The Goonhammer Review: The New Astra Militarum

Today marks the pre-order of the many highly anticipated new Astra Militarum kits. We’ve already talked at length about the rules for these in previous articles, but if you wanted to know more about the models and how to paint the new models for our favorite space army duders, we’ve got you covered in today’s article.

Before we get started we’d like to thank Games Workshop for sending us a free preview copy of the box for review purposes.

Lord Solar “Horse Lord” Leontus

Scott: YARRICK LIVES!!! Look at this beautiful horse! When this guy was previewed, I wasn’t in love with the model. The kit is clearly inspired by Lord Solar Macharius and is painted as such on the box art and official photos. I appreciate how much of a badass Macharius was, but I felt like he’d look out of place galloping around my space army mans. As every good Guard player ought to, I lamented the loss of the Lord Commissar datasheet and the supposed death of Yarrick, so I took inspiration from my pain and decided to execute a head swap and paint job; imagining that the Old Man had been miraculously resurrected to continue his defense of the Imperium.

This model really grew on me as I was painting it, and I think it took the Lord Commissar-inspired paint job fantastically. He was fairly straightforward to assemble and easy to head swap with a little Green Stuff work. I imagine almost every Guard player around is going to have their own unique take on this model, which makes it the perfect kit for what it’s meant to be.

After painting, I still think this guy wins the award for “Most Overdone Tactical Rock”, and I really wish he were on a 60mm instead of an 80mm base. Having an W8, T4 model on an 80mm base is a little confusing to me, and I’m sure many of your opponents are going to be surprised by his profile given he’s on an absolutely massive base.

I fully assembled mine before painting and had no issues throughout the painting process. If I could offer one recommendation for painting your own Horse Lord, I would suggest that you deliberately try to tone down the colors on his basing to not distract from your Glorious Leader.

Rockfish: Hey look they did a fancy cybernetic horse, and they stuck a human on them too. Honestly, this model really rocks, I was a little leery at first glance as it seemed like a relatively simple character on top of one of the most over-the-top bases and a rather substantial mount but it really grew on me as I worked on it. Painting the model was a breeze and I ended up getting sucked into picking out details rather than moving on to other steps, I will admit I wasn’t fond of the kit’s original head but swaps are easy and IMO look great!

One thing you will encounter once you get into the kit is that it has frankly an insane number of pieces given that this isn’t that large a model, quite a few of which are thin enough to necessitate care when taking the sprue attachment points off. Once you’ve gotten past that, there isn’t anything too bad about the build. There’s the usual collection of fiddly things that come out of modern GW kits but the worst of those is probably that the scenic parts of the base have no structural integrity until they go onto the base as a whole.

They clearly considered sub-assemblies when designing this model, as the base, the horse, and Lord Solar themselves can easily be attached together once painted. I really don’t think you need to sub-assemble this model though, the dynamic pose lends itself to giving you easy access to basically every part of the model. There are a few areas around the cape and harness that are a little difficult to reach but they are also low-detail zones, so it’s pretty easy to skip over them.

Lord Castellan Ursula Creed

Scott: Looks like Tactical Genius runs in the family… I’m a huge fan of the original Lord Castellan Creed model, and having painted Ursala; I’m so glad that James Workshop decided to update this model. I love all of the callbacks to the original model that was worked into Ursala, combined with more modern posing and an improved base. She really ended up being a great tribute to her father.

Assembly-wise, I didn’t run into any issues. She’s around 20 pieces, including base, and they’re all pretty sensibly laid out on the sprue. The only note I had here is to watch out when clipping off her collar and epaulets, and binoculars if you use them. Those two specific pieces have some sprue gates on some noticeable parts of the model. So if you’re not careful here, I could see some folks slicing off some delicious detail by accident.

Again, I fully assembled her before painting, but if I were to do it again, I would keep her off of her base to have better access to the back of her jacket. Ultimately, I just did my best to work around it, and I don’t think the lack of access detracted too much from the overall paint job.

One thing to note, if you plan on trying to execute a head swap with her… she is a LORGE lady. I messed around with swapping her head with an unhelmeted female Kasrkin Sergeant’s head from Shadowvaults and found that the new head was about %25 too small. This was absolutely shocking and hilarious because the Kasrkin themselves are absolute units. She really just needs that noggin to hold all that Tactical Genius. In any case, I’m sure someone will find suitable head swaps for her to match their regiment and I think they’re going to look great if you pay attention to scale.

All in all, I think she looks great. She’ll probably be coming along as a Cadian Castellan in any list I’m not directly including her in.

