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  • Barnes on Games Special Edition - Warhammer 40k: Battle for Vedros in Review (in three parts!)

Barnes on Games Special Edition - Warhammer 40k: Battle for Vedros in Review (in three parts!)

MB Updated May 26, 2019
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Warhammer 40K Battle for Vedros

Game Information

There Will Be Games

A Return to 40k, in Three Parts


When I was eleven years old, I went into my local comics and games shop and bought a box of the original “beaky” Imperial Space Marines. I took the good report card money I had earned and handed to the guy at the counter and he said “good luck with those”. I had no idea what he meant until I got in the car and realized that I needed to go back in to get glue and paint. And I didn’t even have the Rogue Trader rulebook, which I really wanted but it was, even in 1986 dollars, too expensive. I had no terrain and no one to play with. But that box looked so awesome that I couldn’t resist.

Almost thirty years and two decade-apart rounds of Warhammer 40k obsession later, I’ve found myself once again re-interested in Games Workshop’s hobby gaming institution – and this time, I have kids. They are very young (five and six) but they are fairly bright and they are already accustomed to playing “daddy’s games”. So when I saw that GW was launching Battle for Vedros, a new introductory-level product line geared toward younger kids instead of the usual hobby demographics, I got pretty excited about it. Snap-fit models, a classic Space Marines versus Orks setup, packaging that looks more like GI Joe than Grimdark, two pages of rules (!) and mainstream availability in toy stores. I was ready to sign up once more in the service of the Emperor.

But the launch has been somewhat strange. There’s virtually no one talking about it apart from a couple of unboxing videos and old timers commenting on the fact that it is sort of a scaled-down version of the Assault on Black Reach set from 2009 with the same models. And apart from a very small handful of retailers, it doesn’t seem to be hitting the non-hobby channel as the marketing suggested with its talk of toy stores and non-hobby channel retail. I managed to contact a GW representative in charge of managing the new line in the US and she kindly sent me review materials.

So when the packaged arrived, my kids were very excited- I had been hyping them up for it for weeks, and opening up the package didn’t disappoint. With the Starter Set (featuring 28 models, bases, dice and the rulebook), a Space Marine Bike and a box of four Ork Warboyz, we popped everything open to take a look. I  broke out the sidecutters and went to work straight away, handing pieces to my children as they sorted them out and looked over the assembly instructions

Everything went together fairly quickly, but the notion that these models are all snap-fit isn’t exactly accurate. It’s a given that they are going to slip out of the included slotta bases (necessitating some glue), but the kids had trouble with some of the pieces fitting together correctly and I didn’t want them trimming them with the hobby knife. I broke out the blade and the glue and fixed ‘em up right and proper.

In about an hour, we had a full tactical squad of Space Marines with a Sergeant and a Captain, a Terminator and a Dreadnaught (which my son flipped out over). On the Ork side, a mob of Ork Boyz, five Nobz, a Warboss and an awesome Deffkopta. There are just a couple of additional, optional add-ons available in this line so far that add more basic Marines or Boyz, Gretchin with a Squigherder, two types of Space Marine bikes, and an Ork Wartrakk. They went heavy on the motorcycles for some reason. I’ve heard apocryphally that American kids really like to buy motorcycle toys, maybe that’s why.


The kids enjoyed building them, and as soon as they were done they had everything lined up and they started playing with them. Of course, I turned into dad from The Lego Movie for a minute and started in with the “guys, these are fragile hobby miniatures, not toys, etc.” before I caught myself and realized that they were having fun with them, making up stories and voices. My daughter kept pushing the Space Marine Bike down the line, yelling “come on guys, are you ready?!” And that was probably more awesome and fun than any four or five hours I’ve spent over a terrain table in a game shop.

The initial plan was to let my kids paint them all, but Lego Dad returned. I’m sort of re-learning to paint miniatures myself and I really want these to be at least tabletop-good. So after they went to bed I got to work. Using only the Battle for Vedros Paint Set and the starter brush it comes with, I painted up three Space Marines and three orks following a simple, ten step guide provided on the box flap. I didn’t try anything fancy, and I really appreciated the more “down to earth” guidelines that didn’t call for 20 different pots of Citadel paints and Golden Demon-class skills. They turned out pretty good and the process actually re-taught me some best practices that I had forgotten. I didn’t switch out brushes; I didn’t even dilute the paint. I wanted to do it as if I were a kid that had never seen a YouTube painting tutorial and just used what was at hand – despite a case filled with 35 other colors and a cup full of brushes sitting on the desk.

The next morning, the kids were duly impressed, and I agreed to let them prime the next batch with the Imperial Primer included in the paint set. But not the Dreadnaught, which I handled myself. I spent a good four hours the next evening painting it- tweaking up the basic guidelines on the paint set for Ultramarine colors and referencing the color pictures in the rulebook. It turned out to be one of the best miniatures I’ve ever painted, and I even got bold and tried out some more advanced shading techniques on it. I actually liked that the paint set only gives the bare basics and I think it is a great way to ease into this part of the hobby, but I’m wondering if there is anywhere near enough paint in the 3ml pots to cover everything in the starter. And you’ve got Marines with exposed skin – and no flesh colors, which is either an oversight or a sly way of getting you to buy a $5 pot of paint.

