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Subject: War Has Never Looked So Pretty rss

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Jim Patching
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Warhammer 40,000 is all about collecting miniature soldiers, assembling and painting them, and building impressive bits of scenery. You can also use these soldiers and scenery pieces to play a war game with.

Ok, maybe that’s a bit glib but if you’re going to get into Warhammer 40K one of the first things you’ve got to realise is that painting and modelling is at least half of what the game’s all about. If you’ve got no time for cutting little plastic dudes off sprues, damaging your health inhaling glue and aerosol fumes and finding somewhere to store 6 foot by 4 foot boards covered in fake grass then move on.

I suppose you could just buy yourself an army, not bother painting it and play a game on a regular table using books for hills and jam jars for buildings but I doubt you’d find it all that engrossing. The game itself, when you strip it down to its bare mechanics, just isn’t that great. Don’t get me wrong, I still think it’s good, but it’s not the rules that have made Warhammer the most popular table top miniatures game in the world (please note, I have no data to back up this assertion regarding the popularity of Warhammer, but I’m pretty sure it’s true).

It’s the theme of Warhammer that really grabs you. People who aren’t au fait with 40K might scoff at this and simply write it off as big guys with guns in space, but it’s really far more than that. Think Roman Catholics in space, and not just your common garden variety Roman Catholic – these are bad ass 17th century-style Roman Catholics a la the Spanish Inquisition (which I believe was the sub-title they used on the 2nd Edition box set actually). The empire of mankind is a sprawling neo-fascist state led by an emperor who is basically a dead husk, his mind kept alive by a gigantic life support system called the Golden Throne. Technology has shifted from being within the realm of science to the realm of religion, dogma and superstition. Trouble brews from within the empire as well as without and the shady and terrifying Inquisition works behind the scenes to make sure mankind stays on the straight and narrow.

There’s really just too much background fluff to properly capture in a couple of sentences, suffice to say it’s great and if you throw yourself into it, collecting and painting your army around a theme, the game becomes so much more than the rules alone would have you believe. The models themselves are extremely good quality – very detailed, very pose-able, very easy to mix and match bits from different sets. They’re expensive, but for the most part you get what you pay for.

Before you get down to actually playing a game of 40K, the first thing you’re going to have to do is build yourself an army. Each army has a codex (which is a completely separate book from the rule book – you’re going to need one of these) that lists all of the units a particular army can field, along with their stats, special abilities and points cost. The average game of 40K is fought with armies of between 1500 – 2000 points. You buy your troops in units and there are rules as to the number of different types of units you can field and you are required to have a certain number of troops and HQ units.

A criticism of 40K that often gets brought up is that there’s a ‘unit of the month’ culture, whereby the newest (and normally most expensive) models are completely over-powered when compared with older units in order to entice you to buy them. In my experience this is total rubbish. As everything is assigned a points value it all tends to balance out. In most cases you can’t go far wrong with an army made up of loads of your most basic troops. Infact, these 5th edition rules really push the usefulness of bog standard troops as they are the only units that qualify to capture objectives (which is generally how you actually win a game).

The fancy units are normally quite high risk – yes they might have some fancy abilities or stats, but they’re a lot of points sunk into a small unit and hit them with a big gun and they’ll be just as dead as a grunt getting hit by a big gun.

The game itself is played in rounds using a ‘I go, you go’ mechanic. To be honest this is a bit old fashioned and it’s a pity that the player’s turns aren’t more integrated to give a more ‘real time’ feel. Each turn is split into a number of different phases:

Movement
This is where you move your guys. It’s very simple but you’ll need a tape measure. All foot troops move up to 6 inches. Vehicles can move up to 6 inches and still fire weaponry or they can move up to 12 inches and not fire at all.

There’re a few exceptions to this (roads enable vehicles to move quicker, terrain can slow troops down, some units are particular speedy) but generally speaking that’s movement in a nutshell.

