Welcome news indeed!

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The unusual way this news broke, along with some inconsistent-sounding elements such as the fact that this studio would be picking up the LotR/Hobbit franchise, led me to doubt its veracity. However, this seems to be confirmation from an official source that some of the Specialist Games will see the light of day once more (although no comments about LotR). I’m not sure why GW chose to release the information this way rather than making a grand announcement but the return of some classic games is certainly exciting news for the hobby. It seems that this may have been a blunder and GW did not intend the news to go public yet.

Caution does need to be exercised though. At the moment GW are not promising anything more than “new boxed games and stand-alone sets” rather than a fully relaunched product range with continued support. So, all-in-all not too far away from what I predicted earlier.

I don’t normally comment on rumours but this one caught my interest as the Specialist Games range was very close to my heart. In case you haven’t seen it, this is apparently an announcement from Games Workshop that has been doing the rounds on the internet.

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Although I would love to see Games Workshop revisit some of the Specialist Games, I do not believe that this announcement is genuine. Here’s why:

  • The apparent ‘source’ of this information is a store manager in Australia who was told that he could advertise this in his store. This is not the usual channel for GW to release information. Also, why haven’t we heard similar things from other store managers?
  • GW have just released Betrayal at Calth, a huge Heresy-era board game that they are pushing heavily at the moment. Why make an announcement of this magnitude so quietly in the background? Not only will this not receive much notice but, if it were true, it would detract from their current big release.
  • There have been no rumours at all about this up until now. If GW were working on something there would have been leaks. Just look at Betrayal at Calth, images from this ‘top secret’ project were leaked months before release.
  • Similarly, GW haven’t teased this as they did with all other new games.
  • This doesn’t fit GW’s current business model. They already scrapped the idea of a specialist studio to support a small range of games so why go back to it? I could see GW releasing a one-off board game based on a classic game (much like Space Hulk or Dreadfleet) but not them devoting a whole new studio to specialist games.
  • The poster contains a spelling mistake: ‘Armegeddon’. Now, I know there are occasional typos in GW publications (as there in any publications) but to spell the name of a game wrong in the press release? GW wouldn’t be this sloppy about its IP.
  • I don’t buy the idea that this supposed “Specialist Product Design Studio” will support the Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit. From what I’ve heard, the license to produce products for these franchises is coming to an end. Also, the Hobbit was a flop and received little support from GW when it was in the cinema so why revisit it?

What does seem to be the case is that Games Workshop and Forge World have had some kind of internal restructuring and the resulting team is responsible for Betrayal at Calth. This team will be committed to developing further board games in the future. As far as any of the old Specialist Games returning goes, this is very much speculation at this stage. It could happen but this is far from certain.

With all this in mind, I’m going to call this hokum. However, I may be wrong…

Inq28 Bounty Hunter

Another common Inquisitorial agent is the bounty hunter, individuals skilled in hunting down criminals whose skills are of great use to Inquisitors. While building this model I had an image of Harlon Nayl from Dan Abnett’s Eisenhorn and Ravenor books in my head. He is described as wearing a long stormcoat over a black bodyglove and having a shaved scalp. While the model isn’t intended to be a direct representation of Harlon I have incorporated elements such as the long coat and shaved head (although I left the original Mohawk as it looked cool). I also gave him some body armour, always useful when your line of work involves being shot at a lot.

Inq28 Bounty Hunter

The main part of the model is made from a Cadian’s torso attached to the legs of one of the ever-useful Dark Vengeance cultists. I really like the design of the lasguns carried by the scions and converted a pair of arms from the scions kit to fit. I resculpted the left shoulder and hid my rough greenstuff work under a kroot shoulder pad adorned with an etched-brass symbol. A small holstered knife provided the finishing touch to the weapon and gives the impression that he is armed to the teeth. The rest of the model was decorated with purity seals, pouches and grenades.

Inq28 Bounty Hunter

I decided not to use the backpack from the scions kit as the hanging wires attached to the weapon hid the trenchcoat which is one of the defining features of the model. Instead I used a pouch from the ogryns set as a backpack and attached a space marine knife.

Overall I am very pleased with this model, especially as I didn’t have a clear idea of what parts I was going to use at the beginning, just an image of what kind of character I wanted him to be. The rest was a case of trial and error using blu-tak to try out the parts first before gluing them together.

