Sunday 31 January 2021

Time For A Change

The tendrils of Chaos have wrapped themselves round my thoughts, and despite the best efforts of the noble Blood Angels, a new threat has been summoned to my little corner of the galaxy, the Segmentum Cheaphammerus.

The vanguard of this incursion are three Blue Horrors of Tzeentch.

Having decided to take the plunge back into 40k, being me, I spent a lot of time just after Christmas pondering the best way to get something close to value for money from Games Workshop.

I settled on the Start Collecting Daemons of Tzeentch, which at £44 (from Outpost, further reduced by my accrued Outpoints) for 500 points seemed a decent start, given that the component parts would have been £77 from Outpost and a whopping £92.50 direct from GW.

On top of that, there is enough versatility in how you build the set (particularly the chariot & characters) that it's possible to make use of several copies of this box for further savings; unlike some boxes GW do.

These Blue Horrors are actually an upgrade to the chariot kit and so not counted amongst the 18 models that you get. Therefore they seemed a good place to start to try out a few things.

Firstly, the skin was done with a base of Caledor Sky, a wash of Drakenhof Nightshade and drybrush of Lothern Blue.

Given that there was very little in the way of jewellery or other accessories, I wanted it to contrast and stand out. Therefore it was all done in Retributor Armour, with a few jewels done with Blood For The Blood God, because I like the effect.

I've decided to use Tesseract Glow technical paint for any flames on the models, as I like the eldritch green-yellow effect, conveying a magical fire.

I'm also rubbish at doing regular fire.

The bases were done with Agrellan Earth technical paint, because I had it to hand, drybrushed with Ushabti Bone and finished off with some dead grass flock that I haven't used since I bought it about 8 years ago.

All in all, I like my Blue Meanies and even though they are too few to form part of the army for a while, there are certain proofs of concept that I've tried that will be used elsewhere in the army.

When I originally added the Start Collecting box to my tally, I only counted the 18 models labelled on the packaging. Given that I've used the Blue Horrors separately, I probably should add them to both tallies because I'm an honest sort.

Acquired: 28
Painted: 16

Saturday 30 January 2021

Know Your Enemy

Our WFRP campaign continues. The four companions had successfully managed to turn a group beggars and refugees into mercenary cannon fodder and were now on the march to war.

Grey skies hung heavy overhead and a fine drizzle fell on the army of Masserschloss following the Old Dwarf Road as it wound through the hills.

At the head of the column rode what could be considered a troop of knights, without the panoply and uniformity of those in the Empire. However, despite the mismatched armour, these grim men rode with an intimidating confidence that conveyed the familiar sense of superiority that exuded from all of their kind.

Behind them marched a similarly motley parade of infantry. Experienced fighting men, who knew their trade and took responsibility for their own equipment. In any other land, they might be mistaken for a rabble of sellswords, but here they were the closest thing to a professional army that the region could offer.

In stark contrast, behind them came the gaudily dressed Tilean pikemen and crossbows of the 'Blood Eagles'. Arrayed in striking red and black, their movement suggested the regular drill and practice of a professional mercenary company.

Up and down the flanks of the column, ranging ahead and behind rode the outriders. Alert to the possibility of ambush and enemy activity, they screened the main force and allowed it to proceed unhindered.

At the back of the column trudged a small company of poorly outfitted spearmen. Sackcloth tabards bearing the twin-tailed comet identified them as men of the Empire, and anything but professionals. They were also followed by a straggle of women and children, loathe to leave their men folk, and unwilling to trust the protection of strangers.


Heinz Castel rode proudly on his black mare at the head of the bedraggled spearmen. He inwardly bristled at the disrespect of being ordered to march at the rear, but was also grateful that the damp weather and solid Dwarven road meant that he didn't also have to cope with the indignity of either dust or mud created by the rest of the army.

In contrast, Wolfgang Braun, riding beside him, was enjoying his change in fortunes. The last time he'd marched in an army, he'd been on foot, in the mud, with a palpable sense of panic that the force might be overtaken and consumed by the gibbering hordes of Chaos at any time. This leisurely ride didn't exactly feel like war.

Behind them, amongst the men, Rudiger Reich marched with irritable purpose. He sensed that he had truly found his path and that Sigmar was guiding his footsteps. His destiny lay ahead, and he was frustrated that this army was moving at such a snail's pace. It felt almost deliberately slow and left Rudiger eagerly imagining what lay ahead.

Garil Ragnarsson was also thinking about what lay ahead. However, his thoughts extended beyond this petty human squabble. Somewhere along this road his treacherous cousin, Barik, had established a mine, probably with the clan support he had denied Garil. The time was coming when an old grudge would be settled.


As the evening drew in, the column halted once again and made camp. Each company looked to it's own defences and the Sigmarites were no exception. Guards were posted, fires were lit and latrines were dug.

The men and their families were in good spirits. The arrival of the wild-eyed zealot, Rudiger, and his friends, in their camp outside Masserschloss had changed the fortunes of all of them. Whatever lay ahead, they had eaten better in the last few days than they had in some time, and they were being treated with a modicum of respect and decency. What was more, the march was not punishing, and so laughter and singing were heard around the campfires.

"Are we ready?" Heinz asked of Rudiger, Wolfgang and Garil. He had been passed a note by an outrider earlier in the day. Their presence had been requested by Dieter von Masserschloss, their erstwhile employer, and Heinz hoped to make a good impression.

"Aye, let's get it over with," said Garil, "might as well find out what he wants of us."

"Is it wise for all of us to go?" asked Wolfgang, looking sidelong at Rudiger.

"Fear not, good Wolfgang," responded the zealot. "I don't believe you will say anything to upset this petty heathen princeling."

"That's not what I..." put in the farrier.

"Besides," continued Rudiger, "he asked for all of us."

"Yes. That's unfortunately true," said Heinz with a rueful smile at Wolfgang.


The four companions were ushered into the spacious, if less than grand (to Heinz's eyes, at least) tent. They briefly wondered why their arms had not been taken, but one look at the group of hard-eyed, well-armed men gathered in the tent showed that they were clearly not feared.

All eyes turned to them as they entered, and Wolfgang felt the all too familiar inferiority of the common man for the first time since he'd left the Empire.

All were stood, save for one who was seated on an ornate wooden chair. Dieter von Masserschloss. A powerfully built man in his middle years. His strong jaw looked carved from granite, and his pale hair was in the process of turning from golden yellow to steel grey. Leaning against the back of his chair was a fearsome-looking bastard sword.

The prince's flinty stare turned to the new arrivals, appraising what was standing before him.

He stood to greet them, "I bid you welcome, our newest mercenary captains. I must admit, few have announced their arrival in my lands in such a manner as you have. Simultaneously providing my army with recruits whilst removing a problem from outside my walls. I will admit, I hadn't known how to easily clear that camp without undue cruelty or unmerited kindness, and yet you solved my dilemma in little more than a day. For that, you have my thanks."

He smiled, although in such a way that Garil did not feel particularly reassured. He was reminded of the tales of dragons toying with their prey that his mother had told him as a child.

"Now, let me introduce my commanders, and then we can hear about you."

The collection of armed men took turns to curtly introduce themselves, but it didn't take long before the unfamiliar names became a confusing blur. However, the companions did recognise the gaudy Tilean, Capitan Bertinelli, and the outrider Markus they had met just after entering Masserschloss.

