Salute in Review: What Happened To All The Spending?

Salute 2014Must…buy…toys…must…buy…toys….  No it’s not Mat, but you’d be forgiven for thinking so. Instead it was me wandering around aimlessly trying to find shizzle to buy at the end of Salute on Saturday. I went in with a good idea of what I wanted but after picking up my hefty (and heavy) Forge World order, purchases were unfortunately few and far between.

The day went largely as expected in accordance with the pre-Salute post – far more business over pleasure and the vast majority of my time was spent engaged in conversations with gaming companies old and new. It was a very productive day on that front with some downright fantastic agreements made with several major companies and numerous encouraging discussions with others, who were also showing signs of following suit.  Despite the dedicated focus we still ran out of time at the end and missed out on several stands we wanted to visit, there just weren’t enough hours in the day in truth.

The walks between the companies we wanted to talk to was where I attempted to find the things I wanted to buy.  Some bits for my Warhammer Empire army were high on the list but there was an absolute dearth of their products available, being limited to just boxes of State Troops and the occasional Greatswords.  I know Games Workshop removed many of the items I needed from the list available to independent stockists but I thought given the scale of the event some would still be available from the three I wanted: Demigryphs, Helblaster, Pistoliers/Outriders. But no.  I did grab an absolute bargain in the form of a brand new metal Marius Leitdorf for just £4 – yes you read that right. Just £4.  A pricing error? Who knows, but I didn’t wait around to ask.  I also bagged a pack of Purple and Gold dice to go with my Emperors Children, very fitting I thought, and a ruined building from Amera Plastic Mouldings (review to follow soon). But that was it. I had still spent a hefty sum on my Forge World order, but I went home with £160 still burning through my pocket and now charring the flesh of my thigh.  So here’s what I got (because most of my stuff came as bags of parts, which aren’t very exciting, I’ve used images from web):

LEGION SICARAN BATTLE TANKEMPEROR'S CHILDREN PHOENIX TERMINATORS

Marius Leitdorf36 PEARL DICE - 6 SIDED & 12mm SIDES - PURPLE !!Z214 - City Block Ruins

 

I think you’ll agree that if any Imperial Tank could ever be considered sexy, the Sicaran would be it – with it’s sleek profile and…er…armour plates. Backing it up with a pimp set of Phoenix Guard means I should have one good looking army once they hit the table top alongside one of last years Salute purchases, the Emperors Children Contemptor Dreadnought (with twin Kheres and a back up Power Claw, of course).

At the time of writing I have just ordered a variety of the magnets I wanted and now have to further resort to trawling the web to satisfy my hobby cravings and try to find things that can convince me to part with my cash – but it’s not the same.  When your there and it’s in your hands something almost takes over you, and you just start throwing money in peoples faces and running off before someone’s mind changes. Still, at least I’ll get a free Space Marine Captain if I order from Games Workshop direct.

Until next year, the sound of Neil singing the Salute theme tune will remain a memory.

 

*The Salute theme tune goes as thus: Saying the word Salute repeatedly to the tune of Black Adder (writing credit: Rob Mossop).*

FaQs are dead! Long live the FaQs!

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One of the immediate hot topics of conversation (OK hobby rage) after the launch of the new Games Workshop web site was the notable absence of the FaQs section. Any attempt to access them via saved links was met with a pretty clear message:

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Well it would appear that all is not lost. People are reporting receiving a common response to their enquiries to Games Workshop customer services about the missing FaQs which looks like this:

Thanks for the email regarding the FAQs on the new website.

Currently the FaQ’s are not available on the website, as the design team are taking this opportunity to fully update all the FAQ and Errata articles. This is only temporary and these FAQ’s will be made available again in the very near future. 

So, really it’s a case of “good news everyone!” as it would appear that not only are the FaQs not dead, they aren’t even just sleeping, they are getting a full refresh! Hopefully that’ll see some of the more glaring issues with some of the newer codices and army books dealt with (Lizardmen, I’m looking at you with your skink characters on terradons not being able to join units) and a nice fresh set of random rules (undead crumbling randomness, you know what you did) for us all to pore over.