Heavy Weapons Squad

Heavy Weapon Squad w/ Lascannons. Credit: Rockfish
Heavy Weapon Squad w/ Lascannons. Credit: Rockfish

Rockfish: Holy extra parts batman! The HWS kit gives you three of each weapon option available, which given the number of options and the presence of only the exact number of tripod bits you need means that each one of these boxes you buy is going to bloat your leftover bits pile like nothing else. This is nicer than the alternative, so I wouldn’t say its a bad thing!

While limited, since these aren’t supposed to be highly decorated marines or other elite force, every Guardsperson on the base has at least a few options. The gunner is limited to just the choice of head and whether to wear a backpack or not. The second model usually has a couple of compatible arms and often the option to be the squad leader or coms bearer if you intend to take the squad alone. It’s worth mentioning they do give you the bits to keep each model plain if you want to integrate them into your basic infantry squad!

Heavy Weapon Squad w/ Lascannons. Credit: Rockfish
Heavy Weapon Squad w/ Lascannons. Credit: Rockfish

Rogal Dorn Battle Tank

Rogal Dorn. Credit: Rockfish
Rogal Dorn. Credit: Rockfish

Rockfish: Last but absolutely not least we have the largest of the new models in this wave, a plus-size addition to the guard armored vehicles range. Landing about mid-way in scale between the venerable Russ and the goliath that is the Baneblade, the Rogal Dorn is a fantastic example of how GW’s plastics have advanced since the days of old.

Firmly the middle child of the family, but that still leaves the Dorn as a rather substantial vehicle. Yes, I painted that Baneblade just for scale comparison… no that isn’t weird what are you talking about…

The Dorn is as dense with details as you have come to expect from a modern GW model, some of which I am a little on the fence about initially, like the headlight/hull guns, but have certainly grown on me since I first saw them. It’s clear that regardless of what I might think of any individual detail, this is probably the most… grounded, of GW’s recent tank and tank-like kits. From a suspension that might even work to the turret actually looking like it might have space for a crew in there, they have gone all out on trying to make something that both scratches that distinctive guard itch while also bringing in that verisimilitude that is needed for a current audience.

If you’re the sort of person who fully magnetized or left unglued every one of their Russes you will find this tank pretty comparable so far as convenience goes. The hull guns will push fit without any modification, it’s possible the sponsion ones will too with a bit of paint on them, but when I tested fitting them I found they flopped out immediately so I ended up magnetizing them. It isn’t too bad of an experience whichever way you decide to do it. The main gun will definitely need some drilling to get it magnetized, but I found it straightforward to just put a big magnet in the base of the oppressor cannon and a corresponding one in the mount.

The build isn’t something that I would call anything in particular out, this is a pretty good modern GW kit. I would suggest setting aside a good chunk of time for it as this is a substantial model, but you shouldn’t encounter anything too onerous. I will mention you might want to consider throwing at least a few of the optional attachments on, as the turret does have a few somewhat nasty seams that get hidden by those. Something worth mentioning is that they didn’t do a full floor plate on this tank, which is an advantage for painting as it gives a good area to hold the tank by.

Scott: Oh my Emperor, I love tonk but, Rockfish already covered a lot of this guy, so I’ll keep it brief.

The Dorn is a three-sprue vehicle kit, and I’d estimate it’s about the same build time and quality as the Repulsor Executioner. I magnetized mine in the same way as Rockfish, and I immediately smashed my turret antennas because I’m a giant idiot and I was too excited. Besides that, I really don’t have anything else about the build that Rockfish hasn’t covered.

I typically keep my vehicles simple because I run them with different regiments of infantry depending on how I’m feeling, and I travel to events a lot, so I’m very concerned about bits breaking off during transportation. Even without the stowage or crew, the tank holds up and looks really slick.

The tank has enough callbacks and similarities to your classic Guard vehicles to not look out of place while bringing in some casted armor elements to make this kit feel new. Size and scale-wise, this tank looks great alongside the other models in the range.

There’s something about the mouthfeels of this guy that I just can’t put my finger on… I love tonks of all shapes and sizes, and this is new tonk, so I’m totally infatuated with it. I think I’ll be working them into my lists whenever I can… even if they’re the less competitive option.

Other kits

As well as these, the models from the Cadia Stands! army box are also seeing a separate release today. We reviewed these kits when the box came out in late 2022, and we’re glad to see them coming out separately now. Also available is the Primaris Psyker from the Combat Arena game – a great model which had previously disappeared.

You can pick all these kits up from GW or your LGS of choice – or if you’re in the UK or EU and want to support Goonhammer, consider using our affiliate link with Element Games.