Thursday, January 17, 2013

The Psychosis of Warhammer (Part 2)

(or "I shall Win at all Costs.")

The folks at Games Workshop deserve a lot of credit: they market their games well. Their miniatures are usually top of the line, well sculpted. Both the Warhammer Fantasy and Warhammer 40k game lines have a massive back story rivaled in scope (probably) by the Forgotten Realms. Their games are collectible, but pretty damned expensive.

I knew all of this some twelve years ago when I bought two starter boxed sets for Warhammer 6th Edition at 50% each from a hobby store going out of business. The Empire miniatures looked like Hazahdians from my campaign world, Domikka. I sold both of the rules books and the the orcs. I just wasn't interested in playing Warhammer. I just wanted a small horde of Empire spearmen and handgunners for D&D. Then about six years ago, something happened: I started building an Empire Army and rationalizing my decision:

Games Workshop is like Coca-Cola: its everywhere, at least in the wargaming sense. At least in the United States, every city of a decent size has a hobby store that sells Warhammer. So you can find somebody to game with, unlike other wargames which might be fad in one area but gone in another.  Also, during the time I made the decision, I was in a state of transition. I wanted to go back to school, but where?  Also, I wanted to broaden my gaming horizons. I figured, well, historical wargaming is fun, but... Warhammer is everywhere.

I bought the old 7th edition Empire army codex, put together a 1000 point army, played my first game in years and lost. At that point, I know, is when the psychology really kicked in:

--Who plays Wargames the most? Boys and men. Both have egos to appease. In this day and age, overt violence is frowned upon, so we have to beat on each other in tamer ways. Even more so for the average nerd, who would have difficulty in a fight anyway (myself included). In sum, we like to WIN.

--What better way to win in this day and age than to commanded large armies in miniature?

--And check out this cool artwork? See the two massive armies converging in the core rule book? (You will never see artwork depicting one army or characters from said army slaughtering another army or characters. Soldiers charging into battle? Yes. Characters looking dramatic or facing off against a worthy opponent? Yes. But never getting beat. Why would anybody play an army that gets beat?)

--And look at all of those options from the Army Lists. Wow. Wouldn't it be great to have a bunch of unbreakable flagellants? Or a block of Empire knights charging down the tabletop? And a couple batteries of Cannon? Oooo... and the Steam Tank! That'll beat my opponent!

--Oh wait, that's too many points. And I have to have at least a unit or two be core units. All right, time to recalculate.

--What!?! I lost again! What do you mean your general gets that ability? It says so in your Army Book? Let me see?"

Now here's where it really gets addictive. Herein lies the genius behind Warhammer:

Unless you buy the corebook and every single Army Book, you will never know all the rules. And even then, you will always be tweaking your army so can adapt to your opponent's specific army.

See, the Warhammer rules are exception based. That is, while you have the core rules for combat at the beginning of the rulebook, these are followed by the advanced rules. Many of these advanced rules give exceptions (or break) the core rules. And this doesn't even cover all of the funky stuff you'd find in the army books. I have never played a game of Warhammer using only the core rules.

My next entry on Warhammer is going to be a nitpicky rant about the pitfall in collecting the miniatures. Because, well, GW puts out really cool miniatures. Even now, even though I've vowed to dump Games Workshop, the new Karl Franz on Deathclaw still calls to me.

It makes the old one look like a wimp.


  1. That new Karl Franz is really spectacular! Yes, GW products are overpriced but they are always serious eye candy.

  2. I know, I've already thought about how I'd use magnets so I can take advantage of all the kit's customizations (switching from Karl Franz to a wizard, etc).

  3. Shouldn't the title be The Psychosis of Warhammer? I have the 1st Edition Fantasy rules, but have never played. Seems like I may have saved a few gp that way.

  4. It's all true. I have started back down the slippery slope of 40K.

    1. Well, at the very least I hope you win more often with your army than I did! lol


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