Tag Archives: Sisters of Battle

Templars, Sisters and Scum: GenCon 2021 Previews

GenCon, which likes to remind us all that it is “the biggest four days in gaming” happened this weekend. Despite the fact that some American acquaintances of mine seemed to believe that it is the only four days in gaming it might well have passed those of us who live outside Indianapolis by, were it not for the various companies which attended and used it as a platform to show-off the next big things to be assaulting our wallets.

Games Workshop were there of course, and although they’re far from being the only company who’s miniatures I buy I’ll admit to being enough of a fan that I was watching with keen interest. Plus they announced that they would be previewing forthcoming goodies for Necromunda, Warcry, Blood Bowl and Kill Team – and you know they had me at Necromunda. Now that the dust has settled I’ll take the opportunity to cast my eye back over the announcements and share a few of my thoughts. Needless to say there’s a lot we still don’t know about all this, we really only have Games Workshop’s own promotional bumph to go on and I’m sure much of what I have to say will look laughably out of date in a few months time. Is that going to stop me bumping my gums and rattling my keyboard? Of course not!

Harrowdeep

Before we got to the good stuff (and I’m sure I’ll be shot at dawn for saying that!) the first thing to be revealed was the forthcoming fifth season of Warhammer Underworlds. As a game Underworlds doesn’t really attract me, the emphasis on collecting cards and competitive gaming is a bit of a turn off I’m afraid. The models however have been generally outstanding, with rarely a duff miniature in the game’s entire stable. Given its popularity a new edition (sorry – “season”) seemed pretty much inevitable and GW had already announced that this was on the way. Now we got to find out a little more about it – this time it’s set underwater – and features a new game mode that other reviewers will undoubtedly be able to share far more educated opinions on than me. I just like looking at the miniatures! And as for those miniatures – well, they’re a little bit of a mixed bag for me I’m afraid. Underworlds warbands tend to attract me either as models to paint for the sheer pleasure of painting them – and again let me emphasise that the vast majority of them have been outstanding – or because I can use them for something else (normally Warcry). This time the set features Kruelboy Orcs fighting it out against Stormcast Eternals which is very much the match-up of the moment in Age of Sigmar as these two posterboys for good and evil slug it out across the Realms.

So far I’ve yet to buy one of the core sets for the game and I’m pretty certain that this latest – Harrowdeep – will go the same way. The models are nice, and I might be tempted by the Kruelboys if they were available separately, but they come packaged – and priced – with a lot of extraneous cardboard that just isn’t for me.

Kruelboy 1

Stormcast Eternals aren’t generally a faction that appeals to me that much and although the latest models added to the range have been amongst the best so far the crew from Harrowdeep fall short of that. Take this guy for instance – it’s hard to put my finger on exactly what I don’t like about him but there’s something off there. The boar carved into his armour is pretty cool though – I’m enjoying seeing all the animal motifs popping up on Stormcast armour. We’ve seen hawks, lions, bears and now a boar and (on one of the others in this set) what appears to be an owl. What next I wonder? My money is on a hamster.

Stormcast

Games Workshop have invested a lot of effort and attention in Underworlds and it seems to have paid off, I may not be that excited about it – although as I say I’m very much looking forward to seeing what other new warbands will be arriving this season – but I know I’m in something of a minority there. Kill Team – the skirmish-scale sidekick of Warhammer 40k – on the other hand has suffered from a lack of love, all too often making do with repackaged kits and “trickle down” attention from it’s much more lucrative big brother. With this latest relaunch however GW claim to have finally got the message and have promised us something new for Kill Team ever quarter year for the foreseeable. This is a big improvement, previous editions having barely seemed to stay on GW’s radar for three months before vanishing into the murky depths – outcompeted for their parent company’s limited attention by the plethora of other games the studio produces. Already – mere weeks after the game was launched – the first new expansion has been revealed. First we had Orks fighting the Death Korps of Kreig, now the Sisters of Battle are taking on the Tau in a new box entitled Kill Team: Chalnath.

