournaments for loads of different games systems, including Warhammer, 40k, Flames of War, Epic Armageddon and Blood Bowl. It’s easily one of the largest events in Europe (certainly the largest in Denmark) and the amount of toy soldiers on display was simply immense! The Warhammer event alone usually boasts over 100 players. Despite its already prestigious reputation, the team behind Giant Fanatic strive to make each event better than the previous one. The tournament is renowned for its fantastic high-quality terrain, the innovative restrictions and fun and whacky scenarios. Preparation for the event starts – believe it or not – the day after the previous one finishes, and the tight-knit group of organisers work incredibly hard to make sure the event remains a highlight on every wargamer’s calendar.
These pictures were taken the evening before the tournament started. The terrain was really top-notch quality.
Warhammer restrictions Giant Fanatic is renowned for being an event that focuses a lot on army composition and restrictions. That certainly put the tournament organisers to the challenge this year, as GF13 was being held only three months after the release of the 8th edition of Warhammer. GF aims at creating a lower-end power level of play, and at the same time encouraging people to make varied armies. They do, however, have a rule called “breaking the system” where you can create an army list that does not fit within the limitations of the tournament, and send it in to the organisers, asking for permission to bring that list to the tournament (of course, if that list is more powerful than the restrictions intended, the answer will be a “no”!). For example, at GF you are not allowed to bring any magic items that cost more than 72 points, but one players asked for permission to bring the Fozzrik’s Folding Fortress for his Vampire Count army and got permission to do so (to great effect), or
things like a Witch Hunter themed Empire army being allowed to bring several units of Flagellants because it has compromised in other areas. As per the Giant Fanatic tradition, hectic last-minute-painting took place before the tournament.
Example on some of the restrictions.
Giant Fanatic 13 – Warhammer Fantasy Restrictions • 2250 pts armies • Max 2 identical character entries. • Max 3 identical core entries. • Max 2 identical special entries. • No repetition of rare entries (Except for High Elves which may bring duplicates). • Max 3 flying units. • Max 5 warmachines. • Max 2 large targets.
• Must be an existing army book if there are several to pick from, the most recently released is used (see the race specific restrictions below for a list of allowed armies). • Named characters, dogs of war, regiments of renown are banned. • Fully painted armies required. • The Power Scroll is Banned
• You may not have two of the same of any magic items, vampire powers, demonic gifts/icons or gifts of Khaine. • All Battle Standard Bearers may buy equipment as if they were a normal hero of their type • Individual magic items/ runes/ gifts/ etc. costing 72pts and above are banned. • Max 500pts for any single unit/ character.
Line of Sight – to see or not to see, that is the question… One of the biggest challenges for the tournament organisers was the line of sight rules. How should they be changed, if they should be changed at all? Giant Fanatic promotes great looking conversions, and the use of miniatures alternative to Games Workshops range. But the organisers felt that the ‘true’ line of sight rules which are presented in the Warhammer rulebook punishes the hobbyist who enjoys making conversions. That is why the team behind GF came up with the SLoS (systematic line of sight) system. In short, SLoS gives all types of troops and terrain a height value. E.g. Infantry have a height of 1, cavalry 2 and large targets 3. Hills have a height of 2, and if you place an infantry model on the hill, then the model will count as having a height value of 3 (they are simply added together). Two great conversions, who both suffer from the true line of sight rules.
SLoS is a very simple alternative that players can choose to use, if they don’t like the TLoS rules. Both players must agree as to what LoS system to use before the game starts, and if they disagree then SLoS is the default system used. In that way, players can bring whatever crazy models they want to the tournament without being penalised. This year’s Giant Fanatic was a great success, and I for one will certainly be attending next year’s tournament (so will we; not even a swarm of killer bees could keep us away –Ed). The event was also a great opportunity to meet people from around the globe. In my second game I was paired against a very friendly chap from Moscow, Russia (who taught me a lesson or five about Dark Elves still being quite effective in 8th edition). All I have left to say is a big “Thank You” to the tournament organisers for putting on such a fun event, and I will be seeing you again same time next year. For more information about Giant Fanatic, then check out their webpage at www.giantfanatic.dk
Example scenario: “The Rat with the Golden Gun” Game Length:
Orders from the You are to test Clan Skryer’s latest invention known as the Golden Gun. Use the weapon Council of to slay the pitiful surface dwellers who stand before you and bring the Golden Gun safely Thirteen: back. Scenario Rules:
This game works exactly like the Battleline scenario from page 144 in the WHFB Rulebook with the following exceptions:
Both armies have an extra unit in this game known as the Golden Gun. It forms part of your army, and is deployed and used exactly as any other unit in your army. It counts as infantry.
The Golden Gun: M: 4 WS: 3 BS: 9 S: 3 T: 3 W: 2 I: 5 A: 1 Ld: 10 Armour save: 5+ Ward save: 4+ Equipment:
Heavy armour and Golden Gun (3xmultiple shots, strength 4, armour piercing, magical and flaming attacks)
Immune to panic. Magic resistance 1.
Both players start on 5 SP (scenario points), and the min/max scor possible is 0/10. Each enemy model which loses it’s last wound to your Golden Gun is put aside during the game. After the game, count the total number of starting wounds of models killed by each players’ Golden Gun. Whoever has the highest total gains 3 SP and his opponent loses 3 SP. Each player gains 1 SP if the enemy Golden Gin is dead or have left the table and his opponent loses 1 SP. A player gains 1 further SP if the enemy Golden Gun was killed by the other Golden Gun and his opponent loses 1 SP.
Kim Otto Nielsen, whose fantastic looking army is featured in UL issue #2, is trying to hide his giggles over my silly moves during my game against him.
GF13 WHFB Final Standings Tore Hvidegaard Empire Jakob Østergård High Elves Mikkel Skadhauge High Elves
Asger, one of the organisers, concluded the event by entertaining the masses with his karaoke skills.
Warriors of Chaos
Anders Nøhr Empire Bastian Skogstad Ogre Kingdoms Kristian Mosegaard Wood Elves Top 10 Warhammer Fantasy players at Giant Fanatic 13 (notice the lack of Daemons!)
“Peek-a-boo!” Asger Sams Granerud has featured in this magazine several times in the past. The main reason for this is that we’ve currently got him shackled in the basement and it’s very convenient to drag him out and prod him a bit whenever we need new content. On the other hand, it could be that he actually seems to know what he’s talking about and also helps run Giant Fanatic, making him an ideal source for helping us understand SLoS. So, Asger, why SLoS? Why go messing around with the ‘rules as written’? You really do start with the biggest question, don’t you? Firstly: why not! Secondly, because the True Line of Sight (TLoS) rules are simply a ninth undefined statline in GW’s rules, which does have quite a few implications. There are obviously the scare scenarios with the crouching manticore, hidden dragon and snorkling Stegadon (sounds like a Chinese action film to me. –Ed), but in all honesty I think these examples will be rare and far between. What I do think will happen as an everyday scenario is that folks will be looking at, for example, that one of GW’s Wood Elf Mages is hunched and small while the other is very tall. And that this will make people buy one over the other, not because they think it looks prettier, or prefer the details and mood of the sculpt, but because it makes an in-game difference. It is effectively a ninth characteristic that is left undefined. Some find this perfectly natural and okay, and that’s fine, but at GF we consider the aesthetic side of the hobby important enough that it becomes a factor. Moreover, when you add conversions to the equation, common conversions not the extreme examples from above, the issue gets even more muddied. What’s acceptable and what isn’t? This is important for me from both sides of the table, both if I have conversions that make my opponent think I’m taking the pee, but also if my opponent has such conversions. I’m talking about minor issues here, such as my Warmaster Carrion models having less than 10% of the mass of actual Carrion. Some will argue that these factors are equally advantageous and disadvantageous but I find that line of reasoning quite naive. To me it is obvious that such a situation with sentient beings capable of “exploiting” it, will lead to examples that are clearly favourable to the converter. My personal opinion is that if you can’t see this, you lack creativity in seeing the available possibilities. Regardless of what happens conversions will leave some people with a bad taste in their mouth, either from accusing or being accused (not necessarily directly). Finally the applicability of TLoS is rather difficult if you actually want to follow the “rules as written”. Anyone who has tried disagreeing over the exact direction of a scatter die, will know that looking “through” the eyes of each model in a shooting unit, and trying to determine how much cover modifier they should get, is not only terribly time consuming, but also allows a huge scope for subjectivity. Is this system unique to GF or is it being used elsewhere as well? It isn’t even remotely unique to GF. When we first posted our initial thoughts on The Warhammer Forum there were already folks that had voiced similar ideas prior to that, and there were several others working along the same lines for their own events. One of the most consistent feedback comments, both from GF’s local community and from the international gaming community, has been that TLoS would be an issue. If you agree with this then looking for a systematic abstract replacement seems to me to be the most intuitive solution.
Systematic Line of Sight (SLoS) interview with GF organiser How do you envisage SLoS being integrated into the international gaming community, if at all? Do you think it’s something people will adopt? I’m sure there will be tons of variants on TLoS and SLoS all over the world. And by SLoS I mean the general concept, not the GF incarnation. It is simply a first step, and has several flaws that will gradually be ironed out. My personal view is that an event such as the ETC won’t function with TLoS and as far as I can gather, there seems to be a majority of the team captains agreeing with that view. As such I think that the ETC will adopt some variant of SLoS, but the general “community” has never been homogeneous enough to adopt anything in common, and I hope it will never happen. Was it difficult deciding on the ‘sizes’ of different unit types and terrain? Did you and your team use any specific method when determining the numbers? What was the hardest unit/terrain type to classify? No, it wasn’t difficult. It was based on the unit types that GW already supplied. Infantry and warbeasts being level 1, monsters and large targets being 3, and everything else being 2. There are some minor tweaks beyond that, but it sums up the general gist of it. And yes it is an abstraction, which entails that there are flaws compared with the real thing. E.g. Chaos Warriors and Gnoblars are both classified as the same height. We could have elaborated the system even further and accounted somewhat for such flaws (and I’m sure someone somewhere will) but we chose to accept some flaws in order to gain some simplicity. The “hardest” units to classify were the ones that were obviously much taller than where their eyes are located. the obvious examples being war machines where the enemy can readily see the machine, without the crew necessarily being able to see the enemy. It was solved by assigning a few units two values (x/y) the first designating its level when it draws LoS and the second when other units tried to see it, or behind it. What percentage of gamers at GF preferred the SLoS rules? Did you receive any feedback from the players about it? When signing up for the tournament you could let us know which type of LoS variant you preferred and we would try to accommodate your wish somewhat. 45% picked SLoS and 26% TLoS while the remainder didn’t make use of the application. From the actual tournament there were almost no quibbles from the players about either variant, and much the same happened in the feedback after the event. My impression is that once you drifted towards the top end of the tables, an increasing amount of the games were being played under SLoS rules rather than TLoS. Do you feel like anything slipped through the net? Was it a success? Where do you take the system from here? There are some mechanisms that need to be ironed out, and some wording that needs to be tightened up. One thing we have talked about adding is that a unit needs to be two full ranks or more to completely block LoS, as that would seem more in line with TLoS. Nevertheless we won’t be doing anything radical with it any time soon. There’s 11 months till the next GF and I’m certain that lots of folks will be tweaking it in the meantime. If we use it again, we will likely be stealing their aggregated ideas (or, at least, the ones we like!). Thanks for your time, Asger. Now, back to the basement with ye! Thanks for having me, and I hope this has explained some of the thoughts behind the system!
