Thursday, 20 December 2012

2000 Points O'Dwarfs Done!

Hurrah, huzzah, jump up and down, bang trumpets and blow drums, or whatever. I have completed the first 2000 points of my Dwarfs. The units that finished this first stage of the marathon were a stone thrower (just cannot bring myself to call it a grudge thrower, that's one step away from a Mystery Men weapon) and a mob of Dwarf Warriors. Lets start with the war engine, everyone likes war engines:

But wait! I hear you cry, that's no ordinary Dwarf stone thrower! And indeed it isn't, this is a converted (mildly) Bretonnian Trebuchet - or Tree bucket if your french pronounciation isn't up to the job. Why am I using a Bretonnian Trebuchet as a Dwarf Stone Thrower, I hear you ask? Because this is the current GW one:

image copyright Games Workshop. used for illustrative purposes only.

Lets leave aside for a moment the idiocy of a battlefield - i.e. portable - war engine made of solid steel. Actually, lets not. Steel has a density of about 7.8g/cm3 whereas Oak has a density of 0.6-0.9g/cm3. That means that one of those support struts on the GW grudge thrower - which looks to be about a meter and a half long by maybe 20cm across and 10cm thich - would be 200,000cm3 which in wood would (heh heh) weigh a not unimpressive 150kg. Heavy. But in steel? It would weigh 1560kg, almost 2 tons!! Ten times the weight! No wheels, no pivots, these three are the strongest Dwarfs in the Old World. This would be fine for a wall mounted piece, but battlefield? Ridiculous. That's before we look at the mechanical problems. See, stone throwers work be releasing the ammunition at the peak of the arc of fire so that they fly the furthest possible distance:

forgive the sketches, easier than CGI!

There are two basic options, mangonel style designs which whip the throwing arm up and into a cross bar (like the old Dwarf stone thrower, which was beautiful) or the trebuchet approach which uses a counterweight and has a sling release the rock. Then there is the Dwarf idea which is a neat way of distributing rocks from the back of the stone thrower to the earth in front of it.

Essentially, what I am saying - or, well, ranting - is that this is an example of designers forgetting everything they know about the realities of combat and just going for whatever they fancy becuase "It's Fantasy". Well whoop-dy-doo. I like my fantasy with a healthy dose of reality underpinning it. It helps the "a wizard did it" pill go down if the physics surrounding it are grounded in some form of reality! [Breathe Jeff, breathe into the bag...]

So. The trebuchet:

This on the other hand is a gorgeous, lovely piece of kit. It would work if you didn't have to glue it together. I turned all the shields into ancestor heads (dead easy to do) and scraped off the Fleur de Lys before painting. I wanted to keep it very simple, natural wooden colours, canvas, rope and stone. I wanted the sculpting to speak for itself, not get drowned out in complex paintwork.

The crew - like everything else in this Dwarf army - were cribbed from my favourite stone thrower crew models. Working a trebuchet is hard and these three (with their engineer pointing and yelling) get that point across nicely. I was going to use the ancient Dwarf sitting on netted goblin (y'know, for if the ammo gets low or they're bored) for one of them but that model has rather dated now. The final unit of the 2k list was the warriors:

Now sadly, these are the only models in the army that I am not as fond of but there weren't many options. They were made at the post-dawn twilight of plastics and suffer from problems that have now been eradicated. Square hands, elongated thumbs and flat hair to name just three. The command models are even worse so I used the old Skull Pass Dwarfs for them. However I wanted a unit that would look very different to the Longbeards and indeed younger than the Longbeards. So here they are! If a suitable unit ever appears I'll replace them, but for now they look ok under a decent coat of paint and will serve in a stalwart fashion.

So, wow, 2k down, time for a 3k workometer then!

Essentially it boils down to two more block units, two more war engines and a couple of characters! I think I can get them done by late January when the campaign week of unnamed but deep awesomeness begins. Until next time folks.



  1. Right. I see. FINE. I'd best get my painting jog on, then, hadn't I?


    Also, they look very nice. Yaddayaddabenicetoyouralliesyadda.

  2. Trying desperately to see how their design could possibly work, the thing that strikes me is that the projectile fits in a "hand" which is slightly tipped back and not a cup. As soon as the arm reaches the apex of the travel nothing is changing or limiting the vertical velocity of the projectile (except friction with the hand) so theoretically it could keep going up, especially if the force of the arm were to drop suddenly at the apex of travel.

    There, that's the best dubious rationale I could come up with!

    1. A valiant effort, sir, a most valiant effort.

      Mind you, every time I picture one of these catapults slamming a rock into the ground six feet in front of it, I crack right up. So in a weird way, I'm glad this epic failure of engineering has sprinkled a little comedy into the afternoon.

  3. Great stuff! These guys look great and congrats on making it to 2000pts. I do agree that the older plastic minis are quite bad, I have a metric TON of these guys at home with my parents. But they still look pretty decent.

    And I do agree with you on the dwarf war machines. The Bolt Thrower is the same, it's pure metal. How does it move? And like you suggested how does it absorb shock? I have not been a fan of the new GW model, I do own one but I doubt I'll ever really use it.

    I do prefer the normal stone thrower look, and agree again on the name, it makes no logical sense and GW just wanted to make special looking dwarf ones. It just came off stupid, that's why I made mine into a mortar.

  4. I completely agree with you Jeff.

    For it to feel real, I think it needs to look plausible and 'seem' like it might work or be a sensible idea. This seems to be something that GW are forgetting more and more - particularly in 40k.

    In case anyone is interested (and because I've been thinking about it and am going to share my thoughts with the world whether the world likes it or not) there are even more problems with the steel beam design.

    Firstly, the main beam of a catapult or trebuchet is under tension and stores energy when wound and releases it when fired (adding a little extra oomph into the shot) The effort required to get steel to store any energy would be immense and there is more of a chance that the steel will undergo plastic deformation.

    Secondly, and the thing that has always struck me about the metal design is 'how the hell are they going to get that main metal arm to accellerate and decellerate when they need it to?'. The energy required to get the arm up to any sort of speed would be enormous, and an almost equal amount of energy would be required to get it to stop.

    There are also alloying issues about the steel. It is likely that mild steel, wrought iron and stainless steel will distort when the beam hits the stop. Carbon steel and cast iron may shatter.

    Of course... They could be using hollow steel sections, which would reduce the weight, but it would suggest that the Dwarves had sorted out BOS / Concast / Electric Arc Furnace / cold rolling technology instead of using puddling furnaces.

    Good job on the trebuchet though. It does fit the Dwarf engineering aesthetic.

  5. Although I really like the trebuchet it has always bothered me that GW make warmachines that have no wheels. These are not static defenses (unlike the cool trebuchets in The Return of the King) but warmachines that have been brought to the field of battle.