Archive for codex chaos space marines

The State of the Hunt — Week 50

Posted in 40k, Chaos, Conversions, paintjob, state of the hunt, World Eaters with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 17, 2016 by krautscientist

Only a short update today, mostly because it has been one hell of a week, due to a ridiculously important deadline at work. Still, there are two news items I would like to share with you, so let’s take a look at the current State of the Hunt:


I. Return of the Chibi-Knight!

Some of you might remember that, back when I built and painted my Renegade Knight, Gilgamesh, I also included a roughly Epic 40k-scaled version of the same warmachine in the project as an added bit of fun. I dubbed it the “Chibi-Knight” back then:

Chibi-Knight Gilgamesh (1)

Now cobbling together a – pretty faithful – smaller version of the Knight was a very entertaining, if fairly involved, endeavour. But I didn’t really consider doing it again.

Enter fellow German hobbyist Helega, who helped me out with several really spectacular bitz drops this year. For instance, he provided the chain cape I used to replace the missing cape on my Forgeworld Angron. Anyway, Helega asked me whether I could build another Chibi-Knight for him, and while I knew this would mean some fiddly work, there was really no way I could turn down the request. So I tried to reverse-engineer my original kitbashing process and make another copy.

As an added twist, Helega wanted his Knight to be the loyalist version, so I had to account for that during the building process. There was also no way I would be able to cover up dodgy areas with spikes and baroque decorations this time around 😉

I started by putting together the same basic assembly I had used last time: CSM Raptor legs (chosen due to the separate feet, and because the lightning bolt decoration works both for chaos and for Great Crusade era Imperial machines, a Space Marine Terminator torso and a Dreadnought shin guard:

Instead of last time’s Raptor pauldrons, I ended up using some Chaos Marauder shoulder guards, and they arguably worked even better, making the torso look really familiar to that of GW’s stock Imperial Knight. I also found out that one of the ancient plastic chaos warriors’ helmets looks almost exactly like one of the face masks that come with the Knight kit.

So I knew I was on the right track, but this is where the fiddly work began: I painstakingly spliced together the Chibi-Knight’s feet using the hook bit from the CSMvehicle accessory sprue, and I once again tried to create weapon arms that were as close as possible to those of the 28mm version.

Helega told me he wanted the Knight to be armed with a gatling cannon and power fist, so I took a long hard look at the Imperial Knight Warden and worked from there:

And after a lot of messing around with various bitz, this is what I came up with:

Here’s a side by side comparison showing the weapon arms of the big version and my “chibi-versions” of the same weapons:

Power Fist:

Gatling Cannon:

Not a 100% perfect match, maybe, but certainly reasonable enough, given the difference in scale! 😉

So here’s what I packed up and sent to Helega:

As you can see, I have left the part in several sub-assemblies. This should make for easier painting, plus it’ll also allow Helega to tweak the pose according to his wishes. I have also included an alternate head and a bit that could serve as the carapace-mounted missile launcher.

So yeah, another Chibi-Knight finished! Here he is, next to Chibi-Gilgamesh:

The new version is arguably even slightly more elegant a conversion than my first attempt in several respects 😉

Anyway, I am really happy with the finished conversion, if I do say so myself, and I hope Helega will be happy as well! As far as I know, the Knight will be painted in either Death Guard or Dusk Raiders colours, and I am really looking forward to seeing the finished model!


 II. Getting to the finish line — but only just barely…

In other news, I am happy to report that I did manage to finish my vow for the Call of Chaos event over at The Bolter & Chainsword — even if it didn’t look like I would be successful for the longest time.

Earlier this week, I found myself with two models yet to finish for the vow and virtually no painting time to dedicate to the task. So I was basically prepared to call the endeavour a lost cause when a last minute pep-talk from fellow hobbyist Augustus b’Raass brought me back on track.

So I basically put in every waking hour of leisure time I had this Tuesday and completed the last models for my vow — at 2.30 in the morning 😉

Anyway, here’s a look at all the completed models:

Rest assured that we’ll be taking a closer look at these guys pretty soon. And starting next week, it’s also time for the annual Eternal Hunt Awards, I believe… 😉

But that’ll have to wait for a couple of days. For now, let me know what you think! And, as always, thanks for looking and stay tuned for more!

Et tu, Brute? A look at the chaos mini-release and a surprise model!

Posted in Chaos, Conversions, paintjob, World Eaters with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 26, 2014 by krautscientist

So, before those rumoured Imperial Guar…erm Astra Militarum models hit in the near future, let me just take this opportunity to talk a bit about the recent the “mini-release” for chaos players: Hopes had been high for multiple new kits (among them a Chosen/Havoc combi-kit) or a supplement dealing with the original traitor legions. The bad news is: That’s not what we got. But at least we did get some love from GW in the form of the Crimson Slaughter supplement and a new kit. So let’s take a look at these new toys, shall we?

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The rules in the new supplement seem to be reasonably solid, at least that’s what I hear on the forums.  People also laud the production values of the book, and I have to say that the art does seem quite inspired and is almost motivation enough for me to go and pick it up, just for the heck of it:
CSM_release_2014 (2)
At the same time, you’ve got to wonder: There has been quite a bit of nerd rage regarding the fact that the latest chaos supplement doesn’t deal with any of the major traitor legions, but rather focuses on a fairly new warband that had only been introduced into the background with the release of Dark Vengeance. Several commenters pointed out that this was likely done in an attempt to give newcomers to the hobby a “clean slate” warband that wasn’t so heavily bogged down in all of the background lore — but while this seems like a sensible explanation at first glance, I’m not sure I buy it: Warhammer 40k has always been about the 10,000 years worth of background lore, after all. And what better way to get people into the hobby up to their noses than to motivate them to read up on all the stuff that has happened to “their” legion over the last ten millennia?

