Don’t know what it is about summer, but I always find myself drawn to fantasy stuff – suppose it’s because the evenings are lighter, the shed is warmer… and I’m drawn to a simpler time of Goblin Green bases drawn in massed ranks, swords and spears raised to beat the absolute crap out of each other.
It was about this time last year when I began my love affair with the 1/72 Skaven – ahem, Ratmen, or Virum Nascii for Hyperian Wars – from Caesar or Minikight miniatures (as the packaging is somewhat ambiguous), and I painted up the first of the four boxes I’d bought quite happily. After kicking a little Freeguild and Ancien Regime ass over the summer 2018, these were duly forgotten about as new shiny things grabbed our attention…
But even gamer ADHD runs its course, and it wasn’t long before I remembered my plans for cheapy fantasy hordes, and set about adding a second tranche to the litte whiskery fellas:
So yeah, fill in post today – but you’re going to love what’s coming next… 😉 Stay thrifty out there my brothers and sisters, we will see you soon!
And this week we’re doing – Age Of Sigmar! It’s fair to say that this game has had a controversial reception – blowing up the Warhammer World, renaming elves, dwarves, orcs and goblins for ease of GW trademarking etc., and to the casual observer (such as we) the replacement fluff seemed pretty vague and silly, and above all unrelatable. The Warhammer World may have been a dangerous place, but it was still one where you could imagine ordinary people living, working, eating, sleeping, and using the toilet. The AoS fluff was very high fantasy myth and legend, lacking the grit that let you believe in the stories you were telling on the battlefield. Plus there were a great many silly rules in the original, no real points structure or levelling mechanics and the whole thing just felt rushed and sloppy.
At least, that’s the way it seemed to us. But that was during the Age of Kirby. As GW have changed management, they really do seem to be making an effort to engage and put out well thought out balanced games – and in the case of AoS, making the rules available for free.
We like that word. And so – with AoS 2 now out, high time we dipped a toe in the murky AoS waters and found out what was what.
Of all the WHFB/ AoS races, I’ve always had a thing for Skaven. Giant chittering mutant rats lurking in the sewers, waiting to strike in the darkness.. like Orcs but more cunning, less brutal.. like Goblins but furry.. and then there’s all the Clan Skryre craziness..
So for me, when we got into AoS I had to take this opportunity to start up a Skaven army. But of course – GW prices. They make lovely stuff, but WOW is it expensive – can’t run a Ferrari on a Vauxhall income! (and the minor issue of all our terrain being scaled for 1/72).
Step forward Caesar (or MiniKnight, there seems to be some confusion on the box) Ratmen – 1/72 fantasy absolutely-not-Skaven, 39 figures and 11 poses to a box. My first box cost me roughly a tenner, postage included – and once they arrived, I fell so head over heels I rounded up every box I could find – three more, for a shade under a tenner a piece. Result – everything I need for one formidable Skaven army for the price of three Stormfiends.
So far I’ve managed to get enough painted up to field a decent little warband, and they got their first licks in against a Freeguild patrol a few days ago – the Skaven warlord took down the Freeguild general in grand style and the wee furry chaps just had the measure of the Guard in close combat, managing to pick them off in dribs and drabs.
I’ve gone with the notion that seniority is denoted by darker fur, so the Skavenslaves are a lighter brown than the Clanrats, who in turn are lighter than the Plague Monks, etc. Having had a little experience painting at this scale now, I’m more than ever convinced that the right way to do it is to start light (white primer) and wash down rather than starting dark and highlighting up. This is because washes are so much thinner- at this smaller scale, layering highlights will ruin all the detail, as well as taking far longer. That said, I usually finish things off with a very light bone drybrush to catch the highlights.
For basing, I used our now standard technique of thick cardstock (20mm square), covered in PVA, dunked in a pot of Garage Floor Dust (TM), and then a sparse overlay of flock for contrast. Edge with brown, spray with matt varnish and you’re good to go!
Now, as well as being Skaven for AoS and any forays into it’s predecessor, Warhammer Fantasy, these chaps will also be appearing in our own fantasy/ steampunk setting – Hyperian Wars!
The Virum Nascii – Men Of Vermin
The shadow in the corner? The rustle in the rafters? That presence you feel lurking in the corner of your room as you go to sleep? Most of the time it’s just your imagination.
Most of the time.
But sometimes – every once in a while – it’s the Ratman. The Vermin Kin. The Virum Nascii. Many years before mankind came to Hyperia, there were some within the Stoc’d who grew weary of the prohibitions on Vril usage, on biology, on experimentation. Cast out and labelled renegade by his peers, a once noble Stoc’d biologician dug deep beyond the frontiers of his races’ realms, deep towards the core of Hyperia – deep towards the essence of pure, life giving Vril – and began to create a slave race, a race that would do his bidding without question, and eventually make him master of our world.
