So as the final armoured Stormcast Eternals get shown off it’s time for a mega post on the entire range so far… Let’s start with the timeline of events:
- Warhammer Fantasy Battle has always been low in popularity with something like 7% of Games Workshops sales.
- Warhammer End Times in early 2016 where the over 30 year old Warhammer universe was destroyed and most of the characters killed off.
- Man burns Warhammer army.
- GW announces skirmish game to replace it.
- Stormcast Eternals releases. Mantic creates a giant Stormcast statue in parody while inviting players to the Kings of War game.
- GWs style switches to the user-friendly social media Warhammer Community. Relaunches White Dwarf.
- Rereleases many old GW games like Warhammer Quest in the Age of Sigmar Setting.
- GW fans rejoice.
The Stormcast Eternals are a fascinating example of a company trying to make a basic entry level force for miniature wargaming players. The first comments about them were that they were just Fantasy space marines. You can’t defend that call. Even the colour scheme is just a reversed version of Ultramarines (ever since GW started using gold instead of yellow for the shoulder trim). As you will hear from many people they are incredibly easy and forgiving to paint so that means no faces or complicated organic bits unless you want to get into the recent Stormcast Vanguard range
This brings me to the 2018 Age of Sigmar global campaign and starting an Age of Sigmar army.
Why pick Stormcast? I was a boxed set I felt confident I could paint reasonably well in a month. In retrospect, this was a pretty big ask. Assuming you have a full-time job and a reasonable amount of social responsibilities Painting something this complex is pretty tricky.
In the end, I spent 40 hours assembling and painting these models. That’s like working an extra week in a month. No wonder I was the only person in my area to finish.
The models in the boxed set are a mixed bag. The liberators are 9-10 pieces a model and look pretty good in any configuration. They are the poster boys for the entire range and have been clearly designed ready for head or should pad swaps for kitbashes out there. I left the heads off as the deathmask halo effect doesn’t work for me and I wanted a more grounded army.
The snap-fit Retributors were nice as well after you remove the obnoxious back icons. Leaving the heads on gave them a sinister elite executioner look about them (interesting footnote that executioners in the Middle Ages were an inbred underclass according to Dan Carlin’s podcast on the subject). The only issue with snap-fit kits aside from the limited conversion potential is duplicate sculpts if you combine them with the ones from the starter set.
The prosecutors are where it all starts to go wrong as despite being a multi-part set the idea of flying guys in huge heavy armour doesn’t work for me and the wings make them very hard to transport. You could convert them into more dynamic liberators if you didn’t care too much for them. Unfortunately, the weapons options for them are not great. The javelin option is the straw that breaks the back of believability for these miniatures.
It’s long been this writers opinion that poor character sculpts in starter sets are a cynical attempt to force a purchase of a £15+ replacement model and this set is no exception to the rule. In fairness, the Stormcast range has a fair few turkeys like the Celestant Prime (a giant floating fat man in armour held aloft by a vortex of rainbow meteors) and the ridiculously overblown Lord-Relictor in the starter set who I presume was sculpted as some kind of joke to see what they could get away with.
The model suffers from a torso sculpted like a lions head that adds extra confusion to the dynamic pose and is not helped by my poor sculpting of a new helmet. I think given more time I could have salvaged this but I’ll just chalk it down to needing more expectancy sculpting and move on.
So that’s a 7/11 for cool looking models. If you want an easy to paint force that isn’t likely to go out of support (sorry Tomb Kings and Bretonnian players) anytime soon these are the guys for you. Likewise, if you want an entire army to practice non-metallic metals on these guys are great.
A word of warning though this set is designed to compliment people who already have the starter set for Age of Sigmar as the 2 Retibutors can’t be legally fielded on their own and fit with the three from the base game however at this point you are duplicating the snap-fit single pose sculpts.
Annoyingly this is a real pain as it means this starter set is just a booster for the base game rather than a legitimate starter on its own so on that note, I can only recommend it as such. Also if you do not care for the prosecutor models then you’re better off going for the newer Stormcast vanguard set and having the massive Lord-Aquilor, 5 Vanguard-Hunters, 3 Vanguard Palladors (riding tiny looking mounts) and 3 ultra cool looking Gryph-Hounds.
As for a more personal note on painting these, I make some pros and cons on my paint scheme.
- I picked a paint scheme I could actually get done in the timescale. This is pretty important as I was the only one to finish. I saw some much nicer individual models in other people’s forces but critically they couldn’t maintain that standard all the way through.
- A lot of this was the models in the set being incredibly simple to paint. I wrote off the Slaves to Darkness and a few others just because they have 15+ models in the pack including cavalry and a character. In terms of value for money, these would be great but would be brutal to do in a month.
- The silver scheme that is used on 90% of these models worked really well. It’s just a spray basecoat a wash and dry brushes that start at the top of the model and move down.
- The bases and pigments worked really well as well to make the models pop. It’s the first time effort me using pigments and I will try and use them more going forward. I used extra rocks on them to break them up. I think if I were doing it with more time I would try and find some static grass and skulls as well.
- The freehand areas look really nice, the logos were done in batch and ended up all looking really nice. The only trouble is that you can’t see them unless you are looming over them in a game and are covered up if they are on a Display shelf.
- I need to up my sculpting game. The head on the main model didn’t work. This might be due to me biting off more than I could chew for the month but it isn’t helped by me lacking the skill to pull really cool stuff off.
- I couldn’t make my mind up on the black. The basic models aren’t highlighted, however, the character has Mechanicus standard grey on the inside of the armour plates which doesn’t quite work. The Lord Ordinator has nicer dark reaper highlighting. I am tempted to mix pots of warm and cold black paint up to base on all of my models going forward.
- The heads were a medium success. The old Empire soldier sprue is not a uniform scale and so I had to work around some of the weird sculpts but ultimately I did not have enough time to eBay more after it because apparent how badly some came out. With the smaller scale I struggled to have them all looking nice.
Have you tried painting Stormcast Eternals before? Let me know in the comments section…
That 7% thing regarding Warhammer sales had the scent of statistical chicanery about it. Was always about 33% of sales in the numerous stores I worked in. The final edition they really dropped the ball with after I left (with core troop choices doubling in cost and army books the same), but I doubt that’d cause that big of a decline. One possibility is they created loads of categories (paint/terrain/tools/basing materials etc) and that if you judged 40K by the same metric (which of course they didn’t) it would have been sitting at a similar percentage.
Warhammer was killed because it was priced out of existence by the board who were insistent it had to sell as well as 40K just at the same time as their policies were making that even more impossible. Lesson: Your board of directors should both know and care about the product they’re selling and the customers they’re selling it to.
As for Stormcast they’re nice figures and pleasant to paint, but are by design the poster boys for everything rotten in the Age of Sigmar. Literally characterless by design with any personality lost in their creation. Tons upon tons of fluff describing the minutiae of their military structure while almost nothing coherent is written about the universe in which they reside.
What societies do they come from?
What’s life for the common human like?
Does the sun rise every day?
Is there a sun?
What does a “Mortuary Factory” make? (Mortuaries).
Much of what made Warhammer great was that the human civilizations (and the other races that interacted with them) were comprehensible to the player and their motivations understandable, Age of Sigmar still years in lacks this and there seems little interest in fixing it.