As I’ve been writing these articles for (checks watch) over the past year – wow – every so often I’ve stopped to smell the roses by taking stock of a particular kind of miniature or force in wargaming. Zombies, Death Guard, so forth and so on. So, here I go again, with another focus on some minis that, like Cthulhu and space marines, seem to be everywhere – cultists.
How do we define cultist minis? Well, it’s usually pretty easy – on the package it frequently says “Cultist” so there’s little to no confusion.
But seriously, folks: Cultist minis often have identifiers. Usually they have long, hooded robes, carry chalices or large books, and also have paraphernalia related to sacrifice (altars, sacred stone circles, knives, etc. etc.). They’re the clandestine worshippers of some person, place or thing (…so, a noun, I guess…), often with the aim of world domination, or of bringing that which they worship back into this current plane of existence.
Just like zombies, cultists are a part of just about any game you’d care to play. In Warhammer 40k, Chaos has cultists, of course, and there’s the menacing Genestealer Cults, but also games like Frostgrave and Dust: 1947 feature them too. There are further cultist-like forces in Age of Sigmar, In Her Majesty’s Name, Mordheim, 7TV, Necromunda, Dracula’s America, and literally just about any miniatures game out there that has a sci-fi or fantasy theme to it.
They’re reliable bad guys, always out there secretly plotting in the darkness to bring down the ruling what-have-you, usually with the power of an Elder God, demon, ancient dead king, and so forth behind them. And what’s more insidious, they’re also out there, seeking to bring the regular folks around them into their fold. Creepy stuff.
And cults – with their charismatic leaders and obscure goals – were frequently themes in the pop culture that I consumed while growing up in the ‘80s and ‘90s. Think about it: Conan the Barbarian, Poltergeist II, Ghostbusters, Ghostbusters II, Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, heck even the comedy Dragnet, were all films in the ‘80s that featured themes of cults and/or had characters who were indoctrinated into some sort of dark conspiracy. And these were all over our childhood. I have a running theory that the horror of the 1978 Jonestown massacre reverberated in U.S. pop culture in the 1980s and helped create the Satanic Panic that so profoundly shaped a lot of childhoods of the era… but that’s a discussion for another day.
I’ve got a lot of cultist minis that I’m eager to paint and get onto the battlefield, first and foremost my Genestealer Cults army, which is almost all totally on sprue but, man, it’ll be fun to have them out.
But they’ll chant quietly. I swear. Until it’s too late…
About the Author;
Peter Kuebeck is a writer, gamer and award-winning mini-painter living in the Midwest. He wages a constant battle against the ever-growing tide of unpainted minis in his basement, and occasionally GMs role-playing game sessions with friends. Catch his hobby shenanigans on Twitter at @popculturecube