Tag Archives: Imperium

Blackstone Fortress: Gotfred de Montbard

It’s mid November, the nights are increasing cold and dark and the days aren’t much better. We’re reaching the time of year when staying indoors and playing Blackstone Fortress is very appealing. Time to get a wiggle on with painting the rest of the box then. Breaking myself in gently (on the grounds that batch painting traitor guardsmen isn’t that much of a break from batch painting orks) I decided to tackle one of the new heroes, the crusader Gotfred de Montbard.

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He’s quite a strange looking character, clearly a knight but seen through the lens of the 41st Millennium, and that very oddness was one of the main things that attracted me to him. I’ll admit that I was also drawn to him in part because I thought he’d be fairly straightforward to paint, after all he’s mostly just armour and cloak right? Well, it turns out he’s not quite as simple as that, there’s enough to him to keep him interesting but not so much that I ran out of time and energy to make a start on those traitor guardsmen. Before I get back to working on them however here he is next to his new friends and colleagues who’ll be joining him in exploring the dark corridors of the fortress.

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Not too shabby I reckon – heretics beware! Of course, now I need to bash on and actually paint said heretics…


The Emperor’s Angels – Part 7

With not a lot of month left to go the Space Marine squad I pledged to complete for Azazel’s Junit challenge is done. First off here’s a battle-brother with a heavy bolter ready to lay waste to the enemies of the Emperor.

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I tried to get him looking battle-worn and battered, and indeed almost got too carried away, so that in the end considerable time was wasted cleaning him up again.

Alongside him here’s the squad’s sergeant to lead them into battle.

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With this one I wanted to deliberately reference (perhaps even pastiche) some of the clichés about space marine sergeants. It’s become something of a running gag, unfortunately emphasised by GW with every release, that the one without his helmet who’s pointing at something must be in charge. Thus this was something I couldn’t resist referencing here, hopefully with tongue firmly in cheek rather than just reiterating the cliché.

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In the long term I’m planning to expand the squad to ten and create a more elaborate sergeant to lead them, at which point this chap is hopefully generic enough to be demoted to the line without looking overdressed.

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Before I called the squad done I also went back and, as suggested by the inimitable KrautScientist, added a blue glow to the gizmos on their arms, plus a little more in the way of freehand livery by adding their squad designation to their knees.

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Of course now I find myself very short on time to get those pesky plague monks finished and I’m less than convinced that, even with the best will in the world, I’ll be able to make it. At least I can take up my brushes safe in the knowledge that humanity’s most stalwart defenders are at hand. All together now; “For The Emperor!”

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Disposable Heroes – Part 12

Back at the tail end of last year I took my first steps into assembling the Imperial Guard regiment I’ve always imagined. Inspired by the Iron Sleet Invitational I put together a little band of guardsmen capturing the aesthetic I’ve long associated with the Guard, and yet which rarely comes across in the official models. I even waxed philosophical on the topic if you’re interested in reading more about my reasoning. At the time I made four guardsmen and, hitting something of an inspirational dry spell, rounded out the squad with a specialist agent sent to the Thorn Moons by the Imperial invaders. However that left several unfinished guardsmen sitting on the corner of the desk, neither fit to be included in the group nor ready to be cast back into the bitsbox, but waiting for inspiration to return and raise them up as fully finished models. Feeling the call of the guard once again I grabbed one of those unfinished miniatures and gave him the additional touches needed for him to join the Imperial war-machine.

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I see him as very much a devout soul who, believing he has been called to serve in battle as part of the Emperor’s great plan for humanity, has requested dispensation to leave his allotted labours in the manufactorums and join the Guard. The fellow members of his congregation, believing that his mission is a holy one, have gifted him the small icon from their church to carry into battle, hoping that this will ensure his protection until he has completed whatever task the Emperor has set before him.

Of course this isn’t my first experiment with the Imperial Guard. A while ago I put together this chap as a “proof of concept” to test the waters and iron out some of my ideas.

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Given my return to the guard I took the opportunity to give him a quick repaint to bring him into the ranks of my new squad. And yes, I know I’ve got paint on the rim of his base and, due to the selective blindness that seems to affect me whenever I do this, I overlooked it. Don’t make me go and take the photos again, just trust me that I’ll get it fixed. It’s mostly at the back, nobody will notice right?

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Whether this has been enough to cure my urge to paint guardsmen and let me focus on other projects, or if this is only the beginning of a mass recruitment drive remains to be seen. In the meantime any thoughts or feedback are very welcome.


