In a bizarre twist of fate, my eldest son and his school friends have decided that they want to play Warhammer 40k. This is surprising. As a little fella he painted models along with me, of course, but ‘grew out of it’ because it is basically a pretty naff hobby.
However, time has moved on and (some of) the young generation are now finding that nerdy is cool and this can be seen in the demeanour of basket ballers. They now come to press conferences in turtleneck jumpers and thick-lensed glasses – such a change from the tattoos and bling of a few years ago. My younger boy still seems to think that tattoos, piercing, and being a gangsta is cool, but this gives me hope that he too might ‘grow out’ of choosing the bottom of the heap.
Anyway, the elder parasite wanted some models for his birthday (again a fascinating regression since he a big 16). He’s decided to build Eldar. His friends are all building forces of different species.
Personally, my wargaming and role playing predated Warhammer. I remember issue 1 of White Dwarf (WD), a try hard Dungeons & Dragons fanzine. By the time WD morphed into being nothing more than an extended catalogue for Games Workshop (GW) models I had years of historical gaming under my belt, along with experience with a broad selection of fantasy and science fiction role playing games. Frankly I had no room for Warhammer or WH40k, and partially resented the marketing implication that Games Workshop had in some way invented the hobby from scratch.
As I got older my opinions mellowed and I came to offer GW some grudging respect. After all, they were one of, if not the only, games company that made a profit year after year, and that’s no mean feat. But I never actually took the plunge into the ranges as I did not need to, only occasionally buying the paints and enduring the luvvies in the shops accosting me and asking what I play. The confusion on their faces when I said ‘Historical’ was priceless.
So now the boy wants in, and naturally I am keen to encourage any footsteps into the hobby that has given me so much pleasure over the decades, regardless of the specific genre or setting.
Sooner or later I had to bite the bullet and buy the rules because he wants to play the official set against his mates and against anyone else at the shop. While just leaving the discussion of price with the simple thought, ‘criminal’, it’s hard not to be impressed by a book that is 60 pages of rules and 370 pages of reasons to buy more GW product. It is inspirational – and this is what GW have given the wargaming industry: an example of how to engage your enthusiasm. They make it look fun. They make it a valid lifestyle choice.
Actually, it makes me suspicious about the health of the GW corporation. It feels so complete it is almost hysterical. I feel as if I am holding the definitive statement about the range and the company, unable to ever to be bettered, an epitaph to something that just might go belly up next week. Just as the very best products started to come out of TSR just before they collapsed.