Monday, October 29, 2012

What makes Warhammer 40K games fun?

It’s a basic question.  After you play for a long time I think some kind of forget what makes it fun because we are just sort of invested in it to the point that we feel obligated, in a sense, to keep playing.  That compunction (and some would say, addiction) has been talked about by a lot of gamers.  Many who have moved on to exclusively play other games cite very different reasons for leaving 40K which leads you to think:  well okay, then why was it fun before if it isn’t fun for them now?  And that led me to think about what I found fun about it.  After all, I have branched out into many more games than most gamers ever do and spent more money than most gamers can spend.  You might think “Why bother spending money in so many places and splitting time amongst so many hobbies if you don't even know why you like it?”  The only answer I can think of is that they are fun.  But are they?  Do I really believe that or did I just sort of stop asking myself that question along the way to avoid having to justify the cost?

So I came up with this list of reasons why I like playing this game and would be interested in seeing yours posted as well.

  1. Friends.  I have grown my base of friends (and enemies, oddly enough) a great deal through this game and as one who has never really fit perfectly into anyone’s circle, making friends was a big draw for me.  I think differently and I am keenly aware of that.  Here was a place I could BE different and be accepted.  Of all the reasons I could list, making friends has grown from it’s place way down the list to become a larger and larger reason for continuing to be a part of the gaming community and 40K is in fact the largest of its kind outside of CCG's..
  2. Warhammer 40,000 allows me to compete.  I am at my core a competitive person who has always felt a strong need to try and be the best.  One needs arenas to fight in and sports only lasts for so long.  I was a three sport athlete in High School and got a full ride scholarship for college because I wanted to be the best at school too.  After that what do you do to feed that need?  Well you compete in the job place and in my case (so i started a business).  I also found Warhammer and those kinds of games give me the ARENA to fight to the top in another way, a sensation I find enjoyable even when I don’t quite make it.  As a song once said, "It's the struggle that makes us strong". 
  3. Warhammer is a story.  I am a big time role player and I love the ideas and the stories behind the factions.  The universe has been fleshed out a great deal.  While most games are miniatures companies, Warhammer sort of elevated itself above that and made it a story that you can be a part of.  I identify with the motivations of the factions.  The Story is appealing to me (most of it) and being a role player I can hardly resist inserting myself into it.
  4. The likeness of some of the models to things I held dear when I was younger is cool, such as the animated series Robotech, Transformers, Silver Hawks, Inhumanoids, StarCraft the video game, Mechwarrior the video game, star wars…  The list goes on of things that connect me to those memories and joys.  It’s a subliminal thing but it’s real.  I can play the Tau Empire and imagine myself fighting for the Southern Cross army against the Invid in my Tau Hove Ttank.  I can imagine the Bioroids and other elements of anime in general that are represented.  The dying elven race is an old and used Tolkien idea but it's great because I loved Tolkien.  And I love the models and they’ve gotten a ton better since even I started in 2004 which just adds to it.  
  5. Recognition.  While it’s not higher on the list, it’s there.  Being good at something gets you noticed, and having people ask you for help and advice will make you feel good and validated, I don’t care who you are, even if it is only a game.  That they would even ask me my opinion is kind of a motivator for me.  I almost feel compelled to master the game just so I am actually worthy of being asked those questions and don’t let people down.  It’s one thing to say you’re good.  Much harder to actually BE good and harder still to stay that way as the rules change and evolve.
  6. The mental Exercise is good for anyone.  You must not only account for what an opponent might do before you even get to the table, but the terrain forces your mind, in every game, to shift it’s gears into operation.  So much is different from game to game that the same two players facing each other with the same army must do things completely differently every game and some units that were great in Game 1 are now trash in game 2 because of the terrain or mission…or both!  So there is so much mental exercise going on and it’s good for you.  The geometry of the game and the List hammering are all sort of necessary byproducts of the struggle to be able to adapt and overcome the battlefield situation and it feels good not to stare at numbers on a computer screen all day.  Situation is king.  The game provides me a great way to keep my mind engaged.

So there are some reasons why I still love the game after all this time.  And I do love it.  It isn’t just something I do here or there for fun.  I actively find myself trying to grow it, writing this blog to help people with it or letting people borrow armies to get new players involved. My passion extends to a lot of games other than 40K too but most of them are cool to me for very similar reason.

But the most important thing I get out of it is friends and an excuse to be with them.  People just like you.


  1. well I have been thinking on this subject for awhile now. I have been thinking about dropping from the game after 25 some years. This blog post hasn't made my decision but it has given me things to think about.


  2. Well I am glad for that.

    I'm not going to try and talk you into/out of it, but I think of it like I think of Monopoly in some ways: It's always there when you want to play it.

    Reducing your playing time or spending less time at the 'ol game store makes sense when it makes sense to you, of course. We all change. No need for a grand declaration though. Just DONT go until you DO go, if you see my meaning. Bands that anounce their breakups... why? Just quietly dont make an album, and then quietly DO make one if you want to an when someone asks just shrug and say "when it feels right, we'll do another one".

    But why did you like it before? What attracted you to it?


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