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Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Of men and men

Many of you know that I'm not the biggest Warhammer fan in the world.  I was raised on DnD and 40k, both of which will always have a place in my heart. 

However, I was forced to play Warhammer for nearly a decade (and didn't hate it most of the time) and then I no longer had to.  In that time, I've collected many armies, starting with the old and terrible Wood Elves (from Ravening Hordes.  Seriously, bad.) and blowing through Empire, High Elves, Vampire Counts, Orcs and Goblins, and finally Warriors of Chaos.  I've gotten rid of the Wood Elves, Orcs, and VCs, leaving me with three massive armies.  I've played with my High Elves the most (where I've won alot and lost as often), the Warriors most recently, and my Empire were reserved for special occasions.  There's a story there (isn't there always?).


Many years ago, I was managing a game shop in Syracuse, NY.  There was a customer there, named Jeremy, who beat me in a fun game.  He came in to play but there were no opponents, so I pulled the display Empire army out of the figure case and gave him a battle.  His Dark Elves crushed the Empire.  Jeremy then, unwisely, spent a week and a half telling everyone in the shop that he beat the manager and that my advise was inferior to his because I "didn't have any idea how to play Warhammer."  Needless to say, that could not be allowed to go on. 

I challenged Jeremy to a battle in only two days.  I would have to build a whole new army and I needed a little time to do so.  Obviously, it would have to be Empire, as that's what he beat.  So I frantically assembled a 'Civil War' style army and set it out for customers to view all day before the challenge.  Jeremy strolled into the shop ready to be 'that guy' some more, took one look at my bare-plastic and metal army, and started whining.  The rest of the community held him to the bet, and he was forced to deal with it.

The battle started with him going first.  He moved his entire army up, which consisted of two units of City Guard, a unit of Witch Elves, a unit of Corsairs with an Assassin (he thought I didn't know, but I did.  I sold him the army and taught him how to play, something he conveniently forgot this whole time) and some other minor things.  He cast some magic and let loose with his Bolt Throwers, wiping out my huntsmen and panicking a unit of handgunners.  Darn.  Then came my turn.  I dropped two perfectly-aimed Mortar shells onto his warriors, shot the crap outta the corsairs, and even unleashed a misfiring Helblaster into stuff!  It was glorious.  He had a half unit of Corsairs and a unit of Witch Elves left as the rest of the army was obliterated or panicked.  He moved foward, trying in vain to do some damage.  His spells and shooting accounted for another unit of handunners.  Then I fired my artillery, leaving only three Dark Elves alive across the whole table.  Before I had the chance to fire my remaining units of Handgunners, Jeremy conceded.  He cried and cried and cried. 

That would not be the first or last time I had to pull out the proverbial 'gaming penis.'  And it always feels good.

In any case, the goldfish has struck again and now makes me want to run with the weak-ass humans again.  My Warriors of Chaos are awesome, my High Elves are downright broken, so I figured the 'ol humans would give me a bit of a challenge. 

For my newest version of the Empire, I've chosen Ostermark as the province.  For those of you that don't know, the human realm known as the Empire is actually a unified group of 12 provinces, city-states, and regions.  Each is responsible for maintaining its own army and fights for themselves and the Emperor.  Each of the provinces is famous for their own cultures and specialties, but are united by their loyalty to the crown (usually, anyway) and their worship of Sigmar (except the Cult of Ulric, which is still the main god in Middenheim).  Some of these provinces are known for their elite warriors or effective war machines (Talabheim and Nuln, respectively), while others are known for their natural ferocity and constant warfare (Ostland and Middenheim).  My particular province, Ostermark, is a rustic area with strong ties the human Kindgom of Kislev. 

Ostermark regiments fight alongside Count Von Rauken's Ostland armies and the Ice Queen's Kislevite hordes often.  This has led to a toughness not often common in other Empire provinces.  Although their color scheme is well-known, the actual story of Ostermark is not. 

Ostermark is currently ruled by Elector Count Hertwig.  He rules from the new capital city of Bechafen, found along Kislevs southern border.  His armies often display the dragon's profile as their heraldry, although I'm not sure if this has any real reason.  The uniform scheme of the province is a purple and yellow panalopy, usually halved or quartered.  The purple is rarely the same as in other regiments, as it's the most expensive die in the Empire.  The yellow is often replaced with white.  The province maintains an army of just over 1200 men, of which most are often in the north aiding Kislev to fight off the northern tribesmen.  Ostermark is a very dangerous province to live, with Orcs and more dangerous creatures often descending from the Mountains to the east while Beastmen attack from the woods to the north and the south.  The Eerie downs, a region that stretches south and east of Bechafen, is known to be haunted by undead and patrolled by chaos creatures.  The cursed city of Mordheim, originally the capital of Ostermark, is destroyed and lies along the River Stir and the province's southern border with Stirland.  This attracts many kinds of mercenaries and less-desirable characters and the far-worse Skaven.  Altogether, the people of Ostermark don't live the comfortable lives of Talabheim or Nuln's residents, but they're tougher for it.

My army breaks from the rustic tradition of the region.  I want to field an army from the western area of the province, specifically from the town of Bissendorf.  Bordering with Talabecland, the richest province in the Empire, I figure that the town would have enough money to purchase all kinds of guns and cannons, as well as fancy uniforms.  I'm mostly using the old Empire models because they have 'floofy' uniforms and look somewhat simpler to paint than the new ones.  All in all, it's just a reason for me to use up all my old models and use the more common Empire theme of 'shoot em, shoot em, and then run away.' 

So why am I talking about my Empire, suddenly?  Yes, I know it's because I'm a goldfish and I can't stay focussed on anything for longer than a minute.  But also because I've been thinking alot about Warhammer lately.  I've been thinking about the idea that the Elves are the most skilled, Chaos and Dwarfs the toughest, Undead the most unkillable, and the other races with their 'being better.'  Empire really has nothing on anyone else.

So why choose Empire if everyone is better?  Well, because I just happen to be a human.  I rather enjoy being the superior species on this or any other planet.  And to think that anything other than me should be so lucky, well that just doesn't sit right with me.  I love me some humans, and I gotta give them their love once in a while.  After all, they have the courage to face everything and be worse at it.  If my little toy soldiers can do, so can I.  Go humans!

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