Oldhammer 40k – When Fun Beats ‘Rulez’ Pt. 1

1. Setup

What happens when two Oldhammer fans catch up for the first time face-to-face in too long?

Models get busted out. A shed gets filled.

And dice plans don’t work out the way you expect.

This weekend over two nights two games were played.  Both games were Dan T.  Aka “The Indestructible Celt”  Vs myself Shaun A. Aka “Ming The Mirthless”

2. Marines Advance2.1 Marines Advance

We ended up settling for some Imperial Guards Vs Space Marines the first night – calling them Renegade Imperial Guard, as they were Ming’s team you could even suggest a chaotic taint. Thus the Space Marines were a small advance ‘Purifying’ team sent in to check for signs of chaos taint.

Note to self: Don’t I have an entire box of Chaos Cultists & Proxies somewhere as yet un-built?

These were all based on stats and equipment from the Rogue Trader Compendiums – including original 1st Edition Space Marine stats [T-3] – marines just used to have better equipment and weapons choices – so that’s how we modelled the set-up.

FYI a certain evil Ming once got his Chaos Marines equipped with Nukes and Viral weapons and virtually wiped out an entire Guard platoon in a few shots. Ah… Blood for the Blood God.

Renegade Imperial Guard:

  • 1x Commissar Major Hero – basic and standard equipment
  • 2x Tactical Squads – basic and standard equipment
  • 1x Ogryn Squad – basic and standard + mesh armour and ripper gun for the leader

Purifying Space Marines Advance Team:

  • 1x Major Hero Tech Marine – basic and standard equipment + multilaser rapier gun platform
  • 1x 5 Marine Tactical Squad – basic and standard equipment + multimelta, leader with chainsword and jump packs
  • 1x 5 Marine Assault Squad – basic and standard equipment + 1x power fist, 1x power axe, 1x flamer, 1x heavy bolter

The Marine Assault Squads had a pretty non standard mix of weapons, but we decided to just use the oldest metal marines The Indy Celt had.

So yes that’s all original late 80/ early 90s metal on the game table – and then play it WYSIWYG.

3.1 Guard Advance

We’re both more that capable of mis-remembering rules, using rules from another edition, game or inventing mechanics on the spot.

We have both over the years become frustrated with UGO-IGO. But instead of a simple alternating unit actions – the suggestion this time from Indy Celt was using playing cards.

  1. A card for each squad for one team in red.
  2. A card for each squad of the other team in black.
  3. Shuffle the deck, then pick and activate a unit.
  4. When all cards have been picked, shuffle the used pile and start again.
  5. Squad dead? Take a matching coloured card out.
  6. ????
  7. Profit aka Fun!

6. Woods For Cover

There was a lot of initial scurrying around – with the Ogryns marauding around very slowly through rivers, Marines jumping around from cover to cover – either of walls or woods. And the Imperial Guard made their way uphill.

At one point the Comms tower seemed important. I suspect in hindsight it’s an old chess habit of control the centre, control the game.

Afterwards I  argued a few angry Ogryns stomped out the chance of the Marines calling for backup. Or they might have just knocked out the wires in passing. They are relatively dumb after all.

7. Orgyn Advance8. Marines Side Sweep

Just as there was about to be some significant melee between Ogryn & Marine units – The Tech-marine with Rapier weapons platform rolled into line of sight of the Guard units up on  the hill.

The first roll by the advanced & very well equipped Tech-marine was a 1. A fluff  – with the biggest & deadliest weapon in the field.

The Renegade Guard had no idea what had occurred.

And even if they had, they most likely would have run!

9. Rapier Miss - More 1s10. Grenades!

The Tactical Marine Squad picked off wood hiding Guards with ease – and the retaliatory grenade went off target. 3 blood markers for lost Guard – 1 blood marker for a lost Marine. Yes, that’s the Guard taking themselves out.

It was at this point Indy Celt suggested use of some extra game elements to keep things interesting.

The card selection for turn move was already keeping things highly unpredictable – as a good battle should be.

11. Orgyn Stomps

The new element?

A nice giant roaming Dinosaur – a T-Rex nicked from his daughter’s play box – So in the end we did put a plastic model on the table – but at least it was fully painted.

12. Dinosaur Spotted

The Giant Dinosaur is in the rule book on Pg.221. Rogue Trader has all sorts of scenario & plot & campaign elements built in. But non of it is compulsory.

One of the early compendiums even has rules for programming robots with auto commands. But that’s a whole other story from another game…

13. State of Play

At this point the battle field had been split into two areas – Renegade Orgyns all shouts and smashes on top of  one remaining Tac Marine squad.

