Tag Archives: Warhammer 40k

June 2022 Progress Report 

Early in 2022 I found myself thinking a lot about the way I’ve been going about this hobby, and the things I have and haven’t been painting. I think I’m a fairly prolific painter, admittedly not as much as some but I churn out a lot of models and on the whole I’m happy with the quantity and quality of what I produce. Despite this however there are a lot of projects that I’d like to see completed but which, for whatever reason, never seem to get done. By “projects” I mean sets of miniatures; an army, a Necromunda gang, a Warcry warband, a Blood Bowl team, the contents of a board game – you get the idea. By “completed” I generally mean; painted to a stage where we can get a game with it or where I’ve painted all the models in a particular set. So for example my Daughters of Khaine for Warcry is a completed project, even though I have some “bonus” models like a Medusa that I’d like to add to it. Blackstone Fortress on the other hand I’d call partially completed; I’ve painted enough models to play a game with it but I’d still like to paint up the rest of the box so we have plenty of options when we decide to get a game in. I know this criteria is a little vague but the key thing is, it works for me. If you’re thinking of attempting something similar with your own backlog then work out what works best for you and go from there.

Over the years my approach to the hobby has very much been a case of “this is for fun, paint whatever appeals in the moment, follow the hobby butterfly wherever it leads”. This has given me a lot of pleasure and has seen me paint a lot of models but whenever I look back at everything I’ve done I’m struck by the things I’ve still never finished and the models which I’ve been going to tackle “soon” for a very long time. So, over the last few months, I’ve been trying to do something about that. 

Partly this is about changing the way I look at the “pile of shame” (or as I now call it, the “Mountain of Madness”) and my efforts to tackle it. In the past I’ve tended to view the backlog as a single entity which could be wrestled into completion through a combination of time and Herculean effort. All my projects would be completed as a side effect of this (that is to say, if all the models I want to paint are contained within the pile then by painting everything in the pile I automatically complete all of my projects). 

Hercules

This bias in my outlook cosied up neatly to the tally of models purchased and painted that I’ve been keeping in recent years. New models excite me and so I buy them – but the growing number in the “bought” column doesn’t look so bad if there’s a large number in the “painted” column too. Thus if I had the choice between painting 100 models and completing 2 projects or painting 10 models and completing 10 projects I’d have chosen the former – up until recently that is. The interesting thing is, by changing tack to this more “project focused” approach I’ve actually ended up painting more models than I have in previous years. My current tally stands at 191 miniatures painted so far this year – that’s more than a model a day and vastly outnumbers the 83 I’d painted by this time last year. In fact it’s more than my total output for the entirety of 2020.

In trying to overcome the backlog in this way I had to work out an inventory of how much I’m up against and compare this against how many models I can reasonably expect to paint (I know many of my readers are also fond of spreadsheets – really is there such a thing as a problem that can’t be solved by a spreadsheet? I think not). This gave me a reasonably accurate idea of the scale of the task and unfortunately it’s a biggie. If my goal is to just paint everything I have, I don’t buy anything else (some hope!) and I continue to paint at the current rate (doubtful – for various reasons) it’ll still take me several years to get it all done. Realistically though the more time passes the more likely it becomes that any given project will never be finished at all. And even if things do turn out exactly as the spreadsheet predicts do I really want to wait that long to get around to my Delaque gang, painting up Cursed City or whatever other projects find themselves falling to the bottom of the list? 

Cursed City Cover

Since I first wrote about this back in February I’ve put together a list of projects and started trying to focus on them. From there I worked out how many models were needed to complete each project and how close to being fully painted said models were, and then started with the ‘easy wins’.

So how did I decide what to paint? After all, any way I slice it there’s still a lot of stuff in the heap to be tackled. The journey of a million miles may well start with a single step, but which step should it be when there are so many to choose from? To answer this I applied three key criteria.

  • 1. Inspiration and enthusiasm. At the end of the day I’m still very much a believer in the idea that this is for fun, it’s a hobby not a job. I’m here to enjoy myself, not to saddle myself with extra chores. Plus I’ve always found that if I’m excited about painting something I get in the zone and power through it, and if I’m not then I really am better off leaving it for another day – the process will be dull and the end results uninspired.
  • 2. How many models did I need to paint? I made a list of all my projects and worked out how many models each one needed to be called complete. The fewer models needed, the further up the list it went. If a model counted for multiple projects so much the better. My Khorne warband for Warcry needed just two models so I decided to tackle it ASAP. My Orc and Black Orc teams for Blood Bowl both needed just one troll (and better yet it was the same troll!) – they too got fast tracked. My WHFB Dwarf army needs around 130 models – needless to say it’s not currently a priority (another insult to be written down in the great book of grudges..!).
  • 3. For my third criteria I used a little mental exercise. Imagine that I discover that I’m going to live a very long, healthy and happy life (hopefully this part is true!) but that I’ll never be able to paint a miniature ever again (hopefully this part is not true!). What models will I look back regretfully and wish I’d painted for my collection? In some ways this covers similar territory to criteria 1 but the fact is there are quite a few models I’ve been really wanting to paint for ages – and yet every time I look at them I think “Not today, there’s something else I ought to paint first”. Well why not today? It’s my hobby and I’ll do what I want damn it! Time to stop putting off fun and get them done. And don’t worry; it really is just a mental exercise – I’m not going anywhere!

