"3-D Roleplay" in the 41st Millennium!
They say you never get a second chance at life. Well, in some ways that’s true. I sold a bunch of plastic squats that I’ll never be able to buy back (without remortgaging) and I’ll never see Del Boy fall through the bar for the first time again. But sometimes you do get another bite of the cherry, especially if you’re a tabletop gamer.
Chances of a Codex any time soon...?
For instance, I missed out on 40k the first time around. A couple of friends played it, but I preferred smaller scale gunfights to mass battles. So I didn’t take the plunge. But many moons later, when I had been drawn back into tabletop by Infinity’s anime and cyberpunk aesthetics and Malifaux’s creepy burning coffin cowboys and giant grinning teddies, I was given another shot. Warhammer 40,000 8th edition dropped, and a bunch of people at my local club got involved. So, keen to get a game or two, I decided to dip my toe in and get a few minis.
Death Marshals were the reason I got into Malifaux.
I had no real idea what faction to go for, but I remembered the moment I’d first become aware of 40k. I must have been thirteen or fourteen, and was visiting a tiny (but always crammed) indie games store in Preston. The sort of place that had a megadrive running on the desk, by a till that was dwarfed by a plastic tub full of loose Ral Partha, Perry Rhodan and Citadel miniatures. The racks on the walls were laden with games I had never heard of. Curse of the Mummy’s Tomb, with its ingenious three-dimensional board, Silent Death, and obscure but amazing game books like Blood Sword and Way of the Tiger (it was, I think, the thrill of the fight). Afterwards, my friends and I would go to another shop and buy our first White Dwarf - the one with the Terminator Honours badge on the front - but the thing I remembered the most, and that really left an impression on me, was the box art of Epic Scale Space Marine, the massive set that dominated the top shelf on the far wall of Preston Games.
What a board, eh?
It was the First Legion, the Dark Angels, making a valiant last stand against an unseen enemy. The artwork has become iconic (one of the marines was inspired by Al Pacino’s portrayal of Tony Montana from the movie Scarface) and for me is the archetypal Space Marine image. I’m sure we all have that one piece of artwork that encapsulates what 40k is all about, and this is what it’s about for me. So when one of my fellow clubmates offered to sell me the Imperial half of the Dark Vengeance boxed set, I jumped at the chance. It didn’t take long for me to raid the internet for reinforcements. Before long I had an army that included a flashmob of Deathwing, a trio of Predators, two dreadnoughts, countless space marines and six Inceptors with plasma annihilators (because ‘Weapons of the Dark Age’)... just in case I had to kill several tanks at once.
I had a bit of fun putting the Deathwing together. This one wears the jawbone of a vanquished Beast of Caliban
It felt good to assemble that army, and it feels good to sit taking pictures of them now. Part of me had always wanted a force of warriors just like the ones on the front of that box and many years later I got the chance. So is this mere nostalgia, an attempt to relive the heady, youthful days of the past (only with access to a credit card and an airbrush)?
My attempt at building a more imposing Azrael.
Nostalgia is of course a powerful thing. Hollywood pretty much sustains itself on it, with remakes and sequels aplenty. It’s also a driver in gaming. You can find Megaman games on the shelf, a boardgame of Big Trouble in Little China, and many others. We might scoff at some of this, but few of us are immune to the pull of nostalgia. If somebody releases a skirmish game based on Jayce and the Wheeled Warriors or Ulysses 31, I will be powerless to resist. The nostalgia of the player base can give companies the courage to develop a game based on a cult classic videogame or movie. It can also help bring back the beloved games of the past.
Ulysses. No-one else can do the things he does. Fact.
Necromunda made a splash when it first came out. The minis were distinctive and fascinating, offering a glimpse into a whole new aspect and social strata of the dark universe of the 41st Millennium. It also contained a terrain set that tabletop gamers still reminisce about today - a card and plastic hybrid that could be built into a multi-level battlefield, with no two configurations the same. I actually remember it’s predecessor, ‘Confrontation’, which was incredibly granular, using D100s instead of D6s, with percentile points and an extensive rack of stats. So you found a mesh coif in your stash? Well, it certainly gives you some added protection, but also makes you 2% less likely to see the glint on the side of a needle gun before you get pumped full of lethal toxins. The original Necromunda toned all of this down, made it actually playable, but lost none of the character and atmosphere. It was, I think we all agree, a triumph.
Winners don't do drugs. Especially Doze and Spook.
Of course, Necromunda is now back with a vengeance. The new compendium allows new players to get to grips with the game quickly and easily. As well as many old favourites - Escher, Cawdor and the sinister, revamped Delaque now riffing on the Guild Navigator attendants from Dune and the black-clad agents from Syndicate - there are new characters like the bounty hunters Eyros Slagmist (son of Mr and Mrs Slagmist) and the bolter-wielding Squat Grendl Grendlsen. The new miniatures are stunning and the game is a hell of a lot of fun. A deeper, richer and less knockabout sibling to Kill Team, one might say.
Make sure to accessorise when you visit the underhive!
Hopefully, with the rules kinks ironed out, the compendium heralds the true return of Necromunda, establishing a foundation on which the game can grow into something even grander than before. With many companies offering characterful and immersive terrain sets, we can build even more amazing battlefields too.
Coming soon to an underhive near you!
Many of us have access to more money than we did when these games made their first pass. We’re in a position to invest more heavily, to build the forces we always wanted. Hopefully, we’re better painters too, and with the hobby becoming more mainstream, we might also have access to better venues and a wider player base (finding other players is so much easier in the age of the internet, right?). So it’s great to see these older IPs come good again, with freshly redesigned miniatures developed using cutting-edge technology. Now, if someone would just make a wargame based on Krull, I’ll be happy.
It would work as a tabletop game, right?
Thanks for reading. Now, we need to make you lovely people aware that we need your US orders by close of play TODAY (7th December) to get it in time for Christmas. So if you want some shiny new Delaque tokens, go, go, go!