Friday, 25 April 2014


'Twas the night before, 
When all through the world, 
No words, no dreams then one day, 
A writer by a fire, 
Imagined all Gia, 
Took a journey into a child-man's heart, 
A painter on the shore, 
Imagined all the world, 
Within a snowflake on his palm, 
Unframed by poetry, 
A canvas of awe, 
Planet Earth falling back into the stars 

And with that I present to you my newly finished troupe of Wood Elf Wardancers. With background!

Wardancer Troupe: The Dark Passion Play

"Valour child, never lose your heart. Embrace your inner spark, your truest passions, that what makes you different, and never let others extinguish it."

Those who call themselves the Dark Passion Play are one of the two most prominent Wardancer troupes that hail from the Meadows of Heaven. Like all their kind, they are considered wild and eccentric by other elves, however in the Meadows of Heaven Wardancers, or at least the Wardancers that come from there, are heavily romanticised, and the wild, daring and exotic Wardancer is a common character in the storytelling of the Meadows of Heaven, either as the focus of exciting adventures or as a love interest who tempts the hero or heroine into their troupe (whether or not they are successful, and whether this is shown to be a good thing or not, varies greatly from tale to tale). Many of the Wardancers that originate from the Meadows of Heaven find this highly amusing, and it is not uncommon for them to act out such roles for auciences.

All elves in the Meadows of Heaven cherish uniqueness and individual identity, especially in recent times, however none express this value more than those in the Dark Passion Play. All it's members try to foster originality wherever they can, and will not hesitate to stand against those who prey on difference. Belittling another for their individuality is a very fast way to earn their wrath, and their anger is a fearsome thing indeed.

Many of those in the Dark Passion Play originate from within or around the Glade of Poppies, or otherwise have close ties with those who do, and so as well as being extremely well educated and knowledgeable even by the standards of elves, they also have a deep connection with the province. As such, when it was decimated during Cyanathair's first assault on Athel Loren, the troupe was left just as devastated as those who resided within the province. The Dark Passion Play was one of the units that led the counter-attack against the Beastmen horde that had ravaged the Glade of Poppies, and their fury and the acts of violence they unleashed on the invaders was terrifying to behold, with none surviving their vicious attacks. Afterwards they worked tirelessly with the survivors to rebuild the shattered province, and even now they are even more utterly without mercy than other Wood Elves in slaying the children of Chaos. Indeed, many of the weapons they wield are the same ones that were used by the great heroes of the Glade of Poppies that fell in it's defence, and the two Mayspears they carry with them are made from the shattered wood of the fallen banners of that battle, so that they might always remember the sacrifices and deeds of that day, so that it might never be repeated, and so that the fallen heroes of it may yet be avenged.

Like the other Wardancer troupes that come from the Meadows of Heaven, the Dark Passion play has a very decentralised leadership structure. While it does possess a Bladesinger who nominally provides leadership and guidance for the troupe, in practice most decisions are made collectively as an ensemble, which ensures both that all are in agreement on them, and that the troupe can still act effectively if tragedy befalls it's Bladesinger. Indeed, the troupe's musician has equal authority and status within the troupe, allowing it to split into two parties if need-be and remain fully capable. Both figures each carry a weapon known as a Mayspear, a long spear decorated with precious gemstones and adorned with long flowing colourful streamers used in battle, dance and the worship of Loec, to denote their position in the troupe, and whoever carries a Mayspear carries leadership and responsibility for the troupe with them.

With their skill, daring and flair, the Dark Passion Play is ever at the forefront of the Meadows of Heaven.

And the other bit of background I wrote for my Eternal Guard. 

Eternal Guard: The Defenders of the Glade of Poppies 

Of all the provinces of the Meadows of Heaven, few have a history more tragic than that of the Glade of Poppies.

Once the Glade of Poppies was the crown jewel of the Meadows of Heaven, second only to the capital of Imaginaerum in wonder and magnificence. It was a centre of learning, knowledge and academia, and was filled with some of the wisest minds in the Meadows of Heaven, and indeed in all of Athel Loren, and countless scholars and wise souls could be found within it, passing their knowledge on and studying the world around them ever more. It's name came from the great blood red poppies that grew in the grass of it's clearings and meadows, which were left to grow free, and grew to be extremely tall, some even getting to be taller than the elf children that played around them. Some of the greatest and fairest Wishmasters of the Meadows of Heaven came from there, and all studied in the Glade of Poppies at one point or another, while the advancements and knowledge of those who dwelt there was put to good use in bettering the lives of all who resided in the Meadows of Heaven.

