Sourcing inspiration, how one model can inspire an army project

The House stands imperious over a field of trenches and former weapons emplacements, the recent rain ruining the cardboard replacements for the missing laser defense system (it’ll turn up I swear). Dilapidated, but not abandoned, the inside of the House moves slower than what it used to.

The orange "O" means open for business

The orange “O” means open for business

Gone is the frenetic energy of the interns as they rush back and forth completing 37 different errands for 12 different people simultaneously, replaced by a slow trudging as if their souls have been removed for maximum productivity.

All is not lost, however, as a one Mr T. Warlock is conducting dubious experiments in several labs and has recruited many saprolings to assist in the everyday running, sprinting, climbing, oh-god-why-are-there-so-many-stairs and operation of the House.

Saprolings, FUCK YEAH!

I love saprolings. Used to use a Thallid deck back in ages gone. Churned out about 3 a turn plus a bunch of shadowmoor critters summoned more -and- kept a massive 10/10 green/black monster on field.

Anything with ‘other green creatures get +1/+1’ combined with “other creatures you control gain trample until end of turn” is fucking awesome when you churn saprolings out. While Magic: The Scattering is still going strong, it’s not the topic of this post. Though saprolings are fucking cool. Actually, know what? Fuck it, let’s talk MTG for a bit then move onto the actual post.  I got into Magic when Ravnica was first released and a magazine had a free card in it. Twas called the Guardian of the Vitu-Ghazi, belonging to the Selesnya guild (green/white, logo was a tree) and this was a 4/7 creature which the art depicted as a giant tree with light green crystals poking out-

This card is why I love elementals and crystals in fantasy genres. Plus, y’know, green mana is awesome.

Selesnya’s schtick in Ravnica was convoke by which one could tap lesser critters (re: saprolings) to reduce the cost of the ROFLstomping beater monsters. Plus green-white is a cool combination. Never touched red in all of my off and on relationship with MTG and have settled on green/blue as my go-to, with close seconds in green/white and green/black. Good times, really. If I ever get off night shifts I’ll probably head back into MTG as evenings will be freed up.

Getting onto what this post was originally going to be about, hang on, one more saproling pic

A bit of light, a bit of water, a bit of soil and bippity boppity boo there's 12 saprolings on field with +1/+1 and trample. En-fucking-joy.

A bit of light, a bit of water, a bit of soil and bippity boppity boo there’s 12 saprolings on field with +1/+1 and trample. Enjoy.

Ok, now that I’ve established the fact that I like saprolings and imperial guardsman tactics in using them, this post is about how inspiration for projects can come from many sources, though seeing another painted mini can inspire a similar project. Saproling see, saproling do. When Age of Sigmar first hit, I was pretty angry as I’m a nerd and being angry about trivial things is what we do. Since the game has gone from running forwards while on fire to containing said fire to a torch while continuing to run forwards, I’ve come round to the game. A recent trip to my LGS (a 20 min drive) had me purchase the ‘Everything you need to know on how to get started in Age of Sigmar’ magazine with free Ground Marine with NounHammer and VerbShield.

Within this magazine is a bunch of painting guides for the starter set, small segments of background, an overview of the GW based aspects of the hobby inc descriptions of the paint and technical range. The photo below shows the mini in question which has set off another idea for a force- a pack of mercenary ogres roaming one of the realms bedecked in rusting armour.


An ogre battalion was quickly sourced and should arrive soon because I have no self-control >.< Despite the largish painted backlog, there’s enough Malifaux painted for me to get by (and still gain an entry into the painted crew raffles) that I can enjoy a break and paint some ogres. There’s also reactive metal paint sitting around too, so painting experiments will happen to see which method of rust is more aesthetically pleasing.