But life does not always abide by the rules we want it to. The common rat joined him on his journey – and the Vril wrought its magic, sought by design or not. With the biologician’s attention focused on the acquisition of precious Vril and designs of vengeance, the rats grew in intelligence and stature, until they were able to overpower him and his retinue. Now they live in the darkest corners of Hyperia, pulling the unwary down into their shadowy empire. When you meet them in combat, beware – they may not have the martial code that distinguishes us, the Eal’va, the Stoc’d or even the Orca, but they are a deadly opponent, every bit as fearful as the Terrors of the Dead
That’s it for now, but as the Hyperian Wars fluff develops you bet the Virum Nascii will be along for the ride. Check back soon, stay thrifty out there!
Oh, and a PS regarding the title – we haven’t gone all EDL on you, the reference is this:
It’s the half term break here in Ye Olde England, so our little group has been able to cram in a little more game time than usual (yep, the teaching profession has its upsides..).. Our regular readers may have noticed that we’ve gone for a bit of a fantasy vibe recently, turning the Apocalypse: Earth game mechanic to new pastures.
The world of Hyperia, mankind’s new home across the stars.. colonised by refugees from a dying Earth more than twenty centuries previously, mankind has learned to abandon the crude technology of its past, embracing Vril and Magick.. mankind has learned to coexist with the native Stoc’d and Ee’la races, and help them face the Terrors that inhabit the world’s core. But as is the way of mankind, we cannot remain united for long.. now across Hyperia, different realms do battle for the precious resource of Vril.
To the West, the Grand Alliance commands a network of skyways and oceanic shipping lanes across its network of islands. Mighty skyships ply their trade amidst the islands, archipelagos and vast floating cities of a thriving economy with new inventions pushing technological barriers every day. Their elite Sky Marine Corps are the envy of every power on Hyperia. But the Alliance is built on the vital resources of liftwood and Vril, and both of these are becoming rarer by the day.
On the central continent, the realm of the Ancient Regime holds sway – their ruling families tracing their roots back to the original colonists who crashed to Hyperia on the fateful day that brought our race here. Their numbers are vast and they have a firm mastery the arts of wizardry – a Grand Army of the Ancient Regime is a fearful sight to behold, their vast columns of swordsmen, cavalry, riflemen, armour and their elite wizardy cadre represent a powerful force, but their empire is stagnating. Rituals, feudalism and a distrust of technological research has stifled new thinking and innovation.
So, our first playtest battle used the Ancien Regime and Grand Alliance armies detailed last month – no points values at this stage, and the objective was control of the central rocky gulch. Great fun was had, and I’m stunned how closely matched the forces were considering list balance was largely guesswork!
Both sides faced off with objective in central gully – superheavies (the Ironclad and the Dauntless) deployed to use cover, with the Grand Alliance planning to whittle down and counterattack their far more numerous opponents, while the Ancien Regime forces detailed their two Grenadier squadrons to take objective, while the massed musketeer regiment would cover the more open left flank pinning down any opposition, whilst finally the Cuirassier cavalry and A7V light tank would sweep around right and crash into Allied lines.
The game started with largely ineffective firing on both sides as the forces closed, jockeying for position – Allied forces shot down a few infantry while Ancien Regime grenadiers and armour stripped powerfields off the Dauntless – then Ancien sorcerer conjured a lightning storm to cripple the skycutter’s control systems. Nonetheless, the Dauntless’ missiles blew weapons off the A7V, which the enterprising driver then used as cover to support scything cavalry attack into Allied lines that wiped out No. 3 squad. Sky Marine rifle fire from no. 2 quickly shot down the Cuirassiers and close assaulted the tank, losing five of their number but immobilising the beast and therefore rendering it harmless, while No. 1 squad exchanged fire with the musketeers and HQ fired into the ranks of Grenadiers
The Dauntless shook off lightning storm and recovered to hide and ambush Ironclad, washing it in Vrilfire and denuding it off its port side Maxims, eventually immobilising it and then destroying it completely at the cost of her missiles and a damaged engine. Meanwhile, rifle and mortar fire raked the Grenadiers, whose A squadron charged the Sky Marine command group and wiped them out. In their turn, these men were blown apart with grenades and B squadron fell to one survivor.
In an astonishing move, this heroic Grenadier charged the remainder of No.2 squad who promptly surrendered and became POWs! The shame! Meanwhile the Dauntless crew finally hunted down incinerated the sorcerer who had caused them such misery. As she closed on the Musketeers, No. 1 squad charged to rescue their pals, and the Musketeer colonel turned to see a listing, smoking Dauntless hovering over his men, cannon and Vrilfire thrower at point blank range. Realising there was nothing to be gained by sacrificing his men to a horrific agonising death, the colonel raised his hands in surrender, bade his men do the same and led the survivors into captivity..
Result – Grand Alliance victory, by a hair’s breadth!
Altogether, awesome game! A few pointers which we’ll take into the next playtest (more varied spells, pin down exactly how power fields regenerate etc) but overall a resounding success. Props to Dan for being an always challenging and sportsmanlike opponent, and stay tuned for more Hyperian Wars!