It was during the first attack Cyanathair made against Athel Loren, at the very start of the Secret War, that saw the Glade of Poppies left in ruins, as the glade became the site of one of the fiercest and bloodiest of all those fought in the Meadows of Heaven. Upon hearing word of the Glade of Poppies and it's splendour, The Corruptor became filled with rage and hatred, and it sent a titanic horde of Beastmen and terrible monstrosities to raze and despoil the province. The Glade of Poppies was by no means defenceless however, and massed rank upon rank of Eternal Guard stood against the onslaught, supported by hundreds of elven archers. Initially the battle went well for the Wood Elves, and thousands of Beastmen and their vile allies were slain, struck down by arrows or cut down in a maelstrom of blades. Warhawk Riders harried at their flanks, while Waywatchers silently infiltrated into the heart of the enemy before felling the leaders of the force, plunging whole regiments of beasts into brutal chaos as they fought to determine a new leader, neutralising giant swathes of the enemy army with just a few well placed shots. But still the horde pressed on, seemingly without number. The decisive turning point of the battle came when the strange shamans that accompanied the horde managed to work a great and horrific spell. With tremendous power fuelled by the carnage and bloodshed unfolding around them, they managed to temporarily tear a hole between worlds, and from it poured a host of creatures born from nightmares and forged in total Chaos, new re-enforcements that appeared directly behind the elven lines. Caught between the two forces, the Wood Elves were trapped and the battle was lost. Still, the elves fought on with the courage of true heroes, and slew scores of Beastmen and Daemons alike, but the combined forces arrayed against them were too large to fully overcome, and eventually only twenty Eternal Guard warriors remained, the tattered remnants from different regiments banded together for a final stand, and they fought back to back against the overwhelming tide until all became blood and darkness.

When they awoke the next morning, they were in the centre of the Glade of Poppies, surrounded by blood, bodies, ash and destruction. The horde that had assailed the place was gone, but the Glade of Poppies was devastated. Countless trees had been cut down, burnt, or torn apart. Spites lay pinned up with nails and spikes of hell-forged black iron, their forms broken and mutilated. Sacred stones lay toppled and desecrated. The air was thick with choking cinders..... and every single one of the great poppies from which the province gained it's name had been cut down, stamped on, or razed.

As they saw the desolation, their hearts were filled with despair and grief, for their homes and their world had been torn from them and shattered. And so it was that they vowed that never again while they still drew breath would the poppies be allowed to be cut down again.

Since those dark times the Glade of Poppies has been healed, and blood red poppies once again grow free within it, though none have yet reached the height they once were. Even so, the damage wrought in that fateful battle has left lasting scars amongst the Asrai of the Meadows of Heaven, and it is likely that they will never forgive themselves or the minions of Chaos for it. The Battle of the Glade of Poppies is one of the most common stories told by the Wardancer troupes that come from the Meadows of Heaven, and through them and the storytelling nature of the Asrai that live within that territory knowledge of that great combat has spread to other parts of Athel Loren.

The Defenders of the Glade of Poppies is the regiment formed from the original twenty survivors of the battle of the Glade of Poppies, now formally organised as a single fighting unit. Having fought together side by side for many, many years, they have grown to become a fearsome fighting unit, with each member having full knowledge of the capabilities, strengths and idiosyncrasies of their comrades, allowing them to work together seamlessly to form something far greater than the sum of it's parts. The banner they carry into battle, the Banner of Poppies, is the only banner that did not fall in the battle of the Glade of Poppies, and was waved defiantly at the heart of the defence until the bitter end. It holds considerable magical properties, and is believed to be a legendary Razor Standard, as it hones the blades near it to supernatural sharpness, allowing them to shear through armour and thick hide alike with contemptuous ease. The Forrest has not forgotten the promise that they made so many years ago, and seems to have bestowed upon them some form of mystical fortitude, for they have been seen to survive grievous wounds that would have surly killed another elf. In addition, wherever they step foot blood red poppies, of the same variety that grow in the Glade of Poppies, have been known to spring up and grow, seemingly in reminder of their pledge and duty.