Heinz noted that Markus clearly recognised them too, and regarded them with the eyes of someone who was in the process of rethinking a first impression. Was he suspicious of their rapid change in fortunes? Had word of a missing patrol reached him? Heinz was quietly thankful that they had only kept one of the stolen horses.

"Now," said Dieter, "tell us briefly of yourselves, and why, exactly, you have decided to hitch your fortunes to mine so quickly."

Garil's teeth ground together. There it was. This is the trap, he thought. Dieter was, rightly, suspicious of the newcomers' arrival on the eve of war. They would have to choose their words carefully.

Heinz began, and told a not entirely untrue tale of seeking new life and fortune now that the Stom of Chaos had washed across his ancestral lands. In Garil's opinion, he overcooked the pudding a touch with the bit about wanting to prove himself and find service with the greatest lord in the region, but flattery was clearly something Dieter was used to.

"An ambitious man, it seems," responded Dieter when Heinz had finished, then he added with a grin to the assembled warriors, "with an eye for advancement. Watch your backs, gentlemen."

Wolfgang told the truth, as he always did. Of the Storm, his family and the journey south. The prince seemed taken aback by the Nordlander's frank tale.

"An honest man. Refreshing. Honesty is not a commodity that one in my position is used to. Experience tells me that it will not always be so between us, but this is a good start."

Rudiger spoke of his faith and calling to follow Sigmar. He also spoke of his desire to help the faithful and, characteristically, had the temerity to ask what could be done for them. As the zealot spoke, Garil noticed that Dieter's posture changed. He became more defensive. Something about Rudiger displeased him.

"I know little of your faith, and I am less than keen for people to rally to a banner other than mine within my own borders. However, what I do know of Sigmar is not unfavourable, and, so far, your crusade has been beneficial to me. Pray keep it that way, lest we become adversaries. That would not end well for you, or those of your faith."

Garil now spoke. He was, as requested, brief. He only alluded to family issues that would ultimately take him out of Masserschloss after the campaign was over.

"Well, you have my goodwill whilst you fight with us. I shall not prevent your personal quest from continuing, as long as it does me no harm. I know how important such things are to your folk."

"Well, I thank you for you candidness. I choose to believe your tales, for now. But let me be clear. I do not trust you, and nor shall I. Not because of any fault of yours, but simply because these lands will make you wary of everybody. Even those you consider friends. I will reward good service handsomely, but treachery will be punished without mercy."

There was a silence on the tent. It was clear that Dieter's words were not meant only for the four companions, but all present. The prince regarded everybody about him with equal suspicion.

"Now, to business. You will no doubt have observed the slow pace of this army. This is deliberate. Several days ago, Dhouda's raiders struck across the river at Karl's Folly towards several villages of mine. Skirmishes like this happen from time to time. However, my eldest boy, Hans, rather than simply chasing them off, foolishly pursued across the river and paid with his life. This, I cannot let stand."

"Do you mean to kill this Dhouda?" asked Rudiger. "I've been told she's a witch."

Dieter seemed surprised at the interruption, but tolerated the question.

"She's no witch. She is however, a woman with power, and some men always see witchcraft when that happens. She's Bretonnian though, and no fool. No, I won't be invading. It would take much more than this army to storm Karl's Folly against determined defenders. However, I do mean to send Dhouda a message she won't forget in a hurry."

Dieter paused.

"In the time since Hans was killed, Dhouda has no doubt been trying to consolidate her gains. However, she cannot hope to match me in a pitched battle. As news of our advance reaches them, her men will, sensibly, abandon their positions and make their way south with whatever loot they can carry. That's where I shall catch them."

"This is a diversion?" said Garil.

"Indeed, master Dwarf. Markus here, has quietly moved his outriders to the river. When Dhouda's forces retreat from our advance, which I am giving them ample time to think about, they will all be caught or killed as they head home piecemeal. I'll make that Breton bitch think twice before ever setting foot across the river again."

"And if they do meet us in battle?" put in Bertinelli.

"Then, good Capitan, you shall earn your pay."

The Tilean smiled a predator's smile.

"Which brings me to you," said Dieter turning to the four companions. "Much as I appreciate your efforts, I shall not be placing your ragtag troop in a battle line. Nonetheless, there is a task more suited to you."

Rudiger and Heinz both leaned forward, eager to hear. Wolfgang shifted uncomfortably. Garil braced himself and stroked his beard thoughtfully.

"To the southwest of here, well away from the inhabited lands, lies the ruin of a keep. My scouts tell me that a small force of Dhouda's men have taken it. They probably think that their presence there might pass unnoticed and will likely hope to hold it as a staging post for future raids."

Dieter sat down again and looked directly at Heinz.

"I want you to drive them out and hold the keep against future attack. Capture or kill any you find there. When you are successful, you and your people can take the keep and the lands around it as their home. It's good land. You will owe me fealty, but those families will have a place to call their own. You will find me a benevolent lord."

Whilst Heinz and Rudiger eagerly agreed, Wolfgang considered the thought of trying to lead poorly armed men against a defended position. He'd seen the hordes of Chaos break upon the walls of Middenheim and he didn't relish the reversal of roles.

Garil continued to stroke his beard. There was more to this than Dieter was telling.


Eager to be away early, the Sigmarites had struck camp before dawn and moved off the road, following directions they had been given. It was heavy going underfoot, and with the women, children and the frail following, they moved slowly.

Heinz had taken to decision to ride ahead with Wolfgang to scout the route and locate the keep. They'd been told that if they headed southeast, they couldn't miss it, but Heinz was keen to impress his new employer and was keen to assess the task.

Rudiger and two of the men with woodland experience ranged ahead and alongside the rag-tag group, alert for danger and searching for the best path. Garil marched with the main group. Helping those that struggled and keeping things moving.

The green hills were dotted with the occasional copse of trees and bushes. It was ideal herding country, and it seemed strange to the travellers that the barren scrubland they'd passed through to the north was inhabited, albeit sparsely, but there was no sign of anybody living here. Perhaps it was the threat of the border, but then again, Dieter had clearly talked about villages further south.

It was midday when Heinz and Wolfgang crested a rise and saw the unmistakable silhouette of a castle on a hill ahead. From this side it looked intact, and Heinz wondered if they'd been lied to. They'd need to scout it before approaching.

"I'll keep watch on it, to see if there's any sign of life," said Heinz, "you head back and make sure they find the right road."

Wolfgang begrudgingly turned back, but before long he found himself out of his bearings. The landscape all looked so unfamiliar. He rode back and forth, desperately trying to find some recognisable landmark, worried that he'd not only lost track of the main body, but also that he didn't know how to find his way back to Heinz.

He was about to give up when he caught sight of a silhouette in the trees ahead. It looked for all the world like someone bending a bow in his direction.

Quickly, Wolfgang raised a hand at the figure, "hold, don't shoot!" he called.

The figure relaxed and stepped out of the shadows, "is that you Herr Braun? It's me, Franz. What are you doing out this way, you've almost missed everybody."


After concocting an awkward cover story for his misdirection, Wolfgang guided the Sigmarites to where Heinz was watching the castle. He found his way back more easily because they were moving more slowly and he had plenty of time to check his route.

Heinz reported no signs of life, and whilst the company and their families rested in the shelter of a small dip in the land, Heinz, Rudiger, Garil and Wolfgang set about scouting the area as the early evening began to set in.


