09/11/2016

Age of Sigmar and the same old High Fantasy

This post will perhaps be a little petty, a little uncharitable, but if so it will be of its time given recent events.

I went browsing recently for new alternative sources of Dwarf models, and I kept bumping into old blogposts regarding the death of Warhammer Fantasy and the creation of its pseudosuccessor Age of Sigmar. Of course there were the expected rageposts by people like myself, who'd been involved in the setting in one form or another for decades and still had substantial passion for it, as well as a smattering of entries that amounted to "I don't care, but I might look into it", but what surprised me were the number of posts, some from people who's hobby work I have a lot of respect and admiration for, that were filled with optimism.

Some of those, like the one to whom the title of this blog is a wee homage, were from people who simply didn't particularly care for Warhammer Fantasy; some had a faint sense of desperation about them, of people not wanting to acknowledge what they knew deep down was coming; some were genuine declarations of optimistic acceptance, but almost all had a common theme running through them, which could be paraphrased as:

It's OK that Warhammer Fantasy died, really, since it was just tired old Tolkeinesque high fantasy with a few twists, and the brave new world of Age of Sigmar will be "created from imagination, not from tropes".

Well, here we are, AoS has had plenty of time to bed in now, for the fiction to begin to develop, and I can't help but feel a touch of the old Schadenfreude as The Hives play away in my head.



Because just as many of us said at the time, there's been no brave new world, no fantasy renaissance, no glorious elevation. GW just chose a different set of existing tropes and IPs to draw ideas from this time, and most are every bit as well trodden as the ones behind Warhammer Fantasy. Norse/Classical mythology meets World of Warcraft meets Dungeons and Dragons planes, with a sprinkle of medieval Space Marines - Age of Sigmar.

Even more hilariously, from the perspective of the slightly bitter Warhammer Fantasy fan, is that GW don't even seem to want to take full advantage of even that small chance to be "truly creative" granted them by breaking with their own fictional history. Other than combining generic High Fantasy tropes with their own existing IP(Paladins + Space Marines = Stormcast, Troll Slayers + a hint of D&D Azer = Fyreslayers etc), nothing they've produced either in models or fiction is so radical or so truly original that it wouldn't have slotted comfortably into Warhammer Fantasy as-was. Indeed, much as with their 40K output of late, many of GW's big reveals for AoS have been nothing more than wholesale plunder of their own back catalogue; Tzaangors, Fimir, Path to Glory, all the old hits being played.

The initial premise was always false, of course; Warhammer Fantasy wasn't merely a Tolkein ripoff any more than 40K was merely a Dune ripoff - both were true pastiches, drawing from history, mythology, folklore, existing fantasy tropes, and popular culture to create settings that were more than the sum of their parts. Tolkein's influence on WHF was clear, as was Moorcock's, Lovecraft's, Howard's; as was European history's; as was the Brothers Grimm and so on.

The setting undoubtedly produced some duds, and some stories certainly did tilt more to the Tolkein side of things, but I think to argue as some have that WHF is fundamentally Tolkeinesque and that all the myriad stories and factions that don't fit that thesis somehow don't count is fatuous nonsense. A fundamentally Tolkeinesque, generic High Fantasy setting could not produce stories like Ancient Blood, or Beasts in Velvet, or the Black Plague trilogy, or Skarsnik, or the Mathias Thulmann tales, or even dark fantasy adventures like Gotrek & Felix, Florence & Lorenzo et al, or borderline-comedy homages like Zavant. A fundamentally Tolkeinesque, generic High Fantasy setting could not have supported an RPG like Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay.

But regardless, here we are. GW took away a setting with thirty years of development which was still unfinished and fair bursting with potential, and many rejoiced because with that history went all that tired, generic, Tolkeinesque High Fantasy they didn't find appealing and in some cases never bothered to look beyond, all the boring Elves and Dwarfs and Goblins and Ogres. And in its place the bright, shiny future of Age of Sigmar, with its Aelfs and Duardin and Grots and Ogors, with its Land Marines and its on-the-nose naming conventions and its mining of a slightly different set of fantasy tropes.

*hums* Hate to say I told you so...

27/06/2016

Fiendish Ingenuity

Ahoy! Been a while. I've been going through a bit of a scatterbrain stage of late, unable to focus on any particular project for too long before I have an idea for one of the others, so I have a lot of stuff that's almost finished.

The other day though I clocked a fantastic conversion by maxxev over on Tom's Boring Mordheim Forum and it sparked one of those "holy shit..." moments where you suddenly have five ideas all at once - one of which was, of course, shamelessly ripping off the original, hah. Turns out I had most of the parts already, and I managed to score a decent deal on the necessary Island of Blood bitz, so I began work immediately and now my very own Clan Skryre Warlock-Engineer riding his Doomchair is complete, along with a pair of Assistant Engineers one with a Lightning Projector/Wrench-claw(DHW), and the other wielding a Morning Star, Warplock Repeater(ie, brace of Warplock Pistols but you only have a handful of holstered pistol bitz left :P), Poison Wind Globes, and a Gasmuzzle. If some of those don't sound familiar, that's because they're based on my own version of Clan Skryre warband rules for Mordheim which should be available in the initial playtest version fairly soon if anyone else fancies a go.

