Tag Archives: Tzeentch

What Next Dark Gods?

Ask any fan of Chaos in the Mortal Realms where the biggest gap in the range was and, if they were honest with themselves, most would probably have agreed it was Slaaneshi mortals. Over the last few years times have been good for those like me who worship the Ruinous Powers. We now have well developed ranges with unique models and a distinctive aesthetic for each of the gods (that’s Khorne; god of war and violence, Nurgle; god of plague and decay, Tzeentch; god of magic and change and Slaanesh; god of decadence and excess). Gone are the days when I differentiated my Khornate troops from your followers of Nurgle because I painted mine red and you painted yours green. For a while there only Slaanesh, the longest neglected of the four gods, was left with a limited range but Games Workshop have turned that around in style, first by bolstering the daemons with some fantastic new recruits and now with a soon to be released wave of mortal followers, the first we’ve seen for Slaanesh in a very long time.

Shardspeaker

It’s a huge boost to the range and the miniatures are exquisite, but rather than talk about them I’m here to speculate baselessly instead! Once the Dark Prince has his mortal followers in tow where might Games Workshop turn their attention next? Of course they might come up with something wildly different, the Mortal Realms offers a lot of scope and potential as the Warcry warbands proved, and if they went off to stake out new territory with something a bit more unusual I’d be all in favour. Plus there still gaps to be filled in the current ranges, I’d like to see unique looking daemon princes for each god for instance, light infantry for Nurgle and beastmen for both Nurgle and Khorne.

Indeed, speaking of which I just kitbashed a pestigor to join a little Nurgle warband which has been whispering in the corner of my brain lately. Shall we sneak a peek at him before we begin? Oh go on then!

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Beastmen

Ah the beastmen, men who have become beasts and beasts who have devolved into something akin to men. The horned ones, the true children of ruin who lurk in the wild places, driven by a hatred of all that is civilised and orderly. I’ve always had a bit of a soft-spot for these shaggy barbarians, being hairy and uncouth myself. In fact, now I think about it it’s strange that I’ve never really painted many of them – something I’ll have to rectify.

Beastmen 2

This range of models dates back to Warhammer as was, and although there are some excellent models in there it also leans heavily on a lot of older sculpts, bulked out by models borrowed from other ranges like the Tzaangors. Plus there’s the fact that, despite beastmen being traditionally described as an amalgamation of beasts and men, “goatmen” might be a better name for them nowadays. Those of us who are still steeped in the old Realm of Chaos era will recall beastmen which hybridised all kinds of beasts with all kinds of men, but nowadays the braying despoilers of the forests seem to be almost exclusively Pan-like creatures with hooves, horns and long ovine faces. Far be it from me to question their commitment to disorder but a little more chaos in the mix wouldn’t hurt! The birdlike Tzaangors (see below for a couple of them that I’m currently working on) and the lanky, sinuous Slaangors which are soon to be released go to prove that Games Workshop aren’t unwilling to break out of the goat archetype however, and beasts of Khorne and Nurgle don’t seem too much to hope for someday either.

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Slaves To Darkness

Take a look at the Slaves to Darkness range (that’s humans sworn to serve Chaos undivided rather than dedicated to just one of the gods) and at first glance it looks pretty healthy, packed with lots of kits, many of which were released in the last year or so. Dig a little deeper however and you start to release that most of the range comes either from the Warriors of Chaos from the WHFB era or, in the case of the newer models, are borrowed from Warcry. Now personally I love Warcry, in fact I tend to take things from Age of Sigmar to make Warcry warbands rather than the other way around, but I’m glad to see the Warcry warbands given a home in AoS armies all the same. Likewise I was a big fan of the Warriors of Chaos and that range has some great miniatures that I’m pleased to see are still available.

Warriors of Chaos

However there are some models in there which are undoubtedly past their best, like the Chosen and the Marauders. Plus there’s the fact that, before the End Times, the Warriors of Chaos made use of all kinds of troops dedicated to specific gods, all of which have since been split off to form new factions of their own. With them gone the range has been left looking a little thin. Time to give it a bit of a boost. Thanks to Warcry we know what the warbands seeking to join the Everchosen’s legions look like, but what about those legions themselves. Time to bring the warriors Sigmar abandoned into the modern era – after all we don’t want that weakling thunder god to think he’s getting everything his own way now do we?

Darkoath Tribesmen

In the old days, when the heavily armoured warriors of chaos marched south to attack the Old World they did so surrounded by hordes of barbarian tribesmen, clothes-phobic folk who’s hardiness and bitterness against the weakling southerners may be partially explained by the fact that they lived in a frozen wasteland but nobody seemed to own a shirt. In this regard people from the British Isles will recognise them as being essentially Geordies.

