Category Archives: Editorial

Scum’s Thoughts – Part 3

On Friday Games Workshop, in one of their regular updates regarding Necromunda, announced that we’ll soon be seeing new models for the Cult of the Redemption. Admittedly what they wrote was more of a teaser, and the word Redemptionists was never actually used, but so little subtlety was employed that, to anyone familiar with the game or it’s setting, they might as well have announced “Redemptionists are coming soon” in twenty-foot tall letters of fire, fuelled by burning heretics.

Obviously I’m excited about this, the world of Necromunda is probably my absolute favourite aspect of Games Workshop’s various universes and the models that have been released so far have been uniformly excellent. The thought of seeing pyromaniac religious extremists thrown into the mix can only be a good thing in my book. We’ve yet to see any sign of actual models, beyond these two little snippets, but – without wanting to sound blindly fanboyish – I’m optimistic that they’ll maintain the high standard we’ve seen for the game so far.

Redemptionist Preview 1

For those readers who’re unfamiliar with the backstory of Necromunda the Cult of Redemption is a splinter of the Imperial Creed (the state religion of the 41st Millennium which holds that the Emperor of Mankind is the one true God, that heretics, mutants and aliens must be abhorred and that the orders of one’s superiors must be obeyed unquestioningly). The Cult of Redemption takes this a bit far, as they do with everything, adding that the End Times are upon us, that mankind is unworthy and that all are sinful and must be purged – but for a tiny minority of the righteous of course. Nowadays you can find the exact same people preaching their creed of hatred on Twitter, but by the 41st Millennium they’ll be venturing into the Underhive to bring the light of the Emperor to unbelievers. And when I say light I mean the kind that comes out the business end of a flamethrower or springs from a heretic’s pyre.

Redemptionist Preview 2

Late last year a “road map” of forthcoming releases was announced, with House of Faith, the expansion for House Cawdor, due to be released in the second quarter of this year. Given that the Redemption is the official religion of House Cawdor it’s impossible to see these things as anything other than intrinsically linked. As it stands I’ll surprised if the new models for House of Faith and the Redemptionists turn out to be anything other than one and the same.

Roadmap

I am curious however as to exactly how the appearance of these models is going to be handled. Redemptionists were one of the key factions of Necromunda in years gone by and since the relaunch of the game there have been plenty of people, myself included,  bumping our gums about exactly when they’d be making a return. Their popularity, and their intrinsic role in the setting, makes it hard for Games Workshop to push them onto the back burner forever. However the Redemptionists of old had a very distinctive aesthetic, and – to borrow a word from online activists – that look is “problematic”. If you’ve just joined the Cult of the Redemption and you want to make an impression, going out dressed in a long flowing robe and a tall pointed hood is an absolute must.

Redemptionists 3

I must confess, and here I know I’m showing my cultural bias, but I never really thought there was anything offensive about their look. Back in the early 2000’s when I first encountered them I just accepted them for what they were, mutant-hating, fire-starting bigoted bastards in big hoods. Then, a couple of years ago, Games Workshop previewed a new special character for House Cawdor – the Headsman.

Headsman 1

At the time I was a lot more connected to social media than I am now and I was struck by the response of the fanbase. In Europe the sentiment seemed to be “Oh cool, a new Redemptionist”. Here we had a modern interpretation of an established concept; a hooded executioner, which references the look of the Spanish Inquisition but transposed to the far future where he had ample time to indulge his hobbies of collecting candles and nooses and burning to death anyone he reckons is sinful. Across the pond in the United States however pearls were clutched and knickers were twisted as the fanbase reacted with horror. Some people were quite rude to me and others on Twitter for daring to think it was acceptable (mind you, everyone is rude to everyone else on Twitter all the time so there’s nothing particularly special about that). Clearly – a vocal element within the fanbase declared – Games Workshop were in league with the KKK. Games Workshop, presumably fearing what might happen to their profits if one of their largest marketplaces suddenly got it into their heads that the company had some kind of racist agenda, toned the model down a bit to create something a little more sensitive to the America customer before it was released.

Headsman Cawdor 2

Since that time of course news channels around the world have been dominated by the rise of violence, rioting and extremism in the United States, with race a key issue fanning the flames of division. Now it should go without saying, but alas I’d better say it anyway before someone writes in to tell me I’m a Nazi, that I’m staunchly opposed to racism and bigotry in all its forms and I find the actions and beliefs of the KKK and their ilk abhorrent. What’s more I’m conscious of the fact that Games Workshop are a global company and the US is the world’s largest economy so treading with care here is understandable, especially as that country undergoes what appears from the outside to be an almighty social upheaval. Add to that an increasing sensitivity to issues around race on both sides of the Atlantic (and beyond) and I pity the poor designer who must have worked on these models with representatives of the legal team hovering on one side of his desk and the PR department on the other. Meanwhile social media is rife with the kind of paranoid aggression and frothing rants that the Redemptionists themselves would approve of. Maintaining a public image in this climate is a delicate business and the Redemptionists are exactly the kind of models that could easily provoke outrage amongst those looking to be provoked. Honestly I’m worried that someone will decide they ought to “cancel” me with extreme prejudice just for acknowledging that this is an issue people are sensitive about. More and more it seems that, online at least, people are either walking on eggshells or spoiling for a fight. Calm discussion and the exchange of ideas is, like, soooo last decade.

Still, it’ll be a shame if the Redemptionists, when they do appear, stray far from the concepts of old. To me the Redemptionist models were amongst the best in the old Necromunda range and their aesthetic was particularly iconic. I would much prefer to see the old concepts reborn in the form of nice new kits rather than a redesign that strays too far from what came before. However here I find myself comparing them to the Ratskins, those tribal underhive natives who so often found themselves the victims of the Redemptionists’ purges – when they weren’t able to slip away into the darkness of course.

The Ratskins are a tribal people who, like the Redemptionists, had a range of models in old Necromunda but have yet to appear on tabletops of the new edition. Uniquely adapted to the underhive the Ratskins rely on sound and smell to track through the dark, hidden passageways and vaults deep beneath the hives. They worship the hive itself as a great spirit, care little for the world of the gangers and even less for the industry of Hive City and prefer to live peaceful lives in the dark depths. Some however get pushed that little bit too far by uphive gangers acting like dicks, or become addicted to the booze and drugs supplied by their more “civilised” neighbours and end up taking up arms and getting involved in the tabletop violence that we all know and love. After all a range of models that slips silently away through hidden passageways and avoids violence doesn’t make for the most exciting gaming opportunities.

Ratskin Art

The concept is cool and I’d love to see them brought back into the game but unlike the Redemptionists a revamp of their aesthetic really wouldn’t go amiss. Whilst the story of the Ratskins paints a picture of a unique tribal culture the models were pretty blatantly just Native Americans in space.

Ratskins

So why exactly would I like to see the Ratskins revamped and the Redemptionists brought back much as they once were? Partly it comes down to the fact that, much like the Space Wolves and their unashamed plagiarism of Viking culture, it’s hard for me to believe that a planet as toxic and industrialised as Necromunda would somehow produce carbon-copy Native Americans (especially as even on Earth Native Americans were not one homogenised culture). It breaks my sense of immersion in the setting to have to account for something so wildly out of place. The Redemptionists on the other hand feel a bit more like their own entity. Yes they borrow aesthetic elements from the Spanish Inquisition (something no-one was expecting) but they appear rooted in the 41st Millennium. The Ratskins meanwhile belong much more to the school of thought that gave us various 40k factions imported root-and-branch from modern and historical cultures; the previously mentioned Space Wolves and various Imperial Guard regiments foremost amongst them.

Then there’s the fact that the Redemptionists echo an uncomfortable truth – that bullies and religious extremists will always be with us. It is part of the human condition that some amongst us will allow hatred to define them, and will latch onto a creed or cause to justify the violence they crave. Whilst a world like Necromunda would be unlikely to miraculously produce Native Americans it would undoubtedly be full of those who, filled with bitterness at the hardship and oppression of their lives, would recognise in the preacher’s words a call to lash out against those unable to fight back.

Redemptionists 2

I opened this article with the idea in mind that the Redemptionists will appear as a bolt on to House Cawdor, and I stand by my theory that this is what we’re most likely to see in a few months time. There is, however, another option. The Redemption spreads far and wide on Necromunda and draws all kinds of individuals to its cause. House Cawdor may have embraced it wholeheartedly but there are plenty of others who fall under the sway of its hate-filled doctrine. Could we see the option to field a gang made up entirely of Redemptionists or would the new models, much like recent releases for the Goliaths, Eschers, Orlocks and Van Saar, only be available as champions in a gang which draws its rank and file from the Cawdor? Alternatively could we see something akin to the existing rules which allow for a gang to fall under the sway of a cult? Already we can modify a gang taken from one of the major houses so that they can devote themselves to one of the Chaos Gods, or become infested by a Genestealer Cult. Could we be so lucky as to see two new kits, one which brings new champions and prospects to House Cawdor gangs and one which builds Redemptionists which can then either be used to form purely Redemptionist gangs or to convert house gangs which have abandoned their old loyalties and devoted themselves to the fury of the Redemption? The latter seems overly optimistic but who knows, I certainly didn’t expect gangs of Slave Ogryns either.

Regardless of how things turn out I’m going to be watching this release with great interest. Now if you’ll excuse me I’m off to start a pyre…


The Rise and Fall of the Roo-mineth Realmhoppers

There’s all kinds of elves in Games Workshop’s Mortal Realms. As well as the various survivors from Old Warhammer who’ve been gathered until the mish-mash banner of the Cities of Sigmar, there are the underwater dwelling Idoneth Deepkin, the blood-mad part snake/part bat/part woman/all lunatic mob of the Daughters of Khaine and the Sylvaneth, who’re arguably not elves at all but part of the shrubbery. Then there’s the Lumineth Realm-Lords, who used to be thought of as “the normal ones”. Until now that is…

I’m not usually that keen on elves, and when I am I tend to enjoy the savage forest-dwelling type far more than their pompous “civilised” kinsfolk. Nonetheless I have a bit of a soft-spot for the immaculately turned out Lumineth. I often felt that their launch last year did them something of a disservice, delayed as it was by the outbreak of Covid-19 and falling close to the limelight-hogging launch of Warhammer 40k’s 9th Edition. The initial range was fairly small, and full of relatively expensive models, and I often thought they could use receiving an injection of new miniatures to expand the range. Now, it seems, that is exactly what’s going to happen. Blurry photographs began circulating online, either taken by a eejit with a very old phone camera or deliberately released by GW themselves, and have been followed up by a full preview of the forthcoming miniatures, the Hurakan Windchargers. They’re not what I was expecting…

Kangaroo Elves

Regular readers will know I’m all in favour of creativity. Fantasy should be about exploring new ideas, embracing originality rather than rehashing the same old ground. Just because Tolkien liked a concept doesn’t mean it’s all there is to life. On top of that I support those artists and writers willing to look beyond the borders of Europe in search of ideas. It’s currently very trendy to scour the world for as broad a range of concepts as possible (except when that’s cultural appropriation of course – gotta walk that fine line!) but that doesn’t mean it’s a bad thing. However, and I’m sure you knew there was going to be a “but” in here somewhere – kangaroos? Kanga-bloody-roos?!

Now I know, before anyone says “well actually”, that these aren’t really kangaroos but rather mish-mash animal that attempts, and sadly fails, to sell the idea of a species which has evolved in the Mortal Realms rather than been borrowed entirely from Earth’s ecology. However there’s so much kangaroo in there they might as well not have bothered.

I have no beef with kangaroos personally (some of my best friends are kangaroos!), and I know they can be vicious in a fight. If someone came charging at me on a kangaroo that was two meters tall at the shoulder I wouldn’t be laughing about it I can tell you. However you’d be hard-pressed to argue that they are noble looking beasts.

Treerunner 2

It’s clear from looking at them that these new beasts move with an inverted-pendulum motion, one limb planted firmly on the ground, one raised, just the same as ourselves and many other biped and quadraped animals do. However once again the mental association with kangaroos rears its head because from childhood we’re introduced to kangaroos and every toddler knows that kangaroos bounce. We can’t help but look at these and picture them hopping around, with the poor elves clinging on for dear life and trying not to lose their lunches whilst arrows go flying all over the place. What works for goblins with squigs just doesn’t work for High Elves. Despite all the qualities of these models, and all the arguments that could be made in their favour, one has to ask – did no-one at Games Workshop have the courage to stand up at a meeting and say “Kangaroos? Are you sure?” Have no doubt about it, for every person who thinks these look cool and adds them to their army, there will be a dozen mates who see them across the table and say “Strewth mate”, “What’s that Skippy?” and as many other antipodean clichés they can think of. To be honest the rather painful cod-Australian accent attempted by the Warhammer Community team in their preview video may not have been a wise move, there’s steering into the skid and then there’s just deliberately driving off the road and into a field. 

It was perhaps unfortunate that the first image to be leaked online, and seized upon by those sites which specialise in Warhammer Roomours (I couldn’t resist!) was this, the most kangaroo-like of the lot.

Treerunner 1

There’s something about these that makes me think of creatures from the Star Wars universe. It’s probably this which made me realise that they could work well as steeds for Eldar Exodites. Quite why I’m comfortable with that idea but can’t quite get my head around seeing them in the Mortal Realms is another issue, and probably says more about me than it does about the models themselves.

Still, these are not the first unusual animals to make their way into the Lumineth range. The elves can already call upon the Spirits of the Mountain, a beast that is part bull and part mountain (so that would be a Moontain then wouldn’t it?). Some fans, myself included, think these look downright magnificent, whilst others complain that there’s nothing scary or warlike about a cow (and from that we can deduce which of us have been chased by angry cows and which have not…).

Moontain

That said neither cows nor kangaroos are traditional war-beasts. Perhaps in the next wave of models we’ll see a creature that combines these two species into a monster that bounds over blocks of enemy troops whilst spraying them indiscriminately with milk. They could call it the Roominant.

