Thoughts on Building and Painting an Army

Listening to a podcast the other day got me thinking about the differing elements that come into play when putting together a new army. This process normally starts even before your first purchase and will begin with:

Why would you choose a specific army?

I feel there are 3 main factors that influence this:

1) you love the models in the range.

2) you enjoy or want to try the perceived play style of the army

3) you like the background fluff.

You could argue that there is a fourth option: Cost, but i cover that later.

I personnally feel that 1 is a no brainer, why would you spend money on something you don’t find appealing? However it may not necessarily be the primary reason.

The other two are more conditional and will likely depend on the system you play. In warhammer fantasy (and to a lesser extent 40k), I was heavily invested in the fluff. When I decided to start collecting Dwarves the fluff was my primary reason for doing so. Yes there are great models out there too but it was the image of implacable holds in the mountains and the remains of the doughty race inhabiting them that made me want to play them. In a similar vein I could only ever play Space Marines or Eldar and went with the former, mainly due to the cheap second hand market.

Conversely I started to collect Beastmen because their style of play was inherently opposite to the Dwarves. Rather than hang back and shoot shit, it was run forward and smash face.

2017 SELWG Kings of War comp entry


My other two current armies are both elves (wood and high) and these were picked up over the years because I loved the models.


So you’ve decided on your army, so what next?

Purchasing your models is likely to be the next step and here you reach your first dilemma and this will probably be based on two considerations: available cash and whether this is your first army.

There’s no beating around the bush, this plastic crack addiction can be expensive. As such a slow burn project buying a unit at a time is much nicer on the pocket and if you already have an army (and have the patience to do this) it’s quite doable. However if you are like me (and I hope for your sake and sanity you aren’t!!) and suffer from a lack of patience or it’s your first army, then you will likely buy or want to buy a larger number of models, at least enough to play a smaller game.

If you are buying GW models be prepared to spend a pretty penny. I won’t deny that a lot of their models look fantastic, however they are at the top end of the price range. However there are a lot of other companies out there that make great models and if you are still buying for use in warhammer fantasy, then for some armies you won’t have a choice but to use them (or ebay) as GW have discontinued large chunks of the old world range. At a later date i’ll post some of my favourite companies and the ranges I recommend for them.

Build or build and paint

So now you have made some purchases, what is your preferred method of putting them all together?

You again have several methods, you could build one unit at a time then paint that unit. If you are doing a slow build this might be a preferred method. I personally love putting together models and take immense pleasure from putting them together so am more likely to build everything before painting. However this has the drawback of leaving you with the daunting task of then painting it all in one hit. Just the thought of that is depressing so I now try and mix up building with painting.

Now you are ready to paint you again have a plethera of choices. Have you decided on a paint scheme for the unit? Do you paint a test model first to see if it works? Sometimes for me, the hardest decision is whether to undercoating black, white or a different colour? I’m a bit of a traditionalist and normally use black or white. Which I use will depend on what colour scheme I am likely to use. If it involves a quantity of light colours (white or yellow for instance), it will be white as it makes the colours stand out more (and I don’t have to use repeated layers!). If the model has large amounts of armour, then i’ll probably use black. One of my mates tends to just use black as he says it makes shading in crevices better and it is easier to see if he’s missed painting a section.

The one time I use a different undercoat is on space marines where I have been using Caliban Green as the base. As the majority of the model is that colour, it makes painting it easier (and no they aren’t painted as Dark Angels).


For me the last decision to make is normally around how to base them but this is because most of the time I haven’t put much thought into this and just do a basic flocking. Very occasionally for me and for many others, the base is something that is looked into after a model is purchased but before it is even built (I tend to only use them on larger models such as chariots). A good base can really make a model or even bring an army together with a specific theme. Most model companies provide plain plastic bases with a purchased model, however there are a multitude of firms that sell sculpted bases. Anything from fairly basic with rocks on to plinths. One of my favourite bases (and themed armies using them) was a pirate ogre army with bases looking like the decking of a ship. There is also at least one firm that sells different textured rolling pins that allows you to create your own bases using that to imprint green stuff and it looks really good.


