Monthly Archives: October 2016

Warhammer World – Part 2

Yesterday I showed you some of my pictures from my recent trip to Warhammer World, today let’s take a proper look at some of the dioramas. The exhibition space features over a dozen of these displays, covering everything from Skaven and Dwarves clashing beneath the mountains of the Old World to Eldar and Tyrands battling over the lava fields of Valedor. Each one is a slice of Game’s Workshop’s universes given life and the chance to get a proper look at them is well worth taking if you happen to be in the Nottingham area. For those of us who’re not however hopefully these next few posts will help to spread the inspiration a little and perhaps spark some fresh ideas – I know they did for me.

I’d also recommend clicking on the pictures for a closer look, these displays are simply jam packed with details, there’s so much to take in  that I’ll admit to spotting things whilst editing these images that I completely missed in person.

First up we have two Age of Sigmar dioramas featuring the warriors of Khorne doing battle with the hosts of the Stormcast Eternals. In the first they’re fighting over a huge flying citadel, in the second the Stormcasts are… erm… storming a chaos fortress with the help of their new chums the Fyreslayers.

a2My preference for the Old World over the Mortal Realms is one I’ve stated several times but it’s hard to deny that the scope for creativity in the Age of Sigmar is hard to beat. For all its qualities the Old World was trapped within the borders imposed upon it by decades of development whilst the Realms can be as bombastically creative as they want. Want to fight the legions of the Blood God in a flying temple? Now you can!a3It also struck me how the roles have been deliberately reversed in these displays, as compared to the Old World. Like the Imperium the Empire was always on the defensive, with enemy hordes clawing at the fortress walls. In Age of Sigmar however we see the good guys being the aggressors, and Chaos on the defensive – which offers a whole new range of scenarios for the model makers and gamers alike to explore.a1Whilst the first display is focussed around models from the Age of Sigmar starter set, the Ironwarp Citadel is rather more complex. This time the Sigmarites are fighting their way into a Khornate fortress, backed up by several Star-drakes and everyone’s favourite clothes averse dwarves; the Fyreslayers.02030809The Ironwarp Citadel, features three gates, each with its own opening mechanism. What exactly those are however I’m still not sure, and neither was anyone else I asked. One of them is clearly being dragged open by a pair of chaos giants in a scene inspired by the trolls opening the black gate in the Lord of the Rings film, but as for the other two – not a scooby.01Never mind who let the spawn out, or how they did it, these Stormcasts are in a lot of trouble now.11040506I’ll confess I wasn’t entirely sold on the magmadroth when it first appeared but after seeing them in this display I’ve really grown to love them. Like a lot of people I think I fell into the trap of seeing Fyreslayers as equivalent to the dwarves of Warhammer rather than as a race in their own right. If only their flesh had been painted in a similar, slightly tortured style (they do hammer metal into their own bodies after all) to their equally shirt-hating Chaos adversaries I might have been swayed sooner. Mind you, they could always be wearing flowery shirts0710If I had to pick a favourite diorama from those displayed this Nurgle fortress would take the crown. Titled “Chaos Musters” it features the forces of the Plague God marching out to conquer the Old World during the End Times. In comparison to the neighbouring displays which look forward into the bright, golden Age of Sigmar, this is firmly rooted in a grubby past. The influence of the seminal Realms of Chaos books are everywhere here and whilst the previous displays primarily showcased models – and even buildings in the case of the Ironwarp Citadel – built straight from the box, this harks back to the convertors’ art with large areas of the Plaguespire appearing to have been either scratchbuilt or extensively kitbashed.020304Likewise the models themselves have been subject to plenty of conversion from this band of Chaos Warriors…01…to these trolls with plaguebearers budding hideously from their backs.0506Or how about this knight whose horse has the head of a plague drone…07…or this magnificently nasty looking ogre?080910Plus there’s more Nurglings that you could shake a germ-covered stick at, and that can only be a good thing!111213Tomorrow we’ll take a look at the rest of the Warhammer/Age of Sigmar displays before getting stuck in about the Grim Darkness of the Far Future.

Advertisements

Warhammer World – Part 1

For many of us the name Warhammer World is synonymous with the heartland of our hobby. As the flagship store, events hall, exhibition centre and the home of the design studio it’s a name almost as well known as Games Workshop itself. For years I’ve wanted to visit, primarily to see the series of huge displays, dioramas and miniatures collections on display. When work took me to Nottingham for a conference recently I knew it was time to take advantage of being in town (a mere 500-odd miles from my usual haunts) and take the chance to see it all for myself. So please excuse the shameless self-indulgence of these posts – I am after all essentially showing my holiday snaps – and the quality of the images. I did my best but between the glass cabinets and the dramatic lighting it wasn’t always easy. For those of you who’re already familiar with Warhammer World much of this will be old hat – and nothing in comparison to actually seeing the place for yourself – but for those from further afield hopefully this  showcase will help you to tap into the great well of creativity that the dioramas and displays represent. For me I found seeing the displays hugely inspiring, something that will hopefully come through in my output over the next few weeks, and with luck a few readers might find yourselves equally enthused and energised. Plus this way I can put all my pictures in one place instead of having to show people individually – something that appeals to my sense of laziness inordinately!

