Thursday, 1 March 2018

Middlehammer Legacy Project 2018 - Chaos Warband of the Weird and Wonderful

I'm very proud to announce the Middlehammer Legacy Project 2018!

The idea of a Legacy Project is that each person paints and contributes one miniature to a themed/colour schemed group of miniatures, and then there is a lottery to decide who wins the group as a legacy of the project - we have settled on a theme of a Weird/Chaos Fantasy War Band
All are welcome to get involved and all you have to do is contribute one of the models for the War Band, painted, and if desired converted, complete with a short back story and Warhammer Fantasy stat line.

If you want to see what we did last year check out the 2017 Legacy Project - a 40k Mercenary Strikeforce - here, but as this is shamelessly stolen from inspired by the Oldhammer Legacy Warband competition that Axiom, from the most excellent Magpie and Old Lead, ran a few years back, even down to me nicking the format for the rules below (thanks again to Axiom for his advice on putting it together), I strongly recommend you check out their previous projects too.

The idea is that each person who signs up then gets a vote on a couple of things:

1) Broad theme for the strike force - this year the group has settled on Weird/Chaos Fantasy War Band

Any race from the Warhammer Fantasy universe can be included, provided the overall finished mini ties into the Weird/Chaos theme and fits the colour scheme.

2) A main colour and a secondary colour that will tie each model together in the finished group.

We've gone for Purple as the main colour and Dirty or Off White as the secondary colour, which works for 3/4 Chaos Gods (4/5 if you count Malal, and I do!) and wouldn't be impossible to work into a Khorne mini if someone was dead keen! Colours/finishes of armour, weapons, skin colour, straps, gear and so on are all up to the individual painter to select.

Here are some key questions about how the project will run:

How does this Legacy War Band thing work anyway?
All participants agree to paint and contribute one model to the pre-agreed theme (decided via the Middlehammer facebook page) of Weird/Chaos War Band. You paint the model and post it to your friendly neighbourhood organiser (me - Paul/StuntCat). All contributors are entered into a draw, and the winner out of the hat wins the whole War Band for their collection!

NB: I am going to contribute a mini, but I won't be putting my name in the draw.

If we are really lucky and get loads of entries then we may split the minis into two War Bands and have two different winners.

What's the time frame involved?
The project starts as of 1st March and painting/modelling time lasts three months so you should have your model completed by end of May 2018. Models to be with me (in Bristol, UK) by Friday 15th June, with the draw taking place as soon as possible once I have all the entries in.

What models can I contribute?
Anything that you think fits with the theme agreed on the Middlehammer fb group. All Warhammer Fantasy races are permissible, as are Demons and Mutants. The basic idea is that it is inspired by the old school Realms of Chaos, so I'm guessing that many will go for something Middlehammer in period but themed towards RoC somehow. The model could be a straight up RoC era classic if you want, but it certainly doesn't have to be.

It doesn't even have to be Games Workshop really, if you have something from another range or manufacturer then all good as long as you can make it fit the theme. Metal, plastic, or resin minis are all acceptable. Conversions are definitely welcome, but again, not essential. If people want to branch out into beasts, mounts, or chaos spawn, then that is all good too!

It's a Weird/Chaos War Band you say? Shouldn't there be some kind of crazy table with 27 sub tables that I can spend hours generating random mutations and gifts for my character!?
Yes! Yes there damn well are wise traveler, and you are very welcome to use them if you want to, but it is not a requirement. Tables from the original Realms of Chaos (RoC) books Slaves to Darkness (which has of course just enjoyed a very well deserved relaunch by Games Workshop!) and The Lost and the Damned are fantastic sources, but so are tables from Chaos army books from later editions, or maybe even Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay. The choice is up to you. If you do go down that root though it would be fantastic if you can either post all about it, or send me a message so I can include it one of the progress posts here.

How will this War Band look coherent?
Firstly, the colour scheme will be decided along with the broad theme, via the Middlehammer Facebook group by the people participating. Secondly, and again taking our lead from those who have gone before us, the winner does the basing for the War Band. This will ensure that a) the Strikeforce is coherently based and b) the Strikeforce fits into their own collection.

Primary colour = Purple
Secondary colour = Dirty or Off White

Colours/finishes of armour, weapons, skin colour, straps, gear and so on are all up to the individual painter to select.

What about Basing?It's not going to be a deal breaker what base you use (unless people start arguing with each other about proper base shape, in which case they will be chucked out!) but as it's not going to be a WFB unit that needs ranking up I suggest we go with round bases as they will be usable in more systems - the winner can always rebase on squares anyway if they want.

How do I take part?
You can register by responding to the post in the Middlehammer facebook group, or in the comments below this blog post
How will the project work?
1.Participants need to register what model they will be contributing via the Middlehammer page as above. This blog will be updated with details as we go along.
2. Completed models, with a plain black round base of appropriate size, need to be sent to me (Bristol, UK) at the participants expense, and received by Friday 15th June 2018 (postal address to be supplied privately to participants).
3. Each model to be accompanied by a name, short back story (200 words max), and a Warhammer Fantasy stat line (via email or facebook message).
4. The draw will take hopefully take place during the second week of June.
5. The winner will be announced here and on the Middlehammer facebook group as sson as the draw has taken place. I will send the completed War Band to the winner via recorded delivery (at my expense), hopefully to arrive by end of June 2018.
6. The winner posts a picture of them enjoying their new minis on the Middlehammer facebook page with a massive cheesy grin and a big thank you to everyone who took part! 
7. It would be great if the winner would also be up for writing a short post to go with said pictures and cheesy grin, saying how they are going to use and enjoy the minis, but not if they really don't want to.