As well as their normal duties as a unit of Eternal Guard, the Defenders of the Glade of Poppies also act, in times of peace, as the main police force within the Meadows of Heaven, patrolling the territory and inspecting elven halls to ensure no Asrai causes strife and that the tenants of the Wishmaster are met. Their heritage and upbringing in the Glade of Poppies puts them in good stead for this role, as it gives them an extensive knowledge of the laws and traditions of the Meadows of Heaven.

And then because it's Saturday here's a short background piece I wrote in response to the new Wood Elf release. 

A piercing cold wind gusted through the trees, bringing amber and crimson leaves dancing across the icy clear sky, a vast open canvas upon which was now painted the comely pinks and oranges of a serenely stunning and wholesome sunset, contrasted by the darkened shapes of the trees below. A few clouds the colour of caramel dozed across the firmament above. Though the scene was fair in fullest, to the grouped figures in the royal conclave glade the blood and flame coloured foliage that surrounded them also had a much more ominous, almost funereal tone to it. After all, it was a clear sign to all that Autumn was here, and that Winter was fast approaching, when trees and forest spirits lay dormant, and flowers and plants died. Even worse, Winter was the nadir of the great forest's power, and a long period of constant danger when it was at it's most vulnerable. The matters they were discussing only served to compound this feeling.

At the head of the circle, or at least the point of it closest to the grand Royal Hall, was Maxamaron, Wishmaster of the Meadows of Heaven, resplendent in his golden armour and the rich deep green of his Lorenweave Royal cloak. His Bow of Loren and it's accompanying quiver of Arcane Bodkins was slung across his back, for it was common practice for all Asrai to keep their bows close to them, lest danger come unexpectedly. Around the Wishmaster's head was the small and delicately slender crown of the Meadows of Heaven, and at his side was the magnificent King's Longsword, carried by every Wishmaster in the long history of the Meadows of Heaven. To the Wishmaster's left was the imposing form of his protector Gaerielle, her Spear of Twilight close at hand and her eyes constantly probing for hidden threats. To the Wishmaster's right was his royal standard bearer Moni'qeth, the current royal battle standard of the Meadows of Heaven firmly planted in the ground just behind her.

Opposite of them were the four governing mages of the Fey Glades and the Celestial Heath, representing the combined wisdom and power of the magic wielders in the Meadows of Heaven. Two of them, Aneaeth Ollissin, their leader, and Tirj'aelle Taerynen of the Winter Storm, both had flowing hair of a deep earthy brown, while the other two of their company, Char'loth Wyssyls of the April Rain and Ailyn, their newest member, had tresses of richest red. Ailyn was furthest away from the other three, close to the enormous verdant form of Avyrrnhan, one of the greatest Tree Lords that remained in the Meadows of Heaven. Though he still did his best to stand fully upright, the fatigue that the coming Winter brought with it was taking it's toll on the ancient treeman, and so occasionally he was forced to rest upon his massive forearms for a time. The Cluster of Radiants that dwelt upon him now circled his head like a wondrous glowing halo.

To either side of these two parties were other great lords and important figures in the Meadows of Heaven, Mir'q'arielle the Traveller, huddled within her cloak of Eagle down, Kaeron perched upon her shoulder, and a representative of the Great Eagles of the Meadows of Heaven perched majestically in the trees above. Opposite them was the lone and shadowed form of Saiyereth, the master of the Waywatchers in the Meadows of Heaven. A few spites played and danced about the assembly, but most of the forest spirits there huddled close to their hosts or companions, for there seemed to be little to be joyful about. All those taking part in the meeting or paying attention to it had sombre, haunted expressions to them.

"I did not fathom such a thing possible, but it seems even worse than we feared, if what the birds tell us and what our sentinels are witnessing is indeed true." Said Saiyereth.

"And yet all throughout Athel Loren they are celebrating," added Mir'q'arielle, "All across the forest Asrai and spirit alike are joined in great festivals. They welcome these new turns and twists with open arms, and laud them as miraculous. Ambitious plans of battle and warfare are being drawn up, and vast new armies raised. They act almost with the joy of two deep lovers reunited after much time apart. They are eager for these new fortunes."

"Yet while they do the Meadows of Heaven look upon these new changes with terror and despair," the Wishmaster said, "We see only damnation where they see salvation, however much we may gain from the coming developments."

