Horus Heresy – Interview with BroncoFish

In addition to the reviews and my personal opinion about the Horus Heresy, I wanted to add some insights to my coverage. A voice from within, if you want to and for that reason, I got in touch with Broncofish, who is a long time Warhammer 30,000 player and asked him for an interview.

If that name rings a bell, there's a reason for it. We did a shout out back in 2019 and you'll probably have seen his work, if you're playing Adeptus Titanicus, because he's the creative brain behind GrimDarkTerrain.

Warhammer - The Horus Heresy
Chaosbunker: Hello Bronco, thank you for taking the time. This is not the first time you have been asked for an interview on the topic of 30k or Horus Heresy. You were already a guest at Boys of the Golden Throne with GrimDarkTerrain. Would you like to introduce yourself and tell us when and how you started with tabletop wargaming?

Broncofish: I can't remember the actual year I started tabletop, but I do remember the edition. It was the 4th of Warhammer Fantasy Battles with the starter box containing High Elves and Night Goblins. The real classic thing, with a thick rulebook, cardboard stand-ups of Eltharion and the Orc Wyvern. I got that as a present in English when I was ten or eleven. And of course that was a challenge at first. I didn't have a clue and my mates actually got the same thing for Christmas and so we started off with self-made terrain on ping-pong tables in the basement and played Warhammer there more or less well. Those were the beginnings.

CB: That sounds very familiar to me.

BF: And since then, more or less continuously. But also only Warhammer. The design of Infinity appealed to me for a while, but the other things like Warmachine or Battletech didn't really grab me. I remained faithful to the Games Workshop systems. But with Warhammer Fantasy Battles, I thought Goblins were stupid, because I'm lazy and didn't want to paint 120 Goblins, so I played High Elves.
My buddy then played Goblins and how it was done - I gave him the Goblins, he give me the High Elves and then you had way too much stuff to begin with. Those were the days when cavalry was available individually in blister packs for 8 DM or so. And when you were a boy in Bonn (West-Germany), you had to save up for a long time before you had enough money / miniatures for a regiment. That's why I tended to stick to the more "elite" armies back then. And maybe about a year later, I started with Warhammer 40k, with the second edition, and then I actually played Orks. That was my first 40k army. My first Space Marine army took me ages, it must have been 10 years later before I had my first Space Marines. It didn't really appeal to me at the time, because everyone seemed to have Space Marines, especially Dark Angels. I found it rather boring back then.

CB: I understand that. It was similar for me. I started with Blood Bowl in 1995 because it was a self-contained system and I got it as a Christmas present just like you did. From there, I also went into the second edition of Warhammer 40k, and just like you described, I also stuck to elite armies, because as a tabletop teenager - funnily enough, not so far away from Bonn - you also had to see how you could get around with your budget. That's why I decided on Eldar, because many of the units were simply done with the purchase of a single blister for 20 or 25 mark. There were as many aspect warriors in there as you needed for a unit.

BF: That's exactly what I did, because I realised relatively quickly that availability wasn't the only problem. At that time, you needed a highly specialised comic shop with the classic blister walls where everything was mixed together to even get your hands on the range. And that was a real problem, because then you just saved, saved, saved and went to the shop and it didn't have the Shokk Attack Gun you wanted, and then you just bought something else. And that wasn't always the most sensible decision as a 12-year-old. And for exactly the same reason I ended up with the Eldar. The units were quite good and with a blister you had a playable squad right away. And Eldar, I stayed with them, I still have a small but fine Eldar army. I actually have an Eldar phantom titan from Forge World, it's even on the internet. An extremely thankless model to paint, because you underestimate how many soul stones a phantom titan actually has.

CB: And from the Eldar it went towards the Horus Heresy / 30k? Or did something else come up?

BF: Yes, I continued to work on the Eldar, with a small excursion in the direction of the Dark Eldar. But when Horus Heresy came out in 2011 / 2012, I still remember it pretty well, we had a small but nice gaming club in the Cologne-Bonn area. I think we were made aware of it via the Forge World newsletter. In the beginning, all the normal Space Marine squads came out, directly covering everything from Mk 2 to Mk 5 power armour.

CB: There was quite a lot. I also remember that we posted a news item that there was a big announcement at one of the last Games Days. That was at the end of 2012, even with a matching game table for the Battle of Istvaan III.

BF: I'm also pretty sure that would have been around that time. I also remember I had the Mark V armour right from the start and we, as a club, also kind of went all-in right away. So everyone went straight in and that was the beginning and I was there from the very start. My great Space Marine love are the White Scars. I didn't know at the time - we all assumed very optimistically that all legions would soon have their own rules - that it would take almost 10 years for my legion to have theirs. At that time, no one expected that, someone else had made Dark Angels and we were pretty much the last ones to get rules.

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But White Scars were my first big Heresy army, but when I saw that it was going to take a relatively long time until I got the rules, I built up a relatively large Word Bearers army and when the rules for the Mechanicum came with book 3 (editor's note: Extermination), I discovered my great love for the Mechanicum and built up a suitable army there. Forge World Cyclothrathe by Archmagos Draykavac, with the associated Knight House Atrax. And I also made decals for the House, and when I started with them, there was no colour scheme for them yet. I just made them black, painted them with a little bit of red and a little bit of white, that always works. And interestingly enough, it ended up being black with red and white, lucky me I guess. That's also my profile picture everywhere I go online, it's actually the Insignia from Forge World Cyclothrathe. The red gear with the spider in the middle.

