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  1. #1

    Default TL;DR: Why I Only Really Buy GW Products.

    Due to unforseen circumstances, this month's column comes to you a few days earlier than planned. My apologies for this. Next month's will be back to the usual time of the first Sunday of the month.

    Why I Only Really Buy GW Products, And How I’d Prefer It If That Was Not The Case.

    “You do know wrestling’s fake, don’t you?”

    As long-term readers may be aware, I am a massive fan of wrestling. Last month, I was told that you can’t be an adult fan of wrestling; to the person who had that particular hot take which I’ve obviously never heard every single time I’ve ever mentioned my love of wrestling, my answer would be: I can be a fan of whatever the f**k I like. I mean, I’d explain why, but after two decades of wasting my breath, I just can’t be bothered any more. Either you’re a fan yourself and you get why, or you never will and nothing I can say will change your mind.

    This move is ridiculous. Either you love it because of that, or you never, ever will.

    Anyway, doubting my mental competence because I like ballet’s more brutal cousin is by the by. You don’t need to be a fan of the greatest form of modern performance art to enjoy this article. I’m only going to use wrasslin’ because, as a niche product regarded with open hostility by the mainstream, it forms a useful comparison to wargaming.

    Those fans of wrestling who are my age grew up in the heyday of Austin 3:16, the smell of The Rock’s cooking and Mrs. Foley’s baby boy getting thrown off a steel cage. The WWE’s ‘Attitude Era’ was a glorious time to be a wrasslin’ fan. The talent roster had literally never been deeper, the angles had never been nuttier, the matches had never been as vicious.

    Until suddenly, the good times were over. The Rock left to make films. Stone Cold left in a cloud of vicious acrimony and domestic abuse convictions. HHH buried every rival beneath half-hour promos of interminable tedium and thirty second matches of shameful disrespect. WCW had been run into the ground by egotism and stupidity. ECW had disappeared in a cloud of ill will and unpaid bills.

    Of course, there other companies. A scrappy little group called Ring of Honor tried make a name for itself based on quality wrestling, but the matches were frequently high on action, low on ring psychology, and so left me wanting more. A slightly more well-off company called TNA tried to win over WWE fans by creating an inferior version of WWE television on less than one percent of the budget and one hundredth of a percent of the talent. Their matches just left me feeling sad.

    So that was that. With nowhere to go and nothing to see, I gave up. Wrasslin’ was done. I’d occasionally stick my head round the corner, see what was happening, but the last ten years of WWE ‘superstars’ have been nothing but a bland piss-drizzle of nothing men. Steroids are no replacement for that star quality, no matter how much they might wish it so.

    So, after nearly two decades of disappointment, imagine my surprise when I fell back in love with wrestling this year.

    ’This Gold has POWER.’

    “Have you heard of ‘Lucha Underground’?”

    No mate, I replied. I haven’t. What is it?

    And Raph explained how one thousand years ago, an ancient Aztec prophecy foretold a great and terrible evil. It would take the strength of all seven Aztec tribes to face off the coming nightmare. Cut to our time, with the prophecy due to bear its dark and terrible fruit any day, and the seven tribes scattered into obscurity. Broken by the conquest of Mexico and the decimation of the indigenous peoples, the surviving members of the tribes live shattered lives, denied their legacy as humanity’s destined saviours. With the world’s fate on the line, unless they unite, everything is doomed.

    Of course, not everyone has forgotten the Old Ways, though perhaps it might be better if they had. In a forgotten industrial warehouse, a place pregnant with dark power, the prophecy slowly grinds towards horrific realisation. Hidden from the eyes of the authorities, an illegal gladiatorial arena thrives. Managed by the son of a secret follower of the Aztec gods of slaughter, it exists to feed the secret gods of the arena with the violence they need to rise and assume power… And in a sick irony, this dark apostle forces the survivors of the seven tribes face each other, squabbling over the gifts of the gods so they can never unify and elevate themselves to greatness again.

