Nova Open reveals!

Oh my goodness, there were some interesting bits dropped at Nova last night/this morning!! I’m really quite excited about a lot of this stuff, so let’s get into it!

So the Psychic Awakening thing has got a fancy cinematic trailer now, but I’m still a little bit disappointed that we didn’t get a good look at what this is going to look like from a products perspective. We’ve got a new Inquisitor model coming along (presumably), along with new plastics for Howling Banshees and Shrike. So that’s interesting, I reckon! The official site has got this to say about it:

Psychic Awakening is a monumental event that will shape Warhammer 40,000 forever, on a scale unlike anything you’ve ever seen before. Across this epic event, every codex will see expanded rules as we explore the front-line war zones of a cataclysmic new conflict that makes the 13th Black Crusade look like a border scuffle.

Now, that sounds exciting as all hell, but I wonder how much of it is going to actually translate true, you know? Vigilus was cool and all, but it somehow didn’t quite live up to what we had been perhaps hoping for in the run up to it last year.

The new Shrike has been pretty divisive, though I do quite like it myself! Of course, I’m not about to start collecting Raven Guard, but even so, it’s really nice to see more models than merely Ultramarines! I hope we’ll see some really interesting, weird stuff – starting with that bald inquisitor, of course! If Howling Banshees are getting the updated treatment, as well, then I hope they’ll use this as an excuse to update a few more kits from finecast to plastic! Speaking of which…

The Sisters of Battle have got an army box coming out in November, which I guess means that we really are going to see plastic Sisters coming out this year! Of course, the army set might be out in time for Christmas, but we might not yet be seeing the range introduced. I mean, they may well use this box to bump up the sales, and keep back the individual kits until later. Personally, I’m not planning to pick them up in one big hit like this, even if it does prove to be a saving. Recent army projects have shown that I do much better if I buy things steadily, rather than splurge on a huge pile of plastic to just then have them sitting around depressing me…

But the range does look fantastic, and that new Penitent Engine looks wonderfully grim-dark that I just can’t wait to get one for my collection, if nothing else! Very exciting times ahead, anyway!

Necromunda is getting something that looks pretty interesting – Helot Gangs seems to be the main thought here, from what I’ve seen online, though I’d always thought that to mean the Chaos Cultist rules they released in White Dwarf and on the official site? Who knows. Looks cool, and as per usual I’d definitely be all over this like a rash!

Heading to the Mortal Realms, Warcry is getting an expansion for Monsters and Mercenaries, which looks like it will indeed be following the release pattern of Kill Team – though I don’t know of course if they’re planning to re-pack the monsters and mercenary units in the same way as, say, Kill Team: Commanders. Interesting to see how this one pans out. I had been hoping we’d see the remaining two warbands that were discussed in the main Warcry rulebook, but no such luck! Maybe they’re being held back for the Christmas sales, too?

The biggest thing, for me, to come out of these reveals has got to be the next army for Age of Sigmar, however:

Now, I was excited by Cities of Sigmar, as it represented something of a re-theme of classic Old World models that I do want to get my hands on. I’m a huge Tomb Kings fan, of course, but I’m also a huge fan of Nagash and the whole undead thing in Warhammer Fantasy and Age of Sigmar, so I am incredibly excited for this range to come out, apparently as early as October!

An army of bone constructs, led by the new mortarch, Orpheon Katakros, this army looks incredibly exciting and really cool, and should go well with the current Nagash, Mortarch and Morghast range!

There have been some fairly vocal detractors online since the reveals dropped, but I don’t really care what people have to say about it: I think the range looks awesome, and I think it’s going to be difficult not to pick up the whole damn lot when it arrives!

It’s true, accusations of Tyranid Warriors rip-offs here are difficult to argue against. But I just don’t see the similarities with Necrons, which a lot of other folks are calling out. True, they’re armies of undead skeletal warriors, but that’s pretty much where the similarities end. Necrons are far more sleek and futuristic, for all that they’re an ancient species, whereas these guys have got too many design cues in common with Nagash and his ilk to be said to be the same!

I do still feel like the Tomb Kings had something special in Fantasy, but these guys just fit the whole AoS aesthetic much better.

It’s really a wonderful re-imagining of the idea of Tomb Kings, and I can’t wait to get my hands on the full range of plastic goodness!

