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The Wonderful World of Warhammer

A few weeks ago, I sat down with Lyden Procter, an amateur painter of Warhammer figurines from Whitehaven, Cumbria to explore his involvement with the game and what explore what it has meant to him throughout his life so far.

Lyden is a regular participant of the table-top element of the game, and has been playing it since he was 8 years old.

Warhammer 40K is a miniature wargame manufactured by Games Workshop, and stands as the most popular miniature wargame in the world, particularly in the UK.

The gameplay itself is mostly imagination-based, with the lore being set in the far future, and the rest is up to the player.

In active games or tournaments, players enact battles between themselves using miniature figurines and war vehicles

Most of these will be hand-painted, with the player’s models moving around the battlefield via dice, arithmetic, and strategic thinking.

The models that are painted are a mixture of aliens, humans, and supernatural monsters, and all have an entry in the Rulebooks describing their abilities.

The first edition of the Rulebook was published in 1987 and the most recent edition was released in July 2020, which just shows the long-lasting popularity of all components of Warhammer 40K.

What got you interested in Warhammer?

A friend of mine called Michael Burry got me interested in Warhammer when I was around 8, and I'd previously never heard of it before.

He said, “I’m going to this gaming club at Moor Row, would you like to come?” And so I did. I walked into this little dingy run-down church hall with a few people there, some of who I now know as close friends, playing on tables with tiny mountains and these little plastic men, and instantly 8 year old me thought “This is right up my street.”

I sat and watched him play and had absolutely no idea what was going on, I’d just seen lots of dice rolling and tape measures and things dying and my imagination just went wild.

It got me hooked and I’ve never looked back since.

You’ve painted some really impressive figures, what would you say is your proudest piece?

I think there are a couple that stand out to me over time. I’ve painted some that aren’t used for playing the game, some of them are standalone busts and large-scale figures, and a lot of those I’m quite proud of because I can put more time into them and try and tell the story that model is showing.

With these, I can try and experiment a bit more with the colour schemes, because if I’m playing 40K and painting certain armies, the colour schemes are dictated by certain roles or related to the lore or story behind them, so it’s nice sometimes to go a bit left-field and paint a figure just however I want to and use them as a creative outlet.

So some of those are my proudest figures! There were also maybe 2 times I’ve tried my hardest to paint to enter the coveted Golden Demon competition, which is a worldwide prestigious painting competition which the best model painters in the world do. I mean, anyone can enter but it takes a select few incredible people to win, so I’d say my entries for that were quite good.

All images courtesy of Lyden Procter.

Superman actor Henry Cavill spoke about how painting Warhammer figures helped him get through quarantine, would you say that you feel the same?

I would say, on a more serious note, that Warhammer has helped me throughout my life, and painting and hobbying as I know it has helped me also.

It’s helped me through difficult times growing up where there were a lot of personal problems and it was an escapist outlet where I could disappear, where I could paint and create these things and I would escape from the world for a little bit.

That definitely helped me mentally, and still helps my mental health now. Through quarantine, it was nice to have something to fall back on when you can’t go out, and you can’t go up the fells like other people do, so it’s nice to sit in the house with pots of paint and just sit and chip away at something every night.

Then you get the completion aspect of finishing something and thinking “Ah! I can play with that!”.

Weirdly I’m superstitious about 2 things in this hobby: the first is dice. Nobody gets to touch my dice, because I can bet you that my dice have a soul and a positive energy, and I’m not joking!

If I get new dice I tend to hold them for a while, especially if I’m playing Dungeons & Dragons. I’ll put the dice on the positive numbers I would like because, mentally, gravity makes the bottom heavier so it’s gonna land on the number that I want more often!

And also, when it comes to wargaming- because there is a random aspect to the game, if people touch my dice and take my positive energy, they might influence the game, so that’s one thing I’m superstitious about.

