Back when I painted up my Orc Blood Bowl team the advice I received from experienced coaches was “add a couple more Big ‘uns and two more Blitzers”. To which I have nodded heartily, thanked them for their sage advice, and painted up a couple of goblins instead.
Now perhaps I should justify myself here a little. For one thing I actually own a load of goblins – which means I can contribute them to the “Paint The Crap You Already Own” challenge being run by Ann’s Immaterium – whereas I’ve yet to find a deal I liked to acquire myself the Big ‘uns or Blitzers. Thus painting gobbos is a way of clearing my backlog, whereas adding more models to the unpainted pile would have quite the opposite effect! Plus I intend, at some point in time, to be able to field an all Goblin team, and these bring me one step closer to achieving that. Thirdly, and most importantly, I just fancied painting a couple of little gobbos!
There is a certain irony that the carefully (and to my eye rather well-) painted “15” on the back on the top model doesn’t really show up in the pictures, whereas the slightly smudged and lumpy “16” on the second model has photographed quite clearly. Ah well never mind – everyone knows goblins have terrible handwriting! Here they are next to the other two runts on the team.
Of course now they’re done this does mean I really ought to get on with it and paint that troll. He’s assembled properly now at last so someday, someday…
Since the previews of Warhammer Quest: Cursed City began I’ve had an itch to paint some zombies. Spoiling my appetite for when the game arrives or honing my skills in advance – I’ll let you be the judge! Either way it’s been a while since I painted a shambling corpse (almost a year since I finished off my Poxwalker horde) and when I spotted these two lads I couldn’t resist. Both are Blood Bowl players without a team on my desk for them to join (at the moment) although sooner or later I’ll probably do something about that.
After the epic charge I made through the female miniatures in my collection for the Fembruary challenge it was nice to just paint something that positively demands a rough and ready, relaxed painting style. Really I should be getting back to the followers of Tzeentch that I abandoned in January but work is kicking off at the moment and time for painting is short so I won’t be pushing myself too hard over the next little while.
I spent some of the weekend working on something a world away from the blood-thirsty savagery of the Daughters of Khaine, but still distinctly violent and elvish – my Elven Union Blood Bowl team. Readers may remember that back in December I dipped my toe into starting an elf team (after claiming I’d paint a human team to follow up my Orcs – something I’ve still done naff all about). I’d come up with the idea of putting heads from the Warhammer 40k Harlequins onto the bodies of Blood Bowl elves some time ago, and even built a few of them, but it wasn’t until December that I found a colour scheme I really liked. Here’s a reminder of how the two test models look.
I’ve been keen to get back to the rest of the team ever since so, when I started looking out models for Fembruary, I took the opportunity to dig through the elves I’d built and check if any of them were female (there’s probably a joke in there about it being hard to tell with elves…). Turns out three of them were so I started chipping away at them through January, whenever I felt like a change from working on the Tzeentchian cult that was preoccupying my mind at that time, and once Fembruary rolled around I knuckled down properly and got them all finished. Looking at them now I realise they actually show something of an evolution of the team concept (if that doesn’t sound too pretentious!). This one is built straight out of the box, with no converting whatsoever.
This one is a straightforward head-swap, much like the two boys I showed previously.
And this one is where things got a bit strange and scary, a reminder that elves don’t just waft around being poetic and melancholic, they also curdle milk and steal children. Getting that mask to fit was a right nightmare too I can tell you!
Anyway, with these ladies ready to take to the pitch the team is already almost half done.
Usually this is the point in a project where I’d starting thinking about focussing and trying to get the whole set completed, but at the moment there’s only a couple more that are built (and they’re both boys so won’t be getting touched this month). I’ll keep chipping away at them though, and we’ll see how it goes. For now though, it’s time to dig around in the pile of neglected models and see what I feel like tackling next.
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”.
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!
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.
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?
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.
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!
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…
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.
Indeed with four more books in hand I’m starting to build up a nice little Necromundan library.
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.
That said my other gangs aren’t as far forward as I would have liked – something to work on in 2021.