Living in an ivory tower can be a bit of a double-edged sword. Games Workshop have often come across as being wilfully out of touch with what the fanbase thinks and wants. Now this is no bad thing, it certainly hasn’t hurt our enjoyment or their profits. Sure there are times when we end up shouting “Why won’t you release (insert miniature I want to see currently here)” but a quick glance at the “pile of shame” lurking on, under and around the painting desk tells me that they’ve still managed to release plenty of things I did want to buy. So whilst the fact that, for example, they seemed utterly unaware for years that Sisters of Battle might just be a tiny bit popular and worthy of a kit or two seems like wilful ignorance, it’s worth keeping in mind that the fanbase is a many headed beast, unable to agree on anything beyond a general satisfaction with what Games Workshop produced. It’s very much a self-policing system, if we’re not happy with what they make then we stop buying it, and the evidence is clearly there in GW’s executives’ bank balances that, on the whole, we’re very happy indeed. Yet if you look around online you’d be left thinking that the fan base stood on the verge of open revolt, mere moments from storming Nottingham and dragging the entire design studio out into the street by their heels. Perhaps it’s simply the case that, with time for hobbies being a finite resource, some people spend it buying and painting miniatures and others spend it sitting on the internet bitching.

Still, this feels like a case in which Games Workshop’s traditional secrecy has done them no favours. These are the kind of models where I feel that, within the confines of the studio, an echo-chamber of enthusiasm built up, with everyone working on the models being too close to see them for what they are. Which – love ’em or hate ’em – is kangaroos. Saying “They’re not really kangaroos, they’re Hurakan Windchargers on Treerunners” whilst throwing in some self-deprecating humour by doing only-vaguely credible Oz accents is bolting the stable door long after the horse has gone hopping off down the street.

It’s much like telling a joke, if you have to explain it then it hasn’t worked. Similarly if you have to say “look, the position of their legs clearly shows that they run with a side-to-side motion much like a horse. They don’t hop, their necks are far too long and who ever heard of a kangaroo with horns?” then it’s probably because people are looking at them and only seeing kangaroos. Perhaps in time I’ll change my mind, but for now these miss the mark for me. Probably because their steeds keep bouncing up and down…

Treerunner 3

However despite all this mickey-taking that I’ve indulged in here, it hasn’t all been bad news and questionable models. Alongside the Hurakan Windchargers we’ve seen the new Vanari Lord Regent. I don’t imagine that I’ll start a Lumineth army (although I’ll admit I do feel tempted at times) but if I did then this would be the guy I’d want to lead it.

Vanari Lord Regent

Elves riding kangaroos may not do much for me but combining a cat with a wildebeest turns out to be a spark of uncommon genius. Anyway, now you know all about kangaroos but do you know what a kangaroot is? Why it’s a Scotsman stuck in a lift of course!  


What Next Dark Gods?

Ask any fan of Chaos in the Mortal Realms where the biggest gap in the range was and, if they were honest with themselves, most would probably have agreed it was Slaaneshi mortals. Over the last few years times have been good for those like me who worship the Ruinous Powers. We now have well developed ranges with unique models and a distinctive aesthetic for each of the gods (that’s Khorne; god of war and violence, Nurgle; god of plague and decay, Tzeentch; god of magic and change and Slaanesh; god of decadence and excess). Gone are the days when I differentiated my Khornate troops from your followers of Nurgle because I painted mine red and you painted yours green. For a while there only Slaanesh, the longest neglected of the four gods, was left with a limited range but Games Workshop have turned that around in style, first by bolstering the daemons with some fantastic new recruits and now with a soon to be released wave of mortal followers, the first we’ve seen for Slaanesh in a very long time.

Shardspeaker

It’s a huge boost to the range and the miniatures are exquisite, but rather than talk about them I’m here to speculate baselessly instead! Once the Dark Prince has his mortal followers in tow where might Games Workshop turn their attention next? Of course they might come up with something wildly different, the Mortal Realms offers a lot of scope and potential as the Warcry warbands proved, and if they went off to stake out new territory with something a bit more unusual I’d be all in favour. Plus there still gaps to be filled in the current ranges, I’d like to see unique looking daemon princes for each god for instance, light infantry for Nurgle and beastmen for both Nurgle and Khorne.

Indeed, speaking of which I just kitbashed a pestigor to join a little Nurgle warband which has been whispering in the corner of my brain lately. Shall we sneak a peek at him before we begin? Oh go on then!

Pestigor Wudugast ConvertOrDie Nurgle 1Pestigor Wudugast ConvertOrDie Nurgle 2

Beastmen

Ah the beastmen, men who have become beasts and beasts who have devolved into something akin to men. The horned ones, the true children of ruin who lurk in the wild places, driven by a hatred of all that is civilised and orderly. I’ve always had a bit of a soft-spot for these shaggy barbarians, being hairy and uncouth myself. In fact, now I think about it it’s strange that I’ve never really painted many of them – something I’ll have to rectify.

Beastmen 2

This range of models dates back to Warhammer as was, and although there are some excellent models in there it also leans heavily on a lot of older sculpts, bulked out by models borrowed from other ranges like the Tzaangors. Plus there’s the fact that, despite beastmen being traditionally described as an amalgamation of beasts and men, “goatmen” might be a better name for them nowadays. Those of us who are still steeped in the old Realm of Chaos era will recall beastmen which hybridised all kinds of beasts with all kinds of men, but nowadays the braying despoilers of the forests seem to be almost exclusively Pan-like creatures with hooves, horns and long ovine faces. Far be it from me to question their commitment to disorder but a little more chaos in the mix wouldn’t hurt! The birdlike Tzaangors (see below for a couple of them that I’m currently working on) and the lanky, sinuous Slaangors which are soon to be released go to prove that Games Workshop aren’t unwilling to break out of the goat archetype however, and beasts of Khorne and Nurgle don’t seem too much to hope for someday either.

Tzaangors AoS Chaos Wudugast ConvertOrDie Warhammer

Slaves To Darkness

Take a look at the Slaves to Darkness range (that’s humans sworn to serve Chaos undivided rather than dedicated to just one of the gods) and at first glance it looks pretty healthy, packed with lots of kits, many of which were released in the last year or so. Dig a little deeper however and you start to release that most of the range comes either from the Warriors of Chaos from the WHFB era or, in the case of the newer models, are borrowed from Warcry. Now personally I love Warcry, in fact I tend to take things from Age of Sigmar to make Warcry warbands rather than the other way around, but I’m glad to see the Warcry warbands given a home in AoS armies all the same. Likewise I was a big fan of the Warriors of Chaos and that range has some great miniatures that I’m pleased to see are still available.

Warriors of Chaos

However there are some models in there which are undoubtedly past their best, like the Chosen and the Marauders. Plus there’s the fact that, before the End Times, the Warriors of Chaos made use of all kinds of troops dedicated to specific gods, all of which have since been split off to form new factions of their own. With them gone the range has been left looking a little thin. Time to give it a bit of a boost. Thanks to Warcry we know what the warbands seeking to join the Everchosen’s legions look like, but what about those legions themselves. Time to bring the warriors Sigmar abandoned into the modern era – after all we don’t want that weakling thunder god to think he’s getting everything his own way now do we?

Darkoath Tribesmen

In the old days, when the heavily armoured warriors of chaos marched south to attack the Old World they did so surrounded by hordes of barbarian tribesmen, clothes-phobic folk who’s hardiness and bitterness against the weakling southerners may be partially explained by the fact that they lived in a frozen wasteland but nobody seemed to own a shirt. In this regard people from the British Isles will recognise them as being essentially Geordies.

Marauders2

There are a few contenders for the title of “Worst Model in the GW Stable”, the Zombies and Skaven Plague Monks spring to mind, but the Chaos Marauders really have made a spirited attempt to claim that throne. Just a quick glance is enough to tell you that they’re past their best, if indeed there was ever a time when they looked anything other than awful.

Marauders models

 For a while there was a persistent rumour (and we all know how reliable those are eh!) from those who claimed to be “in the know” that Games Workshop were planning a new faction based around a range of new Marauder kits. Nothing has ever come of it, although we have seen a range of new Marauder equivalents in the form of the Warcry warbands, as well as troops dedicated to specific gods like the Bloodreavers of Khorne, the Kairic Acolytes of Tzeentch and the forthcoming Blissbarb Archers of Slaanesh, each of which is close to the Marauder archetype of old, and the Godsworn Hunt from Warhammer Underworlds. The rumour may have proved to be either a case of mistaken identity or wishful thinking but it’s still a good idea so who knows, perhaps someday we shall see the Slaves to Darkness split into two factions, the grim heavily armoured foot soldiers of the gods and the shirtless savages of the tribes?

Skaven

I know I sound like a stuck record here so I’ll keep it brief. The perfidious ratmen were my favourite faction from WHFB and over recent years I’ve painted up quite an army of them. Shall we remind ourselves of how they look? How could I ever pass up the opportunity!

Skaven Army Shot 3

Of course being a fan of the Skaven means being a glutton for punishment. Despite their ongoing popularity the range hasn’t seen much love in a long time and many of them models are so old they came off the Ark, and so rough they look like they were sculpted by the animals therein (and not the ones with opposable thumbs) rather than Noah himself. Get the finger out GW, give my rats some love!

Chaos Dwarfs

An industrious race of slavers and daemonsmiths the Chaos Dwarfs were the Old World’s finest bull-appreciators and big hat wearers, famed for putting Nagash to shame when it came to outsized headgear. They were also wearing big cow horns on their hats long before Johnny-come-latelys like the Lumineth Realmlords rocked up.

Chaos Dwarfs

By the later era of WHFB however they were almost extinct, their range of models long out of production and their sole surviving representatives the crew of the Hellcannon.

Chaos Dwarfs 2

With the Hellcannon going the way of all things when AoS was launched the Chaos Dwarves passed into history, in the main Games Workshop range at least. Forge World however have done their bit to keep them alive in the form of the Legion of Azgorh.  

Infernal Guard Command

Fantastic those these models are, a range which leans heavily on large and complicated daemon engines such as the Dreadquake Mortar (below) is going to be tricky in resin, and much easier for the average hobbyist to manage in plastic. Time to bring the bearded ones back I say!

Dreadquake Mortar

Chaos Gargants

From one end of the scale to the other, if we’re going to have Chaos Dwarves then why not Chaos Gargants? It’s not much of a leap really, there are already Chaos Giants and the new Mega Gargant kit contains a variant, the Warstomper, which can be taken by Chaos forces. Already I’ve seen plenty of them converted to be even more chaotic just as when the Imperial Knight kit was released many of us started welding on spikes to turn them into engines of the gods. After a few years of this GW yielded to the inevitable and produced a dedicated Chaos Knight kit, so it doesn’t seem beyond the realms of possibility that the same thing might happen with the Gargants.

Warstomper

Ogres and Trolls

Back in the old days all kinds of trolls and ogres shambled to war alongside the Warriors of Chaos. These days however such creatures exist almost exclusively under the remit of the Destruction faction (those who are particularly long in the tooth will recall Chaos orcs but let’s not go that far back!). There’s no reason not to bring these brutes back though, perhaps under the banner of the Slaves to Darkness or the Beastmen, or even as a faction of their own. Alternatively there could be versions of each of these incorporated into the four armies of the gods, each tainted and twisted by the favour of their particular patron, just like the Bile Trolls and Plague Ogres that formed part of Tamurkhan’s Horde in the latter days of WHFB. Regardless of which route was taken these brutes have plenty of potential, after all, as the Trogherds of the Gloomspite Gits demonstrated, people love big ugly monsters. 

Those are my picks for the future development of Chaos in the Mortal Realms but what about you? Are there any of the candidates above you think are particularly deserving, or any that you would have preferred to see abandoned to the history books? Is there a faction in waiting that I’ve overlooked? As ever the comments section is all yours. 


2020 – For Anyone Who Didn’t Feel Like Showing Up

Well, that was 2020 was it? The year which shall henceforth be referred to with the tagline “If you like dramatic global upheavals you’ll love this!”. Honestly I wonder how the script writers for 2021 can ever hope to top it. Well done on making it to the end by the way, assuming of course that there’s anyone else out there and this message from my lonely bunker isn’t going out to a world stripped bare, echoing across weed-choked streets, rusted vehicles and piles of corpses with startlingly clean bums. 

I started the year with a picture of a Noise Marine and the bombastic declaration “Alright 2020, let’s get this party started!”. With retrospect I should probably have said something more like “Is it safe to come out?” to which the answer would of course have been a firm “no”. 

Noise Marine Slaansh Wudugast ConvertOrDie (1)Noise Marine Slaansh Wudugast ConvertOrDie (2)

Still, it was a good year for fans of painting miniatures, with many of us achieving a guru-like status as we taught our friends and communities how it’s actually very easy to remain indoors for weeks at a time. With huge piles of plastic, lead and resin stashed around our homes we were ready to do the right thing, socially isolating with the vigour and aplomb of true heroes. Frankly I’m disappointed that my efforts in the public good have not been recognised by inclusion in the New Year’s Honours list, although of course if the Queen is reading this it’s never too late to pick up the phone. Alternatively erecting a statue of me would be entirely appropriate, especially as there are a lot of empty plinths around these days. 

The pandemic which raged throughout the year played merry hell with miniatures’ releases but we still saw some very cool new stuff all the same, starting with the long awaited return of the Sisters of Battle. For as long as I’ve been a hobbyist (and we’re talking a loooong time now) people have been saying “But when will the Sisters of Battle get new models” to which Games Workshop have replied “Meh… I dunno – someday maybe?” Finally however sense was seen, and the armies of the Adepta Sororitas marched. After such a long wait, and a considerable build up, GW managed to sneak them out of their warehouses and into the hands of hobbyists with the apocalypse already close at hand. Were they worth the wait? Damn right they were!

Triumph of Saint Katherine

I’ll admit that the Sisters aren’t one of my favourite armies, and that I watched this release with detached interest rather than avid fanaticism, but there’s no denying these are gorgeous models. Could there be a small army of them in my future? I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t tempted.

