Saturday, October 18, 2014

Marduk the Ghoul King and Wolkhar the Terrorgheist

"I'm not locked up in here with you. You're locked up in here with me."

–Rorschach, Watchmen

When we last saw Marduk, he had gotten himself into quite a pickle. In the battle report with Steve's Empire (you can read about that here) a spell miscast resulted in a dimensional cascade, and Marduk was pulled into the Realm of Chaos...

As the magical energies swirled around him, Marduk felt as though a dark force reached into his chest and seized his lifeless heart. The world before him was rent open and a black void consumed his vision. Daemonic hands pulled him forward and his world became chaos.

Marduk was frozen for a moment as unimaginable horrors reeled before him like some perverse stage play. He could feel the flesh beginning to tear from his body as gibbering daemons with claws like fish hooks grabbed him. Then he felt headsman's axe still firmly in his grip; Marduk was never without it.

Marduk Von Koss, Marduk the Wolf, Marduk the Ghoul King King knew only slaughter. And pain. And hatred. This was not chaos, this was paradise. He would show these creatures the true meaning of terror, for eternity.


A voice echoed through Marduk's mind, beckoning him. Was it Nieman Kimmel? Would that narcissistic necromancer awaken the Ghoul King from the joyous bliss of his never ending murder-dream? No, it was something far more powerful, a presence not felt in the Old World for an age.

Marduk awoke in a field. He recognized it as the battlefield from which he had been taken. But where a city had once stood, now ruins decorated the landscape. On the horizon he could see jagged mountain peaks rising as others crumbled. The sky was awash with lightning. This was not the world he had left behind. This world, he thought, was ending.

Another voice, different from the one that had summoned him, sang out in the night. Marduk followed the shrill cry to its source atop a craggy peak. From the gloom of a cave, piercing red eyes glowed and a creature lunged out of the darkness. Marduk grappled with the fell beast and plunged his fangs into its neck, drinking what little blood the dessicated monster had to offer. He climbed atop the Terrorgheist, now bound to the Ghoul king's will.
Wolkhar, the Night Bringer he called it. It's leathery wings bore them aloft, and where they went, death followed. 



The Terrorgheist model was pretty intimidating to paint, mainly because every space is alternating, flesh, bone, and muscle, requiring a lot of precision. I was able to paint the flesh with a mix of drybrushing and washes. The middle step was the most time-consuming because I needed to paint all of the bones without messing up the flesh. With all of that out of the way, the muscle and blood went the quickest. I could afford to be a little messy with the bloody areas, also I was in the home stretch and having fun with the splattering technique.

It's been a long ride to get this model finished, so I present the Terrorgheist Wolkhar!


As I discussed in the magnetizing tutorial (linked below), the wings come off for transportation. The tail is magnetized as well, removable so it doesn't protrude up higher then the monster's back.



The entire beast fits in a 7" x 7" square, about three inches high. I still need to cut the foam for his tray.



Since the Terrorgheist has the option of being fielded as a separate monster or as a mount for a character, I had added a cutout on the corner of his base. I built Marduk the Ghoul King to be fielded on foot, and the slot in the base allows him to "ride" the Terrorgheist into battle by swapping out the tombstone.



If you want a look at how I magnetized the wings and modeled the base, check out these previous blog entries below:

'Til next time! 


Transporting the Untransportable– A tutorial on how to magnetize the Terrorgheist's wings.
Modeling the Terrorgheist's Base– A step by step journal of how I built the model's the scenic base.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Micro Distractions

The painting of my Terrorgheist is underway. This is a slightly older photo, showing the basecoat sprays I used. If you've been following my Facebook posts you'll have seen the peek of his finished base. (For anyone curious about the sprays– Over the initial black, I sprayed adark grey primer from above and then gave it a light dusting of Model Masters Light Tan to give it a brown-grey that will darken up with a few washes so this monster will have a more "black-brown" color when compared to the "brown-brown" of my Varghulf.)


My personal projects frequently get pushed to the side for freelance work, and I tend to focus on models for the factions I'm currently using in games. Recently, that has been my Skaven. There are also what I call "micro-distractions." Small one-off projects that I get inspired to work on, and knock out in a day or so.

Skektik the Bombardier

The Skaven Warlock Engineers are dirt-cheap characters that it's fun to equip with single one-use magic items like the Doom Rocket. Another item is the dreaded Brass Orb, an explosive device that can destroy an Empire Steam Tank or wipe away half of a regiment of troops with a single blast.

This old metal warlord has been in my parts box for a while; I never liked him as a warlord, but recently his pose struck me as perfect for holding the orb, winding back for the throw. I figured that I could swap the head with an unused head from the Plague Claw Catapult crew, and position a Kroot pistol to appear as though the Engineer was drawing his warplock pistol.

Once I laid out the parts for the conversion, there was no going back. What had begun as a quick experiment to see if I could make it work, suddenly became the focus of my attention!



I began by cutting off the metal head and the pommel of the sword in his right hand. I bent the arm a little and removed some of the detail on his hip to make room for the pistol holster. The orb is a plastic bead, and the hand is from the plastic zombie regiment. I attached the gas-mask head and it looked perfect!