Garil and Rudiger edged from tree to tree directly towards the castle. It stood on a hill ahead of them, but was overlooked by another hill to their right. Heinz and Wolfgang had gone there to see if they could get an idea about the state of the whole building. The Dwarf and the zealot had volunteered to see if they could determine how well defended the place was.

"It's in an odd place," whispered Garil, "what's it for? Even your impulsive kind don't build fortifications for no reason."

"I'd thought the same thing," replied Rudiger, "it doesn't seem wise to put it where it can be looked down on, either. And why does nobody live here? We saw no signs of anybody in this area on the journey."

"Orcs?" Garil spat as he said it.

"Maybe. Do you think Dieter would send us up against greenskins without a warning?"

"I think I wouldn't trust that one as far as I could throw him."

"Me neither. Let's be careful."

They continued their approach to the hill. No site or sound of anybody defending the ominous shadow of the keep.


Away to their right, Heinz and Wolfgang looked down toward the ruin, for a ruin it was. Despite the intact keep and tower facing the direction from which Garil and Rudiger had planned to approach, they could now make out three more towers, two of them partially collapsed. The walls between them had also fallen and diverted what had clearly once been a moat to run through the gates and into the courtyard.

To Wolfgang's eyes, this looked much more promising. He turned toward where Heinz had been to discuss heading back, only to find that the nobleman had gone. He was heading down the hill directly towards the castle.

"Where are you going?" Wolfgang cried in a hoarse whisper.

"I want to get a closer look," replied Heinz, turning. At that point he slipped and tumbled down the slope, crashing through the undergrowth, twigs and branches cracking beneath him.


Garil and Rudiger stopped suddenly as they heard the crashing off to their right. They feared for their companions. Had they been caught? Were they fighting for their lives?

Rudiger looked back towards the keep, and where once it had been a dark, impenetrable wall, there was now a glimmer of light shining through an arrow slit.

Someone was in there.


Wolfgang picked his way down the hill where Heinz has disappeared into the darkness. The trail was easy to follow, and the Nordlander feared that he might find Heinz severely hurt at the end of it. Instead he found Heinz groaning in a pile broken branches at the base of the slope.

"Are you hurt?" asked Wolfgang.

"Just my pride," replied Heinz, "help me up will you?"

Wolfgang put out his hand, but at that moment lights could suddenly be seen moving through the trees and voices could be heard in the darkness. They were speaking a language Wolfgang had not heard for a long time. A language he'd learned to speak to traders travelling through the Empire via Marienburg. They were Bretonnian voices.

"Come on. We need to move!"

Friday 29 January 2021

Lurkers of the Deep

I've just backed another Kickstarter.

Unsurprisingly, it's for 7TV by Crooked Dice (which is the usual target of my Kickstarter adventures), and is a Lovecraftian expansion for 7TV: Pulp, and is the first in a series of 'feature packs' offering fixed storylines, unique profile cards and new mechanics.

What's more it comes in a classic VHS case.

There are a range of pledges available, to suit all wallets. At the moment I've plumped for the heroes pledge, which gives me the feature pack and 8 heroic types that look like they might fit in with some of my other projects.

However, as well as miniatures there are a whole boatload of MDF buildings that have been designed by Sarissa Precision. I might be tempted by some of these later on...

The campaign is already rattling through the stretch goals, both paid and ons and free stuff.

Yes, I'm pimping this. Partly because more free stuff via stretch goals is cool, but mainly because Crooked Dice is a company that I really like to support. I've backs almost all of their Kickstarters and they've all been delivered with the minimum of fuss.

Jump on board, or overboard...Great Cthulhu is waiting.

Wednesday 27 January 2021

The Boba Fett of D&D

Warduke - from the D&D cartoon and toy line. 

Why do I say he's the Boba Fett of D&D? Because he looks so damn cool!

And you thought I'd exhausted every Saturday morning cartoon of the 80s?

Sorry to disappoint.

I hadn't intended to start a D&D project, but, well, look at the guy!

I had the toy version of Warduke, along with several others of the line, and was utterly bemused as a kid when only a few of them (Warduke, Strongheart and Kelek) turned up a maximum of once each in the cartoon series, and some (Elkhorn, Melf and Ringlerun) didn't show up at all. Instead it focused on a bunch of snivelling kids!

When the opportunity came to grab a fantastic custom sculpt of Warduke, I jumped at the chance.

The model is excellent and was a joy to paint (even though I forgot to wash it and was battling mould release agent all the way). I missed the only noticeable mould line on the bare leg, but the shield covers it perfectly.

I love this model.

I'm also really pleased with how I've painted it. It's definitely improved my approach to painting blue.

He's destined to be part of my 7TV: Fantasy cast, when it's released. I have lots of other fantasy models, as you know, but the whole point of 7TV is recreating nostalgic TV and film, and so it's nice to do something specifically for it.

The only question that remains is whether to build a cast that evoke the cartoon episode Warduke is in: Venger, Orcs and Bullywugs (Antedilluvian Miniatures will help here), or to go hunting for proxies for the others in the action figure range.

Acquired: 25
Painted: 13

Sunday 24 January 2021

Who Let The Dogs Out?

Farmer Maggot did. Some pesky young tween 'as after been 'is mushrooms. Young scallywags! More than like as not that young Master Brandybuck an' 'is friend Peregrin Took.

I've painted Farmer Maggot and his dogs: Grip, Fang and Wolf, for Middle Earth Strategy Battle Game. I've done them because they feature in the first scenario of the Quest of the Ringbearer book, which I have a mind to try playing through solo. The smaller scenarios (at least until Moria) are much easier to manage than War in Rohan for now.

Farmer Maggot was quick to paint and actually looks better in real life than in this photo (he has eyes, for one thing). He's a good rendition of the movie version of Maggot, but in my head the character was always much older.

This is the first hobbit that I've painted in a very long time, and they do paint up quickly. The temptation to get the Scouring of the Shire book is already building (which I guess was one of GW's reasons for including him in this book - crafty beggars).

The dog models have their names on the metal tabs, but I didn't check which one was which, so I'm calling this one Grip.

I'm not overly keen on the sculpts of the dogs, this one especially, Crooked Dice do better ones. They lack detail and definition. However, I'm pleased to have got something out of them with a combination of contrast, dry brushing and washes.

This on is Fang; you can see his teeth. It's definitely my favourite of the three, both in terms of sculpt and my painting, and prompted some googling of the colours of Rottweilers, which are impressive, if intimidating beasts.

Wolf is so named because he's the most wolf-like. I did him in much the same way I did my Alsatian from Crooked Dice, as I wasn't clear what breed he is.

Initially the brighter highlight I did felt like a mistake, but I think it's actually worked out okay.

In terms of the Quest of the Ringbearer, I have everything I need to get from Hobbiton to the Barrow Downs, so you can probably expect a few reports to start popping up soon.

Acquired: 25
Painted: 12

Saturday 23 January 2021

The Last Drop Of Blood

I've come to the final couple of models in my revamped Blood Angels force: a Terminator and his Captain.

The Captain is the first 40k miniature I've bought since starting this blog, and really does highlight how far GW plastics have come in that time. So much more detail (he really brings the bling) and character in comparison with my older plastics.

I realised I needed/wanted another character when I started adding points up...well, I needed an extra unit and a single character was cheaper and quicker; thus finishing the army in the spirit in which it was begun.

The other miniature I've added was a surprise find in my bits box. I don't know why I didn't paint a sixth Terminator at the time (I think I got this one free with White Dwarf), but it was a nice way to bring things full circle.