Junith Eruita

We also saw the launch of Warhammer 40k’s Ninth edition in July, bringing with it a wave of new releases for both Space Marines (as ever!) and Necrons. These latter have been inveigling themselves into my heart for pretty much the entirety of my hobby career so it was probably inevitable that this was the moment when I took the plunge and fell under the spell of our new mechanical overlords. Plus, with centrepiece models like the C’tan Shard of the Void Dragon how could I resist?

Shard of the Void Dragon

Rumour has it that I found one of these underneath the Christmas tree this year…

The new edition was spearheaded by the launch of the Indomitus boxset. On the whole Indomitus lead to a lot of mixed feelings – on the one hand the models were fantastic, on the other it sold out in less than 15 minutes and many fans (yours truly included) weren’t able to secure a copy before they were all snapped up by scalpers to be resold on ebay. Note to self; spend 2021 convincing Games Workshop that I count as some kind of “influencer” and should be sent plenty of free models… Obviously such rapid sales of the set must have caused delight amongst GW shareholders but it left something of a bad taste amongst fans. Luckily those shadowy overlords in Nottingham aren’t entirely daft and what looked set to be a spectacularly public own-goal was transformed at the last moment, rebounding off the bar at the final moment to the delight of the crowd. The set was rereleased via the “Made to Order” service, leaving those cheeky chappies on ebay with egg on their faces. In the end even I was able to get my grubby paws on a copy. Of course I’ve not actually painted very much of it yet but to be fair it took until a few weeks ago for it to actually reach me so I’ve not had a great deal of time. Expect to see my Space Marines reinforced, and perhaps even growing into a proper army at last sometime in the coming months. To begin with however I’m going to opening up the stasis tombs and ordering the machine legions of my dynasty to march forth and reconquer the stars. I’ve already spent a lot of time tinkering around trying to come up with a suitable colour scheme (probably to the frustration of my readers, as I bounced excitedly from one idea to the next). I think I’ve made up my mind though so hopefully real progress will be made soon.

Necron Wudugast ConvertOrDie 40k (4)

Over in Age of Sigmar two new armies emerged, sneaking their way to release between one lockdown and another. As a fan of both Chaos and Destruction (the AoS Grand Alliances not the global events!) I must confess I was drawn to the mighty Mega Gargants and even wrote a piece on the subject. However somewhat surprisingly it was the Lumineth Realmlords, successors to the High Elves of Ulthuan from the WHFB era that ended up on my painting desk. So far I’ve only finished one of them but I’m highly tempted to put together a Warcry warband of these snooty gits in the near future.  Indeed despite my long standing affiliation with the grubbier and more evil side of fantasy I painted two high elves this year, one from the days of WHFB and one of the new Lumineth. Don’t worry, I don’t think it’ll become a habit!

Elves Wudugast ConvertOrDie

And just to keep things balanced I countered these supercilious swines with a couple of old-fashioned, down-to-earth dwarves. I keep promising that someday I’ll paint a whole army of them…

Dwarves Wudugast ConvertOrDie

Necromunda started the year with a bit of a bang, launching the House of Chains – a book dedicated to exploring House Goliath as never before. After that things became a little messy, with Covid shaking up the release schedule, but by the end House of Blades (Escher), House of Iron (Orlock) and House of Artifice (Van Saar) arrived – with the postman dropping off this little lot just before Christmas.

House of Artifice

 Indeed with four more books in hand I’m starting to build up a nice little Necromundan library.

Necromunda Books

When I wasn’t reading about the gangs of Hive City I found time to paint them instead, with a Cawdor crusade joining the Goliaths, Eschers, Van Saar, Genestealer Cults and Chaos Helots already active in the underhive.

Cawdor Necromunda Wudugast ConvertOrDie (3)

That said my other gangs aren’t as far forward as I would have liked – something to work on in 2021.

Necromunda Gangs Wudugast ConvertOrDie

On the other hand I did manage to assemble a small mob of civilians with which to populate Hive City’s roughest districts…

Inq28 Necromunda Civilians Underhive Wudugast ConvertOrDie

…And a clan of muties to come crawling up out of the badzones during the downshifts to gobble up unwary workers.

Muties ConvertOrDie Wudugast Necromunda Inq28

After a quiet start 2020 also proved to be a big year for Blood Bowl. Not only was there a new edition launched, and a nice new boxset to go with it, plus four new teams (including the two in the box) but, in even bigger news, I finally got around to painting my Orc team.

Blood Bowl Orc Wudugast ConvertOrDie (3)

Did I stop there? Did I hell! After claiming that a human team would be following along (and they will – you just have to be patient) I instead started working on a couple of elves for an Elven Union team. Expect to see more of them at some point in 2021.

Blood Bowl Wudugast ConvertOrDie Elves

Oh and I painted a very old undead player who after years lost in someone’s garage has now risen to shamble forth once more.

Blood Bowl Undead Wudugast (2)

Best of all though, just before the end of the year I painted that hero of the sporting arena, Akhorne the squirrel.

Blood Bowl Wudugast ConvertOrDie Elves (3)

However when it comes to skirmish games the biggest news round my house this year was far and away Warcry. Over the course of the year I put together warbands of the Iron Golem…

Iron Golem Wudugast Warcry ConvertOrDie (1)

… the savage Untamed Beasts…

Untamed Beasts Warcry Wudugast ConvertOrDie

… the spooky ghosts of the Nighthaunt…

Nighthaunt ConvertOrDie Wudugast (1)

… the ghoulish Flesh-Eater Courts…

Ghouls ConvertOrDie Wudugast (1)

… the rascally Gloomspite Gits…

Night Goblins Gloomspite Gits Wudugast ConvertOrDie (11)

… barbaric Orcs…

Orcs AoS Warhammer Wudugast ConvertOrDie

…and some big fat ogres.

Ogres Wudugast ConvertOrDie

Continuing the fantasy theme but pushing into even stranger territory I painted up a set of the weird and wonderful forest dwellers created by Ana from Gardens of Hecate.

Gardens of Hecate ConvertOrDie Wudugast (13)

And I even dipped a toe into Lord of the Rings and painted up a few orcs to serve the dark lord of Mordor.

LotR Orcs Wudugast ConvertOrDie (3)

Although fantasy rather than sci-fi seems to have dominated my output this year I certainly haven’t forgotten about the 41st Millennium (as the aforementioned Necrons go to prove). Indeed the biggest project I tackled all year belongs firmly to the Dark Millennium and the twisted warlords who rampage out of the Eye of Terror. That’s right, I finally finished my Chaos Knight!

Chaos Knight Wudugast ConvertOrDie 40k (2)Chaos Knight Wudugast ConvertOrDie 40k (6)Chaos Knight Wudugast ConvertOrDie 40k (14)Chaos Knight Wudugast ConvertOrDie 40k (15)

Nor was that the only thing I tackled for the forces of the Chaos space marines and their various allies. The global pandemic may have put me off painting very much from the forces of Nurgle but it didn’t stop me from completing my 40-strong mob of poxwalkers. Each of these plague zombies is unique – and if you’re curious to see how I converted them to achieve that there’s a showcase you can pour over here.

Poxwalker Nurgle ConvertOrDie Wudugast (9)

Against such threats the defence of the Imperium remains a little thin on the ground, although I did get around to painting up a few soldiers of the Adeptus Mechanicus at long last. There will be more in 2021 (I promise!).

Ad Mech ConvertOrDie Wudugast 40k

In terms of getting miniatures painted then I didn’t have a bad year all told. By my tally I painted 161 models (although I’m writing this with a few days to go so I might manage to add a couple more to that before the bells, in fact I might even have done it before this is published). In terms of output that’s a bit of a step down compared to the last couple of years (2019 ended with 250 miniatures finished, and 2018 with 277. Mind you a lot of those were Skaven and Night Goblins, and exactly none of them were Chaos Knights…). This year however was the first year in which, as well as keeping a monthly tally of models painted I also started keeping a record of how many I bought (the penny finally dropping that if I’m going to collect data I ought to make it meaningful). I think I’ll keep the latter number to myself as it’s embarrassingly high. Let’s just say it’s a little higher than the number I painted and leave it at that – despite my love of Slaanesh, boasting about excess isn’t really my style. In 2021 I’m going to try to rein this in a little, to buy a lot less and to concentrate on painting the models I already own. I make no promises that temptation won’t get the better of me sometimes but at the end of the day I don’t have the cash to squander on models that never get assembled let alone painted so a bit more restraint is going to be in order.

Beyond that however I’m not going to set myself any hobby goals for 2021, I tried that in 2019 and the results were pretty hit and miss! I do however have lots of schemes I’d like to tackle (more Warcry warbands of course, more Necromunda, a second Blood Bowl team and a whole dynasty of Necrons for starters). Before any of that happens however I just need to wish all my readers a very Happy New Year, and all the best for 2021. Oh and if Grandfather Nurgle comes anywhere near you tell the poxy git to get lost – we’ve seen quite enough of his sort this year!


Scum’s Thoughts – Part 2

There’s been a lot going on in with Necromunda lately and needless to say, although my brushes have been busy with Blood Bowl, at least part of my brain has remained focussed on life in the Underhive. Various new models have been previewed over the last little while, with the most attention grabbing additions being the new recruits for house Van Saar. The House of Artifice will be getting a box with six additional fighters, including the Archeoteks, champions who have mastered the most powerful technologies available to them.

Van Saar 1

When I first saw the Van Saar models a couple of years ago I didn’t really see the appeal. My attention back then was captured by the brutish tech-barbarians of House Goliath and the amazing punk-amazons of House Escher, and the Van Saar looked a little clean and sleek for my taste. Needless to say they grew on me a great deal, and I now have a band of these high-tech killers stalking the dirty streets of the underhive at my beck and call. Will I be adding the newcomers to their ranks? Of course I will!

In my opinion the Archeoteks are some of the coolest looking champions we’ve seen for the game, standing alongside the Orlock Armsmasters. However much of the attention given to these reveals has focussed instead on the hot-headed young Neoteks who speed through the air on what can only be described as hoverboards.

Van Saar 2

They’re utterly ludicrous of course, but then Necromunda in general is fairly silly. After all this is the place where a demonically possessed lunatic can be seen fighting to the death against an angry cat (or an exploding rat) so why not throw in a flying skateboard or four? If they’re too silly for your taste, don’t use them – but there’s no hiding from the fact that Necromunda is silly (in fact the whole 40k setting is silly), and that’s a big part of why we love it.

Speaking of angry cats we’ve also seen a preview of the new Phyrr Cats which will be joining Escher gangs early in the new year.

Phyrr Cats New

Rules for these beasts have existed since way back in the early days of the new edition but, as with a lot of things in the underhive, models haven’t been forthcoming until now. To be fair we did see a pair of models previewed for them a long while back, and everyone tended to agree they were pretty much duff. Luckily GW agreed with us and retired them unreleased.

Phyrr Cats Old

In search of an alternative I grabbed myself a set of Hoar Cats from Wyrd Miniatures which have been running around with my gang ever since.

Lately I have been thinking that they look a little plain I might be tempted to repaint them with some stripes or something similar, especially now that Contrast paint has made adding patterns to animal fur so much easier. Of course I could be tempted by a pair of the new cats, price and other projects depending.

Outlaw Brutes

The latest issue of White Dwarf brings us rules for four more brutes, exclusively available to Outlaw gangs (that being those gangs who’s operations are even more shady, criminal and liable to earn the ire of the Enforcers than all the others). As if the more civilised parts of the hive cities weren’t grim enough there are all kinds of twisted horrors lurking in the badzones, just waiting to be “tamed” by a gang low on options and full of deranged opportunism. Let’s take a look at our four new options…

Scrapcode-Corrupted Ambot

As if taking a huge, predatory burrowing alien and wiring its brain into a big mining robot wasn’t enough of a health-and-safely violation, it’s not unknown for an Ambot to become corrupted with a tech-virus – either by accident or as a result of the tampering of a downhive heretek. I already have a pair of ambots but I’ll admit I’ve had a longstanding temptation to pick up a second pair and turn one of them into a spiky, Chaos infused abomination with which to horrify right-thinking tech-adepts everywhere. For the other I plan a slightly more involved conversion to create a “dreadnaught” with a wounded purestrain genestealer inside. Will I ever get around to either project? Who can say – although I’ll admit these new rules do make it more likely. Of course first of all I probably ought to finish painting my normal Ambots…

Mutated Ogryn

Just because an idea is obvious doesn’t mean it isn’t good. My Blackstone Fortress Chaos Ogryn has been rocking out with my Chaos Cultists for ages, now GW have come along and made it official.

Warp Horror

Whilst the previous two concepts are cool, it’s the second two which really allow one to get creative and start cooking up crazy conversions.

For those who want to be really Chaotic and devote themselves even further to the will of the Dark Gods there’s the Warp Horror. Even criminal scumbos won’t generally go near these but Chaos Helots and Corpse-Grinder Cultists aren’t nearly so fussy. These are not so much the rampantly mutated monstrosities that are Chaos Spawn but rather a creature infused by the power of the Warp, perhaps even born directly from it. The article suggests using the various Nightmare Hulks from the Kill Team Rogue Trader box. I think this chap will fit in nicely alongside my hungry Corpse-Grinders, and it gives me a bit of encouragement to paint up the rest of them as well. Later on I’ll probably come up with the odd part-daemonic converted monstrosity as well…

Sump Beast

Last but not least, the Sump Beast. This is a real convertors goldmine, with all the shackles off. This is a chance to make anything from a many-limbed monstrosity with a prehensile tongue to a shambling giant with a lashing tail. In this instance I don’t actually have any set ideas in mind, but I know there’s going to be something lurking in the dark beneath Ironhouse that one of my gangs will tame. I just need to have a rummage around in the bits box and see what I can find… 

The House of Iron

I had hoped to be able to talk a bit about the latest in the “House of…” series, House of Iron, which covers the Orlock gang and their affiliates. Unlike some of the other houses it took me a while to really get excited about the Orlocks, it’s very easy to just see them as the ordinary Joes of the setting, and a little bit dull in comparison to some of the more obviously outlandish or showy gangs. In time I’ve grown to really like them however and I was hopeful that House of Iron would give me the push to start working on my own gang. Unfortunately I made the error of pre-ordering my copy of the book, and the new miniatures, alongside a few other odds and ends, from Element Games, and – over a month later – they’re still sitting on it like Smaug in his cave rather than sending it out. Apparently one of the other items I ordered alongside it has gone out of stock and had to be backordered and this is taking longer than expected. These things happen, and when this has happened in the past they’ve just sent out a part-order and waited for the rest to arrive, but not this time. It’s a shame, Element used to be one of the best places to buy miniatures in the UK, with excellent prices, fast turn-arounds and impeccable service. Sadly I’ve noticed a real decline from them over the last few months of which this is just the latest. Hopefully it’s just a phase they’re going through, probably suffering with the pandemic and the economic turndown like the rest of us, and they’ll get their shit together in time. In the meantime though its left me very much disinclined to order anything else from them.