The Ossiarch Bonereapers are going to land probably square in the middle of the birth of my first child, so I don’t anticipate having much in the way of updates here on the blog during October, but I will be chronicling my hobby progress with certain Undead models here whenever I can, starting much sooner than anticipated with the delightful model that is Arkhan the Black!!

Hobby Happiness: Mortarch of Nagash

Hey everybody!
This past weekend was a little nostalgic for me. I recently moved house, and so was trying to find the best location in which to do my hobby stuff. (For those who are interested, it happens to be the dining table, as the whole room is flooded with natural light and is awesome).

I also spent a good few days building up the amazing Mortarch of Nagash kit, which comes in the Start Collecting Skeleton Horde box, and is the third time I’ve bought this model! Back when the End Times were going on, I picked one up alongside the rest of those releases, but promptly sold it off for one reason or another… I then picked up the Start Collecting box when I had grand plans for a Tomb Kings army, but sold it off when I got rid of all of my Age of Sigmar stuff about two years ago. But having started with Nighthaunt at the beginning of this year, I’ve decided the time was finally right to build up this bad boy and make myself a Legions of Nagash army!

This model brings me immense happiness to finally have it in my collection. Sure, it’s only built, and I still need to paint it – fortunately, Arkhan isn’t actually glued in place, as I feel that would have been a silly thing to do.

The End Times
I first got into the modelling side of Warhammer in the summer of 2014 – in fact, it was five years ago today that I placed my first order on the Games Workshop website. By September of 2014, the End Times had begun, starting with the release of that awesome kit, Nagash:

Of course, I have recently picked up Nagash, as I really fancy having him as an army centrepiece (though at 800 points, I can’t see myself including him very often in an army list!) However, this blog is about the Mortarchs, specifically Arkhan the Black, who will be much simpler to slot into a list.

I just really love these models. I think I’d originally wanted to build up Neferata, because I really love her lore and think the model just looks so incredible and badass, but following my Tomb Kings experiment, I had started to look at Arkhan the Black more as my Mortarch of choice.

While a lot of people didn’t appreciate the End Times for blowing up their world, I suppose I didn’t have that level of hobby investment at the time to feel I had to burn my entire army and post the video up on youtube (well, I didn’t have an army yet, so there is that). Instead, I was kinda bowled over with excitement for how awesome these new models were, and really got quite caught up with the whole thing in a good way. As such, I always look back quite fondly on the End Times, as being the real start of my hobby adventure.

The actual End Times themselves didn’t really culminate until late spring 2015, so I still had the best part of a year to enjoy my time with Warhammer Fantasy, so I do still look back on the Old World with some nostalgia, mainly for the lore rather than the game of Warhammer Fantasy Battles.

The Model
Holy buckets, this model is amazing! It was a real joy to build up from start pretty much through to the finish. (Unfortunately, the reins on my model were broken on the sprue, and as this part is so small and delicate anyway, it has left them pretty much unusable. Luckily, I still plan to also have a Neferata model at some stage, so I’m thinking I’ll just use those when I come to it, as the two Mortarchs don’t share those parts).

That’s not to say it wasn’t fiddly, as there were several points during the building where I felt a little bit at sea. Also – Arkhan has a sword in its scabbard on his back, Zefet-kar, the Tomb Blade. The scabbard is part of the cloak, but the grip and pommel are a separate part. And they’re tiny! Well, at least his beard wasn’t a separate part, also.

He looks amazing, though, and the dread abyssal Razarak is actually quite sturdy and able to support its own weight really well, given that it is only held aloft on that skeletal tail-thing. Don’t get me wrong, it does wobble a little bit, but it doesn’t seem like anything is about to collapse!

Painting Plans
Now, I’m probably not about to go down the route of all that non-metallic metal on the armour that the studio has. I do want to do a deep blue scheme though, so have been considering using the new Night Lords Blue colour on his armour. I don’t know what to do about the rest of him though – in all honesty, I’ll most likely just end up following the studio scheme of pale bone and pale turquoise skulls. I do want to try out the contrast paints on him, though, so I think that might be interesting.