Whatever the reason, it seems obvious that GW’s reluctance to publish legion specific rules is actually not an oversight but a conscious decision, at least for now: It feels like they are just not prepared to open that can of worms just yet, which is a bit of a shame, of course. I’ll still keep my fingers crossed for the legions to get a fitting treatment in the future, and I can only hope that this is all some kind of a bigger plan (and a bigger design plan, at that, not just some business tomfoolery).

Such considerations notwithstanding, there were two really positive aspects to come out of this mini-release: One is the fact that the studio CSM army seems to have  been switched from Black Legion to Crimson Slaughter, with images of models in the latter warband’s colours now also adorning all of the new boxes. And boy is it a gorgeous colour scheme! I’ll let slide the fact that the Crimson Slaughter has successfully managed to steal what should by rights be the official World Eaters colours: Red and bronze/gold always look great together, and turquoise is just the perfect spot colour for that particular combo (*cough* not that some of us hadn’t already realised that *cough*).

The other positive thing about this release is the new, multipart Helbrute kit. Let’s take a closer look:

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For all these past years, ever since the early 2000s really, chaos players have been clamouring for a new Dreadnought kit. Then Dark Vengeance came around, introducing us to the concept of the Helbrute, an Astartes Dreadnought warped and corrupted by the ruinous powers into something halfway between a daemon and a machine. Now, with the release of the multipart Helbrute, we have come full circle: The kit we had been waiting for so long is finally available. And quite a kit it is!

Before we take a closer look, though, let’s get the main problem out of the way first: In order to enjoy this kit, you have to be comfortable with the idea of the stock chaos Dread being much more warped and mutated – more “fleshy”, as it were – than before. If you don’t like that overall approach, well, you’re out of luck — this model just won’t be for you.

Here’s the thing, though: I myself am not a huge fan of overly mutated models. There are very few mutations appearing across my World Eaters army (both for aesthetic preference and fluff reasons). Still, both the Dark Vengeance Helbrute and the new multipart model have managed to win me over, because they just look amazing! They are evil and chaotic, exuding malice and horror in equal measure, so how could I not love them? What’s more, put them to a “regular” Dreadnought, and you’ll see that, in spite of all their mutations, they closely match the proportions and design of a standard Dreadnought underneath all of that fleshmetal: You can almost imagine how these creatures (d)evolved into the monstrosities they are now, and that is just great visual storytelling, period.

And even if you hate that look and approach with a passion, there are many alternative options: All of the loyalist Dreadnoughts are quite easy to convert into suitably chaotic models (as I myself have proven. Twice.). There are also the – still amazing – Forgeworld Chaos Dreads, if you prefer a more conservative design approach. So what I am saying here is that the new kit basically only adds more options instead of taking them away: Everyone can still get the Dreadn…erm Helbrute they like.

As for the kit itself, what strikes me as the best part is the amount of customisability: You get all of the available weapon options plus a huge amount of bitz to make the Helbrute look like an individual or represent his allegiance to a specific chaos legion or warband. It goes without saying that the weapon options follow the mutated look of the main body. In some cases, they are still fairly conservative (the Autocannon or Lascannon would be good examples). Some other weapons are a bit more out there:

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They even managed to make the power scourge, possibly the most awkward looking equipment option on the old metal model, look legitimately cool:

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Personally speaking, the rocket launcher is just a bit much, though: I love the model and all, but the idea of fired rockets leaving fleshy sockets like pulled teeth is just taking the body horror angle a bit too far for my liking, thank you very much:

CSM_release_2014 (7)
A personal favourite of mine would be the option of arming the Helbrute with twin power fists, because there’s nothing saying brutal, insane killing machine than those huge fists:

CSM_release_2014 (5)Even beyond the different weapons, I really love the additional options for customisation: You get a whopping six heads and three horned crests for the sarcophagus, for instance. Sure, this guy is more expensive than the loyalist dread, but he is also quite a bit more exciting from a visual standpoint, plus you basically get all the weapons option in one place instead of them being spaced out over several kit.

Also, whether or not you like the basic look, you’ve got to admit that there’s a nice bit of visual consistency between the different daemon engine kits: There are little touches that tie them all together and make them look like parts of the same overall faction. Nice!

In comparison with the DV Helbrute, GW seem to have taken the hobbyists’ feedback onboard: The two main points of contention about that model were the somewhat uninspired back (less detailed than would have been preferrable, probably due to production conditions for a snap fit model?!) and the strangely organic feet: By comparison, the new Helbrute has some additional armour plating on his back, recalling the design of both loyalist Dreadnoughts and the FW chaos Dreads. The feet have been also been redesigned, now looking far more like standard Dreanought feet.


So, are there any problems with the model? For one, I think that the pose could have been a bit less static, but that’s always a problem with a multipart kit that has to balance awesomness and flexibility. Still, if you want this guy to be more dynamic, you’ll have to put in a bit of work (and when you do, the rather organic nature of the model when compared to standard Dreads means some GS sculpting may be in order).

