Category Archives: Editorial

Kruel and the Gang

Another weekend, another Warhammer preview – this time devoted to the Stormcast Eternals and their latest adversaries, the scheming orc Kruelboyz. Now the Stormcasts do look nice, it’s a range that’s come on in leaps and bounds over recent years, but being essentially a filthy orc myself my attention has been squarely focussed on this new breed of swamp-lurking greenskins.

It probably won’t come as a surprise to any of my regular readers but I like these a lot. They’re nasty, spiky gits, much more in keeping with the wicked hordes of older fantasy fiction than the “misunderstood” tribal barbarians popularised by World of Warcraft and other modern sources. They look exactly like the kind of evil scum that might be found lurking in a wild and overgrown swamp, ready to carry off their unfortunate victims to a terrible fate. It may say nothing good about me at all but that’s exactly the kind of qualities that draw me to a faction and so of course I’ve been watching this release develop with interest, my fingers hovering expectantly over my sadly over-worked wallet whilst my pots of green paint shove their way to the front of the desk ready to be liberally applied.

Beyond this rabid enthusiasm however two things have struck me whilst looking at these models; where are the normal orcs and why are these ones looking so damn serious all the time?

Kruelboss

In Praise of Normal Orcs

Over in the grim darkness of the 41st Millennium the greenskins are also gearing up for war. This time around the new models will be bring a range of new hunters and beast-wranglers to the faction – the so-called Beast Snaggas, some of whom even ride into battle on giant squigs.

New Orc

In the world of Warhammer 40k all orks belong to a tribe (that’s your personal collection – my army, Da Murdaboyz, being one example). Most orks are also part of one of six major clans (the Goffs, Evil Sunz, Snakebites, Bad Moons, Blood Axes and Deathskulls). A tribe may be made up exclusively of orks from one of these clans or it may contain members of several or all. Each clan has its own idiosyncrasies and defining traits, Bad Moons are wealthy show-offs for instance whilst the Deathskulls combine a superstitious obsession with the colour blue with a hunger for stealing everyone else’s property as soon as they can get their hands on it. Adding a third layer of complexity are the various ork “kultures” – the Kult of Speed for example, or the new Beast Snaggas. Some of these kultures tie themselves in well with certain clans but, and this is the clever thing, it’s not an exclusive arrangement. Take the Kult of Speed. These orks take their species’ love of hurtling around at a breakneck pace, something every ork enjoys to some extent, and turn it into a lifelong fixation. As a result they find a natural home amongst the nomadic petrol-heads of the Evil Sunz clan. The Goffs meanwhile are the meanest and most brutish orks of all, serious and ill-tempered they like the simple things in life – straightforward fighting with muscles and fists doing all the real work and none of that fancy nonsense getting in the way. They may take a dim view of the Speed Freeks and their time wasting antics, tinkering around with motorbikes or having silly races in the dusty wastes outside the camp when they should be concentrating on proper things like fighting. However that doesn’t mean that a few buggies or bikes will be out of place in a Goff army. After all it stands to reason that a Goff who races his way into combat atop a speeding bike will be able to enjoy a lot more fighting than his mates who have to walk all the way, and probably won’t reach the site of battle until the best killin’ has already been done. Meanwhile a Bad Moon might find himself tempted by a vehicle of his very own, and if he is he’ll buy one that’s fancier than anyone else’s – at least until the local Deathskulls steal it and paint it blue…

In practical terms this means you can make your army your own, choosing the parts of the Ork background that you find most appealing without finding yourself “locked out” of adding particular models to your collection. This works because, stripped back to the bare lead, plastic or resin, all these orks look relatively similar. There’s not much to distinguish a Bad Moon from a Goff until you’ve decided whether to paint him in garish yellow or cover him in black and white checks. These clans and kultures which have brought excitement and pleasure to so many hobbyists over the decades are rarely more than a coat of paint deep.

Over in Age of Sigmar however the differences are rather more intrinsic. A Kruelboy is a lean, spiky creature…

Gutrippa

… quite different to a hulking brute like an Ironjaw.

Ironjaw Brute

They’re both orcs, and they can certainly look good mixed together in a large army, but what they really need is something to tie them together – a missing link as it were. Where are the ordinary orcs?

Back in the old days of Warhammer Fantasy Battle the Orcs and Goblins range had at its heart mobs of Orc Boyz. The kit, when it was retired with the coming of Age of Sigmar, was well past its best but it continued to serve a key function – tying all the other orcs together thematically.

Normal Orcs

With these green lads at the heart of your army you could add in some Black Orcs (disciplined orcs in heavy armour), Big ‘uns (orcs but even bigger and tougher) or Savage Orcs (orcs who distain clothes and other trappings of civilisation and go into battle with nothing but bone clubs and loincloths). Standing side by side the Black Orcs looked very different to their Savage cousins (they were wearing a bit more for starters) but a mob of Orc Boys created a visual link that brought them together. As the greenskins have migrated across to Age of Sigmar the various specialised “types” have lived on – the Savage Orcs rebranded as Bonesplitterz, the Black Orcs as ‘Ardboyz and the Big ‘uns getting a swanky new range of models and becoming the Ironjaws. Now there are swamp themed orcs as well. What we don’t have however is the missing link, the ordinary boys who may not be fancy or particularly original, but who bring everything together – who take the disparate mobs of Kruelboyz, Ardboyz, Bonesplitterz and Ironjaws and forge them into an army.

Why So Serious?

For the most part the various settings and games under the Warhammer umbrella are on the one hand very serious, and on the other very silly. Take Blood Bowl for instance, a game which the players can – if they so wish – take very, very seriously indeed, developing for themselves the mindsets of chess grandmasters, whilst at the same time playing with undead footballers, drunken dwarves, pogo-ing goblins, chainsaw-wielding loonies and orc cheerleaders. Warhammer 40k paints itself as a very serious business (look no further than the 700 novels that make up the Horus Heresy series) but it also includes space vampires, space werewolves, all kinds of demons and other craziness that more sober sci-fi would never abide. Orks of course are the ultimate expression of that silly side. Even when 40k is trying to be sensible and grown-up, picturing the grand narrative of a declining and stagnating empire brought low by the flaws within our all too human souls, the orks just fart around at the back enjoying themselves. Collectively, they are the whoopee cushion on Roboute Guilliman’s chair.

Orc Cheerleader

Warhammer works well when it can be taken very seriously – look no further than the reams of historical and cultural background in the “House of…” books for Necromunda for example. However it needs that spark of silliness to bring out the flavour. All that Necromundan nitty-gritty is wonderful but it’s still a game of punks vs. aliens, and it still includes the character Smartacus, an ogre who leads an uprising after an accident turns him into a genius.

If the Kruelboyz have a flaw then it’s that they’re not very silly. Indeed for the most part they look serious and scary. Now there’s nothing wrong with that – as I said I really like that aspect of them – but really the Ironjaws aren’t particularly silly either, the Black Orcs/Ardboyz were always grim and dour and that only leaves the Savage Orcs doing their best to keep things daft and looking ever more out of place. But if the orcs aren’t silly then who is?

Gutrippa 2

To me that’s the one remaining problem with Age of Sigmar. The setting has grown from its challenging birth into something genuinely interesting and impressive. When it first launched six years ago it felt unfinished; the backstory little better than fan fiction, the models borrowed from WHFB with confusing new names and the rules leaning as much on players yelling at each other as on rolling dice. Nowadays it’s grown into an engaging, complex world in which even cynical old hands like me look forward to discovering the next chapter of the ever developing story. However these days it’s a sensible world for grown-up people. The goblins – in the form of the Gloomspite Gits – are as silly as ever but the Orcs have their serious faces on, and much as I love the look of the Kruelboyz I miss those daft old orcs. Perhaps in time though we’ll have both – serious orcs for serious battles and silly old orcs farting under the noses of those snooty Stormcasts.


Scum’s Thoughts – Part 6

Us Necromunda fans have a fairly good idea of what’s coming our way over the next few months. Gang warfare on the polluted planet has traditionally centred around the six great houses, each of which received a set of plastic models in the wake of the game’s 2017 relaunch. In January 2020 the Goliaths were bolstered by the addition of new gang champions and prospects and this pattern has continued ever since at a rate of roughly one house per quarter (Covid related delays notwithstanding). Now the reinforcements for House Cawdor are almost upon us and the shadowy agents of House Delaque are only a few months behind. I’ll confess my love for the new Redemptionists has waned somewhat since they were first revealed but that’s just left me wanting to kitbash and improve them until they look the way they ought to.

Redemptionists

However what I’m wanting to talk about today is the final section of the “road map” revealed by Games Workshop, the part which covers the last quarter of 2021 (and beyond). Now that we’ve seen the key releases from the “House of…” series it’s time to turn our attention to the further future. Care to join me for some baseless speculation and wild guessing? 

Roadmap

Despite their significance there’s a lot more to Necromunda than just the big six houses. In this edition we already have rules and models for Enforcers, Genestealer Cults, Helot Cults, Corpse-Grinder Cults, Slave Ogryns and Venators.  The possibilities don’t end there either. If they want to Games Workshop have a host of possibilities and potential new factions to explore. Indeed I would argue that this is exactly what they intend to do. It’s understandable for fans to fear that support for Necromunda may be inconsistent, or even nonexistent, in the future. GW have already dropped the game entirely from their catalogue once back in the 2000’s and even now support for some of the other “specialist games” like Adeptus Titanicus and Aeronautica Imperialis remains patchy and even Blood Bowl hasn’t seen much attention since last autumn. When the going gets tough, as it has in the wake of the Covid outbreak and Brexit for instance, the specialist games suffer so that the big cash cows like 40k can continue to thrive. Still, I don’t think it’s wishful thinking to suggest that Necromunda is well placed to remain an established part of the GW catalogue for a long time yet. At least, let’s hope so. Anyway, let’s leave those worries for another day and indulge in some guesswork instead! Here are a few of the gangs I think might be tearing up the underhive near you over the next few years – I’m sure we can all look forward to having a good laugh at how wrong I turned out to be!

