Dark Elves: High House of Chains
This was never the plan. I hadn’t intended for the House of Chains to get this big, to have 100+ pages of background, to take up damn near three years of my life. But here we are, 5000pts later. What a journey.
At the start, there wasn’t even a High House Of Chains, just a vague desire to do a cavalry heavy Dark Elf army based around a noble house. I’d put some thought into the background of my armies, but this was the first one where I went balls-out on the thought behind the actual structure of the army and the story tying it all together.
Dark Elves had always been my main FB army over the years in several different incarnations. Some of you old-school boys from Cardiff might well remember my Shade/Dark Rider army from back in the day – The Crow Clan. Much fun was had running round armies before stabbing them in the back.
But this was a new age, a new edition and a new army. Eventually even a new army book. And of course a new theme. I like theme. All my lists, for every game and army I’ve ever done have been themed, often to the point of severely limiting the units I’ll allow myself to take. I get immensely annoyed at the perceived internets wisdom regarding list building and unit choices, more so at the tendencies of a few players to try and make everyone’s list the exact same clone of theirs.
That’s not for me. I know Lvl 4’s and Cauldron BSBs are the way to win. I don’t care. They don’t fit my theme. Ergo, I won’t use them. No matter what. Because fuck those guys and their insistence on hammering the individuality out of this hobby.
So, for this edition, I wanted something a little different to the cookie cutter lists you see online. Corsairs were tempting, but one day of trying to rank up a unit and that went out of the window. Literally. I turned to the army books for inspiration, along with the Darkblade BL series (which I think are ace). I even looked over the High Elf book. Then it hit me. A lot of Druchii armies tend towards the darkly sinister stabby stab influence – this is all well and good and I’ve been there myself but this time..this time I wanted to go the other way.
I wanted a list and army that played up the cold, proud lineage of the sons of Naggarythe, a theme that played to the shared heritage between the Druchii and the Asur. I wanted an ancient, proud noble house that viewed the murderous excesses and bloodlust of current Druchii culture as a bit…well, childish.
So there was the theme – a noble house, led by a Highborn – cold, proud, vicious and willing to die for the ideals of Naggarythe. This in turn limited my list choices – no Khainite units. No war-beasts. No corsairs. No Lvl 4 Mage. This was a noble house after all, and at the core had to be my Highborn and household knights.
I deliberately chose a very different scheme as well, to play down the darkly sinister aspects. Hence, polished bone armour for my elves, offset with black cloth. The darkness of the cloth still makes them obviously Druchii – the bone armour gives them a different feel – almost antiquated compared to the prevalent blacks and purples.
2000pts was the initial plan, a plan which somehow snowballed into the monster you can see before you here. And which went from the vague nebulous idea above regarding the Highborn and his Household, into detailing the struggles between the brothers of the Arkitaine Line and the insidious presence of the Chained One. In terms of production time, I started in the summer of 2011 and wrapped up everything in March 2014. Now with work, a wife, 2 kids under 3, 2 cats and everything else, my hobby time is limited to about an hour a day for 3 or 4 days a week. In that time, I managed to get together 150+ converted and painted models and a rich background that still surprises me sometimes.
This army has also seen me settle into my own individual and distinctive painting style – bleaker, muted, colder and more Blanche than Eavy Metal. Tooting my own horn a little, I haven’t seen another Dark Elf army that looks anything like mine. Which is awesome.
So there we are. Three years, 5000pts of painted and converted Dark Elves. More importantly, a richly detailed narrative background and accompanying story that grew its own characters and ideas, its own voice as I wrote it.