Shooting
Each unit can shoot at one enemy unit. You’ve got to make sure your unit can see your target (generally by getting down to ‘eye level’ with your squad and making sure you can physically see what they’re trying to shoot at). You then roll a dice to hit the target for each of your chaps in your squad. This is simply a dice roll based on the ballistic skill of your little guys. All those who successfully hit roll another dice to wound, with a target number that is worked out by comparing the strength of the gun to the toughness of the target. The target then potentially gets to roll armour saving throws for each wound scored, although the more powerful guns will punch straight through armour.

Instead of shooting you can decide to make a squad run (this is a new addition to the 5th edition rules and I really like it). You basically just roll a six sided dice and move the running squad that number of inches.

Close Combat
The final phase is close combat, and this is the only phase where both parties can act together. If any of your units are within 6 inches of an enemy and haven’t fired any guns in the shooting phase (assault weapons being the exception) then you can charge into close combat with the enemy. Close combat is worked out in exactly the same way as shooting, except you use the weapon skill stat to hit instead of ballistic skill and you use the model’s own strength rather than the gun’s strength to cause wounds. Both parties involved in the combat roll dice to hit and wound. The order this occurs in is determined by the inititiative stat of each model.

A change to the 5th edition is that they’ve got rid of the ability to ‘combat surf’. In previous editions, if you won a close combat you could consolidate (i.e. move) a further d6 inches. If this distance enabled you to reach another enemy unit you could immediately engage them in close combat. This could be very frustrating, as units that are locked in close combat can’t be shot at, and combat surfing was a naff ‘gamey’ way of ensuring that your close combat units were effectively safe from enemy fire. Under the 5th edition rules you still have the ability to consolidate after winning a close combat, but you can’t consolidate directly into close combat.

That’s essentially it as far as the rules go. Yes, there’s lots of little exceptions and most units have their own little rules that enable them to do funky things, but the above is really pretty much all you need to know to get started.

If you’re at all of a creative nature then Warhammer is a great game to get into. The painting and modelling aspect is a major part of the hobby and the background to the game is so rich and detailed that it really helps fire your imagination. I’ve personally spent far more time painting up armies than playing the game. The game itself is solid, although it’s a somewhat old fashioned design. To be honest, if you’re not at all interested in the theme or the modelling aspect of Warhammer and are just looking for a good strategic war game, there’re better options out there.

It’s probably true that these are better war games:



But look how frickin sweet this looks:



Shallow, I know whistle

Warhammer isn’t cheap but it’s certainly do-able. You can get yourself a decent sized Warhammer army for the same price as an average board game plus a couple of expansions. The standard plastic kits for Warhammer units are actually pretty good value for money and if you’re just starting out E-bay is your friend – you can easily get bog standard troops on there. In any case, you’re not really expected to go out and buy a huge army all in one go. Warhammer is the sort of thing where you can start off modestly and then add to it as you go.

Now, if you’re new to Warhammer but curious about it and have looked into it at all on the internet you’ve probably already encountered people randomly butting into 40K discussions and hurling accusations at the game such as “Warhammer stole my babies and ate my wife!” In my opinion there are a lot of anti Warhammer myths circulating and here’s my rebuttal of them:

· ‘Minitaure of the month’ syndrome. I don’t really know where this notion comes from to be honest. Warhammer isn’t a collectible card game; it doesn’t have commons and rares. All units are assigned a point’s value dependent on how powerful they are. You get a powerful unit in your army; you’ll have less regular guys. Regular guys are what win games for you.
· Units Being made obsolete. Games Workshop certainly did this in the past, the most notorious occurrence of which was the discontinuation of the squats army. This is a thing of the past and in my experience it doesn’t happen any more. I’m not sure how long I’ve been playing the game for now but it must be about 7 years and in that time not a single one of my models has become obsolete. I’ve got a pool of about a dozen mates who started playing at the same time as me and not a single one of their models has become obsolete either. You’ll hear this accusation a lot, but I say ignore it. Also, squats were crap anyway.
· Games Workshop will rip you off. OK, as I’ve already said the models are expensive, there’s no getting around that. But in my opinion they create the best miniatures around. As far as I’m aware, they’re the only company that produce detailed plastic kits. Their miniatures are manufactured in the UK and the US and not in Asian sweat shops. They’re expensive but you get what you pay for.
· Games Workshop release new editions too often. The first edition of Warhammer 40K was called Rogue Trader and it was released in 1987. That’s 5 editions in 22 years. That doesn’t seem too excessive to me. In any case, unless you’re going to get into official tournaments there’s no actual need to upgrade to a new edition when one comes out. If you just play with your mates you can play with whatever rules set you want.
· Warhammer is like crack. Well I suppose that depends on your personality type. If you’re someone who obsessively collects things and needs to have one of everything then don’t get into Warhammer. Infact, don’t get into anything that involves themearest hint of collecting of anything at all.

