It should come as no surprise that, seeing the recent rumours and previews of Warhammer 40K 8th edition, I have been looking at my Howling Griffons (and in a lesser degree, Genestealer Cult) again.
So this post will come in two parts: My thoughts on the 8th edition and the new models, which is apparently the "in" topic to post about these days, and my plans, thoughts and schemes for progressing my Howling Griffons army.
So, first part, the new edition and starter set:
As far as the rules go, what GW has previewed so far has me cautiously optimistic about the coming edition. It seems they are, at least for the moment, intent on delivering a fun and efficient game, that is still quintessentially 40K. I like some of the changes, I think, but I'm postponing judgement until I get my hands on the complete rules. Will I get them? Seeing how I own the core rules of every single edition so far, yeah, I'm not kidding myself, I'll probably get them That being said, I wil really, really miss the good old templates... These have been part of 40K since it's very birth and it is sad to see them go.
Now we come to the new starter set: I'm liking the amount of content in this one, and the fact that it contains a full blown rulebook instead of just the mini one. The minis content seems fine, especially taking into account that both the Plague Marines and the Primaris Marines are all distinctly on the large side. I do think it's a shame there isn't even a token effort at terrain in the box, but hey, there hasn't been for the past several editions, so I'm not really surprised by it.
Speaking of minis, there is of course the Deathguard in the box. While exciting for Chaos (especially Nurgle) players, from a design standpoint I find them unremarkable, neither exceptionally good or bad. While there is some nice design there, it get's washed out by the amount of detail and business on the models. This is a common problem with more recent Chaos releases. It's just all too overwrought. To me, 40K is, and always has been a Gothic, at times Baroque Space Opera in style and story. The Deathguard mini's have clearly strayed well into Rococo territory, with detail and business for the sake of detail and business... They don't have clear, readable lines. Which is a shame.
And to me that is the theme for the designs in this entire box: Deviation from the traditional style of 40K. Where the Death Guard deviate towards the Rococo over-embellishment that is epidemic in recent GW sculpts and designs, the Primaris Space Marines (Or UberMarines for short) deviate in the opposite direction, they're a bit to clean, too high tech for the setting, they're too much "modern sci-fi" in them for my tastes. While I mostly like the design of the Intercessor and Hellblaster squads (Seriously, what kind of name is that?! Hellblaster? It sounds like a chaos squad and doesnt match the naming convention of the other squads... Incandescor squad would have gotten a similar message across and not sound like a teenage garage metal band.), I'm not fond of the Inceptor squad and Gravis Armoured captain. Both have an inexplicable hood or cowl that in my eyes is superfluous and breaks the profile of the figures. They look like total bullet traps to me. The Gravis just looks heavyset instead of tough and heavily armoured (to many Primaris Grox Steaks perhaps?). The worst offenders in my eyes are the Interceptor squads, for supposedly a fast and dynamic squad they just look so lumpen and static... While I get the idea behind the twin Assault Bolters, I think a Space Marine assault troopers must have a melee weapon. It's just tradition. The cleats on the legs bother me as well, stylistically and from a background perspective: If regular assault marines can jump from orbit and land just on their power armoured feet, why do these extra-tough, extra-enhanced Ubermarines need bumpers to protect their tender little feetses? The jumppack just looks too high tech, especially those fins on the back. I love the Primaris Lieutenants though, the models are nice and characterfull, and I fervently hope this rank wil return to the regular Space Marines as well.
Speaking of regular Space Marines: then there is the background... While I applaud GW for advancing the timeline without blowing the entire galaxy up (just most of it) and starting a completely new setting, there are some niggles for me. First are, obviously the Ubermarines. A central point of the setting has always been that Space Marines are mankind's ultimate warriors, the very best, and even they are in slow decline (Gothic Space Opera, remember?). And suddenly, here are even more ultimate warriors, even very bester than the Space Marines. They have been ordered into creation by a Primarch. And just like the Primarch, they return just as they are needed the most (Okay, that bit is pretty Space Opera...). But it seems that Mary Sue is spelled "Roboute Guilliman" in the far future, he arrives just where he is needed the most, just when he is needed the most and by sheer coincidence does just what he is supposed to do at any given time. It reads like a Matt Ward story or a similarly poor fan-fic. But okay, I can live with that.
