The Goonhammer Posting Universe – or the GPU, as the execs call it – has a collection of different characters that the internet has gotten to know over the past three or four years. I, myself was enamored by certain people here at the Goonhammer offices before I had joined the team, and the standout person that comes to my mind, as well as many of yours I would imagine, is Goonhammer’s Webmaster, Greg Chiasson.
What’s interesting about this, is that none of us really know why Greg one of the standout authors at Goonhammer. He’s not a massive name that anyone would have known before reading our website. He’s not some 40K prodigy who rose suddenly like Richard Seigler. He’s just some guy whose primary claim to fame is being bad at 40K and having some incredibly odd takes on anything he can get his hands on. And yet, many of our reader survey responses mentioned Greg and his articles by name.
So given that, I set out to solve, or at least demystify, the enigma that is Greg. I felt that was something that we should explore a little bit deeper as a group, and hopefully through some creative questions, we’ll flush out just what makes Greg so special. From his Meatwatch posts, his digestible takes about competitive 40K content, or his rise to meme stardom on the Goonhammer discord through the power of his insane robot child Gregbot*, Greg has captured the hearts and loyalties of a deep and passionate fan base throughout the 40K fan-universe.
Before we get started, I wanted to do a small little back story about Greg and my relationship, and why I felt it was important that I had this conversation. I met Greg for the first time in 2019 when I was introduced to him by a friend at an event called the Nova Open. Before arriving at the event, I had an aversion to online digital content when it came to 40k because a lot of the content creators to whom I had been introduced to would get rules wrong all the time, or would play the game a bit differently than I would expect, and due to that their expertise always came off as fake. With that in mind, when I had started to hear about this blossoming website called Goonhammer and their expert Dark Angels player, Greg, I was a bit skeptical.
Soon after looking into Greg’s history, I discovered that he lost all his games and was not good. Apparently, the entire appeal to his contributions to the website was just how bad he was. Though I found that humorous, I didn’t really see how that could be content that I would want to ingest daily. That all changed after I met him and the rest of the team at the event. I was introduced to a group of guys who were passionate about the content they were putting out, that they were making content for fans, by the fans, and they genuinely wanted the best for the game. After I absorbed all that information and saw where the team was coming from, I couldn’t wait to jump on board and do what I could to help this endeavor called Goonhammer.
What came next was a moment of genius between the two of us, called Stop Competing: Dark Angels, where I was able to combine my passion for trying to become the best Dark Angels player in this country and combine it with Greg’s terrible playstyle and put it into a text form that everyone got to enjoy. Through this process, I got to know Greg and I was able to quickly find out that we were both two sides of the same coin. I tried to take terrible ideas and make them as competitive as possible, spawning my Hear Me Out series, and Greg was just terrible. There was a time when I had thought my suggestions to Greg and his list building might be taken seriously, as I was trying to compete at a national level, but Greg would never hear it, going off on his own form of creative list building. He and I continued to make armies that we both felt passionate about, mirroring each other in army choices, from Tau to Dark Angels, genuinely enjoying each other’s company and hot takes on every subject. Greg has always been a bit of what I would imagine my dark side would look like when it came to the hobby, and I am thrilled to take the time to interview him for you guys and include you in a little bit of what our day-to-day conversations can look like. So without any further ado, let’s get into the interview.
Gunum: Okay bud, here we go. First off, thanks for taking the time to answer some questions. Being able to help explain the Greg zeitgeist (Rob: Zeitgreg) that is a privilege I’m so happy to have. I think some introductions are in order before we get started. Would you please fill us in on who you are, a little about how you got started at Goonhammer, and any projects you are currently working on at our offices?
I should start off here by making it clear that I did not put Gunum up to this. When he first asked me about doing an interview, I thought I’d be on the other side of the table, asking the questions. I think that still makes me a narcissist, but a different kind of narcissist.
My experience with Goonhammer started three or four years ago, when it was just a little WordPress blog for hosting battle reports no one read and pictures of models no one looked at. The previous admin was bored with maintaining it and put an open request out for someone else to do it for him. In my hubris, I asked, and for my sins I received. Ever since then, I’ve been the person to blame when the site breaks, in addition to doing some light writing for the site, creating Gregbot, and occasionally updating Buttscribe. We’ve got a couple of other cool things we’re working on, as this rough beast slouches toward Bethlehem to be born, but more on those later.
What have been some of the most memorable experiences you’ve had since you began your journey into the world of wargaming content creation? The price, the game itself, the story, and, maybe most importantly, finally winning some games?
Straight up the single best thing that’s ever happened to me, Warhammer-wise is that back at the NoVA Open in 2019, Rob and I got matched into each other in round 3. A 250+ player field and I end up playing my best and oldest friend through complete randomization. I’m blown away by how many stars had to align for that to happen, and also wholly unsurprised. It had to happen. Of course, it did. I lost the game – massively, by like 40 points – of course, but still.