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CB: Is that your preferred range within the Horus Heresy range then?

BF: Yes, 100%. Mechanicum is what appeals to me and is just the most interesting faction in my eyes, also play-wise. It's just very versatile in terms of the possibilities to realise such a project and on top of that, it's also incredibly beautiful dolls. Thalaxi, the larger Automata, that's simply beautiful and also something - I don't want to get ahead of myself now, simply a thing that I enjoy very much in GrimDarkTerrain. Where I can also influence how people see Mechanicum buildings. I just enjoy it.

CB: Since the Mechanicum is not so much in the foreground of the novels, my next question would be what is your favourite time period or "favourite event" in the Horus Heresy timeline.

BF: I would say I actually have three. One is, of course, the Solar War, because that is simply the climax of the whole conflict. That's where it's decided. That's where everybody is involved. And now with the more and more information that comes through the novels - the Black Library has done a great job, because the whole thing is very well interlinked - I find that very exciting. It's just such an ultimate and brutal conflict and that's also something that makes Warhammer so appealing. In Solar War, it's so concentrated in one system. It's all coming together and they're bashing each other's skulls in. Istvaan III is mentioned by many, but for me it's more of a clean-up, a light intro. I find Istvaan V much more interesting because it shows the tragedy of the different characters. When you see Vulkan or Ferrus Manus, who, driven by their hubris, absolutely have to go forward and do a lot of things wrong. And the related Shadow War, which primarily affects the Raven Guard. And then last but not least, one of the most crucial conflicts, but often not quite mentioned, is for me Schism of Mars, which took place very early in the Heresy. The fact that Kelbor Hal basically won the conflict and the loyal part of the Mechanicum fled to Terra was the only thing that made it possible that so much material, armour etc. was available at all. If that had turned out differently, the traitors would probably never have made it to Terra, because you have a completely different power right there. So they had directly already a bridgehead in the middle of the Sol system. And that's a very interesting conflict, which was even the subject of a book published by the Black Library (editor's note: novel 9 - Mechanicum) quite early on. That's also something I find quite a shame that we didn't get an old Black Book from Forge World for this anymore, as the Black Books would have just brought another level of value to the "historical accuracy". I haven't seen the new books yet, but I'm not sure if this will continue at this level, with the same attention to detail that has now been thrown into the Drop Site Massacre, for example. So it's a bit of a shame that we won't see that in that form, just like the Terra books as a Black Book, we probably won't see that neither.

CB: We'll have to see how the 2nd edition turns out. I'll talk about that later, because there was a gap in the implementation due to internal changes at Forge World. But what is your current project or what are you currently working on for 30k? Expansion of the White Scars?

BF: Well, I still have a lot of White Scars here that I have to paint (laughs), but I have also done relatively little Heresy in the last two years. Once, of course, due to Pandemic, and a big motivation were Heresy events. You agreed to do them and had to get things done by then. I've definitely noticed that in the last two years, that the event pressure was missing and you don't really step on the gas when painting. Oh, and of course I also have Custodes, and quite a few of them. And I also have a whole Knight House (laughs), so there's work to be done.

CB: Leaving aside the existing backlog, what would be your dream project for the Heresy? Without limitation on budget or available miniatures, just from what the background gives?

BF: There are two things. First: Magma City on Mars. But that would probably be GDT design in large. But the other thing would clearly be Drop Site Massacre. A table just filled with shot down Thunderhawks and Storm Eagles. That would just be the thing - if budget is not an issue - that would be the exact table I would build.

CB: For Adeptus Titanicus that would be within "reach".

BF: Yes, I think so. It should be feasible for Titanicus. If Epic should come at some point, there will certainly be very, very cool tables for it. But that would be a really impressive table and a project that I would really like to do. With such large titan maniples and things like that, there's always the question of where to store all of them. I'm off the subject and I'm also very glad that Titanicus exists as a game system.

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CB: Absolutely. I've also seen that on the sidelines of this Titan Walk, what a logistic challenge it is to transport the models. But I have to say, a dream project for me would be the Lunar / Traitor Solar Auxilia. The artwork we've seen so far, and also the troops that are known to support the Sons of Horus on Cthonia, for example. That already looks very interesting.

BF: That's also one of the nice things that appeals to me about the Heresy period, that the human factions and also the Empire as such were still so strongly diverse. Because not everything was made the same over 10,000 years, e.g. by the Codex Astartes or by any imperial army structures. The worlds that were annexed were integrated as far as possible and if they had a semi-cannibalistic culture, then you had to live with that ...

CB: ... as long as they paid their tithes to Terra...

BF: Exactly, as long as they send a few more troops. This simply gives you a lot of options in the Heresy as far as the Auxilia and the militias are concerned.

CB: But away from the auxiliaries, towards the Mark VI Marines. Did you buy the new Age of Darkness boxed set?

BF: As a matter of fact, no. I was quite busy on pre-order day and by the time I got to the computer around early noon, I couldn't get one anywhere. But that speaks for the Heresy, everything was sold out. But that's not so critical now, it's not as if I had nothing to tinker with.

CB: That would also be the question. With the White Scars, do you have any need for Mk VI Corvus Armour at all or are you also supplied by the Custodes for now?

BF: I definitely have enough power armour and enough Mk II and Mk III on sprue. So Mk VI doesn't trigger any direct need for me now. What I would have been keen on is indeed the Contemptor and the Spartan. That would have appealed to me.

CB: Spartan is a dream, you can see that in the review. I think for you, as an experienced Forge World model builder, you will notice the difference and appreciate it even more than those who are now switching from the Phobos Land Raider to the Spartan.