There’s a real presence about this model, though, and I am really looking forward to painting him up! I started painting two mortal followers of Khorne at the weekend, really because I wanted to try out the contrast paints again, but also because I want to try to get back into painting properly, and trying to get good at it. With moving house, it feels like it’s been a while since I’ve had the time to consistently sit down to paint in an effort to get better, but I’m hoping that I’ll be able to get back into the swing of things now, and hopefully get somewhere near “decent”!!

Nighthaunt Progress!

Hey everybody!
I had my third game of Age of Sigmar last Monday, again playing against Jak and his Maggotkin list, but this time we’d scaled up to 1500 points, so could go a lot wider with our choices. I think Age of Sigmar definitely lends itself better to larger-scale games, as I could see a lot of the synergies come further to the fore this time around.

I’ve used Lady Olynder twice now, and I do really like her both as a model and what she can do. I think I still play her slightly cautiously, as she is a model that really needs to be in the thick of things for a lot of her abilities to work, but she needs to choose her targets carefully. I’d also taken a Tomb Banshee (using the Briar Queen model as a proxy, as the aesthetics are much nicer on her, I feel), but I was unimpressed with her performance so doubt I’ll be using her again. I also used Dreadscythe Harridans for the first time, and purposefully sent them in against the Blightkings thinking their -1 to Hit would negate the exploding 6s, but forgot all about the rule for 2 turns and nearly got decimated.

I’d wanted to try out some Spirit Hosts, after having enjoyed the models back when they were first released, but unfortunately found they were really quite poor, being on 5s to Hit. Even with 6 attacks each, they barely did anything all game except die off slowly and painfully! I’d sent them against a horde of Plague Monks, thinking 18 attacks in the first round would be quite decent, but they probably hit no more than three or four times in the entire game. It hasn’t stopped me from buying a second box of them, of course – I’m thinking I’ll just try something else with them next time!

Finally for the “new” units, I was using ten Grimghast Reapers, which were a little uninspiring at first, despite buffs from the Knight of Shrouds and Spirit Torment, but I was really pleased when both the Torment and the Guardian of Souls came through for me, and basically resurrected the entire unit in round 4, allowing me to clinch a victory at the last minute! Very nice.

So I’ve been enjoying the Nighthaunt so far this year, and definitely want to continue on with these ghostly folks as I continue in my Age of Sigmar journey. While I had been branching out a bit with the Idoneth Deepkin and the Beastmen army ideas, I’m now paring everything back, and instead focusing solely on the ghosts. I’ve already sold off the elves, and I will soon be listing the Beastmen on ebay, so that I can instead just focus my energies on building, painting, and then playing games with these to try and really optimise my list and playstyle. Well, that’s the theory, at least!

I think the last time I checked in with you all on this, I was considering branching out into Legions of Nagash, and allying-in the Nighthaunt separately. Well, I’ve switched things around now, so that it’s the other way round. While it would be cool to have a bunch of skeletons in the mix as well, I’m mainly playing Nighthaunt, and allying-in Deathlords in order to bring in one of my all-time favourite models, Arkhan the Black!

The list is 2000 points, and so is very much a sort of version one of the final destination for me. It makes use of the core army that I have been playing so far this year, but adds in a couple of extra bits and pieces, so that I can get a couple of warscroll battalions in there for the additional command points. I’ve previously talked about feeling a little bit forced into shouldering some battalions into the list in order to generate additional CPs, but honestly, I think it might be the best idea to actually play with these things first and see what sort of things I can do, rather than just dismiss them as a trap on paper alone.

So let’s take a look at this list!

I like it, which I suppose is the first main point! The core of what I was looking to build up to back in January is still there, with the Chainguard and the Shroudguard, but I’ve also tweaked some points to both bring in Arkhan and to allow for more interesting (dare I say, competitive) units to be included. I’ve been able to see how several units have performed already, and I can see that things like the Chainrasp Hordes need to be bigger units to properly bog down the opponent in the mire of close combat. Having an army-wide unrendable save is a huge bonus, and big units like this should survive a lot longer, after all! The Chainghasts and Spirit Torments are going to be handy support units for allowing re-rolls of Hit rolls of 1, while the Spirit Torment’s ability to heal units is a nice fall-back if the Guardian of Souls is off elsewhere. I’m also super excited that I managed to get Thorns of the Briar Queen in here, as I was hoping to field them in an actual Age of Sigmar game back when I first started painting them. So that’s exciting!