If you have any other questions please feel free to ask in the comments below, or on the Middlehammer face book group - Cheers!

Tuesday, 27 February 2018

Jumping the Queue + Hobby plans for 2018

Wow. Real life has really been kicking my arse recently. Work is crazy busy and I'm going to have to have another operation in the not too distant future so will be out of action again. Not the start to 2018 I had in mind...

Hobby time has shrunk to nearly nothing since the end of November (although thankfully I have still been able to run a couple of games of D&D) and all of my projects from the end of last year remain unfinished on my painting table.

Worse than that, I found myself without much painting mojo over the festive period and well into the new year, only barely managing to make the deadline for the Tale of Middlehammer Gamers December speed painting challenge, and running late with my Dwarfcember project, Ungrim Ironfist the Slayer King!

And here is below leading a nice big unit of Slayers. Come and have a go if you think you are hard enough and have no regard for your kneecaps!

With Russ taking a well earned break I found myself in charge of the monthly painting challenge again but shamelessly stole the "Jump The Queue" idea (paint a model you have only just bought/been given for Christmas rather than all those things you should be painting!) from his list as it seemed like a good antidote to more traditional 'start as you mean to go on' new years resolution type themes...

And yet I was still struggling! I should be painting any number of things: Tom Meier Zombie Dragon (unfinished Deadcember project), Necromunda minis to complete my Rogue Quest project (these were started Spring/Summer 2017 and ignored since), an Orc Trader (a UK Games Expo limited edition piece - which has had tiny amounts of paint applied on numerous occassions in completely impractical order, based solely on when I had left over colour mixed up that I thought might work on his numerous packages and parcels, resulting in a mess that hasn't been touched in months), Malifaux Neverborn reinforcements (a gift from a friend and at least 10 months since undercoating with only minimal work on basing), various assorted Alternative Armies and other sci-fi figs for my Star Bastards project (a November project not even started) - all projects worthy of attention, and if I couldn't find my mojo with these what was I going to surplant them with!?

In the end real life kicked me while I was down and I decided that what I needed
was some soothing/mindless batch painting so settled on the regiment of Skinks which I had been planning as my Slannuary project anyway. However I had a nagging feeling that this didn't really count as jumping the queue so much as reordering it, and it was telling that they still remained untouched on my painting table as the month progressed.

But then one of my D&D group gave me a promo figure from the Walking Dead board game, which he picked up at UKGE 2017 and at last I had a proper contender to jump the queue! My mojo returned almost immediately and I braved the arctic temperatures the very next morning to rescue a can of black spray paint and nestle it under my armpit until it came up to a useable temp.

She immediately suggested herself as a Zombie Escher ganger, the perfect complement to the three non-Zombie Eschers I painted back in the Summer as part of my Rogue Quest project. Here she is trying to eat her former gang-sisters' brains.

As is so often the case, the painting challenge led to me applying more paint to lead and I also finished up a Zombie Bounty Hunter and a Sci-Fi Necromancer to finally complete the story and hence the project, but I really needed that extra little kick in the mojo provided by being allowed to jump the queue in January.

Since then I have definitely picked up the pace a bit and have painted the whole unit of Skinks that I had long planned as my Slannuary 2018 project, plus a couple of vintage hunks of lead in the shape of a C22 Amphisbaena and B'rkath from the Runequest Demons set (who I always thought was an Oldhammer 'pathetic aesthetic' style Werewolf until a knowledgeable member of the community helped me out with an ID) for the Middlehammer group's February challenge, which is being run this month by the incorrigible Bryan T and has seen some lovely entries including a couple of exquisite Night Horrors from Bill Rowbotham from EffCee painting

The Skinks are loosely inspired by blue and red poison arrow frogs, and the Amphisbaena is based on the colours of an albino Burmese python. I know it looks like I have just slapped some yellow paint over half an undercoated mini, but I assure you there were at least two more steps to this paint job!

B'rkath is grey because the one I already have painted is in brown and I wanted to be able to differentiate between my wimpy werewolves.

What the hell did I get up to last year, and how far off plan am I going to go in 2018!?

First of all, lets see how I did against the Hobby Ambitions I set at the beginning of last year, and update them for 2018.

1. Add at least 2000 points spread across both my High Elf and Orc and Goblin armies by the end of the year. Sadly I only managed a total of 1245 pts across both armies, which breaks down as follows (pts calculated as per WFB4/5 with equipment as I played them):

High Elves:
Prince Tyrion (425), 4 Archers (52), Silver Helm Standard Bearer (86) = 563 pts

Orcs and Goblins:
Orc Warboss (110), Goblin Warboss (50), 4 Fanatics (120), 1 Ogre (40), Goblin Standards x 2 (12), Musician x1 (6), Spearmen x 33 (99), 4 Orc Archers (30), Orc Standard Bearer (15), Manticore (200) = 682 pts

I still have a fair way to go with both lead piles, (especially as I have just purchased more Middlehammer goodness for both armies this very week) and definitely want to add more options to my tournament forces so this resolution stays at #1 for 2018.

2. Finish the main Rogue Quest Project and any associated side projects currently planned.
Well, I just barely missed this as I finished the last of the main characters last year and my Sci Fi undead minis from January completed the project, although the last blog posts remain unfinished so I still can't call this one done.

