A long-time Warmachine player takes his first true foray into Hordes, with a twist! This will be a monthly series about challenging yourself in all aspects of the hobby.
It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a Warmachine and Hordes player in possession of a Warmachine army, must be in want of a Hordes army. It is a truth that I was a long time coming to myself. As a player who started playing right at the end of Mk1 I was bitten hard by a bias against Hordes. It seemed like easy mode, and as bad a player as I am I could still content myself that I was playing the “real” game without all the cheating that necessarily attends playing Hordes (also known as the rules of Hordes). My sole flirtation with Hordes was in buying an old metal Skorne battlegroup, as I briefly had an idea of becoming a Pressganger and one of the requirements is having a painted battlebox of each system. But then I heard how Skorne worked, that the best way to get results out of a beast-heavy force was to play them with a unit of Paingiver Beasthandlers. This was all sounding eerily familiar to me as a Protectorate player, so I pretty quickly lost interest in Skorne after a few games and they mouldered away in the bottom of my case. In the end Morghoul got tired of my rejection and abandoned me, so the Gladiator and two Cyclopses were left without even a warlock to run them.
Anyway, years passed and my Protectorate army nears its maximum realistic size. While the Judicator and Vessel of Judgement may be things that exist, they are still faraway purchases while I work towards filling out the different theme force requirements. There was a great buzz in the community about the upcoming release of Convergence of Cyriss, and a lot of people had already pledged themselves to the clockwork cause. This got me thinking. My first instinct was to play Convergence myself. I am a huge fan of warjacks, and a faction that can run them even better than Protectorate seemed like a prime choice. But there remained the niggling feeling that if I started another army, it should be a Hordes faction.
But which faction? I had my likes and dislikes of all of them. Circle look fantastic, but the people who play the faction (maybe just the ones I know) seem to be constantly on the hunt for the next big thing, the secret trick that will *really* make Circle work. This seems exhausting. Everblight ignore lots of rules and are the major source of my anti-Hordes bias, but they have the same aura for me as Cryx, they’re just not a faction I’m interested in playing. Skorne…I’ve tried to get interested in them, but the army I’d really like to play in Supreme Aptimus Zaal and the mix of living troops, Immortals and beasts seems too fine-tuned for the likes of me. Trollbloods have great-looking models and a cool concept behind them, but as a Protectorate player I’ve come to understand that the real pleasure lies in playing the baddies who are sometimes goodies. The whole Braveheart/Last Mohican aspect of Trollbloods turns me off a little bit; it’s a bit on the nose for a bleeding heart Irishman like myself.
So I have my reasons for and against all of these factions. Convergence was seeming like the way to go. But then I remembered an absolutely fantastic project I saw on the PP Forums, one which I encourage you all to have a gander at: Stormhammer: The Assault on Sul. Tim Black has done an amazing job here, not only converting a Khador army to look like a twisted version of a Cygnar army, not only crafting a setting-appropriate backstory all of his own, but actually making a version of pVlad that looks pretty boss. Each model that has been converted is identifiable as its Khadoran equivalent, but it has a flavour and a style to it that is its own. And if I was going to embark on a second army, to expend time, effort and most crucially a whole lot of money, who was I to deny this excellent example? Basically the only aspect of Warhammer 40k I liked was the increased licence to create your own story for your army, my childhood preoccupations were mostly making up Space Marine Chapters and Eldar Craftworlds. Warmachine and Hordes armies feel a bit more constricted in this respect, since the story is such an integral part of everything, even paint schemes. My Protectorate army was the first one I have painted properly and satisfactorily, and I went with an approximation of the studio paint scheme because it felt right to me. But the Stormhammer Brigade is there showing what can be done, and I’d be denying myself if I refused.
The essential recipe for my new faction choice, therefore, was that the resulting army would actually look like another faction, but using the rules and retaining the essential character of the first. I did some brainstorming and came up with two concepts. The first was a Skorne army, but made to look like the various poor beasties enslaved by Skorne have been “liberated” by Druids of Orboros. But thematically this army would have its place far to the east, in the heart of the Skorne Empire where devotees of the Wurm seek to undo the stain of Skorne civilisation. This is a different fight to the current conflict in Western Immoren, and so as fun as it would be it’s an idea for another time. My second idea is the one I’ve sprung for, and I hope you will like it as much as I do. I’ve already made a purchase for it, although in keeping with the roundabout nature of my thought process, the first thing I’ve acquired for my Hordes army is a Warmachine unit…the Bloodgorgers.
As I’ve said, the Trollbloods are altogether too noble and true for my tastes in factions. I prefer the complicated ones, not quite the cackling villainy of Cryx or the solipsistic civilisation-crushing of Everblight, but the fanaticism of the Protectorate is right up my alley. The Trollbloods’ cause is pretty justified, they’re fighting to save their way of life from extinction. They may eat trainfuls of innocent civilians, but they probably had it coming. Most of the warlocks are of the plucky-hero-with-a-tragic-past type, however many world-ending artefacts they are festooned with. The Scottish/Native American pastiche is cool, but it comes with an inherent sense of victimhood, which I think leaks onto the playerbase a little bit…I hear the Mountain King is only MAT 4? While they attracted me in terms of playstyle, Trollbloods seemed like prime candidates for a bit of villainy.
