Thursday, May 19, 2022

A Brief History of Mengel's Nighthaunt Collection

If you're not aware, I'm a bit of a Nighthaunt fan. I have almost one of every unit painted, and collectively I have over 6,000 points of models painted for them, and even more waiting to be painted! How did this ghostly obsession start though?

I remember back when the new Spirit Host models first came out during the End Times and how cool I thought they were, but at the time I was a pure Tomb Kings player. There was no way I was going to touch the Vampire Counts or else Settra would be very unhappy. When AoS came around though, all of the Death stuff got a bit of a revamp. For starters, the Tomb Kings got discontinued, and although I continued to collect and play them, I also wanted to have an army that was "current." One of the things I really liked about how Death was handled in AoS is how at the start, everything got compartmentalized. You could do pure Nighthaunt, or Deathrattle, or Flesh-eaters, and they had new lore to justify it. I was never a big fan of the clearly Dracula inspired lore for the Vampire Counts. It felt too limited, but AoS completely broke that mold. Even the new Soulblight lore is its own thing and feels way more fresh.

In 2017 Adepticon was coming up and I decided I wanted to enter into the Team tournament, 1,000 points per player, as well as the regular Championship event at 2,000 points. For the Championships I was still going to take my Tomb Kings, but I felt like the Teams was an opportunity to start a new collection and have a solid deadline to work towards and keep me motivated. My main goal was to paint up an army I could do quickly and effectively. At this time I was still a fairly slow painter, so I was trying to improve the speed at which I could paint some higher end tabletop minis. I settled on three main choices for the army, Skaven, Ironjawz, or Nighthaunt, and painted up a test mini for each. For the Nighthaunt it was a Cairn Wraith since they were pretty cheap to buy. After I saw how good it looked and how quickly I could do it I was hooked.

This was pre-Battletome and even before they had rules in the Generals Handbook. My choices were pretty limited. It was Spirit Hosts, Hexwraiths, Mournguls, Cairn Wraiths, and Tomb Banshees. It didn't hurt that the Mourngul was 400 points at the time too, so it cut down the number of units I needed to paint dramatically. Needless to say I had a ton of fun with them. The Morungul was absolutely insane then, and could also be taken as your general since ANY model could be your general back then. That meant he got to do some pretty crazy stuff with the Death Grand Alliance command traits and artifacts. The finished army was 2 Cairn Wraiths, 1 Banshee, 2 Spirit Host units, 1 unit of Hexwraiths, and a Mourngul. That following summer the new GHB had Nighthaunt allegiance abilities in it and I was ecstatic. I had already started ramping the army up to 2,000 points before that for an upcoming event in the fall, but having unique rules definitely kicked my motivation into high gear.

In the early months of 2018 the Malign Portents book came out, and with it the Knight of Shrouds, the first unique Nighthaunt mini for AoS. I got him painted up and added him into my existing army for Adepticon that year. I believe I also had to paint up another Cairn Wraith to plug a gap in points since the Mourngul had gotten reworked and dropped a bit in points. I remember having an awesome time with them and just absolutely loving it.

Around this time I also became a play tester for AoS. I no longer am, but I got to help with the game for all of 2nd edition and a bit of 3rd. My first book I worked on was the original Idoneth Deepkin, but shortly after that was AoS2 and the Nighthaunt book. I can't talk much about the play testing process, but I was over the moon to be working on their first book. I was one of the co-leads on the play test team for that battletome and I made sure to put as much time and testing into it as I could.

Once the Soul Wars box came out I was full speed ahead. That summer was the summer of Nighthaunt for me and I painted up more of the ghosties in a shorter time then than I have since. I loved all of the new sculpts and wanted to add everything I could to my army. 

There was a bit of a learning curve here for me, since when I started the army the available models didn't have a ton of armor, except for the Hexwraiths. At the time I painted those all ghostly, but with the new models there were a lot of new textures and elements to them. I wanted to make sure these stood out enough but still fit in with my existing models. To do this I added black in as the other major color but highlighted it with a ghostly grey and did lots of fading to pure ghostly parts.

I quickly made me way through the contents of the Soul Wars box and started adding even more to it. The releases for the army were spread out over the rest of that summer, so it gave me a bit of time to space them out.

The model I was the most excited to paint was Olynder. She's just such a cool model and I still think she's one of the best in the Nighthaunt range. She just exudes power and menace without having to have a ton of details or a crazy pose. She's regal, yet terrifying.

