Thursday, August 14, 2014

Nagash Awakens!

From beyond the grave riseth this blog... and so too Nagash, Lord of Undeath!

I have been captivated by recent rumours by reputable sources for a new campaign book, along with new miniatures, for this iconic Warhammer figure. In fact, it was Nagash from the Undead 4th Edition Army Book that hooked me on the hobby. I must have re-read the army background in that book 50 times at least.


 I have the same nerdy pangs of excitement about these rumours. Here is a summary;
  • Preorders up end August
  • New Miniatures for Nagash, Mannfred, Arkhan the Black, Neferata and others
  • Campaign Book plus a limited edition version
  • A set of magic cards
  • Campaign special rules including using Nagash (1k points), and using undead units in all armies
  • Known as the End Times

We even have a GW teaser;

It's hard to describe why this is such a big deal. I think campaign books in general are fantastic - having picked up all the recent offerings. But the Nagash thing is so tied in with nostalgia from the 'good old days' that it's making me giddy.

Miniature History 

Unfortunately, most people remember Nagash not for being the complete badass that he was, but for his pewter avatar, which admittedly had a rather 'odd' look;

Miniature designer Gary Morley has often had to bear the brunt of criticism. Rather unfairly, as he revealed in a forum post in 2011:

"The story on the Nagash, model... is this;
It was my first big multi-part mini I had ever attempted. and it certainly went through many versions in sculpting. (In those days concept drawing were very sketchy and I had very little input.) But only one version ever made it to the moulds. 
However, there are two head versions. The original head was based on the design that I was given, a more Zombie looking type. And that was the one that my design manager and I (at the time) preferred. But at that time all miniatures had to be approved not only by the design studio, but also by the sales management.
This is where it came un-stuck! They didn't like it, and preferred to have a skull...?
Much to my dislike. Now because of release dates and schedules I had one day to put it 'right'. So preferring the original I went ahead and made the alternative. Now, I never thought for one moment thought that they would approve the (laughing clown) skull and would revert back to the original.
The Joke back-fired. And to my horror it was approved and they released it!
Throughout my time at GW I know I made some sculpts that I was not that happy with.
But, Nagash has been the one model that Haunted me all through my time there.
And vowed that I would re-make before I left. However, that was never to be."

It turns out that this was the original design;

EDIT: I couldn't resist adding the first pictures online of the new model - for sake of completion! Look how proportioned he is now... and very diablo-esque. Cannot wait to get my claws on this.

The 8th Edition Build-Up

The background material in the 8th edition army books have been slowly building up to this, in hindsight. From the re-inclusion of Arkhan, Kemmler and Krell, to Mannfred's antics with the daughter of the Phoenix King, and of course the Grand Theogonist in Sigmar's Blood.

For your convenience I have compiled a timeline in celebration of the reincarnation of Nagash. This includes revelations from Sigmar's Blood, so if you intend to read it, bear in mind there are spoilers ahead.

Ancient History

Year -1151: Nagash performs The Great Ritual of Waking, wreaking final vengeance and victory over the Nehekharan civilisation. The once glorious land is transformed into the Land of the Dead - darkness perpetually covers the subcontinent, killing all vegetation and remaining life, and raising the dead of the entire civilisation's many dynasties. Bone walls and fortresses erupt from the ground. He is, however, assassinated by the last Nehekharan King, whom the Skaven supplied with the Fellblade. Nagash is cut to pieces and burned. Only his still-animated right hand scampers off. The King takes Nagash's crown and escapes, but later dies in the wilderness.

Year -40: Nagash is reborn. His crown and his hand anchor him to the realm of the living, allowing him to return from the dead. He forges an iron hand to replace his missing one (the only part of him not to regenerate) and begins to search for his crown.

Year 10: Nagash raises the long-dead Chaos Warrior Krell to become one of his Dark Lords.

Year 15: Nagash discovers that Sigmar had recovered the crown from the Strigos, and wages war against the Empire, resulting in his second destruction.

Year 16: Krell and the remnants of Nagash's army are defeated.

Year 1681: Nagash returns from the dead a second time, and broods (to this day) in his fortress Nagashizzar.

'Recent' History

Year 1797: Vlad von Carstein becomes the Elector Count of Sylvania.

Year 2010: Vlad is revealed to be a vampire, and begins to attack the Empire, triggering the War of the Vampire Counts.