 

Games Workshop Social Media Blackout

Readers with good memories may remember that I did a guest post here at the Shell Case following last year’s Spots the Space Marine firestorm, in which Games Workshop unceremoniously killed its central Facebook and Twitter accounts.

Sadly, I am here (now as a staff writer) to share similar news. It seems that Forgeworld, Black Library, Digital Editions, and the Warhammer World social media accounts have all up and disappeared. Individual store’s Facebook accounts, however, remain.

First they took away their @VoxCaster account on Twitter, then their Facebook page, but now Forgeworld!? Sirs, you have gone too far. I want to ogle your very lovely plastic crack (especially Horus) and you’ve now taken away two of my three main places to see your new releases.

You must be mad.

I’m a busy woman, I rely heavily on my newsfeeds to give me all my miniature-related news (and, let’s be honest, my “real” news, too). Who’s going to feverishly check your website for updates? Very few people. Word will still spread (across social media!) about new releases, but not as fast or as far as it does when people get it directly from your social media outlets.

I simply refuse to believe that a company as large as Games Workshop, as profit-motivated, doesn’t know how stupid this is. Every company under the sun is trying to leverage social media to reach more people and make more money.

What made Games Workshop choose to disengage from what is essentially free advertising and publicity? There must be some reasoning behind it. Even if it’s as simple as a sad attempt to avoid further ire from the community.

I honestly, naively hope that this is just a temporary move while they reshuffle their website (or websites). But my doe-eyed optimism has been crushed by Games Workshop before. As this was all done without a word or hint of happening, it seems a permanent maneuver to me.

Warhammer Fantasy Battle – A Review

TaleOfTwoArmies copyTo kick off A Tale of Two Armies I wanted to look at the very game we’d be collecting armies for. Of course I mean none other than Warhammer Fantasy Battle.

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As mentioned in the launch article, Lee & I both played various editions of Warhammer but as the years wore on the game fell by the wayside for us at one stage or another in favour of games our friends played more. Returning to the game came with a lot of assumed knowledge and half remembered facts and reading the latest edition of the rules it was struck by how different the game is compared to the last time I played.

Those who have continually played may disagree but the changes that I have noticed has changed Warhammer dramatically. It has become the ‘grown-ups’ game that the Games Workshop had been steering it towards for some years.

Let’s start from the top. Or the front. It is a bloody massive book. I thought the 40k rulebook was thick but crap on a crust it’s a big book. Now that presents the obvious problem that it’ll be a bastard to transport but you know what, it’s not going to make that much difference when you think how much a 3,000 point army can weigh. For me the real issue is that it’s such a pretty book that I’d worry about it getting beaten up carrying it around.

And I really do mean it’s a pretty book. It’s just nice to hold and flick through. That’s not to say it’s not without its indulgences. It has 75 pages of pictures. That’s a lot of parchment that isn’t entirely necessary. And half that could have knocked a fiver off the price. But that aside the Warhammer rule book is completely gorgeous.

But on to the game itself. It’s as much as I remember but there’s a few subtle changes that have been made in this iteration that totally changes how one would approach the game. For a start, charges are now movement plus 2D6. This, on average, makes infantry faster, heavy cavalry roughly the same and fast or Elven cavalry a touch slower. The important thing is that it games are no longer dictated by who gets in the first round of charges of the game. More so as the other big change is that all combat is fought in initiative order. So even if you do get the drop on your opponent you won’t get to put the boot in first.

These two rule changes alone are some of the most significant of the bunch and turns Warhammer from a game that was little more than a race to get the charge in which benefited some and properly screwed over others into something infinitely more tactical. With combat now fought in initiative order it actually encourages armies to play to their strengths rather than forcing them to be little more than delivery mechanisms for utterly wanky, beardy, units or a catch-all army of blandness forced to be a little bit of everything. And deployment could well be the most important thing you do all game.

