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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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!
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!