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A Grim Dark Universe

Him: Mum, how about I show you a Warhammer battle report?
Me: How about you bring home an A for something first?
Him: How about I give you two hats?
Me: No.

Warhammer 40K. It’s a recent hobby our boy has plunged into headfirst. He’s been enjoying everything about it. The real-time “battles”. The lore around each unit. Making and painstakingly painting each troop.

For people who don’t know a thing about Warhammer 40K, it’s ok. I had no clue before I started as well.

It’s a tabletop game — kind of like RISK, only more complicated and demanding. You throw dice to wound or repel an attack. And the army with the most points at the end of 4 to 6 turns wins the battle.

In this grim darkness of the far future, there is only war. From sticks and stones, ants and Pokémon, our son’s interest has now evolved to blood, guts and gore.

I was hoping to harness his interest in the new game to encourage him to get better grades at school. In my mind, I thought it was a brilliant idea. Pure genius. I’d agree to watch 40-minute long battle reports to celebrate every A he brought home.

We always believed our son to be an average student. He has vast general knowledge, but none of that translated into brilliant marks. I thought at best he’d apply himself and get Bs and I’d be safe.

That was until:

Him: Guess what. I got an A for my geography test.
Me: Oh no…
Him: Yep. You now have to watch a Warhammer battle report with me.

It was an ordinary day. I asked our boy about school expecting the usual “It was fine”. But on 21 October 2020, my life changed. I could tell he was in a good mood by the huge grin he had on his face as he came through the door.

He showed me the test result. And that was that. I had to sit through a battle report, because I was an idiot and promised him I’d do so.

That afternoon:

Him: You’re getting into this aren’t you?
Me: Son, I am watching this because I love you. If there ever comes a time you doubt my love for you, I hope you remember this moment.
Him: Awww. Thanks mum.

So that’s how it started. Our son’s first A. In a geography test. I was now hoping it was a lucky break. But no. A few weeks later:

Me: How was your day at school?
Him: I had a great day! Not a meh day. A great day.
Me: Oh?
Him: Yep. I got an A-plus for my Religious Studies assessment.
Me: Oh no…
Him: Yep. So we’re watching another battle report. 5:30pm today ok for you?

I guess it had to be. So I sat through another 40 minutes of surprisingly nice guys, rolling dice and blasting troops off various terrain. One player even made pew-pew noises as he advanced. It made me smile.

Just between you, me and the internet, the actual battle wasn’t too bad either.

Then he came home with his school report. For the first time in our lives, his father and I saw three As sprinkled through a sea of Bs and a couple of Cs.

We were proud of him. But my heart sank at the same time. Me and my stupid promises. Our boy gave me a grin that stretched across the room.

These days he is more strategic about the games he shows me. He knows how hard he has to work for As and doesn’t want to waste it on ordinary battle reports.

He showed me a recent battle report between the Adeptus Mechanicus and the forces of Chaos. It was a nail biter with the Adeptus Mechanicus just hanging on until the end of the turns. It wasn’t as dull as I anticipated, even though I’ve yet to understand the rules of the game.

Our boy asked recently about my favourite faction.

Easy. It would have to be the battle nuns, the Adepta Sororitas. They look so bad-ass. And they have a giant tank organ. Imagine a gigantic cathedral organ barrelling over your enemies. So cool.

“Mum, they’re a faction that’s a little difficult to play when you’re just starting out.”

“Doesn’t matter. I’ll learn.”

Pew-pew-pew!

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