Combined with the relaxing of the army building rules means that for the first time I feel like players can actually collect the armies they want rather than the armies they think they need. And more so than ever Warhammer becomes the game it was always meant to be: a delicately laid plans, deployments and then the elaborate dance of units…before they all kick each other’s heads in.

There’s other new rules like Hordes and Steadfast which put a greater emphasis on bigger units. As with Apocalypse there is a point of view that this is commercially motivated but I don’t think that’s entirely true or fair. I actually think this is more to reflect the battles depicted in the artwork and the novels. It does make certain armies much harder nuts to crack, but in light of the changes above that’s not entirely unfair. And it’s also not without its disadvantages either. Large units are vulnerable to mobbing and the Steadfast rule could stop a unit running when you’d rather it did.

There’s a smattering of new special rules to go with the rule tweaks. For a start anything with the word monster or monstrous in its classification is bloody horrid and has made me even more determined to fill my army with Skullcrushers and Dragonogres. But fear not as even the lowly infantry gets some love as all units now, not just those with long pointy sticks, get to fight with at least two ranks, the second rank getting a single supporting attack per model. This overwhelmingly benefits basic blokes as they’ll be in march larger units and only have one attack to begin with don’t lose anything, units like Chaos Warriors and Saurus really will being in smaller units and having to sacrifice dice. That said, a horde unit of either of these would just be mental.

And the changes don’t end there. Magic is no longer the army spanking bore it use to be. No longer will Vampire Counts and Elves table armies with a turn or really good spell casting. Bonus dice to power pools are no longer a given but a dice roll. Dispel pools are bigger and the miscast table is hilariously destructive. The point is that I no longer feel like I need to field a level 2 spell caster tooled with dispel scrolls just to protect my units rather than because magic forms a part of my battle plan. Again, it comes back to that important aspect of gamers being allowed to field what they want rather than what they’re being railroaded into taking.

But that’s not all. A huge amount of space has been given over to scenarios and campaigns. I really feel like this rule book is the first time they took the Warhammer world seriously. Or, more to the point, taking playing games set in the Warhammer world seriously. This is corroborated by the utterly gorgeous and coherent background section of the book. I know some gamers aren’t on board with buying the full version of the book when they’ve bought half a dozen similar ones but it is at the expense on watching the background grow and improve and it most certainly has done that.

The barrier for me with Warhammer has always been the background. It’s always felt vague and woolly. The Sigmar & Nagash trilogies drew me in and excited me hugely but there wasn’t the material there, at the time, to back it up. All that has changed. It’s been lovingly expanded on and has been beautifully presented. Add that to the aforementioned campaign and scenario improvements (and there are some really good ones in there now) and I could actually see myself writing a Warhammer campaign. And considering I started playing Warhammer about 20 years ago that really does say something.

I know I’m late to the party. I know that reviews for Warhammer came out 2 years ago with its release, but you know what? I don’t care because I have had the tremendous pleasure of rediscovering a game I thought I’d parted companies with forever. But better than that I’ve found that, whilst I’ve been away, it’s grown and matured into something far more tactical and challenging than I thought it could be. And I could not be more excited for what comes next.

This does mean that Warhammer Fantasy won’t be for everyone but I do think that those considering Warhammer but concerned it’s just 40k with swords and dragons should put those fears aside. Yes at its heart it is the same basic mechanic but it’s so much greater than the sum of its parts. It has borrowed some good bits from 40k and 40k from it but they are very different games. Very different games. And I’ve got to say, I think I might just prefer the game of Warhammer. It remains to be seen if I’ll embrace the background as completely as I have 40k’s but based on what I’ve seen so far, there’s a fair chance.

This edition of Warhammer Fantasy Battle looks utterly brilliant. It’s well written, well presented and has been taken to a new and exciting place tactically speaking whilst successfully moving the game into a space for larger engagements and far more interesting armies.

The Warhammer Fantasy Battle rulebook is available from Firestorm Games priced £40.50.

