Friday, 19 August 2016

Oldhammer Weekend 2016: John Blanche's Jaq Draco Ilustration

How many of you recognise this illustration? I must admit to not having seen it before, either. It was perched above the sales till at the Wargames Foundry the other weekend and spying it, I took it over to Bryan Ansell and Tony Ackland to ask them about it.

It is, obviously, a piece of art produced by the one and only John Blanche and the characters depicted are from the Inquisitor novel, published in 1990, which was also the first ever Warhammer 40,000 novel incidentally.

Here is the original work, still sealed inside it's protective plastic sleeve. Studying the picture took me back to that early version of the 40k universe. Nothing was really set in stone and we learnt about the place over the years through short stories, colour text and the reams of reams of illustrations that appeared in White Dwarf and other supplements. The gaps in this world were deliberately vast, and into those vacuums our own imaginations were set free to contrive all manner of dark and dangerous things.

The first thing that strikes is the face of Jaq Draco. It is obviously a take on Sean Connery in Russian garb taken, apparently, from a still from the Hunt For Red October, though Bryan felt that the eyes and eyebrows were closer to Blanche's own.

It was Harlequin Man (top left) that captured the flow of the conversation, as he was based on none other than Mr Robin Hood, Tim Pollard. Bryan went to say that the Harlequin Man figure appears in other John Blanche art. Can anyone else think of any pieces in which he appears?

It's funny what can be learnt buying a few pots of paint at Stoke Hall!


Saturday, 13 August 2016

Oldhammer Weekend 2016: A Tale of Four Oldhammer Gamers Battle

Battle reports can be deathly dull. As anyone who has seen Red Dwarf's 'Meltdown' episode (and Rimmer's Risk story) will attest, the recount of dice rolls and tactical movement hardly make interesting or worthwhile reading. As I said before, I took part in a single game during the Oldhammer Weekend and that was on the Sunday morning with the rest of the Tale of Four Oldhammer Gamers crew - namely Chico, Steve and Paul.

As you can see from the opening image, Chico was in a typically restrained mood and spent some careful moments setting out his horde of hobgoblins. They certainly looked very impressive, with their abundance of grey, the mass of near identical bases drawing the force together in a nice coherent whole. You may not know this, but our Chico is a prize-winner with his armies, often picking up awards at tournaments and whatnots. Alas, it was not to be for him at this particular event.

Warlord Paul brought along his undead and as they seemed most suitably matched with my undead, we joined forces. Looking over his models made me laugh, remembering the verb he coined earlier on in the year - namely 'warlording', or spending an incredibly long time painting a model who ends up looking rather unimportant.

When we could prize Steve Casey away from the Casting Room, he set up his unique Slann force across the table from me. Considering the short period of time the Citadel Collector has been painting models, his army looked bright and rather vigorous ranked up on our gaming table. You don't often get to see a decent sized Slann army and it was certainly a treat to play against one. Note must be made of his excellently poised giant spider (which you should just be able to make out to the rear of his line) and Mr. Casey has proven to be a highly skilled converter of models of late. I am looking forwards to seeing what he comes up with in future.

And yours truly, the author of this blog, and the Chaos Warband of Nurgle I have been working on over the past twelve months. Small but putridly formed!

The game got going after much faffing about with armylists and much flicking through rulebooks. Chico and Steve won the roll off and end up with the first turn. They moved forwards in a vague line towards Paul and my troops. Chico's massed ranks of hobgoblins looked a fearsome sight and I was glad I ended up facing off Steve's Slann as having fielded such a small force, being surrounded was a big, big concern. Chico has some choice models on the table - the Foundry giant troll thing almost being consumed by Mr Danks and the rare Temple Dog on the far right.

Here is the view from my table edge. An impressive force of Slann is always a pleasure to see, let alone face across the wargames table. I was very concerned that Steve's cold one riders would reach me quickly and smash my weaker troops off the table, though his Slann magician being carried aloft by his lobotomised slaves also worried me deeply. His magical attacks could cripple my army if used wisely.

