My Experience Revisiting An Old Hobby – Warhammer 40,000

“in the grim darkness of the far future, there is only war”

Disclaimer: If you have never heard or seen of “Warhammer” and never plan to get into it, keep reading along – there is a moral lesson to it all at the end about the value of hobbies in its broadest sense. Enjoy.

On the second day of March, 2021, I turned 31 and what did I do to celebrate? I bought plastic models to build, paint and play with as a “happy birthday to me” in all it’s self-deserving glory.

“Awkward question but, aren’t you a bit old for that?” 

Yes, I truly am. The ‘geek’ gene from within is something that will never fully go away unfortunately. 

“Why choose this?”

Thanks to Youtube’s ability to find videos that would influence my credit card to magically be fished out of my pocket, combined with my weak resolve against nostalgia of this magnitude – I pretty soon gave up to the pressure to ‘proceed to checkout’, in the midst of my joyous birthday boy vibe.

I exchanged my hard earned British pounds, mixed in with some birthday money from my lovely wife and family abroad, and went over to www.elementgame.co.uk to place my order for an “Indomitus” box set. In essence, the box set was a high value-for-money starter kit, complete with 2 small armies and the latest edition of the games rulebook.

Of the two armies included, I was convinced that fielding the “Necrons” army was the right choice for me to focus on. Skulking, evil looking metal skeletons with alien guns that shoot green plasma, bent on re-taking the universe after their 60 million year ‘great sleep’. Works for me. All the plans and ideas of being the best overlord this army had ever seen, was flying through my mind all the week long until my parcel arrived.


As alluded to before, the beauty of this box was it came with an equal sized army of “Space Marines, (an army I previously collected, so was familiar with their play style) so you could get a taster from the other side, and easily set up practice games. 

I doubt that my kids both being under the age of 6 will be my play buddies in this case. Apart from them being girls who aggressively by default love mermaids, unicorns, makeup and dancing (sometimes all of those things at once), they probably wouldn’t be flattered in this sort of game where I would without hesitation crush them with supreme tactics, and a remorse level in the negative. I will have to “pick on someone my own size” and find some other geek friends locally that would welcome this. If you are a reader and fellow hobbyist from the Bradford area, please contact me.

Warhammer 40,000 In a Nutshell

(Deep breath) Warhammer 40,000 (40,000 represents in what millennial year you are set in) is a hobby whereby you pit armies that have been assembled and painted by their owner, read and understood it’s 2 inch thick rule book, obtained a small bucket of dice, purchased a tape measure, found a spare flat table with terrain pieces, then after a series of strategic turns with moving pieces, shooting, hand to hand combat and consolidating to key positions on the board, a winner will proceed bragging rights via the victory points system of taking mission objectives or simply crushing your foes and wiping them off the board. (Exhale) 

Each army has its own special rules, and there are additional rules on top of that when you select the differing chapters/dynasties/sects within said army, that will offer and dictate different play style advantages.

If you have read any of the codex lore and stories, you will discover this fantasy universe set in the far future is so pro-war it would make Stalin blush in his grave. By design it is meant to be outrageous, absurd and placed on such a large scale you aren’t meant to properly fathom it. There are humans, super humans, super-super humans in high tech armour, aliens, bugs, mythological gods, undead and all things inbetween. You are situated in a alternate reality where there are no real “good” or bad guys” but all are to a lesser or greater extent good and evil. Each army is unapologetically in it for their own best interest and the heresy witch hunts for “who’s fault is it that our planet got so bad” forever echoes into the aeons.

This is what really nabbed my intrigue. If you’ve ever come across a ‘world’ where once your teeth were sunk in, you couldn’t unlatch. This was me. It was a world that engaged all my tingles and senses.

The Players

The amazing thing you would be surprised to know is just how much humour is injected into this seemingly dark and bloody hobby. 95% of the player base that you meet have a tremendous joke vocabulary and try their friendly best to make the game an enjoyable experience. Before diversity was the cool political word to use, I would also describe it as very diverse. 