Infested! – Part 3

Killing two birds with one stone here my next contribution to the corrupted civilians of the Nestorian Infestation is also part of my goal for Fembruary. For those who’ve not heard of it yet Fembruary is the creation of Alex at Leadballoony, a chance to add some models with a second X chromosome to our collections, challenge some of the male dominated stereotypes surrounding our hobby and remind ourselves that when it comes to brutal warfare in the 41st Millennium, the Mortal Realms or anywhere else for that matter, girls are just as entitled to get stuck in as boys. To quote Alex himself is a chance for us…

” …to collectively challenge the male domination of our collections, and commit to painting some female miniatures for a change… Sisters of Battle and/or Silence, Witch Elves, Sorceresses, Inquisitrixes, Escher gangers, Daemonettes and Shield Maidens – whatever female minis you have on the to-do list, I challenge you to bump them to number one in the queue for the month and get some paint on ‘em… Let’s do something cool ok? Ok???  Ok. “

The first lady I’ll be adding to my collection then is this Imperial huntress, sent to infiltrate the genestealer infested world of Efesos VI and kill any targets of opportunity – including Nestorian himself if the chance arises. Like everything else in the Imperium it seemed likely that numerous different departments and Inquisitorial ordos would have an interest in Efesos VI, probably all without any knowledge of each other, and so there was no reason to assume that just because one Imperial force is inbound there aren’t others already in play.

Of course with the arrival of the Deathwatch as part of the Nestorian Infestation game itself she may have been rendered rather superfluous but, assuming she doesn’t catch a bullet mid battle, if things go against the Imperial counter-invasion at least they can take comfort knowing there are still agents of the Golden Throne at work in the shadows.

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The Golden Legion

It is often stated that in the grim darkness of the far future there is only war and this may well be the case. Nonetheless two battles stand out, head and shoulders above all others both in scale and importance. The great tank battle at Talarn, the sacking of Prospero, the devastation of Baal or the Fall of Cadia? These are mere skirmishes! Armageddon, Calth, Isstvan, Macragge? Simple border disputes! The great conflicts which rage unseen in Octarius, the Legion Wars in the Eye of Terror or the long lost struggles between the Old Ones and the Necrontyr? Hardly the stuff to define the Imperium-centric universe of the 41st Millennium. No, the battles of which I speak are of course the First Siege of Terra – in which two Primarchs are slain, the Emperor is placed within the Golden Throne and an age of darkness truly dawns, and the Second Siege of Terra, the one yet to come in which Abaddon brings the traitor legions and their daemonic primarchs back to humanity’s birth world for the final, apocalyptic showdown to define our species’ fate.

For those immersed in the world of the 41st Millennium one is the cornerstone of all history, the other the overshadowing conclusion to the future, the ultimate Ragnarok and day of judgement rolled into one. One cries out to be chronicled in a series of novels, the other demands to be left purely to the imagination.

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I don’t want to see the final battle for Terra, either through official rules, global campaigns or Black Library novels. I don’t want the Long War to end. Yet with the ghoulish fascination that makes us rubberneck at car crashes my eye is drawn back to it, to that final apocalypse which ends only with chaos standing triumphant over the Emperor’s broken realm or breaking against its defences like a failing wave.

This is mankind defining our own fate. We shall come to this war in many guises, be it the common soldiers of the Astra Militarum or the frothing cultists that oppose them, the astartes rebuilt in the Emperor’s image, the Primarchs fabricated to be demi-gods among men, the bestial creatures of chaos or even the daemons grown from our nightmares and ambitions like the mould that sprouts from the yeast in bread. Xenos will not fight in this war, at least not in a major, defining way. There may be the odd Eldar sneaking about, a genestealer cultist or two in the shadows, an ork who heard this was the place to come for an especially good fight, but ultimately this is our war, fought amongst ourselves for the soul of our species. This is us taking back control.

The Talons of the Emperor

Of course, one can’t think of war on Terra without thinking of the Adeptus Custodes. For a long time they’ve floated at the edge of 40k fans’ wildest imaginings, yet for all we dreamed of seeing them on our tabletops and bestriding the battlefields of the 41st Millennium, it seemed at best a pipe-dream. After all the custodes were confined to Terra, having sworn oaths of penance in the wake of the Emperor’s death at the hands of his son Horus. GW were never going to make an army that only fought on one planet out of the hundreds of thousands in the galaxy, especially a planet that, almost by definition, wouldn’t see war on a grand scale until the setting itself reaches its ultimate end.

