Warhammer School Clubs, Part 5 – Get your paint on!

The following article was written by a friend who works as an Early Child Educator in a before and after school program. It is about his participation in the Warhammer School Clubs program, a program by Games Workshop intended to promote the hobby within schools. This article is part two; see previous parts here.

The Main Event! Basecoats, Washes, and Dry Brushing

Little introduction-by-way-of-housekeeping first: I had a great conversation with the manager of the local GW.  It sounds like the school programs are really taking off in North America, which is great to hear. He also explained why there was no primer in our kit: GW wants to send out the kits as quick as possible, so that educators get them as quick as possible. That means that a lot of being air-shipped to schools, and for that reason they don’t include aerosol cans in the package. Abaddon black was never intended as a primer, and the manager was nice enough to offer to help prime any future pieces for the program at the store. So I apologize for my griping before about the lack of primer; it was only a lack of primer because they were so quick to send us our pack and experiences may be different in other groups.

Anyway, back to the regular show…

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Basecoating

This is the most basic of the lessons the children learned, and at times the ones that needed the most reminders. That’s because this is the stage that most of the children stayed in for a while.  

First we went through how to use paint brushes properly. Although art is in all of our programming, the children have never really shown how to “properly” use a paintbrush when you’re trying to keep the paintbrushes in good working order.  So I explained that we need to just use the tip of the brush, and make sure never get paint anywhere close to the ferrule (ie, “that gold metal thing at the top of the brush bristles”).

For the most part, that lesson was taken easily.  The hardest to internalize was “thin your paints.” For kids, they’ve been trained to just dip a paint brush and splash it, so it’s going to take a while for them to unlearn those behaviors.  There were some thick paint jobs in some places, but luckily not too many details were lost.

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Children learn at different speeds, so we did base coats over quite a few weeks, not just one session.  The first time there was the most enthusiasm from the children, but that slowly waned, and some kids took a week off here and there (particularly, although not only, the boys when some other group not involved would organized more sporty games between themselves.)  

The first session one young man had a bunch of difficulty involving comparing himself to others. “It doesn’t look good, I hate it,” he kept saying. His base coat wasn’t even bad, it’s just other children felt more confident in what they were doing, using more colours and doing smaller details. He wanted to quit, and I went a little harder on him than I should, saying that if he quit he wouldn’t be welcomed to continue and his model would have to go to someone else who wanted to join the club. I admit that this was the wrong tactic, and we (the other teachers in the room and myself) talked to him afterwards to reassure him and invite him back. I gave him some extra attention the next couple of sessions and he became more comfortable in the club setting.

Washes

We did the washes in two groups –  it wasn’t really planned, but a group of boys took some Wednesdays to play, while a group of primarily girls wanted to focus on painting. This meant that we had the girls finish with their washing and dry brushing first and then we fished the group of boys second.

The first thing that I did wrong was that I tried to split up a bottle of Nuln Oil that I bought for the group into smaller containers. This would allow more than one child to have some wash at a time. Well, those smaller containers seals were not as good as they could be, and one tipped over and spilled all over the bottom of our painting box. The others started to dry out and make a weird rubbery rim around the containers. I poured what was left back into the original Nuln Oil bottle, losing a third in the process.

The second mistake that we made was using the new Nighthaunt Gloom like a wash or a glaze.  The paint wasn’t as translucent as I had thought, since although its as liquid as wash/glaze, it has a lot more pigment. This meant using it straight out of the bottle covered up more than I expected. The first couple ghosts were a little darker then we planned, but we figured that we needed to water it down a little to make it look good.

Still, the children found it pretty straightforward when it came to splashing wash all over their models. Our young man who was discouraged when it came to basecoating really took to washes. He did his Stormcast Eternal all in Leadbelcher (a dark silver) and the wash really made the details come out.

The best part was that the young ladies who volunteered to be the “Master Artificer’s” role went to help the other children after being shown how to do it. Up to that point, we really hadn’t utilized any of the child-led roles, and it was great to see the excitement of the girls in helping their peers.

Dry Brushing

The biggest thing the children had difficulty learning was that “less is more” when it comes to dry brushing.  A few didn’t work the paint off the brushes enough when it came to applying it, thus putting but brush strokes back on their figures.