The year was 1995. X-Files was on the telly, Braveheart topped the box office and kids traded Pogs in the playground. It was the year the charts resounded to the beat of ‘The Macarena’, the UK was gripped by Girl Power and Robbie Williams split from Take That. But more importantly for me, in November of that year, I walked into a newsagents and picked up my first copy of White Dwarf. Yes, dear reader, that means that this month marks my twentieth year in the hobby!

White Dwarf 190. My gateway into the hobby.

White Dwarf 190. My gateway into the hobby.

A Personal Journey

Twenty years is a big chunk of my lifetime (nearly two thirds) and, although a lot has changed in my life over those two decades, the hobby has always been an important part of it. From the age of 11, I avidly played Warhammer and Warhammer 40,000 along with D&D and other assorted roleplaying games. This was an exciting time for Games Workshop, the fourth edition of Warhammer and second edition of 40k had just been released, codifying and developing the two universes and introducing the format of the ‘boxed game’ which is now the norm for new editions. This period marked a massive period of growth for the company which expanded into many overseas markets. It was also the time when everything was bright red. The grim darkness of the far future was surprisingly colourful back then.

Excitingly, when I started sixth form a few years later, GW acquired the license to produce models for New Line Cinema’s Lord of the Rings franchise. I had a part-time job at the local Co-op at the time and used the money to fund my avid collecting of these models. I still believe that these are some of the best models GW have produced to date and the game was one of the most elegant rule sets ever written.

I read Lord of the Rings in high school. I also painted tiny metal models of the characters.

Throughout my time at uni I, like many people, dropped out of the hobby for a while but would still buy the occasional copy of White Dwarf to see what was going on and picked up the odd set of models from time to time. I really got back into the hobby during my PhD. It was during this period that I really began to develop my skills as a painter (and, incidentally, when I started this blog) thanks in no small part to the Imperial Armour Masterclass books and the excellent ‘Eavy Metal guides that appeared in White Dwarf at this time.

Since then I have become a qualified teacher and helped to run a games club in the school where I worked, I have realised a long-held ambition to have a model featured in White Dwarf and I even spent a short time working for GW as a studio painter.

What’s Changed?

So, what has changed in my twenty years in the hobby? Here are my five biggest changes in no particular order:

  1. The Rise of Plastic – What is undoubtedly the biggest change for me is the rise in plastic. Back in 1995 most models were lead and plastic was mainly used for weapons, shields and steeds. The majority of the plastic models from the time were cheap mono-pose models which could be used to bulk out regiments. Nowadays, most of GW’s kits are high-quality, multi-part plastic which is not only easier to work with but also allows a far greater degree of versatility.
  2. Things are Less ‘Epic’ – Back in 1995 Epic was the third core game and really was the driving force behind the development of the 40k universe. Leman Russ tanks, Waveserpents and Imperial Knights are just three models to be introduced by Epic that have since become staples of the 40k battlefield. Sadly, as the ability to produce these models in 28mm scale was developed, the game was scaled back and eventually dropped in 2013.
  3. The End of the World – Yep, this is a biggie. Earlier this year, Games Workshop took the bold step of blowing up the Warhammer World and ushering in the Age of Sigmar. You can read my thoughts on the subject here and here.
  4. The Horus Heresy – Back in 1995 the Horus Heresy was a myth and the only Primarch models were the Epic-scale Daemon Primarchs (see, I told you Epic always got there first). We were told that 10,000 years ago there was a civil war but the details were deliberately sketchy and vague and it was presented as a mythical age shrouded in mystery. Now the Black Library are chronicling the events of the Heresy in meticulous detail and Forge World have released a fantastic range of models including some of the Primarchs themselves.
  5. The Decline of the Specialist Games – What would come to be known as the ‘Specialist Games’ range was really kicked-off in 1995 with Necromunda, which detailed the political rivalries and inter-gang warfare of one individual hive city in the 40k universe. This was followed by other fan-favourites such as Gorkamorka (1997), Battlefleet Gothic (1999) and Inquisitor (2001) which all explored different facets of the 40k universe. GW also launched the millennial Mordheim (1999) which ‘celebrated’ the year 2000 with its darkly comic play on Y2K fears. It is safe to say that without these games the Warhammer and Warhammer 40,000 universes would not be quite so rich and detailed as they are today.

