What Is The Appeal Of 40k

Warhammer 40,000 the true juggernaut of tabletop gaming has been running for 28 years now and for a large proportion of that time has been the pre eminent game with sales and a player base that dwarfs the competition. Now why is that, What is it about 40k that brings people into the game and keeps them coming back.


If you go online and venture into the 40k blogosphere, which if your reading this there’s a pretty good chance you do. You will find no end of vitriol and hatred. Poorly balanced rules, Over priced models an uncaring company only concerned with profits and shareholder dividends. Yet its still the biggest game by a country mile.

So what is it about 40k we like. As I see it there are 3 main elements to 40,000

1) The game

2) The Hobby

3) The background

The Game


Now as I see it there are several elements to the game that appeal to different people.

The social element. The game require social interaction you need an opponent and to find one you need a community now this can be as small as you or your sibling or best friend or as big as a national tournament scene but probably more common is a group built around a store or gaming club. The social side encompasses more than just playing the game though I think we’ve all spent many a fruitless hour debating the relevant badassery of calgar vs Draigo or whether the Emprah is ever getting of the golden throne.

The competitive side. Competition is kinda hard wired into the human psyche with out there’s no way we would have become the dominant species on the planet. 40k is a competition in that you have two players trying to defeat each other on the tabletop. Now a lot people might chime in at this point and want to talk about poor game balance and it’s something I have a lot of sympathy for. Games Workshop has appeared to have a pathological hatred of competitive play and the last 2 editions seemed to have been designed specifically to push the competitive crowd away but despite this if you have two opposing sides attempting to either destroy the opponents army or achieve objectives and deny there opponents theirs the game has a competitive element.

Narrative now this feeds into the background part to a degree but is intrinsically linked to the game some people get there kicks recreating great scenes from 40,000 or forging there own narrative and seeing how things play out on the tabletop. Having those great cinematic moments where a grot blows up a Land Raider or a missile flies through a building and explodes killing off a deadly threat.

The Hobby


Now there is no doubting that Games Workshop Makes some really beautiful models I personally think that in terms of individual sculpted models there are companies stealing a march on Games Workshop Forgeworld are still holding there own but where GW are unmatched is multi part plastic models and in particular the Large Kits

p4ZBg3VFantastic level of detail and incredible potential for customization scratches the itch for artistic types and those who built air fix and other model kits as kids.

The painting side of things gives people with natural talent an opportunity to shine and us lesser mortals skills to learn then master and a chance to express our selves whether that’s in creating our own schemes or painstakingly recreating a scheme from the background.

The Background


The Warhammer 40,000 universe is a funny old thing essentially its just a a bunch of sci fi and fantasy archetype mixed with some historical and legendary source material plugged into a typically 80’s dystopian framework.

But somehow it works and boy does it work I’m gonna come out right now as a rabid Fluff bunny I devour this stuff and for almost 28 years and I love it dearly much more than a man of almost 40 yrs old really should.

A lot of people complain that the fluff has stagnated and that GW should advance the story lines bring back the Primarchs have Abbadon’s crusade make it out of the Cadian gate or Hive fleet Kraken wash down there squat main course with a delicious dessert of Elder Craft world.

I however disagree the fact that the 40kayaverse is perpetually stuck at a minute to midnight is part of what keeps the setting Grim Dark the sense of impending doom in a society that is regressing technologically and theologically and groaning under the weight of a repressive beurocratic theocracy is what defines 40K. If they attempted to advance this storyline you run the risk of  injecting hope into the setting which would be like adding salt to a slug briefly satisfying but all your left with is a sludgy mess.

The other thing that I think GW’s been really clever with is, in terms of the setting the deteriorating technology and loss of historical data and the insertion of myths and legend into the collective conscience leaves gaps that can be used by hobbyists to write themselves and there army into the setting. It also allows for an ever expanding universe of Fluff without having to move the story line along. It also allows for some true crimes against fluffdom

163734_md-Allies, Blood Angels, Brofist, Fist Bump, Fistbump, Humor, Necrons

Other factors

There are factors outside of the game that have contributed to its success firstly they had the market all to themselves for a long time they got to the market well ahead of anyone else prior to 40k tabletop gaming was dominated by historical types with a much older player base. Firstly fantasy then 40k brought tabletop gaming to a much younger audience and tapped into many nerdy hot buttons stretching there marketplace.  They also invested heavily in there branch network (I’m talking in the UK here I know it’s not as extensive in the states and other parts of the world) This was an incredibly bright move it gave a venue to play on the High street of most major towns. It gave a glossy clean space that wouldn’t scare off mum’swhich is the real secret of getting kids into the hobby. This is one of the reasons I tend not to get into too much of a tizzy about Gw’s pricing there’s a large infrastructure that these products have to support and this infrastructure is key to keeping our hobby going bringing in fresh victims…er hobbyists. This is vital as 40k is very much the gateway drug into our hobby and without it it could be argued with out 40k there wouldn’t be a market for all the new companies that have emerged in the last few years to grow into.