"The spirits here are most disturbed by the new elder ones awaking," began Avyrrnhan, "They have been completely changed and twisted, and I no longer recognise them as kindred. There is something.... uncanny..... about them. Something dangerous. Something frightening. It feels like something is missing from them, some spark or seed. The other spirits of the Forrest and their companions may praise them, but not I. Not we."

"I concur," replied the Wishmaster, "They are indeed unnerving, and do not feel as though they belong here. But many of the Forrest Spirits avoid this place where they can, so I do not feel as troubled by them."

A flurry of spites rushed towards Ailyn and settled close around the spellsinger, nestling amongst the Pageant of Shrikes on her. "There is more cause for concern than just that my lord," she said, "There's also the Spites. Hundreds upon hundreds of them are fleeing into our realm, driven here by fear greater than that they have of you. It's these changes, they terrify them. They fear they will be swept up by them and fade into nothingness or uselessness. Mischievous they may be, they love nothing more than to help the forest and it's denizens in the end. They do not wish to go away. They are frightened."

"They need not worry Ailyn," said the Wishmaster, "They will always find refuge and sanctuary here. Even if the other elves forget their importance, we will forever value their power."

"Very good." Said Avyrrnhan, "It is... good to see that even with the rot at your core you still hold respect for the children of the Forrest."

"The most dire news of all," Aneaeth said, "Is that of the changing magical landscape. It would seem that other Asrai are eschewing the traditional channels of magical power, and turning to the outsider lores of magic. I'm not sure which frightens me more, that they dabble in the shadow and death magic of the Beastmen vermin, or that they experiment with the unholy power of the dark magic practised by the Druchii. Either would certainly spell doom for the Forrest, and these new magic practices threaten to wreak havoc upon it's balance. Already we can feel the shudders of pain they are starting to bring to it."

"I find it odd," Char'loth added, "That the other Asrai sing praise of new freedom, while their rejection of the old ways may actually mean less of it with the loss of the lore of Athel Loren that it brings with it. I believe that the preservation of the knowledge of the Lore of Athel Loren be given high priority."

"Agreed." replied the Wishmaster.

"And yet," said Tirj'aelle, "We may gain something from this. Without the restrictions, we could harness more of the natural power in the greater world." Of the four mages, Tirj'aelle was always the one with the closest affinity to the firmament, stargazing and scrying. She was excited about the thought of studying the lore of the Heavens and unlocking it's power.

"No." responded Aneaeth, "Such a prospect is too dangerous, and the loss of the magic of Athel Loren and Treesinging is far too steep a cost for it."

"What is our course of action then?" asked Saiyereth.

"They have shown they will not listen to us," said Gaerielle, "We should respond with force, and retaliate against those who would seek to pervert our ways. Our forces are capable enough."

"No," responded the Wishmaster, "Even if we could win a war against all the rest of Athel Loren, they are not our enemies. We must keep our focus on the true adversaries, those outside who seek to despoil the forest."

"I would not rule out diplomacy just yet Wishmaster," said Mir'q'arielle, "I could journey to the Oak of Ages and parley with Ariel. With her connection to the forest, it's sorrow at the touch of these insidious new magics must surely be being felt by her. It may still be possible to convince her to our plight."

"I doubt that she will be swayed, but it is certainly worth a try," said the Wishmaster, "Make it so. Venture to the Oak of Ages, Mir'q'arielle, and investigate just what is happening to the forest. Take any who wish to join you back to the Meadows of Heaven."

"It shall be done Wishmaster."

"in the meantime, our concerns must as ever be for the people of this territory."

"The people are frightened Wishmaster," Saiyereth said, "They fear we may have to give up our ways of life. They fear they may be in danger."

"They will be safe," replied the Wishmaster, "We will see to their safety, though it may mean that we must sever some of our ties with the rest of Athel Loren. We shall of course continue to hunt those who would seek to harm the forest, but it may have to be in even more secret then it is now. It seems our deeds may never be recorded in the Hall of Honours."

"Unsung heroes." said Gaerielle.

"Even so our actions may yet be remembered," Moni'qeth said, "The Glade of Poppies keeps a well preserved and recoded archive, and the Wardancers of this territory are ever ready to tell our tales. They will certainly be glad to tell our stories to the rest of the forest."

"Indeed," said the Wishmaster, "If indeed there remains a forest to tell them to."

