Thuloid Speaks: Cut Loose and Starting Over

These have been tumultuous days in the House of Thuloid, enough that I am glad to seek temporary refuge here where the Cakes are Painful and the only goo being emitted comes from SinSynn. Nothing bad in my domicile apart from the usual feline aggressions, indeed, many good things, but there must be somewhere that the small pink one (my offspring, not Kirby) does not rule. Sadly, I’m writing this post while functioning as the physical resting place for both a cat and a tiny, ill-mannered gentleman. Restless at home, distracted at work; as the man said long ago,

All things are full of labour; man cannot utter it: the eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing. 

In other words, I am stalked by boredom, and so my appetites rage. Familiar things hold little interest, but there is nothing new under the sun. To spend money right now would be to seek fleeting novelty for its own sake. No, what a man needs is to approach something familiar and give it more attention this time around. Time to build from the grey plastic reservoir.   boredom

It feels good to simply have no interest  in anything Games Workshop sells, no residual bad feelings, no attachment of any kind to the current dealings of that company (though perhaps a passing amusement at how they massage their financial reports to mask a long-term revenue decline). If I see a model I desperately need, I may purchase it guilt-free, but there’s not huge reason to. No, I’m on to other outlets for The Hobby.

drakon

We evolved to eat only square things.

The (until recently, fairly large and active) local Warhammer Fantasy community has taken its first halting steps into Kings of War, and I am more than ready to accompany that jump. I was a contributer to the first Mantic kickstarter, to the tune of three massive boxes of plastic (and a bit of metal) that have sat in my closet for a few years now, mostly unbuilt. I wasn’t dissatisfied, mind you–just busy with other projects. I own the makings of a large elf army, among a smattering of other things (some ogres, orcs, Basileans and undead) and have begun to turn those components into a force worth looking at.

It’s been a while since I’ve had the chance to build a brand new army (not a skirmish force–an army with regiments) from scratch. Elves have never been my first choice, but never my last–always a “when I’m done with this…” kind of fleeting notion. Now I’m knee deep in them and committed to making them work. So this is an elite army, fast and consistent. It will have to be played well to manage against hordes, but should be an absolute scalpel in most cases, doing reliable damage where and when I need it. I think I understand the potential play style. I’m less certain about the aesthetic.elves-spearmen-regiment-front

The models are strange, elongated. For one accustomed to Citadel blockiness, these lithe figures are a bit jarring. My first reaction, a few years ago, was that I didn’t like them much. They’ve grown on me. The detail is good and there’s something alien and dangerous-looking about the figures. These aren’t Warhammer elves, nor classic D&D ones. They seem to reach back to fairy-land roots, magical with a sinister edge. I probably wouldn’t put wings on them, as I saw one fellow do, but I think they require a bit more exotic paint scheme than the rather dull affair given to Mantic’s studio army.

So paint and theme are somewhat up in the air. As are, to an extent, the models. I own more than enough spearmen, bowmen and scouts, several war machines, a good number of palace guard (elite infantry), some heavy cavalry (the older ones, metal) and several characters. The lances on the metal cav. are a little chunky compared to the plastic spears, but that’s a trivial conversion. But then there are the other units the list affords–chariots, light cavalry, walking trees and forest spirits, exotics like the drakon riders above (the most derided of Mantic sculpts) and character models–I need wizards and a king on a dragon. A number of these don’t have current models. GW models are not an option for most, based on looks alone (far too large and thick to fit in). The exception might be tree models–I hate GW Treekin, but the Dryad and Treeman models are lovely, and since they aren’t even a little human, the scale difference is largely meaningless. Mantic produces some very serviceable tree-ish large infantry.bronze elf

What to do? I’d love to field a few of these options. The great thing about Kings of War is that none of the unit stats are outstandingly good or bad enough to determine army composition for me. So I’m on the lookout for more characters, appropriate chariots and something wyrmy that might make for a unit of oversized cavalry. Oh, and a dragon worth putting a king on.

Elf wings

Inspiration. Not sure where it will take me, but this figure is my guiding light.

