Styles of Play

For one reason or another, there has always been a lot of discussion of the "proper way" to play WH40K. One man's army is another gamer's "cheesy" army. Or one player's custom-made units are anathema to somebody else who believes that they don't fit in with the "Games Workshop worldview."

This web page exists for people to air their opinions about styles of play with WH40K. If you would like to add your piece to this debate, drop us some email.

An Abundance of Bastard Players

I've been playing Warhammer 40k for a little over 2 years. I started playing the game for fun, and I have continued to play the game for that reason.

I don't believe that I'm alone when I say that there is, and always has been, an abundance of bastard players (if there are any bastard players out there, please take offense to that). These are the kind of players which bring:

Anybody who knows a player like this will certainly agree that this type of player is only interested in one thing: WINNING.

Like I said before, I play the game for fun. I play the game to get together with my friends, have a good time, have a good laugh, meet new people interested in the hobby, share a couple of (alcoholic?) beverages over a rousing game of Warhammer 40k. I usually view a game as myself throwing my miniatures into the mix, perhaps using a little strategy here and there, and having a good laugh no matter who the gods were shining upon that game. And let's face it, when you play one of these bastard players, who only give a damn about winning (and celebrating excessively when they do win), you don't have any fun.

So, I suggest next time you are faced with the prospect of playing a bastard player, ask him/her to change their style for the game. If they don't, then kick them out of wherever you are (even if it's their house). You're not going to have fun whatever the situation may be (especially if you're playing an army of all warp spiders), and isn't that the entire point of playing the game? To have fun?

- Titanicus (titanicus@geocities.com)

Cheese, and Other Ramblings...

Webster's 3rd Collegiate Dictionary defines (in part) cheese as:

CHEESE (cheez) n.
  1. a tasty dairy product that has found the recent misfortune of being associated with all endeavors of gaming industry giant Games Workshop;
  2. that pasty stuff between your toes...

Back in the good 'ol days (what a crummy couple of years those were...), I was a fledgling WH40k player. Now, you wanna talk about cheese. I, and everyone in my gaming group squeezed every last bit we could out of the original rules. Sharp, mild, swiss, muenster -- we had it all. And we thought we were having fun. (And we probably were.) WH40k was just another rules-lawyer -- cheese-lover game for us to exploit and churn. Churn baby, churn. Games the likes of Car Wars, Battletech, and Star Fleet Battles had allowed us to produce so much cheese that the government stepped in and offered to subsidize us.

Eventually we lost track of all the referenced, cross-references, superceding, new and improved, revised, targeting grid, new vehicle, new new vehicle, new new new vehicle, and ever confusing and ever unsusable rules and discovered the 2nd edition Space Marine rules and the glories that were Epic.

Oh Bliss! A new, uncluttered, all-in-one box, and seemingly well thought out game! Oh Joy! But then came the supplements. This boxed set and that boxed set... Suffice it to say that we found enough cheese in Epic that we could serve it with Wheat Thins at parties...

And then -- glory -- new 40k rules! And organized! And not too many holes! And best of all, only a little bit o' cheese. Enough for flavor. But nothing lasts forever. Cheese will always be cheese, and Games Workshop will always be cheese, uh, Games Workshop.

But there's a difference now. Eight years later there is something different. No one in our group brings thier own churns, no one sits on cracker barrels, and no one wears Kraft or Hickory Farms T-shirts to game night. Instead, we all seem to design reasonable scenarios and armies.

What's the point?

There's an awful lot of complaining and neo-flaming going on here about the awful cheese that is Games Workshop. But I think there is a solution to it all. If you like cheese, eat it. Order extra. Try it melted over toast. And if you don't, don't.

Cheese is, and always will be a part of GW. GW is not the real culprit. A lack of communication is. Let your opponent know ahead of time how you feel about cheese. Come to some agreements. Develop house rules to avoid the cheese or bask in it. Just keep in mind that there is no wrong way of playing the game, or ultimate cheese sandwich out there, as long as both players are playing the same way.

- John Haire (lia1@ciesnet.cies.org)


People are approaching this game from two entirely different directions:

The same two different approaches often come up whenever I'm talking about my problems with Warhammer Fantasy Battle's rules, that I am having trouble with a particular unit/character/monster being too powerful, or such. One common reply is along the lines of, "Just enact a house rule to solve the problem," or, "Play the game however you want to."

I suppose this all depends upon what your purpose is when you're playing one of these games. If your intention is to field an army that fits within the Warhammer setting, then there are various things available in the publications that define what is likely/not likely to exist. The ambiguities and omissions may provide plenty of fodder for debate on what would be appropriate within that universe.

On the other hand, some folks will bristle at any sort of discussion about what can/can't exist in the Warhammer universe, and boldly proclaim that they can do whatever blasted thing they please, thank you muchly. Or else somebody talking about their novelty Space Skaven army might perhaps get told that no such thing exists in the Warhammer universe, by someone who apparently has misinterpreted this as some attempt to proclaim that these critters do exist in the Official Warhammer Universe.

Anyway, as for the PC angle, I don't care for the Political Correctness movement, either. If Warhammer 40,000 is to be criticized because it portrays a dark future in which (gasp!) there is not totally equality among the sexes, I don't really have much sympathy for such complaints. After all, several other aspects of life in the Warhammer universe suggest that the Emperor is not all that benevolent, and that I really wouldn't want to have him be my moral standard. It's a "dark future," after all. It has its particular appeals, and it has its flaws. Some people prefer utopian futures like "Star Trek" for their fiction. That's fine, but I don't think it would be fair to imply (whether or not anyone is doing so) that because someone is a fan of a story or game setting in which an imperfect society exists, that the person in question is inferior for accepting a fictitious setting with such flaws in it.

