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  • Writer's pictureDanTO

It's time to go back... back in time to 2002…

Jump in the Delorean and let’s go back in time! Back in time to 2002…


That’s the time of my very first Arc40k!


I’ve been attending Arc40k as a player, an organiser and a passionate hobbyist for 20 years! So, I hope that with this series of articles I can chronicle Arc40k. I hope that through sharing some memories & experiences I can convey what being at them was about.


So just like Marty and the Doc let’s jump in the Delorean (a time machine that’s part of the greatest family movie of all time) let’s dial up a time in ArcHistory and head BACK to see what it was all about.


It is only fitting that first off I delve into my first Arc40k experience. Was this my Enchantment Under the Sea moment? Past Dan learned a lot about how to B. Goode in terms of playing in a tournament!


Well in 2001 I was working for Games Workshop in the Melbourne CBD store. I had heard of Arc40k over the couple of years prior whilst working in other stores. The City store was different.


The team there embraced this event, my Store Manager at the time started his army in mid 2001 for the January 2002 event. His enthusiasm for the competition was infectious. I decided if I am going to attend then I needed to build a new army.


Back before all the Horus Heresy Novels and stories were published, White Dwarf were doing monthly articles showcasing new rules and background for the 18 First Founding Space Marine Legions, called Chapter Approved. The latest article was the Iron Hands, the long forgotten Legion that no one played, and even once the article was released a lot of people wanted to read the stories but had no real interest in them as an army. Not me.


The major features of the half page of rules was Veteran Sergeants being equipped with Terminator

My beloved 'Mk 1' Iron Hands
My beloved 'Mk 1' Iron Hands

Armour, a rule that seemed to be inspired by 2nd Edition Chaos Space Marines, and Techmarines or Iron Fathers were HQ Choices. This imagery hit me instantly as cool, and started my 20 year love of Iron Hands.




It was decided, Arc40k 2002 - Iron Hands. A list was written, starting with a squad with a veteran in terminator armour and an Iron Father HQ. Back then a Force Organisation chart meant an army needed 1 HQ & 2 Troop choices minimum. So 2 squads it was, with different weapon options and I was on my way.

Mk 1 Iron Hands with the custom shoulder pads

I spent the months leading up to the event, building & painting an army that even included a fully converted squad of MkVI Space Marines, including one of those cool Veteran Sergeants in Terminator armour. I had found my own ‘Rule of Cool’, I was so proud of this army, I was ready for the event.


Arc40k 2002 was held as part of the Arcanacon Roleplaying Convention which took place at Collingwood College. 40k was allocated space in the 3rd Floor science block. It was late January, so the weather was hot, I had never seen so many gaming tables in the one place before. It’s an odd feeling when expectation meets reality and the reality is so much better than your expectation. It was exciting.


It was my first time experiencing Mark Morrison the TO. I’m sure there are whole articles that could be written about how infectious that man is when he stands in front of a group of hobbyists, role players or war gamers, and delivers a rousing oratory to describe the mission, to give players direction, to tell them to be kind to each other. Whatever he was peddling that day I was buying.


After lunch on the first day, Mark introduced the field to a new award that would forever change the event. Player’s Choice. We as players would have to set up our armies on our tables and then we would be allowed to vote for our Favourite in attendance.


It was at this point that I truly realised how marvellous this hobby is, how amazing parading armies can be when the players are passionate about bringing armies that inspire them. Ben Leong’s Eldar Jetbike army drew the attention that day, that army blew my mind, and deservingly so it won the inaugural Player’s Choice vote, I’m proud to say that I voted for it.

Mark in 2003. Picture by Brian Yap (Flickr)

By the end of the second day, six games had been played, six of the most whacky missions I had ever played. I use the term whacky, because the missions despite having odd objectives or being inspired by some out of the box thinking were all quite balanced and challenged the players. After all was said and done, it was time for the awards ceremony.


Mark then announced that he would be counting down from last to first, needless to say, I thought I would be waiting a lot longer for my name to be called. By the time Andrew Cassidy was crowned winner, my thoughts went straight to next year.


At first I was disappointed I didn’t do better, but then I started looking at all the things I could do differently, and how to approach Arc40k 2003. What I thought would do well going into the event, turned out to suck totally. A lot could be written about that Iron Hands list, but the one thing it taught me about event play, is that to be competitive your army needs a little teeth. Not necessarily across the board tabling opponents no matter what they have, but you need something that can do some damage.


Overall 2002 was a very positive experience, it set me on a course that led my hobby to where it is today. It definitely helped shape my hobby, and reinforce to me that nothing beats hanging with your mates having a great time sharing a common experience. I met so many people that first year that have now become life long mates, not that we talk every day, we don’t, but we see each other at Arc40k, or in a hobby store and we stop and have a chat. I hope your first Arc gave you a similar experience.


What was your first tournament experience like? Was it an experience at Arc40k? Which army did you take? I am keen to hear the stories of your first tournament experience, drop me an email, dan@arc40k.com


DanTO - OUT!



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