There are options for all these things, though I might have to dig. But the overall aesthetic of the force, that’s what’s troubling me. As I said, I didn’t like these elves at first. But back then I was thinking of them as a proxy for GW High Elves, which they aren’t. Their strangeness needs emphasis. A search through pictures of these models painted up has yielded two fascinating examples. The first is on CoolMiniOrNot, the bronzed elf. I wouldn’t do this myself, but it’s suggestive. The second, found on Warseer, made me tingly all over. It truly gets the proportions of the model and embraces a dark fairy look. I don’t necessarily want to copy it, but a man looking for a spark couldn’t have gotten any luckier.

I wonder if I couldn’t go deeper into the insect realm for inspiration. Elves are disciplined folk–might this elf nation take their cues from ants, bees or wasps, operating as a colony, drawing their strength from cohesion? Those spears are sharp–the figures should look far from harmless, and not at all soft. These elves are “good”, in terms of Mantic’s division of races–does that imply they are much like humans, or something else entirely?

I’m knee deep in sprues without a clear direction yet. This could go wrong. But Mantic elves are cheap, so if I mess up a few models I won’t sweat it much. What say you, House? Ideas for paint scheme, basing, or conversions? Suggestions for models to fill out the army? The last thing I want anyone to say when looking at this army is, “Oh, elves again.” No, whatever these elves will be, they won’t be boring.

 

 

 

 

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  • I really like the face on the warseer model that really pale look give them an unearthly shadow realm type quality.

    Also like your chitinous insects carapace quality for the armour idea when I read that a dark green running into glossy black came to mind maybe you could base coat dark green then black wash them a black ink to get that sort of effect although that might be quite time consuming for a whole army

    • Thuloid

      Oh, I was made for overly complex effects on a whole army. I’d even highlight with a touch of a green metallic to give it that shimmer.

    • Thuloid
      • That’s another really nice way to go. I was picturing a dark beetle, but that’s really vibrant.

        • Thuloid

          I’m not sure I necessarily want that bright, but this was pretty cool.

    • The Warlock

      I was gonna suggest black lacquer for the armour and shield. Oddly enough the colour-shift thing with beetle chitin is that it’s more often than not a very dark iridescent green though would love to see it done on a mini 😀

      As for a non-overlapping suggesting, bronze with natural looking earthy greens/browns may work.

      Or! Surprised it’s not been said but how about an amber sort of look, ala the aptly named ‘Amber armour’ from ESIV: Oblivion?

  • I like how you describe the elves as alien. That was a big draw for me way back when with Eldar – they looked ALIEN.

    Insect themes have a lot of potential.. just a few ideas off the top of my head:
    – Armour = chitin
    – skin could be stark and black while the rest (armour, clothes, weapons) is more prismatic like a beetle.
    – colour shift paint. <- that there is the secret to nailing the insectoid look. This is the paint that looks like different metallic colours depending on the angle you look at it. Often it's a dark paint that switches between blue / purple / green. Automotive stores will sell touch up kits and I've seen some airbrush paints in this style too. There are also spray paints if you want to prime with a colour shift base coat. Some of the spray paints are a multi-step process, the final process being a clear spray, almost a varnish, that it too adds colours to the sheen / gloss. (For example.. paint the skin, then spray with the top coat and all the reflective highlights in the skin would sheen in like a red.)

    • Thuloid

      Right–I’m not interested in doing these as sort of snooty blonde people.

      The color shift is an interesting idea. I could practically base coat in it, since the figures are armored except for their faces.

      And then there are all the patterns, black splotches, etc you can find on bugs. Shields could be amazing.

      • Colour shift is also a technique you don’t see used. It’ll definitely stand out.

      • Bush Craft

        Totes snooty blonde people. But I guess I’m alone on that vote… ;(

        • Thuloid

          With the right figures, I might. These aren’t those figures.

  • Zab
    • I like the softer skinned one because of the shadows creeping up it.. kind telling a ghost story and holding a flashlight under your face, but reversed and sinister.

      There’s also this…

      http://www.dieantwoord.fr/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/Die-Antwoord-Tenion-1.jpg

    • Thuloid

      I like the last one in particular. Second is classic wood elves, also appealing, but I think not what I want for these particular models. If 8th edition had held on longer I might have looked at Wood Elves.