The Bladegheist Revenants are a new unit for me, as I only actually picked them up last week and have so far built up five of them. Well, I also picked up the 500th Store Anniversary model back in October, which was also a named Bladegheist Revenant, sadly with no rules, but still! They are a bit like a more elite version of the Grimghast Reapers, I think, having similar abilities but a slightly better to Hit stat. Being able to fall back and charge is always a handy thing, of course, and its an ability they share with the Glaivewraith Stalkers, which will be those from the Easy-to-Build line rather than the Soul Wars box – they get the drummer, who grants them the ability. I’ve not used these chaps yet either, so this will be a little bit of a learning curve, but the only reason I included the Stalkers in the list was due to having the points left over!

Artefacts and Command Traits are things I’ve never really bothered with, outside of having the Nightmare Lantern buff for the Guardian of Souls. However, it’s a fun part of the list building that I think I miss from 40k list building, where working out all of the synergies and stuff is part of the enjoyment. It really helped me building this list through the Warscroll Builder on the Community site – other apps are available, of course, but I just wanted to try and get my head around the various moving parts, and this one was really straightforward to use. Having the two battalions in there gives me access to three artefacts, so I could use the Lantern buff while also giving out stuff to the Spirit Torment (dishing out mortal wounds to units within 8″ if a 2D6 roll exceeds the target’s bravery) and Knight of Shrouds (D3 mortal wounds on a target within 3″ if a wound was inflicted through his melee weapon). As the Knight of Shrouds is my General, and isn’t a named character, he can also be given a Command Trait – in this case, I’ve chosen Hatred of the Living, which allows him to re-roll failed Hit rolls with his melee weapons. Hopefully it should be a nice combo with his relic!

Spell lores are interesting things, and the Nighthaunt have a couple of pretty decent ones, I think. I’ve given the Briar Queen a spell that can dish out additional mortal wounds – it’s a similar spell to her unique offering, but for a different situation, so hopefully it should make her a flexible caster. The Guardian of Souls will most likely be doing his thing to revive other units, but the addition of an offensive spell should allow him to do more than just sit around being a waste of points if he never has a target for his unique spell.

But what about the big cheese himself?

Arkhan the Black is just a super cool model, and one that I really can’t wait to include within my army. He should be an amazing centrepiece, as well as having that hilarious Curse of Years spell, which deals out mortal wounds like nobody’s business, he can increase the range of other wizards’ spells by 6″ while they’re within 18″ of him – he also knows all of the spells of other Death wizards within the same range, so he too can attempt to cast Lifestealer or Spirit Drain, or Howling Vortex or Spectral Lure. He also has the Deathly Invocation ability that can hopefully heal a bunch of units if he’s positioned right, so he really goes in nicely with the overall theme of the army, perhaps more so than the other original Mortarchs.

So yeah, overall I’m really excited to be getting closer to this 2000 point build!

Soul Wars

Hey everybody!
So it’s probably escaped nobody’s notice that last week, Games Workshop announced the second edition of Warhammer: Age of Sigmar. I have to say, I really didn’t see that one coming, though I suppose I’ve been so focused on 40k for so long now, I’ve not really been paying much attention to anything going on in the Mortal Realms, so there is that…

I’ve only played AoS twice, back in 2016 I think it was, so I’m not really all that invested in the storyline or anything. But it seems that Nagash has grown tired of Sigmar stealing the souls he sees as rightly his in order to forge and re-forge his Stormcast Eternals, so the lord of the dead launches his grand offensive against the god-king of Azyr. Or something like that. It all sounds a bit like the End Times from back in the day, when the Nagash model first came out and wowed us all with its majesty!

Well, they’ve obviously built on that majesty, and created a whole range of stuff that looks simply fantastic. We’ve already had a lot of this stuff previewed back during Warhammer Fest, and I am still mightily impressed with it now as I was back then! I suppose I don’t really have the excuse to buy into the Fantasy world once again, having thrown so much of myself into 40k of late, but I think it’s going to be tough to resist such beautiful models for long!!

There is definitely something about Warhammer Fantasy that keeps drawing me back whenever I think I might have made an escape. I suppose, being the first contact I really had with Games Workshop, it will always hold that special place for me, and I think I’ll always have an interest in the world, even if I never get round to playing a game with these models.

