The End of the World (of Battle) as We Know It

Off The Top of My Head

As a Warhammer fan living in Tennessee I’ve always been relatively lucky. My orders ship very quickly, shops are usually well-stocked, and there are a lot of hobbyists to create a pretty good community. Part of this is because the Games Workshop North American Headquarters was located in my state; Memphis to be exact.
I live a fair drive from Memphis but not too far. Not so far that it’s excusable that I’d never before visited the Memphis HQ and gaming site “World of Battle” over the last couple of years. I was suddenly motivated to do so when they broke the news on their Facebook page they would be effected by the Games Workshop restructuring (they are centralizing their operations back in Nottingham rather than maintaining multi-employee shops and several international HQs) and would be converting the epic World of Battle gaming hall into a single-person store on the day this post goes out, March 26th 2014. With that news I knew I’d be heading to Memphis before that occurred so I could see the World of Battle while still in its epic-scale format.
A couple of non-Warhammer folks came along for the ride, and even they were impressed and became interested in the hobby just being in the environment.

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The outside of the building itself was impressive, the huge imperial eagle and the wicked space marine statue standing guard.

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The full-sized Blood Angel still stands in the shop and he’s just as intimidating as a 7-foot tall bloke in red armor would be. Especially since he carried a gun the size of my torso.

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There’s a nice case with Eldar Striking Scorpion gear in it. It is stylized to look like it’s been collected and tagged by an Ordo Xenos agent.

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Loved this Ork Waaagh-Bannah!

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This city table was amazing. We kept wandering around it looking at all the details.

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This fantasy castle was equally incredible.

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One of my favorite sections was the back hall that contained “historical artifacts” from Games Workshop’s history. And a GREAT Dark Angels banner.

I’m not a Games Workshop hater. They are a publicly traded company, they are beholden to make a profit for their shareholders, they do things for business reasons certainly, etc. They have also create a GREAT gaming system, painting systems, and as I said in my Kharn post, one of the best “worlds” I’ve seen in fiction. Some of their decisions, however, I can’t see as being positive. I had a ton of fun in the Woodfield Mall store while I was in Chicago. I went two nights in five days and just swapped war stories (“The Little Commissar who Could” one of the clerks told me was terrific) the same was true for World of Battle. I got a chance to chat with Price there about Imperial Knights tactics, the benefits of the new Crimson Slaughter Supplement, and creative use of bits to make unique terrain. He never tried to sell me anything. Just discussed it. I just wanted to BUY everything.

Even my two friends came away interested, just being in the environment and watching the massive Last Stand battle going on.

I think this is the kind of place GW needs to retain. It brings people in. Gets them started. Just being in the presence of this kind of World of Battle sparks fascination in everyone, Warhammer fanatics, neophytes, and outsiders.

I’m hopeful that as Games Workshop completes its restructuring and rebuilds itself as in a modern economic environment World of Battle will rise from the ashes and opens its epic gaming hall tables for North American Hobbyists.

World of Battle’s FB Page!

Chosen of Khorne: The Arrogant Warrior King Upon His Throne

Off the Page

My Original Illustration inspired by a scene from Chosen of Khorne.

Kharn from Chosen of Khorne
Click for a detailed view!

I have to admit that Games Workshop, though they get a lot of stick from forums, has made a great game and created a terrific universe with some wonderful characters.  When I first got into the Warhammer world I purchased a lot of used books, old codexes, whatever I could get my hands on to learn more about it and immerse myself completely in the grim darkness of the far future.

During my hunts for anything narrative 40k I could find I came across Gav Thorpe’s Raven’s Flight and regular readers of RevPub might guess why I decided to get that one!  That one audio drama, read wonderfully by Toby Longworth, got me hooked on the Black Library audio drama/audio novel series.  I’ve got almost all the ones I could find and have a few favorites.  Raven’s Flight remains on my top list because of its terrific narrative and the rousing action sequence when Corax charges the Iron Warriors.  The Garro series is also a superlative series and Mission Purge was a nice surprise and a great Deathwatch story.  Recently there have been some terrific Horus Heresy dramas (Censure is excellent, as was the short Warmaster) as well as some good additions to the Space Marine Battles series (Veil of Darkness’ first person narration is wonderful).

