Thursday 31 March 2016

A Tale of Four Oldhammerers: March's Magician of Nurgle

Oh, what a month it has been. It all started out with this great plan for getting my bigger units finished for this project. After limping along in the race during the Tale of Four Oldhammer Gamers, I wanted to make more of a mad dash to the finish (this year's Oldhammer Weekend in August) and get so BIG units completed. Sadly, life as always intervened. So, a few days ago I finally admitted to myself that I was not going to get the two units of Nurgle I had wanted finished by the end of the month. 

But this left me a problem!

What could I submit if I only had a few days? 

Thankfully chaos is very forgiving in a project like this and the necessary 100 points can easily be found by painting up a single champion model. But what model should I pick? I have a stack of the classic champions that Jes Goodwin designed in the late '80s and I even went as far as fishing their bag out of the Welsh Dresser. In the end though, I decided to paint something really, really special and I chose the model you can see here. 

Being close to the beating heart of Oldhammer, I have been lucky enough to meet a few collectors with some really nice pieces, and I have even managed to pick up a few of them too! Miniatures that were produced, but for many different reasons were never actually released. And this model is one of them. Perhaps you have seen it before on one of the CCM pages?

It has been referenced under 'Empire' and someone has suggested it represents a magician or druid. After painting it, I think that this assessment is not quite right. Judging by it's cadaverous visage (the face resembles a fleshy skull) I suspect that this model was once destined for a 'baddie' range. Having worked on it for a few hours, I feel that the model was never actually completed before casting. Parts of the figure seem unfinished and strangely empty. The 'robe' seems very, very smooth when compared to similar models from the 'era', almost as if additional detail were to be added later, but weren't. 

One thing that did strike me when I was preparing the model for painting were the three 'ball' shape pieces on the back. You can see them here in the image above. I have painted them a rusty silver. They don't appear to be grenades or pouches (you can see a pouch painted red below them) and are really rather inexplicable unless you look at the model from a chaos perspective. 

I feel that they are a Nurgle symbol, such as you see on many shields and models across the Citadel Range. Have a look here to see what I mean in more detail. The red shield clearly displays the classic symbol for the Plague God, doesn't it?

So this begs the question - could this be an unreleased Nurgle Magician instead? I believe so and it is for this reason I chose to paint him up for my (very slowly) growing old school Nurgle army. 

He was great fun to paint. The unfinished areas were suitably challenging and resulted in me having to be more creative with my painting. I had a little serendipity along the way too. As I was sticking the model to it's base, I managed to drip some superglue onto the figure's robe. In attempting to wipe it away I ended up sticking my fingers together and making a right old mess. However, the dried glue gave the robe a little irregular detail and instead of stripping it in the Nitro-Mors overnight (remember, I was on a time limit) I decided to just paint on over the dried glue. 

Can you notice? 

Recently, I unearthed a pot of Bilious Green in my storage area and decided to put the paint to one side to do something with. I haven't actually painted a model with the stuff for over twenty years and the challenge of doing so was a welcome one. You will have seen that I used this green to build up the skin tones with the final highlight being pure Bilious Green - a classic '80s clolour you just don't see any more. Bright red made up the eyes, a purple tongue and brown rotting teeth. The hair was also straightforwards - just grey, light grey and white painted in streaks. 

The robe was harder (not just because it had a crusty layer of superglue on it, either) as it was just so bland. It looked too smooth to be the fetid rags of a Nurgle follower. To solve this, I used a stippling effect with the paint while highlighting and created a rather wormy, irregular finish. A good glaze with a chestnut ink made the material look oily and damp. Nice and offensive like all good Nurgle follower's like to look! 

The staff was a throwback to an old undead army I painted in 2010. I used gold as a basecoat. Then washed over in a dark black ink. Once this was dry, I made a verdigris green wash out of blue and green and seeped this over the staff. Once this dried, the gold looked filthy and aged. I used the original base colour once again to highlight the edges of the metal. 

Bags, feathers and belts were painted quite simply with browns and blacks, as were the shoes. I used my prized Foundry Boneyard triad for the animal skull on the end of the staff. This really is a set of paints you NEED to own as they are absolutely excellent for painting bone. Finally, I used red and blue as spot colours for the pouch and dangling hair tuft below the animal skull - what are these called? 

All in all, I just scraped in with the time limit. Phew! I have been so busy I haven't even had a look at what the other boys in my Oldhammer gang have been up to this month, so I better go remedy that immediately! 


Thursday 24 March 2016

The Unusual Suspects: Cleaning and identifying the figures

After a couple of days soaking in the Dettol, here they are! Five squeaky (almost) clean Warhammer models ready for an undercoat. But who are they? And from what ranges did they originate? 

The model on the far left is, of course, the miller figure from the C46 Villagers series which were released in July 1985. He is a fun little model though practically useless in an army building sense - as there are no weapons at all sculpted on the figure! Like many of the models in the range, he has been sculpted with a touch of the inbred yokel and wears very simple clothes. I do like the tiny details you can pick out of the grains inside the sack though. A model perfect for the front of any mill model. 

Jes the Poacher is up next. There are a number of variants based on this model, most notably Longbow who is also part of the Death on the Reik collection. 

