Welcome one and all to Master of Magics’ first ever foray into the dim dark future of the 41st millennium as we brave the Dark Imperium and the many worlds of Warhammer 40,000. As with most hobbyists, I don’t just play Magic the Gathering, but find joy in many different games and genres. In fact, Warhammer 40,000 was, in many ways, my first love, as I started building and playing with Space Marines long before I cast my first spell. I even spent time working for the company that produces it, Games Workshop. However, my time with the company was cut short (thank you financial crisis) and around the same time I also left the hobby.
I say left, but as with most hobbies, I remained hooked, and one way or another I found myself coming right back. It’s been about six years, but now that time has come, and I am once again mustering my forces and preparing for war. And since I’m a content creator, I thought I could expand my repertoire and begin producing this series of articles: The Warhammer 40,000 Chronicles.
We will be covering a variety of content in this series, from battle reports to building guilds, and possibly even some other games based in the 40k universe like Kill Team. So, whether you’re new to the hobby or a long-time veteran, we’ll hopefully have something to keep you reading. And don’t worry if you are tuning in for your regularly-scheduled Magic the Gathering content, this series will be published in addition to our MTG articles and will not be replacing any of our usual content. So without further adieu, let’s jump into the far future that knows only war.
A (very brief) look at the Universe and the Game
For those of you who don’t know, the world of Warhammer 40,000 is a dark and terrifying sci-fi universe created by Games Workshop. In this universe, mankind has taken to the stars with an empire spanning many millions of worlds and being ruled over by the carrion Emperor of Mankind. However, it is not a bright and positive future that humanity has in store for itself. For over 10,000 years the Imperium of Man has been rotting from within, all the while being assailed from all sides by numerous alien threats.
But Xenos aren’t the worst things out there in the dark void of space. The Dark Gods of Chaos and their Daemonic hoards are ever ready to destroy and corrupt the billions of Imperial citizens and snuff out the light of humanity. However, the Imperium will not be snuffed so easily, and they certainly won’t go down without a fight. Whether it’s through the mass of arms that is the Astra Militarum, or the genetically modified super soldiers of the Space Marines, humanity will fight for its survival.
Phew. That was a very brief explanation of the world of Warhammer 40,000, but hopefully for those of you how don’t know anything about the universe it will give you an idea of what you’re in for. In the real-world, Warhammer 40,000 (or 40k as it is more commonly known) is a tabletop war game where players battle with vast armies for the glory of being the victor.
Players build and paint these armies, personalising them with their own colour schemes and backstories, taking great pride in their forces. This is where we will be starting in today’s article – how did I go about selecting the force I play and how did I begin the task of getting them painted and ready for war.
The Ghosts of Mortain
Back when I last played 40k I was a huge fan of the Daemon Hunters and by extension, the Grey Knights. I’ve always been a fan of small but elite armies and the Grey Knights are a great example of this. Each member of their ranks is an unwaveringly loyal servant of the Imperium, genetically modified to deliver the Emperor’s vengeance upon the Daemonic forces of Chaos. Each one is also a potent psyker, able to go toe to toe with their enemies in both the physical and metaphysical world. They were, and still are, one of my favourite forces in the 40k universe.
So, when it came to picking what army I wanted to start with, it wasn’t really a difficult choice. Luckily for me, I had a few miniatures to go towards building a Grey Knight army which had remained unbuilt and tucked away in my attic for a while, so I could get right to work on assembling my army.
I want to start off with the basics of the army first and foremost: the Troops. Troops are the backbone of your army, used to capture and hold your opponent’s objectives. They aren’t always the flashiest infantry on the field of battle, but they are your workhorses, and no good general should be seen without them. Additionally, Troops are a big part of creating detachments (the way you build an army for a game) and if you want access to a decent number of command points you’ll need a fair number.
Unlike most armies in the 40k universe, the Grey Knights only have a small selection of Troop choices to pick from. Strike Squads are the equivalent of your basic front-line infantry (if you can call psychic super soldiers basic) and come with a wide range of equipment options. Armed with Nemesis Force weapons and Storm Bolters, these fierce warriors are a great choice for filling up your ranks. If, however, you are in the mood for something a bit meatier, you could always take some Terminator Squads into the fray.
The same super soldiers as before, but this time wearing the best armour the Imperium can produce, Terminators are the crown jewels of the Grey Knights’ arsenal. Usually taking up an Elite slot in other Space Marine armies, these monsters among men come with more wounds, more attacks, and better armour saves compared to their smaller brethren. This increase in power does come at a cost – Terminators are twice as expensive as Strike Squads. But who can resist the appeal of striding to war in the glory of Tactical Dreadnought Armour? For my list, I decided to take two five-man Squads of Terminators backed up with a ten-man Strike Squad which formed the backbone of my army. This should give me some tactical versatility while also giving me some real punching power.
But an army is only as good as its leader, and I would need two of them if I wanted to maximise the number of command points I could wield. Lucky for me, Grey Knights have a ton of options when it comes to picking HQs. I decided to go with Grand Master Voldus as my Warlord (general), as for a mere 153 points I would have access to one of the best Psykers in the army.
He’s also no slouch in the fighter department either, swinging around his Nemesis Daemon hammer, the Malleus Argyrum. For my second in command, I decided to run a Grey Knight Chaplin. These fanatical warriors are great at getting the most out of your Troops (a necessity when you have so few) and can easily swing combat in your favour.
With that, I had around 1,000 points of Grey Knights I could field. A small army by most standards, but a good place to start. The only thing I needed to do now was paint them. While this might seem like an easy task for anyone who knows anything about the lore (Grey Knights are Silver right?), personalising your army with your own choice of colour scheme is the best part of the hobby. Wanting to pick a colour scheme that was both unique and faithful to the lore, so I delved into my old books for inspiration. It was while doing this I was reminded of the tale of Vorth Mordrak. A Grand Master of the Second Brotherhood of Grey Knights, Brother Mordrak was left as the sole survivor after leading his forces to the Fortress world of Mortain.
After the planet was bombarded by the Chaos Space Marines, the Red Corsairs, nearly all of the Grey Knights on the surface were left dead, and Mordrak became haunted by strange voices calling for vengeance. Fearing he had somehow become tainted, Mordrak submitted himself to trials of purity, but was found clean of taint. It wasn’t until Mordrak was left injured on the battlefield after a teleporting mishap that the truth of these voices became known, as the ghostly forms of his fallen brethren came to his aid. From that day forth, Mordrak would be accompanied by the spirits of his fallen brothers, eager for vengeance against the Red Corsairs that condemned them to purgatory.
As a fan of Lord of the Rings, the idea of a living lord leading an army of the dead in the name of all that is good really struck a chord with me. I would also be able to paint the army rather quickly, using a series of washes and inks to create the spooky green glow of the dead. I would simply use Grand Master Voldus as a stand-in for Vorth Mordrak, since they are both Grand Masters with Nemesis Daemon Hammers. After a week or so of painting, this is what I had finished up.
I was pretty pleased with the final product. While not my best work, it was table-ready in record time, which is rather an achievement for a 40k player. The next step in my journey is to fight a battle. I’ll be aiming to do that by next time, facing off against fellow Master of Magics member, and 40k player, Chris Warrington. If you don’t want to miss that, then why not subscribe to our site to keep up to date with all that we do here at Master of Magics. Also, if you have any feedback on today’s article, we would love to hear about it in the comments below. As I said at the start, this is a new venture for us here at Master of Magics, and we want to it to be a successful series you want to keep coming back to. Until next time, citizen – remember: only in death does duty end.