    And the seven tribes are not all that thrives in this dark Temple. There is a man possessed by the spirit of an ancient dragon, come from the bowels of the Earth to test himself in combat; a time-travelling alien, sent from the stars to save us; a one hundred and ninety six year old Lich desperate for the sweet release of death; the boy she rescued from an earthquake and fashioned into her deathless golem of war; the last prince of the Puma tribe, once homeless and scavenging in the barrios, is now rising to meet his legacy… Even the secret high priest’s own brother fights, and his soul was sacrificed by their father to the gods of slaughter… gods which now use his flesh to wreak utter ruin on any who would oppose the Temple’s grand and terrible design.

    I am not making any of this up. This is the most basic outline of the plot.

    What is ‘Lucha Underground’? ’Lucha Underground’ is what happens when Robert Rodriguez decides he wants to produce a wrestling show, and it is possible the most insane television show I have ever watched. It is also MAGNIFICENT. The story is completely bonkers: magic is real, there are undercover cops, some wrestlers have been killed (in character, but still…) It’s unlike anything else anywhere, and it is completely addictive.

    Unlike ‘LU’, every other wrestling fed ultimately tried to emulate the template established by WWE. They pretend at being sports. They pretend at being real. They have the bright lights, the colourful characters, they go after that sweet, sweet PG money.

    But not ‘Lucha Underground’. It’s shot in an arena that sits maybe fifty people. It utterly embraces its crazy premise, and dares you to say something as dumb as ‘You do know it’s fake?’

    ‘Do I know it’s fake? Look son, after the time-travelling alien had his match with the nunchuck-wielding dragon, a skeleton ninja just broke the arm of a vampire with a split personality. Do I know it’s fake? Yeah son, there are subtle clues…’

    Visually, ‘LU’ looks like nothing else either. There’s a few muscleheads, but there are skinny guys, fat guys, tough girls, psychopathic moth girls, and more awesome luchador masks than you can shake a stick at. And the location of the Temple is like nothing else on Earth; a grimy, dark fight club, it embraces the poverty of its setting to create an outlaw setting that is entirely its own. Everything about ‘LU’, from the lighting, to the guys wrestling, to the backstage scenes, to the Mexican aesthetic is completely unique.

    A champion for abuse survivors, a Mexican showman, an undead revenant, a rich boy serial killer, his psychopathic sister, a sniper with PTSD and what turned out to be a F**CKING WEREPANTHER fight for the literal favour of the Aztec gods. Seriously, it’s the best show on TV and everyone should be watching it.

    In a world where every other fed wants to be a tiny version of WWE, ‘Lucha Underground’ dares to be itself with a relentless purity.

    I f**king love it so much for that.

    An Inconvenient Truth

    Games Workshop is the premier wargaming company in the world. This is a fact. It has more shops than other wargaming companies, makes more money than they do, and has deeper IP penetration than any other company in the field.

    It’s so ubiquitous in the wargaming world that for those of us who have lived lives immersed in the culture, it’s easy to forget why this is. After all, we all grew up with Space Marines. By the time most gamers have been in the hobby for a couple of years, they’re sick of Ultramarine blue. Familiarity breeds contempt, and those of us who choose to stay in the hobby after the age of sixteen – those of us who just can’t quit it – are usually so used to the GW aesthetic that we’re pretty sick of it. We start looking elsewhere for a different kind of gaming fix.

    Maybe they discover Warmachine, or Malifaux, or X-Wing, or Deadzone, or AT-43, or DUST, or Gates of Antares, or any one of the various other products out there. Maybe they begin to evangelise about their favourite game, lionising the little guy and pouring scorn on The Great Beast that is Games Workshop.

    After all, how many times have you heard that 40K’s rule set is garbage? How many times have you said so yourself? Sometimes, it feels like everyone hates Games Workshop. Christ knows it did back in the days before the internet.

    But Games Workshop still remains the top guy. So why is that?

    Well, I’m not going to pretend there’s a single, simple answer to that, and anyone who argues there is? Is a fool. Business is tricky and complicated, and even more so in the strange little niche markets our hobby flowers in.

