I’ve always had a bit of a soft spot for the forces of Destruction in Age of Sigmar. Hulking barbarians in crude armour and the diminutive rascals that scurry alongside them, seeking only to tear civilisation apart and stamp up and down on the ruins for the sheer fun of it, you may not want to see them charging towards your village but it’s hard not to love their devil-may-care, joyous approach to life. If you want to bring nations to their knees and enjoy yourself whilst you do it then Destruction are the lads for you. Formed primarily of orcs, goblins, ogres, trolls and giants these are the villains of many a fantasy novel – yet mostly these are the thugs and goons who provide a bit of muscle, whilst the evil masterminding is done by someone else. Thus whilst Chaos and Death (and even Order to an extent) can come across as distinctly evil at times Destruction just seem to be having a good time – even if it’s at the expense of your army, settlement or nation.
Over the past few years, since WHFB gave way to the Age of Sigmar, the various factions that the new setting inherited from the old have evolved, often in innovative and surprising ways. Death has armies of ghosts and elite bone golems, Order has fish-elves, tree-elves, snake-elves (they do love their elves!) and flying dwarves. Destruction has much the same bunch of meatheads that went around kicking over fortresses back in the days of Karl Franz. Whilst other races have grown into the new setting Destruction has stayed stuck in the past – albeit with some very impressive new models. An Orruk Brute is just an Orc Big ‘un with a new name, the giants have grown a little taller and… that’s about it.
For some time now I’ve felt that Destruction was being left behind and although I’ve had no complaints about the models they’ve received I’ve harboured a suspicion that this couldn’t last and that sooner or later something new would come their way. Back in October of 2019 I ever tried to predict what it would look like, and claimed rather erroneously that new even-bigger giants was hardly something that was likely to occur…and then a year later that’s exactly what they did.
What I wouldn’t have guessed at though was anything like Kragnos, the truly massive, living demi-god of destruction who was showcased for the first time at the 2021 Online WarhammerFest this week.
There’s no two ways about it, he’s a pretty damn awesome model in my view, a towering champion of testosterone who more than deserves the respect he’s gained both from the orcs, goblins and ogres that serve in his armies and from the painters already gathering their brushes in preparation for his release. He’s an unashamedly macho figure who speaks to the barbarian in all of us, the part of every man who’d love to wield a hammer made from the heart of the land itself and fight dragons because nothing else presents a challenge.
And if you hadn’t already guessed he’s a big lad, towering over even the meatiest orc or ogre.
Sadly for him, despite having risen to godhood by roughing up absolutely everyone he could get his hands, Kragnos has spent the last few ages ensnared and now he’s loose once more he discovers that his people are gone. “Gone” however is not exactly the same as extinct. Perhaps the people who Kragnos once led have been swept into the grave by the march of time, or perhaps he’s just been too busy hitting things to take the time to look for them – and perhaps the return of their ancient king might just be enough to lure them out of hiding. After all, entire peoples are rarely eradicated entirely, at least in fantasy stories. Their settlements may be ruined and their tribes scattered but there are always a few embittered survivors hiding in the wilderness, growing strong and praying to their lost god to bring them vengeance. Because cool though Kragnos is, he’s no orc. He may look the business right now leading an army of orcs or ogres or whatever it takes for people to get him onto their tabletops, but in a year or two’s time, when we’ve overcome our excitement at seeing him and familiarity has bred, if not contempt then at least a dulling of the hype, then Kragnos is going to seem a little odd rocking round at the head of a mix of greenskins.
Right now there’s not much in terms of visual cues to tie him into the wider Destruction range. He has very little in common with the ogres beyond being primeval and muscular, even less to connect him to the green-skinned orcs and next to nothing with the diminutive goblins. As a shaggy, brown centaur he has more in common with the beasts of Chaos range, particularly the dragon ogres, and anyone looking for a model to convert into Kholek Suneater for a WHFB army could do a lot worse than using him as a starting point. Likewise his technological trappings speak of a greater degree of sophistication than that shown by his peers who tend to start and stop with how effective something is at hitting people with and leave decoration, beyond a few spiky glyphs of course, to wusses. Kragnos on the other hand has dressed to impress, by barbarian standards, with torcs, earspools and a rather meta shield depicting Kragnos himself, holding his shield.
I’ve long argued that human barbarians need not always be worshippers of Chaos. Some tribes could fit in nicely to the Order alliance, worshipping Sigmar as a god of war and thunder. It’s taken me until now however to realise that Destruction also has space for a few human(ish) tribes of their own. In my mind’s eye I’m envisioning something akin to the Sessairs from Confrontation, wildmen, warriors and centaurs who turned to the wilderness, abandoning their settlements with the coming of Chaos.
I’m not saying that Kragnos will be given a race to lead by GW’s sculptors, and I’m certainly not saying that they’ll look anything like this. What I am saying is that Kragnos deserves some followers of his own, and that Destruction is overdue for the kind of treatment that Order, Chaos and Death have enjoyed. With Kragnos they’ve taken a bold step out of the Old World’s shadow, now let’s see where they go next. After all, GW have given us a broad hint that the little icon on Kragnos’ base is an allusion to things to come. Someone out there amongst the mountains and forests is excited about Kragnos’ arrival and it’s not just me!
Now despite all this I don’t think I’ll be painting Kragnos myself, he’s a bit big for my current painting plans (I have a whole lot of other monstrous figures I’d like to tackle first) but I’m itching to see what followers he may or may not have, and what direction GW decide to take this side of their range. In the meantime I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed for more barbarian wrath on the way!