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For most of the children, that was fine – especially the children who did one or two colours only for their base coat.  But one young lady got very frustrated when her dry brushing covered the shaded areas that she worked hard to finish, to the point of walking away from her figure and not coming back to finish it.  

At this point, we had run four or five weeks into just painting, and some children were getting pretty tired of it and were looking to move on to something else. It was time to put some finishing touches on our figures and start something new.

Still, I think the majority of the children really got something out of the process. The process of painting a miniature is much different then the kind of painting that they are used to. Adding a third dimension changes the equation. Allowing them to come and pick up the different techniques at their own pace helps in developing those skills in a way that is in tune to how the individual child learns.

Warhammer School Clubs, Part 4: Talkin’ ‘bout Warhammer with Kids

The following article was written by a friend who works as an Early Child Educator in a before and after school program. It is about his participation in the Warhammer School Clubs program, a program by Games Workshop intended to promote the hobby within schools. This article is part four, see part one, part two, and part three.

With 15 children participating, we had a pretty large group to contend with. During this past summer, the local Games Workshop came and did a presentation to the small summer group that we had. That was about 8 kids. He told me that was about the ideal number for a painting workshop, so having 15 is going to be something of a new challenge.

We did have some parents come and chat about the Club after receiving the sign-up letter. There was no concerns about the contents of the program, rather the biggest issues had to do with scheduling – trying to figure out how to work around hockey and dance practices, and all the other extracurriculars children do nowadays. The parents were really open to wargaming in the classroom, and I am grateful for their openness and the trust they’ve put in our program.

Session One: Vows of the Knights of Warhammer

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January 23rd was our first session. Our after school program is a “roll-away” program, meaning that we share the gym with the school, and have to roll all our cabinets and material out each day and put it away each night. This is obviously a lot of work, however the upside to this is that our classroom is really adaptable when it comes to set up. So I put out one of our carpets and set up a whiteboard to make a “quiet” area in which the group could meet and not have the conversations interrupted.

And there was a lot of conversation.  These two first sessions in the curriculum book are very “talk” heavy. I tried real hard to keep the time to 20 mins, since some of the children where having a very hard time sitting still and talking about “codes of conduct” and “Leadership Roles” in the abstract. This is especially true since the kids didn’t really know what they were getting themselves involved with — they were under the impression that it was mostly “painting tiny figures” and not working out rules and such.

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Being more student focused is an important aspect of the club. While they are in school, students don’t get much of a say on the rules or how their classrooms are run. They are told the school matrix without having any real say or buy-in. Most teachers are used to that kind of teaching within the classroom. I am lucky enough to be a part of a more open ended before-and-after program, where the curriculum is more malleable and I am allowed to craft my own classroom style.

I took this as an opportunity to experiment with greater democratic organizing within the classroom. The children developed their own “Code of Conduct” that made sense to them democratically. This allows for greater ownership over the program, a greater buy-in from the children to follow the boundaries set by them. At the age that we’re operating at (middle/late school age) the majority of them know how to behave in this kind of situation, and those outliers that have difficulty are more likely to be focused when the proper behavior is reinforced by a group mentality.

The group determined what our club would be called. Some suggestions where “Warhammer Wednesday club”, “Warhammer Club”, etc.  One that stood out was “World War One Warhammer Edition Club”. The children went with “Warhammer Alliance”, which is ironic, because the school club is called Warhammer Alliance in the UK (although they choose this because the acronym, WHA, is shares with the World Hockey Association, which is the league our local professional hockey team started in).  

There were plenty of children excited to volunteer for student led positions, even if they didn’t quite understand how much work was going into those roles. The children picked between themselves and elected those positions. I tried my hardest to encourage each position to have two children, one boy and one girl, to take those positions. The hardest to fill was the “Librarian” or Loremaster position, since it involved a lot of reading, but afterwards I gave the girls who were elected I gave them the free previews of the Warhammer Adventure books I had.

At the end, I asked the children to take a knee and repeat the “Oath of the Valiant Warrior” which is in the curriculum book. At this point we’d been talking for about 20 mins, so some of the kids were getting pretty squirrely. Instead of repeating the Oath after me, they yelled incomprehensible screams. It took a moment to give a reminder, but when we were done, I told them to rise, “As Knights of Warhammer!”

