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One Weird Way To Start Your Warhammer 40,000 Journey

In the grim darkness of the far future, there are a hundred different ways to start down the rabbit hole that is Warhammer 40,000. You have the tabletop game, with its dozens of miniatures, eight different editions, constant spinoffs, and plastic-crack level of cash holes. There are half a dozen other tabletop games, a 50-book series that takes you 10,000 years into the past, countless video games…and yet, my original way into the franchise was through a bunch of incompetent soldiers.

The All Guardsmen Party was initially started by Shoggy five or so years ago. An ‘after-action-report’ of the 40K tabletop roleplaying game, Dark Heresy, it chronicles the tales of a bunch of Guardsmen. These Guardsmen are disposable grunt soldiers in a fight for their lives on some backwater planet. They watch all of their friends die, and are then recruited as extra muscle for low-ranking members of the Inquisition, the Imperium of Man’s special police force.

Throughout the adventure, you’ll be introduced to some of the most backwards soldiers imaginable: the no-BS leader, Sarge, the paranoid explosives expert, Twitch, the guy who can stand guard duty while sleeping, Heavy, the smooth talking pickpocketer who looks like a goblin, Nubby, the chainsword swinging insane bastard, Cutter, and there’s even more I’m not talking about here, because the surprises of what they get up to is half the fun.

Handed off to in-training Inquisitors like rented Pokemon, they travel to different parts of the galaxy, bringing their ‘shut up and soldier, soldier’ attitude to problems that really need a softer touch, usually (but not always) being dragged along by incompetent to outright malicious commanders, and dealing with every sort of bad guy in the universe. Over the course of 21 chapters and a story longer than most novels, the engaging writing (minus some typos here and there), fun character interactions between both the party and the secondary characters, multiple plot twists, and wacky crap that happens at a reasonable rate keeps the read thoroughly enjoyable.

As for how much it keeps pace with known Warhammer history, it is still pulled from a roleplaying game, so the entirety of the actions of the heroes don’t technically exist in ‘the lore’ – everything that happens, the individual characters – it’s all non-canon. Despite being a non-canon story, though, the tale actually serves as a great introduction to tons of factions from 40K–everything from Orks to Tyranids are introduced with enough detail to not confuse unfamiliar readers. As long as you pull from the general depictions and not the individual characters, you’ll be able to dive into 40K proper with a pretty good head start on understanding the universe.

There are so many other lovable bits to the story, including the 4chan style images that add a little bit of extra flavor to each set of paragraphs, constant callbacks to previous parts of the story (the inter-dimensional poker room being a highlight), but definitely the most enjoyable part for the layman is just how believable and non-insane the constant soldiering mindset is in this world.

Even the most paranoid of actions turn out to be totally the right call in context. Without Warhammer 40k as the background context, The All Guardsmen Party still manages to be a great tale by itself, so if you just drop the line of inquiry there, you’ll at least have had a good read.

Another easy recommendation to get into Warhammer 40k is Old Man Henderson, which shows what happens when you scorn a player that has too much time on their hands. Or perhaps, if you enjoy video games more than tabletop, the pass-and-play antics of Boatmurdered might be more your speed.

And of course, if you want to take things a bit more seriously in the same universe, you should have enough baseline information to hop right into any part of the Warhammer 40,000 media empire. I’ll let you know how things are going once I come above water to breathe for a bit.

Thanks for reading, we hope you enjoyed the article! If you’d like to see some related content, and support Exclusively Games in the process, click on our Amazon Affiliate links listed below to find related products. – EG Staff

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  1. LowSanity on April 11, 2019 at 2:46 pm said

    The All Guardsmen Party is absolutely amazing! I personally listened to it on Youtube.
    I play DF so i will look up this Boatmurdered.

  2. JackofTears on April 11, 2019 at 8:33 pm said

    I was first introduced to 40K through the fantastic “Dawn of War 2” video game. While I thought the gameplay was fun, I was most intrigued by the lore.

    I had known there was a minis game for years, and the art had always intrigued me, but I’m not into miniatures so I had never learned much more. When I found out there were novels, I went looking there for my next fix and had the fortune of choosing “Eisenhorn” as my first read.

    As you can imagine, I was hooked after that. Since my main passion is ttrpgs, I then looked into the game and found a book called “The Inquisition” which is a beautifully illustrated and written work which gives you a solid base understanding of that organization and its place in 40k.

    From there, I picked up the “Dark Heresy” rpg and was swept away by the universe I was immersed in. The setting was amazing, even if the mechanics were too chunky for a setting so focused on Lovecraftian horror. I modified the system to make it fall in line with the mood, better, and our first campaign (which ran 1/week for about 9 months) revolved around a group of characters in a Penal Legion, fighting the enemies of man.

    They started out in a legion of 10,000 and that number was shaved away in each mission – from fighting Xenos, to Tech Heretics, to Demon Cults – with brutal regularity. By the time they got to their penultimate mission, there were 45 people remaining from their original legion. These were recurring npcs, who they got to know and like, 15 of whom were killed while actively in the party. It got to the point that the IC group stopped taking names of new squad members until they’d lived through at least one significant encounter. Until then, they all had the same generic name, “Klightus” (which was an inside joke that equated to ‘red shirt’).

    I’ve read a lot more (though I need to hurry and finish the Horus Heresy before the attack on Terra begins in late May), own several of the rpg books, and played a few more video games, since then. It is a fantastic setting and I’m glad I got sucked into it as I did.

  3. SpaceMonkey on April 12, 2019 at 1:53 am said

    Is it expensive yeah ..very. But what you have never really expires. the only thing you really need is your army book… maybe da rulz as well if you just play at home with friends.
    In the long run you would save more money just playing one army unlike playing card games that forces you to keep buying new cards to compete.

    I LOVE WARHAMMER 40K. It;s a game that I will play and enjoy then put it in the closet for a couple of months then pull it out and play with it once more.

  4. Louis Pulicicchio on April 12, 2019 at 3:05 pm said

    I got into 40k when someone told me Starcraft was an aborted 40k game because they couldn’t get the licence. I sure as hell couldn’t afford to play the table top game, but I could look up the lore.

    So the first thing I saw on Youtube was Arch.

    Guy’s spent, maybe a year of his life in videos about all the lore. He’s got general lore about almost everything in a general sense. Then once he got patrons, he could do even more in depth video series about specific battles, events, or people!

  5. Tigon_3rd on April 12, 2019 at 7:21 pm said

    I started back in late ’90 when I was in a local book-store with my dad, when I saw a little section dedicated to Warhammer and was entranced by the imaging of the boxes. My dad then got me the Second Edition starter set with Blood Angels vs Orks, as he saw that it would be a great hobby thing for me, like him having tin-soldiers when he was little.

    I have been a collector of the Blood Angels on and off since, which is over 20 years now.

  6. Chungus Amungus on April 13, 2019 at 6:45 pm said

    “plastic-crack level of cash holes”
    Yeah, that’s about right.
    My first intro to Warhammer 40K though was through the super old PC game Space Hulk (1993). The game was ridiculously hard. I had a strong background with the Gold Box D&D games too, but I never even finished it.
    Sadly, now that I’m thinking of it, I’m going to go watch a Lets Play of it and seal up that episode of my life.

  7. ArdentVector on April 14, 2019 at 11:49 pm said

    I’ve spent some of the weekend reading this. Bloody Brilliant!

  8. Michael Leavenworth on May 10, 2019 at 1:58 am said

    I love Warhammer 40k! But alas it is too expensive for me to take up again at the moment. I love to play them ‘Nids!

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