Blood and Sand

“The Emperor, for all his supposed faults, understood war had come full circle. In his Imperial wisdom, he’d bred soldiers to win those ancient wars that would be fought again in the future”

Aaron Dembski-Bowden, Betrayer


Today I would like to talk about a project that has managed to more or less take on a life of its own lately, and has become a rather interesting facet of Khorne’s Eternal Hunt. So what is this about, and why that quote?

Those of you following this blog for some time may remember that, every now and then, I will build models channelling the gladiatorial origins of the World Eaters: Everything started in 2012 with a first test model, then a second gladiator, resembling a particular, very angry video game character, followed about a year later. Then a third one last autumn. And then I recently unveiled my model for Vorl Dustwalker, the champion to lead this gladiator squad:

Vorl Dustwalker (6)
That last model, along with the growing squad, received some pretty positive comments on the various boards and forums I frequent, along with some pretty nifty suggestions and ideas for future gladiators: I had always seen ancient Roman gladiator types as a vague inspiration, of course. But I hadn’t delved too deeply into historical sources, fearing that the results would be too Roman and not World Eater-ly enough. But with the various suggestions by fellow hobbyists came a renewed interest in the classical side of things, so I checked out various Roman gladiator types and reflected on how to best adapt them to the world of 40k.

I do of course realise that the whole concept is a bit silly: Partially unarmoured warriors fighting with rather primitive weapons are probably not all the rage on the battlefields of the 41st millennium. But still, exploring this particular side of the World Eaters’ cobbled-together warrior culture was far too interesting and rewarding an option to ignore: It’s fun to imagine a band of World Eaters that endeavours to mimic the Primarch Angron even more closely than the rest of the legion, fighting like the gladiators of ancient times. And when I discovered the quote prefacing this article while reading Betrayer, everything started falling into place.

So, through the input of my fellow hobbyists and a strange chain of coincidences, the gladiator squad became a very interesting hobby project rather than an idle distraction. For the last days and weeks, I have tried to come up with new members for the squad, with each of them fighting in his own way, with a unique set of weapons. Some of the models I will show you today (and those that are yet to come) will be patterned after classical gladiators, while others will be less historically recognisable, but just as gladiatorial, I hope. Anyway, let’s take a look at where the squad is headed at the moment:

These two were the next two models in line to be painted:

World Eaters Gladiators (3)
On the left, you see a guy I already built some time ago. Like all of the gladiators so far, he was kitbashed from a mix of Khorne berzerker, (Chaos) Space Marine, Beastman and Chaos Marauder parts. Those bitz allowed me to achieve the partially armoured and slightly feral look I wanted. In this case, the model received a chain glaive, a fitting weapon for a follower of Khorne (even though the more recent fluff seems to have transformed it into a traditional weapon of the VIII legion).

While painting this guy, I stuck to my usual recipe. Here’s what I ended up with:

World Eaters Gladiators (14)
World Eaters Gladiators (15)
World Eaters Gladiators (16)
World Eaters Gladiators (17)
World Eaters Gladiators (18)
World Eaters Gladiators (19)
Once again, the model is wearing a tatoo reminiscent of Angron’s own warpaint:

World Eaters Gladiators (20)
I am calling this kind of gladiator a “Glaivex” for the chain glaive he wields. There wasn’t any similar gladiator in ancient Rome because glaives and halberds were apparently invented much later, but since it’s a weapon I definitely wanted to incorporate, I had to improvise. I still think he rather looks the part though:

World Eaters Gladiators (21)
The next member of the squad was patterned after the classical Secutor, a gladiator fighting with sword and shield and usually paired with a Retiarius. The Roman Secutor was armoured on one of his arms and had a special helmet, designed to repel the trident wielded by the Retiarius.

Transforming the historical design into something fitting the overall look and feel of my World Eaters did take some doing, but here’s the model I came up with:

World Eaters Gladiator 04 (2)
As you can see, the weapons and equipment were somewhat “de-romanised”, with a suitably chaotic sword and shield in place of the Roman Gladius and Scutum.

The helmet was a bit of a lucky find: It’s from the WFB Chaos Chariot, and while wasn’t all that fond of it to begin with, I really think it works in this case.

So here’s the painted model:

World Eaters Gladiators (6)
World Eaters Gladiators (6b)
World Eaters Gladiators (7)
World Eaters Gladiators (9)
World Eaters Gladiators (11)
World Eaters Gladiators (12)
World Eaters Gladiators (13)
I think this guy has a rather brooding, sinister presence, due to his pose as wellย  his “faceless” helmet. So while the model was made from a hodgepodge of bitz, it has really become a favourite of mine, to tell you the truth.

Here are both models, completely painted:

World Eaters Gladiators (31)
With these two new recruits, the squad is now playable (and already looks fairly nice as well):

World Eaters Gladiators (5)
So what do we have so far? From left to right: A Secutor, Dimachaerus (wielding two swords), Vorl Dustwalker with his huge war axe, another Dimachaerus (sword and axe, this time) and the Glaivex.

