Nords vs. City States Two Player Starter Set Review

It’s time again, my friends, for a new release from Para Bellum Wargames!

These are always exciting times, as no company I’ve run across so consistently improves its product quality like Para Bellum on a release by release basis. Each kit shows a new investment and skill from the company, so when a new model line shows up it’s always something to look out for.

Para Bellum was kind enough to send us a copy of the new Nords & City States two player starter for Last Argument of Kings and First Blood, which we’re going to dig into here for a bit. If you would like to see the kit on video, this article is going up alongside a video review on the Line of Sight youtube channel which you can find here. Now let’s see what we’ve got.

The big boys are jealous.

It comes in, as usual, a solid and fairly sizeable box.

The first thing I saw on opening it, in a classic Para Bellum move, is a typed out apology for some of the sprues having an issue that caused some extra plastic to still be present, which they’ll be resolving in the future. PB is just a great company, and the extra plastic doesn’t effect the models at all, it’s not something I even would have thought about or noticed is they hadn’t pointed it out, but here’s what they’re talking about.

If that bothers you, I’m not really sure what to tell you. Just great of them to have apologized for something so small.

Anyway, wanna see what’s in here?

Good lord.

Hope you like STUFF because when you get this box, you get a whole lot of STUFF. I’m not really going to be spending time on the Nords stuff here, except one thing, because it’s largely older stuff aside from the Bow Chosen which I’m going to go over another time. The focus here is the brand new City States models, and they are a joy to behold. Before we get there though, let’s see what else you get.

These are a great Para Bellum feature that you see in their modern boxes like this. It’s basically a guide for where to go next, with a thematic ‘name’ for the army style it’s sort of featuring. As a Nords player I can say this will get you started on the right foot, though I’d maybe prioritize Ugr over one or both units of Stalkers for the Blooded. Nit picks, though.

You get this great book with some starter scenarios in it that also details a big chunk of lore for the Polemarch and Konungyr in the box, which is just cool. The scenarios seem interesting and come with a lot of lore and flavor, and I’m excited to try them. You also get a PAIR of rulebooks for Last Argument of Kings 2.0. I’ve not really seen a company give two full rulebooks in their two player starters, giving both players a book to use. Awesome move. Lastly is of course command cards and instructions for building the models.

Ok, let’s look at some sprues.

The sprues for City States are laid out nicely, with a good plastic. As usual, they’ve outdone themselves here with some of the nicest kits they’ve ever produced. You really get a feel for how far they’ve come with this box, given the Huskarls and Mountain Jotnar are definitely older kits. Still great models, but they just don’t compare to how fantastic brand new PB stuff can be.

The Polemarch and Konungyr are a bit flash-ridden but about 90% of it can be brushed off with a finger, and the long rods can be…. carefully…. snapped off without damaging the models. My only suggestion here is to not snap off the ones on the Polemarch’s head, as there’s an easy to miss bit of his helmet crest attached that would almost certainly break with it. Otherwise I just used a hobby knife on a few of the harder to reach bits, they LOOK rough on first glance but there’s virtually no actual mold lines and everything cleans off super easily.

Let’s look at some assembled stuff, eh?

The scale of the models is great, keeping the usual Conquest ‘larger than you expect’ feel while not scale creeping out some older models like Huskarls, which are meant to look a bit chunky compared to most infantry. The details though… oh man the details. The Hoplites typically have prosthetic limbs and tons of amazing little bits. On first glance they look like classic greek soldiers but the closer you get, the more you see the little mechanisms and bits of electro-punk stylings that define PB’s take on this aesthetic. The warriors are thin and lithe looking, belying a precise lethality that is a sharp contrast to the somewhat blunt instrument of the Nords. Gorgeous work.

The Minotaurs are straight up the best minotaur minis I’ve ever seen. While unfortunately I’ll be passing the City States models on after this review, I would love to have a unit just to use for my home tabletop RPG games and the like, as they’re just incredible to behold. The axe on one is around 2/3rds the height of a Mountain Jotnar, which is just enormous. Fantastic work here. My only suggestion regarding these models, with assembly, is make sure to put the arms on BEFORE the shoulder pads, as on one minotaur in particular the shoulder pad will block the arm from going into its slot and the instructions don’t really tell you an order to do them in. I made this mistake and had to do a bit of cutting to make it work. Not visible, thankfully, it’s an easy fix, but just something to watch out for.

The Polemarch looks fantastic, he’s got a bit more detail than his Hoplite buddies but isn’t notably larger than them, which I can kind of appreciate. It’s easy to scale creep heroes out of control, but this lets him work into the unit more seamlessly. I actually think just putting more Hoplites on his base as a Retinue or just base fillers would look amazing in a big regiment.

The Konungyr also looks great, with a bit more of the norse-inspired markings and the like than the older model. That said, I’m not sure if I like it better than the old one or not; they both have some pros and cons, with the older being a bit larger, having a proper fact and much more hair to detail out, and I like his very heroic pose. The new one is a little more “action” which is great, and I do love the way he holds his sword, something a bit unique I’ve not seen with minis very often.

All in all this is a beautiful box. The City States half in particular is great value, featuring two ‘copies’ of the Hoplite/Phalangite multi kit, making it a collection you could probably get 2-3 of and set yourself up really well for the future. The Nords half is also a solid start, with maybe two of being a great starting position although you’d want to branch out before long.

This box is up for pre-order RIGHT NOW and is set to begin shipping sometime this month. If you want to check it out, as well as any other of Para Bellum’s great products, hit up their webstore by clicking on the image below and use the code LOS10 to get 10% off your first order! Thanks for reading, and hopefully we’ll see you in the future.

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