Sunday, March 20, 2016

Returning to Warhammer

When I was 10 years old I picked up a copy of the then new Warhammer Fantasy Battle game on a family trip through Great Britain. Between that and the exposure to hordes of wonderfully painted miniatures in museums across England, Scotland and Wales I came back to the US a changed boy. I played some version of WHFB up until 2006. I ended up moving from New Jersey to Washington State and there just wasn't enough room to pack all my armies into a Honda Civic. This was also around the time that I'd started playing Warmachine and WHFB was feeling a little stale. I used to play Warhammer regularly with a great group of guys, but I felt our games were getting a little predicable. Having settled into my new surroundings, I had always meant to start a new WHFB army, but the time and expense of collecting the number of figures required kept me away.  I drifted into games like SAGA and Dragon Rampant, which gave me the medieval feel I wanted, while requiring manageable amounts of figures to play a good game.

When Games Workshop started the End Times series, I guess I could just see the writing on the wall. Having worked in the retail side of hobby games, I knew that even in shops where it was pushed heavily WHFB was never as big a seller as its far future younger brother. So I guess I was less than surprised to see GW scrap the Old World and roll the dice on something new. Enter Warhammer Age of Sigmar. The new setting is an epic battle set across a ruined multiverse - much more reminiscent of Michael Moorcock's Eternal Champion books than Tolkien's Middle Earth. I love both writers an the artist side of me also understood the need to create a more controlled and defensible Intellectual Property. I know that is unpalatable to many, but I really can't fault a company for trying to control its product by making it less generic.

Age of Sigmar has drawn me back into Warhammer after a 10 year hiatus with its accessible rules, lower model count requirement and the wider scope of its background story. I realize that some reading that last bit are probably curling their fingers in frustration, but hear me out. While WHFB had 30 years of lore and history, its scope was kind of narrow. No battles had any real world-changing stakes and most storylines weren't moving anywhere. The current post-apoclyptic story set in different planes of existence provide players with easier justifications for battles, a wider inspiration of terrain and allows Games Workshop to move the story ahead as it develops.

All that said, I also feel like embracing the post-apocalyptic setting is key here. There's a certain level of goofy charm that I find in the over-the-top nature of the game. Everything feels like it should fighting to the power chords of the Doof Warrior from Mad Max: Fury Road. Wiiiiicka-wow-wow, wicka-wow-wow!!! Beeeeeewaaaaaaaaaaaa!!!!

I feel like this look is most excellently exemplified by the new Khorne Bloodbound models. Seeing them in the new starter set, I gave in. I've never been super into the Khorne aesthetic, but these guys just grabbed me in a big way. The detail is fantastic and every unit type feels really distinct and unique while sharing similar design beats.

A mighty Warlord of Khorne! And his faithful companion!

The Standard Bearer is called a Bloodsecrator! I mean, c'mon! That's hilarious!
Bloodstoker (not to be confused with Bram Stoker) and da Skull Grinder!

A unit of Skullcrushers I've wanted since I was 15.
A pack of Korgoroths - Khorne Chaos spawns.
Blood Warriors! Are you sensing a pattern to these names?
One unit of Blood Reavers!
And another!
I've even made some custom terrain for them to fight on!
I'm pretty near to closing the books on this project and adding to it here and there in the future. I'll also post up some step-by-step painting guides on the Khorne stuff.  If you're looking for deeper thoughts on Age of Sigmar as a game system, I'll post something about that in the future as well. In the meantime, I'm just having a ton of fun with game and look forward to playing it any chance I get.


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