At £95, I just can’t really justify spending the money on a box of awesomeness right now, even if it is so damn awesome. But who knows whether I’ll make it back to fighting in the Mortal Realms once more…?

Warhammer Fest 2018 News!

Holy Buckets, guys!

I’m still trying to digest the amount of news that happened this weekend around Warhammer 40k, Age of Sigmar, and specialist stuff from Forge World. It’s just too much! Well, is there really such a thing as too much good stuff? Anyway, there was so much awesomeness coming out from Coventry that it’s taken me a while to process.

Where to begin? Well, let’s talk about new Stormcast stuff:

These guys were the bomb for me back when Age of Sigmar launched. True, they were new and shiny and all that, but I had an absolute blast painting up my Stormcast army as Lions of Sigmar, and to this day, I think some of my proudest work can be seen in this very Liberator:

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And here he is, finished! #Warhammer #AgeOfSigmar

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They’ve had more guys over the last few years, for sure, and I can’t say as I was a big fan of the weird lizard-riding Scout-like guys, but now we’re getting Stormcast wizards in bona-fide wizard garb, and I think I love it! I’ve been dormant with Age of Sigmar for a long time now, but I think I may well be tempted to pick some of these chaps up when they arrive. The temptation is real!

Before that, however, it looks like we’re getting some super awesome looking new Nighthaunt models to go alongside Nagash and his Mortarchs, and these are also proving to be a temptation too far! I’m trying to remind myself how fiddly and difficult it was to put those Spirit Hosts together back in the day, but even so, they look beautiful!

That’s not all though, as next month, just three years after the game first launched, we’re getting a 2nd Edition of Age of Sigmar, which sounds like it’s taking on a lot of the fan feedback from these last few years, and could be pretty much amazing! The new edition is coming with gaming aids and objective markers and terrain that sounds very much like the Dark Imperium launch from last year, and it looks as exciting as all hell! I’m still somehow resisting getting myself back into fantasy gaming, as I feel like I’m too heavily invested in 40k at this point, but I’ll certainly be keeping a very close eye on the proceedings!

Moving away from fantasy and Age of Sigmar, let’s take a look at what’s happening in the grim darkness of the far future…

Well, they did say they were starting! This is a preview of the first Sister of Battle model that will be made available as a kind of vanguard for the main releases, and she does look pretty damn awesome. The detailing is incredible, and I love that scenic base! I’m 100% sure that I’ll be picking these girls up to add to my Imperial force once they’re ready. Cannot wait!

I know I can’t not mention this, as so many people are chomping at the bit, but I’m really just not that interested in Titanicus. It looks like it’ll be a fine game, don’t get me wrong, but I’m not that bothered in Knights in general, so can’t say as I’d want to play a game devoted solely to these big guys.

What I am excited for is the next gang for Necromunda, however! I still need to do a blog on this game, but it continues to excite me with every release, and having just picked up my Van Saar pre-order recently, I’m already excitedly looking forward to the Cawdors coming to join the fray! I love how the game has been expanding, and I can’t wait for more!

We’ve also seen the announcement of the next Horus Heresy book, featuring rules for Blood Angels and White Scars among others, and we’re getting a few Alpha Legion models, including the big man himself, who looks awesome, and I’m still seriously considering picking him up soon!

I wasn’t expecting this, however – and I think I’m still pretty amazed at the fact we’re getting a Necron Titan! The thing looks immense, and I’m not sure I have the house room for it, let alone the budget!

I’m trying very hard to resist a lot of these things due to gaming budget, however something that initially passed me by late last week is going to very much be an instant purchase, and that’s the Rogue Trader skirmish game that’s coming out later this year:

I mean, this thing looks just beautiful. I don’t mean the gameplay, I just mean the models. Its subject matter is just so weird and out of left-field, I saw the blurry leak photo and wondered if it’s not just some weird knock-off thing, but it turns out that it’s very real, and it looks incredible!

Those Nurgle beasties could easily be used for Drukhari Grotesques, but I think this is another game that could very easily be kept as a game, something I think is almost a bit weird with a lot of these GW games that aren’t Blood Bowl or Necromunda. I mean, how many people bought Deathwatch: Overkill because they wanted an actual board game? I’m still wondering if there will be a way to use the Rogue Trader part of this force in regular tabletop 40k, and I’m sure the Nurgle stuff will either get rules in the same way, or you’ll be able to use things like the cleaver-guy as a Beast of Nurgle or Herald of Nurgle, or whatever.