So, without further ado, step this way. Before we begin I just need to find somewhere to park (I jest of course, this vehicle doesn’t have nearly enough spikes, chains and trophies to be my wheels).05As soon as you walk in to the exhibition space the senses are assaulted (in the best possible way) by this delightfully old-school John Blanche diorama. Bearing in mind the vintage of the models, and the fact that large parts of it are clearly made of polystyrene, the fact that it holds up so well next to modern pieces – built with the full technological and financial power of the company today – is extremely impressive. It may be a little rough around the edges but it responds with a boundless, energetic creativity, unburdened by the restrictions imposed by decades of development. I love the modern GW universes and I’ve no wish to return to dwarves in flowery shirts but I’m glad that in this age of Sigmarites on the side of trams and staff looking distinctly uncomfortable when I mentioned Warhammer* this third-edition mid-eighties madness is still given pride of place.

*I just said I knew more about it than AoS. I wasn’t an ass about it! There was a combination of fear and resignation in the staffer’s eyes though when I mentioned it, they must be sick to the eye-teeth of people moaning about it by now.john-blanche-dwarves-and-undead-convertordie-5This isn’t a lament for lost creativity however because what follows is even better. Room after room of spectacular displays covering the grim darkness of the far future, the ruins of the Old World and the bright new future of Sigmar’s mortal realms. The dioramas in particular were simply jaw dropping – this was what drew me to visit in the first place and they did not disappoint. I was actually so impressed by them that I’ve devoted several posts to them and will be putting them up over the next few days. On my arrival the extremely talkative and friendly staffer who met me said “Take as many photos as you like mate” and I took him at his word (so strap yourselves in – there’s a lot of pictures to come!)

john-blanche-dwarves-and-undead-convertordie-4john-blanche-dwarves-and-undead-convertordie-3john-blanche-dwarves-and-undead-convertordie-2What – did you think I was joking when I mentioned dwarves in flowery shirts? Perhaps in a future Blachitsu we could get some kind of explanation for this wonderfully mad fashion choice. Additional credit has to be given for the quality of his moustache as well, something even the most stylishly hirsute of Fyreslayers would struggle to replicate.john-blanche-dwarves-and-undead-convertordie-1…And is that a lady dwarf? Clearly the 80’s was a radically different world – dwarfing today having become a solely male profession.john-blanche-dwarves-and-undead-convertordie-6Next to it we have this display showing a bunch of Empire chaps having a bit of a showdown with some lizardmen in an ancient temple. I must confess however that I know next to nothing about the origins of the piece so its significance was rather lost on me.

Edit: Thanks to Warburton  I now know a little bit more about this McVey classic. Anyone who’s interested should take a look here.img_586306As well as the dioramas Warhammer World also features an area set aside for guest displays and, at the time when I visited (which – because time moves strangely in the blogosphere – was about a month ago now) much of this was taken up with models from past Golden Daemons. The display was about to end and be replaced by something new so the content was a little sparse (my assumption being that they’d started removing models, rather than that they didn’t have very many to begin with) but what remained was a collection of some of the most inspiring (and slightly intimidating) individual models I’ve ever come across. The internet has made many of them familiar but for someone like myself, whose never been to a GW open day or Games Day event, being able to get up close to painting of that quality was memorable to say the least.

Highlights included this Empire Captain by David Waeselynck…

david-waeselynck-1…and these two Plague Marines (the first by Maxime Corbeil, the second by Robin McLeod). Each is very different in style, but with Nurgle models stacking up on the edge of my painting desk and demanding attention, both will be serving as inspiration in the future.maxime-corbeil-1

robin-mcleod-1Then we have this truly ‘miniature’ diorama by Cedric Lurkin, cleverly capturing the duel theme on a scale quite different to that we’re used to.cedric-lurkin-1

Last of all this Predator Tank, dedicated to Nurgle. The creation of David Soper this claimed both Gold in the Vehicle category and the Slayer Sword back in 1990. Its undoubtedly one of my all time favourite models and so spotting it on the shelf was quite the pleasant surprise.david-soper-1david-soper-2And finally, how could I resist taking this selfie in Bugmans?04Anyway, hopefully you’ve enjoyed this look through my pictures from the day (if not the bad news is there’s a lot more to come). Tomorrow we’ll start taking a look at the dioramas, starting with Age of Sigmar.

