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Goatboy’s Warhammer 40K: Are Big Centerpiece Units Worth It?

8 Minute Read
Feb 02

Goatboy here to talk about those big centerpiece units and models GW wants you to build your 40K army around. Are they really worth it?

We know GW loves to build some crazy centerpiece models for armies to “build” around.  We see it in Age of Sigmar and we have small pieces of it coming into 40k – whether it is a Daemonic Primarch or some kind of ancient baddie come back to take all the candy.  These things are coming to 40k and my question is – do you think we need em?  Before I jump into what I think some armies could use and what we could see let’s talk about why they are interesting.

First, the Why

First – it lets GW make a crazy model.  They get to build some kind of insane looking monster that pushes the boundary of Plastic injection molded miniatures.  It also lets GW build something that armies can build around and look pretty dang impressive on the tabletop.  We all know walking down the lines of tables at an event and coming across some army with a huge centerpiece model is pretty dang neat.  GW wants new people to come in and be in awe of the sheer monstrosity on the tabletop.  They like it when kids come in, see something neat, and ask their parents to get them that big fat robot of doom.  It’s why I think will see more of them just on the sheer aspect of looks being an important piece of the GW “buy this plastic crack” puzzle we all chew on.

The Fine Balance

Making a model is easy – the real dance is carefully balancing the rules so the model is good – but not too good.  Do you remember when Magnus was just a bit too much for the game?  Back in those glorious days of 7th and 8th Edition Index days where he could never really die (mine did as I rolled 2’s like a boss).  This is where you have to figure out how to make these kits both useful – but not overly insane.  Most of the time you can dump on a ton of rules and powers with the limitation of how they interact in the game keeping them at bay.  We all know the game isn’t just about killing or protecting your models from dying – it is a careful dance of resource control (objectives, Secondary Missions, board space) so while you have a big monster they can’t be all over the tabletop.  In a lot of ways the ones that do better are those that benefit their army in some way with either Auras, powers, or just funky abilities.  This push and pull for rule design makes it hard sometimes as GW obviously wants everyone who plays the army to buy the model but having every version of the army have that single model becomes a bit – well boring to see on the tabletop sometimes.

St. Katherine

With that – let’s look at some of these centerpiece models and how they fit into this mold.  The first initial “multiple” character model was the figure – St. Katherine.  I really liked this design as it did a ton of interesting things.  Between all its Auras, cascading powers as she took damage, and overall look for the army meant this was a winner of a design.  It won’t show up in every army but it could which makes this an interesting figure.  I also like how it had a plethora of wounds but still kept the “sister” statline  to make it feel like part of the army as a whole.  My only real complaint is how are you going to fly with this thing and all those floating babies on top.  This model screams to fly in some kind of magnetic box to lock its base down and let those baby’s dance around like the Warboys from Mad Max.

Daemon Primarchs

From there we should probably talk about the 2 Daemon Primarchs.  Magnus hasn’t had an update yet but you can see how Mortarion has changed in his updated state.  I like how his Auras have shifted to more beneficial for his army with some Reroll options and abilities like double Warlord Traits.  I do miss his sheer offensive capabilities though as his mortal wound generation could be how the army decimates an opponent so losing that is a very odd thing to think about.  Of course we don’t know the entire landscape of his army changes and how he might still be the offensive powerhouse that DG need.  From there Magnus just feels like someone who is playing with rules a few editions too old.  I know some other Chaos Masters have used him pretty effectively as he can still outcast most opponents.  This is where he seems good as he can move around, throw spells at will, and be one of the few almost guaranteed mortal wound outputs you have.

Silent King

From there we get the Silent King and I think overall he is good – just not really needed in current Necron builds.  He feels a bit out as his Dynasty is ok while the build your owns seem to work better.  Sure he can stack and change things – but I haven’t seen a lot of useful builds show up yet online.  I bet the mission pieces of the army as well as a lower amount of testing has kept a lot of the secret sauce at bay so maybe he will become the bad ass we all fear him for.  He looks amazing and these type of characters I think could make for some really interesting units – if we get more armies with them.

Where is Vect?

As we head towards the finish line let’s think of some of the other “big” bad we could see come out there.  I think the big – where the hell are you is Vect.  This feels like a no brainer as we could have some kind of awesome floating death barge that has some badass Incubi, Vect in the middle, and maybe some chained “Farseer” or other playthings.  I know we have a big bad with The Silent King but Vect just feels so – needed right now I would almost rather have him than some of the other “rumored” big bad guys like Fulgrim or Angron.  Heck I am lying I would rather have Fulgrim but Vect is a real close second to that guy.  You could imagine Vect with some kind of Force field, buttload of attacks, weird guns, and just some odd Auras.  Things like “To Scared to Fail” to give some reroll 1’s to things or some other fun little within game options.  Heck, you could even set up something like he can throw x things into reserve to deep strike turn 1 – because Vect just cheats.  I like we got a new Lelith but not having Vect out there just feels well – not fair to my buddy Sean who needs to win games with Vect soon or else the main bad guy will call up his debt owed to him by the Lictor Shame man himself.


One day, one day

The other Chaos Primarchs

I spoke a bit about having some other Daemon Primarchs and these fall into the whole idea that we have more in-depth Chaos armies show up.  I would love to see those models come out – but we need DG/T Sons like books for Emperor’s Children and World Eaters.  This would mean some updated “Legion Troops” for them and a whole slew of other things.  I don’t expect to see that for awhile no matter how many rumors we hear.  I am sure it is coming but I won’t hold my breath.


The other army that really needs this would be the Tyranids.  I think we need a big bad brain queen thing, aka the Dominatrix, showing up in the middle, controlling the horde, and just being a pain in the butt.  We know they had some for the old Epic game so why haven’t they showed up in 40k yet?  They can make this plastic crazy thing as the army really only needs this and some updates to old resin models to be fully complete.  A few tweaks, some crazy auras, and maybe make Synapse something too fear would be a good thing.


The last one I want to think about is how Eldar could use something neat.  The only real big thing they have right now is the Wraithknight and while a neat model – he isn’t a “leader” like you want for these.  This could go into something like the Court of the Phoenix king with a bunch of cool Exarchs and a king like figure in the middle.  Or maybe this moves the Avatar as something huge and monstrous as well.  I would think the Court could be awesome as you could set up a bunch of cool figures poised around and set up as a deadly murderball.  I do like these Diorama models as it lets builders/painters get something really neat and unique – plus maybe useable in the game.

Odds and Ends

What other armies could use something unique in the middle of their army?  Orks got a new Ghaz and while an amazing figure he doesn’t feel as dynamic as some of the other big based art like pieces we have seen.  The Daemons got 4 different Greater Daemons that seem fun but just on the edge of being too amazing.  We also have Knights as well – but that is an army of Robots so less of a centerpiece.  We all know how I love the Lord of Skulls but while endearing looking it isn’t nearly as “build around it” and more abuse some auras.  Heck I just finished painting my 6th Lord of Skulls this past week which is something I thought I would never say.

What do you guys like more – the diorama boss level type of characters or the big single monster of doom?


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