Retro-Hammer: Pirates

Welcome to Retro-Hammer, the series here at Master of Magic that has a look at the long and varied history of Games Workshops product line to find some hidden gems. Since the worlds of Warhammer and Warhammer 40,000 have been around for quite a while (and Games Workshop itself has been producing games even before these were a thing) it is unsurprising that there are a decent number of weird and wonderful things that have been produced by our favourite miniatures company.

Now for most of us, the world of Warhammer 40,000 1st edition (otherwise known as Rogue Trader) was a thing of myth and legend. It was a time of bizarre army lists and even weirder lore, where rule of cool beat out any dedication to any notions of canon. But did you know it was also the time of Pirates? That’s right. Way back in the early days of 40k there was such a thing as a fully playable faction of pirates that could be used in your games of grim Dark warfare, stealing all the loot and booty you could ask for.

Known as Crangor’s Buccaneers, this motley crew of “semi-military hooligans” were a fully playable force that was first introduced back within the pages of the first ever Chapter Approved, titled The Book of the Astronomican. They were a collection of Humans, Aeldari and Squats that operated out of the Claw Nebula around 983-988 M41, and were know to clash with Imperial forces and Ork raiders in that area of the void.

Lead by the Pirate Captain Crangor, this motley band of cutthroats were made up of renegade Aeldari from some unexplained Elder War, and were quite well equipped thanks to an oath of fealty from the Squat clan leader of the Kalak-Azrum system. This provided him with a health amount of imperial contraband, and also gave him access to squat warriors loyal to the clan leader, including his third son who served as Crangor’s Bosun.

As for their rules, they were a warband that had a healthy amount of unit options from all three of the named races. With Human Psykers, Squat Ensigns and Eldar Exigators, they had quite variety of models to draw from. They could even take vehicles such as Hellfire Land Raiders and Eldar Dreadnought (known nowadays as Wraithlords) as well as Grav-tanks, making them a truly rag tag force on the tabletop.

Players were free to use whatever suitable models they had in their collections to represent these pirates, but there was a dedicated range of mercenary and pirate miniatures for people to collect if they wanted to add some variety to their force. Most of these models came with their own names, and they were brilliant examples of Games Workshop ability to poke fun at the setting. Some of my personal favourites include Attitude Gorman, Pop Stewart and the intense sounding Worldburner.

Sadly, like many things from this era of 40k, this range of miniatures and rules would be dropped as the lore became more clear and established. As the game evolved, concepts such as pirates and mercenaries would become a thing of the past as we moved into the more gritty setting we all know and love today. This makes me feel kinda sad if I’m been honest, as although I love what the game has become I also love the idea of mixed up armies and flavourful forces that we sadly don’t see much of these days.

But there is hope for all of us scurvy scoundrels. With the way Open Play is set up in 9th edition, it is entirely possible to set up a force for a friendly game (provided your opponent agrees) with a mix of Astra Militarum and Aeldari units for that old time feel. While you are at it, you could throw in some Kharadron Overlords as some proxy storm troopers to get that full Rogue Trader vibe. At the end of the day, so long as both of you are having a good time then that is the main thing.

We hope you have enjoyed this dive into the retro past of Games Workshop’s product line. What would you like us to talk about next? Let us know in the comments below or find me on twitter @TenguPlaysGames and maybe we will talk about it next time.

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