The Old World is dead and the Age of Sigmar is upon us. Even though there are only two weeks remaining before the pre-orders for Warhammer: Age of Sigmar will go online, we still know very little about the Warhammer reboot that Games Workshop is planning. As a long time Warhammer player, this puts me in an awkward position. On one hand I love the old Warhammer setting. A fantasy world that is full with classic High Fantasy tropes and stuffed with references to our real world history – something I really like as historian. – On the other hand I have fears that the game I know and love will disappear and that it will be altered in such a tremendous way that I will not recognise it anymore.
Look at those miniatures
The last few days however, there have been reliable ‘leaks’ on the new direction that GW is planning for its ailing game system. And I’m not sure whether I like it or not. The leaks I’m talking about are the images from GW’s magazine White Dwarf that have appeared online. In these images you can see the new miniatures that are included in the Warhammer: Age of Sigmar starter set. And I have to say that these miniatures look totally awesome: heavily armoured soldiers with big warhammers and even bigger shields, angels clad in shining armour wielding twin warhammers and a ‘commander’ figure on some kind of tainted Demigryph monster. In other words, models that I love to get my hands on to assemble and paint.
The Chaos miniatures also look quite the part. Chaos Marauders (probably with another name in this new edition) that look like bodybuilders on steroids, a kick ass Battle Standard Bearer and knights on foot with more spikes than a porcupine. Watch out with those minis as GW’s current hard plastic is so hard you can sting yourself with their utter awesomeness and pointy bits. Finally there is some kind of Chaos Troll and commander model that just begs to be converted into a Chaos Terminator Lord. Boy these minis are snazzy.
Where is my beloved high fantasy Warhammer?
The Chaos models in the Age of Sigmar set look right at home with the current models GW produces for Warhammer Fantasy. Their size, iconography and so on all are recognisable. They might not be entirely what you get for a Chaos army now, but with a little bit of effort you can easily merge them in existing armies. At the same time, they are a bit more influenced by the aesthetic of Warhammer 40.000. This is both a plus and a con for me. The Age of Sigmar miniatures can easily be converted into a nice 40k army: swap the axes with boltguns and lasguns and you have some nice Cultists and awesome looking Chaos Space Marines. At the same time they do lack a bit of ‘fantasy flair’ to me. They are just a bit too bulky and too muscular, even for Khorne miniatures. I’ll have to see the models in real life to make a final judgement but in general I love them.
The ‘Sigmarite Knights’ – or Sigmarines as some people have been mocking online – leave me in a bit more doubt. These miniatures are totally awesome I think, but they do look a bit too much like elite Blood Angels (conversion opportunities!!!). Get two of these starter boxes and you could start an awesome Blood Angels army. At the same time, they are also not what I wanted to see from ‘humans’ in fantasy. As an Empire player, I loved the idea of ordinary humans making a last stand against all evil and dangerous fantasy perils. These new knights in shining armour however look far bigger than the current models available for WHFB. They might even be bigger than ordinary Space Marines when taking into account that they stand on what seems 32mm bases. This means that they are even too tall to use as Greatswords stand ins. Also the Battle Standard Bearer has too many skulls for my taste and looks too ‘grim’, but a little conversion here and there should solve that.
I have to conclude that I’m still not sure about the direction that GW is taking Warhammer into. The miniatures are lovely and I definitely want to paint them up. They are also easy to assemble and offer great conversion opportunities. What I find lacking though is the feel of ‘fantasy’. These new minis feel more like ‘steampunk’ Warmachine fantasy minis, than Warhammer Fantasy miniatures. We’ll have to wait and see what Games Workshop has up their sleeves before making a final call..