Ash Waste Nomads

It may be grim in the hive but it’s even worse outside. The whole planet is a hellish, polluted wasteland, the only water is the toxic run-off from the great factories, storms of scouring wind and acid rain sweep over the tortured landscape and the people you encounter are as wild and dangerous as any underhive scummer. You wouldn’t think anyone would be mad enough to live out there but the Ash Waste Nomads have been getting the odd mention in recent books – with the Orlock book in particular offering some choice titbits on these outlanders. A couple of years ago we even saw some concept art, albeit fairly vague, for these road warriors…

Ash Waste NomadsAsh Wasters

… not to mention their dangerous looking steeds…

Ash Waste Riding Beasts

Dust Striders 2

The (un)Dead

Somewhere else which has been getting a lot of mentions in the recent Necromunda books is Hive Mortis, enough to have caught my eye and got me thinking.  A terrible plague has run rampant through the hive, leaving the entire population dead and their possessions unguarded. If you’re a ganger who wants to get rich quick and isn’t frightened of a little thing like plague then this is the place to go. However not all of the locals have taken death lying down. Plague zombies have been a part of Necromunda for a long time and Hive Mortis is apparently crawling with them. 

The Corpse-Grinder Cults have already brought us a Necromundan spin on Khorne which leaves me wondering how long before the other Chaos gods try to get in on the act. Could the pudgy hand of Nurgle and his ghastly, disease-ridden cultists be reaching out from the fallen hive even as we speak? 

The Immortal Cult

The Necromunda core rulebook also contains a brief description of the Immortal Cult, a cabal of rogue psykers who seek to bring about a psychic awakening in all of mankind. The cult first appears around the 34th Millennium and is still active in the setting’s “present day”, gathering outlaw wyrds who would otherwise be taken to the Black Ships to their banner. Just as the Corpse Grinder Cults put a new, and distinctly Necromundan, spin on Khorne and Hive Mortis could well be the start of a Nurgly invasion, so these sound to me like the Tzeentchian equivalent. House Delaque may think they’ve cornered the market in unsanctioned psykers but there are plenty more witches lurking in the depths of the hives…  

Pitslaves

If you’re looking for entertainment in Hive City and getting cheated and shot in a Delaque gambling den, or drinking until your innards explode with a bunch of down-and-out scummers in an Escher bar doesn’t sound like sufficient fun then you need to head to the fighting pits! Here you can enjoy the sight of cybernetically-enhanced, stimmed-up gladiators beating the hell out of each other or fighting against monstrous wild animals.

Of course, when it comes to finding people to actually get in the ring and fight demand tends to exceed supply and although Goliaths are known to enjoy getting stuck in most fans prefer to watch from the sidelines. Fall foul of the Guilds, fail to pay your debts or otherwise end up on the wrong side of the law however and you might just find yourself sold into a life as a pitslave, and rewarded with a few “enhancements” to make your life of vicious, crowd-pleasing violence and mayhem a little more interesting for the spectators. However it turns out that taking a bunch of hardened criminals, throwing in a few honest citizens who’ve suffered one punishment too many, arming them to the teeth and giving the best combat training available by making them fight each other until only the strong survive, might not be a good move in the long run. Pitslaves are known to revolt, butcher their way to freedom and enjoy a life on the run down in the underhive – where things are no less violent but at least they get to keep the profits.

Pitslaves have been a part of Necromunda for many years but back in the old days the models were, to be frank, less than inspiring. Imagine how good they could look now though…

Pitslaves

Spyrers

Whilst most people in the underhive are just trying to stay alive and avoid catching too many bullets, the Spyrers are there for a little fun. Rich arseholes from the upper part of the hive these spoiled young nobles have spent daddy’s money on the best guns around and have headed down into the very worst part of town to live like common people and do whatever common people do – which on Necromunda means “shoot each other”.

Spyrers

I know a lot of people really want to see these making a comeback but frankly I’m not entirely convinced. By my memory they always seemed disastrously powerful in game back in the old days, not to mention a little out of place amongst the rag-tag gangs, and as a result I never really liked the spoilt gits. That said I’m not going to lie to you, if GW produces some models my addiction to Necromunda will probably see me starting a small army of them. Plus I’d not be averse to seeing how the braying oiks enjoy a kicking from an ambot! I’d still rather see something else though. Speaking of which…  

Scavies and Muties

At the very opposite end of the Necromundan social hierarchy from the Spyrers we have the scavies, muties and their ilk. Hive City being the polluted pit that it is the odd minor mutation like an extra finger is given a bit more leeway than it might be elsewhere in the Imperium but any more than that and it’s only a matter of time before either the Redemptionists or the Enforcers turn up to “have words” (and by “have words” we mean, kill everyone and burn the settlement down to make sure). If it turns out that the reason your friend, family-member or neighbour never takes off their hood or ragged robe is because they’re hiding a couple of tentacles then the best thing to do is to drive them off into the underhive as fast as possible. There they can do what muties do best, sneaking around in the dark and gobbling up unwarey hivers.

Only those who’ve fallen on the very hardest times, houseless scummers without the common decency to drink themselves to death, would sink so low as to fight alongside these muties or join scavie gangs.

Scavies Art

Needless to say I have a real love for the muties and scavies. Back in the old days they would drive herds of mindless plague zombies into town to spread mayhem, employed hulking mutants known as “scalies” as enforcers and even had their own mutant dogs. I’d absolutely love to see them making a comeback and in the meantime I’ve even made a few of my own.

I already have my eye on turning a few of the new Kruleboyz Gutrippaz into scalies. A nice new kit for these dregs of the hive would be a dream come true though – and undoubtedly well received by anyone looking to spice up their collection of chaos cultists for 40k as well.

Gutrippaz

Ratskins

For some strange reason that’s never been made entirely clear, the overpopulated, polluted, industrial hell of Necromunda gave rise to a race of carbon copy Native Americans (as envisioned by spaghetti westerns at least). I’m sure people can and do enjoy many a happy hour debating (read: yelling at each other on social media) over whether they actually were racist or just seemed racist, but one thing that can’t be denied is they were woefully out of place and extremely lazily designed.

Ratskin Art

Something you could never accuse the writing for modern Necromunda of is laziness however. A vast amount of love and attention to detail has been poured into the world in recent years and it’s paid off with some wonderfully well developed factions. It can be hard to overlook the rather heavy handed Native American aesthetic of models for the Redskins – sorry, that should be Ratskins! – and the use of terms like “chief” instead of leader and “brave” instead of ganger (and yes, that is a bit racist). However if you strip away these trappings, at their heart this is a tribal people, trying to live a peaceful, spiritual life away from the rest of Necromundan society, but who keep being bothered by local thugs shooting up the place until they have nowhere left to run to – and that’s a concept with a lot of potential. Cut away the “cultural appropriation” before the online activist brigade work themselves up into a collective aneurism, get back to the core concept behind the Ratskins and have the current writers rebuild them from the ground up and I reckon they still have a lot of potential.  

Ratskins

Beastmen and Squats

No, not all together in the same gang. However something that Necromunda has done very cleverly has been to dig back, not just into the game’s own history in the late ’90s and early 2000s but even further back, to the very earliest days of Warhammer 40k itself. Until recently the vast majority of us didn’t really expect to see Squats stamping around the landscapes of the far future ever again, and then Grendl Grendlsen showed up in the underhive and proved us all wrong.

Grendl Grendlsen

Whether or not we ever see Squats taking to the battlefields of the Warhammer 40k in force, and taking their well deserved revenge on those Tyranids at last, remains to be seen. Likewise I’m not holding my breath for regiments of beastmen to be pressed into the Imperial Guard (nice new models for ordinary humans in the Guard seems like a big ask at the moment so let’s not set our sights too high!). However there are still plenty of us who love these old factions, and though Games Workshop’s moneymen may not, in their infinite wisdom, be willing to invest in whole armies of them, a Necromunda gang might be a fine place to give them a home and keep them alive. Or perhaps I’ll have to finally make good on my promises and pick up a box of Gors and a box of Kharadron Overlords and make my own.

These are just my thoughts however – now it’s your turn. Was there something obvious I missed from my list that you’re just itching to see unleashed in the hive? As ever the comment’s box below is the place for you to get it all off your chest!


Revamping the Undead

Did you hear that? The chiming of the midnight bell, the chitterling of bats, the groaning of the crypt door… The Vampire Counts, once a staple of Warhammer Fantasy, are rising from the grave and they’re doing it in style!

Vampire Art 5

It’s been a while since I wrote one of these reviews for a big wave of AoS or 40k models. I almost did one for the new Lumineth Realmlords but it would have been easily summed up with the sentence “They’re alright but I preferred the first lot”. Likewise I planned to write one for the Slaaneshi mortals but that would have boiled down to “I love all of it” followed by a string of double entendres – so it’s probably a relief all round that I restrained myself. 

I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to do one this time though – I bloody love vampires and this was a release I could really get my teeth into. I fell under the spell of the Vampire Counts many years ago, back when Sylvania was the capital of the dead, Shyish was a wind and the Von Carstein family ruled the night. I started an army of them several times but never really got it off the ground although with each attempt I accumulated more – some of which were eventually painted and some of which still linger in dusty obscurity even now. Maybe I’ll start a Soulblight Vampire’s army and finally get them painted up – or maybe they’ll be stuck in their tombs a little longer. Time shall tell – today, let’s grab our shovels and head down to the nearest graveyard to take a look at the new models!

Zombies Art

Vampire Lord

First things first, and where better to begin than with this undead general; the Vampire Lord.

