Kings of War’s Empire of Dust: Playing with the Big Boys Now

G’day Goonhammer readers! While we’ve been busy practicing our skills and preparing for an upcoming tournament, Mantic Games have continued to work those resin mines and have previewed some more of the upcoming range refresh for the Empire of Dust (check out the first part here). Now we get to see the real stars of an Empire of Dust army, the Idol of Shobik and the Monolith, in resin (and physical form) for the first time! In addition, the new Chariots are for release in August alongside the release of the separate Revenant Cavalry and Skeleton Warrior plastic kits.

Prince of the Ahmunites is playing with the big boys now. 

Get plastic Skeletons any way you like 

Keeping this part brief, the Skeleton Warrior and Revenant Cavalry kits revealed in our last article were initially only available as part of the army boxes. These are generally always the best deal on building up armies, yet there may be individuals out there that already have copious amounts of Enslaved Guardians and would rather purchase these kits separately. We are pleased to notify such select people that by August you can.

Empire of Dust infantry straight to your door! No need for pesky army boxes to get your hands on these.

This is good news in general, because there’s nothing quite so annoying as certain units being stuck in big boxes. All companies seem to do this, from Games Workshop and their random hero models to Mantic and their Nightstalker Butchers. 

Just let us buy the toys!

Chariots deader than the Dead Sea

From the renders shared two weeks ago we now get to see the Empire of Dust Revenant Chariots in all their painted glory. This epic kit brings together resin chariots with plastic horses and charioteers, providing plenty of options to make a diverse crew when coupled with the infantry kits.

Fast and Furious: Empire of Leave Them in the Dust.

This release is particularly exciting because Chariots are part of the identity of the Empire of Dust, separating them from the standard Undead by bringing in something wholly of Ancient Egyptian warfare. Prior to this, no Chariot kit existed that could be easily used to create Empire of Dust chariots from Mantic. The best alternative was either to source some of the increasingly rare Tomb Kings chariots from the discontinued Games Workshop range, or to convert from historical kits (which are also few in number).

With the Chariot kit coming into existence, new players will now be able to field these unique units. Whether they are competitive or not is up to players more skilled in Empire of Dust than us. Hopefully some improvements to Chariot units overall are on the horizon so that they can once again see tournament play (but not back to 2nd edition levels!).   

The Monolithic reveal

If the Revenant Chariots reinforce the Ancient Egyptian theme, then the Monolith kicks it into overdrive with a heavy dose of mythological flair. The Monolith, for those not familiar with the unit, was described as an ancient standing stone that fueled the power of the Ahmunite priests. In game this equates to the ability to cast Surge (8) on any unit within 24”. Finally, after half a decade, it has a glorious resin model!

The Monolith of the Ahmunite Empire. We are sure Brendan Fraser would approve.

The Empire of Dust, until now, was often an army that required considerable explanation prior to the commencement of any game. The fact that no models existed for the Monolith, the Idol of Shobik (see below) and the Soul Snare meant that there were all manner of conversions and proxies, ranging from the very clear to the potentially confusing. This new Mantic Monolith sets the standard for what this kind of unit should be, so that in future we can all rest easy that the spooky moving obelisk is in all likelihood the Monolith.

The Monolith could have easily been an ordinary standing stone with runes in it, but the addition of spectral flames literally exploding from within make for a much more dynamic model (hard to do when it is literally a rock). It also provides some interesting painting opportunities when it comes to object source lighting and bringing in some bright colours that might not otherwise be present in such a force.

All hail the Idol of Shobik

Saving the best for last! It’s the terror of the tabletop, the butcher of the battlefield, the Idol of Shobik itself! Reminiscent of Anubis, the Ancient Egyptian jackal-headed deity, the Idol of Shobik is a common sight in many an Empire of Dust force.

The unstoppable statue of doom; the Idol of Shobik.

Like the Monolith described above, it was a unit that lacked any model and had a pretty vague description to boot. Now we have a resin model that reflects the design aesthetics of the smaller Enslaved Guardians, but has its own unique look. Unlike the Enslaved Guardians, the Idol of Shobik appears truly ancient, it’s fine craftsmanship crumbling over millennia. Despite the somewhat dilapidated appearance, the Idol strides forward defiantly, ready to get hacking with those nasty-looking sickles.

The Idol of Shobik on the tabletop is a unit of exceptional quality. Defense 6+ and Aura (Iron Resolve) puts the brakes on almost any enemy unit in the game. Shambling means it will get Surged into places your opponent won’t want, and unlike most monsters and titans, it possesses an invariable number of attacks, providing some reliability in combat. As if that wasn’t enough, it comes on a monster sized base (50 mm), making it quite tricky to stop it navigating the battlefield.

The quality of Mantic resin

For those new to Kings of War, there might be some apprehension regarding the resin-based composition of a number of models in this release. This is understandable given the history of some resin products from certain other manufacturers.

The upgrade from metal to resin for the Enslaved Guardians has breathed new life into them.

Mantic, however, is an exception. Their resin models are crisp in detail and rarely possess deformities in their cast. Having assembled a number of their models both large and small, old and new, we can safely provide assurance that there will be no disappointment when it comes to these models.

The standard preparation steps are still needed, such as removing from the model what little bits of erroneous resin remains from the casting (referred to as flash), and washing the pieces of the model in warm, soapy water to liberate the release agent used. The latter step is most important as the release agent (usually oil-based) will directly impede the application of paint to the model. The paint will simply not stick to the model.

Promising moves from Mantic

These releases are overall an exciting step forward in Mantic’s approach to Kings of War. As mentioned in our earlier article, Kings of War has many units without models. The Empire of Dust was one of the biggest offenders with regards to a lack of models (not including Uncharted Empires armies), so this whole release is very encouraging. One day we hope all the armies will have complete ranges from Mantic, which would be incredible considering the quality of the sculpts they are currently releasing. 

The question now is: What’s coming next?

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