Chalanath Kill Team Box

Now I’ll acknowledge that neither the Sisters nor the Tau particularly interest me – in fact I wouldn’t have realised that the Tau half of the box was made up of models already available, supplemented with a new sprue of upgrades, if I hadn’t been told. Similarly, whilst I’m pleased to see GW investing properly in the Sisters of Battle for the first time in decades and I can barely think of another faction that deserves attention to the same degree (cough-Skaven-cough) they’re still not really my bag. That said these particular Sisters are pretty interesting. Whilst the majority of Sisters of Battle go around in power armour (thus answering the question of what a female space marine would look like and saving anyone the trouble of getting on their high horse…) these ladies are still just initiates and so go into battle defended only a corset, a wimple and what looks like reinforced jodhpurs. Mixing the futuristic with the medieval in true 40k style these girls will be great for Inq28 conversions and even though I probably won’t get a full set myself I’ll have my eye on get some spares to use in converting downhive fanatics and witch hunters for Necromunda. The matriarchal agents of House Ko’iron, with their close ties to both House Cawdor and the Sisters of Battle spring immediately to mind.

Sisters of Battle 1

Given the quality of these models, and the preceding Death Korps and Ork Kommandos also released for Kill Team I’m feeling genuinely positive about the future of the game and very keen to see what might be coming in the quarter after next. Oh and speaking of the Death Korps and Kommandos these will also be getting separate releases soon, not entirely surprising but nice to have it confirmed – especially given how odd GW’s releases can sometimes be.

Death Korps

For a while there Blood Bowl was riding high with new teams emerging roughly every three months. Things got a little bumpy during the height of the covid epidemic but that was true of everything, and as 2020 drew to a close we even got a new edition of the game. As we stepped bravely in 2021 you could almost hear the baying of the crowd around every corner, see the discarded McMurty’s burger wrappers blowing in the breeze, taste the Bloodweiser and feel the crunch of fragile flesh hitting unyielding astrogranite. Then everything went suddenly and strangely quiet. Yes we got things like new pitches, and dice and so on but we’re fans of miniatures – we want new teams! Some people might argue that we already have 21 teams available to play in the game and I should have used this lull in activity as an opportunity to paint some of the models I already own and learning how to play the game properly but I won’t tolerate nonsense like that!

Anyway, at last our prayers have been answered and a bunch of very angry men have stormed the pitch – and for once it’s not just the fans. Blood Bowl has long had a Chaos Undivided team and a Nurgle Team and now the developers turn their attention to one of the other Chaos Gods; Khorne. If ever there was a Chaos faction likely to be drawn to Blood Bowl it must be the followers of the Blood God (the clue is in the name). Somehow I can’t imagine that these guys will be tactically challenging to play, or rely on a subtle passing game over good old-fashioned brutality.

Khorne Blood Bowl 3

The team contains three types of players, the Bloodborn Marauder Linemen (above), Bloodseekers and bestial Khorngors. The Bloodborn Marauders and Bloodseekers are roughly analogous to the Bloodreavers and Blood Warriors from the Blades of Khorne faction from Age of Sigmar.

Khorne Blood Bowl 1

Now before anyone gets too hot under the collar I don’t think this suggests that the Blood Bowl developers are turning to AoS for inspiration, that the Old World of Warhammer has been mined out of ideas (it most certainly has not) or that we’ll be seeing Stormcast Eternals playing Blood Bowl by the end of the week (Satan will be ice-skating to work before that happens). Rather it’s simply the fact that many of the concepts behind the Blades of Khorne were ported over from WHFB to AoS, and have been imported to Blood Bowl in the same straightforward manner. Keep in mind that the warriors of Khorne revealed in recent previews for the computer game Total War: Warhammer III have also looked a lot like their AoS counterparts – that’s just how fantasy Khornate warriors look.

Khorne Blood Bowl 2

More importantly though via the Blades of Khorne range we have a treasure trove of bits to convert our new Khornate Blood Bowl players – and equally we can always take some bits from Blood Bowl and sneak them into AoS armies. I salute the first person who unleashes a Khornate horde in AoS with a ball carrying Marauder Lineman leading the charge of the Bloodreavers.

Khorne Blood Bowl 4

Now some of you are probably thinking “This is all very nice but how about seeing some Space Marines, there’s an underrepresented faction if ever I heard of one”, in which case fear not – the boys in power armour were covered too. If you feel that the honour of the Emperor has been intolerably besmirched, that the unclean are being allowed to live and witches are going around without anyone to suitably abhor them then good news – the Black Templars are coming to sort things out.