The third model along is a rather snooty female from the Marauder Citizens range released in January 1989. Sadly, she lacks any kind of name save '10' carved in Roman numerals on her base. She looks fairly upmarket, for Warhammer anyway, and shall be painted as a posh lady. 

Behind her is Ruffler, a 1980s village thief sculpted in such a way as to suggest he is stuffing something rather dubious into his jerkin. What could it be? Perhaps a trinket lifted from the snooty lady we were just talking about?

Finally, we have the Citadel lawyer. Book in hand (a copy of WFB3, perhaps?) and no doubt eager to 'correct' your interpretation of the 'rules' at great length. Released as part of the C46 villagers set in November 1985. 

Each model presented me with a different set of challenges during the clean up. Both Jes and the Lawyer had very strange damage to their legs. They were missing their tabs and had there feet covered in a strange glue - possibly some kind of epoxy resin. I was able to chip the glue residue away from their shoes but both of their legs have been stained a strain grey colour. For a while I thought it might be leadrot bot the casting is still sound and strong. A mystery!

The lawyer has been undercoated in something black. It stained my hands for sometime after handling him. Yuck! What did people use to undercoat their models back then? Luckily, the Dettol stripped the black much away pretty quickly and I managed to clean the figure with the minimum of scrubbing. 

The miller was the easiest to clean. With just some tentative blobbings of brown on his sack (careful, Chico!) and I was able to brush most of this away with my thumb once the figure was removed from the Dettol. He shall have the honour of being the first model I will paint. 

Citizen '10' was a bitch. She was covered in a flaky, white undercoat that withstood even the power of Nitro-Mors to remove it. In the end, I had to chip away at the white paint with a cocktail stick and knife to unclog the detail. Ruffler was even worse. This thick, green sludge was adhering to much of the model's detail and after while I released that the filth was Greenstuff! Almost as if a greenstuffy finger had once plucked the model off the tabletop and squeezed it's cargo deep into the model's detail! 

Next step - undercoats! 

Tuesday 22 March 2016

The Unusual Suspects: Restoring pre-owned Citadel Miniatures

With the Easter holidays fast approaching, it is nice to be able to plan out some welcome hobby projects. I have already based up some choice units for the Tale of Four Oldhammer Gamers (more about them soon) and my McDeath project remains an ongoing concern. 

But before I dive into those, I want to take a look at the humble battered Citadel figure - very much like the five you can see here today. It seems to me that a great deal of effort is put into the acquisition of near mint lead. I hear talk of 'perfect castings' and 'never painted' all of the time. I am sure that many collectors get a great deal of satisfaction from locating desirable miniatures in mint and near-mint condition. 

Collecting things is a buzz after all. And I can honestly say that I have been guilty once or twice in the past of focusing a little too much on the rare or pristine stuff, especially when you consider that most classic Warhammer figures are in a pretty shoddy state indeed.  Dented, squashed and hideously painted - models like this must exist everywhere and it seems for many, just not worth the effort to strip and reuse. They reside, like forgotten children, at the bottom of every grognard's leadpile - ignored and unloved.

I adore restoring them. Cleaning away the years of abuse, tending to their damaged limbs or weapons and finally painting them up so once again, they can be part of a display or game. Over the next few posts, I will be chronicling my efforts to breathe new life into these battered models. By Sunday, I hope to have all five of these models complete and ready for the table top. 

An early Easter painting challenge if you will. But first, to strip them of decades of decadence and remove all of that clinging paint. 

So, to the Dettol they must go! 

Sunday 20 March 2016

McDeath: Een McWrecker

Een McWrecker stands alongside the Rough Inn at Winwood Harbour. As one of McDeath's most trusted underlings, McWreck spent many days dealing with the clansmen under his master's control. The McArnos were no exception. 
It has been some months I know but today marks the day I am officially back on my McDeath project. Een McWrecker stands complete after nearly a year on my paintstation! As before, I opted to follow the colour scheme used on the original cardboard cut outs in the McDeath supplement, giving him a spanking red hat, brown breeches and a pea-green jacket.

I didn't faff around painting but threw myself full force into my speed painting techniques. I am particularly pleased with his face, and I created the sense of depth you can see in the photograph using dark brown and black inks before highlighting. As with many of the wizards released in the mid 1980s (Een McWrecker is not a limited figure, and was available in other ranges) he has a number of little irreverent details about his person. A broad bladed steel knife hangs at his hip for starters and a curious 'rosary' dangles from his raised wrist. I liked the fact that the raised hand has been sculpted in such as way as to suggest he is in the middle of an incantation. You cannot see the detail in these photographs, but the golden bowl he is holding has been sculpted in such a way to suggest it holds burning coals. I used black, reds, orange, yellow and white to paint on burning coals inside the vessel. 

Salty porridge is a virtue in the wild north of Albion. Sadly, not so for McWrecker's digestion. After consuming some of the McArno's fare he was forced to make a hasty exit towards the privy. 
More details appear on the reverse of the model - including a telescope! His hat intrigues me the most though, for he has some kind of 'lump' sitting on his hat and I didn't have the foggiest what it was supposed to represent. In the end, I painted it as a candle (complete with running wax and wick) stuffed on top of his wide brimmed hat. Well, how else would he see I suppose?

Have any other Oldhammerers taken on this wizard? If so, how did you interpret the strange lump?


