Blood Bowl Update II: DA ‘ARDEST BOYZ IN DA LEAGUE!

Back in early 2018, I started working on my copy of the Blood Bowl core game, having just received one from my other half and mother-in-law for Christmas 2017. Being new to the game, I’d asked for this set primarily for the game components themselves – the rulebook, pitch, dugouts, dice, tokens, and so on. The miniatures were – for a change of pace1 – sort of an afterthought. Humans were a little vanilla for my tastes, and I’d already had my fill of Orruks from Shadespire in December.

What I really wanted to build, paint and play were Skaven – they were a personal favourite race of mine from the lore of Warhammer, and I liked their quick and disposable style of play. It didn’t hurt that the range was so well supported at the time either – with two awesome looking Star Players, a serviceable Big Guy, and a Booster pack with alternate sculpts for the Blitzer and Gutter Runners. And so, inevitably, my Skaven Team came to fruition – which I wrote about just over a year ago. Wanting to take advantage of the availability of the Booster2, I focussed on building the core of my own team and put together enough miniatures to fill out a whole roster with useful players – 4 Gutter Runners, 2 Throwers, 6 Linemen and 2 Blitzers – with several subtle little head/weapon swaps and/or tail/arm reposes to ensure every team member was unique. I also painted up Glart – simply because I couldn’t resist the sculpt.

They’ve been my go-to team for a long time now, and over the past year I’ve even managed to fill in the gaps in my collection – Hakflem Skuttlespike and a Rat Ogre. This is about as complete as the team gets until ForgeWorld release some Cheerleaders for them (I really can’t wait to see those).

I’m really rather proud of them. In fact, here’s an updated photograph of the complete roster:

But my Skaven – as fragile as they are formidible – aren’t exactly DA ‘ARDEST BOYZ IN DA LEAGUE, so let’s get back on track.

Jumping back to early 2017, there I was with my very own copy of Blood Bowl 2016, and – while I really wanted to get onto some Skaven – I just couldn’t bring myself just to buy a third team without painting the miniatures in the core set first3. So here I was, with 12 Humans and 12 Orcs to paint before get through before I could even make a start work on the team that I personally wanted to play.

Nothing for it but to crack on with it, then.

I started out with the Human Team. I’ll admit right here and now that I didn’t put too much thought into the assembly; I clipped away at the pair of identical frames and assembled all 12 players exactly as the instruction booklet uh.. instructed. I was halfway through the painting process before I started reading the rules manual. I learned of the RPG-lite nature of League Play – and thus the importance of having unique, easy-to-identify individuals on the pitch. Ah.. crap. Learn from your mistakes and move on, right4?

Oh, also – I bought an Ogre. He was cheap, he was plastic and he added so much more fun and character to the team5 – how could I not?

I deliberated hard over how to paint my Humans, what colours pick and which themes to go for. For a while, I had all but decided I was going to paint them in the colours of what would eventually become my (as of then entirely theoretical) Skaven team, before concluding that particular scheme was just too personal to me to use on what was ultimately just a Demo Game/Guest Player Team. After considerable huffing and hawing, I eventually decided to stick with the iconic colours of the Reikland Reavers from the box art. Aside from being an absolute mainstay of the fluff, the Reavers are the player team in the Story Mode for Blood Bowl II on PC6, so I already had a bit of an emotional connection to them as a team. They also have one of the best looking dice sets, so they’ve got that going for them too, which is nice. As a demo team, it’s probably best just to pick something recognisable over something obscure or potentially polarizing anyway, right?

Brand recognition alone doesn’t make the Reikland Reavers DA ‘ARDEST BOYZ IN DA LEAGUE though, does it?

COURSE NOT! DATS TURGHALLZ TOOFSPITTAZ AIN’T IT!?

So, here they are – over 18 months since I started working on them, Turghallz Toofspittaz are finally a ‘complete’ team – with 6 Linemen, 3x Blitzers, 4x Black Orc Blockers, 3x Throwers7 and Star Blitzer Varag Ghoul-Chewer (who will stand-in as a slightly overgrown Blitzer in pick-up games). Probably the first thing you’ll notice about them (if you hadn’t already seen them in the first Blood Bowl post about my Hellpitsburgh Squeakers team) is that they are very much not the Gouged Eye.

