A Review of Warhammer Fest 2021, Part 1: Days 1 to 3

I don’t normally write about Games Workshop’s previews, but they’re actually normally pretty cool. This week, they’ve held Warhammer Fest, a massive, multi-day set of previews. Each day has a particular theme. Here’s the schedule that they gave out:

I was intending to do one big post with all of the previews, but there really was a lot revealed. You can also view part 2 of this review for my thoughts on days 4 to 6. So, without much ado, let’s hop on in…

Day 1: Age of Sigmar

The first big focus of the reveal was the latest book in the Broken Realms series, Kragnos:

Now, I like these books, just as I liked the Psychic Awakening books for Warhammer 40,000. I love how they add such sweeping new stories to their respective settings. I also like the rules that come with them, but I do have a slight reservation on that count. I think it’s the fact that it increases the number of books that you need to play your army, to play the game. Then again, these books can really keep things fresh.

The highlight of the preview was Kragnos himself, a God of Destruction:

Stunning. This is just a beautiful miniature. Given my recently found love for Destruction as a faction, this is surely a sign! I mean, what a wonderful centrepiece this will make for a destruction force, on part with Alarielle, Nagash and even Archaon. Not Teclis. Teclis is just ugly.

Kragnos isn’t the only miniature coming with this release. Take a look at these:

The witch hunter duo are great. They really do take me back to the aesthetic of the Empire armies of old. They also really fit the aesthetic set by Cursed City, although who knows what’s going on with that game

The two new Slaanesh Daemons are fantastic. They are obviously very similar, but I do appreciate the different cloaks/wings/whatever. I imagine they will make their way into 40K as well, given that they are Daemons, so that’s cool. Given my Tzeentch and Nurgle Daemons, I may end up expanding into other Gods in future and, if I do go down the Slaanesh route, I’d love these minis. They’re just so sinister!

Lord Kroak is an interesting one. At its core, the mini is very similar to the older Slann Mage-Priest models, but the structure surrounding him is new. It’s a style that I’ve seen elsewhere, having really loved those aspects of the Circle Orboros, particularly in the battle engine, the Celestial Fulcrum:

That style, definitely fits with the feel of the lizardmen Seraphon, and the Slann in particular. It’s also a really cool way to add bulk to a miniature without making the actual dude any bigger. Yeah, I really like this mini and it’s probably my favourite of the bunch.

Finally, there’s the Sylvaneth Warsong Revenant. I love the pose of this model. From the cool base, up the leafy cape, along the lines of the hair and the flute. I’d be curious as to how I could use this model in my Garden of Nurgle.

The next major reveal was the new Soulblight army. Yes, friends, the vampires are back, and I definitely have thoughts on this release:

This is an exciting release. For one thing, the Death faction is a bit lacking. Let’s consider what we have. We have the Ossiarch Bonereapers, who are a reasonably fleshed out force, and the Nighthaunt who also have a good selection of miniatures. There’s also the Flesheater Courts, which is an interesting force, but with with very few kits. It’s a small, self-contained little force. Finally, there’s the Legions of Nagash. Now, this is a bit of a cop-out army, as it’s essentially just Grand Alliance: Death in all but name. It’s just all the of the death models mashed together. And that’s fine, but it’s not particularly interesting, y’know?

Now with the return of the vampires, we have another army that is at once a little bit of a catch-all, but also a little more themed. There’s also the fact that the Vampires of the old Warhammer world were very much embedded in that world. The Von Carsteins had their clear roots in the Empire. The Blood Dragons had theirs in chivalric orders. The Lahmians harkened back to the lands of Araby. The Necrarchs were less geographically established, but certainly had a coherant aesthetic. There’s also the Strigoi, but they’d fit in right at home with the current Flesheater Courts. My point is that I’m delighted to see Vampires return, but they will be quite different to what has come before. This will be by necessity, just because of just how embedded they were in the Warhammer setting.

One of the big reveals was a new monstrous character in the form of the Vengorian Lord and the named character variant, Lauka Vai:

It’s an odd model, and I’ve read a fair few folk saying that they just don’t like it. I do, but I agree about it being strange. It’s a monstrous bat, not unlike the mounts we see in World of Warcraft, but where the head would be it’s not a vampiric head we see, but rather a whole torso. It’s unsettling, and that might actually be the point. It’s an alien thing. Maybe it should be.