Anyway, enough talky-talky, picture time:

The Doomchair doesn't have any rules of its own, it just looks awesome, though getting it to look the right combination of rickety and functional was an interesting experience. I'll be using it to represent a Warpfuelled Exoskeleton(Heavy Armour with +1S bonus).















Also on the workbench for these guys right now is an Overseer, three Globadiers, a Stormfiend-based Rat Ogre, and a Warpgrinder weapon team. Further updates may take a while, given..."events" in Scotland at the moment.

TTFN.

29/03/2016

Alternative Mordheim Model Megalist

So, the Great Purge has finally begun. I think most of us had been expecting this for a while now, whether you liked AoS or not, but it's still a bit sad to see so many fantastic(and, admittedly, a few not so brilliant) models being dropped forever by GW. A lot of the Empire characters that are vanishing are ones I can remember drooling over back in the days where they were made of metal and I had to carefully choose which to spend my pocket money on, and even if the Bretonnian peasant plastic kits were really showing the age of their moulds, they remain some of the most characterful miniatures GW have ever made and formed the basis of many fantastic conversions.

That this is finally happening has spurred me to starting this post, which will by no means be completed when first published, I intend to keep adding to it over time, and suggestions in the comments are welcomed.

There are already a few "alternative models"-style blogposts and forum threads out there, for WHFB and Mordheim, and they can be great resources, but all the ones I've found tend to be quite all-encompassing, by which I mean they tend to include any model that could potentially be used for the game, whereas I am primarily concerned with finding models that fit the setting, ie they look like they belong in Mordheim/Warhammer's aesthetic. And that is what this list is intended as - as AoS proceeds we will doubtless lose more of the models that fit within Fantasy's traditional aesthetic in favour of the more bombastic modern style, so I intend to catalogue all the miniatures I can find which fit my own obviously subjective criteria for a "proper" Warhammer/Mordheim model. The list will be divided by faction and any visually-distinctive subfaction(models which require additional conversion work to meet the standard will be noted as such). It will eventually include every currently-sold model from whatever source(including GW/FW) that I can find which fits aforementioned subjective criteria. Obviously given the purging will likely continue, I would recommend you pick up any GW models on this list that haven't been repackaged for AoS sooner rather than later.

Before we begin a brief but sadly necessary aside which will not be discussed further; if you're reading this post and find yourself itching to inform everyone that third-party model makers who make miniatures which are visually compatible with GW's various IPs(which are themselves pastiches of historical peoples and events, folklore & mythology, and "borrowed" concepts from other creative works) are "leeches making a living from other people's ideas" or any variation on that theme, please don't, it's not a PoV I'm interested in hearing about and any such comments will be moderated.

A final special note; any models marked "AoW" are from the Avatars of War range - very nice models, but I would advise buying them from a third-party retailer rather than direct from the AoW website, as they can sometimes take an extremely long time to ship.

And so...


23/03/2016

Lost and Found

Ahoy there. A brief update for now; work on models continues apace, pics will follow once they're at a stage I'm comfortable showing in public.

The point of this post is to share the image below in case anyone should find it useful; I've been trying to find a high resolution version of the Mordheim Map for a long while, but even with the help of someone over at TBMF the best that seemed to be available was an edited version with French tags pasted over the English ones - so I got annoyed and just sourced the scans from TC21 myself and ran it through GIMP to stitch the two pages together and tidy it up, heh.



21/01/2016

All creatures great and small.

I had been intending to mostly work on my INQ28 stuff in recent weeks, but I seem to be more suggestible than I had thought, and a binge rewatch of Vikings over the holidays has it seems directed most of my modelling enthusiasm towards their two Warhammer incarnations.

Dwarfs are probably my second favourite part of Fantasy after the Empire, but their Mordheim outing has been stalled pretty much since I first picked out the models, when I decided I couldn't be arsed doing the required shortening work over other projects. I say required because while the Scibor and Avatars of War models are lovely, they're all too tall for my tastes, and so had to be reworked to bring them down to 20-ish mm to the eyes. Having done that for some of them now, it has the happy side-benefit of bringing them closer in appearance to the older "kneeless" Dwarfs I fell in love with as a kid.








The first five almost finished models are, left to right; Ranger, Hammerer, Thane, Hammerer, and Miner. I have another Warrior, two more Rangers, and an Engineer on the board at the moment based on more Scibor models, and the two Slayers are from AoW(but are proving a right fucking pig to convert given they're metal). A few individual shots(apologies for the blur):







The other Viking-esque force that's been occupying my attention of late are a band of Marauders from one of the Norse tribes. There's a fair few models in the works for these guys, but only a couple are pretty much complete, the first of which was a test model to see if I could make something decent out of the new Bloodreavers(probably the only thing to come out of AoS that's actually better than their Realhammer equivalents, although it still needed some help from the old Marauder Horsemen kit):





Most of my time on these guys though has been spent on one of the few new AoS models that's any good; Borg Jotunblod.





