Age of Sigmar Open Day 2016 – Event Round Up

Age of Sigmar Open Day 2016Well the dust has settled from the excitement of the Age of Sigmar Open Day at the weekend and I’m finally back in the land of the living.  So where to start – the beginning is probably a good place!

Firstly, here’s the link to the photos I took: https://flic.kr/s/aHskGy8eeZ

With most events at Warhammer World I tend to travel up by train on the Friday before, generally arriving late afternoon, with enough time to drop my bags off at the hotel and wander over to Bugmans for a couple of pints and burger for tea.  This event was no different really, train journey nice and smooth and grub was excellent as usual – half a cow and pig in a bun, what’s not to like (unless you don’t eat meat).  With the Age of Sigmar Open Day being on the Saturday there was a slow trickle of staff moving display cabinets into the staff canteen area.  On the way out I chatted with Alex in the store and saw the WHW exclusive Stormcast miniature painted up and in a cabinet.  The released pictures don’t do the model justice and it has a far more dynamic pose than I was expecting.

The Age of Sigmar Open Day 2016

The Saturday started with @Penddraig and I having a hearty breakfast at the hotel and wandering over to arrive around 9.30.  The queue had just about reached the bike shed/smoking shelter so wasn’t anywhere near as crazy as the Forge World Open Day a few weeks previous.  The usual drill of staff bringing out a promotional flyer, pin badges and lanyards before we were all allowed in when the doors opened.  After getting in we headed straight over to the studio area…

The studio was split into a number of sections, White Dwarf, Forge World, The WHW Studio, Eavy Metal, Sculptors and lastly Army Painters.  You also had Warhammer TV in the form of @Rufio going round and videoing and Tony Cottrell taking photos.  What was very strange was the complete lack of design studio – so the people who write the rules, lists, etc.

Dan-Hardens-SkavenThe White Dwarf area had the Getting Started box armies from the Tale of Four Gamers series that they’ve been running recently and Dan Harden’s new Skaven army set up on a display board.  It was really nice to see some alternative colour schemes rather than the more traditional box art variations.

Forge-World-Khorne-Daemon-PrinceOut of everything there, I think Forge World contained the biggest surprises with three previously unknown models in the form of the Fimir Hag with slave, Fimir Sorcerer and Khorne Daemon Prince.

Forge-World-Fimir-Hag-WIPForge-World-Fimir-Sorcerer-WIPSpeaking to the scultors Penddraig and I gleened a few bits of information.  Firstly the links to Irish Celtic mythology is being kept and used to shape the feel of the race.  The Fimir are a matriarchal society which is represented by the Hag being a good 50% ~ 70% larger than the male warriors.  The intention is the Hag will have a number of (possibly blind) slaves and also have a cauldron.  The sorcerer has a more slight build than the warriors and the casting hand has yet to be done (it likely won’t be a pointing finger as the sculpt suggests).  The question as to if this will become a full army is basically down to how successful the range does in its current format.  Whilst it is popular Forge World will continue making new Fimir models, if this at some point means they become a full army then brilliant, but it’s deliberately being kept flexible.

Forge-World-Khornate-DragonTrish Carden has done a phenomical job on the new Khornate Chaos Dragon and it is an absolute beast, festooned with embedded skulls and detail in the same way as much of the rest of the Khorne range.  The Chaos Lord (who I hope is available as a single miniature) is going to be stood upon the back of the dragon in a Dune sand-worm style fashion, likely just holding onto some chains embedded into its mounts scales.  I think my only concern is that the size of this model will mean it only gets fielded in epically large games of 5000 points with very little scenery.

What is likely Keith Robertson last AoS sculpt before he moves onto other projects is a rather beefy looking Khorne Daemon Prince.  As you would expect with something Khorne related the actual model looks brutal, basically the love child of a Bloodthirster and Minotaur.  The more you look the more you spot little nods to both mortal and daemon models, from the Bloodletter spine to Bloodbound manacles.  The shield is quite curious too with a daemonic face stretched across its surface in the same way as Valkia has.  This actually suggests that the model may get its own warscroll as the standard Daemon Prince warscroll doesn’t have any rules for a shield or axe.  Although it would have been nice to see some of the other Chaos deities get some love the new Daemon Prince will end up in my army!

Sylveneth-DioramaOruk-DioramaTwo new display pieces were being shown off by the WHW Studio team who I don’t think have been given space at an event before.  There was a new (completed) Sylvaneth vs Oruks display which was stunning and really nice to have the opportunity to see this properly before it gets put into a cabinet behind glass.  The counter-part to this a Oruk vs Sylvaneth display which is very much in the starting stages.  Speaking to the guys it’s really interesting to find out all of the tricks and tips they use for building something like this – for example all of the tree elements are actually old roots and branches, however rather than just sticking them into a board they carefully interweave other branches to scale them down and then apply a certain amount of paint to them to bring them into line with the scene.  One thing I didn’t realise either is that they’re the same people who create all of the scenery for the Warhammer World gaming tables and there were a couple of nice ruined pieces of terrain that I may need to borrow ideas from.