So there we are. Warhammer is a decent, although unspectacular game wrapped up with the best background fluff and miniatures around. I reckon this 5th Edition rule set is the best one so far.
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Nice review, but i think your overlooking of the 'myths' is a bit rose-tinted. The regular issues are not as bad as they're sometimes described, but you can't say that there's no issue whatsoever.

panzer-attack wrote:
In my opinion there are a lot of anti Warhammer myths circulating and here’s my rebuttal of them:

· ‘Minitaure of the month’ syndrome. I don’t really know where this notion comes from to be honest. Warhammer isn’t a collectible card game; it doesn’t have commons and rares. All units are assigned a point’s value dependent on how powerful they are. You get a powerful unit in your army; you’ll have less regular guys. Regular guys are what win games for you.


If all army-lists were produced/released at the same time, the points system would be balanced enough. As it is, the game often suffers by the way of the latest army-list having slightly undervalued units in points. Not too noticeable between two army-list releases, but between the first and the last lists of an edition, there's often a sensible difference in equivalent units cost in points. That said, it's only a worry for the competitive environment, and recently seems to be more of a problem for Fantasy than 40k. In a casual setting it's just a mild annoyance.


Quote:
· Units Being made obsolete. Games Workshop certainly did this in the past, the most notorious occurrence of which was the discontinuation of the squats army. This is a thing of the past and in my experience it doesn’t happen any more. I’m not sure how long I’ve been playing the game for now but it must be about 7 years and in that time not a single one of my models has become obsolete. I’ve got a pool of about a dozen mates who started playing at the same time as me and not a single one of their models has become obsolete either. You’ll hear this accusation a lot, but I say ignore it. Also, squats were crap anyway.


Maybe things have changed in the 5th edition then. How i can field my marine assault squad (jump packs) with 3 power gloves and 2 force axes? In 4th at least, that was impossible. Forcing me to tear off the arms of my painted miniatures to replace them with flavour-of-the-edition allowed equipment is as good as making it obsolete to me.

I grieve for my Death Guard/World Eaters heavy weapons too, but they were made obsolete by the 2nd ed chaos codex, so yeah, it's been a while and probably doesn't count any more.


Quote:
· Games Workshop will rip you off. OK, as I’ve already said the models are expensive, there’s no getting around that. But in my opinion they create the best miniatures around. As far as I’m aware, they’re the only company that produce detailed plastic kits. Their miniatures are manufactured in the UK and the US and not in Asian sweat shops. They’re expensive but you get what you pay for.


My only issue with their pricing is the "price = max (metal value, points value)" formula they tend to use. Otherwise, i agree that they still produce some pretty nice stuff, and continue to buy some from time to time. I'm with you too on the plastic kits, they're absolutely brilliant. I love the fact that these days, you do get a massive amount of leftovers from the sprues. Great for conversions.


Quote:
· Games Workshop release new editions too often. The first edition of Warhammer 40K was called Rogue Trader and it was released in 1987. That’s 5 editions in 22 years. That doesn’t seem too excessive to me. In any case, unless you’re going to get into official tournaments there’s no actual need to upgrade to a new edition when one comes out. If you just play with your mates you can play with whatever rules set you want.


Seen like that it doesn't look too bad, but the annoying thing is that no edition is complete on release. Unless you play codex space marines, chances are that your army-list won't be updated for the current edition before one or two years. And if you're unlucky, you'll get an update just before the next edition. Or won't get an update at all (see Dark Eldars). Again, that's mainly a big issue in the competitive setting, so for games at home it's not that bad.

