CoreHammer Armies: Joe Wilding’s Ashen Host

image-8I conducted this interview with Joe Wilding almost a year ago, certainly prior to the devastation wrought upon the Old World by GW’s End Times storyline so apologies if it seems a little out of date. Joe has been a part of Corehammer since our inception and it has been my distinct pleasure to have worked with him on a number of small projects over the last couple of years. Joe is a hugely talented artist with an illustrative style that takes heavy influences from northern european folklore, occult horror themes and western esoteric traditions. You can find his distinct artwork scattered throughout the underground gracing posters, t shirts and fanzines and most recently he provided the stunning artwork for the new Unholy Majesty album. Feast your eyes upon his Ashen Host, a High Elf army on the cusp of betrayal and read what this peculiar man has to say. You can check out more of Joe’s incredible artwork HERE


Joe, the Ashen Host looks spectacular. I remember you talking about the project as a plan outside some gig once and then a year later here it is in all it’s glory. Can you tell us what inspired you to create a High Elves army on the cusp of the fall?

Cheers. Well I’d been running a completed Beastmen army for a year or so up until I decided to do pointy heads. I’d chosen Beastmen on looks and their vibe (who the fuck doesn’t want minotaurs with axes running round the field) and obviously as an army they’re utter shat. Spent ages getting beasted by my brothers ogres and Gaz’s Orcs/Undead. After a bit I came up with a dirty list that worked but got tired of it after it just started smashing everything. I wanted an army where I could concentrate on the list less and still do alright. Beastmen were low tier and at the time High Elves were top tier so I figured that’d be the way to go. But I’m not into ‘good’ armies. Who wants Christian Metalcore when you can listen to Satan Worshipping Doom? This was going to be the army where I really got into the fluff but I really wanted some stuff in the list that didn’t fit the theme so I blew that off and long story short they ended up as grim High Elves. After playing the army at various stages and still losing a lot I ended up with what turned out to be a lot of net list options.
As a completed army the unifying effect of tone and colour creates a really sombre mood and looks fantastic, what methods did you use to accomplish this? What inspired the selection of models and was there much conversion involved?

Before I started I was hoping to find a way to use models from both the High Elves and Dark Elves and paint them up to fit in together but I lost confidence with that because of just how unsubtle the differences are between the counterpart units. Something I’ve since looked up and saw works alright. I basically decided to stick to some of the core colours but mute and darken them. So I kept their royal blues for example and instead of gold went for bronze/brass and greys/blacks instead of whites. Blackened steel was something I feel I’d managed to get a handle on with the Beastmen and I liked the way that worked with the bronze colours you see in Dark Elf or Chaos paint jobs but I saved that for all but the most elite units so that for the most part it was kind of a subtle take on the standard High Elf paint job. Most of the first unit selections were based on the Island Of Blood box set because that’s a really cheap way to build core, especially because the models are really good and you can convincingly run the Sea Guard as Archers and Spearmen as well. The other two units I knew I wanted eventually were Shadow Warriors and Dragon Princes because they also look incredible. As for conversions I stuck to sculpting my own rocks to make the bases pop which was something I’d tampered with before and I stuck to 2 main conversion pieces one of which was my Prince(ss) riding a lion and the other was the unit of Silver Helms which I made out of more Reavers because as mentioned before the models are great and the Silver Helm models are woefully outdated. Not to draw a lot of negative attention but other than nostalgia value for when I started the hobby I don’t really care for working with old school models now. I’d much rather something more dynamic and up to date.

image-3Can you talk us through some of your units and key character models, give us an overview of why you chose them?