A hurried snap of my painted McDeath collection. I will try and do better next time...

Saturday 19 March 2016

Original Astrogranite?

I have always been rather puzzled by this initial shot of the famous 'astrogranite' Bloodbowl pitch which arrived with the second edition of the game. It doesn't look right does it? There is something different about the pitch seen here and the one we all played on for so many years thereafter.

Strange, isn't it?

The image above is taken from White Dwarf 101 and in many ways that edition of the magazine served as a 'launch issue' for the game. The iconic '80s artwork adorned the front cover of the mag, just like it did the big box, and inside the pages were a number of irreverent articles in support of the new game. 

I have already mentioned the 'Big Box' era of games and Bloodbowl was the very first. I find it hard to explain to younger gamers how exciting this period of GW history was. Everything was new... you were never really sure what was around the corner. Sadly, the last 25 years or so has not really been about innovation but repetition, and many have taken it for granted that such a wealth (in production or not) of GW games existed! 

Think about it! Bloodbowl, Dark Future, Space Marine, Adeptus Titanicus. Advanced Space Crusade, Advanced Heroquest.... The games seemed endless. And the excitement of purchasing one of these games was incredible. The weight of the box. That smell that opening the lid for the first time unleashed. The joy of seeing row upon row of mint plastic miniatures on sprues, card counters and playing surfaces. 

Bloodbowl's pitch was the ultimate though. For those of you who don't know, the pitch came in three sections. A middle (with a nifty skull design and Bloodbowl logo) and two identical 'ends' the completed the piece - there was even space for you to add your laminated card team colours! All in a milky grey polystyrene material.

Here's an extract from one of the '80s ads for the game.

Now compare the two boards. They really are quite different are they not? The original is more streamlined, less bulky and lacks the cracked stone paving around the edges. If you peer closely at the circular blow ups on the first image you can also see that the iconic Bloodbowl design in the centre of the pitch has simply been painted on.

In truth, they are utterly different!

You are probably thinking 'how on earth did I not notice that over the last (nearly) 30 years'? Well don't worry, I have been researching, collecting and writing about old school Games Workshop for nearly five years... and I didn't notice it either!! If it hadn't been for our friend Darren Matthews mentioning it in passing, I doubt we would have ever known.

Here is what Darren had to say:

DM: One little thing that I have remembered is that the very first Bloodbowl board used in the advert in White Dwarf was made out of... wood! I had to spend over two days trying it to resemble the polystyrene foam that was going to be included in the boxed game... I loathed having to paint it and I was never a fan of the game or it's miniatures afterwards! 
As the saying goes - you learn something new everyday! And today we discovered that the very first brutal tackles carried out in Bloodbowl second edition were on MDF, rather than the legendary 'astrogranite'!

I asked if he could recall who built the original wooden board for the game. I suspected Trish Morrison but this was just a hunch based on the fact that Bryan Ansell has since told me she built the first Mighty Fortress model out of, yes you guessed it, wood! 

DM: I don't remember who made the first Bloodbowl pitch, but Phil Lewis dumped the project on me after he had become frustrated with painting it. I had start all over again... repainting Phil's work with my own. In the end I think it took about six different coats and shades until management where happy with it. One of those 'advertising production nightmares' no-one ever finds out about! 

I asked if he could remember any other 'challenging assignments' that would match the original Bloodbowl pitch in difficulty.

DM: I remember Sid (the mysterious 'Evey Metal painter) throwing the very first Juggernaut of Khorne in the bin for being too insulting for us to paint. He said that it looked 'worse than Battle Cat from He-Man'! We all nearly died from laughing but were told off by our managers. It did stay in the bin though, for about five hours until I relented and removed it to work on. Later on, a second version of the Khorne Juggernaut arrived in the Studio and we painters all drew straws to see who would have to paint it! Everyone hated that figure in the studio and it wasn't often we received something we didn't like.

And here is the earliest Khorne Juggernaut I could find in a Games Workshop publication and one that Darren confirmed was one of his. Whether it was the unfortunate model that ended up in the bin I guess we will never know. One intriguing question does raise it's head here, though...

We all know that there are unreleased 'prototype' Beasts of Nurgle. Could there be 'prototype' Juggernauts of Khorne out there waiting to be discovered too? 

Perhaps the Nuln Spearman is riding one?


Sunday 13 March 2016

Behind the Scenes at Citadel Miniatures: Darren Matthew's Photographs

Photograph A
One of our heroes, ex- '80s 'Eavy Metaller Darren Matthews, recently shared a few snaps of himself at work in the Nottingham Games Workshop store during one of those famous 'Painting Demonstrations' they used to do. 

I knew as soon as I saw these on Facebook that readers of this blog would be interested in them, especially those of your who do not frequent that particular social media site. It has long been my policy to share little nuggets like this, partly to ensure that the wider community gets to see them but to also preserve them for prosperity. Facebook feeds disappear quickly! 

I have provided a little bit of a commentary for each photograph. 

Photograph A: The first thing that strikes me here is the fact that Darren is holding a second brush in his mouth. I asked him about this (as I can recall seeing a lot of the '80s painters doing this) and he quite an interesting story to tell. 