Vampire Lord

What can I say – it’s a beautiful model ruined by, for some crazy reason, having bats in their hair. There’s a time and a place for being a bit OTT but this just comes off as daft to me, and plays to that silly superstition that bats get caught in ladies’ hair. If I get this model, and I might, those will either be getting snipped off or I’ll be giving them a headswap from elsewhere in the range. Otherwise it’s a damn good model, and its simplicity is its greatest strength, which makes adding a silly flourish in the form of the hair bats even more foolish. Mind you, a female friend did comment “Who hasn’t been running late and wished a few bats would turn up and do your hair? This is Warhammer’s answer to a Disney Princess!” I’ll never look at this particular miniature quite the same way again…

Wight King

Vampires may be at the heart of this wave of releases but there are other undead shambling forth alongside them, not least of which is the magnificent Wight King.

Wight King

Skeletal steeds can be hard to pull off but they haven’t put a foot wrong here. He’s a very detail heavy miniature but they’ve shown the sense not to add lots of extraneous flourishes so that every one of those details feels necessary and adds to the personality of the model overall. The result is a very conservative design, rather than one which is littered with unique “Games Workshop only” elements, the kind of thing which doesn’t quite work in practice but which no-one else is doing which they so often allow themselves to be tempted by. What’s particularly impressive is the way in which this model is an almost perfect copy of the old Wight King model (a theme which we’ll be revisiting time and again as we look through these releases).

Old Wight King

However whilst the old one was well past retirement age the new one swaggers out of the gate looking like the royalty he is. I can’t wait to see him leading a spearhead of Black Knights as they thunder down upon the hapless living. Nor is this the only undead cavalry to come galloping out of the gates…

Blood Knights

If you’d asked me a few months ago to come up with a wishlist of models I’d like to see in this release then the Blood Knights would have been second only to the Zombies (more on them below). The old Blood Knights were nice enough models but, and I know this is just personal taste, I never really liked them that much – which is unfortunate because I loved the concept behind them and the artwork which often made them look brooding and terrible to behold.

Blood Knight John Blanche

The price was also a pretty big sticking point, the old models were always phenomenally expensive. The new ones aren’t exactly cheap but this is a rare case of GW’s prices actually going down. 

Having set the bar very high by imagining how good these could look for at least the last decade or so these vampires were going to have to work hard to impress me – but they rose to the challenge with aplomb.

Blood Knights Lance

Forcing myself to be objective, and putting my personal prejudices aside, the old ones weren’t bad models, especially for their time – but they just don’t match up to the new breed at all.

Blood Knights

The new kit appears to contain a range of options, including lances, swords and a variety of heads, allowing you to personalise your own vampiric elite – or put together large numbers of them without having to include any duplicates. Certainly there will be those who build their army around a core of Blood Knights and create all-vampire armies, something that I think will be an impressive sight to behold. 

Blood Knights Banner

Zombies

Next we have the zombies, and if ever there was a kit that deserved a do-over it was this one. These newcomers are nice, straightforward walking-corpses, with a sufficient mix of sexes and appearances to suggest a whole town of people have suffered an unfortunately demise, only to be raised again in service to their vampiric lords.

Deadwalker Zombies

The outgoing zombies kit (below) was hard to love. Like all zombies it kept shambling on long after it should have been laid to rest but at long last it’s suffered the metaphorical headshot to put it in its grave (and this time it can damn well stay there!).

Zombies Old

It’s replacement meanwhile is a joy to behold, although that might in part be a reaction the years of suffering that we fans of the undead have endured at the cold dead hands of its predecessor. The zombies therein appear to be both full of character and fairly versatile – perfect for building up an undead hoard.

Zombie

Being a bit more generic these should appeal to anyone who found the Cursed City zombies a little too gimmicky. Not that I have anything against the Cursed City zombies, who totter around with their graves on their backs, but I do acknowledge that they’re not to everyone’s taste. As an aesthetic unique to the Cursed City game I think it works but for every zombie in the Mortal Realms to look that way would be overdoing things – not to mention making it harder to find alternative uses for these models as kitbashing and conversion fodder – so something a little more generic was definitely in order. And if you do happen to want a zombie in that style but missed out on Cursed City you can still make a few from the contents of this box.

Zombies

The roots growing through the corpses is an interesting touch, although I can’t help but wonder how they’ve managed to grow so quickly before the bodies rotted away entirely. Probably the blame lies with dark magic, regardless I think it looks cool. That said I’m sympathetic to those who’re not so keen, especially as this means they’ll need a bit more work if you want to use them as generic zombies fit for any setting. However just as part of me wants to snip those branches off and turn these into Necromundan Scavies, so another part wants to incorporate some Sylvaneth spares and make the woods come alive in the most horrifying way possible. 

Nor is this element entirely unique, my first thought when I saw them was of the Tribe of Sarrassa from the game Hate, although those guys really were more tree than corpse. 

Hate Tribe of Sarrassa

Skeleton Warriors

Unlike the old zombies which were well past their best the old skeleton kit had aged fairly well. I still have a fair number of them which I’d accumulated over the years and which I really ought to get painted and although they may not be the best models around they’re a very long way from the worst. I’m also rather fond of the Grave Guard, another older kit which has stood the test of time very well (and, I’ll confess, another which I managed to snag at a bargain price years ago and which has been languishing unpainted ever since). These new Skeleton Warriors fall somewhere between the two aesthetically, with a bit more armour and greater bulk giving them a significantly more imposing appearance than their predecessors. A subtle wrongness to their postures emphasises their undead nature (as if that was needed on a warrior already stripped down to their bones) and adds a creepy, unnatural element that the old kit lacked. Overall I’d call this an improvement, and although at first glance I dismissed it the longer I look the more tempted by it I become.

Skeleton Warrior 1

Now I don’t actually own any of these new skeletons (of course – they’ve not even been released yet) but what I do have are the Cursed City skeletons which, to all intents and purposes, are basically the same models, so let’s line them up next to some of the older skeletons in the range and see how they compare.

Skeletons ConvertOrDie Wudugast

Running from left to right we have; a grave guard, a new skeleton warrior, an old skeleton warrior and a mortek guard from the Ossiarch Bonereapers. Before we begin I should also note that, in a moment of silliness, I used a slightly altered model for the old skeleton warrior rather than a standard build. He’s exactly the same as any normal skeleton warrior apart from his head, which I took from the Black Knights kit. The pointed helmet echoes the new skeleton warriors (I was ahead of my time there because I kitbashed him long before these were previewed) but doesn’t add anything to his height – so long as you measure to the eyes rather than the point of the helmet. Anyway, consider my wrist slapped and let’s get on with looking at these models.

The first, and most obvious point here, is how tall the new skeletons are. The pose helps here, they stand a lot straighter than their hunched predecessors, I reckon if the old models had worked on their posture a bit there wouldn’t be much difference. Of course it’s worth remembering that skeletons should be smaller than their flesh and blood allies, strip away all your meat and organs and you’d be considerably smaller too. Back when these guys were alive they must have been giants! Marching alongside the old skeleton warriors however they actually work quite well, looking like professional soldiers in their rusted armour, with the old skeletons appearing more like undead militiamen. If, like me, you still have old skeleton warriors in your collection I reckon you can add in some of the newcomers as well and the results will still look cohesive.

The two warriors on the ends of the line-up are where things get a bit more complicated however. It wasn’t until recently, when I sat down and painted a pair of mortek guards for myself, that I realised how short these guys are. The Ossiarch Bonereapers are presented as Nagash’s elite, an army build from the ground up for war rather than simply harvested from whatever corpses happened to by lying around by a plucky necromancer in a hurry. These are the death god’s counter to Sigmar’s Stormcast Eternals, crafted from the near-infinite supply of bones he has access to, so why did he decide to make them so stunty? However the mortek guard are at least part of a different army, albeit one loosely allied to the Soulblight. The grave guard however are supposed to be the Soulblight’s elite infantry, yet once again we find them to be shorter and less imposing than the new rank-and-file. As I noted above I’ve always been very fond of the grave guard but standing next to the new skeleton warriors you wouldn’t immediately pick them out as the tough veteran troops in the way that you would have done if you’d been comparing them to the old skeleton warriors. Had I been looking to refresh the range of Soulblight models I think my inclination would have been to leave the old skeleton warriors alone, and update the grave guard instead. As it is I would suggest that anyone who wants to really invest in a Soulblight army that stands out from the crowd should consider kitbashing grave guard and black knight parts with the new skeleton warriors to make their own grave guard (and in fact this is something I might play around with myself once I get my hands on a few bits – I’m not sure I have the enthusiasm to put together a whole squad but it would be a fun way to add some skeletal muscle to a Warcry warband). As a cheaper alternative you could always use the old skeleton warriors as skeleton warriors and the new ones as grave guard – but gamers should keep in mind that’s likely to be confusing for both you and your opponent.

Grave Guard Art

Fell Bats

Another kit from the Vampire Counts era that has been desperately overdue for a refresh is the monstrous Fell Bats. Once again, let’s take a quick look at the old models…

Bats Old

… and then compare them to these newcomers who have come flapping out of the gloom to carry off the townsfolk and their livestock.