The biggest problem seems to be that, at least for those into the background of the setting, the new Helbrute may not be a good fit for some of the traitor legions: Sure, he should work like a charm for at least four of the three “cult legions” (Emperor’s Children, Death Guard and, of course, World Eaters) as well as for two of the undivided legions (Black Legion and Word Bearers). But after that, it might get a little iffy: While I could see the Night Lords using a mutated Helbrute like this as a terror weapon (as well as an instrument of torture for one of their own), I think the model doesn’t work quite that well for, say, the Iron Warriors: I think you’d be better of converting an Ironclad Dreadnought (or go with the FW option). In the case of the Thousand Sons, the mutated look matches Tzeentch’s penchant for twisting and warping his followers, but clashes somewhat with the legion’s background. And I think the model just doesn’t work for the Alpha Legion, at least not when you keep the most recent fluff in mind. But then again, there are alternatives for those cases (see above).

A small, if insubstantial, disappointment is the fact that, unlike the heads in the Venerable Dreadnought kit, the leftover Helbrute heads will not work on regular Chaos Space Marines, as is evident from this photo, kindly provided by fellow hobbyist Daemonclaw:

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They might arguably work in Terminator armour, but only with a fair bit of cutting. Just imagine if we were to get a helmet like the one on the left for our Khorne berzerkers one day…

Then there’s the whole dataslates business: The new Helbrute dataslate supposedly adds some quite viable ways to use the new model — or, indeed multiple models. But, as has been the case for prior dataslate releases, it’s the downloadable content discussion over again. And while I do see digital publications as a viable avenue of income for GW, I still don’t see why they could not have put these rules into the same issue of WD featuring the new model: Wouldn’t that be precisely the kind of content that would make people pick up the mag, after all?

And there’s one final problem: Maybe it’s just due to a couple of crude comments over at Throne of Skulls, but don’t you agree that there’s one particular element about the new Helbrute’s design that seems a little…suggestive?

CSM_release_2014 (10)
I mean, look, maybe it’s just me, but…don’t those dangling eyes look a bit like, you know,…

…ah, never mind 😉

It’s a great model, though, fair and square: Great job, GW!


So, I also promised you a surprise model in the title, so let’s make good on that promise: After longingly looking at pictures of the new Helbrute kit in WD Weekly, I surprised myself by not running out to buy the kit right away, but rather grabbing that unpainted DV Helbrute I still had sitting on my desk and finally starting to paint that instead — and it’s about time, too, seeing how it’s been quite a while

While the model remains an amazing piece, I can safely say now that it’s certainly not a lot of fun to paint: It took what felt like ages, but then the model finally started to come together, and it’s mostly finished at last. Take a look:

Helbrute (1)
Helbrute (2)
As you can see, in another case of fairly atypical behaviour, I left the model mostly unconverted, but then I really like the model a lot as is. I just got rid of the stubby melta arm — the one truly bad piece of design on an otherwise amazing sculpt, if you ask me.

I also added a little “special effect” on the model’s back, using Tamiya Clear Red:

Helbrute (3)
Not an ‘Eavy Metal grade paintjob, admittedly, but considering the amount of time I spent on this guy (and how long it took to finally get to the point where I wasn’t feeling like I was messing up horribly), I am really pretty happy with the outcome so far:

Helbrute (9)
The face definitely remains my favourite part of the model:

Helbrute (6)
So horrible and so amazing at the same time!

As of this writing, I still need to do some final touchups on the model, add some final highlights etc. But I hope you’ll agree that it’s coming together.
Here’s the new Helbrute with his future “colleagues”, Marax the Fallen and Khoron the Undying:

Helbrute (11)
Of course this leaves me just one Helbrute short of that most elusive and devastating of formations: The Barbershop Helquartet of Dooom! 😉


In comparison with the new multipart kit, the DV Helbrute does of course lack a bit of flexibility as well as a whole lot of weapons options. Then there’s the fact of the slightly redesigned back and feet on the new model. However, at least in my opinion, the DV Helbrute isn’t necessarily the inferior model: The pose is excellent and dynamic, whereas the new model looks quite static (provided you’re not going with the two power fists). The face on the DV Helbrute is also quite excellent, and slightly better than the bare faces included with the multipart kit, at least in my opinion. And while it was designed as a single pose model, using it for rather extensive and exciting conversions is absolutely possible! For inspirations about how to truly make this model sing, look no further than the work of Daemonclaw or Biohazard — the latter’s particularly great Helbrute is a model I am truly envious of! Plus you can get the DV Helbrute for a song on ebay, which makes sure that this version remains a very viable option, especially for converters. And just imagine what one could achieve with one of the new multipart kits and a DV Helbrute: All that leftover bitz would be amazing for making two standout models at an onlslightly bigger cost.


So, in closing, while the lack of additional kits or any legion-specific supplement is of course a bit of a disappointment, the new Helbrute kit is amazing enough to tide me over until the true next chaos release comes rolling around. Will I get one at some point? Quite possibly so, yes. I am not exactly looking forward to painting another of these fleshy behemoths, though: The more mechanic, angular Dreadnoughts are far easier to paint and make for far more pleasant work.

Let’s not think of any further Helbrutes just yet: For now, I am really happy that I finally managed to paint one of my favourite pieces from the Dark Vengeance boxed set!

As always, I’d love to hear any feedback you might have. And, of course, thanks for looking and stay tuned for more!

