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EDITORIAL: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Tau

4 Minute Read
Nov 2 2011

I’ve been playing this game since 1987, and I’ve learned a few things along the road…

Ahh who can forget the very first time you walked into a game store?  I can still remember it like it was yesterday.  The small tight retail space in a non-descript strip mall, the tiny shrink wrapped tiny sized rulebooks for all the little fly by night game companies.  Ral Partha Miniatures all over the place.

This was the era of lead miniatures (and not very good ones), Car Wars, Battletech, Star Fleet Battles, DnD, and Star Frontiers.  Warhammer Fantasy was in its new fancy hardcover 3rd Edition, and this cool new sci-fi game from some tiny British company was just out.  Games Worksomething or other…  I figured I might as well pick up the book (there was only the one) and give it a whirl…

Down the Rabbithole


I remember the excitement of reading Warhammer 40,000 Rogue Trader.  It was this crazy mish-mash of everything under the sun that was sci-fi shoehorned into this hardcover tome.  It wasn’t a “true” wargame like Warhammer Fantasy was, but it certainly wasn’t a RPG like DnD.  What it was from the get go was really enthralling.  The dark textured universe, the art from some biker dude named Blanche was like nothing I’d ever seen.  It kind of got its hooks into you and pulled you ever deeper.  It was a universe so large you knew you would never get to the end of it…

My first army was the Blood Angels because I liked red primarily.  I looked over the two page spread of Marines and went for them right away. Through all of Rogue Trader and 2nd Edition I was all about Marines, the unfolding history of the Heresy, and the Eldar once they became a fully fleshed out race (thanks Jes!)

I collected, and collected, converted, painted terrible, terrible cliched slogans like the infamous “KILL KILL KILL” on all my banners.  It was great.

Playing to Win
Eventually Third Edition arrived, and the game changed into the modern company level wargame we all know and love.  The era of the tacticians had arrived.  Out went the beer and pretzels and in came  mathhammer, statistical analysis, and all that jazz.  I wanted to be first and foremost a great player.

Back in those days, the internet was still in its infancy (at least pertaining to wargaming) and the hobby was still a very local affair, shared with your close friends.  By the time 4th arrived, that was starting to change.


Now forums were popping up and you could get your wargaming fix with people from all over the world.  Better yet, you could go to big tournaments!  I heard of this crazy giant one named Adepticon in Chicago that had OVER 200 PEOPLE!!!  Crazy talk!

5th Place – Gladiator! Woo Hoo!

Of course I went.  I min-maxed like a champ, met a lot of very, very good players (Hi Greg!), used every trick in the book and managed a 5th place finish at Gladiator when it was in its prime.

Minus 1 Strength, Plus 1 Wisdom
Slowly over the years, my connection to each and every one of those players I met became more and more important.  The results of what happened on the tabletop less and less.  Over five editions now, I’ve seen armies come and go, tactics shift under my feet, old hands fade away, and entire new generations of young superstars arrive in our midst. There are more and more online sites dedicated to our little niche hobby. Eventually, I realized it wasn’t the winning or losing at all, but my desire to sit around a table with my good friends (and a brew) from all over the world, roll some dice and play with my toy soldiers that mattered the most.

To my surprise, it was all about wanting to enjoy the company of you folks that makes the wargaming worth it.  And with that realization, the weight and burden of trying to be a champion evaporated into mist (along with my dubious tabletop skills).  In its place was a content gamer, with a ridiculous sized collection of toys.  The simple joy of collecting, painting and converting has returned, and when it was time to head out to my next convention I knew exactly what to do.

Its about twice that size now…

I packed up the prettiest 2000pt Tau army I owned into my bag, bought a ticket to Feast of Blades, and am heading off to play for the love of playing with my friends this weekend.

How could I lose???

I’ll see you guys in Denver and wherever the toys take me.



Author: Larry Vela
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