Tag Archives: Games Workshop

Armies of Yesteryear: Warhammer Orcs and Goblins

I just got a brand new mat from Cigar Box Battle Mats, and I love it. To celebrate, I thought I’d photograph my old Warhammer Fantasy Orcs and Goblins on it. I haven’t played a game of Warhammer Fantasy since about 2003, so it’s been a while since these miniatures have seen battle. I’ve been using a few here and there for RPGs and skirmishes, but that’s about it.

The WAAAAAAGH is too big for me to photograph all at once, so I just took pictures of the individual units. This was my main WFB army from 1995 or so until about 2003. Previously I played Undead, but when GW split them into two different army books I never really went back. I was on a pretty limited gaming budget back then and couldn’t afford it.

Most of these miniatures were picked up in trades on Bartertown or in the boxed sets. The paint jobs aren’t terrible, but neither are they as good as they would be if I was painting them today. I tried to do a decent job as fast as possible so I could field them quickly. (I didn’t play with unpainted miniatures then, and I still don’t now.)

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First up, two units of archers. Night Goblins on the left, Orcs on the right. The Goblins came from the 4th edition boxed set. My friend bought the set for $60 bucks. It included Goblins and High Elves. He took the Elves and the rules sold me the goblins for $20. A good deal then and would still be now. The Orcs were old style Arrer Boyz, mostly plastic but a couple of metal ones too. This was the era when core troops were pretty much all the same sculpt with no variation. The armies today look better, but say what you will about the old style: at least they ranked up with no problems. Out in front are three Night Goblin Fanatics, as well as the old version of Skarsnik and Gobbla. In the back is the old Orc Rock Lobba.

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Moving onwards, here’s a unit of Goblin Wolf Riders and my main unit of Goblin spearmen (also from the 4th edition boxed set). Way in the back you can see an old-school Doom Diver Catapult.

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Next we come to my main core units of Boyz. On the left is a big brick of Orc Boyz from the 5th Edition boxed set. I forget who sold me these, but it was someone who was only interested in playing Empire. In the middle is my elite unit of Black Orcs (the old-school sculpts). This unit is one of the only ones I paid full retail for. On the right is another unit of Orc Boyz. These are mostly old Heroscape Orcs I picked up in trades. Once I had an opponent in a local tournament object to me using them, because, technically, they weren’t “purely GW miniatures”.  I took the unit out of my army and still trounced him. Then I told him to fuck off. Also in the picture is one of my Orc Bolt Throwers (which are now apparently crewed by Goblins in the newest version of the rules). More on the characters in front later.

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A better shot of the 5th Edition Boyz. In front are three Goblin Squig Hoppers. I loved the absolute randomness and fun of playing goblins. The Fanatics, the Doom Divers and the Squig Hoppers…none of them ever worked how you wanted them to, but they were just too fun not to include in the army. I don’t think any of the Hoppers ever killed anything. They always got shot before they could even make contact with an enemy.

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These guys won many a battle for me. Back in 4th-5th Edition, Savage Orc Boar Boyz were insane unit killers. I had 12 armed with spears and could usually break any unit on the charge (except for Dwarf Ironbreakers…Ooooo, how I hated them). Next to them is another Bolt Thrower, another unit of Orc Arrer Boyz (also from the 5th Edition boxed set) and another Doom Diver Catapult.

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Lastly, here’s another shot of the Orc Arrer Boyz. To the right is another Night Goblin archer unit (from the 4th edition Boxed set), a Night Goblin shaman, and a few more Fanatics.

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My Night Goblin archers couldn’t hit the ground if they aimed at it, but that’s not why I played two units of them. I did it for the Fanatics. I would always equip one of them with a Madcap Mushroom. That would be the guy riding the 8 Ball.

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A close up of one of the Doom Diver Catapults. The new model is pretty cool, but it’s also three times as big. I like the old one better.

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The old-school Rock Lobber. I was supposed to have two of these, but I got burned in a trade on Bartertown. I will always remember the name and email address of the asshole who screwed me. He lives in Healdsburg, California. So, Ben, if you’re reading this, go fuck yourself.

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A couple of character models. On the left was my Warboss. He was an exclusive Games Day miniature that my friend picked up for me. On the right is Nazgob, the Orc Shaman. He was a new miniature when I bought him. GW still makes him today. He was originally wearing bright blue, but I recently repainted him and he looks much better.

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Skarsnik and Gobbla, a very fun (but not very effective) Night Goblin team. I don’t think I ever won any battles with Skarsnik as my general;, but it was always fun to see which of my own troops Gobbla would eat. On the right is my old Warboss before I got the Games Day miniature.