A little fiddling was necessary to get the holster to sit just right; I cut off some of the cartridges and shaved down the back considerably. Then I sculpted some fur on the back of his head and repaired some damage on the arm where I bent it with pliers. Finally, the surface detail of the Brass Orb was added to the plastic bead.


The model was added to a base and I glued on the tail and a few spare cartridges.



A little bit of paint, and he was finished!


While I was working on Skektik, I also made some Gutter Runners to fill some of the gaps in my army. I learned the sneaky, underhanded trick of equipping them with poisoned slings, so when the unit enters the battle from behind the enemy lines, they can take multiple shots at the opposing war machines, counting on the poison to automatically wound the tough machines. How does poison hurt a mechanical device some might ask? It's called an abstraction. Unless a model has a rule that makes it immune to poison, any poisoned attacks will hurt it. In which case, the "poison" represents anything from actual poison, to acid, to holy water or blessed enchantments, or in my case– glowing warpstone pellets. I imagine the magical warpstone having corrosive or even explosive properties that contaminates the enemy iron causing the machinery to distress and fail.


Banshee Barrage

With the release of the End Times and the increase of Lords and Heroes allowances to 50% each, there is some concern over the proliferation of characters in armies and a return to the bad old days of "Hero Hammer," when characters had so many attacks and magic items that they could defeat an entire unit single-handed. I don't think that's possible anymore due to the way combat resolution is calculated now, along with the fact that you really can't negate the unit's ability to strike back by simply attacking first and killing everyone in base-to-base contact with the character.

Nevertheless, when I thought about 50% of an Undead Legions or Vampire Counts army as Hero characters, I couldn't help but think of what would happen if those points were spent on banshees. In a 2000 point army, that's about 10 banshees that could move in a group and target their Ghostly Howls at the same unit, likely wiping it out in a single turn!

So this is where my next micro distraction comes in: Just how many banshees could I put on the table? I've got a handful of spare metal banshees and ghosts, a few of which are in my old Spirit Hosts. The Hosts never saw much action so I never brought them above these three bases, and I've been slowly cannibalizing them for parts over the years. I picked up some of the new plastic Spirit Hosts, so I think it's time to finally retire these.



In my parts box, I had two metal banshees and a couple of the old Ghosts that look like howling girls. They're perfect for banshees. If I pulled the models off the Spirit Host bases, that gives me 6 new banshees, to go with the two I already have.



I wanted to paint these quick, because I don't plan on them being a permanent addition to my army. (The larger banshee on the right is actually earmarked to become a Sireen in the Vampire Pirates army that I'll never finish.) So, the painting began with an undercoat of white spray primer.


Next I washed them with blues and greens. My previous ethereal models have always been painted using straight drybrushing of grey up to white and I've never been satisfied with it. I used these banshees as an experiment for how I might paint the new Spirit Hosts, Nagash's base, and the Mortis Engine's ethereal host. The wash turned out alright, but I need to play with it a little more before I get it where I want it.


But for these models, it's enough. Some sand and static grass, and they're done.


Undead Legions Impressions

I brought the banshee barrage in a 2400 point game against Steve's Empire. For the general of the army, I chose a Strigoi Ghoul King armed with the magic sword Skabscrath, which would allow him to have his own Death Shriek attack. He ran alongside the banshees so they were able to march further each turn, and his Death Shriek meant that each turn I could potentially put out nine ranged attacks that ignored armor. Over the course of the game the group managed to decimate two 10-man units of knights, and I only lost four of the banshees.

The Ghoul King was also lost because Skabscrath requires the bearer to kill at least one model in melee by game's end, otherwise it takes his life. The only option I was left with was to charge my general into combat against a unit of Flagellants who, in turn, managed to cut him down. Thanks to the new Undead Legion rules the rest of the army didn't begin to crumble with the general's destruction, which kept me from suffering additional casualties. In the end the battle was a draw.

I also had a Master Necromancer use the new Lore of Undeath for the first time. It worked out pretty well– Over the course of the battle I was able to summon 8 Grave Guard, a Varghulf, a 16-man zombie unit, a 20 man Skeleton unit, a Wraith, and another level-1 Necromancer! Not bad for my first outing with a new spell lore.


One issue I noticed with the summoning is that it can quickly bog down the game, not by clogging up your enemy's line by summoning wave after wave of disposable troops, but by the process of getting those models onto the table.  Calculating how many skeletons you can take for those summoned 100 points, and whether to give them any upgrades, or whether it might be better to take more zombies instead, and getting them out of your miniatures case can really eat up the time.  (I wouldn't want to imagine doing that in a tournament setting!)  It's probably best to have a few pre-generated selections already out, and in their movement trays, ready to go for when the moment arrives.

Even though I have a bunch of Tomb Kings models, I don't have the newest Tomb Kings army book, so I haven't been able to try any mixing-and-matching between the two armies. But I have plenty to keep me busy with just the Vampire Counts for now.

'Til next time!