AoS: Arisen From the Grave (Again)

One of the mini projects I worked on last year was a Vampire Counts/ Deathrattle army that I've been on again, off again for almost two decades.  Since I'm such a wonderful army painter I found it easier to chip away at the larger force ten models at a time between other small projects.  The turnaround on small groups of figures is quick, and gives me a some sense of accomplishment, yet small enough I'm not sick of repeating the same scheme.

I've tried to paint more than a couple versions of this army over the years.  In addition to the usual, painting an army stigma there are some other issue I'd encountered that proved to be a more serious stumbling block in the project's progression.  Colour is integral to the identity and themes of an army.  I'm  guilty of trying repeatedly and believing a black and red scheme would work.  It didn't.  Not the first, second or possibly the third time ( I tried to replace that red with an equally awful purple actually).  I think it failed for me because red and black were too bold.  Strong colours work well with vampires and, "important" models but my risen dead suffered from the selection and didn't gel with an army risen from the earth (or a dusty crypt).   Once I accepted my poor choice of colours my eyes settled on those repulsive square bases.

I hate those things.  There is something more pleasing to me about a model on round base.  It could be a bias relating recognition of perfection of the shape.  More likely it's the number of times I've put together what I thought was a dynamic pose only to discover the model is driving his sword up the other guys ass, or rubbing up against the skeleton in the next rank.  I had such difficulty ranking up models I had to put numbers and letters for rank and file on most troops in infantry blocks.  Setting up each regiment out of the case was like jigsaw puzzle torture.  I was surprised how low the rate of attrition was as I hacked unpainted skeletal legions off of their squared prisons with my trusty Olfa cutter then transplanted them to rounds and from there it only got better.    

It's taken a while but I played around with dialing back the red and replacing the black with a deep blue.  Both changes produced a more, "worn" effect.  The coloured cloth still doesn't look like it's been buried underground for ages but the more muted colours suggest it better while still providing a striking colour scheme.  The blue and red violet are nearly harmonies and play together much better than a true red and non colour black.  Painting black in general presents it's own challenges and painting black well involves working with a lot of blue to suggest depth and volume.  Opting for a blue killed the proverbial middle man, and eliminated the potential for an inconsistent colour scheme over the course of painting the whole army.  I take so long to paint whole armies I doubt I could keep the ratios consistent across that many palettes of paint.

I like wights, grave guards or whatever Games Workshop is calling them now.  Regular skeletons are jobbers but the horror of interred warriors arising from beneath their cairns in ancient armour has always been cool to me.  My favorite miniatures on the undead Blood Bowl squad in the 90s were the wights .  In Warhammer the metal grave guard and black knights were awesome if dated by today's standards.  The plastic kits that make up the range now took most of those cool lines of those classic models and rendered them in such a way that they are without contest my favorite army of models in the game.  When I look at a range of figures and can say, "It's all awesome apart from those shitheel zombies"  I consider that a sweet endorsement, and I invite GW to quote me.

This latest undead project started somewhere in the middle of 2017.  I've had four mini paint projects involving the army mixed in between other models.  Having completed the latest run this month I'm close to models all said and done with some skeletons, growing blocks of grave guard and a unit of calvary.  I've been focusing the models I want to be the core of the army and have a ways to go but if I keep at it and manage to get my units bulked out I can kick back and have fun finishing the army with porn units and badass characters.

A non bone model to confirm I could make the scheme work through rest of army.


  1. Way back in the 1990's when I played "Warhammer" one of my favourite armies was my Vampire Counts' undead army. As a consequence, I really love what you've done with your own Vampire Count's army. The colour scheme you have chosen works very well for them. I like the idea of having all of your figures on circular or oval bases. Also, I can't believe GW are still selling those absolutely awful plastic zombies - the worst sculpts ever!

    1. It's been my on again/off again army since the 90s too Bryan even if I never played a full sized game in all those years. This time around though! A new zombie kit based on the corpse cart walker would be well received. I'd buy them for this army, Frostgrave, a charnel pit terrain project and accoutrements for some more Night Lords.

  2. They look awesome. I must admit I do prefer round bases and used to hate it back when I use to have multipart plastics that wouldn't rank up or like the High Elves and Goblins from the first Warhammer boxed set that had to be off set to form a square formation or put in there slottas diagonally looking really odd!

    1. Easily my worst memory of trying to build Warhammer models. It seemed there was a direct correlation between how pleased I was with the adjusted miniature and how badly it integrated with the remainder of the unit. Keeping this project, "slow burn" has helped with actually working on it. I've had a, "Vampiric Joan Crawford" sitting in the wings for ages (I made her for Mordheim) and saw an amazing Wight King on horse that was proof of concept for me so hopefully when I bring out some more dead these characters will feature.


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