Helbrute (8)

Totally worth it: 40k 2nd edition Codex Chaos

Posted in 40k, Chaos, Fluff, Pointless ramblings, Totally worth it, World Eaters with tags , , , , , , , , , , on June 7, 2013 by krautscientist

As you may have realised by now, Totally Worth It as a series is as much about forgotten or unjustly maligned gems of tabletop wargaming as it is about the formative moments in my personal hobby life. So today I would like to address what may have been the defining purchase of my younger hobby years. Today on Totally Worth It: The 40k second edition Codex Chaos.

Phew, where to start?

I already told you about my first contact with Warhammer 40k, and how it was completely unlike every other Sci-Fi setting I had ever heard about. Much of that would possibly still hold true for somebody getting into the hobby today, but there may be a number of differences, chief among them the way to get hold of the 40k background:

Back in the mid to late 90s, the Internet didn’t exist — or rather,  it didn’t exist for me. Neither did repositories of 40k background like Lexicanum, or hobbyists discussing in detail the background of their particular army on boards like Throne of Skulls or Dakka. So if you wanted to learn the background of the 40k universe, GW’s own publications were pretty much the only way to go. And since each of those books came at a sizeable price, even back then, you can probably imagine that getting access to all of it at once was pretty much out of the question. So while it didn’t take me all that long to discover that Chaos Space Marines were one of the factions that most fascinated me, my first approach to them happened via a number of small individual glimpses:

I remember seeing a picture of the model for Kharn the Betrayer and thinking: “I wonder what that guy’s story is!” I remember reading my buddy Phil’s 2nd edition Codex Ultramarines (in english, no less) and stumbling upon that scene where Marneus Calgar’s prowess in battle earns him a salute from a World Eaters champion and being fascinated by that idea, even then. I remember discovering that there were such things as Plague Marines, the Thousand Sons, or Abaddon the Despoiler, but I knew the models long before I discovered their background or their significance in the lore. As a matter of fact, I would sometimes ask some of my buddies who had bought the models what those guys’ background was, and they’d shrug because they didn’t know.

So it was clear to me that I would need to find out the hard way: I needed to read up on these guys. So when the 3rd edition of Warhammer 40k was released, the Codex Chaos Space Marines was the second 40k book I ever purchased (soon after Codex Dark Eldar). And actually, the best way to start describing how momentous the sedond edition Codex Chaos was for my hobby life is to first talk about the 3rd edition Codex:

Codex_CSM_3rd_ed (1)

Back then, GW was following a policy of stripping down their Codices as much as they could for a while, making them as short and bare bones as they could be. That way, their reasoning went, they would be able to produce more of them in a shorter amount of time. They where right in this, but unfortunately, the books were worse for it.

To wit: I had hoped the CSM Codex to be a great introduction to an army I was fascinated with, but it barely gave me a taste: Sure, it contained basic informations about the Great Crusade, the Horus Heresy and the fall of the traitor Legions, and I lapped it all up eagerly. But it didn’t even begin to tap into the respective traitor legions’ rich lore. Even then, before all the HH novels, you just knew there had to be lots and lots of (potential) backstory to these guys: On a very basic level, they were just evil Space Marines, sure. But it went beyond that: They had rebelled. They had lost. They were 10,000 years old. What tragedy! What narrative potential!

Unfortunately, the 3rd edition Codex barely gave one short column of text for each of the original traitor legions. And – I kid you not – they even forgot the Word Beareres altogether! And what artwork there was was so small as to be pretty much insignificant.

Now a minimalist approach like that might have worked for the Dark Eldar (at least at first), seeing how they were a brand new faction with very little backstory in the setting. But for the Chaos Space Marines, it was a horrible idea: All the depth and tragedy fell by the wayside in favour of a very stripped down rulebook. The one thing about the Codex that has really managed to age rather gracefully (apart from the impressive cover artwork by Wayne England) is the ‘Eavy Metal section, featuring lots and lots of creative and interesting conversions:

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As a matter of fact, this may also be the only section of the book that actually hints at what a compelling faction chaos can really be, showcasing one of the greatest aspects of the army: its versatility and the potential for customisation and conversion. The rest of the book seems more like an Excel spreadsheet, though. And a general fondness for old wargaming publications notwithstanding, I feel that it’s probably the weakest CSM Codex ever.

But back then, it was all I had to work with, so it had to be enough. I was immediately drawn to the World Eaters, since I have been a worshipper of Khorne ever since my WFB days, and there was a new plastic kit just coming out for the Khorne Berzerkers back then — how time flies: Almost twenty years later, and that same plastic kit is still available — in fact, I bought my last one some time last year…

Anyway, I kept plugging away on my own for a couple of years, and then, one day, discovered a copy of the second edition Codex Chaos at a comic book store. A quick glance made it clear that this was the book I had been pining for: Just skimming across the background for the traitor legions gave me more ideas and inspiration than the whole 3rd edition Codex. So I picked up the book in a heartbeat (and for a pretty penny, at that), hurried home and spent the next few days tugging into the background for my favourite 40k army. And with that, we finally arrive at our main subject, after a rather wordy introduction.

After the meagre 3rd edition Codex, nothing could have prepared me for the 2nd edition book. In fact, it still remains my favourite chaos army book ever. And even for somebody getting into the hobby today, it would still be an ideal place to get information on the traitor legions.