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There are a few contenders for the title of “Worst Model in the GW Stable”, the Zombies and Skaven Plague Monks spring to mind, but the Chaos Marauders really have made a spirited attempt to claim that throne. Just a quick glance is enough to tell you that they’re past their best, if indeed there was ever a time when they looked anything other than awful.

Marauders models

 For a while there was a persistent rumour (and we all know how reliable those are eh!) from those who claimed to be “in the know” that Games Workshop were planning a new faction based around a range of new Marauder kits. Nothing has ever come of it, although we have seen a range of new Marauder equivalents in the form of the Warcry warbands, as well as troops dedicated to specific gods like the Bloodreavers of Khorne, the Kairic Acolytes of Tzeentch and the forthcoming Blissbarb Archers of Slaanesh, each of which is close to the Marauder archetype of old, and the Godsworn Hunt from Warhammer Underworlds. The rumour may have proved to be either a case of mistaken identity or wishful thinking but it’s still a good idea so who knows, perhaps someday we shall see the Slaves to Darkness split into two factions, the grim heavily armoured foot soldiers of the gods and the shirtless savages of the tribes?

Skaven

I know I sound like a stuck record here so I’ll keep it brief. The perfidious ratmen were my favourite faction from WHFB and over recent years I’ve painted up quite an army of them. Shall we remind ourselves of how they look? How could I ever pass up the opportunity!

Skaven Army Shot 3

Of course being a fan of the Skaven means being a glutton for punishment. Despite their ongoing popularity the range hasn’t seen much love in a long time and many of them models are so old they came off the Ark, and so rough they look like they were sculpted by the animals therein (and not the ones with opposable thumbs) rather than Noah himself. Get the finger out GW, give my rats some love!

Chaos Dwarfs

An industrious race of slavers and daemonsmiths the Chaos Dwarfs were the Old World’s finest bull-appreciators and big hat wearers, famed for putting Nagash to shame when it came to outsized headgear. They were also wearing big cow horns on their hats long before Johnny-come-latelys like the Lumineth Realmlords rocked up.

Chaos Dwarfs

By the later era of WHFB however they were almost extinct, their range of models long out of production and their sole surviving representatives the crew of the Hellcannon.

Chaos Dwarfs 2

With the Hellcannon going the way of all things when AoS was launched the Chaos Dwarves passed into history, in the main Games Workshop range at least. Forge World however have done their bit to keep them alive in the form of the Legion of Azgorh.  

Infernal Guard Command

Fantastic those these models are, a range which leans heavily on large and complicated daemon engines such as the Dreadquake Mortar (below) is going to be tricky in resin, and much easier for the average hobbyist to manage in plastic. Time to bring the bearded ones back I say!

Dreadquake Mortar

Chaos Gargants

From one end of the scale to the other, if we’re going to have Chaos Dwarves then why not Chaos Gargants? It’s not much of a leap really, there are already Chaos Giants and the new Mega Gargant kit contains a variant, the Warstomper, which can be taken by Chaos forces. Already I’ve seen plenty of them converted to be even more chaotic just as when the Imperial Knight kit was released many of us started welding on spikes to turn them into engines of the gods. After a few years of this GW yielded to the inevitable and produced a dedicated Chaos Knight kit, so it doesn’t seem beyond the realms of possibility that the same thing might happen with the Gargants.

Warstomper

Ogres and Trolls

Back in the old days all kinds of trolls and ogres shambled to war alongside the Warriors of Chaos. These days however such creatures exist almost exclusively under the remit of the Destruction faction (those who are particularly long in the tooth will recall Chaos orcs but let’s not go that far back!). There’s no reason not to bring these brutes back though, perhaps under the banner of the Slaves to Darkness or the Beastmen, or even as a faction of their own. Alternatively there could be versions of each of these incorporated into the four armies of the gods, each tainted and twisted by the favour of their particular patron, just like the Bile Trolls and Plague Ogres that formed part of Tamurkhan’s Horde in the latter days of WHFB. Regardless of which route was taken these brutes have plenty of potential, after all, as the Trogherds of the Gloomspite Gits demonstrated, people love big ugly monsters. 

Those are my picks for the future development of Chaos in the Mortal Realms but what about you? Are there any of the candidates above you think are particularly deserving, or any that you would have preferred to see abandoned to the history books? Is there a faction in waiting that I’ve overlooked? As ever the comments section is all yours. 


Change Need We – Part 4

Just a quick update to the Tzeentchian cult as, with complex and arcane movements of my brushes, I summon a Flamer from the Realm of Chaos. This is a hell of a weird creature isn’t it, I must admit before I painted one myself I didn’t ‘get’ it at all. It grew on me whilst I was working on it though and it was certainly a fine chance to play around with bright colours and magical effects.

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Next up, more misguided humans who have sold their souls to the Changer of Ways.