Creative SplatteR Joe ‘KITTENS’ Sturge
Model Review: Mantic PegaVamp That Bobo chap has the funniest ideas. You know, sometimes out of the blue he asks me these silly, naive questions. He might ask if world peace is really possible, if pixies and unicorns are real, even if I could perhaps write an article about one of those new Mantic Vampire models – maybe even before the deadline? However, if he pesters me again about those darn copyright, libel and public decency laws then we might have a bit of a falling out.
Assembly So I was coaxed out from my lair in the attic by promises of milk, cookies and bloody vengeance, only to find a Vampire Lord mounted on a Pegasus in need of assembly and painting. The first thing that struck me about the model, apart from the innate futility of contemporary neo-anarchist interpretations of the modern social milieu (which in all fairness is something that always strikes me when I read Nietzsche or watch X-Factor), was the crispness of its detail. This is good (like ice cream) in that these details give me something to work with and provide definition for the model, and bad (like not having any ice cream) in that some of the crispness is fiddly bordering on irritating. Several components, especially the Vampire’s sword, benefit from careful straightening and the wings need to be very delicately attached by their small points of contact to the body. A wise soul would consider using pins to reinforce
several of the more fragile joins, but as my stockbroker, therapist and several frustrated exorcists have discovered, I am no such soul. Breaking out my finest, least chewed brushes, I continued bravely onwards.
Colour selection and painting A very important choice is that of colour palette: I worried that by painting the darn Pegasus black (the obvious choice, associated with the Rolling Stones, cool designer sunglasses and the Single Transferrable Vote system) the relatively large expanses of skin and wing membrane might look flat and dull. The nice rotting brown scheme I eventually decided upon complements the feathers flaking off its wings and the unpleasant open wounds on the neck and body: the impression given is that the poor beast is about to fall apart, but not before it gives some naughty enemy a jolly good seeing to.
Another advantage of the neutral brown palette is the opportunity it affords to make the most of contrasting colours and really add emphasis to certain parts of the model. There’s a great deal of movement in the sculpt, emphasised by the forward lunging of the Pegasus and the Vampire hunching over the saddle: a striking red colour for the cloak brings out this feeling of speed, and of course ties in to the nasty bloody holes in the side of his trusty and only slightly mange-ridden mount. Similarly, the Vampire’s armour contains areas of gold, silver and bone which have been picked out brightly and cleanly, and his slicked back hair (reminiscent of Nixon in his prime, though perhaps without the lingering sense of dread) is jet black, pulling the focus of the model inwards without detracting from the sweeping expanse of the wingspan. Anyway, back to that detail I hear you cry (although it would be strange if I did hear you- there’s certainly nobody else here apart from me and the CIA spy satellites). The largest expanse of surface area on the model is of course Poor Dead Bessie’s wings: some big flat surfaces perfect for texturing, together with very finely sculpted feathers which just demand, even cry out for some fine sharp highlights. The contrast between leathery wing membranes and crisp feathers is rather pleasing, and I’m not somebody who is easily pleased (apart from by hamsters of course- their cute little faces are guaranteed to make me grin like a hillbilly in a donkey sanctuary).
Basing and concluding thoughts I tried to resist the urge to scatter skulls all over the base in a macabre and disturbing fashion, settling for a neat and restrained assortment of sand and shrubbery: there
are few things worse than a perfectly decent model being overshadowed by a horribly garish base, and most of those are not topics for discussion at a polite dinner table. The overall effect of the model is restrained, letting the dynamism of the sculpting (and whatever entirely reputable hallucinogenic substances the viewer has been imbibing) direct the eye. Perhaps a little more diversity of colour would have further enhanced the model, bringing out even more the crispness of the detail, but alas the opportunity has passed me by: there is cider to be drunk, philosophy to be discussed and people less fortunate than myself to be objectified on crass daytime talk shows. The miniature can be found at manticgames.com and also within many local wargaming emporiums, but they will insist on you paying for it first. Life’s hard like that.
Battlelore The Dark Side
By Russ Wakelin
As an example let’s take a look at the Battlelore game system. It’s a fantasy themed game, which I picked because I get the feeling that many readers here might be familiar with that genre. Actually, to be clear, it’s an alternate history themed game, in which players can re-enact historical events such as the Battle of Agincourt but then sprinkle in magic, monsters and more (or not, if that doesn’t tickle your fancy). Any miniature wargamer that opens the box will presume that the design was indeed influenced by our hobby. Don’t let the large, hexagonal covered game board fool you – because it’s obscuring a familiar sight: after you remove that from the box your eyes fall upon tray after tray of little plastic miniatures. Cavalry, heavy infantry, light infantry, archers, dwarves, goblins and a giant spider. There are even banners with decals of different shapes and colours that neatly stick into the bases of the models. The detail is quite good and my very first thought upon opening the game was ‘I must paint these!’Yes, all 210 of them!
‘You’ve got your miniatures in my board game…’ Has this ever happened to you? While entering your local shop ready pick up your weekly bits of metal and plastic, you just happen to glance at that wall of board games and stop. Boy they seem to have changed over the years. Stunning artwork, massive boxes, even the little bits look cool. They certainly have come a long way since little green houses, top hats, and wheelbarrows. Bah, but we are hobby gamers. We’ve got conversions to assemble, models to paint, terrain to build, and worlds to conquer. There is no time for child’s play – we have war to make! A board game could never offer the full hobby experience we crave. Or could it? A closer looks at those bits in many of those board games reveals some pretty cool looking plastic sculpts; sculpts that are starting to come dangerously close to rivalling the kind of quality we’ve come to expect from our favourite miniature game. So much so that some board games really do blur the lines and force us to question our own reality, and whether or not we will one day be ruled by a race of highly intelligent penguins.
But miniatures aren’t the whole story. After you get through the trays of models you discover the piles of terrain ‘hex tiles. Immediately as a miniature gamer you understand that these tiles, which feature full colour artwork of hills, trees, rivers, buildings, etc., are designed to be arranged on your ‘hex board in any number of ways to create nearly infinite battlefield variety. It’s just like arranging our flock-covered trees and polystyrene hills on our table tops. And again, you can’t help but think ‘Ooh, it would be good fun to convert my woodland tiles into little 3-D wooded templates.’ Indeed, after spending just a few minutes with the Battlelore box and paging through the full colour rulebook, you start to realize there is an entire hobby here to explore. Sure, you can just pop it open and start playing, but be warned: the hobby muse inside of you will start those insidious whispers.You know the ones. ‘Just paint one archer…it won’t take long. Now how about trying that guy in full plate? Oh, you can’t leave the giant spider unpainted can you?’ “Okay, Russ,” I hear you say, “the stuff in the box sounds cool, but is it worth playing?” In a word, yes. It is a fast, fun game that typically plays in about an hour. And it is a totally different play experience from games you may play already.
A full description of how it works is beyond the scope of this article (although I hear The D6 Generation Podcast did a detailed review in episode 13 – shameless plug) but suffice to say it is easy to teach, easy to learn, and covers what you’d like to see in a fantasy army scale game. Flanking is important, command and control must be managed, morale is a factor, formations are key, and magic can have minor or major influences in the game depending on scenario.
There’s also convenience. The game actually packs up into its box reasonably well, which makes it easy to transport to a friend’s house, game convention, pub, or store. And you don’t need a fancy terrain table to play because everything you need to play is in the box. Convenience means you get to play more often, and more plays lead to better value AND a chance to show off your cool painted models you worked so hard on to even more folks.
So it’s fun, and it can be a hobby, but why bother? What does it bring to the table that I don’t already get with my current miniature game? Well, a board game like Battlelore might be a nice complement to your existing miniature games because it offers several unique advantages: value, accessibility and convenience.
And all of that is just from the core set. If you like your hobby games to grow, then Battlelore has that covered as well. There have been a number of expansions to the Battlelore system that add even more models, terrain, and gameplay variety. Fourteen expansions so far that cover everything from goblins riding ostriches to dwarves on cattle to heroic leaders to hydras with detachable heads and much, much, more.
Let’s look at the value issue. Normally jumping into another miniature wargame can be a big investment. However with Battlelore, all the components I described above come in the starter core set, which retails for $80 US.Yep: terrain, rules, models, dice, cards and everything for two players to play a full army scale fantasy combat game with some nice variety. Combine that value with the accessibility of a board game and the appeal of Battlelore grows even more. Because of its simple, easy to learn rules and speedy gameplay Battlelore appeals to a much wider group than a more complex miniature wargame. I know folks who have had great luck convincing their wives and girlfriends to give it a try. It’s also a great way to introduce young players to the world of hobby gaming. The next time your son, daughter, niece or nephew asks to try some painting you could let them practice on a little Battelore archer instead of your Slann Mage Priest.
In fact, the Battlelore system has proven to be so well received and expandable that Fantasy Flight Games has recently released a brand new Battlelore core set with slightly adjusted rules which takes place in George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire. Called ‘Battles of Westeros’ you get to play either as House Lannister or House Stark and… What? I’m out of page space? (Yeah, and then some. Don’t make me hurt you. –Ed) Sigh. I’ll have to tell you about the wolves and lions another time then. In the meantime, next time you’re in the local shop picking up glue and paint, why not take a minute and check out those board games a little more closely? You never know, your next hobby game experience may be right on the shelf next to Monopoly.
CHAOS WARRIORS Check it out on page 26
Foaming at the Mouth By Bryan Carmichael
Unless you have total disregard for your toy soldiers, you will have some form of carry case to protect them and get them to and from your games in a safe and practical manner. For the majority of players this requirement is fulfilled by The Company’s range of hard plastic carry cases. Others use Tupperware, shoeboxes, a horsedrawn wagon, a particle projector, or perhaps even the hollowed out skull of a defeated foe. Over the last few years a growing number of companies have started to provide a range of alternative options. I have owned several of these companies’ products but the major failing with them has been that they are based around bags rather than hard plastic cases. This means that foam trays can bend and twist with the movement of the bag (typically when picking up the bag, or sitting on it – not that I condone the latter) and subsequently the miniatures that the bag is designed to protect can move around and become damaged. This has led to me repeatedly returning to GW cases and has resulted in me owning over 15 of them in various sizes and colours.
