Twenty Eight Years Later – Warhammer 40k revisited

Last week I made another trip down to Warhammer World in Nottingham.  Following on from my October visit last year to play Kill Team, I made the short drive down the M1 with an old friend and his super keen young lad, but this time to give 40k a go.

Now the last time I played a game of Warhammer 40k was way back in the midst of time when I was about 12 years old – funnily enough the same age as my opponent for this game.  Back then of course we were still on first edition, i.e. Rogue Trader, and when I say ‘played’ I mean roughly moved some figures around on the floor and make some dice rolls.  (I distinctly remember that we played purely with the contents of one of the classic plastic Imperial Guard boxed sets.)

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Rogue Trader era Imperial Guard – participants in my only prvious game of 40k

So why come back to it now?  Well, this is partly down to the recent release of the aforementioned Kill Team (which I have been really enjoying) which itself is symptomatic of a significant change in direction for Games Workshop in the last few years.

When I first got back into gaming (after the obligatory break that most people of a certain age refer to), Games Workshop had just released Space Hulk Third Edition.  In fact it was seeing this that prompted me to fall in love with the hobby again.  However I soon discovered that the release of Space Hulk was the exception rather than the rule.  GW were very much in the mode of concentrating on their core games of 40k and Warhammer while seemingly continuing to minimise their engagement with the community and customer base.  Perhaps stung by the post Lord of the Rings crash this decision resulted in a set of products and supporting release schedule that became quite opaque and difficult to engage with as someone getting back into the hobby.  Multiple editions of Warhammer and Warhammer 40k came and went in the following years, each of which seemed to the casual outsider such as myself to become more bloated and impenetrable each time.

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Space Hulk Third Edition – my gateway back into the hobby

However something changed in recent years and the approach has been to engage more with the community, release more games (providing multiple jump on points for new gamers) and make their core games and IP more accessible and easier to get into.  For example the continued release and ongoing support of what used to be referred to as Specialist Games (for example Necromunda), the change in approach to both Warhammer (with Age of Sigmar) and 40k into an almost ‘living ruleset’ supporting and encouraging narrative gaming (as well as continuing to support the tournament scene) all aided in accessibility.  In addition the move into more public domain gateway products (such as the Conquest part work and a change in focus in White Dwarf) has meant for me personally I am much more interested and engaged in their offerings than I think I ever have been.

So to that end I’ve found myself actually being interested in expanding on what I have been doing recently with Kill Team and giving the main 40k game a go.  To be honest part of this is that I am loving painting tanks at the moment and I just want to get a lot of toys on the table at once!

As you can probably guess this means I have gone Imperial Guard (now known more commonly as Astra Millitarum) for my first army.  In a ode to my original games back in the late eighties/early nineties I have based their colour scheme on the classic Necromunda regiment embodied in the original Rogue Trader plastic box set.

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I’ve managed to pick up a few old school Rogue Trader minis and hope to field a Kill Team of these guys soon

Having pulled together a rough force (and again this is where I really like the new 40k with it giving you the flexibility to within reason just field what you want without having to worry too much about points and lists) I was challenged by my friend’s son to a game.

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I bolstered my Astra Millitarum with some Space Marine allies (Cobra’s Baroness not included!)

So how did it go?

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It didn’t go entirely to plan

Well, unsurprisingly not well for me.  My opponent had played a few times recently with his Dad (who was umpiring / supporting us on the day), is young (so can remember things like stats, special rules and tactics) and basically took it a whole lot more seriously than me (I was just making lots of ‘pew pew’ noises in my head as I pushed my troops around).  But you know what, it was a lot of fun.  It is always great playing at Warhammer World, the game was fun and although my Guard were utterly devoured by their Tyranid foes and the game retains an old fashioned and kind of clunky core mechanic (rolling to hit, to wound, to save) I’m definitely looking to expand my forces and play again.  Age of Sigmar might even be whispering in my ear (come on, I mean steampunk airship dwarves are a no brainer).

Any how, presented below are a few shots of the battle in progress, hopefully the first of many games this year.

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