I’m sure i’ve missed out lots of other options but the point of this post was just to make you think about what your process is. Do you use a tried and tested method or do you switch it up each time?


A trip to the folks and down warhammer memory lane.

I was at my parents for the bank holiday weekend and while down there I finally had time to go through and catalog the Miniatures stored there. I’ll probably cover that further down the road as I took very few pictures (though it included all my Orcs and Goblins, many of which are oldhammer figures), however I did come across a few gems whilst delving in cupboards and boxes.

The first being my copies of the warhammer fantasy battle 3rd edition rule book and army book. These are still some of my favourite GW publications ever. The rule book alone, on almost ever page, contains multiple paintings and drawings, including many by (but not exclusive to) the great john blanche! The only others GW book that comes close to the enjoyment I get flicking through this, was the 40k equivalent of the day.

No wonder the book was so big when so much of it was artwork

The army book, as well as containing every army, also gave sample armies from well known names from back in the day (complete with mullets on many!). It included one of my favourites Kevin ‘Goblin Master’ Adams.

One thing that jumps out is the difference in painting styles on miniatures from them to today. There also seemed to be a preference to varnish everything.

The second ‘gem’ I came across were 2 large boxes of white dwarf magazines and citadel catalogs and at the top was issue 123 which contains one of my favourite ever battle reports (3rd ed. rules between chaos and Orc and goblins). Forget the modern day report with pictures and battle chronicler, it was very much a narrative affair with sketched maps (in the same manner as the report in WD120). If you run across a copy, I recommend giving it a read. 

The third and final ‘gem’ were 34 citadel halfling models and the halfling hotpot. These hail back to when you could still take them in Empire armies. Now I will say straight off the bat that these were bought for my sister and were painted in the main, by her, when she was still in primary school so at some point I will have to dig out the dettol to strip them. 

However, the reason I count these as one of my gems is simply because I love the sculpts. Every one of them is unique and tells it’s own story from the lady armed with just a broom, to the professional militia man, to the peddler, to the multitude eating or drinking. They all have such character and I think they sum up why oldhammer figures are so collectible.

Hobby update – Beastpacks/Chaos Hounds and next up.

It’s been bugging me that I had one element of my Kings of War competition army that wasn’t painted and so I finally knuckled down and ‘finished’ off the 2 troops of Beastpacks. 

Lacking inspiration and to ensure continuity with the rest of the army, I followed the same procedure as the wolves in the Stampede. This meant they looked pretty bland (grey with a blue wash and dry brushed) so I added a few extra bits of detail ensuring the scales/spines were green with a bit of highlighting to signify they might be poisoned. 

I still need to base them but at least I now have a fully painted comp’ army.

Next on the painting table list is to revisit the ghorgon/Brutox models and add more detail to break up the brown and then I may even (shock horror) open up the space marine box, as I’ve been reading a number of the ’40k battles’ series recently and this together with the new rule set, actually has me interested (ok quite excited) about trying it out again! I’ve briefly covered/shown part of my paint scheme in a previous post (dark green with tiger stripes on an orange background as the chapter logo). They will of course be a chapter of my own devising but are currently leaning towards being scions of the blood angels, mainly as loving the fluff around their curse and having just finished off the novel Flesh Tearers it reinforced this. (This might possibly change as previously I leant towards imperial fists but found them a bit boring. But that’s the joy of creating your own chapter, you can play a few games and try out the army styles first, especially as it will just be some friendly games at the club).

With the break from the traditional shades of red on the marines, I might the have to paint the Death Company (once bought) red with black crosses as at least then they will tie back to the parent chapter but as a mirror image as in this chapter those with the curse are more revered for having embraced their fathers final wish for vengeance and blood. Those who hold off from the curse see themselves as having the unenviable duty of overseeing the chapter to ensure its continuality for the next generation. A necessity before they can allow themselves to embrace their fathers legacy. Needless to say, with their larger than average Death Company, the chapter operates on the fringes of the imperium and will normally only commit to solitary actions against targets where total annihilation is required. Their home world’s location currently remains a mystery but it is rumoured to be deep within Xenos territory, on a planet previously colonised but long forgotten by imperium records.

