TOC: A menacing pose, object-source lighting, weathering, the whole package. It draws the eye enough to beg questions and so here you are in the hot seat. And you have just the Warlord and the Knights listed. What prompted you to get into Titan ownership, especially with the Warlord first?
Jonathan: Actually I pretty much decided I wanted to get a Warlord as soon as it was announced. I really liked the Knights when they were released because it felt like you could look at one from a technical standpoint and it made sense, like a machine that could actually function.
From day one I really appreciated that the Warlord Titan followed suit. I really think it's one of the most beautiful models Forge World has produced and no matter what angle you view it from there is something interesting to look at. It also helped a lot that when I showed it to my fiancée she said "Oh, you need one of those."
TOC: And so you plunged directly into Titans, starting with the king. And you chose Mortis as well. What made you choose them?
Jonathan: I have always been captivated by horror and the macabre. I love dark and twisted stories. That was what actually drew me in to the grim-dark in the first place. My first army was Chaos Space Marines. When I started playing Horus heresy I had to choose the Word Bearers. I really enjoy the dark backstory, and for me Mortis was the clear choice. I love the backstory, and that's what I really love about the game and the hobby: being able to participate in such a rich and dark mythology.
TOC: Then it seems as though Carrion Rex is destined for many a narrative game?
Jonathan: I'm sure there will be many in his future. I actually took the plunge on starting a Sons of Horus army just for that purpose. I'm really looking forward to doing some narrative play based on the opening of the Heresy, but most of all I'm looking forward to when we finally get some love from Forge World on the Schism of Mars.
TOC: You'll be among those to breach the Tempest Line. Do you have a Tempestus player to go against?
Jonathan: Sadly there is not one locally that I know of. I really can't complain, though, as we have an unusually large number of Titan owners in our group and local area. If there is any one in the Maryland area that plays Tempestus reading this, Mortis is always looking to make new friends.
TOC: It sounds like you have a healthy community of super-heavies (soon to not be a thing in 8th Edition) to fight against. How have your fellow hobbyists reacted to your Warlord?
Jonathan: Everyone has been very supportive; I have even had a few donations for parts of his display base. In general most people seem to like him. I have even gotten some Titan commission work because of him.
TOC: You're experiencing a lot as a Titan owner then. What is it about Titan ownership that most excites you? And what do you want to get out of it the most?
Jonathan: I think the thing I find most exciting is the sense of scale they add to the game, these impossibly giant machines. I really enjoy the modeling aspect of the hobby, especially diorama scenes, and I love the opportunity to tell a story. Sometimes I like to sit back and think of where we might end up in the distant vistas of the far future. The only thing I really want to get out of it is the opportunity to share that with others.
TOC: Where will that take you and Carrion Rex next? You mentioned a scenic base.
Jonathan: I'm currently working on his display base, which is a 24”x20" Schism of Mars-themed diorama. It's still a work-in-progress but getting closer to being finished. He will ultimately be living on a wood pedestal that has the same theme as my gaming table with an acrylic display case that I have already started on.
A very lovely start to the scenic base Jonathan has mentioned.
TOC: Amazing. The fluff of Horus Heresy and 40k seem to be big to you. The base really shows it. How did you go about approaching it, especially as making a base integral to a model without overpowering it is always so important?
Jonathan: I was torn originally as to whether I wanted to do a Drop Site Massacre- or Schism- themed display. I have always been fascinated by Mars, and had been playing a lot of the new Doom game, so I decided to go with the Schism.
Originally I had planned to do manufactorum buildings around the base but decided against it because there is seating all around the room he is in and I didn't want to block the view. I wanted to have a wrecked tank of some kind and some automata, but it became very apparent from the beginning that without something human-sized it was very hard to get any sense of scale, so I added some Imperial Fists hunkered down and fighting off automata.
I'm planning to also add some Skitarii and a few more Imperial Fists (one popping out from behind the Predator to take a pot-shot with a missile launcher). It has certainly taken longer, but I have been adding things piece by piece to try to find the balance between boring and overpowering. It's not there yet but getting close.
TOC: It will be a treat to see it fully complete. You mentioned the Skitarii and it kind of begs the question, do you have Dark Mechanicum that fight alongside your Mortis engine?
Jonathan: That is an interesting question. I have a Mechanicum force and they will fight alongside Mortis. The problem is that they are currently in limbo. I can't decide if I want to continue painting them in the theme I started out with, paint them in Mortis colors, or wait for the book with the Schism in it for Forge World's take on the Dark Mechanicum colors. I imagine they will probably remain in limbo until that book comes out, which is unfortunate because my understanding is that it's still a ways off.
Those allies will be powerful indeed.
TOC: Quite a lot of Mortis engines were involved in the Schism. Is that maybe a hint of maniple brethren to come later on?
Jonathan: I'm sure there will be more Mortis engines in the future. I'm actually working on an Imperial Reaver for a friend right now and I have to say I love the model. Like Mortis, I'm not very keen on Warhounds so I doubt you will see me with one of those any time soon.
TOC: Why no love for the Scout Titans?
Jonathan: I have never been a fan of the model or design. I know they do well in game, but they just don't do it for me. It's possible I'll end up with one at some point, but it's not high on my list.
TOC: You have a plan then. What is next for you and Mortis?
Jonathan: Next for Mortis will definitely be a Reaver titan, possibly even a pair. I've loved the Hand of Ruin since I read the first Horus Heresy book, so that is a strong possibility.
TOC: What excites you most about Titans for the changing landscape of the game and the upcoming Specialist Games?
Jonathan: I'm super excited about Titanicus. I've always wanted to play Epic but missed the boat as it was gone when I started the hobby. I'm very excited about the opportunity to play.
As far as 8th Edition goes, I'm reserving judgment until it's actually released. I play 30k pretty much exclusively, and am quite happy with the existing rule set. I'm sure at some point that will be released by 8th Edition, so I'm curious to see how Forge World will maintain the distinction of the Horus heresy series.
TOC: And what do you hope to add to the community and the hobby?
Jonathan: I guess it's just like anything else in life, I hope to leave it in a better state than I found it. If I can inspire one person to be creative, imaginative, or pursue whatever it is that brings them joy, be it a massive miniature Titan from the far future, little plastic army men, or anything else in which they can find meaning, that's good enough for me.
Already a great artistic contribution.
TOC: Great words. Any advice for your fellow Princeps?
Jonathan: Remember that that the opportunity to field a God-engine is a victory in and of itself, and never pass up the opportunity to roll dice with good friends.
TOC: And last question, but ever the fun one. Any shoutouts, threats, or bellowing challenges?
Jonathan: Well, foremost I have to give a big shout out to my amazing fiancée, Jessica, who has always supported me following my dreams and my sometimes eccentric love of this hobby. Second, a standing challenge to all the inferior Titan Legios, especially James of Legio Astorum and Jake of Legio Crucius (both TOC members), that would dare stand before Mortis and any others foolish enough to try. HAIL MORTIS!
TOC: Thank you very much for your time. It was a pleasure.