They Don’t Make Nostalgia Like They Used To…

Not so Long Ago…
I needed a hobby. 

My hobby at the time which was ‘drink till you fall over’ was getting a little monotonous and besides which I’d pretty much mastered it by that point 😉
So I decided killing peoples toy soldiers with my own toy soldiers was the way to go…
I had a brief chat with a guy called Andy in a Games Workshop store about what I’d need which forced me to make a decisive early choice. You know the one…
“Which army do you fancy doing then?”
To my credit I didn’t ask “which one is best?”…..
The Chaos Codex had just been released and it being the thing that the guy in the shop had obviously been ordered to sell as many of as possible, he promptly sold me one.
And some models, obviously.
My first purchases included,
Some Chaos Space Marines,
A box of Possessed,
A box of Khorne Berzerkers,
2 boxes of Chaos Spawn
A Land Raider,
A Predator, 
A Defiler and a Vindicator…
As you can see, even right at the beginning I had an almost uncanny knack for building awesomely competitive lists.
Okay, maybe not.
I assembled them in a variety of cinematic poses blissfully ignorant of the fact that that a Marine would probably be looking in the same direction as his gun was pointing and convinced that every one of the accessories in the box needed to be attached to at least one of the models.
I liked how Plasma Pistols and Plasma Guns looked so pretty much everyone who could have one, got one (and a few models that couldn’t have them also got them). I probably should have read the ‘Gets Hot’ rule first but never mind.
I also presumed that if there was a weapon on the same sprue as a model then that meant he could take it which made my 4 Special Weapon, 2 Heavy Weapon, Dual Champion Chaos Space Marine Squad look amazing while simultaneously making it completely illegal.
I still have my first attempt at painting around just to keep myself amused…
I was having fun though and that was all that really mattered.
After actually reading the Codex properly I removed a few arms that had completely inappropriate weapons on them and spread those aforementioned special weapons around the squads so they were ‘legal’. Then I was introduced to the concept of writing an army list. So I played my first game at something around about 1000 points with some of the stuff I’d assembled that I most liked the look of.
It died quite impressively, a fact that I attributed to my lack of playing experience.
But as before I was having fun so it was all fine.
So I tried again, and again, and again…
It was about the point that I was planning on abandoning the hobby altogether (believing that I just wasn’t any good at it) that I encountered a person called Dave, or ‘Space Wolf’ Dave as everyone seemed to know him. Now in hindsight playing against somebody called ‘Space Wolf’ Dave who’s actually using Space Wolves when your looking for an easy win is about as sensible as playing against a card player who’s nickname is ‘Ace’ or getting into a fight with someone called ‘Killer’.
After my inevitable defeat, while packing my models away in that way you do when they’ve failed you utterly (by which I mean ‘not very carefully’). My opponent gave me some useful advice which could be summed up like this.
“Your army isn’t very good”
Which was a bit of a surprise as I’d presumed that it was me that was the problem and it turned out that it wasn’t (well not entirely anyway).
The Chaos Spawn went first, followed by the Possessed. Weapon choices became optimised, the Khorne Berzerkers lost their Plasma Pistols after a particularly impressive shooting phase where 2 Berzerkers and a Champion all managed to fry themselves simultaneously. Obliterators gradually replaced my other heavy support options and a Daemon Prince replaced my generic Chaos Lord as the HQ. 
I began to do better. Losses became almost draws which in turn became draws and then wins. My army became much more effective and at some point winning became the point of playing rather than the coolness factor of what I was playing with. 
I rapidly became one of the ‘guys to beat’ a reputation that I admittedly quite enjoyed.
More Recently.
Sometime after that I was asked to play a game against a child in the store as nobody was available either on staff or his own age and he really wanted to try out his army.
Some of the highlights of his 1500 point army included,
3 HQ’s one of which was Marneus Calgar in Power Armour,
4 Elites,
A 2 man Bike Squad,
1 Troops choice,
And an extremely expensive Assault Squad with an attached HQ.
I mauled it quite badly….
In 3 turns… 
I then experienced a strange feeling that was later explained to me as a concept called ‘guilt’ which was a fairly alien emotion that I wasn’t fond of at all…..You see, despite all it’s faults and the fact that it wasn’t actually a legal army he was really, really, really proud of it. It contained all the stuff he thought sounded cool or looked cool (or both) and that was what was important to him. 
I spent the time afterwards explaining to him  what was wrong with his army, what made it illegal and what he could replace to make it more effective and over the next few months we all taught him how to play better and also the rudiments of list design. 
He’s now a very good player. Winning is a bit too important to him really and the excitement of using the ‘stuff he thought was cool’ has been replaced by the feeling of satisfaction gained from winning.
Unfortunately I can’t help but feel that what we’ve gave him back isn’t necessarily a fair replacement for what we took away…
I sometimes miss that feeling of excitement I used to have that came from playing for the sake of playing, the feeling of triumphing over the odds and winning with all those models that I loved because they were the things I wanted to use. The fact that I change lists so regularly may have something to do with trying to recapture that feeling but inevitably I’ll end up in the pattern of rejecting certain units straight away because of their lack of competitiveness in favour of something else that works.
I’m sure that initial feeling can be recaptured if I try hard enough. Or maybe there’s a happy mid point somewhere?

I’m not hopeful though, I now look with general scorn at children (and the odd adult) assembling Devastator squads with one of each heavy weapon, Leman Russ Tanks built as ‘Punishers’, Possessed bought for any other purpose than as a bits stockpile and models with 15 point Plasma Pistols on them make me twitch for reasons I can’t quite quantify…

Apparently they don’t make nostalgia like they used too…..

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