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Dan’s Rule of Cool

The ‘Rule of Cool’ in Roleplaying refers to the willing suspension of disbelief for a given element is directly proportional to its degree of coolness. In wargaming terms it’s the fine line between an army with too much lore and too much power.


If you think back to the time you first encountered the hobby, the first models you purchased, it was all based on picking the coolest models. For me, it was the early 90s, I was in my early teens, and one of my mates had a White Dwarf. At recess and lunch we would pour over pictures of amazingly painted models, our reaction would invariably be ‘wow, that’s cool’.

Old School White Dwarfs.. those unattainable armies...

When we got together after school to have a game, the first thing we did was show off the miniatures we had painted since last time we played. We didn’t know it at the time, but everything we did, was following our own ‘Rule of Cool’.

Kim Syberg's Space Wolves, truly one of my first 'Phwoar COOL' hobby moments

In the early 2000s, the term was used during our weekly gaming session as we play tested army lists. By choosing challenging choices that fitted both with the Codex we had decided to take, and the story that led us to that Codex.


This mindset was a driving influence for me to attend my first Arcanacon 40k event, which at the time was on the up as the event to go to, small points, showcasing your hobby. Shortly after, when I started running my own events the concept of players bringing armies that walked the line between lore and power was central to the player experience.


Over the past 10 years as Tournament Organizer of Arc40k, I’ve found more and more players that apply similar principles to the armies they choose to bring along.

Black Templar - 3rd Edition Rule Book artwork

Many of them using the term ‘Rule of Cool’ when justifying personal choices of models that may not be the best combination in the book, but instead make them a happy gamer.


Regardless of the tabletop outcome their experience is for the better, and this needs to be explored, celebrated & replicated.


This is the Rule of Cool!


I suppose this article is the start of a journey to explore the wargaming Rule of Cool. To delve into the hobby, I’ll be sharing thoughts about my own hobby, showcasing hobby from across the community, digging through the archives of Arc40k armies from years past, and talking to people about how they apply the Rule of Cool to their own hobby.


I'm going to throw the challenge out now, let's go for a walk down memory lane.


Tell me your story, how did you get into the miniature wargaming hobby? Which models were the first that made you gasp, 'Phwoar Cool'? Can you find pics of those Models? Or was it a piece of 40k artwork?


I'll collate the responses and share them and my thoughts in an upcoming article.


Send me an email: dan@arc40k.com