 


Cracking the WIP – Part 5

Well the end of Dreadtober is just around the corner and, as you can see, I’ve come close but I still haven’t quite made it. However the Dreadtober event will be running for one more week so those of us who’ve failed to achieve our target can enjoy a ‘cheat week’ and still join the ranks of our brothers to receive praise and accolades. Luckily Slaanesh enjoys praise above all else and has no problem with a little light cheating, Plus, at this stage, the longer I spend on him the better he looks – and the followers of Slaanesh know that if there’s one thing better than praise it’s looking good.convertordie-dreadtober-sonic-dreadnaught-wip-1

convertordie-dreadtober-sonic-dreadnaught-wip-2

convertordie-dreadtober-sonic-dreadnaught-wip-3

convertordie-dreadtober-sonic-dreadnaught-wip-4

convertordie-dreadtober-sonic-dreadnaught-wip-5

convertordie-dreadtober-sonic-dreadnaught-wip-6

convertordie-dreadtober-sonic-dreadnaught-wip-7

As usual feedback is always appreciated, and don’t forget to head over to the official dreadtober site at Broken Paintbrush where a showcase of everyone’s achievements will be appearing shortly.


Cracking the WIP – Part 4

Just a quick update on my DreadTober progress. What passes for daylight at this time of year is playing hell with the camera so I’m struggling to get any pictures that bring out the highlights properly (chalk that one up next to all the other excuses on this project!). As you can see there’s still a way to go with him (and now only a few days to go!) but he’s getting there at least. As usual comments and feedback are appreciated – and don’t forget to take a look at the official Dreadtober page to see what all the other participants are getting up to.dreadtober-4-1

dreadtober-4-2Oh – and pay no mind to that hideous looking green  and brass pipe work on the warp amp, that’ll be getting fixed ASAP!


The Burning of Prospero

So here we are, a year on from the Betrayal at Calth and the landscapes of both 40k and the Horus Heresy are both constantly evolving and ever more entwined. Following the discovery of Daemonic Primarch Magnus the Red hiding in the recycling bins at GW HQ it’s time to return to the civil war that started it all. Even before Horus played his hand at Isstvan he was sowing discord and through his machinations, the hot-headedness of his brothers and what could easily be regarded as wilful idiocy on the part of the Emperor, it all came down to blood in the cities of Prospero. Without the traitors even needing to deploy two loyal Legions would come close to mutual destruction.

burning-of-prospero

Given the huge success of the Horus Heresy in general, and Betrayal at Calth in particular, there can’t be many who’re surprised to see GW returning to the cash cow for another bucket of milk. What’s striking however is that this time round they’re being a lot more adventurous – in keeping with the surge of creative energy we’ve been seeing over recent months. Alongside the space marines and terminators that GW packs into every boxset they release we have, for the first time ever, the Emperor’s loyal bodyguards – the Custodes – and the bane of witches everywhere, those psychic nulls the Sisters of Silence.

With Calth they played it safe as befits its status as the gateway drug to the setting. Cataphractii terminators and Contemptor dreadnaughts were already popular thanks to Forge World, there were two characters which could easily fit into any Legion or Chapter from either 40k or the Heresy, and a whole bunch of that ever popular money-spinning workhorse, the space marines. It would have been easy for them to repeat the trick with Prospero but instead they’ve opted for bigger risks – with arguably more to play for. This time the characters are far more Legion specific, and whilst we were encouraged to paint the Calth characters to fit our Legion of choice it would take more than a coat of paint to make Geigor Fell-Handed into an Ultramarine or Ahriman into an Iron Warrior. Likewise those who’ve thrown in their lot with Horus won’t find much use in the Custodes or the Sisters of Silence, representing as they do perhaps the only two facets of Imperial society that wasn’t split in two by the Heresy.

sisters-of-silence-prospero

Before we dig into the models themselves allow me – in my notorious hubris – to quote my comments from this time last year when Betrayal at Calth was freshly released:

“…for anyone thinking ‘what about Prospero?’ – well those two Legions (Space Wolves and Thousand Sons) would require very distinct miniatures and rules, rather unsuitable for a mass-appeal starter set. They’d also take away some of the thunder from Forge World exploration of that iconic campaign – although one wonders if GW might be planning some kind of follow-up or expansion set to coincide? At this stage one can only guess.”

