Warhammer 40K Chronicles Part 1: A Return to the World of the Grimdark

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It was 1993 or 1994. I was a freshman in high school and found my group of friends. We were the geeky guys enjoying our Monty Python, anime,and two games that stuck with a few of us for quite a while, Magic: The Gathering and Warhammer 40,000.

I remember entering the grimdark world of Warhammer 40,000 liking the idea of this miniature game mixed with hobbying. “Board games” were fairly “basic” to me only really having regularly played Monopoly, Chess, and at that point my favorite Risk. The world of Avalon Hill and roleplaying games were in my orbit before all of this but I never tried any of them but had often looked through and wondered what they were like. The explosion of board games we know today was years away but I was aware there were other more complicated games out there and loved to play the games I already had (though not often enough).

I don’t remember how I brought up the game to my parents but they were nice enough to get me my first Warhammer 40,000 figures. My entry into the world featured a box of plastic Goff Orks (I believe you got ten of them) and a metal Goff Nob. I still have that Nob 26 years later, I may have the plastic figures. My army expanded with all of the plastic figures from my friends and the cardboard Ork dreadnaught. Armed with the basic rules from the 2nd edition starter box, I built and happily played with my army of plastic Ork death (the Squid Catapult was the next big purchase and it’s another figure I still have).

I eventually went on to work at game shops for about 7 years and even a short stint with Games Workshop retail itself. To say I collected a lot over the years is an understatement and of course, most is not built. It is an amazing collection of the history of GW and its evolution over the decades. Those are articles for another day.

I had to take a break. Due to a rather tight income and limited space, I stopped playing and mostly watched from the sidelines, a bit sad about the loss of the community I really loved and a hobby I enjoyed.

Now, with a home of my own providing space to game and hobby, the hope I’ll eventually be able to pass along and enjoy my hobby with my daughter, and the recent release of Warhammer 40,000 9th Edition, it’s the perfect time to dive back into the world I love and get back to some gaming.

But where to start?

I have my force of Orks, more than enough to play but this is an opportunity to start a new army… or at least begin to go through the numerous ones I have.

Going through my collection after a recent reshuffle of its storage, I have quite a few options I can go with.

  1. Continue to expand my Ork army
  2. Build an Adeptus Sororitas force (a mix of new and old)
  3. Death Guard/Nurgle ( mostly new figures from recent box sets)
  4. Space Marines… there’s a massive amount sitting around

It’s been years since I “hobbied.” My painting is likely rusty and putting together and converting figures is something I haven’t done in quite some time.

My Orks are special to me and with so many options, I really want to think through what direction to go with them. So, eventually I’ll come back but that is a project for another day. It’s honestly overwhelming and I heavily converted my Orks. That absolutely is going to get some articles as I love what I did with them.

Space Marines… I’m tempted to start with them but the repetition of the painting isn’t something I really want to do. My thought is to eventually put together a small force to start testing out a color scheme that’ll eventually expand to my Adeptus Sororitas. Paint up the 8th and 9th edition Primaris Marines and go from there likely switching gears to the…

The Adeptus Sororitas are an interesting part of my collection. I had built up a small force of metal figures throughout the years from people selling their collections. There are maybe 6 or 10 squads of various troops in metal plus a few characters. I was going to start the force for the 8th edition and bought the special edition box when it was released. Then life got in the way and they’ve been sitting there. While they have a lot of personality, I really want to do a very cool force of them and think beyond Orks, this is one that can become a long term army for me.

So, that leaves my Death Guard and Nurgle. I had played Chaos in the past and sold off most of my army years ago. I really have wanted to do an Astral Claw force, loving the obscure Renegade Marine/Chaos history, and have a squad and some characters painted up. Nurgle, out of all of the Chaos gods, was the one that always stood out to me for a force. With their push by GW within recent years, I picked up items here and there upon release. The Age of Sigmar box with some daemons, the 8th edition starter, start collecting, and the special edition Nurgle Marines all stood out to me as buys and have been sitting around.

And, this is where I think I’ll start in this regular column focus on my building an army. But, why Death Guard?

To me, doing a Death Guard/Nurgle force allows me to:

  1. Continue my work with green paint. I’m somewhat skilled with that for Orks, so it’s a group of colors I’m familiar with.
  2. While the colors will be pretty common and standard, a Death Guard allows me to vary the green a little and I’ll be able to focus on small details to practice other colors. It’s not so regimented like Space Marines where everyone should be the same.
  3. Most of the figures are mono-pose so my converting will be a minimum. I can start with the basics and go from there slowly and not feel the pressure.

The beginnings of an army

So, it’s best to take stock of what I have. With a few box sets already and some blisters, it feels like there’s a good amount of variation of units to change things up. Is this a “playable” army? That I haven’t looked at or figured out. Going over the Death Guard codex, there seem to be almost 2,000 points at least between everything.

The collection so far (pretty sure) with rough point costs:

Death Guard

1x Typhus – 9 power/175 points
1x Lord of Contagion – 7 power/120 points
1x Noxious Blightbringer – 4 power/63 points
1x Malignant Plaguecaster – 6 power/110 points
13x Plague Marines – 18 power/247 points
1x Foetid Bloat-drone – 8 power/99 points
26x Poxwalkers – 9 power/156 points
1x Festus The Leechlord (use him as a Plague Surgeon) – 4 power/59 points
1x Nurgle Sorcerer – 6 power/90 points

Total: 71 power/1,119 points

Nurgle Daemons

1x Nurgle Palanquin/Epidemius – 5 power/100 points
1x Horticulous Slimux – 9 power/165 points
1x Herald of Nurgle (Poxbringer) – 4 power/70 points
20x Plaguebearers – 8 power/140 points
6x Plague Drones 12 power/204 points
6x Nurglings – 6 power/108 points

Total: 44 power/787 points
Grand Total: 115 power/1,906 points

There may be more hidden in corners and there’s old Cultists to convert into worhippers of Nurgle too but the above feels like a good start. With less than 90 models too, this feels like a doable thing. It’ll allow me to do something I’ve never done, “finish” an actual army.

Where I go from here is pretty clear. There’s absolutely more Chaos around allowing me to expand the force with more Chaos Marines or Daemons, plus adding more of Nurgle’s chosen. A Realm of CHaos boxset is tucked away allowing me to add some Khorne and Slaaneesh. There’s also clear gaps in the army as well. Terminators, Deathshroud, Blight-hauler, and Crawlers are all missing right now. Each are easy additions to allow me to try new units and different types of strategies.

There’s also the Indomitus box set staring at me and begging me to relearn the rules and army building which feels much more complicated than when I last played the game. So, in between putting models together, I’ll dive into that with general thoughts about my return to the tabletop instead of just hanging out on the sidelines watching.

With just “starting out,” I’m not sure what my goal is right now or even how I’ll tackle the army. I’d love to have all of these done by the end of the year and if even sooner, all the better! But, the main goal is to have fun again, no pressure, and make this the relaxing fun hobby that I have loved all these decades.

Suggestions as to what to get after this initial batch? Words of encouragement? Sound off in the comments below!

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