The forces of Chaos have always, by their very nature, been an eclectic bunch, their technology unrestrained by by the strict edicts of the Imperium and their bodies twisted and mutated by their daemonic patrons. Here Games Workshop has almost limitless potential to be creative, and us hobbyists can kitbash to our hearts’ content. Over the years however the degree to which this is reflected in the Chaos Marines’ range has waxed and waned. When I first fell to Chaos back in the mid-2000s there really wasn’t a whole lot to differentiate the followers of one god from those of another. If I painted my Marines green I was sworn to Nurgle, if you painted yours red you were a follower of Khorne. There were a few god-specific models kicking around as I recall, mostly still made of metal, but not many. What really drew me to the service of the Dark Gods was a combination of several factors; a mate gave me his old codex, I had no money to spend on new models and I owned a load of loyalist marines, a bunch of bits I’d scrounged up and an over-active imagination. The result was kitbashing carnage and a life sworn to the ghastly powers that dwell in the warp.
In recent years however things have improved a lot. The release of the Thousand Sons brought us a range of kits specific to Tzeentch’s chosen legion and, although I now think some of those could be improved a lot and expanding the range further would be well worthwhile, at the time it was a revelation. Then along came the Death Guard and really blew me away. With its huge range of unique kits all designed around the theme of a single god this remains, for me, the gold standard for a Chaos Legion. Needless-to-say I’ve been waiting with baited breath for GW’s designers to turn their attention to the World Eater’s and Emperor’s Children and, at last, the former has arrived.
After months of build up, Saturday morning saw the full reveal of Khorne’s legion and for me they were well worth the wait. We’d already seen some of the range of course, the Khorne Berserkers for example were shown off back in September.
These are really nice models, workmanlike and perhaps not the most surprising or creative but fitting the bill perfectly and demonstrating that a model doesn’t have to be fancy to be good. When I first saw them I thought “Yeah, these are fine, they do the job” but the longer I’ve looked at them the more I’ve come to love them. I always say that you can swap out specialists and leave characters on the shelf but if you don’t care for the core troops then the army isn’t for you.
Plus they certainly beat the hell out of the old kit, which has been kept going long, long after it should have been shuffled off to retirement.
Then in October we saw the appearance of Lord Invocatus, a special character who rides around on a thunderous juggernaut spreading carnage.
Now I think the juggernauts of Khorne look really cool and I’m always happy to see someone perched atop one of these mechanical bulls and laying waste to the followers of the corpse-emperor so you’d think I’d be a fan of Lord Invocatus but honestly he doesn’t do much for me, especially now that we’ve seen the very similar generic Lord of Khorne (below) which, for my money, is much nicer.
Like the Berserkers the Lord on Juggernaut just gets on with doing it’s job and looking cool. Lord Invocatus meanwhile feels like it’s trying too hard to stand out as something special whilst working with a limited range of options crammed into a small amount of sprue space. From what we’ve seen so far my assumption is that one kit can make either the Lord on Juggernaut or Lord Invocatus, in which case Lord Invocatus’ flaws become a bit more forgivable – there will always be limits to how much you can do with just one sprue after all. If Lord Invocatus proves to be an entirely separate kit I’m less impressed, a special character should have a lot more visual impact than this. Either way the head with the crest and yet another topknot just doesn’t work, and there’s nothing about him that feels particularly unique or cool. Go big or go home I would say – give him his own kit with an extra large, souped-up juggernaut, daemonic weapons chained to his arms and a few crazy mutations, or don’t bother. As it stands I can see the generic Lord on Juggernaut finding a home at the head of my army but Lord Invocatus just doesn’t look all that special to me.
However Lord Invocatus isn’t the only special character in this release. No discussion of the World Eaters is complete without mentioning the big man himself; the Primarch Angron.
Following in the footsteps of Magnus and Mortarion, Angron is the third daemon primarch to enter the setting and he looks outstanding. I do struggle a bit to paint these very large kits so perhaps I should restrain myself from rushing to buy him, and I sometimes feel GW are in a bad habit of making models that are bigger, and bigger still, but if there’s one time when being OTT is just fine it’s the daemon primarch of the World Eaters.
On Saturday Games Workshop revealed the rest of the range, the headline to the article even going so far as to promise “Hordes of New World Eaters Units”. What we saw was, for my money, some of the best things in the whole range – but “hordes” is stretching the truth a little.
First of all we have Eightbound, possessed berserkers who have been driven into a killing rage after discovering they have one of the daftest backstories in the setting. Chaos Marines which have been possessed by daemons have been around since the very earliest days and I’ve been hoping we’d someday see models which really reflected the natures of both the marine and the daemon doing the possessing (Death Guard marines possessed by daemons of Nurgle for instance, or in this case Khorne Berserkers possessed by the rage-filled daemons of Khorne). This would be more than enough to satisfy World Eaters fans but no, some silly eegit who probably communicates only in memes, decided that they should be possessed by not one, not two, but eight daemons of Khorne! Because OTT is cool right? Because eight is the holy number of Khorne right? Because everything Khorne should have something to do with the number eight right? Because I don’t know very much about the background and I don’t have anything in the way of an imagination but somebody gave me the job of writing this bollocks and nobody cares about “fluff” anyway!