Mostly the conversion work is concerned with removing any obvious Khornate iconography and with making his armour look a bit more primitive. The full band will be based around seaborne Reavers, dedicated to the whole Pantheon with a slight overall bias towards Shornaal in its aspect as Loesh, the great serpent(as befits a band of sailors), and a few hints towards specific gods on some of the models.


A last wee addendum that's more of a recommendation than anything else, since really the only work done on the following model was gap-filling; I'd had a new idea for how to use my Nightmaw model that is presently doing duty as a Possessed in my Cult warband, which left them one short. Then I recalled the "Warper Alpha" miniature from Quantum Gothic, which actually had a nice resemblance to the old metal Possessed. I prefer the newer version seen in the Mordheim computer game myself, but now I get to have one of each, heh. If you're looking for a Possessed model, you could do much worse;












\\:++noospheric inload commencing++...

I've decided to keep my posts split up into different game systems for ease of browsing, assuming I ever amass enough posts and/or readers for that to be an issue of course.

The progress on my Explorator warband has been less than I'd hoped, the reasons why are in the other post, but I have managed to finish off the first member; Dagan-Calix 44, Logis Dataphant.







The shrivelled, half-blind remnant of his fleshface is the only remaining external sign of his baseline origins, the rest of his body entirely repurposed as a host for thousands of ultra compact meme-spindles and a powerful cogitator core.






So enhanced, he is a living reference library, capable of rapidly cross-referencing millions of datapoints to determine the STC provenance of the Archmagos' latest rediscoveries, or of sifting the datasphere of entire hive cities for new clues to help guide the next phase of their Quest.




I'm really pleased with how this chappie turned out, the whole thing having started as basically an excuse to bitz-order those lovely Helbrute heads, hah. Up next should be the Archmagos Explorator himself, Theomekhotokos, when the present Mordheim urge passes.

















02/01/2016

Intro[retro]spective.



So, blogs. I tend not to be very good at this sort of thing; I'm not particularly extroverted so I usually require the provocation of an existing thread or conversation before I put finger to keyboard, and then when I do I tend towards excessive verbosity, but I'm at the stage now where I'm(albeit infrequently and inconsistently) updating WiP threads on several different forums, some of them faction- or game system-specific, so consolidation seems sensible and blogs seem to be the done thing in that regard.

A brief warning for those of a delicate constitution; I tend to type how I speak, meaning I will likely be swearing here, frequently. I understand that's a problem for some people, so be ye fairly warned.

All that said, lets begin with a quick rundown of what folk can expect from this blog. These days I find myself much more enamoured of GW's presently defunct but potentially soon to be resurrected Specialist Games than I do of their "core" offerings, so the meat & potatoes of my updates will relate to Mordheim, INQ28, and Battlefleet Gothic, with occasional forays into Forgeworld's Heresy-era Tactical Strike system(ie, Kill Team done properly). Age of Sigmar will find no purchase nor favour here. The content of said updates will mostly focus on modelling, sculpting, converting etc over painting since I enjoy and feel like I've much improved at the former and don't tend to have much fun with the latter, although I am trying to do better in that respect. You might also find yourself subjected to my fluff writing, for which I sincerely apologise.

I'm presently clearing my desk and sorting all my half-finished projects, so to close out this opening foray I'll include a few older pictures.

To begin, we have Confessor Barnabas Holt, an INQ28 character based on one of the FW Nurgle priests;




He will eventually see service in a Puritan Hereticus Inquisitor's retinue. Next we have the partially-completed Master at Arms, also a member of an incomplete retinue, this time for a Rogue Trader;




Next is a simpler model, not even a conversion really just a weapon-swap, but still one of my favourites; an old Necromunda model I'd missed out on when I was younger but managed to finally swipe off ebay for a reasonable price;




He's part of my INQ28 Adeptus Mechanicus Explorator team, which I hope to be doing substantial work on in the coming weeks.

I'll close out with a few shots of a Mordheim warband, The Possessed, who are almost ready for paint(I will be rebasing them on squares as a petty act of defiance in the face of AoS, heh);











I can make no promises about the frequency of forthcoming updates, but the plan at the moment is to focus down on three main projects; Adeptus Mechanicus(the completion of my 40K Explorator Team and also of a 30K Magistratum Strike Force), Adeptus Arbites(a 40K INQ28 project that is still in the concept phase), and more dark denizens for Mordheim this time in the form of the bestial Northmen(a warband based on the Border Town Burning supplement rules for Chaos Marauders, likely the Norse subfaction).

I hope that eventually a few folk will find some inspiration in the work I post here, as I have from the blogs and plogs of others.

Cheers,
Yodhrin.