I was entirely ready to build and paint these guys – much like the Reavers before them – to match the box art colours and fluff. I’d learned the hard way not to just assemble the models as they come by this point though, and I made a number of little reposes and headswaps to ensure all of the miniatures were in some way completely unique. If I’m being honest with myself, it didn’t quite pan out so seamlessly as it would later with my Skaven8, but I had a lot of fun doing it. So much fun, in fact, that I just couldn’t bring myself to paint them the – in this man’s humble opinion – kinda boring Gouged Eye colour scheme. I would instead make them my own.

The second thing you’ll probably notice is that they’re predominantly pink. I get that one a lot. “They’re pink Orcs,” they tell me. Yeah, you bet your candy ass they’re pink Orcs9!

The idea really started with the desire to paint them pink. Foremost, I like my Blood Bowl schemes to be bright and eye catching – Warhammer 40,000 is for dark and gritty – Blood Bowl is all about pizazz! Red is.. well, it can be a little boring, but pink isn’t a colour that I get to paint with very often. It also contrasts nicely with my somewhat pale green approach to painting Orc skin – an approach I picked up while painting my Ironskullz Boyz warband for Shadespire. One colour alone however does not a team jersey make, so I had to pick a second. I did this by picking out my bottle of Warlord Pink and putting a number of different colours next to it until I found one I liked the look of – eventually, I picked up Bonewhite and it hit me that the colours together looked a lot teeth and gums. Something about the idea of dental imagery really resonated with me – almost like it’s a reference to the ultra-high contact nature of the sport of Blood Bowl itself. I started picturing how the team would look with Blood for the Blood God effect smeared all over their mouths and knuckle dusters and I was just sold instantly.

The last few colours – for the metal hardware, the undershirts and leather shoes and straps – they all just sort of fell into place here. I went for black trousers and a very dark grey for the jersey – it helped break up all the bright colours without calling too much attention to itself. The distinction of the slightly lighter jersey was really just to prevent the garments from looking too much like a jump suit. That left me free to paint the leathers in my usual approach for brown leather – again, trying not to distract too much from the more important and vibrant parts. Metallics, I mostly went for a nice warm brass with a silver highlight so as to compliment the warm tones of the armour.

And so, Turghallz Toofspittaz were founded, my first Blood Bowl team, and DA ‘ARDEST BOYZ IN DA LEAGUE!

The colour scheme specifically is Vallejo Game Warlord Pink for the armour with some Elfic Flesh panels. The cloth is Vallejo Model Black (seriously, the best black paint EVER) trousers with VG Charcoal for the jersey. The leathers are VG Leather Brown, metallics in VG Brassy Brass and the skin is basecoated in VG Mutation Green. When that’s all done, I give the model an all over wash of Seraphim Sepia.

Following the wash, I re-applied Warlord Pink over the pink armour panels – avoiding the recesses – and put a nice chunky highlight of 50:50 Warlord Pink and VG Squid Pink over the edges, followed by a finer highlight of VG Squid Pink and one more 60:40 Squid Pink/Elfic Flesh highlight on the corners and finest edges. The white panels were edge lighted with Elfic Flesh – once, and then again a little finer, and finished up on some fine edges with VG White. In some cases, the wash pooled a bit much so I re-base coated and washed the panels, taking care not to let too much pool – it’s quite easy when you’re painting bone white in this way to create way too much of a contrast between the washed white and the original colour if you go too heavy on the wash.

With the armour done, I’d move onto the skin. Large muscles were layered in VG Goblin Green (leaving the recesses), followed by a smaller layer of VG Camoflague Green, followed by a finer yet layer of 50:50 Camoflague Green and Elfic Flesh. If there was too much contrast and things didn’t blend right, I washed them using an equal parts wash mixed from Seraphim Sepia, Lamenters Yellow Glaze and Waywatcher Green Glaze. This reduced the contrast between layers, but also darkened things down so I carefully went over and re-did the Camo Green/Elfic Flesh layer highlights again.

After the skin, I did the cloth parts. For the legs and jersey, I applied rough edge highlights of Mechanicus Standard Grey, then VG Heavy Bluegrey. For the jersey, I added an additional step mixing a little white into the VG Heavy Bluegrey to make it a little bit lighter than the trousers.