After all the children had dispersed, two girls asked if they could get out the boxes we’re keeping the figures in. They set up a space in our reading area, where they used the models in their play. It was a family drama, with a fantasy twist, where magic cousins and families going to “fight” their enemies. It’s really special to see how they can use these fantasy figures and create their own narrative with them.

Session Two: The Ethics of War(hammer)

The Second of the “talking Sessions” was about the ethics and morality of warfare and a dive into the factions, their motivations and the ethics of each factions. I drew out these weird half circles to have three different points of reference when talking about the morality of war and the factions: “good”, “bad” and “maybe”.  I was thinking, moral compass, compasses are round, so how about make a round chart for them to plot their ideas on? Reflecting on it, this was totally over complicated and a simple line graph which they could show the spectrum between “good” and “bad” would have been far easier.  

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The discussion on war was probably one of the most interesting group discussions I’ve had with children. It brought out a lot of the children’s personal family history, how grandparents and parents were touched by warfare in the past. The hurt involved that still affect their families to this day even if direct family members have not been in combat situations, it’s was really a deep conversation we don’t usually have in the “play focused” environment.

After talking about the general morality of war, we moved into learning a little about the Age of Sigmar world and characters in it. This is where our Master Librarian really stepped up – she had taken the Warhammer Adventures preview all the way though and wanted to share what she had learned. She was most excited to share the different realms – fire, life, beasts, metal, etc – that the characters have moved though, and the battles between the barbarians and the Stormcast. She also shared that the first chapters of the “Lifestone” novel were sad since the main characters mother dies.

After this explanation from our young Librarian, we went though some of the different factions in the Age of Sigmar, and how the kids saw them on the moral compass. They had some interesting ideas – I’m not sure if you could say that Ironjaw Orks are a “good” faction, I would think that they’d be neutral (more of a “force of nature” then a “force of good”). But that’s how they saw them, and we’ll see how they continue to build their understanding of the narrative world of Sigmar coming.

Something I did for them is that I printed out copies of the free preview of the Warhammer Adventures.  The program has few “take homes” written into it, so I thought that this would be a simple way for them to have something to keep for themselves and be introduced to the whole lore of the game (I mean, it is why GW is making them, after all).

Conclusion

These first two sessions are very discussion heavy, and that can be difficult for some children who have difficulty in group sitting situations.  That being said, it’s a worthwhile exercise to create a sense of ownership within the Warhammer Club, and develop a conversation around the ethics of war, giving children a greater context to place the world of Warhammer in. How play-based programs give space for heavy philosophical discussions, and this is a great way to bring philosophy and critical thinking into a program.

Next time, we’re finally getting to the nitty gritty of painting. Expect a lot of pictures!

Warhammer School Clubs, Part 3: Setup for Success, OR The Calm Before the Storm

The following article was written by a friend who works as an Early Child Educator in a before and after school program. It is about his participation in the Warhammer School Clubs program, a program by Games Workshop intended to promote the hobby within schools. This article is part two; see part one and part two.

In the last two articles, we unboxed our kit and addressed any concerns that people may have with the Warhammer School Clubs program. Now, it’s time to get ready to get this club going. I decided that, for the size of group that I had and the large variance in age range, there was some modifications I had to make to the official “curriculum” that Games Workshop sent us. This mostly had to do with some of the tools that wouldn’t be harder to use in our program, like allowing the children to use super glue, or using primer (I don’t trust using Abbadon Black base paint as a “primer”, after all).

The plan was to introduce the Warhammer Club to the children after December and the winter break. For the entire Christmas season we were swamped with making gifts, doing charity fundraisers, and putting on holiday plays, so there was little time to go full force into a big project like this. The two week winter break, however, allowed me some time to prepare for the big roll-out so that everything went as smooth as possible.

There were some small moments before the break to get things started with the kids; on the few blizzardy nights in December when there was only one child left in our room late in the evening, I would bring out the models. On those days we had a chance to start piecing the models together. One young man especially was active in helping put the models together.

Some tips on that: be prepared to glue pieces together  Although the First Strike and Storm Strike boxes have the models listed as “snap fit” and thus are theoretically easier for young adults to put together, in our experience some of the snap fit pieces tended to be a little loose. Also, sometimes the kids missed their marks when snipping out the figures from the sprue, which meant that the “snap fit” end didn’t have a connector to go with it.