Up to now I’ve not really talked about what specifically I’m planning to tackle so the aim of the second half of this post is to lay that out and look at what I’ve managed to complete so far. It’s a living list, things will undoubtedly be added as and when inspiration strikes, but I’ll be aiming to look at it and talk about how I’m getting on every quarter or so – and as we’re now at the end of June this is a perfect moment to take a look back and see what I’ve managed so far. 

Warhammer Terrain Wudugast (16)

Warcry

Let’s start with somewhere that significant progress has actually been achieved already. I find Warcry is a great excuse to work on little skirmish warbands from all over the Age of Sigmar setting, putting together small groups of models that appeal without bogging myself down in painting large armies. Warcry is one of the few games I actually play on a semi-regular basis and I really like the idea of having a range of factions to call upon. This is an area where I’ve already made great strides and even before I started on this challenge I had warbands from 13 different factions in my collection. The forces of Order were represented by the Daughters of Khaine, Death by the Nighthaunt and the Flesh-eater Courts, and Chaos by the Daemons and Mortals of Nurgle, as well as Skaven borrowed from my WHFB army, and the Iron Golems and Untamed Beasts which were released specially for the game. The forces of Destruction have been particularly busy, unleashing three types of Orc (the Bonesplitters, Ironjaws and Kruelboys) alongside mighty Ogres and scheming Gloomspite Gits. Over the last few months I’ve added Soulblight Gravelords…

Vampire Counts Warcry Warband Wudugast

…Stormcast Eternals in Thunderstrike Armour…

Stormcast Eternal Group Wudugast Warhammer

…Sylvaneth…

Sylvaneth Wudugast AoS Warhammer (2)

…Warriors of Chaos…

Warriors of Chaos Group Wudugast Warhammer

…and Khorne Bloodbound.

Khorne Warcry Warband Wudugast Warhammer

Speaking of Khorne I also painted this Bloodmaster (that’s a herald of Khorne if you’re an oldster like me). The range of Khorne deamons for Warcry isn’t all that extensive (just bloodletters, flesh hounds and juggernaughts) so I had planned to just take a relaxed outlook on the rules and include a few daemons alongside my mortals rather than putting together a warband that might feel a bit “samey”. However now I’ve got the Bloodmaster painted up I’ve got options, so once I’ve retrieved my bloodletters and flesh hounds from storage I can unleash an entire band of Khornate daemons should I feel the need to do things strictly by the book.

Khorne Daemon Bloodmaster Herald Wudugast Warhammer (1)

As well as all these factions borrowed from the wider Age of Sigmar setting there are a number of warbands which have been created specifically for the Warcry game. In many ways I think of these as the real Warcry warbands and I’d love to paint all of them, each one is weird, exciting and unique. As things stand however I’ve only managed the aforementioned Untamed Beasts and Iron Golems, both painted back in 2020. I’d very much like to add to that list before the year is out.

Terrain

Another major project has been to complete all the terrain from the original Warcry starter set and with the completion of this building that’s done at last. 

Ruin Warhammer Warcry Wudugast AoS Terrain (5)

By adding it to all the other terrain I’ve finished we now have a small ruined town to fight over should we so wish. 

Warhammer Terrain Wudugast (3)

Of course this is just the beginning, I’m still planning to work on all the terrain from the Catacombs and Red Harvest sets as well. On top of that I’d like to expand my collection for Warhammer 40k and Necromunda, and with a solid start made to the fantasy side I’m hoping this will take the drivers seat over the next few months. In the meantime I’m calling this goal achieved – although there’s still plenty of room for bonus “stretch goals” yet to come.

Kill Team/Warhammer 40k

I’ve lumped these two together for now as they essentially cover the same territory – one at the skirmish level and one at the army level. As a whole the 41st Millennium is a setting that I love and for which I have a whole heap of models, both painted and unpainted. As games however these two leave me cold, for a range of reasons that would take a blog’s worth of text to elucidate. Thus when I first sat down to address the clear out back at the start of the year I thought I would probably give them only the minimum of attention. To begin with my only set goal was to complete this Death Guard kill team, something that required only a minimum of effort. 

Death Guard Wudugast Plague Marine Warhammer 40k (1)

Now I’ve heard that a plague marine fire team now runs to 3 models which, if true, only serves to illustrate one of my key objections to these games – GW’s constant tinkering with the rules which means that nothing stays the same for more than 2 minutes before an errata is released for the FAQ of the designer’s notes that explain the latest changes in the codex that’s just arrived for the game’s 170th edition. 

