One of the major things I love about the Free Dwarfs is the background, they are a refugee people , driven from their homeland in the Halpi Mountains and forced to live in abandoned holds and land donated by the Empire of King Golloch the Oppressor.
Their long trek to find a place to settle has caused them to become more used to the surface life than their more traditional Dwarf Brethren, troop types that are rare in Gollochs armies are more common amongst the Free Dwarfs, Rangers and Berserkers are the two main troop types that spring to mind. The changing of Rangers from Irregular to regular ( meaning they can unlock characters and monsters and don’t need to be unlocked themselves) means that a Free Dwarf army based around Rangers becomes a possibility ( or in my case a necessity ) a further boon to the plan for a Ranger based Army was the addition of the Tracker keyword to the Spear Levy, Shieldbreakers and Ironwatch units of the Free Dwarf army , thus allowing them to be inspired by Ranger Captains and Herneas the Hunter. I already had the core of my army in the form of Two Regiments and two troops of Rangers , a Ranger captain , Herneas the hunter and Banick Kholearm. I also have previously converted the Craggoth and Kholearm model so for extra theme points I could include a Scouting fireball blasting Greater Earth Elemental in the Army if required !
But to expand the Army a little more I wanted some Cavalry Models to give me mobility and some striking power whilst maintaining the Ranger Theme, I decided that I would use the experience I already had of green stuff’ing hoods onto Mantic Dwarf models to make the Rangers, by utilising more green stuff and some of the spare Berserker Brock Rider models I had from my previous Free Dwarf projects and creating some Ranger Brock Riders !
As with most of my projects I made a concept model to see if I liked what my imagination had brought about. This model was converted and painted and is pictured below.
The idea was to make the miniature look very different to the rest of my Brock Riders, less “berserk” and more sneaky Ranger.
Once this model was sorted I went into production mode for the following eleven models to make up two regiments of six.
The First thing i did, after assembling and cleaning up the Brocks was to add the cloth “caparison” which I postulated the Ranger Brock Riders would use to help prevent reflection from the Brocks armour whilst sneaking up on people through the woods in the Forest of Bowland. This was done by flattening sausages of green stuff over the neck and hindquarters of the Brocks and moulding it over the armour with a wet sculpting tool.
Once all eleven Brocks had been treated to their new clothes I then commenced to put together the Riders , although the test model I made had a standard Brock Rider weapon arm and an added shield, I had found in my bits room a selection of small spears , deciding that these would fit in better with my idea of the Rangers riding Brocks I then proceeded to snip off the weapons and drill holes in the hands in order that they could accept their new spears, several drilled fingers and swearing fits later ( Restic is a bugger to play with) and I had rearmed the majority of the Riders, I also found the metal command parts for Brock Riders that I decided I would use on one of the Regiments - but only the leader and standard bearer , the musician is a bit silly for my taste.
Once the Riders were assembled I glued them onto the Brocks ready for the next stage.
The next stage was to add the hoods to the Riders , I make a narrow sausage of green stuff and loop it over the forehead of the model fastened to each shoulder , this is then flattened backwards to make the front edge of the hood , then a larger sausage is moulded around the back of the head from shoulder to shoulder to make the “cape” part of the hood, I do each stage on each model before moving to the next as this allows the green stuff to cure slightly so when I start the next stage I am less likely to damage the greenstuff already placed , but it also remains pliable enough to bond with the next stage.
Once the brim and collar is on I place a larger elongated triangle of greenstuff on the back of the head, moulding it to the front of the hood and down over the cloak to form the characteristic “Point” of the hood.
Whilst the Green Stuff was curing on the Brock Riders I painted the Shields they were to be equipped with , I decided to go with “Viking” style round shields as I thought they looked primitive enough to be used by backwoods Rangers from a poor Free Dwarf hold. The shields themselves were an Ebay purchase and are 3D printed in resin, I went with simple but effective green and yellow colours , the green is the delightfully named “Phlegm Green” from Wargames Foundry with a camo green wash from GW over the top and the Yellow is a triad of Averland Sunset , Yriel Yellow and Flash Gitz Yellow. the edges of the shield and their bosses were painted in Vallejo Tinny tin with Brass and gold highlights. The result is this…
Which I think is very thematic.
