TheChirurgeon’s Road Through 2024, Part 4: Dadhammer

Welcome back, Dear Reader, to my ongoing log of hobby, play, and competition in Warhammer 40,000. Last Time Around I talked about playing some Crusade and starting up in the local campaign. I’ll be back again next Thursday to talk more about games in the Crusade league and prep for the Oxford GT. This week I’m talking about some different progress.

Many of you many know from reading my articles that I have a son – Bryce – who at the time of this writing is seven years old. He’s a very creative boy, though his primary craft of choice is making things out of cardboard, followed by drawing Captain Underpants comics of his own making. He has naturally been interested in Warhammer for a long time, but up to this point I haven’t really tried to teach him. This has been for two reasons – the first is that he has ADHD and hadn’t the patience for it, and the second is that he hadn’t learned to read. As he’s now become quite the proficient reader, it was finally time to teach him.

Credit: Bryce Jones

Painting With Kids

Although I haven’t really taught Bryce how to play yet, we have painted minis before. Painting minis with kids can be a lot of fun! It’s a great activity that isn’t done in front of a screen, and it’s a good way to get them involved in something you love. That said, there are a few things you need to keep in mind when you do it:

  • Put some protection in place. Some paint is going to be spilled. Make sure you have a nice, open area which is easy to clean. Have a tarp over it. Make sure you and the kids are wearing clothes you don’t mind getting some paint on. It may not happen the first time, but eventually some paint is getting spilled.
  • Get some throwaway brushes. Accept that whatever brushes you give kids are going to get destroyed. They’re going to dip those bad boys way into the pot and up past the ferrule. They’re going to go back and forth over the model and smash those bristles into it. You can teach them to be better over time but you’re going to lose some brushes.
  • The paints. Games Workshop’s Contrast paints are perfect for painting their first models; you can easily hand them a model which has been primed white and let them slather contrast paint all over it. That said, Contrast Paints are also terrible, because they are a huge mess waiting to happen if tipped. If you’re going to use them I’d recommend getting a paint holder, or using dropper bottles and something like Army Painter Speedpaints, since putting some paint out on a palette may be easier than dipping a brush into a bottle.
  • Be ready to put it down. More than likely your kids will lose interest after a single model or two; if they want to do more, great. But be prepared for them to go “cool, I’m done” after an hour or so.
  • Don’t expect to do your own painting. There will eventually come a day when you can sit down for a paint session with your kid and you can both just do something you love. Today is not that day. You’ll need to keep an eye on them to stop them from making a mess and provide them guidance and encouragement. And that means putting your time into what they’re doing.

Bryce’s first models were mostly just contrast jobs – you can see them up top, with the Terminator and the Chaos Spawn. His third model was that Ultramarine, who we spraypainted blue and he added some gold paint to. Those were painted when he was 5 and 6, and we were overdue to paint some new models.

A few months ago I had an old high school friend come to visit for a few days and over that time, we played a lot of new HeroQuest. I’d been painting the minis from it and as my wife’s best friend was in town, we sat down to play with the four of us and included Bryce as the Barbarian – I played Zargon. He had a blast, and after it was over he suddenly wanted to learn how to play Warhammer again. Now that he can read, it was finally time.

My Son’s First Game of Warhammer

Spring break happens early in Texas; the weather gets warmer here earlier, and the school year ends in mid-may, so it makes sense for the break to happen earlier. That said, we didn’t really have big plans for spring break this year, and so on the first Tuesday, shortly after lunch, I took Bryce down to the local Warhammer store to help him learn to paint his first miniature for real and learn to play the game.

Why the Warhammer Store?

“Rob, why not do that at home?” you ask – don’t I have a great hobby space with all the paints a man could ever ask for? Sure, but the Warhammer Store offers a number of advantages. First, it’s not my house, so if Bryce spills some paint, it’s not really my problem. Second, it gets us out of the house and into an environment where he can be immersed in the setting, making for a more fun field trip kind of vibe. Third, our local Warhammer store has Max Garcia, a truly great hobbyist and FLGS operator who knows Bryce and is game to help teach him how to paint and play. I’m good at Warhammer, but Max has run more demo games and Bryce will listen to him when he won’t listen to me.