A Tale of Two Armies

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Followers on Twitter will have gotten wind by now that Lee (@leefaccini) and I will be setting sail for the Olde World after a break of a fair few years. Rather than run the risk of starting with great gumption and fizzling out after gathering too many models and those models gathering too little paint, we’ll be embarking on a Tale of Two Armies.

The concept is common enough and been attempted by the various White Dwarf teams over the years under the title of a Tale of Two Gamers, but let’s be honest; you’re all far more interested in the toys than Lee and I.

So, what’s the plan? Well, put simply we shall be collecting two brand spanking new armies. Lee shall be collecting Empire and I shall be doing a pure Khorne Warriors of Chaos army.

Following from the review of the Warhammer rulebook coming up in the next few days, we’ll be reviewing our respective army books and then we’ll get down to the nitty gritty of collecting armies and kicking face…and remembering which end of the brush you’re supposed to put the paint on.

The rules will be simple:

Each month we shall collect and paint 500 points of our chosen army and play a game. As an incentive if a unit is unpainted when we meet up for the game we won’t be allowed to use it. The target will be 3,000 points after which point we’ll reward ourselves with something large and barmy from Forge World as a centre piece.

Alongside hobby articles chronicling our progress and battle reports they’ll also be reviews of all the units we collect and a growing narrative which will expand after each game is fought. Regular readers and followers will by now have heard of Ludwig Von Bomburg, Lee’s mercenary captain for Mordheim. He will be leading the Empire army in this tale in the days before he became an alcohol guzzling, womanising boar.

It’s an exciting challenge for us as between time commitments on my part and Lee taking a million years to paint anything we both struggle to complete projects and we’re looking forward to sharing it with you all. And as you may have seen at the top of the page, every article about A Tale of Two Armies will feature that banner as well as the tag. And it wouldn’t be possible without the truly humbling level of support given to The Shell Case by Firestorm Games.

So stay tuned folks…

A Look Back at Man O War

Following on from our tribute to the Specialist Games range fellow #warmonger, Michael (@M_A_Hobbs) has written about his great fondness for the long-lost Man O War.

In the Specialist Games tribute Phil (our noble leader) mentions a Golden Age in Games Workshop’s timeline; which he says was between 1998 and 2002 and it’s true that during that time Games Workshop produced some fine games and maybe the company had different ideals to what they have now. However for me the Golden Age of Games Workshop was a bit earlier; the early 90’s.

During that period we saw all sorts of games being released by the company. Board games like the original Horus Heresy and Battle for Armageddon, classic games like Epic: Space Marine, the old favourites like 40K and Warhammer Fantasy were getting new editions and Mighty Empires was allowing Warhammer players to fight larger campaigns.

But there was another game that like a firework on November the 5th, arrived with a bang, shone brightly and then vanished after what seemed like no time at all.

That game was Man O’War.

ManOWarGameCover

Man O’War was a naval game set in the Warhammer Fantasy universe and was released in 1993. Players would command fleets of ships and fight battles against their enemies, it was the perfect excuse to talk like a pirate and have some fun; I loved it.

Unlike other games the entry cost for Man O’War was fairly low; a normal sized fleet would only be about a dozen ships and this meant you could get a fleet together quickly and relatively cheaply, in hindsight this may have been its downfall.

The big boxset came with an absolute pile of card counters and markers, each ship had a template that allowed you to track damage, and there were damage counters, sunken ship counters, islands and measuring sticks as well as a dozen plastic ships and sails that you could attach to them. This release was backed up with a load of metal ships that covered all the ships that were in the main rules. The main races were covered in this first wave and each race had its own style and their own pros and cons. The Elves had large fast galleys that were brittle in combat. The Dwarves were slower but had steam power so they weren’t dependent on the wind. The Orcs had ramshackle wrecks that caused havoc whenever they got into range. And so on.

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Game play was simple and introduced the idea of ships taking damage gradually over many turns before they sank, in many ways it was similar to the way Titans took damage in Epic.

