Monthly Archives: March 2015

Binary Logic

The story of Warhammer 40k is, and always has been, the story of the Imperium. Until now, however, we have seen only part of it. The alien races add colour and complexity, harrowing the empire of man from its fringes, and of course there is always the great enemy, Chaos, waiting in the wings for mankind’s own hubris to bring him down. The main player, however, remains the Imperium, a toppling edifice of decaying glory and overweening arrogance in the face of a brutal and rapacious assault from within and without.

Here we see the fall of Rome written across the stars. It is peopled by the strange and the mysterious and governed by the mad. Together they grub through the ruins of their own toppled magnificence and believe themselves still to be supreme. Their wars are fought by medieval peasants, armed with weapons far beyond their understanding, holding back the horrors of the galaxy only through sacrifice and attrition. It’s infamous ‘grim darkness’ has been captured by dozens of authors and codex writers, as well as artists including, amongst others, John Blanche and Jes Goodwin (whose images are used – without permission – to illustrate this blog).
John BlancheSomehow I’ve never felt that this was quite captured on the tabletop. The warrior-monks of the Space Marines have often looked too clean. The imperial guard have come to focus too heavily on the Cadians (whose aesthetic is closest to modern soldiers and not really to my taste) and the Catachans (who now seem like a contrived pastiche, glaringly out of place beside the gothic strangeness of their peers). The inquisition are spent force. They might once have been at the pinnacle of grim-dark gothic greatness but today they look old, tired and utterly overshadowed by the creative genius displayed within the Inq28 movement, their own feral offspring. The assassins and ecclesiarchy languish in lumpen disregard.
Jes Goodwin - Tech PriestsToday however sees the release of the Adeptus Mechanicus. Since the beginning they have been a part of the background but it’s taken until now for them to emerge. Quite why it’s taken so long is open to debate, the Imperium after all is the marriage of Terra and Mars, yet the red planet has seen next to nothing in terms of miniatures releases.
Exactly what will come next with this release we don’t know yet, although it’s hard to imagine that more miniatures are not on their way. Already, however, we’ve seen the kind of grubby madness I’ve been hoping for since I discovered 40k. Not only do we see the Mechanicus army so many of us have been waiting for but the spares should provide more than enough to add a Blanchien vibe to other imperial models. Of course I still have a host of Chaos projects to work on before I rush out to buy the agents of the Fabricator General but, having waited for them for so long, it won’t hurt to be patient. At least they’ve arrived.

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No Guts, No Glory – Part 3

I do love a dreadnaught. Most of the time ‘walkers’ in science-fiction leave me cold. Most likely it’s a result of growing up in Britain but there’s something about a handsome, cultured and well-groomed hero piloting a sleek and stylish mech that I find fairly irritating. More exciting to me by far is a heavily-armed walking life-support machine with all the aerodynamic grace of a perambulatory refrigerator, grimly laying down the law in the name of some neo-medieval Thatcherite hell. Probably in the rain.
Add to this the fact that Nurgle and Helbrutes seem to work well in combination. Both tend towards being outsize, lumbering and ugly. Both should by rights be dead but have somehow managed to live on, albeit not in a form that most would actually choose. I even wonder if the resistance to pain with which Nurgle is known to bless his followers make interment in a Helbrute a less miserable experience. As a result one of the first things I wanted to do with the Putrid Blightkings kit was create a Nurgle infested Helbrute. Never mind that I find big kits a bit of a chore to paint, or that I’ve already got two Helbrutes, plus another I need to get some paint on, let’s focus on my avaricious desire to add another!
Nurgle HelbruteAt the moment he’s only tacked together but this should give you some idea of where I’m going with this. I armed him with a missile launcher as I see him trudging along at the back, a bloated, disease-ridden walking shrine to the Plague God, launching salvos of toxic warheads over the putrescent ranks so that the gifts of Nurgle are already well established when they get there.
Nurgle Helbrute

As you can see the back of the model is still slightly sketchy but the picture below shows where I’m headed.
Nurgle Helbrute

Here’s the individual components disassembled.

Nurgle Helbrute

And here’s a close up of the main body.

Nurgle Helbrute

So what do you think? Should I have taken that rash to the apothecary or was I right to bath my ironform in a soup of decay? As always your comments are welcome in the box below.


