Peace, war, and miniature painting

Finding fulfillment and friendship in a science-fiction hobby community

Killian Houghton ‘22, Contributing Intro to Journalism Writer

In the far-flung future of the 41st millennium, there is only war. Well, war, intricately-detailed plastic figurines, and the friends we made along the way; that doesn’t sound very foreboding, though, does it? 

In case you’re confused, I’m referring to a tabletop game called Warhammer 40,000. Set in an immense science-fiction universe, the actual game of Warhammer involves two players simulating a battle with their own armies of plastic miniatures. Players assemble their armies on elaborate tabletop battlefields and take turns moving units up the board, eliminating enemy units and capturing vital objectives. 

 Any fan of Warhammer will tell you that it’s much more than that, though. The entire hobby is massive and complex; each player’s collection of glorified plastic army men must be assembled by hand, with individual figures’ parts requiring plastic glue to fit them together. Then, each model is hand-painted, a process which can take numerous hours for a single figure. The amount of effort, money and time that many pour into this hobby can be mind-boggling. Why, then, do so many nerds (like myself) enjoy such an arduous process? 

If you asked this question, you’d get many different answers. The sci-fi universe of the 41st millennium is truly massive, and enthusiasts find many different things to enjoy. Some exclusively paint models, never even bothering with the game itself; they will develop their painting talents and make each model a true work of art. Others will comb through the countless Warhammer novels that are out there, enjoying the lore and background of the setting.Then, of course, there are those who take the competitive gameplay seriously, endlessly tweaking their armies and taking them to every tournament event. 

A fellow senior at SLHS and newfound Warhammer hobbyist, Kevin Lowen, summarized his thoughts: “What got me interested/hooked was the process of actually building the models. The way you can just focus on one thing and let nothing else bother you in the moment.”

This is a sentiment held by many. Warhammer, particularly the creative side of the hobby, is very constructive. Focusing on that one model’s paint job, relaxing, and seeing the final product of your effort is very satisfying. Speaking from my own experience, I can say that it’s had positive effects on my mental wellbeing. Just knowing that I’m creating something puts my mind at ease. 

Another senior here at SLHS, Logan Price, shares his perspective as someone interested in Warhammer, but who has not taken the dive just yet: “The lore peaks my interest the most, the more I learn about how each faction and character came to be, the further I want to dive into the world of Warhammer.”

This is usually how the addiction begins: the intrigue and complexity of this sci-fi universe draws people in. With around 26 different factions and alien races constantly in conflict with one another, there is no shortage of storytelling opportunities.

This massive scale of Warhammer can largely be attributed to the community of fans surrounding it; everyone is eager to share tales of lore, gameplay experiences and hobbying tips. The amount of love and effort poured into this franchise by fans cannot be understated. Every day, more people begin their hobbying adventure with this extraordinary game. 3

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