Fell Bats 1Fell Bats 2

I’ve always felt that bats get a bad press and I’ve never been able to follow why a small, insect-eating mammal inspires such terror (unless you’re a moth of course, in which case you have my sympathies). For the rest of us though so long as you don’t go around eating them and starting a pandemic there’s really no cause for alarm. That said they’ve been a staple of nocturnal horror since long before Bram Stoker hammered out his overwrought prose and have a well established association with vampires. Plus, let’s be honest here, absolutely no-one who took a sane and compassionate view of bats prior to seeing these models will be transformed into a chiroptophobe just by looking at them. If we accept, and I think that most sensible people do, that painting a unit or two of Afrika Korp Soldiers won’t turn you into a neo-Nazi as osmotic pressure draws evil out of the miniature, up the brush and into your hand, then it stands to reason that painting these little horrors won’t lead you into the shady world of batophobia. No matter how much I might have preferred to see a more innovative monster here rather than pandering to anyone daft enough to fear death by echolocation bats are what we got, and they deserve an honest appraisal. And if I’m honest I like them. I probably won’t go rushing off to buy them but if you want some leering, furry gargoyles for your collection I don’t think you can go far wrong with these.

Dire Wolves

At the risk of sounding like a stuck record the Dire Wolves are yet another kit from the old Vampire Counts era that was overdue for replacing. I must confess that I actually rather liked the old version, and even painted up a squad of my own (see image below), but I know I was in the minority there.

Although I was a fan of the old Dire Wolves I’m not blind to their flaws. Time for them to shuffle off into woods unknown and be replaced by the new dogs on the block.

Dire Wolf 3

Much like bats wolves get a bad press. Despite being pretty much harmless unless you’re a sheep wolves have carved out a special place in European nightmares, ready at any moment to set upon hapless peasants, blow up the houses of little pigs or dress up as people’s grandmothers. These wolves navigate neatly around the debate over whether we should live in existential dread of these animals by being zombies – and everything is scary once it’s a zombie! Personally I like these new wolves, they have a nice sense of movement to them and the poses look suitably hungry and predatory. Games Workshop have really struggled to sculpt decent looking wolves in the past but with these, and Belladamma Volga (below) they’ve at last managed to pull off something quite stylish. All the trailing drool is a bit unnecessary and over-eggs things a bit but it’s nothing a hobby knife won’t cure.

Dire Wolf 1Dire Wolf 2

Kritza the Rat Prince

Games Workshop’s vampires tend towards the bestial, with even the more human looking ones snarling with talons raised, ready to tear their victims apart in their bloodlust. Kritza on the other hand is extremely restrained and reserved. There’s something resigned, almost mournful about him; you suspect he would apologise before and after biting you, and possibly during as well. 

Kritza 1

It’s only after a second glance that one spots the sinister tide of rats scurrying beneath his long cape, and recognise exactly what kind of animals he’s used to decorate his robes. They seem to be quite dead now of course, just stuffed heads with glassy eyes – but are they? These are the vampire lords after all, and no-one is quite as dead as they ought to be.

As a vampire Kritza doesn’t really do it for me, there are plenty of other new lords of the night which to my eye look a lot more powerful and vampiric, but I am tempted to pick him up and turn him into a Necromundan crime lord.

Lady Annika

Whilst the Rat Prince tends towards an appearance of civilised melancholy Lady Annika appears to be a much more vicious creature indeed. If you like your vampires to keep their murderous inclinations beneath the thinnest veneer of civilisation then this could well be the girl for you.

Lady Annika 1

Her big hair-do is a bit OTT of course but it suits the model. Taken as a whole the miniature combines barely contained savagery with faded grandeur, and of all the vampires in this wave of releases she looks the most undead – the bloodlust and decay only just masked, and only for now…

Lauka Vai

Unlike the Nighthaunt or Ossiarch Bonereapers these new Soulblight and their minions would for the most part fit seamlessly into the old Warhammer world as well. If you’re still marching around on square bases and flying the banner of Sylvania as the Empire burns then this release looks like a welcome opportunity to refresh your collection. Equally – and unlike the aforementioned Empire models – these appear completely at home in the Age of Sigmar. A corpse is still a corpse after all, regardless of where you raise it, and with the possibility of a dwarf no-one clings to the old ways like a vampire.

However it’s at this point that things start to get a bit bloody weird. Quite why someone decided that a part-bat, part-dragon, part-woman was the centre piece the army needed but needless to say it’s been divisive. Enter Lauka Vai, the Mother of Nightmares. 

Lauka Vai

I’m not going to lie to you, I think she’s really damn cool. She’s a truly weird and unsettling creature who has crawled forth from the same dark pits of the human imagination that HP Lovecraft once indulged. She speaks directly to the part of the human mind that recoils at death, and doubley so at undeath. As our civilisation has grown so the undead have been made safe, gathering around spooky clichés, fun-loving ghosts, Halloween parties, sparkling vampires. An age of reason, science and enlightenment has taught us that there is nothing to fear here. Lauka Vai reaches out and touches the inner medieval peasant lying alone in his hut, heart racing and ears straining to hear the creak and rustle of something lurking just beyond the door, the part of us that knows that reason is for daylight hours and lies awake when all the lights go out. 

I’m not terribly keen on the rosary, or whatever it’s meant to be, that Lauka is holding, it seems like the kind of unnecessary detail that GW sculptors have a habit of including purely to avoid leaving a space, without actually adding anything to the narrative of the model. Apart from that however there’s a lot to like here.

Lauka Vai 2

Despite all this enthusiasm however I do see why she might not be everyone’s cup of tea. What’s more although I think she’s great I actually prefer her as a special character, a one-off horror rather than part of a whole bizarre species. Much though I like her I struggle to maintain the same level of enthusiasm for the Vengorian Lord, the generic version of the same kit. 

Vengorian Lord

 The Vengorian Lord isn’t a bad model, although the Nosferatu vibe is perhaps a little heavy handed and that distracts from the model’s other qualities for me. Beyond that he echoes her quite closely, they’re just different ways of building of the same model at the end of the day, so if you particularly like or dislike one you’ll probably feel the same way about the other.  If I hadn’t already seen Lauka I’d probably quite like him, but I have and so I can’t help but see him as an inferior version.

One thing that I don’t really like on either version of the model is the head. Lauka works well enough but I think I’d probably replace it with one from elsewhere in the range (with the plethora of spares on the Blood Knights being the first contender) in order to put my own spin on it. I’m still trying to judge the exact size of the head however, it may be a little larger than the other vampires in the range but it’s hard to tell exactly with only photographs to go on. Again however I do have a few demented ideas I’d like to explore here…

Indeed the longer I look at Vengorian Lord the more I start to think of the ways I’d tweak him (a new head for starters!) so perhaps, should I decide to get this kit for myself it’ll be an altered version Vengorian Lord rather than Lauka Vai by the time that I finally put brush to plastic. Of all these releases this is the one which has my creative juices flowing the most as a converter so don’t be surprised if some twisted nightmare comes crawling up out of the dark depths sooner or later.

Radukar the Beast

The central villain of the ill-fated game Cursed City (surely a case of nominative predeterminism if ever I heard one!) was the vampire lord Radukar the Wolf.

Radukar the Wolf

Now I’ve not played through the game yet and I don’t want to spoil anything for anyone else but I think it’s a fairly safe bet to assume that, if you win the game where the central objective is to defeat the vampire then the vampire will end up dead(er) at the end. However that fails to account for one of the central tenants of horror, that the baddie always come back. Horror movie bad guys, much like action movie heroes, have a phenomenal ability to come crawling back from the verge of death, shrug off apparently mortal wounds and get all murderous on those who done them wrong. Poor old Radukar has been very wronged indeed, having been “cancelled” by Games Workshop (perhaps he held the wrong opinions?) he’s come back swinging, having swapped rulership of the Cursed City for a gym membership and a lifetimes’ supply of protein shakes. Better yet he’s got a new miniature, which replaces the old one that was available for all of about 15 minutes just a few weeks ago. Seeing all the other replacements for old models that form part of this release actually only serves to make this more striking – the first Radukar having been on sale for about as many minutes as the old zombies outstayed their welcome in years.

Radukar the Beast

The new incarnation is a muscular brute and as subtle as a brick, and I love him for it. As well as being an awesome model in his own right I can’t help but think that he could be converted into a Khornate lord, or a Space Wolf who has succumbed to the curse of the wulfen. Kritza the Rat Prince will undoubtedly take one look at him and start twittering about toxic masculinity, bless his little soul.

Scampering around his feet we have a pair of little Vyrkos Blood-Born. These diminutive vampires were once the nobility of the Cursed City who swore themselves to Radukar and were reborn as these half-feral creatures. Seeing them on Radukar’s base is a nice touch, providing a nod to the Cursed City game whilst also serving to emphasise how big the vampire lord has now grown. However I can’t help but wonder if, in the future, they might look a little out of context. Without the game from which they originated, and with it having remained on the shelves for such a brief time, there’s very little that looks like them elsewhere in the range. Who knows though, maybe someday the little scamps will get their own kit?

Belladamma Volga

Prior to this release I certainly wasn’t expecting the sheer number of vampires that have been revealed, nor the range of styles. Truly there is a vampire here for every occasion, from Kritza, who I feel might actually sparkle if you catch him in the right light, to the murderous Annika or the Lovecraftian strangeness of Lauka Vai. I must admit however that I certainly wasn’t expecting Radukar to bring his gran along.

Belladamma Volga

There’s a wonderfully subtly to this model that to me makes her one of the best things in this release. At first glance she could almost be a fairly normal old woman, albeit one with an unusual choice of steed but allowances can be made for riding around on wolves in a fantasy setting. Then you spot her feet pocking out the bottom of her dress and have to suppress a shudder as she slips across the border into the uncanny valley in search of a gingerbread cottage to lurk in. What sharp teeth you have grandmama…

Skeletons End Times Warhammer

Anyway, if you haven’t gathered as much by now I think this is an excellent set of releases and I can’t deny that I’m thinking very seriously about raising some dead of my own. As I mentioned above I’ve already got a whole heap of undead knocking around that I’ve gathered over the years, and this is giving me the itch to get stuck in about them at last. I don’t know how many of the new kits I’m going to rush out to buy (metaphorically of course – who goes out to buy things these days?), especially given the aforementioned stack of corpses in the spare room (and there’s a line you don’t want to hear quoted out of context…). At the very least I’m going to treat myself to a set of zombies though, you can never have too many of them, and then we’ll take it from there.