  • Captain Kellen

    Base them on the base’s linked below and use Secret Weapon ‘leaves’ to spruce them up…

    http://shop.microartstudio.com/ancient-bases-round-25mm-5-p-882.html

    I’m using the square version to base my latest ‘rats’ for Blood Bowl and using the ‘fall leaves’ to cover the sculpted leaves. We will see where it goes…

    I will be in some corner… sweeping sand… until Saturday…

    CK

    • Thuloid

      They’re beautiful–but that could get expensive. We’re talking as many bases as you’d see in a Warhammer Fantasy army–I own approximately 140 infantry models, for example. Buying those at ~1 euro per base is steep. There’s some cost savings if I think hard about the unit basing conventions, since KoW considers only a standardized unit footprint and doesn’t do individual model removal. So, an infantry regiment (20 figures) is 100mmx80mm.

      But I think I’m talking close to $200 US to base the whole army, if you count shipping. Not sure I want to do that.

      • I was going to say $1ish a model seems very cheap.. but I suppose when you factor it as a regimental game, it adds up pretty quick.

        • Thuloid

          Right. I’d easily pay that for my infinity guys. I got this whole army for less than $200. I’m not sure I want to double that to base it. But I suspect that’s just one reason it’s a lot harder to find the square bases from micro arts in the US. I can order them from Poland, of course–but sometimes you can find the round ones pretty well discounted.

      • Zab

        Make your own bases and rip open a tea bag and use that for the leaf scatter. Cheap n’ easy 🙂

        • Hit the model train store they sell huge tubs of basing materials really cheap I did all.my ravenguard with autumnal leafs that I got there over 3500 pts and I’ve still got half a tub left cost me £2

          • Hit the Bulk Barn. (aka, local store that sells loose tea, candy, baking supplies, etc for really cheap) I do most of my basing with “natural” supplies like tea, sand, strawberry seeds, etc because it looks so much more real.

        • Von

          Endorsed. I use dried-out herbal tea leaves on some bases. Everything smells very pleasantly of cinnamon.

          • Thuloid

            I’m not half bad at building up good-looking bases. Even in the old old days I insisted on flocking before I primed, so then I could paint and add other stuff on top of that. I expect I can build whole unit bases that will be really cool. Colors will matter a lot.

      • Captain Kellen

        You’ll have to forgive me. I forgot / didn’t process correctly that you have a ‘plethora’ of units and models to base. I did want to send you in a positive direction towards some cool bases as a suggestion.

        Blood Bowl is pretty easy… 16 players at the most and then if you want some extra models for sideline fans, coaches, and such it doesn’t deplete your hobby budget.

        Those bases though are great. I love the look of them and hope to do them justice in the near future. My hobby time though is thin due to having the corner expanded for another minion. The Irish Princess takes some of my time too… wink, wink.

        CK

        • Thuloid

          Oh, I love blood bowl. And I plan on using some of those bases in the future, just not on this scale.

  • If I was doing those models I’d use Melniboneans as my inspiration – all icy whites and really faint pastels. With glossy, splintery black points of interest.

    Hey how does army building work in this game? Can you make pretty much the sort of force you want, or are there strict conventions that force you to buy hundreds of the same troops everyone else has?

    • Thuloid

      List building is very open. Units come in 4 basic sizes–troop (10 infantry or 5 cavalry), regiment (20 or 10 infantry or cav, or 3 Large Infantry or Large Cavalry), horde (40 infantry, 20 cavalry, or 6 LI or LC), and Legion (60 infantry, doesn’t exist for cav., 12 LI or LC). To keep MSU spam down, you can take up to two Troops per Regiment, and up to 4 troops per Horde or Legion. Then you can also take one Hero, Monster or War Machine per Regiment, and one Hero, one Monster and one War Machine per Horde or Legion.

      But what those units are (cheap troops, elites, all cav, scouts) doesn’t matter. You can’t spam characters, war machines and monsters without solid units, and you can’t take only minimum sized units. Beyond that, your call. You don’t even have to have any characters.

      So, take the Basileans (vaguely Byzantine Empire, with a lot of religious troops and actual angels). They have stock men-at-arms, but you don’t need to field them. If you want, you can go all angelic troops (Elohi), which are large infantry that fly. The army lists were fairly balanced before, but looking at the 2.0 versions, almost nothing pops out as unusually good or bad.