Times however have changed and 40k is an evolving beast. Like the Imperium itself stagnation has been replaced by transformation, and we’re yet to see for sure what shape its final form shall be. Many of us, myself included, cried out against the changes being wrought to the setting. Yet so far whilst the universe has developed it hasn’t strayed as far from the darkness at its core as many feared. We may have raged against the Primaris marines for the disregard of the background lore but we forgave them for giving us easy access to true-scale marines. Likewise I may not be thrilled to see the custodes leaving Terra at long last but I’ll let it pass because we now have the range of glorious golden-armoured warriors we long dreamed of.

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That said my pleasure at seeing the custodes doesn’t mean they get a free pass from criticism.  After all the custodes may be the Emperor’s golden boys with a long list of victories (almost) unmarred by defeat but they’re still a long way from perfect. They say the man who never made a mistake never made anything and true enough the custodes have spent the last ten millennia making damn sure they never made a mistake.

For those unfamiliar with the background to the custodes the crux of the matter is this; after a history in which they had never known defeat the custodes, sworn to protect the Emperor from all threats, were separated from him as they teleported aboard Horus’ battle barge. By the time they reached their master’s side he had been mortally wounded. Failure strengthens us, it teaches us both how to avoid failing again and how to cope if we do. The custodes had never failed before and now that they had they didn’t know how to cope. They carried the Emperor back to Terra and swore an oath never again to leave the Imperial Palace (admittedly a loosely defined area around the Sol system).

In many ways the custodes exemplified the ignorant, inward-looking nature of the Imperium and its cruelly wasteful treatment of its resources – most notably human lives. It’s always been one of the great ironies of the Imperium that whilst ork waarrghs and black crusades smashed thousands of worlds to rubble and whole chapters of space marines and regiments of imperial guard were being swallowed up by war the finest army at the Imperium’s disposal sat idle. Where were the custodes when Armageddon or Macragge were burning? Sitting on Terra feeling sorry for themselves that’s where.

Was it dereliction of duty on their part that saw the Emperor slain? I feel that’s a harsh judgement. Blame for Horus’ invasion of Terra, and the Emperor’s fateful decision to teleport aboard the Vengeful Spirit and take the fight to his wayward son, could hardly be laid at the custodes’ door. Yet the ten millennia of mourning and self-recrimination and penance that followed, whilst all around them the galaxy burned, that can be called dereliction of duty of the highest order.

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Yet whilst the custodes have exemplified the stubborn ignorance of their era they are not of it. Almost uniquely amongst the people of the Imperium they are granted access to all knowledge and trained in all things. Beyond their superlative combat abilities each is educated to the very limit that their superhuman brains can handle. They are statesmen, philosophers, artists and historians, cartographers of the heavens and a thousand other things beside. They are not oblivious to the threats that fall upon the Imperium, or to the state of decline into which that once great empire has fallen. They must have seen the doom that was swallowing everyone, from the lowliest tech-serf to the Emperor Himself, yet they chose to stay on Terra anyway, allowing self-indulgent misery at the failings of their long-dead ancestors to blind them to the fact that they’d been letting the side down for rather a long time.

They’ve sat on their hands, gathering dust whilst the Imperium collapsed around them. This isn’t a complaint mind you – although if they knew the truth a denizen of the 41st Millennium might feel otherwise. Rather I’ve always found it to be a wonderful part of the 40k background, the idea of a superlative army able to overcome any foe standing idle whilst enemies rage unchecked simply because they believe that they failed ten thousand years ago.

Of course they’ve not been entirely shiftless, there have been shadow wars and hidden conflicts conducted out of sight in the veiled byways and alleys of Terra as the forces of the arch-enemy attempt to corrupt the throne world. From the grander conflicts that the Imperium has endured however they have been absent, leaving the space marines and Imperial Guard to do the leg work.

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As far as we’ve seen the wars in which the custodes have taken part have hardly been taxing. Whilst many space marine chapters have come close to extinction the Golden Legion have managed to maintain their numbers at a rough ten thousand. This leads me to wonder; if the custodes are functionally immortal and can only be killed by catastrophic trauma, and they never leave the Emperor’s palace – the most heavily defended site in the galaxy, and when they do have to fight it is almost certainly against someone less skilled than themselves, then how do they ever die at all? The codex describes some as being over a thousand years old but surely many of them should be even older than that.