One thing that does strike me though, especially as I look at the new vampire characters, is how much old Neferata and Mannfred feel out of place. For the uninitiated these were two of the most powerful vampires in the old Warhammer setting and when the great necromancer Nagash became a god in the new Mortal Realms he raised their souls once more and bound them into his service, reasoning that as their miniatures had only been released in 2014 it might be premature to kill them off without giving people a proper chance to buy them – a fate which Radukar the Wolf can only envy. Now I’m certainly not complaining that the models are still available, both of them are excellent miniatures and I certainly intend to paint one or other of them someday – probably Neferata (sorry Mannfred, you’re a much more interesting character and your devious villainy is a hoot to read about, but I have a secret love for Neferata so she jumps the queue).

Neferata

I’ve always felt however that they don’t really belong to Age of Sigmar, they’re borrowed from old Warhammer and ever since the setting was created they’ve felt like a fish out of water, allowed to linger on in the new setting because we’re all too polite to tell them that the setting they belong to burned to the ground six years ago and they weren’t on it. Whilst some of the other old world survivors, Morathi for instance, or Nagash himself, have really grown into their new roles these two old timers never really seemed to fit. Introducing new vampire characters has only emphasised this divide. I suppose Belladamma Volga could almost come riding across the steps of Kislev and perhaps Lauka Vai might lurk on some lonely island off the coast of Lustria or Naggaroth, but really these are creatures of the new Realms – and Neferata and Mannfred belong to the old. Perhaps as the new range beds in I’ll change my mind, or perhaps they’ll just be allowed to live out their days quietly on the shelves of Games Workshop stores until the Old World project is finally unveiled and they’re able to find their way home at last.

Knightmare Warhammer Vampire Counts

Death has had a strong showing over the past few years, with the arrival of first the ghosts of the Nighthaunt, then the skeletal legions of the Ossiarch Bonereapers and now the old fashioned undead of the Soulblight Gravelords. I suspect, and I’m happy to be proved wrong, that we might not see a great deal more from the forces of undeath over the next few years, as Games Workshop switch their focus to the savage hordes of Destruction currently gearing up to take their turn as the big baddies of the setting and give those Order gits a propa kickin’. That said I think there’s still a lot of creative potential to be explored here, as and when Games Workshop get around to it. Most deserving of a little attention are the Flesh-eater Courts. The ghouls are nice models, and the background – which describes them as deluded, Quixotic knights who believe themselves to be noble and heroic rather than degenerate cannibals – is very clever. It’s unfortunate however that the background has no visual link to the models whatsoever, there’s not a single miniature in the range which so much as hints at knightly qualities. What’s more I really like the available models but I’m put off from even considering an army of them because the range leans so heavily on just a handful of kits, with many units differentiated from each other simply by having a slightly different head. If I had a seat amongst Games Workshop’s team of designers I’d make sprucing up the ghouls my next priority, and I’d want to emphasise the knightly aspect whilst I was about it.

Ghouls ConvertOrDie Wudugast (1)

Anyway, the sun is creeping over the horizon so it’s time for me to slink back to my crypt to wait out another day. I may lie in my coffin, my flesh as cold and white as marble, but I am not dead – nor am I sleeping. I’m waiting, specifically to hear what you might have to say about all this. As even, my fellow lords of the night, the comments box is all yours…

All images of models or artwork belong to Games Workshop – apart from the photos of my own models of course. No garlic was harmed in the production of this post.


The Best of Warhammer Fest 2021

Last week was Warhammer Fest 2021, and this year – thanks to Covid – it was held online and open to anyone with a computer and an internet connection. I had thought I might put together a blog or two as events progressed, mostly so I could indulge myself and froth with excitement over each new model that was revealed, but sadly for me (and to the possible relief of my readership) I just didn’t have the time. However as I was reading the review of the event on No Rerolls (which is entertaining, informative and well worth a look by the way) I realised that I could “borrow” (read: blatantly steal) his idea and pick my favourite reveal from each day.  

So without further ado let’s take a look back through the past week and thrill at the sight of me squirming to pick only one thing per day out of the veritable tidal wave of new models, books and other goodies soon to be available.

WarhammerFestLogo

Monday:

Monday was all about the Age of Sigmar. I’ve already talked a lot about the mighty centaur Kragnos who’s soon to be shaking up the Mortal Realms. However despite being very curious to see where this new addition to the Destruction range might be leading my attention was mostly focussed on the shambling masses of the living dead. I’ve been a fan of the Vampire Counts for a long time so I’ll definitely be spending some of my hard earned pennies here as soon as these are released (and the first few will be going on sale in just under a week). There was a lot of very cool stuff shown here, and you can expect a review of the full range soonish, but for now I’ll have to make the difficult choice and decide on a favourite. I swithered over this for some time, I really like the twisted  creature that is Lauka Vai, the Mother of Nightmares and so I’m going to bend my own rules and give her an honourable mention anyway.

Lauka Vai

However my current favourite has to be Belladamma Volga, the matriarch of the Vyrkos clan of vampires. That’s right – we’ve seen Radukar the Wolf in the game Cursed City, now we get to meet his grandmother!

Belladamma Volga

Tuesday:

Time to switch over to the 41st Millennium for the first of the week’s two 40k themed sessions. This one was focussed around the Sisters of Battle and as a result excited me less than most of the other days. Not that I have anything against the Sisters, and I’ll be the first to tell you that they’ve deserved every single one of their new models after so many years in the wilderness, but they’re not a range I’m particularly thrilled by either. That said there are a few really nice models in the army so perhaps, someday, I could see myself putting together a small crusade. Given my well known appreciation for a phalanx of troops it’s fair to say that should that day dawn a squad of shielded Celestian Sacresants will be marching at the head of my holy warriors.

Celestian Sacresants

Wednesday

Wednesday was all about the books published by Black Library, and as someone who reads even more than he paints I was especially keen to see what was revealed here. Having read almost the entire Horus Heresy series so far (I’m part way through the most recent novel – Mortis by John French) I can’t wait for the next instalment. Sadly wait is exactly what I’ll have to do, Black Library having the irritating habit of releasing special limited editions of their novels then keeping the rest of us hanging around for months before the standard release (I suspect this is because rich people read very slowly and have to be given a head start but I’ve yet to have this confirmed). Warhawk is written by Chris Wraight, to my mind one of the best authors in the Black Library stable, and stars Jaghatai Khan (the eponymous Warhawk of Chogoris), who’s probably my favourite loyalist primarch, as he makes his famous strike for the Lion’s Gate space port in one of the key battles of the war. Needless to say I think it’ll be worth the wait.

Warhawk

Thursday

Thursday was boxed games day, which meant it was probably the day I was looking forward to the most. Still I feel I could be excused for being a little disappointed here. Partly that’s because the bar was always going to be set high, the range of things they might possibly cover being much greater than the time they had available. Still it would be nice to see what’s next for Blood Bowl, since the release of the most recent edition things have been very quiet on that front and I felt certain we’d be seeing a new team. Equally Warcry has been kicking along almost entirely on models borrowed from Age of Sigmar since its release back in 2019 and, given its ongoing popularity, it would be nice to know if GW have any more models planned specifically for it. Then there’s Adeptus Titanicus which just received a book dedicated to the loyalist legios who fought in the Horus Heresy – and thus surely deserve a book to cover the traitor legios (and more importantly some warped Chaos Titans to unleash!). Finally, and it was always going to be a long-shot, it would have been nice to see some kind of official comment on what the hell happened to Cursed City. I know they’re not going to stand up and say “Oh, we’re terribly sorry, it was all a big misunderstanding, the game is back in stock and expansions are on their way” but a man can dream eh!

However, enough about what we didn’t see, because what we did see was downright awesome. The Delaque are back in the underhive of Necromunda, bolstered by some wonderfully weird new recruits. Honestly I didn’t expect to see the new Delaque so soon, the Redemptionists haven’t even been released yet – hopefully that means the twisted fire-starters are just around the corner.

The Nacht-Ghul are just fun to say, and stand ready to spring from the shadows and do some murdering on behalf of the House of Secrets.

Nacht-Ghul

Alongside them we have the creepy Psy-Gheists, one of whom appears to be… ahem… wrestling with a snake.

Psy-Gheists

And the box also contains a Piscean Spektor, which looks to be a bigger and weirder version of the Cephalopod Spekter  I was banging on about just a few weeks ago.

Spektors

Oh and there were also some fish elves and a tiny plane but who cares about that when there’s new Necromunda!

Friday

Friday took us back to the 41st Millennium and for me proved to be a lot more exciting than Tuesday had been. I’ve been gathering a mighty horde of Orks for many a long year (over a decade by my counting) but I can never get enough of the big green thugs. Now there’s a whole new wave of them approaching and it goes without saying I’m an overexcited boy already.

Orks

Much as I would like to choose “all of them” as my personal favourite my own rules say I can pick only one so if you put a shoota to my head and made me pick I’d have to choose this guy, Zodgrod Wortsnagga.

Zodgrod Wortsnagga Old

Oh who am I kidding, that’s what he looked like back in the early 90’s (and damn cool he looked back then too). Nowadays however he looks a bit more like this…

Zodgrod Wortsnagga

And because I simply can’t resist I’ll have to give another honourable mention, this time to this enthusiastic little git and his squig buddy. Those Space Marines won’t know what hit them!

Gobbo

Saturday

Rounding out the week we had a surprise reveal (although I’m not sure it was all that surprising) in the form of the new edition of Age of Sigmar.

