I was really interested to acquire this new version of Gaunt’s Ghosts when I first saw the Warhammer Community previews of it . I had read a few of the Gaunt’s Ghosts books and I am working on an Astra Militarum army. Admittedly the regiment I am doing is Steel Legion, rather than Tanith First and Only, but we can sneak the Ghosts in as auxiliaries I guess. And of course the sales art shows up some very nice sculpts and we are long overdue some nice sculpts for the Imperial Guard.
I was getting fairly impatient to see when exactly it would be released and for what price. Then I caught a reveal of what the price would be and my acquisitive urges went quite limp. £42 MRSP. For five guardsmen and one puny humie character… Really just six man-sized infantry, let us not mystify up a premium on “characters”. That works out as £7 per little plastic man. Oh dear.
Consequently I thought that, as much as I wanted the kit, I would not be mug enough to actually buy it. So this review was very nearly a “How to Kitbash Gaunt’s Ghosts to Save Money” article instead. That article may yet come after this one…
My resolve to refrain from buying faltered a bit, but even with these hefty discounts it still feels expensive. I gave in though and made the purchase. Now I will review it here: from unboxing to assembly. Let us see if there is anything in the experience that will balance out my ranting about the price.
There is not much to say about the box art, just feast your eyes on what these lads can look like all painted up. On the reverse, we see a hint that the models in the kit is not quite completely monopose because at least one ghost, Oan Mkoll, has an alternative head option.
After stripping off the cellophane, we open up the box to find a bag of 6 round bases, a full colour instruction guide with the model’s game rules for 9th edition Warhammer 40k and one single plastic sprue of modest size. This is what your £42 gets you.
The bases are slightly larger than the 25mm rounds I usually expect to use for Guardsmen. From the box art the models look like they would fit on 25mm rounds quite easily instead if you wanted them that way. That is what I will probably do, just for consistency.
I will not comment on the game rules included in the instruction book because I do not play 9th edition. Although rumour has it that they are over-powered. Perhaps that is another thing your £42 gets you, but some would call that “pay to win”.
Of course the main thing we are buying is the sprue, so let us take a closer look at that.
It is a new kit from a new mold so perhaps it is not surprising that there do not seem to be pronounced moldlines.
We can see that depth of detail rather than modularity and parts interchangeability is the philosophy of this kit. The original masters were cunningly cut into parts to fit the sprue in ways to maximise the detail for each model with a minimum of parts.
The molds for plastic are rigid steel which have absolutely no forgiveness for undercuts, unlike the more flexible molds for metal and resin. Since these models are intended to be assembled as highly detailed but monopose characters with individual and dynamic poses, solving the undercut issue means breaking the master down into very idiosyncratic parts. Witness Colm’s front piece has one arm and one leg.
Incidentally this makes the kit harder to work with for the kitbasher and converter as the interchangeability of pieces is almost non-existent.
The reverse side of the sprue gives a better look at the backs of the cloaks. This is not something we see much of on the box art. The cloaks from the back are not simple cloaks but have lots of extra details: buckles, straps, seams, pits and tearing. That is some added value over earlier camo cloaks such as those on the old metal Cadian snipers, or indeed green stuff cloaks. Although that also means more work for the painter.
Also on the reverse of the sprue are numbers to mark each piece to help with assembly using the instruction book.
One thing about a sprue composed of monopose bits without alternative options is that following assembly there will be few bits left over. For those that abhor waste that might be somewhat pleasing.
Given that modularity or interchangeability is not a feature of this kit it is quite important to match the right bit for the right model. So rather than snipping off all the bits and then putting them together however one likes, as one might do with the Cadian Shock Troops, a different approach is called for here.
The most efficient assembly algorithim then for this kit would be:
Nothing much to say here, Gaunt goes together very easily. He has just five parts but the result is very dynamic.
Colm goes together just as easily as Gaunt but for one piece. Colm is in six pieces and the sixth is a tiny part of his hair fringe. This sixth piece is so small that it may pose a challenge to the fat fingered.
Elim goes together easily from six pieces. His head might pose a challenge. It is a small piece and it can slide about where it fits to the body.
Hliane only has four pieces and none are particularly tiny but one tricky feature is his left arm. The left arm has to attach to the cape piece before the front body is attached. Furthermore it is not completely clear how and where this piece attaches to the cape. Counter-intuitively the knife part of this piece is largely obscured by the front and back pieces that enclose it, leaving only tip of the knife poking out by Hliane’s feet.
Six pieces but no challenges. Like Larkin his knife fits in between his front and back piece.
Oan has six or seven pieces depending on which of the two head options chosen. He goes together quite easily.
One might wonder if the larger bases that the Ghosts get over older Astra Militarum kits means that their size is creeping up too. Below is a photo that shows Gaunt and Elim up against the Start Collecting commissar and one of my old metal Steel Legion. I put the Ghosts on the same 25mm rounds here as the others although they come with slightly larger bases.
Gaunt is a bit taller than the SC commissar but he is also taller than his Ghost buddies too. Likewise Elim is quite a bit taller than the Steel Legion squaddie of yesteryear. That said Elim’s head and hands are not larger than the Steel Legion squaddie.