The magazine also mentions a bit about gradually building up a force and that’s what I’ll try to do here- pick out one unit (16 ogres total, which can make 8 iron guts, 4 leadbelchers and 4 bulls with ~20 or so gnoblars) and paint that fully, base it then move onto the next. At this stage, I’m considering a mountainous theme for the base with a springtime feel. Rather than the soil +sparse scrub that’s endemic of GW based armies, a primarily rocky base with grass, flowers and maybe a bit of snow should give the impression of a mountain pass or base of a mountain. Something rocky with life, in any case.

As much as I’m berating myself for not sitting on this idea to see if it’ll pass, it would be nice to get back to basics, so to speak regarding creating an army. Once everything is painted,  the force will be used to play some games while painting resumes on the backlog. It will definitely be interesting to paint a whole load of models which are ~50% bare flesh given one possesses relatively new knowledge of how to realistically paint flesh.

In the near future, there will be ogre posts (and possibly more Malifaux) on the House. Personal blog is kinda done for now, but damnit it feels good to write something for the House.

Stay calm and summon more saprolings!

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  • Cedric Ballbusch

    Inspiration is key to any successful wargaming project. It is a little different for historicals compared to speculative fiction since former demands inspiration from something that was while the latter seeks it from what could be. Of course my Sengoku army’s HQ stand boasts a sword welding, time-traveling school girl and a cat girl geisha. So, who am i to talk?

    Tangentially, I’ve always thought the Ogre Battalion was one of the better deals GW had on offer. Plus, Ogres are cool.

    • The Warlock

      Historicals seem cool, though accurately representing the colours of the uniforms, arms and armour puts me off. The Sengoku’s HQ sound like Dr. Who companions 😀

      The ogre battalion is good money as there’s 2 irongut sprues, so back in the WHFB days, you could make a total of 8 actual ironguts then turn 6 more into command. Considering getting a box of regular ogres in the meantime to start on this and to bolster the amount of regular ogres. 8 ironguts, 4 leadbelchers, 6 bulls and 4 left over for command/hero kitbashing.

      • Cedric Ballbusch

        I hadn’t consider the Dr. Who angle, but yes I do see the similarity. I find it adds something to model my more sedentary commanders accompanied by a plucky female sidekick. Particularly French and Austrian ones.

        I’ve always had a soft spot for GWs Ogres and my Imperial Army of yore featured a good number of them. I’m not totally sold on the ‘new’ fatty ogre design as compared the older more bestial and thugish look, but they remain cool.

    • Thuloid

      Yeah, Ogre Battalion was about as good a deal as they had, in terms of points per dollar. The other reasonably good one on that front was Lizardmen. Of course, all the horde armies were terrible buys.

      To really muddy these waters, I could point out that many a fantasy army has been inspired by historical forces, and that a rather high percentage of historical army projects are based more in an imagined past than a real one. But you’ve made the latter point before, I think, Cedric.

      • Cedric Ballbusch

        Horde armies are always a problem. Being both large and heterogeneous they are expensive to buy and the devil to paint. Of course, they also tend to be dreadful on the tabletop. Shame that they’re invariably so cool.

        Back when I held aspirations of becoming a scholar and read for history, I was slowly coming to the realization that coming face to face with the real past was almost impossible. You have contemporary political needs, the urge to romanticize, the urge to disparage, and the grim reality that our ancestors who put pen to paper had every reason to lie. Taking that as given it all starts to become myth and legend.

        Of course, my disillusionment took place in a humanities department that was pushing the science aspect of social sciences. Thus, my frequent suggestions that much of what we studied was fantasy, lies, and propaganda went over like a lead balloon.

        But, I digress. In toy soldiers there is a lot of room for each to have his own vision of fantasy, and history. Further, the overlap between the two is vast.

        • Thuloid

          I’ve found horde armies in Kings of War can be quite strong. Both Goblins and Ratkin are, for slightly different reasons, a bear to deal with. Especially since so many players gravitate toward small elite forces with very concentrated hitting power–when you have three units to their one, they simply can’t avoid getting rolled.