The models themselves were relatively easy to put together, however.  We had the most trouble with the Space Marines not fitting perfectly and being wobbly or falling apart easily, but the handful of children who helped where able to figure it out. Although the curriculum says to do this with the kids as a workshop day, the reality is that there wouldn’t be enough sprues to go around, so doing them ahead of time with a very limited group of children made it easier and allowed us to have everything prepared for when it was time to get the program up in earnest.

Organizing

With all the figures put together, I went about organizing them all.  I got three containers from the dollar store, and with fifteen models each they easily fit inside. Being the Christmas season, I had some Ferrero Rocher packaging, which I cut into smaller sections  to make a holder so most of the models would stand up rather then roll around willy-nilly. The only ones that didn’t fit in the Ferrero Rocher packaging were the larger based Stormcast Eternals.

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The entire 40K “First Strike” box fit into the container.  The “Storm Strike” box had large rulebooks, so only the warscrolls fit in the box.  However, the “Storm Strike” box did fit all the other kinds of papers, terrain  and magazines that came in the kit.

The paints and hobbying material fit in its own box as well.  I went out and got some extra dollar store paint brushes so that everyone would have one, not just the six or so that GW sent us.  Our before and after program serves applesauce for snacks sometimes, so when that happens save and clean out the empty applesauce containers for water pots.  Some cut up clamshell packaging to make little palletes for each kid and it’s the perfect setup for hobbying goodness.

Priming

This is where most of the work went into during the winter break. Again, Games Workshop sent Abbadon Black as a “base coat”, without any sort of primer.  While I assume that it was intended to be used for priming, I was concerned that this might be inadequate. Priming without a real primer will most likely lead to a lot of chipped miniatures and a bunch of frustrated kids.   And as much as I would like to spray prime with the children, the limitations of my school, and the fact that it is winter limit my ability.

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Instead, my family went to Brian’s house, and we used his airbrush to prime everything after Christmas (along with some of my Warmachine collection).  The airbrush we used was a badger Xtreme Patriot 105, and we used badger Stynylrez primer in black and white.  We laid down a black base first covering the entire set of models.

We then started putting on the white, spraying down overtop in the zenithal style. Brian has talked about zenithal before, so I won’t really talk about it too much, but I will say that I think it will help the children differentiate different areas and really pick out details in a way that if the model was all one base colour (black or white) they might miss.  

It worked well, though we did run into a few issues when we were spraying the white primer. The black sprayed okay, but on the white, we kept on getting clogging in the nozzle, which probably had to do with the fact that the needle we were using was smaller than recommended for priming.

However frustrating it was finishing up the white, we got it all done.  After a day to cure they were all ready to be packed up and ready for the children to paint. Thanks Brian!

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Paperwork

The final pieces to get together was the paperwork. I wrote up a signup sheet and the ‘by-laws’ of the school club, leaving areas blank so that the kids could participate in filling them in. The signup sheet has whether or not the children want to volunteer for a “Student led role”, so those children who want to do something extra know ahead of time that it is an option.

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Honestly, although the curriculum calls for making the rules and roles up on paper, I feel like it may be a bit of extra work – the “coach” (ie adult organizer) of the club can simply do all these things, and have it all under their authority rather then bogging the children down in by-law writing. Maybe this is a holdover from school group expectations in the UK, but I don’t know if it’s as applicable in the North American school context, especially for middle/grade schools.

With that all being said, I am excited to have the children be more involved in writing the rules and taking on student lead roles. It’s often been a dream of mine to add a more democratic culture where the kids are engaged in their own learning and development, but that approach is not really one generally found in North America. Maybe this can be a way to start developing the democratic decision making skills with a group of children.

I also wrote a new permission letter to the parents. The GW written letter in BOOK ONE was fine enough, so I mostly copied those words. I did add the date, time and length expectations in the letter though. A lot of our children get picked up early from our after school session, and for those children who do want to participate but also get picked up early, the parents needed to know that they would be required to stay a bit longer than usual on those days.

Another thing I printed out was two sets of references for the game rules for 40K and AoS. Even some adults get lost in the thick of the rules of a rulebook, and while I expect my children to get the ‘how to play’ after a demonstration, they are prone to forget things. So having an easy flowchart or each of the steps of a game condensed into one page will no doubt help them out when it comes time to teach them how to play the game.

