Does size matter? A look at the Apocalypse release

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.

Apoc Release (1)
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 πŸ˜‰

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

Apoc Release (2)
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.

Apoc Release (3)
Are there too many skulls? I’ll let you be the judge of that:

Apoc Release (4)
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”:

Apoc Release (4b)

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.Β 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

Apoc Release (7)
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:

Apoc Release (8)
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:

Apoc Release (9)
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:

Apoc Release (10)
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:

Apoc Release (11)

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

Apoc Release (12)
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:

Apoc Release (13)
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

Apoc Release (14)

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:

Apoc Release (15)

 

Master of the Rites

Apoc Release (16)
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

Apoc Release (17)
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:

Apoc Release (18)
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

Apoc Release (19)
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.

 

Firestorm Redoubt

Apoc Release (20)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.

 

Aquila Strongpoint

Apoc Release (21)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:

Apoc Release (22)
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?Β 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!

7 Responses to “Does size matter? A look at the Apocalypse release”

  1. Aasfresser Says:

    When I look at the Master of the Marches I see the basis for a great Chaos Sorcerer-conversion! It even comes with a homunculus. My Thousand Sons will never have enough sorcerers.

  2. A good review, cheers!

    Personally I don’t think the prices are that terrible. Pricing policy in general is, yes, but face it – the target audience for, say, 1500 euro gaming table are not average gamers, but either communities which’d buy it for their club games, each member donating a bit, or collectors who are known to waste humongous sums on minis anyway (I know a person who commissioned a paintjob of Stormvermin squad for $3000, and that was just a small part of his collection).

    What I don’t understand, is the purpose on one-click bundles with prices remaining unchanged. Heck, on the old Apoc, GW did well on selling squadrons with a healthy discount compared to buying those tanks individually/

    Still, for minis (BIG minis) of such size and quality, new super heavies are reasonably priced. I don’t see a problem with size and inability to use them in normal games, as long as they make impressive centerpieces for the army (I, personally, am unable to use my Skull LR in tournament games due to its fecked up LoS, but hell that model was worth every bit of work put in it). Besides, I think that, with some chopping, the Lord of Skulls can be easily made into a LR-sized vehicle – his side tracks are rather short and can make a chassis of their own. There are examples of Baneblad to Land Raider (and even Leman Russ) conversions so with right chopping skills, it is a possibility.

    And that gimp-masked cherub is plain creepy. He and C’tan wearing a collar and a gag. Looks so wrong in more than one sense.

    • Well, I am certainly not usually one to bash GW for their pricing. I mean, we are very obviously talking about luxury goods here, and if you don’t want to put down the cash, then don’t buy it. That said, what I always liked about GW’s terrain was that there was the ostentatious (and expensive), but ultimately non-essential stuff, and there was the stuff that was really useful (*cough* Aegis Defense Lines *cough*), but relatively inexpensive. The new pieces seem to blur the lines between the two quite a bit, and I am not sure I like that. The other thing is, and this is purely my personal opinion, that it’s easier to justify paying money for a kit if I know I will get some fun out of the assembly. Actually, that’s my main way of mitigating the cost of the hobby: Sure, 30 Euros for a given squad is a pretty penny, but once I am considering the hours I’ll spend kitbashing and converting these guys, it becomes quite a bit of value for the money — of course this only holds true if you enjoy converting. The new terrain kits seem too straightforward to offer that kind of additional value. But, again, this is just my personal take. The masters of the chaper are just too expensive, though πŸ˜‰

      Regarding the Lord of Skulls: Mate, I’d surely love to believe: I’s love to find out it’s not that big, and that I’ll be able to use it for something, …anything, really πŸ˜‰ But I guess I’ll just have to wait and see what other people can do with the kit, then make my ultimate decision.

      Anyway, thanks for the well-considered points! πŸ˜‰

  3. Gilbear Says:

    If the super-costly scenery is for collectors and clubs, then this seems like a lot of wasted customers given the low material cost of plastics… =0/

    I know that GW get a lot of “hate”, but partly that’s because for every person who (rightly IMO) comes along and says “Β£100 for a tank is pretty ridiculous when you can kitbash something from a toy that costs a tenth of that”, fifteen people jump down their throat with all sorts of silly comparisons and justifications, along with choice phrases like “If you you don’t like it, don’t buy it” and “It’s still cheaper than a couple of meals out”. Well, sure, but the the uncomfortable truth is that most of us *would* like to join in, but can’t afford to (and nor can we afford a couple of meals out *every* month either…).