Anyway, enough grousing, I’m sure eventually they’ll give up my book and miniatures and let me get a proper look at the Orlocks, at which point I’ll undoubtedly have a bunch of ideas to share here. Who knows, this guy and his pals might even get painted at last.

Look To The Future Now

Finally we got a nice little preview of the release schedule planned for 2021. There’s nothing here that’ll come as wildly out of the blue to the dedicated fan, the Van Saar (not shown) had previously been announced as coming early in the new year, and it made sense to assume that Cawdor and Delaque would follow.

Roadmap

Naturally I’m curious to see what additions these latter two gangs receive, especially given the high quality of the new models for the other four. As I recall it was announced early on that five of the gangs would receive new champions and prospects and the other would receive “something different”. (Don’t quote me too closely on that of course, my interest in Necromunda may be a little obsessive but my memory is far from perfect, as my fiancée often reminds me…). Anyway, my money is on Delaque being the ones to get “something different”, in keeping with their general air of mystery and strangeness. I’m also curious to know how GW will handle a book which reveals everything about the house in wonderful detail and depth – as the previous “House of…” books have – whilst still maintaining the inscrutable ambiguity that forms a big part of why we love the lanky goths. I’m guessing it’ll be written entirely in cipher.

As for the Cawdor I’ve heard a few people speculating that the Redemptionists, who have long been closely linked to the House of Faith, will be rolled into this release. Frankly I hope not. Back when the Cawdor gang box was released Andy Hoare (reigning Necromunda big cheese) commented that many people expected Cawdor and the Redemptionists to be combined into a single faction but that he intended to separate them out into two more clearly differentiated factions (again, see note above regarding my obsessive interest vs questionable memory!). Certainly this would be my preference, why have one faction when you could have two after all? Furthermore there’s a lot more to the Cawdor than simply being Redemptionists, this is a working society, fully integrating into the wider world of Necromunda, and that gives designers plenty of room to explore. The Redemptionists on the other hand retain a laser focus on burning heretic scum and are, I suspect, less likely to put in time taming rats or sorting scrap.

Of course there’s no denying that the Redemptionists are “problematic”, to use a word popular with keyboard warriors and the rage-filled-for-a-cause these days. When the Cawdor special character known as The Headsman was previewed online wearing a tall, pointed hood, knickers suddenly found themselves in a terrible twist.

Headsman 1

Faced with a barrage of spittle-flecked fury worthy of the Redemptionists themselves, GW – understandably uncomfortable about what claims that they were in some manner supporting the KKK might do for their sales – dialled things back a little before the final model was released.

Headsman Cawdor 2

Perhaps then, they have come to think that it would be easier to just tuck the Redemptionists into a corner of House Cawdor and forget about them rather than risk committing the cardinal sin of releasing a range of miniatures which, if you look at it through the right set of cultural biases, squint really hard and wish upon a star for an excuse to get offended, might just prove to be “triggering”. Personally I hope that common sense prevails and we get a full set of new Redemptionists someday. Remember, painting a miniature does not automatically mean subscribing to vaguely similar real-world ideologies (something fans of historical miniatures managed to come to terms with some time ago). A friend of mine collects Tyranids and to the best of my knowledge he’s never eaten anyone…

Moving on we can look to this time next year, where something mysterious lurks on the horizon. What exactly we might be seeing in terms of releases that far out remains anyone’s guess but it’s always nice to be reminded that Necromunda is going from strength to strength. Whilst fans of 40k and AoS can sleep at nights knowing that very little short of the apocalypse is likely to occur which really affects the market dominance of their chosen games. Those of us who enjoy the so-called Specialist Games are always uncomfortably aware that we’re living on the fringes and, in a landscape of increasing economic and social turmoil, should GW need to protect the power-armoured golden goose it’s likely to be our heads on the block. Thus that mysterious “And More” in the final quarter of next year’s roadmap serves as a comforting reminder that there’s life after Delaque.

Finally this we also got a reminder of the art for the Water Guild, alongside the comment “we’ll be seeing some of the Necromunda characters that already have awesome artwork make their debuts as models. So we might be seeing this Master Nautican in the underhive before long…”.

Water Guild

Now whilst this is a deliberately vague statement, and the phrase “before long” could mean almost anything in the Necromundan release schedule,  this is still an exciting confirmation that the Water Guilders are on their way, and indeed that other Guilders are likely to follow. The Guilds contain some of the most interesting concepts in the entire setting, and the Slaver’s Guild were excellent miniatures, so my hopes are high. Of course the price is likely to be equally high but we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.

Anyway, I’m feeling that I’ve probably wittered on long enough – and if I feel that way you probably do too! As ever if you have thoughts or opinions you’d like to share, the floor (or the comments box) is all yours.


Gridiron and Glory

Another weekend, another big GW preview, another chance for me to roll out my opinions. This time it was the turn of some of the smaller, more “specialist” games in GW’s roster, with a focus on Blood Bowl, Warcry and Warhammer Underworlds. These three being, to various degrees, close to my heart, it was inevitable that I’d have some thoughts to share.

First out of the gate was Blood Bowl, the game of fantasy football, which is soon to launch its second season boxset (that’s the second season of the 2016 edition of a game that’s been on the go since 1986 – so technically it’s the 6th edition – maybe? Best not to get too hung up on that!).

Blood Bowl Box

From my point of view this couldn’t be better timed, 34 years after the game first launched, and about 25 years since I first discovered it I’ve finally started working on painting up a team. All being well I can crack on with painting my orcs, humans and various gubbins and await the release of the new rules, rather than pouring effort into learning the old rules only for them to become outdated in short order.

Bloodbowl Orc ConvertOrDie Wudugast (1)

The new box contains plenty to be excited about – most importantly two new teams. On one side of the pitch we have the humans, in the form of the Imperial Nobles. The quality of the Blood Bowl miniatures has been top-notch lately and these are no exception, each one flawlessly designed and packed with character.

Baron 1

I’ll admit I found the previous human team to be a little bit dull, they’re very nice miniatures in their own right but they are very definitely sportsmen and generally wouldn’t look out of place in a modern, real world setting. They’re not bad but there’s next to nothing about them that says “Warhammer”. Not so the Imperial Nobles who channel the Knights and Lords of the old WHFB Empire.

Reikland Reaver

Needless to say I’ve already started a little kitbashing and converting to turn my team of ordinary humans into something that feels more rooted in the setting. Fancy a cheeky sneak peek? Yeah you do!

Wudugast ConvertOrDie Blood Bowl WIP

Alongside the human players we have a special character – or Star Player in Blood Bowl parlance – Griff Oberwald. Even amongst the never-knowing-underdressed show-offs of the Imperial Nobility he stands out, every inch the arrogant sporting superstar.

Griff

It’s a world away from the outgoing Forge World version, which if I’m honest had very little to recommend it (although it was still nicer than Varag Ghoul-Chewer – more on him in a moment). At least now when he jogs onto the pitch the girls will be screaming for the right reasons…

Old Griff Oberwald

Sure enough the humans need someone to get a match in against and in the previous boxset that roll fell to the orcs. This time round it’s the turn of… the orcs again. Just as the standard issue humans have been joined by the new Imperial Nobility so the ordinary orcs now have competition in the form of the Black Orcs.

Black Orc

These are big lads, reportedly similar in size to the orruk brutes, which makes me wonder how many will be getting bought to convert into members of Ironjaws armies. After all, although taken as a whole there’s a distinct sporting theme to the models, but taken out of context and given a few tweaks and these could easily slot into the ranks of an ordinary orcy horde.

Special mention is also owed to the goblins which accompany the team, regular readers will know I’ve got a soft-spot for the little gits and these are no exception.

Gobbos

Like the humans the orcs have hired a Star Player to join them, this time in the form of the mighty Varag Ghoul-Chewer. The big lad looks like an absolute tank and – I suspect – will be the basis of many a converted Orc Warlord for both 40k and AoS. Take note of his undead snack, still thrashing angrily on his shoulderspike and ready to be devoured at half-time.

Ghoul Chewer

Of course if you thought the old model for Griff was a bit rough wait until you see Forge World’s attempt at Varag. Once upon a time Forge World were rightly praised for the high quality of their models – expensive but worth it – and generally that’s a standard they’ve kept to in recent times. Varag however should probably have been left on the shelf, or perhaps surreptitiously nudged into the bin.

Old Ghoul Chewer

Now exciting though all of this Blood Bowl action is, none of it is exactly new. Pictures leaked online some time ago and GW followed up by doing a full reveal of everything that was already in the public eye back at the start of August. Thus the only real surprises for fans was that the box would include two new models for referees. Both are great models but hardly enough to carry the “big reveal” on their own.

Refs

Next up we had Warcry and this was where my interest was really focussed. I’m a big fan of Warcry, of all GW’s games it’s the one I see myself playing the most so any news was going to be good news in my book. Sadly however said news was thin on the ground. No new models or warbands were announced, which I’m sure came as something of a disappointment to many fans (I know it did me!). Instead we’re getting four new books, one for each of Age of Sigmar’s grand alliances, containing rules, quests, scenarios and monsters.

Warcry Books

Now this could be quite exciting, I’ve already started several Warcry warbands based around factions from outwith the core game – the very factions that these books are aimed at covering. However information on the specific contents of the books was pretty much absent so I’ll be reserving judgement until a bit more is known. If the new books turn out to be simply a collated reprint of the already released cards, White Dwarf articles and rules for Monsters and Mercenaries already printed in previous books then I’ll pass, helpful though it would be to have everything in one handy guide I’m not made of money and GW has plenty else to tempt me with. If on the other hand they take the opportunity to revisit some of the previously released factions, bringing in new rules for models such as mid-level heroes and huge monsters that were previously absent, I’ll be a lot more interested. For example the Gloomspite Gits, which were released at the same time as the game’s initial launch, received rules for loonbosses, various shamen and the monstrous arachnarok spider through the Monsters and Mercenaries book – whilst the Sylvaneth who came later have no rules for their own equivalent heroes and monsters such as the branchwych or tree-lord. If these books start filling gaps of this kind I’ll be very interested indeed.

Meanwhile some of the other factions feel distinctly thin on the ground at the moment, Nurgle’s mortal followers being a particularly glaring example.  Whilst the Putrid Blightkings have a range of weapon options available to a modeller the rules represent very little of this. Whilst the rules distinguish Blightking leaders, or those carrying icons or Sonorous Tocsin (that’s the great big bell to you or I) there’s nothing to distinguish the one carrying the massive axe from the one with the spear or the one with the sword and shield. Other factions are given considerably more detail – the mortal followers of Tzeentch for instance have rules for 14 different model types, whilst poor old Nurgle get’s only 5 – despite having the potential available for plenty more.  The god of plagues may be having a fine time out here in the real world but he’s looking a little unloved in the Realm of Chaos – perhaps if GW took the chance to improve the options available to him in Warcry they could tempt him back to where he belongs?

My blightking with a mighty axe, keen to be unleashed against the residents of the Bloodwind Spoil!

Of course many people are rightly concerned about the way Warcry appears to be straying from its roots focussed around Chaos warbands specifically designed for the game and turning into the skirmish version of Age of Sigmar. I’m very much of two minds about this. On the one hand I completely agree, what drew me to Warcry in the first place was the chance to explore something really new, delve into the setting’s underbelly and explore the Realm of Chaos properly for the first time in years. Finding out that every single faction in the wider game is also mucking around outside the Varanspire dilutes the sense that this is Chaos’s world, a place where deamons walk and only the strongest and strangest endure.

On the other hand I love the idea of a skirmish version of Age of Sigmar, I enjoy Warcry (and most unusually I actually understand the rules) and so the more the merrier from my point of view – every additional faction that’s brought into the game opens up more opportunities for painting and modelling as I explore factions that I would never be willing to commit to a whole army of.

How do I square this circle? Simple – in my mind a game featuring Chaos warbands occurs within the game’s official setting – the Bloodwind Spoil – whilst when we play a game with any of the other factions we set it elsewhere in the Mortal Realms.

I’ve also seen a few people worrying, quite understandably, that the lack of any new warbands announced (and leaving aside the Khainite Shadowstalkers and Scions of the Flame set to beat seven bells out of each other in the soon-to-be-released Catacombs expansion) means the game is soon to be shuffled off to a dusty corner and left to wither. GW will pour in no further investment, no new models or warbands will appear and the new books represent simply an exercise in squeezing the last drops of milk from the cash cow before it’s led out into the field and shot.

I however take a more hopeful view – that this is merely the calm before the game get’s it’s second wind. Back when both Blood Bowl and Necromunda were relaunched – in 2016 and 2017 respectively – GW announced that there would be an initial wave of plastic teams/gangs and, if these proved popular, more would follow in due course. This has proved to be exactly how things turned out, with both games seeing an initial flurry of activity and, as people voted with their wallets and demonstrated their commitment to the games, GW set to work producing new things to sell us. Blood Bowl now has 15 teams available, with three more announced as coming soon (and two others which can be built by combing models from other teams). Necromunda followed the same pattern a year later. Both games saw an initial wave of releases followed by a quiet year as GW’s designers worked to catch up, and then settled into a regular pattern that’s kept each game topped up nicely. Warcry, I strongly suspect, is following the same pattern – with the game launching and proving it’s financial chops to the money men in 2019 and 2020 being something of a “filler year” as new concepts are worked up, ready to be released in 2021. Of course this may be false optimism but I wouldn’t be too quick to write the game off yet, Warcry proved very popular from all I’ve heard (if – like me – you’re keen to get a copy of Catacombs for instance I’d recommend hovering with your finger over the “buy now” button when it goes up for pre-order) and GW haven’t achieved their market dominance by failing to recognise when they’re onto a good thing.