To me this looks like the Ghosts are just a bit closer to being true scale rather than the classic “heroic scale” that Games Workshop is more generally known for. Once again I wonder if Games Workshop is walking away from heroic scale.
Earlier we worked out that Gaunt’s Ghosts work out at £7 per dude. At about the same time as the Ghost’s release, the Cadian Shock Troops kit was re-released with an extra sprue and a price increase to cover that. To compare with that, the new Cadian box now costs at MRSP £2.90 per dude (£29 for 10). So a Ghost is more than twice the cost of a Cadian.
Except that comparison is not really fair to the Cadian box. The Cadian box includes a ton of extra options which even if not used are still included and must be paid for. As established earlier the Ghosts are monopose and, with the sole exception of an alternative head for Oan, has no extra options.
Perhaps a fairer comparison would be with the Cadian push fit kit, which has five monopose infantry men for £6, or just £1.10 per dude. If we make that comparison then the Ghosts are nearly 7x as expensive as they could be even by GW’s pricing. Of course the push fit Cadians are as ugly as fugly while the Ghosts are a really nice looking, so there is that.
In some ways the Ghost kit has many comparable qualities to the plastic commissar sprue that rides in both the Tempestus and Militarum Start Collecting boxes. They are both dynamically posed monopose characters, except of course the Ghosts kit has six bodies instead of one per sprue.
One can buy the plastic Start Collecting commissar separately and if one does he costs a whopping £17.50. If one accepts that as a fair price then we could be generous enough to say the Ghosts kit at £7 per dude represents a bargain! LOL.
Not everyone plays 9th edition. Many of us with an interest in Warhammer 40k stick with the edition we first jumped in on. The expense and mental load of keeping up with Games Workshop’s short edition lifespans is a challenge too far for many. One could adapt the 9th edition rules to earlier editions but alternatively there are ready made rules already for the more recent editions.
For 5th, 6th and 7th edition, Astra Militarum can have camo cloaks on veteran squads, company command squads and also lord commissars. It was an option in the rules although there were very few models released that actually had camo cloaks.
Of course using green stuff or other bits to put a cloak on a cadian or catachan guardsman is not a great challenge. However it is nice to have a company command squad ready made and looking good in camo cloaks. This kit would serve very well as a company command squad and lord commissar in camo cloaks then.
Gaunt, of course, is your lord commissar in camo cloak. Larkin with his sniper rifle is your special weapon dude. Pair Bragg and his autocannon with Oan Mkoll to make a Heavy Weapon team. Elim Rawne is your remaining veteran with lasgun and finally Colm is your Commander.
This last one is a little off WYSIWYG because Colm has a lasgun and, somewhat weirdly, that is not an option for a company commander. His lasgun is a bit fancy looking so perhaps you could call it a special upgraded lasgun which happens to have bolter stats. A bolter is a rules legal option for company commanders. That is the way I would play it.
I might not play 9th edition Warhammer 40k but I do play Kill Team. Although there are no Kill Team rules for the kit yet, that I am aware of, Gaunt’s Ghosts would be absolutely great to have in Kill Team.
Hopefully some rules for them in Kill Team will be available at some time. Until then one could always home brew one’s own Kill Team rules for informal play.
This will be the subject for another article but for now consider that to represent these game entities on the tabletop we need not do much more than stick cloaks on five guardsmen and a commissar. And that should only cost a fraction of this kit even if only using official Games Workshop bits.
Cloaks are not too hard to create using green stuff and can also be sourced from many different kits and bits from many different manufacturers. The old metal Cadian snipers, without modification, are nearly identical to Larkin in appearance. At about £5 each new the metal Cadian snipers are expensive themselves but still cheaper (per dude) than this kit. The cadian command box also has sniper bits integrated with a cloak as another, even cheaper, way to make Larkin.
The trickiest bit will be sticking an auto-cannon on your Bragg proxy. Regular plastic cadians or catachans have autocannons in the heavy weapon team kits but those autocannons are far larger than Bragg’s one and intended to go on a separate tripod. Luckily the Sentinel kit has an autocannon exactly the same length as Bragg’s one. Although it is a little thicker.
There is no argument that this is anything other than a lovely looking kit. It is another example of the great progress GW has made with their plastic kits. The cunning way the master models were cut up into pieces to put on the sprue in order to maximise depth and detail is quite impressive.
They are also proportioned more naturally than earlier Astra Militarum models. This is more evidence that Games Workshop is walking away from their weirdly proportioned heroic scale.
The price though is punishing. £42 MRSP for six human sized infantry figures is honestly quite expensive even by Games Workshop’s own range of prices. I suppose a lot of the premium is down to milking the affection for the Gaunt books. Or perhaps they are just testing the limits of the fanbase’s wallets?
It is your own choice whether it is worth this price but I think it is at least fair to say it is not an automatic purchase given the price. At least the big discount wargames retailers can take some of the sting out of the price.
Stay tuned for an article where we try to kitbash convincing ghosts for half the cost.