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Getting Started

Over the past couple weeks, children have signed up and the parents permission have gone out. We have 15 children participating (out of a classroom of 30) with the majority of them volunteering for some sort of student led role within the club! I’m excited to get started, as are the kids. The next post will be about how our first two sessions went.

Warhammer School Clubs, Part 2: War, what is it good for?

The following article was written by a friend who works as an Early Child Educator in a before and after school program. It is about his participation in the Warhammer School Clubs program, a program by Games Workshop intended to promote the hobby within schools. This article is part two; see part one here.

So you’re thinking about starting a Warhammer School Club in your school.  Maybe you’re an experienced gamer and educator wanting to bring your love for the hobby in, or maybe it’s your first time and some kid has brought this odd little game to your classroom and wants support from you to help start a club.  You go to your organization’s coordinator or the school administrator and share this idea. What happens when they aren’t really sold on it?

For a lot of administrators, this is new territory. People are afraid of what they don’t understand, and what it can bring to the educational experience.  We need to be able to make the case for the educational benefits of miniature wargaming in the classroom as well as address any misgivings administrators may have. And convincing administrators is the first step before needing to convince parents to allow their children to participate.

With that in mind, here are some objections that I’ve personally experienced as well as some that I’ve heard from others.

Settings

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The first thing I want to bring up is how the settings of the universes affect how they might be received by administrators. I fully admit that this maybe some of my personal bias, but I find the setting of Age of Sigmar to be less problematic than the world of 40K. Let me explain…

As previously discussed on this blog, there’s something a little too real about wargaming in conflicts that are more recent. I feel a similar (but different) unease about the nature of the 40K universe. Fantasy as a setting is backward looking – It takes a view that our past glories are behind us, and that the worlds of fantasy are one of mythic heroes of the gods that we will never live up too. They are worlds of mysticism where impossible magics and long antiqued weaponry rule.

Science Fiction on the other hand is forward looking – it starts out as an attempt to anticipate scientific and technological advances. So rather then taking a starting point of a long past historical period and adding the fantastical, science fiction takes our now, and extrapolates what may happen in the far off future.  And the far future of 40K is a grimdark reflection of our own.

While the over-the-top grimdark-ness was originally meant to satirize the tropes often seen in science fiction, the satire of it all is often missed with members of community, and will no doubt be missed by the children and school administrators in the school. That’s why a lot the problems that will be brought up are likely to exist solely with the 40K setting, and are maybe lessened from the world of AoS, which has a clearer morality.    because of this, I believe that starting with AoS will be easier to present to administrators and parents at the beginning then the world of 40K.

The starters that come in the box put this into contrast.  The AoS box (Storm Strike) comes with Stormcast Eternals and Nighthaunts.  The 40K box (First Strike) comes with UltraMarines and Death Guard Plague Marines and Poxwalkers.  When presenting these two boxes to administrators and parents, it would probably be an easier sell to present “Heroic Knights” vs “Ghosts” then “Storm Troopers” vs “puss covered, guts-falling-out Space Zombies”.  

That is not to say that 40K cannot be a part of the experience of the school club, rather it would be easier to slowly introduce and carefully curate what parts of 40K you’re using after introducing the administrators, parents and children into AoS.

Violence

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This chainsword is a purely non-lethal weapon…

No matter what the setting though, you’re going to get pushback on the “violence” of the subject matter. After all, the first things parents and administrators will be hearing is the WAR in Warhammer, whether it is the fantasy or sci-fi version of it. The biggest concern will always be about promoting the unending conflict, and whether or not that unending conflict will spill from the game world into the real world between the children.

It is important to recognize that Warhammer is probably not the only war game that the children are playing in school. When seen within a different context, most games with rules children play are simulations of battle. The classic dodgeball is a perfect example – two opposing sides volley projectiles at each other with the goal of removing the opposing team from the field of conflict, with some variations having different roles (like medics to bring into players back into the game) that reflect the roles one would have in a military.