Need We Change? – Part 3

For my Tzeentchian cult I want a proper mix of Chaos monstrosities and other dubious characters. Those that have been following me for a while will know that alongside humans and daemons a few beastmen are an absolute must in my book. Plus I’ve been wanting to paint some of the new Tzaangors since they were first released back in November of 2016 (which I guess means they’re not exactly new are they? Time I got on with it then eh!). I really like these models but they are hellishly fiddly to paint, you’ve got to be in the mood for all the little details if you’re going to do them justice. The other thing which delayed me has been trying to choose a suitable colour scheme, I’m not overly enamoured of the blue skin used by the Games Workshop studio team, despite weird colours being very much part of Tzeentch’s repertoire I want something a little more natural for mine. Of course when it comes to Tzeentch natural is a relative term…

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However that doesn’t mean I’ve packed the blue paints away – in fact they’ve been hard at work as I powered through a few more Blue Horrors.

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Some readers may recall this partly-pink Blue Horror which I showed recently.

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He got quite a good response from everyone who saw him and I enjoyed painting him so much that I took the idea even further with this one. Don’t worry though, it’s not a trick I’m planning to overuse until it descends into cliché, I’ll keep the others relatively normal looking and blue from now on.

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Lastly I painted up a few more Brimstone Horrors, so that should those Blue Horrors meet their unnatural end they too can divide into malevolent magical sprites. I painted the first one as living flame in the same style as the studio models but with these I decided to go for a range of different colours. That way in the middle of a game it’s easier to point out exactly which one you’re talking about “I’ll attack the green one” rather than “No the one on the left, no my left, no not that one… etc”. Who could have guessed that someday I’d use gaming rather than purely aesthetic reasons for choosing a paint scheme – it seems we live in strange and interesting times indeed! That said I reckon the range of bright colours look great, they were fun to do and they add to the Tzeentchian aesthetic so it’s all to the good.

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Anyway, that’s it for the moment, I’ve still got various other Tzeentchian oddballs sitting around on the desk and at the moment I’m not sure which I’ll tackle next, but I’ll aim to have something else finished for the Changer of Ways by the end of the week.


We Need Change – Part 2

If I’m going to have a warband of creepy Tzeentchian types, dedicated to complex schemes and the destruction of order and structure in all forms, then a few daemons are a must. Unfortunately the rank and file of these daemons are the Pink Horrors and for my money they’re some of the worst models in GW’s catalogue.  Just take a look at these ghastly things.

Pink Horrors New

Horrors is definitely the word! Something else is clearly in order. I’ve kitbashed a few alternatives over the years but never really settled on anything that I liked. Continuing in that proud tradition these are my latest attempts to conjure up some horrors, this time blending the plague bearers (in my view the best of the four lesser daemons, these models practically paint themselves) with the less offensive parts of the standard horrors. I tried to pass off the various wounds in the plague bearers as the flesh of the horrors reshaping itself, with results which – to be frank – look mixed. I also went for a darker paint scheme which hopefully helps make them look more brooding and ghastly and less shite than the studio versions.

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I’m still not entirely satisfied with these and only time will tell whether I decided in the end that I’m happy with them or if I want to try something else. Either way I have another one part-painted on the desk so I’ll finish it up as well and see how I feel after that. As usual any thoughts or feedback is very welcome of course.


Change We Need – Part 1

Over Christmas and New Year, in between decking the halls with social baubles and passing round the hand-santaiser I found the time to fall under the sway of an insidious cult of madness and mutation, dedicating myself to change regardless of the cost. I’ve had a scheme for a while now to start a collection of Tzeentchian cabalists and their daemonic allies with which to either carry out labyrinthine schemes of complex evil or get a few games of Warcry in, whichever proves to be more straightforward. This time we’ll be taking a look at everything I finished over the break and hopefully later in the week I’ll have a couple more done as well.

My plan is to put together a warband containing both daemons and mortals with roughly a thousand points of each. That way I’ll end up with two warbands to use in the game, sometimes as allies sometimes as adversaries depending on the schemes of the Changer of Ways. At the same time I can paint the whole thing as a single project, with each “side” providing inspiration for the other. It should also help me not to get bogged down, if I get bored of daemons I can switch to mortals and vice versa. 

To get things started we have a pair of Kairic Acolytes. These are the human followers of Tzeentch, petty sorcerers and schemers who make up the rank and file of the cult. This first one is taken from the (now no longer available) Silver Tower game. Whilst I don’t own a copy of Silver Tower (sadly as I’ve heard it was a lot of fun) I do own some of the models from it and this guy is one of them. There was a bit of damage to the blade which I tried to cover over with a magical effect, although honestly I’m not entirely convinced it’s worked. It looks better in hand that it does in these pictures but it’s still not quite right. Damn it, what do you people want from me – perfection?!

