GW Grognard: There are times I don’t miss “The Good Old Days”

Hey everyone! Adam here to educate you on the bygone eras of 40K.

I’ve played every of edition of this game. Now, I have not played continuously through them all, but I have played each addition at some point. i have been through the highs and lows of both my armies and the ruleset. I am currently enjoying this latest edition of the game. Sure, it’s not perfect, but what game system is? There are always room for improvement and I am glad that games Workshop is taking an active role in the games development. Although I did enjoy each edition of the game, there are things I do not miss.

I knew there was something fishy about the Ultramarines

This article will focus mainly of the Rogue Trader era, as there is plenty to talk about all the other editions. Considering the quality of Games Workshop models today, it is hard to believe there was a time when you had to put metal models together. I do not miss the issue of having to hold metal parts together, for a long time, until the glue had set. This also includes the risk of gluing your fingers together. Although we did end up with Finecast, it is a toss up on which is worse. It just wasn’t the material either, some of the models they produced made you questions their future as a model company. Looking at the models now, some seem very cringe worthy and I have no desire to go back to that design philosophy.

I can’t imagine why Forgeworld would want to recreate this

I will briefly* talk about the rules. As we all know, Rogue Trader was originally conceived as “Dungeon & Dragons in Space”, essentially. So it was suggested that you have a Dungeon Master, and you kind of roleplay your tabletop game. They even provided a scenario with the rulebook, “Battle at the Farm”, which gave us the story of the Crimson Fists vs Orks. Being a book from the late 80s/early 90s, this ruleset also gave us charts. Lots and lots of charts. There was even a D1000 chart in the Slaves to Darkness book. There were rules for custom vehicles. Some pretty intense rules for building your robots, and even some rule to literally program how the robots would act. After you were done learning and memorizing that, I even think they gave you a certificate of programming, it was so intense. Ok, I may be remembering that last part wrong. It was what it set out to do. As a result, it was very heavy in the bookkeeping aspect and would sometimes frustrate some players. In the end my playgroup decided just to use bits and pieces of the rules. As someone once told me “You played Rogue Trader, but you really didn’t ‘play’ Rogue Trader”.

Original Leman Russ. A face only a God Emperor can love

Don’t get me wrong. I still loved the edition. It gave us so many characters and ideas that we still see today.  From a small call out box in the first Chapter Approved, we got the Horus Heresy. There are stuff that Games Workshop seems to be bringing back from this era also. There are a ton of awesome quotes, that we still see today, that make it probably the most metal edition out of all of them. There are stories in those early days that are a bit of a head scratcher, in so much as to why they did that, but they are still fun to read. So, if you get a chance, have a look at those old books and see some of the stuff the more experienced gamers had to deal with, and be thankful you are playing in the current era.

That’s all for this week, I hope you enjoyed the read. Let me know your thoughts, and anything that you are glad is gone, or wish GW would bring back, in the comments section. Don’t forget to visit our Facebook, Twitch, and Patreon pages to stay up to date on what we’re up to and when episodes drop!

And remember, Frontline Gaming sells gaming products at a discount, every day in their webcart!


*I lied


About Adam

Adam, aka Latin Gandalf, has been gaming since the early eighties and has played 40K since Rogue Trader (among a number of other games). He listens to more podcasts than any healthy person should and is currently the host for TFG Radio. He also is judges for LVO and head judges other major 40K Grand Tournaments.
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Rob Butcher
Rob Butcher
3 years ago

GW were a fixture of my trips to university from 1985, they were the first company in Britain to make sci-fi models with rules that felt as though they mattered and weren’t simply rip-offs from Star Wars or Dr. Who. Every trip to Uni for five years took me past one of their stores at Birmingham New Street with models being purchased. My first models were the fantasy metal ones we used for AD&D, but the sci-fi were so different to the ones we were used to that many of us read the lore of the 40th Millenium and got hooked. I put aside my Napoleonic and WW2 miniatures and took the plunge.

I can see a time that some competitive 40K players/games get a GM — if only to stop the shenanigans and chess clocks.

3 years ago

OK, plastic is clearly better than either, but I’ll still take Finecast over metal any day. The reduced weight and greater ease of cutting/drilling it are totally worth the drawbacks to me.

Also, don’t forget that Rogue Trader had things like the possibility of building a Psyker who could let you take infinite turns in a row. Game balance? What’s that?

3 years ago
Reply to  WestRider

Fuckin’ truth. Metal models are the absolute worst to glue, convert, paint, transport, and play with.

3 years ago
Reply to  Adam




3 years ago
Reply to  abusepuppy

Or that speeder pictured in the article. Pretty much the same thing, except that it was before they had large flying stands, so that’s just on a 32mm base instead of the 55mm they had by the time the Fire Prism came around.

It didn’t have the falling over issues, but the hybrid Land Raider Crusader was a pile of misery, too. I don’t think I ever managed to keep it intact through an entire game.

3 years ago

Maybe I’m alone in this, but I remember the Robot rules extremely fondly. Robots were considerably cheaper in points than an equivalently-armed Dreadnought, but you then had to pay for their program, and the more instructions in the program, the more expensive it was. If you wanted to risk it, you could make it as simple as ‘shoot the nearest thing you can see’ to keep it cheap, or make it quite complicated to try and take objectives. You did all this through a very simple flowchart system (or there were pre-set ones)

They were great rules, and I’d love for them to make a comeback.

3 years ago
Reply to  Adam

And I would really love it, guess it’s a matter of taste. I fear, however, you might be with the majority. 😉

Michael Corr
3 years ago

It’s weird to think how much the game has changed since those times. I’ve been playing since 3rd edition and there is a huge shift in the rules.
– Negative modifiers were removed in 3rd edition and are now back for 8th.
– Pre-measuring was not allowed for many editions, you had to guess if your weapons were in range before shooting.
– Guess range weapons were a thing! I remember having to guess how far the whirlwind would shoot each turn.
– Templates are gone. Probably for the best, as these were always the biggest source of argument in any game, especially when combined with the dreaded scatter die!

John James Russell
3 years ago

I admit one of my favorite moments was 2nd edition using 1 5 man squads of Space Wolf Terminators with multiple assault cannons to take out an whole army of Tyranids … and then doing it again as they kept coming back on the table.

Even though they were metal the second generation were nice looking Land Speeders.

All that said I like that the game has grown and that events are pushing the story forward. Dark and Grim can’t sell forever, eventually there has to be a glimmer of light.

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