Tag Archives: Ultramarines

Warhammer World – Part 6

It’s the final post in this showcase of the displays at Warhammer World and this time we’re looking at the big one. Twenty-two feet from end to end, twelve feet wide and twenty feet tall (that’s almost seven meters long, three and a half wide and six meters tall for those who’re sensible enough to use metric) – it’s the battle for Angelus Prime.

To give you a sense of how big this thing actually is there is a man in this picture – another visitor. I didn’t want him appearing in the shot so I waited until he was hidden by the building. That’s right – the human was hidden behind the miniature, usually it’s the other way round!angelus-prime-convertordie-1

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angelus-prime-convertordie-20The board captures the forces of Khorne, led by the bloodthirster An’ggrath, battling the Ultramarines who’re attempting to defend Ultramar. If you were wondering where all the Chaos miniatures were in the 40k displays – here they are. Followers of the other gods need not apply.

There are over five and a half thousand models on this board, putting any sensible person’s collection to shame. These stretch from swarms of bloodletters and cultists to tanks, knights, even titans. The fortress city itself meanwhile is constructed from over 1,200 scenery kits and took nine months to build. In many ways this is the ultimate aspirational army. We all dream of what it would look like to have at our command the thousands of infantry, hundreds of tanks, ranks of Titans and so on that our heroes in Black Library fiction posses but, with the exception of epic players, most of us never will. If only time and money were no object eh?angelus-1

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As if the scene wasn’t dramatic enough it also features a soundtrack of dramatic music, overlaid by the clatter of bolter fire and the distant crunch of explosions. Lights fade slowly from the deep blue of the loyalists to the bloody red of Khorne, adding another layer to the atmosphere. It’s a cliché to say that they make the viewer feel that they are right at the heart of the battle but – minus the discomfort, blinding terror and high risk of imminent death – that’s pretty much what they do.angelus-prime-convertordie-2angelus-prime-convertordie-4angelus-prime-convertordie-5angelus-prime-convertordie-6angelus-prime-convertordie-7angelus-prime-convertordie-8angelus-prime-convertordie-11The whole diorama contains a real sense of action, captured through elements like this chaos titan being felled by an off-course drop pod, the bloodletters crawling over each another to climb the walls (above) or the chaos Reaver titan firing its rack of missiles (below).angelus-prime-convertordie-12angelus-prime-convertordie-13angelus-prime-convertordie-14The Warlord Titan. For those still struggling with just how big this thing is those are Knights around its knees. The term ‘miniature’ may no longer be appropriate here.angelus-prime-convertordie-15big-guns-never-tireYesterday the mechanicum were fairly certain they had a gun. But no, it turns out this is a gun! I understand we shouldn’t expect it to tire any time soon…angelus-prime-convertordie-21Even a full scale planetary invasion wasn’t enough to distract these two from their World of Warcraft addiction.angelus-prime-convertordie-16angelus-prime-convertordie-17angelus-prime-convertordie-18angelus-prime-convertordie-19One of the most famous things about this board is that, in amongst the five thousand five hundred plus other models lurks one lone Vindicare assassin. If you can find it you can win one of your own and I was certainly planning to give it a good go, until I actually got there and realised what a painful, eyeball straining challenge that would be. However I was lucky enough to be standing next to the man who did. What impressed me most – apart from the bushiness of his beard, something for which he deserves extra credit – and the sharpness of his eyes (seriously, don’t even try unless your day job is as an eagle) was the logic with which it was placed. I understand the model moves around (not by itself – that would be slightly creepy) but even so I don’t want to give away too many spoilers so that others can enjoy the challenge of the hunt themselves. However the finder did explain that he focussed his attention (and presumably eyeballs that are the envy of the Hubble telescope) where he did because that location would afford the assassin a clear shot without being detected himself. In his hiding place he could crouch out of sight, allowing the ranks of the World Eaters to pass him by before shooting whomever his intended victim is. To me that represents an attention to detail that makes the piece even more impressive – they didn’t just stick him down the back of the radiator and think “no one will look there!”, they followed through the narrative of the piece and allowed a person to find it not by luck or simply sharp vision, but by joining them in the logical process and by investing their imagination in the story.

So there we have it – my day out to Warhammer World spread over a full week of posts. Once again I hope this has been as interesting and inspiring for you as it was for me. Check back tomorrow and, all being well, I’ll actually have a miniature of my own to show – my Dreadtober contribution roaring in at the very end of cheat week! Until then, as ever, I’m interested in your thoughts – so make them known in the comments box below.

