Pimpcron: So What’s The Deal With Oldhammer?

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Pimpcron actually did some investigative journalism.

It’s that time of week again. When the Pimpcron spouts off nonsense and you get to comment!

But this week isn’t so full of nonsense. Many of you know that I came into wargaming a bit “late in the game” when I discovered and fell in love with Warhammer 40k in beginning of 5th edition. So roughly 9-ish years I have been in the hobby and never played during Rogue Trader or any of that.

Apparently Custodes were shirtless male dancers in RT.

What is Oldhammer

We’ve all heard of Oldhammer by now, but for those of you who don’t know what it is: Oldhammer and its many variations are when a player decides to keep playing a version of  game that has moved on to other editions. What if your game was all-out discontinued like Blood Bowl was for so many years and you liked it so much that you continued to play it with your buddies. Those of us who keep up-to-date with the newer versions may wonder what it is that they like about playing a defunct, unsupported version of a game.

This past weekend I attended an Oldhammer event in New Jersey with my friends James and the only Oldhammer buddy I have, Dave. James started playing roughly a year after me, so we are both outsiders to the whole Oldhammer thing. They were playing old board games, Rogue Trader, Fantasy Battles among other things at the event but HeroQuest is what we wanted to play going into it. Plus I really have a soft spot for old miniatures even though I didn’t play back then. I have collected quite a few Rogue Trader models and other old metal models from different ranges.

I’ve heard many comments about Oldhammer players from current-edition players and it usually sums up to not understanding what the attraction is. Why play a dead version? Don’t you want new models to play with and new rules? I have to admit I have always had these same questions so I thought this was the best chance to investigate. I went into this event with no expectations at all, I was just going to have fun and try some old games. Instead of going into everything that happened that weekend, I’ll tell you what I found Oldhammer players to be.

So What Are Oldhammerers Like Anyway?

Just like all of us other gamers, they come in all shapes and sizes and degrees of social awkwardness. But also just like most of the gamers I’ve met, they were all quite nice. Their enthusiasm for this hobby seems to come from a sense of nostalgia instead of whatever the new hotness is rules-wise. For many of them, they play older versions of Warhammer out of love for that edition and what it meant to them when it was current, not out of a hate or dislike for what is new. Other than an occasional friendly joke, none of them batted an eye when I said that I play 8th edition or Age of Sigmar.

This is considered a cuss word in some circles.

I asked one guy why he still played Rogue Trader instead of following the progression of editions over time. He said that he had nothing against the newer editions, but he likes what Rogue Trader is about and how it plays. It would be like you loving 40k as it  is now, and then a year from now it turns into a card game or something. You don’t hate the card game, you just don’t want to play a card game. You like the older version.

What Do Oldhammerers Do?

They have a real passion for their hobby just like all of us, except that it is almost a different hobby all together. Actually playing the game seems secondary to collecting rare miniatures and painting them. Sure, they may play but they are much more eager to whip out their collection of unique and beautifully painted miniatures. And they know all the data about each model. It was kind of funny and pretty impressive as I looked through one guy’s collection. I’d ask about a model and he’d know roughly the year it came out, what range it was from, and which sculptor sculpted it.

Another aspect of this hobby is recreating the version of Warhammer that they played back in the day which is an interesting spectacle. Terrain from that 90’s era is used and their models are often painted in the “traditional” colors of that time period in the hobby. Looking at their boards is like tearing a page out of an old White Dwarf from the era. Ebay hunting and collecting intact and complete sets of board games or models is part of their hobby as well.

I Tried Space Crusade!

I got to try Space Crusade for the first time ever last weekend and absolutely loved it! For those of you who don’t know, it is a partnership between GW and Milton Bradley in the 90’s to make a pseudo-Space Hulk board game. Space Crusade is kind of rare due to the fact that it was never sold in the U.S. It features a wacky collection of aliens including Orks, Chaos Marines, and “robots” which are Necron Warriors. The guy who was running it was so excited to play it since it was his favorite game from childhood and he said he spent a whole summer playing it with his friends. His enthusiasm was palpable and really drew me into the game.

All in all, I walked away from this with some great memories and a new appreciation for this part of the hobby. Even though I am not “from” that period in the hobby, it was still a blast to experience what it means to “Oldhammer”.