Direchasm

Thirdly, the big reveal showed us the new core set for Warhammer Underworlds; Direchasm – which brings the popular tournament game into its fourth season. Given that I’m not by any means a hardcore gamer I don’t tend to pay much attention to Underworlds, beyond drooling over the miniatures at regular intervals. That said I’m looking at this new box with great interest. As with the majority of GW’s boxsets it features two rival factions, in this case the elves of the Lumineth Realm-lords vs the mortal followers of Slaanesh.

The elves alone wouldn’t be enough to grab me. I actually quite like the (much maligned) Lumineth range which has been released in recent weeks – although not enough to consider starting a collection I hasten to add – but these do less for me. They’re alright, but for my taste they’re nothing really to write home about – each one being basically a little bit of a step down from its AoS equivalent. The warband’s leader appears to be troubled by constipation, something not helped by his gravity-defying pose…

Lumineth Leader

On the other hand the warriors of Slaanesh are downright gorgeous! Many of us have been bumping our gums about a lack of attention for Slaanesh, especially the god’s mortal followers, for at least as long as I’ve been in the hobby and probably a lot longer – and at last we have something to get excited about.

Slaaneshi Leader

As if that champion wasn’t wonderful enough we have a suitably twisted beastman.

Beastman

Beastmen remain one of the most potentially interesting Chaos factions aesthetically speaking, yet all too often they’ve been relegated to the sidelines. A few years ago Tzeentchian beastmen appeared in the form of the Tzaangors to general delight, and Blood Bowl features an amazing looking Nurgle beastman, but beyond that beastmen specific to each god have been thin on the ground. Of course, one swallow doesn’t make a summer (or at least that’s what Slaanesh said!) but its hard to deny that nothing says “chaos and decadence” like a goat in thigh-high boots. We can only hope that soon GW will satisfy us all and give the god of excess the kind of vigorous affection it desires.

Exciting though these Slaanshi warriors are this preview over felt a little bit thin. The Blood Bowl set looks amazing but it’s really nothing new, the qualities of the Warcry books are anyone’s guess but look likely to be at least in part a reprint of pre-existing material and the elves need to eat some prunes. That left us with previews of some upcoming films being produced by GW and which to me look like a bit of a mixed bag. The Blood Angels film looks intriguing…

Blood Angel

… but the anime series with its prominently featured Eldar Striking Scorpions does less to grab me, although that may just be because it’s anime.

Striking Scorpions

Truthfully I’ve never been terribly interested in anime, in fact the style tends to put me off. Maybe it’s because I used to have a couple of flatmates who were obsessed with anime and anything else Japanese, and seemed truly to believe that Japan was the source of everything good in the world whilst all other countries were the source of everything bad. I understand that Japanese includes a word for westerners like that and I’m pretty sure it translates as “patronising tossers”.  I’m sure this prejudiced me against the style, and by extension the sprinting Striking Scorpions and their ilk, especially as I’d really much rather see some new models for the Scorpions (not to mention the rest of the neglected Eldar aspect warriors).

One thing I did expect to see here, and which was glaring by its absence, was a hint at what’s coming next for Age of Sigmar. After considerable build up the Lumineth Realm-lords and Sons of Behemat have both been released, and the immediate future of the game is rather sparsely populated. We know that books are planned which move the narrative forward and a new boxset lies ahead, containing mostly models which have already been released (plus another truly wonderful Slaaneshi lord to the delight of the Mortal Realms’ S&M community – you wait a couple of decades for a champion of pain and pleasure to come along and then two appear at once). What we don’t know, even by the merest hint, is what kind of major releases might be planned or what new factions might be around the corner, and I was half expecting some kind of teaser in this direction. Not to worry though, between Blood Bowl and the new Slaaneshi models there’s enough here to keep me interested. Whilst I go in search of a pair of thigh-high studded leather football boots in my size the comments box is open for anyone with a strong opinion to hold forth!


A Big Boy Did It And Stomped Away

Feel the ground shaking? Hear the screaming of the villagers? See the sun suddenly blotted out by the passing of an enormous shadow? Don’t worry – it’s only a tribe of giants stomping into town! That’s right, this weekend saw the arrival for pre-order of Games Workshop’s newest faction for Age of Sigmar; the Sons of Behemat. Oh and the screaming might just be people looking at the latest GW prices…

Giant with Stormcasts

For those who’ve not been keeping up the Sons of Behemat are not a Mumford and Sons tribute act but instead a new army for AoS made up entirely of giants (or gargants as GW confusingly likes to call them now – in my mind gargants are plus-sized Ork Stompas for 40k, but in these changing and uncertain times it’s nice to know that GW will still ensure that their naming conventions are as complicated as possible). The old giants kit of yore has been renamed “Mancrusher Gargants” and make up the rank and file of the new army, whilst an impressive new kit brings us three flavours of Mega-Garagant, which is even bigger and more imposing than its predecessor.

Giant Size Comparison

Almost exactly a year ago today (it was the 12th of October 2019 but who’s splitting hairs?) I wrote an article asking where exactly GW planned to go next with the Destruction grand alliance. Order had really come into its own, Chaos and Death both had plenty of scope to expand, but what about the happy-go-lucky barbarians of Destruction? I’m increasingly hopeful, incidentally, that we’ll see the thuggish hordes of Destruction given a boost in the next edition of AoS, the first edition boxset featured Order vs Chaos, the second Order vs Death so it makes a degree of sense that we’ll see Order vs Destruction next time around. Or we might not get a starter set and instead just see a repeat of Indomitus – although hopefully they’ve learned something from that screw-up…

Anyway, when I wrote the aforementioned article I’d already been pouring scorn on the idea of an all-giants army, which various speculators and “rumour-mungers” had been touting as the next big thing, and I didn’t miss the opportunity to pour a little more, saying;

“The giants may have enjoyed a brief stint as a one model faction in the early days of AoS but the big oafs have been reined in by their destruction colleagues and I’d be surprised to see them go it alone again.”

Do pass another slice of this delicious humble pie…

The new Mega-Gargant kit makes three very different models, and it’s well worth giving them a quick look. First of all we have the Warstomper which is basically a normal, traditional giant.

Warstomper

Then things start to get weird with the Kraken-eater, a marine themed giant.

Kraken-eater

Lastly we have the hooded Gatebreaker.

Gatebreaker 2

Credit where its due GW has managed to make three very distinct looking giants out of one base kit. The core of each is pretty close to identical being built over the same chassis, yet slight changes to the positioning of head and arms make for very different poses (within a realistic scope of course – no-one was looking for a giant doing handstands or pirouettes – and if you are you’d better break out the greenstuff). Of the three the Kraken-eater is the most unusual – the other two are basically just straightforward giants, but the Kraken-eater has, for some reason, been decorated with all sorts of maritime gubbins. Without reading the army book I can’t say exactly why this is but my guess would be that, as the giants which are most inclined towards nicking everything they can get their hands on, they’ve been drawn to walking along the shores of the Mortal Realms looting shipwrecks. Being GW though it’ll probably be some overly-complicated pseudo-mythological bollocks instead.

I don’t have any particular problem with the Kraken-eater but I must admit I find them quite specialised aesthetically. Being able to make a marine giant is cool, but for my money a kleptomaniac giant with more generic taste in loot would have been better than one which exclusively hugged the tideline. A model tells a story, about what it represents and it’s place in the wider setting, and the story told by this one is not “some giants like to pinch things” but “some giants like going to the beach”.

Kraken eater loot

In recent years GW have been leaning heavily into making everything as unique to their brand and intellectual property as possible (the Lumineth Realmlords – as essentially a High Elves analogue – being the main exception of recent times, although even they went for a unique spin with walking bull-mountains). Now this is no bad thing in my book, I like new and creative ideas more than rehashed clichés, and fantasy should be about exploring and inventing rather than sticking religiously to old ideas. However you can take this too far, and there’s a time and a place for playing it safe. Giants that steal stuff and load themselves down with loot is a well-established idea and one that lots of giant fans will be drawn to. Giants that go fishing is a bit more “out there” – it may prove to be the next big thing but equally it may not. Personally I’d have played it a little safer, not every single thieving giant in every Sons of Behemat army in the world needs to be a keen rockpooler on the weekends.

The other thing that’s causing ructions online right now is the price. This is the sort of topic that get’s the frothier end of the fanbase hot under the collar at the best of times, the First and Second World Wars seeming like mere blips in comparison to the rage and factionalism that breaks out on social media whenever the cost of a GW kit is mentioned. Mind you anything is usually enough to set social media groups at each others’ throats so we shouldn’t be too surprised. However there’s no denying this is a pricy kit, buy it full price from GW right now and it’ll set you back £120 in UK money. That’s a fair chunk of cash for one model in anyone’s book – although in fairness it’s also roughly 25% of a standard sized army, and represents a major painting project in its own right. I find myself wondering how the Sons of Behemat compare to other armies pricewise, after all they’re individually expensive but you need very few models. Are they really costlier than hordes of little dudes? I could probably grab a calculator and figure it out but alas I haven’t. Probably someone somewhere has a spreadsheet already…

I don’t know, because I’m not a fly on the wall of GW’s decision making process, but I do wonder if they might not have been better rearranging the contents of the sprues and releasing three different giants, each at a lower price. One set of sprues would contain all the parts common to each giant (the legs, torso etc) and whilst three other sets would cover all the parts needed to make each sort of giant. As it stands if you want to build a Warstomper you’re also paying for all the bits to make a Gatebreaker and a Kraken-eater which are then tossed unused into the bits box. Per my suggestion your Warstomper kit would contain only the common gargant frame, plus a sprue or two of those bits needed to turn it into a Warstomper. This would also leave the way open for more varieties of Mega-Gargant in the future, should the kit prove to be popular. They could even throw in a sprue of mutations and do a new army of Chaos Gargants somewhere down the road.

I suspect though that this would probably be more expensive to produce and package, and take up more shelf space as room would then be required for three Mega-Gargant rather than just one. Still I do like the Warstomper, and I could be tempted to get one, but the price is a bit too rich for my taste – especially when I’m paying for a load of bits – even if some of those bits will find their way into conversions at some point.  

As an aside it’s worth noting that these are not the only “big giants” on the market. Mantic for one also produce a plus-sized giant. I’ve not bought anything from Mantic in years so I can’t comment on the model from direct personal experience but just eyeballing it online it does look like a nice kit.

Mantic Giant

Hopefully soon we’ll see a direct size comparison between it and the mega-gargant but I suspect there may not be a lot of difference, although the Mantic giant is probably slimmer. Here’s a size comparison between the Mantic giant and the old GW giant (the one now known variously as an Aleguzzler or a Mancrusher) borrowed from The Hobby Heroes.

Giant Lineup Mantic 2

Compare that to the picture of the Mancrusher and Mega-Gargant above and I think the Mantic giant would make a fine stand-in if you were thus inclined. Of course it’s the price that makes things really interesting, £25 buys you the Mantic kit which leaves you with £95 in change when compared to the GW offering. Go down that road and the Sons of Behemat could easily be the cheapest AoS army to collect.

Sons of Behemat

Seen collectively the big giants towering over the smaller giants looks a little odd to my eye. The impression that one gets when looking at them is of two distinct size classes of giant, big ones and bigger ones, rather than a mixed tribe of mighty monsters. A friend took one look at it at and said “Ah, the big one is taking his children for a walk, he’s Behemat and these are his sons?” which isn’t an unreasonable conclusion to jump to I guess. Again I know it comes down to time and money, both things that GW have plenty of but which are not in unlimited supply even for them. However, if you’ll indulge me in a bit of wishlisting, I’d have loved to see a third size of giant somewhere in between the old Aleguzzlers and the new Mega-Gargants. Between them they could have created a range of sizes and a more natural look to the army as a result. Perhaps they could have used the Warstomper as the big guy (with a few alternative bits so you can personalise your own) and made the Gatebreaker and Kraken-eater a little smaller, perhaps alongside a third type. The resultant army would look a bit more natural with a mix of sizes.

Will I be signing up for an army of mighty, world-stomping brutes? I doubt it – I’ve got too many other projects on the go and my wallet is nowhere near deep enough to fund this kind of scheme (except, perhaps, at Mantic’s prices). Maybe, should the chance arise to snag a bargain in the future, I might get myself a Warstomper to loom ominously over my various Chaos and Destruction projects – he’s certainly an extremely cool looking model. Oh and somewhere I have a couple of old Aleguzzlers I was given by a mate who was having a clear out, maybe I should start by digging them out of whichever box they’re lurking in and giving them a coat of paint. After that, who knows – perhaps by then we’ll have seen the next addition to the Destruction line up, and at last the warlike lads will step out of the shadow of WHFB and follow in the footsteps of the other Grand Alliances with an AoS-unique faction or two. I loved WHFB and still do but we’re overdue for Destruction to leave the past behind and charge bellowing into the future.


Scum’s Thoughts – Part 1

If you’re reading this, congratulations – you’ve survived as far as September 2020! (And yes, I will be reusing that joke for the Christmas round-up – assuming we all live that long…).

Last weekend saw, at long last, the release of House of Blades, the latest Necromunda expansion which focuses on the Queens of the Underhive, House Escher. Much earlier in the year the Goliaths enjoyed the release of their own book, House of Chains, and the Escher were intended to follow soon after – except of course  that then we went and spoiled it all by saying something stupid like “Oh god, there’s a global pandemic on, we’re all fucked now!” Ever since we Necromunda fans have been waiting *cough* patiently for the girls to arrive and thankfully now they’re here and we can see in the apocalypse with two house-specific expansions clutched in our paws. Who knows, we may be lucky enough to be able to buy the Orlock book, House of Iron, before the asteroid hits and stops our civilisation in its tracks. Fans of the other three houses must face the day of reckoning with bitter hearts and unfulfilled expectations, or pray for a slightly less bumpy time in 2021.