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Showcasing Sam: The Dark Millennium

When I first got into the hobby one of my biggest inspirations came from my friend Sam, already something of a veteran and a painter of no mean skill. All these years later and he’s pretty much hung up his brushes (the demands of being a responsible adult – I’m told – comes for the best of us in the end). What he’s left with is a cupboard full of beautifully painted miniatures and, after visiting him recently, I couldn’t resist getting some photos so I could show them off to you. In the end I turned up so much cool stuff I’ve split the blog into two parts – expect to see the fantasy half soon. I should also mention that Sam has a blog and, although it’s been distinctly quiet over there lately, it’s well worth taking a look at. Who knows, if we drop enough hints we might even coax him out of retirement. He also passed me on a few of his unpainted models which I’ll be attempting to do justice to, so keep an eye out for them in the future as well.

As usual if you want to get a better look at any of the pictures, just click on them.

Njal Stormcaller
As I’ve mentioned before I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with the Space Wolves. Njal Stormcaller however remains very firmly in the “cool” camp through his combination of shamanic trappings, psyber-raven familiar and fierce control over the furious Fenrisian elements. Sam’s really brought out the rich colour of his armour, from the hearth-warmth of his shoulderpads to the frosty wolf-grey of his rune-carved greaves. The wolf pelt is also, in my opinion, about as close to perfect as you can get, and the unnatural glow of its dead eyes is a brilliant touch. All in all, one of my favourite of his models – even against stiff competition.Marneus Calgar
Marneus Calgar – the Chapter Master of the Ultramarines and one of the most powerful men in the galaxy. Not my favourite incarnation of him to be honest, compared to the version accompanied by the honour guard this one is really showing it’s age. The model always looks a little squat (by which I don’t mean to imply that he’s actually a space-dwarf – although that would be twist to the 40k story wouldn’t it?). Nonetheless I rather like how he’s been painted, goes to show that a decent paint job can make a world of difference to any model. The ice effect on the base really adds to the model as well.

Trygon
The world of 40k is not all about the Space Marines though (in spite of what you may have heard!) The Great Devourer is tearing its way into the galaxy and though my opinion of the Tyranid miniatures range is mixed there’s no denying the Trygon is an absolute beast. Sam’s painted this one in the colours of Hive Fleet Kraken. Of the three main Hive Fleets I’ve always felt Kraken’s scheme to be the most organic and believable. I want my Tyranids to look like real animals and there’s definitely something reminiscent of a giant centipede about this model.

I’ll admit that, as hinted above, I have something of an ulterior motive here – to encourage Sam to pick up his brushes again. After all, as his friend, I know what’s best for him far more than he does! If you agree with me pop a comment in the box below – and just wait until I’ve sorted out the photos of his fantasy miniatures!


The Betrayal At Calth

‘My devotion is my strength.’ Lorgar clenched his perfect teeth. ‘You have no heart, and no soul.’ A snort blackened his angelic features with a disgusted twist. ‘I pray that one day, you feel as I feel. Would you smile if one of Ultramar’s worlds died in fire? Tarentus? Espandor? Calth?’
– The Primarch Lorgar to his brother Roboute Guilliman in the ruins of Monarchia.
From The First Heretic by Aaron Dembski-Bowden.

Well here we are at last, official memorabilia from Lorgar and Angron’s show-stopping tour of Ultramar. For those of you who’ve been cast adrift in your incubation pods by the machinations of the Chaos Gods and have only just been rediscovered by civilisation, today sees the release of Betrayal at Calth, the first plastic boxset for Warhammer 30k (in 28mm scale)*. For us fans of the Heresy this is quite a big moment, the latest step in an evolution that has taken the story of Horus and the founding of the Imperium from myth and legend into a fully fleshed out universe in its own right. For those loyal to Chaos this is where that ten thousand year old grudge really began. Oh and Space Marine fans get more plastic marines to play with – but you were never short of those were you 😉

*Caveats abound as fans of the tiny titans from Adeptus Titanicus emerge from the woodwork to demand that they are not forgotten by history. Somewhat pedantically…

A Place In The Background

There’s really only one place to start the Heresy. Before Isstvan, or Davin, or even Ullanor; Monarchia. In the ruins of that world the Great Crusade went sour.