One odd element of painting these two to match the others in the unit was trying to emulate the way I've painted them. Which meant dousing a basecoat of red with Nuln Oil and then 'fixing' it.

Annoyingly, I've run out of white Blood Angel icons for the shoulder pad. I do have a transfer exchange arranged with Pete which will fix this, but that will have to wait until the world is different.

That brings my full army to 2000 points, and I'm going to leave it there until I've at least played a few games to work out how crap it is as an army.

In the meantime, there's a certain irony to that fact that I started to repaint this army to prevent me starting another one. I've enjoyed painting it so much that might possibly have bought the beginnings of another 40k army a few weeks ago. However, I'll probably leave starting it until I've done a few other things over the next couple of weeks.

Acquired: 25
Painted: 8

Saturday 16 January 2021

In The Army Now

In our ongoing WFRP campaign, our heroes: Nordlander blacksmith, Wolfgang Braun; zealot of Sigmar, Rudiger Reich; disgraced noble, Heinz Castel; and Dwarven jailer, Garil Ragnarsson, have found their way to the Border Principality of Masserschloss.

Unfortunately, the tides of war lap on many shores and the group find themselves caught up in a squabble between princes when Rudiger spots an opportunity to improve the lot of some Imperial refugees by offering to turn them into a mercenary company.

Captain Schiller brushed his lanky grey hair back over his scalp. He eyed the two strangers stood opposite him suspiciously.

One of them, the taller of the two, looked fresh faced and honest. Schiller had seen his type before. The sort that believed that hard work and morality were somehow deserving of reward. The sort that were so quickly disabused of that notion in the squalid mire of the Border Princes.

The other, wild haired and wild eyed, struck Schiller as dangerous. He looked, to the captain of the guards' eyes, like an Anchorite hermit. However, the flail clutched in his hand and the untidy tattoo of a hammer on his forehead betrayed his true nature. A Sigmarite zealot that had somehow failed to get himself killed in the north. Dangerous.

Schiller sighed.

"So, you're offering to turn that unwashed straggle of beggars into an armed company?"

"Yes, sir," said the taller one. He'd introduced himself as Wolfgang, "we're both experienced fighting men. We know what's required to get them to stand."

Honesty. Schiller liked that. The boy wasn't trying to pretend that the desperate people from outside the gates would make for anything other than a levy.

"And with Sigmar's light ignited within them," put in the other. Rudiger, was it? "Well, then we can forge them into a hammer that is able to smite any foe!"

Schiller sighed again. This one was full of fire and brimstone and likely to lead the rabble in a headlong charge to certain death; against orders. He looked sidelong at Wolfgang, "and who, exactly, will be in command of this little venture?"

Schiller saw a knowing smile play on the lips of the young man. It was clear he understood Schiller's concern.

"Well sir, that would be Herr Heinz Castel. An experienced officer, of noble birth, from the great state of Talabecland."


"You've volunteered me for what?"

Heinz's face was bright red, his eyes bulging and a little vein that Wolfgang had never noticed before throbbed on his temple.

"You are now the commanding officer of a mercenary company in the service of Dieter von Masserschloss," said Wolfgang as calmly as he could.

"But how?" spluttered the Talabeclander, "I know nothing about such things. And where are my men? And how will they be trained and equipped? And fed? Did you think about any of this?"

"Not exactly," put in Rudiger, "but Sigmar opened the door of opportunity, all we had to do was follow where he led."

Heinz looked ready to blow.

"It's not that bad Heinz," explained Wolfgang quickly, "we have the men, well, we know where to get them. We also have a little time to train and equip them before we march."

"How long do we have?"

"Some days?"

"How many? Exactly!"


Heinz blew.

"Two days? Two days! To recruit, train and equip a body of men before marching to war? We have no experience of this sort of thing whatsoever!"

"Now you know that's not true," stated Rudiger defiantly, "Wolfgang and I both served bravely in the Storm of Chaos, and faced dangers the like of which we shall not encounter in this petty border squabble."

Heinz was curt in his reply, "exactly, you served. You didn't lead."

"And that's why we volunteered you to lead," said Wolfgang, with a wry smile, "you're born to it. Anyway, in my experience leading a company is mainly sitting on a horse looking noble and pointing. It's the sergeants that do all the donkey work of training and drill."

"And where are you going to find one of those," asked the gruff voice of Garil, the dwarf, who'd been quietly chuckling whilst eating his lunch as the humans squabbled.

"Funny you should ask," replied Wolfgang, with a deadpan look on his face.

All eyes turned to the dwarf.

"Oh no, lad, don't bring me into this!"


The four surveyed the motley rabble stood in front of them.

The desperate folk had gathered to listen to Rudiger speak. After he had brought food for them and their families the day before, the refugees from the Empire had come eagerly to hear his sermon.

Rudiger had praised their fortitude in surviving such a harsh journey south. He had reminded them of their stout Imperial hearts and comiserated with them about their lost lands. Finally, he had offered hope. Hope of a better life, hope of renewed dignity and hope of once more being people who had purpose. He had asked them to fight. To fight for their place in this land, and to prove their worth to its ruler, Dieter von Masserschloss.

And here they stood, three dozen unarmed men. Only a handful with military experience of any kind. Tired and hungry. Dressed in ragged, travel stained clothes. Barely a mob, let alone a mercenary company.

Garil stepped forward. He wasn't sure this was a good idea, but he did know that his destiny and his grudges lay in the south. That was where this 'army' was heading. At least this meant not travelling alone.

"Right then, you lot!" he yelled in his most commanding tone. "You can't very well go into battle with naught but harsh words. First task: arm yourselves. Whatever you can find that might be able to ruin a man's day. Be back here before I count to a hundred."

The rabble scurried off to raid their motley collection of tents and lean-tos.

"You sounded good," said Heinz, "very convincing. I feel confident leaving the training in your capable hands, Garil."

"Oh aye? Leaving me to do the hard work?" grumbled the Dwarf.

"Well, somebody put me in command," smiled Heinz.

"Fear not, good dwarf!" chimed in Rudiger, "I shall stay beside you to motivate flagging spirits."

"I'll do what I can too," said Wolfgang helpfully.

"Oh no, good Wolfgang," put in Heinz quickly, "I have a task perfectly suited you."

Wolfgang was not overly keen on the expression on the nobleman's face.


"Why do you want me to buy sacks?" asked Wolfgang, confused, as he and Heinz walked back through the busy streets of Masserschloss.

"Because you are now my quartermaster," said Heinz, "you can't very well expect the commanding officer to be seen hauling hessian around. Garil and Rudiger seemed to have motivating those men under control, and, you have the natural look of a serving man."

Wolfgang let the insult pass, "fine, but my point is, why do you want a load of sacks?"

Heinz stopped and turned to face Wolfgang, "because, my good man, you and our resident firebrand have got us in up to our necks. There is no way in Morr's realm that we are going to turn that filthy mob into an armed company in two days."

He paused.

"And that means we're in a world of trouble," the Talabeclander paused, "unless we can convince von Masserschloss that we have done the impossible."

Wolfgang nodded. Heinz had a point. A good point. A really uncomfortably good point.

Heinz continued, "fortunately fo you, I'm here to save the day. I may not know anything about leading armed men, but I am, however, an expert at lying. If we are going to convince Masserschloss, those men are going to have to look the part."