The second one is having an unpainted army. Say you’ve got cats and you don’t pet them all day and they’re upset with you, that’s nothing but your fault for not petting them, so if I have an unpainted army, and I lose from playing with them, you’ll never know whether or not that’s down to me or the dice.

It’s always good to have a painted army because then the models feel good about themselves, you know what I mean? And that’s not joking! I have pulled late-nighters knowing that I’m going to a game in the morning just to get all my armies painted,

Even down to things like details, so if I’ve painted the base of the model and it’s messy, I’ll paint a nice black line around it so it finishes it off.

What advice would you give to someone who is interested in getting into Warhammer or table-top gaming in general?

You’ve got such a great resource now that I didn’t have growing up; there’s so many YouTube videos of painting or gaming or tutorials to help get into 40k or other table-top hobbies.

Pick what you think is best for you and search for local groups on Facebook to discover what’s being played in your area, because I’ve played different games in the past where there’s maybe only a few of us played, whereas a large majority play [Warhammer] 40k.

So if you’re looking for big communal games I’d recommend 40k due to its popularity, but as I said keep an eye out for what’s available in your area and research what you’d like to paint or build.

There are so many aspects to these games that you don’t even have to paint or build, you may just enjoy reading the stories or the lore. I would advise you to just look for what interests you about these games and go from there.

Although the latest rulebook was released in 2020, people often say Warhammer 40k, or at least its community, is dead. Have you noticed the community lessen in recent years?

I think the community fluctuates in its decisions of what it wants to be, and that’s kind of dictated by what Games Workshop wants to show you.

I know that there’s a community within Warhammer 40k called the Horus Heresy Community, and they play a historical version of Warhammer.

So in the current timeline, Warhammer 40k is set in the 41st millennium and the Horus Heresy is an aspect of the canon timeline but set in the 31st millennium, where a certain character and other characters betray each other and there’s this great galactic war featuring the betrayal of brothers and heart sheds and stories that really make you cry.

That aspect of the game was really popular in 2012-2015 and then took a nosedive when product lines were removed and it became harder to play, but I definitely don’t think the community is dead.

If you keep your armies and rulebooks you can go back and play any edition of the game if you have friends that do the same. So I definitely don’t think it’s dead.

The thing that's inhibiting the community in some ways is third party and 3D printing, and that’s obviously going to cause problems, but I don’t think this lessens the community necessarily, it's just people expressing different outlets.

They’re creating models that aren’t via Games Workshop but they’re ultimately all playing the same game system, so it’s definitely not dead, just expanded in different ways.

"I sat and watched him play and had absolutely no idea what was going on, I’d just seen lots of dice rolling and tape measures and things dying and my imagination just went wild."

What’s the most expensive/affordable model?

The most expensive model that I’m aware of is called the Warlord Battle Titan, and it's a very expensive piece. You can build it in multiple ways when you buy it from Forge World.

You buy its body separately, you buy the head separately as it has multiple head options, multiple arm options, multiple shoulder weapon options. That’s roughly about £1400.

That model is this gigantic mecha robot that has a heart inside of it, so it’s a kind of sentient robot that has a soul? In the lore, the pilot links up that model via the neural system in its brain and they mentally link, and then the pilot controls the titan via its own thoughts.

Within the head, it has weapon pilots too, so it’s all this gigantic God machine that can destroy cities with its weapons. In real life it's about ,and it's about 1400 quid, but nonetheless, it's a really impressive model.

If you want a good way to get into the hobby if you have kids who want to get into it, or if you just want to get into it yourself on a budget, Games Workshop does a lot of good-priced starter collecting boxes.

Back in my day they used to be called the £50 box, and of course, that took a bit of saving up for, but you had a full little force that you could play with from this box. It's very comparable now, you can get them for similar prices.

You can build that, throw some paint on it, and then you’re good to go playing.

Lyden is currently recovering from surgery for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, and the Hollr team would like to wish him all the best in his healing process.

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