One Sunday afternoon some of my friends and myself were discussing the idea of a metal forest in a fantasy setting. They talked about things like different types of trees being compose of various metals; how people would learn to forage for "ore" or how dangerous the Fall season would be. Me. My first thoughts went to Ent like creatures from Lord of the Rings. Large wood/metal creatures of various metallic colors and armed with branches and blades filled my imagination. The great thing about this hobby is that a random idea can lead to the foundation of a new gaming project. Such a project can take shape in numerous ways. The Metal Forest idea could simply be a background detail in the fluff. Or I could make a Metal Forest terrain piece. If done right it could be a beautiful visual on the battlefield. I have no idea how to attempt to make a terrain piece but finding a way to make an image in my mind a reality on the gaming table is another part of this hobby I have grown to love. Another way to use the Metal Forest idea is to base an entire army (or just a few units) around it.
If I were to create a Metal Forest Army I would start with the fluff. Knowing the army's history and personality is key to figuring out the proper tone that the rules and models should follow. Initially I thought the rules should be next. However after thinking it over I realize the rules and models should be both work on together. You need the models to know what type of rules are needed and you need the rules to know the require number of models for a game. Looking at them separately there are several ways to pick/create the rules. By far the easiest method is to simply use an existing army's rules. My issue with this method is that I think the favor of a Metal Forest army is too different in style to use with a current army. Now aside from Warriors of Chaos, I have only a rudimentary idea of the capabilities of each Warhammer army so it is possible that you could do a Metal Forest Army justice with a current force. On the other hand using existing army rules would make finding a willing opponent to play against much easier. Still if I decide to go with custom rules, there are 3 different methods I could choose for that. Going from easiest to implement to the most difficult, the 3 methods are: a.) picking an existing army and making minor adjustments to it; b.) picking and choosing units from different existing armies to create a single army that has the proper tone; and c.) write brand new army rules from the ground up. Which method I would choose would be base on the initial vision I have for the Metal Forest army and how far away existing rules are from reaching that vision. Picking the models is much more of an art. I have to keep the vision of the army in my mind while browsing through different companies' miniature lines. The first things to look for are miniatures dealing with elves, nature and other things of that sort but that is just the beginning of the search. Eventually I will need to expand my search to include every model line I can find. Focusing on the army vision is important but I also need to be flexible in case I come across a miniature that is meant for a very different purpose but with a new paint scheme and some conversions will fit in with a Metal Forest. It is a long process but the journey is well worth it. If I take it.
And if is the key. I really like the idea but it is unlikely I will attempt something like this any time soon. I already have a lot on my gaming plate dealing with Warhammer Fantasy, not to mention my Flames of War and BattleTech projects. My purpose with this article is to explore a gaming idea that I may take up in the future or hopefully inspire someone else to take up the challenge. If the Metal Forest Army is something you want to work on yourself or you have already build an army that is similar, please let me know. I would love to hear about it. If my guidelines have inspire you to work on your own project, I would to hear about that too. And send pictures. Until next time.