DM: The brush in the mouth was for quick blending when we were painting fast, and in the end it became a habit. This was before wet palettes were used and blending was required on a model. The studio was always very warm and so paint dried very fast. It also helped when you were using a larger brush to have a finer point ready to neaten up details, or have a second brush ready with the highlight to run into the area you needed to blend. Some days when you had six or seven figures to paint, you have to become very fast!

The case is also very interesting. It strongly resembles the box in which John Blanche's famous undead diorama sits in. Viewed for the side, you can see that cuboid blocks of what looks like polystyrene have been placed on top of each other and covered over with the paper backed 'grass' we all used to use back then. On top you can see the famous Nurgle Rhino - which I located in one of Bryan Ansell's cabinets not so long ago - only here you can see that there were once many more nurglings on the top than there are now. It is hard to make out what else is in the cabinet from this angle - a Space Wolves predator tank can also be seen perched on the top, with a titan in between the two larger models.

Of course, if you look behind Darren and have a glance at the stock in the store it is enough to make the collector in me weep. Rows of mint Warhammer Third edition books, Warhammer Armies and Townscape!! If you look carefully, you can see that there are also a row of comics on sale which all have a rather un-GW look about them!

My photograph of Darren's rhino - is it me, or are there not so many nurglings left?
Photograph B
Photograph B: Here we get a better shot of Darren and can see more of the store and that interesting miniature case. When I spoke to Darren, I asked about all of the models in the display case. They are all his own work. If you look closely you can see some very well known painted examples, including the famous red Ork Nob in power armour, the Bob Olley ogre and one of the original Bloodbowl star players. He went on to say that the Space Wolf predator tank on top was the original prototype model kit. The 'first' ever predator if you like. 

The rather obnoxious posters advertise some of the other painters in the 'Eavy Metal team at that time. The well known Ivan Bartleet (where IS he now?) and Rich Hodgkinson. Sadly, I never got the chance to visit a GW store when one of the resident painters were in and often wondered what went on. Having seen many of the models on display in that cabinet at Stoke Hall I can well imagine the excitement a visitor would feel coming face to face with models they had been gawping at for years!!

Having a look at the murky world of the store reveals more impossible treasure. The complete run of WFRP bar Empire in Flames, plastic Imperial Guard in the miniature display case and the bottom rungs of the blister wall! 

Photograph C
Photograph C: This picture is the most fascinating of all. It was taken inside the famous Games Workshop design studio during development of the Adeptus Titanicus game and shows a very rare 'work in progress' shot of a late '80s game system. I asked Darren about what he could recall of this project.

DM: I cannot remember what did or didn't end up in the final game, as development was ongoing by the time I left the company. The large mock up white landship things never made it into production and I think Tony Cottrell was behind them. The Rhinos and Land Raiders in the picture were changed as they damaged the moulds and the final product ended up looking more simple than first imagined. I know a lot of the terrain was totally scratch built from all sorts of different materials and household junk. A real 'Blue Peter' effort went into it and I made small bits of it and Tony built the rest. 

You can see many of the famous painted titans later published in White Dwarf in this shot. Steve Casey published a detailed blog post about them some year ago. Check out the link here. I love being able to see them as work in progresses too. Try comparing the miniatures you can see in this photograph with the models you can see in the 'Eavy Metal article below. 

Of course, the biggest puzzle are those large 'grav' tank models. If you look, you can see that there are clear gun emplacements and that troops seem to be 'hitching a ride' on them. What were they made from? I am no expert but the casts look like plaster to me. More importantly, what exactly were they supposed to be? And how would they have been incorporated into the game? Perhaps they are not tanks at all, but buttresses or forts? 

If anyone from the studio back then is reading this - we would love to know!

With the talk of genestealer cults popular once more, I shall leave this little article with this lovely scan from an old White Dwarf. It is one of the genestealer hybrids that Darren painted in the late '80s. 

Gorgeous isn't it?

Big thanks to Darren Matthews. If you haven't already done so, go read the interview I did with him a few months ago.

Saturday 12 March 2016

Pantheon of Chaos: Son of Zygor, a Chaos Warrior, Thug and a WIP Beast of Malal

Diego contacted me last Saturday to say he had some more greens to share with you all. Funnily enough, I was just strolling out of Stoke Hall's stableyard as he did so (an exciting mix of old and new there) though it has taken him until now to send things through to me.

And the wait has been more than worth it. 

I think what most excites me about this project is the way Diego and the team continuously surprise and amaze me. This time, it was with the incredible Zz'anDor, the son of Zygor, green you can see at the top of the blog post. It is beautifully executed in a style that meshes both old and new. 

A 'must have' must have model!

Next up, this fully fledged chaos warrior by Christen. The armour is really in keeping with the older mid '80s models - based on actual suits of armour- with that little twist of evil thrown in. It is easy to miss, so check out the detail on the feet! No boots but malformed toes! A fantastic touch. 

Beautiful sculpting shown on the reverse of the model and that fur detail is just screaming out to be painted. I also like the way the cloak resembles flayed skin. Ghoulish! 

Christian has also finished work on this female thug. Now there IS a rarity. If you read my blogpost about women in Warhammer you will know that one of my bugbears is a lack of realistic looking female figures in the Games Workshop ranges. This lass looks like she means business and is quite sensibly attired for life in the Chaos Realms. The ornate armour and raised mutated crab claw are nice touches. 