There also one more thing that makes 40 k utterly Awesome

ogryns 4


OGRYNS ………….:p


16 thoughts on “What Is The Appeal Of 40k

  1. And Beakies.
    Cuz it ain’t 40k without da Beakies.

    Stoopid Beakies.

    I always think I’m dumb as a stump and a die hard masochist, THAT’S why I like 40k.
    But no…it’s the fluff. It’s always the fluff.
    Cuz da game is pretty silly, but the fluff makes me wanna play it in hopes of catching a lil’ of that 40k vibe, or sumpthin,’ I dunno….

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Fluff is the best. minis next. actual games a distant last. I caved and bought a box of harlies, a solitaire and the new necron lord. the lord and solitaire will be for a vignette – the harlies? we’ll see how they are. i may raffle them off if i don’t like them. The pics and GW paint job are not showcasing them well. I was disappointed and fear for the rumored plastic sisters. I’m sure some other company will have some kind of space nun kickstarter around may though 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah that’s how I’d list them in priority too.

      I alluded to it in the post but I’m not keen on these new plastic single minis I think there’s real art in the single sculpt miniature that these clampack plastic one lack. I’ve still got a box of the old metal Harlies I got for an aborted DE project I glued email together then primed them white then got the fearz all those lovely chequer board paint jobs you see intimidated the hell out of me. I’d be open to an exchange if you wanted them I’m in desperate need of the 7th edition mini rulebook


  3. Hmm. For me, minis then fluff. Sadly, the plastics these days are lackluster- monopose clampacks (yay my unit of 5 C+P cairn wraiths!), odd cuts (bye bye kitbash and easy conversions) and the new ‘style’. Can’t explain it but many of the new models released feel ‘off’ slightly. That being said, at least the marine design isn’t going anywhere.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think. The difference is that the new clampack plastic figures are cad designed to the fit the sprue’s where as the old models were done by hand sculpted and then a mold made. maybe they’ll get better but I am hink its a case of costings comprising the art 😦

      Liked by 1 person

      • Haha sorta. Sometimes WordPress likes to screw me around. Rest assured, my evil alter ego is well and truly absorbed into a single, ultimate thingamabob.

        I miss the true multi-part plastic kits:
        head/torso/left and right arms/legs

        as opposed to
        110 pieces! (but 20 sets of arms being 2 pieces each- the plastic devastator lascannon is SIX pieces :O )

        Liked by 1 person

      • WordPress was being a bit twitchy yesterday I had real difficulty replying to comments and had to write the OGRYNS post twice.

        The plastic Devestators where a bit of a bitch getting that ammo feed on the. Heavy bolter was a proper chore too It might just be a Heavy Bolter thing cause the one on the plastic Scouts was a bitch too.


  4. Hey DC I am with you on the fluff. I like that 40k is “5 minutes to midnight” as you put it, and the whole Horus Heresy “let’s all fly around with the demi-gods and punch Deaemons in an age of enlightenment” just doesn’t do it for me.

    Then again I am almost 40 too, so we’re children of the 1980s. No wonder the flame of 80s dystopia burns brightly with us 🙂 Dystopias in SF these days tends towards cyberpunk/evil corporations, or being slaves to technology, rather than the political totalitarianism of 40k. Regardless, the sinister aspect these days is normally that everything looks like a utopia on the surface. 40k definitely doesn’t fit that mould! It’s straight up grim and dark and I guess a lot of people are attracted to that. I can’t believe people generally don’t seem to have noticed that 30k is a utopia heading towards a tragic collapse that it never quite reaches… sort of the inverse of 40k.

    Oh and I’m hobby, fluff, game, in that order. In a nutshell my approach to 40k is to try to bend the fluff in interesting personal ways that still respect the setting, and then portray that in model form. And then shoot stuff with my models if I feel like it 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi James really good to see you. Has the wildlife stopped attacking your infrastructure? Or is this a phone post.

      I’m pretty sure I plagiarised the 5 minutes to midnight thing but not entirely sure where from 🙂 that’s kinda how my mind works I read a lot and retain odd bits and bobs but not enough to quote sources!

      Yeah I lived straight through the 80’s turned 4 the day before it started yup my birthday is new years eve. I agree with you about modern dystopian sci fi although the other trend I see in the sci fi at the moment is the post apocalyptic survivors type thing a lot of that is zombie related. I’m just waiting for a John Wyndham resurgence would love to see a good movie of Day of the Triffids or a Kraken wakes maybe even a redo of Chocky. Oh if you want to scare yourself silly look up a film called Banshee Chapter bit of a sci fiey twist on the paranormal and doesn’t rely on gore to be scary.

      I confess I’m quite enjoying the horus heresy series well some of them there’s been some proper turds in the series but for a good bit of Bolter porn they seem mostly better written than the straight 40k ones. If you get a chance try tales of Heresy its an anthology of short stories there’s a great one about the last church on Earth and some other good reads but it’s quite Primarchs light.


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