A couple of weeks back, prior to the latest pandemic restrictions kicking in in our particular area of England I actually managed to play a game of something. In this case Warhammer 40k, which I have not played for over a year.
This was the first time playing 9th edition and having sold most of my 40k miniatures I was able to borrow a force and be guided through a game by my good friend Jamie.
We played the new ‘combat patrol‘ rules which allows you to play smaller quicker games, but without skimping on the big units (and in my case as a dyed in the wool Imperial Guard player….TANKS!).
Now I am not brilliant at remembering rules and am never paricularly scientific about analysing games, but my main conclusion here is that 9th was a lot, lot more fun than 8th.
I played Guard facing off against Orks. Extra narrative was added by using the new set of ‘Open War‘ cards. These allow you to setup and play fun games really quickly and include things like deployment, objectives, twists, ruses and sudden death!
The game started off well for me with an initiative win and proceeded fairly positively from then on. It was back and forth and most importantly based on my previous more negative experiences was fast! Even though the turn sequence followed the standard IGOUGO format that Warhammer has been using for decades it felt fluid and interesting. This was helped significantly by some of the new rules (in particular the ability for vehicles to fire in close combat and not get bogged down), but also by the open war cards and the smaller force and table sizes enabled by the combat patrol rules.
The game lasted about two and half hours (yes we actually played a game to a five turn conclusion) – thank you again combat patrol! Apparently this was one of the longer games Jamie has played in the format. This bodes well for evening games once we are able to meet face-to-face again.
And, although it is never my reason for playing any game, I actually got a victory under my belt. Yup, I actually won something! The MVPs in my borrowed Cadian force were my mortar team and my off table support. Nuking the site from orbit – it is always the only way to be sure.
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.)
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.
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!
Some of my armour
Who doesn’t like walkers (with chain swords)?
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.
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.
So how did it go?
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.
I’ve recently started playing Kill Team, the Warhammer 40k small scale skirmish game by Games Workshop. While I’ve never really been that into the whole ‘grimdark’ thing something about Kill Team really appealed and I’ve had some very enjoyable games recently. I think it’s the mix of being able to collect and build multiple small squads, the undeniable quality of the Citadel Miniatures and the objective based missions that make it (even though the rules follow the quite clunky and old fashioned to hit/to wound/save approach of most GW games).
With Warhammer World only about 30 miles away down the motorway, I’ve been a couple of times in the past (mainly to look round the exhibition), but never to play games. This changed earlier this week when I ventured down to Nottingham with a few friends for some gaming.
Genestealer Cultists prowl the ruins
My Nurgle Poxwalkers getting stick in
There were some massive buildings on the table
Surprisingly (to me anyway) is that there is no charge to play, so you can go along and take advantage of the amazing gaming tables quite freely (providing you are of course playing GW games with GW miniatures). We booked a single 8 foot square city table, with the intention of playing multiple games of Kill Team in parallel (originally there were going to a few more of us in attendance). In reality this was far too big, but we were able to scout out some really great potential tables for Kill Team on a future visit.
One of the stunning tables available to game on
The games themselves were very enjoyable and there is something special about the venue. Yes the fake castle walls are a bit tacky, but they kind of really build an atmosphere, especially with a room full of people all sharing the same passion for gaming. There is of course plenty of opportunity to shop and visit the exhibition, and Bugman’s Bar provides a great range of food, snacks and drinks (at reasonable prices). There are even some painting and modelling stations, so if you really can’t wait to get your new purchases assembled you can get straight to it.
Some beautifully painted miniatures on display
New Adeptus Titanicus models
Personally I crashed and burned in all three games I played (losing my leader in the first round of each). Somehow this poor performance was achieved using Death Guard, who are supposedly one of the most resilient factions on the game!
If you are a wargamer and even if Warhammer is not your thing, I’d highly recommend a visit. Entrance to the gaming hall, shops and bar is all free, with the only charge being for the (optional) exhibition tour. I’m even tempted to expand my forces so I can play a full game of 40k there sometime soon!