Year 2051: Vlad is finally slain at during the siege of Altdorf. The von Carstein ring, which allowed him to return from the dead, is stolen by a thief with the assistance of (or directly commissioned by) Mannfred von Carstein. Mannfred and Konrad destroy the other claimants to Sylvania, and then Mannfred leaves to research the Dark Arts, leaving the insane Konrad to rule. Mannfred's journey leads him to Nagashizzar...

Year 2121: Konrad von Carstein is finally defeated by the Empire and Dwarven allies (though Mannfred had a part to play), and Mannfred claims Sylvania.

Year 2132: Mannfred pushes to take Altdorf. He almost succeeds, but is driven back when the High Elves join the alliance.

Year 2145: Mannfred, the last of the Vampire Counts, is defeated and Hel Fenn. Sylvania is officially absorbed into Stirland.

Year 2491: Heinrich Kemmler (subconsciously guided by Nagash) raises Krell from the dead and ravages Bretonnia before being driven back into the mountains.

Year ~2517: Known fraud and populist Felix Jaeger purports to have witnessed the rebirth ritual of Mannfred von Carstein, but is widely discredited. Grand Theogonist Volkmar sends witch hunters into Sylvania to investigate, but none of them return.

Current Events

Mid 2522 - The daughter of the current Phoenix King is sent as an envoy to the Dwarves. She is attacked while under Dwarven protection by an alliance between Mannfred von Carstein and Heinrich Kemmler/Krell. She is kidnapped, and the blame is made to lie with the Dwarves.

Late 2522 - A Vale of Darkness descends on the former province of Sylvania, leaving the land in perpetual darkness. Vegetation dies off, and the populace begins to leave the province.

The annual conclave in Altdorf is dramatically interrupted as the corpse of the last witch hunter sent into Sylvania is dropped through the stained-glass dome of the grand meeting chamber. Several Electors are permanently injured by falling glass, and the Elder of the Moot is killed. Stuffed into the mouth of the corpse is a letter written on human skin, declaring the secession of Sylvania from the Empire, signed with the seal of Mannfred von Carstein.

Acting on Volkmar's orders, the Arch-Lectors rush down to the Temple vaults to discover that the crown of Nagash has been stolen. Volkmar now is faced with the threat of political opponents ousting him at his failure to keep the item secure, so he declares a crusade against Sylvania in order to make amends. As the war in the north continues, he is unable to gain assistance from the state troops. The Cult of Sigmar is on their own.

Volkmar and Arch-Lector Kaslain lead a force into Sylvania, and the search for Mannfred begins. One of the few remaining in Sylvania is a light wizard, most concerned with the lack of sunlight. He discovers the source of the darkness - Mannfred has acquired the hand of Nagash, and is harnessing its power for a mighty ritual. By linking up with the Sigmarite crusade, they assault the defences of the Hand, drawing Mannfred out of hiding.

However, it appears Mannfred is always a few steps ahead, and draws the Empire troops into a place where he can abduct the Grand Theogonist.

Volkmar wakes up chained alongside priests from Ulric, Myrmidia and Morr, as well as the daughter of the Phoenix King, in a circle. In the middle of the circle is the crown of Nagash. Mannfred reveals that his has in his possession the last few books of Nagash. We learn that the books are all different, and were written over the course of Nagash's career. This means that books 7, 8 and 9 contain the most potent rituals. Mannfred also reveals that Volkmar is the last scion of Sigmar's bloodline.

Mannfred bleeds out all the captives, their blood mingling and completing the final ritual. It appears as if a variant on Nagash's Great Ritual of Wakening is completed, turning all of Sylvania (the part overed in darkness) into a new land of the dead. Massive walls of bone erupt along the mountain borders, separating Sylvania from the Empire, apparently trapping all those remaining within Sylvania (including Arch Lector Kaslain of Nuln... NOOOOO!)

Volkmar is apparently killed by the vampires (he blacks out as they tear at his throat) but of course until we see a corpse, who knows.

This is a great send-off to WFB 8th edition, and sets the scene for a paradigm shift when 9th edition rolls around (rumoured to be next year).

Anyone else looking forward to the coming weeks as much as me?