We allow games like dodgeball and football to be played in schools because the “violence” and “war” of it all is abstracted and contextualized in a different way.  Warhammer and wargaming is no more violent than chess; it’s dice and game pieces on a table. Dodgeball is arguably a much more violent game, with the potential of real world injury.  The only way wargaming is more “violent” is that the game pieces are sculpted and presented with weapons or gore. The “violence” is all in narrative, and the School program curriculum does a good deal at contextualizing and discussing the ethics of warfare.

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If there is concern that the “play violence” will spill out from the game into actual violence, then we have to ask yourself the question: Why? Children who act out violently have not developed the self-control skills to communicate the feelings they are experiencing and they use violence as a nonverbal way to show how they are feeling, be it frustration, anger, sadness, etc. By the time the children are being introduced to WarHammer school club (around age 12 and above), most children should have the social and self-control skills to cope with and self-express feelings of frustration or anger verbally and not physicially.

But even as adults, in the heat of the moment have lapses, and for those few children that still have difficulty with self-control around those strong emotions and ‘lash out’, the game can be a way to teach and develop those self-control skills.  The game provides a framework and boundaries, and the curriculum provided by GW places a heavy focus of fair play and personal code of conduct, thus developing the self-control social skills same children may be still developing.

Guns

The biggest issue your probably going to run into is the inclusion of models that carry guns.

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‘Guns in school’, broadly speaking, is an extremely serious subject. The impact of actual firearms within schools should not be contested or belittled. Nor does suggesting that teachers who include ‘gun play’ in school diminish the strong work that students, parents and groups are doing to keep guns out of schools, or suggest that the problem to gun violence in schools is to have more guns in school. We should rightly reject actual firearms in our schools and, in the case of America, where there is a school shooting pandemic, actively resist the culture of gun violence in our schools.

With all that being said, it’s important to recognize the separation between actual ‘gun violence’ and the kind of ‘gun play’ that children are involved in. It goes to a fundamental question: Why do children play?

Children’s play is a process of developing an understanding of themselves and the world around them. As Melinda Walden, an Early Childhood Education teacher at Red River College in Winnipeg, Canada, who focus on risky and controversial play explains in an interview about her own experiences with developing a curriculum around gun play, “A child is just figuring out the world and the things in it through play because that is how they learn, and guns are a part of our world, so how else are they going to learn about it?”

As we continue see conflict unfortunately raging around the world, children need a device to understand why that conflict happens, and even if we think we are shield them from it, they still are passively absorbing everything around them. Some of the parents in our schools may be police officers or military who need to use a gun as a tool in their jobs. By playing with imaginary guns, they are engaging with “a form of socio-dramatic play“  where children can place themselves in the role of ‘good guy’ and ‘bad guy’ to better understand those concepts.

Demons

Another controversy the could arise is the inclusion of demonic or ghoulish subject matter. GW’s hobby line mascot is a demon, it’s major award is the Golden Demon, and the yellow ‘painting daemon’ is all over the hobbyist packaging and promotional material. Depending on community standards, this can become an issue in needing of explaining to parents and administrators.

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The simplest solution to this is to reframe our look from the ‘Adult perspective’ to the ‘Child perspective’. While we as adults may put a lot of weight on the demonic, depending on our community, children are do not have the context that we have developed. They are approaching these monsters, and understand that due to parent reaction are ‘bad’ but have not developed the understanding of what bad is in context of demons. They with to understand what makes them bad, or scary, or demonic, and the way that children do that is through play.

Let us hypothesize that you are in a school in a community where religion is very important to the identities of the families of the children we interact with.  Our children are going to Church and hearing stories about good vs evil, are being told stories about the devil, hell, demons and sin. That creates an interest in the children about demons and evil, as they are told about how bad and to stay away from these the demonic. What child wouldn’t then have an interest in something forbidden and mysterious?  

Thus we are responding to the children’s fascination in the demonic, allowing them to engage in socio-dramatic play to help the children put themselves into the perspective both of good and evil (and, again, I think AoS is stronger in having more thoroughly “Good” characters compared to the main factions in 40K). They can experience ‘demons’ in the safe boundaries of a tabletop game, giving them a better understanding of the negatives of it.

At least that’s what my argument would be. The truth is, some parents and administrators won’t be sold on pedagogical arguments, especially when it comes to areas of faith. And that’s fine; whether it is on the violence, gunplay, or demonism, some of your co-workers, parents or administrators won’t be 100% on board. If you cannot get people on board 100%, then the best way forward is to organize the club around them.

