This is definitely going to be a departure from the usual fare here at Agoners, as this is mostly going to be about the “hobby” side of wargaming rather than the gaming side. But I think it will serve a point too to underline something I made note of in my recent ‘Musings on Wargame Systems‘ piece. But more on that later. Let’s get to it.
I’m intending to try and play some of The Ninth Age – their Quickstarter Rules specifically to begin with, as well as some Kings of War. I may well play a few other games later on, but these are the two that have grabbed my interest the most initially as they have at least decent rules, local & online communities and followings, and they also suit my existing model collection the most. That said, I’ve also been using The 9th Age (T9A) quickstarter (QS) pre-made army lists as an inspiration to paint up a few new models, some of which I’ve had for a long time but never got around to making and painting. For Orcs & Goblins (my main fantasy army), the T9A QS list has a unit of 20 Goblins, and although the QS rules don’t really use specific rules for Spears as a weapon type, it’s heavily implied by their stats that they are actually Goblins with Spears. Now whilst I’ve got over 100 painted Goblin models, many of which would would do a fine job of a ‘counts-as’ stand in for this unit, as I say, I was specifically using this as inspiration to do new things with old models. And when I say old models, I mean some of the oldest ones I have (at least in terms of purchase date!), some of these guys, originally from the Warhammer Fantasy Battle 4th Edition from 1992:
They start their small Goblin lives like this, on a sprue:
Now the problem with these old models is that every model is identical, bar some different shield designs. And I really wanted to get away from that, as the vast majority of my other units I use for Orcs & Goblins are purposefully different, and differently posed and even sized, to create more of a “rabble” look which seems suitable for me for O&G. It also sneakily allows me to excuse hugely different looking models made from different time periods and even model companies – in fact I especially want that look to an extent. I keep my army tied together through a general paint scheme & a close painting standard and style throughout to help it tie together. But I also significantly vary uniforms and colours a lot within each single unit too.
I could just have painted these Goblins very non-uniformly, but even then, they would still appear to be pristine ranks of perfectly positioned fighters, which is exactly what I didn’t want. Basically I specifically wanted to avoid this kind of look for this unit:
So I went to town with some additional Goblin parts from other plastic sprues I had and made some conversions, or as it seems to be called these days ‘kit-bashed’ them together:
Then of course each piece of plastic has to be carefully trimmed to remove all the mold-lines and flash, as well as lots of other minor conversions such as swapping spear-heads around and such like to make them even more different. I also blu-tac’d their shields on and tested how these Goblins could ‘rank up’ when the models are positioned next to each other, and decided how I could best place them in different positions and angles on their bases, to again make them look more of a disorganised fighting unit. This required cutting a slot into many of the bases, and then filling the gaps I created with yet more blu-tac. I could of course modelling putty for this too, but I find blu-tac is much quicker and easier and does just as good a job for gap filling on bases where they aren’t going to be pressed or handled later at all (and it does make removing the bases a little easier too should I need to do so at a later date).
But I did have a use for that modelling putty ‘green stuff’ of course. I decided to make some additional helmets and a few fur coats for some of the Goblins. I might have got even more carried away with this had I not been talking to a friend of mine who did make me realise I was doing all this for only a unit of weedy Goblins, and I shouldn’t take things as far as I had with some of my Orcs. I also collated a lot of different shield sizes and designs from across various different model ranges, that would all add to the differences from model to model. I blu-tac’d the shields to a piece of card to make them easier to paint whilst separated from their holder (a vintage Citadel miniatures blister back from the 90s is naturally the perfect size for this).
A few more bits of armour, plumes and minor other touches later, and the modelling stage of this unit was complete. They are already starting to look much more like I’d want them, at least as far as I can do with “identical” models.
Next it was onto the various stages of painting. First spraying a black undercoat:
Then their base coat. I split the Goblins into a few groups and assigned them a main coat colour to each group, to make sure I distributed a lot of different colours around the unit and I didn’t just paint them all with the same red coat for example. The key colours for my army (at least for common Orcs & Goblins) are khaki, dark red, and black, and a key motif is wolf fur trims.
Then their first shades (washes and inks):
And then highlights to bring them back to a matching colour palette with the rest of my army, plus gluing their shields on:
And finally finishing their bases by painting and flocking them, and adding a flag for their standard bearer – but I couldn’t do much with the design here as the space for a flag was tiny.
Oh and yes I know my bases are pretty simple by ‘modern’ standards, but I already have 100s of models based in this style, so I’m not about to deviate from it now! It also matches really well with my existing gaming table, and I actually really dislike many of the bases that people do these days stylistically. Even if in isolation as a display piece they look fantastic, to me, especially on a tabletop, they look ‘over-done’ and distract from the models a lot of the time. It also just looks really silly to me that these models are permanently attached to rocks, bushes, mud, ice & snow, trees etc. I’d rather leave the terrain to the actual battlefield and have my models look as ubiquitous as possible.
Anyway, I’m very happy with how these turned out even if it was a lot of work. And that gets back to my main gaming point here. As I noted before, if the rules make a unit like this a pretty rubbish option (especially due to a rules change), it’s far worse than a “nerf” happening to some pixel forces of yours that only exist on a computer screen. As it is, I know this equipment choice (Spears and Shields) for Common Goblins in T9A is sadly currently very sub-optimal, due to some poorly designed points costings for Goblins in their army book. They still are within the realms of playable though at least (especially in bigger numbers, and I can easily add to them later) in T9A, but I can guarantee I won’t see them popping up in any tournament lists any time soon just from a glance at their army book. Hopefully in Kings of War the costing for a unit like this is a bit better, but I don’t expect this will be a great unit in that game either from my current pretty basic understanding of those rules. So in some ways I don’t really care too much in this case, as I knew I was making & painting a sub-optimal unit choice and went ahead and did it anyway just for fun – and it was still incredibly satisfying to finally paint up some Goblins models I’ve owned since I was 16. If they ever do get re-balanced in any of the games I play, they are only likely to get a bit better at least!
Here’s some more “glamour” shots of the models spaced out for a better look at some of their details:
I also couldn’t go without putting up these photos of my Orc who I’ve named “Navan”, who may or may not bear some connections with the Navan of Agoners’ authoring fame.
And just so FightingRoadhog doesn’t feel left out by the intra-Agoners in-jokes… “Blood for the Blood God!” – there I said it, happy now? 😛