Category Archives: Editorial

Kragnos

I’ve always had a bit of a soft spot for the forces of Destruction in Age of Sigmar. Hulking barbarians in crude armour and the diminutive rascals that scurry alongside them, seeking only to tear civilisation apart and stamp up and down on the ruins for the sheer fun of it, you may not want to see them charging towards your village but it’s hard not to love their devil-may-care, joyous approach to life. If you want to bring nations to their knees and enjoy yourself whilst you do it then Destruction are the lads for you. Formed primarily of orcs, goblins, ogres, trolls and giants these are the villains of many a fantasy novel – yet mostly these are the thugs and goons who provide a bit of muscle, whilst the evil masterminding is done by someone else. Thus whilst Chaos and Death (and even Order to an extent) can come across as distinctly evil at times Destruction just seem to be having a good time – even if it’s at the expense of your army, settlement or nation.

Over the past few years, since WHFB gave way to the Age of Sigmar, the various factions that the new setting inherited from the old have evolved, often in innovative and surprising ways. Death has armies of ghosts and elite bone golems, Order has fish-elves, tree-elves, snake-elves (they do love their elves!) and flying dwarves. Destruction has much the same bunch of meatheads that went around kicking over fortresses back in the days of Karl Franz. Whilst other races have grown into the new setting Destruction has stayed stuck in the past – albeit with some very impressive new models. An Orruk Brute is just an Orc Big ‘un with a new name, the giants have grown a little taller and… that’s about it.

For some time now I’ve felt that Destruction was being left behind and although I’ve had no complaints about the models they’ve received I’ve harboured a suspicion that this couldn’t last and that sooner or later something new would come their way. Back in October of 2019 I ever tried to predict what it would look like, and claimed rather erroneously that new even-bigger giants was hardly something that was likely to occur…and then a year later that’s exactly what they did.

What I wouldn’t have guessed at though was anything like Kragnos, the truly massive, living demi-god of destruction who was showcased for the first time at the 2021 Online WarhammerFest this week.   

Kragnos

There’s no two ways about it, he’s a pretty damn awesome model in my view, a towering champion of testosterone who more than deserves the respect he’s gained both from the orcs, goblins and ogres that serve in his armies and from the painters already gathering their brushes in preparation for his release. He’s an unashamedly macho figure who speaks to the barbarian in all of us, the part of every man who’d love to wield a hammer made from the heart of the land itself and fight dragons because nothing else presents a challenge.

Kragnos 5

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

Kragnos 6

Sadly for him, despite having risen to godhood by roughing up absolutely everyone he could get his hands, Kragnos has spent the last few ages ensnared and now he’s loose once more he discovers that his people are gone. “Gone” however is not exactly the same as extinct. Perhaps the people who Kragnos once led have been swept into the grave by the march of time, or perhaps he’s just been too busy hitting things to take the time to look for them – and perhaps the return of their ancient king might just be enough to lure them out of hiding. After all, entire peoples are rarely eradicated entirely, at least in fantasy stories. Their settlements may be ruined and their tribes scattered but there are always a few embittered survivors hiding in the wilderness, growing strong and praying to their lost god to bring them vengeance. Because cool though Kragnos is, he’s no orc. He may look the business right now leading an army of orcs or ogres or whatever it takes for people to get him onto their tabletops, but in a year or two’s time, when we’ve overcome our excitement at seeing him and familiarity has bred, if not contempt then at least a dulling of the hype, then Kragnos is going to seem a little odd rocking round at the head of a mix of greenskins.

Kragnos 2

Right now there’s not much in terms of visual cues to tie him into the wider Destruction range. He has very little in common with the ogres beyond being primeval and muscular, even less to connect him to the green-skinned orcs and next to nothing with the diminutive goblins. As a shaggy, brown centaur he has more in common with the beasts of Chaos range, particularly the dragon ogres, and anyone looking for a model to convert into Kholek Suneater for a WHFB army could do a lot worse than using him as a starting point. Likewise his technological trappings speak of a greater degree of sophistication than that shown by his peers who tend to start and stop with how effective something is at hitting people with and leave decoration, beyond a few spiky glyphs of course, to wusses. Kragnos on the other hand has dressed to impress, by barbarian standards, with torcs, earspools and a rather meta shield depicting Kragnos himself, holding his shield. 