There are more characters, including a familiar face from the recent Cursed City release:

Radukar is back, and he’s much bigger this time, having taken on a bestial form. I like when this sort of thing is done well, where we have a different version of a character that still retains many of the design elements of the original. The two versions of Morathi to this very well, but the kings of this are Privateer Press who have long released new versions of their characters to reflect evolving lore. The miniature is pretty cool, but is actually my least favourite of the revealed Soulblight miniatures. That I do still really like it should tell you how good the read of the range is!

Ol’ Radukar didn’t come back alone, though. He brought his mam! Aye, his mam! Old Belladamma Volga is here. Like her son in his Cursed City incarnation, she wraps up well with a heavy coat and a truly wonderful hat. My favourite bit of this model, apart from the cool, Eastern-European vibes, would have to be the wolves. Big, but not chunky. Dynamic. Lithe. Yeah, they are really great.

Finally, Dire Wolves!

As a unit, I’ve long liked Dire Wolves. These are the miniatures that the unit deserves. As with the wolves above, these guys are lithe and dynamic. They look vicious and hungry. Great minis.

As a whole, Day 1 turned out to be pretty damn good!

Day 2: Warhammer 40,000

By default, I’m less interested in 40K than AoS. I was hoping to see something cool. A new codex with some new units. I suppose I got what I wanted. Kind of?

The bulk of the previews on Day 2 focused on new Battle Sisters. New minis and their new codex. When did their last one come out again? But then, it is a new edition, so it’s not the same, I suppose.

The first mini shown was a new character, Morvenn Vahl, Abbess Sanctorum of the Adepta Sororitas:

So, we previously got a preview of the Paragon Warsuits, and this is a character to go with them. I’m not the biggest fan of the “Nundam Suits” generally, but this character version is a lot cooler and more interesting. It’s more ornate, meaning that it fits in well with the army, and I like that it comes with a bare head and a helmeted option. The spear is also nice. The pose is fine, too. It all makes for a mini that I do like, but which isn’t outright beautiful.

We then saw a selection of different characters:

Taking them in the order I have put them in above, the first of these, the Palatine, is a nice mini. It’s quite typical in appearance for a Battle Sister, but with a reasonably dynamic pose. The rosary is a nice touch as well. There’s not a huge amount to say, really.

The second one, I don’t like. The Dogmata is boring. The pose isn’t that bad, but is ruined by the big red poncho. It makes the mini into what is essentially a blob. Any potentially interesting detail is completely obscured and we just have bland, bland fabric.

Finally, we have a pair of characters in the form of Aestred Thurga and Agathae Dolan. Like the Palatine, this is a nice miniature with a cool accompanying miniature. It fits in well with the rest of the range and makes for a good character. It just doesn’t make me really stop and really stare, y’know?

Next up, we’ve got the Sororitas equivalent to the Space Marine Predator tank, the Castigator:

I mean, it’s a Rhino-based tank. We’re used those. There are plenty of those. This one of more ornate than most, so it does fit in with the Battle Sister aesthetic. It’s not as pretty as the Immolator or the Exorcist, but it fine. It’s kind of a typical 40K tank, really.

Next up were the previously-revealed Celestian Sacresants:

First of all, I’m happy to see some footslogging, power-armored, melee-focused infantry for the Battle Sisters. I think they needed it, and I’m glad they’re getting it. The miniatures themselves, by which I mean the bodies, all look fantastic. They’re great. The maces are perhaps a little chunky, but they’re alright. What i don’t like are the shields. They feel way too chunky, too basic, too rounded. They’ve got this coffin lid look to them that I just don’t like. It’s a pity, as the rest of the miniature actually looks great. Maybe the bronze isn’t helping and they’d look better in a different colour scheme.

Another previously-revealed unit, we were also reintroduced to the Paragon Warsuits:

Nundam Wing! I don’t really like these. There’s some nice detailing, and I really like the weapons, but I just think that the suit themselves don’t look like they seem quite at home in an Adepta Sororitas army. There’s something about them that says “Eldar” to me. So, yeah, they don’t look terrible, but jut maybe a little out of place.

In addition to the miniatures featured on day 2, a couple of books were also shown:

Given this wave of miniatures for the army, it’s not that surprising to see the Adepta Sororitas codex make an appearance. As I mentioned, it’s not been that long since the last codex, but it being a new edition, this is understandable. We’re not looking at a Lumineth situation, here. I’m not a huge fan of the cover art. I’d have preferred a helmeted Battle Sister, or maybe the more typical battle sister look, in the same sort of style as Ephrael Stern. Also, it’s got one of those coffin shields that I so dislike.