My favorite and the one I’ve listened to the most, however, is Anthony Reynolds’ Chosen of Khorne. In the 40k universe I am a staunch, staunch loyalist (For the Emperor!), which is why it speaks volumes to both the writing and performance this drama, one that is centered wholly on traitor Chaos Space Marine characters, that this one is my favorite.  Of all the dramas I’ve heard I don’t think I’ve heard any of them with as vivid imagery and as clear a narrative as this Chosen of Khorne.  Not only is the story very tightly written and the settings so clear, but the action set-pieces wonderfully well-described and easy to picture.  Not only that but the story arc of the narrative’s star, Kharn the Betrayer, is remarkably well done and, despite my pro-imperium stance I found myself cheering for him as the story went on.

The hands-down star of Chosen of Khorne, after the writing, is Chris Fairbanks as Kharn the Betrayer.  Fairbanks’ performance is ferocious and subtle.  His Kharn isn’t a wild, bloody brute but a smoldering killer slowly building to a burning crescendo.  I first heard Fairbanks’ Kharn in The Butcher’s Nails before I knew anything about the character, but Chosen of Khorne had me running to the game store to pick up a Kharn model that day.  Fairbanks’ performance is so good I was even cheering for him over my own chapter master, Azrael, in The Trials of Azrael.

One image in this audio drama has always stood out for me, so much so that, despite years of not drawing large, finished pieces I had to get the image of it down in graphite.

When Malvin Bitterspear first enters Kharn’s lair beneath the arena the setting is described as a gladiatorial dungeon.  Kharn is said to be “slouched on the dais like an arrogant warrior king upon his throne” with Gorechild nearby and his collection of skulls laid out before him.  I couldn’t get the image out of my head, and so interpreted it as best as I could.

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My Kharn differs from the official Games Workshop/Forge World Kharn in that I gave him hair.  I’m actually a little tired of bald Space Marines and Fairbanks’ accent for Kharn reminds me of a more-intense, brutal Bela Lugosi so I gave him a bit of a 1930s Dracula-style cut.  Not only that but it went well with the description in the drama as his face being long and noble.

I relied heavily on the Warlords of the Dark Millennium to do Kharn’s wargear, taking my favorite aspects from previous interpretations and including them in the design.

One of the most fascinating parts of Reynold’s writing of Chosen of Khorne was Kharn’s outward demeanor compared to the raging inferno within.  He gives the character amazing depth and provides clear motivation for his actions, something very few narratives do well.  Because of his description and his actions, I tried to give Kharn a look of impassive malevolence, outwardly calm but promising rage.

Anthony Reynolds’ story mixed with the magnificent performance by Chris Fairbank really provided me with great inspiration.  This illustration was amazing to work on, and I hope it lives up to what the writer and performer had in mind when they made Chosen of Khorne!

Here’s where you can buy Anthony Reynolds’ Chosen of Khorne.

And Reynolds’ Kharn short The Eightfold Path which is another very personal look at the scion of the Blood God.

Where to get yourself a Kharn model.  Some say it’s a little out of date, I think it is terrifically expressive.

And Reynolds’ WordPress site!

Off the Top of My Head #12: Warhammer 40K Orks Dreadtrukk

Off The Top of My Head

If it wasn’t clear from my previous posts, most recently the one about Dreamlike Gaming (congrats on the new store guys!) I’m pretty well into the Warhammer/Warhammer 40k hobby now.

Over the last couple months I’ve built two 40k armies.  One went along with the release of the new Dark Angels codex.  Dark Angels are troubled and all about smiting chaos (with their own flaws so that makes them interesting) not to mention a super-cool robed look.  I love my Dark Angels army and pics of them will be coming soon.  However…my favorite 40k army is orks.

Orks are a great horde army.  All movement and weight of fire.  They have a terrific all-id attitude and slight regard for personal survival; it’s all about the good fight.

One of the tragedies of the orks is their slightly humorous persona.  Orks ARE funny and I do love that about them, but their cockney slang accents and brutish attitude usually make them difficult to tell entire stories for.  I’d hate to see them lose their sense of humor but I’d like to see some good, long narratives from Black Library about them.  Like Rodney Dangerfield….they get no respect.  Except Ghazghkull..  If you don’t believe me read Chains of Golgotha and see how menacing this guy is.

My favorite tabletop aspect of orks is their junkyard tech.  They can make things work just be believing they work, and can “loot” vehicles from other races, make ’em orky, and use them under the “looted wagon” codex profile (btw orks REALLY need a 6th edition codex…c’mon Games Workshop!)