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Whilst the last model was built exactly as the designer intended this one has been given a few tweaks as I tried to play up the strangeness that comes from being part of a Tzeentchian cabal. He’s also the first miniature that I completed in 2021, so he’s my contribution to the “First of the Year” challenge currently being run by Ann’s Immaterium.

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I also added some horrors which will form part of the daemonic contingent. My dislike of the Pink Horror models is well known, although I have a scheme to do something about that which should be ready to show off in a day or so. I am however rather fond of their smaller cousins the Blue Horrors and I’ve got quite a few of them gathered on the table waiting for attention.

When a Pink Horror is killed it splits in half, forming two bickering Blue Horrors, each of which is busy blaming the other and complaining about whose fault it is that they were slain and ended up losing their gestalt status as the superior pink form. I wanted to capture this by painting the large hand on this one in pink, it’s either the last part of him to dissolve or he’s just about to grow back into a fully fledged pink horror.

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Once he was finished I realised that I’d enjoyed painting him so much I painted another straight away. 

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If things go really badly a Blue Horror may end up getting killed again, at which point all that’s left is a spark of barely sentiment, spite driven magic; a Brimstone Horror.

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Like the Blue Horrors I’ve got plenty of these kicking around the painting desk so expect to see more of them in the coming weeks. First things first though, I need to do something about those horrible Pink Horror models. It’s a bit experimental and I’m not entirely sure it’s going to work so watch this space!


Return To Prospero

On the whole, we who follow the Ruinous Powers have enjoyed an excellent few years. In many ways the story of Chaos-loving 40k fans and the story of Chaos in the 41st millennium can be seen to mirror each other, surely a case of the warp twisting reality and reflecting it back at us! For many years we were isolated in the wilderness, forgotten by the Imperium that had birthed us, reduced to sticking spikes on to loyalist marines by way of generating new recruits and brooding on our bitterness. The glory days of the Heresy (that would be Realm of Chaos and Codex 3.5 then!) lay far behind us and, despite the occasional Black Crusade to enliven things (2012 was a good year) we were undoubtedly surviving rather than thriving. Then, after an eternity in exile, our luck finally changed. The Cadian Gate fell, the little green army men tasked with defending it receiving at long last the kicking they so richly deserved, the Cicatrix Maledictum split the galaxy in two and we were back in action! Since 2016 we’ve seen the appearance of the Thousand Son, Death Guard, Chaos Space Marines, Chaos Knights, Gellerpox Mutants, a growing army of traitor guard thanks to Blackstone Fortress and choirs of daemons for all four of the gods. Assuming that western civilisation doesn’t collapse in the meantime (hardly a safe bet these days) it seems sensible to assume that the World Eaters and Emperor’s Children will come bellowing and screaming out of the warp sooner or later, probably within the next couple of years. It’s a good time to be bad! Even if the worst happens and the dubious leadership of our political masters leaves the planet as a wasteland us Chaos fans will at least find a comforting familiarity to life as mutant tech-barbarians whilst the oldhammer fans amongst us will survive the fallout in style, comfortably ensconced behind a wall of lead.

Despite the fact that Games Workshop haven’t dropped so much as a single hint to this effect (and it’s worth noting that traditionally they don’t) few fans feel any real doubt that the Khornate and Slaaneshi legions are on their way. After all, the idea that GW might abandon the Chaos project unfinished seems desperately unlikely. What about the Thousand Sons though? Surely they are a finished entity, done and dusted for the foreseeable future? Allow me to argue otherwise.

Ahriman2

When the Thousand Sons were released at the tail end of 2016 for many Chaos fans it was a revelation. Writing about it now it’s easy to sound hyperbolic, after all these are still just toy soldiers we’re talking about right? Nonetheless for fans of the legions this changed everything. Suddenly Chaos went from just two fractions (Chaos Space Marines and Chaos Daemons) to potentially dozens – something GW hasn’t failed to capitalise on since. I think we’d all hoped to see a plastic kit for Rubrics someday but Scarab Occult Terminators had always floated close to being a pipedream for me, and seeing things like tzaangors or a living primarch fell well out with even my most enthusiastic daydreams.

In days of yore the range of models available to any given chaos legion were all drawn from a single codex (Codex: Chaos Space Marines to be precise). There were a few upgrade packs and/or metal bits for cult troops (these being the plague marines, rubrics and noise marines), plus the distinctly elderly looking berserkers and a small group of special characters, but in the main the way to distinguish one legion from another came down to the colours in which they were painted. With the release of the Chaos Space Marines and Death Guard codexes we’ve seen a widening of the gap between Nurgle affiliated Chaos Space Marines like the Purge and the true Death Guard legion of old. There are commonalities but each is a distinct entity – allowing one, if you so wished, to create two very different collections of models. The same however really isn’t true of the Thousand Sons.