Let's zoom in on Steve's army and take a closer look at what I faced.

Here we are. Slann, lizardmen and troglodytes - not to mention a giant spider and a unit of human warriors. A pokey little force weighing in just over 1000 points.

As Chico and Steve has opted to advance, Paul and I stood our ground, deciding that their forces would need to come to us. Chico has a hobgoblin rocket crew which looked dangerous if the dice gods held sway and Steve's magical prowess would also prove problematic if his Slann mage was not dealt with quickly.

Paul's undead were supported by a Skull Chucker. I hate these damn things when I have to face them, especially long range. I recall fighting a bit game one year when a triad of these things decimated by Khorne force at long range. His siege machine launched attacks against Chico's line as it advanced and I moved my plague cart alongside to give Paul's undead a little extra support.

Over the next couple of turns things looked pretty dire for me. Steve prepared to set up his cold one riders for a charge as his Slann mage peppered my chaos warriors with fireball spells. His first magical attack did three wounds and killed off one of my Nurgle warriors of Chaos. I was concerned that a powerful charge from his cavalry would destroy my key unit and push me out of the game.

Luckily, I had a couple of aces up my sleeve. I used my chaos sorcerer to send back fireball spells of his own, targeted against the cold one riders. My initial attacks did nothing, however. My second ace was the Plague Banner that cost me 100 points as each turn it could send a foul disease towards any unit in range, causing d6 wounds (and a further d6 wounds each subsequent turn) if a magic save is failed.

My first attack was catastrophic! Steve used his Slann mage's magic points to boost his resistance to the banner's evil magic and the attack resulted in 0 wounds. With his cold one riders looming large against me and a imminent cavalry charge probably only one turn away I was extremely concerned that the Citadel collector would destroy my best units early in the game. Nurgle's Cloud of Flies rule allowed be to hold the Slann mage at bay for a turn and prevent the relentless fireball attacks from reaching my chaos warriors.

With his magical attacks checked, Steve opted to position his cavalry in order to crush me as well as advancing his other troops. Thankfully for me, he didn't charge and I was able to launch one final Plague Banner attack on the cold ones. This attack was devastating and destroyed two of his models and causes the remaining riders to panic and rout. They fled straight into my beastmen and were hacked to pieces!!

What a superb result!

Steve didn't let up the pressure though. He advanced with his remaining infantry and used his giant spider to threaten my right flank. Over a couple of turns, his spider launched another attack at my chaos warriors but thankfully the magical attacks ceased. This was a critical point for Steve as my Plague Banner was a devastating magical weapon, though I sensed that for whatever reason he wasn't throwing everything he had at destroying it.

The spider was eventually dispatched with a few wounds to me and another plague was cast forth that destroyed his lobotomised human unit. This was a turning point in the battle. With so many of his units destroyed, Steve low lacked the forces to deal with my smaller force.

On my left flank, Chico's hobgoblin rocket crew was destroying Paul's skeleton units. The dead you can see here was from a single attack, causing Paul to use magic points to raise his skeletal warriors once again. A cheeky wind blast spell held Chico's giant in place, restricting the Garbage Pail Man's ability to attack with his rank and file. I have had similar things happen to me when using giants. You work so hard of painting the huge buggers up that you want them to have a glorious central place in your army. This makes them missile and magic magnets unfortunately, and Chico's big boy suffered.

The battle lines close. Chico begins to smirk chaotically after destroying yet more of Paul's undead forces.

Missile fire begins to destroy my plague skeletons as Steve positions his Slann and lizardmen for the charge.

The units collide and the ebb and flow of hand to hand fighting begins. But sadly, Chico's time with us has come to an end. The time now is late Sunday afternoon and people have trains to catch and places to be. We decide to end things were they were and the outcome of this match up will now never be known. Would Steve's forces have done enough damage to my warband to put it out of action? I think they certainly could.

