A Grim and Dark Future

My last few posts have been about my first true war game love: Warhammer Fantasy Battles. A game that once was the stalwart backbone of Games Workshop’s gaming empire. It also was the game that has been the foundation and inspiration for countless other card games, board games, war games and video games. Games made by both GW, companies that have taken a licence on GW’s intellectual property, and of course by many competitors. Warhammer Fantasy is even the spiritual father of GW’s current most popular game Warhammer 40k. But for some reason did this grimmer, darker and sci-fi-er Warhammer version not appeal to me. That is, until some friends of me ‘forced’ me into 40k by giving me some Swooping Hawks for my birthday and giving me an incentive to start collecting an Eldar army.

It is not that I do not like sci-fi. I’m quite a large fan of sci-fi films or sci-fi novels (Star Wars, Blade Runner, Total Recall, Dune, Hitch Hikers Guide, Asimov). It is just that I would rather play with tin soldiers – better known as knights – than that I’d play with ceramite armoured super soldiers. This is also rather strange as I was a truly big fan of the game Star Quest (or Space Crusade as it was known in many other countries), a game that in fact was based on groups of Space Marines clearing out an old Space Hulk from the taint of Chaos, Tyranids, Necrons and Orks.

starquest box
Star Quest (or Space Crusade as it was known in the English speaking world) was a game made by Milton Bradly in corporation with Games Workshop – Image by MB & GW

I got hooked
As I already said, I needed a push from a couple of friends during my college years to start a Warhammer 40k army. And since that moment I’ve collected quite a few Warhammer 40k armies. In fact, I have even purchased a decent sized, second hand Tau army this year. A deal that came with loads of other goodies for my Warhammer Fantasy games. I’m also not a real hardcore gamer, so the amount of games I have under my belt is still little. I have noticed though that I do like 40k. The rules are a bit too cumbersome for my liking, and the huge amount of special rules is a bit daunting to me as I’m not sure what the units of my opponents can do, but in general I can say that GW’s grim dark future game has hooked me.

Space Wolves are also grey, aren’t they? These were painted by me and a friend as a birthday gift to my friends brother. So unlike most minis I have painted for other people, I still see them occasionally.

Beautiful, beautiful grey
The biggest problem I have, is the fact that I have more miniatures and games than that I can play or paint. This means that most of my armies are still in a beautiful grey plastic, shiny metal, or yellowish resin colour. Only a few units have a base coat and some detailing and even fewer units are entirely painted up. This is for friendly games not a problem, but it does stop me from going to the local game store to play games, even though there are quite a few people with unpainted or poorly painted armies. It is just that I prefer to play with beautifully painted minis that I have invested time and effort in.

A (partially) ruined industrial district, ready to be contested in battle
A (partially) ruined industrial district, ready to be contested in battle.

In the far future there is no hope
What I like best about Warhammer 40,000 however is not the game itself, no it is the background that Games Workshop has created for its game. Warhammer 40,000, unlike its fantasy brother, knows no good guys. Even the armies that can be considered good are oppressive, dictatorial, fascist armies that know no regret, take no prisoners and have no compassion. The Space Marines wipe out entire planets if even a smallest ‘taint of Chaos’ is discoverd, killing billions of innocent people in the process. The Imperial Guard – Astra Militarum beg my pardon – happily sends millions upon millions of common, no name soldiers into death in horrible wars of attrition. The Tau are a Stalinist society that negates the individual in name of the greater good and the Eldar are so shocked by their own previous decadence that they now adhere to the strictest living protocols possible. All in all, the 41st millennium is a place that knows no happiness or joy.

This lack of hope is what both put me of in the beginning, and what keeps me interested in the game now that I’m a 40k player. It is the fact that there is danger everywhere. That to survive in this horrible galaxy, radical decisions have to be taken. That a common soldier in service of an almighty and uncountable large military organisation can both make a difference and has no value at all. And finally that in this grim dark place, the unexpected is actually the expected.

The unexpectedness of events in 40k, is what drives the background story for me. Space ships get lost in the warp, only to reappear hundreds of years later and millions of light years from their original destination. Warp rifts open and spell doom on the worlds. Ambitious governors that try to make their planet a better place get corrupted by evil Gods that prey on their ambition and weakness. And ordinary soldiers that find a way to change history, only to be send to their death after seeing the horrors of the Warp. Or to be raised and welcomed as a hero and be put into an anti-aging project so they can keep on fighting and inspire their comrades.

Just when I thought I was out… They pull me back in
As I have so many lovely miniatures to paint, I’ve often given me a ‘buying ban’ until I’ve painted up some models or even armies. However, for some reason I find it hard to keep me to these promises I make to myself. The reason for this is that the miniatures that are launched are just so cool. I know that I do not need them – figurines are no water, food or shelter after all. – It is just that I have so much joy in assembling these minis, converting figurines to add a bit of my ‘own’ to them, and looking at the sheer awesomeness of the sculpt.

Warhammer 40k is in that sense a bit of a mean guy. You think you got out (for a while) but it just pulls you back in when GW releases a new, super cool kit. The Imperial Knights are just too awesome not to buy, even though they are €100 and take loads of space – for your notice, I do not have an Imperial Knight though I would love to get my hands on one. – The new Eldar jetbikes are everything I wanted of them with their new dynamic pose and sleek and fast design ethos, in other words a world apart from the old static and bulky jetbikes. And finally does Forge World release such awesome kits for Warhammer 30k (or Horus Heresy) that I just wanted some bits for my Salamander army so that they get a truly unique look instead of just another colour.

Looking forward
This blog has been a great way to motivate myself and get modelling and painting again. It is great to share my ideas, my work and my experiences with you. It’s also great to get reactions to the work I do and ideas I have. And while my ‘looking forward’ series is slowly expanding and slowly nearing the end of my pre-orders, I intend to inform you about my progress in painting and modelling for Warhammer 40k, Warhammer and other games. With this, I’ll start with looking back at some miniatures I have completed a couple of years ago and slowly move towards today and my new projects.

My question to you is then, what would you like to see first? Salamanders, Blood Angels, Eldar, Tau, Imperial Guard or Dark Angels or something different altogether?

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