Detailed map of the Universe

Ok, so I am going way off topic with this post but i’m a sucker for any program on physics and space (looking at you Brian Cox and Jim Al Khalili), or nature (David Attenborough). Being able to explore a galaxy is likely why I had a brief (couple of years) foray into EVE online (cool ships and shooting aside!).

Why am I mentioning this (bar to give you info about me you probably don’t care about ;p), it’s because I found this video about a detailed map of our Universe and how galaxies make up superclusters. I have no idea of the validity or accuracy of the info but I love this stuff and had to share it.

Laneakia – Supercluster of Galaxies

Online gaming

Although this blog is mainly aimed at my forays into tabletop gaming, I thought i’d digress into my other gaming love, namely PC games. I would happily rack up my miniatures several times a week but sadly real life gets in the way. However I can log on quite easily to the laptop and get in half an hours gaming. The only difference between now and 5 years ago is that I’m mainly in single player mode these days (and that is why I mainly use the laptop rather than a console). So with that being said, I thought I’d post something about my two current favourite games.

Tom Clancy’s The Division

This game came in for quite a bit of criticism but this was mainly around the limited options when you reached level 30 and the disappointments with the expansions released (especially as they are mainly aimed at multiplayer).

Putting that aside, I love this game. It is based on the island of Manhattan, after it has been quarantined when a deadly virus was released into the population. Your task is to take it back from the gangs that have taken over, find out what happened, help find a cure and get the infrastructure back up and running (just one or two tasks then). It combines an open world 3rd person shooter with elements of MMOs and RPGs.


Quite often when playing a game such as this there is a mad rush to reach the maximum level as soon as possible and this might be why there was so much disappointment. For once I held off doing this and leveled in a slow burn over 4 or so months (if not a bit longer). One of the reasons I was able to do this, was due to the amount of pure detail in the game. I believe they mapped out most of the actual city (at least the areas you can access in game) and you can run around a good chunk of it, exploring the streets and some of the rooftops and subways. Your main base of operations is the New York Postal Service building (I believe) and you will unlock safe houses as you explore the city. In one of your first missions you have to storm and retake Madison Square Gardens (opposite it). I like the interaction with these historical and/or famous buildings.

Home Sweet Home

When wandering around, the amount of detail they have programmed into the game is astonishing, such as, coming across hundreds of coffins in a partly built underground tunnel, to lists of drinks written on the wall of a ‘generic’ coffee shop. And it looks stunning. It is this level of care in the surrounds that, to me, makes this game so special. And you can shoot stuff. Lets not forget that and it is why I rate this so much higher than Watchdogs. Other little touches such as the sub quests to find the missing division agents and listening to the telephone calls when you find them, all add to the story and experience.

What, no mega milky mocha!

As with all RPGs you can craft gear (weapons and anything else you wear) and you’ll also pick up items as loot from boxes you find or from the cold dead corpses you help to litter the city with. You augment this with skills. Anything from heat seeking grenades, to health/ammo packs for team mates and machine gun turrets. I will admit to have only slightly explored the multiplayer side so won’t comment on that here apart from to say, like all multiplayers, if you find a good group it can be great but if randomly grouping, you can also have terrible experiences.

This was quite rightly game of the year in 2016 and i’m now on my 2nd run through of it (screenshots are from that).


Total War – Warhammer

I first discovered the Total War (TW) series when TW-Rome was released back in 2004. Building up multiple armies in a grand campaign and then fighting epic battles with masses of units to expand your empire had massive appeal to me (I can’t think why. Perhaps everyone has a bit of a megalomaniac in them!). I pretty much bought every release that then followed but Rome was always my favourite of them (until Rome 2 was released). Anyone who has played the game has always said that it would marry perfectly with the warhammer world and around 2008 a chap going my the online sudonym of Jubal, created a mod for the original Rome game that allowed you to take control of many of the warhammer races and recreated the whole of the warhammer world. This kept me going during my tabletop hiatus but the mod did suffer from being on one of the oldest TW engines and the odd crash.