The Wishmaster looked up and contemplated the Eventide. "It feels as though this world is dying," he said, "And as though we are powerless to stop it. With these new changes, it seems more than ever that we may be trapped between worlds."

"Despair not," Moni'qeth said, "We will fight to preserve what we treasure, even if it is never witnessed."

A flight of ebony ravens cried as they flew across the glade. Their harsh calls sent a shiver down the assembly, and their hearts skipped a beat. All those who dwelt in Athel Loren knew of the blood-eyed shrikes that were one of the forms taken by the Lamentation of Despairs. If they were reaper spirits however, none of the party fell, so for whom they called for it could not be told.

"Now then," said the Wishmaster, "let us see about containing the threat of this new magic.." 

Finally, my fledgling Wood Elf army had it's first outing in the local Games Workshop store yesterday. I didn't get any games in with it, but I did manage to set it all out on an unused table to show it off. 

Friday, 18 April 2014

A Wild Ride Through The Night

Scavius's armoured boots slammed against the shattered pavement as he thundered down the street. Although it was deep in the night, the darkness around him was scattered by the flickering bursts and glows of flames and explosions, playing out beneath an audience of a hundred thousand stars that filled the inky sky above, seated amongst the dull clouds and watched over by the two moons of the world Scavius was currently on. 

It was a Cardinal World, situated in the vast wilderness of the galaxy's east. Sanctus Espirtus was what the slaves of the Corpse God had christened it. It was an old world, and like it's sibling planets much of it's surface was covered by titanic cathedrals, abbeys, chapels and other edifices to the pathetic faith these wretched humans followed. The streets, like the one Scavius was running down now, were cobbled and lined with an unending stream of famous figures of their dogma. Many had already been defaced or toppled. The rest would join them in time, but for now there were still enemies to focus on. 

Though it had negligible value as anything more than a symbol, the False Emperor's minions had already begun to pour onto it in it's defence. They were still mostly lowly soldiery from the Imperial Army, but an enormous force of the fanatical elite guard of the Imperial Church that held dominion over this world had also made planetfall. Scavius had clashed with elements of them before, and he had relished the experience. He longed to hunt them once more. 

Scavius was not without allies either however. Indeed, the warband of Night Lords which he belonged to had been drawn to the conflict as support for the gigantic crusade of Word Bearers that had first assaulted the world. Scathius sneered with contempt at the thought of them. For all their numerical size they were still blind fools who slaved away to uncaring entities. Like all of his brethren, Scavius knew the truth - to follow any form of faith, to submit to anything other than oneself, was nothing more than weakness. Power was all that mattered, and power could only be gained first hand, by tearing it from others. It would not be handed over by some great being or creature. 

A band of mortal soldiers had appeared at an intersection ahead. They were setting up a gunline, but with his enhanced senses Scavius had already seen the palor of their faces, the quiver in their step. Their fear was almost palpable, and when the guardsmen finally started firing it showed in how their timid shots streaked straight past Scavius and his squad, those sporadic few that hit harmlessly glancing their ancient power armour. As the Night Lords closed with their new quarry, they made sure to live up to their nightmarish impression. 

"We've come for you!" They bellowed, the various distorted voices that left the external speakers on their power armour merging together in a hellish twisted echoing cacophony. At once they followed it by unleashing a torrent of shells from their boltguns. Several Guardsmen were reduced to tattered bloody ribbons of shredded flesh and smashed flack plating by the impacts, but the majority were simply maimed by the barrage. They were the unlucky ones. Moments after the last few boltgun shells hit, Scavius and his squad barrelled into the midst of the Imperials, knives drawn. Scavius shivered with ecstasy as he left his mark upon the new victims, taking much pride in how he found new creative ways to carve them apart. He marvelled in the terrified screams they gave. One of the other members of Scavius's squad opened up his flamer on the weaklings, unleashing a magnificent roaring cascade of burning chemicals that sent them reeling and screaming, fleeing wildly in circles as their forms burned. 

Once they had finished their work, the Night Lords made sure to proudly display their latest masterpieces, splaying the mutilated bodies of their adversaries across the statues that lined the road, as a message to both friend and foe, before continuing along the street. Above them the Raptors that accompanied their warband leapt from spire to spire, blazing trails from their jump-packs streaking against the sky. Occasionally a battered corpse fell from their lofty perches as they forged their own bloody carnage through the district. In the distance, Scavius could hear the roaring engines of the warband's bikers as they sped through the city. The Corpse God's feeble minions could not stop them. 

