Shoulder to Shoulder
With another game convention coming up and interest in Mantic Games’ Kings of War (http://www.manticgames.com/games/kings-of-war.html) growing in our little gaming group we decided to all come together for a big battle where each commander provides 500 points. With that we can either play fast one on ones or mix them up for a massed battle of alliances. Being nostalgic for the BEST campaign our group has ever played let alone completed (thanks largely to Aron and Nils), set underground in the world of Warhammer, we agreed to try and theme our armies to what we ran those many years ago. An excellent reason to break out the Spring of Darga One Eye, incidentally, as I will be running Dwarfs! Time to pull out the boxes of “unpainted troops” and start assembling new units and I do mean assemble because without the game mechanic of removing figures as casualties I can make whole units on a single base. Almost like little dioramas.
Now understand, I have loved most things dwarfish since seeing Disney’s Snow White at age four. These deeply honorable, hard working, hard partying, master craftsmen just lit something that Bilbo’s companions fanned to an inferno by the time I was in fifth grade. Once I was introduced to RPG figures (I’m talking Ral Partha, Grenadier and Heritage here for my Original Gamer homies- pouring some enamel paint on the ground in tribute) and preslotta Citadel (thanks, Necron_99, for getting me addicted to war-games) I was hooked on the bearded short guys. So having made that clear it can be assumed I have amassed a decent and varied collection of painted troops in the intervening decades and can assemble a force for most games out of what I own regardless of system. I even have a navy and air force. What I didn’t have were any of Mantic Games’ Dwarf Bulwarkers and if I was going to run a KoW Dwarf force then that wasn’t going to stand for long, besides, they were perfect to be led by the Mantic Warsmith and Army Standard Bearer figures I had long wanted to get out of my unpainted collection and into a unit. So how to prep, paint, and build these figures into a solid block without going crazy or gluing my fingers together (again)?
As much as I like the bits and pieces that Mantic includes on the sprue to make the commanders I have had the metal Warsmith and Army Standard Bearer figures from their boxed set for quite some time. They are among my favorite of Mantic’s dwarf models, right behind the hero on a giant badger but that is for another blog and I digress. I checked to make sure they would fit both the shield wall and character of the unit.
The first issue I faced was the fact that this is one of Mantic’s hybrid kits, plastic dwarf sprues with pewter spear wielding arms included. While this leaves one with lots of extra pieces to drop in the “Bits Box” it does mean only clean joins and super glue (cyanoacrylate) will bond the pieces. I found the spears to be a nice length and thickness which was fortunate as it was also a little brittle. I found I had to drill and pin about half of the “two handed” spears though this actually made it easier to adjust the angle before attaching to the bodies. Fortuitous headache. The second issue I saw right away was painting and basing tightly ranked soldiers. I decided to use one of the old unit bases I had laying around and attach individual bases to that thinking it would help hide the little discs the figures are standing on as well as help rank them up. Next time I’ll just use glue them to flat plastic and save some frustration as flock hides a lot and trying to fit the finished figures together and into the holes was just unnecessarily fiddly.
After I had painted the entire unit I had to reassemble it to see which dwarf fit where. Typical of me, I had complicated the issue by adding in the bulkier metal commanders and my Gamer OCD required that the two trooper on the front corners also have spears rather than hand weapons. I realized part way through assembly that the shields were probably designed to be held rather than embedded in the ground as I had done but I feel they look heavier and more imposing this way. I can imagine thick stakes holding them in place.
I sprayed all the finished figures and shields with matte sealant to protect their paint jobs from all my handling and to make sure all surfaces were covered before the soldiers were glued shoulder to shoulder. Some folks like simple sand texture on the bases while others will create entire ecosystems at the feet of their toy soldiers. For my war-game dwarfs (and undead) I like to use a mix of several Woodland Scenics’ brown flocks, mixed ballast as well as charcoal from a water filter. I decided to flock all around the finished shields as well as each figure’s little disc to begin with. Then I would glue down the front row of troops, flock all around it before gluing down the next row. When this was finished they were ready for another coat of sealant. I will probably go back later and glue on tufts of grass.
So here they are, Thane Stoneoath’s Bulwarkers. I really like how solid the unit looks and am looking forward to moving it around the table as well as finding out how well they do in Kings of War. I think I may need another unit eventually just because they look so cool but until then there are a couple of artillery pieces I’ve been aching to get done and some nice wooden circles the perfect size turn them into little dioramas.