Yeah sure. I was pretty happy with how the Dragon Princes and the Shadow Warriors turned out because those are really good kits to build and paint but the Shadow Warriors really aren’t that integral despite looking good, I don’t think they really deliver on points that you could be spending on other options. The reverse is true of the Dragon Princes. I’d love to say I’d chosen them just on looks alone but obviously you can’t ignore they’re a great buy for the points. Slap The Banner Of Game Breaking on them and you’ve got a fast moving hard hitting bunker for any key characters. The Silver Helm conversions were a late edition because I’m not very bright but once I’d realised you’ve got a cavalry option with a 2+ armour save and Strength 5 on the charge in core it was bound to happen. Expensive points wise but so is a lot of stuff in the book. Other than that I’d say probably the Sword Masters. Again they come in Island Of Blood, nice models and while they prolly lose out to Phoenix Guard or White Lions in most peoples lists as the special allocation of Infantry I personally quite rate them. Again because they’re cheap from the box set that helped because I’m a tight arse and as a tight arse not spunking massive wods of cash on anything entertains me. Without getting needlessly tactical my character choices were largely pretty standard based on how I like to play. The exception would be the Prince on the griffon/snow leopard. That model is sick and I wanted it in the army 100% unfortunately it kind of fell down a lot as a flying leadership bubble that could mosh the fuck out of a bunch of other stuff on the field. I’ve recently started using it again as Eltharion The Grim because his fluffs grabbed me but other than that he’s laid abandoned and forgotten in a draw somewhere like that Keepers Of The Faith tee you can’t be bothered looking for.

image-5You’ve always been mildly scornful of our groups predisposition toward 40K rather than Fantasy. What is it about the fantasy world that you find so appealing?

Mildly? When I was like 13/14 I used to play that round base bullshit but at the time the odd one of my mates who played anything played 40k so that was a good way to get games. I found I’d always end up spending a lot of time buying, making and painting Fantasy models though because obviously that was a lot more in line with the kind of shit I was brought up on and I’d say that’s the main reason because I’d been pumped full of folklore and mythology at that age and since. When I got back into the hobby it was an opportunity to do it properly like I’d always wanted to. I don’t know, just other than dodgy Socio/political allegory/commentary sci fiction written of a certain time (Phillip K Dick, Huxley ect) I’m not a massive fan of sci fi, again probably to do with my upbringing, but elements of the 40k world interest more than most modern day sci fi. I was tempted to get on 40k as well as Fantasy but if I wanted to play with laser guns I’d go down the laser quest.

image-1How long have you been involved in the hobby? What other armies have you flirted with?

13/14 but I when I turned 17 or so I didn’t just have a hiatus so much as just stepped plain away from it up until 3 years ago. I’d washed my hands of it in favour of D&D and then before I knew I didn’t even have time for that. Not in a bad way it’s just music had become a lot more important and I’d just of rather of spent my time reading or drawing or whatever. I’ve found now I don’t realistically have time to do half of much of anything as I’d like but I find it quite a nice respite from everything I else I do to sit down and work on something once a week or so. Ages ago I had parts of armies but since I started again and I’ve had the money I’ve had the chance to have a full army so really only Beastmen but I’ve managed to bleed that book dry, I’ve played nearly all of the units and most of the named characters.

image-4Is the Ashen Host a work in progress or are you satisfied with what you’ve got?

Done deal really. I’ll play them again that’s for sure but the books kind of dried me out, I’m no where near as interested in getting much more out of it unlike the Beastmen book or the Wood Elf army book I bought 6 months back. I’ve been increasingly told ‘it’d work better if you took x, x and x option’ but I don’t think I’ll be adding to it for a while. I’ve got plans on a second Wood Elf list and I want to try and spend more time illustrating this year if I can.

What other games/systems do you play?

Currently writing a campaign for D&D because I bought that new rulebook and it’s buzzing, it’s everything I liked from 3.5 and with the salvageable parts of 4th edition. I don’t really play any other model games but I’m pretty keen on board games because they’re a great change of pace. I’ve been playing Lords of Waterdeep a lot recently and I’ve nothing but good things to say about that. Massively OTT Talisman games with multiple expansions when the opportunity arises too. X-Wing I was surprised by how fun and smooth that is.

image-7Mosh or stagedive?

Neither, I’d rather stand at the back with my arms crossed judging everyone younger than me and talking about x band’s demo CDR that ‘these kids would never remember’.

Last words/shout outs

Maybe to my bro whose helped a lot with various army lists and my more than basic bitch grasp of the rules, the real Walled City lads, Corehammer Crew itself, Kireon ‘The Pied Piper’ for helping me out with my Wood Elves, to UKHC for staying fresh and finally to Baroness for never writing a shit album.