In each turn players would firstly roll for initiative (this might also change wind direction) then there would be a magic phase if any fleets had a wizard on board, then would follow the action phase where players would alternatively activate a unit (maybe a squadron of smaller ships or one large ship) and they would move and then open fire if in range, or maybe try to board another ship and do some hand to hand combat. Then the other player activated a unit and so it went on until the end of a turn.

The shooting mechanic was simple, you would roll a number of dice if your guns were in range, declare if you were firing High or Low, then you would roll on the ships damage template and see which part of the ship you had hit, the enemy player would then roll a saving throw to see if the hit caused any damage, and each area that was damaged would cause an effect on the ship. This would continue until the ship was no longer able to fight or it had taken hits below the waterline that would sink it. There were rules for ramming, critical hits and fire and you could even board ships and try to capture them for victory points at the end of the game.

Later on in 1993 a supplement was released called ‘Plague Fleet’ which introduced the Chaos fleets to the game and in the following year the final supplement ‘Sea of Blood’ saw the light of day. Sea of Blood saw flying units join the various fleets as well as sea monsters that could appear during a game. New metal miniatures accompanied both releases and generally the standard of the minis was good, however it became clear that Man O’War was not generating the return that was expected and in 1995 it was removed from shelves and never sold again by Games Workshop.

In all the game lasted for 2 years, but fans being fans the legacy of the game went on, you can still pick up versions of the game on various sites but prices for some of the rarer miniatures are high as you would expect.

Last year I decided to dig out my old fleets and I took the game down my club and played it with a few mates. And it was a great night, sometimes we look back at old games with rose-tinted glasses on but honestly Man O’War was as much fun to play in 2012 as it was in 1993 and for that reason I always list it in my top 3 games of all time.

I think it’s fair to say that during the early 90’s Games Workshop were trying lots of new things and were trying to work out what kind of company they wanted to be. It was clear that board games and games like Man O’War didn’t really fit in with the long-term plan for the company, and over the rest of that decade we saw less new games being released and more releases of current games. They seemed to settle on some core games which would take them forward into the new millennium and some classics were lost.

It wasn’t all bad though as in 1999 we saw the release of another game, that I always thought of as the spiritual heir to Man O’War;  Battlefleet Gothic. It plays out like an early medieval naval game, ships can only shoot in very specific arcs of fire, you can ram other ships, you can carry out boarding actions, all of which you could do in Man O’War.

Twenty years since it came into being it’s still being played and I think that speaks volumes of its quality and pedigree.

Lizardmen Leaked Images

You can almost set your watch to shonky images making their way on to the Internet just prior to the Games Workshop releasing something.

Maybe it’s all part of a cunning marketing campaign, maybe staff are disgruntled or maybe a handful of brave souls are willing to risk life and limb to provide us with some sense of what the company wants us to buy. Like some sort of office bound Batman and Robin/Red Robin/Red Hood/Nightwing.

Anyway, apologies for the terrible quality but it gives a taste.

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Dramatis Personae

I’ve decided, as I can’t collect my Middenheim warband quite as quickly as I’d like, I’d write a dramatis personae for the heroes to keep the plastic-crack itch at bay, but mainly because it’d be fun and kinda nice to have that background to work with once I do get my grubby little mits on the toys in question. And so I give you…The von Braun Irregulars.

Count Kaiser von Braun

Count Kaiser von Braun was once one of Middenland’s most renowned generals. Raised in the town of Grossfurre at the edge of the Mirror Moors, von Braun ventured to the City of the White Wolf in search of a life of meaning in the ranks of the Imperial Army. A natural leader and master tactician, it didn’t take long for his prowess on the battlefield to catch the attention of the Swords of Ulric and although was inducted into their ranks he found their savagery on the battlefield distasteful. He remains the only person to leave their ranks by any means other than death on the battlefield or old age. But it was this decision that would see von Braun’s meteoric ascension through the ranks catching the eye of his liege lord, the Elector Count of Middenheim. Attached to the Elector Count’s personal guard he quickly found himself at the forefront of countless battles and attending councils of war that would otherwise be closed to him. The bold nature that saw him travel through the perils of the Drakwald alone as a youth and to leave the ranks of the Swords drove him to interject a number of times during such councils. Were it not for the merit of his strategies he’d have been flogged a dozen times over.
Such was the Elector Count’s faith in von Braun’s abilities, when he became the youngest General in Middenland’s history, he was not only given his own regiment but often given operational command of the Northern armies, heading councils of war and winning countless victories. But that’s not to say that von Braun was not a man of action. Indeed once battle was joined, he was oft found where the fighting was thickest, at the head of his regiment – the von Braun Irregulars - striking down his foes with a mighty warhammer.

