Why The Game of 40K and I Just Don’t Mesh Anymore

And Maybe Never Did…

At this point, Warhammer 40,000 and I go back more than two decades. Though, there is a major gap in that span where I did little to nothing at all. While I really do enjoy the lore/setting, and once had a pretty good time playing the game, my thoughts on 40K as a game have changed quite a bit as of late. Way back in high school I fell head first into 40K with a firm push by Tyson. And before he went to college we would play multiple times a week. It was difficult for me, and I absolutely sucked at my dice rolls(still do…), but we had a good time.

These games were usually after school and book-ended by games of Magic: The Gathering and/or Dominos pizza deliveries. All while taking advantage of his dad’s stereo system. Good times, indeed. After Tyson left town I played far more sporadically. Maybe once every few months. But I did continue on with “painting” here and there.

About 5 or 6 years after being introduced to the game, my life moved in a way that forced me to abandon most of my hobbies. Which was unfortunate, but so very necessary. So my haphazardly “painted” with bargain-bin-paint models were relegated to a closet. Out of sight, and almost completely forgotten. The gun cases that they were entombed in would quite literally not be opened for almost a decade. I would try to delve back in here and there, by purchasing a “Start Painting” kit and mini or two. But it would always be met with failure. I had no opponents, so playing the game was not possible. Therefore I couldn’t justify doing it to begin with. Not even just to hobby. My mentality back then was that 40K was the GAME, and that was it. You build and paint the models to that end.

I would finally get back into the hobby back in the latter stages of 2018. And with that would come the prospects of playing the game again. This was when I was laid-up with a broken foot. So, I had the time. And boy did I use that time. I rebuilt my entire Iron Warriors army from the ground up. Amassing a brigade’s- worth of completely painted models. In the following couple of years I continued to power through multiple other armies that I had always wanted to work on. I completed my long desired Sisters of Battle, part of a White Scars force that I told myself I would do someday, part of a Daemonettes of Slaanesh support force, a complete knight lance, and even a Forgeworld Titan(complete with a DIY diorama).

It was great to be back! 

My finished models from 2019. An entire army’s-worth of Iron Warriors, the beginnings of a White Scars force(30K), and the Aeronautica Imperialis core box.
My 2020 “lockdown” completed models. The start of a House Devine chaos knight lance, A Legio Krytos Warhound, more work on my Whte Scars, finally started my Sisters force, finished some more stuff for my Iron Warriors, a Slaanesh force, a smattering of Oldhammer Orks, and a handful of various models. Including Cypher and Kharne.
My 2021 completed models. With the Wardogs, I finished my Knight Lance, and also my Sisters army. Also finished a random Chaos Daemon and a Deathwatch squad that I still don’t know if I like or not.

I made plans to play the game of 40K in late 2019 during a visit to see Tyson. This was to be my first time in over 15 years. We got a few games in on that trip, but it was like learning from the beginning all over again. It was seriously a huge shock to me, as the game had changed so much. Gone were templates and scatter dice, in were things like Strategems. The rules felt foreign and still difficult to me. And of course, I lost. Badly. But we had a good time catching up.

And then, IT happened.

Mere months after this trip COVID-19 hit, and the world stopped spinning. So I went back into hobby mode. Building and painting. The thing is, I never once played the game at home during lockdown. Or even after those restrictions were lifted for that matter. 

Sure the small frequency in which I played 40K had a little to do with the pandemic. But the true reason was largely due to the fact that I didn’t have anyone within a reasonable distance to me to play against. It was that simple. My only opponent was Tyson. And he is not even close to being within said reasonable distance. To add to this, I have social anxiety. Sometimes cripplingly so. With that, the idea of going out and seeking people to play against is pretty much impossible…

So… no practice for me. And with no practice comes no experience or skill. And with no experience or skill comes the eventuality that every time I actually played the game… every single time… I would get my ass handed to me.

Not a great feeling. If I am being honest.

But the thing is… losing at this game was not entirely a new concept to me. 

Dissecting A Gaming Paradox (of sorts)

As best I can remember, since my high school days, I have never once won a game playing 40K. Most games ended with my forfeit or outright defeat. My biggest issue is that I have a serious problem absorbing and remembering the rules and stats, no matter how interested I am in the game itself. Because of this I have to fumble through the books while playing, or ask for help. Which really bogs the game down. I have always been a hands-on learner, but that strategy never really worked with this game.

Old-school 40K was a very different game, and was much more difficult than the dumbed-down or “streamlined” version you see today. But it makes no difference. Someone could tell me that ‘X’ weapon has a range of ‘X’ and ‘X’ stats for every single army in the game, and I will forget that within mere moments. I literally cannot learn the rules to games like this and have them stick.

Why? Well, I don’t know. It is not for a lack of want. I can tell you that much.

When it came to playing, I always leaned on Tyson or whichever friend I was playing against at the time to tell me what I needed in my shitty dice rolls. Pretty much every time. With a game like 40K, this is a major problem. This game requires an in-depth understanding of the rules for various units and armies to get by successfully. Having to thumb through a rulebook or codex every single time you activate a unit is cumbersome, and it just kills the pace of play. On top of that? It is just plain frustrating for me.

That was in my teens. Now fast forward to my late 30’s. I got back into the hobby, hard, and I was excited to play again. In preparation for those first games, I bought all the books I could think of. I laid in bed flipping through them, brought them to the bathroom, and even took them to work for perusal on my breaks. But I was still unable to retain much of anything. Nevertheless, I kept trying to understand. Then after months of waiting for a chance to try my new armies, I finally hauled them hundreds of miles north.