Black Templars Art

Every 40k fan, even the staunchest heretic, has a favourite Space Marine chapter and for me the Black Templars are probably it (the Blood Angels give them a good run for their money though – berserk space vampires are hard to beat). The Templars however bring sheer, uncompromising attitude that I find irresistible, they’re ruthless fanatics and stubborn to the point of self-destruction if they choose to be. These are the guys who chain their weapons to themselves because they’re always ready to purge someone, and whilst the Blood Angels find the time to make beautiful art and think about their feelings these mad bastards have been permanently on crusade for 10,000 years.

Black Templars

They also have more gothic flourishes than you can shake a dead heretic at, which means they look like they’d be a real joy to paint, and to top it off they have arguably the coolest colour-scheme of any Space Marine chapter ever.

Black Templar Martial

If all this sounds a bit fan-boyish then it probably is, but if we’re not allowed to enthuse about things we like then what are we allowed to enthuse about? The Templars will be released later this year, starting with a limited edition “launch box” which will sell out in about 12 seconds. I won’t be trying to snag a copy but I will be keeping an eye out for when the kits get a normal release, and waiting with great anticipation to see what other models are added to the range.

The boxset also contains the codex supplement for the faction, with a limited edition cover, and I must admit I let out a very unmanly squeak when I saw it. This was the piece of artwork that, back when I was a lad, transformed me in an instant from thinking “Space Marines – meh, they’re a bit rubbish” to thinking “Space Marines are fucking awesome!!”

Black Templars Cover

Even now it’s a dangerous thing, I can’t allow myself to look at it for too long because every time I do I find myself planning out the Black Templars army of my dreams and really I ought to be concentrating on all my other projects, especially all those lovely new Orks.  Dammit, I want to start a Black Templar army now though…

Black Templars 3

Anyway, moving swiftly on, and finally we got to the part I was waiting for. Games Workshop really saved the best for last here (or almost last anyway – more on that below). Regular readers will know that Necromunda is where my heart lies these days and so of course I was agog to find out what will be coming next to the dirty streets of the underhive. The last two years have been given over to building up the forces of the “big six” houses, bringing new models and expansions to flesh out the gangs of Goliaths, Eschers, Orlocks, Cawdor, Van Saar and Delaque. The last time an entirely new faction appeared it was the Slave Ogryns back in early 2020 but GW had announced that another new gang would be hitting the streets before the end of the year. There were various things that I was hoping we might see – pit slaves, ash waste nomads and muties being particularly interesting. Instead we got something which on the one hand is quite unexpected, and on the other is exactly what I’ve been hoping to see for the last decade or so.

Necromunda Outcast Gangers 1 (1)

The majority of people on Necromunda belong to one of the great houses in only the loosest sense – that is to say they belong to them as property, not as citizens. Whilst an Escher ganger is fully immersed in Escher culture, the majority of the people working for the house do so only because they are indentured to a factory that the Eschers happen to control. For these ordinary people life is unbelievably harsh and whilst most endure brief lives of cruel drudgery before being worked to death some get out, by accident or design, and find themselves forced to survive on the mean streets without the dubious protection of the Houses. These Outcasts and Hive Scum are what we’re looking at now, down-and-out desperadoes banding together for survival.

Necromunda Outcast Gangers 1 (2)

Now I’ll start by saying that I’ve been thinking of starting a gang of underhive criminals and outcasts for a while now but couldn’t quite decide where to start so I’m over the moon about these. However let’s think a little broader and look for a moment beyond the walls of Necromunda itself, because these guys are a convertor’s gold mine! Do you want Chaos Cultists? Just add a few spikes and mutations! Thinking of starting a penal legion, or other disreputable Imperial Guard army? These are your guys! Want some frateris militia to march alongside your Sisters of Battle? Just add Cawdor and Redemptionist parts and you’re good to go! What about Imperial civilians, Space Marine chapter thralls, Genestealer Cultists, space pirates, Inquisitorial agents, even inhabitants of the more industrial and shabby Cities of Sigmar? The possibilities from a bunch of generic humans are vast and extremely exciting.