Shepherds of Rot

I’ve been promising him for a while but the mighty wrath of Khorne has been distracting me from the servants of his more fecund and jolly brother. However here he is at last – Aghkam Poxspeaker, Dark Apostle of Nurgle.
Nurgle ApostleNurgle ApostleNurgle ApostleNurgle Apostle
It’s all fairly infantile of course but I can’t help but imagine him belching out the word of Nurgle to a giggling congregation of Nurglings. Of course, one has to wonder how he would go about winning over disgruntled Imperial serfs to his cause like that, but then I’ve often thought being a Dark Apostle of Nurgle can’t be the easiest job to begin with. Chaos offers the strength to overthrow the Imperial yolk, Khorne supremacy in battle, Slaanesh every imaginable pleasure and Tzeentch great magical power, whilst the unfortunate salesman for Nurgle finds himself peddling the line ‘Well, we’ve got some cracking diseases…’ He’s hardly the one you’d pick really, unless of course you were already sick and dying, in which case the wheezing invocations of any daemon would probably be enough to sway you to his cause in exchange for renewed vigour. Then again Nurgle’s an optimistic fellow so perhaps Aghkam doesn’t mind that. He can keep going with his pompous, long-winded and flatulent sermons, safe in the knowledge that as the galaxy succumbs to decay all men will come to him eventually.


Blood For Blood

Right, there’s a lot of Khorne to look at this week so let’s get stuck in shall we?

First of all we have this chap, the third new model I’ve added to Sapir Redwolf’s Skullrippers, a little squad of Khornate terminators I’ve been showing off over the last few weeks.
Khorne TerminatorKhorne TerminatorThe oath scroll proved to be a bit of an issue. I may be going out on a limb here but I don’t see the warriors of Khorne taking too much time writing out oaths of moment, so at first my inclination was to cut it off. However I quickly realised that it was going to be pretty tricky to do so without needing to do quite a lot of carefully shaving down and rebuilding of that part of the leg. In the end I left it but set myself the challenge of painting a tiny symbol of Khorne onto it. Perhaps the mark has been ascribed by a Dark Apostle or a particularly bold cultist as a ward or sign of good luck upon a chosen champion?
Other than that painting him was fairly straightforward and flicking him with ‘blood for the blood god’ paint from an old toothbrush was great fun as always!
Khorne Termi Close Up

Kharl the Blunt.
Working on the Skullrippers also put me in mind of Kharl the Blunt. Back in the long distant past (1988 I believe, when I was 4 and as yet uncorrupted by the nefarious touch of Chaos) Kharl appeared in the book Slaves to Darkness where he was described as ‘a Troll of some renown and little brain, who often stands perplexed, unable to choose between beating his opponents senseless with a gnarled club or roasting them with his fiery breath’.
Kharl fought alongside a mob of Chaos loving humans and dwarves as a member of a warband named the Skullrippers, a name I shameless ripped off when I came to naming my own Khornate terminators. Sadly there’s no room for a troll in the far-future (in spite of their durability they don’t seem to have survived into the 41st Millennium – something I must get around to fixing someday with a few conversions) but it did get me thinking about making an Ogren Berserker. Probably nothing would have happened but I was spurred on (or led astray?) by Alex from the Dauntless 215th Praetorians who said something like ‘go for it’. (As an aside his steampunk twist on the 41st millennium is well worth checking out – his tripod in particular remains a favourite of mine). Anyway, with that my last shreds of self-control evaporated and I put together this hulking, angry gentleman.

KarlKarl

I have to say, making him was excellent fun, the Ogrens kit is amazing for building Ogren Berserkers and I’m already thinking of ways I could build some more.

Dark Apostle of Khorne

Just a minor update to show the latest progress on my Dark Apostle of Khorne (currently minus his backpack – removed to make painting/modelling easier).

Khorne Dark Apostle ConvertOrDieMiniatures

After trying him out with various tabards I plumped for this one. Although not my first, or even my second, choice it looked best in practice and adds a nicely feral element to him so I’m happy.

Skarr Bloodwrath

Lastly we have Skarr Bloodwrath, a man who’s name – conveniently – is also his job – the latest Warhammer character to be released as part of the End Time’s series. In many ways Skarr is for the Skullreapers/Wrathmongers released last week what Gutrot Spume is for the Putrid Blightkings – a single figure character based on an accompanying set of infantry. In both cases however I’m left wondering if it might not have been better to make them an upgrade within the existing kit as, for example, Nork Deddog is in the Ogren kit.

To be honest though, although I quite like Gutrot Spume at first glance Skarr did less for me; the anime style giant weapons are not to my taste, the flying chains are rather over the top and the bare head looks like a cartoon overwhelmed by the potency of some jalapenos.

