This month doesn’t bring a simple Codex or mere army book release, but rather an expansion for the whole of 40k: Apocalypse returns with a hefty tome as well as some rather imposing kits. As has become a treasured tradition here on Eternal Hunt, let’s take a look at the new release and talk about the new models and think about their possible uses for all kinds of hobby projects as well as their conversion potential.
While I will be focusing on the various models and kits in this post without giving any more consideration to the rulebook, let me just point out that the fact that a Khornate daemon engine prominently features on the expansion’s cover certainly warrants a double thumbs up from me 😉
Another thing that you can say about this release is that it does a nice job in breaking up the well-established and rather formulaic pattern set by the last few releases. This is a welcome change, in my opinion, although it has more to do with the different nature of Apocalypse as an expansion to the whole game. Nevertheless, a little variety never hurt anyone.
Anyway, Apocalypse is all about size, of course: The expansion is designed to allow (if not incite) players to use their whole collection of models and/or assemble enormous armies, far beyond the scope of regular 40k, throwing everything but the kitchen sink at their fellow hobbyists. It also exclusively gives players the opportunity of using all kinds of special formations and enormous models, ranging from scores of infantry models to tank squadrons or superheavies. So it should not come as a big surprise that the models released along with the expansion focus on this aspect.
Khorne Lord of Skulls
People on the forums may think the Necron model is the most spectacular thing to come out of this release, but you will hopefully excuse my fanboyism when I say that this is the real star of the show for me, for fairly obvious reasons.
I’ll be honest with you: This model initially seemed like a dream come true for me! When I saw the first leaked pictures, my lower jaw could actually be heard hitting the tabletop. Since then, lots and lots of derision have been heaped upon the “Skulldozer”, but I’ll go on record stating that I simply love the model’s design, period. Sure, it’s corny. Sure, it’s unrealistic. But come on, people: Since when do we expect realism in 40k? In fact, the cry for realism is one of the biggest non-arguments ever, in my opinion. Plausibility, sure: It’s great if models look even slightly plausible, as in: grounded in the setting. But what we have here is a daemonic fusion of flesh and bone, steel and brass, brought to quasi-life by the powers of the warp. It serves as an engine of destruction as well as a living icon of the Blood God — that’s surely plausible enough for me!
If anything, I have to applaud Dale Stringer, designer of the piece, for finding the perfect middle ground between the old and the new: The Lord of Skulls nicely picks up a lot of design cues of the older epic 40,000 Khornate daemon engines, while also looking very much at home next to the more recent 40k chaos kits.
Are there too many skulls? I’ll let you be the judge of that:
Personally, I think that you can never really have too many skulls on a Khornate model, but that’s just me. And we can certainly all agree that some of the detail on this model is simply nuts. For me, it’s a tossup between the cannon with the skull face (that has yet more skulls in it…) or the choice of two alternate heads, complete with exchangeable Khornate “bunny ears”:
For me as a World Eaters player, the model not only counts as pure fan service, but is also a kit that I would love to own.
Here’s the thing, though: This model is simply too damn big! A scale shot provided by GW in the latest issue of WD shows how the Lord of Skulls is almost twice the heigth of a Defiler (itself quite a beast already, from a size perspective). And here’s where my excitement for the model turns bittersweet: The size puts it out of scale with all other kits in the chaos catalogue: It can really only ever realistically be used in Apocalypse.
Granted, that was probably the whole point of the exercise. But for me, that’s a bit of a tragedy: If the model were half its size, I’d buy it in a heartbeat. Heck, I’d probably get two of the things, to be honest: I love the design to bits, and at half the size, it would be an essential purchase in so many ways:
I would make a fantastic replacement defiler out of the box. Or the upper and lower halves of the kit could be separated and made into both a Khornate knight titan and a more interesting World Eaters Land Raider — as a matter of fact, I’ve been waiting for ages for a possibility of making a LR more interesting and rewarding to build: Check out the undercarriage: It would be the perfect vehicle for Lord Captain Lorimar and his retinue of Terminators. Even the treads have icons of Khorne (whereas chaos players have had to use the regular LR threads, complete with Aquila, for ages). Parts of it might even be useable for other Daemon Engines, Helbrute conversions, custom pieces of terrain or what have you.