Oh, and a couple of strangely wholesome things from the 2k21 GHO US: getting to present our Hear Me Out winner with that dang Tau’nar you donated and the absolutely bizarre moment when patron and friend of the site, Klobasnek, handed me a Dark Angels Intercessor he’d painted, using my paint recipes, topped with a 3D printed model of my own robotic head. I was supposed to give it away, but I got greedy and hung on to it.
Now that you’ve been doing this for a time, have you seen any drawbacks that you didn’t anticipate when you first started?
This started off as a fun little diversion, and gradually turned into something approaching a job. I take the responsibility seriously because our readers and Patrons deserve it, but it’s definitely ended up being a bigger Thing than I’d initially anticipated, which is a good problem to have.
I only started doing this because I didn’t expect it to be a lot of work. Much like Buttscribe, it was a minimal lift (how difficult or expensive can it be to make WordPress run?) to provide some value to the community and, if I’m being honest, raise my own profile. I’m proud of what we’ve done here, but Goonhammer stopped being “my” website almost immediately after the rest of the team joined up. I just work here now, which I don’t mind, I still get my one vote. I do wish I had more time to devote to it because it turns out, I enjoy writing?
Have you ever felt like a 40k celebrity? Was it merely a Greg-cult gathering at the Goonhamer Open?
On the Goonhammer Patron Discord, absolutely. I don’t get recognized a lot in real life, probably because I don’t get out much and when I do, I look like the most generic type of dude there is, but online has been a wild ride. I didn’t intend for any of this, never tried to curate a Brand, it just sort of happened. Like, you know how “yum yum here it come” is Gregbot’s catchphrase? That started because I needed a test string – any text, at all – in order to see if the bot could send messages. I made it do that one time, and people lost their minds. I programmed it into the bot after seeing the reaction it got, but if anything it convinced me that I’m not as good at what I do as I thought I was because I can never tell which jokes are throwaways and which ones will stick.
The only thing I’ve ever tried to do is a) amuse a very specific audience of myself and Rob, and b) not get fired. If it lands with anyone else, that’s just a bonus, but apparently, I have the Soul Of A True Poster, and I feel very lucky that something in it resonates with people. It’s a surreal experience seeing strangers pay money for merch with my face on it, though. Humbling, in its own way. I love it though, and I’m just glad people enjoy what I’m doing.
I also legit worry that it pisses off the other authors, that I do the least work around here and have an outsized weird…cult…thing? When we did the Tau/Custodes round table, it was like five well-considered arguments and then me swooping in at the end to post a bunch of nonsense, and I’m the only one that didn’t get roasted. Wild.
Have you created any developments since Goonhammer began that you are particularly proud of as the Goonhammer Webmaster?
When I took over Goonhammer, it was doing something like 1500 page views a month. We do two and a half million now. That old monthly peak is something we do in a slow off-peak hour. There have been some bumps in the road, but I’m proud of scaling this thing to 200000% capacity over the years.
And, again, Gregbot. I’ve been slowly adding features to it, and I like to not tell people when I do, so they get to stumble into them. I still love the first time someone said “thanks, gregbot” and the bot replied “no problem”, and how surprised they were. I’ll plant these little seeds and just lurk for weeks until someone triggers one.
Since you started working on our platform, have you experienced any unexpected chances or revelations? Becoming the father of my most hated rival, Greg-bot for example.
Oh lord, Gregbot. I never programmed him to dunk on you, he just sort of decided. This makes more sense if you think about how the bot works – it’s basically a random number generator at the heart of it, which makes it basically dice, and I think we all know how dice can be. Gregbot wasn’t even a “real” bot at first, it was just a webhook that would alert discord when new articles went live. Then one day I was taking a nap, and I woke up to a bevy of discord alerts and frantic texts from the core team. My first thought was that the site had crashed while I was out, but no, it turned out that Rob had drawn a picture of me as a robot, and everyone wanted to make sure I saw it. I had to make the bot Real after that. Had to.
I also got to go on a podcast once. 40k Today, which is unfortunately defunct now, had me on to talk about Buttscribe, and I got to make that poor man say “buttscribe” out loud like thirty times. If you run a podcast, even if – especially if – it’s not about Warhammer, please: let me waste your audience’s time.
You appear to have been a long-time member of the community, but you may not have been contributing any material. What was the motivation behind your decision to venture into the content wilderness?
My main deal is that I actively refuse to “stick to sports”. Obviously, I’m not going to treat this platform – which I haven’t done as much to create and nourish as many others have, I try to respect that – as my own sandbox to wild out about random topics and get us into trouble, but I moved from Computer Janitor to Writer because no one online else was writing the kind of posts I wanted to read.
I’m not interested in producing dry recaps of rules or tournaments, and no one would read them anyway, because an honest and accurate summation of my typical RTT would be a series of ignominious tablings where I learned nothing. I don’t want to write that, I want to write about the larger experience: why I like attending events, what another rank novice might need to know, the lunch options, why you should do it even if you suck at this or are intimidated by it, that stuff. There’s so much more to The Hobby than what happens on the painting desk and the gaming table, and that’s what I thought was missing, so I just started doing it myself.
