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Kings of War’s Dark Elves won’t be like their Warhammer rivals

A new preview from Mantic Games reveals the design process for the Twilight Kin, the Kings of War answer to Warhammer’s Dark Elves.

Illustration of a Twilight Kin queen, a pale-skinned elf resting on a barbed throne, flanked by huge Impaler warriors in corrupted full body armor - her Nightcrawler beasts gnash their jaws and flail clawed limbs towards the viewer

Mantic Games has revealed more about the design of the Twilight Kin, an upcoming army for the firm’s Warhammer rival Kings of War. A design diary video released on August 17 explains the aesthetic and narrative behind The Impalers unit, further distinguishing Mantic’s fantasy world of Pannithor from the Warhammer Old World.

While Kings of War began as a range of cheaper models for Warhammer Fantasy Battle, Mantic has spent a long time establishing distinctive backstories for its armies that separate them from similar Warhammer: The Old World factions. The background for the Twilight Kin is a doozy.

Mantic’s Kyle Przelenski explain that the Twilight Kin are elves steeped in “twisted and evil dark magic”. They reside in “the Void”, a shadow realm populated by the nightmarish Nightstalkers, eldritch dream-monsters that the Twilight Kin dominate for their own ends.

Male Kin are “more easily corrupted”, becoming completely corrupted and overtaken by enormous mutations, while female are more resistant, remaining more elf-like. The gender split for the Kin reminds us of the matriarchal society of the Drow DnD race, while their connection to extra-dimensional horrors is giving us big Baldur’s Gate 3 energy.

As a result, the male Twilight Kin Impalers are twice the size of a normal Elf, partly fused with their armor, with hands and eyes sprouting all over their body and armor. It’s a design that draws on a variety of sources: Warriors of Chaos, the World of Warcraft Liche King, Soul Calibur, Requiem Vampire Knight from the comic Heavy Metal…

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Przelenski says that, although there were several rounds of concept design, the core design for the Impalers came from an adversary model in dungeon crawler board game Dungeon Saga Origins. That nailed down the look of the heavy armor and corruption motifs for the range.

Przelenski emphasises that the model design had practical concerns, too, from preparing them to be cast in hard plastic, to minimising the number of leather straps and buckles so as to make painting the miniatures easier. The Soulbane character, pictured below, had its weapons repositioned to ensure it wouldn’t overhang its base in games of Kings of War.

A resin printed Twilight Kin Soulbane for Mantic Games Warhammer alternative Kings of War - a figure with all-encompassing armor, batlike cloak, two khopesh blades, and crowned, face-hiding helmet

Kings of War has a well-deserved place on our list of the best miniature wargames, as it’s a quick-to-play fantasy battle game with an organised play scene that accepts proxy figures. If you’re happy with your Age of Sigmar armies, or you’re eagerly awaiting the Warhammer: The Old World release date, we think they’d make great Chaos Warriors of T’zeentch.