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Wednesday 26 July 2023

Going Viral...

Onwards they marched, tracking the Chaos deviant through the dead lands. A litany of woe and a trail of ruin marked the passage of the Cult they still hunted. Always they were too late and never were they welcomed by the local peasantry. Instead, beady eyes, glistening with fear and suspicion, glared out from make shift hovels as the weary throng trudged past the glowing embers of burned out villages. 


Apologies once again for a bit of a hiatus - this was my March entry for the Oldworld Army Challenge back in 2022 and real life has been a bit of a drain on both my time and energy since then. I won't go in to detail but things have been pretty shitty for a while now and fun things like this hobby dropped down the priority list. I'm in a better place now so I figured why not revisit some ghosts from the past and plunge once more in to the heart of darkness - may not be everyone's idea of therapy but hell, not my fault if this is my happy place! 

Having deserted my blog since goodness knows when, I realise I never finished documenting the progress of Der Verlorene Haufen (The Forlorn Hope), which was my project for the Old World Army Challenge last year. This does mean, happily, that I have a number of posts that are oven ready, although if you followed my project on the Old World Army Challenge blog then this is going to be the equivalent of sitting through the same stock footage that gets trotted out in every Toho era Godzilla film - I just hope it's as entertaining!? In terms of novel content, I'm looking forward to giving them (and a few additions hopefully) an outing at this year's BOYL, so there should be a whole raft of blurry in-game photos and half recalled battle reports to look forward to ;)


Die Seuchenopfen is the first of many peasant levies that make up this army. Of course, when I started this project, I didn't want to just paint up massed ranks of boring old serfs so each got a Hammer horror style twist to fit in to my Evil Empire theme. I guess this lot owe their inspiration to old movies like Plague of the Zombies, but I must admit the Imperial Army from Rogue Trader also played its part - or at least its use of penal troops did anyway. As we know (or if you've forgotten, refer back to my previous posts on this army and its background!), Kurt Todeswunsch is not amiss to utilising some less than orthodox allies and troop types. So why not herd poor defenceless and plague ridden Sylvanian peasants in to battle as a form of biological warfare to achieve your aims - doesn't seem so shocking now in the wake of the Covid Enquiry...


Hopes were raised, however, as the troop neared the settlement of Pockendorfen. Remarkably, the small village stood relatively intact and the only smoke to be seen was that which curled slowly and comfortably from the chimneys of the wooden houses that nestled together beneath the louring forest. Camp was struck in a clearing some distance away, so as not to scare the inhabitants and Todeswunsch's soldiers eagerly anticipated the prospect of some home comforts, should the villagers be welcoming.


I turned to Midlam Miniatures for the plague victims - their Plague Cultists were just perfect and there were a good few of them to make up the bulk of the unit.


Nice simple, old school style sculpts that take the paint well - what more could you want. I went for a Blachitsu style colour palette that was very quick to do - most of the heavy lifting being done with the application of a rust coloured pigment after the basic base coats were done.


Actually looking at them now, they kind of remind me of the Human telepathic mutants who worshipped a nuclear bomb in Beneath the Planet of the Apes. I do like to get value for money out of my painted miniatures so I may have to procure some apes from Crooked Dice and try out some simian based scenarios with them some time...


In terms of their actual employment in this army, however, I thought I'd give them a bit of a dash of Skaven. That's not the name of their condition - more how I intend them to operate on the table. The sting in the tail with this lot is not necessarily the Plague Doctor champions who herd them forward but the super spreaders who lurk within the ranks, waiting for the unsuspecting to get near enough to get infected. These super spreaders (I need to think of a more Olde Worldy name for them!) will use the same rules as Skaven Plague Censor Bearers, who behave a bit like Goblin Fanatics but with more noxious fumes.


The sun had sunk behind the mountains and as the light failed and the air chilled, hopes of a warm plate of food and some cheer began to fade. Snakes of mists began to form beneath the bows of the pines and a low susurration became audible from the village. Nervous glances flitted from the darkening treeline to the line of houses, as the guard pickets tried in vain to anticipate where the noise emanated from. 


The standard bearer sat on the plague cart and the Chief Plague Doctor are both from the Bruegelberg range and I must really thank Filippo, one of my fellow Old World Army Challenge contestant, once more for helping me procure them from Miniaturicum, as they no longer ship outside of the EU. The same gratitude does not extend to the current UK "Government" - for this and a good many other things...  Anyway, back to happy, hobby stuff - there'll be a good few more miniatures from that range on their way in future posts, so thanks again Filippo!