Well I wasn’t entirely right, we’re still waiting for Forge World to tackle Prospero and when I imagined unique miniatures I was picturing something more akin to Ahriman and Geigor than the Custodes. Still, there’s no denying Prospero makes a natural choice for the follow up to Calth. Its early in the Heresy (in fact it’s arguable that this is where the first shots were fired) so there’s no danger of getting ahead of the popular Black Library series. Only two legions were present (unlike the zoo at Istvaan where pretty much everybody turned up) and it was an infantry fight (as opposed to the tank battle at Talarn or the space battle at Phall). Mind you – not that I’m attempting to repeat my Nostradamus-like prediction trick – the boarding action on Perturabo’s flagship the Iron Blood by the Imperial Fists at Phall could make for an interesting game in this vein, somewhat akin to a Heresy-era Space Hulk. Or maybe they’ll decide to do something completely out of the blue and base the next boxset around the Fall of Mars with loyalist Mechanicum guerrillas battling their scrapcode warped brethren for control of the red planet. We shall see…

p33

The Space Marines

Calth gave us space marines in Mk IV power armour, providing fans with a lot of extra variety when it comes to building their own Legion or Chapter. Now it’s the turn of the Mk III, also known as Iron Armour, to get in on the action. Now some people might be throwing up their hands and saying “Not another kit for making tactical marines?!” and fair enough there isn’t exactly a shortage of them. I can argue until I’m blue in the face about the qualities of Iron Armour, the joy of extra variety, the enriched background and appearance of GW’s posterboys, but frankly if you don’t love Space Marines with an unhealthy passion it may be hard to regard this as filling a gap in the market. Of course the standard issue Space Marine flaws are still in evidence – the weird, splay-legged half-squatting stance remains and they haven’t decided to true-scale them overnight either. Still if you love Iron Armour, and I do, then this is one to get excited about.

prospero-mkiii-marine

I’ll admit I’m not quite at the stage of being an expert on Space Marine armour marks but there’s no denying the Mk III has a brutal, slab-faced and slightly archaic appeal that’ll work nicely for anyone wanting to model their marines ready for a Zone Mortalis or kitbash their own breachers. By my count this gives the discerning space marine general go-to boxsets for Mk III, MkIV, Mk VI (debatably the tactical marines kit) and MkVII and Mk VIII (if you count the Death Watch kit). With this in mind I’m going to take a wild stab and suggest that this time next year we might well be looking at a box full of Mk V, the wonderfully studded and weird-looking Heresy armour. Mind you I wouldn’t be averse to seeing a Unification Wars game with Mk I clad Thunder Warriors slugging it out against tech-barbarian tribesmen.

Tartaros  Terminators

Although not as immediately iconic as last year’s Cataphractii the Tartaros are still great looking models. As models they’re visually distinct from both the Cataphractii and the standard terminators in 40k and thus, if nothing else, they provide a little additional diversity to the terminator options available. After all, with Space Marines remaining the most popular army ever, a little more visual variety has merit of its own. By sharing design cues with both the Contemptor and the MkIV tactical marines the addition of the Tartaros also allows players to create an army with a strong visual theme running through it – perfect if you want your marines to stand out from the crowd.

tartaros-2

In comparison to the Cataphractii which were armed almost exclusively for ranged combat the kit contains enough close combat weapons – in the form of lightning claws – to kit out the whole squad, perfect if your legion of choice is one of those like the Space Wolves or World Eaters who enjoys getting up close and personal with the enemy.

tartaros-1

Sisters of Silence

sos

Now this is where things get really interesting. For most of us a new armour mark for the space marines is only so exciting, but the appearance – for the first time ever – of models for the Sisters of Silence (and the Custodes for that matter) is big news in anyone’s book. Although the models themselves have come in for a degree of – perhaps justified – criticism (why oh why inflict models with armour which could so easily prove fatal to the wearer?) after consideration I’m coming down on the side of those who love them. After all so much in 40k is impractical and as dangerous to the user as it is to their enemies that it hardly seems fair to make a fuss about this. I’m also inclined to put the blame on the studio paint scheme. Had the armour been painted as leather the question would probably never have arisen. Leather armour would also make more sense given how close to the skin its being worn – and whilst I’m sticking my neck out and criticising the ‘eavy metal painters her outstretched hand is clearly bare and not made of a solid lump of gold like some futuristic female version of Jamie Lanister. sister-of-silence

Leather would also suit a light, fast-moving warrior like the Sisters. Leave the bulky metal and ceramite to the Custodes and Astartes – these girls want to be quick and lithe and, as shown in this painting by David Hudnut, leather and cloth is the answer to that. sisters-of-silence-by-david-hudnutStrange, ornate and archaic  these are everything the elite troops of the Imperium should be, and the release of these models represents another voice tempting me away from Chaos and into the arms of the Imperium. Of course, if I did decide to tackle such an army the Sisters wouldn’t be the only models from this set to have a place in the ranks.