    However, one of the key components is one that hardcore gamers are inclined to often overlook, lost as they are in the crunch of dice or the fluff of background.

    Five Ridges On The Forehead

    Have you ever noticed how every Tyranid model has five ridges/plates on their foreheads? I had to have that pointed out to me.

    Games Workshop does a lot wrong. A lot. So much in fact, that it’s easy to get so lost in people’s nit-picking that it becomes easy to miss what they do well. One thing they do better than almost anyone is their sense of aesthetic.

    Take a step back and just consider the way 40K models look.

    When you see those ridiculous shoulder pads, do you think anything but ‘Space Marine’? When you see that sickle mag and the barrel with a single hole through the side, do you think anything but ‘Bolter’? When you see sword with massive triangular teeth, do you think anything except ‘chainsword’?

    How many Games Workshop models are immediately identifiable as what they are from a distance? I would argue that it’s all of them. Looking down on a battlefield, even if you don’t know which faction is which, you can always tell each army apart… and even if they’re unpainted. Every GW model always looks like a GW model, and you can almost always tell everything about it immediately.

    It’s my opinion that GW crafts effective model silhouettes better than anyone else, and there’s a number of things they do which help create this immediate, striking appearance.

    The first thing is that each army has a distinct, utterly unique aesthetic. Astartes are all hard edges and rectangles. Astra Militarum are boxy and covered in rivets. Eldar are sleek lines and bumps; Dark Eldar are sleek lines and blades. Tyranids are hunched over with too-many limbs. Orks are muscles and asymmetrical lines. On and on, every army has a distinct style that is entirely its own.

    The second thing is the decision to make the models in ‘heroic scale’. Examine a 40K model up close and you’ll start to notice how big everyone’s hands are. How wide the guns are compared to real-life weapons. How huge their heads are. Stare too long and it gets a little off-putting.

    Of course, that same exaggerated scale gives every model a distinctive heft that truescale models lack. 28mm truescale weapons are all reedy little sticks, whether they’re spears, swords, or shotguns. 28mm heroic scale weapons might be hyperbolically proportioned, true, but that only means they’re characterful. They’re not guns; they’re the idea of guns, and that distinction is a critical one for a hobby where so much takes place in the imagination. In truescale, a model’s face looks like dough that’s in the process of rising – only the vaguest sense of eyes and a nose. In heroic scale, features are exaggerated, true, but they’re also refined; refined, and detailed enough to be completely characterful.

    What are these? Guns for ants?

    Finally, and most critically, for all their war-bling, GW models have a surprising lack of greebling. Consider Astartes armour: apart from a handful of simple lines on the thighs, most of the plating is almost completely flat. A Cadian trooper’s outfit is a handful of smooth plates interlaced with areas of uncomplicated fabric. Eldar armour is almost completely featureless; at its most complex, there might be a couple of buckles, but mostly it’s just plain. Modern GW figures are hugely complex, but simultaneously, they lack the insane levels of detailing you’ll see in something like ‘Infinity’s figures, or on some of Mantic’s newer offerings. Those huge areas of plain, featureless plastic help to create strong lines, and strong lines create a powerful impression. In the case of such small figures, less is most definitely more.

    I believe these three factors – strong individual army aesthetics; heroic scale; generally uncomplicated sculpting – are what makes GW’s models so much more fundamentally attractive than other companies’ offerings… As well as the final fourth factor I haven’t mentioned yet.

    Genre Theory of Originality

    Look, let’s be honest: 40K has everything and the kitchen sink blended up in it. Magic rubs shoulders with science, demons get fought off with fully automatic rocket-launchers, Tolkein sits smiling next to anime, who’s holding hands with Stan Winston… It’s all in there.