Battlefoam is the new kid on the block when it comes to providing alternative forms of miniature protection. I’d heard good things about them, but was intrigued to understand what made them different from other ‘bag’ based solutions and justified their reputation. Battlefoam offer (rather unsurprisingly) a wide range of different configurations of foam trays ranging from simple Pick and Pluck trays in a range of sizes, to trays designed to take specific miniatures / miniature ranges from a wide variety of systems including WHFB, 40K, Flames of War and Malifaux. These pre-configured tray designs are not limited to infantry or even cavalry (or, in the case of the latter, their futuristic, wheeled counterparts) but there are also trays designed to take large models such as the Skaven Plague Furnace, the High Elf Dragon or even the monstrous Imperial Baneblade. The real magic of Battlefoam, however, comes from the ability (via their website) to design your own trays specific to your exact requirements. Deciding to put this claim to the test I headed over to www.Battlefoam.com.
I’ve recently finished building my Daemons of Chaos army, and it features no less than eight converted Fiends of Slaanesh with huge overhanging trees on their bases. Up until now they had been carried around in an ice cream container wrapped in tissue paper due to their unusual dimensions, but after five minutes of clicketyclack I had created a custom foam tray that not only fit all eight Fiends, but still had room for my three Bloodcrushers as well. Whilst talking about the foam trays it’s also important to point out that the bases are quite firm and also vertically very rigid. This prevents crushing of your models and stops the trays from bending (and your models spilling out) when you pick the tray up – in comparison to GW foam trays I would estimate that Battlefoam’s trays are at least twice as sturdy. Having selected the trays that you require (the staff will help you if you’re not sure – they foam for a living, so to speak) you then need to select the ‘bag’ that you require to hold them. Battlefoam have a range of bags ranging from the small to the gargantuan. The two products that will be of most interest to the average Warhammer player are the P.A.C.K. 420 and the P.A.C.K. 720 bags (designed to hold 420 and 720 human / clanrat sized miniatures respectively). The difference between Battlefoam bags and others is that they are made of highly durable canvas and have hard plastic inserts in each of the panels. When combined with the rigidity (rigidity? Blimey, is that a word? –Ed.) of the foam trays this provides a solution that feels very solid and is more akin to a tough plastic case than a traditional bag. (to see a video of Romeo Fillip the owner of BattleFoam demonstrating just how durable the bags are go to the Battlefoam Website)
I waited patiently for my order to arrive, giggling like a schoolgirl when the doorbell finally rang (ah, international shipping times, my most hated enemy). Opening the large cardboard box, I was immediately impressed with the build quality of the bag and the cases. If I had to make an analogy to cars, Battlefoam would definitely be a German Marque – with everything being highly practical and reeking of quality workmanship. While transferring my army into their new, snug homes I discovered that P.A.C.K 720 is also festooned with large, convenient,Velcro-flapped pockets that easily hold your dice, cards, tape measures, rulebooks and anything else you require whilst gaming. This is a big plus for me since I travel a lot to where I need to game, and where before I had to take three bags of gaming stuff now I just take one. Now, it has to be said that Battlefoam are not the cheapest solution to protecting your miniatures - the P.A.C.K. 720 with the loadout shown above totals in at $227 USD (including shipping to the UK) which is almost the same as the cost of two large and one small GW carry cases. However the quality of the product and its ability to safely store huge amounts of miniatures, books, gaming aids and general geek paraphernalia in one practical solution means that I would have to wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone – especially those that travel long distance to play games. I opted for the following to accommodate my Daemons of Chaos Army:
P.A.C.K. 720 • Four Black Orc Foam Trays (each holds 40 miniatures with two large slots for banners and heroes) • One Custom Foam Tray (to hold my monstrous tree bases and their models) • Five Foam Toppers
BY WAYNE KEMP
Wayne’s World Some readers will know Wayne Kemp from the podcast he co-hosts (HeelanHammer). Others might remember him from when his Skaven army featured in UL #3. Well, we’ve been keeping an eye on him since then (not in a hiding-in-the-bushes stalkerish sense, at least not since the restraining order) and couldn’t help but notice some of the more exotic conversions he’s been producing. Our breath had started fogging up his office window, and the view wasn’t very good from outside, so we asked him for a closer look and whether or not he could convert something special specifically for our readers to be inspired by. To cut a long story short, he said yes!
Wayne: The two great loves in my life are my family and chopping up models, so it did not take much persuasion from the Lerker team for me to agree to a series of conversion articles (Oh, yeah, did we forget to mention that it’s a series? –Ed). After some discussion with my new overlords we decided that in return for a little page space all I would have to do is convert something cool and write some words about how I did it. How hard could it be? Some of you might remember that I am somewhat of a Skaven fan. Since the release of the new army book I’ve scratch built a Hellpit Abomination, converted a Warlitter, and painted an entirely new army.
One thing I hadn’t created yet was a Rat Ogre Bonebreaker. I’d had an idea for one for a while, and this seemed like a good opportunity to get cracking. Feel free to follow along at home – the article is intended as much as a How To guide as it is a ‘hey, check out how cool it looks when I glue this bit to this other bit’. Ever since the Games Workshop released their new plastic River Trolls I knew I wanted to convert one into something. A Skaven Warlord on a Bonebreaker RatOgre seemed like a logical next step, but as with most of my conversions there would be no way of knowing how it looked until I got underway!
Before I dive in, lets start with the tools we’re going to need. Now I am sure the majority of gamers have the necessary equipment, but I will run through the essentials for those just starting out.
Pin vice & drill bits:
Two kinds will suffice, the normal ones we all use for removing components from sprues and a more ‘Heavy Duty’ set for removing metal and larger parts of plastic models. If you need a fine clean cut on metal models use a saw (the model kind of course).
…and paperclips, which are just right for pinning.
Glue: Cyanoacrylate (commonly known as super glue) for use on pretty much anything you like. When gluing metal on metal it’s always handy to use an ‘activator’ (usually in a spray can) which will cure the glue within seconds. Liquid Plastic glue, for all your plastic on plastic needs. Two-Part Epoxy glue, for really heavy jobs.
For most jobs I use an Exacto style knife, the ones with the changeable blades. For bigger jobs use a DIY retractable blade knife.
Green Stuff: This is a two-part sculpting putty. Mix two equal parts of blue and yellow until it turns green then you are ready to fill gaps, smooth areas and sculpt new stuff. Other stuff which will come in very useful are brass rods of varying lengths and plastic strips, which come in many different shapes and sizes. The former can be used for pinning, adding a more rigid backbone to a model or as a ‘skeleton’ base for some sculpting jobs, while the latter is useful for creating flat surfaces like shields, wheels, bases or to attach your model to while you’re painting it. If you haven’t got a local hobby shop then you can get everything you need from a wide range of online stores. I use products made by Plastruct (www. plastruct.com) because the choice is huge.
Right then – let’s get chopping! After picking a victim and gluing him together, I cut the neck back to make room for the Rat Ogre head I was going to attach. I also shaved away the hump on top of the back to allow the howdah the warlord will be standing on to sit level. Be very careful when cutting thicker material as you will put more pressure on the knife and therefore increase the chance of having an accident – trust me, you don’t want blood all over your new masterpiece! I have been there…too many times. I chose a head and glued it on, then moved on to the howdah: a suitably sized plastic strip. To make it look like planks of wood I cut several lengths and then roughly cut off the sharp edges. Once glued together these will look like rough planks. Two thinner strips were then added across, one at each end to give it a pallet look.
The tail is from a Vermin Lord (I have loads), which I pinned into place. Pinning is a technique commonly used to strengthen a join. Simply drill a hole into both areas of the join and glue together using a piece of rod or even thick wire. I find paper clips are just right for pinning (make sure you use your heavy duty clippers to cut whatever wire you choose to use; donâ€™t want to wreck your hobby ones).
Before I started on the warlord I needed to make the howdah look like it could offer some sort of protection. To do this I took some more plastic strips (smaller than the previous ones) and made a couple of frames. I took the edges off as before so they would look like wood to match the rest of the howdah.
At this point I realised that no self-respecting warlord would go to battle without his own banner, so after a quick rummage through my bits box I produced a Chaos Warrior banner which will do just fine. I attached it to a length of brass rod, drilled a hole at the back of the howdah and glued it into position. Iâ€™d add a Skaven icon to the top later.
The warlord himself was very straightforward. I took a plastic Stormvermin champion as I really like this box set. The only change I made was lengthening his halberd: the shaft is brass rod with the original blade and a Chaos Warrior mace head added to the base to create a more impressive weapon.
A quick slip-slap-slop of paint later and hey presto: one Skaven Warlord on Rat Ogre Bonebreaker!
Time to mount his lordship on a base. This was made from a piece of stone floor taken from the ‘Ruins of Osgiliath’ set. Some sand was added, and then it was on to the Green Stuff!
I started with creating some very patchy fur. To do this, place a thin layer of Green Stuff over the desired area and push it into the contours of the muscle so that once the fur is sculpted it will look natural and not just ‘lumpy’. I used a ‘spear-headed’ sculpting tool for the fur. Start at the bottom making rows of small dragged lines then repeat this, following the contours of muscle for a more realistic look. Make sure the tool is wet so that it doesn’t stick, because Green Stuff is really tacky and will grab the tool if you are not careful. Once I had finished the fur I decided to cover the scales of the river troll. Similarly to the fur I added a thin layer of Green Stuff, but this time I used a ‘smoothing’ tool (which looks like a tiny spoon) to blend the area. As before it’s its essential to keep the tool wet to get a nice smooth finish.
Name: Ronnie Renton Age: 39 Location: Nottingham, England Sandwich of Choice: Egg and Bacon Top survival tip for the Zombie Apocalypse: Run. Quickly.
Ronnie Renton is something of a maverick. Having never been one to accept what he was told, he started out by joining the school gaming club before he was old enough, proceeded to become Games Workshop’s youngest ever trade customer at the age of 14 and then finally, left his job at The Company to set up his own miniature wargaming firm, Mantic Games. Armchair reporter Chris Fitzsimmons was afforded the opportunity to ask him if, at the age of “more than 39-and-a-half ”, he was ready to take things easy.
So Ronnie, how did you get started in gaming? My first gaming experience was in Napoleonics, at 1:72 scale at the war games club at school.Yellow plastic Waterloo miniatures. Since I was the tiniest kid I’ve played with plastic men. Firstly the big Airfix ones, and then smaller ones. When the rules came out to go with them, I enjoyed those as well – the Waterloo sets, and then the WW2 stuff. A couple of years later I came across a small company making fantasy miniatures – that was Citadel. That was something like 1982 – White Dwarf issue 52 in fact. And what about your first miniature? That’s easy, it was from the Human fighters range, a huge barbarian with a big cloak. I remember buying it in a toy shop in Bramhall. It cost me 35p, and I remember the outrage when they went up to 40p. What about other games? Did you indulge in any other geeky pastimes? Yeah, I did all of the pen and paper role-play stuff, as well as a lot of LARPing. [Note: To the uninitiated, LARP or Live Action Role Play involves like minded individuals taking their role play to the next level by dressing up as their character and acting out the game. Sometimes the term ‘acting’ is rather loosely applied, especially in combat scenarios!] That was at Spirit of Adventure in Manchester. They got their hands on an old factory, and we used to do a nine hour dungeon session in there.