When they announced the release of an official version of the game, I nearly fell off my seat. At first I was hit by the excitement of it and then the irony kicked in. The release date was set for 2016. So it was set in the world they they had already destroyed. So they finally got on the band wagon and promoted a game and world that they had scrapped. You sometimes have to wonder about the thinking in Nottingham. That being said, I decided to take it as a finally hurrah of ‘the world that was’. Hell, I’m not going to complain that they finally released the amalgamation I had so wanted!


The game plays very similar to the other Total War games. You can capture and build up settlements, allowing different units to be recruited. The technology trees for each race unlock in different ways and are of variable sizes, giving them each a unique feel. The playable races at launch were: Empire, Greenskins, Dwarf, Vampire Counts and Chaos Warriors. They’ve already clicked on what a cash cow this game is and they’ve released a number of downloads already (some were even free!), from extra legendary heroes to two additional mini campaigns, complete with new races (Beastmen and Wood Elves). It’s worth mentioning that you do get to play Bretonnian but only in multiplayer. Quite why you don’t get the option to in campaign mode, only the designers know.


I have to give a special mention to the world map. The detail on it is incredible. Volcanoes have lava flows. There are huge skulls carved into mountains. The map can also change in appearance. For example, looking at the Dwarf hold of Zhufbar, each lake has a waterfall coming from it to the next one down, which also powers and turns the water wheels. If the hold is captured by Orcs, the hold will be transformed with crude Orc iconography and ‘improvements’ added to walls. (see the before and after shots above).


World Domination

There are a couple of bugbears worth noting. Not all units have been included in the army lists. For instance, the Beastmen are missing Jabberslythes, Ghorgons and Harpies. It’s not game breaking but how hard would it have been to add in the additional couple of units. At present the map only covers the old world, from Norsca to the Badlands, so it is a limited part of the overall potential map.


Now having said all that, there is a site that apparently data-mined the game and has predicted the next main releases. They were spot on with DLC3 being Beastmen and DLC5 being Wood elves, so there is hope that the below may be accurate. At the game launch it was always stated there would be 2 expansions, so between all of these, the current map should also increase in size (perhaps the land of the dead for Tomb kings and the Darklands for Chaos Dwarves and Ogres). Based on the missing DLC items, I am still hopeful that Bretonnians will be made a playable race in the main campaign.

DLC5 – Wood Elves

DLC6 – Bretonnian + Isabelle Von Carstein

DLC8 – Tomb Kings
DLC10 – Skaven
DLC13 – Chaos Dwarfs
DLC15 – Ogre Kingdoms

Exp1 – Dark Elves, High Elves, Lizardmen
Exp2 – Chaos Nurgle, Chaos Tzeentch, Chaos Slaanesh, Chaos Khorne

Whether any of the above comes to pass or not, I am loving this game and have just finished my fourth playthrough (Wood Elves are easily my favourite so far). And that replayability is probably as good an accolade as you can give a game.

A glutton for punishment.

Early last year I had my first foray into the realm of 40k. In normal style (after 2 practice/learn the rules games) I jumped in feet first and entered the club competition. I can’t say I enjoyed it hugely but this was mainly down to not knowing what I was doing and partially in creating a sub-optimal list (something I don’t mind in whfb as I have a better idea of what i’m doing so it’s a good challenge- see my Beastmen bat reps for an example). What can I say, I had to use what I owned and 3 dreads and 2 drop pods didn’t quite work. The rule of 3 (pods) became quickly apparent (for those not in the know, you can deploy half your pods in one go rounding up. With only 2 pods I was dropping in one dread at a time, which allowed it to be easily picked off. 2 dreads landing at once is a different proposition).
The problem with competitions is, once you submit a list you are locked in, so if you are a total novice and your list is based on models you like/own vs others full on competitive list, you can be a bit screwed. This is mitigated by having fun opponents (something, thankfully SELWG has in abundance) but nevertheless the perma-shafting (and frustration of, after a few games, gaining that understanding of where changes need to be made but unable to make them) can be a bit grating.