Quote:
· Warhammer is like crack. Well I suppose that depends on your personality type. If you’re someone who obsessively collects things and needs to have one of everything then don’t get into Warhammer. Infact, don’t get into anything that involves themearest hint of collecting of anything at all.


If Warhammer ruins your life like a drug, you probably had issues before playing it all right.


To add to the review, i'd say that if you're interested in the 40k setting and the miniature aspect, but want to stay on a budget and have a stable rule set, it's worth checking out Necromunda. It's a skirmish game in the world of 40k, so it generally only requires a dozen of miniatures per player, and it's available for free at the GW Specialist Games website, together with its expansion Necromunda: Outlanders. The rules don't change any more, and all army lists (gangs) are already included.
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cafard83 wrote:
Maybe things have changed in the 5th edition then. How i can field my marine assault squad (jump packs) with 3 power gloves and 2 force axes? In 4th at least, that was impossible. Forcing me to tear off the arms of my painted miniatures to replace them with flavour-of-the-edition allowed equipment is as good as making it obsolete to me.


Three words: magnetize, magnetize, magnetize...

There's a bit of discussion about GW's supposed "planned obsolescence" over here.
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GW hobbies are no more expensive than boardgaming.... that's right you heard me.

for the price of about 1 game a month (and who isn't buying a game a month on this site) You can get a new unit for your army. In addition to getting the unit you will spend time modeling and painting them (should take you about a month if you are doing it right to get them painted and flocked) then onto the next unit.

If you play small games to start or make a few months of investment to get going you can start playing immediately and in the end you have a hobby that cost you about what the serious board gamer plays.

The difference is that all of the GW hobbies are total commitment types of things. When I played 40k it was all I did, there is not time for a game of ti3, besides you don't have the cash to pick it up) Between building models, terrain, painting mini's and playing one night a week my free time was booked.

some people like this... others not so much.

For me the killer was children, I am officially out of time for GW hobbies (but hold out hope when my son gets a bit older) Now I spend a similar amount of cash on boardgames that I play once a week (if ever). All of the time spent painting etc if free, but the satisfaction level in a board games is far less than it was when my hand crafted army would trounce across the table laying waste to your hand painted goodness.

good times.

For the record as a Dark Angels player the new CC rules are a move in the right direction... no more 10 year old kids wiping the board clean with the F'ing Blood Angels.


-M
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panzer-attack wrote:

· Games Workshop release new editions too often. The first edition of Warhammer 40K was called Rogue Trader and it was released in 1987. That’s 5 editions in 22 years. That doesn’t seem too excessive to me.


Fine. So you're completely OK with the fact that 5th came out four years after 4th?

panzer-attack wrote:
In any case, unless you’re going to get into official tournaments there’s no actual need to upgrade to a new edition when one comes out. If you just play with your mates you can play with whatever rules set you want.


"Get into official tournaments"? How about "play the game outside my own basement, ever"? Because I'm sure the guys down at the FLGS are going to be happy playing whatever edition I've decided to stick on, right?
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Greywing wrote:
"Get into official tournaments"? How about "play the game outside my own basement, ever"? Because I'm sure the guys down at the FLGS are going to be happy playing whatever edition I've decided to stick on, right?


Huh. Where's the 'Plays games with strangers!' microbadge?

Your criticism is off-base. The OP writes that "If you just play with your mates you can play with whatever rules set you want", not "You can play anybody ever with whatever ruleset you want."

WH40k is fiddly enough with WYSIWYG modeling considerations, proxying, true line-of-sight, etc., that I'd only consider playing with friends (or friends of friends) in the first place.
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Greywing wrote:
panzer-attack wrote:

· Games Workshop release new editions too often. The first edition of Warhammer 40K was called Rogue Trader and it was released in 1987. That’s 5 editions in 22 years. That doesn’t seem too excessive to me.


Fine. So you're completely OK with the fact that 5th came out four years after 4th?

panzer-attack wrote:
In any case, unless you’re going to get into official tournaments there’s no actual need to upgrade to a new edition when one comes out. If you just play with your mates you can play with whatever rules set you want.


