Monday, 23 January 2017

The Changing Face of the Eldar - New Aeldari Models Revealed, Thoughts on the Future



A few days ago an article on here speculated about a trailer Games Workshop had released. In effect it discussed the potential meanings behind the cryptic quotes, new symbol and how it might relate to a few changes brought about by the events of Death Masque. Well, the company has released a few minatures to reflect these changes and our first look is both extremely good, and insanely bad.

The follow-up trailer released for the second book of the Gathering Storm series, Fracture of Biel-Tan, reflects this perfectly-


So, to start with the obvious: Yes, Ynnead's fractured remnant did survive. It seems to be so weak that it is effectively an Avatar of that form akin to how Khaine survived through his Avatars. This will be the crux of the new story, and from the sounds of things it will focus upon a major conflict, split or breaking point on the craftworld of Biel-Tan. An interesting choice to be sure given Ulthw√©'s closer proximity to the Eye of Terror and the major battle being waged about Cadia, so this might be a side event. It could be the start of something to help cover the galaxy as a whole rather than sticking purely to one location, untying the Gordian Knot of narrative threads writers have built up over the last three Editions.

Furthermore, and this needs to be made absolutely clear, this models are spectacular. Really, much as people might complain when something like the Centurion is produced, this is a clear sign that the design department is capable of churning out wonders for Warhammer 40,000, just as they can with Age of Sigmar. Each is clearly distinct, unique and with a few solid shout-outs to past creations, and is a perfect mix of beauty, menace and disturbing lethality.

Now, with that said however, there are a few very big warning lights showing up looking at these models alone. Why, when I praised them so highly just a moment ago? Well, ask yourself this question: Could you see any of these working with a Craftworld Eldar army? The menacing edges, gaudy designs, exaggerated non-human traits and Slaaneshi qualities are all something far more in line with the Dark Eldar than anyone else. Some already suspect that the figure with the exaggerated headdress, Yvraine, is in fact  Lady Malys from the Codex: Dark Eldar books. Something which would make sense given her history and relationship with the Harlequins. 

Personally, I would even go so far as to argue little to nothing of the Craftworld Eldar designs actually remain here at all. Given that this is supposed to be a new set of heroes devoted to this faction, it makes the previously discussed idea of a forced unity between the armies all the more likely. We have a similar situation as the start there, royally screwing over the less-evil race and depowering them until they are in a severely weakened state. Combined with the name, it wouldn't surprise me if we start to see the destruction of the Craftworlds and Commorragh as well. Given how forced, nonsensical and downright rushed the whole Elf storyline was in Warhammer: End Times even without the retcons, this seems like it could be a recipe for disaster. Just another "WHAM! Now you're one race again, no problems and you all work together fine!" whilst sweeping the old problems under the rug.

Now, some will likely argue that his is more easily pulled off here as a comment left in the previous article brought up the idea that there is less of a divide between the species. This is entirely wrong right from their societies upwards. You have one race taught to fight Slaanesh through focus, self control, constant discipline and constant use of their psychic powers. The other, meanwhile, is taught to embrace excess, use emotion as a constant drive, and to perpetually feed Slaanesh and gain fresh souls to extend their lives. One is taught to follow order, obey a strict hierarchy and become attuned to the will of their elders. The other is taught to kill those elders, consume their souls, back-stab everyone in sight and keep bumping people off so they remain at the top.

Even without getting into that however, the Dark Eldar have been doing a damn good job of making themselves the enemies of every other sub-sect of their race over the years. The few times they have allied with others have been rare exceptions or performed out of a twisted sense of spite. As for the rest, well, see for yourself - 

- Ishareq, an Exodite World, repels an attack by the Dark Eldar who value them as slaves. In response, the Kabalite Warriors poison the World Spirit before leaving. This leads to the death of the world and its entire populace.

- Biel-tan and several Kabals wage a decades long war in the Webway to rob the other of its control, killing thousands on either side. This only ends when it becomes clear it will lead to mutual annihilation, but even then the Dark Eldar make a point to provoke and attack the craftworld following this.

