These past few weeks I have been putting a lot of time into various video game adaptations of Games Workshop’s tabletop wargame Warhammer 40K. As you may have guessed, this is not something I decided to just do on a whim, I actually started playing the tabletop game around the same time I started Legacy of Games. Now that the video games are about to get really interesting, I wanted to look back on how I experienced getting into this new hobby of mine.
Before Warhammer there was tabletop roleplaying and the guy that has been acting as dungeon-master for the past four years is a massive Warhammer fan. It is through him that I grew interested in the world and lore of this franchise, but I never really went through with it until a few months ago, and I am really happy that I did. While the game is fun, what prevented me from just buying it was the knowledge that it was just the DM and me that would be playing, and days where we had enough time to set up a game would also happen to be days that we could roleplay on. I didn’t want to create this situation where the hobby just the two of us were into would have to be done on the same day as the hobby our circle of friends was into.
This changed when I was telling another group of friends about Warhammer and they just decided to buy it there and then. One week and a long afternoon of assembling all our stuff later, I was in command of a small, but powerful force of Skitarii. So yes, my first piece of advice is to absolutely wait with purchasing this stuff until you are sure you’ll be able to actually play it. See if your friends are interested at all and, if not, see if there is a club near you. Also, be sure to play a few games and see if everybody stays on board before you decide to buy even more stuff.
A starter set containing a nice selection of troops that are playable right from the get-go costs $85, throw in some glue and a pair of cutters and you’ll probably find your initial purchase passing the $100 mark. Add in primer to make your units paint-ready and actual base paints to give them some color to get started with, and that starts to rack up quickly. If you are unfortunate enough to not have a club in your area, then throw in another $85 for the most recent rulebook and $50 for your faction’s codex.
While the financial barrier to enter was kind of crazy, when all that stuff was finally in the mail and I got around to building my dudes, it just clicked with me right away. Assembling the figures is not as hard as it seems, though the quality of the included instructions does vary. After you put it all together and let it dry, you then spray it with primer and let that dry as well. Afterward you can start painting with base colors, which aren’t as nice as the other types of paint sold on the store, but they provide a good base for those colors to be put on top off, so you are going to want to start there.
Painting is really only as difficult as you want to make it. Making the coats of my rangers red didn’t really take me much skill, despite being an absolute klutz most of the time. I soon learned that the easiest way to work is to go over the entire model with a big brush to get it over with quick, then give it another layer of that to make the color nice and clear before finishing up by removing splatters with a tiny brush and adding the details I want. Also, tip #2: you don’t need the overpriced glue and primer from Games Workshop. I bought mine at the hobby shop in town and it works great!
The actual game ended up being fun too, I wouldn’t have bothered writing so much about it if it wasn’t, and I play it almost every week now. You field an army by trading in the amount of points decided for that match and mess up the enemy’s army by using a mix of strategy and lucky dice rolls. While that makes it sound simple, a simple game generally doesn’t come with 400 pages of instructions. This is a game with a lot of rules to it and keeping a game friendly can be difficult depending on the players. Taking a peek at the rules to resolve a dispute between two players doesn’t work when nobody happens to know what kind of rule is in effect or where in the book to find it.
One of the most memorable cases we ran into was an Orc on a bike that could theoretically “see” a Khorne Bloodthirster… if he peeked between the legs of two fighting units standing atop a building between him and the target. All four players took a peek and agreed that, yes, the Orc could see a decent part of the the Demon, but it was a ridiculous shot to make. The owner of the Orc and Demon bickered for twenty minutes whereupon we offered to follow the most important rule in the book: when the game comes to halt over a dispute, roll a dice to decide what to do and discuss it after the battle. A very solid rule, except when the person losing the roll doesn’t want to acknowledge the rule.
Tip #3: Borrow a veteran to teach newbies the rules. Give him something to whack people with that won’t listen.
Ever since then it has become a tradition to rename our Whatsapp group to some in-joke about the most recent match, which generally helps ease some of the tension in the group after a bad discussion.
Anyway, you might be wondering why you would put in all this effort and money instead of playing Dawn of War or that new Warhammer: Total War game. There is really no simple answer for that since it really depends on what you value in a hobby, but if I may make some suggestions from personal experience:
- It is creatively fulfilling without requiring that much effort or talent. It’s amazing to see a really good painter field a crazy-looking model, but just getting some small details on your models already feels like a big achievement and it fun to personalize your army to your tastes.
- The game is significantly deeper than any of the video game adaptations and lends itself to much more engaging strategic thinking.
- Playing Warhammer with some friends or at a club makes for great discussion material. You can talk for hours about strategy, lore, what kind of units you want to buy, or just share pictures of your latest painting session.
- You can also paint and assemble together! If you don’t feel like playing a game or can’t get enough players for something, just throw in an afternoon of painting.
Hopefully you enjoyed this little extra and maybe all of this has made you interested in playing it yourself. Next time we’ll be reviewing Warhammer 40K: Fire Warrior, so stay tuned.