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.
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.