But as it stands, the model is simply unusable by virtue of its size. Sure, this is supposed to be an exclusive Apocalypse war machine with no use in regular 40k. But I am simply not interested in playing at the scale of Apocalypse, period. So what I am left with here is a kit that I would love to own, yet that I won’t be able to use for anything, by the look of it. I don’t know what to say. Something like that ha never really happened to me before…
Lastly, there’s the price of course: 125 Euros for a single mode, no matter the size, is a pretty penny. We’re no longer approaching FW territory here, we’re well within its borders. And I am not sure I’m happy about that…
Necron Tesseract Vault
The other huge kit of the release gives Necron players a new toy. The Tesseract Vault even offers you the added benefit of being able to assemble it in two different configurations. You can either use the model in a closed configuration as an Obelisk, a bigger Necron monolith variant. This option has a look fitting perfectly within the established Necron aesthetic, while looking somewhere between a Borg Cube and an alien mothership from some Sci-Fi flick like Independence day:
The other option is to use the kit to build the Tesseract Vault, with a captured and tortured C’Tan visible at the center of the consrtuct:
I was a little disappointed at the handling of the C’Tan in the new Necron background, so it’s really nice to see a new C’Tan shard make an appearance, even if it appears to be just a fairly “generic” creature. I also like the look of the star god’s prison being torn apart by the creature’s power while also being repaired by countless little automata at the same time: GW’s designers really managed to pull this off perfectly, and the myriad of small canoptek scarabs are a really nice touch:
What makes me really envious of Necron players is the fact that, where the Lord of Skulls is infuriatingly useless to those of us not interested in Apocalypse, the Tesseract Vault seems like a no-brainer purchase to all Necron Players: Even if you have no intention of ever playing Apocalypse, this kit simply gives you so much Necron-y stuff that you can build lots of brilliant things for your regular 40k army: There’s the vault itself that could work as a bigger monolith as well as a fantastic piece of terrain for your Necron-themed table. The insectile Canoptek-contraption above the C’Tan could easily be used as an alternate Tomb Spider or some similar horror. All those cables and tech bitz are a converter’s and terrain builder’s dream come true. And of course, there’s this guy:
Whether you want to make him into a C’Tan shard, a daemon prince or what have you, this guy has all the makings of a centre piece model. Incidentally, in case any fellow videogame nerds are reading this: Doesn’t this model remind you of the early sketches for possible boss monsters published in the Bioshock artbook “Breaking the Mould”, down to the colour used on the model? The resemblance is rather uncanny…
Oh, and to those playing Inquisitor at the 54mm scale: I guess you’ll never get a better plastic daemonhost than this, people…
So, while this model doesn’t feel as much like a standout piece as the Lord of Skulls to me, it has the immense advantage of being rather useful for hobby activities beyond (or should that be beneath) the scope of Apocalypse.
Space Marine Masters of the Chapter
While the other models in this release rather fit the bill of large kit, the new Masters of the Chapter have the large ham angle perfectly covered. I really liked the first couple of company masters, and now there are even more of them. Let’s take a closer look:
The Lord Executioner
Yeah, names to run away from really fast, and all that…
Seriously, though, this may be my favourite of the new models. He looks huge and imposing – and possibly almost too ostentatious. Still, if you like your Marine commanders blinged-out to the max, you’ll find a lot to like about this model and its fellows. The longer I look at the model, the more it seems to me that the shaft of the axe should be a little longer, but that’s just a small nitpick.
My favourite detail about this guy has to be his face:
It would make for a great World Eaters officer. Or the whole model could be used as a base for a pretty effective Constantin Valdor conversion. Just sayin’…
Master of the Marches
Wait, the Astartes have a guy whose sole responsibility is the deployment of the force? At only 1,000 Marines per chapter? Talk about bloated management…
Anyway, the model once again looks the part of company master! I like how GW are channelling older armour variants for their marine special characters and would love to see more of this with the plastic kits. One can always dream…
I also think that cherub should be a very interesting bit for INQ28 aficionados:
Master of the Rites
This one is probably the weakest of the bunch for me: While the cape draped over the model’s left arm is a nice touch, he just doesn’t look as cool as the other models. And what is it with that huge, floating loudspeaker thing, though? I can certainly appreciate the gothic touches, but if he needed something beyond the communications arrays built into every single Marine’s helmet, maybe a choir servitor would have been an even cooler (and more gothic) option? The good thing is that this guy should be rather easy to convert via a hand swap, if you want him in a more combat-centred role.