I'm going to replace it for 2018 with a resolution to finish my Bad Moon kill team (which is more like a small clan already, and will form a major part of my 40k Greenskin Horde) for Shadow War Armageddon, which includes the awesome Crom "Fat Belly" from Knightmare Miniatures which I cannot wait to paint up for use as a Super Gretchin - But! I'm only going to do that once I finish off the Rogue Quest blog posts :)

3. Complete an all metal (or primarily metal) conversion. 

"This should involve actually cutting into lead! Drilling and pinning, and filling with green stuff. All things which any hobbyist worth their salt should be proficient in, and which I've never had a huge amount of success with, prior to a half a decent fix on a broken Trolls leg earlier this year. I'm reasonably confident, though not very skilled with converting plastic, but working with metal will be pushing my modelling skills."

4. Collect, convert, and paint my first Frostgrave War band.

Hmmmm.... This was already a carry over from 2016. What was it I said last year?

"This ambition stays as it is, with one amendment - NO MORE COLLECTING - the war band has to be assembled from the minis I already own. Apart from the replacement set of FG Soldiers. Obvs."

FAIL! I have no Frostgrave Warband with beautiful winter themed bases, but I do have more lead in the 'Potentially good for Frostgrave' sub category of the lead pile...

I'm replacing this one with something more productive - Running the 2018 Middlehammer Legacy Project, which looks like it is going to involve a bunch of us co-creating a fantasy warband themed around Middenheim, City of the White Wolf. So obvious similarities, the chance to possibly use some of the 'Potentially good for Frostgrave' lead I have acquired over the last year or so, but I'll only have to paint one figure myself.

5. Sell or trade more minis, games, and rule books.Well, I certainly acquired more minis through trade (including a successful UK to Norway Jes Goodwin Ogre exchange), but mostly I just bought more minis. That counts right?

NO! No it bloody doesn't! I'm surrounded by piles and piles of bloody rule books in particular, including hardback copies of later editions of 40k that I really dislike and have no intention of reading. If there are no more blog posts this year the chances are I was crushed to death by the wobbling towers of grimdark math-hammer. They are bloody heavy!

This one stays, and I'm going to count it completed next year on the sole proviso that I have one way or another shifted enough duplicate and unwanted rule books that I no longer fear for my safety when sat in my office.

So what did I get done?

Loads actually! I painted at least another hundred models this year (although still not keeping a completely accurate count - doh!) including a fair few not seen on this blog because I'm keeping them secret from the prying eyes of my D&D group; got more involved than ever with helping run the Middlehammer facebook group and got to know a great bunch of chaps in the process; ran the first annual (hopefully!) Middlehammer Legacy Project - which has to be one of my highlights of the last few years; completed my modular Snotling diorama for Da Great Snot Off!; taken part in all the Middlehammer monthly painting challenges and met another bunch of good eggs through the High Elves Anonymous support group :)

Another mini painted in 2017 - Teddy from Malifaux, in the style of vicious bastard Care Bear

But most of all I've played loads of games! Monthly D&D sessions (played with 95% painted Old/Middlehammer era minis) have been joined by a couple of games of Shadow War, a few more of Star Wars: Imperial Assault and X-Wing, and a raucous run at the opening act of the Oldenhaller Contract in WFRP. Brilliantly I've also played more Warhammer Fantasy Battle in the last year than I have in all the years combined since 1994/95! Highlights have included meeting fellow Middlehammerers to test rules for the tournament planned for this summer; carrying on the Crisis in Caledor campaign from last year with AVP Shaun; and introducing a friend to the game and helping her collect her first army (Dark Elves). The only downside is how far behind on all the blog posts I am.

2018 certainly holds lots to look forward to hobby wise - I just hope I can keep up with the posts otherwise my regular readership of Russian Bot-Nets will be disappointed. And we can't have that, can we!

Thursday, 30 November 2017

Tale of Middlehammer Gamers: November Character Painting Challenge

Poster courtesy of Middlehammer's own Russ Painting
Hi all! Cutting it very close to the wire with this post - despite having finished painting half way through the month. A nasty attack of Real Life has once again set in and it has taken me this long to get the blinking blog post finished!

Anyway, November's theme for the Tale of Middlehammer Gamers challenge was painting single miniatures to the best of our ability, either characters, command, or monsters. As an added bonus for those of us who have been participating in the Middlehamer group's regular monthly challenges, Diego Serrate from Knightmare Games offered the chance to claim a free mini from a selection his various ranges! Wow! Who could pass that up!? 

I already knew I would be painting up Azhag the Slaughterer and the saddle/banner combo to go with the Wyvern I had previously painted as he was needed ASAP to face Ben's High Elves in the Bloodbath at Nappa Valley (part two), so it was going to be another month of Greenskins.

My Gobbos were in need of a General so I jumped at the chance to get my hands on the Goblin Commander, sculpted by the Goblin Master himself, Kev Adams, for the Greenskin Wars range.

And as this was a Middlehammer painting challenge and these greenskins were going to not just fit in with, but lead my Orc and Goblin hordes that were largely painted in the mid 90's by teen aged me, there was going to be a lot of RED!

See, told you there would be a lot of red!
You can see a work in progress shot above and as I have said to a couple of people, I regret not taking the highlighting any further than straight Blood Red before applying the Chestnut Wash. I was wary of making them stand out too much from the rest of my horde, but should have been bolder.

