Friday, January 25, 2013

Back to my Roots: Rogue Trader

2012 marked the 25th year anniversary of Warhammer 40,000 Rogue Trader. This was the game, and the models, that started it all for me. The first time I saw the box of Space Marines (the old mk 6 "beakie" marines), I had to have them.
Holy crap is that cover awesome. It's so 80s it hurts. It almost makes me want to find Bolt Thrower and listen to them again. Almost.
I was thirteen and found them in my local hobby shop "Race O Rama" (for those of you who might be from York PA). About a year later, after having painted them up in the colors of the Crimson Fists, my friend Eric showed me an ad in a Dragon Magazine for this "game" called Warhammer 40,000 Rogue Trader. We found the rulebook at the local game shop (I forget which shop it was now), and we nabbed a copy. I grew up playing D&D with the original Red Box set, so I knew a little about gaming, but I had no idea you could use miniatures to game. I was completely sold on the idea. I always loved miniatures and models, but never knew what to do with them...until now.

So I saved some cash and bought the first box of opponents I could find for those marines...the Orks! Thrug Bullneck's Ork Raiders. I painted them up and several friends and I tried to figure out how this game thing worked.

25 years later, here I am with my own 5 year old son who knows what Orks are and likes to watch me paint "Daddy's guys".

I played Warhammer 40,000 pretty much exclusively through high school, art school, and up until the release of 4th edition by which time I had long been lured away to historical miniature gaming by my friend Chalfant. Several years of historical gaming later and I have helped develop, write, and publish over a dozen different gaming rulebooks and supplements. Over those years, the Warhammer 40,000 universe became rather silly to me and I thought I would probably never get back into it again...

Then some friends of mine convinced me to consider playing Warhammer 40,000 again. I'm not really sure how. I think it was just that I enjoyed gaming with those guys, and they weren't into historicals. And the new models were kind of cool, and well...the nostalgia factor kind of pulled me back in. We played a game and while I thoroughly enjoyed rolling dice with them, it did remind me how much the rules sucked.

I posted about this a while back and I had even painted up an Ork Warboss to get me back into the mood to collect and paint a new army. It sat on the shelf for a little while as other historical projects distracted me, but the 25th anniversary this past year has really got me back in the mood.

I still pretty much refuse to play Warhammer 40,000. I just can't bring myself to play that horrid system. But it has inspired me to convert Disposable Heroes and Coffin for Seven Brothers (a WWII system I helped create and author) over to Warhammer 40,000. It's a total fan mod and will never, ever see the light of day except on my own private game table with my friends. But it allows me to paint some Orks (and now Imperial Guard) and a friend's Eldar.

The mod is a port over of Warhammer 40,000 3rd Edition, which is fun and all. But the idea of painting 100 Orks is kind of daunting, and the 25th anniversary reminded me of the original scenario in the back of the Rogue Trader book and this reminded how that edition was different than all of the rest. Future editions of the rules were big battles. What I missed were the small skirmishes of Rogue Trader with the tricked out characters fighting cool little story telling scenarios. Psychic powers. Hover boards. Gangers. Aliens. All kinds of cool stuff. I remember turning my old Millenium Falcon toy into a wrecked spaceship and building Orks with chainswords on hover boards fighting against my friend's Terminator psyker who teleported everywhere backed up by a Ratling sniper tossing Vortex grenades around. Those were the days!

So what is the point of this trip down memory lane?

Inspired by the 25th anniversary and the coverage by Games Workshop of the "Battle at the Farm" Crimson Fists vs Orks scenario in the original Rogue Trader book, I started looking for a new Warhammer 40,000 project that would allow me to game those kinds of things again. So I bought and painted some of the Warhammer 40,000 Imperial characters such as the Astropath and some of my favorite Imperial Guard: the Steel Legion. My Ork project is also back underway with the completion of the Nobz that accompany my Warboss.

So here is the project so far:


Deathskull Orks
1 Ork Warboss (Grimjaw Irongob)
5 Ork Nobz

Steel Legion Imperial Guard
1 Captain
1 Lieutenant
1 Sergeant
9 Guardsmen
1 Astropath
1 Imperial Governor
1 Techpriest transcriber looking guy

I'm on my way to having enough models to run a little scenario featuring an Imperial Governor's downed transport and some Orks on the hunt while some Guardsmen rush to the rescue. Just like the Rogue Trader days...

My next Blog post will probably be a battle report. But until then, here are the models I have painted so far.

Da Boss. I always loved the Deathskullz clan for their blue warpaint and their propensity for looting.

I removed the back banner from the model. It was huge and a little ridiculous. I'm saving it for a Waagh banner to be carried by a Nob.

Here are the boyz. The Ork Nobz that the Boss orders around.

The assortment of backplates representing the Nobz clan affiliations.
One thing I used to love about the Rogue Trader period of Orks was their backplates. These were a big part of the Ork background. It demoted clan affiliation and displayed the Ork's personal motif. I always thought it was a cool touch. The current incarnations kind of abandoned that idea, but I decided to revive it as an homage to the old Waagh the Orks, Freebooterz, and 'Ere we Go! books.




(L-R) Astropath, Imperial Governor, tech transcriber techpriest thing...


Steel Legion Squad.

Dark Reaper Exarch.

Eldar Warlock.
The Eldar are old models I painted back when I was still into Warhammer 40,000. I found them in a box of stuff a friend gave me. He wants me to paint up his Eldar Army. I'm not sure I can paint as well as I used to...

Well, I hope you enjoyed the little nostalgia trip. I have been enjoying painting these models. It is a truly nice break from all that khaki and field grey.



  1. I'm also tempted to do a port of DH/CF7B to use with 40k models. I think it would work well.

  2. So when are we going to see a Sci-Fi version of DH? Love the system for WWII and the FIW variant. It's so good, I want to paint up Spanish Civil War.

    But a Sci-Fi version would be amazing.

  3. MiniatureWargaming: Actually, a release of DH sci fi called "Zero Sum Oblivion" is almost finished and will be released soon. It's more of hard sci fi setting but it is designed to be used for any sci fi universe.

  4. @IIK ... glad to hear it. I've got a ton of WarZone figures that have been looking for a rule set for ages. Can I assume that it will be relatively easy to modify for a more science fantasy bent, with monsters and such? Sort of like the more heroic stuff in Where Heroes Dare?

  5. Statue made by you are looking good. They look more elegant if they will made by MDF Boards plywood.