We united under the common goal to have fun and fun was had. Players came from all over the country to meet in our little town for an annual tournament. I once played a match against a guy who had no arms. He played the entire game grabbing models with his feet, needing little assistance at all. He also painted this way, ate his hotdog this way and drank his beer with the boys this way. He didn’t let something as difficult as that, get in the way of his fun with a group of people with a shared interest. Courageousness like this is infectious.

 

 

We Go Way Back

It has been approximately 20 years since I debuted my complete and utter obsession into the hobby known as Warhammer 40k. 

I remember the days quite vividly when I laid eyes on these beautiful models behind glass displays at a Games Workshop store in Marion, Adelaide. In fact, It took me a long while to have a sizable army of “Dark Angels, Space Marines” to play with. 

By luck in such a small hometown, there was a meetup every other saturday in somebody’s back shed with a handful of good blokes who I was introduced to. I learned my first games there, getting annihilated off the board, of course. I soon got better and won games. This meetup progressed to the hiring of a local clubroom when the membership grew. I’m pretty sure the owner’s wife got fed up with the sheer number of visitors over on a Saturday, drinking a little too much and the Hoo-Hah!’ing loud into the night, as Sunday morning crept ever closer. With these reasons compiled together, it made sense to vacate somewhere else. (Shoutout to Danny/Stu/Scott/Shane/Ash/Chris)

This is where I formed some solid friendships and my imagination blew its circuit with how skilled the other guys were – either tactically on tabletop or creatively with their own custom conversion jobs and paint schemes.

A Common Bully

How I got into any of this in the first place was thanks ironically to a boy whom … what shall we say? I had “bullying struggles” at school around age 11.

He would often hang around the playground area, or the soccer field where me and my group of friends always were, to harass or meddle with us. Be that as it may, I couldn’t believe what he brought out of his pocket to flash around one sunny day. 

Unbeknownst to me at the time, I later found out it was a Space Marine from the ever popular “Ultramarine” chapter. The poster boys of Warhammer 40,000. I’m pretty sure this boy was in the middle of making fun of my stammer or mocking me for being a “Jesus boy”. but I didn’t care. My focus was now directly on this fascinating new phenomena. 

I had so many questions. Mainly “Where do I get these from?” and “How can I possibly convince my very orthodox Christian mum and Dad to buy me some?”.

I was slightly mesmerized. I never saw anything like it. After asking him about it, he told me his older friend or brother (I forget which one) actually painted it. I was genuinely impressed.

Like the above picture, it’s colour scheme had regal blue as its primary colour with yellow shoulder pad trimmings. The weapons were two tone with silver metallics and the outer casings in a gleaming red. It featured leathery brown side-arm pouches and the base it was standing on had little tufts of fake green grass and granulare sand. Whoever did it had followed the exact colour scheme from the front of the box.

Goes to show, sometimes even the school yard bully indirectly blesses you, though they don’t know it.

Moral Of The Story

Hobbies are a peculiar part of life and in my view, are extremely necessary for our development. 

As you can see in my case, how I got into all things Warhammer came at the strangest of times. It happened in the midst of the playground, a common bully and the spark of my imagination. A new world opened up in front of me. A hobby is as much about appreciating special skills that other people have through hard work and patience, than it is about obtaining lots of cool new stuff.

When I embark on a new project, I also get to buy into the valuable commodity of humbleness

“How’s that?” 

Because with every new hobby comes the realization that you are not as good as you think you are. What looks easy, may not be so simple to achieve after all. To get truly good at something, it will take time, patience, persistence, open-mindedness, humility, passion and love through each new level of it.

Hobbies have taught me a lot about life. If I try something new and don’t end up pursuing it for long, I’ve just discovered another piece to the puzzle of better understanding myself. Not only that, but I discover that God has created so many different types of people in the world that love different things than myself. I can appreciate the tiny peep hole I get to look through, everytime I witness somebody enjoy what excites, and gives them an escape away from the seriousness of life.

Get a hobby, try something new, and don’t give up – you might learn more than you think.