Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Machineries of Destruction

Ahh Machineries of Destruction!

If da Boyz are the main stay of a Warlord's horde then these infernal contraptions are the Big Guns!

War Engines are often the pride of an Orc Warlord despite their erratic performance and tendency to be as lethal to their crews and friendly troops as they are to the enemy!

First up are my two Hobgoblin portable Rocket Launchers - definitely more of a hazard to any Wyverns flying in the vicinity than enemy troops at range. The rules are rather clever for these in that you can prime the rocket with as much fuel as you like (choose between 1 and 7 D6 to determine the range). However, if any of the dice you roll end up on a one then something has gone wrong, usually catastrophically so...

These should come in handy in the Hobgoblin/Cathay game that is already being planned for BOYL 2015!

Skull Crusher is the first "true" Machinerie of Destruction - "Great engines of war, Citadel's Machineries of Destruction are superbly made, highly detailed multi-part boxed model kits, designed for use with the Warhammer Fantasy Battle rules but ideal for use with any fantasy wargame or for collectors. Each machine comes complete with a full crew, Warhammer Fantasy Battle statistics and special rules, and a specially written story fitting them into the Warhammer mythos."

The back story for Skull Crusher appeals to me on many levels - the over-weening Goblin leader with obvious deficiencies, a bone-headed underling ripe for a good slap or two and the side-splitting pathos of a magical and noble War Machine fallen into the wrong hands!

Boggrub Legbiter, war chief of the Broken Nose goblins, looked around with satisfaction upon the ruined entrance of Karak-Azul. His troops moved quietly among the Dwarven dead, pausing occasionally to spit out hair or gristle.
"Oi, boss, look at this!" came a shout. Boggrub turned to see his lieutenant, Gutbug, standing on a large wheeled structure which had been dragged almost to the entrance, Boggrub cast his eye over the machine, taking in every detail of its workings. He nodded appreciatively.
"Wot iz it?" he demanded.
"Dunno," replied Gutbug, "They woz just bringin' it out when we killed 'em". The two goblins stood for a few moments, looking at the great machine.
"It's a see-saw," ventured Gutbug.
"Them ropes," said Boggrub to Gutbug's suddenly recumbent form, "Pull 'em," Gutbug obeyed, rubbing the back of his head where Boggrub's mailed fist had made contact. Slowly, the huge weight at one end of the machine's wooden arm lifted into the air. Suddenly, there was a click, "Select target," intoned a metallic voice. Boggrub jumped.
"'Oo sed that?" he demanded. Gutbug backed away, shaking his head.
"I did, you repellent little pustule," said the voice. Boggrub's eyes widened as they focussed on a grotesque face set into the machine's metal fittings.
"Er .... Wot?" said Boggrub. There was a metallic sigh.
"WHAT .... DO .... YOU .... WANT .... ME ... TO .... HIT?" asked the machine, very slowly.
"Oh," replied Boggrub, "Er .... that tree over there." A second face came to life.
"Range - two-twenty, elevation - fifteen," it said crisply, "Target fixed, ready to fire."
"Er .... fire!" commanded Boggrub, in what he hoped was a commanding voice. There was a slight pause.
"Rock?" asked the metal face, a little tired.
"Wot?" replied Boggrub.
"What am I supposed to fire, you malodorous moron?" asked the face.

A rock was hurriedly placed on the open metal hand at the far end of the machine's arm.
"Can I fire now?" asked the face wearily.
"Go on, then." The wooden arm snapped upright, and the rock was hurled into the air. As it flew, it began to glow, and then burst into flames an instant before hitting its target. The tree was riven to charred matchwood.
"Cor," gasped Gutbug, "Good job they never got it out, we'd have been .... The rest of the sentence was lost as his face hit the ground.
"It's a rock thrower," said Boggrub quietly.
"Trebuchet," corrected the machine.
"Wozzat mean?" demanded Boggrub. There was a slight pause.
"Rock thrower," conceded the machine, wearily.
"A rock throwin' skull crusher," said Boggrub, "That's what we'll call it - Skull Crusher." There was no response save a deep metallic sigh.