In conclusion, it was a fabulous game. I really enjoyed the process of building up my warband and finally getting it used in a game. I have also got the beginnings of a 'proper' Nurgle army to join the ranks of my Khorne and Slaanesh force.

Nor is this the 'end' of the Tales of Four Oldhammer Gamers either, we have a new plan for next year! But more on that in a future post!


Tuesday, 9 August 2016

Oldhammer Weekend 2016: Who are the Time Warp Wizards? and other miniatures

Last post I mentioned the Time Warped Wizards that Foundry cast up especially for BOYL4 and I promised that we would look at them in greater detail, so here we are. I had seen most of the figures in this collection before, as I had had the near impossible choice of choosing but one in previous years, so it was wonderful to finally have them all.

Now, these figures have lurked out there in the murky world of obsessional Citadel collecting and most are often included as part of the unreleased Empire range. Check out the Collecting Citadel Miniatures wiki here for further details. I couldn't care less whether my models are slotta based or solid, but I know that there are some out there who highly value the original style castings.

As you would expect from Wargames Foundry, the models are exceptionally cast. Witnessing Marcus Ansell's skill and speed producing the miniatures in the photograph above is testimony for that. In fact, comparing these newer versions with some of my more ancient unreleased models the Foundry castings are enormously superior and feel wonderfully weighty in the hand.

Now this first model is clearly not a traditional wizard and bears a striking resemblance to a certain Heroquest character model. He is in fact an unreleased Wood Elf can a reference to him can be found here at the CCM wiki.

If you have been aware of this model for a while, I can give you a sneaky rear shot (steady, Chico) to reveal further detail.

These two chaps have long been considered to be Empire models, though the Russian influence is extremely strong. Though it is fairly easy to suggest that these figures were originally produced as part of a possible Kislev range, they may simply just be late- medieval (note the pistol in the first model's belt) sculpts who have been caught up with Warhammer.

Again, like the Wood Elf, these two models don't strike me as the traditional magic users, though battlemages are always possible if you don't care for strict rules and background. I will most likely use these for warriors in my own games.

These four figures are simply beautiful pieces of single cast design. Each is unique and lovingly detailed and will not doubt prove to be a thorough challenge to paint. The second figure from the left you may well have seen here before as I selected that example as a prize a couple of years back. The first three figures are clearly all traditional magic users and have been attributed to Aly Morrison. The fourth figure is a bit of a mystery, and could possibly just be a standard villager type as he wears pretty standard clothing and carries a goblet.

These figures feel much later in the Citadel chronology and may well have been produced just as Bryan Ansell was preparing to leave GW.

These next three figures feel earlier to me, and match in style with the wizards and clerics that were released in 1987 as part of the C series. A glance at the CCM page will show you that there are an awful lot of unreleased miniatures that share similar characteristics with these, with a large number being conversions of other models. My unreleased druid I wrote about last November is part of this collection.

Many figures in this particular group of unreleased models look unfinished or are rather crudely converted (perhaps giving a clue to why they never saw the light of day) as anyone who has seen this Nurgle sorcerer will attest. Though Bryan has said to us that many of these models never made it to market purely because there was just so much to release back then, that many fine models just slipped through the net. It is fantastic that some of these excellent models are at last seeing the light of day.

I am sure that many readers will be keen to get there hands on these models. Marcus told me that the mould he made for the Oldhammer Weekend is only a temporary one and won't last forever. If you are after some of these models (and they were selling individually and as a whole set) my advice is to contact the Wargames Foundry directly via telephone and speak to them.

I also spotted this chap (image from CCM) being handed out as a prize (along with the unreleased Advanced Heroquest Dwarf and the hideously brilliant female space marine my friend Steve Casey discovered last October) to one of the lucky painting competition winners. Bryan went on to say that only the Perry's would have gone to the trouble of sculpting such an accurate hatchet style weapon, complete with nasty curving hook!! 