Scavius laughed inside his armour. The night was young, and the night belonged to them. 

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Nothing Left

Alright. I was hoping not to have to write something like this, not for a good long while yet (though perhaps that was where I went wrong. Hope, as they say, is the first step on the road to disappointment). I was wishing that I could continue being nice and happy and positive in this blog for at least another month or so. I certainly didn't want to have to write about this particular subject for a long long time. But.. well.. I just can't take it any more. Sometimes you just need to say some things, and get them off your chest, so that they don't keep eating you up inside. This is one of those times.

In case you haven't seen, Games Workshop has just updated their webpage. It's a new, clean look, and in my opinion it exemplifies all that was wrong with the last one. What little was left of article content, and even the daily news piece has been removed, and the entire site has been reconfigured into a giant store. The most painful thing for me though, was seeing the now gutted scenery section.

But that's not what I'm writing this ..... opinion..... rant.... venting..... cry..... thing.. about. No, no. The new website was just the flashpoint, the final straw that broke the Camel's back. The real crux of what this will be about, the real roots of why I'm so heartbroken at the moment, go back much, much deeper.

I first started feeling this way earlier last year, when Games Workshop stopped selling models for it's old Specialist Games ranges. I will probably seem like some overly sensitive little crybaby wuss for saying this, but I really was completely devastated by it. But eventually that feeling faded in time... until a couple of weeks ago, after I managed to rescue a couple of character models from Games Workshop's now sadly gutted Bretonnian range for Warhammer Fantasy. I held them in my hands, and all of a sudden all that same heartbreak came rushing back up to the surface. Then it was only amplified when, while procrastinating about writing an essay for university, I decided to take a trip down memory lane, opened up the Wayback Machine, and loaded up Forgeworld's old website from around 2005-2006ish, and looked on in horror at just how many of the models there were that I used to adore but no longer exist on the site.

See, what happened then, just like when the Specialist Games began disappearing, was that I felt one of my dreams die. I'm not sure if you have ever felt such a thing before, and in the same way, but I personally can thing of few things more agonising than having a dream die.

If you've managed to get this far, I imagine you are very likely to be very confused right now. I apologise for that, this entire post is very much a stream of consciousness typed down, and I tend to be very cryptic even at the best of times. In essence, I'm upset about the models. The ones Games Workshop used to produce.

Simply put, they're vanishing before my eyes.

These are the models I was brought up with. When I was a child (well, around 9-10ish), I used to spend long summer afternoons endlessly looking through Games Workshop's website and Forgeworld, reading through all the articles on the former and marvelling at all the wondrous models on the latter (and the former too for that matter), endlessly lost in a sea of fantastic worlds and amazing models (much to the chagrin of my parents wanting to use the phone, as this was in the days of dial-up internet).

And I came to have a dream: that some day I would own all of them*. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, maybe not even for years and years, but one day I would. At some time in the distant future, that day would come.

And I was happy at the time. I envisioned a wondrous golden future of Games Workshop, filled with models, new ones standing with all the classics for all the future generations to enjoy. It didn't matter that all those fancy Forgeworld kits cost an arm and a leg, it didn't matter that I couldn't buy vast armies en masse, it didn't matter at all because I thought, nay, knew that all those models and kits would be there forever. The idea that one day any of them might not be there simply never entered my mind. But why would it? I was young, and new to the hobby. I didn't, indeed couldn't, have known about warehouse space or molds wearing out or anything like that. Such concepts were completely beyond the comprehension of my youthful self. As far as I was concerned, Games Workshop would simply keep on producing the models it had always done for the rest of eternity, and if whatever machines or devices they used to make models broke down, they would simply fix them. Thus, I reasoned, I had all the time in the world to pursue my dream of a vast collection of awesome (now old) miniatures, one that one day might even grow to rival that of Games Workshop's model gallery (I forget exactly what it's called) itself!