On the other side the Renegade Commander was performing an ‘Operation Meat Shield’ with his troops to avoid the wrath of the pursuing zealous Purifying Marines

17. Rapier - Miss Again

As the cards continued to randomise which unit got to act, or react, the Tech-marine fired his multi-laser rapier at the scurrying guard – but if you’re paying attention, yes that’s another 1, another complete miss!

18. Marines Run!

The battle continues to spiral into the madness that is the fog-of-war – smashy Ogryns actually routed the marines – who proceeded to run from the battlefield. (!?!?!)

19. Plucky Guard - Direct Hit

Next the solitary Lascannon Trooper  – and really the only high yield weapon on the Renegade’s side – one shotted the rapier as it was moved into line of sight.

I could feel the fuming Tech-marine across the battlefield.

20. Orgyn Swimming.

At some point in every game, the best laid plans devolve into chaos.

The previously panicked Marines regained their resolve, but at the same time, the Renegade Commander became increasingly emboldened, and with numbers attempted to swamp the remaining Marines on this side of the battlefield.

21. Guard Full Attack22. Marines Dance

Whilst this occurred on the other side of the table – the Tech-marine and the remaining Assault Marines began to sweep out of the way of the T-Rex and the howling Orgyn.

The Red Mist aka the hint of Khorne, finally shows itself in the Renegade Guard.

They turned, and shot straight at the Dino.

23. Itchy Trigger Finger24. Orgyn SMASH

The multi-melta Marine on this side of the battlefield was seemingly battle weary & wandering around directionless.

The Tech-marine failed to act, and was savaged by the raging Orgyns, while at the same time the T-Rex thundered across the battlefield towards the tasting looking Guard.

25. Dino Charge26. Guard Panic!

For once the Guard performed as expected, and turned and ran! Who wouldn’t given the scale of the attacker? – the Renegade Commander wasn’t present to shoot deserters.

27. Ogryn Atttack Big Green Thing

With a roar the Orgyns continued to stomp around and rear assaulted the T-rex – but that didn’t really matter as they couldn’t actually hurt it! They are indeed to stupid to care.

The random cards then enabled both players favourite shot of the game – the Lascannon Trooper who’d aced everything else – took aim, and shot the T-Rex down first attempt.

We both couldn’t stop laughing… while we laughed, the Orgyns tucked into a ‘dinner’ meal of scorched T-Rex flesh. And well deserved their feast was.

28. Las-Hero!

There aren’t photos of just how many troops that one Lascannon Trooper shot – but to borrow a Starship Troopers reference – he would absolutely be the lead character in a promotional video – sadly he’s a Renegade – so it’s more likely Khorne would grant him a gift. And the Realms of Chaos books have some amazingly useless ‘gifts’ that would likely be bestowed.

Battle Summary

  • I absolutely loved the variation to the ebb & flow of battle the card based unit turn system created. Every change in the flow created the need to recalculate. It even created the swamping effect of numerical advantage, but also allowed for that ‘lucky run’ which the eventually outnumbered marines unluckily didn’t capitalise on. I would love to use this mechanic again.
  • The dice rolls were extreme, with one model almost every turn hitting maximum hit, and the most powerful unit on the field missing EVERY time. Statistically running this game again, it would be almost impossible to recreate.
  • The army lists were not ‘balanced’ – the whole game was more a “What if Scenario” imposing a narrative onto the game structure – and the non-player element of the Dinosaur reminded me why I used to like having random Terrain obstacles & effects to further randomise the mix.

And no we didn’t play all rules correctly. But the players are the ultimate arbiters of what they do – not the rulebook. I don’t think we even looked after recording some basic stat lines

  • Playing a game against an opponent who isn’t focused on optimal Math-hammer gaming is something I miss & that definitely killed my feel of later editions of W40k. Maybe I just don’t believe that gaming needs to be even or even fair. It just needs to be agreed. This game had a narrative – and that made the whole evening much more memorable.

And that’s why I’m still modelling, painting, and trying out games.

My inner man-child still likes to have fun.

LATE EDIT: I’ve just been reminded that the multi-laser rapier had follow on fire hitting on 2+.. so yeah The Renegade Guard definitely had a chaos blessing that night!:


The same weekend we constructed a scenario to see just how tough a 10 man unit of Terminator Marines would be when assaulting an infinite supply of Genestealers on a Genestealer hive…. Unbalanced? Yes? Fun? Hell yes.


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