I was first introduced to tabletop wargaming – and specifically the Games Workshop product when I was about seven or eight (and that is longer ago than I like to think about.)

My neighbour who was a few years older than me had some Warhammer 40k, some Epic scale and Blood Bowl and I remember him trying to teach me the rules to play. I loved Blood Bowl for it’s silliness and was totally entranced by one Space Marine he had, with the Corvus helmet and painted in a striking green, white and blue colour scheme.  I’ve loved that particular Space Marine look ever since.

More than all of that, he had the now classic Realms of Chaos books and reading about the Chaos Gods, the Horus Heresy and the corpse-Emperor supported by the awesome artwork from the likes of Adrian Smith was a pretty significant moment in the development of my aesthetic principles.

Over the years that followed, I started reading White Dwarf, buying models and codexes and all that stuff. However, I don’t think I ever satisfactorily painted a model and the number of games of 40k I played is probably less than a dozen. I was always more into the background and stories (funny that) than the more practical or social sides of the hobby and being a particularly anxious teenager made my local store quite a daunting place. I’ll come back to that thought later.

In any case, wargaming slipped behind playing music and drinking beer even before I went to university, although I’ve stayed in touch with the hobby through forums (talking about fluff online is pretty much my forte) and at points I’ve liked the idea of getting back into it and I’ve wandered into a store, bought a few things and then never really followed through.

Most recently, after condensing what remained from my teenage collection from my grandparents house (a motley collection of the Space Marines and Orks from the 3rd Edition 40k starter box, some terminators and Genestealers from Space Hulk, a box of Eldar Guardians etc.) I bought the Assault on Black Reach box set and a bunch of paints, intending to build up a Raven Guard army and a steampunk themed Ork mob – but I stalled out after base coating a few miniatures.

Over the past year or so, I’ve found myself watching lore videos online a lot and the notion of getting back into the hobby occurs to me – I already have a small mountain of models waiting to be painted, so that’s obviously the place to start – but the game of 40k is four editions along from the last time I played and two along from the last rulebook I possess.

One encouraging thing is the new Kill Team rules which allow for smaller armies – which make it easier to get back into the game, but I guess I still need – at least – a new rulebook, the Kill Team supplement and the two relevant Codexes which is a pretty significant outlay. Hell, at that point I’m as good getting the Kill Team box set and adding some more marines and some Tau to my bundle of models needing painted.

Aside from the financial/time investment required, another thing that puts me off getting back into the hobby is the atmosphere.

I always found going to the stores or gaming groups quite intimidating or unpleasant due to that minority of staff & gamers who adhere to all the negative stereotypes attached with tabletop gamers and geek culture in general.

Now, 20 year old experiences and the odd customer service shortcoming aren’t going to put me off the hobby but seeing misogyny and some worryingly alt-right style nastiness normalized in hobby-specific forums and Youtube channels definitely gives me pause. As such, a big part of me doesn’t want to take the time to go along to a store a gaming group only to find it’s blighted by one or more of these lovely individuals, especially with the constraints on my time now that I’m a proper grown up.

So yeah, I’m thinking of getting back into the hobby and I’ll probably at least start painting the miniatures I’ve got already, but I have my concerns.