A Parent’s Guide to ‘Warhammer 40,000’

Parents Guide to Warhammer 40000The 9th Edition of Warhammer 40,000 is almost upon us. (Pre-order July 11th, on sale July 25th.) Warhammer 40,000  is one of the world’s biggest wargames, but for parents of children who are interested, it might be a baffling and scary-looking universe. 

There will be a lot of content and information put out about the new edition (called Inodmitus) in the coming weeks. Indeed Games Workshop’s own Warhammer Community blog has dedicated many page hours to it already. Much of this content will be aimed at people who are definitely going to buy the new big box—those who are fully paid up members of the Imperium. 

I can’t add much extra for those people. I don’t know enough about Warhammer 40,000 to do so. What I can do is offer advice and information for people and parents who know nothing about the game or the hobby.

The videos and content I make about the game and the articles I write for GeekDad will be for people who know almost nothing about Warhammer. It will be for those of you who peer nervously around the door of the Warhammer stores, wondering what their child is getting into.

So this is my first “Parents’ Guide to Warhammer 40,000.” If people enjoy them there will be more. I want to grow this idea to cover all of Games Workshop’s games and beyond. The videos are not really designed for parents who are into the hobby; enticing your children to play your games is a whole other subject, but if you’re brand new to the world of hobby gaming, this series is for you. 


What Is Warhammer 40,000?

Originally created over 30 years ago in the UK, Warhammer 40,000, or “40K” as most players refer to it, is a tabletop wargame set in the far future. In its dystopian universe “There is Only War,” and against this backdrop players select armies from a range of plastic models which then battle on the tabletop. 

The 40K ruleset allows each player to field their army and move it across the battlefield, shooting and fighting their enemies as they go. Games usually take place between two people on an area between 4′ X 4′ and 6′ X 4′. This can be on a tabletop or, if you don’t have the space for that, the floor is fine. Just be careful about treading on miniatures.

Whilst the core game is simple at heart, there is a huge amount of additional rules and different types of miniature, troop types, and armies that go into making the Warhammer Universe the rich and popular place it is today. 

3 Reasons to Play

There are 3 main reasons why people enjoy Warhammer 40,000. Each person enjoys each facet to a different extent, making each person’s hobby unique and personal to them.

1. Playing the Game

This is usually where it starts for most people. The models look great and there is something compelling about controlling armies, fighting off your opponent, and claiming the spoils of battle. Every battle tells a story, and the game’s blend of tactics and luck (there is a lot of dice throwing involved) lends itself to recounting epic moments. 

Once you have a few models, you can start playing the game, even on a fairly small table or floor space. It’s a great way into the world of Warhammer. Later, tables and battlefields may become more ornate, armies will expand, extra rulebooks might be needed. The game is almost infinitely scalable, bounded only by your imagination… and how many tables you can push together. Warhammer 40,000 has a strong competitive scene and lots of people love to try and become the best player in their local area/country/world. 

It’s hard to imagine this once started out as unassembled grey plastic. It takes time to get this good, but it’s a wonderful journey. Photo @possiblynerdyrob

2. The Hobby

The models are supplied as grey plastic kits that need assembly and painting before you can use them in battles. This is the first step down the “hobby” path. Games Workshop makes a huge array of miniatures and some people just love to collect, build, and paint them without ever bringing them to the tabletop. This is the artistic and creative side of Warhammer 40,000. There are a huge amount of resources devoted to painting and modeling available on the internet, not least of all Warhammer TV.

Painting is a discipline that requires a little patience and is tricky to begin with, but with practice and learning a few simple techniques, it’s possible to good results. One of the great aspects of the hobby side is that you can see the fruits of your labor improving as you progress down the painting pathway. For some great tips, do check out the official Warhammer channel on YouTube. We even have a couple of recent videos about painting miniatures on GeekDad. Hopefully, there will be a future post on the first steps in painting as part of this series soon. 

3. The Lore

Perhaps the most esoteric of the three strands is the “lore,” which essentially translates as the stories behind the games. Since its inception in the 1980s, the Warhammer 40,000 universe has grown as new miniature lines have been added. The stories started out from classic games run by the creators themselves. They began chronicling their escapades, introducing recurring heroes and villains. There is now a whole mythos and saga surrounding the years between 30,000 and 40,000 and countless books that recount its tale. Games Workshop even has its own publishing arm, the Black Library. The Lore attracts its experts and aficionados, those who love the stories more than painting and even playing the game. The main rulebook has an overview of the 40K story, but it’s possible to go much deeper than that and it all adds to the rich flavor of the game’s setting. 

A word of caution: Some of the themes of the Warhammer Universe are quite dark (it’s a dystopia after all), so some parental guidance may be necessary.

What Will My Child Get Out of Playing Warhammer 40,000?

There are many things your children might get out of the game.

  1. It will get them away from the screen. Warhammer 40,000 is mercifully screen-free. 
  2. It can expand their creative side. Painting and building the miniatures is a great artistic endeavor. 
  3. Planning. Whether this is working out how to raise and save money for future purchases or how to execute their plan on the battlefield, Warhammer 40,000 offers many ways to help your children learn to plan ahead. 
  4. Coping with adversity. This is true of any game. You can’t win all the time. Games teach you about winning and losing. 
  5. Reading. Whether it be the lore or the rules, there are plenty of opportunities to read for 40K fans. 
  6. Storytelling. Each battle is a story. Your child will invent epic sagas and regale you with tales of how their lowly soldier held back the evil hordes. 
  7. Math. There’s a lot of dice rolling in Warhammer and dice mean probability!

Hopefully, this article has helped you understand a little bit about Games Workshop and Warhammer. It’s just the tip of a very big iceberg. Do let me know in the comments if there is anything else you would like to see, and look out for future articles that cover the incoming Indomitus boxed set, the basics of the hobby side of Warhammer, and an overview of the lore of the game.  

More brilliant work from @possiblynerdyrob

If you want to check out more of Rob’s gorgeous painting, you can so so on Instagram.

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