Slaanesh anyone?

I think the addition of a hex base really ramps up the look of this particular model - don't you think?

And finally, one you have probably been all waiting for! A WIP of the Beast of Malal concept. Personally, I would have spread the legs out a little bit so the limbs look a little more splayed but I expect that this will be a multi-part model in the end, so we needn't worry. 

Repulsive isn't it? In a good way. I have been really impressed by how the Pantheon of Chaos team have managed to capture the horrific creations of Tony Ackland and bring them alive in greenstuff. 

More news on this project as we get it! 


Monday 7 March 2016

Bryan Ansell's Super Shields

Mr Ansell converses with Matthew Dunn, Stuart Klatcheff and Steve Casey at the Wargames Foundry, Newark.
Judging by the response to posts of this type, fans of Bryan Ansell and the Wargames Foundry are legion so I thought it prudent to take a snap or two of the treasures he brought out to share on Saturday's Lead of Winter event. 

This time it was shields. All manner of shields. 

There were all manner of different designs and other odds and ends on show. This beautifully made sun disk face caught my eye immediately. 

Gruesome faces dominate the the collection, but there were plenty of strange stick like figures spread across many of the greens. 

Some has also been painted, like this little trio or gorgeously finished shields. Incredible colours and attention to detail. 

All manner of strangeness here - I am pretty sure I have that multi-faced 'circle' off centre of this shot somewhere amongst the bits and pieces Kev Adams has given me. You can see the original green in the second picture of this blog post. 

Perfect for a magical summoning circle or something, don't you think?

Sunday 6 March 2016

Lead of Winter: How to be an Oldhammer GM or Why is playing with a Gamesmaster so important?

Bretonnian heavy knights leave their protective hedge to counter attack down the slope.
Yesterday saw another gathering of Old School Warhammer enthusiasts descend on Oldhammer's spiritual home of the Wargames Foundry. The occasion? A massive pitched battle entitled The Lead of Winter: In Defence of Far Corfe and my first proper attempt at GMing a full scale pitched battle. 

Now, I could write extensively about the game. I could describe it's frantic ebb and flow. I could comment on how a harmless looking scenery piece was transformed into a explosive powerhouse that even rattled the bones of the undead cavalry. And I could tell tales of appalling dice rolling that would chill the heart of the 40,000 or so grognards who visit this blog every month!

But I shall refrain from doing so. 

Let the combatants do that on the blogs, social media sites and blogs of their choice. I want to discuss instead the most noble aspect of Oldhammer of all! 


Humans, elves and giants prepare to bolster the defences of Far Corfe, as the forces of Keef Bullockchopper advance over the horizon. 
I have played in a great number of games over the years, and witnessed a fair few too. I have played all over England, from Cambridge to London to Exeter to Dorset so I would like to consider myself fairly experienced. 

Does this alone make me a good Gamesmaster?

I don't think so no, there are other essential skills that do not depend at all on the number of games played, how good a painter you are, how large your collection is or how well you can construct scenery. 

None of those 'normal' wargaming skills are necessary at all, they help (and having these attributes in abundance really is a BIG help) but they are far from being essential. You are probably wondering at this point 'well Orlygg, what IS essential for being a good GM?'

Read on and I shall try and explain. 

1. Scenario Building 

As you would probably imagine - this is absolutely key. The more time you put into the scenario detail, especially the context for the game, the more details are established to support player immersion. Why are they building the units that they are? What purpose might the troops they select (or are presented with) have to play in the unfolding events? This is especially true in big community games, like In Defence of Far Corfe, which was designed from the ground up to support ten or more players. When planning smaller games involving myself and a single other player, I usually create a scenario which the player 'acts through' and simply play the part of the GM on a far smaller scale. I am not trying to win but aim to create an experience that my co-player enjoys more than I do. 

What follows is the scenario background for Far Corfe. I hope it illustrates the kind of detail I think is vital for a GM to provide to establish that 'immersion' I mentioned earlier. 

In Defence of Far Corfe: A Warhammer Third Edition Fantasy Battle

Collecting Your Forces

The organisation is simple. Anyone you wants to become involved in the battle needs to bring TWO units of equal points value. ONE unit needs to be from a 'goodie race' (Empire, W H Elves, Dwarfs, Brets etc) and ONE unit needs to be from a 'baddie race' (undead, skaven, orcs, goblins).
No chaos units please - as they won't fit into the narrative as well.
More details to follow.
EDIT: All units will need a named levelled character to lead them (lvl 5 - 15).
No magical items - as they will be up for grabs during the game.

What is going on in Far Corfe?

