Thursday 24 August 2023

Of Warhammer 40K, Space Hulk and Xenos Rampant

“Cleanse and Burn….In the name of the Emperor!”

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…. I was really excited when Games Workshop first launched Warhammer 40K, essentially fantasy in space, and had many great games with a very nice painted collection of metal figures featuring Space Marines, Imperial Guard, Eldar, Orks and even Squats (40K Dwarves for the uninitiated). For the record these were painted for me by the late Mike Bush, a supremely talented figure painter and professional artist and all of this would have been during the mid 1980s. 

When the Aliens inspired game Space Hulk came out, followed by Space Crusade and Advanced Space Crusade and ultimately Epic 40K and Adeptus Titanicus (we have not even gotten to Battlefleet Gothic yet!) my interest in the original game fired off in various directions which certainly served to dissipate my efforts in due course. Space Hulk was always a favourite and so by the time the dust had settled in the early 1990s it was pretty much all I was playing from the 40K universe and even then my enthusiasm had paled substantially.

For me the endless upgrade of units and the increasing choice of models etc - not to mention the cost - kind of put me off the whole thing. It became a chore trying to keep up with it all and so in the end I didn’t bother. I always rather liked the 40K universe background though.

Fast forward to now and things on a Sci Fi front have been making rather unexpected but welcome progress, My acquisition of assorted bits and pieces for Another Glorious Day in the Corps will serve to satisfy my Aliens fixation, even more so now that I have a copy of the Aliens Space Hulk variant found in an early issue of the Ragnarok - the journal of the Society of Fantasy and Science Fiction Wargamers (SFSFW) - courtesy of Steve Blease (many thanks Steve!). This will enable me to play Space Hulk, Aliens style should I want to. 

Enough of the rather rambling background and on to the main course.

That is a whole of models to be going on with. 

Warhammer 40K Leviathan is a rather large box set that contains 72 Citadel models (including some BIG pieces, not just ‘man-sized’ figures), a 392 hardback rules and background book and a deck of cards specific for the rules. There is also a booklet containing assembly instructions for the models (it reminded me of a Lego instruction booklet) and a sheet of decals representing a number of Marine chapters should you wish to use them. There are no dice, templates or measuring devices included - essentially it a large box of figures with a hardback rule book.

The hardback rule book. This really is a thing of beauty. A full background to the 40K universe and its assorted denizens, the main rules and also for Combat Patrol, a surprisingly brief introduction to the “Warhammer 40K Hobby, lots of model pictures and plenty of suitably doom-laden artwork, as befits the “grim darkness of the far future (where) there is only war.”

I looked long and hard at this over the course of a couple of weeks and did a whole pile of research and cost comparisons. Last night, at Wayland Games in Hockley, the home of SEEMS - the South East Essex Military Society, aka my occasional club - I pulled the trigger and bashed the debit card to the tune of £120. On the scale of GW this is a bargain and I was not the only one to think so as whilst last week there were no fewer than a dozen or so copies of this set on display - NOT on the website I might add - yesterday evening saw but four copies remaining. 

The cunning plan - at least part of it….

Why? The reasons are many and varied but what it all boils down to is that I wanted two forces for use with Xenos Rampant. I am happy to use GW figures and background with non GW rules but they are there if I need them. There is sufficient variety of core troops for each force - Marine and Tyrannid - to field a couple of armies for Xenos Rampant - sadly there are not enough figures from Another Glorious Day in the Corps to be able to do this successfully - as well as being able to tackle a Space Hulk or three. There is a certain degree of irony in the fact that I will be using GW figures on the map boards from Another Glorious Day in the Corps to play Space Hulk missions and using Colonial Marines to fight them as well!

Certainly a great way to restock my sprue supply….

Of the figures themselves there is little to say other than that they are simply incredible to look at. There are some that are very ‘GW-ish’ which for me means over the top in terms of  detailing - usually an excess of ornate trappings, cloaks, purity seals and all manner of ‘bling’ - but the main bulk of the collection is, and I use this term carefully, ‘Sci Fi generic normal’. That is the main thing for me, the figures are GW but suit my rather more restrained take on the 40K universe!

True to form I shall be painting the models in anything but ‘official’ colour schemes - for the marines with over a thousand chapters I have pretty much Carte Blanche in this respect - and to be honest, I have always enjoyed painting Sci Fi stuff, albeit not very well!

Previously I had looked long and hard at Adeptus Titanicus but never did anything about it. I think I have missed the boat on this to be honest and the after market for anything for this game is ruinously expensive.