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The book’s background section is simply fantastic: Each traitor legion gets about half a page of background, but the fluff is concise, well written and cuts straight to the heart of each legion. And even though the following years have seen the HH series flesh out more and more of the backstory, changing around some things while completely dropping others, very little of the background presented in the 2nd edition Codex has been completely invalidated by the newer material. It’s all there: The Word Bearers as the original traitor legion. The sundering of the World Eaters at Skalathrax. The Thousand Sons’ descent into mutation and madness, as well astheir subsequent death and rebirth at the hands or Ahriman. The duplicity of the Alpha Legion. It just goes on and on…

Sure, subsequent iterations of the fluff have added layers of complexity: The Word Bearers are a far bigger (and even more sinister) influence in the more recent material. The Alpha Legion’s allegiance has become far more ambiguous. But reading through the material in the codex still gives you a compelling and completely viable rundown of the traitor legions. And all the backstory and narrative potential isn’t merely being obliquely hinted at.

Of course it helps that the book is lavishly illustrated, featuring brilliant artwork by such luminaries as Mark Gibbons, Wayne England and, of course, John Blanche himself. Did you know JB actually did some World Eaters artwork at one point?

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From haunting, Blanchian daemonworlds and Mark Gibbon’s quintessential Khorne berzerker art to Wayne England’s brilliantly evocative legion badges, the book is overflowing with cool artwork. Some of it may seem slightly goofy today, but it’s a great collection, with influences from the RT era still clearly evident, while the newer pieces would work flawlessly in a modern codex. In fact, one of John Blanche’s most iconic spreads was subsequently republished both in WD and the fourth edition codex:

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Two pages full of crazy conversion and customisation ideas. And even though none of the bitz mentioned may be available any longer, this spread instantly tells you what building and painting a CSM army is about: It’s about giving it your all to make sure your legionaries actually look like the 10,000 year veterans they are! It’s about tweaking each model and going the extra mile, to end up with an army that is truly special and unique!

The ‘Eavy Metal section of the book shows all the available CSM models from the time and has a nice showcase for most of the traitor legions. As a matter of fact, the two page spread showing the World Eaters models available back then has more background for the legion than the 3rd edition book’s entire background section:

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And, of course, there’s also advice on how to customise and convert your chaos models. This nicely complements John Blanche’s ideas, and I am still rather fond of some of the conversions shown in the 2nd edition Codex, even though miniature design has come quite a long way since then.

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It’s also worth mentioning that there are no more conversions in today’s codices, which I think is a crying shame!

The book continues with an in-depth look at the most notorious champions of chaos, introducing characters like Abaddon the Despoiler, Kharn the Betrayer, Ahriman of the Thousand Sons and Fabius Bile. And it has to be said that some of the artwork featured in that section not only managed to blow me away back then, but is just as impressive today. Check out this piece of artwork depicting Fabius Bile.

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Best version of the character ever, if you ask me!

And there’s more: A huge wargear section, not only featuring the rules for the different items but also containing interesting tidbits about the state of technology at the time of the Great Crusade (sadly, this – along with the rules section – is one of the parts of the book that have been invalidated by the newer fluff and material). A section about traitor chapters of the Adeptus Astartes, featuring the notorious Red Corsairs and – for the first time – their Lord, Huron Blackheart. There’s also a chunk of background about the Fallen Angels and Cypher. The book just goes on and on and lets you discover a thousand different and cool details about the servants of chaos.

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Certainly one of the greatest things about the book is its sizeable appendix, though, providing you with rules for chaos cultists and traitorous planetary defense forces. And it even gives you rules for daemon world armies, eternally waging war in the Eye of Terror. This effectively allows you to use parts (or indeed the entirety) of your WFB chaos army in 40k games to represent the twisted armies of the Eye — a nice callback to the blending of WFB and RT that occured in the “Realm of Chaos” books of yore.  The section also gives you information about the great four’s original daemon princes, along with corresponding rules.

In fact, this section is a perfect representation of what’s so great about the book in the first place: You get the feeling that Jervis Johnson and Andy Chambers just decided to throw in every cool idea they had, and to make as comprehensive a book about the ruinous powers as they could. Some of the rules may be experimental and unbalanced (in fact, the authors even specifically point this out with regard to the appendix). Some ideas may seem goofy nowadays (and, in all fairness, they were probably just as goofy back then). But the book is clearly a work of love, and that fact shows through on every page. Even the very last page of the book is used by the authors to impart yet more ideas for narrative games involving the forces of chaos. You cannot help but violently fall in love with a design philosophy like that!

So, where does that leave us in regard to the versions of the CSM Codex that came afterwards? As you may have gathered, the less said about the 3rd edition Codex, the better. The fabled “3,5 Codex” still stands tall as a fan favourite, because it allowed players to play each chaos legion with its own custom rules and wargear — however, this came at the price of making chaos armies somewhat unwieldy and frankly impenetrable for non-chaos players. The oft-maligned fourth edition codex, derisively called “Gav Dex” by some, went for a far more streamlined solution, alienating quite a few players along the way. Personally speaking, I rather liked the codex for its flexibility, and I think much of the criticism leveled at its authors is actually rather unfair (you can read my thoughts on the matter here, in case you are interested).

And the sixth edition codex? I like the book: It has great production values, and the rules set seems robust enough while retaining the flexibility of the last edition’s codex. But the legion specific background is back to one short column per legion, and that’s certainly not an improvement.

In all fairness, giving chaos players a book they are actually happy with may be an unsolvable task: A Codex to make every chaos player happy would probably have to be 500 pages long, feature full rules for each and every legion (and, as a consequence, probably cost 250 Euros). So I think Phil Kelly’s effort was probably the best possible compromise. The situation today is also far different from that in the mid-90s: With places like Lexicanum and the 40kWiki and publications like the BL novels available, you have all the background you might need at your fingertips at all times. There’s also a huge online community of hobbyists to discuss the background and fluff with. So today’s codices may actually no longer be requird to be the be-all and end-all when it comes to describing the background.