You worked for Games Workshop for a considerable time, but how did it originally come about? Well, I’ve always been a hobbyist, and I’ve always loved toy soldiers, but when I was 14 it was actually quite hard to get hold of the stuff. At the time I knew a couple of great guys – Tim Wilson and John Stallard, who now runs Warlord Games. They were the GW mail order guys of the day. I was chatting to them, and then I spoke to my dad and said ‘I reckon I could sell this toy soldiers stuff, you know.’ And he said, ‘Well you write me a business plan and I’ll stump up the cash’. So, I phoned up and asked if I could buy some stuff at trade prices and sell it to my mates. They told me yes, but that I had to spend at least 300 pounds. So off I went to my dad. ‘Can I have 300 quid please?’ He asked me what my business plan was, and I told him I would borrow £300 and pay him back £300. I think he thought this was just going to be an expensive birthday present and a lesson in life. I borrowed the money on the Thursday, and got the order in. My mates all came around, and because I knew what I was buying (unlike the regular shop keepers) it was all sold by Tuesday. So I gave my dad his money back, and we were up and running. I was Games Workshop’s youngest ever trade customer. Then I started working in the stores in the summer holidays, and finally when I finished University I joined the company full time and worked there for 15 years. (Fitz: Ronnie of course omits to mention that he went on to become managing director of Games Workshop UK by his late 20s before leaving to do his own thing.) But why, was it just time to do something else? Yes, towards the end it was getting to be a big company, turning over a lot of money. I did some fun things, but it was getting quite difficult to do stuff. That was three years ago. One of the things I remember being important to me while playing games when I was young was to get as many models as possible on the table.
So, that led to Mantic Games philosophy then? Yes, big armies, big battles! With that in mind, have you always thought you’d have a rules set, or did you start with miniatures and think ‘Oh, we’d better have some rules’? It was a bit of both really. In the UK, if you get into the hobby, you start with Games Workshop. It’s just part of the journey of any miniature player.You tend to start at about 12-14, leave for a while at 16 when you discover girls and then come back again at the age of 20. However, when you return at 20 or so, you approach the market in a different way than when you were 14 and soldiers just looked cool. Now you start thinking about price, and look around for alternative miniature sets. It’s those people that look at our range and know exactly what they’re getting and use them with whatever games system they play. In America the journey is a lot different. When we go to a show like Adepticon and the “hardcore” wargamers see what you’re doing, they understand it and they can make a decision about whether they want to buy it or not. However, when you go to the wider conventions like GenCon, people say ‘This is fantastic…what is it?’ and you tell them it’s a miniature wargame, they say often respond ‘A what?’ They lack a point of reference. You have to be able to offer those kinds of people a complete package – a bucket of miniatures for a decent price, and some rules to use them with. Our decision to do a rules set really sprang from that realisation. It was perfect timing as well, with Alessio becoming available; we had two great armies and we needed the rules to move forward.
So, tell us a little about the range then, for those that don’t know? So, right now the three armies available. The Elves have plastic spearmen, bowmen, a bolt thrower and scouts. They’ve got some metal cavalry and hero models. Finally, there’s an elite infantry unit – the palace guard – also in metal. The Undead range, featuring plastic skeletons, ghouls, revenants and now our recent release, the fantastic new zombies. The skeleton cavalry will be available in December in our new plastic-resin material, up until now they’ve been in a limited metal run. Finally, but by no means least, we have the Dwarfs. A really heavily armoured contingent, with hand weapon/ shield and two-handed weapon combinations, lots of war machines and ranged attack options. Like the other armies there’s also a hero set and the Dwarf lords are simply stunning. But what makes Mantic miniatures different to any of the other ranges on the market? Well, for me, coming from the Napoleonic background, the most important moment in a wargame is when you get down to the table’s edge and look out over your army. At that moment that the game becomes real, and it’s really important that it is believable at that point. A lot of that has to do with model scale. We wanted to make sure our models were correctly scaled in such a way that if you got shrunk down and could walk around that battlefield, that it would look right.You also have to remember that a lot of the original over-sized / out of scale stuff came about simply because it was easier to manufacture, to cast in metal.
One of the other things that distinguishes Mantic are the prices. How have you guys managed to achieve that price point with good looking plastic miniatures? By investing quite a bit of money in the belief that there’s a big market for us. We believe firmly that there is a market for people who want to collect a lot of miniatures, to make big armies, but to do so at a price that feels fair. I think they’re very good value for money.
What exactly is this resin-plastic material you mentioned? Well, I could have a metal figure sculpted tomorrow, moulded the day after and on sale in a month’s time. The setup costs are not expensive, but the material – the metal – is. At the other end of the scale you have plastic: the material cost itself is relatively low, but the machinery and the setup costs are monumental. Resinplastic sits in the middle. Its tooling costs are lower than plastic, and its material costs are lower than metal. Our core big units (for example the orcs coming out in spring, hint hint) will all be in hard plastic. We’re going to sell millions of them because they look utterly breathtaking. The same goes for the zombies. Our choice of material really depends on how many we expect to sell. The plastic-resin is suited to the stuff which we’ll sell a fair bit of, but not masses and masses. In terms of what’s next from Mantic miniatures wise, the next thing is the new revenant cavalry for the undead coming in December. They were available as a limited run in metal, but they’ll be in plastic-resin this time at only £2.50 a model, making them the cheapest (and we think best!) undead cavalry on the market. Next come the Orcs, a completely new race who will be released in March / April time. We also have an upcoming surprise release; I can’t give too much away, but I will tell you this: they’re short, spiky and very, very angry! But what about the rules? Are we are now at the top of the slippery slope of books and expansion? Well, there will be a book at some point, but I just want to be totally clear – our core rules, allowing you to move, shoot and fight, will always be simple and clear, and free to download from the web. What happens then is people want to play tournaments so there’ll be a tournament pack, or other things like that. The beauty of Alessio building the clock into the game is that we can make use of that. The general approach is that there will be the core system, and we’ll build other layers on the top of it.
And finally? Well, one of the things I’d really like to do in the new year is run an invitational tournament event. I’m hoping that we can use Maelstrom, and invite the best Warhammer players to come down and play in a Mantic tournament, and to give us their feedback. We’d like them to try three or four games of Kings of War, using the clock. I reckon anyone who can play Warhammer can pick up our rules, but it’s a whole new game with the pressure of the clock on you. I’d love to go around and ask them all what they think of it. Of course, they’ll never stop playing Warhammer, but they might consider playing Mantic as well. Your Unseen Lerker checklist:
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Army Showcase: Matt Birdoff
So, Matt, let’s start off with the obvious question: who is Matt Birdoff? I’m basically an average old school geek with a bit of an artistic side. I grew up playing games like Dungeons & Dragons, Paranoia, Top Secret, things like that. Just to prove how old, I was doing online roleplaying before the internet even existed. Just a bunch of dweebs playing text-based games across phone lines. Old School! I was heavily into art as a kid, doing real life drawing and painting and environmental design in school, with a bit of comic book drawing on the side. I was so incredibly bad at these things that I eventually threw out all my pencils and markers, trading them in for a computer and a desk and a graphic design job. These days I’m working in advertising and design for mostly entertainment clients. I did eventually get to work in comics, doing some logo and cover designs for DC Comics. I even did an entire cover for an issue of Superman once! Sadly it was all computergenerated. Still no pencils or markers for me.
The one place I do get to exercise my artistic side is through miniature wargaming. I’ve been involved in Warhammer for about 10 years, starting with 5th edition. Around that time I was one of the founders of the Warmonger Club, which is New York City’s only Warhammer club. We have about 30-40 regular and irregular members, and are heavily involved in the Fantasy tourney scene. The recent USA ETC team was made up primarily of club mates, so some of you may know of us. I’ve also been involved in the hobby in a few selfpublishing things; I was the lead designer on the Indy GT Dwarves of Chaos army book, and on Tales of Battle magazine.
This isn’t your first Chaos army (some people are still recovering after being partially blinded by your Super Blue force of ‘04). Have you always been a Chaos man? If so, when did your fascination with them start, and what is it that keeps drawing you back to them? I have always been a Chaos player in one form or another, since I started playing. I’ve gone through nine different Chaos armies for Fantasy, and two for 40K. I once did an Orc army, and a Dark Eldar one, but those were both Chaotic in their own way as well. I guess I’m just drawn to the bad guys. I always have been, going back to my roleplaying days. Whenever I try to start something different, it never comes to fruition. I have boxes and boxes of Dwarves, High Elves, and Lizardmen just sitting in a closet someplace. I’m the same when it comes to other games as well; I play Legion in Hordes, Neverborn in Malifaux, Mongols in Ancients… If I can’t be evil in real life, I may as well do it in the games I play!
What inspired you to create an army of such ‘old school’ models as opposed to say, spangly new ones? I am always looking for ways to make my armies different than anyone else’s, whether that be through modelling, paint scheme, army composition, or all three. I’d already created Chaos armies that used the current range, ones that used converted 40k and Dark Elf miniatures, and ones that made wide use of different themes and unique or well executed paint schemes. Using vintage models makes the army stand out instantly, so this was just another way of creating something new. I also have a bit of a collector’s mentality, and I enjoy trying to track down odd or obscure collectibles. My man-cave full of vintage comics, horror posters, and original artwork can testify to that. When I became aware of all the old Chaos miniatures, it seemed a natural thing for me to want to collect, and so I’ve spent years searching out all the different ones I wanted. While I like a lot of the current range, they don’t seem nearly chaotic enough for my tastes. The troops are all the same pose, same armour. Meanwhile the vintage ones are all entirely different; more entertaining to look at, and to paint.
Do you have any favourite figures in the army? What do you like about them? The Chaos Warriors are probably my favourites, with each one having their own character. Back in 2nd edition, each Chaos model even had its own name, written on the back of the boxes. The Chaos Siege Cannon is also a favourite. There’s just no way to top a Daemon shooting a cannonball out of its ass! Can you share any sneaky tricks or tactics that you employ with the army? The version I had the most success with was back in 7th edition. I fielded an MSU (multiple small units) Chaos Warrior based army, with just a level 1 wizard scroll caddy as the general, backed up by a BSB with Banner of the Gods and a few hitty units such as chariots and a Hellcannon. Even with opponents knowing about the Banner (we play open lists around here), they would still get caught out by how durable the Warriors were, and I was able to do very well against many opponents with seemingly more powerful, or more manoeuvrable armies. With 8th edition, I’m not sure I have any tricks or tactics. The game is way too new, and I honestly haven’t played much of it. Goes with the territory of being an old man with kids, I suppose.