I know the red period gets a bit of a bashing, and is not to everyone's taste, but I wasn't just painting them red for some faux sense of nostalgic contrariness - I actually had a specific look in mind when I started painting the armour that wasn't from the pages of White Dwarf circa 1994. I wanted the armour to have the dull red glaze of the Goblin Knight from Labyrinth and one of my friends was actually kind enough to reference exactly what I had in mind when I showed him so I'm happy enough overall :)

Goblin Knight by Toby Froud
The Wyvern was a pre-existing paint job, having been one of my first purchases when getting involved with the Oldhammer scene a few years back with the initial specific purpose of having a starring role in my D&D campaign, but now I needed to attach the banner pole, saddle, and harness. Problem was the harness wouldn't fit on over the horns of the head, and that sucker was stuck on by the previous owner with something serious! So, sadly I had to cut a section out of the side of the harness and then reattach once it was in place. The join is a bit ugly, but I think I got away with it.

Azhag could definitely have been taken a lot further, but I was aiming for a strong colour scheme that tied in with the red and yellow accent colours of the rest of the army, rounded off with the leather and chain that is common in the ranks also to tie the characters back to the troops that they lead. I'm not happy with the yellow detailing on the sword, although regret not making the detailing on the axe yellow too. I also regret not making his chain mail rusty, although the shiny armour does fit the red period aesthetic. I'm pretty happy with the crown and the green gems however. I just wish I could take a decent bloody photo!

Once assembled however some of the short comings of the paint job fade a bit and it certainly makes for an impressive centrepiece of my 4th/5th Edition Orc and Goblin army. Painting him knowing he was going to be used in battle soon was a great motivator and seeing him line up next to his troops in a fully painted army made my inner 14 year old very proud :)

The Goblin Commander was great fun to paint and felt completely natural alongside Azhag, almost like a mini me in some ways. I used the same technique on the red armour (and the same mistake of not taking the highlighting further) and the same treatment of Tin Bitz, Shining Gold, Golden Griffin (Dry) and then Army Painter Green tone on the gold skull helm and banding on the horns.

I took the green skin only a little lighter than I did for Azhag, and a lot less than for any of my other Goblins. That was deliberate to indicate his age and gnarlyness, which is already so evident in the classic Kev Adams goblin face, complete with warts. I did want him to stick out a bit more from Azhag though, so I gave him a dirty white fur cloak rather than the brown I originally had planned, and I think that gives better contrast.

Well, there you go - not my finest work but if it hadn't been for the painting challenge and the motivation of actual Warhammer games this month, I don't think I would have got round to painting anything!
A big thank you once again to Diego from Knightmare Games for his very generous support of the group, to Russ for organising the give away and the monthly painting challenge, and to everyone else in the Middlehammer group who is taking part for providing a constant stream of motivation and inspiration!

I did have plans to paint a Dwarf Slayer King as part of this month's challenge too, but maybe that will have to be a project for Dwarfcember, alongside my Deadcember Zombie Dragon? Stay tuned to find out if I manage it!

Friday, 24 November 2017

Bloodbath at Nappa Valley - Part 2

Welcome back to the second part of the report of the two Middlehammer Tournament test games played at BIG (Bristol Independant Gaming) against two great opponents in Ben and Adam. You can find the report of the first game (High Elves vs Lizardmen) here.

Next up it was my Orcs and Goblins vs High Elves chosen by Ben but commanded in battle by Adam. The first game had been over in 4 turns and under the 2 hour limit, but there had been some discussion among those interested in the tournament as to whether more unwieldy armies like the Greenskins with both more units to move each turn and all their random movement and comedy misfire charts, would slow the game down too much. Well, as you can see from my list below I certainly set out to test that theory!

Essential reading material while on any Queasy Jet flight; Safety Card? - yep; In flight shopping catalogue? - check; Middlehammer era Warhammer Armies book? - just mind you don't spill your G&T in my direction, alright!

Orc and Goblin Murder Hobos:

Orc Warlord (mounted on a Wyvern) w/ Light Armour, Shield, and an extra Hand Weapon + Amulet of Fire, Bone Blade, and Armour of Fortune (369 pts)
Orc Big Boss w/ Light Armour, Shield + Shrieking Blade and Enchanted Shield (115 pts)
24 Orc Big 'Uns (inc Standard Bearer) w/ Light Armour, Shield + Banner of Arcane Protection (287.5 pts)
11 Orc Arrer Boys (71.5 pts)
Small Orc Rock Lobber (66.5 pts)
20 Night Goblins (inc. Standard Bearer and Musician) w/ short bows + 2 Fanatics and War Banner (151 pts)
20 Night Goblins (inc. Standard Bearer and Musician) w/ short bows + 2 Fanatics (126 pts)
Goblin Doom Diver (100 pts)
3 Ogres w/ extra hand weapons (123 pts)
6 bases of Snotlings (in two units of 3) (90 pts)

Total: 1499.5 pts

I had two main ideas in mind with this list. I wanted them to hit hard, hence the Wyvern, Ogres and Big 'Uns instead of normal Orc Boys, and not have to worry too much about animosity so I included 'spacer' units like the Snotlings and Ogres. I also knew I wasn't going to try and compete with a High Elf Master Mage. I toyed with the idea of taking a basic Night Goblin Shaman and giving him the Staff of Lightning to add even more firepower, but in the end I elected to spend the points on the spacer units and rely on my magical defences for my key units.

Ben's very striking High Elves. Snickers Kingsize for scale.