von Braun’s prowess on the battlefield earned him the nickname Ironhide as nothing could seemingly fell the giant man despite sustaining a score of wounds over the years, many of which were dealt saving the Elector Count’s life. However all men’s luck eventually runs out and that was no less so than with von Braun. Taking command at the great gates of Middenheim during a Chaos incursion, into the lands of the Empire, von Braun was wounded by a deamonblade almost unto death. Only his iron will kept his body alive whilst other men’s souls would have fled instantly.

Although von Braun eventually recovered he was weakened and the world had moved on without him. An upstart general had taken command of his Irregulars in his absence and wasted their lives terribly. Determined to rebuild their number and regain his strength, his liege had other ideas, deciding that von Braun had served the Empire with courage and honour and deserved to live out the remainder of his days in peace. Although von Braun argued passionately that he was still a worthy member of the Imperial army, his liege would hear none of it and decreed that von Braun would be elevated to the position of Count and be returned to Grossfurre as it’s master and protector.

Upon arrival home, von Braun discovered a town at the mercy of Beastmen raiding parties, crops that could barely feed its people and tradesmen struggling to make coin.
With members of the, now, disbanded von Braun Irregulars gravitating towards Grossfurre in search of life with renewed purpose, von Braun immediately founded the Grossfurre Militia and set them upon the Beastmen lurking within the Drakwald. It took two years for the surrounding forests to finally be rid of the vile creatures and as the raids became less the town began to prosper. Forest was felled and more land made available for farms and businesses and with it the town’s coffers swelled and tithes began to flow to Middenheim along with a parade of fit and healthy young men schooled at the training ground that now serviced the entire Mirror Moors region.

However, von Braun was a man of action and peace sat ill with him. A life of mediating petty squabbles of his townspeople and tax collection bored him and he gradually took to drink to ease the passing of days spent in an office. So when word reached Grossfurre of the calamity that befell Mordheim and the tales of glory and riches that awaited all those brave enough to sally forth  into the ruins, von Braun knew that his chance to bring glory once more to Middenheim had arrived. Gathering together his finest warriors, he set off with barely a backwards glance.

Helmut Gruber

A hulking bear of a man, Helmut Gruber was a career soldier and in the first intake of men into von Braun’s Irregulars. Indeed, it was these first few fighting men who determined the regiments name as von Braun initially refused to take fresh recruits, choosing men only from regiments that were on the verge of disbanding due to casualties. As such every man jack of them were seasoned veterans from all over Middenhim, each with their combat experience and fighting style. The result on the field was devastating as no opposing general could accurately predict how the enemy units before him would respond to a charge. Helmut Gruber was one such veteran. Skilled with a bolas, Gruber was able to collapse enemy charges by felling unit champions and thus tripping those behind them, allowing Gruber to dispatch his foes with mighty swings of his ancient warhammer. A gift from his father and his father before, all the way back to an ancient ancestor who was honoured to a part of the White Wolf bodyguard for the Warrior God Sigmar. So the story goes, Sigmar forged hammers for each of his bodyguard as a symbol of the trust he shared with them.

It seems that protecting others is in the blood as von Braun’s predisposition for getting himself into some close scrapes lead to Helmut Gruber saving his general from many a grizzly death with a tell timed throw of his bolas or swing of his hammer. Although merely a sergeant, Gruber found himself forming a firm friendship with his commanding officer and was elevated to be his personal bodyguard. An imposing figure, it would only take a stern glance from Gruber to quell any agitator from saying the wrong thing or straying too close to von Braun. And if that didn’t work, hefting his gold capped warhammer usually did.