"But what about the sacks?" Wolfgang was beginning to get frustrated.

"You see sacks. I see tabards. If we get thirty sacks and a roll of cheap cloth, we can pay a couple of seamstresses to neatly put holes for head and arms and then fashion a simple emblem on the front. What do you say to a twin-tailed comet? That should please Rudiger."

Wolfgang was silent.

"What's wrong?" asked Heinz.

"Heinz. That's...brilliant!"


The men came back armed with all sorts of makeshift weapons. Staves and clubs for the most part, but amongst them were a couple of rusty blades, hatchets and hammers, along with a couple of bows.

It was a start.

Garil then began dividing the men into drill groups and dredging his memory for maneuvers he'd learned in his youth, set them to exercises. Quickly the Dwarf identified the few with military experience and gave them the responsibility of passing on what they knew, building their confidence and forging unity.

Meanwhile, Rudiger lurked on the edge of the drill groups exhorting them in the name of Sigmar, praising their successes and reassuring them when mistakes were made.

Later he stalked through the camp to hear the concerns of the women folk and gently persuade the few men that had not come forward to confront their shame and stand with their brothers.

His task was aided when Wolfgang arrived with more food for the recruits and their families. After arranging for the uniforms to be made, Heinz had dispatched Wolfgang to arrange food to keep morale up whilst he worked on solving another problem.

Wolfgang then returned to meet with Heinz at the Renegade Crown whilst Rudiger and Garil stayed in the camp.


The following day the drills continued. Garil worked the men hard, but they seemed to warm to the gruff dwarf and Rudiger's increasingly enthusiastic sermons genuinely lifted morale. The previously bedraggled and despondent men of the refugee camp seemed to walk taller with the belief in them shown by their new comrades.

Spirits were lifted even further when Heinz and Wolfgang arrived with a cart full of rudimentary uniforms and, unbelievably, brand new spears to arm the men properly.

As the equipment was doled out, Garil quietly asked Heinz how he'd managed to lay his hands on so many weapons in a city going to war, and what it was going to cost.

"Not as much as you'd think," answered Heinz with a smirk, "but don't let them treat the spears too harshly in training. They're not exactly the best quality, but the blacksmith was quick. However, they look the part."

"Aye, lad," nodded the Dwarf, "that they do."


Captain Schiller looked at the rows of men in front of him in disbelief. The stinking rabble that had cluttered the gates of the past weeks had transformed overnight into ordered rows of armed men.

Where had they got the spears?

Admittedly, they were still scruffy. The tabards poking out from under cloaks, packs and belts were clearly sackcloth, and they were missing helms and shields. However, they were ordered and uniform enough to pass muster at a distance. The spears finished the image off. This lot might just convince Dhouda's men that they weren't a soft target in the middle of the Masserschloss lines.

That's all they needed to do.

"Very well, Herr Castel," said Captain Schiller, "you're hired."

As Wolfgang, Garil and Heinz breathed a sigh of relief, Rudiger's jaw set firm. He had redeemed the faithful of Sigmar, given them hope and purpose, and possibly taken the first step in founding his new Empire for his God. These people would follow him if he showed them the way.

Suddenly attention was drawn to the road where a column of armed men were marching swiftly towards Masserschloss. Garil recognised the pike and crossbow armed Tileans that marched under the the red and black banner they had seen on the road just a few days earlier. Their gleaming arms, brightly coloured garb and sharp movements told of trained and successful men. They threw the drab collection of motley Sigmarites into sharp relief, highlighting their failings.

Garil felt envious of the precise movements of the Tilieans. Wolfgang felt embarrassed at the shabby appearance their men. Heinz felt like a gambler whose spare ace had just slipped from his sleeve. Rudiger simply saw an obstacle appear.

Captain Schiller smiled as he looked at the four crestfallen companions, "you didn't think you were the only mercenaries we'd be hiring, did you?"

The Heavy Mob

Almost there with the revamp of my dusted off Blood Angels, and this is the final unit that needed painting: the Company Veterans.

These are all metal models, and by far the most fiddly to paint in the army. They have chains, badges, medallions and purity seals all over the place. On top of that, they are a bit rough in places. So much so that I wouldn't be hugely surprised (as I got them second hand) to discover that they were actually recasts.

Like the Apothecary, I'd originally painted them gold, but really didn't like it. And so I stripped them and went for the more subdued veteran colours (all official, according to my 5th edition codex) of just having gold helmets.

The sergeant has been in the wars. Not only does his armour bear battle-scars (you can see them on the power fist and left leg), but I also managed to drop him whilst negotiating a snowy path on the way to photograph the group, breaking his arm off. I think the repair paint is still drying in the photo.

Winning the prize for 'least practical outfit for combat' is the company banner bearer. I can't use him as a Company Ancient (which has rules for banners) because lightning claws aren't an option for them. Also, for the record, metal lightning claws are a pain in the ass to keep straight.

The banner is a resized and trimmed image from the codex, but does actually match the 2nd Company markings of the majority of the force (everyone except the Terminators).

Until I was given the old Chaplain by Pete, this chap was destined to be given my spare jump pack and become what I believe is known as a 'Smash Captain' - they were apparently quite the rage in 8th edition.

Now, however, he's left with flag envy in the Veterans. The yellow on the flag was done with Cassandora Yellow over white with a transfer, because my freehand is rubbish.

The final member of the squad has the dubious honour of being the first to die. With no fancy weapons that actually cost points he'll be taking the hits so the others can keep fighting.

This unit take my number of 'elite' units to four, which is one too many for my current battalion level army. However, this can be circumvented if the force includes a Captain, and so that's one of the two models I still have to paint.

The Company Veterans will probably act as a bodyguard for my Librarian, and, as a close combat focused unit, are likely candidates for rushing forwards mounted in either the Rhino or Razorback.

This week has seen me take delivery of a couple of individual models. One is a certain Timelord sent by a friend, the other is the coolest character you don't remember for yet another Saturday morning cartoon project.

Acquired: 25
Painted: 6

Saturday 9 January 2021


In the grim darkness of the 41st millennium there is, apparently, only war. Sounds dangerous. Somebody might get hurt.

Fortunately, I now have this guy.

This is an Apothecary for my Blood Angel's force, which for some reason I'd originally painted gold, and so he's been stripped back a redone from scratch.

Painting white armour carries its own issues. I went for the aptly named Apothecary White contrast paint over a Corax White base. This comes out a little too grey, and so I then drybrushed and highlighted with White Scar.

Going back and filling in colours on top of white meant for a lot of tidying up as I went, but I think it's turned out okay.

On the backpack I've used a tiny bit of Tesseract Glow technical paint to give a neon effect to something that looked a bit like a plasma generator to my eyes. I've also gone back to the few plasma weapons in the rest of my army to do the same and help them stand out.

I'm a fan of the technical paints range and the gem on the holster (along with all similar gems in the army) has been done with the Blood For The Blood God technical paint to make them shiny.

I'm really quite happy with how this chap has turned out, despite being a bit worried early in the process.

However, even though I've painted an Apothecary, my painting tally has already taken a wound in the form of me inevitably spending some Christmas money. I've picked up a few LotR bits, a single model for the Blood Angels and a brand new project for 2020. That leaves things looking like this:

Acquired: 23
Painted: 2

There's a long way to go yet though.

Saturday 2 January 2021

Welcome to Masserschloss

Being able to reconnect with my roleplaying buddies (old friends, very old friends in Grandad's case) was one of the brightest points of 2020.