Next up were the leathers. For this, I painted the edges with successively finer lines using Leather Brown then 50:50 Leather Brown/Elfic Flesh and finally just pure Elfic Flesh. When it dried, I put an amount of Seraphim Sepia over the leathers that was somewhere between a glaze and a wash, which blended the tones together and toned down the off-white Elfic Flesh again.

The last to get highlighted were the metals and the claws. For the brass, I did a quick Army Painter Shining Silver edge highlight, tidying things up with a Reikland Fleshshade wash where I applied too much silver. The claws were then all painted Vallejo Charcoal and quickly tipped with a Mechanicus Standard Grey layer followed by a Heavy Bluegrey layer at the very tip.

The miniature itself was now fully painted, leaving only the base to complete before varnishing. I quickly smeared some Vallejo Earth texture paint over the top and painted the rim of the base Beastly Brown. After this had completely dried, I took the model(s) out for a quick all-over blast of Testor’s Dullcote to seal it all in.

After the varnish cured, I used PVA Wood Glue to glue some GaleForce 9 Winter static grass to the top of the base and smeared some Blood for the Blood God effect on the weapons, faces and armour. When the PVA glue dried up, I applied a thin line of White paint across the static grass for the pitch markings and called it a day.

So, that’s us completely up to date now on my Blood Bowl teams. I’m chuffed to have finally completed the Toofspittaz. It’s been a long time coming, with the first 8 months spent waiting for the relevant model releases and the next 8 months just finding the time to sit down and paint them. Still, they’re finished now – and now flexible enough to use in both demonstration games and ‘competitive league play10, much like my Skaven team.

So, what’s next for Blood Bowl? In the long term, I’d like to finish off filling in the gaps in my pre-existing collection and give the Reikland Reavers the same full-roster treatment as the Squeakers and the Toofspittaz. To that end, I’ve got myself the Human Booster pack along with a Griff Oberwald miniature (c’mon, he’s pretty much the face of Blood Bowl, right?!) sitting ready for assembly.

That said, I’m planning on taking a little break from Blood Bowl to work on some bits and pieces for Heresy and Middle-earth – some minor bits and bobs for my Space Wolves and dipping my toes into Azog’s Legion – keep your eyes peeled for an update on that in the not too distant future!

Until then, thanks for reading and happy wargaming!

1 In marked contrast to Betrayal at Calth – a wonderful board game (I’m told) which untold thousands (myself included) purchased purely for the discounted Heresy plastics without ever so much as removing the boards and tokens from the shrink wrap. Criminal, I know.

2 At the time, there was no such thing as a Human Team Booster or an Orc Team Booster – another reason I wasn’t especially excited to spend a lot of time on either team.

3 A wildly unusual – but occasionally very handy – quirk in this particular hobby, I know.

4 Of course, you can always just number your models, but that’s just zzzzzzzzz…

5 In marked contrast to the Troll for Orc teams – maybe it’s that ‘Throw Teammate’ requires the Right Stuff or maybe it’s that the plastic Troll was sculpted with a Goblin in his hand, but Trolls always felt like more of a Goblin team big guy than something that Orcs would bring.

6 I’d started playing Blood Bowl II in my lunch hours at work – if you’re fast, you can usually squeeze a single game against the AI into an hour, and it’s a great way to learn the basics of how to approach the game without losing a bunch against real human players. It’s also a great way to interact with the hobby away from the tabletop or hobby desk without running the risk of “accidentally” acquiring more plastic crack…

7 Technically, I can’t legally field 3 Throwers (not that you’d want to on an Orc team anyway), but I had already painted two plastic Throwers (one with a head swap) from the boxed game before I got my hands on the Booster, and I wasn’t about to let that sweet looking alt-Thrower sculpt go unloved.

8 The 40K Orc heads were just a little too big in some circumstances – while some work extremely well, others look a little jarring and out of proportion. In retrospect, I wish I’d sourced some Ironjawz heads instead. I may yet go back and re-do the head on the Lineman pictured on the far left someday.

9 Euuuggh.. technically, they’re “Orcs wearing pink” – they’re still green-fleshed Orcs, they’re just wearing pink armour. I suppose that’s less catchy than “pink Orcs” though.

10 I mean this strictly in the sense of playing competitively at my local club – I daresay tournament organisers would (quite rightly) take issue with me using Varag as a basic Blitzer, but I’d most likely take my Skaven were I ever brave or stupid enough to play Blood Bowl with folk who actually know what they’re doing anyway!

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