I almost left it too late to get into Aeronautica Imperialis but luckily managed to secure a copy of the base game. Luckily the extra models appear to be relatively plentiful so topping up the collection should not be too painful - it is quite a self contained item in any event.

Of course we have the knew version of Epic 40K to look forward to at some point this year which is something I shall take a look at with my well known open mind and mastery of objectivity….

“In space, no-one can hear you get the debit card out….!”


Mike Lewis said...

Oddly, although I liked the models and quite liked the rules when Rogue Trader came out, I have always hated the 40K background. But then I was never a big fan of Moorcock's Chaos stories either (where a lot of it initially came from).

It just seems too depressing to me!

David Crook said...

Hi Mike,

It certainly is depressing and quite overwhelming in a way but I think that once the dice start rolling across a battlefield in some forgotten corner of the Universe it tends to diminish in its impact! I was fond of Moorcock’s Oswald Bastable series but have not read anything else of his - perhaps when I retire!

All the best,


Simon said...

I really dislike the GW 40K product in general. It’s never interested me. I do however like the Moorcock books, other than Elric and Hawkmoon.

Geordie an Exiled FoG said...

Sci-Fi is FUN and a great release from belt buckles, shako and camo schemes.
I use it and fantasy to release me from a painting block (or two).
And a few figures go a long, long way
Totally agree with the two feet into an icy pool of "Big Bucket" of toys
Space Crusade a fantastic one-off that you ca n throw anything into

David Crook said...

Hi Simon,

I tend to cherry pick the bits I like from the background and just go with it. Space Hulk was essentially Aliens in 40K and once a game was underway all thoughts about the background tends to fall by the wayside. It is a vast and bloated universe for sure but one can pick and choose the bits that work best for the individual.

Never read Elric or Hawkmoon. I am quite tempted by The English Assassin though.

All the best,


David Crook said...

Hiya Geordie,

I know that the Leviathan set is designed as a gateway offering but for me it contains pretty much everything I will need with some extras that I probably don’t! I need to organise some terrain but that will be easy enough to organise.

The funny thing is that I prefer painting this kind of stuff to historical figures and as you rightly say, it does help to free up the painting block - in my case that s the block about painting full stop!

All the best,


Lasgunpacker said...

£120! I paid the equivalent of £216 here in the US when I bought a copy on behalf of my son.

It is a quite good box though, simply superb engineering.

Steve J. said...

I've really lost track of what GW are up to, either on the 40K front or what used to be Warhammer. However their models are and have been fabulous, with the odd exception. I look forward to seeing what you do with the figures as and when you assemble and paint them. As always in our hobby, so many ideas so little time!

David Crook said...

Hi there Lasgunpacker,

In the UK I had seen prices ranging from £140 upwards but as the run in this form is now out of stock from GW I would expect this to go up. I reckon it is a bargain at £120 and as there are a few pieces in my set that may well be up for disposal I would certainly be able to find buyers. Looking at eBay I reckon a few people have purchased multiple copies just to break then down and sell on individually.

If I had the resources to do so I would have certainly opted to do this!

All the best,


David Crook said...

Hi there Steve J,

Quite unusually for me this was quite a considered purchase and usable in many ways. I did inwardly chuckle when I realised this version is in fact the 10th edition of 40K - I think I was out of the loop by about the 3rd! Flicking through the book certainly brought back a few memories of games in days gone by - and of the homemade scenery I fashioned for my collection.

Will I return to the full 40K experience? Probably not although the Combat Patrol version looks interesting. The thing is I have plenty of alternative Sci Fi rule sets that I own and can use - Xenos Rampant is but one example - but the figures are all there and as you rightly point out, there models are fabulous, with the odd exception!

All the best,


Paul O'G said...

Well well well! Welcome back to the madness that is! I grabbed the rules but have well enough figures for the moment.

I do like XR also - and SH is like my favourite game ever. I still have my 2nd and 3rd...and 4th edition sets :-)

David Crook said...

G’Day Paul,

I really liked the first edition with the timer and the Deathwing add on - mainly for the assault cannon of which I am inordinately fond of!

I am unsure about actually using 40K as the rules of choice but I have to say that the book is a really impressive piece of work. XR will probably be the main focus although the Fistful series has some great rules that cover the genre.

It appears that I now have the beginnings of a plastic mountain……

All the best,


Geordie an Exiled FoG said...

Oh for the time to paint it!