Twitter

I put the following question to Twitter:

This is what you had to say:

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Have Your say

So, do you have a personal story to tell about your time in the hobby? What are your thoughts on the biggest changes to the hobby in the last twenty years? Leave your comment below.

Inq28

Here are my assorted characters for Inq28. Initially the models were created to be a part of my Inquisitor’s retinues but as I worked on them they have developed their own characters and I am planning on splitting them into two warbands, one for my Inquisitor and one for my Rogue Trader. I imagine the Rogue Trader to be an ally of my Inquisitor who provides him with transport when needed which means the warbands will fight together on occasion, allowing me to mix and match models for different scenarios.

Rogue Trader

The first character is a Rogue Trader inspired by an old illustration by John Blanche. The model is the chaos cultist wearing a commissar’s from the Dark Vengeance set. His head was swapped for one from the Empire Greatswords and the arms come from the Scions kit. A bit of greenstuff work filled in the rest.

Rogue Trader

Initially he was intended to be used in my Inquisitor’s warband but I decided that Rogue Traders are too important to just be henchmen and decided to give him his own warband. Plus I liked the idea of playing with a Rogue Trader and his retinue as the swashbuckling fortune-seekers would play very differently to the more austere Inquisitors and their agents. I would like to add some abhumans or aliens to his warband at some point in the future.

Heavy Stubber

The next guy is a heavy stubber-wielding muscle man who will form part of the Rogue Trader’s retinue. Again, a Dark Vengeance cultist with a simple head swap and some added details. For this guy I wanted to stay clear of the usual archetypes of him being a hive ganger or former guardsman as these character types usually are. Instead I see him as a rating or other crewman from the Rogue Trader’s vessel who labours on the ship and is strong enough to carry a heavy stubber.

Adeptus Arbite

Adeptus Arbite

Here is an Adeptus Arbite enforcer who is one of my Inquisitor’s retinue. The conversion is closely based on one I saw on The Convertorum and is a combination of Scion and Mechanicum parts with a shield taken from the Ogryn set.

Techpriest

I was always very fond of Magos Delphan Gruss from the Inquisitor game and knew I wanted to include a techpriest in one of my warbands. I have seen loads of conversions based on the Vampire Counts wraith model but I wanted a more traditional, human-looking magos. the model itself is a data-smith from the Kastellan Robots kit with a simple head swap. He will probably join the Rogue Trader’s crew, helping to maintain the ship and using his position to explore the galaxy for STCs and other archeotech.

Combat Servitor

The techpriest will be joined by a combat servitor kitbashed from Mechanicum and Scion bits.

Because a number of models intended for my Inquisitor’s retinue have been co-opted into the Rogue Trader’s warband I will need to create some more models to accompany my Inquisitor into battle. I have already started work on the next conversion and hope to share him with you soon.

Ordo Malleus Inquisitor

I’m very excited to finally have this model finished. I have been working on and off on this project for quite some time now, trying out various ideas and trying to get the right parts for the conversion. There were times when I doubted my own ability to pull this off or struggled to get him to look the way I imagined him and more than once I set him aside to work on other projects.

Ordo Malleus Inquisitor

I have always been inspired by the so-called Inq28  movement (aka ‘Inquisimunda’)* which has been around on forums for a while now and the ‘Blanchitsu’ series of articles in White Dwarf and Warhammer: Visions and wanted to make my own Inquisitorial warband in a similar spirit. Those of you who have been in the hobby a while may also recognise the other obvious inspiration for this piece: the 54mm Inquisitor Covenant model from 2001. This isn’t an attempt to replicate the original model exactly but is rather done in a similar spirit.

The original 54mm Inquisitor Covenant model by Games Workshop

The original 54mm Inquisitor Covenant model by Games Workshop

Although I have been in the hobby for 20 years, converting and sculpting are two things that I have not really done much of over the years and so this project was an opportunity to try out new things and really push myself in those areas. This model is a fairly basic kitbash based around a Warhammer Chaos Sorcerer with a Space Marine torso. The hood is sculpted on with greenstuff.

