Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Once More into the Breach - Getting Back into Wargaming after 16 Years.

Like McBegbie’s midlife crisis, I could lay the blame, albeit indirectly, at Cyanide’s release of Blood Bowl on the PC, although it actually it started with my housemate and me playing Space Marine on the PS3. It was fun for a while: brought back a few memories, it had the cool looking models, fun online gameplay, the excellent customisation, the paint colours with the real GW names! But it wasn't enough, he went deeper, and these occasional games of Space Marine led to Cyanide and the world of Nuffle, and the beginning of the inevitable.

I watched him play for a while, totally lost in a world of block dice, blitzing and bludweiser babes. All pretty unfathomable to me. Beyond my ken. Easy to resist. But then he asked, innocently, innocently asked, if I had any of my old GW models to spare, just so he could, you know, "look" at them. And I said, "Yeah, sure I do, they're in a box somewhere. I’ll dig them out for you".



I had a big black box tucked away at the back of a cupboard, tons of models. Most of my old Eldar, some Dark Angels, a few goblins and dwarves and other fantasy bits, and plenty more faded memories such as the Space Marine attack bike painted in a lurid snot green with the front wheel snapped off from a careless foot stepping on it, when the only ‘tabletop’ we could play on was the floor of my bedroom, card buildings from the 2ed box, books stacked up for hills. We spent a few evenings picking over them, reminiscing over old times, chortling over how bad some of the paint jobs were. It was fun, but then the he dropped a bombshell, "Do you mind if I take a few to paint?" he said. I didn't know what to say, I couldn't think, I mumbled a ‘Yes’, though I knew I’d made a mistake there and then.

And so he spent his weekend making a small barn out of old lollyice sticks, so he could set up the models around it in some sort of diorama. And as he was doing it, I found myself gazing wistfully at an unpainted Eldar support platform and thinking "what if I...?" So I did. I painted it. The first model I’d painted in 15 years. And it felt good. So good. So good I decided to go full retro and put “And Justice for All” on the stereo as I painted some more, to really get into the mood.

So that’s it. That’s how I found myself, after being clean for 15 or so years, scouring eBay for bargains to paint. Naturally I found myself drawn back to my beloved Eldar. Those supersleek, pointy-headed xenos who almost killed the galaxy with their debauchery. And some of their models looked even cooler now than how I remembered them. So I bought more. More than I could hope to paint as an occasional hobbyist. The disposable income I have as an adult far outstripping the lust for models of the greedy younger me, still hiding behind my covetous eyes. All the shiny models that I could now afford! My Eldar force expanded rapidly: lots of jetbikes, some tanks and Vypers, Harlequins, a Seer Council… Now it has Forgeworld Corsairs in it, and Exodites that I’ve built myself. I think it’s fair to say I am, at the tender age of 30, a wargaming enthusiast once again.

And do you know the worst part of all this? The worst part is that after all this, after he’d made his little shed and tried painting it, my housemate decided it wasn’t worth it and chucked it in the bin. He gave me my models back, hung up his brushes, put the paint pots away and went back to playing computer games as a way to pass the time, so I don’t even have anyone to play with.

Instead I’m stuck, ducking furtively into Games Workshop stores, still scouring eBay for bargains, and now a recent visit to Warhammer World in Nottingham, all to play with little plastic army men that I have to assemble and paint myself.

And I love it.

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