What follows is the continuing account of our four heroes leaving the Empire and seeking their fortunes in the Border Princes.

Atop the rise, looking down into the valley, five figures, along with three horses, were silhouetted against the grey sky. Below them unfolded a view of a lush valley, quite unlike the hard and barren lands they had been travelling through. Nestled in the valley, astride a river, stood a walled town. Their goal. Their destination. Masserschloss.

For each of the travellers Masserschloss represented something different but important. What's more, for all of them, the town represented a chance to stop. Pause their journey, sleep under a roof and enjoy a few comforts, at least for a little while.

Sat up on his black mare, Heinz Castel surveyed the small town below. It wasn't exactly Talabheim, but did look like it could offer a few luxuries and diversions. Heinz smiled. He wasn't made for the open road, and soaking nights huddled under blankets.

Also mounted was Wolfgang Braun. As neither the Dwarf or the zealot had shown any interest in making use of the horses they'd gained from the altercation with the Outriders, Wolfgang had helped himself to the piebald gelding. Despite working with horses all his life, he'd never actually owned one (if taking a horse from a man you'd killed counted as 'owning' it). For Wolfgang, the town presented the first real chance to find news of his family since leaving the Empire.

Resolutely stood alongside them, Rudiger Reich had refused the offer of the third horse. He had impatiently explained that his calling was to follow in the 'footsteps' of Sigmar, and he couldn't very well do that from the back of a horse. Rudiger saw Masserschloss as a place where he could spread the holy word, and perhaps begin the process of building a new, uncorrupted Empire. He would be alert for signs from Sigmar to show him the path.

Nobody had thought to even bother offering a horse to Garil. He didn't care. He was a Dwarf, and Dwarfs stay close to ground. For Garil, Masserchloss was likely to be the place where he said farewell to his companions. His destiny, and a confrontation with his cousin Barak, lay far to the east in the World's Edge Mountains. It was a dangerous road with little to offer his companions at its end.

The final and newest member of the party was Detlef. For him, Masserschloss was home. It was also where he would have to bring news of the death of his friend and partner Karl to the man's wife, Marie. He would also deliver the body of Karl, currently unceremoniously strapped across the back of the third horse, for burial. It was not the homecoming he hadwanted.


The journey down towards the town allowed those unfamiliar with it to take in details they had missed from the ridge.

On either side of the river that ran through the valley basin, the lush green land was dotted with small farmsteads. Small boats bobbed on the water. Not the large trade barges and pleasure craft so familiar on the Reik or Talabec, but fishing boats, most likely.

The town itself was situated on the western side of the river. An old stone wall surrounded it. Although nothing like the walls if the great city states of the Empire, it was clearly enough of an obstacle to deter all but the most numerous warbands of greenskins.

On the eastern side of the river, connected to the town by a single stone bridge, a weathered old castle sat atop a rocky bluff. It reminded Heinz of the family seats of some of the more rural noble families of Talabecland, built primarily for defence against the wild rather than comfort.


The gates of Masserschloss loomed ahead. Traffic in the form of traders and farmers bringing their wares to market moved along the road with them.

The gates themselves were heavy, wooden and about fifteen feet high. In front of them were arrayed what could only be assumed to be a group of guards. They wore no discernible uniform, save for red sashes bound about their waists. Their weaponry was a varied collection marked only by a distinct lack of uniformity. These were clearly sellswords, like the Outriders, aligned to Dieter von Masserschloss purely for the coin.

Wolfgang was troubled by the number of guards on gate duty. It would surely be a job for only a handful of men in the Empire, but here there were more than a dozen. Even in the event of an attack, it would not make sense to have men outside the walls. The guards looked like they had been deployed for trouble. Was this a welcoming party? Had news of the incident on the road somehow reached Masserschloss?

Wolfgang's fears were allayed when he realised that most of the guards were not actually watching the road. Their eyes were drawn off towards the river where a small shanty town huddled against the city walls. Tents and lean-tos were clustered together indiscriminately, and drawn, pale faces stared out towards the road. As they drew nearer, a distinct smell assaulted Wolfgang's nostrils, clearly emanating from the encampment.

A few disheveled figures broke away from the camp and headed towards the road. The Nordlander now understood why the guards were there. A group of the armed men intercepted the poor folk from the camp and ushered them away from the travellers. Dieter clearly didn't want trade affected by beggars.

Rudiger's attention was also fixed on the camp, but for different reasons. He'd caught sight of a ragged pennant fluttering in the breeze. It bore the unmistakable sign of the twin-tailed comet. The mark of Sigmar. Looking closer, Rudiger saw that several tents had scraps of parchment pinned to them; were they prayers? Were these desperate folk also refugees from the Empire? The faithful of Sigmar in need of support and guidance?

Rudiger felt his soul fill with purpose. This was clearly a test from his lord and he resolved to help these folk escape their plight as soon as he was able.


Passing in to Masserschloss proved no obstacle to those who could pay. The taxes on the gate also gave a reason why the destitute folk were trapped outside. Detlef explained why the group were carrying a dead man, and then guided the group through the streets to their sombre destination.

The town of Masserschloss struck the Imperial travellers as odd. The buildings were constructed of hardened earth and not brick, and the roofs were thatched, not tiled. In fact, very few of the buildings were more than a single storey. The streets weren't paved or cobbled, and mud made it heavy going underfoot. Everything looked like a poor village of the north, but crowded and packed together.

Detlef guided them through the streets to a small house that looked exactly like all the others. He asked the group to wait whilst he broke the sad news to Karl's widow and then walked up and knocked sombrely on the door.

The group watched as the door opened to reveal a young woman with brown hair. She spoke quietly with Detlef and then a looked of tragic horror filled her gentle features. She began to cry. Detlef consoled and calmed her before ushering his companions over.

"These are the men that saved my life and helped me bring Karl home to you," said Detlef gently.

"You have our sincere condolences my good woman," began Garil in a surprisingly warm tone, "I am grieved that we should make your acquaintance in such tragic circumstances."

"I myself am saddened that we were unable to smite the perpetrators of this foul act and bring you vengeance," added Rudiger in what he clearly thought was the righteous way to console the grieving.

"I can only thank you for what you have done," said the woman through her tears, "my name is Marie. I have no means to offer you proper thanks, but whilst you are in Masserschloss, if there is anything I can do to aid you, you need only ask."

"That is true for me also," added Detlef, "my debt to you is large, and not one I shall forget "

Carefully, Karl's body was taken down from the horse and carried into Marie's humble home with reverence.


After taking leave of Detlef and Marie, the travellers wandered through the streets. Detlef had told them the the best inn in town was the Renegade Crown, which stood by the bridge to the castle.

"Should we not look for somewhere more affordable?" asked Garil, "What money we have is going to need to last."

Heinz snorted, "That's not an option. We now have three horses to find stabling for, and after our travels, I would like to spend at least one night in an establishment of quality, before returning to the life of a vagrant."

"He's got a point about the stabling," commented Wolfgang, "but that's going to make it even more expensive."

"I have no need of horses, or the soft comforts of excess," muttered Rudiger, "a common room in a tavern will serve me well."

"I'm not staying in a shithole," spat Heinz, "I want to wash. And my horse is going in stable. I have standards. You can suit yourselves."