Any wacky plans for armies in the future? At the moment I am concentrating on other systems like Malifaux and Hordes. With the model count for those games considerably lower than that of Warhammer, I’m able to spend much more time on individual models, and can try to paint them up to Golden Daemon standard (well, as close as I am able to, anyway!). I’ve been playing around with source lighting, so will be making use of that to a good extent. Plus, after playing Warhammer for so many years, these other games seem like a breath of fresh air, and I’ve been really enjoying playing something different. I do still have plans for another Warhammer army in the future, however. I fully intend to blow people’s minds with the Fishmen* army I am working on, once that army book is released in 2012. You heard it here first! *Then again, it’s not Chaos. So it may just end up in a box next to my Dwarves.
Unseen Lerker Around The World
Chris Chapman with UL Issue 4 and a very special breed of toy soldiers: the Terracotta Army in Shaanxi, China.
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VON BLACKMOOR MUST DIE Ryan Addison (Vampire Counts) vs Jack Belumi (Dwarfs) The process we go through when deciding what to feature in each issue’s battle report is fairly simple: we want to see cool stuff. This means new armies, new players and new spectacles. We were chatting with Mantic Games at the time of deciding on this issue’s content, and we asked them what they would want to see in a report. ‘Well…us, of course,’ was their response. At first we chuckled, but then we realised that their two newest armies – Dwarfs and Undead – had yet to feature in an Unseen Lerker report. Then they followed it up with the offer of letting us play the game using their spiffing studio-quality models. That caused our ears to prick up a bit. Of course, when they offered to give away a complete army to one lucky Unseen Lerker subscriber we couldn’t really say no – after all, we love giving our subscribers free stuff! Mantic decided to make things even easier for us, by providing the players as well: Ryan Addison and Jack Belumi, two strapping young lads who happened to
be visiting from the States at the time. We decided to demonstrate the flexibility of Mantic’s range by giving the boys an army each and have them play a game of Warhammer 8th edition (a subject we have a feeling most of our readers are…well acquainted with). Ryan and Jack are old school friends who got into Warhammer at the same time and have been playing ever since. Ryan informs us that they are ‘the biggest Mantic fans in Pennsylvania!’ until Jack points out that they don’t actually live in Pennsylvania. We began to get the impression that they were a bit strange. You may notice that a few of the units in the VC army are not actually Mantic figures. This is because their Undead range is still in the process of being released (the cheap and cheerful cavalry are due out next month), but fortunately we were able to fill in the holes in Ryan’s army with some matching Vampire Counts figures we had kicking around here at the Lerker office.
‘It’s fun to be dead.’ Ryan: I’ve always loved Undead as a concept – the relentless, shambling brainlessness of them reminds me of myself on most mornings. I always used to enjoy watching horror films as a kid; I also have an aversion to sunlight, hate garlic and like to stroll around in a cape, so it’s no surprise that Vampire Counts are my army of choice. It’s worth pointing out that Jack and I were limited somewhat by the models we had available but, on the upside, this did make army selection a lot easier! A lot of Undead players prefer to have a bunkering caster Lord who supports the army while staying safe from harm. For me this is a pansy approach and I much prefer to beef up my Vampire for survival and get stuck in. This can sometimes lead to his sudden, untimely and quite often colourful demise (on one embarrassing occasion he keeled over after taking a Gnoblar shoe to the throat), but most of the time I find him to be very reliable and very killy. For this battle I went for somewhat of a utility Lord who would be useful in a variety of situations: level 3 and Dark Acolyte would mean he was still a good caster, while Dread Knight, Hatred, the Bloody Hauberk and Dawnstone makes him super survivable and the Other Trickster’s Shard would give me a sneaky edge against any tough Dwarf characters he had to fight. I usually run a single Wight King on foot in my own Undead army, but for this game decided to run two of them, since a) I’d been provided with two of them and b) they’re really good! The first one got my favoured kit of great weapon plus Hand of Dust (a very useful item due to the small amount of people who take it) while the other one got the cool and themey Black Axe of Krell. These guys would be very useful for
going through the enemy characters, while not being too vulnerable to basic Dwarfs thanks to T5 and three wounds. My Core selection was easy as pie, with two times 20 Skeletons (one with the marching banner to give me more flexibility in deployment) and a unit of Ghouls. With the option of putting my Wight Kings in the units they should be able to go toe-to-toe with most of the Dwarfs and stick around long enough for my hammer units to come and clean up. Speaking of my hammer units… Grave Guard got even better in this edition, and with the Banner of Barrows and a Wight King I’d back them against almost anything the Dwarfs can muster. Black Knights were a must since otherwise my Vampire Lord couldn’t get a Look Out Sir and the Dwarf Cannon would shoot his head clean off. I gave them the armour piercing banner to give them some punch in the inevitable grinding match – even the Vampire Lord is only S5 when not charging. The army was rounded out with 5 Wraiths (I didn’t bother with the Banshee, preferring the extra attacks over the scream when factoring in the Dwarfs’ high Ld) and a Varghulf. The ‘ghulf in particular has really shone for me in this edition, since now he gets to Thunderstomp and isn’t forced to pursue via Hatred any more. My plan for the game was fairly in line with how I usually like to play Undead: swarm up the centre with the infantry, bog the enemy down and then crush their units one at time by flanking them with my heavy hitters. The Dwarf King and his Hammerers were worrying me quite a bit, since they outfought pretty much everything in my army and, being Stubborn, didn’t care about being surrounded. I was quite prepared to sacrifice anything short of my general to keep them busy, since that should allow my remaining units to pick apart the Dwarf army, before turning on the Hammerers. You know, if there was time!
‘For Oath and Honour.’ Jack: I was really looking forward to this. Ryan and I had been on a bit of a geek holiday anyway, off to England to visit Warhammer World and some of the cool castles around the country, but when we got invited to play in an Unseen Lerker report (which we both subscribe to) using Mantic models (which we both really like) we couldn’t refuse! Despite collecting Dwarfs since the 90s I’ve never been able to finish painting an army of them, so getting to use Mantic’s studio army I immediately knew that I wanted to put as many nicely painted figures on the table as possible. Less runes and more bodies, as it were. Two units of 30 Warriors would provide an excellent bulwark against the Undead. I was planning on running them in very deep formations to stick around for as long as possible thanks to Steadfast, hopefully grinding them out eventually or holding on long enough for help to arrive. I also selected three units of missile troops (two Quarrellers, one Thunderers) to support the war machines and thin out the enemy ranks a bit. If I could force Ryan into using some of his magic dice to raise his men back instead of casting things like Gaze, Danse or Curse of Years then I would be happy – Curse of Years in particular has done horrible things to me in the past when we’ve played, although at least in the new edition it’s not so hard to dispel in subsequent turns. Moving on to Special units, and my mouth started watering. Hammerers are my elites of choice, especially when joined by the Dwarf King (and possibly my Battle Standard Bearer, but that can be overkill). With 20 models in the unit they are very hard to shift and with two ranks fighting now can crank out loads of wounds. Slayers were next on the list – probably my favourite unit in this matchup due to their ironical role of “tarpitting” the enemy, something Undead are usually in favour of doing themselves.
Of course, I still needed some characters, not least because I needed something that could stand a chance against Ryan’s preferred “combat vamp” build, but also because things like re-rollable Ld tests and anti magic runes are very useful in this matchup. So, in that order: the Dwarf King himself, kitted out with a 2+ re-rollable armour save, Strength 6 and Always Strikes First; a Battle Standard Bearer with a 1+ re-rollable armour save; and a Runesmith with the Master Rune of Balance. The King and BSB were also kitted out with anti Killing Blow runes, since I knew they would be in the thick of it and didn’t want my army to fall to pieces just because Ryan managed to roll a 6 (you’d be amazed at how long it took me to learn this lesson!). After all of that I had just enough points left for a Slayer Hero, a Cannon and an Organ Gun, which would hopefully give Ryan cause for concern. I was tempted to give the Cannon the Rune of Burning, in case it got a direct shot on any Regenerating units that Ryan happened to bring, but decided against it in the end because the Cannon already does D6 wounds (thanks to a recent errata document) and also because I didn’t want to risk shooting his Vampire Lord only to discover that he had the Dragonhelm (experience tells me that Ryan is not above such sneaky tricks). To be honest I find the war machines in this matchup to be more of a movement deterrent than actual damage output sources. Undead have always been very good at hunting war machines, while Dwarfs have never been very good at defending them, so I didn’t bother tooling up the cannon, keeping it nice and cheap to ensure Ryan didn’t get too many easy points. Any Dwarf player will tell you that they are very much a reactionary army, so I didn’t really bother formulating too much of a strategy before the game, content to wait and see what opportunities Ryan presented me with. Games involving Dwarfs are often decided by whether or not the enemy falls into a trap or if they make a serious mistake. Personally, I was hoping for both!
Ryan’s Vampire Counts 2294pts Count Von Blackmoor, Vampire Lord – 420 Level 3, Dread Knight, Dark Acolyte, Infinite Hatred, Bloody Hauberk, Dawnstone, Other Trickster’s Shard Nasmir the Cadaver, Wight King – 125 Black Axe of Krell Aramas the Eternal, Wight King – 135 Great weapon, Hand of Dust 20 Skeletons – 180 Full command
20 Skeletons – 225 Full command, spears, Standard of Hellish Vigour 21 Ghouls – 176 Ghast 20 Grave Guard – 315 Full command, Banner of the Barrows 8 Black Knights – 293 Barding, standard, musician, Razor Standard 5 Cairn Wraiths – 250 Varghulf – 175
Jack’s Dwarfs 2298pts Thrake, Dwarf King – 258 Master Rune of Swiftness, 2x Rune of Cleaving, Rune of Resistance, Rune of Stone, Rune of Preservation, gromril armour, shield Trokir, Thane – 155 Battle Standard, Master Rune of Gromril, Rune of Resistance, Rune of Preservation Hulrin, Runesmith – 122 Master Rune of Balance, shield Barga, Dragon Slayer – 50
30 Dwarf Warriors – 295 Full command, shields 30 Dwarf Warriors – 295 Full command, shields 14 Thunderers – 196 12 Quarrellers – 132 12 Quarrellers – 132 20 Hammerers – 270 Full command 15 Troll Slayers – 183 Standard, musician Cannon – 90 Organ Gun – 120
MAGIC Vampire Lord Raise Dead, Vanhel’s Danse, Gaze of Nagash and Curse of Years
Scenario outline Count Von Blackmoor’s undead legions have been terrorising the Dwarfs of Karak Dorn for months, and after too long of living in fear Dwarf King Thrake unites his forces behind him and marches on the vampire’s lair to rid themselves of the creature once and for all. To add an extra layer of excitement to the game the players chose the Dawn Attack scenario, with each unit rolling randomly to see which part of the board it deployed in due to the cloying mist of Blackmoor’s lair. This altered both players’ deployment slightly. For the Undead, one unit of Skeletons ended up on the east side, while the Wraiths ended up on the far western flank. The Varghulf was assigned to the latter to make sure they could still march and get into the game fairly quickly. The remaining Undead took up central positions, with Blackmoor’s Knights and Aramas the Eternal’s Grave Guard ready to launch forward at the enemy. The Dwarfs on the other hand had split their characters up to ensure a single bad roll wouldn’t cripple them – King Thrake remained with his Hammerer bodyguard (who ended up on the east) while Trokir the BSB’s Warriors went smack-bang in the middle and Hulrin the Runesmith’s Warriors ended up on the western flank opposite the Wraiths.