Kragnos Sheild

I’ve long argued that human barbarians need not always be worshippers of Chaos. Some tribes could fit in nicely to the Order alliance, worshipping Sigmar as a god of war and thunder. It’s taken me until now however to realise that Destruction also has space for a few human(ish) tribes of their own. In my mind’s eye I’m envisioning something akin to the Sessairs from Confrontation, wildmen, warriors and centaurs who turned to the wilderness, abandoning their settlements with the coming of Chaos. 

Warstaff Kelts

I’m not saying that Kragnos will be given a race to lead by GW’s sculptors, and I’m certainly not saying that they’ll look anything like this. What I am saying is that Kragnos deserves some followers of his own, and that Destruction is overdue for the kind of treatment that Order, Chaos and Death have enjoyed. With Kragnos they’ve taken a bold step out of the Old World’s shadow, now let’s see where they go next. After all, GW have given us a broad hint that the little icon on Kragnos’ base is an allusion to things to come. Someone out there amongst the mountains and forests is excited about Kragnos’ arrival and it’s not just me!

Kragnos 4

Now despite all this I don’t think I’ll be painting Kragnos myself, he’s a bit big for my current painting plans (I have a whole lot of other monstrous figures I’d like to tackle first) but I’m itching to see what followers he may or may not have, and what direction GW decide to take this side of their range. In the meantime I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed for more barbarian wrath on the way!


Necropolis Nobles on Kickstarter

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

… and this raggedy man.

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

Begger Court

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


The Lost City of Ulfenkarn

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

Cursed City Skeletons

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

FB Comment 1FB Comment 2FB Comment 3

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

Twitter Comment

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

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

Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

I Hear You're Racist Now

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

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

Zombies

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

Witch Hunter

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

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


Scum’s Thoughts – Part 5

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

Necromunda Books

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

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

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

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

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

Jorth Slither

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

Jorth Slither

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

The Shadows of Catallus

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

Catallus 2Catallus 1

Toll Collectors

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

Slavers Guild

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

Water Guild

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

Guild of Coin

Grapple Hawk

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

Grapple Hawk

Cephalopod Spekter

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

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

Spektor

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


Two (Mad) March Challenges

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

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

Neglected Model Challenge Wudugast ConvertOrDie

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

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

T-Shirt (1)

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

20210327_122823

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

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

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


Scum’s Thoughts – Part 4

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

Klovis the Redeemer Purge

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

Redemptionist 1

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

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

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

Redemptionist 4

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

Redemptionist 3

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

Redemptionist 6

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

Redemptionists 3

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

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

Redemptionist 2

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

Escher Death-maidens and Wyld Runners

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

Redemptionist Group

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

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

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

Redemptionist Preview 1

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

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

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

Cawdor Necromunda Wudugast ConvertOrDie (3)

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

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

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

New Orc

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

Zombies

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

Blood Dragon

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


Fembruary 2021 Round-Up

Whew – I don’t think I’ve painted so many different things in such a short space of time in my life! There have been times when I’ve painted a lot more models (69 miniatures in October 2018 being the highest monthly output since I started keeping a record although that was mostly a case of batch-painting Night Goblins so perhaps not quite as impressive as it first appears). This month I “only” managed 21 models, but they covered as wide a range of subjects as I could find – united by a single common theme, all of them were women. Yes we’re talking once again about the Fembruary challenge run by Alex of LeadBalloony.

Fembruary Round Up Wudugast ConvertOrDie

For those unfamiliar with the challenge Fembruary is “a time of year for us to collectively challenge the male domination of our collections, and commit to painting some female miniatures”. The description adds “it’s a simple affair, just paint & post one or more female miniatures from your piles-of-shame, in the name of fair representation within the hobby” and notes “given that this is intended as an encouragement to think about inclusion in the hobby then it makes sense if your entries are kick-ass ladies”.

This year I was feeling both particularly enthusiastic about clearing my backlog and at the same time thinking a lot about the situation facing women both in my own country and abroad. Currently the government here is looking to bring in legislation which could severely limit our ability to even discuss issues affecting women, whilst taking away the sex-segregated services they need. It goes without saying that a lot of women, both in my circle of family and friends and the wider public, are frankly terrified. I don’t really want to get into the specifics of the debate, partly because this is a blog about miniatures and not really the right forum for the discussion and partly because there are activists out there who think that the appropriate response to someone saying “women are people too” is to make death threats and I don’t need that shit. 