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Last but not least, Gorfang Rotgut. I added some bitz from the zombie boxed set and added a shield to his shield. It was one of my first conversions. I once played a campaign against my friend using Gorfang as my army commander. My friend played Dwarfs. I got crushed. No sour grapes here, I still had a blast. But I realized that Gorfang was one of the most overpriced (points-wise) and ineffective special characters in the game.I chose him because he had a hatred of Dwarfs (believe me the Dwarfs felt the same way), but that didn’t help. In the end, my Orcs got curb-stomped by the Dwarfs. I think I won one out of eight battles.

I picked up a Battle for Skull Pass boxed set about two years ago, mainly for the Dwarfs. (I’ve always loved Dwarfs, and my friend kicking my ass with them did nothing to diminish that.) I considered painting up the Spider Riders and adding them to the WAAAAGH, but decided against it. I also thought about buying the Arachnarok Spider, but again, decided not to, even though it’s a really cool model. After all, I never play Warhammer anymore. I’d like to, but I’m not about to try to keep current with whatever version of WFB GW  is hawking, or whatever new units they come up with to replace units they arbitrarily deem obsolete.

Grom the Paunch didn’t make it to the table here because his chariot broke and is awaiting repair. Not that it matters. I never won a game with Grom as my general (Goblin generals suck), and, come to think of it, I never won a game with anyone in a chariot as my general. Chariots are huge targets for war machine and missile fire, and whenever I fielded Grom he got shot to death by turn 3, or his wolves got shot and effectively stranded him wherever they died.

More Armies of Yesteryear to come!

Bringin’ the Thunder

Two posts in one day! I did a little more work on my Dwarf Army recently and I thought I’d share the latest additions to my bearded host with you. I decided to paint up the artillery and some handgunners, so here they are.

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First up, the artillery: two Dwarf cannons with crew. The one on the left is the old-school metal cannon, the one on the right is the plastic (much smaller) cannon from Battle for Skull Pass.

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Next is a unit of Dwarf Thunderers from Battle for Skull Pass, along with an OOP Dwarf Lord holding a pistol. Ten Thunderers do not a unit make, IMHO, but there are enough for a skirmish or two.

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This is my organ gun (painted previously). Together with the cannons, it should make life difficult for anyone in front of them.

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Here are most of the shooty units in my Dwarf Army…coming along slowly but surely. Apologies for the blurriness. Up next: Miners!!!!

 

 

 

The Dwarves are Upon You!

I have found a cure for my painting blues. I’ve decided that rather than drive myself crazy painting things I don’t want to, I’ll take a break and get started on those Dwarfs I’ve been meaning to paint for a while. Here are the results.

It’s a modest start: one unit of Warriors, one unit of Miners, a small unit of Quarrelers (that’s crossbowmen, not argumentative dwarfs), and an organ gun. It should be noted that with the exception of the organ gun and its crew, none of these are GW models.  Like I give a shit. Both the Warriors and the Miners are from Black Tree Design, the Crossbowmen are from Mantic. I placed them around some Gale Force Nine Battlefield in a Box Rocky Outcroppings.

First up are the Miners. I love the look of Black Tree’s dwarfs, as they are all metal and chunky, reminiscent of that old Citadel Dwarf range, which I really like. The only criticism I have of them is that there isn’t enough variation in the packaging. Out of 20 figures, I got 5 of one sculpt and 4 of another, while conversely I got 1 each of two very cool sculpts. Oh well. I did my best to paint them with enough variation so that they are individualized, but I tied the unit together by using the same dirty colors across the board (they’re miners, after all). I used some leftover mat board from my Modular Roads project as movement trays.

Up next are the Warriors. Again, I like the look of Black Tree. These guys are doubly cool because they’re so armored up, I could easily use them as proxy Ironbreakers. (Quick Math: I get 20 of these metal dwarfs from Black Tree for about $40. The same unit of “official” GW Ironbreakers would cost me $100.  I’d say they’re likely to be Ironbreakers most of the time.)

I didn’t make any banners for either unit yet, because I kind of suck at scratch-building banners. Maybe one day I’ll get around to it.

Last are the Quarrelers and the organ gun. The organ gun is an old-school GW metal version. I actually like the newer version better, but this one is fine.  I have mixed feelings about the Mantic Dwarfs. They definitely have a look all their own, and you can’t beat the price at about $1.50 each. I really dislike the fact that in this pack of 10 dwarfs, you get a bunch of head variations but can only really use 5, as the other 5 dwarfs are all one piece. The one-piece dwarfs are the dwarfs that are firing the crossbows, pretty much the front rank. There is a noticeable lack of detail on these models as opposed to the ones with separate heads. In addition, they don’t really rank up well unless you want the back rank to be facing off to the side. A somewhat annoying design flaw.