What happens to them? Surely the warriors who fought in the Horus Heresy aren’t still standing vigil now? It’s something I’ve often wondered, especially nowadays when Bjorn the Fell-handed’s claim to being the oldest living human has been knocked aside by the return of other Heresy-era oldsters like Guilliman and Cawl.

Thankfully we now have an answer. If a custodian finds himself no longer at the peak of fighting perfection he returns his equipment, resigns from his watch and, clad in hooded black robes, set’s off into the galaxy to act as a watchman, spying out any threats to the Emperor and sending word back to his former brothers. It’s a powerful image; a hooded giant, face almost hidden, watching from the shadows with his retinue of agents gathered around him, and I’d be surprised if it doesn’t inspire a few Inq28 warbands.

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Now in the Imperium’s darkest hour the custodes are unleashed. With a loyalist primarch back in the fight, a new, more pro-active Captain-General at the helm and an attack by Khornate daemons at the very gates of the Imperial Palace to goad them into action, they begin to strike out into the galaxy at large. Cue much back-patting at GW HQ as they finally have the excuse to make the range of models they know we’re always wanted.

It would have been all too easy to make these golden armoured supermen into two-dimensional goodies but, perhaps learning from the accusations fired at the Stormcast Eternals, the writers have done a good job of describing a well rounded and distinctly human force. The custodes may have grown in stature, prowess and intellect above the common man but their flaws have grown with them and this keeps them rooted firmly in the 41st Millennium. Of course with the Sol system under threat from several directions one cannot help but wonder if the final battle might not be close at hand. Is it the wisest move on the part of the custodes to be abandoning their posts and going in search of battle at the precise moment that the battle they have long prepared for is finally coming to them? Perhaps not, but have pity on the Golden Legion as they attempt to find the right path through the pitiless horror of the 41st Millennium. They’re only human after all.

All artwork is copyright Games Workshop and is used without permission.


Disposable Heroes – Part 11

Having painted four Imperial Guardsmen for the Iron Sleet Thorn Moons Invitational the fifth and final model to tackle the Thorn Moons is someone rather different. Stuck for inspiration amongst the ranks of the Guard I took on an Imperial agent, a shadowy, mendicant figure, tasked with enacting the Emperor’s will without support from the greater Imperial war-machine.

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…And yes, I’ve not drilled out the barrel because that would have almost certainly broken the gun. Am I proud? Not a bit of it!

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Of course, all this leaves for us is to delve into the background of the regiment – the Sarkisian 7th.

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When the Imperium called for troops to join the crusade the Sarkis system, one of the closest along a stable warp route, was a natural choice of recruiting ground. Raised from the densely packed hive streets of Sarkis V, the men of the Sarkisian 7th were naturals at fighting in the narrow crawlspaces and elaborate trench works of their homeworld. Alas the forests of the Thorn Moons, so similar on paper to the hive-warrens, proved disastrously different once they made planetfall. Against the deadly forests of those hell-worlds the Sarkisian 7th were soon whittled down into small bands of survivors, each attempting to find their way to their own lines after their initial triumphant advance.

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All manner of unclean creatures assailed us beneath those terrible trees. Emperor preserve our souls! Have we failed?

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Even against the foulest of heretics we fought on, whilst the dank forest closed around us like a fist.

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We needed leadership – someone who understood those twisting forests as well as the enemy, someone who could guide us to our dreamed of vengeance.Invitational Convert Or Die (9)

She will not tell us where she comes from but, in contrast to our struggling, blundering steps, she walks the forests of the Moons like a native. Was she born here I wonder, beneath these hungry boughs? Did she run through a childhood spent amongst these glades and thickets? It is hard to image her as an innocent, just as it is hard to imagine a childhood spent upon these strange worlds with their all devouring forests. Give me my hive streets once more, the warrens of mankind’s great cities rolling beneath my feet! What foul death-world first spawned such unclean xenos things as trees?

I do not even know her name, nor her rank or duties. It does not seem to matter however. She has led us, when the forest grew darkest. Without her this nightmare world would have consumed us long ago. If we endure here it shall be by her actions and the Emperor’s will alone.

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Once again huge thanks to the team at Iron Sleet for putting the Invitational together and to all the other hobbyists who’ve been involved. If you’ve not already do take the time to head over to Iron Sleet and take a look at the showcase of work they’ve been building, a treasure trove of inspiration awaits!


Disposable Heroes – Part 4

Your appointed duty is to bear the mortal remains of Colonel Idris to the front. Let him see battle once more. Let him gaze upon the faces of the heretics and they shall know that against an Imperial martyr there can be no victory.

