Beware the Mournfangs!

And now for something a little different...

If you've been following my blog, you'll know that a good friend reintroduced me to 40K last summer.  And as I've already said, I love 8th edition.  Of course, once you open the doors to all things Workshoppy, you soon find yourself open to a whole new world of shiny goodness.  And as we began playing 40K, we also began (quite naturally you understand) to discuss Age of Sigmar.  In many ways, Age of Sigmar was the litmus test for doing things differently at GW.  The big fear for 40K fans was, as far as I can tell, the fear of how much a new edition of 40K would follow in its footsteps.  But what we got in 8th was a really enjoyable game that let me use my old models. It also started a massive Cadian army, but we'll sidestep that one just now...!

At the risk of showing my age, I played 1st edition Warhammer Fantasy Battle.  I have a number of armies in various states of assembly. As later editions required increasingly larger armies, I eventually gave up and stored my models safely away in the loft. Some of them were repurposed (and based) for Hordes of the Things. Others weren't.  

So as far as I was concerned, if I was going to play Age of Sigmar, it would have to be both something new and, crucially, something different. Something with a Battletome. Something unlike anything I'd owned before.

Perhaps I should explain. I love fantasy and sci-fi gaming. It's how I discovered wargaming in the first place. But I seem to always go for the humans. Or Goblins. Because you can never have enough Goblins. To illustrate my point, I had Empire troops. And Bretonnians. (Who'd have thunk I was an historical gamer too!) Sure, I had Vampire Counts when they were released.  But hey, they're just undead humans. And yes, I had a Night Goblin army.  They were brilliant.  Lost all the time, but they were brilliant!  In 40K I have Space Marines (big humans in increasingly bigger armour), Tau, Dark Elves and some Orks. Mordheim? All the humans - Witchhunters, Tileans, Empire, Sisters of Sigmar. Oh, and some Vampires and Skaven. Strangely no Goblins though... Then there's Malifaux where I played The Guild (humans) and Goblins (who'd have thunk?) Warmachine? The Protectorate of Menoth (humans). Hordes? Skorne. Yeah, I know. They are about the only one that bucks the trend. 

Of course, the biggest impact on fantasy skirmish gaming to my mind was (and probably always will be) Rackham's Confrontation.  I was able to buy a number of races from them before they disappeared.  The first choice for me were the Lions of Alahan (human), closely followed by The Griffen (also human).  There then followed in no specific order the Dwarfs of Tir Na Bor (I know, variety, right?) the Kelt Sessairs (yup, humans), the Cynwall Elves (at last some pointy-ears!) some Alchemists of Dirz (evil..humans) the Orcs of Bran O Kor and most definitely the Goblins of No Dan Kar (because, Goblins of course!).

See what I mean?  An awful lot of humans.  And an awful lot of the same races across different rule systems.  If I was going to commit to the Age of Sigmar, it would have to be something justifiably different.  Something definitely different.  

So after a lot of looking, I finally made my choice.  It was an aesthetic choice at that, as I didn't have any of the rules.  Of course, I did discover afterwards that the battle scrolls (stats to the uninitiated) are available for free on the GW website. Honestly, this fact alone is revolutionary for GW.  I chose the Beastclaw Raiders. Lumping great Ogres riding even more lumping great beasts. What's not to love?

So when my birthday came round in the last quarter of last year (as evidenced by the date on the packaging in the next photo!) I used some cash for the Start Collecting box. £76 worth of miniatures for £50. This alone is an excellent bargain, but add in the extra cut I got from a seller on eBay, and we're actually talking about saving in excess of 20% on the RRP. I only paid a couple of quid over half their value.  This was most definitely A GOOD THING!
Now, compared to some of the Start Collecting boxes, the Beastclaw Raiders is a big box.  And I have to say, it's a full box too as you can see...
Just look at all that plasticky goodness! So, so good.
Now, I have to say that although the box is pictured with four Mournfangs and a Frostlord on Stonehorn, there are enough parts for you to mount either a Fostlord, Huskard or Beastriders on it.  There is also an option for you to transform the Stonehorn into a Thundertusk.  The instruction book gives you a Warscroll Batallion rules sheet which rewards you for making the standard configuration of four Mournfangs and a Frostlord on Stonehorn.  The instructions themselves tell you how to go about assembling this force.

What they don't tell you is how to assemble one of the other options in the box.  There are no instructions for making a Thundertusk.  Neither do you get instructions for sticking either a Huskard or pair of Beastriders on top of your warbeast.  And whilst I live in hope that such a situation won't deter someone like myself with more than a few years of model making under my belt, I do worry for the newcomer who has just literally started collecting.  It's one thing to have the option, its something else to have the confidence to do something without adequate instruction.

And this is where the rubber meets the proverbial road so to speak.  Having gone ahead and ordered these models, I have been able to make some new friends and get some advice about which combination to assemble these models in.  And I've decided to make a Huskard on Thundertusk as my leader.  He'll be accompanied by four ogres on Mournfangs.  They can be armed with Culling Clubs or Prey Hackers (you've gotta love the ingenuity in their names) or the much bigger and two-handed Gargant Hackers.  Yes, you guessed it.  I want to arm them with Gargant Hackers.  But here's where it gets a bit more complicated.

One of the four riders can be made into a Skalg armed with an Ironlock Pistol in addition to his other weapon.  You can make a second rider into a Hornblower which gives an opportunity for a greater charge distance.  Then there's a third that can be made into a banner bearer.  They are great for helping when suffering the effects of battle shock and to help make more of the enemy run away. It makes no sense to not make them.

But therein lies the trouble.  It's hard to make them when you want them to be holding a bloomin' great two-handed Gargant hacker.  Well, I decided I would rise to the challenge and have a go anyway.  Here's what happened...

First, I cut one of the Gargant Hackers from the sprue.  I then took my clippers to the hand I didn't need and cut it away, one small chunk at a time.  There's absolutely no point in going in strong and cutting away too much.  I then tidy it all up by paring away the last bits until I have as smooth a surface as I can get.  Again, it's best to take away a little often rather than try to take more and end up taking too much.  The one you can see in the next photo is for my Hornblower.  He carries his horn in his left hand, so that's the hand I cut away from his weapon.
And when it's attached to the hornblower model, it looks like this.  A simple conversion that allows you to get the best of the hornblower abilities and the Gargant Hacker in combat!
I know someone who assembled the rider with the Gargant Hacker in both hands.  The horn was removed from the hand which holds it and it hangs from the saddle.
I have to say that these kits are an absolute joy to work with. You pay for what you get.  In this case, you get some beautiful models in very high-quality plastic.  They go together like a dream.  The detailing cries out to be painted.  Their construction is ingenious.  The craftsmanship screams out to you. They are an absolute delight.  And they are HUGE! There's no way you could ever even dream to make something like this in metal.  And even if you could, there's no way you could make it cost-effective.  And remember, I'm talking about Mournfangs here.  I haven't even started on my Thundertusk yet!

I did the same type of conversion with my Skalg, allowing him to hold his Ironlock Pistol in his left hand as usual.  I used an alternate right arm that would allow me to depict him with his hacker raised above his head in a challenge to his foe.

I confess this is as far as I have been able to get so far.  The Mournfangs aren't stuck to their bases yet for fear I can't paint their bellies properly if they are stuck down.  The Ogres aren't stuck to their saddles either for the same reason.  I'm worried that I've assembled them too much to be able to get the brush to all the spaced I need to reach.  This causes a bit of a headache because I normally like to have my bases modelled before I start painting.
But hey, I love a good challenge!
I'll let you know how the painting goes!

As always, thanks for stopping by!

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