My name is Peter and I am a visually impaired 40k player. I jokingly call myself "The Blind General" and have an Eltharion the Blind model who I use in my army as an autarch for obvious reasons. I'm going to be playing in my first Major in April next year, in the Bristol Grand Tournament and apparently some of you might be interested in learning how I manage to play the game and how it all started.
Well first of all I'll start off by saying I was not always visually impaired, I lost a large amount of my fine detail central vision when I was 23 (8 years ago). I have a form of Macular degeneration called Stargardts, this normally affects children but it hit me a little later in life thankfully. I had played Warhammer all through my teens and early 20's and loved the extra level of strategy and chance the game had over something traditional like chess. The world of 40k, with all its depth and magnitude drew me in and I loved reading about the lore and writing back stories for my craftworlds force and it's heroes. My close group of friends all played and I have fond memories of using upside down ice-cream tubs and toilet rolls as scenery on the floor! Most of us still play to this day which is nice too.
So, as with many things, when the eyesight went bad 40k was just no longer part of my life anymore. I was focused on learning how to move around using my peripheral vision and performing mundane day to day activities at the time. Thus, I sold off my Eldar and Marines and tried to focus on other things that didn't require me to read or look at anything closely. Luckily this was not the end.
About 3 years ago, at the time of writing, I decided to set myself a new challenge. As part of my adaptation process I try and learn how to do something again that I had previously done before the vision went each year, there have been successes and failures. Squash was not the best idea I have ever had, but I have succeeded in hitting a golf ball (I’m still not sure where though). The challenge I set myself was to play 40k again. I missed it greatly, the strategy, the community and just the general feeling of rolling dice and having fun. Now you guessed it... I can't paint, so this led me to look for someone to help me with the hobby side of things. Boy did I find so much more, welcome to the stage Jamie Ross of The Bristol Adventurers Guild and Lee Palmer “The Mediocre Modeller”. I don’t want this to turn into an advert, but Jamie does amazing work with children and adults with additional needs and works hand in hand with the National Autistic Society and Lee focuses on getting people's armies to a better than tabletop standard without breaking the bank. I would encourage you guys to check out their respective Facebook pages and drop them a like. The boys have been working to get my army battle ready, it doesn’t help that there is a lot of it, and in the post-lockdown world things are coming together.
We had to choose a scheme that would stand out to me, would look nice on the tabletop and make it easier for me to distinguish between units and models. I wanted a very light colour to typically contrast with the grim dark aesthetic of the 40k universe so settled on wraithbone as the core colour of my force. Purple is the colour that stands out to me the most and was the obvious choice for an accent colour. For example we use it to help me distinguish between a regular Howling Banshee and an Exarch by making sure the Exarch has a purple face.
Learning to play again has been an interesting journey. I pretty much have to learn the rules through osmosis as extensive reading (even on my 43 inch monitor) gets very tiring. I watch/listen to multiple battle reports a week and Pre-pandemic Jamie was helping guide me through a game once per week. Now with the advent of 9th I dived head first and feel like I have a good grip on the rules and really it's now just about “getting some reps in”. The main problem I face is I am slow and that is the thing I will be working on the most in preparation for April next year.
I will have a caddy with me who will aid me in measuring, helping to move my units and most importantly checking lines of sight. They will not be providing any tactical help, It is very important to me that I do not receive any advantage over others like extra time for example, so for that reason I will be practicing with a clock. I will also be working with my friends to develop some tools between now and April to help me better visualise the board and manage things like threat ranges and objective grabbing scenarios. Holding a good image of the game board in my head is becoming more natural and of course I can get nice and close if I want too.
The sooner I settle on one list for the event the better as I want to know every stat and rule inside and out before I attend to save codex time. I am probably the only Craftworlds player that doesn’t want a new codex between now and April! I will of course try and familiarise myself with other armies and their potential unit choices but I’m not going to beat myself up too badly if I need to ask lots of questions.
I look forward to meeting you all and potentially playing you at the Bristol Grand Tournament. Feel free to come over and say “hi” if you’re interested in learning more or just want to look at the garish purple and pink highlights on my models! Good luck at the event guys and may the dice gods forever be on your side.