Another nice touch is the reference to the story in the unit description for Skull Crusher in the Armies book -

Known elsewhere as a "Trebuchet", Orcs have difficulties pronouncing foreign words, referring to such machines according to what they do to the enemy, for which Skull Crusher is an apt description.

I'm also very happy to have Lead Belcher in my collection - along with its original box too! To quote the Armies book, Goblins like weapons which not only slaughter large amounts of the enemy but do so spectacularly. They particularly enjoy the loud bang, flash and clouds of smoke issuing forth from these Organ Guns.

It's rather pleasing that the good folks at Citadel (or whichever minion wrote these little gems) decided to link the stories behind Skull Crusher and Lead Belcher -

Skull Crusher had won another great victory for the Broken Nose Goblins of Boggrub Legbiter. Karak-Azgal lay in smoking ruins, and the Goblins set to plundering the Dwarfhold.
The victory had not been an easy one. The field lay littered with Goblin dead; even their ally and secret weapon, the Troll Gundran Banebelch, had fallen. The Dwarves had employed a great and terrible weapon, which spewed fire and shot across the oncoming Goblin ranks.
A small crowd of Goblins gathered round the machine.
"Nasty, that." commented Boggrub. Gutbug nodded sagely.
"'Ow's it work, then?" Boggrub continued.
"Dunno," said Gotbug, "Ask a dwarf?"
"Oh, yeah," Gutbug continued, climbing to his feet, "All dead. Forgot." He rubbed the back of his head ruefully. Suddenly, a shout came from the entrance to the Dwarfhold.
"Oi, boss, got a live one!" Boggrub looked up eagerly.

"Bring it 'ere!" he commanded. "An' don't eat it on the way!" Soon a young Dwarf was thrown down at his feet.
"Right, stunty," growled Boggrub, noting with satisfaction that this juvenile was shorter than he was, "Wot zis an' how's it work?"
"Just you wait 'till my Daddy gets home," whimpered the young Dwarf, "An' my uncle, an' my three cousins, an..." The recitation of his family tree was cut short by a wellplaced boot.
"'Ow's itwork?" repeated Boggrub.
"It's a cannon, isn't it?" gasped the young Dwarf, clutching his groin.
"I know that, stunty," retorted Boggrub, making a metal note of the name, "but 'ows it work?"
With a little persuasion, the Goblins learned from their captive how the weapon was used. The four guns were loaded with powder and shot, and trained upon the entrance to the Dwarfhold, where a number of Dwarven corpses were propped up as targets.
"Fire!" yelled Boggrub.
When the smoke cleared, the scene of devastation amazed even the Broken Nose Goblins. The shot from the three lower guns had almost totally destroyed the corpses, while the heavy ball from the upper howitzer had reduced the entrance to smoking rubble.
"Cor," breathed Boggrub, "It's even better than Skull Crusher!" He had a sudden thought.
"'Ere," he exclaimed, "Carve the Troll's face off and nail it across the front - we'll call it Lead Belcher, after 'im." The assembled Goblins murmured their assent at this touching gesture.
"Shall I scrap Skull Crusher then, boss?" asked Gutbug.
"Nah," answered Boggrub as his lieutenant climbed to his feet, " We'll be twice as good if we keep both of 'em."
"I was afraid you'd say that." put in a tired-sounding metallic voice from somewhere.

Pure comic gold thanks to that tired-sounding metallic voice again - and not to mention the touching gesture towards the Troll!

Now since it's Orctober and so far there haven't been any Orcs, you are no doubt justified in shouting at your screen - Where are the Orcs?!!

Well look no further dear reader as I have saved the best till last.

Man Mangler surely needs no introduction. It is the pinnacle of Orc science and does exactly wot it sez on da tin. According to the Armies book -

Among Orcs, catapults of this type are known as "Manglers". Orcs were very impressed by such weapons used against them and soon learned to make their own.