What can be done about it. Well the obvious thing is learn from the above and don’t jump straight in again. Hold off the comps until you’ve got a decent amount of practice games under your belt and understand what your preferred play style and army is.

So what did I do? Yep you guessed it, signed up to the inaugural club Kings of War competition starting in March (list submission by end of Feb). But a-ha, that gives you over a month to learn to play/get some practice games I hear you say. Very true but my next club night will be 3 Feb and is booked in for 40k (more on that in a second), I then fly to India for a good chunk of the month, so if I’m lucky, I may get in one game before the end of the month. One day I’ll learn…

The other way to do things is one day events where you play multiple games. This is a good way to get an initial feel for a game system, meet new players and if your list isn’t designed for your style of play (I say that rather than poorly designed) it only impacts one day rather than potentially several months of games. I did this with Age of Sigmar when SELWG held its AOS Smash event. Although I haven’t played another game since, I thoroughly enjoyed the event and would play AOS again in a similar situation (even if I probably wouldn’t on a club night).


I’ll probably take this route with my KOW practice game. Having 2 smaller point games in a night rather than 1 large one and in addition, swopping armies for the 2nd game so we both get a different experience of it.

And so I finally get round to the original point of this post (before I started rambling and had to go back and change the title). On the 3rd of Feb I’ll be giving 40k a second go. That evening, the club is holding a 40k Kill Team night. It will mean 3-4 games each using just 200pts of single codex models. It should be good fun. I’ll get to play members I normally don’t face and with the small model count, quite a lot of choices are viable. If I pick garbage then no loss as it’s only for one evening! Now where did I put the 40k rule book…

Kings of War – Getting Started

I’ve been looking into Kings of War quite a bit recently and more than Ninth Age I’ve been getting quite excited about trying it out. As with all new systems, my first step is to swot up about it first. I’ll be posting a series of articles on it and i’ll kick off the first one looking to compare it with warhammer.

Comparison vs 8th Edition whfb

As I’ve posted before, Mike Carter, on his blog, has written an excellent post on switching from 8th Ed. to KOW.

  • Rules

There are a plethora of rules which are different from whfb. I’ll pick out some of the key differences that jumped out for me (and note that the rules section of the book is only around 40 pages long). The basic rules (and limited army lists for each race) are also free to download from the Mantic website.

Charges are double movement. No random 2D6 (although this was one thing I really liked about 8th over previous iterations of whfb).

You can only attack during your turn.

Each unit has a fixed to hit roll and a defense figure that attackers have to beat to wound it (though these can be modified by magic items and special rules). You could say this is similar to how GW went with AOS.

Each unit has a nerve value, normal 2 numbers e.g. 12/15. If you wound the unit you roll 2D6 and add the wounds caused. If this beats the top value, the unit is removed from the table (there is no fleeing on the table, think of it as you auto rundown the unit). If the roll beats the lower number the unit is wavered and it limits what they can do in the next turn – such as counter charging (you could compare it to punching someone in the face and them reeling back stunned and unable to retaliate – not that I condone violence off the tabletop!)

No panic tests, so flanks won’t randomly collapse.

If you charge to the flank, the units attacks are doubled. If you charge to the rear they are tripled!

There are only around 5 spells (2 damage, a heal and 2 that impact movement). Magic is also done in the shooting phase.

You pivot around the centre of a unit rather than wheel a unit. (Most units can move and pivot once up to 90 degrees, however if you march you cannot normally pivot).

Charging can be done at any time during movement (and there are no charge reactions).

You can move (but not charge) through units. This makes having screening units and layered defence very viable.

No casualties are removed, wounds are just recorded.