But it wasn't just Foundry producing exciting models, Geoff from Oakbound Studios, designed the event miniature based on an image of Morcar he found in an old Heroquest comic. There was a very weighty box of castings being lugged around by even organiser, Garth, during most of the Saturday session.

By the time I took this picture a large number of them had been handed out. As I said previous, Garth ensured me he wants to get these sent out to other Oldhammer communities across the oceans so if you are after one, get hold of him via the Oldhammer forum. He uses the moniker Weasil there.

And here Morcar lies in glorious close-up. I love the horned beast sign he is making with his free hand.

Villains the world over really lost out when the hooded cloak dropped out of fashion, don't you think?

Kev Adams worked flat out to produce a large number of converted models, including a tiny bottle swaggering model with my rough features adorned upon. This model really is tiny. In a couple of days, I will get collect up as many pictures of his work and share them here as I did last year, as well as sort out the three chaps whose models Kev took home as he ran out of time.


Monday, 8 August 2016

Oldhammer Weekend 2016: Overview

So as the dust has now settled on another Oldhammer Weekend I find myself once again faced with the very pleasant task of writing a swift overview of the event. As in previous years, I spent the majority of the Saturday and Sunday socialising, taking photographs and pouring through the blister packs of gorgeous Foundry models, though I did play one game - the culmination of the Tale of Four Gamers with Steve, Paul and Chico-chops.

As always, the creativity and passion exhibited by fellow Oldhammerers astounded me and there were a great many sights to behold and marvel and I present a small selection of those below. It was also fantastic to see so many familiar faces and chat to many new ones, too.

First up we have a photograph of 'Coldhammer' a Warhammer Fantasy Battle 1st Edition mash up of Frostgravesque extravagance. I chatted to Norse and Harry who were busy for most of the Saturday playing through this scenario and I enjoyed admiring the many characterful and amusing models they had selected for the game. The 'Christmas Elves' (created by painting the cloaks of Skarloc's elves red and white) were my personal favourite but there were a great many quality models here for the enthusiast and the scenery was fascinating too. At the top of the shot you should be able to make out the enormous fortress wall, heavily defended by stouty dwarf warriors.

As far as I could ascertain from the mad ramblings of Norse, the scenario involved a goblin attack on a frozen dwarf hold somewhere in the darkest (and I would imagine, coldest) north. I asked Harry about his incredible homemade dungeon tiles (based on many pieces from ancient GW publications) and he was very humble about his achievement. They looked incredible and like many great endeavours were very simple, yet incredibly effective. My personal favourite piece would have to be the Egyptian-style tomb sections complete with 3D skeleton carvings. You can just make out the piece bottom left.

On the other side of the Marquee stood the astonishing spectacle that was the 'Rise of Morcar'. The game has to be the largest I have yet witnessed at the imagination and variety behind many of the units was extremely impressive. There were war mammoths, killer sheep and chickens and loads of fantastic 'homemade' figures based on toys and models produced for non-wargaming purposes. I really do admire the gamers who can turn a child's toy into an unique and interesting figure. How many can you spot in this picture?

Among the many impressive units taking part in the 'Rise of Morcar' was this little tribe of barbarian types. I never did catch the name of the enthusiast who produced these fine looking models but I loved their painting style. The rich tones and varied colour choices really brought the many models to life, and the addition of Thrud (and my favourite rendition of him too) was really the icing on the daemonic birthday cake.

A superb unit!

Inside the stable building, I stumbled upon a frantic clash between some beautifully completed Praetorians (lovingly collected and painted by Lead Balloony's Alex) and the orks of Waaagh-Badlugg. I spent quite sometime admiring Alex's collection and was deeply impressed with the high level of finish he had achieved with his Praetorians. He had brought along an entire army of them and I can honestly say they were the finest examples of the Imperial Guard regiment I have ever seen fielded.


