Thursday, September 1, 2016

From the dust they arise

As loyal readers, you have seen that I've been a little excited about the new Empire of Dust army that Mantic has just released.  I'm not sure why I am, maybe it is just that it is a new army that was not part of any Kickstarter.  Well mine is IN!
Empire of Dust Mega-Army
I'm not planning on abandoning my beloved Aybssal Dwarfs any time soon, but it looks like it will be fun to paint up a 1000 pt demo army for next summer - and the mega-army deal provides for just that. I've put together a 1000 pt list that uses every model in the release except for the balefire catapults.  If you want to see the list I plan to do with them you can check it out here.

Of course I ripped open the bandages - uh tape, holding the box together to check out what was inside. The contents are listed as

  • 40 plastic and metal Skeleton Warriors
  • 20 plastic and metal Skeleton Archers
  • 20 plastic and metal Revenant Infantry
  • 20 premium plastic Mummies
  • 3 metal Enslaved Guardians
  • 3 metal Swarms
  • 2 plastic and metal Balefire Catapults
  • 1 metal Pharaoh/High Priest with alternate components.
  • 1 metal Revenant Champion/Army Standard Bearer with alternate components
  • Plastic bases
  • Mantic points
So in order to make the 114 miniatures - there are 8 of the existing skeleton sprues (which each make 10 skeletons).  These are the base for the warriors, revenants and archers.
Skeleton Sprue Front
Skeleton Sprue Back
Balefire Catapult and crew sprues, front
Balefire Catapult and crew sprues, back
So let's start with the simplest first - the Balefire catapult.  There are two metal pieces for this - one to replace a crewman and one to replace the front of the catapult (the large piece in the upper left corner of the back of the sprue).  Since the mega-army comes with two I just combined them into one shot - though as I write this I realize the catapult piece is upside down in the picture.

As with all metal pieces, you can expect some easy clean up on these - a little bit of flash that is quite easily removed with a sharp hobby knife, and the occasional bent piece.
Balefire metal conversion pieces
One thing I did find is that the thin baggies that held the metal pieces weren't strong enough - there were about four metal bits floating around in the box from torn baggies - though I was able to identify and match all of them to where they belonged.

One of these was a bag of the skeleton warrior conversion bits.  There were two bags of these, each with enough bits to make 20 warriors.  There are 20 shields - these seem to be identical except for the back - half of them appear to be meant to attach to the existing skeleton bodies holding shield, while the other half just attach to arms.  There are 20 metal bodies (in 5 variations).  There are also 4 pairs of heads (for a total of 8), a standard and a bit that (I assume) is to be used to indicate if the unit has the "Casket of the Damned" upgrade.

The same bits are used to make the skeleton spearmen - though the skeleton sprue only has 7 spears on it (well plus a half a spear) - however you should have some left over from your archers and revenants to make 40 of these if you want.

I haven't put anything together yet - but I am a bit curious as to what was intended here.   If nothing else, there are simply a HUGE number of options.  You can use all the metal bodies - even though half the shields have an indentation on the back to go over the existing skeleton shields, they should still be able to go straight onto the metal bodies. You could also use the eight skeleton bodies with the new metal heads to add even more variety.

Personally, I don't like the metal standards - as the long thin pole just bends (and eventually breaks) way too easily - I will replace this with a brass or steel rod, keeping the ends.
Skeleton Warrior bits
The skeleton archer bits are slightly more straightforward - there are again twenty bodies (also in five variations), 20 quivers and 20 bows.  There are also some other bits that I'm not really sure what they are (the three pieces in the top middle of the picture).  I do like that 3 of the 5 poses are actually shooting (as opposed to the elvish archers - where in a box of twenty you can get three (I think) that are actually in any kind of shooting pose.  I also like that the two bodies that are not shooting are actually reaching back to grab another arrow from their quiver - nice action detail there.
Skeletal Archer bits
Next come the revenants.  Once again, 20 bodies in five sculpts.  In addition there are 16 two handed weapons in four sculpts (because one of the body sculpts has a huge sword in both hands).  I'm a little mixed on these - as I can understand wanting to be able to differentiate them from the normal skeletons - however I'm not sure I like that they come with only 2-handed weapons - I'm not sure I would want to field them that way (I think I prefer the extra point of defense from the shield over the CS1).  However, since this is intended for a demo army for me, it will help to make them easier for new players to tell the difference.  I may also have to replace the weapon hafts with brass rod to keep them from breaking.
Add caption
Here come the mummies.  Well not those mummies, but Mantic mummies.  These are the actual sculpts that Mantic funded from the first Kings of War kickstarter, so I've seen them before.  Many people did not care for them, saying that they were out of proportion.  There are only two bodies, but three weapons and a shield of empty arm, as well as three head variations.

I do find it personally amusing that while I heard a lot of negative feedback when these originally came out for the undead army, I've heard a lot of people liking the exact same models now in the EoD army.  Go figure.
Then we have the swarms.  Big square blobs of what are supposed to be bugs.  The straight metal - well I can barely pick out anything in them.  I am thinking (and hoping) that a sand colored basecoat with a quick drybrush of black could bring out a LOT of detail here.  The pictures do not excite me at this point.
swarms from one side
and turned around
One of the new models that do excite me however are the Enslaved Guardians.  Essentially Ogres for the Empire of Dust, you can either take them with giant crossbows or with two handed weapons.  I personally like the crossbows.  One sneaky tactic is that even though these have reload, they can still be surged before shooting (since reload says they have to have been given a "Halt" order).  It is something that can be exploited with normal undead shooting as well (though you don't see much of that).
Enslaved guardians one side
One thing that I see that concerns me is that there does not seem to be a clear way to determine which left arm goes with with right - this is something to be determined with a lot of trial and error.  At least the weapons are attached to one arm - when you have to try to fit four pieces together at the same time it can be a bit of a challenge (yes, I'm talking about the Elohi, and more recently the FoN centaurs with great weapons).  This is something that could benefit greatly from an construction guide.
and the other
Lastly are the two heroes.  The first makes you choice of either a Revanant Champion or an Army Standard Bearer (I'm going to make the latter).  Two heads, multiple arms - again just worried about the long standard pole.
Army Standard / Revenant Champion front

and back
The other character either makes an Ahmunite Pharaoh or Cursed High Priest.  I'm going for the priest over the pharaoh, as surge is really necessary for this army.  Again multiple heads and arms to make your heroes from.
and back
So that is the Empire of Dust Mega-Army - I'm making a 1000 pt list using everything but the two balefire catapults, and no magic items.  Adding those in, upgrading the warriors to spears, giving a Casket of the Damned to every unit that can take one (I know that I've missed making a charge with a surge by one or two many times, so more dice at the critical moment seems like it would always be worth it) and adding in some magic items could make this close to 1500 pts.  Not quite as economical as some of the other army deals (because of all the metal components) - it is still a great bargain for those who fancy a bit of dust.

So now when do I start working on this army?  It's not like I have any other projects (including the Basilean army that, at the rate it is going, is becoming two Christmas presents for a friend), a ratkin demo army, so much Deadzone stuff, plus Walking Dead and Warpath are looming on the horizon getting closer with each day!

Because it is all fun and games . . .


  1. Hi, are there à 20mm square bases for squelettes?

  2. Hi, are there à 20mm square bases for squelettes?