WTF, D&D: More Supreme Weirdness from the Warhammer 40,000: Compendium (1989)

Last week we took a look at the Warhammer 40,000: Compendium, GW’s follow up to Warhammer 40,000: Rogue Trader. We took a look at Squats, early Space Marines and Commissars, and other goofy or forgotten bitz of early 40K. Today, we continue our look at the Compendium with Harlequins, Squats on motorcycles, modeling and painting, and classic 40K staples like squads of goat men in the Imperial Guard.


Steve: Wow, look at that. I wonder how many gamers have stared at the Compendium’s back cover image for hours picking out every detail while some ork player moves 400 gretchins.

Zack: Or the Imperial Guard player moves their 150 penitent troopers who are also suicide bombers. Remember those guys? They’re in this book.

Steve: Haven’t seen suicide bombers in a while. Bush does 9/11 and we get a rules errata PDF posted on GW’s website the next day.

Steve: No more suicide bombers.

Zack: Yeah, but if you look at the document’s date you will see that it was created on 8/11.

Steve: Rick Priestley knew…

Steve: Yes! Time to start with the painting and modeling.

Zack: Now this logo brings back memories for me. I don’t think I ever bought an issue of White Dwarf, but every time we played the game at the local hobby shop I would page through copies of it during down time.

Steve: While other boys were feeling up their first hot hooter, young Zack was getting ink washing tips from guys who paint miniatures wearing sunglasses.

Zack: Oh, you’re one to talk, Steve. You told me that last WEEK you got yelled at by a grandmother for taunting her grandson while playing Magic.

Steve: He was playing a Zedruu EDH deck he copied off the Internet and was smug as hell.

Steve: I was running an angel/fallen angel roleplay deck so it was infuriating.

Zack: Steve, do not even try to tell me what any of that means.

Steve: It’s a home brew rules campaign Keith is running. Me and Jamie and Terry from Dollar Tree and sometimes Keith’s girlfriend are all playing wizards and we used Magic decks as our spellbooks and I am Skulvarg the Last of the Twilight Kings, prince of angels light and dark.

Zack: I told you not to tell me any of that and you just told me all of it.


Steve: The coolest man at Games Workshop.

Zack: Coolest man at GW is a bit like saying the “world’s most dangerous baby.”

Steve: And that baby grew up to be Gav Thorpe and he brutally murdered the Chaos Space Marines army lists.

Steve: So don’t joke about babies not being dangerous.

Zack: Speaking of Gav Thorpe and the other Black Library people, I feel like whoever is in charge of fiction over there followed the money train down a real Horus Heresy pit. There were a million Horus Heresy books that seemed to choke the life out of the 40K setting for many years.

Steve: What you wanted more Soul Drinkers and Blood Angels books?

Steve: More Gav Thorpe Dark Angels books featuring the galaxy’s ultimate emo sadsacks?

Zack: I haven’t actually read any of them, but it strikes me as strange to release literally 20 novels about an event that happened in the distant past of the setting.

Zack: Sort of robs the overall narrative of momentum. Even Dan Abnett has basically abandoned his ongoing series of “present day 40K” for a long time to write Horus Heresy shit.

Steve: Okay, I looked it up and there are 37 Horus Heresy novels with 2 more still on the way. So maybe you have a point.

Zack: I prefer the salad days of 40K fiction, when Ian Watson could write an entire trilogy of books that made no sense and contradicted half the lore, but they were entertaining and weird as hell.

Steve: Ian Watson needs to come back and write 37 Captain Lowbrog novels.


Zack: If you are too young to remember early 40K, this is what it was like. Those first plastic Space Marines were magical. You could glue orc heads to them, propellers on their backs, give them bazookas and call them “graviton cannons” or whatever else you wanted to do. There were rules for it all in Rogue Trader.

Steve: Yeah, yeah, yeah, but then instead of upgraded green army men GW started releasing tiny paintable statues by artists and complex model kits that allowed you to create semi-realistic machines of war.

Zack: Admittedly, some of their early plastic kits were bizarre. Like those old Land Raiders.

Steve: I’m all for the creativity too, believe me dude, but with those old rules you know you’d get the kids who carry around their Zedruu EDH decks also dumping out a bucket of tyranids that he calls “cybernids” and they’re actually spray-primed dinosaurs with las cannons glued to them.

Steve: You told me yourself you fought against a guy using like HO scale figures. That’s not cool. That’s silly.

Zack: No, you know what’s silly: Necrons. There, I said it. An army of robot skeletons and mummy lords with pyramids for tanks. They’re ridiculous.

Steve: And the Dark Eldar are S&M elves with flying pirate ships. You could describe any 40K army in silly terms like that.

Zack: Maybe that’s why Warhammer is a game for children.

Steve: Oh, no, you did it now dude.


Steve: Do you really want to go back to the days when GW was releasing articles on how to turn deodorant sticks into “grav tanks”?

Zack: I haven’t actually played Warhammer in like 15 years, so I don’t actually give a shit, but yeah, sure. I’d rather the deodorant tank than the 800 dollar Forge World pro-painted mega robot that some guy plops down on the table.

Steve: What about the old Dreadnoughts? Those were goofy as heck.

Zack: Yeah, alright, fair enough again. They make the holy boxes on legs that exist now look graceful by comparison.

Steve: Check out the wicked Crimson Fists dreadnought paint scheme in the Compendium:


Zack: That’s meow-mazing. I would love to see a current dreadnought done in that style.