    But it’s all completely 40K. Astartes aren’t just ‘Knights In Space’, even though that was how they were originally conceived. Nor are they the power armour of Heinlein’s ‘Starship Troopers’. Sure, they might wear their influences openly and unashamedly, but anyone who argues ‘They’re just a rip-off of … <insert thing I just noticed here>’ is just being too simplistic. 40K’s ripped off so many things and combined them together so effortlessly, it’s got an aesthetic that’s just completely its own, no matter how much people might argue otherwise. A Tyranid isn’t a velociraptor crossed with a cockroach by way of H.R. Giger. It’s… well. A Tyranid. We can all see where every army gets its ideas, but they’re so far evolved from the original source they might as well be completely original.

    Nothing else looks like a Space Marine… and when it does, the very first thing everyone says is ‘Christ. They’re ripping off 40K quite blatantly, aren’t they?’

    In film critique, genre theory argues that just because a film comes from a specific genre, that doesn’t mean it’s unoriginal or unworthy. The joy of genre is seeing the ways in which artists reinterpret existing tropes to create something that’s familiar, but new-feeling.

    So, ‘The Incredibles’ is basically ‘Fantastic Four’… but it takes the characters and tropes of the superhero narrative and does something no-one’s ever seen before.

    It takes out the superdickery for one thing.

    Games Workshop does the same thing, but for literally everything in the entirety of science-fiction. Like ‘Lucha Underground’, it is relentlessly and unapologetically itself. The 40K universe, torn from the pages of a thousand pulp novels, stolen from the screens of a thousand sci-fi novels, remains one of the most strikingly unique visions in speculative fiction.

    And this is where we get to why I don’t really buy from other companies.

    Honestly Mantic, What The F**k Are You Playing At?

    So I’ve spoken before about how I couldn’t get into ‘Infinity’. However, at least ‘Infinity’ is being itself as hard as it can be. ‘Infinity’ has a near-future anime-inspired aesthetic, and while I can’t tell the different factions apart, at least there’s a sense that I could if I sat down and learned the background lore. If GW is WWE, then ‘Infinity’ is Ring of Honor: it’s clearly doing its own thing, and while I personally think that thing is a little uninspired and ultimately somewhat drab, at least there is a clear, unified vision of what the product is and how it’s unique.

    However, if ‘Infinity’ is RoH, then Mantic is TNA, because Mantic openly and shamelessly actively aspires to be an alternative to Games Workshop. ‘Diet GW’, if you will. And in this pandering to GW’s playerbase, I think Mantic actually gives an almost step-by-step guide to how not to do models.

    This column was inspired by Mantic’s latest ‘Dreadball’ Kickstarter. I saw the words ‘cyborg zombies’ and nearly lost my mind. I was like YES. THIS. ALL THE THIS. GIVE ME STROGG THAT I MAY FINALLY MAKE THE ‘QUAKE 4’ FANTASY ARMY I’VE BEEN NURTURING SINCE 2005. I mean: cyborg zombies. With hideous prosthetics, ruptured skin, stitches, rubber tubing hardwired into bones and pistons instead of muscles. You can’t get that wrong. You just can’t.

    What I wanted…

    … and what I got.

    But somehow Mantic found a way.

    Looking at the concept pictures, all I saw was the usual Mantic style: people in skintight armour… and that’s it. Oh, they’ve got a little ball over their heart to create a unified look have they? How amazingly innovative.

    Honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever been so underwhelmed.

    Now, the thing is, I want to like Mantic, because they’re a scrappy little underdog and they say all the right things. ‘Deadzone’ is a great game, as is ‘Mars Attacks’. I’m keen and eager to get on-side and evangelise for them.

    I have almost no interest in their models because in almost every way, they’re the diametric opposite of 40K’s. Every faction looks mostly the same. The Corporation – the Astra Militarum analogue – is a bunch of skinny guys with sci-fi looking guns. They’re exactly as skinny as the Asterians – the Eldar expies – who are a bunch of slightly skinnier guys with sci-fi guns. You could hold up almost any model from any faction, and with the exception of a couple of the big models, you’d think they all came from the same faction. Maybe not the sumo lizards, but even then, they’re just… well. Sumo lizards. Has anyone ever gone ‘You know what I think sci-fi needs more of? Sumo’?

