Friday, 19 September 2014

Awakening Of The Wood

Frequent visitors to my general's page (I know you're out there, those traffic numbers aren't just from me checking my spelling on a daily basis) may be aware that I've pledged to field Wood Elves for WoffBoot IX.

Warhammer Wood Elf
Champions of WoffBoot II - the Twang! Gang are back!

After several months going round and round the magic circle of my Empire wizards, I thought I'd better crack on and actually paint the army.

If I start early enough, I can avoid my usual habit of frantic painting sessions in the last few weeks before the tournament.

(SPOILER: I am going to be frantically painting Wood Elves in the last few weeks before the tournament).

The roots...

Our story begins with White Dwarf #170, 1994. Despite the very dull Dark Angels captain on the cover, this issue belonged to Fantasy. Between the new releases for Skaven and Black Orcs was a battle report that reached the pinnacle of the art: The Battle of Skull River - Wood Elves vs Chaos Dwarves.

It had some nice fluff bookending the report - many years ago, a Sorcerer Lord of Hashut was assassinated by a renegade Wood Elf, who was captured and tortured into revealing the location of his homeland. Swearing vengeance as only dwarves can, every hundred years the Dawi Zharr conduct expeditions to the forest, burning it with barrels of tar and pitch.

The battle represents one of those expeditions: the Chaos Dwarves are here to burn, and the Wood Elves have to stop them. None of the historical protagonists are involved, and the realm is not in peril - this is just part of the endless cycle of one Warhammer race beating up another.

(I love that kind of stuff - who needs End Times?)

The battle itself was an entertaining clash: closely-fought until the tipping point where it turned to annihilation. The narrative was finely balanced between letting you know how the game was played, and keeping it in character.

The forces themselves were a good contrast, but what really caught my eye were the army pictures:

Mike McVey's Wood Elves
Mike McVey's Wood Elves - he even makes the 'Warhammer Regiment' plastics look good.

Being too young to own a credit card (and thus spared the impulse purchases of today), I waited for several years, mowing lawns and saving my pennies, and always returning to this article to plan my future army.

The seeding...

Skip to 1996, a primitive time before online shopping, where if you wanted to purchase something from a catalogue, you had to pick up the phone and actually speak to someone.
(not an ideal solution, but it beats going down to the store and speaking to them in person)

I'd been delaying the start of my Wood Elf army, using it as a carrot to get me through my A-Levels. In fact, I'd waited so long that the very first Wood Elf army book had now been released (lovely rules, awful fluff: a dozen sections that repeated the same pattern of: [warhammer race] invades forest -> things get spooky -> Orion charges out and kills them).

So with the freshly-printed book in my hands, I picked up the phone to GW mail order. I remember the conversation quite clearly, 17 years later (because I don't make many phone calls):

Mail Order Troll*: Hello, what can I do for you?
Me: Hello? I'd like to order some miniatures, please.
Me (internal): Stay calm, stay calm. It's going well.

*I'm not being rude, that's what they called themselves (back when this "cash generating business with a lot of potential growth" was a games company with a sense of humour about itself)

MOT: Sure, what would you like to order?
Me: I've got the Red Catalogue, page 192, code RR4/C...
Sweet numbers and codes. If only everything ran like this.

MOT: That's Wood Elves!
Me: Uhhh...
Is there a problem? Should I not be ordering Wood Elves? Oh God, this is going off script.

MOT: I collect Wood Elves!
Me: Oh right.
Can we go back to the part where I give you numbers and codes now?

MOT: What do you think of the new army book?
Me: It's very nice.
I wish I could invent something that lets me do this through my computer.

MOT: I know! The designs are really cool, aren't they? That Forest Dragon is awesome! And those new elven steeds look great ... like Disney horses, yeah?
Me: Yeah.
Was that supposed to be intentional?

MOT: So what would you like to buy?
Me: I'd like the old models, please. Red Catalogue, page 192, code RR4/C...
And now you hate me. You actually hate me.

The first growth...

It was this handful of Wood Elves (five knights, one wardancer/mage proxy, a great eagle and a treeman) that received my first conversion work: the knights had a massive standard (the pole made from a coat hanger - trying to hand-drill that was a bastard), while the mage was clipped from his base to ride the eagle.

I didn't have the nerve to reposition his legs, so he pioneered the 'surfin' bird' look of the Wood Elves.

