Friday, 9 December 2011

Yes I play Warhammer and AD&D, yes I'm a geek, but are we really that different?

So there I was sitting on a bus travelling home from Hythe reading the latest issue of White Dwarf. It was one article in particular the held my attention. It was a focus on one of the in house painters, and how he got into painting miniatures and his techniques. This got me thinking ashow-waterbout what it was that drew me into the hobby all those years ago. Initially it was white dwarf, to be more precise it was Issue 75. I’d already been gaming on and off for a few years and I had just been introduced to a game called The Call of Cthulhu, horror role playing in the 1920’s Issue 75 had a Cthulhuesque picture of the cover and some articles about the game, including a mini adventure. Yes, believe it or not but back then the anaemic short one was indeed a more wider based magazine. The issue also had a couple of painting articles. I soon discovered that a local toy store stocked Citadel Miniatures, so I bought a model and some Humbrol Enamels, Citadel didn’t start producing paints until a couple of years later. Armed with a brush and a very limited pallette I set about painting my very first model. By todays standards it was rubbish, I didn’t know about drybrushing, washing or any of the other methods that I teach the lads at the shop, and because I was using enamels I also needed thinners which meant that I now had to consider where I was painting and I needed to be wary of spillages and naked flames and fumes, It’s so much nicer these days. I still have that first model and I think I may dig it out, strip it and give it a fresh painting using more up to date brushes, paints and methods, actually I have a number of models that could be revisited with 21st century knowledge.
pic380258_mdAs for 40k what drew me in to that was the release of the first edition of a game called Space Hulk. Set in a dark and distant future, the same one as 40k to be precise, Space Marines Terminators board derelict interstellar craft to carry out mission that range from equipment recovery to cleansing the wreckage of an alien menace known only as Genestealers. Borrowing heavily from the Alien franchise the game was for two players and was very enjoyable, My mates, at the time, and I would play for hours, we once played over a whole weekend starting with the first mission though to the very last one that was published in a copy of WD, this event included all the mission from the two expansion sets as well. Fortunately one of the lads worked in a pizza parlour and arrived late on the Saturday weighed down with various pizzas and cheesy garlic bread. In fact Matts free pizzas became the mainstay of a number of gaming evenings. I then picked up a copy of Warhammer 40000: Rogue Trader, and a small Space Marine army. I played for a couple of years, expanding on the army and painting the models until slowly but surely time took it’s toll and friends moved on or moved away and I sold my books and models being certain that I no longer had the need for them. I continued to buy the odd copy of White Dwarf for a while after but, for me the golden age of White Dwarf was over as it had became a purely in-house magazine that no longer carried features on other gaming systems and had even stopped advertising other gaming companies such as TSR and West End Games. I also thought that gaming had gone the way of the dodo due to the release of consoles like Playstation and the Sega Megadrive. Now the games that I used to pay 10p to play were available to play at a moments whim for free and no one was interested in using paper, pencils, funny shaped dice diceand a little imagination. So I packed away my dice and rule books and set about looking for a new hobby. However gaming has always been one of my favourite things to do with my free time, yes I bought a console and I like the RPG games that are available, but none of them compare to the enjoyment of sitting at a table with some good mates discussing the drawbacks of full plate armour. Eventually I managed to persuade a few friends that shared a love of all things daft to give AD&D a shot and soon my rule books were dusted of and my dice were hitting the table again. Then I became friends with Sue and she had just started stocking GW products and I mentioned that I used to play 40k and might be interested in collecting a small army. Sue suggested that she would like to offer a gaming session to the lads that were buying the models and asked if I still new anyone who had experience at running a gaming group, surprisingly I did, me! I offered to supervise the sessions but the only problem was that as I hadn’t played in a while I’d need a rulebook and maybe some models, the rest is history, here we are five years on and much has changed, 40k 6th edition looms on the gaming horizon, Space Hulk returned with vastly superior models and I have three armies for 40k all in excess of 300 points and, more than 20 years after my first foray into the rather odd world of tabletop gaming I finally have a Warhammer Fantasy Battles army and rulebook.
05c71016684404235c73a3ff1e1b4858Over the last 30+ years of gaming I have seen many changes and attitudes to the gaming society, from religious zealots who promised me an eternity  of red hot pitch forks in places that I can’t mention here to people who think that gaming is just.. well.. weird. Despite all the setbacks I think there is still a large community of bearded men who get together a couple of evenings a month to moan about their girlfriends, or lack there of, whilst fiddling with their dice and trying desperately to get a really low AC and as high a THAC0 as they possibly can. For myself there is only one gaming related question that needs to be answered, what is the damage for a polearm with a night watchman on the end?
Until I think of some more drivel to put on here, hopefully with a title, may all you die roll well.