But the fact that it’s Rogue Trader says so much about how far GW has come lately. There’s such an air of nostalgia around the products they’re bringing, along with a determination to do their own past justice with stuff like the Genestealer Cults, Necromunda, and now this. It’s not just the fifth or sixth re-release of the same Space Hulk game, but they’re pouring effort into things because, I can only assume, it’s now clear that people actively want to see this stuff, and will buy it up like nobody’s business, and will clamour for more until the cows come home. The Nurgle stuff looks gross, as it should be – some of the models manage to capture the perfect essence of creepy and cartoon grotesque-ness that Nurgle is all about, for me – while the Rogue Trader contingent looks fancy as all hell, and exactly like Rogue Traders should look. Man, it’s making me want to read that Omnibus now!

I’m finding myself genuinely excited about this, and I’m loving the fact that we seem to be getting a regular stream of board games from GW around Christmastime. It’s awesome to see how many games they’re producing now, and I really hope that it’s a success and sees further support down the line!

He’s back…

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The Return of #Nagash #Warhammer #100happydays

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About two weeks ago, I was reading the Warhammer novel The Return of Nagash, by Josh Reynolds, as all the hoopla surrounding The End Times from Games Workshop was beginning to die down. I had been following said hoopla quite closely, as it all began to kick off about a week after I got heavily invested in the Old World – you can read my tumblr collections here and here, as well as checking out my attempts at painting one of the models from the release here. However, while I bought the Reynolds novel at this time, it took me almost a month to actually open the cover, I suppose due to being involved in other stuff at the time! Well, anyway.

Nagash

The novel came out in the first wave of stuff for the End Times, which included the Nagash model itself and the above massive hardback tomes, which give both the fluff and the crunch for Nagash as far as the tabletop game itself goes. While I did actually buy all of the models from wave one, I haven’t done anything with them yet (aside from the Spirits), and if I’m entirely honest, I don’t know if I will: Vampire Counts and Tomb Kings are both lovely-looking armies, but if I did play the game, it would be Lizardmen all the way!

But anyway, the novel.

I’d just like to get this out there from the off: I really liked this book. It deals with the efforts of the Vampire, Mannfred von Carstein, and the Liche, Arkhan the Black, to restore the first Necromancer, Nagash, to the world. I don’t really consider it a spoiler to say that they succeed, given the fact that the game has seen the release of the model and this book is essentially justification in prose, but it is a really excellent read to see how he is brought back.

I’d also like to get this out there from the off: I’ve only ever read Sigvald previously, and am barely acquainted with the Old World setting. A map of the world included in the centre pages is really useful, but I started reading this book with some trepidation, believing that I wouldn’t fully grasp the story because of my unfamiliarity with the setting. Nothing could be further from the truth, however. Reynolds introduces new characters and tells the story through their eyes – Erikan Crowfiend has a rich backstory as a vampire who turned his back on his kin, and has now begun his return to Sylvania, so we’re introduced to the major players as Erikan is re-introduced to them, which is a very powerful way of writing, to my mind. As such, this book is an excellent introduction to the world of Warhammer, and at £20, is probably the cheapest you’ll ever find!

As someone who has previously had exposure to the world through the mechanics of painting miniatures rather than the game itself and all its fluff, I found myself enraptured every time something like Castle Drakenhof was mentioned (it’s the name of their blue shade paint! Eeeeeeeee!) It’s a small point, but having been acquainted with the Citadel paint range, it was really nice to see where these names come from. Whether by accident or design, Reynolds uses these a lot, which I would imagine would allow the folks who have only previously painted miniatures without a thought for the game mechanics to feel a little less lost in this book.

I can’t speak for diehard fans of the game, for I am not among their ranks, but there is an excellent review here that you might want to check out for that!

Like I said, then, I have a very disjointed knowledge of the Old World, but that was not an issue for my enjoyment of this novel.

The actual story is also really good in and of itself. For an absolute newcomer, you have a really good tale of two people (though, can a vampire and a liche really be called ‘people’?) who obviously have a history of bad blood between them, coming together in an uneasy alliance with a common goal, though their motivations are definitely not shared. The characterisations of each are such that, by halfway through the novel or less, you feel like you know who these guys are. The story is steeped in a rich history, but that history is explained anyway, so you don’t need prior knowledge of who Arkhan, Krell, Vlad or even Nagash is to enjoy this.