However, it took more than just the brilliance of the Orc inventor - a visionary Chief, open to new ideas and innovation was also necessary for the development of such a weapon...

Graglug, chief of the Skull Cleaver Orcs, looked down at the mass of timber, rope and metal before him, and shook his head sadly.
"Been worried about you, Bruglodd," he said, "you're goin' stunty." The other looked up sharply.
"Wotcher mean?" he demanded, "I'm as tall as you any day!"
"Nah," persisted Graglug, "Not stunty, I mean stunty! All this makin' stuff. Ain't right. Not what Orcs do. Bet you don"t even know where your sword is in all that junk."
"I can find it quick enough if you want to make something of it," retorted Bruglodd, "Even if you are the chief."
"But all this stuff," said Graglug, "I mean, what's it for?"
"It's a weapon." said Bruglodd proudly.
"A weapon?" gasped Graglug incredulously, "A weapon? Have you any idea how many clubs and cleavers and skull crumpers and bone snappers you could make with that lot? And you're going to make one weapon out of the whole lot? Daft, you are. You'll never be able to pick it up, let alone swing it."

"Not that sort of weapon," Bruglodd assured him, "A special one. Give us a hand and I'll show you. 'Ere, grab this." A heavy wooden beam was thrust into Graglug's hands, and before he had a chance to protest that manual labour was beneath his dignity as a chief, he found himself lashing it to the framework that Bruglodd had built.
"That's the way," Bruglodd encouraged him, "Now we can put the wheels on."
"Wheels?" echoed Graglug, "You're not thinking, are you? I mean if you need to build a cart to move it about on, how are you going to swing it?"
"You'll see," Bruglodd chuckled, "Just wait." By now a small crowd of Orcs had gathered round, watching the strange spectacle of their chief helping Bruglodd the Fruitcake build the strange construction. Next, Brugiodd bolted a huge and ugly carved face to the front of the structure.
"Looks just like you, chief," he chuckled.
"Watch it."

Graglug clapped his hand over his eyes as Bruglodd dragged from his cave a huge, twisted piece of thornwood, strung with a thick rope
"A bow," he said, as much to himself as to the crowd, "A bow! What the gutsucking good is a bow you need to carry around on a cart? We're Orcs, you know - Orcs, not pansy Elves forty foot tall! You'll never get arrows big enough, for a start."
"Not using arrows," Bruglodd explained, lashing the gigantic bow to the framework, "Using rocks."
"ROCKS?" Graglug almost screamed, "Whoever heard of shooting rocks from a bow? Have you been drinking the lamp-oil again?"
"You'll see;" muttered Bruglodd, dragging out the final piece of the structure. It was a beam of wood, almost fifteen feet long, with a huge metal hand at one end. He fitted it to the structure, then tied the hand end to a winch at the other end of the frame.
"Give us a hand, chief." he said, and the hand slowly descended as the two Orcs worked the winch against the pull of the bowstring. Next, Bruglodd staggered out of his cave with a large rock, which he put in the hand.

"Watch this," he said, winking at Graglug.
He cut the rope holding the arm to the winch, and the pull of the bowstring snapped the arm up. The rock flew through the air, landing some distance away with a crash.
The assembled Orcs murmured in awe. Graglug scratched his head, speechless.
"Saw some humans using one once. Mangle-something-or-other, they called it. Wotcher reckon?"
"Could be handy," conceded Graglug, "If you can get some boys to work it. Still reckon it's stunty stuff, though."
"Look at Notlob," argued Bruglodd, "Having those spearchuckers didn't do 'im no harm."
"'Spose so," agreed Graglug, "So what's it called again? Man-mangler?"
"That"s near enough," said Bruglodd. "That"s what it"ll do, anyway."
"Yer," said Graglug, slowly warming to the idea, "Nice one. Got another job for you now, too."
"What?" asked Bruglodd eagerly.
"You can get that rock out of my 'ut and rebuild it - NOW!"