Assessing the final positions it looked like both Skeleton units were going to take some heavy fire on their way in, with those who made it being rewarded with either the Hammerers or some class of Slayer. The Vampires were at least as strong on the opposite flank though, the Runesmith eyeing up the Wraiths and wishing he’d brought a magic weapon. This battle reporter, however, wagers that most of the action will take place in the centre of the board*. We’d have to wait and see. *Of course, one might argue that writing the report after the game has already taken place gives me an unfair advantage when it comes to “wagering”. Hands were shaken, dice were rolled, and the Undead won the roll for first turn. Ryan took it, eager to minimise the amount of shooting he was forced to endure and get across into combat as quickly as possible.
With Von Blackmoor himself being the only wizard on the table rolling for spells was a brief affair, with the vampire receiving Raise Dead,Vanhel’s Danse, Gaze of Nagash and Curse of Years. The Runesmith readied his defences…
Deployment Count Von Blackmoor Vampire Lord
Nasmir the Cadaver Wight King
Aramas the Eternal Wight King
Thrake, Dwarf King
Barga, Dragon Slayer
Turn 1 Ryan: The word ‘shamble’ comes to mind when describing my first movement phase. Undead infantry aren’t really known for their speed, so most of my battleline basically just ended up looking as it had during deployment, only 8” further forward. The prime exception to this were Von Blackmoor’s Knights, who rode as far as they could – the sooner I got in combat the sooner Jack couldn’t shoot them any more! I was confident that the west flank was pretty much in hand, since unless Jack’s Runesmith had some magical sickle up his sleeve the Wraiths would go through that Warrior block like a hot knife through a leper. I made sure the Varghulf couldn’t be seen by the Cannon in the forest (flaming or not, the Varghulf was a prime target for the machine!) and moved on to the magic phase. My main aim here was to use Vanhel’s to move my Grave Guard up in line with the Knights so my general didn’t get isolated. It may seem like a fairly passive use of the spell, but I’ve found that keeping the Undead units supporting one another is absolutely crucial. I rolled 5,4 for the winds of magic, and Jack revealed the Rune of Balance on the Runesmith. Excellent, no magic weapon over there then! With +4 to my casting rolls I could easily two-dice my spells, so I started with a Danse on the Grave Guard. Jack has played me enough times to know to stop the early spells and hope for bad rolls on the later ones, so dispelled it. I repeated the spell, again using two dice, and Jack used his remaining dice to dispel it. Right!
Trokir’s Warriors waste no time in getting to grips with the Vampire!
That left me with four power dice and free reign, and I changed tack slightly, casting Gaze of Nagash on the Thunderers who were taking aim at Blackmoor’s Knights. The spell killed five Dwarfs, not bad in itself, but then Jack failed the Panic test (despite the BSB re-roll) and the unit legged it! Not bad! I used my last two dice to move the Grave Guard up, as planned. With no shooting, all I could do was hand it over to Jack and wait for his response.
Jack: Ho hum, bloody Panic tests. Well, it looks like Ryan had forced my hand now. My original plan had been to open up on the Vampire Lord’s Knights with all my shooting, but without the Thunderers piling in as well I wasn’t confident of doing enough damage to wipe them out, and as demonstrated it was a fairly sure thing my opponent would be able to just raise them all back with magic. The obvious solution then, seemed to be charging them. The Black Knights were directly in front of my Slayers and Trokir’s Warriors; both units needed to roll a ‘9’ on 2D6” to make the distance. I went for it. Even if only one unit made it I’d pin the unit there for some considerable time (the Warriors being Steadfast, the Slayers Unbreakable), hopefully long enough for Thrake and the Hammerers to come and capitalise, but if both units made it then I actually stood a reasonable chance of wiping the Knights out. The dice clattered on the table, with the Warriors steaming in on a ‘10’ and the Slayers scoring ‘7’ and falling short. Oh well, you can’t have everything.
TURN 1 VAMPIRE COUNTS . 1 The Thunderers panic and run from Nagash’s Gaze. . 2 The Grave Guard are compelled forward by Danse, supporting the vampire’s unit. . 3 The Varghulf stays wary of the Cannon and supports the Wraiths as they drift towards the Runesmith’s Warriors.
TURN 1 DWARFS . 1 The Slayers fall short, but Trokir’s Warriors charge straight into Von Blackmoor! After combat the Black Knights perform a combat reform. . 2 Runesmith Hulrin and his Warriors edge forward, very aware of the undead flankers but also trying to limit the movement of the Wraiths towards the centre.
The Thunderers rallied, while Hulrin’s Warriors braced themselves against the oncoming Wraiths and the King’s Hammerers strolled forward, daring the Skeletons to come closer. I skipped the magic phase, for obvious reasons, and got down to business in the shooting phase. Both Quarreller units and the Organ Gun opened up on the easternmost Skeleton unit, killing 11 deadites in one bone-shattering volley, while the Cannon contented itself with blasting apart four Grave Guard. Right then – time for the crucial combat! (It worries me to be using the word ‘crucial’ in turn 1!) Ryan surprised me here by issuing a challenge with his Vampire Lord. My alarm bells started ringing – Ryan usually has his Lord equipped to mince rank and file rather than characters.
. 3 King Thrake and his Hammerers, plus Barga the Dragon Slayer, rush headlong towards the enemy. . 4 The ranks of Skeletons spearmen are devastated as the Dwarf shooting tears into them.
Could my old foe have pulled a swift one? Still, after a moment’s consideration I accepted with my BSB (rather than my unit champion). I figured that with a 1+ rerollable save and immunity to Killing Blow I should be okay, and it would save me a few points of combat resolution from the Vamp carving up regular Dwarfs. Even though Von Blackmoor didn’t whip out a magic weapon he still managed to inflict two wounds to poor Trokir. The Knights’ Razor Standard was a naughty surprise, and unluckily I failed both 4+ re-rollable saves and died on the spot. Turn 1 and I’d lost my BSB – bum. The rest of my attacks bounced off the Knights’ armour and I lost one Dwarf in return. I won the combat, crumbling a Knight, but the Grave Guard were eyeing up my flank and I was getting a very bad feeling already.
Turn 2 Ryan: Mwahahaha, he’s fallen right into my trap! Well, no, actually. I’d be lying if I said I’d planned any of that – I wasn’t even expecting Jack to try such a long distance charge with mere Dwarfs. Still, not one to shun lady luck when she comes knocking at my door I committed the Grave Guard to the Warriors’ flank. The Wraiths and the Varghulf both charged the Runesmith’s Warriors, but tragically the Wraiths only rolled 4”, leaving the Varghulf to go in alone! Oops. No longer able to regenerate against Crumble wounds, I figured the Varghulf was a goner, so positioned him to at least try and chomp on the Runesmith. The Ghouls continued their long slog towards the Cannon and Thunderers, while Wight King Nasmir’s Skeletons stayed back a bit, wary of the Hammerers. The other Skeletons had no such qualms, being shoved their full 8” towards the nearest Crossbowmen. I deliberately left a smidgen of their flank visible to the Hammerers, hoping that Jack would take the bait and go off chasing them instead of moving the King’s unit closer to the main battle. To make that option seem worthwhile for him I had to add enough Skeletons to the unit that they would make it to the Quarrellers and beat them when they got there, so this turn I concentrated my magic and raised back nine of the Skeletons. Sacrificing a 225pt unit just to delay the enemy might seem excessive, but frankly it was preferable to the alternative! (Also, with them being Undead already it meant their life insurance was extra cheap.)
In combat the Varghulf did not disappoint, tearing the Runesmith’s head off and also Thunderstomping three Dwarfs into the ground. To my surprise I actually won the combat by one, but the Steadfast buggers stuck around. In the main fight my combined attacks managed to kill no less than nine Dwarfs, but I lost two Black Knights in return with some snake-eyes armour saves. When the dust cleared the Warriors were still Steadfast (by one model! Aaargh!) and held.
Jack: Slayers ho! The orange bearded little machines espied the protruding corner of the Black Knights and, only needing a 7+ on 2D6” this time, raced on in. I couldn’t really see an alternative to be honest – with the Knights and Grave Guard in combat now I couldn’t shoot them, and the Hammerers were nowhere near the action. I needed to Slayers to go in and stall the Undead for as long as possible until Thrake could come and put them in the ground for good. Speaking of Thrake, I’d charged him and his Hammerers (plus the Dragon Slayer) into the flank of the Skeletons. I had a feeling Ryan had left their flank open on purpose to lure me away from the centre, but I was confident they would get back in time to save the day. Meanwhile, the Cannon and Thunderers were suddenly very aware of the oncoming Ghouls, but their combined fire only managed to drop three of the creatures. Uh oh.
The Dwarf Warriors are surrounded on all sides, but hold firm as their reinforcements close in.
TURN 2 VAMPIRE COUNTS . 1 The Varghulf and Wraiths charge the Runesmith’s Warriors, but the Wraiths fail, leaving the monster to go in alone!
. 2 The Grave Guard pounce on the Warriors’ exposed flank, but in combat enough remain that the Dwarfs are still Steadfast and hold. . 3 Ryan ‘cunningly’ leaves the flank of his Skeletons open for the Hammerers to charge, then heals them to force the issue.
TURN 2 DWARFS . 1 The Slayers charge in to save (or at least delay) the day! . 2 The shooting gallery continues as the second Skeleton unit is ravaged by the Dwarf missile weapons.
The Quarrellers fared no better, only killing two Skeletons, but then the Organ Gun opened up as well and obliterated nine of them! Wham-o! The Varghulf/Warriors combat remained at an impass, with another handful of Dwarfs falling and the monster passing its one required regeneration save. Moving east, the other Warriors took another round of Wight-based punishment, losing seven of their number, while Count Von Blackmoor set about chopping up Slayers, killing three. My poor Dwarfs lost combat by 10. The Warriors’ nerve couldn’t hold any longer and they broke, fleeing away from the Grave Guard who pursued and chopped them down as they ran, slamming into the Slayers’ flank. Finally, King Thrake and his bodyguards completely destroyed the other Skeletons, despite the Hammerers rolling five 1s to wound (!) from ten dice. The Hammerers and Dragon Slayer reformed to get back to the action as soon as possible.