For parents, the school club is voluntary, and thus need parents permission, so while we know that the child will suffer from not participating, a parent who wishes to not have their children in it just won’t have their child participate.  

For co-workers who are not on board, it simply means putting the work on yourself. Assure them that it is in their rights to disagree, but that it is important to you and that you will be the one organizing and ensuring that it runs well by yourself.  

For Administrators, while risky, there is truth in the adage ‘it’s easier to beg forgiveness than ask for permission.’ When I began to bring war gaming into the classroom, it was in the form of those cheap green army guys. We received two bins for two rooms. The younger room snipped off all the guns, while my room did not. There was discussion with the administrator about whether or not they all had to, but I didn’t feel that a decision was made. In that uncertainty, I started my curriculum with guns intact – and the curriculum manager saw and was upset. There was a testy discussion, but keeping them on had already moved the ‘realities on the ground’, and the genie couldn’t be put back in the bottle.

Why do we do it?

The reality is, we are doing this because we believe that it will be a educational and social benefit of the children (be it literacy, mathematics, artistic, technology, etc) in this hobby. There are no alternative motives, like to make children more violent, gun prone or devotees of Satan. We know that this community can make help improve the lives of the children; it is the reason we became educators in the first place. Against all objections, that should be our argument: we are here for the youth we care for

Warhammer School Clubs, Part 1: The Unboxening

The following article was written by a friend who works as an Early Child Educator in a before and after school program. It is about his participation in the Warhammer School Clubs program, a program by Games Workshop intended to promote the hobby within schools. The intention is for this to be part one in a series taking the program from the box to week six and beyond. I welcome his contributions, and hope to see more from him in the future.

I’ve been in the hobby for a few years now, and as an Early Childhood Educator (ECE) working with children from ages 8 to 12, I’ve experimented with bringing the hobby into the classroom.  Most of these attempts have been small, such as getting plastic army men from the dollar store and painting them with craft paint. The challenges of running a program on a limited budget meant that the full hobby experience was out of reach for the children in my group unless I dump my own personal income into the project.  

In walks Games Workshop. In August 2018, Games Workshop (GW) launched in North America the Warhammer School Clubs program. This program offered official support to educators from GW in developing the hobby with young people in school and after school youth programs. I was able to have the the manager of our local GW store into our program, and do a simple painting tutorial with a group of our children. While talking with him, he told me about the launch of the School Clubs program. At the beginning of the school year I contacted GW HQ and I was accepted into the program.  

Unboxing

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A good thing these “not children’s products” are going to this school…

The process of signing up for the Warhammer School Program was fairly simple. I emailed Travis, the director of the school program at warhammer.schoolclub@gwplc.com, and he sent me a form to fill out. You need to have an adult be prepared to be the sponsor of the club, and your school or program needs to have a website, location, and employee ID, but other than that, there weren’t any invasive questions.

One piece of advice is to inform your school that the package is coming — Games Workshop sent me the box addressed to me personally, and not the program that I work with. Since our program is run out of the school, the package was delivered to the main office, who didn’t recognize my name, and were unsure what to do with a big package with the words “NOT CHILDREN’S PRODUCTS” written on the side. Also it arrived the same week that prominent American politicians were receiving mail bombs, which gave them cause for concern about this random box out of Texas was coming. They were prepared to send it back, but the receptionists at the desk called GW and it was eventually found its way to our office in the afterschool program.

Altogether, I signed up on thursday, was approved by Friday and received the package on Monday the following week. Considering it was a package coming from Texas to Winnipeg, I thought it was going to be a much longer wait, so I really give credit to GW North America for the quick turnaround.  

And what was in the box?  Well….

Lit

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For both 40K and Age of Sigmar there came a collection of short stories and a “Getting started with…” magazine.

The 40k novel is Crusade + Other Stories which includes 12 short stories as well as the novella Crusade.  The AoS novel is Hammerhal & Other Stories, which includes 7 short stories as well as the Novella Hammerhal.  Although I haven’t done a deep dive into the novels yet, just from the look at it I think they may be a bit intimidating for all but the more accomplished young reader.  I can only assume that the upcoming Warhammer Adventures Series  would be a better replacement for young people when they come out.

