Adeptus Mechanicus: Beyond the Imperium

So I got to chatting with Mark Bedford & Rob MacFarlane about Mechanicum forces at Games Day. Do you know the one thing I took away from those guys? Excitement. Excitement for the scope and boundaries they were able to push; whether that’s using entirely CAD sculpting methods (ala the new TAU R’Varna) to compliment the straight lined Mechanicum aesthetic, or the blank canvas that goes along with an absence of any comparable GW existing model range the future of the Mechanicum looks bright.

The cover art for the Black Library's Mechanicum

The cover art for the Black Library’s Mechanicum

Mark had his sketchbook with him and I’ll tell you now, I wish I’d popped off a few pics whilst browsing the contents. He’s trying to recapture the aesthetic and feeling of early Blanche artworks that many of us at Corehammer are not only familiar with, but also downright nostalgic over. We’re talking a proper injection of Grim-Dark back into the setting, with the familiar robes of the Adeptus Mechanicus cowling angular animal-skull faceplates and a heavy lean towards stark augmetics. A vibe I feel is perfectly captured in the recently released Magos Dominus sculpt (bagged up on my desk) and oozing from the concept sketches in Mark’s book.

What about the vibe of the army? Essentially they’re being moulded into the closest thing to a necromantic force we’ll see in 30k. Imagine the victorious Tech-Priests scouring the battlefield clean for any useful parts, both organic and machine, to recycle into new troops and upgrades. The wounded and recently deceased being lobotomised, cleansed of all individuality and conscious thought and raised anew as Thralls to be controlled remotely by a Magos.


More Blanche please.

The idea with the Magi is to move away from the reliance on physical armour and instead be protected by technology (power fields and the like) whilst literally controlling vast swathes of thralls as cannon fodder. The ultimate example of destroying the head to destroy the beast, kill the head and the rest will fall. The obvious comparison here is Tyranid Synapse, but a technological version. Technology that must be powered, but not by dirty fossil fuels with belching exhausts. Clean power from fusion style generators. Generators like those already sculpted across the Mechanicum range.

Given Thralls’ effectively have their humanity stripped out as soon as their mask is attached and are merely a number bent entirely to the implacable will of the Mechanicum with no thought to protecting themselves, we can expect sculpts in rigid ranked poses to show their complete lack of any conscious thought.

Whilst the Thralls give us the Guard analogues (and may yet be interchangeable with the plastic guard kits) the Skitarii are where we’ll see our Marine analogues. We already know they are a staple of Ad-Mech forces and they’re able to hold their own (for a short time at least) against marines from the Heresy books. However because there’s so much description within the Black Library books already there’s no real creative freedom to sculpt these guys, so a bit boring to do from an artistic standpoint and being held off for more fun things first. I can get behind this.

Myrmidons are a unit straight from Book II and were on display in cabinets. These guys are the elites. Trusted to carry experimental weapons to battle more advanced than those available to Astartes. Bedford was very much of the opinion the Mechanicum wouldn’t give away their best toys. After all if you make a shotgun and a pointy stick with nails in you don’t give away the shotgun at a time of war. Models are done bar the weaponry which is why they are still WIP. They were sculpted entirely with CAD which lends itself to the less natural lines of augmented Ad-Mech bodies at currently available printing resolutions. We’ll need some real world improvements in tech before we see much biological sculpted in this method.

Managed to snap a close up of a Myrmidon

Ad-Mech will be drip fed in each Heresy book as allies to any other force in the manner they have been so far. This means we’re not only getting a steady stream of what are shaping up to be some of my favourite sculpts as each book drops, by the time Forge World get to the schism on Mars (a book in itself) they can concentrate on sculpting Dark Mechanicum and gamers will also already have available an army for one half of the book. Where Mark wants to bring the darkness back into the model range with Ad-Mech and their advanced weaponry the Dark Mechanicum will be even more extreme and twisted after opening the Vaults of Moravec.

Current anticipation is the Mechanicum will have access to machines of all sizes, right up to Titans and everything in between (yes including the much hoped for knights). However like weapons their machines will be different. A Mechanicum pattern Land Raider won’t just be a big souped up Marine one (so far as it hopefully won’t even share the plastic base kit, it would be a complete new resin sculpt) and the Titans they keep back rather than loaning out will again be superior or different in some way. We’re back to the shotgun/pointy stick analogy.


The cover artwork for the Black Library’s Priests of Mars.

Lastly I want to mention continuity across the models, a continuity that spins a longer tale all of it’s own. I mentioned briefly the advanced fusion power packs mirrored across the range. Check these out on the backs of any of the current Mechanicum models. They all have one from the Thallax up to the Castellax, although it’s easiest to see on the Magos Dominus or the Myrmidon pictured above as it’s completely external. Now check the back of the 40k Chaos Decimator Daemon Engine. Look familiar? Same power source, just when it proved insufficient for purpose someone went and chained a daemon into it. Nice!

<<< Unavoidable Caveat >>>
<<< All this is based off personal discussions with designers. It is not officially confirmed or mapped out, just the direction these guys are considering taking the Mechanicum at the minute. Given we’ve been spoiled now with announcements of books III, IV, V and VI with release aims of 6 months for each we’re talking 2 years partially mapped out already for the Heresy tomes. Ideas are fluid. They change. They can develop a life of their own. So add some salt. I for one can’t wait to see what’s next. >>>

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About John

After growing up on a farm in North Lincs John was attracted by the bright lights of Manchester at the turn of the century. He attempted to play drums in a few discordant bands through school and college before realising he was a better listener and could have more fun in a mosh. A reader first and and self confessed Rule Geek who enjoys poring over codexes and spends far too long painting. John hates the taste of Badab Black.