BF: Yes, but Land Raiders and Spartans were still rather easy. What's really been hell are those plastic resin mix kits, like the Fire Raptor or something like that. You have warped parts that you have to combine with the plastic somehow. One of them fitted perfectly and the rest had to be filled. I don't miss that so much now. But I would have been keen on the new big plastic. I would also have loved the book. If I understand correctly, it's not yet available separately. (editor's note: on the time of the interview, it was not available yet).

CB: It will probably be reprinted for a second wave.

BF: The roadmap was published the other day, and the PDFs of the books are supposed to be available quite early. Which is nice, of course.

CB: That's also great, because it picks up on the narrative theme. In the Heresy you are not only on gaming in 28-32mm, let's call it full-scale, but also in the much smaller AT scale (quarter-scale to avoid the 6 or 8 mm discussion). In a direct comparison, what appeals to you more?

BF: The transportability of Adeptus Titanicus appeals to me on the one hand, but also that you have a different scope. In Titanicus you have the possibility to play complete maniples of titans, so it's a thing that depicts the madness and the escalation of the Heresy era. That in a single conflict, 100 titans would be destroyed in a clash, it's something the Empire in Wh40k can no longer afford. And because you have a different scale, you can do much more cool things with terrain. For example, with a desert plate you can include an oasis or something, or set up whole factory complexes and so on. On 28mm, that would directly dominate the entire table too much.

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And that's also what appeals to me as an almost 40-year-old gamer. I'm not interested in tournaments and "competitive" play, I want to go to an event, I want to see well-painted armies, have a few pints and experience a cool story, and that's what I look for when I play. And for me that also means that you don't play on tables that look like the London Open Tournament with 5 square foam blocks on the table, but you have terrain that represents what you are playing.

CB: Was that also the reason for you to start your own project with GrimDarkTerrain? So this lack of suitable, atmospheric terrain on that scale?

BF: Yes, exactly that. It is - as simple as it sounds now - exactly that. It's been exactly that. Titanicus happened like that, I don't live in Bonn anymore, I have exactly one buddy here who shares the hobby with me and we were all-in, "Awesome-awesome, Titanicus is coming!" and then we waited a good year after the announcement and then it was released. And then each of us bought what felt like 3 Grandmaster boxes and realised, well, there's a lot of terrain in there now, but it's relatively boring. With what we had on our hands, you don't have so many possibilities, because you can only stack and build these "cubes" that the sprues give you in a certain number of variations. And that's how it began. Completely over-motivated, "So, I'm going to learn 3D and then I'll just do it myself..." and then that's exactly how it started. With a few small tanks and stuff that you stick on the roof. I thought to myself, I could also make something compatible and so the parts became more and more complex.

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I shared it on my Instagram and got a lot of support, and more and more people said, that's cool, you should sell it. And then that took a good two years anyway, because Titanicus came out in 2018 and I had then been persuaded in Discord by the Australians - not quite sober, to be honest - that I would offer the designs and make it available to others And it was a good decision.

CB: We also got to know each other through the Insta-story - with both things Broncofish and GrimDarkTerrain. And then it took a Telekom trade show for us to meet in person *laughs*.

BF: Yes, that's right. But it's also good that you wrote that you'll be there, otherwise we would have missed each other.

CB: But with 3D printing - that's also a super exciting topic and I've been working on that myself for a few months and also on a very small scale. But not the 28mm armies, but Epic and co. How do you assess the impact of 3D printing from your point of view on the hobby or on "niche topics" like 30k? Because it probably won't remain a niche topic for much longer.

BF: Well, I honestly have mixed feelings about it. There are two areas in the whole field of 3D printing from my point of view. There's the one area of people who are in an end-90s, Napster kind of mood to suck up as much as they can and want everything for free and pay nothing. "I'll print it all myself" and these people are then fed by people who bluntly copy what Games Workshop does and in my eyes don't add any value. This is a pure piracy scene in my eyes. My favourite example is this preview of the Necromunda Water Guild, where the Water Ogryn was available for purchase as an STL 10 days after the preview. And that didn't exist in the past. To be quite honest, I think that's simply shitty behaviour. Full stop. There are so many talented people and rebuilding a model like that - even if you "just" rebuild it - takes quite a level of skill to make it look decent afterwards. Then I think it's a shame when this talent is only used to steal an idea. I don't want to start the discussion "Yeah, but stealing from GW is okay because GW is a corporation and they make so much money, lalalala". You just have to be realistic, Games Workshop invented or at least strongly influenced the hobby we all like and do to a certain extent, and even if I don't like everything they do, it's still crucial what design decisions are made there. And just going there with the goal, well, when you hear some people talking like that, you could think that their goal is to bring GW down. And we have nothing to gain from that. None of them. That can't be it.

CB: I have to say that I had quite an interesting input on that at the time. The market shakeout that happened from time to time when various companies were no longer competitors of Games Workshop. And, for example, the customers said, "Yes, it's totally cool for GW if, for example, Confrontation no longer exists, because then they'll have a larger market share..." but the GW people, especially the creative people I spoke to, clearly denied it. That wouldn't be "cool" at all, because actually the fact that Confrontation has released out some very good things has spurred them on to step it up and be even better at what they do. And if you don't have this challenge or competition, then you become sluggish. And I'm right there with you. If people put the energy they put into plagiarism into working out their own ideas instead of rebuilding a Kratos 1:1 and then offering it for 15 EUR as an STL, that would put more pressure on Games Workshop than doing this bootleg stuff.