Custodian Guard

Step aside Grey Knights, here we have the real Imperial elite. When Abaddon’s Khorne worshipping frontrunners come bursting through the final gate and onto the steps of the Golden Throne to claim the Emperor’s skull these are the men who’ll be waiting for them.custodes

Of all the models in the Burning of Prospero box these are the ones I’ve stared at longest since GW started releasing their pictures. For a while I doubted them but time has soften me. There are flaws of course, the huge shoulder pads mean that from some angles they look a little squat, and the swords in particular are a little too big (although what kind of filthy heretic arms Custodes with swords when there are Guardian Spears to go around?). The way the shoulder pad of this model sits proud of the body also concerns me…

custodian-1

… but on the other hand take a look at this shield!
custodian-2

… or how about the way the powerpack is incorporated into the back of the model. custodian-3

Overall then it’s fair to say that these models have grown on me to become my favourite thing in the box – a tough choice given that I’m a huge fan of Iron Armour and Sisters of Silence alike.

GW have also released rules to allow players to field Custodes and Sisters of Silence in 40k, an interesting development as neither is an active military force in the modern Imperium. In a statement on their facebook page GW took note of this but stressed that both factions still exist, adding “… who knows, we might just see more of them in future”. Whether this is a cheeky nod to planned developments or simply an attempt to keep their options open only time will tell but with Daemonic Primarchs entering the fray the time may be approaching for the Imperium to call all of its agents to arms. Who knows, perhaps someday we may even see Sagittarus Custodian Dreadnaughts such as the one shown in this picture by Adrian Smith. Edit: And indeed Forge World have been fast off the mark – already revealing this Custodes transport.custodes-dreadnaught

On a final note it’s interesting that, although he’s not a character in the game, the shield-captain of the Custodes squad bears a striking resemblance to Constantin Valdor, the Captain General of the Custodes who took personal command of those amongst his troops who were sent to Prospero (painting by Adrian Smith again – please excuse the tiny picture of the model, I’ll replace it as soon as GW releases something better).

valdor-modelvaldor

Ahriman

Calth was both criticised and praised for its generic characters and, perhaps as a result, GW have taken the opposite approach here. Azhek Ahriman is one of the most important characters in the Heresy and continues to plague the Imperium ten thousand years later. Forge World have already produced models for a number of the Heresy’s most influential figures but Ahriman has the distinction of being the first to appear in plastic and what a model he is. azeck-2

For the designers the challenge must have been significant. Not only is this character well known and loved, but also one who’s appearance must reflect clearly the fact that he is a loyalist – whilst remaining clearly the same character as his 40k incarnation. azeck

At first one might question if they’ve even succeeded – after all would someone unfamiliar with the background know that this was the same man who stood on the surface of Prospero all those centuries ago? Still the clues are there, albeit subtle, in the two strips of cloth hanging over his chest, the gently curving horns behind his head and, most of all, the third-eye in the middle of his forehead. 99800102009_ahrimannew_01

Of all the models here this is the one I’m mostly likely to buy in the near future. I’ve already got my eye on using him to create a custom sorcerer lord for my Chaos collection and of course plenty of people will be converting him into a 40k version of himself (the current Ahriman model being both iconic and rather old and clunky). The adventurous might  even make a Librarian out of him (as if the Space Marines don’t have enough of those) something I’m sure Magnus the Red will find quietly amusing as he waits in the Warp for his moment to return.

Geigor Fell-Handed

If anyone was feeling the lack of another wolf lord for their space wolves then here we have the man for you. With his ornate power-armour, trophies and fetishes he’s a striking figure – enough to have any fan of the Rout excited. Indeed, in my opinion he’s up there with Krom Dragongaze as among the very best of the recent Space Wolves models. With a model just restrained enough to avoid looking silly (and no more) he’s ironically wolfy and will no doubt find a home in collections of Fenrisian warriors from both 40k and the Heresy. As mentioned above however he won’t be an easy one to convert so if you don’t want a Space Wolf in your collection you’d better find someone who does to flog him off to. Even if you do want a force of Wolves to take the fight to the Thousand Sons there’s nothing distinctly Wolf-like about the rest of this boxset so he’ll always look a bit out of place unless you dig out a few spare trophies, wolf-skulls and totems from the bits box to decorate his followers. geigor

In comparison to Ahriman Geigor is something of an every-wolf, with so little in the way of preceding background that many people assume his chances of surviving Prospero in any accompanying fiction are slightly lower than those of a red-shirted man living through a mission in Star Trek. A popular rumour doing the rounds online is that this was originally intended to be Bjorn (later to be the Fell Handed) who’s better known to 40k fans as the oldest Dreadnaught of them all. Of course this would be a wonderful piece of storytelling, revealing this iconic character prior to his incarceration in an ambulatory metal box. The only downside is that, at the time of the battle of Prospero, Bjorn was the Quite-Normal-Handed, a rank-and-file space marine with very little to mark him out as the hero he would become. Supposition has it that the developers realised this rather late in the game, hence the last minute renaming of the character as Geigor Fell-Handed instead. As yet this remains purely a hypothesis but one has to wonder in either case, why name him Fell-Handed at all? After all it’s a title so closely associated with such a famous character in the story of both 40k and the Heresy – a character who was even present for the battle featured – that reusing it was bound to cause confusion. Perhaps there’s a clever explanation waiting to be revealed but for now, his name at least remains something of an enigma.