However although Monarchia makes for a great scene in a novel it hardly works as a gripping battle on the tabletop. Both players set up their armies. Place the model for the Emperor in the middle. Knock down all the Word Bearers miniatures. Both players pack up and go home. Word Bearer’s player bears a grudge for the next fifty years and plots genocidal retribution against the Ultramarines player.

It wasn’t until Calth that this grudge-match finally got the chance to be realised. Thus Calth makes a natural start-point to GW’s latest exploration of the Heresy. It also featured just two legions, unlike Isstvan III (four legions) or Isstvan V (eleven) which makes it much more user friendly as an introduction to the game. And for anyone thinking ‘what about Prospero?’ – well those two Legions (Space Wolves and Thousand Sons) would require very distinct miniatures and rules, rather unsuitable for a mass-appeal starter set. They’d also take away some of the thunder from Forge World exploration of that iconic campaign – although one wonders if GW might be planning some kind of follow-up or expansion set to coincide? At this stage one can only guess.

Many people have wishlisted about seeing a match-up between one of the other long-standing legion grudges from the Heresy era – Iron Warriors vs Imperial Fists is a popular choice, although I would have preferred Night Lords vs Dark Angels (or, ending with a twist, Dark Angels vs Dark Angels). However all these legions have, to a greater or lesser extent, unique characteristics that make them visually distinct and this would run counter to the design philosophy of this boxset. The message from GW is clear; if you want Imperial Fists vs Iron Warriors then paint them yellow and silver – and many people will. If you want more than that Forgeworld have come to the rescue with their Legion Upgrade kits which allows you to turn these models into the legion of your choice – although unless you’re a real nerd about getting the armour mark right on your Space Marine’s knees you could do this already.

Why Now?

I suppose my first question, when it comes to this latest development, is not why they’ve done it but why it’s taken them so long to get round to it? Surely they’ve known this was a goldmine for a very long time. Some would say that until now the Hobbit and Lord of the Rings have been taking up valuable space in stores but frankly those ranges have seen such minimal investment over the last few years that this hardly seems convincing, especially for a company as large and businesslike as GW. Others would suggest that this is intended to support their finances if Age of Sigmar proves to be a less than resounding success – and certainly there may be something to this. If AoS succeeds all well and good, if it flops then at least there is the Horus Heresy to fall back on. It’s rather unfair that so many conversations about the Betrayal at Calth are currently being derailed by rAge Against the Sigmarines, but understandably the death of Warhammer has been the defining moment for the hobby this year and there are naturally going to be comparisons.

In contrast to AoS Betrayal at Calth seems a far more conservative move. Rather than burn the world down and start afresh Calth builds on an already popular series (ironically because burning the world down was exactly what the Word Bearers were planning…). Instead of offering new races to play it simply expands the range for one that’s already popular. The boardgame is also a clever addition. Rather than asking new players to paint up hundred of models before they can take their legion to war they start off with a few squads and a game to play with them. If they enjoy it they can add more units and expand up to larger battles. Again one has to wonder why they didn’t do something similar set in the Old World, a skirmish scale game set in the ruins of an Empire city as a last few heroes struggled to stall the End Times and stop the final victory of Chaos. They could have called it Mordheim  or something…

I could speculate about this a little more but frankly AoS is taking over enough other topics of conversation at the moment and to look at it properly demands a blog (or perhaps a book) in its own right – moving on!

Of course many people will be enjoying their first chance to look at the new rules, but even GW admits that they are mostly a bonus. The real meat here is the models themselves.

Contemptor

I’ll admit I’m not at all a fan of the Contemptors, much preferring a standard dreadnaught (even if it does look like a fridge on legs). This new one, sadly, does nothing to change my mind, but if you like Contemptors (and as far as I can tell most of you do) then this should be good news round your house. In fact as the model seems to be extremely popular making it more widely available seems like a no-brainer and I expect to see one in every household by the end of the year.

Being plastic it should be easier to convert that the Forge World variants so I might decide to pick one up at some stage, either to convert into a Chaos Contemptor (I like them better for some reason) or, if I’m feeling brave and want to break out the greenstuff, a Mhara Gal.

Chaplain

Of course, you can’t have the Word Bearers without their chaplains, bringing the truth of the Primordial Annihilator to the impure servants of the False Emperor.

Personally I would have preferred something more like Zardu Layak, which frankly would have been a ‘must buy’ for me. However once again the model they did release seems like a savvy choice, being usable as a chaplain or captain for any legion, or for any loyalist chapter in 40k, with the exception of the Wolves. This, however, is why I start to find fault with the release because one of the few places this guy isn’t a neat fit is amongst the Word Bearers themselves. By Calth they were revelling in their new faith, throwing off the secrecy that they had girded themselves with for so long, and now looked more like this.