As the years went by, my aspirations grew and grew. By the start of last year, I had very big, ambitious, grand plans. A gigantic Tau army for Warhammer 40,000, complete with air support from Forgeworld and a few scratchbuild vehicles, fit for a titanic game of Apocalypse, perhaps even with a Manta or two (it should be noted that this particular part of the dream is still possible, and may in fact come to pass some day, with a ton of luck). An enormous Tau fleet for Battlefleet Gothic, mostly Kor'vattra ships, but with a sizeable Kor'O'vesh element as well for completeness, big enough to rival the mightiest fleets I saw on Port Maw and later Warseer. A Corsair Eldar fleet to fight alongside it, and a Chaos fleet as a deadly enemy for them to fight against. A Dark Eldar fleet (again a dangerous antagonist to oppose my Tau and Eldar). An Ork fleet. An Imperial fleet that would be caught up in this massive struggle for dominance amongst the stars. A fleet for every faction in Battlefleet Gothic, with at least one of every ship made. A Wood Elf army for Warhammer Fantasy. A Bretonnian army. A Vampire Counts one, a Dwarf one, and a Beastmen one too. At least one of every Regiment of Renown (I even had an idea to write a campaign around them). A grand ecosystem of all the different dragon models Games Workshop made. A retinue of Famous Familiars to accompany me and assist me in painting and modelling all my miniatures (and later to help breath some of that old Games Workshop magic into the newer ones). A colossal array of terrain and scenery, hills, forests (some Citadel, some home-made) of every kind, fences, farmsteads, inns, churches or chapels, at least two of all the little doodads Games Workshop was selling (Gothic Scenery, Arcane Books, Buckets, the Mordheim accessory sprue, the Fantasy Graveyard, and so on). I even just recently had an idea to combine the Gothic graveyard, one of the few older scenery kits Forgeworld still sells, and a couple of the metal Fantasy Graveyard sets Games Workshop put out to have a nice quirky spooky graveyard piece that wasn't quite as over-the-top as the Garden of Morr that's currently being sold. I would buy up an extra set of Arcane books and paint them up as modelling/painting guides and army books as a funny little meta-joke. A Warhammer Fortress to fight siege battles over when castle pieces were attacked in the big Mighty Empires campaign I dreamed of one day playing with my friends. A big collection of Warhammer 40,000 terrain as well, filled with buildings and pillboxes and gun towers and dugout emplacements jungle trees and other, stranger things. A whole galaxy full of celestial phenomena for Battlefleet Gothic (again, this is still possible). A Sisters of Battle/Witchunters army, with the Adepta Sorroritas units in it painted up in the colours of the uniform of the catholic girls' school that some of my friends went to. A Slaanesh-aligned Traitor Guard army. A Night Lords force. A Tyranid swarm painted in dark greys and blues like the Aliens in the Alien movies. A band of Spryers for Necromunda, and a force of Arbites for the same system, with their leader named Jav're (a play on Inspector Javert from Les Miserables), who would later, in my background material, go on to become an Inquisitor of the Ordo Hereticus. A Carnival of Chaos for Mordheim. All kinds of strange and wondrous conversions and kitbashes. And many more things that escape my immediate memory. And I would share them with the world too. I would post pictures of them in logs on Advanced Tau Tactica, and, and even Warseer sometimes. I'd start my own blog, and it would become one of the big major ones that every hobbyist and wargamer knew, and all across the internet people would gather and marvel at my amazingly-painted models. And immerse themselves in the rich expansive backstory I wrote for them. And I'd go down in tabletop hobby history as a legend. Now obviously none of this was going to happen all at once, that would just be silly since these things take time. But one day, eventually, I was going to get there. One day, my grand vision would become a reality.

But then last year the Specialist Games ranges went dark. Their models started vanishing one by one into the night. And in the few weeks it took for them to completely disappear, I saw my grand shining dream twist, burn and shatter into a million fragments. And though I did make a big panic-spend and managed to rescue a fairly large Tau fleet (and even a couple of Corsair Eldar ships), it was but a shadow of the mighty armada that I had envisioned.

It was the beginning of a newer, darker hobbyist in me. It opened my eyes to the reality of model ranges and age. Miniatures would be discontinued, things would go out of production, models and kits would not stay around forever. But I went on. I continued to try and make my shining dream come true. The end of the Specialist Games might have been a major setback, I thought, but there were still other models out there I wanted. There was still the Wood Elves and Bretonnians to collect. There was still scenery to make and purchase, and caracterful little collector's pieces to, well, collect. The Tau range was in no apparent danger of fading into the abyss. Forgeworld and all the incredible models it made was still out there. I could still come to own all those. I could still come to realise my dream. Heck, I might even be able to salvage a few Specialist Games models from auction sites while I was at it.