So, what next? Well, I have all the dwarfs from the Battle for Skull Pass boxed set awaiting painting: 12 Warriors, 10 Thunderers, 8 Miners, a cannon and crew, a Thane and 1 Slayer. (I’ve always thought Dwarf Slayers are stupid.) I have an unbuilt unit of Mantic Shieldbreakers that seem to have the same annoying lack of detail on the one-piece models as the Crossbowmen. And I have another regiment of GW dwarf Miners (making that 15 more miners in total, minus my unneeded second command group). I have another dwarf cannon and crew, and a proxy Flame cannon to paint, plus a few lords and heroes…So the army is a long way from complete, but I need to get back to my other projects for now.

Games Workshop: WTF?

Like many FLGS’s, one of the local stores I patronize regularly has had to come up with inventive ways of competing with online discounters. This place has loads of old lead, including lots of GW stuff from the past 10 years or so, still new in the box. His compete strategy is simple: if you buy anything other than GW, he gives you a gift certificate for 30% of the purchase value towards anything in the store aside from GW stuff. For GW stuff, he gives you a $20 gift certificate for every $100 you spend.

That’s a pretty good deal, I would say. Or is it? It sure is as far as the non-GW stuff goes. But for the GW stuff, I’m not so sure.

Let me explain.

I recently accrued $100 worth of GW purchases at the store, so I had a $20 credit burning a hole in my pocket. I don’t buy any of the new stuff, since I never play the games anymore. What did I buy? Lots of individual regiment boxes for armies I don’t play, mainly for use in skirmish games and as cannon fodder for my AD&D game. For example, I bought a unit box of Empire Swordsmen for $30 there (I told you he has a lot of stuff still new in box, priced according to when he ordered them…in this case I’d say about 8 years ago or so.) I also bought a bunch of metal miniatures considering he sells all his old metal GW stuff for half price.

Well, I now have a gaming table that I’m hoping gets a lot of use. I have a couple of armies  for both their games, but like many gamers I always consider more. So yesterday I went to the store, thinking I might plop down a decent chunk of change on a battalion box, either for 40K or WFB. Why not? He has some battalion boxes from 8-9 years ago still on the shelf, and they’re priced accordingly as low as $90. Take $20 off that, and it’s starting to look like a deal, depending on the army you pick.

I looked at all the battalion boxes he had for sale for both games, and let me tell you, there’s a huge difference in what you get for what you spend, both across armies and across time.

He had two versions of the Empire Battalion box. (Since I already bought a box of swordsmen, I considered getting a battalion and having an Empire army ready to go.) Both versions contained 20 State Troops, 10 Handgunners, and 8 Reiksguard Knights. One also came with a Cannon and crew, the other came with 10 Greatswords instead. The Cannon was the cheaper choice: it was $90. The Greatswords cost $105. (This is the current version available on the GW website.) Maybe a little expensive, but not a terrible deal, considering you get over 40 miniatures per box.

The best deal I found was a Skaven Battalion, which contained 40 Clanrats, 20 Plague Monks, 2 Rat Ogres with Handler, and 2 Rat Swarms with Handlers for $115. These are the old syle Skaven, not the new ones. But with over 60 miniatures, it’s not a bad deal.

But these are either old WFB Battalions, or they’re the exception. The newer ones have fewer figures. and they cost more. And they changed the game itself to favor more miniatures and bigger units.

As far as old 40K Battalions went, the ones with the most miniatures for the money were the Tyranids and the Tau. I don’t want or need more Tyranids, and I don’t know anything about the Tau. Maybe if he had one of the older Tau codices there I would have considered buying it since it was priced at $90 and included 10 Fire Warriors, 3 Stealth Suits, 1 Battlesuit, 1 Devilfish Tank, and 12 Kroots. But I’m not buying a new codex for $45, and I don’t even own the latest version of the game.

This month GW released the new Eldar models, and everyone is outraged at the price hike. The Eldar Battalion is especially egregious. You get a total of 17 miniatures: 10 Guardians, 5 Dire Avengers, a Viper Jetbike, and a Wave Serpent tank. For $115. Now, GW will have its fanboys who think this is “really a good deal for what you’re getting, especially given the quality of the models”, but that’s just bullshit. And yeah, you get a tank. Big fucking deal. See the Tau above. 15 troops does not a Battalion make. They used to sell WFB regiments of 20 miniatures for 30 bucks! I know: I just bought some!