    Everyone’s got the same body proportions. Everyone’s got the same sort of poses. Everyone’s got the same sort of guns. They all blur into one glutinous, homogenous whole. With the exception of things like the aforementioned sumo lizards or big-*ss models like the Plague stage 1A, nothing really stands out.

    And seriously, ‘Plague Stage 1A’? I mean, this is an awesome model, so why the crap name? Was the shop all out of names that day?

    Then there’s the choice of truescale, which means everything’s spindly and prone to bending/breaks. The guns all look like needles. There’s lots of excessive greebling, but none of it really signifies anything beyond ‘high-tech’. All the strong lines are broken up and lost; the silhouette of the model is killed.

    Even with the move away from that horrible plastic resin which leaves everything with the most atrocious mold lines, I’m not sold on them. When you combine this with some of the lamest fluff imaginable, it all makes for a fictional universe I just don’t care about. The humans are from generic mega-corporations, there’s an alien space plague… You can see explicitly where they’re trying to win over Games Workshop’s existing base at every stage, but everything’s just so cack-handed, they’re never going to succeed. I won’t deny the excellence of Mantic’s games – they’re a superb rules company – but their models are just turd. They don’t look unique, or striking, or exciting, or anything. They’re the sort of designs you see in every cheap computer game, or in every SyFy TV series, without anything to really recommend them.

    Mantic is the TNA of wargaming: it’s copying the Big Boy and hoping that a lower price point will be enough to lure people over.

    But it won’t. With every Mantic kickstarter that comes out, we see how they’re just going to give us more of the same, with emphasis on the word ‘same’. Every time I think ‘will this be the one that makes me a convert?’ and it never is.

    And I want it to be. I want to cheer for them. They’re one of the rare companies who make styrene models, and styrene is the best material. I despise metal, and resin requires way too many precautions.

    I want them to be the Next Big Thing.

    But they aren’t, and they’re never going to be.

    Beyond The Gates of What Everyone Else Is Doing.

    Mantic is the easiest company to attack because they’re so brazenly trying to steal GW customers, but they’re not alone in producing bland-looking models. ‘Beyond the Gates of Antares’ has a tedious near-future aesthetic where nothing really stands out. I mean, maybe the Ghar mechs, but rock people? I mean, really? really? ‘DUST’ has some wonderful mech designs, but their soldiers are pretty meh. Not to mention, the cheap plastic they’re made from is horrible to work with. PP has some lovely stuff, but the models are often a little on the cartoony side, and the fluff is – for me at least – an uninspiring retread of the Tolkeinite Standard Fantasy Template. Adding steampunk does not a compelling background make.

    What I want to know is where is the wargaming equivalent of ‘Lucha Underground’? Where is the company doing something completely different? Where’s the company that takes a step back and says ‘we’re going to create a game that looks nothing like anything else on the market’? Something that plays with the established tropes in a way that makes us all wonder why no-one had thought of it before?

    There are still aesthetics that haven’t been mined. I haven’t seen a single company do a decent 28mm scale ‘machine war’ army. Where are the giant robo-spiders, the ‘Mass Effect’-inspired Reapers, the tentacle space horrors, the cyber-Cthulhus…

    Where are my genuinely horrifying cyber-zombies?

    It seems to me that every company out there is too obsessed with the idea of ‘realistic’ future war. That they’ve spent so long looking at the balls-out insanity of 40K, they’re terrified of doing anything which might be considered too over-the-top for fear of scaring off the older fanboys who are looking for the newest gaming fix.

    I think it’s about time some of them tried something new. Lose this tired obsession with near-future bollocks. Stop making every army human-sized. Drop the tired aesthetic that says futuristic = skintight plating.

    I’m champing at the bit to champion a new company. I am absolutely ready to evangelise for a company with a strong, unique sci-fi aesthetic and a solid, interesting background, and I am absolutely sure I am not alone.

