Tag Archives: Thousand Sons

A Darker World Is Not Far From Us

Chaos has always been portrayed as more than just another enemy. Whilst the Imperium stood at the heart of the 40k story with the xenos races arrayed around it like wolves waiting to pull the big beast down, Chaos was the Imperium’s equal – its dark reflection. One is led to believe that the Imperium could hold back any one of the xenos threats with ease, if only they were attacking it one at a time like bad guys in a martial arts film. The eldar are too few now to present a real danger, the tau too small and isolated. The orks, as is always noted, could destroy us all – if only they stopped fighting each other for long enough to knock over humanity’s sandcastles. Of course we’re told that the tyranids and/or necrons will soon kill everyone, but this is generally presented as something of a “by-the-way” which to me means it has often seemed either a distant threat, or so overwhelming as to make all other faction’s involvement seem pointless.

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Not chaos though. Chaos is in all of us. Every man who marches in the armies of the Imperium could someday turn his coat and fight beneath the eight-pointed star instead. If the Imperium fielded an army of just one man then that man might turn his back on the Emperor and fight instead for the Ruinous Powers. If they sent an army a billion strong to defeat him then they might win… or they might find a billion new enemies marching back towards them. The tau can be eradicated, the eldar driven to extinction, the Imperium brought to ruin and the numberless swarms of the tyranids exhausted, but so long as a single human remains alive in the galaxy Chaos will never die.

Like an infection it leaps from one carrier to the next. No-one is entirely immune, regardless of what the Grey Knights will tell you, and once a person is corrupted they will inevitably seek to corrupt others. Should the right person fall billions more can fall with them. Corrupt a planetary governor and a whole world can tumble. When Horus fell half the Imperium followed.

Fight it head on and you only feed it. Try to ignore it, deny its reality, smash the churches and burn the holy books, and Chaos sneaks back in via the back door.

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We know of course that there are various factions within all of the races, clans of orks, necron dynasties, tyranid hive fleets and so on. You’re encouraged to paint them different colours, and – especially since the arrival of Warhammer 40k’s 8th edition – there are even rules so that they perform differently in the game. The eldar have a bit more depth; there are the craftworlders, the dark kin of Commortagh, the dancing harlequins of the Black Library, the newly formed Ynnari and, for enthusiast convertors, even exodites and corsairs. Really though it’s the Imperium to whom the greatest attention has been devoted. We have six brands of space marine alone, various imperial guard regiments, the wonderfully weird tech-cult of the Adeptus Mechanicis, the towering knights, the golden armoured Custodes, the shadowy Inquisitors, the one man armies of the Assassinorum and those perpetually overlooked nuns with guns – the Sisters of Battle. The thing is, Chaos is always described as having all that and more. Four distinct gods place their influence upon chaos space marine legions, traitor primarchs, rebel guard regiments, beastmen herds, daemonic choirs, fallen knight households and the daemon-smiths of the Dark Mechanicus. It’s as if there was another Imperium, a twisted reflection of the first, a Dark Imperium if you will.

The battle between the Imperium and Chaos then is not the story of the old empire falling to the barbarians at the gates but the story of two equals fighting for dominance. The Empire of the Eye has stood almost as long as the Imperium and its history is just as rich and complex as that of its real space reflection.

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When Roboute Guilliman arrived in the 40k setting earlier this year I was furious. I even wrote a long and extremely angry blog post, which thankfully I never posted, decrying the state of the world and GW’s decision to put profit over quality. To me the daemon primarchs belonged in the setting and their return was welcome but their flesh and blood brothers should have stayed dead. I got over it though. Guilliman may walk and talk but the galaxy is a big place and his presence hasn’t impinged on my enjoyment of the game one way or another. I even read Guy Haley’s Dark Imperium (and, beneath my dwarf-like contempt for this newfangled tinkering with the established lore, secretly rather enjoyed it).

The age of the Emperor ended when he was placed upon the golden throne. This is the story of twin empires locked in a struggle to the death and of brothers fighting over their father’s kingdom.

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Warhammer as was told the story of many races, empires and nations. Age of Sigmar is a veritable soup of them. Nor do all of those stories focus around human protagonists. Central themes in the World That Was included the age long struggle between the self-righteous Elves of Ulthuan and their infinitely superior kin in Naggaroth, whilst dwarves, skaven and goblins battled in the sunless depths without anyone in the Empire or Bretonnia even knowing about it.

