- Associated Press - Sunday, September 7, 2014

DUBUQUE, Iowa (AP) - “It is the 41st Millennium. For more than a hundred centuries the Emperor of Mankind has sat immobile on the Golden Throne of Earth. He is the master of mankind by the will of the gods and master of a million worlds by the might of his inexhaustible armies. He is a rotting carcass writhing invisibly with power from the Dark Age of Technology. He is the Carrion Lord of the vast Imperium of Man for whom a thousand souls are sacrificed every day so that he may never truly die.

Forget the promise of progress and understanding, for in the grim dark future there is only war. There is no peace amongst the stars, only an eternity of carnage and slaughter, and the laughter of thirsting gods,” the Telegraph Herald reported (https://bit.ly/1u4rkMM ).

So begins the rulebook with which miniatures war gamers play every day, assembling armies, deploying them to the battlefield and fighting it out for honor and glory.

“Warhammer 40,000,” commonly referred to as “Warhammer 40K,” is a tactical miniatures war game - set in a dystopian science fiction/fantasy setting - published by Games Workshop. It was created in 1987 as an offshoot of the then-4-year-old “Warhammer Fantasy Battle.” It has grown to encompass books, an animated movie, video games, a role-playing game, board games and card games.

“My dad originally started with fantasy,” said Thomas Severson, a U.S. Army veteran from Dubuque, who has been playing since he was 12. “My grandpa owned a store up in Decorah (Iowa), Harvey’s Hobby Hut. So, my brother and I would always go and see the games … and I was looking through some of the books and I saw the character Asmodai, the picture of him, and I was sold on ‘40K.’”

Severson gathers every year with friends who also have invested in this deep hobby, usually bringing together between three and six players for epic battles in a host’s garage.

This year they were gathered in Severson’s garage, but some years they travel to Kansas, home of Alex Bade, of Cheney, Kansas, who became interested in the game while on deployment.

“When I first got into it, it was because there was a sergeant in my unit who played ‘Fantasy’ and he had talked to me about it when I was in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba,” he said. “Then, when I got deployed with Thomas to Iraq, we found out through just chitchatting that he played … ‘40K.’ So, I saved up my money while I was on deployment, and bought an entire army when I got back. It’s been kind of a snowball from there.”

“Snowball” is an appropriate term, according to Zach Slifka, of Decorah, also a U.S. Army veteran.

“It depends how in depth you want to go into it. You can be the basic person, just put together a couple basic tactical squads, maybe something that shoots a big gun. Or, you can get in-depth with it and decide what weapon each guy is going to have, what kind of grenades he’s going to have.”

It’s more than a game, Severson said. The miniature figures that constitute a player’s army can range from infantry units to tanks to troop transport ships to giant mechs, he explained.

Each of those figures - which come in either pewter or plastic - need to be glued together (when you buy figures they come unassembled, attached to a frame), primed, painted and sometimes covered with a paint-preserving clear-coat.

“If you have a metal figure, the metal doesn’t necessarily glue well, so you’ll pin them,” said Bade. “You drill holes in both pieces and then you take a little piece of metal and pin them together. A lot of people are doing what they call magnetizing, where you get tiny earth magnets and you attach them to different types of weapons … so you can interchange and don’t have to buy as many models.”

Even though there are ways to ameliorate the price of the hobby, Slifka explained, “it’s not like you’re going to spend five bucks here and have a whole army.”

A small army can range from $100 to $300, depending on how much is spent on customizing the figures and buying rules books. That customization is one of the things that draws a lot of players, Severson said.

That process, though, can be enormously stress-relieving, all three agreed.

“All of us here are military of some sort,”Slifka said. “We’re all out now, but I like the strategic aspect and I like challenging my mind. You just take your mind off everything.”


Information from: Telegraph Herald, https://www.thonline.com

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