The magazines each come with a miniature attached, and are really thorough when it comes to an introduction to the series and games.  Although I plan on writing more on some of the issues that I foresee arising, I see myself more likely to use the AoS magazine as a free tool for the children to pick up and read, while the 40K magazine something I’m more likely to be selective and photocopy pages out of.

Paints and Brushes

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The set came with the Citadel Base Paint Set, The Warhammer: Age of Sigmar Paint & Tool Set, and two packs of 3 size S base Brushes (interesting to note, the invoice listed three sets of brushes, but only two where in the package. But I’m not complaining).

The Citadel Base paint set includes:

  • S Base brush
  • Leadbelcher
  • Macragge Blue
  • Waaagh! Flesh
  • Bugman’s Glow
  • Mephiston Red
  • Mournfang Brown
  • Abaddon Black
  • Ceramite White
  • Zandri Dust
  • Averland Sunset
  • Balthasar Gold

The Warhammer: Age of Sigmar Paint & Tool Set includes:

  • Clippers
  • Mouldline remover
  • S Base Brush
  • Retributor Armour
  • Abaddon Black
  • Armageddon Dust
  • Kantor Blue
  • Reikland Fleshshade
  • White Scar
  • Leadbelcher
  • Mournfang Brown
  • Celestra Grey
  • Khorne Red
  • Nighthaunt Gloom
  • Rakarth Flesh
  • Bugman’s Glow

This is a really good spread of different paints – there’s only three that overlap in the two sets, and the AoS set includes some of the newer ‘ghostly’ technical paints.  

The only thing that is noticeable is that there isn’t any paint that is a primer. I think within the books they intend you to use Abaddon Black as a ‘undercoat’ but I’m skeptical on how will it will act as a primer in the long run.

Starter Sets

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The school club comes with two starter sets: the Storm Strike starter from AoS and the First Strike set from 40K. Each come with about 15 miniatures each. They are all push fit, which is great for starting off with. In my classroom I have around 30 children, and although I don’t anticipate them all wanting to participate, having one miniature for each of them to explore and paint is a big help.  

The Storm Strike set comes with two factions, the Stormcast Eternals and the Nighthaunts. The Stormcast Eternals come with  3 Castigators, a loyal Gryph-hound and 3 Sequitors, while the Nighthaunts come with 4 Glaivewraith Stalkers and Myrmourn Banshees. It also comes with a play mat, dice, ruler, and rulebook. The box insert also flips around to be a simple piece of terrain.

On the 40K side,  First Strike comes with 15 push fit miniatures with the Ultramarines being pitted against the Death Guard, and well as the double-sided gaming mat, dice and measuring ruler, and rule book. With the Ultramarines, you get 3 Primaris Intercessors and 3 Primaris Reivers, while the death guard you get 3 Plague Marines and 6 Poxwalkers.

Just looking at the sprues, I feel like the 40K figures are much better made and have a thicker fell to them, while the AoS figures are a thinner plastic. Both have amazing detail and I’m really looking forward to putting them together with the children.

I can’t comment on the makeup of the lists, as I’m not really into Warhammer, but I’ve seen people comment that when it comes to the time to play these forces need more models need some reinforcements to play the game in any realistic way, but we’ll see about that at a later time.

Curriculum books

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The two curriculum books are the real stars of the show.  Book One is designed to be the things the adult organizer (called the “coach”) need to understand and go through before organizing as a club.  The second is a total outline of a 6 week curriculum starting with first organizing the club to building and playing Warhammer games.

I’m going to do a deeper dive into the curriculum books at a later time, but GW really has put together a focused set of learning objectives together. While their intent is to put together an afterschool or lunchtime “club”, it’s easily adaptable to teaching in a afterschool program.  There’s a lot of different roles that the children are asked to step into and it really works towards a student led learning experience.

Conclusion

GW is the juggernaut in tabletop wargaming, and it is because of this status they are able to put together a program like this. They are unique that they have the resources to send around $300 worth of product to schools and afterschool organizations for free. It’s a big show of trust to the community that they would allow wargaming educators and those interested into this without any guarantees. Of course, some maybe cynical and say that this is just an attempt to make a sales pitch to younger consumers. But if we are interested in building tabletop wargaming and miniature painting, getting young people involved and excited is the first step, and we should try and be supportive of their introduction into the hobby.