Leman Russ

Honourable mention with this release goes to Russ himself, the Lord of Winter and War, unleashed alongside the Burning of Prospero in a clever bit of cross department co-ordination between GW and Forgeworld. With Black Library getting in on the act with The Great Wolf this is a great weekend to be a Space Wolves fan. leman-russ02To me however Russ leaves something to be desired. His lunging pose is slightly awkward, as though he’s about to fall forward, the back leg kicking up too high in a way that’s reminiscent of the running Khorne Berserkers (a kit that should have been replaced long ago, not replicated). Compare him to the other running Primarch – Angron – and you’ll see the benefit to being slightly more restrained with the placing of the legs. Likewise his sword – admittedly an iconic design – is a little too over-the-top, early 90’s for my taste. What’s the use in all those spikes and blades apart from to snag on everything he hits? Thus in contrast to the Primarchs already released which, with the exception of Corax, have been universally outstanding, Russ is a bit of a miss for me. Hopefully others disagree however as the Wolf King has been one of the most anticipated models in the Horus Heresy series and it would be a shame if fans of the Rout are as disappointed in him as I am.

Magnus the Red

Now if we’re going to talk about Russ then what better time to mention his rival Magnus? Recent revelations emerging from the recycling bins at Games Workshop HQ (alongside the good news that they’re so environmentally conscious) reveals that the Primarch of the Thousand Sons is soon to be released – not for the Horus Heresy when he walked the galaxy as a man of flesh and blood, but for his return in daemonic form in the twilight days of the Imperium.

magnus_the_red_sketch

Magnus the Red by John Blanche (of course)

It’s certainly a dramatic development and many are insisting that this means the return of many other primarchs is now imminent. Certainly the background has it that the daemonic Primarchs have been preparing for a return to the mortal universe for some time, and some – such as Angron and Magnus – having involved themselves violently in mortal affairs since the Heresy. For me the thought of being able to include them in my armies as we surge out of the Great Eye at last and bring ruin to the Corpse-God’s Imperium is hugely exciting. However, perhaps hypocritically, I’m not all that keen on seeing the loyalist Primarchs appearing in 40k. Of course it’s exciting to imagine that they might be out there somewhere but, much like bigfoot or the Loch Ness monster, that doesn’t mean I actually want them in my house. The loyalist Primarchs represent hope. Perhaps the day may come when the Lion awakes or Guilliman heals and, in the Imperium’s darkest hour, they ride out in Arthurian fashion. Until then men must suffice.

Perhaps this represents the views of a luddite clinging to the past, refusing to allow the setting to evolve beyond the moment in which I discovered it, forcing it – with unintentional irony – to stagnate into a worship of its past self. Perhaps it is simply that I am being left behind by the evolution GW envisions for its most popular creation. After all Warhammer has already made the transition from a world in which the aesthetic of the pathetic ruled, where a man with no shoes and fewer teeth took up a rusty sword to battle daemon princes and orc hordes, into a glittering universe of superhuman heroics, where gods do battle and the great unwashed are strangely absent.

The return of the loyalist Primarchs would send 40k in the same direction. The fate of the Imperium would hang less on the actions of a band of guardsmen defending a trench against the horrors of a hostile galaxy and more about two demi-gods duelling over their father’s throne.  Abaddon has launched thirteen crusades to wrest the galaxy from gene-gods and back into the hands of men and I’ve been with him every step of the way. Leave the Primarchs where they belong; in a lost mythic age. Let the Lion keep napping, leave Guilliman in state like a power-armoured Lenin – the only loyal Primarch that belongs in the modern 40k universe is Sanguinius’s golden-armoured ghost.

+++

So what do you think? Is this a worthy successor to Calth or will you be making your own Custodes out of Stormcasts instead? Do you think the model of Leman Russ is magnificent or are you too excited to concentrate by the thought of seeing Guilliman in 40k?  As usual the comments box is open for your thoughts so have at it.

Edit: If you just can’t get enough of reading about this new boxset I highly recommend KrautScientist’s in-depth look at the models (and of course their conversion potential).