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There’s definitely a need for more work here, both on Colonel Idris himself and to remove the rictus grin from the soldier charged with bearing him into battle. Otherwise though I’m rather pleased with him (or should that be them). And yes, I know the brief was for five individuals and I’m sneaking in a sixth… Leave the poor Colonel alone though – it’s bad enough the chap’s dead without you trying to stop him enjoying the war!


Warhammer World – Part 5

Continuing our look through the dioramas on display at Warhammer World today we explore the section given over to the alien races inhabiting the grim darkness of the far future. First off we have this lava board, showing the planet of Valedor – or Düriel to the Eldar – being swarmed by the Tryanid hive fleets.01At one point Valedor was a tropical paradise but, as is the case with most places in 40k that seem like they might be really nice, that wasn’t to last. First the Imperium turned it into an industrial hellhole, then the Tyranids arrived and began stripping it of all organic matter. By the time the Swordwind of the Eldar return to what had once been one of their Maiden Worlds the whole place was rather worse for wear. Eventually the Eldar activate a device known as the Fireheart, splitting the planet’s crust into the volcanic turmoil we see here.0203Both factions are really giving it their all here; the Tyranids have deployed their bio-titans (above) whilst the Eldar respond with their Phantom Titans.0405Another display I’d been looking forward to was this one; Ork Town – originally built by Forge World for their book Raid on Kastorel-Novem.010203A squad of Tempestus Scions have been shot down in Ork territory and now their allies rush to evacuate them. Apparently an ex-army store manager spent a day training the team in how to descend on ropes from an aircraft in order to capture the scene perfectly. Frankly I’m sure they could have worked it out from Youtube videos but who can blame the chancers for convincing their boss they needed a day out?040506070809Lastly for today we have the Tau facing off against their enemies in the Mechanicum. Both sides are rather fond of technology although the Tau’s habit of innovating, plus their insistence on being filthy xenos, prevents them from being friends. Plus the Mechanicum almost obliterated the Tau when the latter species was still in the stone-age, something that is bound to sour any relationship.010203A rather large Tau flyer. Probably named after a fish.04One of the Tau flying-mech-suits (which, if it’s not already clear, I’m not too familiar with) annoying a titan.0506Something I found particularly clever about these dioramas is the way in which the eye is drawn to certain angles, which themselves provide cinematic scenes. Take this Sydonian Dragoon for instance, which strides through the periphery of an explosion with the effortless cool of an action movie hero.070809Remember those Imperial Guardsmen standing grimly in their cold trenches I showed you yesterday? This is the Tau equivalent, and it’s just a tiny bit more glamorous!10This encounter perfectly encapsulates the dynamic (pun intended) between the energetic Tau and the trudging, hidebound Imperials.1112I feel there’s a joke to be made here, either about getting legless or going topless…131415The Mechanicum politely explain to the Tau that what they have are not guns, this is a gun…16Now some of you might be thinking “Hey guy, where’s Chaos in all this? I thought they were the big bad in the 41st Millennium? Don’t they get a diorama?” Oh they do my freind, they certainly do – but for that you’re going to have to wait until tomorrow…


