Guardians of the living room
WITH WARHAMMER 40K PLAYERS
Eight. Two dice just bounced on a plastic warrior figurine; « The glorious Defenders of Humanity will be the first ones to lead an assault! » says Hervé. Hervé is 44, he’s playing against Julien, 32. They are both settling their armies on the board. Hervé’s is green and grey. Julien’s is blue and pink. He’ll play second.
In the Warhammer 40K community, Julien and Hervé are somewhat stars that fans look up to. Hervé is moderating the biggest facebook group in France dedicated to the practice « Warhammer France ». Julien is the YouTuber behind « French Wargame Studios », followed by north of 15,000 warhammer-lovers. Today’s match unfolds in his apartment-turned-into-a-shooting-studio for the greater good and the delight of his followers.
Created in 1987 by an English man named Rick Priestley, the figurines game produced by Games Workshop gathers now hundreds of thousand of aficionados throughout the world. « Warhammer 40 000 is a figurine game settled in the future. In a universe where life ain’t good. The human race is threatened and besieged by powers that want to make sure that it will be obliterated from the galaxy » says Hervé. Before every match, the rules are set. The player that will kill most soldiers in the opponent’s army while limiting his own losses win.
On Julien’s massive 3 meters board, an ultra-detailed post-apocalyptic Warhammer setup is placed amid the Star Wars posters. The whole room has the geeky look and feel you’d expect. The game is lit by 5 lamps that give the scene a whole cinematographic style. « I can picture that, for anyone that loves Warhammer, I mean, someone that plays, paints and builds figurines, they could spend 10, 20, 30, 40 hours per week here without a doubt. » says Hervé as he moves his figurines with a millimeter-bound accuracy. Being a Warhammer gamer isn’t fully captured by playing. Real gamers spend most of their time painting and accumulating the figurines, sold sometimes for tens of euros per unit.
Julien, to whom Warhammer gaming has become a real paying job, acknowledges that « hobby has taken over most of his live » including « social and love life ». He regrets that wargames such as Warhammer be perceived negatively by people. « Modeling, on the other hand is perceived as rigorous, serious, organized » he says.
Hervé is a family man and a business man. He sees well that his family has a hard time understanding how he can be so much into Warhammer figurines. « People always ask me: when do you grow up? Haha. Well, listen, it’s a game, it’s a hobby. I would say that everything that stimulates imagination and social activities is to be privileged. » Well said.
The two armies have been fighting fore more than three hours. Behind the closed curtains of the apartment, the night is falling. And that’s a good timing: the glorious defenders of Humanity were in trouble. Hervé collects his figurines and places them carefully in cases designed for his very own Warhammer army. Julien puts back the blue elves in the display case of his living room and turns off the lights of the studio.
In the dark of the living room, a Chewbacca-surfer statue is staring at the board table, awaiting the next game.