Have you ever wanted to explore the Warhammer universes without committing to building an entire army? Have you ever wanted to just experience the Grim Darkness of the 41st Millenium without the hours of painstaking painting?
Well, wonder no more. With Warhammer branching into other medias (as discussed in a previous article of ours), it seems Games Workshop has also extended its hand into the world of animations and series.
So, without further ado, let us jump into what is coming up next.
Hammer and Bolter
One of Warhammer’s upcoming animations, Hammer and Bolter follows a series based around notable elements of the Warhammer Universe. This ranges from the brutal agents of the inquisition and the famed Commissar Yarrick to the alien Eldar and the savage Orks.
Now, some of you Warhammer veterans may know this but for those who don’t, Hammer and Bolter used to be a digital magazine featuring short stories based within the universes of Games Workshop. Hence, the title has a lot of history with Warhammer.
Several teaser trailers and screen shots have been revealed by Warhammer, showing us snippets of what is to come and what could be. There isn’t a set number of episodes for the animation either, so we will only be covering the ones we know about. But at the cost of sounding too much like Tzeentch, we will only be discussing it briefly with little speculation.
The first episode revealed (also known by the title of Death’s Hand) looks to involve the Inquisition, a shadowy government agency that faces against the more insidious elements of alien species and Chaos corruption. The episode seems to also include a Callidus Assassin, a warrior that can use chemical compounds to shape shift into multiple species. While both are on the same side of The Imperium (main human faction), within the world of Warhammer, nothing is that simple. Has the Assassin been sent to kill the Inquisitor for past actions deemed “heretical” by their masters? Or perhaps both are being hunted by a far more deadly power. One early trailer shows a Callidus surrounded by warriors of the Night Lords Legion (we have briefly covered them in another article). Could this be the same assassin? And if so, how do the Night Lords fit in? Only time will tell.
The second episode, A Question Of Faith, looks set to be full of action. The sisters of battle, female warrior nuns, must defend a shrine against an onslaught of Chaos Cultists. The sisters in this story, Agatha and Elena, definitely seem out gunned by their foes, but can the faith of the Emperor achieve victory from the cruelty of Chaos?
In addition, the episode is written by author George Mann, known in the Warhammer community for his work featuring the Raven Guard. This is definitely promising, though there is little more information about the episode.
The third one, In The Gardens Of Ghosts, seems to take a different turn. Instead of primarily focusing on the Imperium, we see the alien forces of The Eldar come into play. This episode follows the past and present of the Eldar race through a Spiritseer searching a ruined Craftworld.
So, this is a lot. The part about the past could reference to The Fall, which is where the Eldar race in its entirety almost died when Slaanesh (a very nasty god of Chaos) was born, signaling the end of their empire. Currently, some of the Eldar are trying to re-establish that empire, which could relate to the present. A Spiritseer is a psychic warlock that specializes in summoning souls of the dead, which makes sense as to why they would be in a ruined Craftworld, a ship the size of an actual planet where most Eldar live now.
But what could kill a Craftworld? What will the Spiritseer find in its gutted ruins? We don’t know for sure, but it’s bound to be a battle for the ages.
There is little information known about the next episode, Bound For Greatness, except that it will focus on the dangers of knowledge and books. This in and of itself could relate to Tzeentch, another Chaos God, as one of his domains is knowledge.
The episode also hints towards Librariums being a prominent aspect. Now, Librariums aren’t exactly Libraries, they do have books but said books are either magical artefacts or cursed relics. Unfortunately, there is little difference between the two in the Grim Darkness.
Could this revolve around the Architect of Fate? Maybe a follower of his is rising through the ranks of a chaos army, only to fall (or mutate into a hideous Chaos Spawn) at the last hurdle?
The next episode, simply titled Fangs, takes us to the frozen world of Fenris. We will see three aspirants (humans wishing to become a Space Marine) preparing for the rigorous trials ahead to join the ranks of The Space Wolves Chapter. Meantime, a different contest occurs in the Fang, the Space Marine’s Fortress.
The Space Wolves are basically Vikings in space. This is especially prominent with their planet’s name, Fenris, which refers to a key monster in Norse Mythology. But what could this contest amongst the ranks of the Space Marines be? Could the trial the Aspirants have to face be the Test of Morkai, where they must face the deadly frozen winters and feral beasts of Fenris?
The last episode, Old Bale Eye, brings two of Warhammer 40K’s iconic characters to life. The great prophet of WAAAGH!, the warlord Ghazghkull Thraka and the grim resolve of Commissar Yarrick. The two have been fighting for years, building up a rivalry of epic proportions.