The Foundry had done us proud again and produced a beautiful set of event models named the 'Time Warped Wizards'. We had spotted these being prepared for last year's event and I was extremely excited about getting my hands on them, after winning several of the models in previous painting competitions at the Foundry.

Look out for a more detailed post about these models shortly!

Garbage Pail Kid (who grew up) Chico Danks and the ever-ingenious Richard Legg put together a fast paced Judge Dredd game complete with fantastic scenery. The Mega-City Block came complete with a Saddamesque statue, bridge and even a local Games Workshop store. The imagination and thought behind the game was clear to see and I wish I could have played a game on the set up myself.

This was the Chaos warbands game run by the thrice cursed Stuart Bannister (along with three mutant wretches known only by the dark and evil names of Greg, Ian and Steve) entitled 'The Storming of Perlsea Fort'. Having played in many of these scenarios myself, it was pleasing to see others getting the same level of enjoyment out of Slaves to Darkness. I didn't tarry as long as I should here due to the rather restrictive space around the game, but I greatly admired the scenery - especially the fort itself, which rumour has suggested was a fifteen quid kid's toy converted up especially for the scenario.

Incredible work if that rumour is true!!

While wandering around the gaming tables in the stable buildings I was suddenly accosted by a strange figure whose face was obscured by a heavy cowl. Without speaking a word he held forth a skeletal figure and beckoned me forth into a dark and dingy area of a Foundry that no Oldhammerer would dare set foot (the Napoleonics section). In mute silence he opened a black, velvet lined box and spread these obscene fantasy figures across a nearby table - apparently some twisted version of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (yes, I know there is a eighth dwarf) the sculptor of these mind-shattering models remains a mystery...

While on the subject of strange figures, I was lucky enough to be invited deep within the blasphemous bowels (the Casting Room) of the Wargames Foundry by Marcus Ansell. alongside Steve Casey (pictured) and Stuart Klatcheff. Here we were given the opportunity of seeing a second batch of the 'Time Warped Wizards' being cast up as the previous run had nearly sold out. It really was a special privilege to witness Marcus working the mould and pouring the hot metal into the spinning machine. He made such a skilful job look incredibly easy and the models cast looked crisp and bright. It was a special moment to be able to hold previously unreleased Citadel models from the Golden Age in my unworthy palm whilst they were still hot!

I wonder what unlucky chap took that set of models home?

As I said in my previous post, the truly legendary Kev Adams returned to complete a second marathon sculpting session for charity, this time for the MacMillian Cancer Relief. He worked continuously throughout the Saturday on model after model, tirelessly. Massive respect to Kev for doing this again and he told me that he hopes to spend TWO days sculpting next year to try and keep up with the demand.

I found a suitably small figure (a tiny snotling) for Kev to sculpt my flabby face onto and marvelled (like a great many others) over his skill.

Graham Apperley, Chris Webb and Curtis Fell slugged away at each other during this Warhammer 40,000 second edition game. There were some great models here, especially the pre-1994 Imperial Guard stuff that Chris had lovingly painted to a very high standard indeed.

Steve Beales brought along his Epic collection and set up a game involving both Adeptus Machanicus and Space Marine. I loved handling the old AM polystyrene buildings and they brought back many great memories of my early '90s Space Marine games. Hs opponent was none other than the Citadel Collector, Steve Casey, who arrived with some hideously well converted Nurgle titans - more of which, later!

Tony Yates was up to his usual mischief all weekend, telling stories and sketching the wild demands of any who would ask. It is always a pleasure to see Tony and his pal, Alec, who really do embody the spirit of the Grognard like no-one else. They give us 'youngsters' plenty of inspiration with their bizarre and wacky ideas, not to mention Tony's unique collection of wargaming models. I was lucky enough to get my hands on one of his strange mekon like castings on the Sunday. I will attempt to emulate his super fast painting style and heavy highlighting method when I come to paint it up.

As an aside, the picture he is drawing here (entitled: busty female magic user) was for my wife. She loved it so much she has decided to frame it and hang the piece of art in her office!

