Close on the heels of Dark Imperium, Games Workshop introduced three new ways to get started with Warhammer 40.0000 this week: Know No Fear, a pared-down version of Dark Imperium, First Strike, containing the new easy-to-build Reivers, Intercessors, Plague Marines and Poxwalkers, and a Getting Started with Warhammer 40.000 magazine with a free Primaris Marine on the cover. In this review, we'll have a look at Know No Fear, especially at it's probably most defining feature: the play mat and cardboard bunker.
Know No Fear comes with a 96 page introduction book, six dice, a 12" range ruler, a double-sided 22"x 43.5" (56 x 110 cm) gaming mat, a cardboard tray that works as a terrain piece, a sheet of Ultramarines transfers (unlike the Dark Imperium transfer sheet, which also contains transfers for Dark Angels, Blood Angels, and Space Wolves) and, of course, the models: A Primaris Captain in Gravis Armour, 5 Intercessors, 5 Hellblasters, 3 Inceptors, a Lord of Contagion, 10 Poxwalkers, 5 Plague Marines and a Foetid Bloat-Drone. The models are the same as the ones found in Dark Imperium, though they come in a nice blue and drab green plastic respectively.
In the 96 pages softcover book, you'll find a brief introduction to the hobby, the setting, and the rules. The print and paper quality is nice, the same as a softcover codex or the Index books.
The background section focuses on the models in the box – Primaris Marines and Death Guard. Unlike the Getting Started with 40,000 magazine, also out since this week, or the big hardcover rule book, other races and factions are touched only briefly in a couple of paragraphs.
Included is a guide to the Citadel Paint system, demonstrated on a Primaris Intercessor. Furthermore, there are detailed painting guides for the Primaris Captain and Lord of Contagion (the same that as the ones in White Dwarf), plus basic guides for Plague Marines, Poxwalkers and the Bloat-Drone.
Gaming-wise there is a nice six mission campaign, introducing more models and rules mechanics with each mission. A printed version of the 12-page core rules (the ones you can download for free) isare included as well. For the advanced rules with the additional missions, detachments and terrain rules, you'll need to get the hardback book, which is one of the fundamental differences between Dark Imperium and Know No Fear.
The mat and terrain
Probably the most intriguing feature of this set (compared to Dark Imperium) is the included gaming mat and cardboard bunker – an idea nicked from the Thunder & Blood Age of Sigmar starter set.
|Note you get only one of these mats in a box.|
The mat (technically the poster) is made from thick, semi-gloss paper, printed on both sides, and folds down to fit the box. The size is 22"x 43.5" (56 x 110 cm), so slightly smaller than two Sector Imperials tiles (24x48 inch), which is a bit of a bummer, as there would have been enough room in the box for a standard size mat. The semi-gloss paper means it will reflect more light than say the textile surface of a gaming mat made of mouse pad material.
The design is based on the Sector Imperialis board, one side featuring a neutral blue grey paint job, with markings where to place the models for the various missions from the book, the other side featuring a rusty brown paint job (thankfully without markings). The reproduction of the Sector Imperialis board is excellent, I guess they painted a real board and took high quality photographs.
As you can see, when you put together several mats, the design isn't completely seamless but it's also not too distracting either. Three of the mats will make a quick and easy gaming surface (but remember the play area will be smaller than the usual 4 x 6 feet / 120 x 180 cm). With some luck, you might find some spare mats in your gaming group or on ebay. I feel GW should release more printed gaming mats, the ones for Age of Sigmar and Warhammer 40.000 were nice, but they're only 48" x 48" and there should be more designs to choose from. Over the last couple of years, lots of gaming mat manufacturers emerged, so the market is clearly there.
The cardboard bunker is essentially the tray of the box. The print is nice, but in the end, it's only a square box. Also, the bunker has no designated place on the mat, no matter where you put it, it always overlaps some printed details in an unrealistic way. Because of that, it really feels like an afterthought. A couple of thick cardboard terrain pieces like in Gangs of Commorragh, for example, ruins based on the Sector Imperialis buildings, would have made this set so much cooler (and more than just the smaller brother of Dark Imperium). Though it's better than nothing, and it will help to add some variety to your first few games.