Cracking the WIP – Part 3

Nobody said it would be pretty! Not at this stage anyway. The first layers of paint are down. Washes have been sloshed around. Brushstrokes are everywhere. Somewhere Duncan Rhodes is screaming. 10 days to go!dreadful-dread-1-convertordie


The Path To Prospero

This weekend sees the release of a new boxed game from Games Workshop. Cast in the same mould as Betrayal at Calth this one will focus on the razing of the planet Prospero, home to the Thousand Sons legion of Magnus the Red, by his brother the Wolf King Leman Russ.6

So how did we get here? How did two legions of space marines, each claiming to be utterly loyal to the Emperor of Mankind, end up beating seven bells out of each other to such an extent that an entire planet was burned down? Well, gentle reader, let me explain – although it is a confusing tale and one which leads inevitably to the conclusion that the Emperor is either a) evil and using humanity as pawns in a fiendishly complex scheme of his own that is yet to become clear or b) so unbelievably stupid that you wouldn’t let him run a bath let alone an interstellar empire. For those of you who’ve not read A Thousand Sons or Prospero Burns yet this post is full of spoilers, better to come back later once you’ve read them yourself. 7

So the Emperor, so utterly arrogant that he couldn’t imagine being called anything else, decides that he’s spent long enough watching humanity scrabble in the radioactive dirt of the planet formerly known as Earth and he’s going to relocate every lost colony in the galaxy and create himself an Empire to be Emperor of (possibly because he was starting to feel a little self-conscious being called The Emperor when he was all by himself). In order to share the leg work of the galaxy re-uniting business he created himself a number of sons, not in the fairly exciting way that would have involved finding an Empress and possibly loosening up a little, but in a fairly dull way that involved being in a science lab instead. Each of these sons was particularly good at certain things, for example Dorn was good at building forts, Perturabo was good at knocking them over again, Fulgrim was good at picking clothes and Vulcan was good at living for a very, very long time whilst being terribly nice to everyone.

Magnus was designed to be good at magic. The key word in there is designed, remember that because it becomes important later, the Emperor specifically created Magnus with it in mind that he would be a dab hand at spells and so on. In fact it was generally reckoned that Magnus was the best wizard that had ever been, with the possible exception of the Emperor who was also very good at magic (alongside science and having big ideas). Another of the Emperor’s sons, Leman Russ, specialised in a combination of being loyal to the Emperor and killing people, which made him excellent as an enforcer in the event that any of his brothers got a bit out of line. He was also good with pets and really disliked magic.85

Anyway, the Great Crusade rolled along quite nicely, most of the humans in the galaxy were reunited into one sharing, caring happy family, or – if they didn’t want to be part of the Project for a New Imperial Century, obliterated to radioactive rubble instead. With everything proceeding nicely the Emperor headed home to work on a new Top Secret project, leaving his favourite son Horus in charge. Before he vanished into his lab and stopped answering his calls altogether however there was one last order of business to take care of; the Council of Nikaea. For some time the Imperium had been split on the question of magic and whether or not it was a good idea. Some, like Magnus, pointed to the enormous potential to do good offered by their powers, and noted that as mankind appeared to be evolving into a race of powerful magic users it might be worth getting out ahead of the game and being prepared for a magic dominated future when it arrived. Generally these people had magical powers themselves. The other side thought that magic was bad news, wizards were dangerous people, and the whole thing should be stopped at once. Generally these people didn’t have magical powers themselves and were probably a bit jealous of those who did. Some of them however, like Russ, had plenty of strange powers of their own, and liked hanging out with wizards themselves, but did a lot of hand-waving to justify it and not come off as massive hypocrites.

The Council of Nikaea was supposed to thrash this out once and for all, but instead it all turned into a bit of a show trial where Magnus was accused of being a very naughty boy and banned from doing any more magic at all. Interestingly, and as an aside, this judgement was regarded as a bad move by several of the Emperor’s sons who went on to side with him in the forthcoming civil war (Roboute Guilliman and the Khan for example), whilst others who agreed with him on this still managed to stab him in the back a short time later (Mortarion I’m looking at you). It also provided Lorgar, Primarch of the Word Bearers, with an excuse to infiltrate many of his brother’s legions under the guise of helping them come to terms with a life without magic. Quite why more of his brothers didn’t tell him where to shove his ‘help’ is unclear but it certainly gave Lorgar the excuse to go around knocking on doors asking if anyone had a few minutes to talk about our lord and saviour the Primordial Annihilator.   2

Anyway Magnus was rather good at wizarding and didn’t want to go back to living in the cupboard under the stairs. He was sure that if he could just show his dad how useful magic could be then the Emperor would recognise his error and take back his judgement (forgetting for a moment that the Emperor was well aware of what magic could do, being as he was spectacularly good at it himself). What was needed, Magnus realised, was a huge, over the top gesture, proving once and for all that magic was useful and, perhaps even more importantly, that Magnus was a good boy who deserved a second chance. Then they would cry and hug and probably do some quality father/son bonding – perhaps involving a fishing trip or attending some kind of sporting event.