Necromunda Outcast Gangers 1 (3)

Alongside these we’ll also be seeing an Underhive Market as a set of terrain. Again this is something I’ve dreamed of having for years and when I finally get around to building a little corner of the hive of my very own this will definitely be included – where else can my gangers go to buy extra guns, a few bottles of Second Best and a rat on a stick?

Underhive Market

Finally, the very last preview came in the form of a little hint at the future of Warcry. Now whilst Necromunda is the setting I’m most excited about Warcry is the game I’m most likely to play – I’ve been enjoying slugging it out against gangs of thugs across the Chaos wastes of the Eightpoints and beyond since the game first appeared back in August of 2019. However despite an initial flurry of attention the game hasn’t had a lot of official support since then, there have been a few rule books, three monsters and various rules to bring factions from Age of Sigmar into Warcry – all of which is great – but we’ve only seen two new warbands made specifically for the game since it launched and it’s been easy to imagine that Games Workshop planned to let it pass into history, as they’ve done with so many other games in the past. I suppose that wouldn’t be the end of the world, we do have a lot of cool models and content for it already, but I’d love to see it given more long term support. The setting is very intriguing, the models have been outstanding and the game is a lot of fun to play; all good reasons to keep it alive and kicking. Now at last we’ve had a definitive answer to whether or not they have more releases up their sleeves; Warcry – Red Harvest is on its way.

Red Harvest

…And that’s all we know. Well that and a lot of hints about spiders being involved somehow. I’d have loved to see a new warband previewed, in fact I’d love to see them give Warcry quarterly updates with four new warbands per year (and the same for Blood Bowl and Necromunda whilst they’re about it!) but I’ll settle for knowing that the game isn’t entirely dead and gone.

Anyway, that’s more than enough enthusiastic wittering from me! What about you – did you enjoy these previews, do you have a particular favourite or would you have preferred something else? As ever the comment’s box is waiting for you to share your thoughts with the world!


The Oathbones – Part 3

I’ve got quite a horde of Cawdor gangers built up now, and really I ought to be cracking on with painting them, rather than continuing to build more. However that sounds far too much like common sense and moderation to me, especially when I have a holy crusade to launch with which to purge the hive of the sinful, the faithless and the filthy muties.

The release of the Sisters of Battle Arco-flagellants has given me all kinds of ideas for new additions to the gang, not to mention the host of fanatical lunatics that I plan to unleash in their wake. So far I’ve just dipped my toe into the uses I can get from the kit, starting with a few headswaps, and although it’s desperately fiddly I think there’s a lot of potential to be explored here.

Cawdor Necromunda ConvertOrDie Wudugast (1)Cawdor Necromunda ConvertOrDie Wudugast (2)Cawdor Necromunda ConvertOrDie Wudugast (3)Cawdor Necromunda ConvertOrDie Wudugast (4)Cawdor Necromunda ConvertOrDie Wudugast (5)Cawdor Necromunda ConvertOrDie Wudugast (6)Cawdor Necromunda ConvertOrDie Wudugast (7)

For the next little while I’m going to keep my focus on Warcry but these have fired my enthusiasm for my little cult again so I’ll look to get back to them soon (and who knows,  perhaps I’ll even get some more of them painted!)


Faith Healer

This next miniature comes from the Sisters of the Burning Rose Kickstarter from Anvil Industries. The theme of the range is essentially futuristic warrior nuns (a fine and original idea – I can’t imagine why Games Workshop haven’t tried something similar…). Smart arse remarks aside there is of course a distinct thematic cross over between these and the Sisters of Battle which GW – after abandoning them for so long that they have become almost synonymous with neglected miniatures – have announced they will be revamping and re-releasing by the end of the year. Speaking personally although I’m pleased to see them finally getting the attention they deserve I’m not particularly fired up about the Sisters of Battle – although I’m hopeful that they will be accompanied by plenty of gothic accoutrements which can be put to use in creating weird and wonderful Inq28 conversions. Likewise the Sisters of the Burning Rose themselves weren’t the thing that grabbed my attention, rather it was all the crazy characters that appeared alongside them.