However, rules be damned, I love the models and I have a lot of them that I’d like to get painted – many of which are already half-done and lurking in boxes. This situation is nothing new, I’ve not played 40k in any serious way since the early days of 5th Edition and it’s not stopped me painting plenty of them in the years since. However without a rules framework it’s harder to describe exactly what I’m planning to do here. Looking through the pile I find plenty of Orks, Chaos Marines, Death Guard, Thousand Sons, Space Marines, Imperial Guard, Necrons, Adeptus Mechanicus, Genestealer Cultists and Eldar, plus a few Sisters of Battle. Plenty to be getting on with in other words. Of these some command large numbers of fully painted miniatures, and others are a little more sparse… I’m aiming to at least get together some small armies for most, or if possible, all of them – think something akin to a “combat patrol” (i.e. a couple of squads, a vehicle, a hero or two and a dreadnaught) but as goals go it’s deliberately ill-defined. Obviously some of these factions have already exceeded this goal, in some cases by a considerable margin, but I’ll still be adding recruits to them here and there because I want to, damn it, and all work and no play makes Wudu a dull boy (see also Criteria 1 and 3 above). So far my attention has been focussed on the Necrons and I’m pleased to say I’ve shaken a few of them out of their dusty tombs – enough that I could probably call this goal achieved in their case if I was feeling generous (and I am). Plenty more androids to come in the next few months though!

Wudugast Warhammer 40k Necrons (1)

Blood Bowl 

This feels a bit like cheating (but that’s Blood Bowl right?) because I’m counting one model towards two projects, but I’m going to call it efficiency. I’ve been promising to paint this sporting troll for absolute donkey’s and so when I started this project I fast-tracked him to the front of the queue. 

Blood Bowl Troll Warhammer Wudugast (6)

This completes both my Orc team…

Blood Bowl Orc Team Complete Wudugast

…and their even tougher cousins on my Black Orc team. 

Blood Bowl Black Orc Team Complete Wudugast

Since then I’ve been been chipping away at a team of Necromantic Horrors and a heap of Snotlings, neither of which have achieved full-team status as yet.

Blood Bowl Zombie Warhammer Wudugast (5)Blood Bowl Snotling Team Wudugast

I also have a number of other teams I’d like to paint up so hopefully we’ll be looking at a whole load more Blood Bowl by the time we get to September’s round up. 

Necromunda

Ah, my beloved Necromunda – my home away from home amid the overcrowded hives, the stinking sumps and toxic ash-dunes! I have so many projects I’d like to tackle here but alas the last six months have seen bugger all done. I shall mend my ways by the September round up I promise – and if I don’t you can sell me to the Guilders.

Aeronautica Imperialis

This one is nice and straightforward to describe; my goal is to paint everything in the Wings of Vengeance box and so far I’ve completed none of it. Just to prove I’ve not been entirely idle though here’s my first assembled Ork Dakkajet. Who knows, I might look to complete the whole Ork half of the set in Orktober. 

AI Ork Aircraft

Adeptus Titanicus

Picture it – two armies of tiny titans, one sworn to the God Emperor, the other to the Warmaster, beating seven bells out of each other as the Imperium burns. What have I done to make it happen, aside from snapping up a few models when they were going cheap a few years ago? Not a thing!

Blackstone Fortress 

We played a fair bit of this a while ago and it’s one we’d like to get back into, so completing all the unpainted models is one of the key projects on my list. Previously I managed to complete most of the miniatures from the core set, minus one or two of the heroes, as well as both models from the Traitor Command expansion and all the heroes from the Escalation expansion. My next goal is to finish up all of the other expansions and the heroes from the original set that I never got around to. 

Cursed City 

Sticking with Warhammer Quest we move from the far future to the grim darkness of a city overrun by the undead. My aim with Cursed City is nice and straightforward; paint everything in the box. So far this year I’ve been working my way through the various baddies that roam the haunted streets and crumbling thoroughfares,  starting with ten zombies (borrowed from the wider Age of Sigmar range)…

Zombies Warhammer AoS Wudugast Vampire Counts Group

… and two mighty ogres of the Kosargi Nightguard.

Cursed City Kosargi Nightguard Undead Wudugast Warhammer (5)

I had hoped to get a few more heroes done by now (so far only Emelda Braskov is complete) and finish off at least one more squad of baddies but it was not to be. I’ll see what I can do about that over the next few months.

Cursed City Emelda Braskov Warhammer AoS Wudugast (3)

A Song of Ice and Fire 

At the moment I have two projects on the go here; a House Stark army and their rivals from House Lannister. My aim is to get each of them up to 30 points (enough for a small game) and then keep expanding in 10 point increments until I get to at least 50 points each – enough for a large game or to mix things up in smaller games. Beyond that I’m tempted by some of the other factions in the game but that can wait until I have these first two armies up and running. 