How Many Oldhammerers Do We Have Out Here? Holla Atcha Boy Pimpcron!

What brings you to play old editions?

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  • defensive

    I’ll never understand the attraction of the rogue trader models. They are all so ugly and dated.

    But rules wise, I can definitely understand the nostalgia for older editions.
    It would be great to play a game of 4th again, or proper fantasy, which I sadly missed the boat on.

    • 6Cobra

      Pimpcron hit right on it – it’s pure nostalgia. The attraction is the memories of how much fun they were 30 years ago.

    • bobrunnicles

      Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, my friend. Back when these minis were released THEY were ‘state of the art’ for the period, and if Oldhammer is your thing then part of that thing is playing with the authentic minis from that period. It’s like asking a classic car enthusiast why they like old cars when newer ones are so much better – they just do. There’s an undefinable element that just attracts some people (including myself) to classic things that evoke particular memories.

    • denzark

      The RT models are certainly not all ugly – they are all dated, true, but some are exquisite sculpts and make the mono-posed cliched boring of some of the primaris or other recent stuff, pale into insignificance with their RT character. http://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/bd54a0a28f53817c0a6b16bca09671c8d588c6369b5b2686688037ecf561aa6b.jpg

    • Marco Marantz

      Many are but some are awesome. I still prefer the original Grey Knight (the one that looks like its smiling) to anything subsequent.

  • denzark

    Pimpcron – good article, you have captured the scene nicely. There are people out there who want all Jes Goodmin 1st Ed eldar sculpts, or all Chaos Champions. Its fair to say that the gaming, most often narrative based, is a very close second to collecting. I for one have never seen a hardcore WAAC oldhammerer fielding unpainted half built stuff – I have seen it in current tournaments.

    • Simon Chatterley

      Who knew an article about Oldhammer would drag you out of hiding Denzark 😉

      • denzark

        The shock!

  • 6Cobra

    I’m from a gaming generation after the RT/Space Crusade guys (I came in during 40K2E), and I don’t oldhammer, but I absolutely get the nostalgia.

    Possibly the most fun I ever had gaming in my life was playing Battle Masters on my grandma’s living room floor with my brother, or Heroquest with him and a neighborhood friend who had the game. Those two games were absolutely what got all three of us into the GW hobby, once we saw the old black-and-white miniatured catalogues and realized it was all part of the same gaming universe. I saved up my allowance and ordered the Warhammer Fantasy starter box with the plastic goblins and High Elf spearmen, and here I am today. Checked the mail every day until it arrived.

    I’ve been wanting to recapture that buzz for 25 years, and although I’ve come close at a few times and places, I never truly have and frankly I never truly will.

    • Spade McTrowel

      I started back in the RT days, and I have a few friends that still dabble in the hobby – though we do keep current on the rules. However, every once in a while, when we’re all in the same town, we’ll break out some beer and HeroQuest… and the wandering monster song we as a bunch of teenagers came up with. Kinda freaks out the kids (who are getting close to being the age we were when we started).
      Fun times 🙂

  • NikosanPrime

    Although, in general I prefer the models made now, I will say that I am a fan of oldhammer. One of the things in general was that the older versions were more fun, and you had a collection of rules that were so over the top that and complete that you are not waiting for every army’s Codex to be released because they are all released.

    Add to that the general outlook of the players and the fact that they celebrate the rules and the various balance levels. It’s almost like historical tank gaming where they players know one side is outgunned and it instead becomes more scenario driven as you try and balance for it.

    My buddies and I used to play all of those games, including the original Space Crusade and Once we got good at them we would just re-write the scenarios so that they were better balanced. It was fun and challenging and we enjoyed finding new ways to replay old missions.

    Good to know there are groups still collecting and playing the older systems. Might just make my way out some day.

  • Jens Hahn

    Not only nostalgia. I startet in late 5th but i started collecting old editions this year. Oldhammer from a “now” standpoint seems more personal. More human. I can’t say if powercreep was so extreme so i can’t tell how it was played back then but when I read an old Codex or White Dwarf it feels very imaginative and personal. How to build stuff, new and interessting fluff parts that aren’t mentioned today like a chart on how tyranid strains are related to each other or a mutation chart to individualise your chaos champion.
    And it isn’t so shiny and far away from me. Today it feels like “GW up there and me” .. and those old stuff feels like it is made with me in my living room.