Warhammer World – Part 4

Continuing our exploration of the displays on show in Warhammer World today we take a look at the Armies of the Imperium section, starting with the clash between the loyalist Iron Hands and the treacherous Emperor’s Children on Istvaan V.0102Before Isstvan V the Horus Heresy is a story of commonplace treachery, an ambitious son betraying his father, an internal matter for the Space Marines to thrash out amongst themselves. What follows is a three hour window in which in which hundreds of thousands of Space Marines are slaughtered, three entire legions  are broken and an age of darkness and suspicion is born. Of the eleven Primarchs fighting at the start one is dead, two others are missing and there’s no going back for anyone. The brutality and tragedy of the Drop Site Massacre is some of the hardest to read in any Black Library fiction I’ve come across, unrelentingly honest about the hellish reality of war, just violence without glory, the bleeding of the many for the ambition of the few. Set against that this diorama captures just one fight of many and the scale of the tragedy is lost. The scene is pivotal, the diorama intended to capture it less so. That’s not the fault of the model makers, it’s simply the case that this scene is much to big to capture on such a small canvas.0304Although a solid display  the lack of any interesting conversions or stand out miniatures beyond the two Primarchs themselves (I didn’t even spot any Kakophoni although that may have been a failure to look hard enough) meant it didn’t keep my interest for long.05istvaan-1istvaan-2istvaan-3istvaan-4Then we have this old(-ish) display showing Space Wolves defending the Fang from the Tyranids has been updated recently to include newer models not available when it was first built.01For example these bikers racing the front lines have been joined by a pack of thunder wolf cavalry.02A servitor about to meet a messy end.030405A wounded wolf lord is carried from the field by his battle-brothers and thralls. I love the way this scene, almost a tiny diorama of its own within the larger piece, poses questions of its own. Is it just an illusion created by his injuries or is his hand warping into an animal’s claw? Are his men carrying him from the field, partly hidden by his cloak, to protect him – or to protect themselves?0607Meanwhile Genestealers swim through the icy waters below, ready to launch another sneak attack on the Wolves.08Next along – this is where it all began, the cover art from Rogue Trader reinterpreted in model form. The scene captures the last stand of the Crimson Fists during the fall of the their chapter planet, Rynn’s World.03Now this is how an Imperial tank should look – the perfect combination of hubris and impracticality! From it the Commissar looks out over three hundred Cadians marching by.imperial-guard-2imperial-guard-3And here we have the Imperial Guardsmen of the Death Corps of Kreig doing what they do best; looking grim whilst standing in a trench. The light dusting of snow only serves to add to the chill of the image – indeed it all looks much colder and harsher than the snowy landscape around the Fang (above). Even the lack of action implies a forbidding inevitability to the scene; these men have hacked their trenches from the frozen ground, now they stand ready to face the death they know is coming.imperial-guard-1imperial-guard-4Once again I hope you’re enjoying this look through the dioramas on display at Warhammer World. Tomorrow we take a look at the Imperium’s adversaries, the aliens!


Resurrecting The Lost Factions of 40k?

Over the last year or so 40k has changed considerably. Things which we once believed to have been banished to the dusty corners forever are back. The Adeptus Mechanicus have marched out of their manufactories with the might of the Imperial Knights by their sides. Once more the Wulfen howl in the night, whilst the Harlequins spring forth from their library and the Genestealer Cults come crawling from the shadows. It’s enough to make one wonder what’s left. If Games Workshop are trawling their own history for ideas – and frankly that’s good news in my book – then can there be much left to resurrect? Well, once I sat down and started writing a list, it turns out there’s quite a lot…

We Are Chaos!

Let’ start with the forces of Chaos – a faction naturally close to my heart. In many ways Games Workshop have built themselves a beast that’s difficult to ride here due to the sheer multifaceted nature of a faction that straddles both of its central games systems. There are four pantheons of daemons, a very conservative five ‘types’ of chaos marines (one for each god plus unaligned traitors – and that pushes the likes of the Iron Warriors and Night Lords to the fringes once more), the traitor guard and then the same again on the Fantasy side of the fence. Keeping it all fresh is a mammoth task and there’s always going to be someone who feels that their particular element of the faction is being under represented with releases.

On the plus side Chaos has always been a convertors’ army. By cannibalising Warhammer and Age of Sigmar both Khorne and Nurgle fans can create a plethora of futuristic barbarians, whilst those who’s taste is for bitter old legionaries need only visit Forgeworld’s Horus Heresy range. This opens up the opportunity for Games Workshop to thin down the task into something manageable. Of course everyone has their own personal wishlist of things they’d like to see – personally I’m looking for multipart cultists, obliterators and something to be done about the tanks (ten thousand years in the Warp and all that’s happened to them is someone’s nailed on a few spikes).

Over in Age of Sigmar the forces of Chaos have been split down into a whopping 20 factions (frankly I may have miscounted – once the numbers get that high I start to get dizzy). Of course that includes the Skaven, as well as factions like the Chaos Gargants that only include one model, but my point stands. Perhaps the problem in 40k is that everyone aligned to Chaos is crammed  into just two factions – Chaos Space Marines and Chaos Daemons. Compare this to the five different colours of Loyalists and we start to see a discrepancy. Should Blood Angels and Space Wolves exist as a single unit entry in Codex Space Marines in the same way as Plague Marines and Thousand Sons do? Would the servants of the gods not be better served with a Codex and model line all of their own, separate from  – but supported by – a central Chaos Codex? Many people are starting to think so. Of course if they did take this route there’s a couple of the gods just dying for their place in the sun at last…

Bring The Noise!

