Warhammer is one of the most customizable hobbies in existence, which is one of the reasons so many people are drawn to it. There are so many different armies to choose from, and each of them possess their own unique lore and playstyle. In addition to that, each army has enough variance so that lists may be built in diverse ways to fit the players’ playstyle even more. To add even further to that, armies may be customized from proxying entire pieces, down to the sand that you decide to put on the base. Armies and models can be combined to make your army a unique as possible, and the colors that you paint them only serve to make the army even more a part of you.
Warhammer is also quite an expensive hobby, as you may know. So choosing your army can be a big deal for most players. If you are a player who enjoys the thrill of winning, well, you might want to pick a versatile army which can hold its own against the even tougher codexes out there. You might enjoy building army lists. In that case you might want to pick an army with a variety of units that make it easy to build multiple unique lists. In any case, you don’t want to pick an army that you are not going to have fun with, or even relate to at all. It will make for a bad time with the game, and an even worse time with the hobby (which is where most of your time is spent). This being said, choosing an army can be integral part of how much fun you will have with the game in general.
So how did I pick my army, you might ask? Why the Blood Angels? Well, when I first set eyes on the Warhammer hobby all those years ago, I really liked the Space Marines (as most people do). Superhuman soldiers, fitted with suits of power armor that enhance their abilities and senses ten-fold. Resilient against the most powerful foes, unwavering in the face of true terror, and tactically intelligent. Seriously?! I want a piece of that action! And so I bought my first Space Marines. I started playing as the Ultramarines (this is back in second edition when the poster boys were actually the Blood Angles), and I got used to their well-roundedness as an army. However nothing really stood out as “exciting” about them for me. I eventually moved to the Space Wolves, who were very versatile as an army and very customizable at the time. I didn’t really enjoy their lore: how stubborn and narrow minded the chapter could be. Then I tried the Dark Angels, who were mysterious in nature, wore cloaks over their armor, and had three different “sections” of their army. The Dark Angel marines, the Ravenwing which consisted of bikes and landspeeders, and the Deathwing which was a company of Terminators. Now this army I enjoyed for a while, but I didn’t enjoy the paint scheme… Can you say “Jingle Bells!”
Feeling rather let-down by the Space Marines, I decided to give it one more go. I picked up a Blood Angels codex next, and started reading. This chapter spoke volumes to me, as it related to the hardships I endured in my life. Damned and dying, these marines fight every day for their survival individually, and for their chapter as a whole. They were cursed with an almost PTSD like, psychically-linked disease that plagues each marine who has been infused with the gene-seed of their glorious Primarch martyr. These angels of death are cursed with a Red-Thirst for blood, and a Black-Rage that inevitably drives every marine mad with an insatiable lust for blood. Once lost to rage the marines are forced into the ranks of the Death Company, who then adorn the distinguishable black armor that becomes their tomb, as they are sent to die gloriously in battle, or be slain by the Master Chaplain of their own chapter. Untrusted by their fellow Space Marine brothers, they fight onwards for the Imperium of man, ever-enduring, waiting for the day they might find a cure for The Flaw in their blood.
The story of their Primarch (Commander of the Blood Angels) Sanguinius also spoke volumes to me. Sanguinius was not as “pure” as his brother Primarchs, because he was touched by the Warp (the lore’s version of dark-magic) as a child. Due to this “tainting” he grew angelic wings which could carry him through the sky, possessed a ferocious might and skill rivaled by only the Emperor (leader of mankind) himself, and gift of foresight that allowed Sanguinius to see into the future. He was a friend to all, and an enemy only to those who made him. He was tempted by Chaos, but did not fall to its inducements. He was even able to see his own death at the hands of his brother Primarch Horus, and still gave his life willingly, knowing how important his death was to play in the Emperor’s victory. He fought on, no matter the odds, and did it with a certain grace and fury that commanded respect from all whom he knew.
As a child I grew up in an alcoholic household, which left me scarred, broken, and angry. I too felt like there was a flaw in me, which drove me mad with anger. I used to get into fights, black-out in fits of rage, and was unreasonably aggressive with certain people. I related to the “Black-Rage” that the Blood Angels faced. The codex said that the Blood Angels were truly unmatched in their hand-to-hand skills, as they “fight like ones possessed.” As did I, thanks to the decade of martial arts training. Not only did I relate to their fury, but I also empathized with their unending struggle, and their unyielding strife to conquer themselves, and vanquish their flaw. And like Sanguinius I was determined, and truly was a friend to more that less. I was tempted to fall on my fair-share of occasions, but fought on valiantly even in the face of adversity, which previously was thought unconquerable. I fought to stay good and true, even with the knowledge and fear of the rage that dwelled within. Needless to say, I loved everything about the Blood Angels lore because of how I felt I could relate to it. Not to mention that most of their names and symbolizations are based in the Italian Renaissance which, as an Italian American, is awesome.
I chose the Blood Angels all those years ago, and despite all of the “questionable” decisions Games-Workshop has made regarding the Blood Angels codex, I still play them today. I still love the blood-red army on the tabletop, and the lore for all of the same reasons. For some of you it may not need to be all that intimate. It could be as simple as “I like how that army uses battlesuits,” or “they look like skeleton robots, so cool,” or even just “orks orks orks orks…” No matter how you chose, my choice of army helped create the experience I had with the Warhammer hobby. So I urge all of you to keep that in mind when making your decision.