    The thing is GW are on top because no-one’s actually doing what they do. NOTHING looks like 40K; NOTHING has the fluff of 40K. Nothing is even close. Every other company is content to ply a samey-looking mix of seen-it-before tedium and pat themselves on the back because at least it looks different to GW, ignoring how much it looks like everything else. In a sea of generic sci-fi, 40K still stands out as the most original thing there, which means there’s only one real question.

    Which company is going to finally go for it and be the one to develop the first really amazing, unique look that enables them step up and take the crown?
    Last edited by YorkNecromancer; 08-03-2016 at 04:27 PM.

  2. #2


    Through the steel cage.

    Mrs Foley's baby boy was thrown through the steel cage.

    *goes back to reading rest of article*
    Fed up for Scalpers?

  3. #3


    Well, first he was thrown off the cage, then he was thrown through.

    Mrs. Foley's baby boy was a f**king lunatic.

  4. #4


    Have you actually ever looked at any of my sculpts? I'll never be able to compete with GW or the likes and never intend to anyway, but id certainly say I have my own original style that is recogniseable.

    I identify with the part you say about sillohettes, it's one reason with my own sculpts I tried to develop a distinctive artistic style that is obviously "me". All of my sillohettes are floating creatures that have very thin, wirey bodies that are also rather tall (usually around 40-50mm) so they loom over human 28mm figures. Theres also the obsession with asymmetry lol. I think having your own distinctive style is pretty important when creating a setting and wargame if you want to stand out. I guess a lot of my designs are similar, but theres a reason for that - they are intended to fit a certain type of space/dimension, so are built for that dimensions physical laws - not ours.

    or some more recent work via sculptriss :

    and some older painted stuff :
    Please support a Poor starving musician and buy my new album for only £5 :

  5. #5


    Reet! Good read - but do give WWE's developmental property NXT a watch - I often find it superior to their main shows. Not sure why, but I do!

    Now, on with the subject....

    I think 40k's main appeal is that GW have cast their net so very, very wide. Nearly every sci-fi trope is covered to some degree, and even then the gamut of aesthetics is far from set.

    As a gent of similar vintage, allow me to compare 40k to that other peculiarly British nerd affair - 2000AD.

    What a wonderful wonderful comic that is. To my mind, it's superior to anything DC, Marvel or Black Horse are capable of producing. And why? Like 40k, is stupidly eclectic. And like 40k, is mostly hung on their poster boy. For GW, that'll be Maureens. 2000AD? Judge Dredd.

    Yet just as 40k isn't just Maureens, 2000AD is far more than just Dredd. It's Rogue Trooper. It's Durham Red. It's hundreds, if not thousands of one-shots which never surface again. It's anthology nature makes it pretty unique. In any given issue, you're likely to find either a new story kicking off, or the second part of one which is easy to get into.

    Did you know, that Judge Dredd is a single, real-time timeline of Megacity One? Dredd ages. What's done remains domed, and may have consequences months, years or even decades later. It's an absolute triumph of universe control.

    Sorry. I'm wibbling.....

    Back to the point, yes?

    Both 40k and 2000AD are gloriously eclectic in nature. Neither is particularly limited in design, by design. So as you say, a wide range of aesthetics somehow sit side-by-side in 40k, just as 2000AD can publish an edition with Dredd, Slaine, Nemesis The Warlock and some random Weird War Two inspired stuff.

    Dredd's stories can take him anywhere, including through time, into different dimensions etc, because at no point did the creative crew ever say he couldn't.

    In 40k, the various races are painted in extremely broad strokes, and thus benefit from much the same potential - look at the various IG regiments known to exist. There's no uniformity to it - because the creative crew never said there was
    Fed up for Scalpers?

  6. #6


    I think the ridges on the nids were mentioned in the release WD dwarf article as the thing to tie the force together in 3rd, cause 2nd ed nids were quite different to each other. (for those that haven't seen one look up a second ed tyranid warrior, carnifex, and zoanthrope).

    But certainly since third they do exactly what you said. You can see the consistency easily.