    I’m increasingly of the opinion that getting a decent army or two may be expensive, but if I choose a “past” edition to play, I can get all the supporting material a lot cheaper. And everybody knows what to expect, since past editions are effectively “closed” systems.

    Yes, that does limit pick-up games, but unless you play in a store, most people/groups can adopt such an approach very easily. And it will save your wallet a lot of pain.

    For example, how many people *actually* had some games of Apocalypse last time around? I mean *real* games, that were properly Apocalpse-sized? As a percentage of players, I’ll bet very few. And of those games that were Apocalypse, I genuinely wonder how many were *really* fun rather than one side just getting kerb-stomped because they didn’t have a Reaver with triple Turbo Lasers or several drop pods full of melta-toting Sternguard.

    I frankly think that the new version of Apocalypse has been a bit of a damp squib compared to last time around; people’s finances are not what what they were last time, there are no offers or deals this time, and I don’t think that many people enjoyed it all that much the first time anyway once the shine wore off a bit.

    I think in the rush of excitement, a number of vocal internet folks lose sight of the increasingly ridiculous costs of this game, and what GW seem to expect you to spend. This is even more hilarious to me when the excuse of not getting into one of the other games out there is that the “cost of the models is too high”! I mean, if people don’t like the aesthetic or themes of other games, that’s fine, but the cost of *playing* any one of those other games is far, far lower. Like, so low, that you can often play more than one force for the cost of one not very big 40k army. To me, that’s just *wrong* and an indication of how the ever-ramping GW prices blind you to the reality of what you’re spending in real terms.

    Anyway, sorry if any of that comes off as a bit ranty, but it isn’t meant to be (I promise, honestly!). It’s just that I love the worlds of WHFB and WH40k, and I am increasingly sad at what I regard as wasted opportunities by GW to make the games and experience better (and still making lots of money at high prices), rather then the over-the-top rip-offs that we’ve seen recently.

    • First of all, don’t worry about the length of your “rant”, mate! It’s the Internet, after all — it’s not like we’ll run out of space πŸ˜‰

      You raise a number of very valid points, which I’d like to address:

      “If you don’t like it, don’t buy it!” — ah, well, it really is that easy, though, at least in principle. I think you’re right though: We really want to buy, in our heart of hearts. It’s just getting increasingly expensive – and sometimes frustrating – to do so.

      The only viable answer, in my opinion, is to a) figure out whether it’s worth it: Regarding the terrain, I can safely say that it’s not worth it for me: They couldn’t possible make these things so useful that I would consider purchasing them at that price. If they get cheaper, sure. But I simply wouldn’t be able to get enough “fun” out of those kits, so I’ll pass. For each and every new release, that’s really the question we’ll need to answer: Is it worth it? Or rather: Which parts of the release are worth it for me? And which aren’t?

      The other option is to figure out strategies to mitigate cost and get the most out of the money you spend. For you it’s playing older editions, for me it’s wringing every minute of conversion fun out of every kit I buy. In the end, it comes down to the same thing, though: Getting the most possible bang for your buck!

      Moving on towards other, possibly cheaper systems, alas, is not a solution for me: I simply cannot get excited about Warmahordes, Dropzone Commander or what have you. Don’t get me wrong: Those systems may very well be completely awesome, but in the end, it’s really about the little plastic men for me, and those models just don’t capture my imagination like GW’s stuff does. Malifaux is a notable exception, but even there, I mainly think about how those models could be converted for use in INQ28 (or for a Bioshock skirmisher, but that’s a story for another time),

      I realise that this probably puts me square in the middle of fanboy-territory for many. And it’s probably fair enough to say that I am, for better or worse, a fanboy as far as the 40k universe is concerned. I just love that stuff (most of it, at least). At the same time, I refuse to just be spoonfed every piece of marketing gak GW come up with, though. Hence my INQ28 activities, my kitbashed Custodes, etc. GW can make fantastic stuff, to be sure, but I’d rather use it as a toolbox for building my own hobby in their universe(s).

      Whoa, look at me rambling on! πŸ˜‰

  4. […] Read my detailed opinion of the model here. […]

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