"Get into official tournaments"? How about "play the game outside my own basement, ever"? Because I'm sure the guys down at the FLGS are going to be happy playing whatever edition I've decided to stick on, right?


True, the time gap between 4th and 5th edition wasn't so huge. I personally didn't really see the need for 4th edition as it only really slightly tweaked a few things from the 3rd ed. The 5th edition improves on a lot of things and is a far more worthy enterprise. Still, £30 over a four year time period still isn't a lot of money.

My experience of 40K might be coloured a lot by the sort of environment I play it in. I only ever play it with my mates and I've got a large pool of about a dozen of them that I game with. We're all quite relaxed about it, don't take it too seriously and are happy to fudge rules or whatever just to get a game going.

Still, if for example my group decided to stick with 4th edition rules and all of a sudden I decided to have a game down my local Games Workshop, all I'd really need to get to enable me to do that is a 5th edition codex so that I could point up my army 'legitimately'. Ok, I might need some of the rule changes from 4th to 5th ed explained to me throughout the game but to be honest, if the people I was gaming with weren't prepared to cut a newbie some slack with rules learning then I wouldn't really be interested in gaming with them anyway.
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SleightOfHand wrote:

Your criticism is off-base. The OP writes that "If you just play with your mates you can play with whatever rules set you want", not "You can play anybody ever with whatever ruleset you want."


No.

What the OP wrote is exactly what I quoted and exactly what I responded to. He made the flat statement that the only reason you "need" to update to the latest edition is if "you’re going to get into official tournaments[.]" It's right there in black and white. That's the statement I responded to, and that statement is simply wrong. If there's a community of players in your area, and you want to play with them, then you "need" to play the same game they're playing and there's nothing "official" or "tournament" about that situation.

Edit: I don't mean any of this to be confrontational. I'm not a GW hater; they have hundreds (and hundreds) of my dollars; they'll no doubt see hundreds more. I just see the rapid-fire edition churn as their single biggest "sin" against their customers, and I found the OP's dismissal of that criticism to be way off the mark. Peace, and good gaming.
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I'm with you all the way, brother!!!
 
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Greywing wrote:
I don't mean any of this to be confrontational.


No harm, no foul! I've been writing a research article all day, so if I come off as snarky/critical, that's why. I thought the gist of the OP's statement was that if you're playing with friends then it doesn't matter what rules you use, but he does imply that that'll fly with the regulars at your local GW as well.

I too have poured hundreds of dollars into GW, but I bought in with fifth edition and haven't experienced an edition update firsthand. Maybe it's more annoying than I'd expect. We'll see! (Although I hasten to add that the fifth edition Eldar codex can't come soon enough. Our troop transports are getting hosed right now.)
 
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I honestly don't wish to play any games with the guys at the local store that carries GW products exclusively. I could go there any time they are open and find pick up games, but the staff and customers are rude. My final time in there, this past Sunday, one of the owners gave me crap for buying paints for an Ultramarine chapter I am painting. I mentioned that I was painting several chapters besides Ultramarines; Blood Angels, Dark Angels, and Templars. Short story long, I'm not going back and will only be playing with my "mates".

Considering that I also want to collect and play Necrons, Tau, Imperial Guard, Tyranids, and I have Orks; I will have enough armies to provide for my friends that are interested but cannot afford to get into the hobby or need their forces bolstered for higher point total games.

This hobby is so enjoyable and the bonus of being able to use all this stuff to play, what I consider to be, a great strategy game. The other reward that most people overlook is when you do a good job, not a contest level job, painting your armies and get great reactions and complements from your friends about it. The more people that you expose to this hobby, the more people want to get involved for themselves.
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SleightOfHand wrote:
Greywing wrote:
"Get into official tournaments"? How about "play the game outside my own basement, ever"? Because I'm sure the guys down at the FLGS are going to be happy playing whatever edition I've decided to stick on, right?


Huh. Where's the 'Plays games with strangers!' microbadge?