BF: That's actually a great segue to the other half of what's happening in 3D printing. That's actually where whole systems are kept alive. Without 3D printing there would be no vibrant Epic scene, without 3D printing there would be no vibrant Battlefleet Gothic scene. 3D printing is an incredibly grateful thing, especially for the smaller scale. Because the scale in which Titanicus is set, for example, is a scale that even smaller 3D printers can manage very well, and with relatively little effort you can make quite ingenious things. From terrain, to mission objectives, flags, alternative heads, alternative weapon loadouts. But also weapons or equipment that exist in the rules but are not (yet) available. And that's where I think it's a huge asset, there's a lot of creativity in it.

CB: Of course, what the smaller resin shops used to offer in other systems can now be distributed much better, because you're not tied to having a dealer in Massachusetts, but you can sell the STL, which the person can then print themselves.

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BF: Or make completely niche things that only this one legio has, because you know that the dealer has to sell 10,000 of them to make it worth his efforts.

CB: And for that I think the format is great, like Patreon, for example, because you can support people who do exactly that. The other thing you just mentioned is also exactly why I bought a 3D printer. I'm a GW fanboy at heart of their late 90s range. And some of the specialist games just weren't in the budget that I had as an older teenager. And just as I have now "bought back" my second edition Eldar army, if you want to frame it like that, that's just not possible at all with other systems. With Epic it would still be possible, probably to some extent, but you can forget about buying other things like Warmaster or BFG second-hand. The supply is very small, and the prices are simply off the charts. And that's where 3D printing represents a good opportunity to get into a system that is still held up by the community, but where there is also no Games Workshop offer. It's not as if I want to avoid paying 35 EUR for a box. No, no. I don't want to pay 110 EUR for something that is probably a recast and then throw money at some greedy person.

BF: Absolutely. Without 3D printing there would be no Warmaster community. And in some countries where there is a very, very lively epic community, in France for example, or also in Australia, there is a lot going on in that direction. And that would be unthinkable without 3D printing. And of course there is a lot of creativity going on. And then there is also the completely free area, where you have incredibly talented people who make incredibly ingenious stuff. To give a few shout-outs, Lauren, who now works under Solwyte, makes really, really good dolls. And right now, when the 8K printers come, that's going to really rock. And the other one, he's not so well known, but he also makes really good stuff, that's Wilph with his label Diverging Realm. And then of course all the painters who are incorporating that, with the possibilities of converting and personalising everything imaginable, of course with 3D printing it's just insane. That's what people were wet dreaming about in the 90s and it's now tangible.

CB: But from the point of view, GrimDarkTerrain takes place in the "Quarterscale" of Adeptus Titanicus, will there still be an addition in "Full Scale"? Sure, I can print out the Walls of Mytelene on the PLA printer at 400%. But are there any plans?

BF: That's possible. People do that too. I've also seen the train and the fortress walls in "normal" Warhammer scale. That also looks relatively okay. But the thing is that the concept of GrimDarkTerrain is that you have a modular, well thought-out but very individual system. I have now made over 1,000 parts and some of them are completely compatible with each other. And they are also compatible with the plastic kits. And you can build all kinds of things now. From airfields, to Mechanicus stuff, Imperial city structures with roads, and now brand new refineries. To translate something like that into 28mm, you first have to decide what you want to translate. Many of the things I've done simply don't make sense in 28mm. And that's the grateful thing about the Titanicus project, because at the end of the day, to break it down, I'm making beautiful sight blockers.

CB: I understand that. That's also something that's important to me with 28mm terrain. It shouldn't just block line of sight, it should be a point of interest, somehow offer interaction possibilities, and that's why I also celebrate what Poom is doing right now, for example, he posted this marketplace. Others would have just piled up the containers there, but he manages to build up a scene there that seems immensely alive, where no one is actually on it. But the composition is so ingenious that it creates incredible immersion despite the static scene.

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BF: Poom has a real talent for that. Not only to stage things in such a way that you think, wow, if only my stuff looked half as cool. But to go one step further, so that it always makes sense. You can imagine that there is a market place, there was life there 5 minutes ago, but then the two gangs started shooting around there and everyone took cover. He's got a huge talent for that. Another one who also has a good eye for that is Shibboleth. With his rat grill and stuff like that, just very cool stuff made for Necromunda. And by the way, he also made immensely cool terrain for Necromunda. With skyscrapers that were slightly Hong Kong City style, with cables and so on.

CB: There's also a great digital artist who offers matching STLs for it. Lazy Forger. He also does it really cool, for AT it wouldn't be my first choice now, because overall it's too low. But for Epic it's pretty suitable or ideally 15mm Mech-War, such a great fit. Where the mechs would now be about the size of a Space Marine in 28mm, for that it would be absolute ideal.

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BF: Design-wise, Lazy Forger doesn't fit 100% into the world of Warhammer. It's still too close to the current era for me. With the corrugated iron huts and such. But really good stuff, top craftsmanship. Really good stuff.

CB: Speaking of really good stuff. Let's get our act together a little bit here, going from the raving of old men to the newer releases. With the new plastic sets and the starter box, you have a much lower barrier of entry for players here. What's in the starter box alone would have cost a good 800 EUR at Forge World, plus shipping from the UK, needing a credit card (still not as usual as you might think in Germany) or you would have stood in line at Games Day a few years ago and is now offered in your FLGS for 225 EUR RRP.