  • Unit Sizes

The first thing noted was unit sizes and footprints are fixed (no conga line antics are allowed here). There are 4 unit sizes:

Troops: The smallest of the unit types, your basic chaff. Typically 10 infantry arranged in a 5 * 2 formation, or 5 Cavalry in a 5 * 1 formation.

Regiments: Standard unit type. 20 infantry in a 5 * 4 formation or 3 large infantry (e.g. ogres) in a 3 * 1 formation, 10 Cavalry in a 5 * 2 formation or 3 large cavalry (e.g. chariots or Demigryph equivalents) in a 3 * 1 formation

Hordes: As the name suggests, very much similar to whfb in size. 40 infantry in a 10 * 4 formation or 6 large infantry (e.g. ogres) in a 3 * 2 formation, 20 Cavalry in a 10 * 2 formation or 6 large cavalry (e.g. chariots or Demigryph equivalents) in a 3 * 2 formation

Legions: Anything larger than hordes. Not all armies have the option of taking Legions. Formations will be along the lines of 10 * 8 for infantry or 12 * 2 for large infantry or 6 * 2 for Large Cavalry.

It is worth noting that not all WHFB sizes match exactly (for example Gor are on 25mm bases but in KOW their nearest equivalent – Spirit Walkers – are on 20mm so you will likely have 4 * xx number).

Large infantry (40mm bases) normally come in either 3 or 6 models and are 3 wide and 1 deep or 3 wide and 2 deep (some armies allow bigger sized units such as ogres).

Individual monsters (Dragons/Giants etc have a standard base size of 50mm so this is one thing where anyone porting across their models will be at a disadvantage.

One thing that is mentioned is that unit size isn’t based on the number of models. It is all to do with the size of the unit footprint. It recommends that footprints contain a minimum of 50% of the models but preferably 66%. This allows mini dioramas to be created for each unit. This includes for large models, so if you are taking a regiment of chariots, the footprint is the equivalent of 3 whfb chariot bases but you only need two on the base (just ensure the movement tray is the size of 3!).

It’s worth mentioning that KOW does seem very much to be aimed at unit combat with heroes and wizards there to support the units (in the main), something I’m a big fan of.

  • List Building

List building is much simpler. You still decide on a point level (In KOW 2000pts is similar to 2500 in whfb) and then ‘buy’ units rather than individual models.

For example to buy high elf archers in whfb it costs 100pts for 10 and then 10pts each for any extra you want (+30pts for FC). In KOW, you pay 115pts for 10 or 150pts for 20 or 250pts for 40.

There are no Core/Special/Rare. Instead for each Regiment you ‘buy’, you can then take up to 2 troops and either 1 character or monster or warmachine. For each Horde or Legion you ‘buy’, you can then take up to 4 troops and 1 hero and 1 monster and 1 war machine. So taking bigger blocks unlocks more options but taking multiple smaller blocks also unlocks the options (you just need more regiments to do so).

Each army does have a multitude of units and support available to them but even with the magic items and my limited playing around, i’ve found the list building aspect is not nearly as fun as whfb.

Example battle reports 

There are plenty of good battle reporters out there, some who started with KOW like master crafted gaming on You Tube (though some of their videos will probably offend due to language and piss taking so watch with caution if you are easily offended e.g. Herd vs Twilight Kin), others who are more traditional bloggers and who moved over from 8th, tried both KOW and Ninth Age and settled on KOW like Swordmaster of Hoeth (note he plays most of his games on Universal Battle, an online system that negates the need to be in the same room as an opponent. It is similar in appearance to my battle rep diagrams).

Reference Documents

1) Until Somebody loses an Eye blog has posted:

Learn to Play KOW – quick sheet

Rules – Reference Sheet

2) Path of an Outcast blog has created:

Specific Rules reminders

Special rules

Or you can view them on his main post (section 3)

3) Fields of Blood – Blog has posted:

Common Misconceptions – correction notes

4) Most of the army builder programs cover KOW and Mantic also have a free army list creator (Link).

The next few posts on KOW will be me playing around with army lists (specifically Beastmen,elf and dwarf). Once I arrange a game I’ll also post that and some further thoughts.