In this case we have a nun with a more “real-world” aesthetic than many of the other models in either range of Sisters. She’s clearly some kind of healer and I can envision her either following my Imperial Guard around to patch up wounded soldiers or running some kind of chapel/surgery in the Underhive. That said she strikes me as being more like a “Doc” (as in Visiting the Doc in the post-battle phase of Necromunda) than a Rogue Doc (a gang’s hanger-on who seems to me less like a fully qualified healer and more like an alcoholic with a large collection of knives and a can-do attitude). She’d also tie in well with all kinds of Inq28 ideas, from joining a warband to being a handy NPC.

Anvil Nun Wudugast ConvertOrDie (1)Anvil Nun Wudugast ConvertOrDie (2)Anvil Nun Wudugast ConvertOrDie (3)Anvil Nun Wudugast ConvertOrDie (4)Anvil Nun Wudugast ConvertOrDie (5)

Speaking of religion I’ve got another model with a keen interest in the teachings of the God-Emperor, specifically those which relate to immolating anyone  who might be deviating from His vision for humanity – I’ll try to get her finished and uploaded by the end of the week.


2016 – For Anyone Who Missed It

2016 – what a year eh! In many ways it was actually a pretty bad year, particularly if you’ve been following political developments around the world – or just happen to be a fan of living on Planet Earth. A lot of celebrities also died although sometimes it felt like they were just checking out early to avoid the rush.

For me though it’s actually been a very good year; I’ve moved in with my long term partner, I’m no longer a nomad living out of a rucksack and my job situation has actually settled down into something which, for the next year or so at least, almost resembles stability. It’s also been quite an exciting year for our hobby with Games Workshop both plundering its past and setting up what looks to be an equally exhilarating future. In the last twelve months we’ve seen the Wulfen come howling out of the warp (not with the best models mind, but it’s the thought that counts), the genestealer cults rising from the deepest hives and, just a few weeks ago, the dramatic return of a Daemon Primarch – Magnus the Red – at the head of a legion of simply beautiful Thousand Sons. In fact the Thousand Sons enjoyed two back-to-back releases this year, the first being the Burning of Prospero which featured the legion at the start of its journey into darkness. Combing models from both releases, alongside the aforementioned Wulfen, has the potential for some great games, modelling and general storytelling to book-end the Imperial era.

Age of Sigmar has been equally packed, we’ve seen the (often maligned) Fyreslayers – the second race to join the game as a completely new concept, alongside other Old-World-Warhammer factions re-imagined in the new setting. These latter have included the Sylvaneth – a new race developed from the treemen and dryads that used to hang out with the Wood Elves, and the Ironjawz, developed from the old Black Orcs and Big uns. We’ve also seen the return of the Old World of Warhammer (the World That Was – Age of Sigmar kids) through Total War: Warhammer (a game to which, I have to confess, I’ve developed a considerable addiction and which has sparked my interest in Warhammer like never before). Meanwhile White Dwarf itself came back – Grombindal having realised that this whole weekly-pamphlet idea was a mistake and what we really wanted was a gloriously chunky magazine full of interesting articles.

Oh, and I finally realised a longstanding ambition and went to Warhammer World!

warhammer-world-selfie

Excitingly, and for the first time ever, a side effect of having a proper house to live in is having all my miniatures in the one place. No longer must they lurk, lonesome and unloved, carefully packed in boxes. Instead they can stand proudly on a shelf built specially for them and that means we can have some group shots!

The largest part of my collection – by a long shot – are the Chaos Space Marines of the Beasts of Ruin. At the core of the army are a large number of marines, cultists and war-engines, dedicated to Chaos Undivided, and at the centre of that army is a host of Chaos Marines. Having completed my first 20-man squad of chaos marines late last year this year I started work on a second. Somebody told these lads there might be a Black Crusade on soon and as you can see they’re rather excited (they also heard conflicting rumours about a Penitent Crusade but luckily they don’t know what that is…)

all-chaos-marines-convert-or-die

Alongside them we have the pestilent servants of Nurgle. They too saw a boost to their numbers this year with the addition of a small squad of malodorous, yet still cheerful looking, terminators and a few boisterous Nurglings.

nurgle-convert-or-die

The worshippers of Khorne also saw a big boost this year, with plenty of berserkers, terminators and even an ogren, storming across the painting desk. Sadly Rannoghar Garran, the brutal Chaos Lord who will someday lead them, remains just a heap of bits. In his absence however Kharn the Betrayer was kind enough to step in and cover for him.

