I've been watching the Hammer and Bolter animated series on Warhammer+, and I'm reviewing each episode as I watch it. There may be very minor spoilers, but ideally no more than you'd get from the episode description.
Having come to WarhammerTV only this year, I didn't realise there were to be more Hammer and Bolter episodes. There haven't been new episodes in months, so it came as a surprise to me that a new one has been released. I guess this is the "hammer" part of the title, because this one's set in the Age of Sigmar.
People are missing from the city of Hammerhal Aqsha, and witch hunter Hanniver Toll aims to find out why. Specifically, one of the missing people is of noble birth, and so Hanniver Toll has been commissioned to find him. To help him in his quest, he decides to hire Armand Callis, a down-and-out ex-Freeguild captain, and Callis's rogue-ish ex-lover. He also brings along two NPCs who have no lines and yet manage to be really fun to watch (until the inevitably die, as NPCs going on quests do.)
What a team!
I know the name Hanniver Toll from having read about some Black Library books I want to read. At the time of this writing, though, I haven't read them yet and have no experience with Toll. I have no idea, beyond what they vaguely reveal in dialogue, why Callis is upset with Toll. I don't know anything about Hammerhal.
And none of that matters. This is a great episode.
The formula is flawless. It's a Warhammer Quest, with significant capitalization, because I'm referencing the games. Both Blackstone Fortress and Cursed City, along with some older games, are supertitled Warhammer Quest, and in terms of the tabletop, they're two of the main ways I partake in Warhammer gaming.
Cursed City doesn't take place in Hammerhal, but there are enough similarities that this episode felt pretty familiar to me. The protagonists delve into a dangerous location, they're attacked (in this case by Skaven), and they end up facing a Soulblight. Along the way, they do all the typical D&D stuff. They climb through sewers, they investigate, they kill angry (or are they?) ratfolk, they pick locks, summon spirits, and more. It's perfect.
I say it's a "flawless" formula, and yet that's not accurate. I tried watching the Dragon Age: Absolution series not long ago, and it also had a flawless formula. It's set in Ferelden, it's got the cultural and historical trappings of the games, and it's got a plot that seems rich for intrigue. But I couldn't get into the show and eventually forgot to keep watching to the end. Maybe Absolution wasn't direct enough. Maybe the setting and culture isn't enough. Maybe I wanted a recognizable face, or maybe I was missing some references because I've only played (and re-played, often) the first game.
So the formula isn't flawless, but I got just a hint of Jurgen and Baldur (from Interrogator) from Toll and Callis. The characters are troubled, they don't always get along, but they're in it together, and they stick it out until the bitter end.
Sadly, that's more than you can say for Callis's Ex. She's a super cool rogue who summons spirits to do her lock-picking for her. When things get too tough, though, it seems she runs off to save her own skin. Or is there something more to it than that?
Obviously, this kind of begs for its own series. Or maybe this is what series 2 of Hammer and Bolter is going to be. Callis and Toll. Team Azyr. That would be OK with me, because this was a good episode. I might even go watch it again right now.
All images in this post copyright Games Workshop.