Tuesday, 7 June 2011

The Warhammer Strikes back

Pedich Edhellen? ah... probably not.
This is my first blog and as the title suggests it's all about Elves. Not the cute midget fairy types, the more Germanic mythological interpretation - a race of divine beings empowered with magic (and of course fairy like pointed ears)! Yes I'm a fantasy freak and now a war-gaming geek.

I, like many before me, probably have J.R.R Tolkien to thank for my unhealthy obsession with elves; further reinforced by my D&D playing parents. In 1989 they introduced me to HeroQuest - a table top board game where 4 adventurers set forth to explore and conquer a monster ridden dungeon. I being 9 at the time always wanted the play as the Barbarian, a tall muscular fellow holding a rather large broadsword... cool! I called my Barbarian 'Axon'.
 A strange name now I think about it. I think it was my nick-name in the He-Man fan club, but it seems a strange fate that I ended up in a Neuro-imaging career. Anyway I digress...
I soon learnt that rushing ahead with Axon and taking on gargoyles alone spelled ultimate doom. My dad (who usually played the role of the gamesmaster) seemed very empathic towards me (or realised I wouldn't play again) and Axon was quite often resurrected to fight another day. Soon I got bored of Axon, running up to Orcs only to be cut down time and time again. As I got older my eyes wondered to characters who could stand back, shoot at the bad-guys from a distance, and run away if the action got too intense. The Wizard and the Elf. The wizard, with his low hit points, was far to puny for my tastes so I went for the Elf and never looked back (except to run away from those Orcs).

The elf was graceful, quick and carried a rather smashing looking longbow. My obsession with elves escalated. I even went to archery class at the local comprehensive with my Dad to shoot some arrows! 3 years later in 1992 (some 19 years ago now - gee am I that old) Games Workshop released the 4th Edition of Warhammer:

A game of fantasy battles between races that occupied the old world. The box art depicted a massive elven force taking on some green-skins. Turning the box over showed that it comprised of some rather nice looking elven archer and spearmen models to pit against their goblin foe equivalent. As I was now a 'geeky' teenager (and now salivating) I just had to buy it straight away. I had taken my first steps into wargaming. But I never made it to the top of the flight...

I was daunted by the prospect of painting nearly 100 models. They were so small with lots of intricate detail. My patience was to thin as a teenager. If ever I slipped with the paintbrush I got so annoyed that the entire miniature had to covered as quickly as possible with black paint. I think I managed to finish painting 1 elf before getting bored when realising my attempt didn't look as good as those depicted in the game brochures. I still played the occasional game of Warhammer after school, with my friend, at the GW shop in Wolverhampton but my attention was waning because I just couldn't paint to the standard I wanted to.

I recently dug out that sole elf... maybe I kept him to torture my inner geek, a permanent reminder that I could never paint an entire army good enough to grace the battle fields of Ulthuan:

In 1994 with the release of Blood Bowl I thought my wargamming days were over. I liked the small table top board games, they were quick, simple and involved a whole lot fewer miniatures and dice! My boardgaming hobby continued and developed through my University years. I abandoned Games Workshop and I discovered Euro-games in the early naughties - (see www.boardgamegeek.com). I quite often played games like Settler's of Catan while consuming incalculable amounts of cheap-ass whiskey - mainly to forget my PhD woes. As my University chums departed for pastures new I still wanted my gaming fix. I scoured the Internet looking for like minded individuals. One day in 2008 it paid off and I found a board game group that met in Darnall, Sheffield. I posted on their forum and one cold October Tuesday night decided to give the group a try. Of course I took some friends with me... just in case they turned out to be nutters! They weren't.

Over the following year during my many visits the board gaming club several people from a mysterious GIMPS club turned up. They talked of their wargaming exploits and even invited me to play Blood Bowl (hey wait a minute I use to really enjoy that game - people still play it?). The dull wargaming light at the back of my mind sparked into life. It took another few years and a Baby (maybe to escape my parenting duty) before I accepted the offer and entered the GIMPS den.

I still don't know why the club is called the GIMPS! Maybe I never will.

I sat playing my blood bowl games as part of a 2010 league. Around me people were fielding grand armies against each other. Orc, Skaven, Ogre, Lizardmen, Dwarfs and even ELVES. Rolling 20+ 6-sided die and generally having fun - even with large unpainted forces. I wanted a piece of the action. That light was burning ever so bright. I learnt through various conversation with club members that in 2010 Games Workshop were releasing the 8th Edition of Warhammer - Elves vs Skaven. I snapped it up - able to combine the Elves from the 4th edition with these new miniatures. The miniatures had come on a long way since the early 90s. Much more detailed than before. Different poses for the individual models within a unit, it looked beautiful. I dug out some of my old miniatures and was intent on finally painting and fielding a fantasy eleven army.

The later I have done on 3 occasions now... in all 3 battles I have lost. But this hasn't quelled my desire to get back into wargaming. The former is the reason for this blog. The club is starting a White Dwarf'esk 'Tale of 4 gamers' competition. The idea is to paint a set target of miniatures each month then score each other for completion of the target/paint job/conversions etc. I like others entering am hoping this will keep my enthusiasm alive past its initial charge. I will be posting my completed paint jobs up on this blog for others to see.

Baby number 2 has arrived but I am still hoping with 1-2 hours a night I will be able to meet the goals set...

Lets see how it goes.

For now...


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