I always think it’s a sign of excellent storytelling, where an author provides a rich background like this and yet having no knowledge of that world doesn’t detract. It’s a very similar experience with Star Wars – the first movie is steeped in history and lore that we obviously don’t know anything about, because this is the very first story in that universe, and yet we aren’t lost for a second. I’m sure long-time Warhammer fans will appreciate what could well be countless nods to past works, but you don’t need to get any of them to appreciate this book for what it is – a great piece of storytelling.

Given that we’re still apparently in the midst of this vampire renaissance, it’s refreshing to read this book without the sort of baggage that vampires have acquired lately. For those of you who don’t know, Warhammer Fantasy Battles was developed in the early 1980s with the express purpose of putting a number of armies in direct conflict with one another – to some extent, everyone is an enemy. Despite the fact that vampires have their own connotations for humanity outside of the game, Reynolds does a really good job of writing these chaps with some level of sympathy, without losing sight of the fact that, to a lot of people who may encounter this book because of their love of the game, the Vampire Count faction is possibly a mortal enemy of the tabletop. Little bits like this really help to make the book a rounded experience.

All of this is not to say that I had some sort of transcendental experience with this book, however. While it is a very good story, the middle does suffer slightly, as Arkhan and Mannfred go their separate ways to recover some relics of Nagash to help in the ritual to restore him to life. The locations of these relics are a long way from both each other and from Sylvania, the home of the vampires, so some level of time-lapse needs to be conveyed. However, we get quite a plodding middle section, as the narrative swings between the two protagonists through each of their journeys, and it sometimes feels like we’re having events relayed to us just for the sake of padding out the journey. I think I would have preferred to have seen each split off, a la Lord of the Rings I suppose, with non-stop Mannfred, then non-stop Arkhan. But that’s really a minor point that needs mentioning.

Overall, it’s an excellent book. Ending with the return of Nagash (again – I don’t consider this a spoiler because, well, the book is called that, after all…), and a couple of other surprises, the stage is now set for book 2 in The End Times. Rumours of a Chaos-heavy book appear to be borne out by the recent announcement from Games Workshop of the next round of End Times miniatures, though as yet we don’t have a novel to accompany them. Nor do we have a massive tome for the crunch, which is apparently coming in an upcoming White Dwarf. I’m hoping there will in fact be a second novel, which is purported to deal with Archaon the Everchosen, who has already had a novel fairly recently of course. The latest rumour I’ve encountered around the Chaos End Times releases puts the ‘book’ release in the third week, so perhaps by the end of the month…

Anyhow, all of my rambling – and efforts to decipher what’s happening in the meta of the tabletop game – aside, this is a really good book, and definitely worth picking up. Unfortunately, it seems the hardback book is now out of stock (unless you can get a copy at your local GW store), but it is still available for download, and will be out in paperback in January. Highly recommended, anyway!

Warhammer! The End Times

So I’m a pretty big Warhammer fan, as you might now have gathered from reading previous posts in my blog. Well, for the past couple of weeks, there has been an ‘event’ happening in the Old World that promises to shake the very core of the Warhammer universe.

For a while now in Warhammer literature, oblique references and vague hints have been made of an apocalypse on its way. Then, at the end of August, this happened:

That’s right, Nagash.

Nagash is the Supreme Lord of the Undead, the great Necromancer whose power shook the Old World until his demise.

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Nagash was once High Priest of Khemri, in the land of Nehekhara, though his ambition drove him to seek immortality. When a band of Dark Elves washed up on the shore, he learnt of magic from them, and of the Realm of Chaos. Using his new power to bestow eternal life, he gained a number of followers, foremost among them being Arkhan the Black.

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Following his father’s death, Nagash slew his brother and ascended the throne of Khemri, and used his position to have a huge Black Pyramid constructed, through which he channeled the Winds of Magic into Nehekhara, allowing him to develop his own brand of magic: necromancy. He preserved his knowledge in nine books, the Liber Mortis, which were illuminated with human blood. Many nobles flocked to his promises of immortality, but seven princes rallied behind Prince Lahmizzar of Lahmia to oppose him. Nagash raised a skeletal army to fight the battle, but was ultimately defeated. Arkhan gave his life to protect his master, and Nagash fled north to plot revenge.