- Upon discovering a small Craftworld trapped in the Webway from the days of the Fall itself, the Dark Eldar enter it, greet their lost kin, and then slaughter them all. Shattering spirit stones and stealing anything of worth (including the wraithbone so precious to them) they commit an act of massed genocide in the name of power. The Harlequins are forced to perform the Masque of Vyle and hunt down the perpetrators of this attack, keeping the event hidden from the Craftworlds to avoid all out war.

- The Dark Eldar trick the Tau Empire into launching a retaliatory strike against an Exodite world following their own raids. This leads to it being stripped of all life by the Empire, and even a brief war with Iyanden while they retreat into the Webway.

- Eldar slaves, victims and technology is prized beyond all else. As such, even the likes of Vect have been known to align himself purely to spite them. During the Gothic War he briefly sided with Abaddon the Despoiler to destroy a possible Imperial-Eldar alliance against the Twelfth Black Crusade following the promise of eldar slaves. Furthermore, he retains a personal force of Wraithguard tortured to the point of insanity and imprisoned beneath his fortress, to be used as a hidden army when needed. 

Yeah, these aren't the sorts of people who would agree to suddenly stop fighting and permanently ally. They would be trying to use one another as cannon fodder in place of their own troops at the best of times, and likely murder one another shortly after any actual victory. As such, while I personally think the models themselves are certainly fantastically designed and expertly made, I am worried just what kind of future story they might be heralding for this army.

12 comments:

  1. Maybe it's just me, but I'm not a fan of the ethereal matter trailing behind the avatar. It seems more like a psychic ability than showing Ynnead being made up of all those various Eldar souls and doesn't carry the power or grace that the Eldar are supposed to have, though maybe I'll convert it using the spirit trails from Nagash. I'll also say that the Visarch to me looks more like an Aspect Warrior than he does a Dark Eldar.

    As for this part of the 13th Black Crusade, I'm very interested in what they're going to do. In the original Commorragh was breached and Eldrad prophesied that the city would fall, though this was before Phil Kelly made the city practically the size of a sector (not to mention Eldrad died in that version) so who knows what's going to happen.

    As for them working together, that's another thing I'm interested in seeing how they go about that, and I think you're trashing the third End Times book just for the sake of trashing it now. I've argued in defence of it in the past, but even if I hadn't nobody would claim that all three of them immediately began working together with no issues of any kind. There's entire chapters there covering how the merger was handled from within and without.

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    1. If it does sound like i'm needlessly trashing the End Times then I do apologise for that, but I just wanted to make something very, very clear before moving on to this last book: If they screw this up, they have no excuses whatsoever.

      I know you're a fan of the Elf storyline, but a good majority of the people I know who even enjoyed that story refer to it is "the pointy eared cluster-fuck" storyline. For all their efforts there, they still managed to piss off the vast majority of Elf fans I know, and the execution was severely lacking. So, if they're planning to do it here again, they have both a widespread audience response and experience to work with to try and fix it. Thus, they shouldn't have any reason to stumble at the same points or cause the same problems, if they're confident enough to take another stab at it. I might have gone easier than I should have on Cadia, but they were facing a far bigger uphill battle with that book and still managed to make something relatively enjoyable about it.

      Also, to answer your points, I will agree that Ynnead does look over-engineered as her look goes and lacks the basic nuances of the eldar. A better take might have been something somewhat more toned down, like the old Deciever model or an emphasis upon elegant simplicity. Though, I do have to disagree with the Visarch as a lot of the Craftworld Exarchs do wear ornate armour but there's much more of a minimalist style to it. Compare it to the Swooping Hawks, Warp Spiders, Howling Banshees or Shining Spears, and this one looks extremely gaudy by comparison. Don't get me wrong, it would be great for a Corsair Lord or Kabal leader, but I personally just can't see much in the way of Craftworld designs there.

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    2. I get the negative points against the storyline, I also get that you're not a fan of it, but at this point it's kind of old news, most of it could be summed up with 'people were divided' or something like that.
      It's also a little annoying when I see complaints that it was nonsensical when I argued against the nonsensical points in the past, and got no reply. I do get that you're busy and sometimes it's better not to bring up old stuff, and that's why I'm saying that just like with those comments, nothing more needs to be said here.