BF: Yes, absolutely, and back then you would have sat in front of the Spartan and first thought about how to assemble the thing or would have had the worst casting defects in the Space Marine legs and so on. It's much easier now.

CB: But what advice would you give to newcomers or as a tip? This is now much bigger than the "usual" 1,500 point 40k army, there are definitely projects in it that are quickly in the area of apocalypse matches. The size of the project and the mass of lore is what triggers enthusiasm, but it may also be intimidating for some. What would you like to give new players to take away with them?

BF: Well, of course I can't say much about the force organisation or anything like that. Because, nobody knows what's going on anyway, yet. I personally, and this is what has always been in the foreground in the Heresy community, suggest that you play what you find cool. You can build what you want, of course, but, especially in such a narrative setting, and of course that's even more important in this epic story, you should ask yourself, what do you actually want to have for an army? Because unlike in 40k where you have a pretty monothematic Space Marine Order, this is far more flexible. Let's say Exorcists in 40k, heavily specialised chapter, not that big, maybe 600 men. Something like this existed, But in every, single legion as some kind of company or larger battle group.

CB: Maybe we should give the newcomers this information as an order of magnitude. A Space Marine chapter in 40k is about 1,000 Space Marines, but a Space Marine Legion during the Horus Heresy was simply, depending on the Legion, counting between 100,000 and 260,000 Space Marines.

BF: That's right. And of course there were a few that were a little less. Thousand Sons, for example. But Word Bearers or Ultramarines. There were more Space Marines in one Legion than are currently available in the entire 40k universe. And you have to be clear about this scale when you think about what I actually want to do or what I actually expect from my army. It's absolutely legitimate to have a highly specialised biker troop that are Ultramarines, that existed in every legion. There were also pure dreadnought units in the White Scars because the legions are just so big. And this specialisation does not continue. So, don't build them all straight away, even though it's difficult to stand there again at the beginning, maybe build the Spartan, or the Contemptor, but first read up on what am I even into and how do I actually want to play them. Because that's something where the Heresy has been very diverse, because you have 1,000 ways to play them in each legion. What I said at the beginning about the Mechanicum, there are so many possibilities to play the Mechanicum, there are also with Word Bearers, there are also with Ultramarines and so on. And especially very large and early legions, like Dark Angels, they have incredibly specialised subcontingents, with which you can basically do everything. It has to be said quite simply, pick the lore that appeals to you, pick a colour that you like and then you can build a cool Space Marine army with that. With your own heroes and everything.

CB: That's a good connecting point for my next question. As an outsider, how do you have to imagine the 30k community? There are no classic tournaments here and what is listed on T3, for example, is far away from what you find in other Warhammer systems. How does the 30k community work?

BF: Well, I can't remember seeing a classic tournament for the Horus Heresy in German-speaking countries. All the events I have taken part in were always narrative events. Of course, I can only speak for my own bubble, in which I pursue the hobby, and there it has always been like that, that the people are a bit older people and don't have so much time, but who do their hobby on a quite high technical standard, so they painted well, thought a lot about the story, thought a lot about who are the people, developed characters and so on. So all that name plate stuff, that actually started because the Heresy players felt the need to name their characters and then Versatile Terrain came about. It's a thing from the Heresy community, because they were the first to offer 3d printed plates for the bases. I've been to several events myself where it was mandatory to have notable characters with short backgrounds there, because you had some character development that way. And if you were at the first event, you could take the character development to the second event and continue playing there. A bit like Necromunda / Mordheim. Of course with less in-game effects, but it's one thing that the Heresy community sticks to and implements it that way. Very much narrative and that's reflected in how the Black Books were structured. You have maybe 20-25% rules and army list, and the rest is just really lore with maps, with lists, timelines and so on. And that's also what got me about the events. I don't feel like stressing out at an event. I don't want to sit there thinking to myself, "Darn, I have to win this now". But rather, my teammates back there at the table, things are actually going quite well for them, if I manage a draw here or don't get punched in the mouth quite so badly, we've fought for enough resource points to buy this and that upgrade, to trigger the artillery strike and so on. And then it's much more relaxed. But then suddenly the hosts comes in and says, "So, guys, the Traitors are doing a viral bombardment right now - all tables roll for each unit once, please," and then the tide turns. And that's what I personally absolutely like, because then winning or losing is not so much in the foreground. Sure, it's more fun to win.

BroncoFish - Spieltisch BroncoFish - Spieltisch BroncoFish - Spieltisch

CB: Sure, but if the story is good, that's more important. That's also something I've heard in the historical field from a few "senior" wargamers. Where they rented a chateau in northern France and played the Normandy landings or the Battle of Kursk with 30-40 people. Narratively, too, but also in such a way that 10 game tables depicted the front line and the draw was made to determine where the heavy armoured division would land. And that's something completely different than a forced tournament and people doing weird army building or other things that put a damper on the fun.

BF: Yes, that's right. And above all it has some very, very pleasant side effects. The motivation to cheat is much lower when there's not so much at stake. When you go home at the end and look back on the whole thing, you think, this character did some really cool shit, or when this and that happened, the tide really turned for us. I know there's talk out there in other systems, narrative play, yadda-yadda, but that's always been upheld in Heresy. And it doesn't matter where you are, whether it's England or Australia, that's the common denominator that everyone is on. And that, for me, is the core of this system.

CB: Of course, that also creates more of a connection to your project. Because you don't just have a bunch of Tier X level bulk of miniatures that make up 3 meta points, but you've jumped through the fire with your army.