AoS3

AoS has come a long way since it launched, the once controversial offspring of Warhammer growing into a respectable beast in its own right. With three years having passed since the launch of the second edition many people surmised that the third would soon be upon us. The real surprise however came in the form of Stormcasts that I actually rather like the look of. I know readers, I’m as shocked as you are!

Stormcast Eternal

Who am I kidding, I’ve been known to enjoy a Stormcast Eternal in the past (I’ve even painted one). Still I wasn’t expecting to be as impressed as I was, these are truly fine looking models and if I was a Stormcast collector (something I doubt I’ll ever be in a serious way) I’d be over the moon with these.

Annihilators

However I think I’m most curious about their adversaries in the forthcoming boxset. Games Workshop have already announced that the next edition will be era of Destruction, as the orcs, goblins, ogres and their allies finally get stuck into the fight in a big way. Furthermore the preview revealed that something is lurking in the swamps, ready to fall upon those unfortunate Stormcasts. Could we be about to see a return of the long lost Fimir? Either way something for the Destruction alliance that lurks in a mire is always going to be enough to grab my attention!

So, that was my pick of the week’s previews. Did I miss out your favourite or pick something you thought was rubbish? As ever the comment’s section is all yours.


Kragnos

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.   

Kragnos

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.

Kragnos 5

And if you hadn’t already guessed he’s a big lad, towering over even the meatiest orc or ogre.

Kragnos 6

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.

Kragnos 2

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. 

Kragnos Sheild

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. 

Warstaff Kelts

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!

Kragnos 4

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!


Necropolis Nobles on Kickstarter

I don’t often promote kickstarters here, mostly because by the time I become aware of them it’s about six months after funding closed and I’ve missed out. This one however is one that I’ve had several enquires about from readers so more than merits me paying attention and giving a mention. In the past I’ve posted a few models from Black Crab, including these three weird looking characters…

… and this raggedy man.

I also have several more which I’m aiming to get painted… sooner or later. They make perfect civilians, particularly for the grubbier corners of the various Warhammer settings and would make fine additions to Mordheim or Cursed City, whilst being generic enough to sneak into a sci-fi setting like Necromunda. I’ve had several people ask me where I got them from but unfortunately the Black Crab range has only been available via their kickstarter campaigns. Right now however they’re having another campaign, this time to fund the creation of a beggar king and his court.

Begger Court

What’s more this means the older models are available once again. If you’re reading this right at the moment I hit publish then you have about four days to get your order in. If on the other hand you’re reading this several years in the future, well I tried to warn you!


The Lost City of Ulfenkarn

Yesterday I managed to knock off work early – which is nothing short of a miracle at the moment I can tell you – and spent my hard-won free time assembling some of the models from the new Cursed City game. Let me say this first and foremost, they are downright gorgeous miniatures and will be a real pleasure to paint. However, having found myself enough time to catch up on world events I also discovered this week’s big news – that Cursed City has mysteriously vanished, as though into thin air.

Cursed City Skeletons

I must admit, I wasn’t the slightest bit surprised that the game sold out so quickly. This has been a trend with recent releases from Games Workshop, with supply being far outstripped by demand – particularly on these boxed sets. Knowing that I wanted a copy, and reasoning that I would treat myself and get it straight away rather than wait until whenever it came back into stock, I set an alarm to remind myself and was waiting, wallet in hand, as soon as it went up for pre-order. I did not for a second imagine however that once it had sold out it would be gone forever. Indeed Games Workshop were quite openly promoting the idea that this game would be around for a while. It seemed natural to expect that this successor to Blackstone Fortress would be available in the long term, and just like Blackstone Fortress would have plenty of expansions to enjoy in the months and years to come. To illustrate the point here are a few comments that were made by Games Workshops promotional team on social media over recent weeks (cropped to protect the privacy of those members of the public who were being replied to).

FB Comment 1FB Comment 2FB Comment 3

Based on that one could be forgiven for assuming that you could take your time before ordering, plan your budget and buy a copy when it suited you, rather than having to shell out mere seconds after discovering the (not insignificant) cost of the damn thing. However the message from Games Workshop has now changed radically. As far as I’m aware the only official statement from GW has been this “tweet” posted on Twitter, which makes it clear that the game is now gone and gone forever…

Twitter Comment

Nor have they tried to make this announcement obvious. Instead it’s hidden away in a reply to a comment on a different topic, on a social media platform that many people don’t use (I know precisely zero people with a Twitter account) where it would be remarkably easy for it to go overlooked. Not that it has of course, judging by all the chatter that’s been generated online and the number of angry comments that appeared in that Twitter thread alone.

“But the plans were on display…”
“On display? I eventually had to go down to the cellar to find them.”
“That’s the display department.”
“With a flashlight.”
“Ah, well, the lights had probably gone.”
“So had the stairs.”
“But look, you found the notice, didn’t you?”
“Yes,” said Arthur, “yes I did. It was on display in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying ‘Beware of the Leopard.”

Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

I Hear You're Racist Now

So what happened? Frankly your guess is as good as mine, although lots of people are guessing and very few of them are giving GW the benefit of the doubt. They say there’s no such thing as bad publicity but right now it looks a lot like GW just spent the last couple of months drumming up interest, generating hype and focussing the attention of their fanbase on what then proved to be a spectacular own goal. It’s similar to the situation that arose with Indomitus last summer – with a few key differences. For one thing Indomitus was the “launch box” for the latest edition of Warhammer 40k – and that remains GW’s goose that lays the golden eggs, the behemoth that – regardless of what you think of it – dwarfs everything else in the miniature’s hobby without breaking a sweat. It was always going to be popular. Secondly GW made it very clear that Indomitus was going to be a limited release – and much as I disapprove of limited run releases at least they were upfront about it. Thirdly, when it sold out in precisely 3.5 seconds – reportedly making an absolute mint for GW in the process – they kept it on sale for a few weeks on a “made to order” basis. This time around none of that has happened.

Instead the game has vanished like a vampire caught in the rays of the morning sun, and GW would appear to be engaged in pretending it never happened. Scent of a Gamer reports that references to the game are even being removed from GW’s various websites and social media platforms. The past has never been altered. Oceania has always been at war with Eastasia. There never was a Cursed City and there’s nothing to see here…

Zombies

Based on what we, as outsiders, can see this appears to have been a last minute decision, made after the game launch was already well underway. Despite all the (completely understandable) ire that’s being flung in GW’s direction I don’t see any evidence that they set out to lie to their fanbase, although the above screenshots demonstrate that time has indeed made liars of them. We live in a world where politicians cry “Fake news” every time they encounter a story they dislike, NGO’s promote a platform of “no debate” rather than attempt to convince a sceptical public that their ideologies have merit, and campaigners will stubbornly repeat “That never happens” regardless of how much evidence is brought to them that the thing they want to assure us never happens actually happens all the bloody time. Is it any wonder that businesses too prefer to obfuscate their way out of trouble? Equally is it any surprise that a public which trawls through a slurry pit of conflicting lies and counter-lies on the daily news might be feeling averse to bullshit? I, at least, will attempt to be honest with you and say I really don’t know and can’t guess at what happened. Perhaps some catastrophic breakage occurred which left the mould needed to cast the models beyond repair? Perhaps they strayed into someone else’s Intellectual Property and found themselves at risk of being sued – just a little bit ironic given their past behaviour – although I admit I can’t see what exactly that might be.

Witch Hunter

Regardless of what happened I managed to snag myself a copy so I can now sit here, looking over the rage and disappointment that GW have spun for themselves like the smug, self-satisfied bastard I am. As I’ve previously mentioned the models in this box are amazing and I’m looking forward to getting to work on them – although I acknowledge that this will no doubt rub salt in the wounds of those who missed out.

Anyway, I’m off to pat myself on the back for having managed to quote both George Orwell and Douglas Adams in this post, then cry in the shower whilst muttering “Must get clean, must get clean” (a normal side-effect to looking at Twitter and no cause for alarm) before getting back to painting my lovely, and apparently now very rare, miniatures. If you have a Sherlock Holmes style deerstalker, or a tinfoil hat for that matter, feel free to wear them and expound on your pet theories in the comment’s section below. It may well be that they are as close to the truth of what happened as we ever come – although I’d have loved to be a fly on GW’s office wall over the last few days…


Scum’s Thoughts – Part 5

Over the last few years I’ve built up quite a library of Necromunda books. Indeed they’ve now completely overrun the part of the shelf that I’d dedicated to them so all my gaming and hobby books will have to be rearranged at some point to accommodate them. Here’s a reminder of how the book stack looked back at the end of 2020, with House of Faith and House of Shadows soon to join them.

Necromunda Books

As well as stacks of background and general inspiration – which is mostly what I buy them for – and further stacks of gaming rules, these books also contain loads and loads of shady individuals with which to populate the underhive. By my count we now have rules for 58 special characters – and assuming they follow the pattern laid down by the preceding books House of Faith and House of Shadows will add 3 more each. Then there are the hangers on, pets, brutes, criminal or guilder allies and noble houses all of which have representatives that you can add to your gang. The thing is, not all of them have models. In fact a huge number do not. My estimate puts the number of concepts without models somewhere around 120, and there are likely to be more in the future. The Specialist Games studio have always maintained that they intend to make models for all these characters and creatures “someday”. However honesty has to compel us to admit that this might be a long time coming. If Necromunda ceases to be popular Forge World will undoubtedly put their resources elsewhere, rather than spending it on creating these models. If it does remain popular I’d expect to see plenty of new books in the future, each containing plenty of new concepts, and the number of “concepts without models” will only increase rather than decrease.

I have what I’ll admit is a bit of a silly idea, that is to own models for all of these things. Of course, even if miniatures were available I’d have to lean pretty heavily on kitbashing to achieve it – I simply couldn’t afford to buy them all – and I suspect the end goal will always be out of sight. This one, however, is definitely a project that’s more about the journey than the destination. Before this turns into any more of a wall of text, and before I start assault my reader’s sensibilities with an outpouring of mathematics, here’s another look at my kitbashed version Freikstorn Strix, the winged Van Saar mercenary.

