Monday, August 26, 2013

Assemble the Empire

Can't hold a candle to De-loused in the Comatorium.  
Just so we're all clear, the title of this post was an excuse to link to the song of the same name by Sparta, the (subjectively) less talented and (objectively) less successful remnant of At the Drive-In (The Mars Volta being the more talented and successful part for those playing at home).

Also note that I wrote the bulk of this post about a week ago.  I indulged in a far too rare proofread so there shouldn't be any linguistic train wrecks, but in case any slipped past the second pass I blame time and monkeys.

Now we can proceed.

Eagle-eyed readers will have picked up the bits of Empire talk scattered over the past couple posts.  This isn't even the first time I've dabbled in WFB, or at least considered it.  But this time around it's a bit more serious.  Paint is being applied.  The Dread Box has been opened, many mans are moved to a different box, wheels spin.  Maybe this is the time it sticks.

The history of my Empire army is largely a mystery, even to myself.  Some internet detective work tells me the set that forms the dark heart of the army is from 2000, so it's safe to assume the bulk of the models are more than a decade old at this point.  This box, the Dread Box (or battleforce or megaforce or whatever they call them now), is one of the big white boxes that came filled with other, smaller boxes (plus a few blisters) and sold for roughly the full cost of the pieces it contained.

The Dread Box
(Then, as now, GW did not believe in discounts.  While considering the purchase of a Dread Box Dwarf army with a cohort, we did some math and figured that there was little to no savings when buying the Dread Box instead of its constituent pieces.  We asked the GW staffer what the deal was and he told us that the big white cardboard box was the extra value, that GW didn't have to put all those smaller boxes in one larger box, and [conjuring now, but this was implied at the very least] that we should be grateful that GW was willing to shower us with the bounty of this large, white, cardboard Dread Box that allowed us to buy a bunch of stuff all at once.  As might be obvious, we did not venture into this purchase.)

To be fair, these Dread Boxes did come with limited edition models, so it wasn't quite the same as the "launch bundles" they do now.  The one that came with my particular box was a standard bearer with rockin mohawk and will surely be featured at a later date.  These Dread Boxes were (I think) advertised as a one-shot deal that contained a full army.  They probably are if considering just points, but are a bit lacking as a playable army.  Despite these shortcomings, they did form a strong core for an army.  Being a compulsive gamer, I had to add on to it.  What exactly I added is lost in the swirl of history, but it was quite a bit.

Halberd man for (blurry) scale.
At some point in that past I assembled and primed a reasonable chunk of the collection, then started painting.  Whether or not I actually finished any models is debatable.  Considering the (already underway) plan to switch schemes it doesn't really matter.  What I'm trying to get at here is I had (what now looks like) about 2,000 points of Empire army assembled and in some sort of paint and ready to go.  Then...nothing.

Who knows what happened?  I certainly don't remember, and I have yet to find any mysterious carvings that say "Croatoan" to point me in a particular direction.  The most likely explanation is that the army was simply a casualty of the Great Gaming Break, wherein I laid down brush and tape measure and took up mouse and keyboard.  It was a dark time and the less said of it the better.  For those many, indeterminate years, the army sat atop the Dread Box.  Not in, which would have been fine, but on top, ranked up and ready to do battle.  The Dread Box was in a high traffic area, with many small and fragile mans exposed on its top, unable to defend themselves against the predations of stray feet, dragging coat arms, and all manner of falling items.  You can imagine what came next, or in between as the case may be.  At some point the carnage was too much to endure and I swept the whole thing inside the Dread Box, where they should have been all along, and put their misery out of mind.

The survivors of the Dread Box.
Fast-forward to the recent past, perhaps a fortnight gone.  With the latest incarnation of the Journeyman league winding down (wrap-up post to come at some point), I got to thinking about the Empire.  I girded my loins and opened the Dread Box to survey the carnage.  Many souls were lost during the time in the wilderness, their names and numbers forever unknown, but the losses were not so bad as I expected.  There are some heads without bodies, feet without legs, floating arms, but on the whole the Empire mans are made of stern stuff.  More surprising than the number of survivors was the amount of paint they showed.  This is a little unfortunate considering the change of allegiance, but there's a silver lining that we'll get to in a bit.  What's important for now is that the survivors still form a roughly 2,000 point army, allowing a budget for magic items and some general wiggle room for an unfamiliar system.  It's a bit heavy on Handgunners, but with blocks of 25+ Spearmen and Halberdiers I have a good starting point.  Even better are the 21 Greatswords, with full command and in glorious heavy metal, that will lessen the Goldsword factor ($42 for 10 is a kick in the pants for plastics) if/when I want to run a big block of them as my central anchor.

There's more bodies too, trapped on their sprues and waiting to fight.  I have a shameful amount of unopened boxes, plus a less shameful amount of half-clipped sprues.  The big bad news is that there are no more Greatswords, but there's plenty of everything else.  This means lots more Handgunners (meh) and Spearmen (nearly enough to get the unit up to 50), even if they are ancient single pose sculpts, plus enough state troops to bring the Halberdiers up to 50 and/or start on Swordsmen, not to mention 15+ more knights.  There's also more artillery, characters, and an old lord on griffon which is now way too small for the current griffon base so may see use as a pegasus instead.  Greatswords aside, I'm pretty much loaded up for whatever direction I want to take.  As an added bonus, when my resolve to not buy more stuff inevitably breaks I can go straight for the goodies without feeling bad about bypassing the rank and file.

New and old, side by side.
I've been doing some reading on the interwebs to get my feet under me in this new (to me) system, so I have some ideas for what I ultimately want to do with the army.  There's a long-standing itch for cavalry that I want to scratch with Empire, but I'm not convinced it will work in the current edition of WFB.  (I'm also working my way, slowly, towards a Vlad3 theme force which will have approximately all the horses.)  Artillery has always been part of the Empire playbook, so I'll be doing that.  Part of the appeal of WFB is big blocks of infantry, so I'll also be doing that.  The original plan was to do a Middenheim army (which explains the old scheme and the two wolf cloak guys up front), but I've turned the bus south to Altdorf instead.  While this is mostly a thematic choice (Altdorf being the capital of the Empire and one of the richest cities, which means that whatever I want to field will make sense), it doesn't hurt that the Middenheim scheme is basically the Altdorf scheme with white instead of red, so I can just paint the white bits red and call it a day.  Of course I'm doing more than that, but at least I have the option.

Depending on how the game works and how my initial forays go I'll be leaning hard on either Sigmarites (Warrior Priests) or wizards, or perhaps a mix of both.  I've already posted a couple of times about my admiration for the Luthor Huss model so I won't cover that ground again, but I will point out this model that I've tabbed to be my general (Arch Lector), not to mention perhaps my first time with Finecast if I'm not lucky enough to find a metal one (which I won't be).

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