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Nightstalker's Guide to Army Building


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#1 Nightstalker

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Posted 26 September 2018 - 02:10 PM

If you're reading this then you must have some general interest in making awesome armies with LEGO. Alternatively, you're curious on how I do this. Well, it doesn't matter why you're here, I'm going to go into this! More importantly, I will literally be using this topic to showcase building my next army. That's right! Rather than wait for the final reveal, which I typically do, I'm going to walk through my process and thoughts as I build my next army.

 

Let's get into this!

 

dsc05830.jpg

 

For starters, what the heck is an army?

 

According to the Webster, it is an organized military force equipped for fighting on land.

 

"Duh, Nick, we already know that!" Of course you know that! I specifically want to highlight the whole, "organized military force," bit of it. Now, a lot of times when people want to put together a LEGO army, the first thing they think of is this:

 

hqdefault.jpg

 

This is a massive clone army. People are taken in by the sheer number of minifigs and set that as their primary goal. That's fine; shoot for the stars! However, acquiring that many minifigs can be a daunting task. More importantly, the average LEGO enthusiast, you don't have the resources to do so! That's 100% fine! Why? Because an army doesn't need to consist of massive troop numbers. Truth be told, for MOC'ing purposes, most people typically end up using 30-35 minifigs. Others might have specialized groups that are roughly a size of 10. Of course, some go for smaller numbers. In the end, it doesn't quite matter; they just need to be an organized military force. I'll touch on the whole "organized" thing a bit later.

 

Now, before you even consider building an army, the following questions need to be answered:

 

1) Where is your army from? 

 

- Everyone has a home, even if it's the road.

 

2) Who's leading this army?

 

- Are they a King, a Queen, Emperor, or is this a motley group of militia led by a village elder?

 

3) Under what banner/colors do they unite?

 

- All armies need some form of recognition! Maybe it's an emblem that exists, maybe it's the colors, perhaps it's the type of weaponry they use.

 

These three questions should give you a solid foundation for starting your army. I should mention that at this stage of planning, you probably won't have any minifigs assembled yet. That's okay! You shouldn't have any minifigs built, or if you do have any, they should be at very low numbers.

 

"Can you show us an example?" Sure thing! Without further ado, let me introduce the next army I'll be building!

 

44215701254_59d067098e_z.jpg

 

The next army is *drum roll please* ...

 

----

The Army of Bara-Gol (Orcs).

----

1) The orcs are from the lovely little land of Altrairia (left side of the map).

2) Warchief Gromack Urgol

3) They unite specifically under the following emblem:

 

61856pb01.png

 

And there ya go! The first couple of questions answered! From here, I'll be able to build off of this and eventually create a complex faction!

 

Anyways, that's all for now! Next time, I'll talk about the, "The Number Game," which will fully delve into army sizes and divisions.

 

Hope you enjoyed, and have an awesome day!

:lego_smile:


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#2 Dalton Kringle

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Posted 26 September 2018 - 07:41 PM

The next army is *drum roll please* ...

 

----

The Army of Bara-Gol (Orcs).

----

1) The orcs are from the lovely little land of Altrairia (left side of the map).

2) Warchief Gromack Urgol

3) They unite specifically under the following emblem:

 

61856pb01.png

 

Can't find a good meme to express how much I love this, but I'm pretty sure that ten-year old me is losing his mind with joy.

 

Anyways, I'm looking forward to more posts in this!

 

Especially if there are more orcs! :D

 

 



#3 Lord_Klaus

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Posted 27 September 2018 - 06:04 AM

An excellent starting point!  I look forward to seeing the rest of your procedures for army-building, given the sheer coolness factor of your own minifig armies.  I know that my own army-building is personally hindered by budget constraints in buying weapons, armor, and minifig parts, or just in the time necessary to assemble them and cut out/apply decals (if applicable), so you can rest assured that I'll be taking notes as you explain your own process.  Thanks for taking the time to post this!

 

 


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#4 Nightstalker

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Posted 27 September 2018 - 04:20 PM

Hello and welcome back!

 

For today's update, let's talk about something I call, "The Numbers Game."

 

The Number's Game consists of the following set of tasks:

 

1) Creating a "soft-cap" for your army.