Ordo Malleus Inquisitor

The arms were a bit of a problem and show the difficulty I had in sourcing some of the parts. Originally I was planning on using Space Marine scout arms as they have sleeves rather than armour and the gloves are a close match for Covenant’s gloves on the original model. However, I couldn’t get them to look right holding a sword and so I tried him holding a shotgun but that didn’t look right either. In the end I settled on a pair of Grey Knight arms with the stormbolter clipped away and replaced with a small shield. In game terms this will be some kind of force field generator. Initially, I was worried that this would make him look too much like a Space Marine but I think the paint job prevents that.

Below is a work-in-progress photo which should help you see which parts I’ve used.

Ordo Malleus Inquisitor

The backpack is an old metal piece taken from a Space Wolf Scout. It works well and the scanner helps to balance the huge sword on the other side. I did toy with the idea of a shoulder-mounted MIU weapon like on Inquisitor Covenant but couldn’t make this look convincing. However, I think the backpack helps to maintain the silhouette of the original model.

Ordo Malleus Inquisitor

Once the basic shape of the model was established the rest was just adding details like a book, a holstered pistol and some pouches before painting. For the colour scheme I again followed the original model with black robes (highlighted up through Dark Reaper and Thunderhawk Blue) and red armour (shaded with purple and blue washes and glazed with reds). I then added a freehand Inquisition symbol like the one found on Covenant’s trenchcoat. I think this really is the focal point for this model and stops the lower half looking too plain and boring.

Ordo Malleus Inquisitor

One thing that I tried on this model was using gloss varnish over metalics. I think this works really well as it helps to harmonise the different colours used stops the matte effect that you can get from using washes and glazes over metallics. It also gives the metal a very shiny look. The sword blade is perhaps the best example of this.

Ordo Malleus Inquisitor

Finally, I wanted to recreate the rusty orange bases seen on some of the original Inquisitor models. To do this I spread thin plastic glue over the base right up to the edges. I then stuck on a piece of textured plasticard and left this to dry with a book on top to ensure it dried flush to the base. When this was done I trimmed the plasticard to fit the base and filed the edges and filled any gaps with Milliput.

Inquisitor Bases

The base was painted Skrag Brown, washed with Reikland Fleshshade before being drybrushed Skrag Brown, Jokaero Orange and finally Chainmail. This gives a nice warm orange/brown look which is very different to any other bases I’ve done before. I also think it complements the red on the model nicely.

Ordo Malleus Inquisitor

On a personal note, it was nice to spend time painting a single character model after weeks of painting large numbers of infantry at Warhammer World. During my time in Nottingham, I also converted a number of Imperial agents some of which will form his retinue and others who will be part of other warbands. I will cover these conversions in my next blog post.

As always, if you have any questions about how I went about painting the model or any other general comments I’d love to hear from you. Drop my a line below and I will try and get back to you.

*Edit – I have just been informed that Inq28 and Inquisimunda are two different games systems used for playing out battles between warbands. I will have to investigate further.

The Battle of Vesh'Yo

Things have been a little quite here on Miniature Miscellany for the last few weeks. However, I can now reveal the reason for this. Five weeks ago I started work as a Warhammer World studio painter on a temporary contract to paint the display shown above. As you can imagine, this was a very exciting opportunity for me and it was great to work alongside talented colleagues on a project of this scale. The display went on show at the weekend as part of Warhammer World’s 40k Open Days meaning that I can finally lift the veil of secrecy.

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Working on a display of this size was a real experience and I painted literally hundreds of the models on this board. It took a team of six of us five weeks to paint all of the models on the display. The terrain was started before I joined the project so I’m not sure how long that took to build. I was painting 40 Skitarii a day and even batch painting Riptides! I can safely say that I have painted more models in the last month than I have in the rest of the year. My personal favourites of the models I painted are the Kastellan Robot punching a Crisis Suit in the face and the Y’Vahra Battlesuit blasting the Reaver. I also painted my initials onto the Fireblade’s knife using the Tau alphabet. No one will ever notice it but I know it’s there.

The key to painting this many models quickly was a simple colour scheme applied neatly and consistently.The Mechanicum models were airbrushed silver and then basecoated, washed with Nuln Oil and given a single highlight. The Tau were a bit more complicated and time-consuming. They were airbrushed Tau Light Ochre over Zandri Dust base and then shaded in the recesses and edge highlighted. The Tau took about twice as long as the Mechanicum stuff and I was averaging about 20 Fire Warriors/Breachers a day.

