800 days ago I bought the Dark Imperium box set and my journey back into tabletop Warhammer 40k began. Because “reasons” I thought it would be a good idea to step back and look at how that’s gone and to see how far I’ve come.
There’s the big box, and the photo that I took that night of the two rule books that I have side by side. The Dark Imperium box set was a really quite lovely product and presented very nicely. It would take me a while to get everything assembled but I knew that I was going for the Death Guard as “my” army. I had never quite stepped away from Warhammer 40,000 having Games Mastered the Dark Heresy RPG and bought the re-release of Space Hulk when it came out a year or two before this. So I was aware of what Games Workshop were getting up to. I’d seen the concept art and then the miniatures for the new Death Guard models, I had taken quite a fancy to them.
Painting starts. Over the last few years I’d painted a few miniatures for various RPGs and some of the models for Space Hulk but this was going to be on a different scale. I completed my first ever squad for Warhammer 40,000, that was quite the feeling. I began by playing games against the child of a friend who wanted to play. At this point I wasn’t sure how serious the hobby was going to be, would I just enjoy the modelling side of it?
Things escalate rapidly… I add some extra models to my Death Guard, the Plagueburst Crawler and another squad of Marines. I’m still playing with unpainted models though, I haven’t finished off what came in the starter set. I also take a big step and play my first game in a local hobby store, Distinct Gaming in Belper. I was very nervous and presumed that my opponent knew the rules much better than I did, which turned out to be not totally true, my Death Guard won the battle.
I moved to this area about two and a half years ago and prior to that my gaming was pretty much always between friends at our homes. Moving out of that comfort zone and actually engaging with the wider community in Games Stores was really quite a big step that should not be underestimated.
By now I’m gaming once every two weeks or so at Distinct Gaming in Belper. I also take the pretty big decision to only play with fully painted models. The photo against the Space Wolves was, I think, the last game I played with a partially painted model. That was a very deliberate decision to help me manage my gaming and hobbying (if you’re curious you can read about it here). The photo against the Tyranids is the first photo I have where my army was fully painted up.
The photos above show two pretty big steps for me into the hobby. First of all I’ve picked up some third party accessories. I have some little wooden discs that I’ve printed labels on to track psychic powers and I’ve also added a little plastic range measuring widget. I’m not just buying Games Workshop stuff but also adding in other products to enhance my gaming experience. The other thing they show is that I’m now also gaming at Boards and Swords hobbies in Derby, my engagement with the gaming community has clicked up a notch.
A little event but very satisfying, I get my first Rhino onto the table. Years ago I bought the box of three of them (for £10!) when they first came out. I painted them, modified them and in the end destroyed them for battle damaged scenery but never actually played them. 30 years or so later I finally got there!
This blog was born! I had started to write down thoughts for Cadian shock on my lists for our games. Writing that down really made me think about my list building and how my army was meant to work. So I thought I should start doing it for all my games, and from there it kind of grew.
A few things were bubbling away by now. In some ways my Death Guard army felt “complete”. I had most of the units in the Codex and wasn’t quite sure what to do next. I had noticed that a problem I was having was long range anti-armour weapons for dealing with the tough units that were out there. So I thought about this, and thought about it some more.
The conclusion was to add some Armigers (as they were called then) into my army. This allowed me, so I felt, to stay mono-Codex Death Guard while also giving me something that I could really work on the modelling for.
The Armigers were only going to be a temporary distraction. I needed a new direction, and I found an answer. I committed to going “tri-codex”, now that there was a proper Chaos Knights Codex, and I was going to add some Nurgle Daemons to my army. I put an awful lot of effort into Rotigus and he took over a month to paint. My “fully painted” rule would mean that it would be a while before I could field my Nurgle Battalion, but I’d get there.
Whilst working on my Nurgle Daemons I also took breaks to work on rusting my Death Guard models. This opened up another line of things that I could be working on, rusting my existing models, and I found it really satisfying. Combined with my work on Rotigus I think that my modelling really took a step up around about this time. I wouldn’t say that I’m great, but things look pretty respectable on the tabletop.
My Nurgle Daemons hit the tabletop! And that was, and remains, a challenge. When I learned how to play my Death Guard I started with the handful of different units in the Dark Imperium box set and then, due to my “play only painted” new units only slowly appeared. Every two to four weeks I might have something new to learn. With my Daemons I suddenly had four or five new units with complex interactions and synergies to pick up.
I was also back in the position of needing to to work out what I was going to do next. This time the answer was Forge World, I picked up a Contemptor Dreadnought and then a month or so later added another one. This return to Forge World also added in Necrosius, another Forge World model, to my army.
So that’s a rough guide to my journey over the last 800 days. Where do I think that I’m going next? That’s something that I’m still not sure about. I know that I’m quite happy being “Nurgle”, which is a shift from my being just “Death Guard”, and I don’t yet feel any urge to start on an entirely new army.
That I’ve started dipping my toes into Forge World does expand my modelling horizons for both Death Guard and Nurgle Daemons. On the Daemons front there are fun units like the delightfully silly Plague Toads, and on the Death Guard side there are some of the bigger tanks and armoured units. Sinking my teeth into a bigger model and really doing my best with it, as I did with Rotigus, will really flex my modelling abilities and keep me busy for months.
Might a Chaos Knight happen? Possibly. But I’m wary of going down a road of trying to keep up with the “meta” and playing what will win rather than what I enjoy. However a Knight Desecrator is a possibility. He’s not the most brutally effective of the available Chaos Knights, and he would buff my War Dogs. So it would let me build and paint a Nurgle Knight while not just going for the “best’ option.
And Mortarion? I’ve been trying to avoid him for ages as he’s a beautiful model and very intimidating to paint, especially those wings on which I’ve seen some people do beautiful things. While I continue to work around him my Death Guard will never truly be finished. And, perhaps, that’s a part of the reason I haven’t taken him on.
So, in short, I can’t see a massive change in what I play and I don’t think I’ll be undergoing a massive modelling project such as I did with starting my Nurgle Daemons army. I think I’ll be working harder on a smaller number of models that will fill special and niche rolls in my armies.
However, I do have a thing for tanks and the Imperial Guard. So if Games Workshop ever do do a proper “Renegades and Heretics” list then who knows. I can see me saying “oh, I’ll build a Nurgle faction, I’m still Nurgle! Still Nurgle!”. Maybe I could even get some of my old Rogue Trader era Imperial Guard miniatures onto the table…