On the other hand I did manage to assemble a small mob of civilians with which to populate Hive City’s roughest districts…
…And a clan of muties to come crawling up out of the badzones during the downshifts to gobble up unwary workers.
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.
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.
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.
Best of all though, just before the end of the year I painted that hero of the sporting arena, Akhorne the squirrel.
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…
And I even dipped a toe into Lord of the Rings and painted up a few orcs to serve the dark lord of Mordor.
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!
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.
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!).
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!
I know I said that my next Blood Bowl project would be the humans (modified to make them feel a bit more “Warhammer” and a bit less like real world sportsmen) but I’ve only gone and been distracted by some elves. I’ve had this project in mind for ages, since way back before the Elven Union Blood Bowl team was even released in fact. Following the release of the 2016 edition of the game, but before the production of an official plastic elven team, many people used the Harlequin models from Warhammer 40k as able substitutes. I liked the concept but at time I wasn’t particularly enthused about Blood Bowl, and if I’m honest even less about filthy elves, so it looked likely that that would be that. Then GW launched the elf team and I found myself less excited still. The models didn’t seem terribly interesting and the colour-scheme used for the studio models has to rank amongst the most ghastly combinations they’ve ever come up with, which only served to put me off even further. I think it was safe to say I wouldn’t be buying a box of these guys, uh uh – no way!
I mean just look at that, it’s enough to put anyone off their lunch. And yet, here we are, because despite deciding firmly that I wouldn’t be touching these with a bargepole I promptly became obsessed with how I’d do them differently. I started looking at other people’s models and the colour schemes they’d used and that in turn lead me back to those old Harlequin based conversions. The Elven Union, I came to realise, are actually really nice models, there’s a greater sense of speed and movement to them than almost anywhere else in GW’s stable. It’s just that, much like the aforementioned Human team, there’s not very much about them that looks like it belongs in a Warhammer universe. As sporting elves go they’re painfully generic.
Luckily I managed to get my mitts on some Harlequin heads and tried them out on a couple of models. The results look good to my eye, and feel more “Warhammer” than the untouched models, but without being able to figure out a good colour scheme they sat unpainted for a long time. Then, with the Orc team pretty much complete (for now) I got the itch to pick them up and start playing with paint – and I’m very pleased with the end results (if I do say so myself!).
Now not all of the elves in the team will have Harlequin heads, I’ve already built a couple of them straight out of the box, but I’ll be going for a mix of the two styles and hopefully ending up with something that looks cohesive across the team.
Anyway, that’s not all the Blood Bowl activity I have to show today. Acting on advice I was given by several wise Blood Bowl gurus who frequent the comment’s section of this blog (thanks guys) I stuck the two turn markers I painted for the orc team onto bases to stop the damn things falling over all the time. To my eye it looks a lot better, gives me a chance to decorate them a bit further and of course makes them a lot more functional.
Finally I’ve painted up my first Blood Bowl star player. He’s one part sporting titan, one part adorable forest creature – and his rules were free with November’s White Dwarf. Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you Akhorne the squirrel!
For anyone wondering, you can get him for free if you buy one of the new treemen (or alternatively if you buy him you get a free treeman – it depends how you look at it). He’s quite the tiddly little dude as this comparison shot next to an Orc and a Goblin demonstrates.
Anyway, that’s it for this time and probably everything for this year. Life is looking set to be busy over the next couple of weeks and although I’ll definitely be trying to find some time to paint I don’t know that I’ll manage to blog about it as well. I will however try to put together a round-up post before we lurch our way into a hopefully-slightly-less-apocalyptic 2021. In the meantime all that’s left is for me to wish all my readers a merry Christmas, wherever you and are and whatever you’re doing I hope you’re able to find a little time to sit back, relax and enjoy our hobby.
Well, I spent a lot longer talking about painting them than I did actually painting them, which goes to show these projects are a lot more achievable if you just crack on with them. Yes, that’s right, my Blood Bowl Orc team are ready to take to the pitch at last (minus their troll who’ll come later – possibly much later…).
There’s quite a lot of stuff to cover in this post, covering as it does all the odds and ends needed to complete the team. First of all we’ve got the final two orc players.