Still, the 2nd edition Codex Chaos still stands as possibly my favourite chaos army book ever. It delivers a fantastic amount of bang for the buck and is still just as good an introduction to the traitor legions now as it was back then. And even though the rules are no longer viable, the book is still a great puchase, just for the background section and the crazy amount of ideas on display! So if you’re a chaos player, and should find yourself in any position to pick this up, go for it: It’s still totally worth it!


So yeah, that was my rather wordy – and probably completely inadequate – love letter to one of my favourite GW publications ever, I guess. Provided you didn’t fall asleep in the first place, should you have anything to add regarding the book, or any feedback to this review, I’d be happy to hear from you in the comments section!

And, in any case, thanks for looking and stay tuned for more!

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Apostle of War

Posted in 40k, Chaos, Conversions, Fluff, World Eaters with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 8, 2013 by krautscientist

Not only am I a great fan of building characters for my World Eaters army (as evidenced by many, many posts on this blog), I also enjoy having models to represent must – if not all – of the possible selections from the Codex. What’s more, I am constantly trying come up with conversions and kitbashes that put a spin on the ideas presented in the book and make the models fit my army’s background: My Chaos Spawn are former World Eaters and still retain some of the gladiatorial feel typical of the legion. My champions and officers are “Huntmasters”, accomplished hunters out to run down their prey. Indeed, most of my army is designed with the hunting background firmly in mind, and for each entry in the codex, I try to come up with a model that is not only clearly recognisable, but also makes sense within the context of the army’s overall look and feel.

The Dark Apostle HQ selection was one that had me stumped so far. You see, for me, the Dark Apostle will always remain a character type firmly connected to the Word Bearers legion. I also wanted to build my own model for a possible Dark Apostle instead of the Finecast one released by GW (though the model is, of course, really cool). So after a bit of thought, I figured that I had two possibilities:

  1. Make the Apostle a Word Bearer that had been assigned to the 4th assault company during the Great Crusade and had been staying with them ever since.
  2. Come up with a way to create a “Khornate” Dark Apostle that made sense within the framework of my army’s background.

While the first option may be pretty promising from a narrative standpoint, I somehow just wasn’t feeling it: While the Dark Apostle Azalon actually appears in the background of Khorne’s Eternal Hunt and definitely had a hand in their corruption, he’s a character I would maybe like to spin off into a separate army project one of these days. So I thought about making my own apostle as a member of the 4th assault company.

Several Khorne players have come up with some kind of “blood priest”, inciting his brothers to even greater rage during battle. But while that idea was also very cool, it still wasn’t what I was looking for. Instead, I thought about what the members of Khorne’s Eternal Hunt would possibly use as a means of bolstering their morale and drive them forward. And since it’s a hunting party we are talking about here, the answer was rather simple: a horn.

My Dark Apostle would be a hornblower, wielding an ancient and  treasured artifact to call the warriors of the 4th to arms and order them forward. To my mind, it makes a lot of sense that the sound of their most revered warhorn should serve as a surge of motivation to the legionaries of the 4th!

So far so good! Now when it came to actually building the model, everything boiled down to a lucky coincidence, as is so often the case: When I swung by the FLGS the other day after a particularly horrible day at work, I couldn’t help but treat myself to one of GW’s brand new plastic Chaos Lords.

While I hadn’t been 100% sold on the model before, this guy is actually pretty great once you see him firsthand! So I sat down and did a couple of really easy changes to the model to transform him into my “counts as” Dark Apostle. Take a look:

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As you can see, it didn’t take much to make the model look quite different: I carefully cut off the hand holding the glaive and used a different head. Oh, and I also “converted” the base to fit on a 40k round base. Apart from that, in a move that is fairly atypical for me, the model remains very close to the original design.

While the head that comes with the model is much nicer than the pictures in WD would have you believe, and while it has a really interesting “Herne the Hunter” vibe going on, it was a little to over the top for the look I wanted to achieve. So I used a champion head from the Skullcrusher kit instead. The Khorne rune on the forehead is quite a nice touch, and while I had originally planned to shave off the small set of horns, they somehow really complement the rest of the model rather well, don’t you think?

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The huge horn came from the Chaos Daemon Bloodcrusher kit and is nicely decorated with different chaotic runes. I originally wanted to use the even cooler horn from the Skullcrushers, but that one was unfortunately right-handed, so I had little choice in the matter. In any case, the horn really looks like an ancient and powerful artifact of the Warp…

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Granted, this guy still looks very much like a WFB model. But even though I might have been slightly tempted to make an even more involved conversion out of this model, I was too in love with the lines and silhouette of the model to further cut it up. And while I am not one to be easily swayed by GW’s marketing speak, their gushing about how great the model’s sword and cape are designed is, for once, really true. Take a look:

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What’s really great about the new Chaos Lord is the depth of the model: He doesn’t look nearly as flat as the plastic models of old. However, this also comes at a price: The parts only fit together in a fairly specific way, so if you want to convert this guy, you should keep that in mind.