. 3 The Dragon Slayer and Hammerers crash into the exposed Skellies’ flank, destroying them all in a single round and reforming to face the battle.
Turn 3 Ryan: Right, enough messing around. The Wraiths charged the Warriors (they didn’t flunk their charge roll this time, thanks for asking), the Ghouls charged the Cannon and the Skellies charged the Slayers in the flank. The other Skeletons had been destroyed, as expected, and now we needed to get rid of these Slayers as quickly as possible to avoid having a certain unit of Hammerers charge a certain Vampire Lord’s Knights in the flank! I had the surreal experience of realising I had nothing else left to move, then proceeded to the magic phase. With no more Runesmith I was fairly confident of casting the spells I wanted, and I was proved right. I rolled 13 for my first Raise Dead spell, and Jack was forced to throw all of his dice at it. Then I whipped out my trump card – the Hand of Dust! Even Jack who’s played against it before didn’t see it coming and the item killed five Slayers, making my job in the combat phase a lot easier. I then used my remaining dice to raise a small unit of Zombies whose job was to “speedbump” the Hammerers, buying me another turn to give the Slayers some…slaying. Von Blackmoor killed two of the orange-dyed gofers and I lost a Black Knight in return. My remaining units then piled in, but after all my attacks there were still two Slayers left! Typical! Elsewhere my Ghouls did a number on the Cannon crew, overrunning through the forest towards the Thunderers.
There’s always one, isn’t there? Or two, in this case. The Slayers make their last stand.
The arrival of the Wraiths heralded bad things for the Dwarf Warriors on the western flank, and between them and the Varghulf I managed to kill ten stunties. Jack’s unit was still Steadfast (and likely would be till I killed all of them) but he rolled ‘10’ for their break test and scooted away. Unfortunately his high rolls continued and he managed to outrun both pursuing units – oh the cheek!
Jack: Have I mentioned how much I hate Zombies? And I don’t just mean in Warhammer; I have a genuine fear of a zombie apocalypse. Still, paranoia and conspiracy theories aside I had no choice but to wade through the barrier of flesh and try to get my hands around Von Blackmoor’s neck in the last couple of turns. The Dragon Slayer and the Hammerers both went in, just to be sure, while my Warriors rallied in the far quarter and the Thunderers did a quick count comparing the number of bullets they had to the number of Ghouls remaining; their conclusion was not favourable. With everything in combat my other missile troops had little to do except twiddle their thumbs and wait for someone to stick their head out. Oh, except the Organ Gun, which took a pot-shot at the Ghouls and killed precisely zero. To cut a long story short in the combat phase: the Zombies all died and my units reformed, and the Slayers both died and Ryan’s units reformed. I’ll get you yet, Von Blackmoor….
TURN 3 VAMPIRE COUNTS . 1 The Wraiths make it in, breaking the Warriors in short order. But the Dwarfs outrun both their pursuers!
. 2 The Ghouls make short work of the Cannon, overrunning through the Fungus Forest towards the Thunderers.
. 3 Aramas’s Skeletons pile into the Slayers’ flank, trying to free up the other undead as quickly as possible before the Hammerers can come to grips with them. But two Slayers survive!
3 1 2
. 4 To this end, a unit of Zombies is raised in front of the Dwarf King’s bodyguard to delay them.
TURN 3 DWARFS . 1 Hammerers+King+Dragon Slayer vs 6 Zombies. Easiest. Combat. Ever. . 2 The undead heavy hitters finish off the Slayers and reform, eager to get away from King Thrake and his Hammerers.
1 REFORM REFORM CHARGE!
The classic ‘Zombie Speedbump’, outlawed in eleven countries for its sheer audacity and callousness (not really).
. 3 The Dwarf Warriors rally, steeling themselves against their terrifying foes and what they know must come.
Turn 4 Ryan:
Like hell you will.Von Blackmoor’s Black Knights saw the approaching Hammerers, and promptly charged into the Organ Gun instead. Unfortunately the Skeletons were blocking their charge path so I had to charge them into the Slayer hero first, but I thought that the Black Axe of Krell had a fair shot of taking the bearded bugger’s head straight off and I could overrun past the Hammerers to safety.
Barga killing the Wight King like that was certainly a nice bonus, especially considering my character cost a measly 50pts! King Thrake’s Hammerers smashed into the flank of their second Skeleton unit this day, but elsewhere things were looking grim. The Thunderers were looking pretty screwed, while the Quarrellers on the hill were certainly goners and unless Ryan’s dice suddenly caught fire and melted on the spot I expect the remnants of my west flank Warriors weren’t far off either.
The Wraiths charged once more into the Warriors, while the Varghulf decided they didn’t need his help and wandered towards the Thunderers instead. The Ghouls who were supposed to kill the Thunderers this turn annoyingly failed their Stupidity test from the Fungus Forest they were traversing, sparing the Dwarfs for another turn. I rolled seven dice for the magic phase this turn, which I concentrated on raising back some Grave Guard. Jack managed to dispel both attempts, at which point I got bored with that and cast Curse of Years on the Hammerers instead, killing three. Von Blackmoor’s Knights expectedly tore through the Organ Gun, overrunning into the Quarrellers on the hill, while the Wraiths only managed to kill two Warriors and stuck fast. Finally, in a challenge between Nasmir and the Dragon Slayer, the Wight King raised his Black Axe high and prepared to strike – before the Dwarf hero’s attacks tore him to pieces, denying him the chance. Suffice to say: crapcakes.
I’ve made a habit of, whenever Ryan casts Curse of Years in our games, placing a circle of dice around the targeted unit so that I remember to dispel it next turn – lots of Dwarfs dying on 5+ is not nice. This reminder worked and with a sigh of relief I dispelled the horrid spell. The Quarrellers on the eastern flank found themselves curiously free from attention, and took the opportunity to fire a few shafts into the Grave Guard, dropping three of the wights. Three Ghouls also perished to the Thunderers’ boom-sticks, but it was too little too late and now they were going to join the Runesmith in the Varghulf ’s digestive system.
No way out: the Warriors make a valiant last stand against foes they know they cannot hurt.
TURN 4 VAMPIRE COUNTS . 1 The Wraiths charge the Ghouls, while the Varghulf moves towards the Thunderers. . 2 The Ghouls fail Stupidity for being in the Fungus Forest and stumble forwards.
. 3 Aramas’s Skeletons charge the Dragon Slayer, needing to clear the Black Knights charge path.
. 4 The Black Knights hammer into the Organ Gun, killing it and overrunning into the Quarrellers.
TURN 4 DWARFS . 1 The Hammerers swoop into the flank of their second Skeleton unit of the day, obliterating them and again reforming towards the action. CHARGE! REFORM
. 2 The Quarrellers barely hold out against Von Blackmoor’s Knights, delaying them for a crucial extra turn. . 3 The Thunderers fire their last shots, knowing they are doomed but determined to take as many enemies with them as they can.
Thrake and his loyal followers expectedly tore through the Skeletons, the unit exploding in a shower of bones, and again the Dwarf King reformed to face the centre of the board, where the Grave Guard awaited them. Nearby, Von Blackmoor’s unit killed exactly six Quarrellers, which still left enough for me to be Steadfast and pin him there for another round. A similar thing happened between the Wraiths and Warriors, although I had so few Warriors left now that I wasn’t sure if I’d even be able to last another round.
Turn 5 Ryan:
Bah, stupid Steadfast. Still, they can’t be Steadfast if they’re all dead, right?
I’m getting used to saying this: the Dragon Slayer and Hammerers charged. The Grave Guard this time, in case you hadn’t guessed. Ryan healing them all back was annoying, but I still had plenty of Dwarfs and even more rage. This rage turned into vivid shock when the wights struck first, scoring FIVE killing blows on the Hammerers. That’s not good. However, between Thrake, Barga and the remaining Hammerers I managed to smash eight Grave Guard into the ground, crumbling a further four on combat resolution. In the distance the Wraiths finally did for my remaining Warriors. Sad, but expected.
With that in mind the Varghulf and Ghouls both charged the Thunderers, while the Grave Guard charged the Hammerers but fell woefully short. This made healing them with magic a priority, a goal greatly aided by rolling 10 for the winds of magic. Despite Jack dispelling my first two spells I managed to bring back all of the lost Grave Guard as well as a Black Knight (who was the cherry on top, one might say). This turn I finished off the Quarrellers and reformed the Black Knights, while the Varghulf annihilated the Thunderers and overran, and the Wraiths rolled a horrifying nine 3s to hit (needing 4s, naturally) and lost combat on the musician! At last, the Grave Guard, a target worthy of the Hammerers’ attention.
TURN 5 VAMPIRE COUNTS . 1 The Grave Guard attempt to charge the Hammerers but fall well short, and knowing they are going to get charged instead Von Blackmoor heals them back up to full strength. . 2 Von Blackmoor and his Knights finish the Quarrellers and reform, knowing the final clash is near.
. 3 The Ghouls and Varghulf charge the Thunderers, annihilating them. The Ghouls reform while the Varghulf overruns.
TURN 5 DWARFS . 1 Obvious, isn’t it? The Hammerers continue their killing spree, smashing over half the Grave Guard in one round of combat, losing half a dozen models in return. . 2 The Wraiths finally finish off the Warriors and pause to catch their ethereal breath (breathereal?).
‘The time has come,’ Von Blackmoor said, ‘to charge some better things.’
Five killing blows against the Hammerers (note the custom purple UL dice), but loads of dead wights in return.
Turn 6 Ryan:
Well, this was it, make or break.Von Blackmoor’s Knights slammed into the rear of the Hammerers. I was quite confident of wiping them out over two rounds of combat, but marched the Varghulf up for some Vanhel’s fun just to be sure. Unfortunately all the magical fortune I’d been having came back to bite me and I failed to cast the first spell, ending the magic phase. Oh well, we’d have to do it the old fashioned way. As was fitting at this climactic moment Dwarf King issued a challenge, and the Vampire Lord accepted. Thrake’s axe smashed into Von Blackmoor, inflicting a wound, and my general inflicted a single wound in return after yet another double 1 to wound. My Black Knights also flunked it to some extent, skewering a single Hammerer. The Grave Guard killed two more, and the Wight King another two, but the remaining Grave Guard were all wiped out by the Dragon Slayer and Hammerers, leaving Aramas alone fighting the Dwarf elites to the front with Von Blackmoor and a handful of Knights left in the few Hammerers’ rear.