Of course I shall have to emulate the fantastic shields featured on Kev Adams' model that graces the box art some day....

Not technically a Machinerie of Destruction, Tony Ackland's Monstrous Orc War Machine falls into the Arcane Monstrosities category and it is certainly a monster machine!

Great thanks go to Steve Casey for the crew Orc with his arms by his side. I have had this model for at least a couple of years and have been searching on and off for the one crew member I didn't own - possibly the longest search I have conducted for possibly the lowliest of Orc miniatures!

The Boss Orc has been a favourite of mine ever since seeing him in command of an excellent (and very satisfying turning of the tables!) conversion of the Dwarver Goblobber that was entered into one of the Golden Demon competitions of the early 90's. The piece shows a number of Orcs who have captures the Dwarves' War Machine and are in the process of changing the ammunition of captured Goblins to the heads of the Dwarf crew! I seem to remember the whole piece being entitled, Revenge.

The elusive, if somewhat gormless third crewman.

This next model brings us to some of my original collection that survived the wilderness years of beer, girls and University. 

The 90's Orc Rock Lobber - obviously heavily modelled on Skull Crusher, but with the addition of four plastic wheels rather than three metal ones.

This particular War Machine did a sterling job in trying to counter the many Empire Great Cannon and Volley Guns and Chaos Dwarf Earth Shaker Cannons in the games I played as a lad. Thanks to my usual poor dice rolling, I ended up investing in several Doom Diver Catapults as well, but they have since been traded on for old lead.

Unlike a lot of 90's Orc stuff, I do have a real soft spot for the crew minis - definitely the main reason they have survived in my collection this long.

In particular, the Boss, who has been another of my all time favourite Orc minis for some time now.

It was great to go back and repaint him so that he looked a bit more like the images from 'Eavy Metal than my enthusiastic, teenage daubings could achieve. Orlygg's excellent shield tutorial also helped me bring him back to his former glory!

I am da Boss!
Oh, and I painted the Stone Thrower brown instead of classic 90's red!

Thanks to various job lots and bargains from ebay, I managed to amass various bits from the 90's Rock Lobber for another two War Machines. One of them needed a few parts press moulding to be completed which was a bit too much for my pre-BOYL schedule so you'll have to wait for another time for that one.

I did have enough bits to put this one together - apart from the counter weight. However, true to the style of Orcish ingenuity, I improverised with a bloody great rock. And some jewelry chain. And some thread.

The crew were made up of various random crew Orcs I'd picked up over the years.

This Marauder Orc crew man makes for a good Boss with his big telescope.

The remaining Orcs are made up of an Orc Bolt Thrower crew man and one of the Orc villagers who I think is supposed to be indulging in a bout of fisticuffs. Stood next to the Stone Thrower, he looks like he's pulling or winding some kind of pulley or ratchet!

So there you go - lots of Goblinoid artillery. 

Am I ever going to be able to use them all in another game? Probably not as most opponents are going to kick up a stink at the prospect of their entire army being wiped out in a turn or two!

However, I think they'd make great static objectives in a daring, "behind enemy lines" style scenario, in which a dashing band of saboteurs have to neutralise the Orc artillery that threatens to pound their city of fortress to dust!


  1. I love the Machinaries of Destruction and had them all as a lad. I too enjoyed the stories that accompanied the boxes and marvelled at the painting of them, particularly the amazing bases with milliput flowers and mushrooms. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Cheers Stuart - the basing Kev achieved with all those mushrooms and assorted vegetation is amazing. My choice to not base mine has nothing to do with me not wanting to compete with all that ; )

  3. excellent work. I've managed to collect all the pre 90's machineries but like many things I've got they sit unpainted in a box. I really do need to fix that as the figures are full of character

    1. Quite right too - slap some paint on them and share the love!

  4. These are totally awesome. Plan to get to these one day. Have all but the oldest one (but have the crew for some reason and happen to be painting them atm).