      In any case the Visarch still looks more like a Phoenix Lord than a Corsair Lord or Kabal/Archon leader to me, though maybe that's because they can look like anything and some do have an overdesigned look to them (not to mention Maugan Ra and Jain Zar both look more like Dark Eldar than the Visarch).

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    3. Well, I do see your point then, at least in regards to bringing up this storyline. You have my word that this will be the last time I do this comparison between the two - and again, this was mostly for the reasons cited above - and I will definitely set some time aside to actually answer your comments previously. No offense, it is a bit daunting when they're either equal or twice the length of the review, but I will start setting time aside to give full answers.

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    4. You don't have to answer old comments if you don't want to, and honestly with all of the comparisons other people are levying against it, it's only inevitable the comparison would come around, I just feel that stating you and other people didn't like it would be better than bashing it again since that way it doesn't rekindle old arguments.

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    5. Well, after some consideration, i've decided I am going to try and answer them more often, though perhaps not directly. For example, the last bit of the Fall of Cadia review was partially motivated by your own critique and the subjects brought up by others. It basically cites where I do feel the book needs to improve most beyond what was previously mentioned, while defending a few points you brought up as flaws which I personally liked.

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  2. The first thing i thought off when i seen the Avatar of Ynnead was it lokks like a dark eldar.

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  4. I know one shouldn't be wailing before the book comes out, and I'll wait till I read it before I make final judgements, but what I'm seeing makes me pretty pessimistic.

    I like Craftworld Eldar, for their fluff, and to make it clear from the start if this is anything like Khaine or an Eldar Civil War (now of all times) I'll be very disappointed coming off the HUGE disappointment which was Death Masque.

    I mean does GW really just hate the Craftworlds? I've been waiting and waiting but in the Fluff the Craftworlds seem to never ever win anything. They're just being beat around constantly with no major achievements to their names. Their Seers (supposed to be some of the best) only ever appear in the Fluff to lose and Eldrad, their big cheese, has never won a single battle against the Imperium in his life. Ever! He's literally meant to be the single most important Craftworld character and he's never managed to even once win a battle against Space Marines in his entire life. How much does that suck?

    After Death Masque if we lose Biel-Tan I don't know if I can stomach it. Biel-Tan is one of the biggest, strongest and coolest of the Craftworlds, one of the few who actually does kinda well in the fluff too. And now this?

    I'll wait to see but as a Craftworld Fluff fan I'm reaching a point where I feel like there's no point investing in my faction because GW never lets us achieve any victories at all.

    Not to mention Ynnead and co. look so Dark Eldar and Slaanesh, isn't Ynnead formed from souls from the Infinity Circuit? The Yncarnne looks like it could be Fulgrim for crying out loud. I guess the Traitor Legions book did mention he was missing...

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    1. I'm glad somebody else pointed out the Avatar looks like Fulgrim, I was thinking it but didn't say it because I'm not sure what GW's playing at.

      At the very least it could make a cool model for an alternate heresy storyline where the Raven Guard don't stop him from becoming a diety, and hopefully GW doesn't do something stupid and say he looks like Fulgrim because of Fulgrim's failed attempt (or worse yet, that he is Fulgrim somehow).

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    2. Yeah to be honest it'll probably fit in better with a Slaanesh army than a Craftworld Army. Yvrainne will fit in better with a Dark Eldar Army, I'd say same about the Visarch, seems more Incubi to me.

      But apparently, according to the latest White Dwarf, Biel-Tan is going to get destroyed. Yay! Just when I thought the Craftworlds couldn't fail anymore than they already do.

      And unlike Cadia, where we've had established for years that there are dozens of Nova Cadia's with the same traditions and culture, when Biel-Tan goes that is it. There is no Biel-Tan 2.0, Biel-Tan was that Craftworld and nothing more.

      I really can't take this. Its becoming impossible to get excited about anything for the Craftworlds, we just endlessly fail at even the most mundane of tasks.

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  5. ... I'll be completely honest, that "Avatar" looks less like an Eldar and more like a Slaaneshi Daemon Prince.

    Heck, the first model I thought of when I saw it was the Forge World Fulgrim model (https://www.forgeworld.co.uk/en-US/Fulgrim-Primarch-of-the-Emperor-s-Children) - that's not a positive.

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