Rubric

For one thing I think it’s worth noting that whilst there are many similarities between the Death Guard and the Purge, or the Emperor’s Children and the Flawless Host, the Thousand Sons and any given Tzeentchian warband are worlds apart. If anything of the Thousand Sons deserve more uniqueness not less. Despite this the Thousand Sons find themselves leaving much more heavily on Chaos Space Marine units than the Death Guard. The former share 15 units with the chaos space marines, with 8 units unique to them, whilst the proportions for the latter are 13 each (by my count – and my figures may be wrong, I’m no plaguebearer).

Those differences serve to really define the Death Guard as more than just Nurgly Chaos Marines, allowing them a radically different aesthetic and range of units available to them. Of course we cannot know the future but it is to be hoped that the Emperor’s Children and World Eaters, assuming they do appear, will follow a similar format. Where once some models would be painted green for Nurgle and others pink for Slaanesh, now the potential interest and depth in the Chaos range at last begins to be tapped.

However by sharing so much common ground with the Chaos Space Marines the Thousand Sons feel to me to be a lot less unique than their Death Guard cousins. Despite having their own troops, even their own terminators (albeit only the one type compared to the Death Guard’s two) by falling back on the same vehicles and other kits as the Chaos Space Marines that uniqueness is diluted. A heldrake for example shares a lot of aesthetic ties with the wider Chaos Space Marines range that makes it fit in perfectly alongside them but no amount of a blue and yellow paint will make it look like anything more than an outsider amongst the Thousand Sons. I must confess to cursing when the heldrake was removed from the Death Guard range but time has proved the wisdom of that decision (for me at least). Heldrakes based on zombie dragons swooping above maulerfeinds kitbashed from maggoths, whilst warpsmiths surrounded by semi-organic mechadendrites bursting from there cancerous armour and bloated plague bikers roaring alongside – it’s a wonderful and entirely attainable image for an army and yet a very different entity to the Legion commanded by Mortarion.

Crucially despite these differences a Nurgly chaos space marine remains similar aesthetically to a member of the Death Guard. Both start out as fairly standard looking space marines upon which are layered the unpleasant attentions of Nurgle. The same however cannot be said of the Thousand Sons and their peers amongst the Tzeentchian chaos space marines. Magnus’ legion already looked unique at the time of the Horus Heresy. With their ornate armour and tall crests they deviated far further from the marine aesthetic blueprint than even the most radical of their cousins. Since then they’ve been essentially trapped in amber – spared the mutation which blights their fellow traitors by Ahriman’s rubric which turned them to dust within their armour. A later-day space marine breaking his vows to the Imperium and swearing his soul to Tzeentch would be unlikely to choose to cosplay ancient Tizcan ceremonial dress as he hurries to make his escape into the Great Eye. Likewise mutation will be rife, Tzeentch being rather keen on gifting his followers with a constantly changing array of mad appendages, something the modern Tzeentchian needs to learn to cope with without the dubious benefits of Ahriman turning him into a mindless automaton.

Sorceror

Perhaps the most striking example of the aesthetic divergence between the Thousand Sons and the Chaos Space Marines is the helbrute. These fleshy giants are to the traitor legions what dreadnoughts are to the loyalists, huge and powerful walkers piloted by mortally wounded space marines. Rather than see a great hero of the Imperium die he is placed within one of these engines to battle on – yet whilst for a loyalist space marine there are few higher honours, for the traitors incarceration within a helbrute is a terrible punishment and curse, and the result is a lifetime of torture.

Featuring as much bulging mutated flesh as it does metal the helbrute fits in well with chaos marines of all stripes, with the exception of the Thousand Sons. Here its meaty, bloated form seems out of place – although it would fit in well with other Tzeentchian marines. The developers acknowledge this contradiction and attempt to explain it away with a little success.

In the early days following the Heresy the Thousand Sons were wracked by mutation as Tzeentch showered his gifts upon them. Rather than see the whole legion degenerate into idiot spawn Ahriman cast his infamous rubric and the majority of the Legion were saved from mutation – instead ending up as perambulatory suits of armour, containing nothing more than weak psychic ghosts and the dust of their former occupants. By the time this happened however many of the legion’s dreadnoughts had already mutated out of control turning into the first helbrutes. Recognising their utility in battle some sorcerers decided to try making more of them. Finding themselves mysteriously short on applicants from within their own legion the Thousand Sons set up the internship program from hell, inviting wannabe sorcerers to join them to enjoy a full training program. Rather than the 41st millennium Hogwarts they had been promised the unlucky aspirants find themselves bundled kicking and screaming into a helbrute’s central coffin. Why such an elaborate scheme is considered necessary when any injured space marine would do, and how word has failed to spread amongst the cut-throat warriors of the chaos legions that unexpectedly generous offers by the Thousand Sons might not be entirely trustworthy, is glossed over.

