I remember the first time I played Warhammer in my local Games Workshop store. I had actually been invited to a painting day, and was thrilled to be going. I had rushed through painting my army up in advance to have something to play with, taking only a few unpainted models to work on whilst I was there. That army was the horde of Chaos. To be more precise – I played, and loved, Nurgle.
My Nurgle force, back in the day, was a force to be reckoned with. I had over 4000 pts worth, which for a 14yr old was not a bad collection. I adored building them, converting them, and was getting pretty good with Green Stuff. The problem is, that was where my affinity with the models ended. I was a really shocking painter.
That day, I learned how to paint – or paint ‘good enough’ at least. I am very far off the likes of some of the miniature bloggers I follow, but I can paint to table standard. I will never win a Golden Demon, but my minis are better than having them unpainted.
That aside, Nurgle was my first true love. Forget girls, forget trying to be cool at school, forget board games and video games – Nurgle was the first thing I was really obsessed with in my teenage years.
There is something special about the gods of Chaos. They are interesting characters within the mythos of the game and have some beautiful models under their collections. Forget Sigmar for a second, the gods of Chaos are really where the fun is at. They always have been, and so I knew of a few players who have played “pure” Chaos (there’s a juxtaposition!) rather than picking from the big four, but they are few and far between. It is easy to see why someone would choose to play as one of the four; however, in my circle, most picked Khorne. There is more diversity in the hobby now, but there wasn’t so much back then. This led me to question: why did I choose Nurgle specifically? What was it that appealed?
I think “Why Nurgle?” comes from two big appeals. The first is when you look at the other three gods. Khorne seems to be the favourite amongst both the players and with Games Workshop themselves. Even now, Khorne is the favourite, being the first to be revised in the Age of Sigmar version of the game. For me, however, the god of rage and blood doesn’t overly have that much appeal about him. He doesn’t use his brain, but instead just hits things really hard. To me, that isn’t overly interesting.
Tzeentch had the exact opposite problem. They had some weird looking demons growing up, and a Tzeentch army was mainly magic based (again, although I haven’t dabbled with Chaos in a while, I believe they still are). It may have been the wrong impression, but the impression I had was that they didn’t really have enough welly. Instead, their magic was confusing for a new player to get their head around – especially a fairly young gamer.
I also couldn’t (and still can’t) pronounce Tzeentch…so there’s that as well. I mean…is it Tea-Zeech? Because that’s what I’ve been going with. I also, occasionally, go with Taz-inch, depending on how the feeling takes me.
For Slaanesh – I just didn’t like the daemonettes. I didn’t want to have to paint boobs. Yes, it was that simple. I felt awkward enough as it was as a teenage boy growing up. Boobs on my minis weren’t needed to make me feel even more awkward, especially in Games Workshop which was, in a way, my haven.
Finally, Nurgle seemed to have the right combo of everything. They were the underdogs, but they were awesome. They were the ones who had to use a combination of brains and brawn. Not to mention, they were the misfits. They were the ones I could personally relate to more as a misfit of my own.
Secondly, Nurgle was fun to paint. They had a rich history, and that really appealed. They were also the ones which spanned the whole of the Games Workshop range. They were the mutants, the weird ones, the ones which gave complete artistic freedom to the sculptors who wanted to make models. From choosing Nurgle as an army, I went to choose the Carnival of Chaos in Mordheim, and they were the most fun I ever had painting a group.
For me – Khorne and Slaanesh have always seemed a bit predictable, but with Nurgle (and yes, Tzeentch as well) they were unpredictable. They are still are unpredictable, partly due to their nature and partly due to the range of troops the armies of Chaos have at their disposal. From what I understand they are still great fun to play to this day.
More Than a Warband
Growing up though, Nurgle were more than a warband. They were a symbol of something bigger and greater. It may sound sad now, and over-analysis to the max, but the armies of Nurgle stood for being free and knowing what you are. At a time in life when all people are looking for an identity, Nurgle showed me, in a way, that I could be proud to be who I was. It told me I didn’t need to pretend. I could wear my heart on my sleeve, and present myself to the world – warts ‘n’ all.
That was Nurgle’s greatest gift. There was no pretense, no expectations, and no judgment. There was no need to feel self-conscious about physical appearance. There was no need to worry about what anyone thought of you. Nurgle didn’t worry, and I controlled Nurgle, so why should I?
Teenage geekdom. It was a bitch, but Nurgle made it that small bit better.
So why write about this? Well, I’ve been thinking about Nurgle again recently and I’ve been thinking about starting again. Before I had a Chaos army in Warhammer Fantasy. Now, since Age of Sigmar kind of wrecked Fantasy for me (yes, okay, a controversial opinion I know but they trashed my Night Goblin horde, and I’m bitter about that) I am thinking about trying the new 40k Death Guard Plague Marines and building a heavy demon influenced army once again. That way, if AoS ever appeals again I can make the transition fairly easily.
This is where I need your help, Warhammer 40k Players – I need your advice. What should I start with to build a small Nurgle force? I need as much help as I can here as I can (I haven’t played 40k since 2004 and my knowledge is a bit dated and seen through rose tinted glasses, in case you hadn’t guessed) so please offer any advice you feel like.
Also – coincidentally – does anyone know how to pronounce “Tzeentch”?