These are such a bold an exciting turn by Games Workshop, and are in fact so Games Workshop in countless ways.
It took a couple of months for the design to grown on me,. Now over a year down the line I can safely say they are proving to be as iconic as the 40k Space Marines... which I'm sure was the intent.
The dynamic is quite interesting, a remade warrior encased in magical armour, with lighting flowing through their veins: superhuman's created to fight Chaos! Oh and they travel by lightning bolts. And when they perish, they are remade again and sent back into battle... losing a little of their memory and personality as a trade off.
These are a good attempt at modern myth making. Here's my first attempt at painting them. As ever, I intend to go back and add more depth to them, more grim and battle damage. Especially on the blue!
Small is beautiful was the name of an article from an old White Dwarf (issue 205 I think) written by Adrian Wood that talked about the merits of smaller games, and linking them together with a bit of narrative.
The article was aligned to the Warhammer 40,000 universe (in the days of second edition) and it has always stuck with me, for the simple reason I believe, that I'm a designer, sculptor and painter with a desire to be a gamer.
I'm always short on hobby time. My fitness and my sleep suffers so I can paint and sculpt. Gaming has never been a priority for me, I'd rather use the time creating.
Perhaps for this reason the small is beautiful article always haunts me! Organising a small game can't be that hard! You don't need that many miniatures! I could paint up and finish a little army no problem! So the theory goes.
I started out with HeroQuest around 1992 and I've never looked back. I actually played games then and come into my own with Necromunda, but it's the artistic side that stuck.
Fast forward about 24 years, Age of Sigmar happened. Open play became a thing. I bought Age of Sigmar.
Heard of Inq28? I'm sure you have, google image search if not. It's many things: a style, a theme, a way of gaming, a narrative, an artistic outlet... Sometimes it even comes across as pretentious. Anyway, I like it a mostly! Primarily as as artistic outlet and means to conduct the hobby, I do dabble in it.
I tend to think it's the style more than anything that makes it so cool: grimdark, atmospheric, weird and lots of unique* conversions.
*mileage may vary on that, you tend to see the same base miniatures and conversions popping up.
I do wonder, is there scope for an Age of Sigmar equivalent?
No is probably the answer, Age of Sigmar art direction is quite different... but I do wonder.
Age of Sigmar + "small is beautiful"/ Inq28 mentality = ?
Check out my last post, Khadesh-Za for my first foray into this thing. I'm not trying to imitate Inq28, but I am inspired by it!
By now you might have realised the image of my Khorne Raiding Party isn't really displaying the ethos: no conversions, not much atmosphere... in truth I painted these things a while back, I now need to go and weather them to them look the part.
Here's the loose guide I'll refer to as I develop my Age of Sigmar collection:
Quality over quantity
Average army no more than 40 miniatures, unless it's a horde army
Aim for a narrative with the army
It's all about the characters
The landscape is also a character
Bring it/them to life with motivations and drama
Convert in moderation, it's an army...
Create new things...
Make it an experience - fiction, images, props
Games Workshop miniatures only, unless I sculpt something whilst following rule 8.
As the first born of the Amir, Khadesh-Za was the prince of Shi'dah: the largest and most prosperous city bastion of the free lands. He was but an infant of six summers when the hordes of Khorne emerged from the scorching desert and descended on his kingdom.
The soldiers of Shi'dah fought valiantly against the the bloodthirsty fanatics of the Blood God for a day and a night, but the sheer ferocity of their attack, supported by red skinned demons forced an inevitable breach in the cities high walls. Zealous violence and massacre gripped the city, and all victims were offered as a sacrifice to the raging war god Khorne. Only the most infirm, the elderly and the young were spared, for Khorne shows little regard for easy kills made by his devotees.
Royal guards frantically ushered the Amir and his royal court from danger, too late, as a titanic winged demon of Khorne: a dog headed Bloodthirster, smashed through the Great Dome of the Palace, obliterating it, and proceeded to smash body and stone alike in a whirlwind of destruction. Amidst the chaos, the young Khadesh-Za was snatched by a footsoldier of the horde and borne away into the madness of the blood soaked streets. The Amir was slain, his entrails spilled to the Great God of Violence on the ancient palace floors as his family and relatives fled in all directions.
Shi'dah would have fallen that day had the winds of magic not changed in it's favour; a cleansing White Magic began to blow over the city - the Amir's allies had rallied from across the realm and marched in a host of White Light to challenge the followers of Khorne.
The horde of the Blood God were driven from the city that day, yet Shi'dah would never fully recover.
Khadesh-Za was borne away deep into the desert, to the Ruin Realms of Khorne; ancient cities half swallowed by the burning sands, now home to the cannibal war hordes of the War God. Spared the cooking pot by the chance of a rival warband raiding his captors encampment, Khadesh-Za was raised by the lash and the feast, and tutored by the fighting pits and warbeasts set against him. Before starvation could take it's toll following his first months of captivity, he was reborn a disciple of Khorne when he feasted on the corpse of a fellow captive he had been forced to kill in the unceremonious fighting holes.
He learned of the War God quickly, the overriding fear of the god demon permeated him, driving him mad, so much so that he only found relief in the act of violence. Before long he lost himself to the endless slaughter as the months and years passed brutally onward.
