The Philosophy of the Dark Elf (Or Don’t Go In There, there’s two of them…)

Following on from the Eternal Elf , this weary wanderer on the Pewter Road has turned his thoughts once more to Dark Elves, specifically of the Marauder variety

One might not go far wrong if one was to conjecture that the Marauder Dark Elf range appears to have been at least in part influenced by Ancient Greece or Macedon. The wide and oddly shaped blades they wield strongly resemble the Greek Machaira Iron_machaira_(sword)_MET_SF2001346,

with its Kukri-like blade weighted towards a killing edge. The helmets, whilst emphatically elven,  hint at the horsehair elaborate crest and menacing face-parts of the Hoplite helmet (See below).

Those vanishingly rare bowl shields with the embossed crests of mythical beasts resemble nothing more than the aspis of the hoplite, even going to so far as to feature a Snake-headed skull. (Indeed the link between Medusa and Dark Elves has become ever more pronounced with each subsequent release, until GW are now basically selling units of Gorgons by another name. Nice models though, already added to the mountain)

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You wouldn’t believe the BIN price just for this image…

With this in mind, this dauber of metal decided that a Greek scheme with a Naggaroth twist would be well in order. Though it may not at first glance actually look all that Grecian, lacking any linen effects, or white, or even the snazzy black & gold of Jason and the Argonauts, there is a deeper meaning involved.

Some years ago (date), ‘the telly’ went through one of its brief flirtations with historical gaming. Time Commanders pitted teams of (lets be fair here) rank amateurs against one another to re-fight famous historical battles, using a huge monitor and map blocks to play the Real Time Strategy PC game, Rome: Total War.

time commanders
Team vs Computer. Computer is a cheating bastard of course. Would probably have helped if the contestants or Hammond had got even the remotest idea what was happening…

Militarily speaking, most of the battles were a monumental fuck of the cluster variety, as even under the guidance and tutelage of the inhouse experts, most teams lacked the rapid decision-making ability neccessary (or basic tactical cognizance) to actually play Rome: Total War. Any successes were usually coincidental and one suspects deliberately manufactured to avoid repeated instances of the usual outcome of noobish TW play: having most of your army break and run off for no apparent reason, whilst watching a single unit of  Velites getting battered to death by a horde of Companion cavalry in gory pixellated detail. It was however fun, entertaining, sporadically educational, and a bit like if Scrapheap Challenge had only featured Geography teachers and salesmen from Slough instead of engineers and mechanics.

Where does this circuitous sojourn through retro TV actually lead us? To Sparta, dear reader, or more specifically the image of the spartan hoplite thrown up by the Rome: Total War engine, which this acrylic-huffer remembers as being a stark black with orange details. It may actually have looked different, but it doesn’t particularly matter what it actually looked like, what is important is the memory. Some day, there would be an army in this scheme. Here then is the inspiration:

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Maybe it was this fellow. Note the crest and faceplate.

Subsequently we turn to the hallowed pages of the White Dwarf .

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Note the random nature of the scheme, and also remember that banner…

Karasashalla’s Reavers: A full Dark Elf force for the princely sum of 80 Human Pounds Sterling, complete with army list. (And many an hour was spent trying to reverse engineer the various points costs by a young painter who didn’t actually own the rules.) The article in full is available here

This and similar associated advertorials were obviously the true birthing point for the army.

The next influence (and also incidentally the box art for the Citadel Metallic paint set) is this:

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You see it, don’t you? You’ve seen it before

Admittedly if you actually read the book the Elves in it are rather less than a good fit for the ones depicted (who are basically Karasashalla’s Reavers in a painting), and Storm Warriors is one of the older breed of novels which are primarily just a fantasy story with a liberal sprinkling of Old World references (doesn’t make it a bad story, I hasten to add). Nevertheless, look at that fabulous picture….

Also witness:

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Some paints are eternal, it seems, especially Itadel Etallio.

Speaking of metallic paints, the next influence must predictably be a thoroughly spiffing article by Kent Martin in White Dwarf 144. Travel ye here for the complete article, but witness this image so you know at what you will look:

darkelf001
Although the author mixed his own, this was a fair showcase for metallic paint effects

The Kent Martin army took a much more uniform approach to painting. This scrivener is somewhat undecided whether they work better in a uniform scheme or in a more random style.

It’s an Aspis. Anyone who calls it a Hoplon should be disregarded immediately.

The warrior depicted here is intended to share elements of both. The overall scheme is one of black (lovely glossy shiny black), with trims and edgings in bright orange. Many of the elf sculpts, (especially those from the Regiment box) sport high buttoned collars, which do in fact resemble uniform coats, and it is on this feature we capitalize. Likewise the crests, by intent the most noticeable feature of the miniature itself will also all be painted identically (as far as that goes. Some sculpts have prominent hair crests and others have solid ones.)

Note the collar

However, those huge aspis will each be decorated individually, in any combination of colours that comes to hand and seems reasonable. This one has been separately glossed, to better reflect (sic) a laminated surface. (The Widow, skittering past on her many legs, suggested this effect, much to my surprise.)

An added bonus: those shields are both aesthetically pleasing and as rare as rocking horse shit, and there are far more elves in the lead mines than shields. When the supply runs dry, there is however an ample seam of plastic Hoplite shields ready to go.

Our intrepid ink-spinner has so far chosen to field the nascent & base-coated Elf forces in Dragon Rampant, experimenting over a couple of games with a satisfactory list fit. Sadly so far, nothing seems to replicate the shooty- yet -fighty aspect of the models very well.

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Crossbow & Giant Sword. DR can’t cope.

None of the available missile units are tough enough in a fight, and the options to give missile weapons to combat units usually result in a unit that isn;t really good at either thing. Experimentation continues.

As evident from the top of the article, the available figure range is reasonably sized, but consists predominantly of warriors with swords and shields (and crossbows), or warriors firing crossbows. There are a handful of double-handed weapons too, and some tasty character miniatures, not including the Witch Elves, Scouts, Assassins or Cavalry.

For the future, the scribe intends to gather some spare warriors and equip them either with aspis and doru (the fighting spear of the Hoplite) or sarissa and pelta ( the pike and small shield of the Phalangist) to create a properly Greek looking unit, though he has yet to come to a decision, one that may be influenced by his previous unfortunate experiences with metal pike.

There is also no bolt thrower specific to this range. The option exists to field one from the earlier or later Dark Elf releases. perhaps to convert Marauder crew for one of the extent war machines. The pram-looking one is very Oldhammer, but if we are honest, just a little bit shit. The upright one is arguably a bit too nice and new, and long days past, the scribe had the opportunity to painted the Middlehammer for a Games Workshop Display Cabinet, and found the experience a touch mundane.

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All this still to sift, including some Dark Riders, and some Push-chair Bolt Throwers, Plastic regiment goodness..the future is interesting, and that’s before we even get on to the Gorgons…

*Dark Riders would make fantastic Companion Cavalry. Still need to locate a single lance arm though…

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3 thoughts on “The Philosophy of the Dark Elf (Or Don’t Go In There, there’s two of them…)

  1. Pingback: The Ranks Expand – Lead Mountain Widow

  2. Pingback: Constructing Khinerai: Daughters of Khaine ‘Harpy’ Dark Elves – Lead Mountain Widow

  3. Pingback: The Eternal Elf – Lead Mountain Widow

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