Once the Green Stuff was dry I primed the Models in Army Painter Fur Brown primer as a lot of the model will be brown or flesh coloured.
The first stage was to paint the Brocks and the riders cloaks ( made from previous mounts I think) in Wargames Foundry Chestnut Shade, I decided to go with brown for the Brocks as opposed to the standard Badger scheme I had used for the rest of my Berserker Brocks as I had seen pictures of Honey Badgers that I thought were cool and fitted the Nature ideal of the Ranger Army plus I had seen Iron Age Pig Piglets and their striped and dotted colours looked so cool , so the Rangers badgers are a cross between Honey Badgers and Iron Age Piglets, I think they have come out ok though. Once the Brocks were base coated I painted the base coat for the Dwarfs flesh in Wargames Foundry Oriental Flesh Shade , I find that this gives a more “tanned” appearance than straight Flesh which is more red. I think that a folk forced to spend more time above ground would be more brown than ruddy skinned, but that’s just my Free Dwarf vision. The Brocks & Cloaks were then drybrushed up via Foundry Chestnut and Chestnut light , the Stripes and dots on the Brocks and Cloaks were painted using Foundry’s Spearshaft Triad.
The Metallic’s on both the Brocks and the Riders were painted using Vallejo Tinny Tin as the base with Vallejo Brassy Brass and Brass as the highlights. As a people forced to move a lot and trade I have decided that my Free Dwarfs reserve Iron and steel for their weapons and utilise Bronze and Brass for their armour and decoration as it is cheaper to use and I think it fits in with my colour schemes better lol.
The Riders Beards and Hair were all painted in Cote d’arms Horse colour Bay as the vast majority of the Free Dwarfs of Bowland are Red Haired to match their fiery temperament, also it cuts down on the amount of colours I have to remember.
The Riders Hoods and the Brocks Caparisons were painted in the same Phlegm green scheme as the shields to provide a unified colour for the regiment which matches the colours of the Infantry Ranger units they will be supporting.
All of the flesh areas and the browns and metallics were given a wash of Agrax Earthshade and the green areas were washed in Athonian Camoshade.
Once these were painted the Riders were mated with their shields and the next stage of their painting was about to commence - the Bases
The theme for the Free Dwarfs of Bowland is that they live in the ruins of an ancient Dwarf Hold where the roof of the caverns has partially collapsed and the forest has grown over it. This gives me plenty of scope for having ruins and statuary on the bases of the various regiments as well as vegetation. With this in mind I had a couple of ruined pillars I had picked up at a wargames show I wanted to use on these Brock riders , I painted them up to look like they have been stood in a forest clearing for decades and placed them on the cavalry bases , this also means that i can pick up the units without having to fiddle with the edges of the base or grab the actual models themselves , sort of a scenic “Handle” for the bases, this can be seen on quite a few of my regiments throughout my armies , especially when the models are delicate or don’t have a large footprint for gluing. Once the Pillars were glued to the base the bases were given a liberal coating of PVA and dipped into a big tray of mixed grade sand and grit to give them their final texture.
Once the PVA was dry , the bases were painted in Traditional Burnt Sienna and drybrushed with Honey brown and desert sand, when the paint was dry the base wash washed in Agrax Earthshade and left to dry.
The Brock Riders were then glued to the base and grass tufts added in between the models to further make them look like they were riding through undergrowth.
Playtesting the Ranger Brock Riders has since led me to stop using them as Free Dwarf Beserker Brock and I have begun to use them as Allied Bray Centaur Regiments , the Pathfinder ability fits more with the Theme I have imagined for the Ranger Army and allows me to concentrate on using the Ranger army more as I envisioned rather than a slightly more combined arms version of my existing Brock army. Plus the reduced attacks and nerve means they are a bit more in keeping with their more benign look.
Thanks for reading , more on the Free Dwarfs of Bowland soon.