My plan for this new army is that a kriel from the Scharde Islands has joined the United Kriels. Their reasons for doing so are, in keeping with best Cryxian tradition, unfathomable and ultimately sinister. But after all the motto at the front of the Trollbloods book does say that they will use any weapon in the coming struggle, and a cohort of slavering blood-crazed maniacs makes a pretty effective weapon. So every model will look blighted, and those Bloodgorgers I bought will be converted into Trollkin Champions, complete with quitari. The warlocks will be de-victimised and will become Bloodgorger sorcerors who have distinguished themselves by their affinity with the fell dire trolls of the Scharde Islands. For the dire trolls themselves I have plans involving necrotech infusions and seaweed.
As for the way the army will be collected, I intend this to be a challenge for myself. My Protectorate were collected in a happy-go-lucky fashion, with me picking up whatever looked cool and not worrying too much about competitiveness. I only picked up a Reckoner and therefore graduated to “proper” Protectorate player status in February, for example, after 5 years of playing Warmachine. Painting happened in much the same way, although I have made a more concerted effort since the Play It Painted Pledge started up. It turns out that what artistic endeavour really needed was a little friendly competition to get going! In my local meta I’m surrounded by so many astoundingly-painted armies that the impetus to improve my own modelling and painting skills is right there in front of me. While it may not be as groundbreaking as the Stormhammer Brigade, my Scharde Kriel army will test my painting and converting efforts, with most models receiving some greenstuff’d alteration. And I intend to build the army to aim directly for some of the more competitive lists. The one that I particularly like the look of is Borka Kegslayer’s Family Reunion. Here is the list that I will be building towards, suggested by Stu:
- Borka Kegslayer (+5pts)
- Rök (11pts)
- Greygore Boomhowler & Co. (Boomhowler and 9 Grunts) (9pts)
- Krielstone Bearer and 5 Stone Scribes (4pts)
- * Krielstone Stone Scribe Elder (1pts)
- Trollkin Champions (Leader and 4 Grunts) (9pts)
- * Skaldi Bonehammer (3pts)
- Trollkin Champions (Leader and 2 Grunts) (5pts)
- Trollkin Champions (Leader and 2 Grunts) (5pts)
- Stone Scribe Chronicler (2pts)
- Trollkin Champion Hero (3pts)
- Trollkin Champion Hero (3pts)
This suits me very well, as the core is composed of Boomhowlers and Champions. The root for the story of the army is going to be that Boomhowler’s father, also a virile fell caller, once visited the blighted trollkin of the Scharde Islands, and left his mark there as he did elsewhere. Thus, in that finest of tropes, Boomhowler has a Scharde Islander brother that we have never encountered before. He makes contact with him under contract from the United Kriels, and the Scharde Kriel joins the fray. Thus, Boomhowler & Co. will appear in their usual form in this army. The Champions, as I’ve said, will be represented by a mixture of parts from the box of Bloodgorgers and a box of Trollkin Champions, which will give me the three units for this list. Using the Bloodgorgers is cheating a little bit, but when life hands you pre-blighted trollkin models with two hand weapons each, you make a theme force out of it.
I’m really looking forward to the two Trollkin Champion Heroes. I’ll be taking the normal Hero model and Gerlak Slaughterborn, swapping bits around until they both look distinct. These will be the Ivald and Durkan, the Sons of Slaughterborn, both hoping to live up to their father’s example of brutality and ruthlessness. These are supposed to be storied warriors after all, and in a culture as devoted to war and killing as the Bloodgorgers those who get to the top of the pile are going to be nasty pieces of work. In this respect the Bloodgorgers are uncomplicated, you’d never see another Bloodgorger turn from his supper of his enemy’s still-beating heart and say to another, “I say, Ythrekk the Abominable, are we the baddies?”. They just know, man.
Borka Kegslayer will also be appearing in another guise, not the beer-swilling brawler but instead a cannibalistic brute: Fargo Hearteater. The pyg keg carrier will instead be toting around a barrel full of disembodied hearts, and Fargo will put Midas to shame in terms of gore and viscera. Likewise, Rök will have a makeover. The bond between him and Borka will remain, but instead of being attracted by the potent lure of booze, Rök’s alter-ego will bond with Fargo because of the unparalleled opportunity for slaughter and mayhem. I rather like Rök’s head, and I have plans to pay tribute to a very old GW model – the Chaos Dwarf Lammasu – with some hairstyles for the dire trolls, so it may end up being quite a hairy bunch. I’d like to make them look like they’ve charged right out of the sea too.
At the moment these are all just ideas, the only thing I have in the bag so far is the box of Bloodgorgers. But that’s okay, because the most important aspect of this project for me is that the end result will look cohesive. It needs a lot of preparation, practice and patience. I don’t really have time for any of these right now with deadlines and exams pending, but next month I hope to have started on the core of the above list, one max unit and two min units of Trollkin Champions, built from a Bloodgorgers box and a Champions box. I’d love to hear your comments and suggestions on what I can do to improve my modelling skills in particular, or if you have undertaken a similar project for yourself.
We will meet again in May,