Too Hot To HandleAt first then I was planning to let this one pass me by, at least until I’d seen the conversions that the clever people of the internet came up with. However a look at the sprue started to change my mind. I’m still not sold on the model overall but I reckon there’s a wealth of conversion opportunities in there, so much so that I might even buy one (in spite of the hefty price tag).


Our Blood Too Is Welcome

Onwards in Khorne’s name! Inspired by all the End Times action in Warhammer (more on that below) I’m trying to focus my enthusiasm on finishing off my little squad of Berserker Terminators.
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This one evolved from a specific idea I had about a character I wanted to see in the squad. Reading the Black Library short story Enyalius; In Memoriam got me thinking about how a character as berserk as the Redwolf might need someone along to guide him and keep his blood red fury on the right track. In the story the character Enyalius is that guiding force, steering his brother Marakitedes and the rest of their squad and keeping track of the important elements of campaigning (who’s side are they on, why are they here, what are their objectives) that the Butcher’s Nails leave the others blind too. I reckoned the Redwolf would need someone similar, someone to point him at the enemy and set him loose, someone he could trust to keep him on the right track even in the thick of the slaughter and someone to reign him in when the killing was done. I named him Enyarexis in reference to the character in the story (which is well worth reading by the way and, alongside some excellent descriptions, shows a wonderfully personal and at points very sad take on the tragedy of the World Eaters. A similar novel would be most welcome).
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The howling wolf on his shoulder pad denotes his allegiance to the Redwolf (although it could equally well be a reference to the War Hounds – the old name for the XII Legion before they became the World Eaters). I’ve not completely settled on a background for the character yet but I did wonder about a former War Hound, perhaps saved by the Redwolf in some battle long ago before he went completely mad, and ever since pledging his allegiance to Sapir and his squad. In many ways it makes sense to me that this is an older, wiser character than the rest of the squad, one who was implanted with the Butcher’s Nails before Isstvan and who has learned to master them – rather than some hot-blooded upstart attempting some crude copy-cat surgery by hammering some half-understood bit of tech into the back of his bonce.
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Part of the reason I’ve got Khorne on the brain is that this weekend we at last get a proper look at the Wrathmongers and Skullreapers, the latest addition to the Warriors of Chaos range in Warhammer and Khorne’s answer to the excellent Putrid Blightkings released back in the autumn. The thing is, the Blightkings are a gold mine of inspiration. I’ve got dozens of ideas scratching around the inside of my skull waiting to be actualised, and I feel like I’m still only getting started with what the kit can do. Can the warriors of the Blood God match this? Well at first glance I would say ‘absolutely!’99120201042_khornewrathmongers02

Let’s be honest here, at first glance they are ridiculously over the top – even for Chaos. For one thing they’re just covered in sigils marking their allegiance to Chaos and Khorne. If I was intending to use them for their original purpose it might seem a bit much, luckily I’m not. As regular readers will recall I don’t collect Warriors of Chaos (in spite of temptation) so these will be getting repurposed into the ranks of my Chaos Space Marines instead. Here the slightly overwhelming number of skulls and sigils is quite an advantage, mixing bits from other kits to ‘40k-ify’ them will naturally lead to a degree of dilution – which should balance things out nicely whilst still leaving no doubt at all as to who they serve.

Some of you might still be saying ‘but if all you wanted was Khorne bits to decorate your Chaos Marines you have that! The Skull Crushers are a rich vein of components – and still Tzeentch and Slaanesh are lagging at the back of the pack’. You’d be right of course, but never mind eh – this is what we have and no matter what you say Games Workshop’s team have made up their minds and no-one is going to say ‘Surprise! It’s Sisters of Battle this week instead!” at the last moment. So chill, take this release for what it is, enjoy it and see what comes next.skullreaper-2

What’s more, the longer I look at them the less ridiculous they feel. After all they’re really no more over the top than the Chaos Chosen from Dark Vengeance – and no-one has been decrying them. Some people are calling this a new aesthetic for Chaos but I think its more the case that this has always been the aesthetic of Chaos and Games Workshop finally have the technology to realise it.

So having accepted that ‘they’ll do’ what do I want to do with them? Some of the choices are obvious; I’ve already started a squad of Khornate terminators and more berserkers are always welcome. The Blightkings made excellent Chosen of Nurgle with very little effort and I’m suspecting these guys will make Chosen or Possessed of Khorne in much the same way. I’ve also quite fancied the idea of a Lord of Khorne mounted on a Juggernaught to command the Khornate part of my army, now might just be the moment that pushes me into doing it.99120201042_khornewrathmongers03

I’ve also had an idea for a while that as Khorne has such an association with daemon engines it might be an idea to make a Khornate Warpsmith (I have also bought one of the official Warpsmith models – more on him soon).

