A new hobby on my list of things to dedicate time and passion to is Warhammer 40K.
For those of you who are unfamiliar, here’s a bar stool explanation: Warhammer 40K is a turn-based tabletop strategy battle game which takes place in a setting in the 41st Millennium. The hobby involves painting and assembling units in an army, of which there are many races, and constructing your force over time. Each army has a rules book, called a codex, that you can purchase and build around based on the extensive rules of the game and what units you’re allowed to have.
I chose to play as Eldar. The figures look cool and their lore interests me. When I stood in on the Battleground Games and Hobbies’ Megabattle (a huge, day-long game where dozens of people take part in the battle) one figure on display stood out to me and I could not stop staring at it. It was an Eldar army’s Phantom Titan. It was interesting looking, and when I described it to other players my favorite explanation was that it looked like a big alien grasshopper or praying mantis. That model was green, but for my army I picked the colors of purple and yellow.
It took me awhile to get into the Warhammer 40K stuff and I wasn’t sure if it was something I’d like. In my experiences with painting, the only thing I could say I was ever proud of were those clay mugs and pots we made for our parents in elementary school. Any time I had painted something, it came out looking like it had a fight with paint pallets. I wasn’t sure if I could successfully paint any of the small detailed figures that came in sets of five for this game, or if I’d be able to really spend the time focused on the details. I am a newbie at this, and the painting aspect made me very hesitant.
However, once I started, I really enjoyed it. I was able to focus and learn a lot from my boyfriend, a Warhammer 40K hobbyist for 3 years, while trying to paint my first five models. He was able to show me some cool techniques: how to manipulate colors, and how to shade them onto my figures while still outlining the details.
I think spending time with another person to figure this hobby out is really important. You can trouble shoot your questions and ideas off of a veteran player and pick their brains about how their models look so good and why their armies work. They might tell you of some techniques they use, what resources they use, etc. This one on one time with other players, or even meeting with multiple players for paint sessions or small battles, is a good way to learn about your own army, what people recommend you do to make yours more effective, and learn more of the lore.
The lore itself is extensive and long for each “race” or army. They have entire book series that are lengthy, usually spanning three stories per character. That’s an investment on its own. The codex you can get based on your army choice helps you to play your army however you want, and also to understand their characteristics, weaknesses, and lore. However, each codex does not include all the information about the game, other players’ armies, or the entirety of the lore. So, in order to be completely immersed in the game and learn why it is so important for these battles to happen, reading the books and following the game online can be crucial. Many use the Reddit subreddits as a resource for questions and ideas about the lore and hobby.
I decided that I wanted to be a part of this hobby because it enveloped many of my friends and it was a good thing to focus on while I got snowed in for the past few weeks. It gives me a chance to try my artistic skills as far as painting is concerned (especially 3D models), and it gives me a chance to meet new people. I am able to invest time into a hobby that is a world of study, learning, practice, art, technique, and strategy. I had been looking for something like this for quite some time.
I am looking forward to learning more. I am excited to see what my Eldar will come out like and learning about their advantages. As a plus it is common internet legend that the late Robin Williams also played Eldar in Warhammer 40K (may he rest in peace).
On a final note, there’s a side to this that makes it so important. I don’t know how it is in other places, but at most of my local game shops I don’t see many women invested in this game and I wonder why. I am looking forward to becoming a part of the community, and really digging my hands into a hobby that I can spend my free time on, but I may be the only female player I bump into for awhile.