Anyway, having spent the last few days pouring over House of Blades my head is suddenly full of thoughts and I’m damned if I’m missing out on the opportunity to share them!

The format and content of the “House of…” series becomes a little clearer with this release. We, the fans, already knew that each of the six major houses of Necromunda (Goliath, Escher, Orlock, Van Saar, Cawdor and Delaque) would be getting a book dedicated to them but until now we could only categorically say that we knew what House of Chains looked like, because it was the only book to have been released. Now that we’ve got House of Blades as well we can start making some assumptions about just what will be included in the future books; a ton of new background, an expanded gang roster, new gang specific hangers on, tactics, scenarios, timeline, house agents and allies.

Every Necromunda book released since the game’s relaunch has contained a number of new special characters and House of Blades is no different. Yet whilst House of Chains contained six, House of Blades has only three. Now it’s worth noting that one of the House of Chains personalities, “Sparky” is an ogryn so the Goliaths only get five new heroes (and one of those is a gigantic crocodile). What’s more the Escher already have a bounty hunter available exclusively to their house, the Death Maiden Kria the Huntress.

Kria The Huntress

In addition to her we have Belladonna, an ex-Escher turned (briefly) noble-bride turned underhive assassin on a quest for vengeance (think Kill Bill but with bigger hair and no bright yellow jumpsuit), and Yolanda Skorn (another ex-Escher turned gun for hire) whilst the Goliaths have only Krotos Hark, treated as an outsider to his house after being born intelligent. On the other hand all of these latter characters will work for any house, which leaves the Goliaths with five characters unique to them, and the Eschers with four.

Now many of you may be thinking “so what” and I don’t really disagree. The situation regarding the dramatis personae of Necromunda seems a little odd to me at the moment. For one thing there are a hell of a lot of them. We now have rules for 49 different special characters, although only models for 21. Games Workshop have noted that they intend to create models for all of them “at some point” although so far they seem more enthusiastic about coming up with even more of them. Two more special character models were announced back in March – the Cawdor Rattus Tatterskin and the Enforcer Scrutinator-Primus Servalen. Neither of these are on my list of 49 given above, and if each of the “House of…” books contains only a further three dramatis personae we could easily be looking at more than 60 special characters. I don’t think this is a bad thing, far from it, although given the price Forge World tend to charge it could be quite an expensive thing. However unless they up the rate at which they release special characters a lot the supply of new models will never catch up with the rate at which they’re coming up with new ideas. On the one hand I don’t want them to stop turning out new characters because they’ve got a lot of interesting ideas but on the other hand there are a lot of cool concepts already out there in books which I’d love to see models for. Yes, I could convert my own and I already have made models for some of them (it’s a lot of fun and a hell of a lot cheaper than paying Forge World prices) but there are some that I’d love to see given official miniatures – Jorth Slither and the Catallus twins for instance (which would also be a fine name for a band). Plus there are a lot of other things I’d like to see models for – nobles, criminals and guilders for instance.

Scrutinator-Primus Servalen

Something I’d like to see more of is dramatis personae being used to demonstrate the range of possibilities within each house. In House of Chains for instance we have Old Three-eyes (the mother of all sumcrocs), Ajex Gorgoth (one of the most powerful Goliath alphas on the planet), Attilus the Axe (a champion pit fighter), Tess Arc-Up (a particularly wild prospect) and Djangar Gunfists (the former head of the house now roaming the wastes with no memories and a knack for spectacular violence). Now there’s none of the above that I particularly dislike, that I wouldn’t try to convert a model for and wouldn’t take an interest in an official miniature were one to be released and not outwith my budget. Every one of them brings something to the house and tells us something about the planet of Necromunda and its mightiest sons.

Tess Arc-Up Goliath Wudugast ConvertOrDie (1)

I could be harsh and say that Tess (see my kitbash above) is basically just a rambunctious juve and Attilus is an angry dude with a saw for an arm but they do expand the character of the range all the same. I’ve already converted my own Tess and I’ve got plans to make Attilus and Djangar as well. However, in some ways I can’t help but feel that they could be doing more with these characters and using them to expand the idea of what it means to be a Goliath even further.

For example, so far the only female Goliaths we’ve seen have been prospects, that is to say youngsters. We’ve also seen models for male prospects. Both sexes have been smaller and lighter than the muscular giants that make up the rest of the gang. A fully grown Goliath lady would have been interesting to see, perhaps strutting her stuff in a massive suit of handmade armour much like Ajex Gorgoth.

Goliath Forge Born Prospect ConvertOrDie Wudugast (3)

Another possibility that immediately appealed to me, was the Goliaths of Gothrul’s Needle. For those who’ve not been glued to every development in Necromunda over the last couple of years Gothrul’s Needle is home to one of the most dangerous forms of sedition known to the Imperium, having fallen under the sway of something they call “democracy” and broken away from the rest of the planet. Obviously this isn’t something which Lord Helmawr, the Imperial Governor, is terribly impressed about, and considerable effort is being brought to bear to bring the renegade hive back into line, all whilst pretending to the wider Imperium that House Helmawr retains absolute control over their domains and would never be so weak as to allow one of their holdings to slip the leash. In defence of their independence the Council of Gothrul’s Needle have recruited the local Goliaths, offering them wonderful things such as advanced weapons and armour, proper medical care and even education. Here we see the Goliaths as they could be, not brutish tech-barbarians but the superhumans they have the potential to be, yet which they are never allowed to become elsewhere on the poisoned world. A Goliath hailing from the Needle, sent abroad to carry out some mission or other, would make for an amazing miniature and a chance to look at a very different side of a house normally associated with boneheaded violence and not much else.

Likewise the three new characters in House of Blades are all interesting in and of themselves, there’s none that I dislike or would want rid of. We have Betti Banshee – a woman with a sonic scream instead of a throat, Necrana – oldest and most terrible of the Death Maidens, and Cyniss, a mistress of poisons and close confidant of the Matriarch Primus herself. Again however there was the potential to really push the boat out here.

Necrana

The story of House Escher begins even before the coming of the Imperium, when three sisters – known collectively as the Blades – carved out a legacy for themselves beneath the gaze of the ancient Iron Lords who ruled the planet. When Imperial warships filled the sky and space marines poured onto the surface the Blades sought to ensure their endurance into this new age, hiding banks of clones scattered across the world. When one sister died a clone would arrive to replace her, stepping into her life and continuing her legend – until she too died and was replaced by another. This situation would remain for the next three millennia before the sisters combined their bloodlines to form a new house, swearing allegiance to the House of Helm’ayr and destroying their old clone banks forever. Except of course nobody really believes they destroyed all of them do they? Indeed a timeline entry even refers to a lost clone vault being found and activated in M38, leading inevitably to bloody mayhem. Surely a mysterious and powerful character, who steps from the shadows to aid the cause of the Eschers in their time of need then vanishes into the shadows of the Underhive from whence she came, and might – just might – be one of the lost clones, would be a fantastic special character? Especially as there would be plenty of Eschers keen to cut her up, take a look at her DNA and find out if she contains something to keep their menfolk from dying – and others who would see her as a natural replacement for the current Matriarch Primus – for good or ill.

Or, as another possibility, how about an Eschaki chem-soldier, specifically a male one? Again, for those who’re willing to indulge me as I enthuse about the new background, before they were the Escher the house was known as House Eschaki. Given to tinkering around with their own DNA, consuming chems and pushing the boundaries of science even further than the modern Escher, the Eschaki eventually screwed up and developed the so-called Flesh Curse, which lead their entire male line to be born weak, stupid and sickly – female readers may be thinking that some things never change – on those rare occasions that male children were born at all. In the end the women of the house gave up on the male line altogether and rebuilt their clan under the new name Escher (although they have made several spirited attempts to recreate a male bloodline – most notably the so-called “Project Goliath”…). Whilst they lived however the Eschaki fielded all kinds of “combat-drug fuelled murder squads, ash-dancer assassins and genehanced berserkers”. It might be sensible to assume that the Eschaki are now safely extinct but as recently as the latter part of the 40th Millennium a colony of Eschaki chem-warriors was found, only to flee into the wastes and vanish. Whenever there’s discussion of the Escher online there’s always someone who pops up and asks why they can’t have male Escher (because everyone knows you can’t have something nice for the girls without the boys muscling in and demanding to be included too). Now I’m going to stick my head above the parapet and say that I don’t want to see male Escher any more than I want weedy Goliaths, healthy Van Saar, agnostic Cawdor or Space Marines who find this whole purging business a bit tiring and would rather stay at home and read. However wouldn’t an Eschaki chem-warrior (with appropriate mystery and hand-waving over the details of his background) make for a very interesting special character and a chance to give whoever wants boy-Escher a boy-Escher without actually changing things so radically that we now all have to have boy-Escher?

Anyway, moving on before I wear the patience of my audience any thinner than I probably have already, another thing I wanted to talk about was the models that Forge World have released, or will release, in conjunction with these books. When House of Chains was released Forge World accompanied it by bringing out the Goliath ‘Zerker (a brute unique to House Goliath) and the Slavers Guild – the merchant’s guild with the closest ties to the house of musclemen.

Slavers Guild

With the arrival of House of Blades I must admit my fingers were tightly crossed that we’d see the Khimerix (the Escher’s unique brute – think of a Chaos Spawn which has somehow become fabulous) and their favoured guild allies, the Water Guild. Instead there’s been no sign, and instead we’re looking at new Escher champions (see below) – which are nice enough but nothing to write home about and could easily have been accommodated with an upgrade set or two of new heads and weapons. This is frankly slightly galling when you consider all of the aforementioned bounty hunters that we’re yet to see, plus guilder allies, criminals, hangers on, etc etc.

Escher Champion

Anyway, I suspect I’ve probably worn this topic thin so let’s move on, because there are a few other developments I’d like to give a little more attention to. For one thing we have another new gang in town in the form of the slave ogryns (or as they should be called the Free Ogryns – because these boys aren’t going to be anyone’s slaves anymore!). First revealed alongside House of Chains back at the start of the year they’ve only lumbered into our homes now, their mighty muscles proving no defence against the global havoc caused by C-19. So far I’ve only had the time to build one of them, kitbashing him slightly with a head from the Imperial Guard ogryn kit.

Ogryn Necromunda ConvertOrDie Wudugast (1)Ogryn Necromunda ConvertOrDie Wudugast (2)

Of course this is a fine chance for some size comparison photos, so here he is next to some more normally-proportioned underhive residents.

Ogryn Necromunda ConvertOrDie Wudugast (3)

Not all the Goliaths look weedy next to him however, this Stimmer for instance actually comes across as pretty imposing.

Ogryn Necromunda ConvertOrDie Wudugast (4)

And he doesn’t look quite as big as this partly painted Ambot.

Ogryn Necromunda ConvertOrDie Wudugast (5)

Interestingly there are six ogryns in a set, and all six houses can take an ogryn as part of their gang. Part of me is already tempted to pick up another kit (not a cheap investment mind you) and make a themed ogryn for each of my gangs. The Escher one would be especially interesting, resplendent in brightly coloured armour and leopard-skin pants, but picture the possibilities – the masked and scrap-armoured Cawdor version like a shambling candelabra, the high-tech Van Saar version, the terribly un-stealthy Delaque version (with bionic eyes of course!). Of course then I’d need to cook up a Corpse-Grinder and Genestealer Cult version. At least I already have a Chaos Helots version already made…

Anyway, there’s one final thing to discuss before I realise that I’ve entirely outstayed my welcome and that’s the new Orlocks. Frankly I don’t have a lot to say about them apart from how downright amazing they are! Take a look at these very good dogs for instance (but keep in mind that if they bring you your slippers they might still have someone else’s foot inside)…

Bad Dog

And I’m also very fond of the chap with the servo-arms and the big hammer, and seeing female miniatures for the House of Iron is long overdue.

Hammer TimeOrlock Ladies

I reckon this gentleman, the only Orlock I’ve painted so far, won’t be on his own for long!

Orlock Wudugast ConvertOrDie Necromunda (1)Orlock Wudugast ConvertOrDie Necromunda (2)Orlock Wudugast ConvertOrDie Necromunda (3)

I often find myself thinking about writing Necromunda themed editorials so I’ll probably make this into an occasional series (hence the “part 1” in the title). In the meantime I’m off to think about all the new Eschers I want to build. If you have any thoughts you can confidently say you’re not an Ogryn, and if you want to share them the comment’s box is all yours.


Indomitus

It’s hard to believe it’s been three years since we saw the launch of Dark Imperium, the rebirth of a loyalist Primarch and the arrival of a whole new kind of space marine. The adorable little space marines of yore with their squashed torsos and undersized power armour were swept aside by newcomers which actually looked the way GW has been claiming they looked for decades, whilst Abaddon reached out his claw, tore the belly of the galaxy open and let the armies of Nurgle spill into real-space. Now the passage of the years brings us the inevitable arrival of another new edition of 40k (the 9th for those keeping score) and with it a launch box packed to the gunnels with power armour and living metal. The Necrons are on the march and in response the Emperor’s Finest have been thoroughly reinforced.

It goes without saying that the wise and the foolish alike have been bumping their collective gums about this for weeks now, so do we really need another rambling appraisal of the Indomitus launch box written by someone who hasn’t even seen the damn thing in the flesh yet? Of course you do – this one is written by me!

As usual with these things it’s a box of two halves, one half – as expected – the power-armoured majesty of the Space Marines, the other half the implacable alien legions of the Necrons. A new edition of 40k may have the rules fans in a lather but for me this is where the interest lies, the new miniatures. Let’s start by taking a look at the space marines.

