This may surprise some folk considering what it is I do to earn a crust or two… I have never played a game of Warhammer 40k. There I said it. Don’t hate me.
I was always more drawn to the story behind the miniatures, the ‘fluff’, and obviously the modeling and hobbling side of it. Don’t get me wrong… I have Quartermaster on my phone full of pointed up armies. Dark Angels mainly (and I guess some of you WILL hate me for that!). I have a drawer in the studio that currently contains about 1500-2000 points of unpainted grey sprues – from Chapter Masters to Scouts, Terminators to Assault Marines. I also have various Codexes – actually a LOT of Codexes – for armies that I have no intention of creating but I was hungry for a back story. Some day I might get rid of them but for now they sit on my shelf and I sometimes get one down and thumb through one in between base coats or oil washes. I still think that the Grey Knight Codex is amazing…
So I basically, and I dont think I’m alone here, saw an army that ‘spoke’ to me and decided that going forward I was going to Dark Angel the crap out of my hobby. So I did. I have multiple boxes of the same mini’s… just in case. But now the question arises – ‘with my distinct lack of time to paint my own mini’s, and when I do it can’t possibly be enough time to churn through an army, what should I do?’.
Because something else has also happened to turn my head from 40k…
When, in the early ’90s, I found Games Workshop (by popping into an interesting looking shop on Chester high street while I was on holiday at my Nans in North Wales) I though ‘YES’… this is the stuff. There was everything that resonated with me. I had yet to read LoTR, The Hobbit etc but Orcs, Dwarves, Elves… man, that was cool before I knew what they were! As I delved further into the shop the fantasy thinned and something else came to the fore… Orks (with a K), Eldar, Imperial Guard and these hulking behemoths that were the Space Marines. I had no clue what I was looking at. So I picked up the box (I think it was probably the 2nd Edition) and saw the Marines squaring off with da Goff Boyz (and their Gretchen hangers on). Sold, I was in. Full bore. However, I had to wait until the following Christmas to get the actual box set. That day though I walked out with a box… Deathwing Terminators (I was obviously sold on DA even way back then!)… the following picture is NOT my work. If only, I destroyed my set with enamel paint that I borrowed off my Uncle.
So anyway, rambling aside. I’ve bought WH40k boxed sets (I’ve also got the Dark Vengeance set in my cupboard) and a vast array of mini’s. A big problem I had growing up was finding a play pal to get the game on the table with. My brother was, is, NOT a gamer let alone a WARgamer. I remember playing Space Crusade with a mate who had a copy, neither of us really knew what we were doing. I also remember my mate Jason having a set, and a frustrating afternoon trying to decipher the rules as a 12 year old who had no idea what a modifier was. This was my fault obviously but in a pre-internet world taking the step into a GW store was pretty intimidating.
And then I kinda disappeared from the hobby. The boxes and miniatures didn’t go to the skip but they went to the next best place… the attic. I had a brief dalliance with a Night Goblin force (before I realized that horde painting SUCKS) and then it was all packed up and forgotten. Life rolled on, work, uni, job. I actually has a job running a bar in uni that was DIRECTLY OPPOSITE Games Workshop Derby. Never went in. What a jerk.
Then I started a commission paint service. Just like that. I’d thought about getting back into the hobby and decided to dip my toe. About 6 months later I had my first order. BANG! Up and running. Dark Angels began to pour, unpainted, into my ‘to-do’ drawer. The Brushworks was born and it continued like that for some time now.
There has been a definite upswell in the games and miniatures quality from GW (in my opinion). They appear to be listening to the consumer more than ever and, while not perfect, seem to be bending a little to the voices that have been shouting at them for so long. While GW has been the gaming behemoth and probably will be for some time the ‘something else’s that happened is that some other folks wanted a piece of the pie.
Other companies are getting in on the action and creating some great, neat, streamlined games in a vast array of settings. I still play GW games – Space Hulk, Blood Bowl – but I seem to be playing more NON-GW games. And I think my ‘gaming life’ has improved because of it.
I spent an evening in the Wild West, diving through saloon windows and reloading six shooters in Dead Man’s Hand…
I’ve been trying to survive the zombie apocalypse in Atlanta with The Walking Dead…
…running around crypts fighting nasties in Dungeon Saga…
…running through a forest trying to put an arrow in a Pigman in Relicblade…
All of them great games. But more importantly all of the games I mentioned above were FUN! Dead Man’s Hand is rife with opportunity to make a complete balls up of it on the roll of a D20, the ‘sure fire’ plan ending with your Outlaw plummeting to the floor from the second story window. The following turn another ‘dude’ taking a Hail Mary shot across the board to take out the Lawmen’s Boss. The story of a bear in Relicblade ripping its way through a troop of pigs to win the day. Rick sneaking around barricades with Carl in tow, trying to get supplies to just survive another day.
I think that’s what I base my games on now. Fun and storytelling. I simply don’t have the time to construct, paint and learn rules for a 40k game. Don’t get me wrong, bar the odd duplicate, I don’t think that any of my Dark Angels will make it to eBay. I do think that they will take pride of place on my shelves when I finally get some paint on them BUT I think they will be for show. A tip of the hat to the original draw into this hobby. A symbol of the dedication it takes to get an army together, for gaming or otherwise. I will continue to chip away at my army, the Angels will rise.
But my heart will be in the Wild West, a dungeon, Atlanta or the woods… a small skirmishing force of miniatures squaring off at each other. Every miniature counts. So I guess I’m a Skirmish Wargamer now. But then I dont think technically, as I’d never played 40k or anything else, I was a Wargamer before anyway!
Thanks for making it to the bottom!
Keep your paints thin and your brushes pointy!
Simon @ FBW