Take us through a typical day or week of creating Goonhammer/Meatwatch content or simply putting out internet fires on the site. Any pitfalls, or things you’ve discovered that are unique to having your hobby double as a job?
The biggest thing is that my “hobby” time has an extra dimension now. I have a certain amount of time I can spend on this stuff, and now playing the game, list-building, and painting have to compete with both writing and computer-touching. It’s not uncommon for me to spend a “hobby night” banging away at my laptop, and never pick up a model. I also check my phone first thing when I wake up, and live in constant fear of a “site’s busted” notification. I take my laptop to games just in case the site explodes while I’m out and about, which has actually happened.
What are some resources you’ve used to actually… you know… learn how to play? Cause word on the street is your getting -pretty- good at the game finally.
This is going to sound like a shill, but it’s entirely due to Goonhammer. I read our posts, sure, but I can also just like… ask people directly. Having access to the Goonhammer Brain Trust and being able to bounce ideas off them, or have their event-attendance grindset rub off on me, has been a paradigm shift for me. Nothing makes me want to play a shitload more Warhammer quite like playing a shitload of Warhammer in the first place, and there’s no better reason to go to GTs than either knowing that your friends will be there, or that you’ll have someone to talk to about it later. This hobby went from something I did sometimes when I was bored, to something I orient a huge portion of my free time and disposable income around.
It’s funny, I’ve only played a few games with my Tau so far, but I’ve already won more games – not as a percentage or a ratio, but in absolute terms – than I have with my Dark Angels. It’s a better book, obviously, but even my losses are getting closer. So I think it’s pretty clear that being steeped in this community has done me a world of good.
Have you considered attending any of this year’s GW events or any other competitive events? If somebody wants more Greg, where can they get it?
The GW events are probably off the table for me, sadly. I live on the east coast, and between home life and the pandemmy I don’t think I’ll be able to justify that kind of travel. Local events though, absolutely. I’m lucky enough to have a couple of FLGSes within driving distance, and I’m within a couple of hours of NoVA, so there are options. I’d love to get the full set of 6 ITC scores this year, after falling short and only getting 4 last season.
I finished in the top third of the standings there, off of 4 events and 0 wins, which is incredible to me, that I’m objectively not good but two-thirds of players still need to check the scoreboard before they try and talk down to me. I think it’s legitimately possible to end up in the top 1000 Warhammer players in the world by going 0-36 at 6 GTs, and I intend to find out.
Okay, so we’ve spoken a lot about your content so far; let’s speak about you and Rob (“TheChirurgeon” Jones) a bit. How does it feel to collaborate on something like this with someone you’ve known for a long time?
This isn’t the first project Rob and I have worked together on. It’s definitely the most successful, but it’s a treat every time. I think the fact that we’d already known each other forever definitely helps here. Or at least it helps me. I don’t know how much he really gains from this arrangement, but I suspect our history has a lot to do with why I get to publish some of the things I publish. His editorial indulgence is probably the main reason Meatwatch is allowed.
I’ve known the guy for more than half my life, and other than my wife there’s no one in my life that comes close. I like to joke that he’s the brother I never had, which is probably not going to go over well with the brother I actually do have, but it’s true, we met randomly 20 years ago and have been vibing ever since. I think Goonhammer would still exist if I weren’t involved, but there’s no way it’d be what it is without him. Even if Goonhammer ended tomorrow, we’d still be forever bros.
Is there anything else you’d want to say to our readers? Maybe some encouraging words for your Muscle-Wife you want to be immortalized online, or sick tips for aspiring Dark Angels (Tau) players?
First off I want to thank you for this unexpected opportunity. It still cracks me up that we got off on precisely the wrong foot, but in the course of one breakfast at NoVA and like three years of Just Vibing ended up here.
I’ve said this before, but I do love my wife. If there’s anything I want to be known for other than sucking ass at warhammer and building gregbot, it’s that I’m a powerful Wife Guy, which is easy when you have such a powerful Wife. She rules and has done a lot to encourage me to devote time to the twin hobbies of Warhammer and Websites About Warhammer.
Tau players, you don’t need my advice, just do what I did and copy Gunum’s Outer Enclaves list until it gets nerfed, then switch to running whatever new tech he discovers in the aftermath. Dark Angels? Easy. Belial and 40 Terminators.
Thanks for taking the time bud. Hell yeah.
*Robnote: In addition to showing up from time to time on the site, Gregbot is our automated Discord channel bot, who welcomes new Patrons to the Discord and occasionally spits out choice quotes of AI-generated garbage that range from “nonsense” to “alarmingly prescient.”
Have any questions or feedback? Do you need more Gunum interviews or maybe an article made entirely of Gregbot outputs? Drop us a note in the comments below or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.