BF: Exactly. And that's what has always been the appeal for me. It's somehow cooler to talk over a beer about which expedition force their army general was in and what he did there, and why he prefers such and such weaponry than to say, I'll play this and that combo and I have 5 repeatable 2+ saving throws. I have very clear preferences.

CB: It's all the more interesting what has now taken place more in the run-up than directly to the release - the 30k community has been accused of gatekeeping more often lately. When I listend to what you're describing, one understands of course that people have a certain claim and are perhaps not so keen on it being watered down. Or what do you think about this - I'll call it - "reproach".

BF: As far as gatekeeping is concerned, I have to say that it's an accusation I've seen very, very often on the internet, in the context of Titanicus as well. And many people are very, very quick with that accusation. And I find the accusation unjustified in many places. Because what does gatekeeping mean? Well, I can gatekeep a party. Someone is looking forward to it, goes there, is prepared and then I say "Nope, you're not coming in here". That's gatekeeping for me. If it's about me spending time with someone, but unfortunately they're not doing what I understand the hobby to be, that's not gatekeeping in my eyes. That doesn't mean that you have to be somehow unfriendly or antisocial to people on the internet or slag each other off or something. But it's just a difference if I have an army that I've put 600 hours of time into because it's been painted to perfection and I have the time to play with it twice a year. And then a guy comes along who puts primed dolls glued to black bases on the table. That's no fun and I've experienced things like that myself. And those were situations where I said no. When I'm somewhere, I expect the other person to take what we're doing seriously. If you just want to play, go to a 40k tournament or something. But if the meta of the event is everyone has cool painted armies and puts a bit of thought and love into it, they're all not power gamers and so on, then I expect that too. It's not fun either, it's no fun to play against an army where nothing is WYSIWYG. It's also no fun to play against an army where plasma throwers are put on base because people were too lazy to magnetise it. But if I then say I don't feel like playing against that, that's not gatekeeping in my eyes. And when people say, it's nice that you have a 40k Death Guard army, but it's a 40k Death Guard army. You would never think of playing Heresy with an Infinity force either. It is simply, when lazy people meet resistance, the accusation is quickly "this is gatekeeping"-moaning as a answer.
On the other hand, it is simple as that. For 10 years, the Heresy was a relatively small, sworn club of old nerds who just love to spend their time having long fluff discussions.

CB: You're about to answer my next question. What do you think will be the impact of the new edition on the game and the community in particular? There is, of course, the point that a lot of new blood that hasn't gone through this process or doesn't know it at all is coming in.

BF: That's okay, too. First off all, that's nothing new at all. There was also fresh blood in the past. I was at events when the youngest was around 15 or so. But you saw that, of course, he was fresh and not as experienced with painting as someone who has been doing it for 20 years, but you saw that she made an effort. He put love into it. The things were ready painted. And not just Battleready, but already finished at his level. And I met him again two years later and he was already painting much better. And in personal events at Heresy events, I haven't experienced anything even remotely resembling slander or pestering. And I think that this whole gatekeeping discussion is also due to the fact that there is an existing community that has held up the flag in all the years in which there was not so much support, and has done a lot itself, because there was hardly anything from Forge World. And now there are a lot of people coming in who have a lot of new ideas, such as Black Templars wanting to play in the Heresy, and that this meets with resistance ... that there are people who say, no, build up a Heresy army and then we'll tie in with that. But that's the way it is everywhere, when you have an influx of people somewhere, but they don't have that much experience with the subject yet, then that leads to a phase of discovery. Do you have to be shitty to people like that? No, definitely not. Does that mean you have to play with everyone? No, definitely not either. And I think it will go the same way as 40k or other systems, there will be different sub-groups. With Heresy getting so much coverage and the hype being so big, people will find themselves there. You don't have to do it everywhere, because in the end you're playing against the people you like and have to deal with anyway.

CB: Let's be realistic, because of FOMO and Shiny New Stuff Syndrome, people will leave when the next Necromunda expansion, Warhammer The Old World etc. comes out and leave their Spartans, their Mk VI Space Marines, because there's not enough attention for everything. Because many don't have that dedication, to focus on a single system, as is necessary especially with 30k because of its size, you don't have that with a lot of people. I'm also honest here, even with me, because of the space requirement and my painting speed, in order to now, what do I know, bring for example Blood Angels in the Heresy to a sensible size, in the same time I could complete 4 or 5 other projects. Respectively with the space accommodate 5, 6 or 7 other projects, from the storage space alone. And I'm not alone in that.

BF: That's one thing, it will also settle down. There's a lot of hype right now and people have to get used to it. Of course there are a lot of resources here, a lot of good Heresy content that people can draw from. And a lot of it is happening without the support of Games Workshop. Just looking at the painting tutorials for armies that are out there. What experience in army projects that can inspire you. From event reports, from game reports, more and more and more, there's so much content that's already been created in the last 10 years, somehow a Heresy standard will form again. And that's fine. Yet personally some things I will never participate in, are certainly tournaments, that's one thing, I'm just not up for it. But if people are up for it, let them do it. There are also very different ways of playing within the Heresy community. There was also a discussion in the Heresy about what is completely badly balanced. For a while Magnus with Sekhmet retinue and 3-4 tanks was quite an auto-win. That was a strength D Nova and all destroyed. They were ridiculously strong. Or Custodes. It got to the point where Custodes were banned at events because they were just way too ridiculously strong. That's okay, it will regulate itself. I'm not pessimistic about that either. The standards will find themselves. There are also other systems where people just gamble and gamble and gamble, and painting and so on is simply not a priority. That will certainly come with better availability in Heresy as well. But, that's not a reason for me to do my hobby any differently.