Keeping this in mind I was able to get my hands on a Chaos Defiler for a discount price and, as I truly despise the traitors, I knew I’d never use it in a chaos army…but I could loot it!

Since it’s half Deff Dread and half Trukk I dubbed it the “Dreadtrukk.”   It has parts of a Chaos Defiler, Battlewagon, Trukk, Land Raider Crusader, Wartrakk, Dakkajet, and Warbike to name a few.

Attached are pics of my looted Chaos defiler.  It was a challenge to build, but I created it under codex rules and gave it:

DredTrukk Points Number Taken Total
Original Points:  35      35
Skorcha 15 1 15
Big Shoota 5 2 10
Red Paint Job 5 1 5
Stikkbomb Chukka 5 1 5
Armour Plates 10 1 10
Boarding Plank 5 1 5
Wreckin’ Ball 10 1 10
Reinforced Ram 5 1 5
Grabbin’ Klaw 5 1 5
       
Total     105

The lower “jaw” is obviously the reinforced ram from the battlewagon.  Believe it or not it is held in place with the left “arm” weapon of the Chas defiler left in two pieces.  It worked remarkably well.

Jaw

The Skorcha is actually the Flamestorm cannons from a Land Raider Redeemer.  I made the Crusader variant but liked the look of the flamer so I was glad to use it.  The turret still raises and lowers slightly which means the jaw actually “works.”

Skorcha

Inside the “mouth” is a ram head from a warbike.

Ram

The boarding planks I attached to the back of the trukk bed rather than the sides.  Since the legs are on the sides it gives a bit more range, plus they can board whatever is “grabbed” by the Grabbin’ Klaw.  For the Grabbin Klaw I used the claws that came with the Defiler and laid the trukk bed on top of them.

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The “commander” is a nob with a stormboy head in a cupola made of Killa Kan shoulder pads an a vision slit.

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The left side gunner is from the old Wartrakk set, I made a skorcha out of that too so I had him left over.

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The right gunner is a “big shoota” boy with a nob head (no laughing!)  I was very please with his posing, the big shoota held wildly in one hand and the human head held high in the other.  I gave him a bloody chain axe just for fun.  His “turret” is made of left over parts of the Dakkajet, a bike tire half, and Killa Kan parts.

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I admit I like my orks “dirty” and scratched up even when bright and flashy.  I had it painted in a nice pristine color scheme but didn’t like it until I scratched it to kingdom come with Necron compound.

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I have another looted wagon I actually like better.  A typical Leman Russ wth a boom gun.  Pics of it and my custom warboss, Grimskragg Defftrigga, coming soon!

Click the picture below for a 360 view!

DredTrukk

Off the Top of My Head #9: Warhammer and Dreamlike Gaming

Off The Top of My Head

As I’ve posted recently I’ve gotten into tabletop wargaming.  Mostly Warhammer 40k.  I love building the models, I love painting them, and as I’ve found out recently I truly enjoy playing the game.  I had been putting off working on my armies and playing the game until recently when, while searching for some battle tutorials I came across “Dreamlike Gaming” on Youtube.

DLGming

I watched a series of Dark Vengeance unboxing and battle reports and became addicted to their videos.  I’ve seen lots of videos recently as I’ve tried to get up to speed with 40k and tabletop wargaming but these are by far my favorite.  Many videos like these are made by reviewers or wannabe reviewers and one thing I’ve noted about “critics” recently is they tend to only know how to be critical.  It could be the snarkiness inherent in the internet culture but you never hear glowing reviews anymore, I think because people find it easier or trendier to dislike things.  What appealed to me about the Dreamlike videos I watched, most of them from Tom, Mark, and Stu (good luck with your future projects!), were these are guys who really enjoy playing the games they play.  They aren’t critics with another company, these guys are the company (or at least a big part of it) and the reason they’re in the business is they love to play.  Win or lose, they truly capture the experience of playing games with your friends in a perfect way.

They also aren’t experts.  They’ll stop and review the rules.  They get some of them wrong and let you know about their mistakes in conclusions or in following videos.  As a starting out player this makes the games feel less intimidating.  Everyone can get the complex rules to these games wrong, or sometimes forget to roll their “gets hot” when firing plasma guns!

