In The News This Week...
Anyway, enough about the site. The article (belligerently entitled: Why are adults still launching tabletop war?) was basically one journalist's disbelief that adults could still be drawn into what was effectively toy soldiers. It was a bit demeaning to have all your life's passion derided as 'toys' or 'figurines', like it's some porcelain Victorian doll rather than a lumbering behemoth of a Leman Russ with heavy bolters and lascannon and battle cannons blazing ...
Anyway, the article aside, it did get me thinking about wargaming in general, and the 40K hobby. In my circle of friends I'm probably the most avid 40K gamer: I regularly spend upwards of £30-40 on 'Collectors' models, I've probably pumped about £500 into Forgeworld over the years, and I loyally stick to Citadel paints and brushes.
Well, I suppose the simplest excuse is that it's what I grew up on. About 10 years ago, on a family trip to Cleethorpes I spent most of the day eagerly drooling over a borrowed, dog-eared copy of the Third Edition Rulebook. And I was hooked. In those days it was easier to start, as the models were a darn sight cheaper. (As an aside, on that grey September morn it was the photos of the Mordian Iron Guard that I truly fell in love with, hence my enthusiasm at finally, a decade on, being close to finishing a Mordian army).
Nowadays, 40K does have a lot going for it. I often say that, in my experience of modelling supplies they do the best-quality products. This is no longer true, with the advent of the Perry Brothers' fine plastic kits for example, the GW monopoly is starting to slip in this and other fields. They are still very visually impressive and have a long legacy of fluff, battle reports, White Dwarfs, and now even books and games, into which you can delve and immerse yourself.
But there are the downsides. The rules are clunky and unusable; driven by a pathogenic impulsion to do a glorious re-release every few years, the rules have to be extensively re-written when there's no strong need to do so. So much, in fact, that we now play a version of 40K mainly based on 4th Ed and a mental cocktail of the few sweet spots in the new rules, with a healthy dose of house rules. But by far the most common slating of 40K is the price, and rightly so. 40K prices (and Warhammer, for that matter), have been in an explosive upwards spiral for many years now. Coupled with the advent of such games as Apocolypse, it's now only possible to afford a 'normal sized' game by being Bonnie and/or Clyde.
And yet we game on. I started this article with a view to answering this dichotomy once and for all, but it hasn't turned out that way. I love the rules, I suppose. Or at least, the rules as me and my friends have modified them. I love the painting ... well, I love painting - doing it myself. I love the background, or at least the background that I created for my army ... and that might just be it. We don't play '40K' ... we make the hobby our own, and price can be no barrier to that. Out of the box, it may not have any appeal any more, but we aren't just 'buying the latest model'. We're feeding many enjoyable years of playing the hobby, which is why we still find it worthwhile. Interestingly, they had Mark Wells (CEO) defending price hikes, saying "it's not what we do".
Well, it is, but I'm still going to finish the Mordian army.