Without Chaos however 40k runs the risk of being a one horse town, with the Imperium at the heart of every story. Sure there are epic confrontations going on in the margins, the Eldar battling the Tyranids at Valedor, the Orks also fighting the Tyranids in Octarius, but in the main it’s all been about the Imperium. What’s more, for all the Chaos has traditionally been presented as the biggest baddy of them all, in recent years it’s star had started to wane. Bigger threats were descending on the galaxy, threats which would see all human life obliterated regardless of whether they worshipped a corpse god or grew tentacles from their ears. Either the Necrons were going to wake up and obliterate all organic life with the flick of a switch or the Tyranids were going to eat everyone. Against this Chaos was starting to feel a little weak. To criticise poor old Abaddon because you’ve never read the background and his arms keep falling off has long been akin to waving a flag and publicly declaring you’re an ass but even so one started to wonder if his long war wasn’t taking a little bit too long. Surely if he didn’t crack on his hordes would eventually come pouring from the Eye of Terror only to find a galaxy stripped of life and nothing left to fight but a lone genestealer fighting a broken necron in the ruins of the Imperial Palace. It’s one thing to unite the warring Chaos legions beneath one banner, quite another to take so long doing it that you end up missing the apocalypse you were planning to unleash. Yet whilst Abaddon was running the risk of being the big baddie who get’s beaten at the end of every episode some filthy xenos were about to blow up the whole galaxy – and that would never do.

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Now this isn’t intended to do down the xenos (some of my best friends are xenos) who enrich the setting so deeply or to claim special treatment for my army just because I’m super special myself. Indeed I’d like to see the various alien races expanded upon further and with luck GW are cracking on behind the scenes with exactly that. However when the threat they pose reaches apocalyptic levels it risks becoming too abstract, too overwhelming, to engage with alone. When one looks at the innumerable hordes of the Tyranids pouring in from the depths of space one tends to think that the Imperium might as well just go home and put their feet up, they’re all going to be eaten whatever they do so there’s not much point struggling especially not when they already have a galaxy-sized guass flayer to their collective heads. Chaos though is an enemy you can fight – not just with your bolters in the burning streets, not just on the tabletop, but in your own heart and soul. No-one looks at a Tyranid and thinks “I really understand where these guys are coming from! If I was living in the 41st Millennium I’d want to strip planets of their biomass too!” I can’t put myself in the shoes of a soulless Necron automaton, and even the Eldar and Orks are relatively inscrutable and inhuman to our gaze. Chaos though speaks to us, to our ambition, to our righteous anger, to our will to freedom and self-determination, to our hunger to live, to our moral drives and the very emotions that make us human.

The Imperium needs an enemy we can empathise with, an enemy that speaks to us in our own voice so that we can cringe with horrified fascination as they tear each other apart. Ultimately if GW are serious about the 40k setting evolving then the Imperium needs an equal. It needs Chaos.

All artwork used belongs to Games Workshop and is used without permission as a result of sheer badness on my part.

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Any Spare Change – Part 8

With the Nurgle caravan rolling into town some might have feared that my butterfly mind has flitted away from Tzeentch but worry no longer – the Changer still has me firmly in his grasp. However I have been taking some time out to think about my biggest problem with my Tzeentchian cultists, the fact that they are all difference sizes. Now really that shouldn’t be an issue, after all the god of mutation is probably the most likely of all the Chaos powers to have followers short and tall, thin and wasted scholars marching alongside bloated horrors tumbling into spawndom. However when I put the models all together it never looked right, they were a jumble without anything to give them cohesion or create the appearance of a unified force. Bases were also an issue, the big models hung off the sides of 25mm bases, the smaller ones were lost in the middle of 32mm bases and when I tried a mix of base sizes in the squad it only served to highlight the disparity in sizes. Time for a re-think.

The answer came to me when I was considering the Tzeentchian cultists in Age of Sigmar and their ambition of ascending through service to their God and being transformed into Tzaangors. Surely the cultists of the 41st Millennium would harbour a similar purpose. With this in mind I split my Tzeentchian collection into three groups depending on how far along the road to ascension they have travelled. Some of these regular readers will have seen before, some will be new. Yet under Tzeentch’s influence not all that appears familiar is unchanged…

The Least

The weakest, and often the least experienced, of the Great Architect’s many followers, the Least are desperate to prove their value and rise in their master’s gaze. Already some have begun to manifest changes and ambition seethes around them for truly each is bound for unrivalled power and glory.

