Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Unit Fillers & WYSIWYG

Today I'll return to a favourite couple of topics, the rise of the unit filler and the hallowed WYSIWYG.

Over the last couple of years the building trend of including unit fillers has intrigued me. Initially I wasn't all that taken with the idea, a unit of troops should be a unit of troops after all! Fairly quickly though, I realised the potential for adding dynamism to units with the addition of a unit filler in keeping with the theme of the unit/army. The potential for adding lots of points of interest as well as a little height and movement to a unit won me over. I determined to add at least one filler to each of my fimir units, as as well as an aesthetic addition, they are a modeller and converter's dream.

This does bring me to a point of note on fillers though, and the main reason why folks can take against them.

Unit fillers should be as much, if not more work than the models they are replacing. There. A single goblin on a 40mm x 40mm base is not a unit filler in my book. A howling goblin standing on a burning dwarf baggage cart while his two mates loot the dead driver, that's a filler, and boy, do they look good if done right. Now, you can go overboard. A ruined cathedral in the middle of your skeleton unit, that's too much. Some crumbling pillars here and there, now you're talking. I've seen this very thing on the Painting Tabled forum recently. Just on the cusp of too much, in my opinion, but still beautiful models.

I have seen some great examples over the last couple of years, from Ben Johnson's wonderful skaven fillers, which are really small dioramas, telling the story of the army as much as providing the viewer with some gorgeous eye candy, (incidentally, Ben Johnson, what's with that guy? Legendary player and able to produce beautiful converted armies in jig time? Sometimes life just isn't fair.) to Greg Person's excellent vampire counts fillers, it's coming to the point where I'm now mildly disappointed if I see a unit of troops without a good filler expanding the narrative of the army.

And there we have the cusp of it for me. Narrative. I'm a sucker for building a fairly detailed back-story for my armies. I know it's not for everyone, but for me it makes the whole process of building, painting and playing with the army infinitely more enjoyable. It's always more fun to use a character with a name, history and favoured enemies than X lord choice. Fillers allow me to inject some of the story of the army into the actual units, building a theme that hopefully makes the army much more enjoyable to view and play against, so that you're now facing the infamous ember horde, destroyers of Ungerhaven, than just forty hand weapon & shield hobgoblins in 5x8 formation.

I've put together a few fillers for the fimir so far, and they have all added to the units the sit in. The boundary stone in the fimm unit adds some nice height and reinforces the Celtic theme, as well as allowing some movement with the ravens. My next filler, a fimm slave driver standing on a rotting swamp tree, does the same job, but also, by adding a prominent fimir model to a unit full of animated bog bodies, ties a unit that might seem out of place otherwise into the army.

They are immense fun to work on, and I plan on adding a goodly lot more to other units.

The second part of this post has to deal with WYSIWYG. Now, generally I'm fine with this, but how does this apply to fillers? Does the chaos warrior standing on the pile of corpses have to have a halberd if the rest of the unit does? Common sense comes to the rescue here, I can't see too many players having problems with decent fillers if it is apparent what the rest of the unit is armed with.

From my own point of view, I do think that a unit of crossbowmen should have crossbows, a unit of spearmen should have spears, but, I do think some more common sense needs to work in here. As long as your opponent knows what the unit has, all is well. My fimm warriors are proxying chaos warriors, which is another post entirely. Secondly, I've modelled them so that all the weapon options appear in the unit, some halberds, some hand weapons etc, because it looked best that way. I may want to field them with one weapon option in one game, and another in the next, and I'm damned if I'm going to build two or three fimm units just to cover all the weapon options, but I can see how this might irk some people. I do make it plain what each unit is before the game, they are all on the correct base size and it's faaaiirlllyy obvious what everything is, but I am banking on my opponent's good will. I'm hoping facing a themed army one does not see too often (or ever) makes up for the slight fuzziness over WYSIWYG, but I'd sure be interested in what ye all think...

Wayland Games

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