Sunday 24 December 2023

The Knight Before Christmas

Well, it's happened again.

I once thought I had become immune to the siren song of Games Workshop's marketing department, but the growing swell of the rising tide of Warhammer: The Old World and threatens to dash me on the rocks of financial oblivion as I drown in nostalgia.

There is but one defence left to me: faith. Faith in the tenets of the Church of Cheaphammer.

"Bring me my bits box!"

Loooong time readers of this blog might dimly remember that twelve and a half years ago, the very first posts on this blog featured my waxing lyrical about avoiding giving money to Games Workshop whilst building a Bretonnian army four our club's 'Tale of X Gamers' challenge.

Due to Warhammer Fantasy Battle 8th edition being rubbish and the world blowing up, I never finished that army (I got to about 1500 points) and so when the hype trawler for the upcoming release of Warhammer: The Old World steamed into port with a focus on Bretonnia and Tomb Kings, I was ensnared in the nets of nostalgia.

Unfortunately, being me and having not played Warhammer Fantasy Battle in over a decade, I had sold my Bretonnian backlog to fund other projects at some point in the distant past, leaving very little in my bits box to scratch the nostalgic itch before I was compelled to spend money on impulse.

A couple of horses, a single 5th edition knight, a few spare torsos and a mountain of heads and weapons stared back at me as I searched for inspiration.

And then my eyes fixed on a motley-esque head from the Men-at-Arms sprue, some legs from the Empire Militia kit and an idea was born...

Jules le Jongleur, the jester companion of Tristan le Troubadour, special characters from the 5th edition Bretonnian book.

Once the idea was born, things came together quickly. Most of the bits are from the Men-at-Arms kit (I think), but the head of the hobby horse was carefully cut from a knight's helm.

Tristan and Jules were not included in the 6th edition (and last) army book, and there is zero chance of them turning up in the new game, unless I play 5th edition specifically, Jules is sans rules. 

However, he's a characterful chap who can caper away in in the back ranks of any infantry unit making up the numbers without too much fuss.

Obviously, if I was making Jules, I'd need a Tristan, and that seemed an ideal use to put my one remaining knight body to.

A little bit of carving was required to get the older body to fit on a newer horse (to match the rest of the army, and I needed to use a mismatch lance arm and cover the hole in his back (which is how the 5th edition knight helms were attached with a peg on the material).

Fortunately, Tristan is technically a Questing Knight (from the days before they had to use great weapons) and so I covered any unsightly section with his travelling gear and explained away the mismatch arm as a consequence of one of his adventures.

The old kits were swimming in useful bits, so I was able to give Tristan a pack, a keg of ale, a silver horn and a helm (the original model was bareheaded too). The lute is the only non-GW bit on there, but it was kind of essential for this character concept.

You might notice that the heraldic icon he bears looks a little familiar. I was forced to improvise after not planning around what decals I had available when I started painting him.

The Ultramarines symbols were pretty much the only blue transfers I have, and so I made the decision to turn them into lures, which is appropriate. I'm not 100% happy with this and so I might change this when I eventually get more Bretonnian decals.

As he's not equipped in the right way to be a Questing Knight, Tristan with serve as a Paladin in my army, probably leading the Knights Errant who are likely to be inspired by his heroic songs.

The final special character I've made is the Holy Knight, a Grail Knight on foot from the Circle of Blood campaign box released in 5th edition.

I'm not sure where the legs come from (possibly an Empire kit) but pretty much everything else is Bretonnian knight. He's supposed to be armed with a hammer, but I've  cobbled together a mace for him, which will work fine.

If you're wondering about the odd colour choice, I made the decision when building the army that all the servants of the Lady of the Lake (Damsels, Battle Pilgrims, Grail Knights, etc.) would wear pale blue, and so I've kept to that for the Holy Knight. The shield design is also space marine transfer; this time from Blood Angels, who have a similar, and very convenient) chalice fetish to the Grail Knights (his crest is also from a Blood Angels backpack).

Warhammer: The Old World seems to have restored the concept of knights on foot to the Bretonnian army, so his chances of seeing action are quite high. Additionally, I've never played through the Circle of Blood campaign, and as I have both the armies necessary, that might be an option too.

I've still got a couple of things that can be repurposed into my Bretonnian army before I inevitably need to spend money if I'm going to give Warhammer: The Old World a go (I definitely need more knights), but this is at least keeping me clear of the feeding frenzy for Bretonnians over on eBay right now.

Acquired: 212*
Painted: 302
Lead Mountain: 532**

* I promise that I'll calculate the full damage inflicted on my numbers by the recent treasure trove that was unearthed before the end of the year.

** Sadly, these three do nothing to the Lead Mountain as I never counted what was in my bits box in the first place.

Finally, I'd like to wish a Merry Christmas to both of my readers for tomorrow. I hope it's a good one. I've no idea what Santa's bringing me, but I have been a good boy, so hopefully there might be some toys under the tree for me.

Finally, I'm case you were stuck for something to watch, there is a Netflix film called The Knight Before Christmas, which I discovered whilst looking for suitably seasonal images in a Bretonnian theme to finish off with.

It has a rating of 5.6 out of 10 on IMDb.

Make of that what you will.

Happy Christmas!


  1. Great use of the bits boxes Kieron, these are three very characterful creations that fit perfectly in any Bretonian army. Hope you had a great Christmas.