2) Dividing the "soft-cap" to create unit divisions.

 

Let's walk through these two little tasks then!

 

Creating a "soft-cap"

 

- First off, let's define "soft-cap." A soft-cap is the number that you are looking to hit for your base army, but it can be greater than the number set. Typically, this number represents the entirety of a standing army. This includes regular units and special forces, but does not include unique figures, or other figures (units piloting vehicles, siege weapon crews, other creatures, etc.). The idea for a soft-cap is that this is where you'll ideally want to get your army at. However, you might decide to go above the number at a different time. As general advice, this should be an achievable number, based off of the availability of resources. However, if you do need a good starting number I would personally recommend going with 15 or 25 units for starters. That gives you enough room for some creativity, but it isn't outrageously huge!

 

Dividing the soft-cap

 

- Once the soft-cap is set, it's time to begin divvying up the army! This step is pretty fun, because you get to decide what units you want to create, and how many you want to create! This step should factor in your regular units and special units. Remember, uniques, pilots, and crews are not added into this number.

 

So, now that those have been explained, here's what it looks like!

 

Example:

----

Black Falcon Army

----

* = Special Units

 

Soft-Cap: 20

- 4 Units to Type A

- 4 Units to Type B

- 4 Units to Type C

- 4 Units to Type D*

- 4 Units to Type E*

 

Keep in mind, your army does not need to remain even! It could look like:

 

Soft-Cap: 20

- 8 Units to Type A

- 4 Units to Type B

- 4 Units to Type C

- 2 Units to Type D*

- 2 Units to Type E*

 

In the end, it really is up to you to decide how many of a certain unit type you'll want! This number can be adjusted as you're building the army, but for starters, you should pick a number and stick with it.

 

That's all there is to it! It's deciding on a size number and splitting it up for different units!

 

Since I've described it, let me go ahead and do this!

 

----

The Army of Bara-Gol

----

* = Special Units

 

Soft-Cap: 200

- 25 Units of Type A

- 25 Units of Type B

- 25 Units of Type C

- 25 Units of Type D

- 25 Units of Type E

- 25 Units of Type F

- 10 Units of Type G*

- 10 Units of Type H*

- 10 Units of Type I*

- 10 Units of Type J*

- 10 Units of Type K*

 

And blamo! My next army is now divided up!

 

Oh, and at this point, you shouldn't be accumulating any minifgs yet! Don't worry, we're getting closer, but there is still another step of planning that needs to be dealt with!

 

And that my friends, is setting unit types!


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#5 Nightstalker

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Posted 27 September 2018 - 05:28 PM

Because I couldn't wait, I'm going to go ahead and jump into the next part of army building:

 

Setting Unit Types

 

Alright, you've got a leader, banner/colors (or both), a home, an army size, and divisions within the army. It's time to pull everything together!

 

Now, before you go setting units, let's talk about Army Themes. An army theme is a broad description of your army. It should be something rather simple, no greater than a sentence.

 

Ex:

- The Black Falcons are an army of knights and soldiers.

- The Forest Elves are an army of foresters and scouts.

- The Arcane Collective is an army of mages and sorcerers.

 

The theme will ultimately dictate what your regular units will be. If you decided to go with the Black Falcons example, your regular units should consist of more knight like figures. It a group of mages appeared as regular units, that would just be weird!

 

Once the theme is set, it's time to to decide what unit types your regulars will have. I'll go ahead and reuse the Black Falcons from the last post.

 

----
Black Falcon Army
----
 
* = Special Units
 
Soft-Cap: 20
Theme: The Black Falcons are an army of knights and soldiers.
 
- 4 Units to Swordsmen
- 4 Units to Spearmen
- 4 Units to Crossbowmen
- 4 Units to Type D*
- 4 Units to Type E*
 
As stated earlier, the regular units represent the theme which was set earlier. Which now brings us to the really cool part of army building: Special Units!
 
Special units allow you to add flavor to your army. So, what makes them so special? That's simple! They aren't bound by the army theme. Basically, special units can be anything! It could even be elite units of your regulars! Please note, these units do not count as uniques! While they can be unique figures, they aren't one of a kind. 
 
----
Black Falcon Army
----
 
* = Special Units
 
Soft-Cap: 20
Theme: The Black Falcons are an army of knights and soldiers.
 