So far I’ve been quite focused on the Starks and, as well as various characters and the beginnings of several squads, I’ve got a whole unit of Sworn Swords fully painted. I had hoped to have at least one more squad done by now and put together a nice group shot of the army but alas it was not to be – I promise to do better before the September round up rolls around.

Stark Sworn Swords ASOIAF Group Wudugast

My Lannisters meanwhile are a little further behind, but the Mountain is well on his way to summoning all of his men so I’ll aim to get this squad completed in the near-ish future.

The Mountains Men Wudugast ASOIAF

Hate

At the moment I don’t have any set goals that I’m working towards here, I just really like the models so I’ll keep chipping away at them whenever I feel like it. Expect to see the odd one pop up whenever I fancy painting some crazy barbarians. 

Hate Barbarian Wudugast Chaos CMON collection

Summing Up

I’m feeling pretty chuffed with everything I’ve got done this year, especially as the past few months are always the busiest at work (and this year has been no exception on that score). By the end of July work will be getting a little calmer but other commitments look set to take over so how much time I have for painting as the year progresses remains to be seen. That said I’m going to list a few key targets that I’d like to achieve by the time we get to the end of September and the next quarterly progress report.

  • Necromunda – get another gang up and running, most likely the Orlocks. More if possible.
  • Warcry – get at least one of the “core” warbands painted, the Spire Tyrants look like a good option here.
  • Blood Bowl – get the Necromantic Horrors team finished. As that only needs 2 ghouls I’m going to aim for getting another team up and running as well.
  • Blackstone Fortress – complete at least one expansion.
  • Cursed City – make significant progress. Hard to quantify on this one, I’d love to get it finished of course but I’m not going to try to bite off more than I can chew. A squad or two of mooks and/or some of the heroes would count here, whereas a single corpse rat just isn’t going to cut it!
  • ASOIAF – make significant progress. Again I’m not going to put an exact figure on it here, just that I want to get something done and again one model isn’t enough!

Really though this is the bare minimum I’d like to achieve. More would without doubt be merrier. Keep an eye out over the next few months and let’s see how I get on.


Tomb It May Concern – Part 4

Just to prove that my adventures with Necrons last month were not merely a flash in the pan I’m back on the tomb world once again, hauling yet more grumpy androids from their dusty graves. My first port of call was a leader for my army, an undead king in the form of this Necron Lord.

Wudugast Warhammer 40k Necrons (8)Wudugast Warhammer 40k Necrons (9)Wudugast Warhammer 40k Necrons (10)Wudugast Warhammer 40k Necrons (11)

As the commander of my legions he needed a suitably impressive title so I turned my attention to the naming table from the previous edition of Kill Team combined with the Dynastic Epithets in the current Necron codex. Rather than roll a dice however I just asked my wife to pick some random numbers, and we ended up naming him Anubitar the Unstoppable, Breaker of the Beings Below. Needless to say I’ve pencilled this in as a suitable name for our first child as well.

Next up, the oddly endearing Canoptek Reanimator.

Wudugast Warhammer 40k Necrons (6)Wudugast Warhammer 40k Necrons (2)Wudugast Warhammer 40k Necrons (3)Wudugast Warhammer 40k Necrons (4)Wudugast Warhammer 40k Necrons (5)

This is an impressively tall model, as demonstrated by the way it towers over this Necron warrior.

Wudugast Warhammer 40k Necrons (7)

Finally we turn from the very tall to the fairly small, and the diminutive Plasmacyte.

Wudugast Warhammer 40k Necrons (12)Wudugast Warhammer 40k Necrons (13)

Not quite as many models as I managed last time around but then again work is still super busy, and I’ve got a lot of other projects clamouring for my limited time as we hurtle towards the mid-year update. More mechanical men should appear in the second half of the year however.


Bloodmaster of Khorne

The Bloodmaster (Game’s Workshop’s fancy new name for the – admittedly rather dull sounding – Herald of Khorne on foot) is one of my favourite models from the Khorne range. To use a phrase that will be very familiar to all my regular readers by now it’s one that (say it with me) I’ve been meaning to get around to for ages, so the other night I cleared my schedule and my desk and cracked on with it.

Khorne Daemon Bloodmaster Herald Wudugast Warhammer (1)Khorne Daemon Bloodmaster Herald Wudugast Warhammer (2)Khorne Daemon Bloodmaster Herald Wudugast Warhammer (3)Khorne Daemon Bloodmaster Herald Wudugast Warhammer (4)Khorne Daemon Bloodmaster Herald Wudugast Warhammer (5)Khorne Daemon Bloodmaster Herald Wudugast Warhammer (6)

Not much more to be said really – he’s a very angry daemon and he’s ready to carve up all of the Blood God’s enemies which, at the last count, was everybody.