High Elf Strike Force:

HE Lord + Ogre Blade and Armour of Meteoric Iron (225 pts)
6 Dragon Princes (inc. Standard Bearer) + Banner of Might (283 pts)
Master Mage + Dispel Magic Scroll (244 pts)
16 Archers (160 pts)
2 Repeater Bolt Throwers (200 pts)
21 White Lions of Chrace inc Standard, Musician, + Shields, and Standard of Shielding (382 pts)

Total 1494 pts

This list was refined from Ben's first test games against Jon's Undead, and I have to say it has the edge on my list from the first battle in a couple of ways. Firstly, the special rules for the Dragon Princes mean that even though they are just as well kitted out as my heavy build Silverhelms, they are a fair bit cheaper freeing up points elsewhere (oh, how I would have liked a second bolt thrower!). Secondly, the placing of the General with the White Lions, and with the standard of shielding means they are both hard hitting and super resilient.

Apologies that I didn't get a picture of Ben's monster unit of White Lions, which although unpainted was still an intimidating sight I can tell you. How about a better picture of those lovely Dragon Princes instead? Hmm?

mmmMMMmmm Dragon Princes... drooool!

Bloodbath at Nappa Valley - Part 2!

Commander Semillion Chardonnay, Lord of White Oak, cursed the youthful exuberance of Pinot Grigio. which some found refreshing but he had always found unconvincing at the finish. He gazed about the scene where the young cavalry captain had died and rued that he had been proved so tragically right. A runner, one of the archers, approached him with news that movement had been spotted on the trail behind them.

"No doubt the Lizardmen think to circle behind us having baited the trap with our own dead!"

The Wizard Merlot was right, the Lizardmen were a cunning and vicious foe and something with more body was required.

"Hit them hard, hit them fast. The archers will pick off the survivors. Merlot and I will deal with the Frog-priest"
The Lord Commander looked up at Shiraz the Red, leader of the unit of elite Dragon Princes and bearer of the magical Banner of Might, who nodded silently in return.

It was a moment of great surprise when the Elves realised they were fighting Greenskins not Lizardmen, how the hell did they come to be here, and why now? There had been no reports of Orc and Goblin tribes in the area!?

The High Elves set up first, with the battery of bolt throwers in the centre, Dragon Princes positioned to charge towards the open ground in the middle of the field and Archers next to them but behind a hill, no doubt looking to take the high ground on the first turn. The White Lions were positioned on the extreme right flank and the dispersed formation gave me a bit of a headache deployment wise as I had hoped to position a unit of Night Goblins (each concealing their obligatory fanatics) to face off against each of his main offensive units, but the congested terrain and proximity to the table edge made that unappealing on the flank against the White Lions, and would either risk my own flank being left open to encirclement, or left my centre open to the Dragon Princes Charge.

The High Elf deployment - White Lions in the distance appropriately hiding in the trees.

I opted to protect the near flank and centre, and try and box the cavalry in with both units of Night Goblins. I left the far flank to Artillery and archers, with an idea to thin out the white lions and then try and arrange a flank charge from my Ogres. Best laid plans and all that... I wanted my centre to be strong, anticipating the charge of the Dragon Princes if something went wrong with Plan A so the Big 'Uns and Warlord on Wyvern were deployed there. One to hold the line and one for rapid response. The idea of Snotlings and Ogres as anti-animosity spacer units dictated their placement somewhat. Reflections on deployment at the end, but let's just say I'd change it a bit for next time.

The Orc and Goblin Deployment.

Warlord 'Scrumpy' Rotgut (no relation) had gathered his bosses and unit leaders together for one last chance to shout at them before the battle. He knew they was all good lads since they had been the ones to follow him and make it through all the killing and the drowning when the Black Arc had crashed and the slave pens had broken open.

He shifted in the saddle of Cripple Cock his newly subdued Wyvern, (he always found the wilder breeds to have a more potent venom compared to the factory farmed ones you were seeing everywhere nowadays) and cleared his throat by hawking a gob of phlegm at a nearby mob of Snotlings before he started his inspiring speech.

"Right lads. Turns out de old shaman was right on da money when he said this valley would be full of pointy eared elves, so our luck is in. Now, you all know da score so no mucking about mouthing off at each other and jabbing da mob next to yers with da pointy ends of yer weapons, right!?"

Some of the assembled orcs and goblins stared at the floor and looked a bit shifty.

"Right. Now you, Blackthorn, take yer Arrer Boys and try not to let dem artillery bits get run over before dey've wrecked a few fings. Natch, you and dem Big 'Uns hold da line and soak it up 'til it's time to run in and smash dere top boys in da gob. And youse two," he said pointing menacingly
with his axe at Crabapple and Browntrousers the night goblin standard bearers and unit leaders, "make sure you get as close as you can to de 'orsees before you let dem crazy twats off da leash, right!? Right."

High Elf Turn One: It immediately became obvious that even with a march the archers would not be able to take the hill (steep sides so half movement) on the first turn - indeed, it looked like it was going to take a second march so they would be out of the battle for half of the game and Ben and Adam immediately realised and regretted that move. The Dragon Princes advance cautiously around the hill and face towards my centre as expected, but wisely not wanting to commit or expose themselves too soon. Meanwhile on the far flank the White Lions march from the cover of the woods towards the rocky outcropping in the middle of the field.

You can just see the plumes of the archers feathered headgear behind the hill as the Dragon Princes advance for the charge.

The bolt throwers both target the Night Goblin Archers in the centre but only four out of eight bolts hit home at long range, worse for the elves only one of the four hits actually wounds, so only a single goblin dies and no break test is LD test is required. Phew!

