Well, Games Workshop has released the preview of the new Indomitus Box, and oh boy.
I massively underestimated the scale of the box in my speculation post.
Let’s Get Into It
I’m blown away by the sheer size of the Indomitus Box. It’s a massive set by any measure you choose to put on it. Model count, most especially, but also their quality, not to mention the sheer weigh and size of the box by the look of the sprues packed into it,
I had thought the writing on this post would just be going through my speculation and making a few notes. Turns out my speculation both right in what I said would be in the box, but oh so very wrong on the sheer scope of the box, and what we’d see over and above what has been previewed so far.
I’m not going to get into the whole breakdown of the box here, as the preview post does a better job than I will. What I’m going to do is highlight a few models I like most from either side (a hard job, as the whole set is a high floor, high ceiling production), and then thoughts about what the Indomitus Box means as a whole, and some refactored speculation. There’s much more to talk of regarding the Adeptus Astartes side for me than what I’ll get into here, as the precedents of design and appearance that have been set by the Marines in the box are things I’ll want to fold into and modify within my own nascent Ultramarine force (especially the interaction of the medieval/knightly appearance with the more Roman styled features that are at play throughout the Ultramarine range), but that's a set of thoughts and posts for the future, for now slack jawed awe is the order of the day.
Way the other side of the coin from the Captain is the Plasmancer, that really feels like it puts its own twist on the style of “hollow” model seen in the AoS Nighthaunt range without falling into mimicry, remaining truthfully solid as suits its metal form, rather than the semi ethereal appearance of the Nighthaunts. A subtly inhuman figure hides within what at first glance is a very human silhouette.
Another model from the box set that almost falls into the camp follower category the Bladeguard Ancient is adjacent to. It’s a lovely model that deviates hard from what we know of the Necrons but does so by recombining and tweaking their constituent elements rather than trying to force something wholly new into the mix. The position of the legs give a sense of movement I find curiously lifelike as though it will move of its own accord at any moment.
Assault Intercessor Squad
There’s a great mix of dynamic and more dynamic models here. Which is importantly different from the divide between static and dynamic we often see. If I’m surprised by anything, it is that we don’t see an accurate representation of the Sergeant so heavily featured in the trailer, either in painting or load out.
The crusading feel and baroque nature to the force becomes more dilute here, as is appropriate with the "rank and file" of the set (if the Astartes can be said to have such a things), but it is not lost entirely.
I really like the figure on the bottom right who is without their chainsword, which is possibly a preference at cross purposes with the nature of the squad, but it's a pose that demands a deeper narrative than those of the other miniatures, and that always appeals. What is he running towards, and what's his objective. He looks to be based upon the same body as the Sergeant, which might make for interesting conversion opportunities, as the rest of the squad seems to be made of a doubling of four identical models.
I am reminded of nothing so much as a heavily mechanised version of one of Kevin O’Niell's Mollusc Tripods from The League of Extordiany Gentleman. This is no bad thing. It’s an ominous sculpt, and really adds something different to the Necron range, not least its sheer vertical dimension, something rarely boasted of in other ranges outside of the Eldar’s Wraith constructs. While I mention Tripods (which are an alien archetype that gets rare use beyond more pulp flavoured works) there's a definite sense of the insectile, coming from modifying parts of the range seen previously and elsewhere in the box without breaking out the confines and becoming something other. It does feel that this direction of the Necron aesthetic has serious potential and offers something with more breadth and depth than the Egyptian influence that has characterised some of their prior releases. That line of development was far from played out but was in danger of becoming so with further iteration without something fresh adding into the mix.
The Reanimator also pulls off the trick of brushing up to the aesthetics of both Tyranid and Eldar lines but remaining utterly distinct from both.
Horror is a subjective thing, but this feels like a model that, along with more of its kind, could easily be made the centrepiece of a Necron army that sets out to evoke it. A mechanised Lovecraftian horror.
Amid all the considerable wow of the new models it’s easy to overlook the other things included in the box. Even in the small image the transfer sheet looks incredibly packed with details, which given the renewed possibilities for heraldry on the Primaris Marines, and the painters of such, a huge boost.
A few things of note here:
Firstly there’s a good number of bases in the box with thematic decorations, that remain fairly quiet but still serve to cement the model on the battlefield. What is on the base of the Canoptek Reanimator? Answers on a postcard.
Secondly the shift from the traditional brown hued bases to grey, something that serves the colour schemes of both armies well, and possibly portends a similar move across the 40K range going forward. It is a baseing colour scheme more suited to the ruinous battlefields of the dark millennium after all.
Not A Core Box
Games Workshop has slightly cross threaded the anticipation of this box, as the expectation was that we would be seeing a new Core Box for the 9th Edition. Instead this is being termed a Launch Box, and it will not be around forever. If it sells out there are going to be such screaming howls of protest from anyone who misses out.
It also means my assumption that the box would have dice and rulers was flawed (which raises the question of just how much are Games Workshop paying for the dice and the rulers that they can’t throw them in here?). I’m very surprised that a full sized rulebook is present in this set, as that would seem an obvious economy, but one I’m glad hasn’t been made, and I do like the art on this exclusive version
There's still no official word, but I can’t see this box coming in at less than £150 really. £130 at the very lowest. It’s a huge number of models by box standards, no matter that they are push fit and mono pose.
According to the preview post we’ll see the box in July. It surely can’t be any later than the 11th. The 18th seems a very long time away. Following the model of previous big releases I anticipate a two week pre-order window, but I for one won't be waiting to get my name on a set.
Beyond The Box
In my speculation post I’d posited that we’d see the usual dice, cards and the like as well as game boards. The Warhammer Community post about what’s Beyond The Box gives us a second tie in box for the launch of the new edition, as well as further models for both sides of the conflict therein.
What this neatly sidesteps is that the Indomitus Box blows things wide open. What will be the CORE box for the 9th Edition if this is assuredly not it? Will see a cut down version with fewer models but a greater focus on what is needed to play - not only dice and rulers, but a game board and terrain? A whole different set of miniatures, as the Indomitus models shift into individual box sets? Is this a means of being free to put out a more friendly priced starter box, rather than straining the £100 limit. The Indomitus box serves as a set for the established hobbyists; does something more accessible comes in underneath for a broader more long lasting release, in the style of No Know Fear etc. Is it a move away from having a core box at all (this seems deeply unlikely, but then so did this box being revealed not to be a core box).
Whatever happens with a Core box set the Indomitus box must surely be accompanied by the usual suit of ancillary releases, most especially a stand alone rulebook, on the same day, that provides for gamers not interested in either faction represented. A tiered start to the new system dependent on your chosen army feels like very poor form. Even a week between the two is going to feel like an age to gamers who don’t pick up this set.
The two armies in the box must both be due a fresh Codex shortly, unless we see a new release format for those books as well. This is somewhat galling as the more recent Space Marine Codex was only released in August 2019, and less than a year is an eye-wateringly short lifespan for a book. Hopefully the existing Chapter Codecies will simply key into a new Adeptus Astartes book without issue at least.
I think it's a sign that I'm changing as a gamer that I've decided not to even attempt to collect Necrons alongside the Ultramarines, or thrown the project over the side entirely in favour of shiny metal bodied newness.
Whatever it portends for the releases alongside and beyond it, it is undeniable that the Indomitus Box is one hell of a thing, and that seeing it unboxed live was pretty thrilling. I can’t wait to get my hands on it, and the Marines within. I just need to use the time between now and then to work out how the new models will fit into the force, and how their aesthetic will impact on the rest of the force, amongst a raft of other puzzles for me to chew over.