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40K at 40
Are they gone? Just us “old farts” left?
If you’re still here, then you, like me, are in bolt-pistol range of—or actually in hand-to-hand combat with—middle age. Like a lot of men our age, you might often find yourself pondering your health, your career, your marriage (or lack thereof), your kids (or lack thereof), “Et cetera, et cetera, et cetera,” as the King of Siam says.
You may also find yourself pondering your gaming habit, especially if you own a Disapproving Spousal Unit (more baneful than a pack of Khorne Berzerkers ampped up on steroids and amphetamines) or if you run into a Former Gaming Buddy who has long since abandoned the dice and who gives you the Patronizing Headshake of "I-Can’t-Believe-You’re-Still-Into-That" whenever you mention your pastime. Increasing numbers of gray hair and the Subtle (or Not-So Subtle) Social Disapproval may tempt you to give up 40K.
DON’T DO IT! You started this hobby for a reason, and if you still enjoy it, stay with it. And if anyone gives you grief about it, here are some responses you can use on them…..
“40K is better than a trophy wife.” Some guys think that receding hairlines and spreading middles can be mitigated by ditching the current Spousal Unit and acquiring a HPOA (Hot Piece Of…well, you know). Invariably young enough to be your daughter, invariably possessing a double-digit IQ, invariably bereft of interesting (or, at least, unobjectionable) personality, the new Object of Lust is strikingly similar to Magic: The Gathering—initially fascinating, but lacking sufficient substance to hold your interest.
Once you realize the depths of your error in getting hitched with this girl-child, it’s usually far too late: the Former Spousal Unit (who seems more and more appealing the more you weary of the HPOA) has been unalterably estranged, your children hate you for betraying their mother, and your friends can only chuckle and shake their heads ruefully at you, “the dirty old man.”
Don’t expose yourself to marital discord and public scorn. Warhammer 40K provides a much safer alternative. If you want to spend a lot of time with hot chicks, buy some Sisters of Battle.
“40K is cheaper than a sports car.” Some fellows avoid the trophy wife trap only to succumb to the lure of the Shiny Red Convertible (some fellows get mixed up with the trophy wife AND the new car, but that’s a level of stupidity I can’t begin to address now). In the U.S., the top-selling sports cars over the last few years were Ford Mustangs, Nissan 350Zs, and Chevy Corvettes, all with lots of horsepower, lots of features, and lots and lots of digits after the dollar sign on their price tags.
Think spending $15 on a miniature is outrageous? How about dropping $440,000 on a Porsche Carrera GT? (Come to think of it, “Porsche Carrera” would probably be a good name for a trophy wife….)
If you’re still tempted to splurge on a new sports car, realize this: it won’t impress the rest of us. If we see you cruising around with the top down and the classic rock station blaring, we won’t think you’re cool, we’ll think you’re desperate. Maybe you’ll fool the HPOA and her girlfriends, but you won’t fool us.
There’s a saying that men never stop playing with toys, the toys just get more expensive. Save your money and keep playing 40K.
“40K keeps you young.” Wanna feel old? Hang out with old folks doing old folks things: play tennis at the country club, visit estate sales, talk about your cholesterol. Wanna feel young? Go down to the local gaming store and show the punks how it’s done. Impress them with those RTB01 Marines you collected back in the late 1980’s. Tell them about how Land Raiders used to run you $15 bucks each (and THAT was considered expensive) and how the Avatar used to kill anything on the board. Get into a game with them and kick some ass for us “old farts.”
All this, of course, assumes that you’ve been playing a long time. But if you haven’t, that’s okay, too: at the very least, you have years of practice with your social skills. Show younger gamers how to win (and lose) with grace and how to interact with other people. Conversely, you can pick up a lot of ideas—about painting, tactics, army design—by hanging out with the young guys. Despite the fact that he’s about ten years younger than me, my pal Ken Lacy always teaches me something new whenever we play (usually that “something new” is how fast he can wipe out my army).
So what’s it gonna be: canasta with the fogies or 40K with “the kids?” Speaking of kids….
“I can play 40K with my kids.” Particularly if those kids are 12 or older (if they’re not, I have some advice for you on teaching them 40K). If you’re a good dad, you want to spend more time with your kids—even if you inwardly cringe at the thought of sitting through another school musical or watching everyone else’s kids run up and down that damn soccer field while your kid (obviously more talented than all the others combined) rides the pine.
So why not ask your kids if they’d like to learn how to play? You don’t have to go out and buy them their own 10,000-point army and paint every figure for them: let them borrow some of your miniatures and start with small games. If they’re interested, they’ll stay with it and eventually they’ll want their own army (don’t worry, you can take out a home equity line of credit). In addition to playing together, you can paint together, attend tournaments and events like Games Day together, etc. And don’t think that 40K is just for boys—my daughters like it, too.
If you try introducing 40K to your kids and they’re not interested, don’t despair: maybe one day they’ll come back to it. Meanwhile, keep playing.
“40K is an investment.” Your yuppie friends might shudder to learn how many thousands of dollars/pounds/euros you’ve spent on 40K, with hours of enjoyment as your only return on investment. Mollify them by saying that miniatures are the next “hot” collectible and that you expect your army to greatly appreciate in value. Theoretically, 40K merchandise could someday become the next “big thing” on e-Bay.
You and I know better, of course: even if you sold all your figures and vehicles (God forbid!), you’d be lucky to earn back half of what you paid for them. No matter: anyone who can’t see the value of purchasing something “just for fun” probably isn’t smart enough to figure out that 40K minis, unless painted to Golden Demon-level standards, appreciate very little—if at all—in value.