Far Corfe was once a thriving economic centre with a wealthy and tasteful artisan class keen to patronise the arts. The key to their success? The humble wool trade. The lolling, grassy hills that surround the town could easily sustain thousands of sheep and the countryside was once awash with numerous little farmsteads specialising in this area. The town's location, built on a crossroads to Altdorf, Erzstadt and Middenheim, also helped, as it was easy to transport goods to and from the rivers that were the pathways of the Empire.
But the town has been in decline for over eighty years. New markets and cheaper produce from Kislev reduced the profitability of wool and though still worthwhile, the industry is not what it was. Nowadays, if you ask the average peasant in the street across the Old World about Far Corfe, they would probably speak about the 'Grand Recreation' rather than its former role as the hub of the wool trade.
Some two hundred years ago, the chief of the Airyaxe Wound tribe, Todge-Dropper the Terrible, unleashed a swarm of orc and goblin raiders against the defences of Far Corfe. Legend said that the previous winter had been so harsh in their mountain fastness, that even the warmest undergarments could do little to ward off the evils of frostbite. Swearing appalling oaths of violence on the altar of Mork, Todge-Dropper set out to destroy Far Corfe and claim their enormous stores of warm, fluffy wool for himself.
As all schoolboy students of history can tell you, Todge-Dropper was defeated and Far Corfe was saved in once of the most remarkable battles in history. Due to a series of remarkable coincidences, field armies of men, dwarfs, gnomes, halflings, wood, sea and high elves were all in the immediate area when Todge-Dropper launched his poorly timed assault.
Dick Fitz Inwell, leader of the Far Corfe militia, couldn't believe his eyes when rank after rank of elite fighting men marched up the road towards the townwalls within hours of him sending out the call to arms. Bjorn Whiffabigun, the dwarf mercenary captain was the first to arrive. Swiftly followed by a combined elvish force lead by the sorceress Pyria Sweetcherry. Their timely arrival meant that Todge-Dropper's vanguard were beaten back and Far Corfe was able to re-enforce itself considerably. Eventually, Todge-Dropper's forces were crushed on the wooden walls of the town, though the orc leader's body was never found.
So remarkable was the victory, that the nations of those involved continued to celebrate it years after the final survivor had died. Every ten years, hundreds of warriors would arrive in the town, from all over the Old World, for a week long festival of feasting and re-enactment. Local tribesmen were employed to dress up as Todge-Dropper's legions and a 'Grand Recreation' was fought (using safety weapons) to the delight of the adoring crowds.
Since the town's decline, the Recreation has become less and less well attended. Though all of the nations involved still send token units of troops. Interest in the spectacle is waning. Mayor Haywood Jablomi, the current ruler of the town, is now faced with being the last leader to organise the event. This year's low key celebration will be the last of the 'Recreations'.
But unbeknown to Jablomi, or the crowds that are forming inside the town, this year's event is soon to spiral out of control. For the winter has been long and harsh....
And something is coming...


'Goodie' Commander: Mayor Haywood Jablomi
Ex-Lawyer and impotency survivor, Haywood Jablomi now resides over the Mayorship of Far Corfe. A shrew political animal, Jablomi has ensured that his control of the town is pretty much absolute despite his dubious relationship record. His first wife died of excessive nagging, his second after a mishap involving a goblin, a tanning booth and one hundredweight of troll fat and his most recent, after the consumption of one too many magical cheesecakes.
Still, nothing fans the flames of passion like a counting house full of Imperial Crowns and Jablomi is already engaged to a new would be spouse from Altdorf. Only, after years of indifference from the women in his life, this time his partner has a much greater interest in the political goings on in the town, and with her past career on the stage, she is keen to play a larger role in the 'Grand Recreation' this coming weekend.
Despite his political successes, Jablomi is chronically indecisive and can switch from active man-on-a-mission to dithering dingbat at a moment's notice. This character trait is reflected in his stats and special rules.
Special Rules 
At the beginning of each turn roll a D6 and consult the following table.
Though a local leader of some renown, Haywood Jablomi is incredibly indecisive. One minute he can be an inspiration leader, rallying his fellow townsfolk to victory and the next, a dithering buffoon. To reflect this the following rules apply.
On a D6
1-2: Jablomi is gripped with indecisiveness. Nothing happens.
3-4: Jablomi makes an inspiration speech which rallies the men within 12" of him, adding +1 to their A LD INT CL and WP. 
5-6: Jablomi makes an outstanding speech which rallies the men within 12" of him, adding +2 to their A LD INT CL and WP. 

'Goodie' Second-in-Command: Iva Sweetcherry

Iva is a relative newcomer to Far Corfe. For most of her early working life, she trod the boards in mystery plays in Altdorf as a well-known, and very demanding, actress. Eventually, she met a very rich man (our friend Jablomi) and abandoned the small, smelly changing rooms and stinking crowds for a life of idleness and pleasure.
Despite being a 'prima-donna' type, Iva Sweetcherry is a real force to be reckoned with. Utterly arrogant and entitled, she considers everyone she meets (especially her husband) to be totally beneath her. Subsequently, she is utterly fearless in the face of danger; a trait that can inspire and appall those around her in equal measure.

Special Rules
At the beginning of each turn roll a D6 and consult the following table.
Iva's arrogance and self-obsession is the stuff of legend, so much so she has no fear whatsoever. This unbelievable arrogance even inspires others.
On a D6
1-2: Iva's appalling attitude just isn't enough to spread.
3-4: All friendly units within 12" are immune to psychology due to Iva's incredible personality. 
5-6: All friendly units within 16" are immune to psychology due to Iva's incredible personality. 