Geoff aka Fimm McCool brought along his impressive Fimir army and leatherbound Warhammer publications (just so you know, he learnt the art of book binding and put the volumes together himself) and was also responsible, or so I heard, for this year's Oldhammer miniature. Inspired by a comic book rendition of the Heroquest villain, Morcar apparently. Any left over models will be shipped off to the US and later Australia for our distant, colonial cousins.

Paul Golgfag (who may or may not consume men when angered) attended and was involved in many a game. Here he contemplates with which monstrosity to best crush his enemies, see them driven before him and hear the lamantations of their women.

Scalene put on a beautiful Rogue Trader scenario outside of the Marquee on the Sunday. The natural light and wonderful scenery, modelling and figure painting really helped bring this game alive. Inspirational and the best looking game at the show, by far!

A glimpse at Steve Casey's uber-horrible Nurgle titans from the Epic game on Sunday. After speaking to him at length, he explained that the models were a mix of modern Forgeworld Plaguefly pieces and classic plastic titans. Here, his Deathguard advance towards Imperial lines with far more prowess than his Slann army later on. These were the standout conversions of the show for me.

Do us all a favour Steve and do a post about these on your blog!! (;

The Grand Master of Chaos, Tony Ackland, was in attendance again and judged the painting competition on the Sunday, aided and abetted by show organiser, Garth James, Tony Yates and Curtis Fell. Curtis was kind enough to hand out many models he produced at Ramshackle to attendees for free, exhibiting the Oldhammer spirit at its best.

The outdoors Rogue Trader games in full flow. The loquacious James Holloway can be spied on the far right, and I had a pleasant Saturday evening chatting with him back at the Deincourt Hotel.

Much of my weekend was spent in the company of the old wizard, Tony Ackland, who as always was full of amusing stories and discussions about literature, art and history. He introduced me to the depraved etchings of Franz von Bayros and Victorian decadence among many other things. Here he is deep in discussion with Stuart about his artwork.

This was an impressive undead game whose organisers I didn't catch the names of. There were some lovely scenery pieces here with all number of weird and wonderful models on the table. Have a closer look and see which pieces you can recognise!

Another chap I met was playing a match up with his boy. The game included these beautiful old school dwarfs and I couldn't resist taking a snap of some of these wonderful models as they set up.

Big bad Erny , his brother Snickit and a mate played through a 4th edition game that would not have looked out of place in a mid '90s edition of White Dwarf.

Steve and Paul got stuck into a game of Spacefleet on the Sunday. Now this is a game so rare that I hadn't even seen a copy before and the ships are certainly interesting models to be sure.

And who is this spotted in Bryan's cabinet of chaos?? Is that Greedo from Star Wars? There were all manner of weird and wonderful models as always.

Harry explores some of Bryan Ansell's treasures. As always, the Mighty Avenger brought forth a massive amount of work in progress pieces for viewing, including several very ancient pieces he produced years past. Kev Adams' Warmonger orcs were also in attendance.

It wasn't just old school gaming on offer either. Exhibition games of Tomahawk's new game, Congo were being played through on the Sunday using models from Tony Yates' collection. I had a good look at the publication and it looks to be of a particularly high standard, as you would expect.

For some, the experience of three days of solid Oldhammer was just too much to bear. He we see an exhausted gamer passed out at the Foundry on the Sunday afternoon as his companions gamed on.

As always, we have so much to be grateful for from the Ansell family. Bryan, Diane, Marcus, Emma and Maria were incredible hosts and kept us all fed and watered over the three day event, held in their beautiful home of Stoke Hall.

THANK YOU ALL SO MUCH FOR YOUR GENEROSITY AND KINDNESS! The Wargames Foundry really is the greatest venue in the wargaming world!!

Wholesome regards and abundant thanks must also go to Garth who organise the chaotic mess that is a Bring Out You Lead and ensured that everyone involved had the gaming tables and scenery that they needed.