Waypoints 54 - What We Talk About When We Talk About Warhammer

Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://shows.acast.com/vicegamingsnewpodcast/episodes/waypoints-54-what-we-talk-about-when-we-talk-about-warhammer

What I wouldn’t give for this group to do a podcast series explaining Warhammer lore


There are dozens of them out there, although I don’t think any of them got to ‘Just King Things’ lengths of actually putting said lore in a wider context.

A huge amount of 40k’s appeal is the ‘Look at that thing!’ factor. Look at that thing! Don’t see that everyday, huh? Pretty cool!

I think that factor also gets in the way of people talking about 40k in the intellectually serious way (lol imagine) that I know Zacny would eat for breakfast if you gave him the venue to do so.

That’s just it though - I would want to see this group do such a series, as @Wazanator suggested.

Haven’t finished this whole ep yet but the section where they talked through their various entries into WH40K nerdery was pretty good, partly because I had the opposite: I actually did enter it through tabletop in the '90s and then later got more into the Dawn of War-era games before entirely leaving the hobby, though I still very much have a soft spot for it and keep meaning to check out recent games. I cringe to think how much I (well, more my parents at the time, I guess) spent on Games Workshop products. Did get to visit the GW HQ in Nottingham though a few times since I lived nearby. IIRC the Space Marine statue either outside or in the lobby or whatever is the one that was damaged in the Manchester bombing of the mid-'90s.

Also thought the section on WH40K as fascist satire was interesting and their take on British '80s satire in general, which has always seemed to be poorly understood in the US (see: the general lack of success Dredd has had). I had a bad feeling they were going to widely miss the mark at first but they’re totally right about how over the top it began (I have a couple of the first Dredd collections from 2000AD and it’s a) extremely silly and b) extremely obvious how it’s a deliberate mock of Dirty Harry specifically, and early WH40K stuff is a lot goofier and more directly a sci-fi spin on generic fantasy elements, like the Squats/Space Dwarves that got removed from lore for many years before I guess recently coming back, but grimdark?)


I think the appeal of WH is an important reminder of the power of aesthetics to overcome ideology. Which is why I ask: Who are Dark Eldar/Elves for? The guys people at the BDSM club warn you about can’t be that large of a market.


I’m still listening to episodes on the main feed not the Plus Feed because I figure ad listens will support the show, but… got a Goldman Sachs ad and I do have limits.

I remember still being an active player when the Dark Eldar were being introduced to WH40K and them being… controversial (though I think it’s fair to say it’s the kind of hobby where whenever anything was introduced it was controversial. See also: Tau especially, and any time they foregrounded any Space Marine chapter that hadn’t previously been in the spotlight).

As noted in the pod, a lot of the WH40K lore is chasing the aesthetics first and foremost, so it’s pretty easy to see the Necrons (who IIRC were actually received more warmly) as the Terminator knock-offs they are and a pretty simple analogy to Warhammer Fantasy’s undead armies, or how the Tau (and their mechs) were more anime-inspired. As such I’m trying to cast my mind back to something that shares the Dark Eldar aesthetic and flailing a bit. Did a little digging though and while this is unsourced it jives with my memories from the time: apparently it was because Games Workshop knew players kept fielding Dark Eldar armies using the normal Eldar models repainted and kitbashed, based on existing lore that hadn’t made it so far as actual models being released, so they released an official version instead.

I remember a few instances of that where basically stuff would be mentioned as lore and players would want to actually see it/use it, and with enough fan reaction things would start being made. It sounds like Dark Eldar were more of a miss than a hit though as they didn’t bother updating the rules for them for 12 years. As I said above I’ve been out of the hobby for a while so I don’t know how much things have changed, but there was a long period where more niche stuff (read: often more expensive, but also smaller items) would only be available through their mail order services rather than the relatively mainstream models you’d get in generic hobby shops. Part of me imagines that Dark Eldar might have fallen into that category had it existed or been more entrenched at the time of their original release, but for a little while at least, they really committed to ‘BDSM space elves’.


The thing about Dark Eldar is that the Eldar lore basically requires that they exist. Like Eldar society was canonically so decadent that they birthed a new Chaos God so powerful that it immediately became the equal of the three strongest existing Chaos Gods. It would be very weird for there to be no Eldar hanging around who were like, “This is cool and good, actually”.


I followed a similar path to the panelists. I read White Dwarf. I even had myself a badly painted little Tyranid army. But small town Northern Ireland wasn’t replete with people to play with even if I had been the more sociable type, so I never actually fielded them in a game.

Still, I always felt the pull of the lore, so I do have a serious weakness for 40K games. And heck, I can love a good slightly janky B-tier title.

That said, the thing I really fell into was Dawn of War 2 multiplayer. While DoW1 was formative for me (eternal gaming memory: first time dropping in a Dreadnaught, having the pod smack down sending Orks flying, having it stomp over and grab an Ork, juicing it and flaming it, then hurling it across the ground) I didn’t stick with it for the expansions.

I’d decided to learn to play a multiplayer RTS when the ill-fated Company of Heroes Online came out and promptly flopped. I played some regular CoH, but DoW2’s take on it drew me in, and I played competitive online games enough to become fairly competent. I still hold that game as one of the great multiplayer RTSs. Small numbers of lovingly detailed units. Tons of tactical flexibility. All the bombast of 40K even with the smaller scale. Absolutely S-tier voice work, from the unit barks to each races’s announcer. From the delightful Ork Gobbo to the understated menacing drawl of the Chaos guy- “this is not the victory you promised us.” So good.

Seriously, though, that unit design. I could write an essay on the uses of Chaos Heretic squads.

the recent Chaos Gate game is indeed delightful, but don’t overlook the quirkier Mechanicus, which is a unique take on a squad tactics game, and goes overboard on the aesthetics side. Worth it for the soundtrack, and for listening to cyborgs argue about adherence to dogma. Still a very good tactics game.


Asking for a podcast where the crew explain warhammer lore seems like a big ask when they spend a sizable part of the podcast talking about how little of the lore they actually know!

My history with warhammer can best be described by my mum’s phrase “daycare for teenagers.” If mum needed to do some shopping in the city for a bit, she’d drop us off at the warhammer store, and we’d spend the next few hours reading army books and codices, watching people paint, or pushing round the store armies. Rob’s statement about armies being so expensive it would have taken him a month to afford even a basic one made me cringe, since in my case I barely built up half an army of High Elves over a period of three years (discovering the store’s last copy of Mordheim in time for christmas was a godsend though).

Dark Elves had been in fantasy warhammer since 1987, so space dark elves makes sense. This was also when they were leaning more into the grimdark that would define 40k from them on, so swapping dragonriders for sadists fits that. I’m gonna have to disagree with @tobascodagama though, since apparently the 2nd ed Eldar codex had no mention of Dark Eldar at all, instead having an Eldar Pirates armylist as their precursors.

Anyway, I’d better stop now before I start with my ‘Chaos are the good guys, I’m not not even kidding, lore-wise, thematically, and intertextually, not just as based antifa (but they’re also that)’ screed. <_<

1 Like

Just getting around to the pod and I have nothing meaningful to contribute. I just wanted to appreciate Vinny’s delightful spoonerism: Fourhammer Warty-K.