I can see why they chose the route they did because this is a damn fine model with an amazing future ahead of it, both in its own right and as the basis of all kinds of conversions. However he still looks like a loyalist to me and with my focus very much on the forces of Chaos at the moment I’m struggling to see how I could fit it into my collection without destroying many of the elements that make it so striking.

Cataphractii

More exciting by far, for me, are the Cataphractii. I wanted to see models for these since long before Forge World released their versions and if I ever get round to working on my loyalists again these will be essential purchases. I can also imagine Black Legion fans snapping these up. A few restrained conversions (snarling helms, daemonic weapons) could easily turn these in Falkus Kibre and the surviving Justaerin.

For anyone else firmly rooted in the 41st Millennium these could still make a stylish addition to any Chapter’s First Company. As for the Chaos Legions, most have changed sufficiently that these no longer work for them but there are a few possibilities – Emperor’s Children still love an ostentatious suit, Thousand Sons haven’t changed much (bless them, they can’t really anymore can they?) and of course there’s still the Word Bearers themselves.

Captain

Just as the Word Bearers have their Dark Apostle so the Ultramarines have a suitably square-jawed and heroic looking Captain to lead them. For Space Marines players this chap looks to be another cracking addition to the range. At last here is a model for a generic Chapter Master, meeting the new Games Workshop policy of ‘no model, no codex entry’. Unfortunately, I’m led to believe that this same policy has seen Chapter Masters reduced from a unit in their own right to an upgrade for Captains. Nonetheless if you’re just starting out and want the big man himself to lead your army (and why not – start with a hero you can believe in!) but don’t want to tackle converting your models just yet, this is the miniature for you.

One other thing that struck me, and this is rather late in the game to be mentioning to Games Workshop, but doesn’t he look better in Word Bearer’s colours? I can really see him as the bullish captain of a Word Bearers chapter – not yet as tainted as his Chaplains but vicious in his determination to prove himself in the new creed. Likewise the Chaplain looks much better painted as an Ultramarine. Head over to the Games Workshop site and see if you agree with me.

The Marines

As for the marines – well they’re basically just marines. Unless this is your first day in the hobby (in which case stick with me kid, I’ll see you right) you’ve already made up your mind about them. If you like supersoldiers in power-armour these are your lads. If you’d prefer space elves or green dudes with rusty hatchets then this isn’t for you. Oh and if you’re looking for black-powder guns, handlebar moustaches, floppy hats and cannons then not only have you found the wrong Empire but I’ve got very bad news so you’d better sit down and prepare yourself for a shock.

For connoisseurs of power-armour (read nerds) it’s rather nice to get a better range of marks available for modelling and converting (I rather like those heavy studded grieves and the snouts of the helms) but it’s hardly a deal breaker for me. Some of you though will undoubtedly be wetting yourselves.

Getting more access to heresy era weaponry is more exciting – especially for those of us who’s predilections lie towards the evil and chaotic. Our thin-blooded inheritors in the Imperium may have chosen to upgrade to newer models of rocket-launchers but we who fought and fell alongside our Primarchs prefer something a little more old fashioned. Iron Warriors fans must be salivating.

Again though the generic nature of these models is something of a double-edged sword. On the one hand you can paint them as any legion, but on the other hand there’s nothing at all to distinguish them beyond the colour they’re painted. Part of what makes the Heresy so compelling is the different character that the Legions have developed – and that character is much deeper a more complex than simply ‘this one is red, this one is blue’. I’m not suggesting that everyone in the Word Bearers was running around looking like the Gal Vorbak but at the moment there’s nothing to distinguish them from Blood Angels, or Alpha Legionaries pretending to be Blood Angels. Of course Forge World are here to help you, but it’ll cost more. Then again you’re already making a saving compared to buying from Forge World. Thus I’m hesitant to say this release is that great if you’ve already established your legion – but if you’re thinking of dipping your toe into the Heresy then now is the time to do it. Start off with a few models, play the board game, add a few more and slowly upgrade. Who knows – stick with it and someday you could have an army as impressive as this one?

Now for the real question; if I were to pick this up – and I won’t because I’m far too busy preparing my Black Crusade for the Second Siege of Terra to worry about a failed revolt ten millennia ago – but if I was – Iron Warriors or Night Lords?

All images copyright Games Workshop. Obviously.