The videos are simple, raw, and surprisingly hilarious.  From Stu’s absolute domination during his first swing with High Elves against Tom’s poor Ogre Army, to Tom’s dealing with the “shenanigans” of the Grey Knights against his doomed Chaos forces (that report is full of terrific moments, his description of Abbadon’s Talon of Horus as a “space marine killy claw,” his declaration that his ONE remaining chaos terminator “fancied himself next warmaster,” and the endless combat between said terminator and the Grey Knight Justicar).  These guys love to play games and it shows, and they also have great video personas.

Black Legion vs Grey Knights.  I love this one!

Just watching their battle reports got me excited about playing with my new armies and even has me looking into Warhammer fantasy as well, something I never thought I’d do.

The above video is a whole playlist.  Hit play when the next vid pops up for lots of fantasy battle report videos!

They aren’t slick, expensively produced videos but they ARE remarkably effective at showing you how to play, not just with the rules but with the attitude of a gamer having fun, letting friendly opponents correct mistakes, always shaking hands, and having a good laugh whether you got the victory points or not.  If you’re a beginner like me or just a gamer looking to see some fun battle reports and watch some gamers having fun I say check them out.  They’ve got a store too, and if you live in the UK (I don’t so you guys have reached across the pond all the way to Tennessee!) check that out too.

I’ve recently completed the first incarnation of my two 40k armies and I’ll be posting pics of their newly constructed, unpainted masses soon and will do updates of my painted versions as I complete them.

I’m glad that REAL social gaming seems to be coming back and is a growing community.  As Wil Wheaton would say, “Play more games!” and as Tom would say, “Keep it dreamlike!”

http://www.dreamlikegaming.com/

http://www.facebook.com/DreamlikeGaming

Also, check out my other Warhammer-related posts!

Illustrator Blood Angels

Balrog Painting

Black Reach Orks

Warhammer Fantasy Presents

Off the Top of My Head #8: Warhammer and the Holidays

Off The Top of My Head

We’re a little over a month away from Christmas…and it both seems like ages ago and like we all just barely made it through…

I admit I like giving personal gifts.  Anyone can buy gift cards or choose something from a list, but for the people closest to me I like to give very personal gifts.  In the past this usually meant drawings, but since my drawing time mostly consists of RevPub projects I decided to marry my new interest in painting Citadel miniatures with giving creative gifts.

Part of the fun was picking models that matched the individual receiving the gift, the rest of it was creating small dioramas within the display case size to make a nice scene.

This is my father’s.  For him (he enjoys carpentry) I chose a Fantasy dwarf master engineer and created a workshop for him, including a furnace made of a Volvo wheel bolt (See THIS post to see how I got a pile of those…) and extra tools.  I gave him a little helper on stilts.

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For my Sis, who likes Egyptian history, I did High Queen Khalida from the Fantasy Tomb Kings.  I added bitz from a Sphinx and gave it a teal/gold tone.  This might be my favorite composition.  I also added a little copper familiar.

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For my mom I made a Isabelle von Carstein.  I cut a halloween decoration skull in half for a hill and added some zombies to give her a horde army.  The snow effect also was fun to do for the first time.

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Since I’m interested in the 40k universe this gave me a chance to paint models I’d otherwise be unable to paint and I’ve always enjoyed creating little dioramas and stories this way.

Anyone else give unique/creative Christmas presents this year?

Off the Top of My Head #6: Gangnam Style

Off The Top of My Head

I’m the last person in the world who gets into latest trends.  I’ve essentially been the same since about 1996 in terms of style, musical tastes, and interests.  That being said some fads are catchy.
I came late to the “Gangnam Style” craze.  It kept showing up in parodies, videos, and feeds on all my frequently visited sites and I was curious.  Needless to say it was pretty confusing and all the typical questions popped into my head such as, “What the-?” “Huh?” and “Why-?”  But when I saw the real video it all became clear.  It’s a hilarious track, the video is full of pop-satire, and, of course, it’s extremely catchy.

So when I went to the wedding of some friends and Gangnam Style came on it was hard not to do the dance, even if it was just on the sidelines.  The groom cut loose on the dance floor, and when my date to the wedding, the fairer half of RevPub, shoved me out on the dance floor I had two choices:

1.) I could slink back into the shadows and appear as a “punk” in the eyes of all in attendance.

or

2.) I could do my best to NOT be out-danced in public!

I went with the latter.  And the impromptu routine the groom and I concocted on the spot got lots of praise from everyone present!

Here’s a video taken at the event:

More than anything it was a LOT of fun, and goes to show, trends may seem a little silly, but if you can’t beat ’em…join ’em.  You might just have good time.