Wednesday, January 16, 2013


Go from this...
(This is a repost of an article I originally wrote for the Deepstrike Radio blog.  I expect to bring things I post there over here in most cases after a delay, but definitely check it out for the podcasts and other folks' posts too!)

We all got our start in 40K at some point.  As with so many other things, first impressions are powerful, and early experiences can really influence if you stick with something like a game or hobby.  I had some good early experiences, and I’m still here.  I imagine that most of you reading had good early experiences as well.

I first discovered 40K as a young teen in the local game store I spent most of my Saturdays at in those days.  Rogue Trader was brand new, and I loved the book.  Lots of great stuff, influences pulled from everywhere, and very British.  It was far from the only game we played then, and wasn’t even the only sci-fi skirmish game.  But the background and the miniatures made an impression.  As a poor kid at the time I wasn’t able to really get many minis of my own, but I played plenty of games using other people’s figures.  Not only 40K and games like it, but also big historical games that folks from out of town brought in (notably the Triangle Simulation Society and game designer Larry Brom) that helped cement the miniatures gaming bug in my soul.  Rather than being snobbish or looking down on someone who wasn’t bringing their own figs to the table, they were happy to have another player and gladly gave me aliens or a battalion of grenadiers to push around.

Later on I went off to college, and left those miniatures and 40K behind, or so I thought.  The local gaming club was mostly centered around role playing and board games, but one day someone brought in Space Marine (Epic, Titan Legions, whatever you want to call it – little teeny 40K) and I was hooked again.  He had several extensive armies, and a group of us happily played tons of games using his collection.  We started up forces of our own and gradually got them into the mix, but without his willingness to front the whole thing at first and encourage the rest of us it wouldn’t have happened.  I stuck with Epic after college and that interest eventually led me back to “full scale” 40K.

That’s all basically a long way of saying that I wouldn’t still be into this game and this universe without some very helpful, welcoming people along the way.  I try to pay it forward nowadays, now that I’m the more experienced guy, with lots of figures on hand.  I talk to people that show an interest, try to help new players, run little demos and walkthroughs and so forth. this.
I hope that you will too.  Today’s kid looking interested at your figures or the new guy with his unpainted starter-set army could be your next regular opponent and a lynchpin of your local community.  Give ‘em a break, give ‘em a hand, give them some time.  Someone did for you once.

(As fate would have it, a great article in a similar vein just went up at White Metal Games - check it out!)


  1. Jim,

    What a great post! Your story almost mirrors my own. Starting young, leaving the hobby, then returning. I hear almost every older gamer say the same thing.

    It is amazing what a positive first experience can do to a young gamer. My older brother was laughed at for going to a game store when we were young by his friends. To this day he has a hard time opening up about his love for sci-fi and fantasy. He loves the hobby, but has never got into it like myself. On the other hand, I had friend's dad who helped us and encouraged us through those early years. He let us stay up late to fight Rogue Trader games during sleep overs, he helped out painting, and would buy Star Wars toys to be used as objectives. This has led to only fond memories of those early games. My parents also encouraged gaming as it increased time spent reading. Not many 10 year olds knew what words like Intelligence, Constitution, Charisma, Ballistic Skill, etc. Not to mention the Historic significance of castles, cannons, tactics, etc.

    We owe it as older gamers to encourage and help the younger hobbyists. I am guilty of this, but it is easy to ignore that young lad watching you play a game. We should make an effort to involve them and teach, even if we are practicing for a GT. Our models are not some sacred relic that can't be used by others, they are toys that need to be played with. Most kids are respectful, if they aren't we can try to be good role models. Any good hobbyist knows that if someone breaks off something, we can 99% of the time fix it.

    When these young gamers get older and out of school, they will usually come back (just like us).

  2. Oops, forgot to paste over the last part! Fixed.

    Thanks Tony! Great story and comments!

  3. If I were to frequent a Hobby shop I would probably happily help out new and potential hobbyists with my old man wisdoms. But I play almost exclusively within my circle of mates, so my talents are wasted I tell you! *chuckles*

    Deepstrike Blog? I listen to the podcast, but didn't realise there was a blog too. Hrm....


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