Chaucer helped me out with the banner once again with a few lines taken from The Pardoner's Tale, along with some excerpts of Thomas Nashe's sonnet, A Litany in time of the Plague. The old motif of the Dance of Death also seemed fitting - both a reminder of the inevitability of death and the need to be prepared for it, during the uncertain times of plague and upheaval in the 14th Century and also that very human desire of wanting a last dance before the party ends for good.


The Dance of Death (1493) by Michael Wolgemut, from the Nuremberg Chronicle of Hartmann Schedel


Ther cam a privee theef men clepeth Deeth...

... He hath a thousand slayn this pestilence. 

Chaucer, The Pardoner's Tale


Adieu, farewell earths blisse,

This world uncertaine is,

Fond are lifes lustful joyes,

Death proves them all but toyes,

None from his darts can flye;

I am sick, I must dye:

Lord, have mercy on us. 

Thomas Nash - Litany in Time of Plague


On a lighter note, the eagle-eyed among you may have spotted some familiar figures among the unhealthy throng and yes, I could not resist a Python reference when I spotted the Holy Grail inspired miniatures on the (now apparently defunct) Studio Miniatures website. I know unit fillers can be a slightly controversial topic in some quarters but I had to have a cart for the Dead Collector, his customer and his customer's unfortunate Father!


Plus Midlam Miniature's Plague Cultists included a couple of unfortunates who seem to have expired so they needed a spot to lie down too.


The feared assault never came in the night, however the morning was not without its horrors. One of the forward pickets had succumbed to some gruesome disease even while they kept watch. The guard sent to relieve them had discovered their pock-marked and bloated corpses and might have suffered the same fate were it not for a quick thinking sergeant.


All in all, this was a really fun unit to put together and paint, despite the sombre subject matter. I've no idea how they will perform in game - knowing me and the fact that they are a levy, probably running away a lot. 


Hopefully the super spreaders will give them a bit of a kick and I do have an idea of how to represent them on the table top - no promises that I'll have them done in time for BOYL though.


Before long the village was ablaze and the Verlorene Haufen took to the road once more. Its bedraggled columns now swollen with a coughing and hacking mass of the infected, herded forwards by the sombre figures of men, whose hardened eyes glinted behind the pitiless glass lenses of their plague masks.


30 Landestrurm - Die Seuchenopfen                344 points
L10 Hero and 2x L5 Heroes - Plague Doctors - Light armour and hand weapons
Standard bearer, musician, hand weapons

3x Plague Censer Bearers - to simulate the virulent and deadly plague this levy carry I will be using the Skaven Plague Censer Bearer rules to represent this on the table top.

14 comments:

  1. Welcome back! There's so much to like about this unit. I'm really quite taken with the unit filler and the musician with a triangle. A high skill instrument for sure.

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    1. Thanks Dave - great to be back! Yeah they were a fun unit to do and you're on the money there - the triangle takes years to master!

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  2. So happy to read from you. This army was inspired, looking forward to reading more on them!

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    1. Thanks so much - I shall endeavour not to neglect the blog so much in the future! Got a few more old posts to finish off documenting this army and there might even be some new content in the near future - providing I can get a few more units painted this week before they make an appearance at Bring Out Your Lead next weekend...

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  3. Sorry you’ve been having a rubbish time. I feel like there’s a lot of it about at the moment. Always a pleasure seeing your updates though! :)

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    1. Thanks man - just life being life I guess, but you're right - a lot of it around. More updates to come once I've got BOYL under my belt!

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  4. Welcome back! I've been checking back on your blog often and so pleased you have got back to writing and documenting your hobby. It's been a huge inspiration to me. I've even designed my own campaign based on the Siege of Vymorna Fighting Fantasy setting inspired by your Trolltooth Wars campaign. I hope to document this in my own very fledgling blog. Welcome back once again.

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    1. Thanks so much - glad you're enjoying it! I think your last comment got buried so apologies for that - published now! I love the sound of your Siege of Vymorna campaign - you'll have to share the link here!

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  5. Outstanding. These boys look astonishing, Thants! I love that you've included a couple of Plague Doctors and the standard inspired by Renaissance artwork is the perfect touch. Your photography has gotten so dramatic and beautiful. I love it.

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    1. Aw thanks Mouse - lovely to hear from you! I must go and reacquaint myself with your blog after a long absence. The plague doctors were a must to include - effectively being animal handlers for the infected! Loving the photography side of things and the old trick of introducing some smoke for atmosphere!

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  6. Great to see you back! Checked to see on a whim and delighted to see new brushwork đź’š

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    1. Apologies for the incredibly slow reply but thanks and glad you checked back in! I may sound like a broken record but I hope to update the blog a bit more regularly this year...

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