This weekend my son ( whom readers may know as DM JB JR on Wednesdays) bought the Warhammer 40,000 Starter Kit “Assault on Black Reach.” Warhammer – both Fantasy and Sci-Fi 40K – is a tactical wargame that uses miniatures of the same scale as Dungeons and Dragons, i.e. one figure takes up 1” and represents a single unit. There is also a role playing game that goes by Warhammer FRPG. Games Workshop, out of Great Britain, has been producing Warhammer for over 20 years, and it has achieved a fair amount of fame over the years. The lore is rich, gritty, and expansive. It is the pinnacle of painted miniature wargaming.
My only experience with Warhammer has been massively multiplayer computer game of the fantasy version. This is my first experience with the science fiction themed Warhammer 40,000 franchise, but I do have lots of wargame experience stretching back all the way to my Squad Leader filled youth. This will also be my first experience with miniatures wargaming, something I have been interested in trying out. Wanting more war in my gaming has led me to search for a fix, and until now I was eyeing the WW2 scene, specifically Flames of War vs. Axis and Allies Miniatures. I think those will now take a back seat due to my son’s fortuitous purchase.
When my son first came to me with the idea of spending $90 of his birthday money on a new game, I was hesitant. That is a lot of cash to be dropping on something untested, but after a few conversations on the subject, and a few weeks of waiting for it to be in stock and thinking about it, he was still sure, and so I relented and let him pick up the game. There is a good feeling that comes along with supporting our local game store, Basement Games in Zona Rosa, and the store is heavily into the Warhammer scene, so it was a perfect fit. (Now I just have to convince my wife to let us spend two evenings there per week inste4ad of one!)
About the Box
The Starter Kit comes with everything you need to start playing, including two introductory armies – the Space Marines and the Orks, which must be assembled and painted. The box also comes with the complete rule book, miniaturized down into soft-cover digest size, some dice, a few burst and range templates, and a thin but colorful booklet that gives stats for the included armies, as well as painting guides and other unit information.
The last book also doubles as a “Codex” which is a guide available for each army, and is a must-have item for anyone running an army. Luckily, my local game store loaned me a copy of the Orks Codex, but we don’t have one yet for the Space Marines. The included “codex-lite” seems to have everything we need for the included units, so it will work until we expand beyond our starter armies.
The box contains no maps, map tiles, or terrain of any sort. When I asked about this, they informed me that you could use anything as terrain, and indeed some battles featured entire rooms where the terrain was whatever happened to be lying around. It uses a system of measuring and line of sight that allows for this. There are also plenty of terrain features that can be bought or made. Personally I have had a hankering to play in a Staligrad style camapaign of a series of block by block urban street fighting engagements, so I plan on seeking out or making some awesome urban terrain for a planetary conflict I am calling Planet Stalingrad.. I wonder how the mechanics of the game deal with “destructible” terrain.
The figures come in plastic on sprues like most modern models, and have plastic 1” (or larger) bases. These sets are known for their “ease of construction” and in most cases only one or two gluing were necessary. One thing I am learning about Warhammer is the love of customizability of the armies, and for the orks at least, there were a multitude of heads, arms, and bodies to glue together in whatever combination one preferred. This results in a completely unique army, where even in a group of many of the same unit, each one will look unique. I was surprised about this, and it has become one of my favorite things about the game so far. I relish uniqueness in all things.
The Empire army did not seem to have quite the same level of customizability as the Orks, but we can make up for that with unique painting schemes, like my son has done. He chose the Imperial Space Marines as his army of choice, leaving me with the Orks. I am ok with that choice, and though I usually prefer armies of quality over quantity, I am looking forward to playing with a different strategy than usual. I love these Orks, and have decided my army will be a sub-set of the Goffs who call themselves the Totin’ Goffs. The theme appears to be mainly black/white chessboard pattern. Maybe I will try and come up with a black/white skull symbol.
So I have never played the game, and really haven’t even broken open the manual other than to peruse the pages, so I have no idea how the game plays. Right now we are in the stage of getting our armies glued and painted, tough we plan to start playing as soon as we can, and paint isn’t required for that, so who knows, we may have a game on soon.
Well we had our first game, or at least the first two rounds of The Battle for Planet Stalingrad Phase 1 the Beach head: Capturing Dzherizinsky Nuclear reactor on the Crystal Sea.
Captain Nob-Slaughter charges and takes out an entire squad of Nobs with his power sword. He leads his company by example.
A squad of ork boyz attacks the heavily armed walker and a lucky shot puts it out of commission quickly. The orks rip into it like its dinner time.
Well that was out first game, and it took about an hour and a half, mostly of looking up each rule as it came up. Most of the rules are straight-forward and make a lot of sense. It hard to get used to hit-wound-save and the rules for vehicles get a little confusing, but I think in genereal, it is a game that will be second nature once the rules are internalized. I love the “true line of sight rules:” Put your eye at miniature level, ad see if you can see the enemy target.
There area few areas Im not sure about. like how to keep track of wounds on multiple units, and other fiddly bits, but luckily we will have a crash course in learning the game this Saturday. The son and I will be heading to Basement Games, our local game store (and host of our weekly D&D Encounters) where Saturday is Warhammer Day. Hopefully we will get to play a few battles, even if we are too newb (or our armies are too small) for the tournament.
There you have it. We have opened up a Pandoras Box of fun I can tell already.