Space Marine

When the Primaris range first arrived I was fulsome in my praise. Despite the odd minor flaw and some new background fiction that still hasn’t quite bedded in, the Primaris marines were for me, and a great number of others, an unparalleled success. It took me a while to realise therefore that I really wasn’t actually in love with Primaris marines, only with Intercessors, their cousins the Hellblasters and one or two others. Beyond that the range has struggled to make much of an impression on me. The slimmed down Phobos armour pattern does nothing for me, nor am I in any way keen on the “not terminators” in their odd looking Gravis armour. Oh and the less said about the Suppressors the better!

Should have been supressed

A concept which surely should have been suppressed.

Likewise I’ve not been particularly blown away by the various vehicles, the flying tanks (why?) and the oddly leggy dreadnaughts. The only one that has somewhat interested me has been the Invictor Tactical Warsuit, although even then the concept doesn’t really fit in with my mental image of the space marines. I think I would have liked it better had it been modified into some kind of “super-sentinel” for the Imperial Guard. Someday, if I’m feeling flush, I may get one and kitbash it into some kind of industrial rig for Necromunda (think the powered loader that Ripley makes use of in the film Aliens – only much bigger.

Invictor Tactical Warsuit

These latest space marines however are a lot more like it. Ultimately space marines, as befits their enormous popularity, mean different things to different people. Some enjoy the sleek, high-tech look of the Phobos crowd, but personally I’ve always found it too reminiscent of a better future than 40k represents. I prefer the gothic knights and warrior monks that tap deeply into the neo-medieval aesthetic of the setting – and the ones in Indomitus have that in spades.

Take the captain who heads up the space marine forces in the box for instance. I’ve been imagining space marines that look like this for years and at last here one is. It’s unfortunate, of course, that he has to turn his entire shield upside down every time he wants to time an egg but apart from that he’s pretty awesome.

Captain

Likewise the Bladeguard Veterans. The enormous holsters make them a little busy but that’s a small thing (unlike the holsters themselves!) – overall these may be amongst my all time favourite space marines, at least amongst the ranks of the loyalist scum.

Bladeguard

Whilst some of the marines in the set capture this gothic knightly aesthetic others are rather more straightforward and austere. Generally these are models which will be familiar from years past, recreated in the larger and more imposing style of the Primaris range from the tiny and faintly adorable look of yore. Space marine bikers example have grown from these squashed proportions…

SM Old Bike

… into these brutish outriders. Personally I struggled to like the space marine bikers of yore but these I could get excited about painting!

Bikers

Similarly we have the new assault marines (or Assault Intercessors as they are called in their Primaris incarnation). A quick look at some of my favourite Games Workshop ranges (Khorne, Orks, Goliaths…) should be enough to tell you that charging headlong into close combat is very much the kind of thing I approve of (or as Khârn the Betrayer so wisely said “attack is the only order worth remembering”).

PAM

Back when the primaris were first released I tried my hand at making primaris assault marines of my own, and although I remain happy enough with the results the project never really got off the ground. Still, now might be a good time to resurrect them. As far as I’m aware the rules still don’t allow primaris assault marines with jump packs (although I’m sure that’ll change sooner or later) but rules are for wimps anyway!

Whilst we’re talking about the “primarisising” of the old space marine range it’s worth noting that this makes some people online very angry indeed. That said pretty much anything, no matter how innocuous, is liable to get someone on the internet frothing with rage. Next someone will say that women are people too and the internet really will be “triggered”. Quite why they get so cross is hard to explain, at least in part because they become so incensed that they struggle to articulate the issue themselves. If you happen to have a strong opinion on this matter you’re welcome to share it via the comments box below, even if all you can manage is to bellow with rage and headbutt the keyboard you’ll still make more sense than a lot of the online angry brigade. Plus, as a servant of Khorne myself, I can reassure you that your blood too is welcome.

My own attempts to understand where they’re coming from have been hampered, partly by the anger they’ve been known to direct at me personally (apparently doing what I want with the miniatures I bought with my money is somehow doing the hobby wrong) and partly because I just don’t give a shit. I really would like to address this issue without being catty or making straw men of the pro-short marine crew but despite rolling up my sleeves and daring the dangerous straits of social media to investigate, I’m not really any clearer. Is it just the ropey background when they were first introduced? Do the new primaris somehow invalidate the old marines (surely an issue when any model is replaced – my metal Jain Zar doesn’t really match up to her athletic plastic replacement for example, and I know that’s held me back on painting her)? Is it something obscure to do with the rules (are they broken, overpowered, underpowered, too good on the tournament circuit?)? Frankly I’m buggered if I know – all I can say is that some people get very upset about it. I like them though (the big marines, not people – those I can take or leave). If you can explain to me in simple terms why this makes me a horrible human being then please do, I really would like to understand.

I’m increasingly tempted to make my own space marine chapter into Blood Angel successors, amongst whom lots of assault marines are a natural fit. This got me thinking that, with more and more of the old space marine range converted into primaris variants (and let’s be honest, the days of the little marines are numbered now), there’s a good chance that this edition will see the specialist units of the major chapters also being upgraded. The Psychic Awakening already brought us primaris death company, although an expansion on that – with some cool new miniatures – would be very welcome. In the meantime these would be an excellent base from which to convert one’s own. Primaris sanguinary guard would be equally awesome.

Returning to the contents of the box, the chaplain is an interesting addition to the roster. We already have one Primaris chaplain and so I’d not entirely expected another so soon – although to be fair Games Workshop don’t normally let that kind of thing inhibit them, just look at the number of Primaris Lieutenants that are kicking around these days.

Chaplain

Sure enough another chaplain has come roaring in to join the ranks, looking unbelievably stylish on his motorbike and ready and able to smite heretics and/or promote reading anywhere on the battlefield at a moment’s notice.

Chaplain Biker

Just a man coming back from the shops with his overpriced limited-edition Black Library novel… Not in the Indomitus box by the way.

The old chaplain is, for my money, one of the best models in the primaris range, and stands tall in my mental road map of things I intend to paint. Admittedly he is a little odd in comparison to the wider space marine range, but that only serves to emphasise his otherness as an outsider amongst the ranks, feared – in as much as a space marine can fear – by his battle brothers as a walking icon of their fury. The new one is more traditional, both as a marine and as a chaplain, and whilst being an excellent model in its own right doesn’t quite match the sheer original brilliance of the first one. His partly mechanical face is brilliant, although I might be inclined to use it on a different model and give him a traditional chaplain’s skull helm instead.

Alongside the chaplain we have the Judiciar, which seems to be a new rank amongst the space marines. I must admit I’m still very much on the fence about this guy. Part of me really likes him, there’s no denying he’s a stylish and technically well executed model, but on the other hand there’s something just a bit weird about him. The skull helm combined with the mask looks a bit odd to my eye (although it’s nice to see at least one of these space marines is taking Covid-19 seriously). As a visual it’s a little bit too close to the genestealer cultists, whilst his curved, stylised armour is closer to that worn by the stormcast eternals than to that of his battle brothers. Like his captain he too is enthusiastic about egg-timers – the one he carries being known as the tempormortis – and apparently representing a new item of wargear that can influence time itself (handy for getting those eggs just right).

Judicar

Cool though he is he’s an odd fit amongst the other marines, and based on what I’ve seen of him would have worked better had the design been tweaked a little to turn him into an inquisitor instead, which would have fitted both his unusual armour and fancy archeotech weaponry. Whilst we’re on the subject of marines that just don’t quite look right the Eradicators are the only unit on this side of the box which just don’t appeal to me at all, looking oddly hunched in their gravis armour and appearing to have the squashed down torsos that the old range of space marines were so often criticised for.

Erradicators

There was a time there when it really started to feel as though the space marine range had run out of road in which to manoeuvre. The range was pretty much complete, with plastic kits available for almost every conceivable unit. The Imperium being infamously stagnant and distrustful of new ideas was hardly going to invent new types of space marine – especially when only the Emperor Himself possessed the power, insight and authority to do that and He was stuck on the Golden Throne. On the other hand Games Workshop had no wish to slaughter the goose that laid the golden eggs and so they found themselves between a rock and a hard place – public demand for new space marines was as high as ever (and those shareholders wanted the sales to keep rolling in) but to the fans the background has always been sacrosanct – and that background left them with no room in which to cook up any new marines. Clearly something had to be done – and it was this I’m certain that drove the return of Roboute Guilliman and saw the rebirth of the space marine range more than any other factor. Now they can sell us space marines all over again, and what’s more they have the room to invent new kinds of marine to their hearts’ content.

Now I’ll hold up my hand and admit that so far I’ve not always been terribly keen on the new varieties of marine, as I’ve already discussed above I’ve got little love for Phobos or Gravis armour and flying tanks do nothing for me at all. However the potential is still rather exciting – and makes me wonder what they might decide to do with the space marine concept in years to come. After all if there’s one thing we can be absolutely certain of it’s that space marines aren’t going anywhere (although the short ones probably are).

There’s an argument to be made that the sneaky, lightly armoured scouts of yore have been expanded into the likewise sneaky and lightly armoured Vanguard space marines – the Incursors, Infiltrators, Reivers and Eliminators. Meanwhile the old Tactical Squad has an analogue in the new Intercessors, and the heavy-weapon wielding Devastators have begun to be expanded into the Hellblasters and their new colleagues the Eradicators. Throw the forthcoming Primaris Techmarine into the mix (and as you can probably guess that made my day and no mistake!) and more and more of the old range has found its new niche.  Of course with Guilliman and Cawl at the helm the range is no longer painted into a corner so that, when all the old models do have a new analogue there will still be almost infinite possibilities left for the designers to explore. In this regard the design team has been sensible in introducing really unusual designs like the Inceptors right from the start – and I say that as someone who doesn’t like the look of the Inceptors at all. Last time the Space Marine range started to look “complete” they rustled up the Centurions and the fanbase reacted in horror at the way in which new designs had been introduced (clearly violating the lore and causing the sky to fall on our collective heads). Had the Primaris range simply been an upscaling of the old marines there would inevitably have come a time when the exact same problem would have occurred. The limits of the existing concepts would have been reached, new ideas would be required and we would be back to having either no new space marine models (cue wailing and gnashing of teeth) or – equally bad – models for new kinds of space marines (cue equal levels of wailing and, for that matter, gnashing of teeth). In the meantime the release of the Primaris range would have risked feeling rather formulaic, as each new wave sought only to tick boxes and fill gaps.

Not a Terminator

An Aggressor – pictured busy wishing he was cool enough to be a Terminator…

As it stands the biggest thing missing in the Primaris range today is a lack of new Terminators. I wonder how much Terminators mean to new players who’ve only begun to delve into the 41st Millennium since the release of 8th Edition and the Dark Imperium. Do they carry the emotional weight which they do for us older hands? I doubt it – and why would they? So far the roll of “heavily armoured marines” has been given to the Aggressors, and if I’m honest there’s nothing wrong with them at all. It’s taken me a good chunk of the last three years but I’m slowly growing to like and appreciate them for what they are, rather than just cast vitriol upon them for failing to be Terminators. It’s unfair on them, and it’s unfair on me – especially as these are the kind of models I would have loved if it wasn’t for the fact that I hated them for not being something they aren’t.

Terminator

A Terminator… looking old, bless him.

Still Terminators have a special place in the childhoods of many of us, the ultimate space marines, stamping through the dark depths of a space hulk in search of lurking xenos horrors. Indeed it’s past time for Games Workshop to stop being stubborn and bring back the Space Hulk game – alongside new, bigger and better Terminators (not Aggressors!) and some revamped Genestealers to boot. Come of GW, you know as well as I do that it would be a hit – what’s stopping you?

Space Hulk

Anyway, speaking of the foul xenos it’s time to turn our collective attention away from the Space Marines and take a look at the Necrons half of the box instead. I’ve had a bit of a soft spot for the Necrons for a long time now, roughly as long as I’ve been a hobbyist in fact. Indeed my first proper encounter with 40k came when a friend of mine tried, unsuccessfully, to sell me his Necron army. Despite not breaking out the cash in the end I’ve had one eye on the mechanical xenos ever since, although until now I’ve only ever painted one. Shall we take another look at him? Of course we shall!

Nice for a little nostalgia hit though he is, the new range is an order of magnitude better in pretty much every way. What’s more it’s fast becoming apparent that the Necrons in this box represent the speartip of a wave of new models for the army, something they wholly deserve.

Necron Warriors

For starters the box contains plenty of necron warriors, the shambling mechanical skeletons which make up the majority of the race. These outshine their processors which looked every one of the several million years they’d supposedly spent hibernating. These are much more like it, diverse and packed with personality whilst still looking like very much the overwhelming horde.

Necron Warriors 3

Just as the Eldar are Space Elves and the Orks are… well, Space Orcs (remember when that was what they were called?), so the Necrons have always been essentially Space Undead. Ranks of Space Skeletons march beneath the steely gaze of Space-Lichs and the influence of the Tomb Kings has always been strong. Some readers will know I’m a big fan of the undead so this is by no means a criticism, indeed my favourite piece of art showing this Necrons has been this one which really emphasises them as shambling, corpse-like creatures rather than sleek sci-fi machines. For a long time I dreamed of Necron Warriors which captured this ghastly, cadaverous aesthetic and at last here we have them.

Necron Warrior

Often however this has come at the expense of them seeming particularly alien. They may have evolved millions of years ago on a planet far from – and ecologically different too – Earth but they still like to hang out in pyramids and chose humanoid skeletons as the wardrobe in which to spend eternity. Now although I enjoy sci-fi in which the aliens are realistically alien, I also very much enjoy the Star Trek style universes where all the aliens are just humans with lumpy faces (I’ve been discovering Next Generation during lockdown – and very glad I am that I have too!). Nonetheless it’s hard to see the Necrons as supremely and utterly alien when they go around looking exactly like you or me if we forgot to put on our meat and skin before we left the house in the morning. Surely having transcended one’s biological limitations and achieved immortality and god-like technological prowess one would choose to become something a bit more imposing than an articulated skeleton? That’s fine for your ranks of slaves but for the masters of the empire let’s think big here!