- 4 Units to Swordsmen
- 4 Units to Spearmen
- 4 Units to Crossbowmen
- 4 Units to Mages
- 4 Units to Heavy Cavalry

 

Special units are there to allow you to counter weakness, expand on strength, and add flavor to an otherwise generic army.

 

So, let me go ahead and follow the example!

 

----
The Army of Bara-Gol
----
 
* = Special Units
Theme: The Bara-Gol Orcs are an army of fierce warriors.
 
Soft-Cap: 200
 
- 25 Units of Axemen
- 25 Units of Two-Handed Axemen (Orc Armsmen)
- 25 Units of Archers 
- 25 Units of Swordsmen
- 25 Units of Dual-Wielders (Orc Maulers)
- 25 Units of Spearmen
- 10 Units of Elite Cavalry (Blood Lords)
- 10 Units of Hunters
- 10 Units of Cavalry (Warg Cavalry)
- 10 Units of Shaman
- 10 Units of Rogues (Stalkers)
 
And there we go! Again, at this point, you shouldn't have any figs (or very little if you do have some). Which brings us to an end for this section.
 
Next, we will begin to discuss acquiring weaponry for your units!

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#6 Sleighbell-Scorpion

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Posted 30 September 2018 - 08:35 AM

Cool guide. Organizing your army well is indeed key to making it look a lot bigger and more impressive, with unit squares, reserves in the back, cavalry on the flanks, etc. Much cooler than just a giant sea of 'figs.

Wow, I searched for "roman legion organization", and the first image result just happened to use LEGO figures, haha:

Spoiler

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#7 Nightstalker

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Posted 17 October 2018 - 12:55 PM

Hello everyone and welcome back!

 

It has been a bit, but that's because... *drum roll*

 

I've been acquiring weaponry! Which is exactly what's on the table for today!

 

Arming Your Army

 

So, you've finished laying out your army.

 

----
The Army of Bara-Gol
----
 
* = Special Units
Theme: The Bara-Gol Orcs are an army of fierce warriors.
 
Soft-Cap: 200
 
- 25 Units of Axemen
- 25 Units of Two-Handed Axemen (Orc Armsmen)
- 25 Units of Archers 
- 25 Units of Swordsmen
- 25 Units of Dual-Wielders (Orc Maulers)
- 25 Units of Spearmen
- 10 Units of Elite Cavalry (Blood Lords)
- 10 Units of Hunters
- 10 Units of Cavalry (Warg Cavalry)
- 10 Units of Shaman
- 10 Units of Rogues (Stalkers)
 
Now, it is time to begin getting some weapons! Unfortunately, getting weapons can be quite a daunting task. Why? Because there are sooo many types of weapon manufacturers! Just look at them:
 
 
That's a lot of different weapon choices! How exactly do you go about choosing weapons? Here are some general guidelines I typically follow:
 
1) Keep your army theme in mind!
 
- This seems like one of those "duh" moments, but trust me, with so many different weapons, it is very easy to forget what your army is supposed to be! By keeping your theme in mind, you can limit what specific weapons you're looking for. To this end, it might actually be time to modify the theme! So let's do this!
 
Theme: The Bara-Gol Orcs are an army of fierce warriors.
 
This theme worked for determining your army units, but now it's time to make this a bit more advanced. However, we don't need to sink too much time into it. Usually a couple of additional sentences will help clarify this. Above, you'll see my current theme for the army; let's specify some things.
 
Modified Theme: The Bara-Gol Orcs are an army of fierce warriors. They are brutish fighters, wielding crude, but effective weaponry. Often found in melee fights, these orcs exhibit traits of powerful barbarians.
 
Above you'll see that I specified their weaponry and a battle trait. Between these two sentences, you can gather a couple of things. First off, this army is going to wield crude weapons. Second, I noted that they exhibit traits of powerful barbarians. Granted, barbarians wield all sorts of weapons, typical ones include blunt weapons, axes, spears, and swords. Add in the fact that they're crude, then that means we have crude swords, axes, spears, and blunt weapons. Thankfully, this narrows down the list substantially!
 