If you have any questions or comments leave them below and I will try my best to answer them. Enjoy the pictures (if you look closely you may even spot some as-yet unreleased models).

Ionus Cryptborn

Another Age of Sigmar model complete, this time Lord Relictor Ionus Cryptborn. I really love the skull mask on this guy which was painted Baneblade Brown, shaded with Agrax Earthshade and then worked up through Baneblade Brown, Rakarth Flesh and Pallid Wych Flesh. The rest of the model was painted the same way as my other Stormcast with an additional highlight of Mithril Silver on the armour and Vallejo’s Ivory on the parchments to make him stand out from the rank-and-file.

Ionus Cryptborn

Ionus Cryptborn

Ionus Cryptborn

Ionus Cryptborn

Ionus Cryptborn

Ionus Cryptborn

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Welcome back. In my previous post I gave my initial impressions of Warhammer: Age of Sigmar from a painting and modelling perspective (spoiler alert: I love it). This post delves into the new background and rules that establish this exciting new age of Warhammer. I should also give a mention to the guys at Tabled Podcast who provide an excellent account of the background to Age of Sigmar which you can listen to here. Their podcast is one of the things that got me so fired up about the game.

A Brave New World

As I said in yesterday’s post, I have been steeped in the lore of the Warhammer World for twenty years now and fondly remember pouring over maps of the Old World in the Warhammer Quest Roleplay book (the first Warhammer Fantasy game I purchased). For this reason I was genuinely sad to see the world destroyed in the End Times. However, the Warhammer World had become static. We all knew what it was and its history and the clock stopped some time around (or just before) the Storm of Chaos. In my opinion, the End Times series was a fitting send-off for the Warhammer World and again I must praise Games Workshop for having the bravery to destroy their setting so thoroughly. Part of me worried that it would turn out to be a marketing ploy like the death of Superman or Knightfall in the ’90s and that after a few months the Warhammer World would be magically restored somehow or that Karl Franz would wake up in the shower and it was all a dream. However, GW have shown no sign of this happening and are instead committed to developing the Mortal Realms.

The new setting, with its diverse opportunities and mythic grandeur, has got me genuinely excited. We know that elves, men and dwarfs have survived but as yet have been told little of their history, territories or social organisation. Personally, I can’t wait for this to be revealed as GW develop their new setting. It finally feels like Warhammer is moving forward again.

The Warhammer World still exists as a ‘historical’ setting for those people who wish to set their games in the ‘World That Was’ (this is even made explicit in the warscrolls on GW’s website).

Stormcast Eternals

Liberator Statue

I couldn’t write a post about Age of Sigmar without mentioning GW’s new poster boys, the Stormcast Eternals. The company’s commitment to these new guardians of humanity is evident from the new statue at GW HQ shown above and these really are the protagonists of the new game.

I really like the background and models for the Stormcast and am eager to learn more about them. The idea of super-human warriors taking the fight to Chaos really appeals to me. At first I was a bit ambivalent about the models but after painting up a few units I have really fallen in love with them. They are fun to paint and, importantly as my gateway army back into Fantasy, look great with a simple colour scheme that is quick to apply. This means I can have an army of them painted up and on the table in next to no time.

Many people have compared them unfavourably to space marines and the moniker ‘Sigmarines’ is already a common pejorative term being used around the internet. However, I like the fact that 40k has started feeding back into Warhammer. Back in the days of Rogue Trader, many fantasy archetypes were ported over into a sci-fi setting and given lasguns and shuriken catapults. It’s nice to see this go in the opposite direction and for an element of warhammer 40,000 to be adapted to a fantasy setting.

The Best Things in Life are Free

Undoubtedly one of the major draws of the game is the fact that all of the rules are free to download. No longer do you need a rulebook, expansions, army books etc to play the game, cutting down the cost of entry. As someone returning to Fantasy after many years I no longer have to worry about which rulebooks are still current or compatible with the latest edition. I can simply download the warscrolls for whatever models I have in my collection and get playing.