          History is a literary genre. It’s not archaeology and it’s not a physical science, though of course it’s responsible to such things. But even in those you see a remarkable level of myth-making. Just yesterday I encountered, for the 112th time, the assertion that the Indus Valley civilization was peaceful and egalitarian. And this following on an article about the many worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics–an interesting bit of mathematically clothed mythology, I suppose, but absolutely not a physical theory. And how convenient both myths are–one tells us that Eden is possible, the other that all things happen by necessity and so our particular tragedies are relativized within some infinite whole.

          In my own field, I keep returning to the insight of Abraham Heschel, who wrote a big book on the Hebrew prophets back in the 30s. Their discovery was that history is a nightmare, as things really do change irrevocably. I think it follows that ever since we’ve been trying to shape, control or escape it.

          • Cedric Ballbusch

            Hordes tend to be underrated by game designers. Certainly with historicals there is a tendency idolize the military capacities of professional armies. For all their skill the Romans, Assyrians, Han, and many other civilizations fell before the unwashed hordes of Goths, Scythians, Xiong nu, etc. Even the magnificently drilled armies of Fredrick the Great were bleed white by the Tsarina’s conscript hordes. Elan and weight of numbers counts for a lot. Particularly over the long run.

            As with the Minoans, the Indus Civilization is a semi-blank slate upon which people can sketch their desires. I can’t argue that the Indus Civilization wasn’t peaceful and egalitarian since their script is unreadable. Of course, Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro are fortified and weaponry is in evidence, as are the tell-tale signs of oligarchy. More interesting I’ve always though, is the frequent and actuate depictions of jungle animals in their art. Hinting (as with the records of the Shang) that significant climate change occurred sometime in the early-mid Bronze Age.

          • Knight_of_Infinite_Resignation

            I find my Imperial Armour 13 Renegades and Heretics horde works really well and is rarely beaten. 40 zombies, 50 mutants and 60 renegade infantry in 1500 plus artillery is hard to kill…

  • Thuloid

    I have been soldiering away on some rats that I left half done (tabletop standard) several years back, trying to realize an old vision. Both technique and standards have changed, as well as the rules I play them under (debating precisely how I want to go about the re-basing). I think, however, that I’ve recaptured enough of the original inspiration to make it all work.

    • The Warlock

      0.5-1mm plasticard might do the trick- glue the based rats on, cut to size and fill the gaps between each base and bada bing, bada boom.

      Recapture the magic! Use it to rain magical missiles/moon chunks down on the foes! How goes the Ratkin in Kings of War?

      • Thuloid

        That might do it, though I think I want the whole base magnetized. The gap filling will take a bit of effort, though, since I originally based these in a desert style using a lot of crackle paste. If I re-apply that only to the gaps, it will be obvious.

        So really, I have to decide whether to completely rebase or just let it go.

        The Ratkin are strong and pretty versatile. I’ve got a few small tournaments coming up with them in October and November, but I like where I’m at.

  • Knight_of_Infinite_Resignation

    just done the same thing myself. Bought the awesome metal GW Warsmith model (surely one of the coolest models ever produced) and now I need an Iron Warriors army to go with it…

    • The Warlock

      Iron Within, Iron Without. Can’t be letting that warsmith go into battle amidst lesser marine armies and with no siege equipment!

  • I’m keen to see how this pans out, I particularly like the spring mountain basing idea – should look awesome if you can pull off the junkyard look on the ogres.

    And where did you get the reactive metal paint? I have an upcoming project myself that I’m curious to try it on.

    • The Warlock

      The internet, via amazon if I recall. It’s expensive though, so if you’d like I could try splitting some off into a container and shipping it down a state? The paint needs both reactive metal paint (iron, copper, brass, etc) and the oxidant which speeds up the process of nature to a few hours. I think there might be an Aussie site somewhere but I really had to dig to even find the paint in the first place :/ Anything using it will need sealant though, lest the oxidation continue and over-oxidise the metal. RedOx is hard, man. Thinking of doing the Ryza Rust and Corrosion way just for simplicity’s sake.