Add them to the ones I’ve already painted and we’ve got six linemen ready to do whatever it is they do (anyone coming here for in-depth tactical advice must be feeling sorely disappointed right now eh!).
Now one thing I do know is that if you want to play Blood Bowl you need some balls. Who wants to see an Orc’s balls? You do? Ok then!
Then we have some re-roll tokens. I tried to make these look like artefacts which belonged in the setting partly because this made them easier to paint and partly because I thought it would look cool. As well as the two for the Orc team I painted the pair for the Human team at the same time.
We also have these which I believe are turn markers. They proved to be tricky to photograph, mostly because they keep falling over, so I’m wondering about sticking them on bases for a bit of extra stability. Is this a normal solution or does it have any game play implications? As usual, if there are any more experienced Blood Bowl fans reading this who want to share their thoughts I’m all ears. If there’s no major reason not to they’re going on bases ASAP, all this falling over every time I look at them is bloody annoying, and only likely to be more so mid-game.
Lastly, what we’ve all been waiting for, the whole team ready to give any opposing players a kicking.
Of course for that to happen I’ll need to find some opposing players for them to kick, and the easiest way will probably be to paint my own. I’ve been working away on kitbashing my human team and I quite like the look of most/all of the other teams as well. Life is looking quite busy over the next few weeks however so it might not be for a little while yet. Oh and at some point I need to roll up my sleeves and paint that damn troll…
It’s been a busy old week but I’ve managed to fit in a bit more time to chip away at the Blood Bowl orcs. Let’s take a look at the latest recruits. First of all we have the team’s second Thrower (or as I imagine the orc describe him behind his back “Tosser”).
Next in line, another Blitzer…
… and finally another Big ‘Un Blocker (who used to be called “Black Orc Blockers” in the previous edition, before the Black orc’s got a team of their own).
Each of these models has been tweaked a bit, the boxset being made up of 2 sets of duplicate miniatures – and as I’m not a fan of the idea of fielding a team of twins that’s something I needed to fix. In the main I just used headswaps, I wanted to keep it nice and clear which models represented which positions (something I’m undoubtedly going to find tricky enough to keep track of), and stuck with using spares from the savage orcs kit. For reference, here’s each pair with the original model on the right and the converted version on the left.
With these done I’ve just got two more orcs to do (plus the troll, which I’ll get around to eventually…) and various tokens, re-roll markers etc, which I’ll aim to finish up over the weekend.
As promised I’ve been working on more Blood Bowl orcs over the weekend and now have a couple of additional linemen ready to join the ranks.
Not only that but I’ve also painted up a couple of goblins (you knew I’d sneak some of the little gits in somewhere right?). At some stage I plan to add a troll who can then throw these smaller team-mates around the pitch, although that won’t be happening for a while as the troll is proving to be a real nightmare to assemble. It’s a large and, for plastic, relatively heavy miniature with all of its weight resting on a fairly slim ankle and as a result it keeps breaking and falling over. I think my next move will be to pin it, surely a first for a plastic model; either way he won’t be joining the team for a little while yet. In the meantime these goblins will just have to run around under their own steam.
The eagle-eyed amongst you will have spotted that the second goblin had a headswap with one of the old Night Goblin fanatics. I do have a full team of goblins tucked under the desk so at some stage I’ll get around to painting them as well, whenever the battle against the backlog allows me.
Blood Bowl is all the rage right now, with the launch of the most recent edition, and it’s past time I cracked on with my Orc team. I got the first two painted about a month ago and now I’m ready to go full steam ahead with the rest of the team. To set the ball rolling as it were, here’s three more, starting with a blitzer…
…and two linemen (lineorcs?). The blitzer was built and painted exactly as per the instructions, but both of these linemen have been tweaked a bit to avoid ending up with any duplicate models in the finished team.
Add them to the two from last month and it starts to look as though the team is in business at last.
Of course there’s still plenty more needed to complete the team so expect to see a lot more of these over the next couple of weeks. If you don’t want to see any more sporting orcs look away now!
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!).
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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…
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.
As if that champion wasn’t wonderful enough we have a suitably twisted 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…
… 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.
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!