    It feels less dull to me.

    • 6Cobra

      Totally agree. To whatever extent it was/is actually true or not, back in the early-mid 90’s it still really *felt* to me like GW was just a bunch of gamers like me, cranking out things that were fun and cool instead of profitable and copyright-able.

      • Matt Mo

        Agree 100% they used to have bits on converting models and scratch building terrain. I have all my old WDs from back in 2nd-3rd edition when I started this hobby and I still thumb through them from time to time. Old codices are also awesome sources of entertainment and inspiration. Some of the short stories and such from the old rule books are really high quality stuff (miss that old Daemonhunters codex).

        • LankTank

          I miss in the old codex’s examples of conversions on the final page of the miniatures showcase. I still remember one that was simply a plastic shoota boy, with an extra barrel on the shoota to convert it to a biig shoota. Then some cuts on the leg to give him a dynamic recoil look. So simple but so effective and it started me converting models

  • marxlives

    I can see this, heck I supported the new O.G.R.E. kickstarter out of a sense of nostalgia.

  • Baldrick

    Yep Oldhammer live and well. In our end of the world we try arrange this once a year, generally 40k 4th ed or 5th ed. Always a fun event. Good to see some old faces. Great opportunity to bring out some old minis, and Gav Thorpe 3rd/4th ed Blood Angel codex. 200 points gets you a Chaplin with 3+D3 Death company plus on a 4+ per squad you get additional DC. Loved this. Slap on some jump packs and off we go. Loved taking two of these Chaplin’s and have a healthy block of DC.

  • Heinz Fiction

    Space Crusade rocks. Funniest part is the censorship in the german edition. They got really creative in explaining how all the guns are non-lethal and no one gets hurt (freezing them in time, gluing their armor together…). Kids playing “war games” was kind of an upset in the late eighties…

  • Drpx

    Crimson Fists > Ultramarines

  • Simon Chatterley

    I have a pure 2nd Ed Cadian force. I own it purely for nostalgic reasons as it brings back happy memories of a more innocent time as an awkward 14 year old.

    In terms of aesthetics I think the models today are leap years ahead of then so for it’s purely a feelings thing I guess.

  • Marco

    Long live Warhammer Fantasy and the Old World!

    • Knight_of_Infinite_Resignation

      Yes indeed. I think a desire to play games GW decided to drop is also part of the appeal. Hence all the people who still play Dark Future, Necromunda, Inquisitor etc.

      Recent changes to 40k have made me an Oldhammer player I guess since I have stuck with 7th and am buying up 7th ed codexes and card sets etc now they are cheap.

      I imagine a lot of people decided to stay with square base fantasy too.

  • Scott Staten

    Space crusade WAS sold in the US, I got my copy when it came out at our local FLGS.

    • Watcherzero

      It wasn’t distributed in the US only Europe Australia and New Zealand. Your FLGS likely imported it.

  • memitchell

    Pimpcron=Cognitive dissonance. An article about why people play a 30 year-old version of 40K, written for people who play 40K (a 30 year old game).

    I was 30 years old when I started playing 40K, 30 years ago. All I know is someday, THESE will be YOUR good old days.

    • Pimpcron

      I’m not sure where you’re going with this comment. I wrote the article because a lot of people including me have wondered why Oldhammer even exists. This was an effort to show that there is merit to Oldhammer and that it isn’t as crazy as it sounds.

  • I_am_Alpharius

    Space Crusade! Fantastic game. It was the game that my brother and I got into. We used to play for hours and hours. Playing whole campaigns over weekends. Such a fun game to play.

    I will point out one thing, and it not Pimcons fault as that was hit first time playing the game. The “robots” where Chaos Androids and not Necron Warriors; in the Android artwork they all have Chaos Stars etched into their skulls . It is of course easy to see how they can be construed for Necrons – indeed I would not shock me if those models where the inspiration for the Necron range

  • Commissar Molotov

    It ain’t just nostalgia for a time when Gee Dub wasn’t run by beancounters and perpetually puckered moralists. The mini sculpts ran from excellent to fantastically bad, but they certainly all had CHARACTER:

    http://www.solegends.com/citadel/

  • Erich Schoenholtz

    This article would have been better if you shared some pictures of the tables and games at the event.