Keef Bullockchopper: 'Baddie' Commander
The halflings of Pistdorf have long been a insular bunch. The more adventurous sons of the village would wander no further than the bars and restuarants of Far Corfe, happy to ply their cooking trade away and steal glorious helpings from the plates of the careless.
However, some halflings meddle too deeply with the dark magics of cookery and can invoke horrors far worse than burnt pastry on to the mortal plane. History doesn't name the halfling cook who invented 'pub-quiz pie' but the consequences of his actions were dire for his adopted home of Far Corfe.
It was baked in a magic oven for the sole purpose of providing it's consumer with an unbridled command of general knowledge just at the right moment, a moment like when your team is ten points down to the Bogenhafen Barrelsmashers and you have just picked a round of questions about Tilea's minor roads.
Sadly, the 'pub-quiz pie' was stolen by a wandering giant the morning of a particularly crucial mid-league quiz night when a careless hobbit popped out for a quick five course meal. Keef Bullockchopper, a previously genial giant, was suddenly equipped with a mind that could unlock the very secrets of the universe. What did he do with this unbridled power?
He decided to rule the world with an iron fist.
Far Corfe was to be his first conquest.

Special Rules
As Keef is highly intelligent he can ignore the rules for being drunk. He prefers smoothies anyway. 

2. Flexibility with the Rulebook

This is essential. A wargame is a shared strategic experience, not a sport. Being on the winning side is great, but the true reward is contributing to the game as a whole. No ruleset is perfect and sometime the rules can be interpreted (and mis-interpreted) in many ways. As GM you should not hang the rule set you select around your neck like a metaphorical millstone. Nor should it hobble your players and restrict their strategies and ideas.

Common sense should always prevail.

Far Corfe has it's far share of unusual allies, including this Emperor Dragon.
Knights, peasants and dwarf musketeers take up commanding views on Far Corfe's defensive hedge, as orcs and skeletons advance.
3.Being Fair

It seems obvious when you state it, but a GM needs to be impartial. You cannot favour either side in the game you are running and should endeavour to balance out mishaps and calamities to keep the game moving forwards in a satisfactory way. No-one really wants to play a one-side contest, even amongst friends, and a good GM can carefully introduce situations to restore balance if one sides begins to dominate the field too early.

Having a collection of unusual monster miniatures really helps here, as you can whip out a number of giant spiders, phantasms or giant dragon turtles when players least expect it. Taking the part of these creatures is one way of involving yourself in the action too.

You need to be fair to the scenario too. Don't introduce narrative or rules elements that do not fit with the overall theme of the game. If it is a pitched battle, don't introduce political skullduggery, if you are playing through a small skirmish game, don't include a powerhouse of a character. Having a second GM to work with really helps and I was lucky enough to have one of the most experienced in England with me, Paul Mitchell. 

Keef Bullockchopper advances through fields strewn with bodies. Halflings and Wardancers man a mixture of barricade and hedge.
Big Willie tramples down his own comrades (and part of the towns' defensive structure) in his drunken desperation to get close to the tasty looking trolls. 
4. Choosing interesting models 

Who wants to play with the same models all of the time? In later editions, my games became rather boring affairs with rather bland forces based on army books. Orcs and Goblins verses Chaos etc. I have always found this approach both deathly dull and incredibly limited. Hence, for the Far Corfe game I split the forces into good and evil - and deftly removed chaos forces as I felt that they had been a little over used in our games. 

Doing this ensured that a wealth of different units would appear on the field - from giants, to dark elves, to hobbits, to hobgoblins, to ogres, to minotaurs and so on. Matthew Dunn even sneaked in Emperor Dragon! 

If planning your own scenario make similar effort to cast aside army list restrictions and get as many different model types on to your table. As you would have seen, thanks to Phil Scott we even managed a Citadel Giant!

Combined fire from the archers and musketeers send a unit of goblinoids running away in panic. 
Pikemen hold the line as archers let loose their shafts of death!
5. Encouraging team play

Enthusiasts playing together to meet their objectives, often accompanied with the sound of raucous laughter, must be preferable to the staid silence of the tournament, surely? As GM you should think of ways of getting your players to work together, or against each other, in a variety of different ways. For Far Corfe, I opted to set the game up with Warlord Paul without any of the other players seeing what we were up to. We cleared the room, set up the table with the models placed where we thought best and when all was ready, we invited the players into the room and briefed them on the game.

We deliberately tried to deploy the units to ensure that contact with the enemy would be made after a few short turns of movement. When we had finished setting up, Paul and I discussed who would best suit the role of 'goodie' and 'baddie' commander and left THEM the responsibility to allotting command to the units that made up their individual forces. In this way, most players ended up using someone else's models for the game. It was most rewarding to see that 'paternal' delight (even if the player was on the opposing team) in eyes when a personal unit did well in the game, though the sight of bittersweet tears as they were utterly destroyed (like Matthew Dunn's dragon) were perhaps not so welcome.

The scenery was supplied by Matthew Street, Steve Beales and myself with many of the buildings being scratch builds based on the classic White Dwarf houses of the '80s. We fought across one of Bryan Ansell's spectacular gaming tables. 
At the height of the battle, the giants clashed near the Pistdorf Gate as undead and elf hacked into each other. 
6. Surprising your players

Though some players need a game to be predictable, I usually find that they are the types who rely on clever armylist manipulation to 'win' games. Exploiting loopholes to crush your enemies doesn't sound very satisfying to me and is probably why many '40k Playerz' seem so angry and bitter all of the time. Conan never mentioned the meta alongside the lamentations of the women, did he?