Whilst the Blightkings could equally have been used as Daemons (they make cracking Heralds of Nurgle in my opinion) the Wrathmongers/Skull Reapers are more recognisably human. One pair of legs have been designed to look like they belong to a Bloodletter, which makes me wonder about making another Khorne Herald or even a unique Skulltaker. Some of the weapons might also turn out to be rather handy for arming Heralds with extra vicious weapons.Several commenters have already said they look like Space Marines, which may not be what one is looking for in a fantasy warrior – but quite handy for someone who wants to convert Khorne worshipping Space Marines.

I’ve also never managed to come up with an idea for Mutilators that really worked well for me – which is a shame as they, like the Obliterators, would make a nice stylistic addition to my Chaos force. I had hoped that seeing the Wrathmongers/Skull Reapers might spark some kind of revelation on that front (Mutilators being as enthusiastic about close combat as the most rabid Berserker) but sadly I’m no further forwards.
Then there’s all the more far-fetched ideas that are already swirling round the edges of my brain. Corrupted Blood Angels? Fallen Space Wolves? Mechanicum renegades? Ogren Berserkers? Assassins? All of them would be prime candidates for developing an unhealthy relationship with the Blood God.
Anyway, now it’s over to you. What do you make of the new kits? Love ‘em or hate ‘em, let the world know in the box below.


This Horrifying Force

Well here we go at last! The truly terrible bloodthirster model that has blighted our lives for so many years has finally been shown the door and replaced with a far more magnificent version (see my thoughts below). Driven forwards by the rage of the Blood God (or possibly just old fashioned excitement about all things Khorne) I managed to get this model finished, the first of the Red Wolf’s squad.
ConvertOrDie Berserker Khorne Terminator (3)

ConvertOrDie Berserker Khorne Terminator (4)

ConvertOrDie Berserker Khorne Terminator (2)

ConvertOrDie Berserker Khorne Terminator (5)

ConvertOrDie Berserker Khorne Terminator (6)
A little ‘group shot’ of him next to the Redwolf shows just how big the latter actually is. The new addition is by no means small for a Terminator, his size accentuated by his wide pose and bulky shoulderpads, but the Redwolf still towers over him. Already I’m feeling that my decision to promote him to command of his own squad was justified – this guy is nobody’s second!ConvertOrDie Berserker Khorne Terminator (1)I’ve also been working on this Dark Apostle of Khorne (I know, I’ve not posted pictures of the Nurgle one finished yet – you don’t half nag you know!). Long term I’ve got a plan to make a Dark Apostle for each of the gods, plus the official finecast model (assembled and based coated baby!).
For the Khorne Apostle I wanted something reminiscent of a loyalist chaplain with a chaotic twist – capturing what I see as their similar roles and philosophies. Both would spent much of their time in the thick of battle, bellowing devotion to the Emperor or the Blood God respectively, dedicating each kill in their name and spurring on their battle brothers. The Apostles of the other gods, I imagine, spend more time preaching to dissatisfied hive workers, dissidents and the savage tribes of feral worlds – those of Khorne just want to get stuck in. In spite of this I wanted a slightly more restrained pose, capturing him in a moment of contemplation – perhaps preaching to his brothers about the value of weapons or dedicating his flail ahead of combat.
Khorne Apostle

I’m thinking of adding some kind of tabard to cover up his rather waspish waist. I’m playing with a couple of options at the moment; a wolf’s pelt (suitable savage and tribal) or chains (harder to pull off and possibly naff looking, but undeniably badass if it comes together). Anyone got any thoughts?

Khorne Apostle

Anyway, as I mentioned all this Khorne enthusiasm has come about as a result of seeing the new Bloodthirster model that went up for pre-order this weekend. And what a model it is. Admittedly a big part of my enthusiasm for it comes from the fact that it is a massive improvement on its predecessor. Given the choice I would have liked to have seen something slightly less dynamic. To my eye a hunched, aggressive pose, charging head-down into battle, would have served better here than leaping into flight, whip curling overhead. Leave the dancing to Slaanesh and the flying to Tzeentch (and of course let Nurgle lumber along at the rear!). Nonetheless these are fairly minor complaints given that a) the Bloodthirster can finally be represented on the tabletop by an official model worthy of the concept and b) other greater daemons might really be around the corner.