"Hold on there, lad," said Garil, gesturing for tempers to calm, "maybe we can compromise? Heinz, you want to stay in this good inn, which I understand, but it's going to be pricey, especially with three horses.

'Well, it seems that neither Rudi nor myself have much interest in riding a horse, although I see young Wolfgang has become attached to that patchwork animal.

'What do you say to us selling this third beast? That will cut our costs and also put some more money in our pockets, allowing us a little bit of comfort."

"I have no need of comfort," stated Rudiger, proudly.

Garil smiled, "aye, we know that. But it's best lodge together in a strange town."

"That seems sensible," admitted Heinz, "although I know little of horse trading. Or any trading, for that matter."

"I could deal with that," put in Wolfgang, "by my reckoning, we could make a tidy sum."

"That's settled then," said Garil with a smile.

Heinz offered to take the remaining horses to the inn to get them stables and secure a room whilst the others set about trying to sell the third. Garil was left awkwardly holding the reins whilst Wolfgang and Rudiger asked around for potential buyers.

Wolfgang, naturally, went looking for blacksmiths, and found one who said he might be able to find a good buyer inside a week. Rudiger, meanwhile, was pointed towards the market square. Travelling merchants were likely to be able to make use of extra horseflesh.

Not wanting, to have to wait around, the three decided to try their luck at the market and before long found a merchant called Ranulf. 

After having the animal inspected by his muleskinner, the merchant sucked his teeth.

"It's not a great animal, what were you hoping to get for it?"

"Well...erm...eighty crowns?" offered Wolfgang, taken aback that he was talking about a sum of money that he would never normally see in a year's work.

"Eighty? For this nag?" laughed Ranulf, "don't be ridiculous. He's not worth more than sixty."

Wolfgang held his nerve. Sixty crowns. Sixty. He wanted to bite the man's hand off. He paused, swallowed hard and countered, "well, I suppose I could go to seventy."

The merchant also paused and theatrically stroked his beard, musing, "seventy? I can do seventy, if..." he paused, "if the saddle,  tack and harness are thrown in, along with that dangerous looking crossbow strapped to the saddle."

Wolfgang almost choked. He'd presumed he was offering all the tack in with the horse, and had quite forgotten about the crossbow. He realised that he was about to be swindled, but he didn't care. Seventy crowns would keep the four of them going for a while and his share would mean that he wouldn't have to worry about money whilst he searched for news of his family.


The merchant smiled a predatory smile, shook Wolfgang's hand and indicated for one of his men to hand over the money.


The Renegade Crown was indeed a good inn. One of the few two storey buildings in the town, it boasted stables and private rooms and looked for all the world like a coaching inn from the Empire. However, the decor was am eclectic mix of different cultures and odd to imperial eyes.

Heinz had secured a room for the four of them and also arranged for baths to be drawn up. He himself was looking refreshed after having washed and changed into distinctly better quality garments.

In their room, Garil, Wolfgang and Rudiger peeled off their stained and torn travelling gear and lowered themselves into the three copper tubs that were steaming in the centre of the room. The tiredness and aches melted away as they genuinely relaxed for the first time in a long time.

They dressed in the fresher but still humble clothes that they had taken from the waggon on the road and made their way down to the common room, where Heinz had ordered food.

It was strange to be in such a crowded place after so long on the road, and Rudiger seemed resentful of the comfort and warmth. Something was playing on his mind and sat glowering at the table and was avoided by everybody in the place.

Heinz meanwhile, was off talking and gambling with merchants and travellers. He seemed perfectly at home in this environment and laughed heartily in convivial company.

Wolfgang felt concerned about his friend Rudiger. Although he wanted to relax, he knew that the zealot was troubled. He'd seen this mood before and knew that Rudiger could easily be angered. Wolfgang resolved to stay at the table with him to avoid any unpleasantness developing.

Glancing about the room, Garil's eyes set on two Dwarfs by the fire. One was was a young Dwarf with plaited blonde beard, in the fashion of Zhufbar. The other was a grey haired longbeard, clearly worthy of respect and full of tales and experience.

His friends were stout folk, but it had been a long time since Garil had enjoyed the company of fellow Dwarfs. Taking a swig of his ale, Garil approached the two Dwarfs.

"Good evening," said Garil, bowing his head," Garil Ragnarsson at your service. May I join your esteemed company, share an ale and swap a tale or two?" Garil savoured the syllables of the Khazalid tongue as they flowed across his tongue.

The two dwarfs rose and similarly bowed their heads to Garil. The older dwarf spoke first, as was right and proper.

"It is pleasing to find proper manners still exist in the world. I am Harkon Thunderstone and this is my son Dorwin, at your service. Please sit, we would be honoured at you company."

The dwarfs talked seriously about their travels in the Border Princes and enquired of Garil's time in the Empire, nodding gravely at his accounts of the Storm of Chaos. Garil asked of affairs in the World's Edge Mountains and was pleased to hear that everything was much as it always had been. He was feeling like a true dwarf for the first time in years.

"Tell me," said Harkon, "you said your family name is Ragnarsson. Does that mean that you are kin to Barik Ragnarsson at Goldstone just to the south of here?"

Garil's blood froze. To hear the name of his cousin, his enemy, was one thing. But to hear that he was so close to the one who dishonoured him, filled him with vengeful fury.

"Yes, indeed," said Garil through a tight smile, trying to keep his true feelings from his face, "but I have not seen him in many years. How fares my cousin?"

"Very well," responded Harkon, appearing not to notice Garil's change of mood, but Dorwin's eyebrow raised slightly, "I do not know what possessed him to name a silver mine 'Goldstone', but he enjoys a good relationship with Dhouda, the ruler of that land and is building a strong foundation for his descendants. I assume to intend to see him soon?"

Garil's thoughts raced. Barik was within his reach sooner than he expected. He hadn't yet considered how he was going to redeem his name, but he had thought often of confronting his cousin in his years of exile.

"Oh yes. I fully intend to pay my cousin the respect he deserves."

At that moment, the door flew open and a man rushed in. His face was bright red, he'd clearly run from  somewhere, and there was wild eyed look to him.

"We're at war!"


The inn erupted with questions and shouting. From what the travellers could work out, the Prince of Masserschloss, Dieter, had despatched his eldest son with some men to deal with some cross border raiding to the south by someone called 'Dhouda'. They assumed this must be a neighbouring prince.

The boy, Hans, had overstretched himself and engaged in a full skirmish that had gon against him and the boy had been killed. Dieter was now mobilising for a full scale attack on Dhouda, something that princes didn't usually do, as it meant stripping their holdings of necessary protection.

The inn was alive with activity as merchants tried to determine how this turn of events would affect their business. Some were making plans to leave on the morning, whilst other were trying to make deals that would allow them to make a quick profit. Harkon and Derwin made their excuses to Garil as they planned to head east in the morning and needed to make preparations.

Garil, Rudiger, Wolfgang and Heinz were back at their table, as the commotion rumbled around them.

"I don't see how this affects us," said Heinz.

Wolfgang frowned, "well you wouldn't, my family could be caught in this. You haven't seen what war can do."

"But you don't know where they are, so there's no point worrying," retorted the nobleman.

Garil was silent, considering everything he'd heard that evening.

"It's not my business," muttered Rudiger, "the petty squabbles of princlings are nothing to the will of Sigmar. I have been shown my path and know what I must do."

The others looked at Rudiger. Hey knew that he was not one for empty promises and knew that what he had decided could have a significant effect on each of them.