Between our experience building and painting Battle for Vedros, I think this is a terrific package that most kids can pick up and enjoy provided that they have the correct expectations for it. They are not action figures and there is some “work” involved in preparing the miniatures. My kids love building toys and models, so it was already in their wheelhouse. But it is not an “instant action” set at all, it serves to introduce both the modelling and playing elements of the tabletop gaming hobby. That said, it is easy enough in my estimation that you won’t need a game store employee’s blessing of good luck to get everything put together and looking good with just a little effort.

In Part 2, me and my kids play Warhammer 40k. And in Part 3, I deliver my editorial about Battle for Vedros.


Michael Barnes (He/Him)
Senior Board Game Reviews Editor

Sometime in the early 1980s, MichaelBarnes’ parents thought it would be a good idea to buy him a board game to keep him busy with some friends during one of those high-pressure, “free” timeshare vacations. It turned out to be a terrible idea, because the game was TSR’s Dungeon! - and the rest, as they say, is history. Michael has been involved with writing professionally about games since 2002, when he busked for store credit writing for Boulder Games’ newsletter. He has written for a number of international hobby gaming periodicals and popular Web sites. From 2004-2008, he was the co-owner of Atlanta Game Factory, a brick-and-mortar retail store. He is currently the co-founder of and as well as the Editor-in-Chief of Miniature Market’s Review Corner feature. He is married with two childen and when he’s not playing some kind of game he enjoys stockpiling trivial information about music, comics and film.

Articles by Michael

Michael Barnes
Senior Board Game Reviews Editor

Articles by Michael

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hotseatgames's Avatar
hotseatgames replied the topic: #229734 05 Jul 2016 16:55
Very cool article idea, and I look forward to reading the rest of it.
Josh Look's Avatar
Josh Look replied the topic: #229736 05 Jul 2016 17:31
Damn, this set is $60 on eBay. Rethinking my choice of Tau, I could get on board with Orks for sure.
Michael Barnes's Avatar
Michael Barnes replied the topic: #229737 05 Jul 2016 17:44
Retail is only $50 though...if you can find it anywhere. There isn't anywhere selling it near me in Atlanta, and it's not available through regular hobby retail. Some of the add-on kits are the same kits as the "regular" 40k ones though- the Attack Bike and Wartrakk for example are just the same ol' sprues and they are the same price. Just not in the "GI Joe" packages. They made it sound like the entire line was going to be snap fit, but they actually aren't.

It's a pretty good set to start with. You don't quite get a full tactical squad (get the SM box to complete it) but you get a good force on both sides. The SMs have a Dreadnought, a Terminator, and both a Sergeant and a Captain. The Orks get a great Warboss figure, a bunch of Boyz, some Nobz and the Deffkopta. It's definitely worthwhile to add the bikes and the Gretchin, and I think it wouldn't be too difficult to modify some of the other models to the Vedros rules.

And they need to be modified for it because they are VERY stripped down. Like, to sub-Heroscape levels of complexity. Some of it is done pretty smartly, because it preserves some key elements of the units in terms of range, specialization and durability. There's no ballistic skill or anything like that- SMs hit on a 3+, Orks 5+. Then you roll to wound on 4s against armor saves. Some things modify those, like the Gretchin getting a +1 on their hit roll. But I think it would just be a matter of looking at like, say, a Land Raider and working out a simplified way to handle its functions.

If you really want to go wild, two of these sets (with a couple of adds) would give you two pretty complete armies. You wouldn't get the specializations or formations of the more advanced units, but you would have a good range of units with different strategic uses.
Mr. White's Avatar
Mr. White replied the topic: #229740 05 Jul 2016 22:22
I like how this seems to be a more exploration article rather than straight up review. Sounds like a great time with the kids. Any chance we can get some 'in action' photos so we can see what this many minis looks like on the table, terrain in play, etc? General minis pr0n stuff. Clearly you need not include any people or faces.

The big question...what does this do to Heroscape at your house? Is that recently acquired game done already? That'd make a huge resource for GW funds...
southernman's Avatar
southernman replied the topic: #229741 06 Jul 2016 05:30
Sounds great, like to see your painting outcome. Unfortunately I've never been into minis due to the assembly and paiting requirements (just not interested) - any i have gotten have been pre-painted, including the GW subsidiary/licensee Sabretooth in the early 2000s that brought out the LotR Combat Hex game, OK painted minis with decent enough minis rules for us boardgame-types - so I won't be into it, plus my lad is late teens now and only into video gaming.
Is this a proper table-top system or similar to he GW board games you and others have been mentioning ?
SuperflyPete's Avatar
SuperflyPete replied the topic: #229748 06 Jul 2016 09:48
I love that you're not 'reviewing' as much as telling us a cool story about that time you and your kids got some GW stuff and played and painted with it.

So much better than "critical review" stuff. Way more fun to read because you can actually "feel" the smile on your face as you wrote about it. MOAR MOAR MOAR
DukeofChutney's Avatar
DukeofChutney replied the topic: #229874 08 Jul 2016 16:27
This is a great article Barnes. I enjoyed warhammer a lot more when I was 10-12 than i did when i was 15, not to say warhammer is not for adults but I do think stripping it down for the younguns is a good move. Glad to hear your kids are digging it. I did collect Orks when I did 40k, partly because i could build vehicles out of bits of scrap and they were rules legal. Also you could pile on the minis and do lots of silly fun stuff.