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A raw recruit, risen from a worker gang, determined that a better life can be his if he has sufficient will.

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This one may possess a bestial form but he is still a long way from achieving true ascension into the ranks of the Tzaangors.

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This one is watchful… ever watchful… What schemes and visions boil and churn within his birdlike skull?

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The Ascendant

Whilst countless of their brothers have fallen along the way the Ascendant care not. The glory for which they strive is almost within their grasp and even as those around them are pulled down into darkness and spawndom they force onwards, towards the light and the spiralling laugher that echoes from it.

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This one has grown in stature but his head remains a tiny, half-moon. Tzeentch does not need wits to challenge his own amongst his followers, sometimes raw strength is enough to achieve what must be done.

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This one is just a straight up, unconverted Silver Tower acolyte. I just happen to really like the look of him.

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This one is well on his way to becoming a Tzaangor.

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However the Changer clearly has a much stranger fate in mind for this one.

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And this one is no less twisted!

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The True Children

Only the strongest and luckiest survive Tzeentch’s labyrinth of trials to join at last in the braying flocks of the Great Conspirator’s chosen. They have seen many things along the road however, exposed to the raw energy of the Warp and the capering flocks of daemon’s therein. They know now that to become a Tzaangor is not the end of the road, merely a stepping stone from which the ambitious can rise toward a greater destiny. Princedom calls and the Changer’s twisting web pulls ever tighter.

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I’ve only made one Tzaangor so far, converted from one of the Silver Tower models. More will come eventually.

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A comparison shot to demonstrate the differences in size that have been troubling me.

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Next steps will be to bolster the ranks with more cultists of various stripes, plus coming up with some characters to lead the flock in enacting its labyrinthine schemes.


Any Spare Change – Part 7

How many Tzeentchian sorcerers does it take to change a lightbulb?

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Just this guy – many hands make light work!


Any Spare Change – Part 6

Some might say that I don’t really need to be building more Tzeentchian sorcerers. They might even go so far as to suggest that  I’ve got enough hanging around the place as it is and actually painting some of them would be time well spent. Naturally I reject those claims out of hand!

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Tzeentch Sorcorer Convert Or Die (2)

Tzeentch Sorcorer Convert Or Die (3)


Any Spare Change – Part 5

Just found this Dark Angel rattling around in the bitz box (probably looking for the Fallen in there). Indeed I think I first acquired him as a test model for a scheme to build some Fallen Angels to serve as backup to my Chaos Marines, a scheme which has been on the backburner almost as long as the Dark Angels have been hunting for the real Fallen.

Empowered by the warping energies of Tzeentch, and with the Changer of Ways very much on my mind after this weekend’s releases, I found myself asking – could I turn him into a Sorcerer using the parts that were left over from Mazzakim? After all robes are very much the clothing option of choice for knights of Caliban and wizards alike.

Overall I’m pretty please with him – what do you think?

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Any Spare Change – Part 4

In the Mortal Realms and 41st Millennium alike the power of Tzeentch is waxing. Being, as I am, a degenerate worshipper of the Dark Gods, I’m easily distracted from my expressed goals (the Chapel and my shambling undead horde) and have rushed out to beseech the Changer from the comfort of the nearest unnatural flux-cairn. In return the Great Conspirator inspired me to manufacture another cultist through which to do his nefarious bidding.

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He still needs a little greenstuff to make the head fit snugly on the neck and of course at this stage he’s still subject to change (see what I did there) so as ever your feedback is appreciated


Any Spare Change – Part 3

Some of you may recall that, back when the Heresy-era version of Ahriman was released I picked one up with the intention of turning him into the leader of my Tzeentchian forces – Mazzakim the Liar. In the end however I decided that the Ahriman model, nice though it is, lacked the sheer grandiosity I was looking for in Mazzakim. That left me with an unused Ahriman model so could I turn him into a Thousand Son’s sorcerer ready to join Mazzakim’s cabal?

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Overall I’m pretty pleased with him – to my eye he reads as more than just Ahriman with a different helmet. I debated removing the “cow horns” from his collar but have left them for now, as per the principle that it’s easier to cut them off later than to stick them back on. As usual though I’m open to suggestions.