I love the Dawn of War games. Weíve already established from previousarticles that Iím a fan of Games Workshopís tabletop games, but Iíve never been a huge fan of the sci-fi based Warhammer 40,000. It has a great universe, great models, and there are other games set in the same universe that I utterly love (Inquisitor and Necromunda) but Iíve never been as a big a fan of 40k as I am of the fantasy based Warhammer.
I do love the Dawn of War games, however. I bought all of the expansion packs to the original and I have the sequel, though Iím not very far into it yet. I am very aware that my reasons for liking the game may be a little different from most people. Oh sure, it has nice mechanics, a good pace, a decent selection of armies and units. But what I really love, above all else, is the Army Painter. For someone like me, who doesnít have the time or patience to sit and churn out army after army on the tabletop, itís a godsend! It lets me test out colour schemes, emulate schemes that Iíve seen and liked, and it allows me to select a characterful army for a specific match, enemy or tactic.
Iím going to focus on the Space Marines for a number of reasons. The Space Marines have, by far, the largest number of recognised colour schemes, with many named chapters varying in fame from the very prominent Ultramarines (blue, usually with white or gold trim), Dark Angels (dark green), Blood Angels (red with red or black trim)and Black Templars (Black with white trim) to the more obscure chapters such as the Imperial Harbingers (completely white armour with a yellow helmet), Celebrants (yellow, orange and red armour) and the Brazen Claws (quartered red and blue armour).
The space marines are also relatively simple models. They are a very good army to create custom colour schemes for because of their clearly segmented armour, iconic shoulder pads and large, flat surfaces. Plus, and this point is of utmost importance, they look cool! A little generic? Yes, but cool nonetheless. They are the army which most represent the battlefields of the 41st millennium, the army which has seen the least fundamental visual change since their inception, and the staring point for the collections of many players.
Although they are often considered generic, each Space Marine chapter (well, most) have their own distinct personality, and this is something I like to play to in the Dawn of War series. If I know Iím going to taking on the Tyranids, then Iíll usually go Ultramarines, many of whom were wiped out by a massive Tyranid attack. The Ultramarines are a chapter that adheres strictly to the Index Astartes, essentially a playbook for Space Marines, which advocates a balanced approach to war and a rigid chapter structure. Well, they would, their Primarch (leader and genetic progenitor) wrote it!. They do, however, make one exceptions, by fielding specialist veteran Tyranid Hunter squads made of survivors of previous encounters with the Tyranids. Itís too characterful to pass up, especially in more squad-based Dawn of War 2.
There are other examples. Do you like to fight up close and personal? Inject a bit of character into your force by fielding the vicous Blood Angels or the feral Space Wolves. Enjoy a more vehicle-oriented approach? Field the technology loving Iron Hands.
Of course, you donít need to limit yourself to one the existing, recognised chapters. You can have a lot of fun designing your own one and leading it into battle. Hey, if you really like it, you might even want to grab a couple of miniatures and paint them up in your colours. My chapter is called the Verdant Fists:
Iíve not really got any back story for my chapter, but it gives a nice sense of continuity to go from playing on the tabletop to playing an online RTS with the same team. Dawn of War represents to me, in much the same way as the new Blood Bowl game, a bridging point between two hobbies. Over the past few years, Games Workshop have become a lot smarter over who they give their licences to and Iím really hoping this continues and that more games are created, whether interpretations such as Dawn of War or faithful translations such as Blood Bowl, to further bring GWís intellectual property into the digital realm and that these games are made to complement the tabletop original and, in doing so, enthuse and excite GWís core audience in the way that this game has so clearly excited me over the past few years.