Insatiable rage became him and Khadesh-Za killed endlessly, becoming a champion of his war tribe.
After a decade in the Ruin Realms, on a red night under the full blood moon, Khadesh-Za, now a full Bloodbound of the clan felt the first direct growl of Khorne in his soul. Alone atop a black mountain in the barren desert, above the howls of prowling Flesh Hounds and sparring Demon Bloodletters, Khadesh-Za glimpsed the glory of the Blood God in the crimson skies. In a flash of insanity visions flooded him - an eternity of victory and never ending battle, rewards beyond measure - skulls and battle standards and weeping nations, power beyond dreams - demonic vigor and immortal presence, all could be his... if the pledge could be fulfilled. The snout of the Blood God barked like rolling thunder in his mad psyche: HUNT THEM DOWN. KHADESH-ZA. SLAY THEM ALL.
"LORD" called out Khadesh-Za, "MY LORD!" His hands were fists and his face a snarl, his body a contorted creature of raging terror.
YOUR KIN KHADESH-ZA,
The call of the God was clear and the bloody purpose absolute.
Khadesh-Za had hardened his heart through the long years, he knew only battle and death, and now with the pain of memory he began to realise the full potential of his rage - his weak father the Amir stirred it, his pathetic Royal Guards fueled it, his useless uncles stoked it; the fire! They had failed him all those years ago, no crusade had been sent for him, no rescue or scouting party... how weak they were. Yet, how strong he now was, and stronger yet grew his rage and hatred.
SO BE IT!
Their blood would rain, their skulls would line the pathway to the Brass Throne of Khorne. Khadesh-Za roared in fury and tore at his own flesh with sharp fingernails as he pledged himself to the God of War in the dark tongue of his tribe.
Since that night Khadesh-Za has lead a terrifying reign of terror across the lands, scouring all settlements and kingdoms for his lost brethren, secreted away, ruling petty cities or hiding in terror with the knowledge of his quest to rid the land of all royal blood save his.
Many have fallen, aunts, uncles, sisters, mothers, cousins and wet nurses, with each act of hatred Khadesh-Za has mutated and grown in physical stature. Today, nearing the end of his quest and close to quasi demonhood, Khadesh-Za has began stripping his armour to accommodate his mutations and demonic strength. His left hand is perpetually slick with clotted demon blood, it seeps from a fanged maw growing from his hand: the teeth grind and it howls in the night, thirsting for blood and mortal essence.
Khorne is close now, Khadesh-Za feels his presence ever more, always observed, always backed by hordes. The decades have been a miasma of war and slaughter, often Khadesh-Za wakes momentarily from a fever of blood and death, glares madly as if of horror, before slipping back into the dead eyed hunger for battle and carnage. He leads armies. He has conquered nations. He has fought until he was the sole survivor in a sea of fifty thousand corpses, where friend and foe could not be differentiated, and yet... followers are always there, spawned and recruited from whence he does not know. "Is this real" he often asks when under the Blood Rage?
"The metal demon engine I killed in the sands, was THIS sword forged from it's hide?" he ponders as he hacks down foes with the blade.
"Did the Lava Smiths of the Duardin proclaim me deity aspiring?" he mutters as a great plain of warriors bows before him, drawing a blood pledge, stirring demons.
Irrelevance, he concludes under a spell of sanity.
The quest is near... one remains: the girl, the last of us. I saw her image in the beating heart of a Star Dragon as it lay mutilated upon the steps of Beng-Tai. I ate it for clarity and gained the smell of her tribe... where is it? Their scent is far off, their robes are hazy under these red mists. The screams around me distort the echo of her feet upon the rocks.
All else is blood and war, forty years of it, yet this final hunt begins. THERE, west: I smell her!
The Fangrat strain was created long ago by the warpstone alchemists of Clan Moulder. Loosed from the Under-Empire breeding pits the Fangrat's proceeded to rove far and wide across the mortal realms. Most packs died out over time, the victim of debilitating and unconstrained mutations. Others failed to adapt to their new environments or were killed by the greater predators of the lands they invaded. Only in the contested border realms, those caught between order and chaos, did the Fangrat prevail: skulking and nesting in the twisted forests and rotten caverns when not predating on the unwary in the towns and settlements caught on the verge of Chaos. As the kingdom of Sabnok Fur'fur (the Rat Duke) expands from his Gutter Fort, packs of wild Fangrats have been tamed,as best possible, to act as mounts for his outrider scouts
Rider - Island of Blood Skaven Clanrat, clipped in half at the waist
Fangrat - Chaos Hound kit
The rider was positioned in place with a blob of sculpting putty used as his seat (bum), then it was a simple case of sculpting the riders feet, legs, tunic and tail over the course of a few sittings.
For the Fangrat, the face was sculpted over the existing form of the Chaos Hound, the mane was bulked up slightly in places and the tail was simply putty over some wire (drilled and affixed to the Chaos Hounds tail bone.
Fur was added liberally and used to join some gaps between the rider and the hound.
I think the main inspiration for these was the Wargs from the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Rats riding giant rats seemed a bit too obvious a direction to take, so the Fangrat face, mane and tail are hints at a leonine catlike genus - Rats riding Cats was a good twisted direction I decided to take.