Monday, 7 January 2013

Really Ancient Evil

Greetings all! As I may have mentioned on more than one occasion, I have begun attending a local gaming club, in a real effort to get some regular gaming in, and as part of my plan to get to the stage where my gaming brain is firing on all cylinders, I am steadily working through each of my armies in turn. This is partly to keep things interesting for me and give me as broad an experiece as possible, and partly to keep the other guys at the club on their toes!

Thus far, my Ogres, Bretonnians and Dark Angels have all seen combat, with varying degrees of success (a defeat, a draw and a victory, in that order, so hopefully things are on the up and up). Next, I plan on taking my Vampire Counts army to the field, which I haven't yet used with their current book, and while leafing through the gruesome tome, considering all the new units and models I don't yet own, how old my Vampire Counts army really is.

I started collecting the army (Warhammer Armies: Undead as was back then) after reading a great battle report in White Dwarf issue 174, in which they played out the scenario from the Undead Army Book entitled 'Revenge of the Doomlord', which saw the new Undead army led by Dieter Helsnicht (The Doomlord of Middenheim) pitched against an army of the Empire. The Undead, commanded by Gav Thorpe, were victorious (though it was the books inagural battle), and the intention of this report was fulfilled. I decided to start playing Warhammer Fantasy (up until then I was only playing Space Marine and 40K) and to collect the Undead.

When I look at the latest Army book, the Vampire Counts, (ever since the 'Undead' were split into two factions: The Vampire Counts of the Old World and the Tomb Kings of the Lands of the Dead) and the units detailed within, and compare it to the first Undead Army Book, it is clear just how much they have changed since The Revenge of The Doomlord.

My first Undead army included such things as regiments of Skeleton Warriors alongside Skeleton Archers, but also Mummies, Screaming Skull Catapults, Chariots and Carrion. For a while, I even included the Settra special Character alongside Weapon Skill 7 Necromancers and Vampires in my battles against the nacent forces of High Elves, Wood Elves and Dwarfs fielded by my opponents of the day. Over time, as the Undead were factionalised, and the look and the feel of the army became more focussed, one thing has remained steadfast. This is my love of the back story of the Von Carstein line, particularly the story of Vlad and Isabella, and my army has served Vlad's purpose faithfully for my whole time playing Warhammer. If anyone else really likes their story and hasn't read them, I strongly recommend the Von Carstin Trilogy by Steven Savile.

My Army has steadily grown over the years (clocking in at around six thousand points or so now), but those same ancient Skeleton Warriors bought right back in the early 90's still march alongside chunkier later Skeletons and more recent purchases such as Vargheists and soon, a Mortis Engine. My Grave Guard recruited from metal Skeleton Warriors in heavy armour who once made up the original 'Company of the Damned' regiment of renown. I am even still using the original Vlad and Isabella models, and simply refuse to use Manfred at all, the upstart usurper!

It has never been my way to shelve my older models, rather I use all my models, of whatever age, alongside each other in battle, though from time to time this means stripping the paint off models and bringing them up to date. I will never buy the latest version of a model just because it's the new shiny thing, when I have a perfectly serviceable model I like with an established history. In fact, I have found that including older models alongside newer ones draws curious gamers to ask questions like 'ooo, what's that?', and 'hey, that's cool' which isn't a bad thing in my book.

A gamers army is a very personal thing, and my armys story is at least as important as it's potency on the field. There are inevitably field repairs required on some models (such as the MK1 Land Raider I am replacing the Lascannons on at the moment - funny how things come back into fasion isn't it?), but repairing damaged Skeleton Warriors is how I learned how to convert models with reasonable confidence, which brings with it innumerable benefits and opportunities to make my armies even more personalised.

Gazing hazily back at the beginnings of my Undead army at the start of 4th Edition Fantasy, and comparing it to the force that will march forth soon in 8th Edition and with the latest book with all it's fantastic newer models, has just highlighted to me how happy I am to be able to field an army with such history, that draws people's curiosity and admiration for it's sheer variety and pedegree, and if any army should be suited to including such ancient miniatures, it surely must be the 'Undead'.

If I were to offer advice to like minder gamers, it would be this: if you like the new shiny model that has been released, then get it, but there's no reason to simply replace your veteran models with the latest versions just because they are new. A new version of a model coming out is fine, but it's not like a new rules set for a game. You don't have to replace what you have to keep playing, other gamers won't poke fun at your army because it contains older models (or they damn well shouldn't! In fact I have found the opposite to be true). Your army is your own, and as long as it's legal and playable, the only person whose opinion really matters is your own. Take those mixed generation armies, go forth, and make war.

As always, thank you for reading.