My tactic of not taking a magic user is not quite as effective in 5th edition as it can be in 4th, if you play the rule where one dice per magic user is rolled, but in 5th it states it is always two dice. This is also what we had played in the first game, where there were 3 magic users. I think that is much fairer both ways actually, and is certainly the best rule to play in a tournament. Sadly for the High Elves the winds of magic blow very weakly and the turn ended without any casting being attempted.

The view from the Orc and Goblin back line as they take fire from the battery of bolt throwers dead ahead.

Orc and Goblin Turn One: Passing all their animosity rolls and taking advantage of the elven archers being out of action the Orc and Goblin line moves up aggressively and the Warlord on his Wyvern shifts to the near flank in front of the hill the archers are trying to take. The night goblins now in front of the Wyvern march and wheel to try and ensure the cavalry charge next turn would provoke the fanatics to spin into action. The Ogres made a dash for the rocky outcropping to try and conceal themselves for a surprise flank attack. Ssshhh! Don't tell the Elves there are three half naked Ogre Mercenaries with brightly coloured hair hiding in the rocks!

Meanwhile on the far flank the Orc Arrer Boys moved forward to better protect the artillery on the hill and then took pot shots at the White Lions, who were at long range so they needed 6s to hit. In a stunning display of Orc archery prowess 5 out 11 manage to stick their shafts into an elf, even better 4 of the 5 wound! However, the craftsmanship of the Elven armour, the ability of the lion pelts to snag arrows, plus the magic of the Banner of Shielding meant that all four passed their formidable 2+ save. Damn them!

There was a genuine moment of glee from all around the table when it was time to fire the Goblin Doom Diver. This is one of the iconic units of the O&G army for me and I absolutely love them so it was great to see such an enthusiastic response from Ben and Adam, although I think they were keen to see the hilarious misfire chance more than anything else.

I weighed up hitting the White Lions as it seemed like my artillery was going to be the only thing that could take them out, but in the end I stuck with my gut instinct of trying to take out the enemy artillery, especially as its potential to decimate my centre and disrupt my main plan for victory was too great. After the disappointments of the first game my joy was unbounded when I made a perfect guess of 40 inches to land my goblin nut job right on top of the closest Bolt Thrower, and then rolled a Hit on the artillery dice to confirm. SPLATT! The war machine and one of its crew were flattened by an incoming goblin at terminal velocity.

The Orc and Goblin artillery crews must have been to spec savers!

Right! Rubbing my hands with glee I lined up the Rock Lobber for a shot at the remaining Bolt Thrower and knowing the distance of the first shot made a few small adjustments and made another guess that was bang on target! BANG! Wait...  SPROINGGG! What was that? CRASH! ARRRRGGGHHHH! I rolled a Hit and a Misfire on the Artillery/Scatter Dice and the bloody thing tore itself to pieces and killed it's own crew on its first firing after I rolled a one on the damage table. Bums.

The Orc Casualty I recently painted for Orctober gets to fulfil his destiny

The winds of magic picked up a bit but with no caster on my side the turn ended without any casting.

High Elf Turn Two: As the White Lions continue to manoeuvre through the gap between the swampy pool and the rocky outcropping, the Banner of Might dips twice and the Dragon Princes declare their charge across the field into the Orc and Goblin centre.... only to be stopped by the release of two mushroom crazed fanatics from the Night Goblin Archers they were about to trample into the ground. Unfortunately the fanatics only scored a single glancing hit which failed to wound, but they did position themselves nicely for future carnage!

Bowling for Dragon Princes

As all eyes were on the potential for carnage in the centre the sneaky High Elf archers found they could just make the top of the high ground and readied themselves to shoot at the second unit of Night Goblins in front of the hill. Before they did so the remaining bolt thrower again targeted the central unit of Night Goblins and the volley of fire manages to skewer three. Just one short of triggering a LD test. Just as the Orc Warlord (me) was congratulating himself on the apparent resilience of his Goblin Hordes, the Elven archers popped up and scored 11 hits and 7 wounds against the previously uninjured second unit of Night Goblins who promptly failed their break test, even with the benefit of using the General's LD and fled back a whopping 10" - and thus balance was restored to the Universe.

The winds of magic gave us three cards each, enough for the Master Mage to unleash Destruction against the Big 'Uns only to have it nullified by the banner of Arcane Protection (the Warlord might not believe in magic, but his Boys certainly believe in protecting themselves from it!)

Orc and Goblin Turn Two: Ignoring the shouted threats and curses of the Warlord the much depleted Night Goblins failed to rally and fled the battle field taking their War Banner and deadly cargo of frothing fanatics with them.

Penned in at close quarters by two fanatics! Surely there is going to be some carnage soon!?!

My disappointment turned to delight however when the one of the crazed loons spins back through the Dragon Princes with his chainsaw - yes, chainsaw, he's a Bloodbowl Champ re-purposed as a proxy-fanatic and I reckon a whirling goblin with chainsaw would be just as devastating as one with a ball and chain! - and kills four out of the six! The two remaining representatives of the pride of the Elven cavalry promptly fails their LD test and flees 13" back towards the Elven back towards the trees to check whether they and their mounts still have all their limbs attached.

Although my units again pass all their animosity rolls, the Ogres sadly fail their charge through the rocks into the side of the White Lions but the Warlord on his Wyvern successfully swooped in to charge the Archers who fled 11" towards the nearest table edge in Terror at the Wyvern, and off the field of battle!

