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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.