CB: But there will be others who want to do it the way you do it and for whom, apart from the availability, the whole thing will now also be affordable.

BF: Some things have been ridiculously expensive in the past. Some squads, you needed a squad of 10 and you had to put 100 pounds on the table.

CB: Especially since the actual gatekeeping - to use the term again - was rather, find a German under 30 with a credit card who would have ordered in England 10 years ago, with a 15-20% surcharge for shipping costs. That's a completely different kind of "exclusion".

BF: But that's exactly how it was for a long time. People saved, saved, saved and then at some point it was "The pound is only at 1.06 EUR!" and everyone went "Buy! Buy! Buy!", and that's how it went, you had enough for a while. And that's how it went in the Heresy community, they're all older, relaxed people who play 2-3 times a year, and realistically speaking, at all the events half of them first had to read up on the rules, because no one has a routine.

CB: That's also interesting to hear, because at other events it's more of an affront if you can't handle the chosen system fluently. But this way it's good to have a common denominator.

BF: Yes, it has always been quite relaxed.

CB: If you look back now, before the hype of the rumours and the official announcement of the 2.0. How do you rate the calm before the storm regarding the last years before the re-release. The availability at Forge World was also an issue before Corona, because they were able to produce with reduced staff, and you sometimes had the feeling that the system was lacking impetus due to the death of Alan Blight. How was that perceived in the community?

BF: That led some people to stop doing anything. But it's difficult to separate that. On the one hand you have Corona and this time, that went hand in hand. I can't say exactly whether it was because of Corona that no more events took place or because Heresy was oversaturated. I think a good indicator was that there was still a lot of preparation, homemade errata, podcasts and so on. And if you look at the fact that, for example, the big Heresy podcast, which has also gone full throttle in the last 2, 3 or 4 years, because they kept playing, doing events, I have to say, yes, the support wasn't there, but due to the fact that the player base tends to be older and more experienced, they still had enough to do anyway to keep going there and just helped themselves where they needed to.

CB: It hasn't had the same impact as in other systems that rely heavily on external stimulation. Here there is the intrinsic motivation. I can just, not being part of the 30k community, times aside Adeptus Titanicus and the little Epic Starter, it's like this for me from a business perspective, you can tell here that the release of Horus Heresy was obviously planned earlier. The White Dwarf articles that were already in print couldn't be pushed any further, so there were articles about power armour in a White Dwarf with no external reference, no product support. Then you have the lead time that such a release needs and you subtract that here, you notice that Forge World has not reissued certain things in the expectation that here comes plastic now. At least, that's what I would conclude from that. But I'm not that deep into it to validate that.

BF: Rumour has it - but this is just hearsay - that the Heresy was actually planned for 2020 for the Christmas trade. That's a rumour that you hear from time to time. In this respect. But the community has also helped itself a lot here. In some places, of course, it has become more of a makeshift solution. Certain things or rule updates simply no longer existed. Accordingly, many different ways of playing have emerged. Various things were then also guessed here, such as the way Magnus uses spells.

CB: It's also interesting how that develops. Because normally, when you play competitively, it's part of the meta, it's tied to tiers, and people don't like to let go when they've invested 500 euros for something that can do something that it can't do anymore. But if you play narratively and notice that such outliers ruin the story for everyone else, then I turn the slider down from 12 to 8 and I'm cool with it.

BF: There's one resource that not only does a lot of guesswork, but they've written their own rites of war and army organisation plans, their own units and so on, and it's amazingly well balanced. This is Tom Gould of Mournival Events, from Australia. He's the brains behind the whole thing there, and the rules that come out of there, also for Titanicus, for Acastus for example, was very early on, very close to what Games Workshop themselves later published as an errata. They generated a lot of content, e.g. Destroyer Company as a playable army plan, that was their brainchild. They did a lot for the community and the way people play.

CB: The next question ties in a bit with what you mentioned at the very beginning. Is there something like an often overlooked, hidden gem in the miniatures range or in the background. Most people know about the Primarchs and of course battles like Istvaan III, but what would you recommend people look at?

BF: What I personally see very rarely is the Archmagos Draykavac. That's a very high-spec model, which I personally think is very cool. But the nice thing about it, it has an Abeyant with it and that's a piece of equipment for the Mechanicum that you don't see anywhere else and it's also a particularly unusual design. You don't see it very often and it doesn't appear that often. Another thing that I personally find very good, but you see very rarely because it's simply not outstanding rule-wise and relatively expensive, are the Firedrakes from the Salamanders. Extremely chic little dolls. Another hidden gem that hasn't been available for a long time is Phoenix Guard from the Emperors Children. They were released very early and the power creep was still very much in its infancy, but the Phoenix Guard Terminators didn't really get that much of an update and they are not a very good unit for the cost and even for Heresy Standard rather rarely seen. Actually, every Emperors Children player has the models in their collection but on the field they are really rarely seen because they are - sorry if I have to say it - pretty rubbish and nobody likes to use rubbish.

Forge World - Archmagos Draykavac Forge World - Salamanders Firedrakes Forge World - Emperors Children Phoenix Guard

CB: The spears probably make them rather ungrateful models. They are very finely modelled and cast accordingly. You know that from the historical field with the pikemen and broken tips.

BF: Yes, that was inevitable, there's really no other way.