Meanwhile Horus was starting to get bit cheesed off. He was finding out that being Warmaster was a lot harder than the Emperor had made it sound before he gave him the job and between his brothers squabbling and generally being dysfunctional, and trying to co-ordinate a war on an almost infinite number of fronts, he could also use a bit of a chat with the Emperor for a bit of fatherly advice. Unfortunately whenever he rang the Emperor he got his voicemail in the form of Malcador the Sigilite who told him that the Emperor was super busy dealing with something far more important than re-uniting humanity and Horus would just have to use his initiative. Regrettably Horus’s initiative was telling him to listen to Lorgar who was full of talk about evil gods in the Warp and how we should listen to them instead and how the Emperor had never loved them anyway (this being a rough summation of the path from loyal son to traitor that actually takes three whole books to play out). The Emperor, as it turns out, was well aware that these warp gods existed, and that they planned to corrupt mankind, but at no point did it occur to him to mention this to his sons. Instead, in a display of exceptional parenting, he waited until Horus was leading half the Imperium against him in civil war before declaring  something to the effect of “Curse your sudden but inevitable betrayal”.

1

Anyway Magnus found out about what was happening and, having failed to convince Horus that he might be making a mistake in going against the Emperor’s will, decided to go against the Emperor’s will by using magic to project himself across the galaxy to warn his dad. Remember when you were a kid and you saw someone breaking the rules and ran to the teacher to tell, only to get in trouble yourself for being a tell-tale? Well that’s what happened to Magnus. Also when he projected himself into the Emperor’s lab he brushed aside all the wards which the Emperor had put there precisely to stop anyone using magic to project themselves into his lab, which caused a major infestation of daemons which to this day threatens to burst through and devour everyone. This ticked the Emperor off no end and he focussed his anger on Magnus and sent Russ to put him back in line. At this point the plot becomes a bit confused – some versions have it that Horus told Russ that Magnus was planning to trap him and to go in all guns blazing, or that the Emperor told Russ to kill Magnus, or that Russ was caging for a fight anyway and decided to have his revenge on Magnus for all the times he’d shouted ‘walkies’ at him or confused him by pretending to throw a ball whilst actually hiding it behind his back. The plot of the novel covering these events does nothing to clarify things and instead adds in an unnecessary shape-shifting daemon which only serves to muddy the waters and poke holes in the plot (bad boy Dan Abnett – and you’re usually so good).

Thus Russ and his Space Wolves arrive at the planet of Prospero and set about breaking everything in sight, a terrible battle ensues and Magnus teleports his legions off the planet and into the arms of an elaborate Tzeentchian scheme. And if you thought that was hard to follow you should read the bloody books!

 +++

Looking over the events that shaped the Horus Heresy it’s hard to buy into the Imperial version of events, that the Emperor had a plan for humanity which would have kept us safe and secure into a glorious future but was blindsided by Horus’s short-sighted betrayal. Indeed it’s pretty obvious that some of the Primarchs were designed to fail. From the moment of their creation they were set on paths that led them to Chaos and the Emperor seemed to be deliberately shaping events to encourage them on that journey. Magnus, Angron, Curze, Lorgar, even Horus himself; all seem to have been the victims of a deliberate set-up. I’ve even wondered if the Emperor only despatched the Wolves to Prospero because Magnus was so stubborn in remaining loyal when any right thinking individual would have told him to get stuffed long before. (Note also that whilst both Curze and Angron had their knuckles rapped at various points the only other legion to be shamed and reprimanded in quite such a grand fashion were the Word Bearers, again for too much loyalty rather than not enough).

One possibility is that some of the Primarchs were intended as deliberate sacrifices. After all the Emperor is known to have made a pact with the Chaos gods in exchange for the knowledge required to make the Primarchs in the first place. What we don’t know is what the Gods asked for in return. Perhaps the Gods said to the Emperor ‘Kill me a son’ (and the Emperor says “Man, you must be putting me on!”)

Ultimately much remains unknown about the Emperor and his motivations but what we do know is that he foresaw the Heresy, if not its full extent, and his actions did more to cause it than to prevent it. Here we have a man – supremely skilled with magic – who, through elaborate schemes and misdirection, created the modern Imperium upon which the Gods of Chaos have feasted for ten thousand years. Ultimately Horus may have fallen at the Siege of Terra but it was the Gods who were victorious. The Imperium, with its teeming millions and constant warring and plotting, has been the perfect vessel for their schemes for ten millennia. Tzeentch loves those who struggle against their fate, all the while binding themselves tighter and tighter within his schemes, and the Imperium of Man has struggled so very hard indeed. The engines of the state are devoted to covering up the existence of Chaos and stopping an outbreak of pyskers, all the while preventing mankind from achieving its psychic potential. All the races which might prove a threat to the dominance of Chaos (the Orks, Tyranids, Necrons, Tau, even the Eldar) find themselves under the Imperium’s guns. And if you still don’t believe me that the Emperor is either serving Tzeentch, or actually is Tzeentch himself, take a look at that double-headed eagle banner and tell me you’ve not seen it somewhere before…imperium

kairos-fateweaver

I rest my case.