The other book is War Zone Charadon. The biggest thing here will be the rules for Be’lakor. Now, I don’t really consider Be’lakor a 40K character. They’re damn keen on making him one, but his history is in Fantasy. He’s the Dark Master. It makes sense though, as the rest of the Daemon range can be used in both games.

Along with the Charadon book, there’s this terrain set:

A nice set of very pretty terrain. It’s actually really nice, but it’s just not new. This is all existing terrain, repackaged for, what, the 20th time? it’s still good stuff. It’s still relatively recent stuff, but there’s nothing new here. I’ll be watching the price, as it might turn out to be a nice way to pick up the terrain. We’ll see.

Day 2 would, I’m sure, be of interest to Sororitas players, but there wasn’t much in there that really got me excited.

Day 3: Black Library

Day 3 involves a more niche aspects of our already pretty niche hobby. Whilst days 1 and 2 featured miniatures for Games Workshop’s two core games, day 3 is almost all about lore, about the novels put out by Games Workshop’s fiction publishing arm, Black Library. I kind of blow hot and cold on Black Library. I’ll go through a long period of time where I don’t really pay it all that much attention, then I’ll binge several BL novels in quick succession.

One of the early series that Black Library put out was the Gaunt’s Ghosts series by Dan Abnett. Now, Dan Abnett is one of the most established and influential authors in the Black Library’s stable, but the first Gaunt’s Ghosts novel was actually Abnett’s first ever published novel. Previously, Games Workshop have designed and sold some miniatures based on the series, but now they are putting out an updated set of minis:

Ibram Gaunt’s model is really nice, and I think that those representing his First and Only are nicer still. These are just top quality miniatures that are bursting with character. My favourites from this set are Colonel Colm Corbec and Sergeant Scout Oan Mkoll. The sculptors have managed to put a lot of personality into the facial expressions on these two. I especially love Mkoll’s pose, languidly holding his knife as he leans on a tree. Great minis!

In addition to the miniatures, there’s also going to be another book in the Gaunt’s Ghosts series and a cool, themed bookmark:

I don’t have a lot to say here. I read the first couple of books years ago, and I’d want to catch up before reading this. I also don’t feel that fancy collector’s editions of books are not really for me. Same with fancy bookmarks. More on that soon…

There are also some books being added to the ongoing Sabbat War:

I don’t know much about this ongoing series and setting, so it’s not something I’m particularly enthused about. One of these is also one of these big fancy editions. I love books, but I’ve always subscribed to the idea of a paperback being a disposable form of entertainment, as they were intended. I’ve never really felt the need to get a fancier version of a book. I like to read them. I don’t need to fetishise them. And no judgement is intended on those who do, as I’ve plenty of odd little fixations myself. This just isn’t one of them.

Being a Black Library preview, there were a decent selection of other books in the lineup:

I’ve put them in my order of interest and the two most appealling for me are definitely The Twice-Dead King – Ruin and Siege of Terra: Warhawk.

Ruin is a Necron book. I didn’t think I’d be that interested in such a tome, but Robert Rath’s The Infinite and The Divine proved me wrong on that one. What a good book that was! I’m definitely going to give this one a chance.

The other one that really interests me, Warhawk, is yet another book in the wonderful Horus Heresy series, and the latest offering in the subseries, Siege of Terra. We’re getting to the endgame of this saga, so I do watch each new release with interest. I don’t think I’ve read a Chris Wraight book before, so that will be new as well.

The other interesting thing for me in this preview was the personal discovery of the Warhammer Crime series. I did not know that this was a thing. Turns out that it is, and that there’s more titles on the way:

The idea of crime novels set in the Warhammer 40,000 setting is something that appeals to me. I think, as a concept it has a lot of potential. I felt largely the same when the Warhammer Horror series got going, but I’m actually a lot more enthused about the crime series. I don’t know enough about this, but I’ve got some Audible tokens sitting. I might go and see if any of the existing books in this series are on there. I’m actually really chuffed to learn about this!

As a whole, Day 3 was interesting, but not particularly exciting. That’s to be expected, I suppose, given the topic at hand. It was better than day 2, certainly.

Catch y’all over in Part 2!

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