For Warhammer the original Bloodthirster has now been transformed into three different units. A quick glance through the fiction shows them all to be pretty angry guys which does make me feel a little sorry for the poor soul who was given the thankless task of producing background for them. Coming up with different models, weapon options and rules must have been a doddle compared to coming up with original ideas expanding on the difference between daemons who get angry about slightly different things.

Whilst we’re talking about the fiction, who the hell came up with these names? The Bloodthirster of Unfettered Fury? The Bloodthirster of Insensate Rage? Really? What happened to all the old Khornate names that were made up of nothing but ‘z’s and ‘k’s? Admittedly trying to say them aloud made you sound like a wasp struggling with a Welsh place name but surely that’s better than telling your opponent “This is the Bloodthirster of Slightly Cheesed Off”

It also appears that Khorne now has a sliding scale of anger he applies to his Bloodthirsters. (This may not be new-news but it’s certainly new to me). Apparently there are eight legions of Bloodthirsters, eight being the sacred number of Khorne, and each is angrier than the last. By my understanding they ascend through Miffed to Mildly Aggrieved, Peeved To Say The Least, Well Pissed Off, Proper Nark On, Kicking Off Big Time and finally Writing to the Editor.

As for the model itself I’ll throw in my lot with the majority who’re slavering over it, although – as mentioned above – there are a few things that bother me.

For one thing I hate flames on miniatures so they’d have to go for starters – maybe replacing them with some rubble or a big old pile of skulls. I also find the symbols on the wings to be rather busy, we know he’s a daemon of Khorne, there’s no need to beat us around the head with it. No-one is going to think ‘Is this guy Eldar? Check his wings and find out. Oh no, he’s with Khorne’. Perhaps a more subtle paint scheme might make them more acceptable – in face a close look at the Unfettered Fury Bloodthirster in this week’s White Dwarf shows just that. Otherwise I’ll have to see how long it takes with the sandpaper (heart in my mouth all the way in case I knacker the wings).

Having said that, somewhat hypocritically, I think the sigils on the underside of the hooves are a cracking touch and the idea of them stamping the mark of Khorne wherever they go is just wonderfully cocky and aggressive. When basing the model I’d like to try stamping out some casts of his foot prints in greenstuff and leaving them in a trail behind him.

I’ll be curious to see how poseable the model is, the combination of axe and whip raised high being slightly over-the-top and reminiscent of a caricature anime villain for my taste. Truthfully I prefer the double-handed great axe – it may not be the traditional weapon combination of the Bloodthirsters but it calls for a lot less skill and precision to use. Let the followers of Slaanesh mess around developing the skill to use a weapon in each hand, if Khorne’s warriors can be hitting someone with an axe as big as a tank that should be more than enough to do the job. Plus, as well as being utterly practical and unsubtle, it also looks the business. The question of whether Games Workshop will be bringing rules for this weapon to 40k is still a matter of some conjecture – although frankly it makes good business sense to do so, variety being the spice of life and all that.

In terms of conversion potential this model does offer a few other opportunities for the followers of the Blood God. For one thing there’s always Skarbrand – suitable trashing of the wings or replacing them with the tattered wings from a zombie dragon should do the business. Adding the second axe might be a little harder but at least he has two axe heads to begin with so some of the leg work is done for you.

The spare weapons and armour plates should be about the right size for Khornate Knight Titans or Soul Grinders and the model also comes with a number of large skulls (funny that) – worth watching out for if you’re planning a tainted chaplain dreadnaught for a Word Bearer’s force.

Speaking of the Word Bearers this weekend’s other big release is Forge World’s Mhara Gal Tainted Dreadnought. Having been slightly disappointed by the Gal Vorbak I awaited the Mhara Gal with a degree of trepidation. On first impression though I like it. As a chaos walker it falls at the exact opposite end of the spectrum to the Decimator, the latter being fearsome and functional, the former a twisted amalgam of metal and meat, liberally scrawled with sigils. The official paint job does it no justice at all but all my concerns with the model evaporated when I got a look at the naked resin (those talons bursting through the shoulder pad to hold the book looked pretty rough at first glance but sans paint they’re a lot more impressive). Oh and the head, once I worked out what’s going on, is wonderfully ghastly. I may even buy one (although I’ve already promised myself a Decimator, Blood Slaughterer, Blight Drone and – some day when I’m rich – a Greater Brass Scorpion) so it won’t be for a while.

Anyway, with these two big models unleashed, it’s been a good weekend to worship the Ruinous Powers. Now back to work the lot of you!