Got my ass handed to me. Multiple times over. Just like old times… It honestly sent a slow flood of nostalgia my way. I did enjoy playing with Tyson once again. But a sense of dread did also creep up slowly. 

This was one of my very first games in about 15 years. These guys were wiped out swiftly. And why not? Look at that wall of smurfs.

When you are young, you shake stuff like this off as part of the experience. You’ll get better with time, right? It just takes practice, right? But I think it’s different when you get older. If you end up in a situation that makes you feel like shit, you ponder the meaning of it all more: 

  • You analyze your time and history of/with things more. 
  • You wonder if you and this really are a good fit for this. 
  • You wonder is it really worth your irreplaceable time and money?
  • Then if you decide something is not a good fit for you, you make the decision, easy or difficult, to cut it from your life.

And that is how I got to where I am now. 

In the last year, or so, I did some inward thinking, and I found that I really do not enjoy playing the game of 40K anymore. No matter how hard I tried to convince myself otherwise. I am not that late teen aged kid anymore. And this is not the same game anymore(not that it was more understandable back then). No matter how hard I may try to believe the contrary. My free time as an adult is much more valuable, and finite.

I mean, let’s think about it like this: 

  • You know that you cannot retain the information needed to properly play a game that consumes absurd amounts of money and time. 
  • Because of your inability to retain the information, you cannot even properly create a strategy to implement against your opponent. Said opponent is, for example: someone who is versed 1000 times over in every aspect of the rules. And that is not limited to just the basic rules of the game and of his/her army. No, they know your own army better than you do. I would dare say that this is true with the average player of this game.
  • You are historically horrible at dice games. Like seriously, just awful. 40K, Monopoly, Yahtzee, Craps. You joke that the dice are cursed. But it is definitely not the dice.
  • You become aware of the fact that you have no chance of succeeding, mere minutes into almost every game you play. But you soldier on. Even though you also know that you still have hours remaining in the game. 
  • Sure there are fragments of success. Maybe you had a rare lucky roll of the dice. But that usually ends up being short lived. As your shit luck returns ten-fold.

Given all of these points: Why even put yourself in that situation to begin with? 

Is this a sour/cynical attitude to have? I’m sure it could be seen that way. But this is not simply a case of, “Aww I can’t win, so I don’t want to play anymore. I’m taking my ball and going home” There are some kind of roadblocks that are prohibiting me from enjoying myself. That is the point I am trying to put forth.

Is there a possibility that, if I had more practice, I would enjoy myself more and be more successful? Possibly. But it is not guaranteed, now is it? Think about all of the money and time spent(or wasted, depending on your outlook) for the sake of a ‘maybe’.

I used the above analysis to come to my ultimate conclusion here: The game of 40K and I don’t mesh anymore. And perhaps, the game and I never did actually mesh to begin with. But that latter point is moot.

With these revelations I began to step back away from all things 40K game related. I began to care less about new rules being released. I began to care less about the weekly pre-orders. I began to look at my existing 40K armies as being completed. Rather than perpetual works in progress. I also put an obvious hard-halt on buying 40K related miniatures. Which my wallet(and closet) appreciated. 

In doing all of this, I found myself more-so enjoying the hobby aspect of things more. The building. The painting. Which I am more at home at, if I am being honest.

Well, when I am not in the cruel clutches of a hobby rut that prevents me from doing ANY OF THAT STUFF, that is.

What Now?

So, yeah, I more or less quit 40K. But that doesn’t mean I am against the idea of trying again someday. I mean, I have multiple completely painted armies, and several detachment-size forces. I will not be selling my mini’s off. At least not at this juncture. I am still very proud of what I have put together and painted. All this means is that I am currently not actively invested in the game itself.

I am not buying rule books, as there is no point.

I am not actively planning or building armies, as there is no point.

I am not making plans to play the game, as there is no interest.

When I travel north to meet with Tyson, I am not lugging my massive BattleFoam suitcase stuffed to capacity with 40K minis with me. Which makes travel a hell of a lot easier, I’ll tell you that much.

I am at the point in my life where I ask myself why I do things. Is this a good way to spend my valuable free time? Hobbies should be fun. They should be an escape. And the game of 40K, regardless of the frequency in which I have played it, has not reached that benchmark in the past 5 years, or so. So I think the idea of planning for, and actually playing the game of 40K itself had to go. And honestly, in doing this I am beginning to wonder if I have outgrown tabletop gaming as a whole. 

In the last year I put together, what I feel to be, a pretty decent Necromunda Escher gang. But when I played it, I was lost. The rules were kind of way over my head. Sure there was fun to be had. But it just echoed my feelings towards 40K, I think.

The Lycoris Maidens. I probably enjoyed building/painting these models and writing their lore more than I enjoyed playing the game. But that is all in hindsight.

Now, building and painting the mini’s associated with these games? That is still very much on the table. The hobby table, as it were. Though, in a much smaller scale. Instead of full armies, maybe just small squads to display. Or just characters. I really enjoyed painting my larger daemons, knights/titan, and my Primarchs. I think that is one reason I enjoy painting the Marvel minis so much. They are single characters. I don’t need to paint 10 of the same Captain Americas to constitute a single squad.

Though, I think that may be the only squad you would ever need.


All of these are true except for one:

Robert is: a Hobbyist, a Music Lover, an RPG Gamer, a Mustard Lover, Chaotic Neutral, a Japanese Speaker, a Veteran, an Otaku, a Table Tennis Player, an Anime Fan, an Aviation Professional, a New York Rangers Fan, a Chaos Lover With Loyalist Tendencies.

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