Much like von Braun, Helmut Gruber spent his entire life at war and was with von Braun at the gates of Middenheim when he was dealt the fateful blow. An injury that would lead to von Braun retirement and the Irregulars put in the hands of a fool. Gruber places the blame squarely on his own shoulders as he believes he failed in his duty to protect the General, despite being overrun himself with foul creatures of Chaos. The fact that either of them escaped alive from that section of the wall was surely only through the blessings of Ulric.

Following the von Braun Irregular’s disbanding, after the Disaster at Hangman’s Wood in Nordland, Gruber was unable to settle into civilian life despite being reunited with his wife and children after years apart. Vowing to make amends for the ill fate that he had brought upon the Irregulars and their former commander, he left his family and headed South for Grossefurre. Ulric, it seemed, had touched the souls of others as, as he journeyed South, he stumbled across former comrades also heading South for Grossefurre eager to have purpose in their lives once more.

When the rag-tag group of warriors entered the towns walls von Braun met them all as brothers and immediately formed them into the towns militia with Helmut Gruber at its head. Although deeply humbled by the honour, he accepted the position but none of the trappings that came with the title. Accepting only simple lodgings and food to sustain him, Gruber was determined to make amends for his failing by any means.

It was no surprise, then, when word reached Grossefurre of Mordheim’s fate that he immediately volunteered to accompany von Braun on his adventure, hoping to seek a glorious death in defence of his friend and master as only then will honour and Ulric would be satisfied.

Heidi von Braun

Kaiser von Braun fathered Heidi with a young widow of a Northern land baron, during a rare stint of leave. Although overjoyed when news reached von Braun he was to be a father, he made it clear that he would not play a part in his child’s life. He was a solider and duty left little room for family not to mention the fact that death was an ever-present companion and peril. He vowed to send a portion of his pay to the child’s mother so they need never be without, and with it letters detailing his adventures across the Empire and beyond so although they may never meet his child would know that he was a good man and his absence was for a noble reason.

As a result, Heidi von Braun grew up with a head full of adventures. Her father’s money was wasted as she consistently failed to attend her tutorials with private scholars, far happier to wander into the wilderness armed with a home-made spear and short bow. Countless times she was returned to her mother’s bosom at the hands of an Imperial patrol who had found her attempting to, and in most cases succeeding, slay a goblin or ungor. By the time she reached her teenage years, Heidi was a skilled hunter, an expert marksmen and adept with a blade. Helped in no small part by using her feminine charms on a number of local free company.

When her mother passed away suddenly of pneumonia she sought out her father in the hope of living the life of adventure she’d always dreamed. The reality was quite different. Granted an audience with von Braun she was horrified to discover the powerful man she’d always imagined, was now a drunk who had all but lost all zest for life. With nowhere else to go she resigned herself to honing her skills in the Drakwalds before travelling to Marienburg to sell her services as a mercenary.

In many ways, Heidi’s arrival brought von Braun back from the edge of the abyss as more and more of his time was taken up either attempting to school her and when she failed to turn up, seeking her out in the darkest parts of the Drakwalds. Heidi was also forced to re-evaluate her father when he single-handedly saved her as she fought for her life against three bestigors who had ambushed her whilst on a hunt. There was no denying that the overweight man was still a powerful and skilled warrior. von Braun too had to admit that Heidi was a capable warrior and resigned himself to rather than teaching her things that would set her up for marriage and a life of peace, he would teach her warcraft instead.

However, when news reached von Braun of Mordheim and with it rumours of great treasures and rare stones his mind was made up instantly. Heidi begged her father to let her go with him and had it been an other expedition he might of relented but he’d also heard other rumours. Tales of foul creatures, daemons cavorting in the streets and atrocities committed on men and women alike. Although he couldn’t stop his daughter from becoming a warrior, he could protect her from the horrors that awaited in the City of the Damned. Unbeknown to von Braun, however, Heidi was an expert tracker and setting off two days after him, she soon had his trail and was following him all the way to Mordheim and glory.

