There is more to this hobby than collecting and painting amazing miniatures. While that is my favorite part, there is an additional, and equally rewarding aspect, gaming. Accompanying the models is a really deep rule set collected in the Warhammer 40k Rulebook.
This book details the various rules that exists for using your models in games against opponents. It is a dice-based rule set that combines luck and strategy really well. It takes several games to get a hang of the rules, as there are many very specific rules for things that happen throughout a game.
The rulebook also includes over 100 pages of fiction type material that immerses you in the universe that exists 40,000 years in the future. It details all the races and the constant strife between them. Games Workshop has added to this background throughout the years, and has expanded this universe through novels, short stories, and a fiction magazine.
Army Books or Codexes
The rich background that is provided in the rulebook is expanded on in each armies Codex. This is where each race/army has their background further explored, and their specific rules explained. Each unit within an army has unique abilities. A points value is assigned to each model, based on their battlefield effectiveness. A super elite model will be much more expensive than a standard trooper in an all human army.
There are around a dozen codexes available, all of them detailing the specific units in that army. There are no shortage of army types, including heartless aliens, violent orks, super human defenders, pointy eared elves (both good and bad) and a standard human infantry force. For me it is all about the miniatures. All of my armies have been chosen based on awesomeness…as in “wow those models are amazing, I think I need them.”
Using the codexes, you create an army from the models that you have. There are some basic restrictions as to the models you can take for a game, restrictions designed to keep the game balanced. You calculate the points for all of your models, up to a predetermined amount that you and your opponent have agreed on. Usually 1200-2000 pts is a good amount to play. A 1200 pt game will take around 2 hours, where a 2000 pt game would take a little more than 3. But where are you going to play?
You have lovingly saved for, purchased, built, and painted your toy soldiers. You have painstakingly used the codex to create a force that will crush your opponent. Now it is time to play.
The easiest way to explain the game board was to show you a game in progress. In the picture above, you can see that the board is 6ft X 4ft and has a variety of terrain features on it. These are kits that are also sold by Games Workshop and are prepped, built and painted in the same way as the miniatures. They have been embellished with fake grass and bushes, as well as plastic plants from Michaels.
The opponents take turns moving their models, strategically placing them so that they can be effective. Think about a game of chess on a 6X4 board, where the pieces are heavily armed and armored. Dice is used in certain spots, creating an uncertainty to the outcome. A few bad dice rolls can really derail your plans.
Here are a few more pictures from the game.
So this is oversimplified a bit, but those are the basics of gaming. I will post some more pictures soon of battles in progress.