Tomb It May Concern – Part 3

The Necrons may be immortal but the rest of us are not and so whilst they may be content to take tens of millennia to fulfil their plans I’m going to have to work a tiny bit faster if I want to get my metallic legions painted. Now I fully intend to live a good long time yet (many, many decades if I have anything to say about it!) but even that won’t be enough to get this project finished if I don’t ever get on with it and actually paint something. The irony being that part of what attracted me to the Necrons was the fact that I could paint them up quite quickly, something I set out to do in 2020 before rapidly going into hibernation instead. 2021 I told myself would be the year of the Necrons, the year I churned out a host of robots at mind boggling speed. Alas the best laid plans of even the most megalomaniacal of undead android emperors sometimes come to naught and so it is that 2022 rolled around without so much as a single scarab disturbing the dust of the tomb worlds.

This year however I plan to do better and so, having settled at last on a fairly traditional colour scheme (mostly because it’s nice and easy to paint) I set about assembling my first squad of ten Necron warriors.

Necron Warriors Warhammer 40k Wudugast (1)Necron Warriors Warhammer 40k Wudugast (2)Necron Warriors Warhammer 40k Wudugast (3)Necron Warriors Warhammer 40k Wudugast (4)Necron Warriors Warhammer 40k Wudugast (5)

In terms of appearance there’s nothing radical here but they speak to a sense of nostalgia in me, and I’m trying to keep this project as straightforward and complication-free as possible! Best of all, by keeping things simple I managed to complete a whole squad in next to no time!

Necron Warriors Warhammer 40k Wudugast (6)

That’s not all however, I also painted a couple more swarms of scarabs to add to the one I painted back at the tail end of 2020.

Necron Scarabs Warhammer 40k Wudugast

Floating ominously out of the ancient vaults we have a Plasmancer who manipulates raw energy in ways so strange and arcane they might just be magic…

Necron Cryptec Warhammer 40k Wudugast (1)Necron Cryptec Warhammer 40k Wudugast (2)Necron Cryptec Warhammer 40k Wudugast (3)Necron Cryptec Warhammer 40k Wudugast (4)

Of course we wouldn’t want some weirdo space wizard who doesn’t even have legs running the show so, until my Necron Lord is fully painted, his loyal bodyguard the Royal Warden will be stepping up to keep the legion in line.

Necron Royal Warden Warhammer 40k Wudugast (1)Necron Royal Warden Warhammer 40k Wudugast (4)Necron Royal Warden Warhammer 40k Wudugast (2)Necron Royal Warden Warhammer 40k Wudugast (3)Necron Royal Warden Warhammer 40k Wudugast (5)

Now that’s more like progress isn’t it? Needless to say I’ve got lots more space undead on the desk but hopefully, after two decades of aspiring to a Necron army, this is the beginning of the march towards finally getting them painted.


Kill Team Barricades

Not the most exciting post today but another job ticked off the to-do list of projects; the barricades from the new edition of Kill Team. 

Kill Team Barricades Wudugast

Nothing fancy but they do the job. I’ll try to have something more interesting for you to look at by the end of the week! 


Dark Disciples

Time for two downhive lowlifes turned religious fanatics in the service of the Chaos Gods. Amongst the ranks of the Chaos Space Marines the Dark Apostles serve as a priest class, conducting the bloody rituals, preaching the savage creed and interpreting the will of the Gods on behalf of their battle brothers. Of course this is a lot of work for one man and so a Dark Apostle worth his salt soon recruits a few Dark Disciples to assist him. The Disciples are then on hand to waft cursed incense, stab hapless victims at appropriate moments, tidy up afterwards and even be fed to a summoned daemon themselves if no-one else is available. 

Dark Disciples Chaos Cultists Warhammer 40k Wudugast (5)Dark Disciples Chaos Cultists Warhammer 40k Wudugast (6)Dark Disciples Chaos Cultists Warhammer 40k Wudugast (7)Dark Disciples Chaos Cultists Warhammer 40k Wudugast (8)Dark Disciples Chaos Cultists Warhammer 40k Wudugast (1)Dark Disciples Chaos Cultists Warhammer 40k Wudugast (2)Dark Disciples Chaos Cultists Warhammer 40k Wudugast (3)Dark Disciples Chaos Cultists Warhammer 40k Wudugast (4)

Again these are “neglected models” which have been sitting around three quarters painted for at least a year. Together they make a pair of characterful additions to both my Chaos Marines and Necromunda collections. At some point I’ll need to get the Dark Apostle himself painted but he’s not a priority for now. 


The Parasite of Mortrex Returns!

Well how’s about that! Flapping down out of the spore filled heavens (or more accurately being previewed by Games Workshop) comes that dread Tyranid beast the Parasite of Mortrex. 