"There are good Sigmarites living the life of beggars here. They have been carried here by the tides of one war, and now another threatens to swallow them. I intend to aid and protect them."

"What?" snorted Heinz, "you're going to adopt yet another stragglers of beggars? We've only just got rid of the last lot. You don't expect me to help you do you?"

"Heinz, I expect you to do whatever you wish. I have no hold over you. But your aid would be welcome."

"Well, I'll help," put in Wolfgang, "Heinz is right. Without knowing where they are, I can't help my family. However, I can help these people in their stead, and maybe folk who have come from the Empire might be able to give me news."

"I applaud your zeal, Rudi," said Garil, "but I must consider my own destiny. My intention had been to go east. That has now changed, but we still might be parted. I need to sleep on it."

Heinz was defiant, "well, I'm not getting involved in a mercy mission. Take a look at what's going on around you. This is a time of opportunity."

As the four headed back to their rooms, they each considered that their companionship might be coming to an end.


The following morning, Rudiger and Wolfgang were up early, and set off to the market to purchase food to bring to the encampment outside the walls.

Garil ate his breakfast alone and then went for a walk through the bustling streets. From what he'd heard, the war would be with Dhouda, to the south, who Barik was allied with. Joining Dieter's forces would not only be honourable, as the man sought vengeance for his son, it might also bring him into direct conflict with his cousin. On the other hand, he could not imagine Rudiger, Wolfgang or Heinz coming with him. He be facing Barik without allies.

So be it.

Heinz slept in, and the others had gone before he woke. He'd resolved to set off to market to sell some of his acquisitions from his travels before looking for a way he could make himself useful and turn current events to his advantage.


Gaunt faces gazed at Rudiger and Wolfgang as they hauled several sacks into the centre of the encampment outside the walls. They had spent a good sum of money on bread, meat and vegetables. It wasn't the best standard, but it was what they could manage with folk buying up what they could. Wolfgang was pretty sure that the homeless folk wouldn't complain.

The gate guards had looked at Rudiger incredulously when he explained why they were taking sacks of food out on foot. As ever, the zealot had been a convincing talker and the guards had waved them through.

Now Wolfgang could sense the suspicion in the camp around him. These people had little cause to trust strangers, and clearly feared what the presence off the two men bearing sacks could mean.

"Here will do," Rudiger stated and set his sack down. Wolfgang did the same as the Middenlander began to speak.

"Good people. Children of Sigmar. You have been I'll treated by fate and those who should have cared for you.

The failure of the lords of the north to withstand the oncoming storm drove you out of your homes. The lack of compassion of the lords of the south pushed you to quit the Empire. And here, in the shadow of Masserschloss, you have found a hard welcome.

These are times that are sent to test us brothers. Those, like yourselves, who have lost everything are having your faith tested. But I can see from the pendants and icons you still raise, that your faith has not been found wanting.

For those like myself, to whom fate has been kinder, times like these present a different test. One of character. Do I give up what little I have to help those in need? Or do I turn my back and seek only to save myself?"

Wolfgang looked about him. He could see that Rudiger's oratory had caught the attention of a good number of the poor folk. They were still wary, but the clearly wondered where this preacher was going with his speech.

"I choose not to turn my back. I choose not to give up on the pitiable. And I choose not to think only of myself.

I bring you a sign that your faith has been rewarded. A sign that Sigmar has not forsaken you. A sign that Sigmar will never forsake you!

Come, eat. We have brought food enough for all, if all take only what they need."

With that, Rudiger reached into one of the sacks and held aloft the first item he grabbed. A turnip.

It was an odd image, the wild eyed preacher with a root vegetable in his hand, and in another place, Wolfgang was sure the sight would have drawn jeers and laughter. However, these people were desperate, and they understood that these two men had brought food. And yet they didn't move, there was still suspicion in the air.

Wolfgang took a small loaf out of another sack and held it out to a small girl who had edged closer.

"Here you are. It's for you. A gift."

The girl tentatively took a step forward. Her trembling fingers reached out. She looked uncertainly into Wolfgang's eyes and saw only generosity. He smiled and nodded and the girl suddenly grabbed the loaf and sank her teeth into the stale bread.

This seemed to break the spell of suspicion. Wolfgang and Rudiger immediately found themselves surrounded by a heaving mass of people. However, rather than scrabbling only for themselves, something in Rudiger's words had struck a chord. People took only enough for themselves or their loved ones, and passed food to others behind them. Rudiger smiled with satisfaction, whilst Wolfgang looked on mystified at this collective lack of selfishness.

As the crowd started to break up to sit and devour the gift of food they had received, Wolfgang saw a couple of the town guards sauntering through the camp. They stopped a few yards away and then one of them, a man dressed in worn leather armour with a scar running down his cheek began to speak.

"Now that you've eaten something. How do you fancy more? Prince Dieter is looking for recruits. You'll get food and lodging better than what you've got now. Who's with me?"

Wolfgang suppressed a laugh as nobody even looked up. Even so, rage at the audacity of this request built in him.

"You seriously believe people who you've left to starve will fight for your prince?" snapped Wolfgang.

"What's it to you?" retorted the guard, "these people need food, Dieter needs bodies."

"You have a lot to learn about people. They won't just fight and die for a full belly. They need loyalty if you want them to stand." Wolfgang, turned his back on the guard and went back to giving out the last of the scraps from the sacks.

"He's right," Wolfgang heard Rudiger say, "people won't fight for just anybody, as you can see."

"Well, we'll see about that if I come back when they're hungry again," sneered the guard. "Then we'll see if they're willing to fight the Breton witch.

"What if I have a better offer?" said Ridiger calmly.

Wolfgang turned to look at his companion. Something had shifted in his tone and that familiar fire was in his eyes. He dreaded the next words that would come out of his friend's mouth.

"What if we fight this witch together? As one? Rather than a handful of hungry recruits, if he'll feed them, we'll give your Dieter a entire company of men."

The look on the guards face was priceless, but Wolfgang was horrified. Did Rudiger have any idea what he'd just let them in for?

Friday 1 January 2021

In The Black

I often struggle with motivation when I'm painting rank and file miniatures, and so the last unit of Blood Angels turned into a bit of a chore.

However, I'm in more enjoyable territory, first with the Librarian and now thus guy...

A Chaplain to accompany my Death Company into battle.

The more observant of you may now be thinking that I already have a Chaplain with a jump pack. However, Pete kindly gave me this guy and he's a much better model than my previous kitbashed one.

He's quite an old sculpt (1993) and the chunkyness of the model really took me back and highlighted just how much miniature production production has come on. However there's a certain impressive quality to the sheer weight of this little guy.

I did him with Black Templar contrast paint and it really brought home how much this range of paints was clearly designed for Space Marines. It's so easy.

Given its age there was understanably some damage to the crozius (the weapon thing) and so that needed removing and attaching (although I think I've done it backwards). I've also given him a jump pack because he needs to keep up with the Death Company, who have them, and I have a mind to use him as the named character Lemartes, who also has one.

One slight irritation is that I went to the effort of putting a transfer on his left shoulder pad before checking whether the jump pack would cover the whole thing up.

At least I know it's there.

I'm going to approach my remaining Blood Angels as individual characters so that I can enjoy painting them, so you can expect them to keep popping up in the next few of posts.

And so we're off on the 2021 count and straight into the black (hence the post title, get it?):

Acquired: 0
Painted: 1