2) Price, Price, Price
 
- Alright folks, let's be real here. Weapons cost money, and the price gets higher the greater your army. You'll find that a lot of weapons range anywhere from $1 to $1.75. It's for this reason I suggest that you go price hunting! Many times, you'll find that several weapons you like, might cost a pretty penny. Because of this, I strongly recommend checking your favorite vendors for sales! Two of my favorites can be found below:
 
BrickForge Weekly Sales - https://www.brickfor.../WEEKLY-STEALS/
 
Of course, Bricklink also remains, which typically allows you to find TLG products for very low prices! Often, I find that setting a limit that you want to spend per weapon really helps!
 
3) Don't be afraid to go brick built!
 
- Let me be even more real. Having built two armies, sometimes manufactured weapons don't cut it. Sometimes, you gotta be a little creative and make your own with available pieces! Here's the great thing about taking this route; bricks are really cheap compared to individual weapons. The same can be said about shields as well! Just remember, when using Bricklink, keep an eye out for places that are local (I'll typically go US vendors, just to avoid additional fees) and have the QUANTITY that you desire (helps avoid multiple shipping fees).
 
4) Arm the Regulars First!
 
- Don't worry about the Special Units or Uniques just yet! Focus on the main bulk of your force!
 
By following these three rules, you'll be able to find weaponry that suits your army just fine! However, there is a dark side of buying weapons. Allow me to cover some things that you should avoid (mainly because they're costly). Now, before I get to this, I'll simply say this, I don't recommend doing these next things, but you are more than welcome to dabble in them if you have the funds. Truth be told, I've done the same! Just try not to make it a habit!
 
AVOID THESE THINGS!!!
 
1) Avoid Lord of the Rings stuff (LotR)!
 
- Unless you can find anything LotR related for low prices, just avoid it. Given how popular this theme was and the limited amount of it available, you'll find many LotR weapons, shields, and other gear that is heavily over priced. Most of the equipment will RIVAL or EXCEED the price of gray market equipment!
 
2) Avoid BrickArms Prototypes!
 
- I love BrickArms! Will makes some amazing stuff that you can sometimes find on certain sites. However, while they might be cool for a unique, they are not good for making a full set of units. Most prototypes can range anywhere from $5-$25. You can acquire so much more than what you would spend on one proto.
 
Now that I've laid this out, here's what I actually have so far!
 
30452083727_2c77998037_z.jpg
 
This picture provides a good look at the Do's and Don'ts!
 
Starting from left to right, top to bottom.
- x25 BrickWarriors Scythian Bows (bought at regular price, did not exceed $2 per unit)
- x25 BrickWarriors Spartan Swords (bought at regular price, did not exceed $2 per unit)
- x25 BrickWarriors Spiked Mace (bought on sale for $0.40 per unit)
- x25 TLG Uruk Sword (bought at $0.89 per unit) <- LOW PRICED LOTR ITEM
- x25 BrickArms Cimmeran Axe (PROTOTYPE, DON'T ASK HOW MUCH I SPENT LOL)
- x25 TLG Custom Spear
- x25 BrickWarriors Orc Shield (bought at regular price, did not exceed $2 per unit)
- x25 BrickArms Battle Axe (PROTOTYPE COLOR, DON'T ASK HOW MUCH I SPENT LOL)
- x50 TLG Orc Shield (Overspent on at least 15 of them that cost a little of $2)
 
And just like that, I've found weapons that fit the Orc's style and remained on point for the most part (DARN YOU PROTOS!!!). 
 
And with that, my regulars are armed.
 
Which means...
 
It is time...
 
To start building the army...
 
NEXT TIME!!!

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#8 Kampfer

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Posted 18 October 2018 - 12:38 AM

Its a very very small chance that I will ever build a Lego Army but that said I'm eagerly follow this. 


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#9 Dalton Kringle

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Posted 18 October 2018 - 02:02 PM

I'm interested to see if you'll be using the 2009 Troll minifigs or Scorp's decals to make this Orc Army or not.



#10 Nightstalker

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Posted 19 October 2018 - 02:28 AM

I'll be using a set if custom ordered decals from Scorp. Oddly enough, the 2009 trolls will be used for a Troll Army (TBA). For me, trolls and orcs have similar designs, but trolls are thin compared to their bulky allies. Think of it like the trolls and orcs from Warcraft.
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#11 Nightstalker

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Posted 30 October 2018 - 04:05 AM

Hello once again folks!