As someone who turns from mild-mannered and easy-going Wudugast to a rage-fueled monster that Angron himself would tell to calm down at the mere mention of the word “fluff” seeing this kind of rubbish published has, in the parlance of da yoof, “triggered” me so let’s move swiftly on. The models, at least, are really cool. I shudder to think about the price but I want them anyway. Each one can be built as either a possessed marine…
… or an exulted version which has beaten the daemon within into submission and gained even greater power as a result.
I really like the way each one can be tweaked to be more or less possessed so that you can dial up or down the level of mutation on display your own taste. Personally I like my marines to be twisted by the warp, but too much mutation is by no means a good thing so I’ll probably end up somewhere about halfway between these two examples. I also really like the way the armour is forming into a mouth that’s swallowing the marine’s head in a nice nod both to the battle against the daemon that’s occurring within and to the icon of the World Eaters (a fanged mouth biting down on a planet – they never were a very subtle legion…).
Lastly we have the cultists of Khorne, deranged mortals known as Jakhals.
These are ace, I’m a big fan of Chaos Cultists and this has been a good year for them. I will undoubtedly be looking to get my hands on some of these; to serve as cannon fodder for my World Eaters, as a berserker vanguard for my Lost and Damned cultist horde, as more recruits for my Necromunda chaos cult and to kitbash with my Necromundan Corpse-Grinders.
The preview also notes “If you think they look nasty now, wait until you see what they can do when they’re all juiced up on stimms” which makes me hopeful that there’s an alternative way of building of this kit still to be shown.
This appears to be the unit champion…
…however it’s this brute that has me particularly interested.
He’s bigger than the other cultists and referred to as the Dishonoured so could it be that we’re looking at a failed World Eater of some kind who’s been stripped of his armour? We can’t see the back of his head from this angle, if we could we’d be able to see if the Butcher’s Nails are there or not, so for now all we can do is guess. Either way he’s a damn cool model as he is, although once again I’m thinking about Necromunda and wondering if he might have a use as a Goliath champion with a bit of kitbashing.
Anyway, apart from Lord Invocatus and some very dodgy lore regarding the Eightbound, this all looks fantastic and I’m already cracking my knuckles and pacing, a low growl building in my chest as the Butchers Nails start to bite and command me to paint, paint, paint for the Blood God! However, I can’t help but ask “Where’s the rest of it?”. Your way of estimating exact number of kits may vary but there’s no denying, the Death Guard got a hell of a lot more than this. The World Eaters, like the Thousand Sons, lean very heavily on the wider Chaos range to bulk up the numbers with borrowed kits and daemonic allies. For a long time I’ve been feeling that Tzeentch’s legion was short changed in comparison to the followers of Nurgle, and now the World Eaters seem to have gone the same way. Based on this release the World Eaters will get six kits of their own (the Berserkers, Eightbound, Jakhals, Lord Invocatus, Lord on Juggernaut and Angron himself – plus the already released Kharn of course). The Death Guard got somewhere around twenty and are visually much more complete as a result. I recognise that GW do not have entirely unlimited resources, just as I don’t have unlimited money, time or energy to spend buying and painting models, but it’s hard not to feel that more could have been done here. This isn’t so much eating the world as taking a small bite. Where are the juggernaut cavalry to follow the mounted lord into battle? Where is the World Eater’s Lord on foot for those days he doesn’t feel like riding to war? Where are the daemon engines with which Khorne has had such a long association; the brass scorpions, blood slaughters, berserker dreadnaughts, blood reapers, doom blasters, death dealers and cauldrons of blood? Where are the Khornate beastmen, the Berserker Surgeons, the Ogryn Berserkers, Red Butcher Terminators, a new kit for the Mutilators or the Teeth of Khorne – the World Eater’s heavy weapons squads designed by Jes Goodwin all those years ago? These last are particularly missed I think as they’d bring something to the army other than just angry men who want to get into close combat and hit people in the face. Having a theme to an army is good, but – despite what the kids with the memes would have you believe – there’s no need to treat Khorne as being one dimensional.
Overall I’m really happy with what we’ve got and I’m sure some of it will be finding its way into my Chaos collection in time. Part of me hopes that this is just the first wave and, like the Sisters of Battle and other recent releases, we’ll see a second wave with a whole heap of new kits in a year or so’s time. Part of me however fears that they may end up like the Thousand Sons and left on the sidelines.
Anyway, I’m off to eat some raw meat and sharpen my chainaxe. If you have thoughts other than the hammering of an angry god stabbing painfully through the raw flesh of your mind and want to punch the keyboard furiously until it spells out a message then the comment’s box is the place to do it.