Max shows Bryce how to paint the eyes on his Space Marine

I have a space marine paint set I got for Bryce a few months back (with three assault inercessors), which I’ve assembled and primed for him. He wants to paint his marines gold, so I’ve assembled them and primed them with Retributor Armour spray before we made the trip over. Once we get there, Max and I show Bryce how to wash his models with Agrax Earthshade, then once they’ve tried Max shows him how to drybrush them with Liberator Gold to give them a brighter tone and pick out details. Then he has Bryce paint the gun and gaps on the model’s armor.

Bryce telling a story about his finished model

Max and I walk him through the process, and Bryce gets one marine fully painted while the other two get about halfway there. They’ve been washed, at least. We’ll come back and add more paint to them soon. While he’s painting, I steal some time to paint beside him, and work on a Death Guard Chaos Spawn I’ve had sitting around a while. It’s a good excuse to try out different shades of green Contrast Paint Max has on hand.

Credit: Robert “TheChirurgeon” Jones

When the model is done, Max shows Bryce how to base it. He brings out some dirt and rock mix and helps Bryce add glue to the base before dipping it in the mix. Bryce then adds a few tufts of grass to the model and insists on painting parts of the model with some Blood for the Blood God. Max raises an eyebrow at this, but I give my blessing to let the boy paint some gore.

When we get home we’ll take a photo of the final model in my lightbox. Bryce’s first real model turned out pretty great!

Credit: Bryce Jones


After the model painting is done, Max runs Bryce through a demo game of Warhammer 40k. I’m pretty sure that while the Kingwood Warhammer store has a very nicely painted starter set of minis, Bryce has played with them more than Max, as every time we come in Bryce loves to move them around and put them into new battle scenes. This is the first time he’s actually using them for a game of Warhammer, however. And naturally, he’s bringing his three assault intercessors.

Bryce learning the basics of movement

The game is pretty loose; I’ve worked for Games Workshop in the past and run these games and I can tell you that it’s more about vibes and telling a story – getting someone excited about the game – than it is about teaching the exact rules. Max gets Bryce familiar with looking up stats on the unit datacards, the move-shoot-fight order of turns, and rolling dice. And he kills a few of Bryce’s models.

Bryce contemplating his strategy

The game wraps up as Bryce cuts down the last Tyranid with his Terminator captain and we call it a day. The whole thing is a rousing success – he loved it, to the point that he’s asked me about playing more multiple times since – and the model looks great. We’ll like swing back over to the Kingwood store for some future paint sessions as well, if only because it’s a great environment to sit down and focus on the models in front of us and I don’t really have that at home – Bryce will paint if that’s what we’re set up to do, but if he thinks he could go watch TV or play with other toys instead, he’ll do that and tell me we can paint later. There are a lot of things like that, which he really likes doing, but which I have to nudge him to do. If I let him, he’ll watch TV all day long and then beg for more. And so I don’t let him – I tell him that I love it when he paints, or builds something, or draws comics, or reads, but if I let him watch TV he won’t do any of that, and for now he seems OK with that. But the easiest way to head that off at the pass is to just get away from the TV altogether.

Bryce’s collection

I bought Bryce a case for his minis on the way out. It was more than I expected, but in a pinch I’ll use it for my stuff. Bryce immediately takes it home and stuffs it full of all his minis, which includes his three golden assault intercessors, the terminator, the intercessor, the chaos spawn, a couple dozen advent calendar marines, some old black legion marines I gave him, and a series of pink tentacles he made out of play-doh last year to fight against with his marines.

Bryce spent the afternoon organizing and reorganizing his collection, showing our cat and telling my wife about his triumphs during the demo game, which is how I know it was a success. If you’ve got a child and are looking for a good way to introduce them to the game, I’d highly recommend taking advantage of your local game store or Warhammer (with the caveat that you should make sure it’s a cool place with good staff). We had a great time and while I still have a lot to teach him about rules – and about losing, he has to learn that he’s not going to win all the time – there’s plenty of time for that. And either way, we’ll be back.

Also I want to reiterate my thanks to Max, who runs a great store and did a fantastic job helping bring Bryce into the fold.

Next Time: Some Real Games (of Crusade)

That’s it for today. I’ll be back next Thursday with some more substantial updates, talking about more Crusade games and prep for the Oxford GT. So check back for that update and you can live vicariously through my writings as I experience post-Dataslate Nemesis Dreadknights for the first time. It was awful!

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