“In the grim darkness of the far future, there is only war.”
The tagline for Warhammer 40,000 is likely familiar to many people who have never picked up a Space Marine or chucked a handful of 15 dice in tabletop combat. I know that line and know a little more about the world of 40k, but not much. I’m aware of Space Marines and Orks, I know the difference between the Eldar and Chaos Demons, but I’ve never played 40k.
Today, that’s going to change.
A long time ago before I played board games, I started playing Warhammer Age of Reckoning, a Warhammer Fantasy MMO. From there I picked up the Battle for Skull Pass starter set and eventually an Ogre Kingdom army. Awash in plastic miniatures and potted paint, I bought a few thousand points of Eldar on Craigslist before I had a regular partner to play with. Critical error. Ultimately, I’d end up selling those same Eldar last year without ever having deployed a Guardian in combat.
Both flavors of Warhammer are pretty intimidating from the outside, which is part of why those Eldar gathered dust. Sitting in my local Games Workshop store painting was fun, though it felt impossible to keep up with conversation. Kids 10 years younger than me were rattling off point values, squad compositions, and bits of history like they’d grown up playing. My first attempt to play with my Ogres was a disaster; my morale was crushed as quickly as my Ironguts under the punishing rolls of a Chaos Demon I couldn’t hit for some reason or another.
Across the row of tables, I watched players pilot giant tanks and war machines at each other in a game of 40k. The raw size of the armored vehicles was intimidating, and it’s fair to say that some of my hesitation was related to not wanting to embarrass myself. It’s a silly thing, but I was afraid to jump headfirst into this hobby without a partner to join me (and practice within my apartment). Eventually, I would drift away from trying to play this enthralling–yet intimidating–game and move into board games.
I never did manage to get away from it completely, however. I never put away my brushes and paints, and I still make time for the occasional game of Space Hulk whenever I can. As someone who loves big epic games full of dice and chrome, games like Forbidden Stars and Fantasy Flight Games’ other Games Workshop titles made their way to my shelf as fast as I could acquire them. A few years ago I finally played my first proper miniatures game: Guild Ball. I think Guild Ball is a fantastic game, but it’s a fast paced game of soccer with a small miniature count. You can field units in 40k with more minis than an entire Guild Ball team. I still kept an eye on 40k, waiting for the day that I’d hop in. It felt inevitable.
Games Workshop recently began releasing boxed games and I could feel the pull towards 40k as if Slaanesh was whispering directly in my ear. Gorechosen blew me away and Charlie has been tempting me with basically everything else they’ve released. When he podcasted about the starter set and Teri posted excitedly about 8th Edition, I knew it was finally time. I’ve played a lot of games, I’m more comfortable with rulesets, and I’m ready. At least I think I’m ready. With the little bit of research I’ve started doing, there seems to be a lot to learn.
Now the rules; I’m pretty comfortable that I’ll get that down. But there’s a lot to learn about this amazing universe. There seem to be 50 fascinating Space Marine chapters, and I’m hearing Orks might actually be a fungus? What’s this about Eldar navigating The Warp? What’s the Warp?! There’s a lot to take it but it also seems like the perfect opportunity to jump in. I know it’s perfectly possible to hop in mid-edition but I always used it as a mental excuse to avoid it. No more. 8th Edition is just about here and I’m finally joining the war. Bit by bit I’m going to dive into this game and try to document it in a series of posts, and I hope you’ll come along with me.
Ahead is my first major decision: Who do I fight for? Games Workshop has always had some amazing miniatures, so I’m certain I’ll like painting whatever I get. I’d like to get some input from you however. Who is your favorite? Whose flag should I fly? What’s your favorite faction and why? The news releases and previews for 8th Edition look amazing. One thing is for sure: I wish I hadn’t sold off those Eldar.
Let me know who has the best soldiers-human or otherwise-and I’ll look into them and talk about who I pick in the next article!
Featured Image Credits: Games Workshop
Image Credits: Eric Savage, Mike Dao
In addition to Geek & Sundry, Raf Cordero writes for Miniature Market’s The Review Corner and co-hosts the gaming podcast Ding & Dent. Chat with him on Twitter @captainraffi.