The design of the new models finally won me over (it was the Waywatchers, of course) and I picked up a unit of them and, on an impluse, Skaw the Falconer.

40% Characters, 30% Rare - 5th Edition forever!

This army had a fine time helping out General Leofa's learning curve (and had him rushing to get his own army, so he wouldn't be stuck borrowing my old trash), during which time I fleshed it out with Glade Guard, Wardancers, Dryads, another Treeman and, for reasons passing understanding, a Unicorn.

Oh come on - unicorns are amazeballs!

The pruning...

Skip forward a few years. and we have a new Wood Elf army book. Leofa has passed on a heap of unwanted Wood Elves (from the new range, no less): Glade Lord, Spellweaver, Wardancer Lord. And this triggered me picking up a new unit of (old) Scouts from eBay (I found a couple, and just needed a few to complete the set.. you know the rest).

I also got another Treeman, just in time for their demotion to 40mm Treekin. And Tsar Boris' bear, which became a Great Stag proxy (which seemed like a good idea at the time).

So not only were these painted up in time for WoffBoot I (second place!), but it promoted a rehash of my old school scheme: away with the bright reds and vivid colours. The proud knights (which didn't exist any more as units) went into the Dettol bath, the mage was detached from his eagle and sent to seek his fortune in Mordheim, and everything else got a touch of earthy greens and browns.

This is what we have to work with:

The archers still couldn't fire in two ranks. The Wardancers still couldn't strike first.
There was a lot of foul language when they first took on the new High Elves.

The new shoots...

And so, once again coinciding with a new Wood Elf army book (lucky the release schedule is a slow as my painting), I'm dusting off the Dettol tubs and the eBay swag for a resurrected Wood Elf army.

Scarloc's Scouts, baby!

Drycha, a dryad and a couple of randoms - I have no idea what the top-left one is.

Don't worry, that errant standard has been re-educated with Dettol.

I was planning funky horned Wild Riders years before the plastics came out.

And their steeds - for light cavalry, they're going to weigh a tonne.

Some Glade Riders, hoping to get in on some of the above horsey action.

There are no rules for beasts any more (boo!), but I'll find a use for these hounds of the hunt.

In addition to these three, I have since acquired *another* treeman.
So the funny looking fella at the bottom is heading for promotion to Ancient.

WoffBoot IX here we come...


  1. I've already earmarked a bunch of resin for you out of the Reaper haul, as well as that Warhawk rider - when would you like it sent? What fits into your painting schedule best?

    And have you checked out the new Kickstarter for Mierce's stuff? They've got a big swampy blob creature in the forthcoming Erainn army that would make a decent treeman, I reckon. Because obviously four isn't enough.

    1. Thanks muchly - as you can see, there's a fair bit to keep my busy, and my painting schedule is basically 'run at it until the enthusiasm wears off' - any time before Christmas would probably still be timely (if you want to combine it with any return packages to Kas, and save international postage, I'm sure we can work something out at this end).

    2. The Mierce bog monster does look good - as does the 'Araigh - Ancient of the Sileann Fen'. Both would be fine treemen/ancients (despite coming from something that sounds like the 'Silly Fen').

      But - for the same reason I've avoided the new plastic Treeman (well, *one* of the reasons) - they're so large they might make the rest of my tree folk look like... saps.

  2. Looking forward to meeting them on the table :)
    I have my first purchase for the Tomb Kings securely under my belt, 3 Nercopolis Knights half painted :) Still waiting for confirmation on army sizes before finalising the list.

    I will post some pictures once I have finished them.

    1. Oo! A new contender enters the fray - not seen that army in action ever. Looking forward to being steamrollered by an all-new flavour!

    2. lol I don`t think the Tomb Kings know the concept of steamrollering ;)

    3. Great - I've never played Tomb Kings either, but I love the look and the fluff (do skeletons have fluff?) of the models.

      As for army sizes, I was thinking of discussing WoffBoot IX (but thought I was getting carried away so early on - glad I'm not alone). Probably best discussed in a new post, but I'd be open to bumping up the armies to 1600pts - and unless I miss my guess, both Kraken and I will be sponsoring the idea of 'boasts' (secret objectives that change each game and are worth extra points - idea from another tournament).

    4. Yup, I think that'd be a good 'un! And 1600 seems to work very well for the Skypeboots - not too big to be slow, not to small to stop me fielding Shaggoths. Nothing wrong with 1200 either, mind, and if we're fretting over time then no worries on keeping it smaller.