A rule set as complex as Warhammer Third Edition is jammed packed with ideas that can be used to surprise your players and create additional challenges for them to overcome. I feel that this  encourages players to constantly adapt their battle plans to suit new situations.

For example, one of my players (Steve Casey)  asked what a scenery piece (a large wagon) contained. The wagon was positioned between his troops and the rapidly advancing enemy. Thinking quickly, I decided that the vehicle contained an enormous about of illegally distilled alcohol and would be pretty flammable if struck with a flaming arrow. Inventing rules on the fly in this way allowed Steve to send the wagon towards the enemy and detonate the alcohol within. This is fairly simple to do if you just use a stat test against which every attribute seems the most relevant. If it requires thought- intelligence, brawn- strength, speed- initiative and so on! 

What Steve didn't know what the the resulting explosion would have a radius of 12" and would require all cavalry units (including undead) make a panic test due to the noise. When the smoke cleared a huge number of good and bad troops had been killed and the undead cavalry had run! 

I don't think any of the players expected any of that to happen!

The positions of the forces after the second turn. 
7. Setting Restrictions 

Do not be afraid to set limits on your players. In many ways it is vital for the smooth running of the game. The most important rule when being a GM is getting your players to understand that your decision is final. There is no room for argument, but as 'director' of the game, you are acting impartially for EVERYONE's best interests. You are not trying to win the game for either side, but you are ensuring that everyone has fun taking part.

Other restrictions can also be useful. I placed a very tight time limit of 20 minutes per turn. If a side had not finished their movement, attacks or magic when that period of time had passed, they stopped and the opposing side had their turn. Such a rule, in my opinion, helps focus play when using such a complex edition as Third and when you have a large number of players. We played for just over four hours and managed to complete 12 turns. See, WFB3 isn't as slow as the naysayers suggest, you just need to approach it from the right direction. 

During major 'day long' games like this I have always found publishing a brief over view of the day helps players understand what will happen and when. Here is an example I used for Far Corfe.

Rough Overview for 'In Defence of Far Corfe'

10am 'Line Up' : A table will be provided for you to place your prepared units along with their 'rules' cards- please don't for get these. There will be a space for the 'goodies' and the 'baddies' and you are encouraged t have a good look at everybody's models and painting. Scenery can be placed out here too.
10:30 'Secret Set Up': Players will be asked to leave the gaming area while the scenery and forces are placed on the table. You will not get the chance to view the scenario until the game commences.
The 'baddie' commander (Keef Bullockchopper) and the 'goodie' commander (Haywood Jablomi) will be selected at random from the players available. Remaining players will be assigned a 'goodie' or 'baddie' role. It will be up to the commanders to decide which of their underlings command which units.
11-1: 'The Defence of Far Corfe - Morning. Each side will have a strict time limit of 20 minutes to complete their entire turn. This will be supervised by the GM VERY CLOSELY. Phases of play will follow the WFB3 rulebook.
1-2: Lunch and shopping
2-4: 'The Defence of Far Corfe - Afternoon. Again, a strict 20 minutes will be given for players to complete their turn under the eyes of the GM. Winning side to be declared at 4 o'clock.
Uncommon Valour.
This is the key to victory. Whether or not Far Corfe falls is NOT important and will not decide the game either way. Uncommon valour points will need to be amassed to ensure victory.
UV points can be awarded by a GM for exceptional bravery, unnatural luck and exceptional generalship. Solid roleplaying in character of your unit will also help. The victor will be the side with the highest number of Uncommon Valour points.
Secret plans, illusions and tricks are encouraged and can be added to the game via a whisper in the GM's ear.
GM's word is final.
Steve Beales, Phil Scott, Matthew Street and Adam Atom Taylor 'The Baddies' plan their next devilish move.
Just don't ask about the soap dish!
8. Getting the 'right' people

Sadly, this is so true. Putting on a game of this size takes real effort and the last thing any prospective GM wants to happen is for all his or her hard work to be undone by a 'plonker'. If you have spent any time on the internet reading through blogs, forums or social media groups you will know the type of gamer that I am describing here. They are the ones who just cannot see any other opinion other than their own.

Play with people who respect others and who want to contribute unconditionally, not those who want to use the game as a vessel with which to fulfill their own conditions. Sadly, these idiots appear in every community but they are few in number. Rage-quitters and posters of pathetic whinging blog posts (usually after they have been banned from/dramatically left an online community) do not make great players at all.

Avoid them at all costs.

Hobgoblins and Dark Elves charge towards the defensive barricade in the closing moments of the battle. 
Haywood Jablomi's last stand?
Of course, this is only the tip of the GM iceburg but I hope that the ideas I have shared today, and a few of the stirring photographs, inspire some of you to create your own games in the narrative style. Personally, the very best games I have ever had of Warhammer have been entirely devised by me, used my miniature collection and were played at my house. Inviting over a couple of friends to try out the scenario is a reward in itself, and though you are not pushing for a 'victory' in the game you play through, those traditional discussions still occur afterwards...

"Jablomi would have emerged victorious if I hadn't rolled that 1!"

Happy GMing.