Friday, April 8, 2011

Warhammer 40k, an Introduction (The Lore)

And so it Begins...
The Aquila - the symbol of the Imperium of Man

The lore and back story behind Warhammer 40k is vast to say the least.  Official canon is derived from the various rulebooks and 'army'-specific codexes as well as the vast host of novels written on the subject.  Known as the Black Library, somewhere around 100 books have been published by a handful of authors to fill the racks of lore and knowledge about this expansive and detailed world.  To tell the story of the 40k setting would take many pages, but I shall try and compress it into a 'semi' short read.  Perhaps I'll make more detailed posts later...

Holy Terra (Earth) - the center and origin of humanity

The old days...
As the name of the franchise implies... we are presently around the year 40,000.  Faster than light travel, laser guns, aliens, and all that good stuff exists in some form.  So how'd we get here?  
By the year 15,000 mankind had reached the peak of its technological innovation.  Man had spread throughout the stars of the Milky Way galaxy.  All was well for another 10k years until the Age of Strife, around the year 25,000.  The method for human (faster than light) travel and communication relies on an entity known as the Warp.  It is an alternate reality that persists everywhere - ships (aided by 'Navigators') and telepathic messages (sent by 'Astropaths') enter the Warp temporarily for fast travel.  However, the Age of Strife is marked by massive Warp-storms throughout the galaxy.  These storms disrupt travel and communication, isolating most of humanity into individual planets or small clusters of planets.  With a cessation  of trade and communication comes conflict.  Battles over "agri-worlds" (which focus on food production for the highly populated city-worlds who can not sustain themselves) and other resources ensues.  Individual planets see strife over local control.  TL;DR - shit is bad.  Humanity is scattered.

Brave soldiers of the Emperor - the Imperial Guard

Recent Past...
By the year 30,000 the Warp Storms subside and a single force unifies Terra.  The new master of Earth is known only as the Emperor.  Using genetically modification he enhanced his soldiers into 'Space Marines' - demi-god like in power, these warriors are physiologically superior to any normal warrior.  With the Space Marines at the forefront of his army, followed by untold billions of normal soldiers of the Imperial army the Emperor set off on his Great Crusade to unite the stars.  

Space Marines of the Dark Angels Legion

Heading the Space Marine legions are the Primarchs.  The Primarchs are Space Marines themselves; but are the direct 'sons' of the Emperor - vastly superior to their normal marine brothers.  These 20 primarchs each head their own legion of marines.  200 years after the launch of the Great Crusade humanity is almost unified. However, Horus - the most favored son of the Emperor and head of the primarchs was corrupted by Chaos: an evil entity that thrives in the Warp.  Corrupted, Horus talks many of his brother Primarchs and their space marine legions into joining his cause to rebel against the Emperor.  After bitter warfare, Horus and his allies failed, and retreat into the Warp.  The Emperor is left mortally crippled - interned in the Golden Throne: a life sustaining device.  While the Emperor is not dead, he also does not live.  Only his mind remains alive.

The God-Emperor of Man before his internment on the Golden Throne 

The year is 40,000.  The Emperor still remains on the Golden Throne.  The High Lords of Terra - a council of the Imperium of Man's most senior leaders, rules in his stead.  Humanity is beset on all sides by threats - internal and external.  From within, chaos corrupts the minds of men - heretical chaos cults and rogue planetary governors rebel.  From outside, various alien species threaten the Imperium - Orks, Eldar, Tau, Tyranid, and Necron.  All with their own back-story and lore.

The Emperor now; interned on the Throne in a not dead, yet not fully alive state.

That's all for now... I'll post more lore later!!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Warhammer 40k, an Introduction (The game)

So one of my favorite hobbies of all time is the Warhammer 40k tabletop gaming franchise.  I originally wrote a pretty detailed review of one of the "armies" in the Warhammer 40k universe a few posts ago, but I wanted to give a nice, broad, introduction to the tabletop game so that when I make more detailed posts in the future there is an intro to the 'world' of 40k.  This is going to be part 1 of a "2 parter" - part 1 will explain the game itself and its basic mechanics.  Part 2 (which I'll write up.. eventually) will be an introduction to the lore and backstory of this rich piece of ip (which includes something like 60 novels and a wealth of other information and lore).

Imperial Guardsmen, being led by an officer and his command squad

Where to begin when explaining the 40k tabletop game?  Well, I suppose we can start with the most basic principles.  40k is a tabletop game - that's right, this game isn't played on a console or on your computer (well.. they made those after the fact).  Rather, it is played on a large surface (somewhere in the magnitude of 6x4').  There is no "board".  Each player possesses an army, and that army contains individual models; most are 28mm (1.1 inches), but there are also various vehicles [walkers, tanks, aircraft] and other types of units.  

Before you play,

Before you get into the heat of battle you need to get your army ready.  This typically includes purchasing the models from Games Workshop or from some 3rd party.  You must then assemble them (most are plastic and come on "sprues" which you must cut the pieces out of - think gundam model box kits).  Assembly requires nothing more than some super glue and a nail file for rough edges.  After the models are assembled you need to paint them!  Painting is great because it lets you give your army a unique feel - are they a stealth force dressed in mostly black, or from an old chapter whose color scheme is already set.  Once they're painted and you decorate their base a bit (the base is the little circular piece of plastic they'e glued to - see the above picture) you're almost ready to battle.

A battle force of Ultramarine-chapter Space Marines are ready for battle!

Making an army list,

After you have your troops purchased, you need to make your army list.  All units in 40k have point values.  As such, players with two different armies can compete on an equal footing in say.. a 1500 point battle.  Each "army" in the 40k universe comes with a codex - aka, army-specific rules.  Armies range from the human Imperial Guard, to Orks (space orks~), Tyranids (think alien from AvP), eldar (space elves) and a bunch of others.  The army codex contains various ways to customize your army and get it ready for play.


Find a friend, or local gaming store where 40k players gather, and play!  Most competitive matches will include detailed terrain (miniature structures/bombed out ruins/trenches/bunkers) with which to do battle in.  Ask for tips from your opponents on how to improve your army or check out various internet forums dedicated to the hobby.