      Given how Ogres were hired as mercenaries in the background of WHFB, I figure in AoS there’d be mercenary ogre companies being hired, or “raiding and pillaging” which is really just trying to put a negative twist on a ‘fair and equitable redistribution of wealth’. They need a name though, something to do with rust or iron. Perhaps the Iron Rose (if not taken) or the Rust Eaters? Open to suggestions on that front. LGS didn’t have bulls, but had clearanced ogre cavalry- the 2 to a box ones. They have pistols and great weapons- ALL of the Tyrant conversions and MOAR iron guts. However, since AoS isn’t WHFB, does one really -need- that many iron guts?

      I saw your post the other day and have been meaning to type up a comment/response. Been busy with work as it’s getting warmer and people usually notice suspicious skin things during Summer. Will get on that after tea.

      • No worries mate that post was… well I don’t regret it at all. But it could have been a bit of an over share! Ah well.

        My project is a 1/6 resin garage kit so I thought the rust paint might be interesting to try. Easier than trying it in minis anyway!

        I don’t know the Age of Sigmar fluff at all, but I’ve noticed people have chilled out a bit on it. I got a phone call from my brother the other day and he offered me the Island of Blood Skaven if I play AoS and/or KoW with him. Only catch is I have to build them, but I’ve had Skaven trying to get out of me for a while. Maybe I’ll pay someone to put them together…

  • Dragons Claw

    Oh man I spent ages making those cardboard lazers I used glitter and everything 😂

    My brief dalliance with magic has left me with a jaded view of the game I won’t give full unedited view here as it’s likely to offend 😂 although I do grit my teeth through the occasional game of commander to spend a hit of time with steppie who is a full blown magicoholic

    And surely they should have been OGRYNS not ogres😂

    • The Warlock

      On round bases = Close enough right?

  • Von


    • Von

      There’s three more where that came from. Don’t test me, Warlock.

      I’m curious: what made you change your mind about Age of Sigmar? The re-introduction of the points match struck me as cowardice in the face of nerd-habit, and left me predicting doom, failure and a lapse into the Old Ways as the player base returned to business as usual with thanks on their lips. Was I wrong?

      • The Warlock

        The fact that “All Things Must End”. WHFB was almost 30years old- it’s had plenty of time. Could if have gone on longer? Maybe. I realised I was a jerk to hate people because they like a game- games are meant to be fun, so if they have fun, more power them.

        The general’s handbook helped- the fact that GW is willing to listen/make tournaments/list on their site what people used in said tournaments/more than just “lol take any and everything you want lol” as a battlemode.

        Including this is that AoS is getting far and away more support from GW than WHFB got since 8th LAUNCHED. Read that, LAUNCHED. Hell, it took to 2014 for my Dwarfs, blessed be thy grudge to get a non-6th ed book and they had been around since 2006 with BFSP. While I don’t care for NounSwords and VerbShields and MurderMen and some of the fluff, I do have appreciate the fact that there’s more room for conversions/ “Your Dudes” Plus it’s a GW game (I doubt I’ll ever truly leave GW) and it’s more fantasy that anything else on the market, so I dunno- lots of things.

        Check out the Drycha Hamadreth model. Gonna get that possibly in Dec with Xmas money. Keen to try painting the honeycomb and getting thick amber-dyed water effects for that oozing honey effect.

        Also, Golgari is friggin’ sweet. Used a lot of their cards in the Thallid deck (it was green black due to deathspore thallid being black) to just maximise the churn and burn

    • Dragons Claw

      Don’t worry von I’m working on a plan I’m gonna convert the red snowmobile into a flamethroweresque contraption and I’m sure Bush craft left some napalm round here somewhere

      • The Warlock

        There might be some…gatling flechette launchers which…fell, yeah let’s go with fell…off a miltary grade experimental prototype weapon which I totally did not know about its secret location…yeah.

        • Flechette has always been my favourite experimental SF ammo for some reason.