Parasite of Mortrex

The Parasite of Mortrex first appeared back in the Fifth Edition of Warhammer 40k, emerging (appropriately enough) on the fortress world of Mortrex. Swooping out of the darkness it implanted tiny Rippers in hapless guardsmen who then played unwilling parent to swarms of the ravenous little predators. Rapidly maturing the Rippers would soon do exactly what their name suggests, bursting from their hosts in a manner familiar to anyone who has seen the film Alien before turning their savage attentions on the rest of the squad. Within weeks Mortrex had fallen, whereupon the Parasite vanished – both “in universe” and in reality as Games Workshop never made a model for it and dropped it from later codexes. Guardsmen however have been fearfully keeping an eye on the skies lest the Parasite return… and now it has! After years in the wilderness the Parasite has at last received a miniature, announced a couple of days ago to accompany the forthcoming new edition of the Tyranids codex. My first thought on seeing the new models was that it’s pretty cool. The back is a bit weird but that aside it’s a very creepy alien monster – just how the Tyranids should be. 

Parasite of Mortrex rear

I’ve never really got into the Tyranids and I can’t quite work out why. On the surface of it they should be exactly the kind of thing I enjoy; hordes of alien monsters set on devouring the galaxy. There’s something about them I’m not sure about though and I can’t seem to put my finger on it. Usually when there’s a faction I don’t like I start trying to work out how to fix it, and it turns into a mental challenge from which crazy conversions spring. With the Tyranids however this has yet to happen. It doesn’t help that I really don’t like the studio paint scheme but normally I can see beyond that. Maybe it’s not a bad thing though – after all I don’t have a shortage of things to paint! 

The Parasite isn’t going to change this, it’s a nice model but it’s not enough to win me over to the faction or send me rushing out to buy it. Hopefully any Tyranid fans out there are pleased though, they’ve not had much attention for a long time and they deserve something cool. 

Rippers

The one thing I don’t particularly like about the Parasite is the fact that it’s a special character. I know many people have an aversion to special characters on general principle and that’s fair enough, everyone should enjoy the hobby as they see fit. In the main though I’m in favour. We are all human beings and our history and mythology is stitched together from the deeds of other humans; kings, emperors, generals, heroes and so on. What would the Greek myths by without Achillies, Odysseus or Heracles? Seeing some of the characters that live in the setting help to bring it to life, and even if we don’t choose to use them in our own games it’s good to know they’re out there. Without them these worlds would seem a lot less real and believable. Try to summarise the events of the Second World War (or any other period of history that you are familiar with) without reference to any of the individual people who were making command decisions or developing strategies. It’s not easy is it, and it’s certainly not very engaging. 

They act as points of reference too – does my Chaos Lord serve Abaddon, do they have any pacts, or are they enemies? Is he sworn to one of the Dark Gods and believes that if only the big man would focus on serving Nurgle or Slaanesh then the destruction of the Imperium would go much more smoothly? If they are enemies; why? If they are allies; why? 

However despite being on Team Special Characters I draw the line very firmly at Tyranids. Tyranids, I believe, should not have special characters. I’ve never liked the idea and it would take a hell of a lot to change my mind (although if you want to try the comments box is the place for you, just don’t be disappointed if you fail to win me over). 

For one thing the Tyranids are defined by their huge numbers. To be the most famous Blood Angel in a chapter one thousand strong is no mean feat, but at the end of the day someone has to do it. To be the most famous Tyranid in a population of hundreds of billions however? Just by existing Tyranid special characters make the hive fleets seem smaller. 

Tyranids

‘Perhaps the Tyranids are a punishment for all the galaxy’s warring races, we who could not see beyond our reckless hate. Perhaps, in a final twist of irony, we shall be consumed by a force that feels no enmity at all, merely a cold and insatiable hunger.’

Farseer Zonayen of Alaitoc

For me special characters also sit poorly with the “alien-ness” of the Tyranids. At the end of the day the other xenos species in 40k aren’t that different to us. Despite their quirks the Orks, Eldar, even Necrons are much like the aliens in Star Trek – in that they are basically humans with some  cultural and physiological difference. Not so the Tyranids. I’ve heard it said that if the other xenos are like humans the Tyranids are like lions but I’d go further than that. A Tyranid is like an immortal lion, which eats planets rather than gazelles, lives in outer space, is smarter than the sum of all human geniuses that have ever lived, is made up of billions of separate bodies from the microscopic to the continent-sized and which is really, really hungry. Surely the point of the Tyranids is that I can’t put myself in their shoes anymore more than I can an oak tree or a gut bacteria. 

That’s not to say that the Tyranids aren’t intelligent. It was once put to me, and I wholeheartedly agree, that a Hive Tyrant could beat a grand master at chess. The hard part wouldn’t be teaching it the rules but explaining why it shouldn’t just bite his face off. 

Tyranids 2

Then there’s the fact that the Tyranids after all are the ultimate bio-manipulators, capable of breeding whole armies of precisely tailored organisms to fit whatever circumstances they find themselves in. If a Tyranid does in fact emerge which is powerful and awesome enough to achieve special character status then surely the Hive Mind would simply think “Wow! Look at these stats! Check out these special abilities! This gribbly dude is awesome – clone a few thousand of them before we reach the next planet”. (Of course a degree of abstraction is required for gaming purposes, after all the Hive Mind might also think “I see the opposing force is a balanced 2000 point army. Excellent, that’s very sporting of them. Deploy 8000 points in response, compel the slave bioform to paint more Termagants!”)

