Despite my love for virtually all facets of tabletop gaming, my feelings towards Games Workshop have always been… mixed. I’m certainly not a Games Workshop fanboy; I’m not really even a loyal customer. My perception has always been that in the world of tabletop games, for better or for worse, Games Workshop stands apart. It’s always kind of felt like, generally, people who play RPGs, CCGs, and board games and who paint miniatures for RPGs intermingle in a shared space, while those who play Warhammer Fantasy or 40K occupy a separate space. This is only my own anecdotal experience, but for what it’s worth, Games Workshop’s own rulebooks refer not to the “tabletop wargaming hobby” as a whole, but to the Games Workshop hobby. (Of course, this is the same company that trademarked the term “Orc,” except spelled with a “k,” and would probably have you believe that “ultramarine” is a term that they invented.)
For a long time, I stayed within the confines of the first group. Games Workshop is a part of the landscape in the tabletop gaming world, so it’s easy to develop a passing familiarity and interest in the lore of both Fantasy and 40K, but I never wandered far off the reservation. However, the years of resisting the siren song in game shops and on the Internet finally wore me down, and I took the plunge about halfway through 5th edition, at the same time the new (at that time) Tyranid codex and models were released. It was rather fortuitous timing, because I had decided long before actually getting into 40K that Tyranids were my favorite, so I got to experience coming into the game when my chosen army was the flavor of the month. What was less fortuitous was the now generally agreed upon view that the 5th edition codex was pretty awful, making them a particularly bad choice for new players. I ended up playing less than a dozen games with the bugs, and got curb-stomped by mechanized lists in a good number of them.
I stuck with 40k for about two years, amassing a decent-sized collection of nids, then some Orks, and a few of the obligatory Space Marines. (Seriously, if you play 40k at all, you know that it’s practically impossible to not end up owning at least a few Space Marines.) I started drifting away from the game around the release of 6th edition — not because of life circumstances, my poor win-loss record, or even due to the byzantine set of rules or expensive models, though these things did factor in to some degree. The single biggest reason I drifted away from Warhammer 40K is that I got burnt out on painting; I’ve come to realize that I really don’t like painting mooks. But if I’m going to paint a mini, even a mook, I can’t let myself do a crappy job. That’s not to say that every single miniature I paint represents my absolute best work, but even my tabletop-level termagants each take two hours or more to do.
After having spent hundreds of hours painting up enough minis to field small Tyranid and Ork armies (and a couple of squads of Space Marines), the prospect of having hundreds or even thousands more hours to go before I could field enough minis for more standard-sized games, especially when combined with the other forces pushing me away from the game, made 40K into something that I just didn’t find enjoyable anymore. A little over a year ago, I sold off the various codexes and back issues of White Dwarf that I had acquired, along with a good portion of the remaining unpainted minis I had. The last game I had actually played had been quite some time before that, and I haven’t played 40K since.
But a lot can change in a couple of years.
And once again, for various reasons, I find myself lured in by the sirens’ song.