I try to walk a fine line with this blog. On the one hand I try to make my posts thought provoking when I can, and to dig a little deeper than simply saying “here’s a thing wot I painted”. On the other hand I’m very conscious of the fact that the world can be difficult, distressing and depressing at times and our hobbies are intended to be a release from all that. Then there’s the fact that,  although the blogosphere is considerably more civilised than, for example, Facepuke or Twitter, many people fear any kind of online social or political discussion in case it erupts into an orgy of spittle-flecked outrage. At the end of the day people come here to look at pictures of miniatures, and although it’s my party and I’ll say what I want to, equally I don’t want to be a bore or start a fight.

It’s also a long and complex matter to try to dissect but we find ourselves in the odd position where, when I participate in Fembruary 2022, I may have to describe the kind of miniatures I’m painting without using the word “woman”, in case by doing so I cause someone offence – which under new laws could see me sent to prison. I know that sounds ludicrous to most readers but misogynist activists are already jeering themselves hoarse and claiming that they’ll exploit the new legislation to silence anyone who disagrees with them.

It should go without saying that, no matter what cause someone claims to be standing for, if a women says she feels unsafe and someone responds by threatening her with sexual assault and murder then the aggressor should not be hailed as brave. Such behaviour will always be abhorrent, regardless of how they try to dress it up. Regardless of what happens with this particular instance of state-sponsored misogyny watching events unfold has really emphasised to me the viciousness with which women in particular are attacked for speaking up.  

Ours is a hobby which traditionally has been primarily male. The cliché of the out-of-shape, unwashed, nerdy (and of course  single!) male gamer is a persistent one – despite the fact that my readers are to a man handsome, hygienic and erudite sexual stallions. We have worked hard to invite women into our hobby and the increased number of women – both in terms of miniatures on our tabletops and human beings painting and playing with those miniatures – is something well worth celebrating. Of course there are areas in which things could and should improve, and of course there will always be those for whom nothing is ever good enough. We just need to keep trying, keep discussing, and keep working towards something that works fairly well for everyone in the room who isn’t a total arsehole – and that’s basically the best that any society can hope for.

Anyway, in an effort to stop myself grinding my teeth right out of my head, I’ve found myself leaning heavily on my “go to” for calming my nerves and maintaining my mental health; painting miniatures. As a result what started out as simply an exercise in gathering together all the unfinished female models on my desk and trying to get a few completed turned into something of a marathon charge into the “pile of shame”. Let’s take a look at everything I managed to complete (don’t knacker your eyes peering at it, click on it for a decent sized picture!).

Fembruary Round Up Wudugast ConvertOrDie (4)

Not bad eh! I’m sure there will be plenty of hobbyists out there who could paint a lot more in a month, and to a much higher standard to boot, but this isn’t a race and I’m rather proud of my output. Along the way I added models to various ongoing projects and started a few new ones. We have three daughters of House Escher…

Fembruary Round Up Wudugast ConvertOrDie (5)

…three Blood Bowl playing elves…

Fembruary Round Up Wudugast ConvertOrDie (2)

… two explorers delving into the Blackstone Fortress…

Fembruary Round Up Wudugast ConvertOrDie (1)

…the Imperial Guard commissar Severina Raine from the Black Library novel Honourbound

Severina Raine Warhammer 40k Wudugast (1)

…a Stormcast Eternal…

Stormcast Eternal Wudugast ConvertOrDie (1)

…two dryads…

Dryad Sylvaneth Warhammer Wudugast ConvertOrDie (7)

…two Chaos Sorceresses…

Fembruary Round Up Wudugast ConvertOrDie (3)

…a Genestealer Cult Magus…

Genestealer Cult Magos Wudugast ConvertOrDie Warhammer 40k (6)

…an agent of Tzeentch…

Kairic Acolyte Narvia Tzeentch Warhammer Wudugast (1)

… an old goblin witch…

Goblin Witch Wudugast ConvertOrDie (1)

…one of the grand ladies of the Adeptus Mechanicus…

Tech Priest ConvertOrDie Wudugast Warhammer 40k (9)

…and a warband made up of the Daughters of Khaine.

DoK Wudugast Warhammer ConvertOrDie (8)

Things might be a bit quiet here for the next little while, and certainly quieter than they’ve been recently. This is the time of year when my work goes into overdrive and this year is scheduled to be particularly hectic.  I’ll still be painting miniatures when time allows though and I’ll try not to vanish from the world of blogging altogether, especially as I have a lot of projects up my sleeve that I’d like to be tackling soon.

Finally I’d like to give a shout out to Alex of LeadBalloony who organises this challenge every year. If you’re not already familiar with his work I highly recommend you go and check it out right away, and of course keep an eye out for the Fembruary round up, which he should be posting in the next few days, for a look at all the other talented people who’ve taken part.


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.