The Big 'Uns and their flanking screen of Snotlings begin to turn in place and slowly move towards the flank where the White Lions were soon to make their charge as the Arrer Boys continued to pile shots into the Elven bodyguards whose pelts continue to keep them from harm.

With the wreck of the Rock Lobber spontaneously bursting into flames next to it, the Goblin Doom Diver takes aim at the remaining Bolt Thrower and once again lands bang on target and wipes out all remaining crew for the battery, removing it from the game. Man I love Doom Divers! Ben and Adam? I think their initial enthusiasm was waining at this point.

The winds of magic are barely a breeze and the turn ends with no casting once again.

High Elf Turn Three: The last two Dragon Princes ascertain that all limbs are present and correct and elect to return to the fight, or at least point their horses in that general direction. Far more impressively the White Lions complete their charge against the Orc Arrer Boys who show their guts by holding and firing finally managing to kill one! So, it was only 20 Elven elite plus their general and Master Mage who charged the 11 Orcs then! Unsurprisingly the Elven heavy infantry manage to slay four of the Orcs winning the combat by 7, thanks to rank and banner bonuses, and causing the remaining Arrer Boys to automatically fail their break test and flee 7" backwards.

The Orc and Goblin line, just before it legs it...

This of course caused all units within 12" to take panic tests thanks to watching a friendly unit break and run. this domino effect had been a central part of the High Elf plan and something that was always a risk with my army selection. The Big 'Uns passed testing against the LD of their Big Boss, but the Ogre Mercenaries showed their true colours and fled away from the enemy troops - towards the Elven back line! The Snotlings unsurprisingly failed with their LD of 4, but more properly should have pretended to flee without testing as per their special rules, as they were actually closer to the archers than the Big 'Uns when they broke. Thankfully the Goblin Doom Diver passed rolling under a 5. Phew!

The Master Mage summons his arcane abilities once more and the Winds of Magic responded with enough power for him to cast Destruction against the Doom Diver which I failed to dispel, meaning the Doom Diver took a wound from the magical assault.

Orc and Goblin Turn Three: The Arrer Boys and Snotlings  (who shouldn't be testing but mimicking, so luckily it doesn't matter) rally, WAAAAGGHHHHH! but the Ogre Mercenaries continue to flee though they do slow down a bit, wheezing in the jungle heat no doubt. 

In a somewhat predictable development I have to admit even I was hoping for, the two fanatics wind their way back towards the Orc and Goblin lines. I think I was hoping they would obliterate some Snotlings while Adam and Ben were probably hoping they ploughed into the back of the Big 'Uns!

Pleased that his boys had once again refrained from messing up his plans by fighting with each other, the Warlord goaded his Wyvern into the air to charge the remaining two Dragon Princes who pass their Terror test and prepare to finally test their mettle

Sadly it wasn't going to be possible for the Big 'Uns to charge the White Lions, so rather than make it easy for the White Lions to charge them they reluctantly held back and just jostled for position a bit hoping that the Doom Diver would be able to do its thing and land one directly on the pointy eared ponces!

The scene at the end of Orc and Goblin movement on Turn 3

The Doom Diver duly delivers, using it's special ability to great effect when the inital roll meant it deviated 6" away from the main mass of the unit, but rolling a 6 on a D6 allowed me to correct course back to a direct hit - KERSPLATT! - remarkably the Elf directly under the impact was spared by my rolling a one to wound, but he must have held up his shield at the last minute causing lethal Goblin-shrapnel to fly out into the surrounding ranks as a far better round of rolling forced 11 saves of 4+ killing 6. The White Lions were immune to psychology thanks to them acting as bodyguard to the HE General, proving yet again the resilience of the unit in tournament play.

Having already passed their Terror test the Dragon Princes continue to frustrate the Wyvern by effortlessly evading its poison sting, which is probably what made it snap and just bite one in half. The Warlord batters the other one and wounds with his axe, but the master crafted Ithilmar armour comes to the rescue and the Elf survives to strike back at the huge Orc towering looming above him. The single strike wounds and for a moment it looks like the Warlord is hurt only for the Armour of Fortune to work its magic and save him.

The combat is won by a single point but it is enough to for the last Dragon Prince to fail his LD test and flee from the field of battle. The magic phase passes without incident once again due to the lack of caster on the Orc and Goblin side.

High Elf Turn Four: The White Lions are now the only unit on the board for the High Elves (although still containing their General and Master Mage) and they declare a charge on the archers who didn't like it the first time round so decide to flee, luckily not causing a domino effect this time. The White Lions redirect their charge into the flank of the Snotlings but score just a single hit in the ensuing combat with dice rolls the like of which hadn't been seen since the High Elves in the first battle. It did at least wound, and Adam (retrospectively under the guidance of Ben who had been discussing possible tournament house rules re: White Lion stances with Jon since their test games) elected to use the Lion Claw stance meaning they did D3 wounds, rolled a 3 and killed a base out right. The General then stepped forward and dealt out another 2 wounds, but the Snotlings didn't need to take a break test as they were within 12" of their adopted unit the Big 'Uns who were holding fast behind them.

Then it was time for the Master Mage to shine as he benefited from the strongest showing from the Winds of Magic yet (rolling an 11) successfully casting Shield on the White Lions (defeating both attempted Dispels) before unleashing another blast of Destruction against the Snotlings, wiping them out.

Orc and Goblin Turn Four: Seeing that all the actual fighting and any real danger has passed the Orge Mercenaries finally rally, and would later argue they were usefully holding position for control of that section of the battle field, but the Orc Warlord was having none of it.

