Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Interview with a Mortarch: Deke Johnstone

Today I have an interview with Deke Johnstone, the creator and lead admin on the Death Grand Alliance Facebook group. Not only is he a pillar of the community, but he also has an extensive collection of Death models painted to a fantastic standard and littered with gorgeous conversions.

I'm personally very fond of Deke's army. The conversions he comes up with are great and fit right in with the AoS theme of Death, and it certainly doesn't hurt that he's a pretty darn good painter as well. Without further ado, let's speak to Nagash's Mortarch of Australia, Deke Johnstone.

Tyler: You have a very extensive Death collection for AoS, what drew you to that alliance? 

Deke: 20 years ago, my best bud from school Anthony Magro, aka the AOS Coach gave me a White Dwarf that featured a Warhammer Fantasy battle report between an Undead army lead by Heinrich Kemmler and a Beastmen army. It was that moment I fell in love with the undead. There wasn't many Games Workshops around in Sydney back then so I went out to a local bookshop that sold Warhammer and bought Nagash, the Red Duke Vampire Lord, a box of Skeleton Horsemen, a Skeleton Chariot and a box of Skeleton Warriors. A mighty army indeed!

My Dad is an amazing folk painter so I raided all his Jo Sonja paints to paint them all up and destroyed a few of his brushes. Haha, he wasn't too happy. They didn't come out too good, they were not ideal for Warhammer.

As it stands now the Death Miniature collection has grown to beyond 16k of painted miniatures. Much more resides unpainted or unassembled awaiting the necromantic call to battle.

Tyler: What’s your favorite faction within the Death alliance?

Deke: Soulblight! The Blood Dragons have always been my favorite blood line of Vampires in Warhammer Fantasy. Age of Sigmar was a dream come true as it now allows me to field an entire army of Vampires.

Tyler: What’s your favorite unit or model you’ve worked on for it?

Deke: I have a favorite miniature of mine among my ranks of the dead. Many years ago I converted up a model to represent Walach Harkon, the Grandmaster of the Order of the Blood Dragons. His look was based on his description and load out from the 5th Edtion WHFB Vampire Counts Book. He has been stripped and repainted over the years, I think I am happy with him now. He is always found in my Soulblight or Legion of Blood armies on the tabletop. I am also loved converting up my Vhordrai and my new Tomb Banshee.

Tyler: How do you decide what to work on next? Do you build and paint what catches your eye, or are you generally collecting towards the goal of a specific army or something like that?

Deke: Most of the time I go with my inspiration. Sometimes the model will look so good I have to build a list around it and paint it up, Black Library is responsible for a lot of models being added and painted up for my collection as well. Josh Reynolds is an amazing author and captures the feel of the armies and heroes of Death in AOS perfectly, so some of the blame goes to him too, haha!. Lately I'll just add something I haven't painted up yet to a tournament list and use that as my deadline to get it painted.

Tyler: How often do you actually get to play and what’s your favorite Death army on the tabletop?

Deke: Usually I will only get to play once a month at a local casual tournament where I will get to play three games. I will often take a different army list and death faction every month so most of my collection can get a turn of the battlefield. Soulblight has probably seen the most action on the tabletop followed by Flesh Eater Courts, and Nighthaunt. Though Legion of Grief is looking to win over for a while now.

Tyler: You moderate and run the Death Grand Alliance page on Facebook, what made you decide to create that?

Deke: Well, as you may have guessed by now, I am very passionate about Warhammer Age of Sigmar and in particular, the Death Faction. My vision was to create a Death Grand Alliance page that you can visit and will only find inspiring, helpful and positive content for all the Death players and collectors out there. Where all are one in Nagash!

Tyler: Can you tell us anything about the community that you’ve learned since starting that page that stands out to you?

Deke: It's growing! When I started the Death GA page, it was a very small faction indeed, but now its huge. The Death Grand Alliance page itself for example is now well above 4000 members, and of course there are way more fans out there! It's also a very creative community. We see so many amazing conversions, I think that's the best thing about collecting a Death army, there are so many cool ways to kit bash and convert it.

Tyler: Outside of Death, do you collect and other forces for AoS?

Deke: I also collect and play Darkling Covens, Daughters of Khaine, Blades of Khorne, Seraphon, Gloomspite Gits and have started on some Slaanesh. I always wander back to Shyish though...

Tyler: What would you most like to see for Death in the future, whether that’s whole new armies, redone kits, or just a new unit here or there for existing armies?

Deke: I would love to see Soulblight get properly get fleshed out with their own allegiance or for Legion of Blood. I really want to see plastic Blood Knights, some form of Blood Knight infantry unit and some plastic heroes. I would also like to see a re imagined AOS version of Skeleton Archers and the good old Screaming Skull Catapult. Some more Death monsters would be awesome too!

Tyler: Any final thoughts? 

Deke: It's an exciting time for Death players narrative wise, Nagash has unleashed his necroquake and thrown down the gauntlet to both the Realm Gods and the Chaos Gods. Currently we have just received the next chapter in Forbidden Power and have seen some amazing miniatures so far. I can't wait to see what the future holds for us both lore wise and with what cool new models we will get in the future.

In the mean time, just remember...

Nagash is all and all are one in Him!

Thanks again to Deke for taking the time to do this interview and for supplying me with so many awesome pictures. In fact, he gave me so many, there was no way I could fit all of them in here. He posts regularly over in the Death Grand Alliance Facebook group though, so be sure to join it if you want to see some great Death models from him as well as a very positive, and supportive community to share your own work with.

Until next time,

Tyler M.

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