Helbrute

Personally I love the helbrute model but, despite this explanation, I find myself sceptical and I just don’t think it fits in all that well amongst the Thousand Sons. I’d rather convert a loyalist dreadnought to represent a member of the old Legion turned to dust inside his sarcophagus. However what I’d really love to see someday is something akin to the Blood Angel’s Librarian Dreadnaught, a psyker dreadnought by which a sorcerer might continue to work his schemes in a mechanical afterlife. After all, whilst the other Chaos forces must make do with helbrutes, a legion devoted to hunting out secret knowledge should be more than capable of getting a dreadnought up and running satisfactorily, allowing a powerful psyker to stamp his way across the galaxy in style.

I’m sure the presence of gaps within the Thousand Sons range, particularly as opposed to the Death Guard, won’t come as news to Games Workshop. In an effort to flesh things out they delved into their other ranges in search of kits which might find a suitable home amongst the sons of Magnus. Alongside a range of daemons (mirroring the approach taken with the other chaos forces and harking back to my early days as a collector when daemons and mortals fought side by side) they also borrowed two tzaangor units to swell the ranks of the beastmen. The tzaangor shaman is an excellent model and fits in perfectly here, whilst the Tzaangor Enlightened may risk looking like fantasy escapees when armed with bows but fit in much better when given chainswords and pistols.

Mutalith Vortex Beast

Lastly we have the hulking Mutalith Vortex Beast. It’s a bit of an odd model, a giant beast with a mass of tentacles for a face and a huge magical star mounted on its back. The kit can also be used to build a Slaughterbrute, a model I’ll confess I find impossible to like. The Mutalith Vortex Beast is better but still flawed. Perhaps if I saw it in the flesh it would help me make up my mind but I can’t recall ever encountering one and so I remain on the fence regarding it’s questionable aesthetic charms. Even at my most charitable however it’s hard to see it as anything other than an ugly old model shoehorned into an army it wasn’t originally intended for. Giving its unappealing appearance and meaty price tag, it’s easy to assume it didn’t sell as well as they hoped and that shoving it into the Thousand Sons range is a desperate attempt to boost its sales. In my opinion the Thousand Sons deserve better.

Indeed I’d go further than that. Chaos deserves better; the legions should be explored in full, with the Death Guard and Chaos Space Marines ranges as the model for the depth and quality to which they are treated. The fans deserve better; whether they love Chaos or simply want to see a fully realised adversary against which to pit themselves (and indeed see their own faction given the same care and attention). Games Workshop deserve better; to hold their heads high and say “This is what we do, and we do it well, and even if something seems a bit niche or strange we have the talent to pull it off”.

And yes, I’m aware that these things take time, the resources are finite, that not every faction can be given their full attention all the time. Rome was not built in a day. GW however are fond of advertising “aspirational armies” at me all day so I shall respond by describing aspirational product!

Magus

Part of the reason for the Thousand Sons being on my mind is that my birthday is coming up soon (aye, happy birthday me!). Last year my partner gave me Magnus the Red and so far I’ve only got as far as assembling him before my trepidation for tackling large miniatures, combined with my determination to clear my desk of half-finished projects, caused me to stall. I did promise myself that I’d tackle him as soon as the Chaos Knight is done, and yes – I’m aware that I owe you all a progress report on that too! In the meantime I’ve made a pretence of progress by thinking about the Thousand Sons a lot instead.

Magnus, Magnus I call it gladness

Tzeentch has always been a tricky god for GW to tackle. Khorne and Nurgle are relatively straightforward – if in doubt a roaring chainaxe or some exposed guts will go a long way. Slaanesh was harder, a heady mix of sex, drugs and rock and roll, which has both attracted and repulsed the company over the years. Tzeentch however the most problematic of all, combining magic with mutation – neither of them easy to achieve. Mutation may be a hallmark of Chaos but it’s a double-edged sword. Played right and the result is fantastic and creative models, played wrong and you end up with the Chaos Forsaken from old Warhammer, an ill-defined mess.

Meanwhile magical effects are a clear case of less being more, and even with the undoubted talent of the GW design team and the advances in modern model making its hard to render sheets of living lighting or warp-flame in plastic. The Tzeentchian daemons range captures this neatly; some are good (the Lord of Change, blue horrors and heralds), some are bad (the less said about the pink horrors the better) and some are just plain weird (even after many years of careful study I can’t honestly tell you if I like the flamers or not…). Given these challenges you can hardly blame them for concentrating on the ever popular Khorne and Nurgle.