Grab your long grubby mac – it’s time to talk about Slaanesh! These days the Prince of Pleasure seems to be suffering from something of an image crisis. Rumour and supposition abounds that Games Workshop are wary of upsetting their younger fans – or more accurately their credit card wielding parents – with too much naked hedonism. The god’s absence from Age of Sigmar has only served to fan the flames, although personally I’m struck by how much attention Games Workshop have deliberately drawn to this, suggesting that they’re setting up the return of the faction at a later stage in the advancing storyline, probably alongside a relaunch of the elves. Whether this (hypothetical) resurgence of love for the Youngest God makes its way into 40k or not remains to be seen. If not we can always hope that a few kits of similar quality to the Blightkings might do for Slaanesh what the festering fatmen did for Nurgle, in terms of conversion fodder. Given a bit of love and attention however and the followers of Slaanesh have the potential to develop into one of the most stylish and visually arresting factions around, with sonic weapons, body modification and plenty of glamour abounding – and with not a boob in sight if that’s how the designers want to play it.

I could probably spin my notes for this out into a blog of their own if I let myself (or perhaps even a book of roughly War-and-Peace like proportions) but I’ll restrain myself to saying that – although I’m not promoting prudishness – a version of Slaanesh that focuses more on the decadence and weirdness and less on the tits and ass is a sacrifice I’m perfectly happy with if it brings She-Who-Thirsts back into the game.

Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes!

Almost as overlooked as Slaanesh is his/her brother-god Tzeentch, and like the Prince of Pleasure the Changer of Ways also has an image problem. In the case of the latter it’s less a matter of offending the buying public (although personally I reckon anyone with a sense of athletics is liable to find those pink horrors offensive) and more a case of creating something that makes sense out of a concept that is essentially ephemeral and ever changing. It’s a tricky one but – amongst the daemons at least – Tzeentch’s followers are now fairly well represented. I might have preferred something a little more ‘Lovecraftian crawling horror’ and less ‘cartoon character’ but that’s a matter of personal taste. Now it would be nice to see some more emphasis on the god’s mortal followers; mad sorcerers, mutants, beastmen and of course the Thousand Sons themselves. Of all the gods Tzeentch is the chance for them to be the most creative, to come up with something visually arresting and unique. Fans are already producing some wonderfully strange Tzeentchian creations (check out these from Big Boss Redskullz for example) but more official support for the faction would be extremely welcome. In the wake of the Skitarii they’ve demonstrated that they’re more than capable of realising their grim-dark weirdness in plastic and models like the Gaunt Summoner show they still have good ideas when it comes to Tzeentchian weirdness. Time to bring them out of the shadows I say!

Guant Summoner

The Gaunt Summoner – a sign of things to come for an expanded Tzeentchian faction?

Tide of madness: This classic Tony Ackland picture captures a large part of the horror and strangeness that I would like to see associated with Tzeentch in the future.

Nuns On The Run

The other day I stumbled upon some notes I’d made for a blog post I’d intended to write but which never saw publication. They dated back to the very early days of this blog and referred to some early, sketchy, ideas I’d put together for my traitor guard (long before the project actually got off the ground). In it I quipped that much as I was looking forwards to plastic Sisters of Battle they’d better release plastic Mechanicum first, and maybe revisit the Wulfen whilst they were about it! Oh how I must have chortled to write those words. After all, plastic Sisters were certainly only a few months away at most – whilst the chances of anything coming from Mars were, as we all know, a million to one. Who would have imagined that the passage of years would see the priesthood of the Omnissiah reborn in stylish plastic, whilst the brides of the Emperor continue to languish in an ever decreasing collection of elderly finecast and metal?

It’s not just the girls in power armour that are missing though, it’s the whole ecclesiarchy. The vibe of 40k has always been both grim and grand, darkly gothic and gleefully over-the-top all. The Church of the Emperor has always been the epitome of this, and provides a way to bring that look onto the tabletop without needing to change GW’s established formula for other major branches of the Imperium – particularly the Space Marines and Astra Militarum.

In some ways I can understand GW reluctance to move here – and I’m sure there are plenty of senior managers there shaking their heads and wishing they’d never got into this. The fact is if they play it too safe there’s bound to be complaints that they’ve failed to give the faction its due, yet go too risqué and controversy will undoubtedly follow. It’s Slaanesh all over again. However between the bondage nuns and the catholic pomp however there lies a window of opportunity in which to recreate a faction which not only has a legion of dedicated fans in its own right but also provides an opportunity to round out the Imperium as a whole. My solution? Make the faction more about the Ecclesiarchy, throw in more weird and wonderful machines (the Exorcist is already an organ on wheels – and not in the Slaaneshi sense…), avoid over-sexualising the female characters (never really as big an issue here as it’s been made out to be) and bring the armies of the faithful back to the forefront of 40k where they belong.

