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Grimdiana Jones and the Liberation of Llael

05/06/2012

It has been a long weekend here in New Zealand. I’m no monarchist, but I won’t turn my nose up at a three days off work. This weekend has also seen the second annual Lock and Load event be held in Seattle. This is a special event held by Privateer Press to allow a small group of participants to meet the PP staff, purchase the latest models a little early, and ultimately play a lot of Warmachine and Hordes. It has also become a big outlet for spoilers on upcoming, and sometimes unannounced miniatures. In this respect, L&L 2012 did not disappoint. There were a whole lot of previews, both images of models we only had names for (the Hordes Gargantuans), as well as the next year or so’s worth of model releases.

Having looked over the previews, there are two that really stand out in my eyes…

First up is the preview for a new epic Hordes Warlock. No, no Lylith on her Sleigh (slay) of Doom, nor is it Makeda trading in her Swords of Balaash for a greatsword and a pair of Ancestral Guardians. The Warlock that’s got me considering a new faction is epic Grim Angus and his pyg cadre, collectively known as The Hunters Grim. To get some idea of why I’m so excited about this, let’s take a quick look at the existing Grim Angus miniature….

Some nice detail, but not great. Now, let’s take a look at the character art for The Hunters Grim. Sure, it’s not fair to compare a miniature to art, but they’re literally still sculpting the models, so this will have to do.

Yowza! What an improvement! Not only is the new Grim sporting a dashing hat (that has earned him the nickname “Grimdiana Jones” from the Lost Hemisphere team), but his two companions are similarly sartorially gifted. There are hints of Hellboy and Dum Dum Duggan with his pyg companions, and if they look only half as good as this artwork they’re going to be a big hit. It’s even making me want to start a Troll force now in preparation. I may have to add a few items to my GenCon shopping list.

The other revelation from Privateer Press is not a new model, but a resculpt of an existing one. For those of you who are new to the setting, the Warmachine storyline kicked off with Khador (steampunk Russians), the northern human faction, invading the independant nation of Llael, allied with Khador’s arch-enemy, Cygnar. Khador’s victory didn’t mean that Llael immediately fell under their control, however. Elements of the military banded together against the northern aggressors and formed a semi-organised resistance. Lacking the numbers and resources of the bigger nations, they work as mercenaries in the game’s setting. There is only one Warcaster known to be working within the resistance, the famed duelist Ashlynn d’Elyse. It is Ashlynn who is getting the new sculpt, going from this….

….to this….

Another vast improvement over the original model, but one that has caused something of a stir on the Privateer Press forums. The new sculpt has fueled rumours that she might be going epic in the next Warmachine book. Officially, Privateer Press are selling this as an online exclusive model under the same name as the original model. They’re not updating the original sculpt, nor are they promoting her to epic status. The new sculpt does also provide an interesting counter to one of the Khadoran Warcasters who played a leading role in the invasion of Llael, Supreme Kommandant Irusk. It would be interesting to see the two go head to head, opposing flags fluttering in an imagined breeze while their respective forces fight for control of a Llaelese city. Maybe it’s time Ashlynn got back into the spotlight, if only a little.

Now, I’m an avowed fan of the big, red menace from the north. There’s a lot to be said for having the toughest warjacks, heavy infantry who are almost as tough as light warjacks, and some of the craziest Warcasters the game has to offer, but I’ve also always had a spot in my gaming tray for the valiant defenders of Llael. Maybe it’s the story, maybe it’s the fact they get access to my favourite Cygnar unit (the Arcane Tempest Gun Mages), it’s hard to say. I’ve always been a bit hesitant about putting an army together because Ashlynn’s sculpt was so uninspiring, but now that road block is well and truly removed. I may have to look into an Ashlynn force in the future, too. I just need to decide if I want to go for the standard Llael Mercenary contract (the Highborn Covenant) or Ashlynn’s theme force. Sadly, the models I want to use with Ashlynn are only available in the former, so that may be the way to go.

If either of these go ahead, I’ll be sure to let you all know.

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