Monday 30 May 2016

Where the hell have you been?

Well, there’s a couple of answers to that — firstly I wasn’t very well for a while (I’m OK now, nothing to worry about), but secondly I’ve been painting like crazy.

A while back we started doing Fantasy Warriors at the local club, about which I’ve previously blogged. I’ve always had an ambition to have a ratman army. (Yes, I own a copy of that White Dwarf issue!). So this seemed an opportunity to go build one, in all it’s squeakyness.

Now the problem here is that ratty troops aren’t very good, so you get a LOT of them. I started out with the intention of having an army with no exotic things in it, but that plan fell apart when I started looking at how many figures I’d need…

As the vast Green River wends its way to the sea, it sprawls out across a long valley. Shallow and slow, its waters fill with weeds which provided the original food source behind the rats’ establishment there. Behind the valley are hills rich with metals, whose extraction can be funded by the easy food gathered from the flood plains. The rats of the Green River can afford to breed and arm huge armies...

OK, first off, I’d need some big blocks of troops. These can soak up archery and although they’ll get battered in combat, they need vast numbers of casualties before hitting their breaking points. They get banners and drums to bolster them a bit.

The first batch of 40 slaves are from the alluvial floodplains. Their clothing is dyed blue from the woad which grows plentifully in the area.

The second unit of 40 slaves are from the mining tribes. Their clothing is coloured by the waste ores and hence they’re in tones of brown and yellow — they also carry the green flag of their alliance. The majority of these figures are Black Tree. Not all of these figures are rats — for some variety there are fishmen (from CP Models) and also dwarf slaves and convicts (from Midlam).

Next up, some tougher units. Leather armoured fighting rats; the bright green shields & banner tie them into the army theme. Black Tree figures again. They’ve been in battle before and have kill marks and victory skulls on their shields to show for it.

Elite warrior monks. FW doesn’t have a unit type as such for these guys, but I like the figures so I had to have a unit — they’re wearing lighter coloured clothing to signify their status as monks.

And the last of the main units are pike-and-crossbow elite guards. This unit is a little more ragtag — or “experienced” as we prefer to call it made up of various Black Tree figures. They’re accompanied by one of the battleleaders (Reaper)

Next up was the hardest unit to assemble...

Rat swarms. Rat armies in FW can buy these for silly cheap; they’re basically fire-and-forget attack units. I wanted some variety in there since there’s a lot of bases and that’s why it got complicated. I bought giant rats from Reaper, from the Reaper Bones range. There are GW chaos mutant rats in there, Black Tree’s large rats and (to fill in the spaces), the teeny-tiny individual rats produced by Warbases (on whose 40mm squares they all sit).

Warchief, a battleleader and two soothsayers — the Seer of the Autumn (on the left) and the Seer of the Summer.

This a messenger (a Bones figure with a scroll on his backpack), three scouts (2 Reaper metals and a Black Tree figure) and a hero and destroyer hero (both from Black Tree). The scouts I’d hoped to get me control of the battlefield, but even with their support my lousy dice rolls meant the first outing was against Elves on ground of their choosing.

Guns! FW doesn’t have any 2-part Jezzail units, so I cut these Black Tree figures off their tabs and rebased them onto single 25mm squares. The leader and banner are Bob Charrette’s Ratmen figures. These particular ones were part of boxed set bought in the 1990s when the Virgin Megastore in Birmingham were selling off their wargames stock…

Shooting units need ammunition counters; once again these are Warbases 40mm casualty markers with a diorama on top.

A rat delivering stuff on a barrow (GW figure, Warbases barrow and, I think, Alternative goods), the next is a whip-wielding Black Tree rat ordering a encumbered human to carry stuff about (Reaper’s “Compleat Adventurer’). Finally a Reaper rat is cutting up a Warlord dead horse for supplies.

Next up, we need some ranged power.. A proper gun!

GW figures which were customised with all sorts of bits; there’s Battle Forge parts in there and loads of Warbases products including and ammunition counter. Hats came from Warlord’s historical lines, the gun is from Redoubt and the gun tools are ages old Bicorne.

And from the wrong end, it looks like this!

The final piece is a giant worm. I was a little worried about this — it’s expensive, getting it to appear is a random event and it felt a bit unpredictable. But it adds some variety to the army and it’s something apart from another-unit-of-rats-with-spears.

This also took some assembling.. the soothsayer to summon it is obviously another Black Tree swarmmaster figure. The worm itself was complicated… The front comes from a Reaper miniature… but it’s not very long and the FW rules specify the worm takes up 15cm. So I went digging in the bits box; a while back I Ebay-purchased a pile of Kryomek figures which included (amongst the wanted figures) a Warmaster that someone had, for some reason, cut up. Well, because I’m a hoarder, I kept the bits… and, with a bit of modelling, they make up the back sections of the worm. Lots of wood filler and Woodland Scenics ballast as stones and the worm is burrowing through the terrain.

In the end it turned to be both effective in battle (eating a total of two cavalry units), taking a lot of punishment (turns out that being a land-burrowing worm gives you a tough hide) and also completely terrifying to the Elves. Who ran away when it showed up!