khorne-convert-or-die

The Slaaneshi contingent remains a much smaller part of the collection but, thanks to Dreadtober (this year ably orchestrated by JoeB of the Broken Paintbrush), they have at least been bolstered by the arrival of a Sonic Dreadnaught.

dreadtober-convertordie-8As for the Tzeentchian element, well they remain the smallest  faction of all but who knows, with all those Thousand Sons now available 2017 might just be their year…

chaos-sorcerers-convert-or-die

Of course, not everyone who worships Chaos wears power-armour, which brings us to the massed ranks of the lost and the damned themselves, the traitor guard. In the early months of 2016 they saw quite a lot of growth but progress has been decidedly slow since (read; nonexistent). Nonetheless the itch to paint more scruffy tech-barbarians hasn’t gone away so don’t imagine you’ve seen the last of them yet.

traitor-guard-convert-or-die

Over the last few months I’ve also put in a bit of work on my Orks. Some readers may recall that back in 2014 I set about repairing, repainting and generally ‘fixin’ up’ my entire Ork collection – with the result that by the time I’d finish I didn’t want to see the colour green ever again. Fast forward the best part of two years however and the call of the Waaagh was strong once more. Time to gather more boys and get ready to smash up the hoomie Imperium but good! Expect to see a few more of them in the new year.

all-orks-2016-convert-or-die

Because of the sheer size of the Ork collection, coupled with a severe lack of natural daylight to work with, that picture probably isn’t going to win any prizes unless they’re giving out awards for causing eyestrain, so here’s a group shot of all the greenskins I added to the collection in 2016.

2016-orks-convert-or-die

Last of all we have a scheming clan of man-sized rats. My Skaven have come on a great deal this year (they’re a whole different colour for one thing) but they’re still a long way from the chittering, scabrous horde I have in mind. The trouble is I’m not really an ‘army painter’. I admire anyone who’s able to sit down and batch paint hundreds of models, especially if they can do it to a high standard, but it isn’t me. At best I can manage two or three like this and that makes for slow going when one is painting legions of clanrats.

In an effort to set things right I’m setting myself a little challenge; every month in 2017 I will complete at least one model for my Skaven collection. Hopefully, by the end of the year, the army will have increased by more than just twelve clanrats but even if that’s all we see it will at least be a step in the right direction. Watch this space – and please, please do mock and shame me if I fail in this rather simple endeavour.

all-skaven-2016-convert-or-die

Other plans for the new year include more Orks (you didn’t think this was the only Meganob in the works now did you?) and getting my Slaaneshi gladiator painted up. Oh and then there’s this fellow, who’s going to be joined by a few friends…

skeleton-convert-or-die

Things I’m looking forward to in 2017:

Games Workshop have already announced that 2017 is going to be “bigger and better” than 2016 (although to be fair we never expected them to say “2017 will be slightly worse than 2016 and everything we have planned will disappoint you”). I’ve already waxed enthusiastic about the new models they showcased last week in their own review of the year but, having taken a few deep breaths and gone for a little lie down, here’s my slightly more considered thoughts on the year ahead.

 

Breaking the Habit

“For where two or three 40k fans are gathered together, there one will find a Sisters of Battle player complaining about how unloved they are” as Jesus could have said. Over the years many people have wondered what the origins of the “40,000” in Warhammer 40,000 is and at last Games Workshop have provided an official answer; it’s the number of years between each Sisters of Battle release. Perhaps they shouldn’t have put Axel Rose in charge of the project?

Personally I’m not even that interested in the Nuns with Guns but seriously Games Workshop, for the love of all that is holy, just give them their damn models! Over the last few years the level of fevered fantasising about nuns in bondage in the Wahammer scene has reached peaks normally only seen in the bar at the Conservative Party conference.

