Thursday, May 31, 2012

The Past, Present, and Future of 40k and Me

With all the rumors and discussion of the impending new edition of 40k, I figured I would throw my thoughts out there.  First, I'm going to bore you with my own wargaming history.

Back when I was 15 (1995), my father took me to my first 'Con.  Back then, I was playing D&D with a couple friends.  My dad was a professor at RIT (a local college) and figured Rudicon, their annual gaming convention, would be right up my alley.  It was there I saw wargames for the first time.  People were playing Space Hulk, fantasy, and 40k.  It was nowhere near what the hobby is today, but the imagery of adding models to a tabletop instead of just paper and dice captured my imagination.

It was shortly thereafter that I ventured into Warhammer 40k.  It was a slow, agonizing process for a teenager with a short attention span and not much income.  The 2nd edition box set was my gateway drug.

 Does anyone else remember the cardboard ruins, wargear cards, and sustained fire dice?  How about those single pose marines, orks, and gretchin?  Terminators rolled 2d6 for armor saves and assault cannons were str10!

I fiddled around with the game, trying to get friends into it with me and never really committing to one army or painting more than one or two models with a matching scheme.  What captured my imagination the most was the "fluff", the one page stories sewn into the various books telling tales of a grim, dark, gruesome future.  One particular codex was a favorite with imagery and stories.

 That was my first real codex.  I found the sleek armor and stories about the enigmatic aspect warriors captivating.  Remember when Tyranids all looked the same and there were no distinct hive fleets?

So as the story continues, I went off to college and made a friend who was also interested in tabletop wargaming.  New armies had emerged since my high school days, so I explored the wonders of chaos.

I was donating plasma twice a week to pay for art supplies, food, and 40k.  We struggled to scrape together 1,000pts and were lucky to paint 2 models a month.  Games would rage on for 5 hours and were always epic and memorable.  During my last year in college, 3rd edition was released.  It featured a much more "streamlined" rules system leading to much faster games and larger armies.  We both resisted this edition and continued playing 2nd.  The new edition seemed too "dumbed down" for us and couldn't afford the extra models for larger armies.  When I graduated from college and moved back to my home town, I lost my one 40k friend and shelved my 40k collections.

Jump ahead to 2010 and I'm settled down after literally being around the world twice with a nice little house, secure job, and a wonderful girlfriend who would soon become my wife.  I needed a new hobby to get lost in and checked out 40k again.  Our city is home to 3 hobby shops and a very large gaming population.

So that's the short version of my 40k history.  Why did I bore you with all that drudgery?  Because the journey is important.  I loved 2nd edition back then and refused to play 3rd when it came out.  Looking back now 13 years, I'm glad for the new editions.  I enjoy 5th even more than I did 2nd back then.  This could be a side effect of having enough disposable income to support 3 armies, enough free time to fully paint them, and a large enough community to support monthly tournaments.  However, without the new editions we wouldn't be able to play such large games in reasonable time limits and see such large, diverse armies with all the new models.

Back then, 40k for me was a couple squads, a couple characters, and a tank or two.  Now, it's scuttling swarms of hundreds of bodies racing towards a dozen tanks.  It's like playing Dawn of War and zooming in to watch individuals fight it out, then zooming out and watching the entire battle.

6th edition will be another "zoom out" as it adds more fliers and brings another level to the game.  It may also streamline the rules and allow for "standard" events to move up to 2250 or 2500pts.  More armies will include fliers in addition to infantry, tanks, and skimmers.  We may even see larger units later in the edition on par with land raiders, storm raven, and the new monstrous creatures.

There are many critics of the various rumors of new rules, but here's my plan and recommendation to all:  Wait until you read the entire new rule set and play many games until you make your final judgement.  Try to avoid the negative anticipations as they will taint your experiences.  Keep in mind that Games Workshop has been around for decades and even tho there have been bad times and good, I feel we are in a better place now than we were 3 editions ago.  Better rules, better models, larger games, and reasonable time investments.

I look forward to 6th edition in hopes it will continue these trends as well as introducing new mechanics and units to the system.  I look forward to starting on a level playing field with my peers.  I look forward to codex creep because it encourages new thoughts and approaches.  If the new rules are not perfect or the best ever, I will not quit the game because the imagery, fluff, and battles will continue.  I hope some of you share my enthusiasm and look forward to sharing my adventures in the new edition via this blog.


  1. Nice post - I just had to comment because my background is almost identical; me and half a dozen friends started playing back in 2nd Ed (Tyranids and Chaos), where having a Dreadnaught or a tank in your army was considered the coolest thing ever and games could last forever.

    I stopped playing when 3rd Ed was introduced (I vaguely remember Necrons and Skinks being launched) and was blown away when I got back into 40K 2 or 3 years ago.

    A younger version of me would be astounded now there is armies full of tanks and monstrous creatures and its nice to be in my late 20's (read 30) and being able to afford all of these toys.

    I will admit that I do miss Carnifex's having mostly 10's stats across the board and Genestealers being the scariest thing in the game...but don't miss Overwatch, Lascannons and buying my gaunts in blisters of three...

  2. Yes, I look at 6th edition with hope too. I hope, first of all, it's let us to play any concept welike with no major archetypes. First of all I hope reserve Nids will become somewhat competetive enough. We'll see:)

  3. I await 6th edition warily, I hope for the best; a nice new ruleset that will enhance my gaming experience. I prepare for the worst, a new game which I won't enjoy or wont enjoy as much. Let's stay on the hopeful side.

  4. Thanks, your post cheered me up about the forthcoming edition, I must admit, being an old fart, I get worried about new editions and re-adding the rules to my dusty brain... and the dreaded 'no mate, that was last edition!'. I will admit I love watching the organic evolution of the various armies after the new edition hits though!
    I've been admiring your airbrush work for some time, most especially the dark eldar, and wanted to ask, you mentioned you use common folk art acrylics, but what mix are you using? I've just splashed for a harder steenbeck infinity 2-1 airbrush and iwata compressor and want to achieve similar effects. Any detailed pointers would be great, I tried gw paints with golden's acrylic medium but it was very hit and miss and mostly miss.

  5. Successful airbrushing really hinges on proper thinning of paint and air pressure. This takes a lot of time to master via trial and error but becomes easy once you're comfortable with it.

    Folk Art paints are very thick and I do not recommend using them for airbrushing for beginners. In fact, I intend to switch to vallejo air colors once I can afford to hah. Folk arts off the shelf are about as thick as tooth paste. I generally dump 1/4 of the bottle in the trash and replace that much with water and shake for several minutes. Then I pour some into a fine mesh tea infuser and drop water over the top and let it sift into the airbrush pot. This ensures no chunks that may clog the tip. The final consistency is similar to heavy cream.

    I'm currently airbrushing at 17-18psi. I have a pot filled with pure water that I prime the brush with. Then I switch to the paint and fire at a test sheet until it's painting without water "spidering" around.

    I can usually paint 2-3 minutes before needing to pick drid acrylic off the needle tip. After 10 minutes of painting, I fully clean the airbrush before painting again.

    It can be a frustrating process (probably because of the paint I choose) that takes a lot of patience, trial, and error. I find the blended base coats well worth the effort tho.

  6. Thanks for the response, whilst your painted minis certainly look great, I'm not into the idea of constantly stopping and stripping the brush down, or the tea infuser sieving. I found mixing the gw paints with golden's airbrush medium tedious and random enough... Think I'll go straight to the Vallejo paints!

    1. I would love to see a holy cow on the 'change' pic, instead of a butterfly. Would change the meaning of those wise words :)