Steve: That has to exist. If you’ve seen that, send us in a picture to wtfdndsteve @ gmail dot com.


Steve: I dunno if it’s visible there, but these are camo-painted Space Marines who have a camo banner that says COVERT on the banner.

Zack: For when you want to announce that you’re unannounced.

Steve: The thought of Marines sneaking anywhere is fairly entertaining.

Zack: That’s like me when I played the Hitman games or Splinter Cell. I would creep down one corridor, break one guy’s neck, and then five minutes later be shooting people through windows with shotguns and setting rooms on fire with grenades.

Steve: It was a little more excusable in this era where Marines were just a tiny bit bigger than normal people. Not like it is now where they’re like nine feet tall.

Zack: Although that makes me picture a Sam Fisher who is the size of the queen from Aliens dropping down from a ceiling.

Steve: Oh, yeah, come to think of it the Aliens queen somehow was good at sneaking around. She stowed away on a spaceship the size of like a tour bus. Maybe this isn’t so far-fetched.


Zack: Oh, hey, remember Beast Men?

Zack: Because that was a thing. The Imperial Guard had units of goat men.

Steve: Even in the lore they were like “what the heck are we doing here??”

Steve: Like the beast men, according to the fluff, are motivated by a need to apologize for their ridiculous existence.

Zack: Also, even for Rogue Trader era, a plasma gun AND a las gun? It’s a little much, Beast Man.


Zack: I know we covered Squats in the last one, but I just had to dip back in to remind everyone: Squats had motorcycles. Not like those armored Space Marine motorcycles, which are still silly too, but honest to god HAWGS.

Steve: Start seeing dwarf motorcycles.

Zack: Fortunately, we stopped seeing them.

Steve: Yeah, now it’s Dark Eldar whiplords on their flying sexcycles you gotta watch out for.

Zack: If traffic stops they will fly right up the shoulder and don’t give a fuck.


Zack: I totally forgot about this part, but Squats could also be chaos squats. I wonder if anyone played a full chaos Squat army list.

Steve: This has to be one of the most obscure army lists. It’s like a b-sides album put out by a band nobody has ever heard of.

Zack: It’s definitely edging into Zoats/Slann territory.

Steve: Oh, you mean the Slann, servants of the Old Ones, the ancient reptilian beings who predate even the Eldar? Not to be confused with the C’tan, or Star Gods, who are even more ancient still, who were given bodies by the Nectrontyr AKA the mummy lords.

Zack: I definitely did not mean that.


Zack: Awwwwww yeah, you know what time it is? Look at that Green Goblin motherfucker.

Zack: It’s time for the army list that literally includes Mimes!

Steve: I realize Harlequin armies are silly, but they don’t have to be. Clowns are scary as heck and these are extra-creepy old timey clowns.

Zack: The Harlequins were so confusing to me as a kid. They have Avatars, which are like basic troopers, and then the leader is the High Avatar, but also the Eldar have the Avatar, which is something else entirely.

Steve: They’re all related to each other.

Zack: Yeah, I get that now, but it was confusing to have three different units with the same name. When someone first pulled out this army list it sounded like bullshit.


Steve: Okay, gonna continue my defense of Harlequins.

Steve: I love the Harlequin’s Kiss weapon. It’s so cool and creepy.

Zack: That’s the one that injects a whip into somebody, right?

Steve: Yeah, you know it. Like a tiny little snake that turns their enemy’s insides into goo.

Zack: Looks like “Regan” is in for something even worse than the Iran-Contra hearings.


Steve: Do not speak to me or my sons ever again.

Zack: Nooo, don’t do that Steve. I get the feeling these guys are headed to a crazy rave.

Zack: Like a sci-fi movie rave where they do blue glowing drugs and turn into bugs or something.

Steve: It’s the Harlequin picnic. That cooler is full of hard lemonades.

Zack: Can you spot the adorable bow?

Steve: Shoulder of the Death Jester.

Zack: I don’t know much about Eldar tattooing, but I guarantee you all of the Eldar women have those stocking bow tattoos on their legs.

Steve: Oh, those things are so gross.

Zack: It’s definitely the 2010’s trendy tattoo that will look horrible in 10 years, like barbed wire biceps and tramp stamps.

Steve: Dude, what about the writing whole paragraphs on people? That is the ultimate 21st century tattoo.

Steve: Like these people can’t shut up for five seconds so now they are just writing books on themselves.

Zack: Keith’s girlfriend has one of those tattoos, doesn’t she?

Steve: She rolls her eyes and plays on her phone when she is supposed to be playing the game with us!!


Steve: I mean, I get the complaints about Harlequins, they’re garish, and it’s a difficult army, but they are creepy and you know what? They fit into the Warhammer world better than a lot of other armies.

Zack: *cough* Necrons *cough*

Steve: On the other hand, as a player, you’re sorta on the edge with one of those poorly-treated armies that might get sidelined by GW in an given edition.

Zack: Are they currently viable?

Steve: Yeah. I mean, not exactly like in here, but yes. Which is good because they sucked in the past recent editions.

Steve: And they’re one of the ways you can let your freak flag fly with painting.

Zack: Man, if I were rich and had the time to paint and play, I would let my freak flag fly with a Tyranid army. I would make them gross neon colors that would be fucking disgusting to look at and would put 1989 harlequins to shame.

Zack: Like a bright green and purple color scheme. As heinous as possible.

Steve: This is why Space Marines were invented. To purge the galaxy of some gross nonsense like that.

Zack: COVERTly.