Oldhammer much?

This year is my 20th (!) "anniversary" in wargaming. Still can't believe it has been that long, since my first miniatures and wargaming rules.


Inspired by the exhibiton at Tactica 2017 and associated contest on Sweetwater, I would like to share my beginnings in wargaming. It must have been the summer of 96, in an art study group at school. Somebody had Heroquest miniatures with them, and my oldest friend Holger remembered, seeing those at a toy store near our home town. We had 30-60 minute car travels (well, we annoyed our parents until the drove us) to nearby cities, to get our hands on our first White Dwarfs. In September I bought my first miniature, a Space Marine Veteran Sergeant or Captain, that I painted directly in store - in the colour of the Blood Angels, as those are part of the current starter box. Later that year I subscribed to White Dwarf, as it was an incredible hassle to get one in the countryside.

On christmas time, I managed to convince my parents, that a starter box would be a great present. They thought it was only a phase, I wouldn't have the patience for a hobby like this. And it was already expensive back then, so 40k or Fantasy battles with the costs down the road, weren't an option for a "try out". As I visited a lot of NFL Europe games (Go Rhine Fire!) with my dad, Blood Bowl seemed like a reasonable choice - and oh boy, was I right! I got the 2nd edition for christmas, I still remember the smell while opening it and immediately fell in love with the game, its rules and feel. Still have that box here, played it a lot (and I mean a lot!) and that was the beginning of my beloved wargaming hobby. One of the first miniatures I bought after christmas was The Mighty Zug, and I did a repaint on him in 2008, first painted miniature after a few years break.

The Mighty Zug

This 20th year of wargaming for me was a busy year as well. I moved in with the Misses, we have a nice apartment in a small city between Cologne and Frankfurt, and my hobby den got - once again - a bit bigger. Moving all of my collection was quite a sophisticated logistic undergoing, as it shut down my effective working process for at least 3 months (preparing reviews, moving work-in-progress projects is just a pain in the butt...). And due to the increase in size, my parents suggested, that I could pick up some of the things that I still store at their house. And so on the last visit, I filled my cars boot with some of the things, that were waiting for me to be collected.


These are random boxes, that I bought over the years. As a big Blood Bowl fan, I had to get my hands on the second edition, got that one in the early 00's, it is complete and even has an untouched Astrogranite (styrofoam) board in it. I still had my first 40k starter box (2nd Edition after Rogue Trader) that I must have bought in '97 around my birthday, and the 3rd edition that was released the following year.

Blood Bowl - 2nd Edition Blood Bowl - 2nd Edition Warhammer 40k 2nd and 3rd Edition

I even have the four campaign sets that were released for the fifth edition. The first one was the The Grudge of Drong, containing a campaign between  Dwarfs and High Elves, along with a few card board buildings. There were three more at the time, Gravaines Quest, Idol of Gork and Circle of Blood. Somewhen 10 years ago, I decided that I needed to have a complete collection of the 4th/5th edition of Warhammer Fantasy and 2nd Edition of 40k, so these campaign boxes (along with the Warhammer Magic supplement in the image lot above) had to be part of a full shelf of codices and army books.

Warhammer - Campaign Boxes Warhammer - Campaign Boxes

For me, these younger times of the Oldhammer has an incredible charme, the artwork of Mark Gibbons and Wayne England, the sculpts of the Perrys and Jes Goodwyn, are what is Warhammer to me. The moment I crossed the point of no return was May '98, german White Dwarf #29, the one with the 48,000 points fantasy battle between Orcs and the Empire. It was played at the Perrys, with veterans like John Stallard (today Warlord Games), Gordon Davidson (today Battlefront) and Ronnie Renton (today Mantic Games) attending. The images of these large, colourful Empire armies, with the lots of steamtanks, large regiments of infantry and cavalry, banners and heraldic. So iconic, catchy and memorable. I gathered up nearly 22,000 points over the years, with large regiments, dogs of war and almost all characters available. But never completed the project and sold it beside most of the heroes and some dogs of war. Even found a few pictures from that project.

Warhammer Empire Warhammer Empire

Warhammer Empire Warhammer Empire
Warhammer Empire Warhammer Empire Warhammer Empire

Even had a box of Claymore Saga / Battle Masters lying around, which was from the age in late 80s and early 90s, when Games Workshop teamed up with MB and produced miniature board games. This game brought a lot of people into wargaming, similar to Heroquest or Starquest, especially those that were born in the 80s. Many of the wargamers born earlier came into wargaming via Airfix or other plastic soldier companies.

Claymore Saga Oldhammer books

And we have come a long way since then. There are more miniatures in plastic than ever, bigger kits possible and available, and a broad choice of rules and manufacturers to choose from.

Thanks to my parents, I had the chance to visit the Nottingham several times, even the old Warhammer World in the late 90s (such a hard contrast from the last few years) - you can find pictures from a later, third visit in 2004 over here; Warhammer World 2004.

Warhammer World - 2004 Warhammer World - 2004 Warhammer World - 2004

How did wargaming change for me over the years? Well, tabletop is much more than just Warhammer, and more and more people are knowing and accepting this. There are lot of companies and rule sets with potential. As time is an issue, a bigger issue compared to space, I am switching my projects from larger ones to smaller ones. This increases the probability of finishing them, along with the aspect one large army is less flexibel than a few small ones, that I can lend to others, to cope with the problems of other players.
It is a development, that is re-occuring in many fields of becoming a grown up. The same way I don't have the time (and don't want to spend it that way) for multiple clan war sessions in video games, I am more of a casual player. Same goes with wargaming, it is nearly impossible to set up hour long sessions, but a round or two of a skirmisher / platoon sized game is possible.

How did you get into the hobby? When did you got hitched? And what was the reason, you decided to push little plastic men over a tabletop? Which changes did you notice in wargaming and your own relation towards the hobby?

Posted by Dennis B.

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