    • Pimpcron

      I did this without asking them first, so didn’t want to step on any toes. That’s why i didn’t mention names either.

      • Matthew Pomeroy

        Class act from a soulless robot 😀

  • Lennard Dietrich

    Space crusade WAS sold in the US, I got my copy when it came out at our local FLGS.

    • Spade McTrowel

      It wasn’t distributed here. Your store was likely selling an import.

  • Rob brown

    What about Advanced Space Crusade. That was my first introduction to 40k and to Tyranids. Such an awesome concept!

  • Troy Dean

    This… this is a Nice Article.

  • Volcifar

    That old picture of the Custodes…

    Custodes Commander Leonidas yells “This is Terra!” as he Spartan kicks Abaddon.

  • benn grimm

    Puts hand up. Glad you enjoyed, sounds like a cool event.

  • piglette

    I really want to try Rogue Trader.

    • Knight_of_Infinite_Resignation

      Its easy enough to find as a pdf

  • SilentPony

    The only thing I’m nostalgic about are prices. Remember when $50 got you a land raider? Or $30 for a Tac squad? Or when GW couldn’t charge $35 for a single Marine character?

    Good times….

    • Mrsuperhappy

      I remember buying a Rhino transport for £10. It was the only tank I could afford at the time, despite not really being much of a tank (it had those separated twin linked bolters rather than stormbolter they currently have). That style can only be got from forgeworld for like £40 now.

  • Nathan Trivett

    Found this very interesting. I fell in love with 40k 3rd edition an played 4th edition too. Now I haven’t played for over 10 years and have no knowledge of new versions at all. Only playing video games like Dawn of War, Space Marine, Space Hulk and Blood Bowl. Recently I’ve got back into some old games I used to play like Hero quest which I purchased on eBay(having donated my old copy to my old gaming club) and D&D version 3.5. Thinking of getting back into it more.

    • Knight_of_Infinite_Resignation

      The 4th ed rulebook is still my favourite GW book ever. Everyone should have a copy! Welcome back to the hobby.

  • Sonic tooth

    nice article

  • Papist00000001

    I love the old stuff and I love the new stuff. That’s the cool thing if you want to play no matter what edition, you can. I love collecting the old “codices?” They are easier to come by. I have a complete collection of Imperial Guard books and they look amazing! I also still have my 3rd edition 40K rule book, it’s what got me started!

  • I got my start way way back playing Battle Masters, I still have a bunch of the models in my AOS Army

  • Ben Kerby

    You’re getting Middlehammer mixed up with Oldhammer. You’ll get roasted asking about 2nd edition 40k in Oldhammer groups.

    • Pimpcron

      Yeah, I’m sure I did. When investigating this, I found it hard to determine what is considered what. It seems everyone has a different definition.

      • hedwerx

        Oldhammer is anything from the 80’s till 2nd ed 40k, and 4th ed Warhammer. Middlehammer is from 2nd ed 40k and 4th ed Warhammer up till around 2000.

  • PORK MAGAZINE

    Oldhammer Rules OK! It’s the gaming equivalent to the NWOBHM – it’s a cultural choice & set of values. We just made a boardgame that is VERY informed by Oldhammer. https://goblinkomegamall.com/collections/dungeon-degenerates

  • Lovely write up and thank you. I can’t really add much, but if you’ll tolerate it I’ll speak a little to the gaming vs. collecting vs. painting question. I very much believe some of us would be gamers first if we were able and that they joy of the game is what ultimately drives our passion for the hobby. But it’s harder to find time or players now, since most of us are no longer young and many or often most of our old gaming buddies have moved on to other things. But painting and collecting can be done in dribs and drabs almost nightly, so it’s easier to find time and it becomes the hobby of convenience, since it’s at least reminiscent of what we would like to be doing. In twenty years or so I bet we’re doing quite a lot more gaming and rather less painting. Or perhaps more accurately sitting around drinking and talking about gaming, collecting, and painting. Time will tell, I suppose.

    Anyway, from one awkward Oldhammerer to a thoughtful and polite Newhammerer . . .

    Thank you.