40k - A 30 year obsession... Part One

In September 1987,  I started my 2nd year at Secondary School (I was 12, so 7th Grade in US terms).  It was the year that saw:

  • Everton won the 1st Division title;
  • Thatcher won her 3rd term after calling a General Election;
  • The 'Spycatcher' scandal came to a head;
  • Black Monday saw stock markets crash around the globe, leading to a recession 


White Dwarf issue 93 hit the stands in September, heralding the arrival of Games Workshop's new title - WARHAMMER 40,000: ROGUE TRADER.

White Dwarf, Issue 93 (authors own)

By this time I'd been playing Dungeons & Dragons for about 18 months, and enjoying every second of it. I'd even had a play of Warhammer Fantasy Battles, Blood Bowl & Dungeonquest, thanks to having friends who also played and were a little older than me.

But with WH40K:RT, I fell in love.

I'm from a small town, not too far outside of Birmingham, but for a boy of 12, who's father didn't drive and had little money, Birmingham may as well have been the other side of the world. I hadn't been to Birmingham, nor even thought about it.

So when Games Workshop announced this new game, with samples of the artwork inside White Dwarf (by various artists - including Pete Knifton, who I'm immensely proud to say I'm now on friendly talking terms with thanks to Facebook) I knew I just needed to have it. It played to all my likes - armoured men with big guns and even bigger vehicles, strange alien races such as the Eldar, Ork and Squat, an Emperor 10,000 years old on a throne and a wonderful full colour double page spread of various Space Marine 'Chapters' which set my mind alight!

I didn't have long to wait... October saw the released of the rulebook.  I begged and begged my father to let me have my Christmas money early to buy it, and in a rare moment of weakness, allowed me to have it (all be it by pointing out that regardless of whether I liked it or not, that was it for Santa...).  I took the 116 bus from Tamworth to Birmingham with my best friend Derek, ran to Games Workshop (it was late on a Friday afternoon, school had finished) and handed over my £11.99 for the book...

I didn't wait to get home to open it - I tore the wrapper off and read it on the bus home, my mind racing with imaginary battles between humans and aliens, pored over every illustration (the mind bendingly surreal drawings of Russ Nicolson, John Blanche, Ian Miller, Pete's colour plates, Gary Chalk's double spread of Chapter colours), and tried to make sense of the rules ( Movement, Shooting, PSYCHIC POWERS??) and excitedly chatted to Derek about how we would play our first game...

Which I had no miniatures for!

BUT... That didn't stop me - I had White Dwarf for that! My first games were played (with my Brother) using cut outs of the photos in White Dwarf of the figures at that point available (I think I may even have used Skaven, Skeletons and Orcs from WHFB - oops) to stand in for the minis, slowly working out the rules (lots of mistakes and arguments) until Derek (who had a paper round and a few other Saturday jobs) began buying figures - which then became the ones we used when we played at his house.

It was a while before I got any figures, almost a year in fact since the game's release. But oh boy, was the wait worth it...

White Dwarf 105 (Authors Own)

NEXT TIME: Harlequins, Painting and learning to play....


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