Have you ever started a project that spirals out of control, becomes all consuming, and sends you into an abyss of EBay and forum purchases in an elusive hunt for everything? If you haven’t, are you really a miniatures gamer?
That is a joke, of course, because many gamers build solid project plans and stick to them. Some are quite minimalist. Others have no claimed end, and enjoy the journey. This is yet another great thing about the hobby we all enjoy, there is a place for all of us and all of our interests. What gets your creativity going may do nothing for me. And that is ok. If we all followed the same drummer we wouldn’t have the cool toys we have. How many of the smaller miniatures companies are because someone couldn’t find what they wanted among the piles of lead and plastic already produced? Not to dig at Games Workshop, but how many companies have formed as a direct result of a GW success or failure? More than a few in both instances.
My last article reflected on my era interests and how or why I got there. This is about one particular game and where the madness is going. This article is sort of a Part 2 to A Tale of Four, No, Five Armies. Which needs a title changed to Six Armies: And Counting.
Over the last couple months I have continued my EBay, Barter Town, and now Face Book groups, used model browsing/buying. I’ve gotten lucky and found a few good deals. Mostly for Vampire Counts, which weren’t even part of the original project. Small boxes and packages have trickled in, each one concealing hidden treasures of modeling history.
One of the units I have been hunting for (at least at a reasonable cost) has been the older Wood Elf Glade Guard. You remember, the spear-armed ones from the 1990s. I remember seeing them in White Dwarf and the army books I flipped through on the shelves of my gaming haunt. While I really wanted to collect Wood Elves and Empire back then, my college finances limited me to just one game, and 40K won out.
As I have been on this mad Warhammer Fantasy Battle journey I have made no preference for old or new models. I have ended up with far more newer plastics only because that is what GW stocked. And because some of the older models are seemingly made of gold. They must be, for the prices they command on EBay.
Funny story, just this month I have been told to pound sand by two different forum sellers trying to sell older models. I don’t need anything, so what I am willing to pay has a limit. When both of these chaps told me to make them an offer, they really didn’t like my offer. I’ll pay a little more for metal, but for assembled plastic, $1.50-$2.00 a model is my max. Trying to unscrew assembled models and clean mold lines is not something I enjoy doing, so they better be cheap. I got ignored and told off, respectively, on my two offers. Oh well, there are more offers every day.
Conversely, I scored some excellent deals on on-the-sprue models, and even 2-4 solid units of well painted and converted models.
Blood Knight conversions and dire wolves I scored.
Of course I’ve been steadily chipping away at the Boxes of shame, or The Lead Mountain. To be honest, the last six months are probably in the negative, new models in versus painted models out. I just don’t paint as fast as I buy. It would help if I stayed off the sales sites, but let’s be honest, that isn’t going to happen!
One rainy night with nothing better to do, I fell down a hole reading up on WFB editions, rules, and army books. If you are interested, here is a decent Wiki article. Though, some of the dates seem off, they don’t match the actual books I have. So who knows?
All of the army books I have had were for 7th Edition WFB. The ones with the red border around the front. That was the current edition when I started the project, so those were the army books I bought. If you recall, the project started with Empire, High Elves, Wood Elves and Bretonnia. I added in Lizardmen after a trade. So five books, and four partially painted armies.
8th Edition showed up sometime. New hardcover (meaning extra pricey) army books followed. I stuck with 7th Ed. (That Age of Sigmar came and wiped out is a mere footnote now that The Old World has been announced). I did realize at some point that all five armies were basically The Good Guys. While they gleefully antagonized and fought each other at times, they in the whole aligned as forces of light. I didn’t have any bad guys. So a picked up the Orcs & Goblins and Vampire Counts army books. Both are the classic bad guys in fantasy. And I have almost no interest in Chaos. And then Skaven. And Dwarves somehow.
With a pile of army books on hand, and too much time looking at the other editions and generations of army books, I started wondering. What were those older books like? What units and characters had come and gone? How had models and painting changed through the years?
Never one to wonder too long, I started ordering books off Amazon and EBay, and even Etsy. Whenever I found a book at a decent price I bought it. I had made a chart showing 4th through 8th edition, and when each army book was released, to help keep track. I dug out my original 5th edition rule books, the General’s Compendium and Warhammer Skirmish from 6th Edition. I checked off books and quickly got all the books for all nine armies I already had 7th edition books for, in 4th and 5th Editions. I spent a fair chunk of change, so I have taken a break before I hunt down the 6th Edition books I am still missing.
Now I need 4th Edition and 6th Edition rule books, too. Just to ponder and flip through.
The verdict? The ‘Eavy Metal painters really, REALLY liked red paint back in 4th/5th Editions. Really liked. I had no idea the Knights of the White Wolf were painted red back then. Mine in blue and silver are way off. Everything had a preponderance of red. Skaven. Lizardmen. Bretonnia. High Elves. Even Wood Elves had red bows. Red. Bows.
It’s cool to look at all the old models in their glorious paint. But the red. So. Much. Red.
The battle reports in the early army books are pretty cool. Very evocative. More than a scenario, they are narrative games, my favorite type. Army A doesn’t line up across from Army B just because. GW got it back then, and did a great job telling stories and gearing up the players to name their own heroes and create narratives and regions and towns to fight over. Marshall Halsted leading the combined armies of Reikland and Middenland against the undead forces of the vampire count Lord Van Shoenwall in defense of the High Pass is a much more colorful retelling of the battle. And fits very well in my narrative approach to my own gaming.