So, back to my original question: is $20 off already inflated prices actually a good deal? Or has GW’s pricing plan pretty much invalidated what this poor store owner is trying to do? By anyone’s estimation, 20 bucks off is a pretty good deal. Unless you’re paying way too much for what you’re getting to begin with. Not the owner’s fault, but he’s the one who stocks the items and has to deal with the crap from people who hate GW’s prices, who then buy from someone online. As he put it to me yesterday, “People only come to me if I’m their last resort. They need it tomorrow or something like that.”

Despite what you may think, this isn’t really a rant on GW’s prices, although any discussion about GW is bound to get around to pricing eventually (and it’s not hard to see why). It’s a speculation about what the fuck GW is really doing. Let me repeat that: this is pure speculation. I have no real knowledge of GW’s business plan or goals.

For retailers, there are already a ton of restrictions when it comes to selling GW stuff, even online. Recently, I have heard that the War Store has had to stop selling GW bits or risk losing the ability to sell GW at all, which they do for 20% off already, although they are forbidden to show any prices and/or merchandise on the site. How long do you think that will continue? And if the War Store and online sellers are having problems with the restrictions, how much trouble do you think the FLGS owner in his brick and mortar place can ever begin to compete? He can’t, really. Unless he’s a GW store.

Which makes me wonder if GW is actually trying to price the retailer out of the market, so that anyone who wants to buy GW stuff will have to buy directly from GW. it seems like a dumb idea, but is it really? No more wholesale sales to retailers, and they can charge what they want. While they can’t control the secondary market, they can make all the new stuff impossible to get for less than whatever they want to charge. While it cuts their third-party distribution network and limits exposure to their games, they have enough money to open new stores. Seems like a shitty business practice to me, but what do I know? All I know is FLGS owners everywhere aren’t moving GW stuff as much as they should, because most people consider retail too expensive and get it online for cheaper. What if that suddenly went away? Who would benefit?

I’m really trying to figure out GW’s game plan here. It reminds me of something that happened in the mid-90’s, when I was working in a comic book store. Anyone familiar with the crash of the comics market in the 90’s knows there were plenty of bad marketing ideas that capitalized on collectors’-especially new collectors’-unrealistic expectations of the “guaranteed” value of comics increasing over time. Thus there were gimmicky covers, multiple covers of the same issue (buy them all to have a complete collection!), price hikes, gratuitous cameos of “hot” characters and crossover storylines intended to dive sales of shitty books. That, coupled with the decision of Marvel Comics to distribute their own stuff exclusively, meant that Joe Retailer no longer enjoyed the big wholesale discount he got from buying all his Marvel and everything else from a third-party distributor. DC soon followed suit and became exclusive to one distributor, so now Joe Retailer had to order from more places, which means he ordered less from each, which means he paid more overall. To make matters worse, eventually the collectors stopped buying into the crap, and a lot of comic shops went out of business when they couldn’t move the merchandise they ordered two months previously in anticipation of collector demand that was suddenly no longer there.

Shortly before the big crash, though, Marvel started advertising something called “Marvel Mart” in their comics, which was a way for the individual collector to order from Marvel directly. As I recall, it was packaged in a way that implied the comic shop was an unreliable way to get your comics on time and in good condition. Plus, if you ordered directly, you saved money, since it was cheaper than Joe Retailer. Well, comic store owners went ballistic, since it seemed that Marvel was trying to drive them out of business. If I remember correctly, Marvel relented and Marvel Mart went away, mainly because Marvel didn’t expect the backlash from retailers. After all, Marvel comics accounted for something like 70% of comic sales at the time. Take that away, and how can an owner survive? Most didn’t. The store I worked at survived for a time on Magic: the Gathering card sales. Then it went out of business, too.

Much as I love playing other games, for most people GW is synonymous with miniatures gaming, for better or worse.  I have to think that this will hit the wall at some point, but that wall just keeps getting pushed back.

I didn’t buy anything yesterday after all, although I am considering the older Empire Battalion and/or maybe the Tau, if I can find the older codex. I still have two WFB armies I’m working on (which means I haven’t made much progress). I just feel bad for this store owner and others like him, who are really struggling and fighting an uphill battle. To be fair, it’s not just GW’s fault; they just have the worst prices. Amazon sells X-Wing stuff for a lot less than retail, for example. It wasn’t too long ago I considered opening a store of my own. With the current state of the market, I’d be rolling some heavily-loaded dice if I did. I just think it’s sad that the little guy might not be around too much longer.