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Posted 10/08/2017

Army Showcase – Graham’s Death Army

Graham Shirley is an awesome Warhammer painter, and we thought his Death army was worth showing off here on Warhammer Community. We’ve already taken a look at Graham’s forces of Destruction, and his Death army is a similarly awesome testament to his skills as a hobbyist:


Graham: I’ve been painting Warhammer figures on and off since the 90’s, but up until recently it’s all been about the Orcs and Goblins (the Orruks and Grots nowadays). Having finally put down my last greenskin (for now), I thought it was time for something completely different. I’ve always wanted to have a skeleton horde – there’s just something that looks so cool about rank upon rank of skeleton soldiers, and the models are fantastic.

Anyway, at the start of the year, it could be put off no longer, and I took the plunge. Knowing that I needed at least 60 skeletons to count (in my head) as a horde, I figured this was the place to start because if I didn’t get them done, the whole project could falter!

It was here that I came up with my overall colour scheme. I like to paint bone using a black wash rather than a brown or flesh shade. This would make them very monochrome, which I liked the idea of, but I knew it would need some extra colour to bring it to life. Having actually already painted 10 skeletons with red shields from when even greenskins could summon the dead (during the End Times – it’s true, I swear!), sticking with red as a spot colour would give me a head start. Then, for some reason, I figured pink flowers and vines would contrast nicely with the morbid scheme.

I always feel that an army needs a centrepiece, something that really draws the eye, and all these skeletons didn’t raise themselves… so who did? I didn’t have to look further than the Vampire Lord on Zombie Dragon – in fact, why not two of them? I love this model and had great fun painting them up! I wanted them to have two distinct poses so I built one of them as the Terrorgheist and swapped in the Dragon’s head. This is actually my favourite, as he looks like he’s leaning down from the ruins blasting out his Pestilential Breath!

These took up most of my painting and modelling time as they’re the main focus of the army and they’re so big! Each is converted and reposed to fit on top of the ruins and mausoleum. The riders are also converted so they didn’t end up looking too similar – I really wanted them each to each have their own character. At the time of building them, I hadn’t played many games, and I didn’t know if I wanted them to have lances or swords, so I gave them both a giant magical scythe (from the Mannfred kit), which I figured could be played as either option once I’d made up my mind.

The bases were made using the Sigmarite Mausoleum kit. One has a Banshee and the other has a Cairn Wraith haunting them. Both of these are removable to summon in the game should I want to.

I’m really pleased with how my Vampires turned out. I’m running them as twin brothers – each gets a chance to be the general, and each has his own list of victims which I keep a tally of each game I play.

The Grave Guard are included so I can run the Legion of Death warscroll battalion. I only needed five of them, but the rest of the kit came in very handy making unit champions for my skeletons. The champion of the Grave Guard is the Wight King model, which I had leftover from my next conversion.

I always like to go ‘Hero heavy’ if I can, so there were a few more to do. I also needed a Wight King for the Legion of Death, but I really wanted him on a horse to get him where I needed him… and we all know the horse always does more damage than the rider!

This was quite a project, but fun to do (kitbashes are always fun)! The final result was made up from Arkhan’s body and cloak, a Black Knight’s horse, Mannfred’s legs and the Skaven Doomwheel banner. Being a king, he really needed a crown, so I used the head from the Wight King model, which left the body spare for the aforementioned Grave Guard Champion.

After a few practice games with grey plastic (shudder), I realised how great Black Knights were at getting in the way and tar-pitting enemy units that I didn’t want to deal with yet – so they got painted up and included too. There’s a lot of detail to work with on these models, and I made sure they looked as old and rusted as possible!

In my opinion, you can’t have a proper Death army without a Necromancer – they’re just so iconic. Being able to cast Vanhel’s Danse Macabre on the skeletons, allowing them to pile in twice, is also nice! I toyed with the idea of also putting him on a horse, but it’s such a good model that I decided to leave him as he is and just try to paint him up the best I could. I loved painting his face – it’s so full of malicious character!

The Bat Swarms were painted up to have in my Summoning Pool. They’re a great unit to counter all those pesky Tzeentch Skyfires and Bonesplitterz Arrowboyz out there, giving any enemy within 12” -1 to hit. At 5 wounds apiece, with the ability to regenerate wounds, they’re not too shabby at claiming and sitting on objectives either!

Now that the army is finished I’m looking forward to taking it on the UK tournament scene for a while, and I’ve got a couple of months to make a display board for Armies on Parade!

After that… hmmm… I have my eye on Khorne. Always wanted to paint a Bloodthirster!


Thanks, Graham! If you’re inspired and fancy starting your own Deathrattle army, pick up Start Collecting! Skeleton Horde today.

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