As you would expect the Eavy Metal team were on hand with a selection of models and lots of advice if you wanted to know something.  They also ran a couple of Demo Pods, one on painting ice & crystal effect weapons (which I didn’t get to) and one on how they painted the Maw Krusha (more on that in a bit).

Maxime-Pastourel-BloodboundAs strange as it sounds, we probably spent the most amount of time talking to the sculptors who were sat painting a few models.  Worth a massive mention are Maxime Pastourel’s amazing Bloodbound conversions.  These were made using a mixture of different miniatures and painted in a pale off-white armour – and looked phenomenal.  He’s somehow captured the brutal nature of the Bloodbound and his Lord of Juggernaught is a work of art.  He also spent quite a bit of time explaining to me what parts he’s used and some of the thinking behind the models.

Speaking to Aly Morrison, what was quite interesting is hearing some of the ways that things have changed as a result of 3d CAD.  On the surface it’s pretty obvious they’ve gained rapid prototyping using 3d printers, but there are a whole host of other benefits.  Previously the model would need to be made 3-up, pantograph cut into a steel mold, cast up (hopefully with no problems), first run passed to ‘Eavy Metal and then the box can start to be designed.  The process is now much more streamlined; a 3d print can be used to create resin models so ‘Eavy Metal can start painting before production.  The steel mold can be cut using CNC machines (on site) removing the time-intensive need for pantographing.  The decision on how many and the size of the sprues was decided right at the start of the project which means the box art can be designed whilst the models are being painted so can be printed ready for when the first sprues come from production.  Amazing really.

However 3d CAD hasn’t sped up the actual sculpting process and has actually added more work for the sculptors as they do the sprue layout in addition to the model sculpts.  This has had the benefit that they have pretty much free range to fill up the sprue with as much stuff as they fancy – those random things like owls and such like are the brain child of one of the sculptors!  It was also confirmed that there is no theoretical maximum size of a kit, the largest sprue they produce is the “tank” sprue (as used on models such as the Baneblade) but they could feasibly produce as many as them as they wished for a single kit.  Where the limit comes is down to return on investment, would Games Workshop sell enough models to cover the investment etc.  One other interesting snippet is the box size and number of sprues appears to be how prices are currently calculated rather than what the unit does in game.  This does make sense and explains why the getting started box sets are such good value.

The team work on projects from across all of the game systems and the average lead time on a new model is 2 years.  This can be rapidly reduced (for example the recent anniversary marine was produced in 2 months) or lengthened (strong hints at a race of fish men have been being worked on for some time).  Reading between the lines any range that is in a Grand Alliance book will receive some love in the future, it may be reworked models/imagery or new units but they are working on new and exciting things.  This part of Games Workshop is now also “product secure” which explains the reduction in the number of murky WIP shots.

What I think was really impressive what the enthusiasm that the sculptors all have.  Even though they may have worked on something a couple of years back, they’re still really keen to see it and get a copy to paint up or convert.

Making-Da-Beast-Maw-KrushaThe demo pod on the Maw Krusha had Maxime explaining how he had evolved the classic Wyvern and how Max Faleij had developed the paint schemes.  Maxime’s concept is that to an Oruk a beast is either to kill or ride and if they rode it, it needed to have the same mentality as they do.  One interesting point was that they 3d-printed some miniature Maw Krusha’s to practice the paint scheme to use (somehow the small size made them look cute and numerous people now wish to own one).  Max did give a few tips if you paint one and said that you need to make sure that the armour and skin of the rider needs to contrast enough against the scales of the wyvern.  Also the head has been deliberately designed to clip into place so you can paint it separately and then just clip it into place – you can also do the same with the mask and the models ‘Eavy Metal have painted have been done so the mask is entirely removable.

For the Age of Sigmar Open Day, Golden Demon was held in one of the conference rooms rather than at the back end of the staff canteen as it’s been done previously.  This was really beneficial as some people were at the event just for Golden Demon (and why not!) which meant they could happily tuck down into a chair there in the relative quiet and speak to fellow painters.  Although there weren’t many entries the standard was really high as you would expect.  Next year I’m tempted to enter too, although I’m not high enough level to win a demon, the set up was much better for the style I tend to paint my display miniatures in.

If you’re a teacher and wish to introduce Age of Sigmar into a school gaming club you’re also very much in luck.  They now have a new member of staff (sorry I didn’t take her name) and created packs that they will send out to schools at the start of the new year to introduce children to the hobby.  It sounds like there are various games designed to teach children (and staff who don’t play) the rules in simple stages.

Overall that was pretty much it, the sales area had a number of new items up for sale (new Stormcast and a couple of Ironjawz bits) and there were a few games being run.  Bugmans also had a one-day-offer Gore-Grunta hot dog which did look amazing.

In summary the day was really enjoyable and I cannot fault the format or how things ran.  I do feel that it was a missed opportunity not to have had some of the studio team there to quiz on how AoS is going to progress and possibly somebody from the FAQ team though as it did mean we couldn’t find very much out about the ultimate direction of the game.  That said I wouldn’t say that spoiled the day in the slightest.

Well I think I’ve prattled on enough now!  I did participate in the tournament on the Sunday, but think this would be better in a separate post for fear of ranting ;)  Please browse through the Flickr album above as it contains hi-res images rather than the scaled down ones I’ve used on here

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