    However the process of robo-insemination is far too complex for the human mind!
    A knee high fence, my one weakness

  7. #7


    The two things I do love about GW are the miniatures and the fluff. The miniatures are as you say characterful, fun and most-enjoyably for me, customisable as all get-out. The fluff varies wildly in quality. Some of it is atrocious, some of it is genuinely excellent storytelling that engrosses me as well as any other book, and gives increasing context to a universe as it adds more and more to it, especially now GW are keeping a tighter control on the canon.

    And yet, with all that fluff there are still vast, deliberate gaps left open that allow anything. Want an undiscovered empire of cyber-slave humans ruled by many-headed jellyfish overlords? No worries, you could probably use Codex: Tyranids as a template! How about an elite force of power-armoured reptilian warriors who fight in a bloodthirsty and vicious manner? There's loads of options for that, and you can kitbash that together no problem!

    The rules and game itself...well that's where I personally come unstuck, but I still find myself painted up my heretical Gue'vesa tanks or pulling out the odd Tau Battlesuit to customise and paint. I still read fluff books, I'm currently working through the Siege of Vraks which manages to be a gruelling, cruel depiction of the sheer callousness of the Imperium towards the life of the individual soldier, as millions of Kriegers are churned by the meatgrinder at the command of uncaring commanders, with every one of them weighed down by a cultural guilt that sees them eagerly throwing their lives away.

    As far as other games, I do agree that I dislike many of them. Evil corporations, humans are all edgy and grimdark, and the aesthetic is bland sci-fi. I have to say that the only range of models I rate by Mantic are their Undead. Zombies in particular are excellent, but everything else is pretty shoddy, if cheap. Even their Kings of War ruleset is flavourless, so they can nick GW customers exiting after Age of Sigmar, without presenting a flavour that might turn them away. It feels less like the soulful work of an impassioned underdog and more a series of calculated moves to act as a parasite on a larger organism.

    That said, I'd like to introduce you to my personal favourite faction right now, the UCM:

    It says a lot that the thing I love most about them is that they're a Standard Human Race who are the good guys. The UCM is kinda humanity at its finest as it faces down its imminent demise and endeavours to set every man and woman to the task of saving their species.

    Basically, Mankind had colonised a fair portion of space, comprising eight core worlds boasting the bulk of the population. There were fringe colonies, mining stations and the like, but those eight worlds were the heart of the empire.

    Which was why, when the Scourge appeared in a sudden, surprise attack and fell upon all eight worlds, Mankind's heart was torn out, they were left reeling and scattered to the four winds. Less than 5% of people managed to flee the Cradle Worlds to the outer edges of the human empire, but it was still a billion people falling upon the frontier societies where only small populations of entrepreneurs and pioneers dwelled. In the coming days they were inundated with tales of what had happened and hordes of refugees who needed homes, help, and hope.

    And so, they set to work. At first tensions were high as former-aristocrats realised they no longer had financial power and different cultures clashed, but right here at the possible end of everything, Mankind finally pulled together. Centuries of warfare experience were set to assembling the finest army ever seen in human history, with every weapon designed to be the epitome of rapid blitzkrieg tactics as they prepared to retake what had been taken from them. The entire society became a martial society dedicated towards a single vision: Reconquest.

    When they discovered pockets of survivors on the Cradle Worlds, hiding from the Scourge, and when they discovered that the Scourge are actually a parasitic organism that takes over the hosts mind and puppeteers them in a state of perpetual agony, they accelerated their schedule to commit to the fight early, despite the risk.

    True, you could call them a boy scout faction, but it's hardly easy-sailing, and even at time of writing they've only managed to make inroads on a couple of worlds due to other factions harrying their progress. Reclaiming Earth is still more of a dream than a goal. The fluff advances with each Phase, showing how they've progressed or been stymied, how they're innovating new weaponry to take the fight to the Scourge, while their opposition reveals newer designs to stop them.