      And yes, you’re right–I think these elves go back to early GW elves in a way. That makes sense. Ronnie Renton, the CEO, played Warhammer from the mid-80s, and worked for GW for a long time. He had the entire Mantic ogre line modelled after a few particular ogre models from that era. I haven’t heard it said, but I suspect the elves were similarly influenced.

      • Cheers for the run down. A 28mm regiment-level fantasy game that isn’t ponderous as all hell actually sounds kind of appealing. I’d like an army of Dwarfs in phalanxes with pikes, supported by a few units of gunners and maybe some skirmishers. Can I do that then?

        I also kind of like the idea of an army with no heroes.

        • Thuloid

          Yes, actually you can do that. And there’s no reason it wouldn’t work. Blocks of dwarf Bulwarkers (they have spears and so the phalanx rule), either crossbows, rifles or sharpshooters, and then some rangers. Dwarves also have a nasty cavalry unit (berserkers on bears), earth elementals, and all the usual artillery.

          Heroes are not offensive powerhouses in this game, unless you pay a boatload of points and mount one on a dragon or something. They’re there more for leadership effects and the odd spell.

          • Well then. I suppose I’d better buy some Dwarfs hadn’t I? Earth elementals too you say? This is a worrying development for my hobby budget.

          • Thuloid

            And if you like the elementals, you probably want to come up with a suitable figure for a stone priest (they make models for neither a priest nor the elementals at this point, though the Abyssal Dwarf Obsidian Golem models are good, and stand in well for earth elementals). Elementals are “shambling”, meaning they can’t march. A stone priest has a spell called Surge, which just means that in the shooting phase you roll a bunch of dice and for every 4+ can push a nearby unit with shambling forward an inch (magic is very simple–no dispels or anything).

  • Cedric Ballbusch

    Even if you take as given that elves are hominids, you still have a lot of room for ‘alien’. What is elven wargear even made out of? I recall way, way back in SpellJammer (I’m old) elves grew much of their war material from semi-intelligent plants.

    • That seems morbid.

      • Cedric Ballbusch

        Granted, but non-humans would not have a human sense of right and wrong (which is extremely flexible, and mostly cultural). Even then, one assumes they wouldn’t possess Judaeo-Christian morality.

        • You’ll get no arguments from me there.

      • Thuloid

        Morbid would be if the plant people grew elves for weapons. My sympathy for vegetables is limited, no matter how clever they are.

        • or sex slaves

          • Thuloid

            I think I’d like to meet the vegetable that’s interested in sex with elves.

          • Jace and the wheeled warriors just got x rated

          • Cedric Ballbusch

            I’ve seen enough hentai to know where this is going…

          • *Evil Dead

          • Cedric Ballbusch

            Forgot about that scene…

    • Thuloid

      It’s a good point. I love Tolkien, but I’m more than ready to try something that isn’t a severely watered down version of his elves.

      • Cedric Ballbusch

        The popular post-Tolkien vision of elves are as men plus. Roughly analogous to Celtic Otherworlders, Greeks of the Heroic Age (absent the size), or biblical humans immediately after being cast out of Eden. They’re human, but they’re smarter, prettier, taller, etc.

        From old D&D on elves have also picked up an interesting number of middle class fashions. I’m sure we could spill a lot of ink over the conflict between the intellectual, egalitarian, slow-breeding-to-eventual-extinction elves and the ignorant, patriarchal, super fertile orcs and how that connects to the fears inherent in occidental declinist narratives. But, really, we probably shouldn’t

        • I’ve often thought that if elves were real they would all have a terrible fear of accidental/violent death. Imagine if the only way you could die was if your body was physically destroyed somehow? I don’t think they’d be driving many cars, or fighting many battles.

          Or even leaving their houses come to think of it.

          • Now, think of all the evil and incompetence in the world that prompts this behaviour.

          • But even if there was no war or incompetence, there would still be accidents. A tree might fall on you or… I once read about a guy who tripped on his front step and had his throat cut by his coffee cup. And the rarer the accidents got the more scared the elves would be. The longer you live, the more trivial your end feels.

            Their only option would be to exert total control over the world and make it as timeless as they are.

            And there we have the reason elves go to war…

            Oh, oh, and imagine how ANGRY the elves would be if a human or a dwarf or something defied them. If we killed just one of them in a quarrel, they’d probably try and exterminate our species for “safety.”

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