 

Today, we continue with building an army!

 

First, let's run a recap on what we have before moving forward!

 

----
The Army of Bara-Gol
----
 
* = Special Units
Theme: The Bara-Gol Orcs are an army of fierce warriors. They are brutish fighters, wielding crude, but effective weaponry. Often found in melee fights, these orcs exhibit traits of powerful barbarians.
 
Soft-Cap: 200
 
- 25 Units of Axemen
- 25 Units of Two-Handed Axemen (Orc Armsmen)
- 25 Units of Archers 
- 25 Units of Swordsmen
- 25 Units of Dual-Wielders (Orc Maulers)
- 25 Units of Spearmen
- 10 Units of Elite Cavalry (Blood Lords)
- 10 Units of Hunters
- 10 Units of Cavalry (Warg Cavalry)
- 10 Units of Shaman
- 10 Units of Rogues (Stalkers)
 
Now that we've recapped, let's move on with the next part. Putting together minifigs! This is finally the part where you'll start gathering parts for your army. This is, without a doubt, the funnest thing you will do while making an army. In fact, it's so fun, that it is way too easy to lose yourself, or even know where to start! So, let's walk through this.
 
Gathering Minifigs
 
Finally, after all of this planning, it is time to collect some minifigs! But how do you go about this? There are multiple ways to start, and you will probably use several of these ways, so let me go over some! But before you go buying figures and pieces willy-nilly you should definitely consider finding some inspiration!
 
Finding Inspiration
 
Unless you've got a fantastic idea right off the bat, you'll probably be at a loss for how you want to design your army. Before you buy random parts, I strongly recommend looking up some awesome art or pictures of minifig armies! The idea is to get brainstorming by seeing things that are inspiring. So, for example, when coming up with ideas for my orc army, I started looking at different art for orcs:
 
513935.jpg
553adf14108659b44c5e67642ce9cf5b.jpg
35ff8fe661bcc27326e5bebafac67724.jpg
 
 
Based off of these designs, I developed a unique direction for my army. For obvious reasons, you probably won't be able to 100% base your army on artwork, but that's not the point. The whole point of this step is to simply get an idea for how you want to piece your army together. Once you've gotten enough inspiration, it is time to begin!
 
Assembling the Army
 
Alright, let's start! For the purpose of this part, we'll only be looking at the regulars.
 
1) Answer the following question: "Is my army custom or is it based off of a design already made by TLG?"
 
- This question must be asked first, as this will point you in a direction. If your army is based off of something created by TLG then cool! If your army is custom, you'll have to put in some additional work. Don't worry about the additional work, we'll cover that later. So, for me to answer this question, yes, the army I'm currently making is custom made.
 
2) Acquire gear!
 
- Before you start gathering torsos, legs, and faces, I'd personally start out by gathering things like armor, helmets, and capes. Similar to looking for weapons, you have a whole, online armory at your disposal. Since 3rd party items will typically run anywhere from $1.50-$1.75, I recommend checking out BrickLink first. Why? Because you can find tons of items for under $1 on BrickLink. Likewise, if you are going to go with 3rd party items, follow the two links to the sale categories for BrickWarriors or BrickForge. You might be able to acquire a good amount of items for very little. 
 
- When equipping your minifigs, there tends to be two systems of thought out there. The first one is the army that is unified (see the clones in post 1). The second one is the army that is diversified in its appearance:
 
27699459469_afdb673dd7_b.jpg
 
Personally, both are valid options, but I typically tend to merge them both. I'd recommend making individual units follow a specific design, but make the designs different from unit to unit. In other words, all of your swordsmen could look the same, but the axemen would have different gear. This allows you to build one unit a specific way and build a different unit another way, which allows for both unity and diversity. Of course, you could float to one of the two camps, it doesn't really matter.
 
3) Getting Minifig Parts
 
- As you acquire gear, it will become time to start gathering minifig parts. BrickLink is going to be your main resource. While shops like EclipseGrafx, BrickWarriors, Clone Army Custons, and other places might sell custom parts, you really want to stick to gathering TLG pieces exclusively. Most minifig pieces are fairly priced, with the exception of anything LotR (seriously, avoid these parts for mass collection). As with armor, definitely try to aim for stores with the quantity you are looking for. 
 