I am really happy with these, and yet I am already hard at work on the next additions for the squad. Some are even halfway presentable, no less:

First up, a Retiarius, to serve as a playfellow for the Secutor:

World Eaters Gladiators (28)
World Eaters Gladiators (25)
The Roman Retiarius is certainly one of the most iconic gladiators, wielding a net and trident. In my case, I used a leftover net from the Dark Eldar Wyches and one of the weapons from the WFB plastic Chaos Lord: It may not be a trident, but it looks suitably imposing and chaotic!

Again, getting this guy’s pose right took a bit of work, but I really couldn’t be any happier with the result! The model is basically finished at this point, and definitely next on the paint station!

But there’s more: Here’s a (slightly more WIP) model not patterned after a classical gladiator. I am calling this guy a “Carnifex”, after the latin word for executioner — rather than a huge alien-dinosaur, people ๐Ÿ˜‰

World Eaters Gladiators (24)
World Eaters Gladiators (22)
World Eaters Gladiators (23)
Please ignore the blue grenades: a rather dubious colour choice taken by the previous owner…
Anyway, even though this guy will need some more sorting out, I think he already reads as a gladiator.

Here are the two next squad members together:

World Eaters Gladiators (29)

And even beyond those, there are some more gladiator types that might warrant further exploration: What about a Cestus, wielding dual power fists (or suitably spiky gauntlets)? Or a Bestiarius, complete with his trusty chaos hound? Or an Andabatae, with a completely closed helmet, blindly charging at the enemy like a wild bull? We’ll see…

Another important thing to note is that the gladiator theme is something that gets repeated throughout the army, even beyond this particular squad. The two visual leitmotifs for my World Eaters are that they are hunters (adorning themselves with trophies and pelts of their prey as well as acessories like war horns, skinning knives etc.) and that they are gladiators, wielding weapons and equipment that sometimes seem slightly gladiatorial. Brother Hokar would be an example of that:

Hokar WIP (2)
Or, indeed, Lord Captain Lorimar himself:

Lorimar WIP (10)
Or consider, if you will, the Veredus pattern Assault trike, a vehicle straight from the arena, if ever there was one:

Veredus pattern attack trike WIP (2)
For now, though, thinking about new models to add to my gladiator squad and getting them built and painted serves two objectives: It allows me to finish models that I am really happy with, and it gets me in the mood for building (and painting!) more World Eaters, and that’s always a good thing, right?

World Eaters Gladiators (4)

In closing, let me say that this project wouldn’t have become so much fun without the constant feedback from fellow hobbyists. So thanks to all those who have helped shape these models, and please keep those comments coming!

As always, thanks for looking and stay tuned for more!


17 Responses to “Blood and Sand”

  1. Chris g Says:

    Loving your work mate, keep it up ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. This is so cool

  3. They are so great!

    While reading your post, “Arena Rex”, a new TTG for brutal gladiator fights, sprung into my mind. I think, this could be a nice skirmish game, playing gladiator kill teams in the underground pits of the hive cities. A little bit like Blood Bowl, but without a Rugby egg.

    • Ohh, I’d love that! Like a “Necromunda light”, where you get to develop and advance your own gladiator team! If the rules are robust enough, there would be nothing stopping players from using World Eaters gladiators or even Dark Eldar Wyches — your Blood Bowl comparison is quite apt!

      On a slightly related note, some of the gladiator concept art from “Urban War” is amazingly inspirational! Sadly, the models don’t quite capture the quality of the artwork, though…

      • Instead of “Necromunda light” I think, that a CC-focused version of “Inquisitor” would be better for a “Death Pit”-Game (prototype name).

        Yes, Dark Elader Wyches, Feral Worlder, (Cyb-)Orks, Kroots, Orgyns, a Tau-Renegade in a CC-modded Crisis-Battlesuit, Fallen Space Marines, Space Wolf Lone Wolves, Slaanesh Pleasure Cultistes and many more would be suitable for this. Small, but very brutal Killteams (1 to 5 members) would be perfect. ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. Being half Ork, I’m SO going to have to loot this. I just acquired 120 “used” Khorne berserkers- in varied stages of disrepair which I have to salvage and The whole gladiator angle would work well with my army’s Khorne contingent.

    • Yes, I saw the haul you managed to acquire over on your blog — did you manage to get rid of the cat pee in the interim?

      Seriously, though: I agree that the gladiatorial angle would fit the bestial Khornate Terminators you already built. I am looking forward to seeing what you come up with!

  5. This is awesome Kraut ๐Ÿ™‚
    Im a big fan of your work!



  6. […] A blog about KrautScientist's wargaming exploits « Blood and Sand […]

  7. I was just talking to a friend of mine about the stupidity of half dressed marines, mostly because the armour probably doesn’t work like pants and a shirt. And then you have to come along and show me this. Well done my friend well done. These guys are amazing.

    We may have different views on Angron and Khorne ๐Ÿ˜‰ but damn if you can’t turn the world eaters into stuff of legend.

    • Cheers, mate! While the concept is, of course, completely ludicrous and technically implausible, I’m happy to have caused you to suspend your disbelief ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. Awesome, enough said.

  9. […] you’re interested, check out the full story of the gladiatorii here, here and […]

  10. […] With a bit of conversion work, especially where the legs are concerned, these could be used to build some excellent, bare-chested, gladiatorial World Eaters — in fact, had these guys been available at the time, they would probably have been the perfect base models for my own Gladiatorii. […]

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