Your criticism is off-base. The OP writes that "If you just play with your mates you can play with whatever rules set you want", not "You can play anybody ever with whatever ruleset you want."

WH40k is fiddly enough with WYSIWYG modeling considerations, proxying, true line-of-sight, etc., that I'd only consider playing with friends (or friends of friends) in the first place.


The rules differences are usually quite minor... 3 to 4 th changed little other than the vehicle rules... 4th to 5th addressed close combat.
It is not like your entire army is suddenly illegal.

Most of the codexes stay between versions and are often updated between versions anyway.

40k doesn't have anywhere near the planned obsolescence of M:TG for example. Heck even Age of Steam is harder to keep up with these days.

-M
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Excellent review. There are more "GW Urban Myths" we could put down too. No idea why all this nonsense emerges with such regularity.

cafard83 wrote:
Maybe things have changed in the 5th edition then. How i can field my marine assault squad (jump packs) with 3 power gloves and 2 force axes? In 4th at least, that was impossible. Forcing me to tear off the arms of my painted miniatures to replace them with flavour-of-the-edition allowed equipment is as good as making it obsolete to me.

I grieve for my Death Guard/World Eaters heavy weapons too, but they were made obsolete by the 2nd ed chaos codex, so yeah, it's been a while and probably doesn't count any more.


AFAIAA, that squad hasn't been legal for a LONG time, given it includes force Weapons in an AS, I'd say since RT, a point you conceded wouldn't count in the next sentence.

You *can* used WE/DG heavies in a legal chaos army. You just can't use them in specialised squads such as, say, Khorne Berserkers.

cafard83 wrote:

My only issue with their pricing is the "price = max (metal value, points value)" formula they tend to use.


Actually the pricing is production + distribution+INVENTORY cost.

Higher point cost models are needed by gamers less often, move more slowly and hence have a higher inventory cost. They recently re-emphasised this, and hence core plastics are generally a little below ten-year-inflation now.

cafard83 wrote:

Seen like that it doesn't look too bad, but the annoying thing is that no edition is complete on release.


Since 3rd edition, the Codices have been a rolling body of work that applies across all editions. The game is hence, always complete.


I've said it before, elsewhere, 40K (and its siblings) is a hobby. a coupple of new figures and a codex every six years or so, plus a new MRB every four years (GW's stated development time), comes in at an average of around £10-£15 a year, not very much TBH.
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panzer-attack wrote:


"It’s the theme of Warhammer that really grabs you. People who aren’t au fait with 40K might scoff at this and simply write it off as big guys with guns in space, but it’s really far more than that. Think Roman Catholics in space, and not just your common garden variety Roman Catholic – these are bad ass 17th century-style Roman Catholics a la the Spanish Inquisition (which I believe was the sub-title they used on the 2nd Edition box set actually). "


I do believe you´re right!

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Thanks for appreciating my humble and unskilled work enough to tip it!

Great review by the way!!
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panzer-attack wrote:

· Units Being made obsolete. Games Workshop certainly did this in the past, the most notorious occurrence of which was the discontinuation of the squats army. This is a thing of the past and in my experience it doesn’t happen any more. I’m not sure how long I’ve been playing the game for now but it must be about 7 years and in that time not a single one of my models has become obsolete. I’ve got a pool of about a dozen mates who started playing at the same time as me and not a single one of their models has become obsolete either. You’ll hear this accusation a lot, but I say ignore it. Also, squats were crap anyway.

Ork Kult of Speed, several carefully converted and painted bikes and vehicles had to be reconverted...cry
Great article by the way
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Slev Sleddeddan
United Kingdom
Victoria Park
Manchester
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What part of "Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn" don't you understand?
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Don't you open that trapdoor!
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red_zebra_ve wrote:
Ork Kult of Speed, several carefully converted and painted bikes and vehicles had to be reconverted...cry
Great article by the way


A Kult ov Speed army is still legal! A few models have been subsumed into other unit types, but you can still play your army right from the Ork Codex.
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Brian Collins
United States
San Francisco
California
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I'll just leave these here:







40k Photography is kind of a subsidiary hobby of mine, when not losing games that is!
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