Freikstorn Strix Necromunda Wudugast ConvertOrDie (1)Freikstorn Strix Necromunda Wudugast ConvertOrDie (2)

Let us imagine, just for fun, that Forge World start churning out Necromunda models with gusto. At least one per month sounds achievable, but let’s say they really commit and start releasing two new Necromunda models every single month of the year. It would still take them almost five years to work their way through the backlog as it stands now. Alternatively they make an announcement tomorrow; with nothing else to fill their time during lockdown their sculptors have worked around the clock and there are now models made, cast and ready to put on sale for every single one of these ideas. In fact, they’re all going on sale right now! Then we’re faced with the Forge World prices I alluded to earlier. Forge World’s pricing is notoriously erratic but generally expensive – most individual characters come in somewhere around the £20 mark. That would make this little lot cost somewhere in the region of £2400 cumulatively – which is certainly well outside the bounds of my hobby budget!

Now I don’t mind this, I’ve always been a convertor and kitbasher at heart, and even if some of these models were available I’d probably choose to make my own – as I’ve already done with Freikstorn Strix (above) Gor Half-Horn, Tess Arc-Up and Grendl Grendlsen for instance. Personally I’ve taken to treating the characters and hangers on that appear in these books as a list of cool concepts – if we get models for them someday then I’m happy, if we don’t I’ll be equally happy to use them as a source of inspiration and make my own. However everyone likes a “Top 5” so today, after all that preamble, let’s take a look at five things from the existing books (in no particular order) that I’d very much like to see models for.

Jorth Slither

Being at heart a filthy heretic I’ve liked the look of the mutie Jorth Slither since I first set eyes on him. In the backstory of Necromunda, outlandish, comic-book style events are as common place as more seriously framed discussions of the planet’s history and industry. The story of Jorth Slither falls firmly into the former category. Turned out of his guilder clan for his somewhat unorthodox approach to making money (i.e. he was a crook) he stumbled upon a corpse lying in a pool of goo. Naturally he did what every right thinking entrepreneurial individual would do and started going through the dead person’s pockets for anything worth nicking… only to be overcome by whatever had killed the poor hiver and wake up sometime later with his body transformed into that of a hideous mutant. Not that this has put a stop to his money-making schemes, and amongst those criminal elements willing to throw in their lot with a mutie he’s gaining a reputation as the kind of man who can get things done…

Jorth Slither

Honestly I just think he looks really cool, if somewhat disgusting and gribbly. In fact the more I look at him the more it strikes me that an official Mutie gang would be a cool thing to see someday. In the meantime I have plenty of muties of my own that would gladly through in their lot with Jorth if only he had a model…

The Shadows of Catallus

A cheeky two-for-one here, these twins were once part of the noble house of Catallus, living high up in the Spire and enjoying the decadent lifestyle that only the very rich can afford. However when the house when through one of their intermittent civil wars the twins found themselves wanted by both sides and escaped downhive where the murderous tendencies they had honed amongst the wealthiest of Necromundan citizens proved just as useful down amongst the gangs of the Badzones. I really like the look of the various noble houses but of all the ones we’ve seen so far Catallus, with their harlequin costumes, are the most striking. House Catallus also have a close relationship with House Van Saar, with the assassins of the Catallus Carnivals putting in an appearance in the House of Artifice book. I have pondered using parts from the Eldar Harlequins combined with the more ostentatious models from the Empire range to kitbash some agents of this most mysterious of Houses, but for a skilled miniature’s designer there’s a lot of scope in these characters and I’d love to see what a professional could do with them.

Catallus 2Catallus 1

Toll Collectors

We’ve seen two of the major Necromundan Guilds appear in model form so far. First there was the relatively normal looking  but still very cool Slavers Guild…

Slavers Guild

…followed by the (soon to be released and deliciously weird looking) Water Guild – or Nautican Syphoning Delegation to give them their proper name.

Water Guild

 However the one I’d really like to see is are the Toll Collectors of the Guild of Coin. This image of them hard at work steps straight from the kind of artwork that I’ll always associate with 40k and which, for me at least, sparks so much imagination and creative energy – yet which we rarely see given full expression in model form. In the grim darkness of the far future, this is your bank manager…

Guild of Coin

Grapple Hawk

Swooping out of the darkness to latch onto a hapless ganger using the metal hooks it has in place of feet (not to mention the other metal hooks it has in place of a face!) there are few 40k creatures more bizarre than the Grapple Hawk. Kept as pets by the more inventively vicious gang champions these winged horrors make a fine addition to any gang, but I can’t come up with a way to make one of my own that matches the terrifyingly demented looking creature in the artwork so if Forge World wanted to save me the job I wouldn’t say no.

Grapple Hawk

Cephalopod Spekter

The Delaque are a creepy bunch, forever skulking around in the shadows, listening in to what the good people of the hive are saying and surrounding themselves with layer upon layer of lies. Pale skinned and unnaturally tall and thin, these hairless gangers, shrouded in long coats and with their eyes replaced by blank lenses, seem just a little less human than anyone else in the underhive – with the possible exception of the xenos hybridising genestealer cults of course. So whilst other gangers choose relatively normal creatures as pets – the Escher’s cats, the Orlocks dogs and the hulking Goliaths equally muscular crocodiles – the Delaque prefer something a little stranger. Pop down your local pet shop and ask to have a look at the floating biomechanical octopuses and the owner will know straight away that you’re an agent of the House of Shadows. Of course not any old Cephalopod Spekter will do, the truly discerning Delaque prefers one which they can really trust. In the world of falsehoods and obfuscation that surrounds them the only way to be sure of that is to implant your own cloned brain into the creature.

With House of Shadows and an accompanying expansion to House Delaque scheduled for later this year this is one we might just see in the coming months – or perhaps that too will prove to be just another lie…

Spektor

So, what do you think? Are there any of these creatures and characters you’d particularly like to see as miniatures – or is there someone or something else in these books that should have made the list? As ever the comments section is all yours.


Two (Mad) March Challenges

It’s the end of March and, although I don’t have any new models to show you, I decided that a post was in order to give a nod to a couple of excellent blogs and the hobby challenges they’ve been running over the past month.

First of all there’s the Neglected But Not Forgotten challenge courtesy of Ann’s Immaterium. Despite the fact that I didn’t expect to get very much done at all this month I actually managed four models for this, all of which have been lingering on or under the painting desk for far longer than they ought to. A big “thank you” is owed to Ann for giving me the push to get on and paint these.

Neglected Model Challenge Wudugast ConvertOrDie

Now usually what we see on this blog is just miniatures and I try to keep myself out of the picture, as far as I can. However this was also the month of the T-shirt challenge being run by the Imperial Rebel Orc – or IRO as he’s widely known. IRO is fast becoming a household name (in his own house at least), an enthusiastic hobby powerhouse, friend of this blog (and this blogger) and all round top bloke. He’s also barking mad and so for his T-shirt challenge he wants to see his fellow hobbyists posting pictures of their torsos (preferably whilst clad in their favourite T-shirts). Anyway, so long as this doesn’t escalate into an underpants challenge next month I’m game so, having clarified that this isn’t a wet T-shirt contest (and then dried out both myself and my T-shirts) here’s a few pictures of my chest for IRO’s enjoyment – and hopefully yours as well.

I don’t actually own as many decent T-shirts as I thought I did, I seem to have worn a few of the to rags and not replaced them, but here’s a handful of the more entertaining ones.

T-Shirt (1)

This one was a gift from my fiancée. It’s a bit faded now, probably as a result of me wearing it whilst working in the hot sun, but it’s still clear enough and it makes me chuckle every time I see it.

20210327_122823

And because this is a miniature’s blog and not, as anyone stumbling on it for the first time my assume, a fashion blog here’s a couple of T-shirts with a Warhammer theme.

T-Shirt (2)T-Shirt (3)

Anyway, that’s my brief foray into one type of modelling completed – from now on I’ll be sticking firmly to the other type! I’m not sure what I’ll tackle next in terms of painting miniatures but I do have a couple of diminutive Blood Bowl players who are within stretching distance of the finish line so it might well be them.


Scum’s Thoughts – Part 4

Well ladies and gentlemen, it’s time to put on your favourite mask, set fire to your hat and say a prayer to the God Emperor – the Redemptionists are back in town and if you don’t look suitably devout they’re going to want to know why! I’ve been using this blog as a platform to bump my gums about the Redemptionists for a while so now we’ve had a good look at them, via Games Workshop’s latest round of previews – the appropriately titled “Faith and Damnation“, I wasn’t going to pass up the opportunity to talk about them some more!

Klovis the Redeemer Purge

I’ve previously discussed some of the controversy around the Redemptionists and frankly it’s something I’ve hashed out more than enough. Anyone who wants to can look back at the previous posts, today let’s concentrate on some models! 

Redemptionist 1

Now let’s not beat about the bush here, I think these are fantastic. Necromunda, not to put too fine a point on it, has always been a bit silly. Nowhere in the entirety of 40k, indeed in any of Games Workshop’s universes, do we see such depth devoted to a single setting. The “House of…” books have only built on this, adding layer upon layer of nuance and complexity, showing us in unrivalled detail the history of the world, it’s industries, societies, economy, even languages. If you want to take something in the Games Workshop stable seriously then this is it. However that shouldn’t distract us from the fact that it’s also unbelievably daft and OTT.