Ana Vass – Lady in Waiting

Ana Vass had led an unremarkable life prior to Heidi von Braun’s arrival. As with all women of Middenland she was hardy and skilled with a sword, but her lot in life was little more than darning socks and repairing slacks for her father and twelve brothers as they worked the land and hunted. When Kaiser von Braun arrived and moved into the long abandoned manor on the edge of the town she went there in search of work. Life for Ana wasn’t much more exciting within the walls of the Manor but it gave her a wage, she was free to use the manors library and was granted leave to explore outside pursuits. When his daughter arrived in Grossefurre Count von Braun assigned Ana to her daughter as lady in waiting. Wherever his daughter went she was to follow. As much to report back to him any transgressions as much to assist his daughter.

However, Heidi’s penchant for exploration and tendency to get herself into life threatening situations meant that within days of meeting the von Braun daughter Ana had killed an ungor that sought to attack Heidi whilst she did battle with its herd brother. Grudgingly impressed by Ana, Heidi began covertly teaching her sword craft. This was as much for Heidi’s survival as it was for Ana’s as Heidi identifying the benefits of having an able companion, even if she was on her father’s employment.

Ana’s abilities quickly grew through Heidi’s teachings and from watching the men train in the militia barracks that Count von Braun had ordered built in the years since coming to the town. Although Heidi was unparalleled with a spear and black powder weapons, Ana was adept with twin short swords and her smaller frame and greater agility meant that she was one of the few that could get past Heidi’s guard. Despite the social gulf between them they became friends and their excursions into the forest became ever more frequent and daring even to the point when Count von Braun has had to come to their aid.

When Heidi made her decision to follow her father, Ana had preempted the lady’s wishes and already her things ready, along with her own. Heidi initially refused to allow Ana to come but realised that she, like Heidi herself, would simply follow her anyway she relented, realising that a companion on such a treacherous journey would be no bad thing.

Erasmus Klocke

A hot-headed but capable warrior, Erasmus Klocke was a ferocious man both on and off the battle. Despite being a capable tactician, his overly pious nature meant that he never rose beyond the rank and file in no small part to his consist admonishment of the men in his unit him for their lack of faith in Sigmar. And in Middenheim such talk sat ill. Were it not for his prowess in a fight he probably would have been met with an ‘accident’.

When the von Braun Irregulars disbanded Klocke wandered Middenland offering his services as both preacher and blacksmith in exchange for food and lodging. Klocke believed that manual labour regardless of one’s higher calling kept the soul pure and grounded, far away from the lofty dillusions of grandeur that befalls so many men. Eventually his travels brought him to Grossefurre and was elated to find many of his old comrades in a uniform startlingly similar to that of their old regiment.

When Erasmus Klocke was presented to von Braun by Helmut Gruber, he was saddened to see what had become of old Ironhide and instantly knew that coming to Grossefurre was Sigmar’s will. Despite von Braun’s better judgement he allowed the self-appointed warrior priest to stay within the town and the zealot immediately set about constructing a temple to Sigmar and a smithy, within which he forged himself two new hammers one named Kampf the other Glauben. With these hammers in his hands he’d preach to the masses of the virtues of sacrifice and duty, always keeping one eye on the door to see if von Braun would return to his true path. Every day, when von Braun failed to show, Klocke would walk across town to the manor and enter von Braun’s offices and ask his former General if he had anything to confess. And every day he got the same answer; Many things, priest, but not today.
It was this simple act of charity towards von Braun that no doubt kept Klocke from having any unfortunate accidents whenever he dumped into his former brothers in arms. Although Kampf and Glauben were always within reach should they need reminding of his martial abilities.

When von Braun announced his intention to travel to Mordheim Klocke insisted on coming. To the surprise of the entire party von Braun immediately agreed claiming that his abilities as a warrior and a smithy would be invaluable to the expedition but with a wry smile Klocke accepted his place knowing full well that before the end he would hear von Braun’s confession.