What is Warhammer 40, 000?

Andy Hoare's Apocalypse army. Picture: Games Workshop

For all of you new to the hobby that is Warhammer 40, 000, here is a general introduction.

What is Warhammer 40, 000? In my eyes it is more than just a hobby, it’s a universe with many different aspects. The science fiction phenomenon, set in the far future of the 41st milennium (where there is only war), was created by Games Workshop. Practically, it’s roughly about collecting, modelling and painting miniatures, and using them in a strategial battle-focused board game. Some favour the painting process, and become true artists with the brush. Others prefer the gaming part of the hobby, and turn into experienced strategists. Some again like one part as much as the other, and in time they may excell at both. Of course, all of this also applies to Games Workshop’s other franchises: Warhammer Fantasy and The Lord Of The Rings tabletop miniatures. But if you are pre-determined to follow one of these, hm, shall we say “alternative” roads, you don’t really need to continue reading. In fact, what are you even doing poking around on my site? (I’m only kidding, of course, everybody are free to roam the site, as long as you don’t start whining about the lack of Rohan cavalry tactics…) 

But how to get started? Well, first you need a box of miniatures, which contains individual model pieces attached to sprues (there are metal models as well, but just forget those for now). Those of you who are already familiar with some form of miniature hobby will know what I mean. So the next things you might need are clippers and, preferably, a scalpel (or something similar) to cut away whatever might be left of the plastic sprue on the model. Games Workshop and Citadel Miniatures offers a wide range of such tools. The next thing you do is glue the model parts together in the type of pose you prefer. Posing your models strongly contributes to the final look of your squad (or army for that matter), so a little consideration before you glue is advised . There are also certain rules for what kind of equipment a squad may carry. For example, a Space Marine is very rarely seen carrying a bolter in each hand while sporting a couple of pistols in the belt and twin chainswords on the back. But hey, I won’t stop you, although entering a tournament with such models might require some serious persuation skills. All the rules of the game are gathered in the Warhammer 40, 000 rulebook, and the spesific codex of your chosen army.

Example of a sprue. Picture: Games Workshop

When your models are securely glued together (you DID use plastic glue right? RIGHT?!), you should paint or spray them with some sort of base colour. I always use black, so that I have all the basic shading from the start. If you want your model to look good, you will need shading in all the cracks, jonts and other places where light wouldn’t reach on a real scale model. Choosing a colour sceme for your army might require some inspiration, so browse your rulebook, codex and the internet for examples. Visiting a Games Workshop store (or similar) is a good idea, there should always be people there that are more than willing to help you get started. Buying a copy of “How to paint Citadel miniatures” is also highly recommended. 

I won’t even begin describing all the rules of the game here, they can all be found in the rulebook (obviously), but I can say as much: It includes dice, strategical thinking, moving, shooting and assaulting. Factors like cover and morale applies. Playing the game itself is the best way to learn the rules, and who knows? One day you might stand there as a tournament champion, lifting your commanding character triumphantly into the air and promising free drinks to all the losers (all lies, of course). Before that time though, you will be chewing on the dice in pure, uncontrollable frustration, punching the table (actually, don’t do that) and cursing the tactical brilliance of your opponent. But you will also have a ton of fun.

A scene from battle. Picture: Games Workshop

By the way, there’s also an extensive amount of Warhammer 40,000 litterature in the form of novels and short stories, all to be found at the Black library website. Some of the most thrilling books you’ll ever read, trust me. And if you want the most exquisitly detailed miniatures known to man, head over to Forge World. Their resin models are not for beginners, but truly awesome to behold.

2 responses to “What is Warhammer 40, 000?

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