Indeed, I was now even more determined to see that my plans happened. If model lines could end and never become available again, I thought, then I must act to collect all these wonderful models as quickly as possible, so that I might have an example of every one of them preserved for future generations to see, so that they would never be forgotten. My experience with the aforementioned panic buy had shown me that I could make one or two massive purchases a year and not completely break the bank, and so I went out and ordered a horde of Wood Elf models, enough to complete the army of them I had imagined, and more. Indeed, as of the time of this writing, I almost have at least one of every single Wood Elf model in the entire current range, with the exception of Orion, Drycha and the mounted characters. It lifted my spirits. After all these years, it felt like I might actually finally be getting to realising my big dream. I can do this, I thought. My aspirations finally seemed within my grasp.

And then it hit me. I saw how much of the Bretonnian range had been discontinued. I went through archived pages of Forgeworld and discovered all the big models and kits I remembered, almost all of them now long-out of production. And then I even saw many of the little metal scenery doodads on Games Workshop's website were now lost forever. And all over again I saw my big, grand shining dream break apart and die.

And what really stings for me, is why it is. It's not because I never got around to getting them all, until only recently I literally couldn't (nowhere near enough funds and no credit card to bring them to the internet). It's simply because just as I was finally becoming able to get them all, time caught up with them. They were old, and discontinued to make way for new things. And so I feel like I have all this sorrow for no other reason that I existed at the wrong time.

It's a new era for Games Workshop now. One of plastic and resin, and digital sculpting. I'm sure it will make many excellent new models, which will be loved by many and go on to inspire a whole new generation of hobbyists just like those old metal models inspired me so many years ago. Forgeworld is putting out a whole new range just for the Horus Heresy. But as great as all of these things are, they are not for me. I wanted a vast magnificent collection of the models from my childhood, those characterful, wonderful metal and plastic ones from the late 90s and especially the early 2000s that captured my imagination, and still do, not these new ones. There are a fair few good ones for them I will admit, but well, it's just not the same for me. There's something missing from them. And I don't think I'll ever get to see my big shining dream fully realised now. I know there's a whole slew of auction and trade sites where many of these older models can be found, but between their very high prices and my sporadic funding, I don't think I'll be quick enough to get them in time. There's still the Gothic Graveyard from Forgeworld, and a couple of the scenic doodads on Games Workshop's website, but I fear I will be too late for them as well. Already I have missed the Warhammer Fortress set, and while it is still possible to replicate, I may never know what sort of box it came with (it may seem odd to you, but that's actually a very important thing to me. I collect the artwork on model boxes just as much as I do the models themselves. It may seem strange to you, but it's just one of my quirks I suppose). And I know all about all the new model brands that are popping up, and that too is a wonderful thing, but, well, a lot of their models just don't do it for me either. Not at the moment at least. But that is a subject for another ramble.

I suppose too that a large part of it is my age. I'm at a very strange place in that regard, as I straddle the line between two hobby generations, which puts me in the awkward place of being too young to have really fully experienced the Silver Age of Games Workshop (the early 2000s, the era of my childhood, and the one I'm nostalgic for), but at the same time old enough that I have a memory of it and too old and set in my ways to really fully appreciate the new era of Games Workshop as those younger than me may. This does tend to make me feel as though I'm trapped between two worlds a lot of the time. So I remember the older Games Workshop, but at the same time I feel like I never really got a chance to fully enjoy it. I never got to have big armies of all those models I remember. I never even got to participate in a global campaign event. And it's all starting to feel like it's been taken away from me now, lost forever..

I think that's everything. So there it is. That's my story. That's my tale of woe and heartbreak of how I came to be here, and that's most, if not all, of what I wanted to get off my chest. I don't expect anyone to respond to it, I don't even really expect anyone to read it. I've written it only to let my feelings out so they don't chew me up inside quite as much. If you have read it all the way through then thank you, it helps to have someone listen. I'm also sorry for having to drop down this big rambling opinion rant piece, as I try hard to look on the brighter side of the hobby. Maybe next time it'll be back to nice backstory pieces and pretty pictures of models. Until then though, I'm signing out. It's late where I am, and I need to get some sleep and cry for a bit. Goodnight everyone.

And Militant wept, for there were no more metal models left to collect.