Penitent Engine

The Penitent Engine – brilliantly encapsulating the pomp and strangeness of the 41st Millennium.

Guards! Guards!

I talked about this just recently so I’ll keep this snappy to avoid repeating myself. I also accept that this isn’t so much a missing faction as an overlooked element of one that already exists – and in fairly large numbers.

However the fact remains that the Imperial Guard are extremely well represented when it comes to models – so long as you like Cadians or Catachans. If, on the other hand, your predilections lean towards any of the other famous regiments – or even just something a little more in keeping with the 40k aesthetic than Rambo and the Little Green Army Men then your options are thin on the ground.

As it stands the Astra Militarum (as I’ve still not learned to call them) range is pretty well fleshed out, with most options now available in plastic and more tanks on show than a goldfish emporium. Now’s the time to bring back the Steel Legion, Talarns, Valhallans, Vostroyans and all the rest – and create a faction worthy of the diversity that is the core of the Imperium.

Roguish Types

In spite of everything I’ve said above regarding the Sisters of Battle and the Imperial Guard the Imperium is actually extremely well stocked with factions. In many ways this is their right – the story of 40k is, after all, the story of the Imperium at the moment of its decline and fall. The other factions exist almost entirely as counterpoints and adversaries, their differing philosophies used to bring perspective to the story of the Imperium,  their armies the savage beasts which will pull the realms of men down.

None the less, with five types of Space Marines, two (easily combined) sections of the Adeptus Mechanicus, the Inquisition, the Assassins, the Knights – plus the aforementioned Sisterhood and Guard – do they really need another? I would argue that the answer is yes, we need the Rogue Traders. The conquistadors of the far future have been part of 40k for such a long time that the original game was named after them, yet they remain an unexplored faction. Giving them their own range would not only offer another opportunity to dig into the weirdness that is 40k’s trademark but set up another angle on the grim-darkness, the grasping greed and expansionism as opposed  to the oppression and desperate clinging to power that the other factions already cover.

A Little Help From My Friends

The Tau Empire has always been marketed as the great coalition – dozens of species brought together in the name of the Greater Good. The fish-heads are ever optimistic about recruiting more races to join their quest for a new, hope-full and inspired galaxy. Unfortunately for them all the big names prefer xenophobia, planet-wide brutality and the mocking laughter of thirsting gods but one can but try. However as the Tau range has expanded we’ve seen more and more of their high-tech fighting prowess and less and less of their alien allies. In some ways I can see the value in this – by introducing all kinds of strange aliens there’s a risk of it looking like a rabble on the tabletop. Nonetheless the concept remains at the core of the Tau background, and yet appears on the tabletop only via some increasingly elderly-looked Vespids and Kroot. With the Tau range now armed to the teeth with fancy walkers (with even fancier guns) maybe it’s time to get out there and start making friends?

Vespids

Always the Bridesmaid – Never the Flesh Eating Alien
Continuing from that last point brings us neatly to the Tau’s oldest – and bestest – friends of all; the Kroot. Yet for all their supposed camaraderie with the space-communists the Kroot are an altogether more complex beast than is allowed by their status as perpetual best friend and bit-part sidekick. Their strange ecology whereby all the creatures of their homeworld look a lot like each other not only brings a unique visual style to 40k but undoubtedly makes for some unusual creation myths (what Kroot-Adam got up to with the birds and beasts of Kroot-Eden is probably best left to the darker reaches of fan-fictiondom…).
What’s more their background paints them as roving mercenaries and bandits, happy to lend a hand to whoever will feed them and not above savaging outlying colonies if they don’t get their way. The Kroot also have a pre-existing range that would make them perfect for a smaller codex not dissimilar to the Harlequins. The Carnivores squad has stood the test of time fairly well but new Kroot Hounds, a clampack Shaper, a revisited Krootox weapon platform, some kind of elite or specialist unit and of course the obligatory big kit in the form of the return of the big chap below – and we’re all set for the people of Pech to throw off the Tau’s shackles and take their rightful place in the galaxy.

btknarloc4

All this and no mention of the hairy bikers (not the chefs but the Squats)? It’s probably for the best! What about the Hrud or the Zoats, the Custodes or the Arbites? If there’s a faction you think I’ve missed, or if you think I’m wrong and you want the world to know about it, then speak your mind in the comment’s box below.