Down to Waagh

Or When I learned to Disregard Fanboy Babble and once more Relish in the WarHammer 40k universe.

I’ve been a fair bit at odds with the WH40k setting – on a large scale it tends to ignore the notions of Hero Journey that I revel in and instead go for something more basal. It’s a setting meant to allow large scale confrontations between the various factions there are and to me never offered much of a complex series of interactions between them; if everyone is Awesome and Badass enough to stomp all over everyone else, why bother, right?

It seems that I was partially misled, though – largely due to my own fault of listening to a Space Marine fanboy who was so totally up in their own legend that he wouldn’t have seen an Ork coming if it ran in and painted his brain red so he’d think faster. Seeing the Space Marines as what they want to be seen as is all well and good, but ultimately it’s limited – it provides a very skewered perspective of them which in me didn’t create adoration as much as revulsion. I didn’t buy this whole idea of ultimate, perfect warriors that were so many times stronger than anything out there, in spite of being up against enemies with every bit the age, the training and physical prowess – and sometimes way above it. The idea that Space Marines (and Space Marines alone) should be vastly better than anyone else was broken, and the ramblings of that one fanboy put me highly at odds with he setting at large.

But then Relic heroically swung in on a rope, wielding a might mess of metal supposedly passing for a weapon and saved the day via a grand display that can only be described as More Dakka.

So let’s talk about Dawn of War 2.

The Dawn of War 2 campaign ultimately has you playing the Space Marines, and against hordes of foes that fall. But it also shows more than that – the huge differences in idealism between Thaddeus, Tarkus, Cyrus and Avitus; how these mighty and larger than life characters described as “too stubborn to die” almost seem only a poorly timed remark away from turning on eachother between some fights, how they juggle between idealism and cynism and ultimately.. which parts of their own legend that they buy into. It says little about the nameless,faces “average” Space Marine that fall by their side in droves, while speaking out greatly for the epicness of their counterparts. It even gave me a very different perspective on the Dreadnaughts, and how much of the warrior within actually remains.

Ultimately, it gave me far more of a sense of what goes on, and that the setting is not so much about the power of the common soldier, but the power of their heroes – and that every side can be viewed from two angles, and that neither is wrong, just different. The balanced multiplayer and the overpowered singleplayer reflect those two – the former is realistic, the latter is much larger than life. And seeing it like that, I found it so much easier to just accept the setting as one where everyone is delightfully flawed in their own way, everyone clings to their own ignorance and nearly everyone tries to hold on to the legend of their own faction. I found the universe far easier to sympathize with like that, and what’s more..

..I found it easier to enjoy. When a character just chimes up “For the Emperor!” or “WAAAGH!”, it’s easy to just get pulled along in the moment and just pass away any deeper thought on the matter. It’s a setting meant to have fun with, and though in hindsight I should’ve acknowledged that a long time ago, the broken warbles of a Space Marine fanboy ended up obstructing it for me.

All that said, I’m still not very inclined to the fantasy version of WarHammer, but the space variant can amuse me quite significantly.


3 Responses to “Down to Waagh”

  1. 1 Moltrazahn
    February 26, 2009 at 06:30

    I say myself and played Warhammer 40.000 Dawn of War II not too long ago, had a demo over steam and did quite enjoy it. Tought its not the best game ever made, its fun. As for me i find the amusement in the sheer amount of Fanatical people of the Warhammer Univers. Its like a roman on steriods, mushrooms and some third unknown substance. And best part is that the human imperium dont stand out as the good guys either, just someone defending their terretory. And then we got all the other crasy races, each with their own mindset… Tyranids want to consume and spread. Eldar wish to keep some sort of balance but doing so without haveing to ally themselves with anyone. The Necrons simple wish to destroy ALL life in the univers (them being undeadish). The Orks… uhm… “Dem be stomping an doin’ dem humie’s a favor by Waaaaaaaaaghing dem” or something, And the Dark eldar i got no clue about. And these are just afew of the “races” or rather factions in Warhammer.. I mean, it states clear that War is everywere. So to reply to what you said, that means Heroes are everywere aswell, However were on Azeroth a hero is someone “every one” knows about. When you spand accross an entier galaxie, i think the concept of everyone becomes a more local point of veiw.

    At any rate, The space marines are fun, fanatic and god they are awesome when rushing into foes screaming prayers to the god-emperor.

    I still wonder if i should buy the damm game…

  2. 2 Alex
    March 3, 2009 at 22:40

    There’s few things more fun in that game then flattening groups of ‘nids with yourr assualt squad..

  3. 3 Gordrake Thunderhoof
    October 13, 2009 at 12:15

    Heh…I know this is old, but having a look through the archives, I just had to comment on this one, being a gamer myself of the offline versions of the Warhammer and 40k universe.

    Dawn of War 2, admittedly, I haven’t played, but if you are saying that it’s improved your standing with the game – and I have played the first one, so I know the game in some sense of the word – then I’m sure that it’s far excelled the first one in every way possible. The original DoW, for me, was there for the fanboys: Little kiddies who didn’t know better and thought Space Marines were the Master Chief of 40K. From what you’re saying, they’re now portraying the 40K universe as the 40k universe: A world raging with war and conflict, where all sorts of factions, races and heroes all try to stand out in the deep blackness of space. And I certainly approve of that, being a once-upon-a-time 40K player myself.

    Personally, though, I think that if you want to get a better understanding of the games themselves, the games aren’t true representations of where to go. Myself and about 10 others run a local gaming club that play Warhammer, 40k and many others besides – and yes, in an off-the-keyboard format, how about that! – and we tend to have a good laugh about the game. Admittedly, none of them has shared the same passion for the Warhammer world as I have (I’ve given names for my heroes and lords that don’t have names, for instance – such as Horcos Eaglestar or Imladris Lunarstorm for my High Elven characters) but that follows a varied format to the DoW series that you have been playing: Amass an army then go to war. There’s even some storylines played out in the monthly magazine the main company produce that gives insight as to why two armies would be pitted against one another.

    If you fancy a fresh look at the game, the Games Workshop website is the best place to start. It’s the game that made the game…if that makes any sense. I still got a massed force of Lord of the Rings and High Elves, but have also played Space Marines (and no, I’m not a fan of them – they died more often than not) and Dwarves (or ‘Dwarfs’ as they have it…), but how you enjoy the game is, essentially, by choosing an army that feels more connected to you personally. Though judging from your love of the Night Elves, you may be more inclined for High Elves yourself through their own ideals. But that’s just my two cents – I have been known to be wrong occasionally. xD

    “Please, please…make those HTML tags work…I have not forgotten you, Notepad, old friend…”

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