Friday, 4 November 2016

Why do I love 40k?

If you follow us on Twitter (@4dadsapocalypse) then you would know that I play quite a lot of different games as well as 40k. This is because I have, over the last couple of years, become friends with 2 or 3 guys that are into board and card games. I am converting them to 40k slowly but I have had the pleasure of playing quite a few different types of games because of them. A few examples are:
Ticket to ride
Magic the gathering
Forbidden Island
Forbidden Desert
Warhammer Quest
Battle Lore
Space Hulk
Killer Bunnies
Settlers of Catan

Most of these other games I have really enjoyed and I have found that it's great to play different games as it's a break from 40k and I find it really interesting to play games with different rules mechanics.

So then why do I always come back to 40k and love it even more than any other game I have ever played?

I think to answer this question I have to run through (some of) the negatives of 40k first because despite these issues I just love the game.

- Cost - this game is expensive!
- Time - It eats your life away painting, gaming etc. (Check out my post on how I fit 40k into my life here)
- Relaxed rule set
- Unclear, ill-defined rules
- Lots of rules
- A million different rule books
- Space - requires a hobby area and quite large playing table
- Need terrain as well as models to play with
- Hobby tools - brushes, glue, paints, airbrushes etc.
- Solitary hobby - Generally you paint and model on your own
- Skill level - A certain skill level is required to build and paint models
- Space - Apparently my wife says that all my stuff (terrain, models etc.) takes up too much room.

I'm sure that there are more negatives to this game but I think I'll stop there because even looking at this list I do wonder why the hell I still carry on playing!

Following the negatives then, why am I so in love with this game as opposed to any other that has nowhere near the number of negatives I have listed here? 
In no particular order here are a few of my reasons:

1. Backstory
Background, fluff, history, call it what you will but the back story to this universe is just breathtaking! Hundreds of books, rule books, characters and a timeline have been developed over the last 25 years to provide a rich history not seen in any other game. I believe that this is the single reason that Games Workshop has been such a success over such a long time with gamers like me. The story behind the game is so interesting and eventful that you can be involved in the game without even playing it at all! I think that reading about the game probably accounts for about 90% of my reading time which is incredible for being just a tabletop war game.

2. Models
Another reason why the company has lasted so long. Games Workshop and especially Forgeworld make the most beautiful miniatures in the world at the moment. The detail and character of the models is amazing and the kits now provide endless opportunities to customise them to be completely unique to your own army. Even if you don't like certain sculpts (Wulfen) you are able to make your own from bits of other kits. Yes I know that there are some issues such as fine cast and miscasts but mistakes will always be made and thankfully they are few and far between.

3. Hobby
In this game I find I spend far more time building, converting and painting models to use than actually using them to play games with! When I think about it that seems completely crazy for a game but this aspect fills my creative drive. I'm no good at drawing, not interesting in painting and definitely not into carpentry but give me an inch high model or some terrain and suddenly my hobby brain kicks in and I can spend hours on a single miniature. I also find that this is a great way to switch off from the pressures of life and relax which benefits my mental health too.

4. Specialist spin off games and different ways to play
I love some of the other games I have played, however play a few times and they do get boring. Games Workshop have done a great job at opening the universe up to produce different games to play to keep us all interested (and take our money of course!). Such games include Deathwatch overkill, Assassinorum: Execution Force, Battle at Calth, Space Hulk, Kill team, Battle Missions, Epic, Necromunda, Cities of Death, Apocalypse, Inquisitor, Battlefleet Gothic, Planetstrike, Spearhead, Death From The Skies etc. With all of the different ways to play I have never been bored playing 40k as there is always a new way to play.

5. Rules
The rules are so complicated there are far too many and they're not even written very well. However I personally enjoy the current rule set and think it works really well as part of a 3D tabletop game. Having played other rule sets I think that the mechanics of 40k work for me and provide a really cinematic way to play the game - It really does feel like I am on the battlefield controlling the army and I can feel the stress levels rising when it comes down to the crunch.

Yes I think some rules should be ditched (challenges I'm staring at you) but there are rules in every game that don't quite work and you can always agree house rules with your friends. Yes I ALWAYS forget a bunch of rules during a game and remember them afterwards but so do my friends and no-one minds a genuine mistake as we always have fun during the games anyway. Despite these issues this rule set works for me personally and no other game has quite beaten 40k in this area.....yet!

6. Dice
As a person I am a doer and a kinaesthetic learner and so the one thing that does it for me in a game is dice - lots of them. Somehow for me the tactile nature of picking up a handful of dice and hearing the clatter of them on the table massively enhances the game that I play. Couple this up with the movement of all of the miniatures on the table and another box is ticked in what I want from a game.

As you know I enjoy playing card and board games and I quite enjoy throwing runes in Runebound. However, it just isn't the same experience as picking up 29 dice for my punisher tank and figuring out whether it was a good roll or not, then rolling them again only to curse the Astra Militarum for being so rubbish at shooting.

Physically rolling dice and adding up results adds something to the whole experience that works for me when playing a game.

7. Narrative
The combination of the history of the Warhammer universe and the many different ways to play the game means that 40k has an infinite number of options to encourage narrative gaming, that is gaming with a story. From making up your own army or chapter to playing a campaign or mission you just made up, your imagination can go wild which provides brilliant opportunities to be creative either on your own or with friends.

When playing other games it is common to only have one scenario or you may get 2 or three missions in a box set like Runebound or Battle Lore. Literally with 40k you could never play the same game twice. For me this eliminates boredom and creates a huge amount of fun when other games begin to get tired.

So there are my reasons, I sound like a complete 40k fanboy I know but at a personal level these factors are important for me in my gaming experience and 40k generally satisfies them. I also know that this will not be the perfect game for everyone so would love to hear why you either play or don't play the game.
Please feel free to comment below.

All the best,
James – A blog about Warhammer 40k and the Horus Heresy by four Dads

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