Saturday, April 23, 2011

Here we go!

(deep breath)

Hi, I'm Pete and I run a business that sells laser-made accessories for tabletop games. 

I'm a tabletop gaming addict.

No, really.  I've spent a TON of money, time and effort on these damned things.  Want to see?

2008.  About half of my GW models.  Note the laser-cut drop pods in back.
This is only about half of my Warhammer 40,000 collection at the end of 2008.  I could have photographed more of my collection at the time, but I ran out of table space and my wife was yelling at me that we were having dinner guests over in twenty minutes and I needed to clear the "stupid models" off the table.  Since taking this photograph, I've befriended a wholesaler of Warhammer models, and started a business based around them.  Which means I've gained another table full of models for Warmachine/Hordes and probably another three tables of Warhammer Fantasy, 40K and LOTR stuff. 

Last year, at a Christmas party at a friends house, we were all playing a (stupid) party game that players had to draw a question card from a stack, and choose from one of two aweful situations(such as "would you rather eat a bowl of live maggots or have a scorpion repeatedly sting your genitals").  When it came to my turn to answer a question, the question I drew from the box of cards was "Would you rather give up sex for a decade, or give up your favorite hobby for the same amount of time?".   The three seconds that I hesitated before choosing the latter answer was long enough for my wife to justify whacking me over the head with the buzzer and refusing to speak to me for the remainder of the evening.

That evening, while silently sipping on my mulled wine in the corner of the party and wondering if my wife would ever sleep with me again before 2011 rolled around, I wondered where it all went wrong…

(cue nostalgia-style music)

Gruesome on the
inside, and my gateway
to the addiction.
It started in the mid 90's when I was living in Kent, England.  A couple friends of mine from my school were into this fun little game called Warhammer.  I borrowed some of the rulebooks for the Warhammer Fantasy Roleplaying setting -and  I was hooked instantly.  I didn't have a full grasp of the core game mechanics of the tabletop wargame, and although I took part in a couple of large tabletop games I just liked the in-depth RPG setting best.  I borrowed copies of Realms of Chaos - Slaves to Darkness (right), and was enthralled with the gruesome art (and as any teenage from the 90s will tell you, a book with illustrations of decapitated monsters is just as awesome as all the fatality moves from Mortal Kombat).  The same friends had all the original Space Hulk board game and all it's expansions (Space Hulk, Deathwing and Genestealer) and I borrowed the rulesbooks frequently (and, incidentally, forgot to return them after moving across the Atlantic back to the US. Whoops.  Chris, Stephen, if you ever read this: sorry!)

The dark gothic settings of both the Warhammer universes completely engrossed me as a teenager and took up a chunk of my imagination, and often took over my time when I should have been doing other stuff.  I frequently doodled Warhammer iconography in my notebooks during lectures in school.  I remember a teacher asking me why my chemistry notebook had odd X-marks filling the margins, and I silently decided that explaining to him it's the rune of the Blood God Khorne from the Warhammer universe wasn't the best idea and just said they were random geometric doodle.  On the bus rides home, while other kids were using their fingers to squeak the logo for their favorite football (soccer) team into the foggy windows, or in the case of girls the name of their favorite teen boy band, my digits frequently drew the Deathwing logo instead.

Eventually I picked up a copy of (first edition) Space Hulk for myself (I traded a copy of Heroquest for it) and that was my first foray into the 40K setting.  I loved the backstory with Genestealers, and the then-Native American feeling of the Deathwing.  You need to keep in mind that I could tell you everything about the Genestealer's horrific reproduction cycle, and could tell you all the names of the Terminators in the story, and through Slaves to Darkness could tell you all about the Horus Heresy and the Illuminati, but didn't know a thing about terminator armor saves, or genestealer statistics (back then Space Hulk, just like the editions today, didn't use the traditional 40K stat lines). 
My first codex.

I started picking up GW's trade magainze White Dwarf, but pretty much ignored the rules and just read the background info in the magazine. 

Right before I left the UK and headed back to America, a friend of mine gave me his copy of Codex: Angels of Death.  Again, I just read the fluff, and virtually ignored the game mechanics.

 It wasn't until I returned to the 'states and finished my high school experience two years that the tabletop gaming hobby set in.  Like other nerds at the time, I got into the Magic: The Gathering card game and was surprised to find a store in Metro Denver that not only sold Magic, but sold those "cool models from the rules that I loved back in England".  I whooped for joy and within a few weeks bought myself a starter set.

I was torn between getting into Fantasy or getting into 40K, but realized that having a few Terminators from my Space Hulk set would give me an edge and got the 3rd ed Starter set for Warhammer 40,000.

I quickly assembled my first power armor Space Marines, swore at gluing on the motherf'ings pikes and blades onto the Dark Eldar warriors and popped my finger-superglued-together cherry.  I picked a completely random color scheme for my Space Marines & Terminators (based soley on the paints I had in my basement), yellow armor trim over black primer with bright blue casings on the bolters.  (Recently a few years ago in 2008, a latina coworker of mine taught me a spanish phrase "chinga ojos", which means "eye-fuck" - kind of the lines of "eyesore", but with more verbal punch- which could easily summarize my first paint scheme).

Incidentally, nearly a decade later that ForgeWorld chose the same color scheme for the Red Scopions marine chapter. Somebody over there must like the term "china ojos" as well.

 After graduating from high school, I started attending the University of Colorado at Denver, and also got my first well-paying part-time job.  The majority of my $12/hour paycheck went to either PC games, or buying models for 40K.  Within a few months I decided to buy a full army box.  I wanted to pick up the Tyranids army box (to complement my Space Hulk genestealers), but those were already sold out.  I stood in front of the tabletop gaming section for a good hour and a half pondering my alternative purchase before the store employee (who was standing next to me the whole time, offering suggestions) eventually lost his patience and told me just to pick an army box or get the hell out of his store.  I spontaneously chose the the Eldar army box.  Up to that point I knew very little about the Eldar - they are not mentioned at all in Space Hulk, and the Realms of Chaos books mention them only in a couple paragraphs regards to with Slaanesh's birth. But boom, I was now an Eldar player.
Even with 3 of these,
I lost almost every
game.  Bleugh.

Getting into the Eldar after only 3 or 4 months of playing 40K with Marines was a hard step, with the Eldar being such a finesee army.  Like any new player who is beaten easily when playing their new army, I quickly bought up the "cheesiest most overpowered" model for the army - in this case, the Wraithlord armed with a starcannon.  2 Wraithlords armed with a starcannon, actually.  Having a pair of supposed "game-breaking" models didn't help my game any, and I eventually started bulking up on other parts of my Eldar army, like Aspect Warriors (I picked up Codex Craftworld Eldar and wanted to play Biel Tan).

Meanwhile, my FLGS (Attactix in Aurora) had a consignment case and frequently clearanced out older 40K stuff.  I bulked up on my marines through multiple - and I mean over twenty - of the 2nd ed-era marine box sets (the one with 1 sergeant, 2 bolter marines, a marine with a flamer and marine with a shoulder-mounted missile launcher).  At the time I had an odd hatred of the flamer (or any template weapons, actually) and I converted the dozens of Flamer-wielding marines into bolter marines.  If you squint really hard at the 200pixel-wide photo  of my models at the top of this post, you can see the conversions in the 14th row from the front.

So by 2000 I had a sizable Marine and a sizable Biel-Tan army for 40K, was on my way to getting a college degree, and I still doodled 40K insignia in my university notebooks.  Little did I know how my life would change over the next decade…

To be continued…