Now some gamers, especially those on the tournament scene, might argue that having special characters has a big impact on the rules and that if, for instance, players could “spam” the Parasite of Mortrex the game would be “broken”. For all I know they may well be right. Let’s be honest though, miniatures stay in circulation for decades whilst the rules will probably be FAQ’d before the book sees publication (and then FAQ’d again after the first big tournament, and then updated in White Dwarf, and so on…). Plus this is an easy fix for a rules writer to overcome. 

“To the relief of Imperial commander these creatures remain rare in the armies of the hive fleets… for now! You may only include one in your Tyranid army”. 

There – fixed it for you! 

I do follow the logic that these are experimental creations, bred by the hive to solve a problem and then either mass-produced or abandoned. However surely that makes them very circumstantial? Unless we’re actually playing a game set during the siege of Mortrex then surely the Parasite will either be part of the range of biological blueprints available to the hive (ergo no longer a unique character but an off the shelf tool to be bred and unleashed as required like a Carnifex or a Gargoyle) or it’s abandoned, a one off genetic experiment never to be repeated. Frankly I’m not convinced that it would ever be reduced to the latter status, a fortress world like Mortrex is hardly unique in the Imperium and the Parasite was so extremely efficient in bringing it to ruin that the Hive Mind is never going to bin the idea forever more. 

Parasite of Mortrex art

Now I think about it more however, could it be that this is exactly what has happened? Just because the Parasite was a unique character back in Fifth Edition when it first emerged doesn’t mean it still is. The article published by Games Workshop doesn’t really specify one way or another. The final paragraph hints that “You’ll soon be able to add a Parasite of Mortrex to your flying broods…” (my emphasis) so perhaps my complaints are unfounded? At this stage it’s hard to be sure and reading too much into anything GW says is a risky business. Personally I hope it is though, not that I’d want to include multiple Parasites in the Tyranid army I don’t have but because it would bring things nearly full circle, demonstrating that the Hive Mind can and does learn from its experiments and in time each of these “one offs” can become the blueprint for a new bioform through which the consumption of the galaxy shall continue. Hell maybe every edition GW should introduce a new Tyranid special character, and then change it into a generic specialist unit with the next iteration of the codex. 

In conclusion then the Parasite probably won’t be finding it’s way onto my painting desk any time soon but I still think it’s a cool model. I just wish there were more of them! Plus it’s great to see the Tyranids getting a new miniature, frankly that’s something else I’d like to see more of. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Kill Team is the perfect platform for new genestealers. Come on Games Workshop, you know it makes sense and it might just be the thing to tempt me out of the Genestealer Cults and into a fully fledged hive fleet to boot! 


Nun With A Gun

I’ve been tempted more than once to paint some Sisters of Battle since the range got revamped a couple of years ago. There’s certainly no denying that they are incredible models, some of the best that GW produces, so when I saw some being sold off at a knockdown price I decided to give them a go. Since then I’ve been messing around trying to work out a colour scheme I liked and Fembruary seemed like the perfect moment to focus and get one of them finished. 

Sisters of Battle Warhammer 40k Wudugast (1)Sisters of Battle Warhammer 40k Wudugast (2)

I did enjoy this one so expect to see more of them sooner or later. But not this month because time is running out and I’ve got a few more Fembruary projects I’d like to sneak in before we’re done. 


Alpharius: Head of the Hydra 

I am Alpharius. 

This is a lie.

As opening lines go those take some beating don’t they? I don’t normally do book reviews here, at least in part because writing them is bloody hard work and although I take my hat off to those who do it, it’s something I very much struggle to pull off. I do however read a lot of books and, as a fan of all things Warhammer, plenty of them are from Black Library. Black Library novels can be a bit of a mixed bag, some are excellent, many are a bit duff if I’m honest – Space Marine fan-fiction with dubious plot lines and turgid battles of blazing bolters. This is one of the good ones though. In fact this one really deserves a bit of gushing praise and so that’s exactly what I’m going to give it. 

Alpharius

Alpharius: Head of the Hydra by Mike Brooks, tells the story of the Primarch Alpharius in his own words for the first time. The ultimate in unreliable narrators Alpharius is known to all 40k fans as the Primarch who lies a lot – or as he describes himself to Leman Russ “I’m the one who keeps secrets”. Given this fact it’s hard to be sure if this really is a behind the scenes tell-all from the master of dishonesty, or if we’re being spun a load of nonsense. Most likely it’s a bit of both. 

There is the official story of the Imperium’s early years and the finding of the Primarchs, and then there’s the version laid out here. Thus in many ways the reader is drawn into the universe to the point where we almost become actors in our own right. Now this has always been true of 40k, with the “head cannon” story behind my army no less valid that which is laid out in a codex or Black Library novel. However what I’m driving at here is that, in the end, only a comparatively tiny number of 40k fans will read this book and so hear this side of the story. All the rest will stick with the version which has been laid out in codexes and novels for over three decades. Are those of us who do privileged members of a fraternity to whom deeper truths have been revealed or are we dupes taken in by a narrator famed as a master of lies and manipulation? 