What really troubles me is how easily and readily these new Ubermarines, a product of the most dire techno-heresy named "Innovation" are accepted by everyone. Seeing the 40K setting just the rumour of their existence could/would/should have triggered civil war and schisms. But everyone just goes "Uuh, Okay. I'll have some of those." about them. Even the most wayward and secretive chapters like Space Wolves and Dark Angels seem to accept this new Brood of Guilliman without even a blink of an eye. This should have been written/presented better. But, I'm trying to withhold judgement until I can get and read the new core book and it's background for myself.
If anything, this edition does well as showcasing what a grumpy old goat I've become. ;P
Anyway, back to my Howling Griffons and seeing how they will fit into/react to this new edition:
Lately I've been rethinking my approach to the hobby. Where before I was constantly challenging myself, pushing for perfection I simply cannot maintain that approach. Hobby time and drive have become more and more intermittent, and I don't see that changing soon. Unfortunately due to the frequent hiatuses and lack of practice, my skill level has dropped a bit. I simply cannot hold myself to the standards I held before. That way frustration and burn-out lies. Plus I want the hobby to be relaxing again. And now and then, actually get something finished, I kind of miss the rush of a project completed.
So, the Griffons will be my test case for this. I'm going to try and find a way to paint and model them more quickly and easily (Quite the challenge with a quartered scheme...). No long filosophical bouts about what my vision of Space Marines are, and my interpretation of the Griffons chapter without touching a brush or files. I don't need to know exactly what I want my Griffons to be, I can work that out as I make them... No need to do things the difficult way, just for the sake of doing things the difficult way. Time to start just doing again. So yesterday I've been prepping shoulderpads, sculpting Howling Griffons iconography to mold and reproduce them more easily. Only to find out my GS skills have deteriorated. Oh, well, 50% of the attempts were succesfull, those will be reproduced.
I've also been looking at 3D printed pads, something I would have refused to do before.
Next step will be making molds and building a pile of shoulderpads ready to go. And finding what is the minimum amount of painting I can do on my marines and still be satisfied enough with them.
To aid in this endeavour, I'm also thinking of hosting/organizing semi-regular hobby days, as painting together just works better, and I have some mates who are re-entering the hobby and are looking for pointers and tips. After all wargaming is a social hobby and I've been a hobby-hermit for quite some time now.
And while I was pushing polymers around into weird griffon-shaped lumps, I was pondering what 8th ed. and the new Ubermarines would mean for my Howling Griffons. My conclusion, for now, is that the rules look interesting and may get me into gaming again, but I'll have to see the complete product before I'm sure. The setting, eh, I'm not sure yet, while I admire the daring to advance the story line and change the status quo, I fear Rowboat Girlyman and his Ultramarines may become too much of a Mary Sue faction. I checked and Mancora isn't swallowed by the Warp, so no problems there. Either way, since I'm focussing my Griffons for the Badab War era of their existence, I can choose not to adopt the current storyline. That's the advantage of having 10.000 years of "history" to play in. :D
As I said earlier, I'll probably cave and get the new starter set, so they will find their way into my army, perhaps. I have been playing with the idea of painting them as Mentor Legion instead, as, according to the background, they're the Imperium's "test pilots" for any new tech and procedures and I could see them detached to my Griffons to sort of "midwife" the introduction of Primaris Astartes.
So for now, the plan is to just ride the bow-wave of enthusiasm, try to get stuff done with the minimal amount of effort that still satisfies and see what happens.
See you next time!