- When it comes to your basic units, don't worry about going super detailed into their design. A lot of your really cool looking parts should go into your elite units.
 
- Gathering faces is also another little detail to add into your army. Just remember a couple of things. 1) If a unit's face is hidden, don't worry about varying their face, and 2) if the unit has a visible face, alternating faces will add more detail and variety to your army. For faces, I'd recommend alternating between five different faces. If different genders are used, you might want to increase the number to six.
 
- If you are gathering pieces to be decaled, DO NOT GO FOR BLANK DESIGNS! These pieces are typically costly. Instead, look for pieces that have the color you desire. Typically, you can find a random colored chest piece for dirt cheap and cover it with decals.
 
- Last, but certainly not least, remember what your army theme is! You want pieces that will help you design your army around your theme!
 
For now, these are some things to keep in mind as you gather.
 
At this current moment, I don't have much to show on my end, but I'll definitely show you stuff as more things come in.
 
That's all for now; stay tuned everyone!

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#12 Sleighbell-Scorpion

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Posted 13 November 2018 - 05:46 PM

35ff8fe661bcc27326e5bebafac67724.jpg

 
Ehh, this is just an orc-ified photoshop of the Barbarian art from Pathfinder. Now, if you want some REALLY cool she-orc art, I suggest checking out Bayard Wu on ArtStation. He has a whole folder of badass lady orcs that look awesome. Plus, there's some kickass lady dwarves in there to boot! :P

 

Anyway, great post as always! Can't wait to see some more armies! :D

 

(P.S.: If anyone browsing this thread would like an army-builder bulk discount on any items from my shop, feel free to PM me and ask! ;) OK, I'm done shilling now.)


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#13 Nightstalker

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Posted 14 November 2018 - 03:21 AM

Holy crap! Thanks for the notice! As I'm literally coming around to needing decals that art will help immensely!
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#14 Nightstalker

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Posted 17 November 2018 - 10:32 AM

Update time!

 

Last post I talked about coming up with a design for your units, and now I have some WIP units to show off. But before I show them off, it is time to explain my great dilemma!

 

The Bara-Gol Orcs consist of five different orc clans. For the sake of saving the lore bits for the final bit, they are divided by color:

 

- Dark Red

- Dark Blueish Gray

- Sand Green/Green

- Tan/Dark Tan

- Reddish Brown/Flesh

 

The thing that I have to take into account is that each group looks different. Apart from the weapons they wield, each orc has to look different depending on the clan. So, for starters, I have the Dark Red Orcs to show.

 

They were based off of the Blackrock Orcs from WoW:

 

526128.jpg

 

These guys are supposed to be more armored than the other clans and are more militarized than the others. Due to their location near a volcano, they have access to forging good armor, compared to the scavenged armor that most of the other orcs use. 

 

45012237695_0b74e11ff8_z.jpg

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Now, I still need a bunch of orc faces for these guys. That includes female faces as well; the ratio should be 4 male to 2 female. So yeah, a decal order is probably going to go up next month, simply because I've already flooded Scorp's box with 3 commissions.

 

The torso's and legs being used are from Nexo Knights. Yes, I know, I hate Nexo Knights as a Castle theme, but they still have some decent minifigs. More importantly, because no one else likes them, the parts were dirt cheap! Once the faces are on these orcs, this clan will be done. Next up, I'll probably work on the Gray ones.


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#15 Lord_Klaus

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Posted 17 November 2018 - 03:25 PM

Ah, looks like they're coming along nicely!

 

I appreciate how you start assembling the minifigs with their weapons and accessories before applying the decals.  I've been doing the same thing, since it makes sense for making sure you'll have the right parts in the desired numbers, and finalizing how I want them to look before sticking decals onto them.

 

Thanks for the update and valuable advice, you're doing excellent work here.


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#16 Dalton Kringle

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Posted 18 November 2018 - 06:20 AM

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Amazing Figures! I can't wait to see the final Product!



#17 Nightstalker

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Posted 20 November 2018 - 09:49 AM

Change of plans! Going with green ones next!


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