In the video which first revealed Magnus the Red (hiding in a bin because even the sons of the Emperor fall on hard times) the Thousand Sons were described as “coming soon”. The Sisters of Battle teaser at the end of the video featured Warhammer TV’s intrepid bin-raker Eddie commenting “cool – this isn’t released for months yet”. Yet the sages of the Internet gave it a good quarter of an hour after Magnus hit the shelves before deciding that the whole thing was a hoax. Games Workshop then upped the ante by including the Sisters in the Imperial Agents codex, alongside various other factions that don’t have plastic models and never will like the Grey Knights and Deathwatch. Deeply insulted Sisters fans frothed their rage up and down the Internet and Games Workshop responded by flashing this image at them.

saint-celestine-2017-preview

For those lucky enough to have been on a penitent crusade lately this is Saint Celestine, who – early in the New Year, will be heading into the Eye of Terror to give Chaos a good kicking. (Why us? What did we ever do to her?) Now one would assume she’d be doing this at the head of an army of the Brides of the Emperor – but no, she’s taking the Black Templars instead. One can only imagine that the Black Templars fighting the Black Legion in the dark will be a painter’s delight. Personally I’m looking forward to the scene in which Grimaldus blunders into a table and barks his shin, and Abaddon trips over the cat.

Now one might assume that this drip feeding of releases allows Games Workshop to build up interest in a faction that has been under-represented for a long time, and helps to space out what might otherwise be a rather overwhelming tide of models. However it’s starting to feel a little bit like a tug of war; Games Workshop admitting bashfully that they have the models but still unwilling to give them up, the fans – desperate to have the ball thrown for them – simultaneously wagging their tails and growling. Frankly the sooner the Sisters fans are put out of my misery the better. It’s getting to the stage where Chaos fans can’t hear ourselves complain over the sound of Sisters fans complaining. Still I think we can all hope that by the end of 2017 Games Workshop will have finally relented and handed over the models. The Sisters, like the Dark Eldar before them, can then ride off into the sunset with their new range of shiny models, and the rest of us can breathe a collective sigh of relief.

Not that this will stop the Sisters fans moaning of course – they are creatures of habit after all…99810108001_sistersofbattlecannonessveridyan01

 

It’s Chaos Out There!

Depending on who you ask there are two facts you’ll discover about Chaos. One; we never get any models ever and Games Workshop actually hates us. Two; every release is Chaos, we’re always hogging the limelight and should give the (insert name of anyone apart from Space Marines here) a chance. It’s all a bit confusing until you remember that the faction loosely referred to as Chaos encompasses four gods (plus generally treacherous undivided baddies) – covering both deamons and mortals, nine Space Marine legions, and two games systems. To a fan of the Emperor’s Children the release of some Blood Reavers for Age of Sigmar may be Chaos but it’s as much use as telling an Imperial Guard fan “what are you complaining about – they released Space Wolves the other month!” (This is not the Leman Russ you’re looking for).

It would be unfair to ask or expect the kind of expansion and revamp of the Chaos line that it so desperately deserves – unfair on GW for setting such an ambitious expectation, unfair on fans of other races who may be less than enamoured by seeing nothing but spikey marines for the next twelve months and unfair on us Chaos fans and our wallets (I for one prefer a drip feed of releases that I can get my teeth into). In time however it would be nice to see the other Chaos factions get the treatment that the Thousand Sons just enjoyed. Everyone’s personal wishlist is different but if there’s one thing I’d like to see this year it’s a Thousand Sons -eque expansion upon the Emperor’s Children. Nurgle and Khorne are in need of love too of course, the other Greater Daemons would be nice to see, Obliterators are just terrible and all of the cult marines (with the exception of the Rubricae obviously) could use an update but it’s hard to deny that no-one has been neglected like Slaanesh’s followers among the Chaos Marines. Come on GW – give the Prince of Pleasure a little love. Who knows – you might enjoy it…

magnus-i-call-it-gladness

Fulgrim – this could be you!

 

Not The End Times

So this year 40k turns 30, which many people believe makes it a fine time for it to have a mid-life crisis. There have always been a few voices calling the 40k timeline to be advanced, as though this was a novel and we’ve been waiting on a sequel to resolve the cliff-hanger ending for the last three decades. 40k however isn’t a novel, rather it’s a setting and the cliffhanger ending is the whole point.

