A long time ago, back when I was at school a game came out called Rogue Trader, or Warhammer 40,000. My friends and I were fans of roleplaying games but had not played any wargames before. One of my friends had bought the game along with hundreds of marines. In order to play against him my brother, my best friend and I assembled an army of Orcs between us. To be honest, it was less the gameplay so much as collecting and painting the figures which appealed to me. These years saw the great decline in Games workshop, when they went from catering to all roleplayers to when they exclusively produced and advertised models for their own games. As games workshop and white dwarf turned their backs on roleplayers I turned my back on games workshop. A few years later we went off to university and I didn’t play warhammer again.
That changed a couple of years ago. After a few false starts I had returned to university again and found myself sharing a house with a bunch of geeks. Role players, wargamers, obsessive MMORPG players, sci-fi fans; in short, my kind of people. Three of them were keen warhammer 40,000 players, although by now the game was in its latest edition and was barely recognisible as the game I remembered. Tom was a marine player and worked at the local games workshop, Pete played chaos and Steve played imperial guard. Steve was not very confident at painting and since I remembered how much I used to enjoy painting the old citadel miniatures I offered to help paint some of his troops as he prepared them for a gamesday in Nottingham. I was quite pleased with how they came out and wanted to paint some more, so I bought myself a box of Cadians to paint. I did consider trying something else, but to be honest I liked the weakness and humanity of the guard. I hadn’t really planned to keep going as much as I did, but the plastic crack is aptly named. Soon my first squad of guard were complete and then I began on a cadian battleforce box. My first squad were painted in standard Cadian colours, because at the time I hadn’t given any thought to designing my own uniforms for a unique army. Having started that way, it simply seemed right to continue. I did give a bit more thought to the unit number. I wanted to use a number from the transfer sheet and the number 501 seemed like the most appealing. 501 looked a bit like Sol, denoting their allegiance to the human home system but in Roman numerals is written as DI, which seemed to have so many possible cool connotations. Thus it was that the 501st Cadian “Death Incarnate” was born.