The Fanatics move dangerously close to their old chums, but neither make contact. The Warlord also holds position with tournament play in mind to keep control of that section of the table. The Big 'Uns continue to hold back for a different reason, not wanting to get in the way of the expected Doom Diver attack on the White Lions, which incredibly scores another direct hit and kills three more of the now magically Shielded Elven bodyguard.

The winds of magic die back once again only rolling a 6 this turn, tough it was enough to land me a useful card but sadly my attempt to dispel the Shield on the White Lions fails, although it is largely academic at that point as the game officially ended at this point as the tournament model is 4 turns or 2 hours which ever is up first. Once again (sorry!) we didn't count up victory points properly as the outcome was a clear victory for the Orcs and Goblins, we preferred to use the time to play another round just for fun.

High Elf Turn Five: The White Lions finally get to charge the Big 'Uns and the Big 'Uns finally get to receive their charge - everyone is happy! Again, the White Lions don't have to test against their LD for charging a fear causing enemy (due to the Shrieking Blade wielded by the Orc Big Boss leading the unit), using the Lion Leaping stance meaning their opponents lose an attack. The rank and file manage to fell just a single Big 'Un, but the General kills four on his own and even the Mage forces another armour save as the High Elves bring their superior weapon skill to bear. Only the Big Boss has enough attacks to strike back, twice, but he fails to wound. The Orcs lose the combat but pass their LD test to stay in the fight.

The winds of magic flare one last time empowering the Mage to cast Destruction against the Snotlings scoring a stunning 12 hits and obliterating the entire swarm in one go! Just imagine the mess.

The scene at the end of High Elf Turn 5

Orc and Goblin Turn Five: Finally, in that moment we had all been waiting for, one of the goblin fanatics steered his way back through his own unit, scattering them wildly. However, the wily Night Goblins must be well practised at this drill as only two died in the ensuing chaos.

Ben: "Yes! This is what we paid the ticket money for!" My favourite quote of the day :D

The Wyvern took to the air to charge the Warlord into the flank of the White Lions (immune to the panic test) at which point the High Elf general issued a challenge which the Orc Warlord gleefully accepts.  The Big 'Uns weigh in against the Elves, but only manage to kill one, taking four casualties in return, but that was not the end of the combat, nor the story. The High Elf Lord faced the attacks of the Wyvern evading or saving against them all, but the Orc General manages to sneak a single wound with his sword through the plates of shining Ithilmar armour and the Bone Blade (D3 wounds) turns that one wound into 3, slaying the noble lord outright. The High Elves lose the combat and fail their LD test fleeing 7". The Wyvern, spurred on by the Warlord who has the taste of victory, pursues 8" and eats the lot of them.

Warlord Scrumpy Rotgut was very pleased with his boys and their days work. His belly was full of elf meat and their had been plenty of useful loot. He had a mind to keep back the share for them bloody Ogres though, if he didn't need them to keep discipline with his squabbling rabble that is.

He threw another haunch of horse meat to Cripple Cock the Wyvern as he mused on how it was a shame that Legless-but-Smiling, the old Goblin shaman, hadn't been able to come with them. He had been right about the elves in the valley not expecting a rampaging mob of Orcs and Goblins, it would have been interesting to see what else he would have been right about. Still, his legs had tasted very good and Scrumpy had been very hungry that day.

"Right! Come on you lot. Get your loot together and lets get movin' before something even more 'orrible than us turns up. We need to be well hidden so we can jump out and smash whatever dat turns out to be in da gob too!""

Not a good day to be an Elf...

So there were definitely a few things that I needed to have brushed up on a bit more as an Orc and Goblin player - such as the rule that Goblins fear Elves unless they outnumber them at least 2-1. Mine didn't and although I don't think it actually effected the outcome of any actions in the game at any point, I really should have been more aware of that. Also the Snotlings mimicking orders rather than moving on their own. That said I think we did a good job of accommodating all the Orc and Goblin foibles like animosity, compulsory/random movement, the need to move lots of units - although this may well have been balanced out by the lack of casting as the Magic Phase passed so much quicker as a result.

On reflection I probably should have spread my line out further with one unit of Night Goblins and Fanatics in front of the artillery, and the archers out even further, probably with a spacing unit of Snotlings. I should also have moved my unit of Big 'Uns slightly over into the gap this would have created so that they would have been better able to respond to which either threat proved the biggest, the Dragon Princes or the White Lions. Stupidly, the thing that messed me up and caused a bit of a log jam was actually the chunky movement tray I had made for the archers, although it was only a single rank it took up loads of space. On the other hand, if I had spaced out my line that much it would have left me open to those Dragon Princes circling behind and rolling up my flank just as I had planned to do to the Lizardmen in the first game.

All in all it was just not a good day to be an Elf as both Adam and I suffered some really appalling luck with dice rolls, and my Orcs and Goblins were comparatively lucky with theirs in particular. Ben's High Elf list is a solid little force and very good value for its 1500 points in my opinion. It is no coincidence that I recently purchased another 16 White Lions to give me a similar size unit to the one Ben can field, although I won't be fielding it in my tournament army.

As we all agreed at the time, the most important thing was that we had great fun, which we most certainly did! Herohammer lived up to its reputation for being fast, furious, and funny and I can't wait for the tournament next year!

Thanks once again to Ben and Adam for being such good opponents, to Jim and co. at BIG for being such welcoming hosts, and to you dear reader for sticking with this rather lengthy post. Don't forget to check the Middlehammer Facebook page for updates about the tournament!