Feel the ground shaking? Hear the screaming of the villagers? See the sun suddenly blotted out by the passing of an enormous shadow? Don’t worry – it’s only a tribe of giants stomping into town! That’s right, this weekend saw the arrival for pre-order of Games Workshop’s newest faction for Age of Sigmar; the Sons of Behemat. Oh and the screaming might just be people looking at the latest GW prices…
For those who’ve not been keeping up the Sons of Behemat are not a Mumford and Sons tribute act but instead a new army for AoS made up entirely of giants (or gargants as GW confusingly likes to call them now – in my mind gargants are plus-sized Ork Stompas for 40k, but in these changing and uncertain times it’s nice to know that GW will still ensure that their naming conventions are as complicated as possible). The old giants kit of yore has been renamed “Mancrusher Gargants” and make up the rank and file of the new army, whilst an impressive new kit brings us three flavours of Mega-Garagant, which is even bigger and more imposing than its predecessor.
Almost exactly a year ago today (it was the 12th of October 2019 but who’s splitting hairs?) I wrote an article asking where exactly GW planned to go next with the Destruction grand alliance. Order had really come into its own, Chaos and Death both had plenty of scope to expand, but what about the happy-go-lucky barbarians of Destruction? I’m increasingly hopeful, incidentally, that we’ll see the thuggish hordes of Destruction given a boost in the next edition of AoS, the first edition boxset featured Order vs Chaos, the second Order vs Death so it makes a degree of sense that we’ll see Order vs Destruction next time around. Or we might not get a starter set and instead just see a repeat of Indomitus – although hopefully they’ve learned something from that screw-up…
Anyway, when I wrote the aforementioned article I’d already been pouring scorn on the idea of an all-giants army, which various speculators and “rumour-mungers” had been touting as the next big thing, and I didn’t miss the opportunity to pour a little more, saying;
“The giants may have enjoyed a brief stint as a one model faction in the early days of AoS but the big oafs have been reined in by their destruction colleagues and I’d be surprised to see them go it alone again.”
Do pass another slice of this delicious humble pie…
The new Mega-Gargant kit makes three very different models, and it’s well worth giving them a quick look. First of all we have the Warstomper which is basically a normal, traditional giant.
Then things start to get weird with the Kraken-eater, a marine themed giant.
Lastly we have the hooded Gatebreaker.
Credit where its due GW has managed to make three very distinct looking giants out of one base kit. The core of each is pretty close to identical being built over the same chassis, yet slight changes to the positioning of head and arms make for very different poses (within a realistic scope of course – no-one was looking for a giant doing handstands or pirouettes – and if you are you’d better break out the greenstuff). Of the three the Kraken-eater is the most unusual – the other two are basically just straightforward giants, but the Kraken-eater has, for some reason, been decorated with all sorts of maritime gubbins. Without reading the army book I can’t say exactly why this is but my guess would be that, as the giants which are most inclined towards nicking everything they can get their hands on, they’ve been drawn to walking along the shores of the Mortal Realms looting shipwrecks. Being GW though it’ll probably be some overly-complicated pseudo-mythological bollocks instead.
I don’t have any particular problem with the Kraken-eater but I must admit I find them quite specialised aesthetically. Being able to make a marine giant is cool, but for my money a kleptomaniac giant with more generic taste in loot would have been better than one which exclusively hugged the tideline. A model tells a story, about what it represents and it’s place in the wider setting, and the story told by this one is not “some giants like to pinch things” but “some giants like going to the beach”.
In recent years GW have been leaning heavily into making everything as unique to their brand and intellectual property as possible (the Lumineth Realmlords – as essentially a High Elves analogue – being the main exception of recent times, although even they went for a unique spin with walking bull-mountains). Now this is no bad thing in my book, I like new and creative ideas more than rehashed clichés, and fantasy should be about exploring and inventing rather than sticking religiously to old ideas. However you can take this too far, and there’s a time and a place for playing it safe. Giants that steal stuff and load themselves down with loot is a well-established idea and one that lots of giant fans will be drawn to. Giants that go fishing is a bit more “out there” – it may prove to be the next big thing but equally it may not. Personally I’d have played it a little safer, not every single thieving giant in every Sons of Behemat army in the world needs to be a keen rockpooler on the weekends.
