Hammer and Bolter 11

Double or nothing

settings scifi warhammer

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.

Double or nothing

As I write this review, I've recently read the Dragonlance novella "Wanna bet?" by Tracy Hickman and Margaret Weiss. It's a fun story about Reorx, a god with a gambling problem. He appears as a dwarf on Krynn and gets our heroes into all kinds of trouble through his compulsive wagers. Of course you don't learn that he's the god Reorx until the very end of the story, but you just know there's some kind of scheme happening throughout.

Double or nothing is a story about a drifter (or is he a grifter?) who wanders by a battle being waged by humans and orruks (orks in the Mortal Realms), and he offers to solve the problem. (This was a surprise to me, because I'd thought Hammer and Bolter was Warhammer 40K exclusively, but this episode (and the next) are set in the Age of Sigmar.)

The drifter claims to be a big important hero, Hamilcar Bear-Eater, except that nobody seems to have heard of him. That doesn't slow him down, though, and he walks right into the orruk camp and challenges the boss to a duel, betting his reputation.

And he gets clobbered.

Hamilcar yields before he's too badly injured, though, and admits defeat. Just before he can skulk away in shame, he offers a second wager.

And he gets clobbered. Then a third wager, same results. A fourth wager.

You get the idea. The guy is Cool Hand Luke. He doesn't know when to quit, and his self-pride and self-importance never seems to wane.

Eventually, of course, he makes the biggest bet of all, and the fate of the nearby human city hangs in the balance. Double or nothing. Can he do it?


I didn't know what to expect from this episode, and while it's not quite as clever as many of the previous stories, it's entertaining. I've never read any Age of Sigmar fiction, and I've barely looked into its lore. I know the basics (the Old World came to an end, Sigmar ended up on a big rockfloating in the void, and so on) and I like the artwork I've seen, but it's largely a brand new setting to me. I don't know whether this was the best introduction to the world, and I feel like maybe I should have already known Hamilcar Bear-Eater for this episode to reach its full potential impact. I could be wrong. Maybe he was invented just for this one episode.

EDIT: Hamilcar Bear-Eater is well known Astral Templar, and the subject of an entire Black Library series. Now I know!

I did enjoy how Warhammery Sigmar felt. It's not space marines and xenos, but you can see the family resemblance. I'd like to delve into the lore a lot more now.

I'm excited to have had the opportunity to visit the Age of Sigmar, though, and as I understand it there's an upcoming animated series set in AoS pretty soon. I'm up for it.

Good fantasy

This episode is good fantasy. This story felt a little more "Sword & Sandles" than the high fantasy that the AoS boxes make the setting look, but I know the Mortal Realms are a varied place. The story felt fantasy, though, pitting humans against a brutish and violent enemy. I enjoyed it.

Good Warhammer

This episode is OK Warhammer. It did surprise me at how much Warhammer attitude was in this episode. The classic rivalry of humans and or[ru]ks feels very Warhammer, as does the brutality of the fights.

I was a little surprised at just how much the orruks were willing to bargain, but I guess as long as they're having fun it makes sense.

I'll admit that the episode suffered from my own ignorance of the scope of Hammer and Bolter. For 10 episodes leading up to this, there'd been nothing but 40K content, so that's what I was ready for when I pressed play. A sudden AoS story wasn't by any means unwelcome, it was just a surprise to me. I think I'd have been less surprised had this been episode 2 or 3, so that was clear to me that I was getting a mix of settings.

I wanted to like the episode more than I did. To be honest, I sabotaged the ending. I was formulating what I thought the reveal was going to be, and so I was a little disappointed when the story had the audacity to deviate from my expectations. The journey is a lot of fun, but maybe try to resist the temptation to write your own version of the next scene. Wait until it's over, and THEN write your own version.

All images in this post copyright Games Workshop.

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