It’s fairly easy to swap in a couple of new forearms (and weapons) and the neck cavity will accept pretty much any head you choose to put there. The model could even conceivably be left off the sculpted base. Beyond that, though, converting this guy could get pretty complicated though. Still, knowing people like GuitaRasmus, PDH or migsula, I think we can rest assured that we will be seeing a couple of rather striking re-designs sooner rather than later…

Another word of advice: If you want to make painting this model a lot easier for yourself, you should think about what to glue together and what to leave apart before painting. Personally speaking, I would advise you to work in these four sub-assemblies:

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A: You can definitely glue together the base and small rocky outcrop with a part of the model’s right foot on it. If you want to keep the glaive, this will be quite a bit more complicated, since the weapon potentially connects sub-assemblies A and B. Since I just cut it off, I made my life that much easier 😉

B: The cape and forearms can be glued together: You can still add or remove the rest of the body (C) afterwards without a hitch. Again, see above for possible difficulties if you keep the glaive in the model’s right hand.

C: The model’s main body and right lower leg can also be glued together. There’s really only one possible position here. Even so, you might want to dryfit this part with sub-assembly A to make sure everything fits together.

D: Whatever head you want to use should probably be kept separate until after painting.

Oh, and one more thing: This guy is huge! Especially if you use the sculpted base! While he is a little less bulky than a Terminator, he almost reaches up to the same height as my Lorimar conversion (base included).

All in all, I am really pleased with this guy right now: I may add a small bit or two (and possibly a Dark Vengeance Chosen backpack, to make the model look a little more 40k), but he is pretty gorgeous and quite majestic as he is. I also think he makes for a rather convincing Dark Apostle in the context of my whole army. And I can also recommend the WoC plastic Lord, even though the price is nothing to laugh at.

Anyway, let me know what you think! And as always, thanks for looking and stay tuned for more!

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Raptor Review

Posted in 40k, Chaos, Conversions, World Eaters with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 28, 2012 by krautscientist

I may have mentioned before that I quite like jump infantry: For us World Eaters players, Raptors are always a great way of adding a dash of flexibility to an otherwise very predictable army. So I built and painted my first squad of World Eaters jump infantry long before the release of the new Codex. You may remember these guys:

Granted, here may be other units in the list that are more viable in the fast assault role (*cough* bikes *cough*), but I simply love the concept of World Eaters equipped with jump packs rushing into the thick of battle with wild abandon. So it is probably no surprise that a box of the new plastic Raptors/Warp Talons was one of my day one purchases, along with the new Codex. Today’s post will be all about those guys.

The kit has been out for a while now, so I will spare you the unboxing video and sprue diagrams. Both are easily found elsewhere on the net. Indeed, let me point you towards Screwed Up Dice‘s very nice, two part review of the kit for all the necessary information. Still, late as my own “review” of sorts may be, I thought it would be nice to collect my thoughts on the models while working on my first new squad of jump infantry, pointing out the good and the bad as I go.


“It’s plastic!

Working with GW’s excellent and highly versatile plastic kits is always a joy, and that is why the mere fact that Raptors are now available as a plastic kit counts as a huge advantage in my book: No more pinning, no more models falling over because they are precariously balanced on their bases. And lots and lots of customisability — provided you know how to use a knife, that is. I have painted quite a few metal miniatures in my time, and I like the amount of detail GW’s designers are able to cram into some of those Finecast models (QA problems notwithstanding), but plastic is where it’s at for me!

Of course this also means that the kit is fully compatible with the rest of the (Chaos) Space Marine range, although not all combinations will end up looking great. Still, with a bit of mixing and matching, you’ll be able to customise your jump infantry and make them fit the rest of your force visually (more on this point in a minute)


“It looks nice!”

The sculpt on these guys is pretty great, but that’s almost a given with GW’s more recent kits. What I really like though is the slightly readjusted overall look of the models: The last Raptor sculpt – along with the fluff – had them positioned as a bit an external force to all Traitor Legions, a cult onto themselves, which meant that the models had a very distinct look. And while more individuality is mostly a good thing, not everyone was happy with their Raptors looking so different from the rest of their force: Even when painted in the colours of a specific legion, they never quite looked like they belonged.

The new armour design seems like a bit of a return to the original 3rd edition Raptors in that it is distinct enough to differentiate them from other unit types, but should also work rather well with different colour schemes, those of the original Traitor Legions included. So for those who want it, the individuality is still there, while the rest of us are free to build jump infantry that resembles the rest of our force.

There’s also all kinds of nice detail: The Raptor helmets recall corrupted, older marks of power armour (MK IV and VI, especially), and the CC weapons are some of the greatest Chaos Space Marine weapons currently availabe (those chainswords are off the hook!). I also really like the rather economical design of the jump pack, but then, I’ve always been a fan of the Pre-Heresy jet engine design 😉

As an aside: While, as a follower of Khorne, I loathe all Slaneeshi dogs with a passion, those shoulder pads and helmets with the speaker-like design should work really well for kitbashing Noise Marines.


“You get some neat extra bitz…”

It’s great to see that the kit comes with a full set of weapon options for the Raptors: No more scrounging around for extra Meltaguns or having to use the same old weapon bit over and over. All of the weapons are very nicely detailed and have a distinct chaos look. The same goes for the Warp Talon claws (which could also be used as Lightning claws on regular infantry champions, Chosen etc.). And the fact that it’s a combi-kit means that you’ll get quite a few leftover bitz: Depending on which unit type you decide to build, you get a full set of Raptor weapons and heads or Warp Talon claws and heads for your bitzbox. Nice.



“…but maybe not enough!”