The actual title in and of itself references Yarrick, as he sports a bionic eye with a powerful laser, casting him in a sinister light, especially to the Orks. Yarrick has led several regiments of Astral Militarum (also known as The Imperial Guard, which is basically conscripted humans) and allied with noteworthy chapters of Space Marines against the Ork menace. Similarly, Ghazghkull leads the greatest WAAAGH!, which the Orky term for a big army. This sets us up for a clash between these two titans of war in epic proportions.
With such a wide variety of content by a singular season, Hammer and Bolter looks set to both entertain and expand on the Warhammer universe.
Altar Of Wrath
In contrast to Hammer and Bolter’s traditional cartoon look, Altar of Wrath brings us a gritty, photorealistic view of the Grim Dark. This animation pits the zealous warriors of the Black Templar Space Marines against the insidious forces of The Necrons (think crusader space marines vs undead machines in a war of massive proportions).
The story in this smoke scorned setting sees the Templars striving to deal a decisive blow to the Necrons in a bid for both glorious victory and an end to the bloody conflict. There are only two characters currently named within the series, but it is hinted there will be more. However, we shall focus a bit on the two we know.
The protagonist of Altar of Wrath is a space marine known as Aristarchus, a Chaplain of the Black Templars. This tells us right away a lot about him, as Chaplains are warrior priests that inspire their fellow fighters in battle while wielding a Crozius Arcanum, which in all fairness is a golden, decorative mace. Perfect for pounding skulls into paste.
The other named member is Harlek, a terminator of the chapter. Now, while he won’t be doing Skynet’s bidding, he will be bringing some heavy firepower to the show. Terminators within the Warhammer universe are massive hulking suits of armor with space marines inside. If this isn’t tough enough, Harlek is known for using an Assault Cannon mounted to his arm, which is basically a supped-up machine gun that blows apart anything in its way.
The history of this animation is also interesting. Originally it was a fan made series called Primaris: The Last Templar by PaxelArt but has now gained the official support of Games Workshop. The actual name of Altar of Wrath is similar in design to Hammer and Bolter, as it references older campaign books such as Altar of War, which is a nice little nod.
While there aren’t more details, it does seem that Altar of War aims to capture the brutal, dark style of Warhammer in all its glory.
Another fan project given the support of Games Workshop is The Exodite. Unlike Altar of Wrath, the protagonist in this seems to be the alien Tau empire. This animation is similarly photorealistic but has a clean and bright appearance, possibly reflecting how advance the Tau are in their technology when compared to the other factions.
The Tau themselves are a race of blue humanoids that evolved extremely quickly, making them the “youngest” faction, as they were not around in the times of The Horus Heresy. However, they elevated and refined their technology extremely quickly, leading them to be one of the most advanced factions.
One of the founding principles of Tau society is the Greater Good, a semi-religious semi-philosophical belief that all beings, no matter the species, should strive for the best outcome for the greatest number of beings. This means the Tau are actually the “friendliest” faction within the Grim Dark, allowing other species to join their empire.
The protagonist of this series seems to be La’koma of the Tash’var Sept and a shas’vre of a Tau Stealth Team. To break this down, a shas’vre is kind of like a sergeant/commander, which puts La’koma at the heart of the action. A Sept is part of the Tau Caste system, where each planet has its own cultural identity that’s unique to themselves within the greater empire.
Due it being a frontier world, The Tash’var Sept has been beset by a multitude of forces ranging from the war hungry Orks to raiding parties of Pirates. Due to this, The Tash’var Sept is noted for their tenacity as well as having some of the toughest troops.
The Tau mostly likely won’t be alone either. During the trailer, you can clearly see the mammoth, curved shape of a Kroot Warsphere in a state of repair. The Kroot, an alien race of tall, bird-like lizard humanoids, are members of the Tau Empire and one of the first to be diplomatically integrated into Tau society. With their ships being featured in the trailer, maybe we’ll get to see these fierce warriors in action.
With all this shown, there’s just one more thing to discuss. The title. As we have seen with Hammer and Bolter and Altar of Wrath, the titles have links to the extended world of Warhammer. The Exodite’s doesn’t disappoint, with said title referencing an old sub faction of the Eldar (Space Elves). We have briefly talked about the Exodites in a previous article, but to summarize them, they are space elves that ride dinosaurs. Games Workshop have also suggested that the Exodites could feature in the series, but in what capacity? A reluctant ally of the Tau against an overwhelming foe? Possibly defending their planet against the Tau expeditionary force that expand the Empire’s borders onto new worlds? Who knows, but we can’t wait to find out.
Join us next time as we take a peek at the next set of series for Warhammer, featuring the highly anticipated Angels of Death, the entrenched Iron Within, the reclusive Astartes II and the brutal Interrogator.