Saturday, 22 February 2014

Brand new hobgoblins (sort of)

I'm a big fan of Whiskey Priest's how to Oldhammer initiative which has been taken up enthusiastically by the community on the forum.

While I still covet a fair number of Citadel miniatures that were successfully marketed to me in the late 80s I think it's important to emphasise the gaming as much as the collecting, and to support current manufacturers making some great miniatures at sensible prices. I also like the mindset of finding a miniature you like then working out what rules should represent it on the table, which seems diametrically opposed to the GW marketing message of the last 20-some years of selling the model by making the unit it represents desireable or required.

So, inspired by Aiteal's hobgoblins and zoggin-eck's 'back to the source' approach I took a second look at a number of figures that I'd previously rejected as suitable orcs but which I realised would make fantastic hobgoblins, at least in my view of them (heavily influenced by the 2nd edition Bestiary): scrawnier than orcs, with a distinct eastern / Mongol horde vibe and head hair.

So, over the last couple of weeks I've taken delivery of a number of packages of brand new models - a mixture of Armalion Red Moon orcs (via Ral Partha Europe) and old Grenadier Nihon orcs, eastern hobgoblins and goblins:

And here they are ranked up, with Harboth and a C36 Hobgoblin for size reference:

The Red Moon orcs are a great fit for the older Citadel hobgoblins. I'm not so keen on their hairy arms and legs, so I'm trying to work out how to represent that as furs instead (easy on the arms, might need a bit more work around the feet).

The Nihon orcs are slightly taller and bulkier than I'd have liked, but I'm sure their mates will be glad of some big lads to push to the front rows! The great thing about goblinoids in general is that a bit of size variation is to be expected, so the overall impression is fine. I wouldn't want too many of these in the unit though.

The eastern hobgoblins and goblins are just perfect. Unfortunately, although there are other variations in the range, those are a bit hunched for my taste (a bit of a Nick Lund trademark) so I've limited myself to just three of them.

I'm really looking forward to starting painting these. I need to get the orcs that are front of my queue finished first, then we'll see if my painting can do justice to the models.

Thank you Whiskey Priest for helping me broaden my horizons a little!

Saturday, 1 February 2014

Reikland versus reality

I managed to pick up a copy of Death on the Reik last week in decent condition for a very reasonable price, but with one downside. As seems to be common, it was missing the A3 Reikland / Castle Wittgenstein map, which is obviously not ideal.

On the plus side it did make me think rather more about how Reikland should look than I otherwise would have (and perhaps more than is healthy!). It also made me more conscious of an insightful post I read on G+ recently about how geek fans (that'll be me) sometimes loose sight of theme because of over-emphasis on facts. You'll see what I mean in a minute...

Back to the maps - there are lots of useful Reikland maps on the internet, and Gitzman's Gallery collects some of the best ones together. There's a wide variation in what they portray, which is fair enough for a pseudo-16th century setting, but the detail which is bothering me is how densely populated they should be.

Exactly where point A is in relation to point B is fairly irrelevant to the characters on the ground, but what is relevant is if you leave (for example) Bögenhafen on the road to Altdorf and travel for most of the day, how many settlements do you pass? As it gets later do you press on in reasonable expectation of getting to the next town or village?

Going by the map in Shadows Over Bögenhafen (Hogshead version) there are 3 coaching inns and a village between Bögenhafen and Heiligen on the outskirts of Altdorf. The detailed map in Gitzman's Gallery (which I believe is by Andy Law, who knows his WFRP) has 4 coaching inns, two villages and a town on the same route.

This may seem like I'm being pedantic, but hopefully that's not it. The Warhammer Old World, and especially the Empire, is fun because its a bit more modern than the usual fantasy setting, and can give rise to themes that wouldn't work in a more traditional medieval setting. To support the scheming nobles and growing merchant class that we all all know and love you need a certain scale and level of advancement to the place. But that same scale and modernity act against the lonely wildness of parts of the Empire, with beastmen (and worse) lurking in every stretch of forest.

Even the more densely populated maps have plenty of wildness for such things to roam, but I think I rather prefer the "points of light" approach of the older maps, where every settlement of any size in Reikland (Harke, population: 25) can be listed on two sides of A4.