Warhammer 40k Is Basically Football, Part 2

The Community

Just as football is built on its community, so too is Warhammer 40k. In both cases, fans of both games spend at least as much time talking about the game as they do watching or playing it. The reason for this is that they both contain aspects that make great conversation: shared context, lore, and drama.

Shared Context

Shared context is what gives any two football fans in the U.S. the ability to talk about football with each other. There is a shared jargon, knowledge of how the game works, and familiarity with various teams. Each of these things allows a much simpler communication between fans and makes for better storytelling; if you’ve ever seen a football fan try to explain an awe-inspiring moment in a game to someone who doesn’t know the teams or the rules, you know what I mean. The same is true of Warhammer – a story about a unit failing their morale check on a critical turn is just as exciting to someone who plays Warhammer 40k as an interception in the last quarter of a football game is to someone who watches football.


When fans aren’t talking about current events, they may be talking about lore – things that happened in the past that are difficult to remember precisely. While the lore of football and Warhammer 40k are quite different (one is historical fact and the other is science fiction), the effect they have in conversation is quite similar. In particular, it gives fans something to argue about that does have a right answer but may not be known explicitly or may require significant research. This manifests in questions like, “Why was the Denver Broncos on the list of teams John Elway was willing to play for?” or “Why did the Emperor remove all evidence of the last two primarchs from the imperial library?”


Of course, no sport would be complete without drama. In football, this comes from players doing stupid things on or off the field, a “bad” call by a referee, or any number of other things that fans get upset about and talk about for… …A week or so, but certain fans may hold a grudge about for their entire life. The other thing that creates a lot of drama in football are rules changes – this is where the crossover to Warhammer 40k is very clear. Rules changes (even minor ones, it seems to me) seem to be cataclysmic events in both football and Warhammer 40k. The amount of discussion they create, and the amount of noise they generate are incredible… …Up until the point when the change is implemented and people see it in action. Then, for some reason, all the discussion dies down, and it wasn’t that big of a deal after all.

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