Since the End Times event in Warhammer those voices have become a lot louder. Surely, they cry, it’s time for the same thing to happen in 40k! The problem is that a post-40k automatically invalidates the sense of doom in 40k itself. Based on the projections suggested by the current setting if a 41k existed at all it would mostly be about a post-apocalyptic version of the Tau throwing rocks at the last few genestealers, on a daemon world. The cornerstone of 40k is its spirit of apocalypse – a character which – sadly – is as familiar today as it was when they first designed it in the shadow of the Cold War. The forces which threaten to consume humanity at the close of the 41st Millennium are so vast, so terrible, that humanity’s insignificance is rendered in the starkest possible sense. That’s what makes it such great escapism – its potency is its mixing of the familiar with the alien. As a species we too have 99 problems – but at least the carnivorous swarms of the Tyranids aint one. It provides the comfort of action even if that action is ultimately futile – and have no doubt that for all the complaints that the Imperium wins every campaign those victories are fleeting and the wolves are at the door (not those Wolves obviously!). Unless something utterly unforeseen occurs to shake things up the fall of the Imperium is now inevitable and the galaxy of the 42nd Millennium will be a desolate place, scoured of life by the inhuman forces that have warred over it. There is no hand-waving our way out of this one and into an Age of Sigmaresque future. Any attempt to do so by Games Workshop will feel forced and will diminish the power of the setting they’ve already created.

Having said all that – and argued against the return of loyalist Primarchs – I’m still looking forward to seeing the setting progress, if not quite to the point at which Dante, Calgar and Azrael link arms and sing Auld Lang Syne as the bells ring for the closing of the 41st Millennium then at least getting a little closer to the moment of atomic midnight.

Ultimately that’s what we’re going to see and any suggestion otherwise seems like silliness. The End Times, much as many didn’t like their execution or outcome, now seem a necessary development for Warhammer. 40k has no need for such an event and perhaps never will. The road to that apocalypse is exciting enough without ever needing to reach the destination. There’s no point in wishing for the murder of the Golden Goose when the old bird still has so much life in her – but what a joy it’ll be to see the full might of the Dark Millennium’s forces clashing! Daemon Primarchs will walk, the Traitor Legions will return and all the races of the galaxy will be forced to escalate in return. The return of Magnus changed everything and the Imperium will never be the same again, but that doesn’t mean GW are planning to put a match to it quite yet.

Perhaps after another thirty years 40k will seem out of place, a bitter dystopian dinosaur in a more hopeful world. Our grandchildren will wonder what we saw in it and listen wide-eyed when we say “those were darker times kid, they shot a gorilla and the whole world went to pieces”. Then, and only then, can Abaddon tear his grandfather’s corpse from the Golden Throne as GW puts the old beast to bed. Until then let the galaxy burn!

 

The Siege of Terra

Lurching from one apocalypse to another the Black Library recently announced that after over a decade the Horus Heresy series is closing on the final battle. Some people complain that it’s too long, that there are too many books (42 so plus short stories), that it’s too damn complicated, that Horus fell too quickly (three books) and then advanced on Terra too slowly (he’d agree). Still it’s been quite the ride and the showdown should be suitable spectacular. Most likely it’ll take several (dozen) books to cover the siege itself, and that’s no bad thing, so we can’t expect to see the last shot fired before the end of the year but anticipate drama and destruction nonetheless.

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That’s it for me for this year so there’s just time to wish all my readers and internet-friends a very happy New Year and a suitably miniature-filled 2017. Unless of course it all ends before then in a fiery nuclear holocaust and only Oldhammer players survive, shielded behind their walls of lead models. That really would give anyone with a substantial collection of Sisters of Battle the last laugh…


Exciting Times Lie Ahead!

Right, I don’t usually do over-excited, spur of the moment blog posts, but I just couldn’t miss this. For anyone who hasn’t seen it yet the ever-entertaining Warhammer TV team have just put up a video recapping the releases of 2016. All very nice, and justifiably self-congratulatory, but the real interest is in the last ten seconds or so as a series of images flicker across the screen. For those who still think that their previous claim that there were plastic Sisters of Battle coming up was just a joke this might be of interest…

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Based on that I think it’s fair to say that their claim that Saint Celestine is about to lead a crusade into the Cadian Gate might also not be a joke. Time for us Chaos fans to start working on our defences then…

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Fans of the Adeptus Mechanicus (such as myself) might be a little more excited by this machine-man…

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And it looks like we haven’t seen the last of Tzeentch either…

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Exciting times ahead indeed!

All Images belong, of course, to Games Workshop and are used without permission.


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!
Chaos StarLet’ 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!

Oldhammer Slaanesh

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.

VostroyanCommandSquad

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.

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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.