The Jungle is turning 20 years old, and we’re celebrating! Come back every day from February 2 through February 8 for new material!
This site went online on February 2, 2000. It was born out of my desire to share the interest I’ve had in this hobby since 1987, when the original Warhammer 40,000 “Rogue Trader” rules (now considered as the First Edition) arrived in the United States. Back then, a friend of mine introduced me to the game, and I was lucky enough to live near the only Games Workshop store in America, in Laurel, Maryland.
That started something that’s lasted to this day.
What Was Then
At first, the Jungle was a few webpages (put together using Composer, a free WYSIWYG editor that came with the Netscape browser) consisting of a “Codex: Fighting Tigers of Veda” to showcase my Space Marine army. Also included were some crappy-resolution photos (GIFs, to speed up downloading times) of my crappily-painted minis.
(The photos have gotten better. My painting, not so much.)
My best friend Pat got involved, and we swiftly added editorials, fiction, more army write-ups, batreps and campaigns, and ideas for terrain and themed armies. The little site grew rapidly, until by December 2017, it had almost 800 pages, and thousands of images.
Along the way, we went to a lot of tournaments and other gaming events, played a lot of games, rolled a lot of dice, and made a lot of friends, some of whom I’m still in touch with today.
The Jungle became very popular very quickly after its launch, and a big component of that early success was my association with Lee “Greywinter” Loftis and his website/ forum, The Millenium Gate (which, alas, shut down in 2012). The Gate and the Jungle were complementary—“Like peanut butter and jelly,” Lee once said—and visitors to one site would often follow links to the other.
I also used to hang out at the Bolter & Chainsword forum which, happily, is still around and thriving. As I finished collecting and painting my overly-large collection of Fighting Tigers (I have about 250 miniatures, plus Bikes, Dreadnoughts, and vehicles), I moved on to other armies, and thus away from B&C, who were, at the time, solely a Space Marine place.
Nevertheless, it’s a superb site, and if you’ve never visited, you need to go there as soon as you get done here.
Two years ago, dissatisfied with how clunky and difficult it was to keep adding to the original Jungle site (in addition to being unhappy with its look), I switched platforms to the one you’re visiting. It’s nothing fancy—just a WordPress blog—but it’s much easier to update, and allows for comments.
I don’t post here on the Jungle as much as I used to, or would like to. When I was just starting out, I had more free time, so I could add material weekly. As it does for many gamers, life began to get busier and busier the older I got, what with a family, a day job with a long commute (about an hour and a half each way), a 30+ year-old house to maintain, charity organizations I joined, and a budding second career as an author.
Unlike a lot of middle-aged gamers, however, my interest in 40K has not waned. Indeed, it’s increased: I’m revamping all of my armies, and I’m playing more games. I’ll continue to post whenever I can, guided by the Jungle’s original mission “to inspire, educate, and entertain.”
What Will Be
Campaigns have always been a popular feature, and it’s been too long since Pat and I have done one (the 2016-2017 “Ongoing Narrative of War”). I’m thinking summer 2020 would be a good time to start one up. We’ll also have more one-off battle reports.
I’d also like to do more articles on tactics and such: specifically, I’d like to go back to and continue the “Deployment for Dumbasses” series, and no one’s going to be sad if Pat can give us some more Jungle Top Ten.
Fighting Tiger fiction has also been a fan favorite…and boy, do I have plans for that—BIG plans. Plans so big, that they require their own post. More about that in a few days.
What I’ve Learned Along the Way
I deliberately set out to have the Jungle be different from all the other 40K websites that were around at the turn of the century, and I was pleasantly surprised that it caught on with visitors. It just goes to show that there is a place and an audience for creative approaches and thought-out considerations to games, even if the game is only Toy Soldiers In Space.
I urge anyone in any endeavor—not just gaming—to act on any creative impulses you might have. If you feel like there’s a story you need to tell, artwork you need to share, or just a new viewpoint you need to express on a certain topic, you should pursue it.
Setting up and running this site has literally changed my life: it’s allowed me a platform, it’s honed my writing (a lifelong passion), it’s made me more confident in my abilities, it’s enriched and expanded my enjoyment of the hobby, and it’s made a difference for a lot of people. You could do the same, if you want to, and put in the effort.
You might think that you don’t have the talent, or that what you’ve created isn’t that good. And maybe you’re right; I certainly know what that’s like. As I’ve said in previous posts, my painting is wretched, I suck at deployment, and I flail when I’m forced to improvise during a game.
But having done this for 20 years, let me offer you three bits of advice:
- Be “good enough.” It’s okay to be decent, but not awesome, at something, especially if you’re doing it for fun. You don’t have to crawl over broken glass to be what you consider “the best,” unless, of course, you’re a Type-A who enjoys rising to a challenge. In which case, have a blast.
- Count only your successes, not your failures. Try your best, learn what you can from mentors and constructive criticism, and continually improve (without making yourself crazy—see #1, above).
- Ignore the trolls and anklebiters. If you put something out there for the world to see, no matter how well (or not) you do it, some people are going to shit all over it. A small minority of those people are more talented than you, but instead of offering suggestions and help, they just punch down. Those people are douchebags, but fortunately, they are few in number.
No, the majority of people who will go online and rag on you—either to your face or behind your back, and almost always through the anonymity of a screen name—are people who are no more talented than you, no more accomplished than you, and/or don’t have the guts to put themselves and their work out there. Do not grant those assclowns the satisfaction of engaging with them. Dismiss what they have to say, and go back to doing what you love.
Further Exploring the Jungle
Time moves on, people come and go, trends change, stuff happens, but some things endure. And one of those is the Jungle. There’s a lot of it still to traverse, and I’m not done exploring. Thank you for coming along as long as you have, and I hope you’ll go with me at least a little bit farther.
Make sure you come back tomorrow for more content as we celebrate the Jungle’s 20th birthday!
Kenton Kilgore; February 2, 2020
When he isn’t playing or blogging about 40K, Kenton Kilgore writes killer SF/F for young adults, and adults who are still young. This Wasted Land, his latest novel, isn’t your typical teenage love story. It’s more like: Boy meets Girl–>Evil Witch takes Boy–>Girl goes to get Boy back.
He is also the author of Lost Dogs, the story of the end of the world as seen, heard–and smelled–by a dog. His first novel was Dragontamer’s Daughters, like Little House on the Prairie…with dragons. With Patrick Eibel, he created Our Wild Place, a children’s book about the joy to be found in exploring Nature.