Keep buying and keep playing. Who knows? You might trick some of the bean-counters into picking up some miniatures…and from there, maybe they’ll start playing….
“Lots of other hobbies look strange from the outside.” So maybe your friends and relatives think that 40K is “weird” or “odd” or something like that. But if you’re not in to them, lots of other hobbies look “weird,” too.
There’s a fellow on my bus who—I swear this is true—reads magazines devoted to beer: buying beer, making beer, drinking beer, etc. To me, beer is something you have while you’re eating barbeque or Chesapeake Bay crabs on a hot summer day. Or maybe you have one while you’re sitting around watching Your Favorite Sport on television or at the stadium. But to my way of thinking, beer is not a hobby and is certainly not something you pay to read about in a magazine. That’s just “weird.”
Likewise, many other hobbies could be considered “weird” if you thought about them from a different point of view. Capture and kill certain species of insects and mount them in glass cases? Welcome to butterfly collecting. Murder and decapitate defenseless animals? Trophy hunting. Keep metal bits of trash? Bottlecap collections. Travel from house to house and sift through others’ unwanted items? “Yard-saleing.” Accumulate scraps of paper? Stamp collecting. I think you get my drift.
“Okay,” your Disapproving Friends and Relatives might say, “it’s true that any hobby can sound odd if you’re not involved with it. But playing with toy soldiers is no activity for a middle-aged man.” Well….
“Lots of other hobbies are ‘immature,’ too.” Model rockets, model trains, remote-controlled cars—hell, any hobby with the word “model” in it—including those “ships-in-the-bottles” that your grandfather made—can be considered immature.
How about video games? Sitting around, pressing little buttons so you can control a cartoon character on a TV or computer screen doesn’t sound very “grown-up” to me. Fantasy football and baseball leagues? I say it’s Dungeons & Dragons for ex-jocks and wanna-be’s. And I won’t even discuss the Peter Pan-like qualities of participating in community adult sports leagues (flag football, softball, soccer, etc.). So my playing 40K is “immature?” At least I’m not out on the field trying to recapture the glory of my Little League days and risking a hospital visit after I pull a hamstring….
“Well, even if it isn’t immature, it’s a waste of time,” the nay-sayers might tell you. Guess what?
“All games—not just 40K—are a waste of time.” News flash: the object of every game ever created is to “waste time.” If you’re good at poker or blackjack, you can earn money for playing games, but for the vast majority of us, playing games is “wasting time.”
But is playing games really “wasting time”—or is it enjoying life? Too many people our age have this idea that if you aren’t working at your job, commuting to and from your job, fixing or maintaining your house, doing chores, or taking adult-ed classes that you’re “goofing off” and “wasting time.” I prefer to think of it as this: the stuff that Type-A’s consider “goofing off” and “wasting time” is what life is really about, and all the other stuff (the day job, mowing the lawn, doing the laundry, buying the groceries) is stuff you do in support of “wasting time.”
No one lies on their deathbed wishing they had spent more time at the office. Make time for 40K.
“40K exercises my intellect and creativity.” The game itself is moving figures and rolling dice: of course, one could say the same about Monopoly. But in between Monopoly games, you keep the board and the tokens and the dice in their box and the box goes on a shelf and you don’t think about them. But 40K allows you so much to do even when you aren’t playing: painting figures, devising army lists, building terrain, writing “fluff,” running a website, etc.
I don’t actually play that often: my job is very demanding, my commute is lengthy, there’s always something that needs to be done around the house, and my family over-schedules my evenings and weekends. I suspect you might be in the same boat. But I still get to indulge my gaming passion with all sorts of 40K activities peripheral to actually playing. That’s what I love about this game. Why would I give that up?
“40K is ‘cutting edge’.” The general public knows about Dungeons & Dragons, and maybe they’ve heard of Magic: The Gathering, but they don’t know about 40K, even though it’s been around forever. If anyone you know finds out about it and wants to give you grief, tell them it’s “the next big thing” in games. “Very soon,” you can say, “Warhammer 40K will be as big as ‘Trivial Pursuit’ was in the Eighties.” Do you or I believe this for one minute? Certainly not, but anyone dumb enough to diss 40K is certainly dumb enough to buy that line.
“There are lots of worse ways to spend my time.” You could, after all, play golf. Unless your golf partner looks like the young lady at right, there’s no reason to waste irreplaceable hours of your finite lifespan playing golf. Play 40K instead.
Side note: every time I pass a golf course, I wonder what kind of mega-battle I could hold on the green, and whether the grass is cut short enough for figures to stand up on.
How about playing poker or the slot machines? There’s a reason why casinos in Vegas and Atlantic City are so large, employ so many people, and can give you free drinks and hotel rooms when you visit: because they rake in cash hand over fist from idiots who gamble. Oh, sure, you might bring home some extra money every once in a while, but it’s been mathematically proven that the longer you gamble, the more you lose. If you’re inclined to gamble—and this includes those state-run lotteries—save yourself some time by lighting your money on fire in the backyard. There! Wasn’t that fun? It comes to the same thing in the end, and then you can get back to playing 40K.
NASCAR? I have no doubt that it takes incredible skill and guts to do left turns at 200 miles per hour all day, surrounded very closely by 30 other gentlemen also doing left turns all day at 200 miles per hour. NASCAR’s fine if you’re an actual race-car driver or pit-crew member: this is your job, after all. But otherwise, there’s just no reason to watch this nonsense. Play 40K instead.
I could go
on and on about a number of other spare-time activities, but I think you
have the idea: when you get right down to it, they’re all silly wastes
of time. You might as well waste your time in a manner you enjoy, no matter
what age you are.
© copyright Kenton Kilgore, May 2005
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