With this release we see the more alien elements that have been entering the Necron range in recent times taken up a further notch. Whilst characters like the Overlord and Royal Warden are still very much humanoid…

Royal Warden

… the wizardly Plasmancer takes off in a new direction, with a model that recalls both the ghostly side of the undead – taking many cues from the Nighthaunt – and the spidery, insectile side of the Necrons that has previously been seen more in their technology – for example the Canoptek Wraiths and Spiders. He also has the finest metal beard since the Kharadron Overlords.

Plasmancer

His bodyguards, the Cryptothralls, are similarly unlike anything we’ve seen from the range previously, and oddly adorable to boot.

Cryptothralls

The strangeness doesn’t stop there either. The Necrons are the ultimate high-tech race of the 41st Millennium – the Adeptus Mechanicus, humanity’s finest minds on this front, would gladly turn their granny into a servitor for a fraction of the knowledge they hold (if they hadn’t already that is – and what finer way for the old girl to continue to serve the will of the Omnissiah). It’s only fitting then that we see some of their machines as well, the diminutive plasmacyte (with his even smaller scarab pal)…

Plasma Guy

… and the mighty Canoptek Reanimator.

Canoptek Reanimator

Again these push into territory quite unlike anything we’ve seen in the 41st Millennium previous, yet the results play on elements that are already familiar from the Necron range (the bladed limbs, the back carapace reminiscent of the destroyers, the flat faces with large lamp “eyes” and other insectile facets).

Taken together these expand the Necrons into something which feels really unique, pushing them out of the tech-undead niche in which they’d sat previously. On the other hand this isn’t a reboot or a re-invention, the mechanical baby hasn’t been thrown out with the million-year-old bathwater. These, and the other new Necron models that are soon to be released, sit very comfortably alongside the existing range and I’d imagine Necron fans are feeling very happy about things indeed.

The one thing I don’t particularly like on this side of the box is the Skorpekh Lord. He’s rather busy, with all the various weapons he’s waving around, and as a result the model seems unfocussed and cluttered, whilst his pose isn’t particularly threatening. Both his gun (an enmitic annihilator for those who like unpronounceable names) and his blade (a hyperphase harvester) are held up to the side rather than ready to attack, whilst the talon is held out – presumably to threaten his adversaries and not simply to pat a large invisible dog. He reminds me somewhat of the early conversions people create (I know I was guilty of this when I started out) that awkwardly clutch every possible piece of wargear on their profile and end up looking less like they’re heading into battle and more like they’ve gone to the gun supermarket, and are regretting not taking a trolly.

There are good things about the model mind you – not least of which is the sense of weight it’s been given as its claws sink into the ground, and even straight through a slab of rockcrete. Hope it manages to pull that claw back out and doesn’t end up clumping around with it stuck to its foot for the rest of the day…

Skorpekh Lord

As previously mentioned this isn’t everything that’s coming for the Necrons, not by a long way. All kinds of weird and wonderful things have been announced by Games Workshop, including mighty new warmachines, he truly outstanding Shard of the Void Dragon, and the Silent King of the Necron empire himself. As a precursor to this release we saw the arrival a few weeks ago of Illuminor Szeras, the megalomaniacal genius who oversaw the process by which the ancient race of the Necrontyr became the mechanical Necrons we know today. In many ways this model represents a very clever coded meta-narrative in which the large figure of Szeras represents Games Workshop, the broken man frantically crawling away is me trying desperately to resist starting a Necron army, the tiny scarab is the part of me that remembers how many other half-finished projects are already waiting for my attention and the stream of blood is the money being skilfully extracted from my wallet.

Illuminor Szeras

So, will I be buying a copy of the Indomitus box? Well, by the time you read this I guess I’ll know. Unlike previous editions of 40k, WHFB and AoS (and indeed the “specialist games” like Necromunda and Blood Bowl) this isn’t a starter set per se, which will remain in circulation throughout the lifespan of the edition thus giving people plenty of time to decide whether or not they want to buy a copy. Instead this is a limited run “launch set” which means it’s very likely to sell out within hours, perhaps even minutes, of being released. Quite how many of these miniatures will become available again is something Games Workshop is keeping very close to its chest. Likewise the price remains (at the time of writing – less than a week before launch) a closely guarded secret, making it hard for people to budget accordingly. Will I still be willing to pay the price when I know what it is? I’m going to have to make my mind up pretty quickly!

Games Workshop have been keen to assure everyone that they’ve made plenty of boxes, whilst at the same time urging us to mark our calendars so that we’re standing ready to hit “buy” the moment it goes on sale. They’ve also limited the number of copies available in any individual sale to 3, which is a good move when it comes to battling the scalpers, whilst still allowing those who wish to grab themselves a bigger army at a bargain price. Originally they planned to limited sales to 6 copies, which didn’t go nearly far enough I felt – and clearly GW felt likewise. Who the hell needs 6 copies, especially when they’re probably going to end up squirrelled away under the bed anyway... I do understand that some people buy multiple copies of these thing and, if you can afford the initial outlay, it can be a good way to save some cash in the long term by getting all the models at a knock-down price. Six copies though – surely that’s just greed, especially when it’s widely believed (and seems highly likely) that if you’re not quick off the mark then you’re going to miss out? Of course now a number of hobbyists that I respect will pop up in the comments section to say “I’ve bought myself 10!” and I’ll have to eat some humble pie…

I tend to write these posts over a number of days in the run-up to a release so although by the time you read this I will, or won’t, have bought my copy (sitting card in hand as the clock ticks down to 10am UK time and thinking how handy it would be to have a tempormortis to hand when the inevitable rush to buy-buy-buy begins…) at the moment I remain undecided. Certainly the set looks good, and – assuming the price is as its likely to be – a bargain for the models it contains. I’ve been feeling the temptation to get back to my space marines lately and if I was to dip a toe into the world of the Necrons – something I’ve been thinking about for at least fifteen years – then what better way to do it.

(Edit: it probably goes without saying given how fast it sold out but I didn’t manage to nab one. I’ll leave discussion of how badly GW seems to have screwed this up for another time, or at least until the outrage currently running through the sense has settled down a little and we find out what, if anything, GW might decided to do about what currently looks like something of a public relations own-goal. For myself I was pissed off for about ten minutes and then I remembered all the other things I could be painting and got over it).

Of course I still have that pile of unfinished projects lurking on, under and around the painting desk waiting for attention, and then there’s this snippet from the new rulebook which has been doing the rounds online and getting Chaos fans very excited indeed…

Red Angel

Say it with me slaughterbrothers! The Red Angel comes! Kill! Maim! Burn! Kill! Maim! Burn! Kill! Maim! Burn!


A Right Pile Of Potential

Earlier today I was looking through some of the blogs that I follow, sipping at my coffee and looking blearily out at the world around me much in the manner of a hibernating mammal forced out of its den. Some people start the day with the news but I like to have at least a pint of the black stuff (coffee for those times when Guinness isn’t socially appropriate) before I dare to expose myself to that much rage and misery, so I turn my attention instead to what, if anything, my fellow hobbyists have managed to produce overnight. In this case it was this post from Scent of a Gamer which caught my attention and got me thinking about something which I’ve considered writing about for some time – “The Pile of Shame vs the Pile of Potential”. I started to write a comment in reply and it grew and grew into something so sprawling and lengthy that I decided to post it here instead.

Firstly allow me to recommend, if you haven’t already, that you take a look at that post on Scent of a Gamer and indeed the blog in general – it’s well worth reading at the best of times and this post is very much a reply to it. We’re talking, to quote davekay himself, about “something every wargamer has: the pile of shame. Those unpainted miniatures bought on impulse or with intent years ago, but never touched”.

Unpainted Miniatures

He also links to a video by Goobertown hobbies which isn’t a channel I’ve watched before, in which the presenter digs through a (vast) collection of unpainted miniatures looking for something which takes his fancy to paint – a process which I’m sure will be familiar to many of us. I’ll confess that I didn’t watch all of the video, there’s only so long you can look at a man showing off how many miniatures he’s bought over the years whilst listening to elevator muzak, but I enjoyed what I saw and I’ll take a nose at the rest of his channel when time allows.

I’ll admit too that I had a moment of being “triggered” (as da yoof would have it) into a brief rage when he produced a copy of the Looncurse box out of his stash – a box I myself craved as the start of my long-planned Sylvaneth army, with a whole heap of lovely Night Goblins thrown in for good measure. Looncurse famously sold out in next to no time and I missed out, so it was damn annoying to see someone else proudly admitting to having snagged a copy and not even touched it. On the other hand, I realised with a growing sense of discomfort, I picked up various other kits at around the same time which I’ve yet to do anything with so could I honestly say I wouldn’t have neglected my own copy in just the same way?

Looncurse

This isn’t the first time I’ve had the pile of shame on my mind lately. In fact, a recent inventory of my unpainted collecting revealed a worrying fact – there’s a hell of a lot of it. Years of bargain hunting and snapping up good deals have taken their toll and the “to paint” pile has grown into a mountain large enough to influence the local climate. By my rough count, assuming that I keep painting at my current rate (something I wouldn’t bet on by any means) it’d still take me several years to clear the backlog. Add to that the forthcoming releases for Necromunda and Warcry, the new Space Marines (which would go very nicely with my existing collection), the new Necrons (and you know I’ve always thought a Necron army would be cool…), the mate who’s slowly but surely convincing me to try out Bolt Action, and whatever else emerges over the coming months and years and it starts to feel as though the lead mountain and the grey tide are very much here to stay.

Necron

Resistance is futile!

I don’t like the term “pile of shame” very much. Shame is a terrible emotion, and rarely one that inspires us to action. Excitement and enthusiasm is what gets us to pick up the brushes, whilst shame and embarrassment put us off, killing the joy that our hobbies are intended to engender and starving us off the passion that would otherwise help to overcome the unpainted masses.

At the end of the day miniatures are there to be enjoyed. A particularly good game can stay in the memory for years, even decades. There are plenty of ways of making that happen of course, and for me some of the most memorable contained no painted miniatures at all (indeed in a few cases no models were involved, just blank bases with post-it note labels to tell us what was what and a whole load of imagination). However it’s a fairly safe generalisation to make that well painted miniatures on thematic terrain will stick with us longer than unpainted models on a bare kitchen table. Add to that the fact that “check out this model I painted” is a far more engaging conversation starter than “check out this stuff I just bought and will now shove under the bed and never touch or look at again for as long as I live” and we find ourselves drawn to an inevitable conclusion; our hobby ought to have as its crux the collecting and painting of miniatures. A large number of us however would be hard-pressed to deny that our hobby is collecting unpainted models, with assembling, painting and gaming a sideline at best.

Ogre

Why won’t you paint me? I’m so beautiful…

On the other hand I really don’t like the term “pile of potential” either. The implication is very much that ending up with lots and lots of unpainted models is something to be celebrated, that buying things and then never painting them is inherently a good thing to do. This is quite a comforting idea, after all I have lots of unpainted models already, and there are new things that I’d like to own, and I’d far rather be telling myself that adding to this great mountain of plastic and lead and sitting on it like Smaug is something to be proud of. However I can’t shake the feeling that actually it’s just profligate, that all I’m doing is showing off how much money I would have had in the bank if I hadn’t squandered it instead on miniatures that I’m not painting.

I know that I’m not just speaking for myself here, I’m also undoubtedly addressing something that a lot of my readers will be very familiar with from their own collections, and I’m not trying to make anyone feel bad. After all we’re not really doing much harm, we’re not selling drugs, stabbing grannies or mismanaging the national response to a pandemic, we’re just hoarding bits of plastic. On the other hand I’ve never looked at a miniature and thought “I’d love to store that somewhere and be vaguely embarrassed that it’s cluttering up my house”. Quite the opposite in fact, I want to paint them, perhaps even play with them.

So how to go about it? Well there are a few tricks that have helped me over the years. Firstly, although I’m an occasional gamer at best, planning a game in advance is a great motivator to get something finished. I’ve boosted Necromunda gangs, Warcry warbands and the contents of Blackstone Fortress over the finish line using exactly this method.

Then there’s the old “model a month” trick. Some readers will already be familiar with this, as I’ve described it often enough in the past, but for anyone who’s not encountered it the premise is simple; paint at least one miniature for a project every month (for a year, or until it’s done – it’s up to you really). Now one model isn’t very much, especially when you’re dealing with a horde army like the Skaven (as I was). However Newton’s First Law of Motion can be applied here; Objects in motion tend to remain in motion, objects at rest remain at rest. If you’re painting one clanrat it’s easy enough to paint a second or perhaps even a third, and then your enthusiasm for Skaven is rekindled, you remember what it was about the project that made you want to paint hundreds of the little bastards in the first place, you get some more work done on the warp-lightning cannon whilst you’re waiting for the shade to dry and the whole project keeps shambling forward. Leave them sitting, allow them to gather dust, push them to the side of the desk and finally pack them away and months, then years will go past without so much as a kiss of a brush upon a ratty whisker. By applying this method I went from this (at the beginning of January 2017)…

… to this (at the end of December 2019).

Another trick I’ve been applying recently is simply to keep track of exactly what I’ve added to the collection. I keep a note of what I’ve bought each month and I check it before I buy anything else. For one thing this is just sensible fiscal prudence, but more than that it helps to remind me of all the things I was really excited about before I saw the thing I’m currently really excited about. More than that I also keep a note of all the models I’ve painted this month as well, and I aim (although of course I don’t always succeed) to make the latter number bigger than the former. It’s early days yet, I’ve only been doing this for a few months, but so far it’s helped me a great deal in keeping on top of the “pile of unrealised projects” and even helped me chip away at it a little, so I may come back to it and talk about it more in the future if it proves to be useful in the long term.

Finally, the most valuable tip I ever received was “paint what you’re passionate about”. If you’re excited about painting something then get on and paint it. If you want to paint something you’ll find the time to paint it, and if you don’t want to paint it you’ll find an excuse. Enthusiasm for a project will do far more to get you painting than all the tips, tricks and tutorials in the world and when that enthusiasm inevitably drains away to be replaced by something else you’ll have done a lot more than if you didn’t act on it.

Do you have a pile of shameful potential, and if so how do you tackle it? As usual if you have words of wisdom to share I want to hear all about them and the comments box is open to all comers.