The other thing that’s causing ructions online right now is the price. This is the sort of topic that get’s the frothier end of the fanbase hot under the collar at the best of times, the First and Second World Wars seeming like mere blips in comparison to the rage and factionalism that breaks out on social media whenever the cost of a GW kit is mentioned. Mind you anything is usually enough to set social media groups at each others’ throats so we shouldn’t be too surprised. However there’s no denying this is a pricy kit, buy it full price from GW right now and it’ll set you back £120 in UK money. That’s a fair chunk of cash for one model in anyone’s book – although in fairness it’s also roughly 25% of a standard sized army, and represents a major painting project in its own right. I find myself wondering how the Sons of Behemat compare to other armies pricewise, after all they’re individually expensive but you need very few models. Are they really costlier than hordes of little dudes? I could probably grab a calculator and figure it out but alas I haven’t. Probably someone somewhere has a spreadsheet already…
I don’t know, because I’m not a fly on the wall of GW’s decision making process, but I do wonder if they might not have been better rearranging the contents of the sprues and releasing three different giants, each at a lower price. One set of sprues would contain all the parts common to each giant (the legs, torso etc) and whilst three other sets would cover all the parts needed to make each sort of giant. As it stands if you want to build a Warstomper you’re also paying for all the bits to make a Gatebreaker and a Kraken-eater which are then tossed unused into the bits box. Per my suggestion your Warstomper kit would contain only the common gargant frame, plus a sprue or two of those bits needed to turn it into a Warstomper. This would also leave the way open for more varieties of Mega-Gargant in the future, should the kit prove to be popular. They could even throw in a sprue of mutations and do a new army of Chaos Gargants somewhere down the road.
I suspect though that this would probably be more expensive to produce and package, and take up more shelf space as room would then be required for three Mega-Gargant rather than just one. Still I do like the Warstomper, and I could be tempted to get one, but the price is a bit too rich for my taste – especially when I’m paying for a load of bits – even if some of those bits will find their way into conversions at some point.
As an aside it’s worth noting that these are not the only “big giants” on the market. Mantic for one also produce a plus-sized giant. I’ve not bought anything from Mantic in years so I can’t comment on the model from direct personal experience but just eyeballing it online it does look like a nice kit.
Hopefully soon we’ll see a direct size comparison between it and the mega-gargant but I suspect there may not be a lot of difference, although the Mantic giant is probably slimmer. Here’s a size comparison between the Mantic giant and the old GW giant (the one now known variously as an Aleguzzler or a Mancrusher) borrowed from The Hobby Heroes.
Compare that to the picture of the Mancrusher and Mega-Gargant above and I think the Mantic giant would make a fine stand-in if you were thus inclined. Of course it’s the price that makes things really interesting, £25 buys you the Mantic kit which leaves you with £95 in change when compared to the GW offering. Go down that road and the Sons of Behemat could easily be the cheapest AoS army to collect.
Seen collectively the big giants towering over the smaller giants looks a little odd to my eye. The impression that one gets when looking at them is of two distinct size classes of giant, big ones and bigger ones, rather than a mixed tribe of mighty monsters. A friend took one look at it at and said “Ah, the big one is taking his children for a walk, he’s Behemat and these are his sons?” which isn’t an unreasonable conclusion to jump to I guess. Again I know it comes down to time and money, both things that GW have plenty of but which are not in unlimited supply even for them. However, if you’ll indulge me in a bit of wishlisting, I’d have loved to see a third size of giant somewhere in between the old Aleguzzlers and the new Mega-Gargants. Between them they could have created a range of sizes and a more natural look to the army as a result. Perhaps they could have used the Warstomper as the big guy (with a few alternative bits so you can personalise your own) and made the Gatebreaker and Kraken-eater a little smaller, perhaps alongside a third type. The resultant army would look a bit more natural with a mix of sizes.
Will I be signing up for an army of mighty, world-stomping brutes? I doubt it – I’ve got too many other projects on the go and my wallet is nowhere near deep enough to fund this kind of scheme (except, perhaps, at Mantic’s prices). Maybe, should the chance arise to snag a bargain in the future, I might get myself a Warstomper to loom ominously over my various Chaos and Destruction projects – he’s certainly an extremely cool looking model. Oh and somewhere I have a couple of old Aleguzzlers I was given by a mate who was having a clear out, maybe I should start by digging them out of whichever box they’re lurking in and giving them a coat of paint. After that, who knows – perhaps by then we’ll have seen the next addition to the Destruction line up, and at last the warlike lads will step out of the shadow of WHFB and follow in the footsteps of the other Grand Alliances with an AoS-unique faction or two. I loved WHFB and still do but we’re overdue for Destruction to leave the past behind and charge bellowing into the future.