Alpharius Forge World

Writing Primarchs, particularly in the first person, is a tricky business. Almost inevitably authors who attempt it fail to pull it off. These are gene-forged demi-gods, far beyond us frail baseline humans in every way, yet all too often they come across as tall space marines with quirky personalities. For Alpharius however it works perfectly. After all you can barely trust the words spilling from the serpent’s mouth, so anyone else trying to narrate these events second hand would become so tangled in misinformation as to be not worth reading. How could anyone but Alpharius tell his story when he takes such pains to keep everyone around him guessing and ensure that no-one ever knows the full truth? A book in which everything is false or guesswork wouldn’t be worth reading after all. No, the joy of this book is trying to guess at which points he’s lying – and concluding at the end that it’s all true.

Some authors seem to struggle with the Alpha Legion, putting Alpharius himself at the core of every mission as though he’s the only spy the Imperium has (Deliverance Lost I’m looking at you here), turning him into a one dimensional mustache twirling scoundrel (“I would have got away with it too if it wasn’t for Rogal Dorn!”) or bogging everything down in so many triple-crosses that it’s hard to remember who’s currently betraying who. Again however telling the story from Alpharius’s own perspective helps to get around this, rather than us readers trying to keep track of how many seemingly innocent people in any given room are actually Alpha Legion agents with conflicting agendas (hint: it’s all of them) we’re walked through events by the man who masterminded them. Does it make sense for Alpharius to be involved in every mission? It does here because this is his story, whereas all too often in the Horus Heresy we’re “surprised” to discover that every Alpha Legionary we encounter is really the main man himself rather than one of his – supposedly self-reliant and independently-minded – underlings. There are nods to the Alpha Legion’s reputation for overcomplicated schemes – a tech-priest asks how a top secret mission can be used as cover for an even more top-secret mission (and yes, there is a good reason for it) – but on the whole we avoid all the doubling-crossing the double-crosser (cross squared?) that can at times make Alpha Legion stories near impossible to follow.

Alpharius Omegon

As an aside I’ve always enjoyed the fact that there are several in-universe official accounts of Alpharius’s death, leaving the reader guessing as to which, if any, are true. Between being able to disguise himself as his own legionaries, encouraging his legionaries to pass themselves off as him, and having a hidden identical twin, is it any wonder that he has been “officially” killed off by at least two of his brother Primarchs? My own pet theory is that Alpharius/Omegon never could stick with the limitation of having two bodies. It is already cannon that Fabius Bile successfully cloned all of the Primarchs – including making dozens of versions of Ferrus Manus, a young Fulgrim and a reborn Horus. Those wondering how Games Workshop might someday bring back Sanguinius or one of the other dead Primarchs should look no further. If downhive Esher gang-queens and low-ranking Dark Eldar kabalites can bring themselves back to life as clones there’s no reason for the Primarch of the Alpha Legion to stay dead a moment longer than he chooses to.

In writing this I’ve steered away from talking too much about the plot, and quite deliberately so. I went into this knowing next to nothing about the story and I think I enjoyed it all the more as a result. However one thing I will say is that the more familiar you are with the 40k canon the more you’re likely to enjoy this. If you’re completely fresh to 40k then this really isn’t the best place to start, a degree of familiarity with the big players of the pre-Heresy era is vital to save yourself a lot of frustrating head scratching. If on the other hand you’re well versed in the story of how the Imperium came to be, the Great Crusade and the finding of the Primarchs, then prepare to enjoy having some well established “facts” revealed as falsehoods, key events turned on their heads and major players re-examined from a uniquely insightful perspective. After hearing things from Alpharius’s point of view I don’t think I’ll ever trust Rogal Dorn again!

Of course, it could all be a lie. Hydra Dominatus!


Glitchlings

Continuing the Nurgle theme, the last models to be painted in January were this brood of malevolent little Glitchlings. Glitchlings are essentially bio-mechanical Nurglings, little daemons which infest machines and cause them to malfunction in evil and dementing manners. I think there’s probably one in every printer…

Glitchlings Nurglings Nurgle Warhammer Wudugast ConvertOrDie (1)Glitchlings Nurglings Nurgle Warhammer Wudugast ConvertOrDie (2)Glitchlings Nurglings Nurgle Warhammer Wudugast ConvertOrDie (3)

As well as these three I painted another one ages ago, but there’s no harm in reminding ourselves of how he looks as well. 

These models first appeared as part of the Kill Team: Rogue Trader set (a box of models that I enthused over a great deal but, in a story that most readers will find very familiar, still need to paint most of). 

Glitchlings Nurglings Nurgle Warhammer Wudugast ConvertOrDie (4)

Anyway, with these nasty little mites out of the way I’ll be turning my attention to Fembruary for the next few weeks.