With books in hand, spanning more than a decade of editions, I started reading. Mostly I looked at pretty pictures, but I looked over the army lists and units also. That was the reason I started down this crazy path.
Undead probably sees the most change. Back in the earliest army book, the army was a mix of all the horror creatures. Wraiths, wights, mummies, ghosts, banshees and more. A trip into the DnD Monster Manual. The usual skeletons and zombies, and of course, vampires were there. Along with the wolves and bats that were still in the 7th edition list.
Clearly the cavalry evolved. The earliest models are naked skellies riding naked horses. There are options to add barding and armor, I guess that was a scratch build project, or maybe there were other models available. The oldest skeleton cavalry models I have are distinctly naked. The most recent box of Black Knights, as they are called today, has armor and barding on the models. The army list gives them heavy armor and an option to add the barding, but no option to run light, no armor knights.
The leadership changed considerably as well. The Undead book from 1994 lists a Necromancer Lord, Vampire Lord or Liche as lord options. The heroes include Vampire Count, Mummy Tomb King, and Wight Lord. Necromancers have Master Necromancer, Necromancer Champion and Necromancer as choices. A third set of options are Wraith and Wight Champions.
In 1999 the character section starts with Vampire Lord and Vampire Count as the General. Vampire Count and Vampire Thrall fall under the heading Vampires. Necromancers still warrant their own heading, and include Necromancer Lord, Master Necromancer, Necromancer Champion and Necromancer. Undead Champions lists Wraith, Wight Lord and Skeleton Champion.
In 2001 the headings change to Lords: Vampire Lord, Vampire Count, Master Necromancer; and Heroes: Vampire Thrall, Wight Lord, Wraith, and Necromancer.
The 2008 army book has Lords and Heroes again. This edition includes the special, named characters in the main list instead of as separate sections. The generic Lord is simply a Vampire Lord. In the heroes section there are Necromancer, Vampire, and Wight King.
From 11 choices in 1994 to 4 in 2008. The Undead were split into Vampire Counts and Tomb Kings for 5th Edition. The 6th Edition army book has Lord choices of Tomb King and Liche High Priest, while the Heroes has Tomb Prince, Icon Bearer and Liche Priest.
All the armies follow similar paths. Maybe I’ll do a series on the changes from edition to edition if enough people care to learn more.
Another cool thing is that early army books had a catalog section at the back of the book. Many, or maybe all, of the models for that army are displayed in black and white, unpainted and unassembled. As the ranges grew this was clearly not an option for later books, though it would have been cool. I keep seeing references online to the Citadel Catalog, so this must have been available at some time. I will not even look, as that is NOT something I need to obsess over or add to the pile of books.
Of course, seeing many older models has led to much pondering on how many of them I want to hunt for. I’ve honestly stopped caring about how big the WFB armies are. Or even trying to keep them even points between them. Now I just try for cool models or units to add to the growing list of units.
Bretonnians are a pain to round up models for. And expensive. I’ve recently seen some models that might work as stand-ins from Norba and Fireforge. Some units are currently available from GW, and I occasionally grab a box of plastic. I did score 10 of the newest knight models last week. About $30 shipped, which is just right for mold-line covered, poorly painted plastic. Rare or not.
The High Elves have some units still available, though the core spearmen and archers are only available on the secondary market. There are other plastic kits available, but I don’t feel like they mesh well with the models I have. Several kits only have rules in 8th Edition, so no to those also. Used or nothing!
Wood Elves had a pile of new kits released for Age of Space Marine- err Sigmar. The new models are gorgeous sculpts. Several are forest spirits, also only from 8th Ed. Others, like the Wildwood Rangers are specific for 8th Ed, but I think they proxy well for Eternal Guard. The newest Eternal Guard are pretty, but in 8th Ed they have shields. I wat more of the older metal, but listings are very rare lately.
I don’t even have a good inventory for the Lizardmen. I do remember buying two largish blocks of Saurus warriors after the initial trade. I only need an army standard bearer. Oh, and more temple guard. Both are available from GW still.
Vampire Counts are barely started. Apart from 16 Blood knights, 5 unarmored skeleton knights (light cavalry to me) and 16 dire wolves, everything else is unassembled. And few in numbers. What is an undead army without hordes of skeletons and zombies? I did have a moment of weakness. In the 1999 Vampire Counts army book is a painted model. The Red Duke. A Blood Dragon vampire hero/lord. I had never seen that model before. And I had to have it. Searching EBay found several for sale. From the UK. For much more than I have ever paid for a single model, mounted or not. One had pretty cheap shipping. I couldn’t resist. It is now winging its way across the Pond to take command of a growing horde of restless dead.
My pride and joy is my Empire army. Hailing from Middenland, the Boys in Blue (and white) are probably my largest army. I’m always on the hunt for more models. The newest Oathmark models from North Star and classic Foundry models will fill in for models too expensive or unavailable elsewhere. I’d really love a couple more boxes of archers and militia, though both are nearly impossible to find. And Reiksguard foot or knights. Or complete knight kits. Lots of wants.
And that doesn’t even count the other “bad guys” I wouldn’t mind having.
There you have it. A late-night wander through wiki pages and various blog and forum posts and I was off on the hunt. Two army books, two rule books, and Ravening Hordes (just because) to go.
The Stack as it currently stands. 10.25 inches of Warhammer