Friday, July 12, 2013

Custom Heraldry Transfer 'Tutorial'

I mentioned a few posts back that I was attempting to create some custom water-slide transfers (or 'decals') for my Nuln-themed Empire army. This is because I have almost no confidence in my freehand painting abilities, and would like a look of consistency across banners and shields.

I used to have a set of transfers for the 5th Edition Undead army, but they are long gone and have been out of production for a decade or so. GW has just started to bring back water-slide transfers, but so far has only released sheets for High Elves and 40k.

So I set about making my own. I have been asked to provide a tutorial, but to be honest the process has been rather fraught with trial and tribulation, so this is more of a cautionary tale.

First up, you will want either some digital source material or some sweet design skills. I own a copy of Uniforms & Heraldry of the Empire, so all I did was scan the Nuln pages onto my computer.

Next, you will want some kind of editing software. I used Photoshop. I needed to clearcut and touch-up the images, as well as collate them into one sheet.

Once I had the file ready, it was time to print!

I sourced some water-slide transfer paper from a New Zealand supplier called The Train Depot, who provide very prompt and helpful service.

There are two types of paper options - Inket and LaserJet.

I initially bought LaserJet paper, but when I tried to print I realised it was just melting in the printer, so I had to order another supply of Inkjet paper. My advice would be to make sure you know what sort of paper you need to get! The Train Depot will be able to help you out with this.

Once printed, I excitedly applied the decal to my knight's shield... only to discover with horror that it could not even be seen. This was my second mistake.

If your transfer is going over a dark background, you need to buy solid white transfer paper rather than clear, and match the background colour of the image to the surface you wish to apply it.

If you are applying transfers over a lightly coloured surface, clear transfer paper will be the way to go.

So here is version two of the decal sheet printed on white paper;

With Inkjet paper you need to apply sealant of some kind, like Crystal Kote, to stop the image from flaking. I applied three coats.

When this had thoroughly dried I cut out one of the icons to add to the shield. I found the best results by cutting as close to the shape of the design as possible. I prepared the surface of the shield by painting on some Lahmian Medium. Once this was dry, I put the cut-out transfer in a shallow dish of warm water until it came loose.

For the direct application of the decal, I followed this excellent tutorial by Sholto of the Incunablog, applying MicroSet to the surface, and then carefully sliding the transfer from the paper to the surface with a paint brush.

Once this was positioned, and the excess moisture dabbed up with a paper towel, I left it to dry. Later I liberally applied some MicroSol, which dissolved the transfer film leaving the design on the surface fully conformed to the slopes and edges (particularly important on wavy banners).

When this had dried, I touched up the transfer with some Abaddon Black to tie it in with the background.

So there you have it! I hope this cautionary tale has allowed you to avoid some of the pitfalls I came across, and ultimately add some cool details to your army.

Monday, July 08, 2013

Nuln Army Background for NerdyCon

NerdyCon 2013 is the first community event to have piqued my interest in almost two years after I got completely burned out of attending tournaments.

In no small part is this due to the event being organised by the League of Extraordinary Nerdymen who are a fine bunch of blokes and extremely good fun.

This besides, the NerdyCon rules pack has a very strong hobby focus and is a great point of difference from many local tournament 'comp' events, providing an opportunity to get together with other like-minded players and play some Warhammer as the Good Lord Jervis intended.

Part of the scoring component is supplying a written backstory for your army, which is really where it is at for me. Below is the backstory I will be taking, though I don't doubt I will be tempted to fiddle with it more before the event. I wanted to base it off the famous Magnus the Pious quote, and theme it with the classic Nuln contrasts - black and white, rich and poor, human and machine. Feedback welcome.

If you are interested in NerdyCon, it is a 1400 point single-day event in Auckland on August 18th. Player's pack can be found here.

Part 1 - The Priest

Part 2 - The Preceptor
Part 3 - The Castellan-Engineer

Friday, June 21, 2013

Nine Brief Book Reviews... GO!

I have been voraciously knocking back fantasy books over the past few months like it’s nobody’s business. So I decided to make it everybody’s business with a series of in-depth reviews and analyses over an extended series of blog posts.

Unfortunately my ‘Generation Y’ laziness kicked in, and what we are all left with is a much briefer digest of my recent literary devourings. Enjoy.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Snow of the North Downs - n00b attempt

Over the weekend I had my first snow basing experience, and it was both easier and more difficult that I expected.