Returning to the Thousand Sons, GW showed remarkable restraint in not throwing magical fireworks everywhere, whilst the Rubric of Ahriman saved them from the thorny mutation issue. However the Rubric also creates an issue in that it serves to limit the range of roles available to be explored with future models. Regardless of what you did before the Rubric, afterwards you were either turned to dust or psychically powerful enough to survive. If you fell into the latter camp then a career as a sorcerer was yours for the taking, with all the power that brought. If you were amongst the former then you didn’t get much say in the matter anymore. What’s more the traditional specialist ranks become essentially redundant, with no-one having much call for apothecaries, tech-marines and so-on when magic can fix anything. New specialist sorcerers would have a certain merit, perhaps based on the cabals and disciplines of ancient Prospero which take a prominent role in the Horus Heresy novels. However the further the sorcerers are explored the more top heavy the legion risks becoming, with loads of HQ’s and not a lot else.

More troops would be nice but it’s hard to picture rubrics doing anything fancy and although in theory I’m sure you could have rubric assault marines (if the controlling sorcerer gave the appropriate psychic nudge) it doesn’t really fit with my mental image of the army to see them hurtling through the skies. Plus the Thousand Sons, sadly, exist in a scale of their own – the models being a little bigger than the older Space Marines but still a bit short compared to the Chaos Marines and Death Guard that came after. As a result I suspect  GW might not want to draw attention to the fact by returning to the rubrics any time soon. Rubric Havocs and phalanxes of close combat rubrics are nice to imagine but I suspect they might be a long time in coming…

More Tzaangors and mutant beasts are always nice (I’ve never met a Tzaangor I didn’t like) but the greater their presence in the army the more the power-armoured element is diminished and the less it feels like a Thousand Sons army.

One thing it would definitely be nice to see is some more vehicles and daemon engines. The Death Guard have the Plagueburst Crawler, the Foetid Bloat-drone and the Myphitic Blight-hauler to call their own, the poor old Thousand Sons have to borrow the Black Legion’s wheels when Abaddon isn’t using them. Surely some uniquely Tzeentchian vehicles aren’t beyond the wit of GW’s designers to conjure up? Or how about replacing the heldrake with something more uniquely Prosperine?

Thousand Sons

On the whole the Thousand Sons remain one of my favourite factions in 40k. Seeing them reborn in 2016 was one of the defining moments of my hobby career and I have no real complains about the range of models we received. However I do feel that it’s not just greed that leaves me wanting more. Right now the range feels as though it’s been bulked out with filler rather than being afforded the attention that was lavished on the Death Guard (wonderful though that was too). Hopefully the time will come when GW recognises that something is needed to elevate the range to the giddy heights enjoyed by their peers. Even if we have to wait until other legions are explored I’ll be happy enough, just so long as they don’t leave Magnus and his boys in the dust forever.

Do you agree or are you too busy standing around on Fenris widdling on a tree? Do you have a dream model you’d love to see added to the Thousand Sons some day? The comments box is all yours!

All images copyright Games Workshop and half-inched by Ahriman when he went in to renew his membership of the Black Library.


Blackstone Fortress: Rogue Psykers

Floating eerily over the battlefield the Rogue Psykers are another of my favourite models from the Blackstone fortress set. I was a big fan of Forge World’s Rogue Psyker, although perhaps foolishly I never saved up the money and bought one, and as a result was rather disappointed when it was removed from the range last year. For those who don’t know what I’m on about here’s a reminder.

Forgeworld Rogue Psyker

Thankfully he’s now back, although sadly without his tortured victim, joining the Necromunda range as Bounty Hunter Thaetos 23-2. My initial disappointment at the loss of the Forge World psyker however was very much ameliorated by the arrival of Blackstone Fortress and the two Rogue Psykers within, very much the spiritual successors of the aforementioned model, with the added advantages of being produced in a lighter and more flexible material.

Driven insane by the warp-spawned powers crowding their minds and at constant risk of being possessed by daemons, yet equally unwilling to be dragged away onto a Black Ship and used to keep the Emperor alive in a tortuous soul-flaying process, these two gents have instead offered their cruelty and megalomaniacal hatred of mankind to the chaos gods with predictably evil results.

Blackstone Fortress Rogue Psyker Wudugast (1)Blackstone Fortress Rogue Psyker Wudugast (2)

As I was painting them it struck me that one or other would make a fine witch for my nascent Necromunda chaos cult gang (the one that I’m painting at a downright glacial pace!) and, as a witch can be accompanied by a familiar, I dug around in the bits box for something suitable to accompany them into the Underhive. Given the amount of toxic industrial runoff in every body of water on the hive world a mutant fish seemed perfect – and even the most learned of the helots would struggle to recognise the sigil of the god trapping them ever further in damnation…

Something Fishy Wudugast (1)Something Fishy Wudugast (2)Blackstone Fortress Rogue Psyker Wudugast (3)

With these done it’s time to turn my attention to the biggest, baddest villain to haunt the halls of the Blackstone Fortress, Obsidius Mallex himself. Despite my long affiliation with Chaos and my deep and abiding respect for Abaddon (the true Warmaster) this is my first attempt at painting a member of the Black Legion so it’ll be interesting to see how I get on.