It would be like criticizing an RPG player for having a character who is not the epitomy of heroism and virtue in every respect -- personally, while I like to play honorable characters (largely to contrast the rest of my gaming group), I prefer that they still have some character flaws for depth, rather than just being idealized versions of myself.

For the record, my Imperial Guard army has about 25% "African-Americans" (these hyphen-labels don't really work all that well in a futuristic non-Earth setting...), and a handful of "Native Americans". Why? Just because I wanted to paint them that way, largely for variety, and because I thought it would make the group have more of a touch of "realism" and personality. I wasn't trying to make any sort of statement, nor was I thinking that somehow this would make me a better person for it. Different skin tones and hair colors are just one handy way of making a bunch of clone plastics look a bit more different from each other. (I gave a few mustaches, too. Probably not IG regulation, though. =, )

(Of course, I've never fielded this bunch of Imperial Guard troops in Warhammer 40,000, though. =, I have the minis because I like them, got them at a good price, and use them as "cops" in some near-future RPGs. I make no claims to being authentic within the Warhammer 40000 setting. =) )

Now, if you go criticizing me because I state that my theoretical group of Space Marines has never had and will never have any females in its number, (How can you tell under that armor, anyway?) I'd have to wonder at your grasp of reality.

-- Jordan Greywolf ( peacoct6503@cobra.uni.edu)

Matt Nicksic (NICKSIMC@PLU.edu) comments:

Greywolf fails to note that in the back of WH40k: Rogue Trader (our favourite!), there is mention of the Adepta Sororitas, a contingent of women space marines/penitent sisters of the Imperial Cult.

This is a slight point, but I mention it in the quest for completeness.


I agree with much of what "Greywolf" writes about altering (creating) races, PCness in the 41st millenium, and morality/ethics in a fictitious setting.

I've been playing 40k since 1988, and strangely, have always longed for some kind of reference to a peaceful or "happy" part of the galaxy, protected some race of galliant fighting people. Are all life forms of the galaxy subject constant, continual fighting and bloodshed? Not that that's necessarily bad, I'd just like to see (in some publications at least), a little reference to "good" places to live in the galaxy. It would make the game more dynamic, and give players some kind of a sense that their armies are fighting to preserve something positive, not just hacking and spraying as a daily routine!

I've been cruising many of these 40k home pages and reading bits about strategy and house rules. I thought I'd bring up a point about "cheese" and submit my own house rule that my group's been using for some time now.

I played the old 40k for 4 years, stopped for 2-3 years, then picked it up again about 18 months ago. Why the break? U.S. Marines. Enough said. All of my old 40k pals were far away, and I had a different crowd to contend with. Anyway, when my buddies and I began to play with the new edition rules, I noticed a very distinct (and annoying) cheese factor manifesting its ugly self in our games. For a while I couldn't figure out what, in the game, was pissing me off. To my terror I was becoming disenchanted with Warhammer 40,000. Was I growing up? "God NO!", I prayed.

After careful thought, I finally pinned it down. In the old days, the "detail", "realism", and "general coolness" of the game had always come from one thing more than anything else: our figs were exactly what they were. Figures representing to the highest detail, actual troops! To put it another way, our models had the weapons and devices that were represented. Period. The mechanics of this are simple: Physical representation outweighed significance in our games. They were fun and interesting! If you saw a Space Marine with a bolter, you didn't have to worry about him pulling a flamer out of his breast pocket and ignighting your best rompin' stompin' dude (of course we all know that the flamer is possibly the most annoying weapon ever invented in the galaxy.) I won't take the time to point out the imbalances of 9-point flamers taking out 220 point characters without even rolling to hit. Come on cheese lovers, you know once a character is ignited, he's out of the game for 2-5 turns, or dies.

Back to my point, the aspect of the game directly responsible for my disenchantment was this new idea that models could get away with all sorts of cheesy tricks! I wont even go into all the tricks. If someone wants to write this page and denounce my opinion, then I'll write back with details. For now I'll just submit the house rules that I imposed on our group to limit the flow of (need I be redundant in my descriptive qualifiers), preasurized cheese spread being squirted all over the battlefield.

Models must represent weapons, armor, and gear used except in the following circumstances:

  1. Wargear cards, (only small items like scanners/targeters/special grenades). large-item wargear cards like the "Lasblaster", "Force Sword", "Axe of Morkai", etc. SHOULD be represented. Exception: typical swords, blades, rods, and the like can obviously represent weapons of that type.
  2. Holstered pistols. A holstered pistol can be ANY PISTOL so long as it's paid for.
  3. Fields, special ammo, or other non-wargear card small items.
  4. The Armor on the model is slightly ambiguous looking and can "pass for" an armor type. Example: An Ork in some sort of full-body bulky armor can be given 'eavy armor.

Any other exceptions must be disclosed to all players before the game begins.

I know many players share my viewpoint. Unfortunately, "cheese whiz kiddies" (not necessarily kiddies in age) will get away with any loophole, discrepancy, or grey area of the rules that they can, and try to run this game into the dirt. Let's keep that from ever happening by insisting players get real, stick to the concept and spirit of the game, and stop depending on vortex grenades to win!

-- Rob Adams (radams@agames.com)

Last Updates
23 December 1996An Abundance of Bastard Players
22 July 1996reformatted
16 April 1996reorganized
6 May 1995comments from Matt Nicksic
14 March 1995Cheese and Other Ramblings
Comments or corrections?