I was also lucky enough to paint up the Black Coach for the Warhammer Community site as a tutorial. This was definitely a super involved mini and probably one of the largest I had painted up to that point. I made sure to do it in several sub-assemblies, and if I remember correctly, it took me around an entire month of near constant painting in my free time to get it done. It was definitely worth it though since it's such a spectacular centerpiece model. It also became a staple in a lot of my lists since I would run the Deathriders battalion. I took it to the Michigan GT in 2018, as well as Adepticon following that in 2019.

About half way through 2nd edition, the Nighthaunt got one of their most exciting additions, a new way to play them with the Legion of Grief! This ruleset came with the Forbidden Power expansion, and gave you a way to combine the Nighthaunt models with most of the Legions of Nagash models, and play them more along the lines of a Legions army. That meant all the cool Nighthaunt rules like getting to attack on the charge were gone, in favor of gravesites as well as new artifacts, traits, and spells. The list combined Deathmages, Skeletons, Deadwalkers, and a few other things with the ghosts. I got super excited about this and immediately started working towards having a playable list for the Rend 4 event in the summer.

My army consisted of skeletons as my battleline, a Deathmage for the all important Van Hel's spell, and then a bunch of ghosts. I built the list around the idea of bravery bombing units, which meant reducing their bravery as much as I could. This was done using a lot of spells, including the Gravetide, the Horrorghast, and in faction spells. To help get these off I also painted up a Corpse Cart which gave me a +1 to cast for only 80 points. This was then all brought together by three Tomb Banshees, who would proceed to scream at any unit affected by it. I remember getting a unit of Idoneth to -1 bravery and then screaming at them, wiping out the whole unit. I also used this event as an opportunity to finish my Mymourn Banshees, and the Briar Queen, who I used as one of my three Tomb Banshees.

I also decided to use this event as a reason to finish up Kurdoss. I had been using Olynder in pretty much every one of my lists since she's awesome, and really wanted to use the couple together at an event. I'm really happy with how he turned out, even if he didn't end up doing much in the actual games. He looked good doing it. I only won 2 of my 5 games that weekend, but most importantly, I had an absolute blast. I loved playing this list.

During the heights of Covid I also painted up the limited edition Guardian of Souls, as well as another unit of Chainrasps. The Chainrasps were actually done as a warm up for the Guardian. It had been awhile since I had painted any Nighthaunt and I wanted to make sure I could still do the techniques and style properly before painting an irreplaceable mini. This guy is one of my favorite Nighthaunt minis. He just has so much atmosphere to him. I also changed how I paint a few things with him, primarily the flames and the gravestones. Before the flames were mostly painted with glazes and washes for speed, but I wanted a bit more vibrance here so I worked in some Moot Green. I also wanted a cleaner, more vibrant look for the gravestones, so I ditched my drybrush method and went with some regular layering and highlighting.

In 2021 the Michigan GT was going to run its first event again since Covid hit and I eagerly signed up. It was local and smaller than stuff like Adepticon, so a great test run for an event in the new Covid world. I decided to take my ghosts again and settled on a three Mourngul list. I already had two painted up, so I ordered another one from Forge World and then converted it to be in a new pose tearing down a column. I'd always wanted to run a heavy Mourngul list, and with the new monster rules for AoS3 it felt like the perfect time. The list also required a Knight of Shrouds on foot, which I already had painted, but why not make a new one? I wanted to go for a more feral and bestial look, as if he's a monster tamer, so I converted one out of a Lord Executioner and a bunch of other bits. Once again, much fun was had!

That brings us to now, with the release of Arena of Shades and the new battletome. I absolutely love the Scriptor Mortis model, so I knew I had to paint it right away. Looking at how I painted him compared to how I painted my earlier models, I've definitely introduced some new techniques and colors. For example, the fade at the bottom were previously done with the Coellia Greenshade built up over several layers. To get more control of it now I instead use Incubi Darkness on the ends. This gives me more control and also is a bit more vibrant. I did the same thing with my bestial Knight of Shrouds earlier too.

Above you can see how my entire Nighthaunt collection looked around the end of 2019. Since then I've added 10 more Chainrasps, the Guardian of Souls, another Mourngul, another Knight of Shrouds, a Scriptor Mortis, and the Thorns of the Briar Queen. I'm probably not looking to add a whole ton more to my Nighthaunt right away since I already have so much done, but I definitely plan on painting the Craventhrone Guard and Awlrach the Drowner models. I'm also tempted to boost my unit of Mymourns up to 8. It will probably take another event to motivate me to really add stuff I already have painted versions of, depending on what my list ends up being. I'll probably go the Michigan GT this Fall and more than likely take my ghosts, so it won't be long. Soon I'm going to have to get a whole new display case just for all of my Nighthaunt!

Until next time,

Tyler M.

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