Any Spare Change – Part 12

It’s been a while since I did anything with my followers of Tzeentch but they’ve not been forgotten. Part of the trouble has been my increasing dissatisfaction with the scale of the older space marines which has put me off doing much with chaos in general lately. The Thousand Sons were a great improvement over their predecessors but now look just a little too short in comparison to the Death Guard and Primaris ranges. My ambition is to recreate my old chaos army but with marines of a sensible size instead of the tiny models I found myself tolerating in the past. That won’t happen for a while though, indeed it may prove to be many years in the making. In the meantime though here’s a WIP Thousand Sons sorcerer who can hold his head up in pride next to the bulkiest of the False Emperor’s warriors.

Thousand Sons Convert Or Die (3)Thousand Sons Convert Or Die (1)Thousand Sons Convert Or Die (6)Thousand Sons Convert Or Die (5)Thousand Sons Convert Or Die (4)Thousand Sons Convert Or Die (2)Thousand Sons Convert Or Die (7)Thousand Sons Convert Or Die (8)

I’m not sure yet whether this chap will be the Machiavellian mastermind behind my Inq28 change cult or the first of a small cabal of sorcerers and a little Thousand Sons force. Watch this space I suppose.


Any Spare Change – Part 11

I’ll confess that since building my retro-influenced Tzeentchian cult leader I’ve been itching to do more with my little change-cult. However I’ve also set myself a rather ambitious target with regard to Azazel’s Neglected Model Month challenge and diving off into another sideline, albeit one which is fairly neglected itself, won’t do anything to help that. When all is said and done though I’m only human and as this beastman was already more than half-way painted I didn’t see the harm in finishing the job.

Tzangor Convert Or Die (1)Tzangor Convert Or Die (2)Tzangor Convert Or Die (3)

Now then, with the influence of the Changer of Ways out of my system (hopefully) it’s time to crack on with those under-loved miniatures – probably starting  with the Helbrute. Who knows, I may even have something to show you by the end of the week.


Any Spare Change – Part 10

I suspect that this next picture may illicit rather different reactions from viewers, depending on their age or immersion in Citadel’s history. Whilst oldsters may feel a warm glow of fond recollection newcomers will be more than entitled to raise an eyebrow. It’s a chaos renegade of Tzeentch, dating from the Realm of Chaos era (better known as the ’80s) but beyond that I’m still a little sketchy on its provenance. I remember seeing it many, many moons ago in White Dwarf but which issue now escapes me and in spite of digging back through old issues, and being sidelined by many an interesting article, I’m no clearer. Anyone with a better memory who wants to illuminate me please feel free. Thanks to a combination of my own (slightly fuzzy) memories, and the wisdom of Azazel and the crowd on Twitter, I know it’s a conversion, based on a chaos champion of the same era with pink horror arms. Beyond that however my knowledge is sketchy and I’m not certain who deserves credit for creating it.

Anyway, here it is as it appeared in White Dwarf all those years ago, alongside some equally cool looking models.

Renegades

And here’s a better image shamelessly borrowed from the blog Realm of Chaos 80’s (which if, for some reason, isn’t on your reading list really ought to be).

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It’s certainly a unique miniature, so odd and wrong it shouldn’t work, yet somehow perfectly balanced and beautifully executed (at least to my eye). Regardless of its origins I’ve always had a real soft-spot for it and as I’ve been looking over my Tzeentchian gang again lately (which to my slight horror haven’t really been touched since last July) I realised that this would work perfectly as a champion. Time to take a stab at creating my own.

Tzeentch Cultist Convert Or Die (1)Tzeentch Cultist Convert Or Die (2)

Consider the cables on his back as WIP for now, they’re going to need some improvements once the greenstuff is properly cured.

Tzeentch Cultist Convert Or Die (3)Tzeentch Cultist Convert Or Die (4)

My aim was to create a model in the spirit of the original, duplicating as many parts as possible, but built from modern bits (finding Realm of Chaos era models now would be a quest in and of itself and then chopping them would feel like sacrilege to me).

Here he is hanging out with a modern Tzaangor.

Tzeentch Cultist Convert Or Die (6)

And introducing himself to gang he’ll someday lead.

Tzeentch Cultist Convert Or Die (5)

As usual if you’ve got any feedback, or if you know any more about the mysterious origins of the original, the floor is yours.