The Death Guard and Primaris Marines sprues included are exactly the same as the ones found in Dark Imperium – but they come in a lovely blue and drab green plastic. Don't worry, the properties of the plastic and the level of detail is the same. Glue is required for assembly.
Of the three Primaris Marines sprues, two are identical (the ones on the left, shown from front and back). They contain two Intercessors, two Hellblasters and an Inceptor each so there will be some duplicate poses. The third sprue has the Captain and all three squad leader sculpts.
|Image Source: Games Workshop|
Compared to Dark Imperium, you get two sprues less – you miss out on the Primaris Ancient, the two Lieutenants, five Intercessors, the Noxious Blightbringer, the Malignant Plaguecaster, two Plague Marines, and ten Poxwalkers.
A lot of people wondered about the size and scale of the new Primaris and Death Guard models. I compiled a couple of pictures from the internet to answer that question.
|Image source: @voz de horus|
Here you can see the size difference between Primaris Marine and an old-school Marines. Quite a difference, but helmets and shoulder guard (and, to some extent, the torso and arms) are the same scale as old Marines and can thus be swapped. Also, note how much taller and bulkier a Plague Marine is in comparison. Poxwalkers are quite large as well, at least as tall as an old Marine and a bit taller as a Cadian Guardsman as well (not shown). Death Watch Kill Team Marines are missing, who should be in between old Marines and Death Guard size because of their beefier and longer Mk8 legs.
|Image source: Morghot @War-of-Sigmar|
To put things into perspective, here is a comparison with a Chaos Chosen from the 6th/7th Edition starter set and the recently released Rubric Marines. Rubric Marines and Death Guard are on a pretty even eye-level, with Death Guard more bulkier. Both Rubric Marines and Death Guard are even larger than the already pretty large Chaos Chosen from Dark Vengeance, and towering over the Poxwalker, who is in turn about as tall as an old Marine.
So there is definitely some scale creep going on, not only in 40k but in all ranges (Khorne Bloodreavers, WHQ Silver Tower Warpriest, and Blood Bowl Humans towering over the older Empire/Freeguild infantry and even old Marines; Death Watch Kill Team and Mk III plastic Marines slightly taller than old Marines as well; Eldrad, Yvraine and the Visarch taller than Guardians or Dire Avengers; to name a few of the recent releases).
Know No Fear has an RRP of £50 / 65 € and contains 31 models. Dividing the amount of models through the suggested retail price, we get a ratio of £1.61 / 2,10 € per model.
In comparison, Dark Imperium contains 53 models and has an RRP of £95 (£1.79 per model) / 125 € (2,35 € per model), but also has the hardcover rule book, which goes for £35 (45 €). Deducting the book, we get a ratio of £1.32 / 1,51 € per model.
Value-per-model-wise, there isn't that much of a difference between Know No Fear and Dark Imperium. Know No Fear works as a real starter set for people who haven't played a tabletop game before, as it contains an introduction campaign (unlike Dark Imperium), a play surface, and a lower entry price level. Plus, the coloured plastic looks nice and makes it easier to tell both forces apart for your first couple of games. Which on the other hand makes Dark Imperium the set for more experienced hobbyists.
Unlike First Strike, which has Reivers and new poses for Plague Marines and Poxwalkers, there is no appeal in getting Know No Fear when you already own Dark Imperium. Which might actually be a good thing, imagine they would have done something silly like including a character you could only find in this box. Last but not least, I feel there would have been more potential in the play materials – a standard sized mat, a couple proper cardboard terrain pieces. Especially as they are the most defining feature compared to Dark Imperium.
Though despite some minor shortcomings, the set is still a highly polished Games Workshop product, and the models are brilliant, no matter in which box they come. In the end, it comes down to a matter of choice, and it's cool that we can choose between an S, M and L option for getting started with 8th Edition.
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