    In terms of aesthetic, they are beautiful minimalism, (my personal favourite design philosophy.) Their tanks are chest-height to act as mobile cover for infantry, while hiding behind cover themselves, not to mention having crane-turrets to see over terrain and fire back. All their vehicles are single-pilot to minimise loss of life to their relatively-small population, and the pilot lies down in an armoured capsule within the vehicle to minimise how much room they need, and therefore how big the tank is. Smaller it is, the less materials it needs, less weight for dropships, and lower-profile for the inevitable urban combat during Reconquest.

    Sorry for rambling, just a personal favourite of mine. I thought they were a good example of a human faction not trying to ape GW's aesthetic or fluff, but have its own aesthetic backed up by fluff and it be a unifying look. Trust me, you can tell the UCM apart even from the other two human factions. The PHR's chunky, rounded sillhouette and the Resistance's juxtaposition of Mad Max technicals and pre-war, outdated, bulky vehicles don't look anything like it.

    Plus their motto is Ad Vindictam, "To Revenge." I liked that so much I got the t-shirt. :P
    Read the above in a Tachikoma voice.

  8. #8


    Revisiting, as I forgot a conclusion (this is what happens when you're posting from your fartsack shortly before turning out the light)

    2000AD and 40k thrive on their sheer eclectic natures.

    Not a big fan of the Marine aesthetic? That's cool. There's plenty of other styles and aesthetics to choose from.

    Not that keen on Dredd? Don't worry, there's enough variety that you'll find something to enjoy.

    But that doesn't mean they're singularly the best at anyone thing. Warmachine for instance has a heavy steampunk aesthetic, a look GW is yet to cater for (but Steamhead Duardin might just change that!). Which is great, if you like that sort of thing. I for one, don't. With sincere apologies to fans of Steampunk, I find it a bland, lazy trope way overused. So straight off the bat, I'm not keen on PP's models. It's an aesthetic I just don't have an appreciation for. At that point, it doesn't matter to me what the rules are like, I just can't buy and enjoy the models.

    Infinity likewise. Regular Oubliette lurkers will likely be aware of my struggle with Anime. I should like it. It should be right up my street - but I have an entirely bizarre aversion to it's stylings. Again, Infinity might have superb rules - but when I put off by the models, there's slim chance I'm going to look any further when the entire range looks Anime to me.

    GW and 2000AD - both cases of well crafted 'something for everyone', which despite expectation, still manage to feel cohesive
    Fed up for Scalpers?

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Isle of Man


    so true, I love the unique appearance of every GW faction, and it has to factor in to every conversion people do. I saw some lovely aircraft people made before the Stormraven came out. but they all looked like guard aircraft, none of them looked like marines, even with a marine in the pilot seat. because they were all made out of valkyries. and for all that people complained over the Chapter House lawsuit and the space marine book, GW aesthetics are distinct and well defined. when somebody thinks 'space marine' they think that because of GW marines, not because of Starship Troopers, who doesn't typically call them space marines anyway. Whenever Yahtzee talks about generic space marines in FPS games, he puts up a picture of a GW space marine.

    I dabble in a few other game systems, but none of them hold the same modelling excitement for me, because their factions are not as distinctive. so when I think about converting a model, I don't really know what to do with it. how do you make it look like it is clearly a different model in the same faction, and not just any other model in the range?
    Twelve monkeys, eleven hats. One monkey is sad.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2013
    Tampa, FL, USA


    While I give kudos to the post, I think the big issue with this stuff is that it almost always boils down to aesthetics. It doesn't matter how great the quality of GW's competitors are (and let's be frank here, a lot of them ARE very good, at least as good if not better than GW, and generally cheaper to boot) if it's not the aesthetic you like. It doesn't matter if some other company makes amazing hard plastic customizable and cheap to boot guys in big armor if you only care for the specific GW-style Space marine look and nothing else will ever suit.

    I see these discussoins come up so often. You don't need to justify why YOU like GW products, just don't call out or insult others for pointing out that Company X makes just as good (and sometimes better) figures for the sheer quality and price. I way too often see the pro-GW crowd shoot down any and all comparisons based only on "It doesn't look like a GW figure" which is absolutely no basis whatsoever to go on because it's entirely subjective.


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