Simplicity

Another common complaint. Again, as a painter and collector I really like the idea of not having to trawl through army books adding up the cost of units and picking out combinations of magic items. I know some people got a lot of pleasure from this, and it really is just a matter of personal preference, but as a casual gamer I am all in favour of it.

Conclusion

So there we have it. I can honestly say as a casual gamer who is mainly interested in painting and modelling this release is perfect for me as it does away with a lot of the problems I had getting into Warhammer Fantasy Battle. I understand it may not be everyone’s cup of tea but I for one will be embracing this new age.

Next time I will share my painting progress on the Stormcast Eternals. See you then.

age-of-sigmar

This blog post may seem a little late considering the fact that Warhammer: Age of Sigmar was released a month or so ago and the internet has been awash with these kinds of posts for some time now. However, there are two reasons for this. Firstly, I didn’t want to write an impulsive, reactionary response to the release, instead preferring to wait and see how it developed. Secondly, I was not initially excited about the game’s release but, as more and more information has come to light with each new release, I have become steadily more interested.

I should begin by saying that, although I have been heavily steeped in the lore and history of the Warhammer World for twenty years now, I have not played a game of Warhammer Fantasy Battle or collected an army for it for a number of years. I have always liked the idea of having a Fantasy army, and have even made a few faltering starts over the years, but for some reason I have always found Warhammer 40,000 and the (now sadly departed) Specialist Games range more appealing. However, with Age of Sigmar I have finally taken the plunge back into Fantasy. Over the course of this and the next post I will try and articulate the reasons why.

Base Instincts

As a collector of 40k and Lord of the Rings I am obviously naturally drawn to smooth, inviting round bases rather than harsh, pointy square ones with their nasty angles and so the change to Fantasy on round bases was enough to draw me in. Joking aside though, as someone who is primarily a modeller and painter, I think the move to round bases has really helped shape my opinion of Age of Sigmar. Let me explain.

I know this may be controversial, and many people may not agree with me, but Warhammer always felt to me like a game of pushing around large rectangles (albeit ones with lovingly painted Citadel miniatures on them). I always thought that other scales (such as 10mm as used in Warmaster) were better suited to this style of game.

Another problem with square bases in my eyes is the constraints placed upon the miniature designers who have to consider how the models will rank up when assembled. While models may look great en masse when fully ranked up as a regiment, the individual models themselves tend to end up looking rather similar and lack dynamic poses. The Dark Elf range is a case in point: the new infantry models are well-designed and nicely sculpted but all rather mono-pose. The idea of painting up 20-30 virtually identical models to form a regiment is distinctly unappealing to me. At the opposite end of the scale are cool dynamically posed models that are a pain to rank up.

Age of Sigmar does away with these problems. The seemingly superficial change to round bases and 40k-style unit cohesion frees up designers and hobbyists alike and allows for more varied poses and more dynamic models. While some of the old Warhammer fantasy Battle kits suffer for being on round bases due to their static posing, the new models sculpted with round bases in mind look fantastic.

There’s No Limits

A chief complaint among those who dislike Age of Sigmar has been the lack of points costs, army lists or ‘balance’ (whatever that term might mean when applied to a game that revolves around randomness). For me, this is a sign that Games Workshop have been extremely brave with this release. For years now I have felt that many people have not been playing GW games in the spirit in which they were intended (as narrative-driven, story-telling games) but instead tried to force them into a competitive structure. GW have put their money where their mouth is on this one and done away with points all together. To me this feels like they are returning to their old roleplay roots and giving players a free pass to do what they want with their models.

Furthermore, as someone who is primarily interested in painting and collecting rather than gaming, this lack of restrictions is a blessing. I always felt that having to take x number of these units as a minimum and  y number of those units as a maximum was rather limiting. Now I can paint whatever I want and not have to worry about whether it is a ‘legal’ army or not.

The fact that these restrictions have been lifted at an army level as well (allowing you to field units from more than one faction so long as they fall under the same broad allegiance) allows for even greater freedom and the opportunity to create some great narrative armies. I’m already thinking of adding some Dryads to my Stormcast Eternals as they battle through the Realm of Life or some human refugees made from the Empire militia set. The possibilities are endless.

End of Part 1

These are just a couple of things that have got me excited about Age of Sigmar from a modelling and painting perspective. Join me next time as I run through my thoughts on the new setting and the rules.

Be seeing you.