Barga had been stranded out of combat after such a successful round, and charged the Wight King in the flank. My only other unit – the Quarrellers who had been slogging it across the field for three turns – attempted to charge the Black Knights in the rear, but needed a double 6 and fell short. That left only one thing to do… First things first, and Barga managed to score two wounds against Aramas, taking one in return. The Black Knights killed two Hammerers, leaving only the command group, who in return managed to smash two Knights out of their saddles. It was all down to the generals’ challenge. Thrake scored three hits on the vampiric fiend, and all three wounded. My heart was in my mouth as Ryan rolled his saves. He made two of them, leaving Von Blackmoor on one wound! In return I too suffered a wound, even without the strength modifier from the lance this round I couldn’t pass my rerollable save, taking one wound as well. That meant that I won the combat by one, crumbling the Wight King to dust and leaving the Black Knights with only their standard bearer and the one-wound vampire left. Phew!
The Varghulf rushes to support the Black Knights’ charge, but too late!
TURN 5 VAMPIRE COUNTS . 1 Von Blackmoorâ€™s Knights charge into the rear of the Hammerers. . 2 The Varghulf moves up, waiting for magical support, but is left wanting.
TURN 5 DWARFS . 1 The Quarrellers bravely try to charge the Black Knights in the rear and help finish them off, but donâ€™t roll the required double 6 and fail to make the distance.
. 2 The huge grind fight continues, with Barga the Dragon Slayer charging in once more after being stranded.
Victory Points Undead: 1515 VPs Dwarfs: 980 VPs minor win to the Undead Though it cost many dwarven lives, the undead menace was stopped. Count Von Blackmoor was grievously wounded by King Thrake himself, and forced to retreat back into the haunted marshland. The bodies of the fallen were carried back to Karak Dorn in grim silence, and each death was marked in the heavy tome next to Von Blackmoorâ€™s name. He has a heavy toll to pay yet. King Thrake knows that while he wounded Von Blackmoor the vampire lord will return. But when he does, Thrake and his dwarf throng will be waiting for him.
MAN OF THE MATCH Barga, Dwarf Dragon Slayer â€“ 50pts!
The surviving tatters of the two once-proud armies.
‘Not quite as planned…but I’ll take it!’
Ryan In the main I was pretty happy with how the game went. I felt my plan was solid and it was executed almost to a tee. And I would have got away with it too, if it wasn’t for that damn Dragon Slayer!! The little runt killed two Wight Kings single-handedly and also assisted in the destruction of two Skeleton blocks and my Grave Guard. Aaargh! Failing my last casting roll of the game to move the Varghulf was also quite crucial, but the other five magic phases all went in my favour so I can’t really complain. The Hand of Dust worked a treat as usual, though the Black Axe seems to suffer from an almost hereditary case of whiffage. I was quite pleased with Von Blackmoor’s equipment as well; very jack of all trades and very much my style. Oh, and I would thoroughly recommend the Razor Standard to readers, especially on cavalry units who tend to lose a lot of punch when they don’t charge. All in all a very exciting and fun game; it was great to meet the Unseen Lerker guys and get a chance to see the Mantic studio armies up close and personal (I accidentally broke a Skeleton’s spear, but don’t tell anyone). And of course it’s always nice to get a win over Jack, especially one that will be in print and that I can hold over his head forever.
Army Giveaway Competition Details As mentioned earlier, Mantic are letting us give away a brand new version of one of the army lists used in the previous report. There are two ways you can enter the draw: – Subscribe or renew your UL subscription – Get a friend to subscribe All the details at www.unseenlerker.com/subscribe You can even enter multiple times via the above methods to increase your chance of winning! We’ll announce the winner in Issue 7 of the magazine (due out approximately mid-January 2011).
‘He’s quite hard, that chap.’
Jack I’m talking about Von Blackmoor, of course. The 1+ armour and 5+ ward makes that vampire bloomin’ hard to kill! Even Thrake couldn’t quite manage the task, which was a shame. In hindsight perhaps I should have just sent Barga the Dragon Slayer running at him – that guy certainly seemed ambitious. I made a mistake with the deployment of my Cannon, which meant that when the Varghulf zipped out to the flank I couldn’t see it for the wood in the way and had no real targets for the Cannon to shoot. The random deployment also hurt me a bit, with Hulrin’s Warrior block finding themselves completely unsupported against Wraiths they couldn’t hurt. Ideally I would have had all of the infantry bunched together so that Thrake could show the Wraiths the business end of his magic hammer. I also felt I was quite unlucky in the first few turns, with the Thunderers panicking before they’d moved and then the BSB getting killed in one round of combat, but there was nothing I could do about that. Props to Ryan for the win – it’s not the first and I’m sure it won’t be the last time he embarrasses my Dwarfs. But, as always, I’d like to think I can claim the moral victory: I stole his wallet after the game.
THE TEST DUMMIES Kings of War
Producer: Mantic Games No. of players: 2+ Type of game: miniature wargame
Dummy #1: Dan Comeau Most people would have heard of Mantic Games by now as they have had a fairly prominent presence on the Internet these past few months, on several forums and podcasts as well their own website. Previously the miniatures they’ve produced have been used by gamers for other games systems, but now they’ve released their own rules, and I must admit I was pretty excited at the prospect of trying out the latest miniature wargame. This was especially true when I discovered that the rules had been designed by Alessio Cavatore of Games Workshop fame. I won’t go into too much detail about the quality of the models like I usually do, as almost everyone would have seen them by now (and if you haven’t there are loads of examples elsewhere in the mag). Some people may have already seen the Beta test rules as they have been made available to anyone signed up to the Mantic Newsletter. I thought this was a great move on Mantic’s part, as it allows the gamers to try things out and give input on what they think does and doesn’t work – feedback which really shines through in the rules’ final edition. The first thing that will strike you is the almost comical compactness of the rulebook. Just being a few pages long, it took mere minutes skimming through to get the basics of the rules which, as Alessio promised, are very simple. The layout of the rules is clear and easy to navigate, and at the back is a section dedicated to each army, listing points costs, stats and abilities. Interestingly, when writing your army list you don’t purchase models per unit, instead you pay for a total unit and then add various upgrades like standards, musicians and hurled household pet of choice.
After playing a couple of games, there were a few rules which made Kings of War noticeably different from its competitors. Firstly is drawing line of sight. In most games this is drawn from the entire unit, but in Kings of War every unit has a champion, front and centre, and he dictates what the unit can see. This is a small change but has quite a pronounced effect until you get used to it – a prime example being during one of our games when Greg’s unit walked right past mine and my champion couldn’t see to charge any more, even though my unit could! The most important and innovative mechanic is the Nerve system. Instead of taking models off a unit, you keep count of the number of wounds taken in a phase. Then you roll 2d6 and subtract the unit’s Nerve rating. If the score is high enough then the unit is broken and removed from the table. I really like this. It makes the tabletop look more interesting and creates a really cinematic and aesthetically pleasing game. This has really got my imagination going and I think modellers can really go to town with poses and mini dioramas for each unit. There is no need to represent every model in the unit, as long as the size of the movement tray is correct. Provided that requirement is met you can have models jumping over walls, fighting other models, picking their noses, or whatever you want – a dream for all those wannabe Wayne Kemps out there! I loved the simplicity of the game, the cinematic scope and, above all, the modelling potential. I can recommend Kings of War to anyone wanting an alternative tabletop game. The rules are free and one of Mantic’s great selling points is the cheaper cost for their models, and if you don’t want to spend the money, you can always you any existing 28mm models you already have.
Normally we like to give away a copy of the game we’re reviewing, but seeing as Mantic’s rules can be downloaded for free from their website (www.manticgames.com) we thought that would be a bit cheeky. Instead we’ve included a flashy printed copy of their rules so you don’t even have to use the internet. Mmm, smell that printed paper goodness…
Dummy #2: Greg Dann I’m not a subtle man, and since Dan has already talked about the game’s background I’m just going to plunge in. The first thing I noticed as we deployed was the number of models that end up on the table in Kings of War. We played a 1200 point game just to try and get a grip on the rules, and there were hundreds of models in large units plus the odd character dotted around. To put it bluntly: it looked ace. At first glance the rules look far too simple to be any fun however the game itself offers enough advantages to a general that can outmanoeuvre or outthink his opponent. Block units do not have very fluid movement, so being able to work around enemies’ flanks will really hinder them. Of course they could just ignore the threat, but that can be disastrous as a unit charging into the flank/rear of an enemy will double/treble its attacks! One thing did crop up early on, which had me worried for my enjoyment of the game. Using premeasuring I was able to keep my elven archers at absolute maximum range, while having my cavalry in position to charge if Dan pushed forward too quickly. This dominated the first game we played, since elves are fleeter of foot as well which means you can almost always guarantee getting the charge, probably destroying the enemy. After a few games though I feel like there may be a mechanic to handle it – the way Mantic’s rules work is that some units are very powerful when they charge but also very fragile when they don’t.
Sitting down with the rules after playing, I also wondered if the fixed to hit and to wound rolls will convey enough variety over the course of all the armies. As it stands elite elven infantry need to roll a 3+ to hit a zombie and the same roll to hit a dwarf king. Rolling to damage the enemy works in the same way, with possible bonuses altering the roll. New armies that get integrated into the game system will have to be designed carefully to maintain individuality across those ranges, and make sure that there is enough variation that fights don’t become repetitious. One of the major draws for me to this game was that it has been designed in a way that it can be adapted to tournaments very easily. All of the actions that take place in a player’s turn are performed by that player; there are no saving rolls and the Nerve test is rolled by the player whose turn it is. This means that a player cannot stall an opponent in their turn and allows a time mechanic to be built in. We played a couple of timed games and we both felt a great deal of pressure in the first turns, presented with the double-edged dilemma of having lots of moves that we wanted to make while knowing that we had to allow enough time for later turns. Playing timed Kings of War games isn’t compulsory, but I’d recommend giving it a go just because it’s a very different gaming experience. There are times at Warhammer tournaments where the game time is running out and results have to be collected but not to where you will lose the game if you are too slow; this creates a much different gaming experience and one that feels pretty good. I love Warhammer and some of the more intricate parts of it, but if I am going to break out another army scale fantasy game then I think I may have just found it.
Twice a month, your hosts David Witek and Christopher Barnette bring you a new podcast with all the latest reviews, tips, tactics and battle reports for your favorite tabletop wargame, Warhammer!
Topical, controversial, and (hopefully) entertaining conversation about miniature war games, board games, and other topics near and dear to gamerâ€™s hearts.
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Things are getting even wilder in Unseen Lerker issue 7 which will contain…
MEGA battle report: Dragons Daemons Doritos
More Toasty Than Toast
ISSUE 07 DEC – JAN 2010/1
Kemp’s Konversions part 2 Scratchbuilding a gaming table More stuff to give away Boobs (NOT REALLY)
Don’t forget to check out our website, and leave us your feedback on our forums – we’re listening! www.unseenlerker.com
A magazine for gamers, hobbyists and collectors
Published on Oct 10, 2012