Nagash survived in the desert through the Warpstone deposits in the mountains, which altered him into a nearly-15ft, emaciated figure. There in the mountains, he built his fortress, Nagashizzar, where he created the Crown of Sorcery and the fabled Mortis blade. The presence of so much Warpstone drew the Skaven, who entered into an uneasy pact with Nagash following a prolonged conflict.

Meanwhile, in Lahmia, the Queen Neferata had discovered the Liber Mortis and, in an attempt to gain immortality for herself, she created the first Vampires. When this threat was discovered, the new king of Nehekhara, Alcadizaar, led an army against Lahmia and drove Neferata north, where she sought the aid of Nagash. Intrigued at what he had helped to create, Nagash sent the Vampires back to Nehekhara at the head of a vast undead horde to reclaim the land.

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Neferata and the Vampires were ultimately defeated, leading to Nagash to curse them. Then, using his Skaven allies, he poisoned the waters surrounding Nehekhara so that the inhabitants died, before launching an invasion with his undead hordes – the ranks of which were increased as more died from the tainted waters. The undead army was led by the newly-resurrected Arkhan, the first of the Liche Lords, and Alcadizaar was captured.

With Nehekhara in his power, Nagash began to prepare for the Great Ritual, which would cause everything in the land to die, providing more followers for the Great Necromancer. The Skaven, realising this would cause Nagash to become unstoppable, decided to assassinate him, using Alcadizaar as a pawn. They freed him from captivity and gave him the Fellblade, made of pure Warpstone, which was so powerful it would destroy anyone, including its wielder.

Nagash cast his spell and created the army of the Tomb Kings. While recovering, he was attacked by Alcadizaar, who cut off the necromancer’s right hand with the blade. Nagash was still a foe to be reckoned with, and unleashed his power on the former king, but with the Skaven magic protecting him, Alcadizaar managed to slay Nagash, hacking his body into pieces. Taking his Crown, he fled, but the Fellblade had caused his ruin, and Alcadizaar was driven mad. The Skaven burnt Nagash’s body on a Warpstone bonfire, but they had never found the right hand…

Nagash’s spirit remained, of course, and he used the Black Pyramid to channel his energy into regaining his body, casting a new right hand out of Warpstone. The Tomb Kings, led by High King Settra, were enraged by what Nagash had done to them and defeated him in combat. Nagash determined to recover his magical artifacts to fully return to power, and led an expedition into the Empire to find his Crown of Sorcery. He was defeated by Sigmar, however, and with his dying breath he further cursed the Vampires for not coming to his aid.

Now, Nagash has been restored to life again through the ritual enacted by Arkhan and Mannfred von Carstein, the latter thinking he could raise Nagash to his own bidding.

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Despite Mannfred’s treacherous intent, Nagash has returned to physical form and has given each of his lieutenants a Dread Abyssal, imbued with the power of the underworld. He once more stands at the head of a vast army, intent on destroying the world.

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So yeah!

It’s an exciting time to be a Warhammer fan!

Obviously, I’m still very new to all this modelling and painting malarkey, but I have nevertheless been following this quite closely, and have amassed a small fortune’s worth of new stuff to try out!

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I am intending to get round to these chaps in short order. In addition to Nagash himself and his three Mortarchs, Games Workshop have also released some Morghasts, the bodyguards of Nagash, and a small pack of Spirit Hosts, so I’m thinking I might get to those first, as a sort of dummy run before the big guys!

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These models are pretty incredible, and being a newcomer to the hobby I am a bit concerned at how fragile and detailed they all seem. But they are just so fabulous, I can’t wait! Nagash himself looks a really splendid centrepiece model, but I’m also really looking forward to doing something with the Mortarch model: I can’t decide whether to build it up as Arkhan or Neferata, they’re both really great but I think I’m currently leaning towards Neferata, the queen of the vampires. She’s in such a confident, arresting pose, I think she looks amazing, and would be quite the centrepiece herself!

So much awesome! It is my hope, anyway, that I can assemble these guys into a nice little set. Maybe do a diorama or something. At least Games Workshop have quite handily provided a four-part tutorial on painting Nagash! They are pretty awesome, though, I hope you agree!

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