It would be easy to see the Redemptionists simply as grim, even scary; the worst excesses of religious fanaticism – already a scourge that has made a hell on earth out of countless real world societies – running amok in the overcrowded nightmare cities of the distant future. If I imagine myself living on Necromunda there’s no faction I think I’d like to meet less, with the possible exception of the Corpse Grinder Cults (and if you don’t know what kind of people they are – well, the clue is in the name…). The sinister, eyeless Delaque, the brutally authoritarian Enforcers, even the daemon worshipping Helot Cults, seem to me less frightening than the thought of the Redemptionists and their heretic pyres.

This is balanced out however by characters like Klovis the Redeemer (who appeared in the cartoon that opened this article). It’s easy to paint the Redemptionists as the worst of all men, but that is to overlook the bombastic, tragicomic, and – most importantly – satirical aspect of them. It’s hard to see a man who arms himself with a chainsaw almost as big as he is and then straps a flamethrower to it because it still isn’t deadly enough, then sets his hat on fire and goes out looking for a fight as anything other than a figure of ridicule. These models play that up with aplomb. The tall hoods and unsubtle nods to the KKK are out but who cares because these are still Redemptionists through and through.

Redemptionist 4

I think regular readers will already be well aware that I’m no fan of sculpted flame on models. It’s not a hard and fast rule, sometimes it’s appropriate and works well – although GW in my opinion have a tendency to overuse it. All too often however it just ends up looking static and lumpy. I did worry that they were going to apply the fire effects liberally here but it seems that common sense has prevailed, and the fiery effects have remained most concentrated around the flammable headgear department.

Redemptionist 3

Looking at these models it’s easy to get excited about them as Redemptionists and forget that they are also intended as an expansion to House Cawdor. Following the relaunch of Necromunda in 2017 (hard to believe it’s coming up for four years already!) each of the six major houses got a box of models with which to make up a gang. Starting in early 2020 each then received a second box of models, with which to add various house specific specialists. These new Redemptionists can either be added to a House Cawdor gang or used to form a standalone gang of their own. As a result the sculptors have had to walk a fine line – make them too different to Cawdor and they won’t fit in to an existing gang, make them too similar and they won’t stand out as something different if you decide to go it alone. As Redemptionists these are pretty much spot on, but as Cawdor they miss the mark in a number of crucial ways. Take the weapons for instance. The weapons wielded by House Cawdor all appear to have been cobbled together from scrap. The same men who think strapping bombs to rats is a wise idea use bones, candles and scavenged machinery to make flamethrowers. These chaps on the other hand wield weapons which might be utterly ridiculous but at least appear to have been professionally manufactured.

Redemptionist 6

Compare these newcomers to the Redemptionists of yesteryear and you’ll see that, despite the odd tweak here and there, these are much the same as the ever were. Indeed they have a lot more in common than their predecessors than some of the other gangs.

Redemptionists 3

However part of me does feel that we who follow House Cawdor might have been a little bit short-changed here. The Redemptionists may have had a long and close relationship with Cawdor but they are not the same thing – as the issue with the weapons described above serves to demonstrate. By keeping these models fairly close aesthetically to the Redemptionists of old they’ve had to make some sacrifices on the side of tying them into Cawdor. I always knew it was wishful thinking but wouldn’t it have been nice if Cawdor had enjoyed a new set of Champions/Prospects just like the other houses AND we’d got new Redemptionists at a later date as well. Is that greed? Ratskin fans would say we should be bloody grateful to have new models at all. 40k enthusiasts would argue that a faction without at least a dozen kits to its name is woefully underrepresented. At the end of the day we didn’t get a bolt-on to Cawdor like the other houses, we got (admittedly kickass) Redemptionists instead.

Anyway, this is a minor issue in the grand scheme of things. Hopefully the resources freed up by turning this release slot over to the Redemptionists will be reinvested in the setting and we’ll see another new faction added once the House of… series is concluded (something I intend to talk about in a future post). If that happens I’ll forgive them.

Redemptionist 2

Something that does have me curious however is the number of models we’ve been shown. Each Necromunda kit (and this is true of Blood Bowl also) follows the same format – two identical sprues are packaged together and each model can be built in one of two standard patterns (with the possibility of kitbashing available to the more adventurous hobbyist). Observe for example the Death Maidens and Wyld Runners kit for House Escher.

Escher Death-maidens and Wyld Runners

In this kit we see two Death Maidens, two crouching Wyld Runners, two Wyld Runners standing tall, two leaping Phelynx and two prowling Phelynx. The core of each model appears twice but by adding different arms, heads, weapons, and so on you end up with very different models – or at least models which are different enough to fool the eye. Sure enough the same trick is carried out with the Redemptionists as this handy image shows.

Redemptionist Group

You’ll notice that the two models to the right of the screen are based on a single core, as are the two in the centre and the two on the left. You’ll also notice that there are six of them. The Eschers I showed above also have six human models, plus four alien cats. Likewise the Orlocks have six human models… and two dogs. The Van Saar have six human models – four of whom are flying around on great big hoverboards. The Goliaths just have six models in their gang expansion – but two of those are the enormous Stimmers who tower over almost every other human in the game. The Enforcers also have just six human models in their gang-expansion, the Subjugators, but again these have above average bulk and are lugging around riot shields which eat up a lot of space on the sprue. My point is this – the basic gang box for each house manages to fit ten miniatures onto each pair of sprues. The gang expansions have only six human models per pair of sprues, plus various extras that fill out the remaining space. With the Redemptionists we’ve only seen six models, and none of them nearly as big and bulky as the Goliath Stimmers or Enforcer Subjugators. What’s taking up the missing sprue space?

My initial assumption was that with this reveal they’d shown us everything that’s coming in this kit, but part of me can’t help but look at these models and wonder if something has been obfuscated. After all there doesn’t seem to be sufficiently more weapons, heads and other gubbins on these models in comparison to the Orlocks or Van Saar to be using up the same amount of space as a dog or a couple of hoverboards. Maybe it’s wishful thinking but we’ve come this far and damn it, I’m going to think wishfully!

If you doubt that there’s more to come here I can’t blame you but – before you leave a comment to tell me I’m talking mince take a look at this, the very first teaser image which Games Workshop showed for this release just over a month ago.

Redemptionist Preview 1

Now look back at the group shot of the six Redemptionists previewed today. The book you’ll recognise as the one being clutched by the gang’s leader – but where, oh where is that skull from?

If you want to start a Redemptionist gang, rather than adding these to a Cawdor gang, then you’re starting off with only six miniatures – four less than any other gang gets in their core box (apart from Slave Ogryns and Subjegators but don’t split hairs – I’m probably boring people as it is!). Maybe the missing space – if it really exists out with my fevered speculation – is given over to more alternative heads and weapons so that, even if it means buying two sets of these models, you still have loads of options for outfitting a purely Redemptionist gang. Yeah, that sounds like reeeally wishful thinking to me too… More likely is an upgrade set from Forgeworld with alternative heads and weapons – and much as I would mutter about having to part with my hard-earned cash I’d be happy enough with that.

At the end of the day though as a fan of the Redemptionists I’m very happy with this kit. As a fan of House Cawdor I’m a little disappointed – I’d have liked to see more options coming our way, just as the other Houses have enjoyed. Then again Cawdor are the poorest House, and making do with the scrap others leave behind is in our nature. I’ve already kitbashed more Cawdor gangers than I have members of any other gang and I’m showing no signs of stopping – indeed once I’ve got them all painted up I won’t have a gang but a small army. Perhaps I don’t actually need another kit when I’ve managed to get so much mileage out of the one we already have?

Cawdor Necromunda Wudugast ConvertOrDie (3)

Anyway, it probably goes without saying that I’ll be painting my new Redemptionists in traditional red and starting a gang of them separate to my Cawdor. After all if the Cawdor were doing their job properly and purging all the heretics like they’re supposed to I wouldn’t need a Redemptionist crusade to come storming in and set everything on fire now would I?

All that will have to wait until we get our hands on the new models, and that won’t happen for a month or two yet I’d estimate. In the meantime maybe I ought to paint some more of my unfinished Cawdor…

I’ve tried to keep this post themed to Necromunda and focused on the forthcoming Redemptionists but before I go it’s worth giving a nod to some of the other things that were revealed in this preview. Needless to say it’s not just the thought of setting fire to the underhive that has me excited!  As a long time fan of the Orks the thought of seeing fresh recruits for da boyz has me very keen to get back to my greenskin army in earnest.

New Orc

In addition the new undead range, the Soulblight Gravelords, are absolutely gorgeous (for a given value of gorgeousness of course!) and as a fan of the Vampire Counts range of old I won’t deny I’m very interested in some of these. The old zombies kit was probably the worst thing in GW’s catalogue so seeing those replaced can’t come a moment too soon. The new version are a huge improvement and avoid the slightly gimmicky look of the  batch which come with Cursed City, every one of which is carrying the top of their grave around on their back.

Zombies

The new Blood (Dragon) Knights are also stunning models – although I suspect that when I see the price I’ll suddenly find myself feeling a lot less enthusiastic!

Blood Dragon

 It also gives me hope that some of the other old ranges – and here regular readers will know I’m thinking of the Skaven most prominently – will be given a similar treatment to the Vampire Counts and Night Goblins (or Soulblight Gravelords and Gloomspite Gits if you prefer) rather than being heavily reinvented for the Mortal Realms like the Dwarves or High Elves. Anyway, I’m going to sign off now before I get completely distracted from Necromunda and turn this into a broader discussion of the forthcoming releases in general. Suffice to say that, from my point of view, this is the most exciting preview we’ve had lately. As a fan of the Cawdor I’m a little disappointed but as a fan of the Redemptionists, the Orks and the Vampire Counts I’m a very happy chap indeed! Did anything in this preview take your fancy? Will you be joining me in purging the underhive of heretic filth or will you be taking a stand for law and order (even if only by Necromundan standards!)? Do you have any ideas where that mysterious skull might belong? As ever the comments box is all yours!