|Swords, battle axes, and hand cannons: it's The Future!|
For the past six months or so, the coworker who built my current computer has been trying to get me interested in the sci-fi tabletop game Warhammer 40,000 (a.k.a., 40K). My friend has been playing the game for years, but has had a hard time finding someone else to play with. Last year he started very subtly by dropping hints about working on a "special Christmas present". Then, knowing that I'm an inveterate sci-fi fan, he started discussing the backstory of the game and of the various armies. This culminated in him lending me the specialized rulebook for the "Black Templars" Space Marine chapter. Along with descriptions of various playing pieces, the rulebook was filled with an elaborate history of the Black Templars. Finally, I agreed to play the game.
|A Black Templar|
|Yes, he's carrying a chainsaw that's used as a sword|
Originally, I wasn't interested in playing the game. Despite the fact that I've been an irredeemable nerd for as long as I can remember, I've never been interested in complicated strategy games like 40K. I had never even played a role-playing game (RPG) until grad school when a fellow graduate student convinced me to participate in a Star Wars RPG (the three or four times we played were actually pretty fun). So, as I was driving to my friend's house last Saturday, I was trying to come up with a good way to say that I didn't think that the game was for me, although 40K's backstory was interesting to me as a sci-fi fan and that I might read some of the 40K novels. When I arrived, he had prepared a small army of Raven Guard Space Marines and another of the Tau (an alien race). He patiently walked me through the rules and explained the tactics. Because of how he arranged the armies (and due to a few tactical "errors" on his part), I absolutely clobbered him. Before I left, he showed me the hundreds of game figures he's built over the years and generously gave me an unpainted Black Templar army.
|Dreadnoughts are operated by severely wounded|
Space Marines and serve as their life support system
Now I'm cursing my friend's name for introducing me to Warhammer 40,000. Not only did I enjoy the game, but I discovered on Saturday that 40K seemed to be designed for me. I loved building model airplanes when I was young; now I look forward to building and painting Warhammer 40,000 armies. And the way that the game replicates real aspects of combat strategy is very appealing since I've long been a military history enthusiast. Finally, the 40K universe seems to be aimed at a subset of geeks of which I am a part; it has a dystopian future in which humanity views its own technology with superstitious reverence and awe (similar to Asimov's Foundation series), a pseudo-medieval human society that has revived the Gothic style and which even outfits its elite warriors in suits of armor that resemble the most ornate varieties produced during the Dark Ages (despite their ancient appearance, the suits are actually power armor similar to that found in military sci-fi stories like Heinlein's Starship Troopers), an elaborate backstory that is on par with the Star Wars Expanded Universe, Space Marines who have a Klingon-like zeal for war and honor, a variety of alien and corrupted human adversaries, and even a host of demonic creatures inhabiting 40K's equivalent of hyperspace that would seem familiar to any fan of the early sci-fi horror of H.P. Lovecraft.
|A Space Marine army and an Ork army|
I really didn't mean to end up with a new obsession. But my friend was really persuasive and the product he was pushing was very appealing...