Master of Relics
While the overall model is pretty great, I am not sure I am fond of all the clutter, especially the servo-skull and backpack. Sure, this guy is important and equipped with all kinds of snazzy doodads, but I suspect the model might be much cooler with a less cluttered silhouette. In fact, maybe this guy could even make a good base for an Alpharius/Omegon conversion or a “regular” Alpha legionnaire, since he already has that special ops look about him…
Based on his facial expression, he also looks like a really fun guy to be around:
Once again, the obvious problem with these is the price point: Each of the models comes at a whooping 21 Euros, whereas the older Masters of the Chapter can still be had in a box of four for merely 26 Euros. Sure, the new models may be even more imposing and detailed (which does in fact lead to a bit of a continuity problem, seeing how the less detailed models are now representing the first four companies of the chapter…), but considering the price and the fact that the older models are really nice, I know which one I’d choose. And let’s not even get into the fact that kitbashing some unique Masters of the Chapter from all the available bitz would be a really fascinating project for the diligent hobbyist…
The release also brings some brand new terrain that can be combined with the already available (and prohibitively expensive) Wall of Martyrs. So let’s take a closer look at the new terrain pieces:
Vengeance Weapons Battery
Seeing how weapon emplacements have even begun to creep into regular 40k, I can imagine this kit to become very useful both in Apocalypse and in regular games. The design is nice and gothic, and I can’t help but feel that it even looks slightly chaotic as it is — which is great news for a chaos player like myself, of course.
Quite a bit larger than the weapons battery, this kit features a rather large bunker and additional huge weapons. Once again, I really like the design, but then I’m a sucker for all those gothic knick knacks and skulls of everything.
And finally, where would we be without a piece of terrain using a stylised Imperial aquila with a huge gun? And it seems like the bird is really excited to see us., too..
Like the other two pieces, this one continues the trend of gothic and highly ostentatious design, and all three of the pieces should gel perfectly with the Wall of Martyrs, the Fortress of Redemption or even GW’s cityfight ruins. This is indeed a far cry from the spraypainted cardboard buildings of my youth!
Now, I realise that these are fairly huge pieces of terrain. Plus all of these are certainly expertly designed and look great. They will also, without a doubt, prove rather effective both in Apocalypse and in games of regular 40k. There’s one thing , though, and again, it’s the price point: I really respect the work that must have gone into these, and they will look brilliant on gaming tables around the world. I also immensely dislike all the GW-bashing around the net. All of that notwithstanding, though, the pricing on these terrain pieces just seems out of touch: At between 40 and 90 Euros apiece, the pricing on these models is just off the charts: There’s no way I am blowing hundreds of Euros on terrain when the armies themselves are so expensive already. Sure, it’s fantastic that all this brilliant terrain is available to us. Sure, there has never been so much cool stuff to use for your own terrain conversions. And it’s certainly bad form to hate on GW for giving us more options.
But still: I’ve never been one to shy away from paying a pretty penny to sustain my addiction to cutting up little plastic men, but this is just a bit much. It’s clearly obvious that this release caters to the hardcore fans, above all else: To those who will buy Forgeworld Titans, just because. To those who can afford to spend entire weekends wrapped up in the logistics of a huge Apocalypse battle. Maybe to those who will rent convention centers to play out the battle for a whole planet on the floor of the main conference room. All of this is fascinating to see, and it’s great that the option is there, but for me personally, Apocalypse is simply moving one step too far away from what I find fascinating about wargaming in the first place: the attention to each single soldier in my army.
So, what to make of it all?
It’s a tough call, really. Even more so since I am obviously slightly biased against Apocalypse in the first place. From a visual standpoint, I cannot fault GW’s designers: The release contains lots of cool stuff and, based on its visual merits alone, would have to be called one of my favourite releases for some time. I can easily salivate over all the cool models for hours.
But both the size and the attached price tags render most of this release clearly beyond my reach. To wit, there’s an offer for this terrain set over on the GW-page:
And it comes at almost 1,500 Euros a pop. That’s insane! You could buy a car for that money! A rather crappy car that doesn’t have too much life left in it, to be sure. But the point still stands: This kind of game – even more than regular 40k or WFB – seems to be for those for whom disposable income is simply not an issue. And the rest of us do not seem to be invited to the party.
It would be easy, of course, to wax poetical on the injustice of capitalism, of the sheer evil of corporate entities, among them GW. I won’t do that. I’ll just say, in closing, that looking at the huge kits from this release makes me giddy and excited, and I dream of all the crazy conversions I could make with this stuff. But then I think of the game attached to all of it, and I take a look at the price tag, and I feel that I am standing at a fork in the road. And I guess I’ll pass. For now. So, cheers, GW: See you next month, when you’ll hopefully release someting I can afford again.
So yeah, so much for my thoughts about this particular release. What’s your take on things? Are you delighted by the models? Excited at the prospect of running huge Apocalypse games? Or just as hesitant as I am? Am I maybe just bitter that I don’t get to play with the big boys? Let me know what you think in the comments section!
And, as always, thanks for looking and stay tuned for more!