Here’s the thing about those bitz though: I was a little disappointed at the relatively small selection of heads. While I understand that the kit has to be quite economically designed to carry enough bitz for both unit types, I am just a fan of extra heads and shoulderpads: just five heads and one set of shoulder pads per model? Come on, GW! Admittedly, this may just be nitpicking on my part, but still…


“A little restrictive…”

Here’s a piece of more substantial criticism then: I feel that some of the poses on these models aren’t all that well conceived. You probably won’t notice this when building Raptors, but for the Warp Talons it’s actually fairly challenging to have them look as dynamic and individual as you would like. I discovered this when I tried to go against the grain and build models that looked a little different from the ones on the box: While it’s possible, you’ll quickly discover that certain combinations just don’t work out, leaving you with a limited number of options. Granted, if you just want to get your models on the table, you probably won’t see this as much of a problem. But as someone who is very much into kitbashing and converting, I cannot help but feel that these models don’t lend themselves to conversion all that much. And while I like the fact that the models’ legs are attached in rather dynamic ways to small piles of rubble and battlefield debris, the designs can quickly become repetitive once you are building squads that are bigger than five models.

I realise that this may not even be valid criticism for some: The models look great and are easy to put together. What’s not to like, right? But I somehow feel that this kit seems to actively confound converters, and I’m not sure I like that 😉


“Some smaller design flaws”

Again, this is only a matter of personal taste, but I think that the design for the Warp Talon parts is slightly weaker in some respects: Most of the heads look really clunky and slightly out of scale. And while it’s nice to get a full set of sharp talons for the models’ feet, you’ll need to do some cutting on these to make sure they look natural, instead of jutting out at an improbable 90 degrees angle.


So what’s the bottom line?

All in all, I am prepared to call this kit a success, in spite of some nitpicks. It’s is expertly designed and lets you build some great looking models for your chaos army. The accomplished converter will be able to work around the small problems, and you’ll be able to make those Raptors and Warp Talons look like they are actually a part of your Traitor Legion or Renegade Chapter!

That’s what I set out to do as well: I decided to assemble the squad as Warp Talons, if only because I already have quite a few Raptors in my army. Not feeling particularly keen on the devolved, daemonic nature of the Warp Talons (it is a cool concept, but it doesn’t fit my personal fluff all that well), I wanted to build a squad of World Eaters melee specialists with jump packs. Here’s a look at my models:

This was one of the models where the basic pose of the legs combined with the Warp Talon arms seems a little goofy. It took some dryfitting and thinking to sort things out. Ultimately, I am rather pleased with the model, though. In this particular instance, the feet needed a little work (I cut off a part of the soles) to make surethat the angle at which the talons connect to the feet looks natural.

I gave this guy a FW berzerker helmet, since it added to the viciousness of the model’s look. Plus I wanted these guys to be clearly recognisable as World Eaters.

This second guy is the other model that took a while to get right: Although the legs are pretty cool this time, the arms are designed to be pretty close to the body, which makes for pretty restrictive posing. While I would have preferred a more open pose for the arms, the finished model shows the combination that, in my opinion, worked best under the circumstances.

I expect the fine detail on the model’s torso and left arm to be a challenge to paint, though, due to the fact that there is very little room between the torso and left gauntlet. But oh well…

Again, I used a Khornate helmet — this time, it’s one of from the plastic berzerker kit.

The next two models are where I just gave up and built them “as intended” 😉

In this case, the legs and arms work very well together, creating a relaxed but quite menacing pose (not unlike the Chaos Lord with jump pack, by the way). Compared to the ‘Eavy Metal model, I changed the alignment of the torso and arms a bit, though, to make the pose just a tiny bit more interesting. And I added yet another berzerker head. I realise that many are quite tired of these, but I think in this case the head works rather nicely!

Then there’s this guy, who is basically a perfect emulation of the unit champ built by the ‘Eavy Metal team:

What can I say? I just liked the pose and the head a lot! 😉

And finally, probably my favourite model in the whole squad:

It took some time to sort the pose out, but it was well worth it in my opinion. The model looks quite threatening and dynamic at the same time. Yet what really sells this guy is the addition of yet another Khornate FW head: This guy looks soooo angry…

And here’s the whole squad together:

I have not yet decided whether to use the “blade vanes” that attach to the jump packs. While those may seem a little silly at first glance, they could be rather useful in giving the models a more unique silhouette. Hmmm….

Also, it’s basically anyone’s guess when I’ll actually get around to painting these… 😉

Anything else? Oh, yes, the jump packs on these guys are quite a bit smaller than you would expect! Here’s a comparison shot with one of my kitbashed Raptors (using a MaxMini jump pack):

As you can see, the MaxMini pack looks pretty clunky by comparison, while the new model’s silhouette is far less bulky than you would have suspected.

So, one last question remains: Raptors of Warp Talons?

While the answer to that question will ultimately depend on what is the more sensible choice in the context of your army, let me look at things from a modelling perspective:

The Raptors you can build from this kit will work great out of the box, with very little extra work required. You get lots of options, and the squad can be made to look like a external cult or like your own Traitor Legion’s dedicated jump infantry. They’ll also look good alongside your older models, even though they may be a bit more detailed.

The Warp Talons suffer from their rather restrictive poses and will need more work and maybe an influx of external bitz to truly make them shine. Still, their rather distinct silhouette and overall look make them visually interesting, and those clawed gaunzlets are really great. They are also a great modelling option for Night Lords, in my opinion.

In any case, quite a nice kit that gives you a lot of options. The smaller drawbacks shouldn’t keep you from giving this kit a try!

Do you have any thoughts on the kit or my first test models? I’d be glad to hear them in the comments section!

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