Up until recently, I have been stressing out about my life. Girlfriends, rent, and so much free time with nothing to fill it with. Before posting this article, which no doubt I'll share with friends and family, I've been living in a world of shame and embarrassment in a typical mid 30 something's shared house in north-west London, only four of my housemates share my secret; two of which, have been lured in to the same practice of this ultra-geeky realm of men clearly unable to accept that toys are just for childhood! The other: convinced in his coolness that it is the saddest thing he's seen since Mark Wahlberg was caught running away from the wind in that God awful film of constant suicides to inspire your own, The Happening.
I've never had a hobby. Growing up in a medium sized, typical English town, for a teenager there was never really much on offer in way of expanding your mind beyond that of heavy metal music and the occasional arsonists' trip into the local woods. Sure, we had drugs, but drugs as a teenager never really activated anything within me. Weed would just keep me and my friends locked away from the world listening to our heroes such as Axle Rose, winch and winning away to himself about how some hooker he met while attempting to beat his top score on the Indiana Jones pinball machine, broke his heart and robbed his wallet. Yet, such stories of epic romance inspired us to venture out into the world.
No doubt, after this teenage rite of passage of hanging around bus stops and the like, I broke out of my shell. But I have always been a geek, refusing to enjoy football, as that was the game of my childhood bullies and no matter how hard I try, I will always associate the sport with assholes. My secret however; is both a sport for the mind and a hobby for the soul! It is creative, strategic and rather ironically a lot like football. What game am I referring to? Warhammer 40K.
No doubt after the last few words of the paragraph above, I might have lost a few readers. It's understandable, Warhammer is perceived as a very geeky game, which makes it extremely niche. But trust me, since I started playing it a few years ago, I have not looked back. Here, allow me for a moment now to use my elegant prose to sell it to you...
First things first; you have to pick your army; some are fast, some are slow, some have wizards and some have dragons! Some are evil and some are good. Each army has its own weaknesses and strengths. Personally I picked the Space Wolves which are humans clad in Space Marine body armour. Think; Viking Snow Warriors from outer space... Exactly.
Then, you buy your codex, which is a highly detailed book that outlines all of the units that come in your selected army and how each of them fights. This book also contains a lot of back story, enabling you to get a good idea what your army is all about and ultimately, what they can do on the battlefield. And if you're into the fantasy genre, these stories are excellently written and get you rather excited about the hobby, so whatever you do, don't read them before bedtime, as you may end up with a rather sleepless night... Geek!
Next you buy your men and start building your army. Packs of men range from around £15 to £30 depending on the type of troops your army has in its ensemble, and you build them up as you go. The men come in a kit that you have to glue together and each man has a choice of gun that they can use. However, in order to play within the rules, you have to refer to your codex. which outlines how many of a certain weapon you can have within that particular unit.
Now it's time to paint them, and you can chose any colour scheme you want! You can get the codex, the figures and all the paint and glue that you need from Games Workshop stores on your local high street or online. Inside these shops you'll find the store guys known as 'Blue shirts' they often try and sell you the massive boxes. Ignore these guys, because of course they're trying to make as much money for the store as possible, best thing to do is to buy a small unit for your chosen army first, then take it home, make, paint and play. With help painting you can take your men down to your local games workshop and they'll show you how to paint them and how you play the game once they're painted. But in this golden age of information, you can of course find thousands of resources and blogs online that offer excellent guidance.
Since playing this game I am convinced that it's woken something up inside of me. It's rewarding, fun and so incredibly relaxing. It steals me away from the world of stress, rent and demanding girlfriends. I love Warhammer and I hope that the next time you're on your local High Street and you pass one, pop inside just to have a look, you never know you may also become just spell bound!