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Warhammer 40K, How to run a club: The pre-session

It doesn't take a genius to run a club.

It takes several, all with prescience and a super-computer to help you herd the WAAAGGHH!!!-ing cats that like to punctuate their dice rolls with yells of "For the Emprah!!!"

But it takes a while to get to that point.

I mentioned some guidelines earlier about how to manage your school's club. All that advice is valuable, but we'll break it down into smaller digestible pieces.

I mentioned that the first thing that anybody needs to do is roll some dice. This triggers all kinds of reflexes in the brain, and already I'm steering myself into unethical territory. We're activating the gambling reflex here... but it's not a bad thing I promise!

Equally, the first encounter with 40K needs to be visually impressive. Don't get out your Imperial Guard, unless you have a right and proper multitude. You need your awesome looking models, the slightly weird and wonderful. Eldar fit the bill well here, as space elf is an easy concept to get. Orks have their charm as well, but the king of first encounters are Space Marines.

Easily identifiable as a bad-donkey super-soldier in power armour, Space Marines satisfy all sorts of wish fulfillment check lists for young teenagers. This is the reason they sell well. You can easily get a teen on board with fantasies about well muscled heroes in shiny armour.

So, if you are looking to recruit members for your club, ideally you'd have a pre-session before they joined. For this you're going to need a few things:

A ready to go board with:

  • Space Marine army
  • Good looking scenery
  • A bucket of dice
  • A simple objective to take
  • A punching bag army

In addition, you may want some pamphlets with some artwork on which the proto-neophyte can take home with them. Even better if you can give them some starter models or toy they can play around with. Anything to keep the memory fresh in their heads.

The scenery and dice should be self-explanatory, but the easy objective and punching bag army are essential.

For the objective, a simple king of the hill set up is fine. Start the marines two and a half moves from the objective (15"). Have the enemy just 1 move away (6"). Marines go first, advancing and letting rip with their bolters. Enemy unit move to claim the hill and fire back. Marines advance again, let rip with bolt pistols, and charge. Melee ensues until someones dead (usually punching bag army).

This gets the student to roll dice and achieve an objective. As I said before, this is somewhat like a gambling reflex. People love rolling dice, and I often catch students rolling them just for the heck of it. But what's really happening here is a risk-taking simulator.

Put yourself in a students shoes. They're daily beaten down with a constant barrage of lessons, homework and co-curricular activities, all leading up to a single life altering point: university applications. As much as school's like to claim otherwise, this is always going to be a risk. No matter how well you prepare them for exams, or how rigorously you check their personal statements, there's always a chance they don't get to go where they want.

Imagine knowing that, and feeling that pressure for the better part of 5-6 years.

Yeah, I don't know how we make it to adulthood either.

But then along comes this wild-eyed science teacher who shows you some awesome looking toys. And he's given you dice! What? I get to rip apart the enemy in front of me. But I might miss... I hit them!! Have to wound? HAHAHA die!! Oh no! They're shooting back. Yeah! Power armour is invincible! I can totally take that objective back from them.

I can take that risk.

They take a risk. And they win. At each stage they have to take chances, but then at the end they succeed. You have no idea how powerful an experience like that is, and it's a vital one to have for a person so hounded by the demands of their lives.

Give them that experience, and I can garuntee they'll be back for more.

As for the punching bag army: orks. Low armour save, terrible shooting and getting charged instead of charging? A most excellent punching bag, that still looks intimidating on the field. Bonus points if you start with a large mob that gets shredded by bolter fire.

Now some of you are thinking that this is just some silly stuff I've concocted to write about and drive traffic to my site. You may be thinking that no one is that gullible, and of course it never works.

To those people I say this; walk into any Games Workshop. What do you see on the first couple of tables? Oh, and one army has a big unit of easily killed cultists/marauders? Funny that...

Thanks for reading.

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