CB: Bronco, you've already mentioned the Australians. What resources, podcast, blogs or similar do you recommend in relation to Horus Heresy? Games Workshop has already put out an immense amount of content for Horus Heresy through Warhammer Community. In the two weeks leading up to the pre-order, they've already released an incredible amount of content themselves, involved the content creators, but who should you look at from those who have been on board for a longer period of time and are correspondingly deeper or broader?

BF: What I find a bit unfortunate is that of all the official content creators for the Heresy, there are only a few who have been doing this for a long time, such as the podcasters. There has been a lot of focus on social media and influencers and many of them have simply had nothing to do with the topic so far. Which I can understand, because of course you want to address new people and then you have to go where the new people are. But I think that a certain part of the community also feels a bit excluded, because they think "Hey, we've been flying the flag here for the last 5 years and nobody cares...". The shout outs are not connected to this. That was just my personal opinion and the shout outs I'm naming now don't reflect their opinion.

Clearly, when it comes to events and games and organisation etc., how do you make it so that everyone has fun with it? The Australians, Michael and Tim from the Eye of Horus Podcast, are right at the forefront, and of course Tom Gould from Mournival Events is always a guest there. They talk a lot about how to organise an event, with a lot of practical knowledge but also a lot of fluff. Eye of Horus in particular has also released many episodes, we are just before issue 200, but between episodes 80 and 100 there are several episodes where they spend an entire podcast, and EoH usually takes a relatively long time, 2 to 3 hours, on just one legion. And not so much rules-wise, but just rehashing what do we know about this legion and why are they insane MoFos, why are they really cool and so on. The whole episodes are on Soundcloud, with a lot of legion-specific episodes. They're not only funny as hell, but also really well presented. They're fun to listen too, but after every episode you're like, oh damn, this is so cool, I want to play these too.

CB: That's how I feel right now with the audiobooks on Spotify. I'm actually committed to what's going to be Legions, so Sons of Dorn and Horus Lupercal. But now so after 260 sound files about the Emperors Children.... Yeah, Eidolon is an asshole, but Saul Tarvitz and some Loyals. Hmm ... so hmm. Yeah, it's tough. *laughs*

BF: Yeah, I feel. Except for Night Lords. Sorry, but I couldn't warm up to that one despite the books, but otherwise pretty much every Legion is pretty cool. And that's exactly what they portray there. That's their focus from the content. Don't be alarmed, they swear a lot, they're Australians. The exact opposite is the Age of Darkness podcast (in terms of swearing), I've been a guest there twice I think. Here the subject is a bit different. They have more of a Heresy book club going on. It's just very entertaining. Because the guys who do the podcast, one has a master's in English literature, the other is a historian and something else, and they discuss the books in the style of the literary quartet.

CB: That sounds entertaining!

BF: Definitely. Good timing, enjoyable to listen to. No short episodes and I find that very enjoyable because I usually listen to hobby podcasts when I'm painting and I want to turn that on and then it runs for 2 hours or more. Otherwise Boys of the Golden Throne, quite irregular, sometimes they release three episodes a month, sometimes you don't hear anything for a few months. But cool guys, based in Vancouver, Canada. They also do events and stuff like that. Those are the three main podcasts. One thing I don't know that well yet, because it hasn't been around that long, but it's very high quality, Merchant Princelings, which is also really worth listening to. The rest are "just" the typical painters and so on. You have to look very legion-specific. A very good place to go for everything to do with painting is Lil Legends Studios. Really good tutorials too. Andy Wardle is also a good painter who has done a lot of different legions. Raptor Imperialis is the gold standard for Heresy armies in my eyes. Mike Fellhanded if you're into handmade bases or want to see silly amounts of time spent on homemade melee weapons. He just invests five evenings into a sword sculpted entirely by scratch. And he has incredibly good White Scars. If you like Death Guard, there's no way around Anvils of Konor. OmegonEdge has a very good Alpha Legion.

CB: Finally, can you give us a teaser or preview of what GrimDarkTerrain followers can expect parallel to the Horus Heresy release?

BF: Yes. There are of course cool new possibilities coming with the Heresy. One of the things that I'm definitely going to be doing is, hands down, Prospero. That's one thing that will definitely come. What I'm really keen on personally is a nautical theme as a box. That is, I'm keen on ships, but I don't really have an idea yet how I'm going to do it.

BroncoFish - Prospero Tisch BroncoFish - Prospero Tisch BroncoFish - Prospero Tisch

CB: Ah, you could look at the Aquamunda or Necromunda underwater stuff. There is something, not the Swamp theme, but with flooded Underhive or Waterworld style, with submarines and everything. Or, of course, there would be something like in Mandalorian Season 2, with the Trask walkers, the converted AT-AT walkers. And I could imagine you doing that very well with the Hermes.

BF: Definitely. But there's still way too little Mechanicum stuff and related to that I'd like to release a modular Ordinatus kit this year. A little bit has already gone in the direction with the excavator and the crawler. These are of course parts that form the basis for it. But such an Ordinatus. The background of the Ordinatus is of course that there is no Ordinatus like another and that is exactly what the kit is supposed to represent. You should individualise it as much as possible. Fat main weapons, or like in the Second World War, these flak-rafts.

CB: I can also imagine that something like the Belicosa, like a heavy Gustav, could be put on such a platform. But the last question, of course, is not left out. For the emperor or for the warlord?

BF: Neither, clearly for an independent Mechanicum. It should get the status it deserves and which, in my opinion, should also regulate everything.

CB: Clear answer. Thank you for taking the time!

Posted by Dennis B.

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