Monday, May 10, 2010

How SandWyrm Got Into 40K

by SandWyrm

Guess which house was mine. :)

Long long ago... (in 1989), in a school district far, far, away (Jefferson Country, Kentucky)...

A group of 3 high school gaming geeks (and one guys little brother, still in middle school) got together in my neighborhood and started playing a game called Warhammer Fantasy Battle.

Yeah, I know, but stay with me...

Anyhow, there were 4 of us playing square-base Warhammer and one day Bob (whose parents would always buy him new games if he wanted them) came home with a copy of the Rogue Trader rulebook. We played a few games with a squad of Bob's beak-helmeted Space Marines versus my 2 squads of Squats and decided that it was kinda cool, but we liked Adepticus Titanicus and it's later add-on: Space Marine a lot better. We'd been huge Battletech players for a couple of years, so Adeptus Titanicus was amazing in that it let us get our giant robot fix while avoiding the stupidity of filling in little circles like some long, drawn-out standardized test.

Well that and the Space Marine tanks/infantry didn't suck. :)

Anyhow, I then went off to Art School, where I persisted in trying to figure out how to play WFB. Eventually I gave up square-basing and concentrated on getting a job when I graduated in '95.

Fast Forward To 1998...

In the late 90's I moved out to Silicon Valley at the height of the tech boom and got hired on as a Technical Director (Sounds fancy and powerful, but it really wasn't) at Pacific Data Images (later PDI-Dreamworks Animation), helping to make background paintings for the movies Antz (above) and Shrek. It was there that I spotted a guy in the art department with a couple of Space Marine figs on his desk. His name was Kundo (Born in Argentina). Kundo was PDI's resident real-life model maker, and had worked on Starship Troopers making the miniatures for the various Federation fortresses.

He was also an absolute 40K nut, and pretty soon I was playing 40K games in his garage with his friend Huck, who was a lead animator at Industrial Light and Magic. Huck animated the Rock Monster in Galaxy Quest and was an real-life born-in-the-swamp hillbilly from Louisiana. He played Orks of course.

We also had another guy from Pixar who came over sometimes, but I don't remember his name. He was one of those guys who's glad to come play as long as you collect and paint his army for him. :)

This was during the change-over from 2nd Edition to 3rd, and they were playing Orks (Huck), Blood Angels (Kundo), and Chaos Marines (Mr. Pixar). Kundo had one Leman Russ Battle Tank and some Stormtroopers that he let me use until I found an army of my own. It wasn't long before I settled on IG Tallarns based on my recent discovery of the film "Lawrence of Arabia".

I ended up collecting and painting lot of Guard models, but never learning to actually play them. So I didn't win more than 2-3 games over the 2 years or so that I played with the guys. We drifted apart after I made the jump to video games instead of movies. So I ended up playing sporadically here and there with other people I met at shops or other jobs.

I was playing both 40K and WFB all this time, but finally got tired of getting stomped whenever I played either game. So I quit. I returned for a bit in '03 when I moved back to the Midwest, but saw quickly that things hadn't changed much while I was away. The game was still stuck in the old GW arms race of new codices and fantasy books always being more powerful than the ones that came before. Um, bye.

Then, in 2008, I heard that there was a new edition of 40K out. And the rest is history. :)


  1. Of note, you started playing around the time I was born(87)! Sorry to point that out, just weird to think about. Ran into you a few times at Greenwood Game Preserve, would be up for a game sometime. Good luck at Ard Boyz

  2. Started playing while I was still a zygote lolz. However, it sounds like you had a pretty awesome job.

    On an even more off topic note. Any chance for more painting articles like the previous two? They were real eye openers. After reading your article and seeing some of Grey Death's miniatures I couldn't help but decide my Templars needed to be painted in a more realistic black.


  3. Interesting read there Sandwyrm. TBH, I still think the arms race is still on.

  4. I laughed when I read the bit 'bout the Louisiana guy playing Orks. Strangely fitting. :P

    And like Mercer here, I also believe there is a slight arm race and codex creep. However, as this game was not intended to be balanced, its more of a marketing gimmick employed by GW. By upping the ante just a bit with each new codex they're giving the gamers more incentive to buy into a new army, more-so the so-called "competitive" gamers.

    Best of luck at 'Ard Boyz.

  5. I started in 1992 after a brief foray into D&D. I lived in Derbyshire then (less than 30 miles from GWHQ) so Rogue Trader onwards, it was great fun!

    Lost the love at 15 and then rekindled at 30. Now i'm building my 4th Army, and have 114 orks to consider... go figure?

  6. @Schnitzel & Metrosh

    You really can't appreciate how restrained the current codices and army books are unless you played in the early 90's. GW would release say, a Skaven army book, and just ONE UNIT in it like the screaming bell would kill your entire army.

    Then, the next month, they'd release something for your army in White Dwarf that would counter it. Meaning you had to keep up in the arms race by upgrading to some new uber-unit every other month.

    Whereas, my Mech IG has been relatively stable in power-level over the last year. The Space Wolf and Blood Angel books haven't changed the way I've played nearly as much as the Nid codex did, and that codex is widely believed to be overcosted.

    True balance may be impossible, but this is about as good as GW will be able to get short of holding public betas of their rules.

  7. @MOD

    I've got a new color article coming soon. :)

  8. It's amazing how this hobby keeps dragging us back. That story sound very familiar to mine and many others mate.

  9. Heh! You used to suck! :p

    ...So did I, in fairness...problem is, I didn't really know how much...

    I remember the 90's, though I wasn't an adult, so it was a bit different for me. Competitive Gaming was still a long way away, for young TKE...


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