Gaming Like It’s 1993: 2nd Edition Starter 40k Flashback

By Rob Baer | May 18th, 2022 | Categories: 40k Flashback, Second Edition, Videos, Warhammer 40k

2nd_edition_40k_box_coverGet into the Delorean and travel back to the dawn of 40k, with the iconic first starter box set from GW, the 2nd Edition Warhammer 40k Starter!

This second edition box set, my personal box set which I bought with a friend, brings back a flood of memories. Yes, the models are stout and static, but this marks the first time someone could walk into the store, buy a single box, and play a game of Warhammer 40k.

In some respects, this is the original one-click bundle.

Regardless, this box holds a ton of memories for me, and I’m really excited to share this piece of history with you.

2nd Edition Starter 40k Flashback: Gaming Like It’s 1993!

CoverThis injection-modeled plastic was a big deal back in the day. It’s not the computer-generated designs of today but in the early 1990s, this was hot.

Back in the late 80’s going to my local hobby shop and buying a blister of miniatures for $8.00 was a big deal because my income was limited to odd jobs and chores.

The Inflation Calculator tells me this same blister pack would sell for 19.55 in 2022.

Backof theBox

Looking at the box design, you can see that this marks the Red Period, or the Spikey period (Basically the opposite of Picasso’s Blue period for all my BFA friends out there) because all the artwork was red.

Brian Ansel was in charge of the studio, and there was just red everywhere.  They’ve since transitioned of course to a more neutral tone, but man one thing is synonymous with GW and the early 1990s: RED.

The back of the box shows us the contents of the set, and of course, looking at the models with today’s eyes, you might be thinking, “eww”! Just remember, back in the early 90’s these were the cats meow!  The set even came with plenty of cardboard cutouts for ruins and even a cardboard cutout of an Ork dreadnought!!!!!

What Was in the Box

Comparing the 2nd edition to today’s edition, I really feel like they’ve kept a lot of things from both these boxes in today’s game. This edition of the game was a transition from skirmish to the large-scale battles of today.

Some things, like the psychic phase, would take an hour back then. This was a game that took an afternoon and not just a couple of hours to play like we’re used to in today’s tournament settings.

OldschookrulesThere was a Wargear Book, Rules book, and Codex Imperialis, which gave you rules for your army if you didn’t have the codex yet; not all the armies even had books back then. Hey, something we wouldn’t mind having back, free rules!

OrkplasticsYou can see in the Ork models that it was the older design, the 90’s style, before they because huge hulk-like monsters. I also had one of my first attempts at painting a plastic model with this set.

I can’t quite remember what chapter I was trying to paint here, I’m thinking Black Templar but they didn’t exist back then, I think I was just wanting to paint black because I thought it was easy back then; little did I know…

wargearI could spend hours going through the wargear book page by page, but then this would be a book and not an article. This was written by Rick Priestly and Andy Chambers, who are tabletop legends in their own right. It was really cool the way you used to outfit everyone.

CycloneYou used to be able to take everything from bows and arrows to guns and grenades. This was a hodgepodge of rules from the Rogue Trader era. Rules for Harlequins and Genestealers were in here. There was just so much flair to everything. Dreadnoughts would fire a smoke grenade, and the smoke would scatter. There were neat rules like being able to fire all 12 missiles of a cyclone missile launcher in one volley. D10, 72” range, it was bonkers.

It was very intricate; everything had a purpose.

This was an Afternoon Affair, not Just a Quick Game

People invested time and effort into the hobby and showed up at the store read to play. They didn’t show up with bad Gundam proxies. Which, in fairness, I don’t mind as long as they’re painted to look as if they belonged in the Grim Dark future and were on about the right-sized base.

Far be it from me to tell anyone they’re hobbying wrong, but I think we all know those people who abuse the game under the guise of hobbying.


There are things like Psionics in here, the precursor to Psychic, and all the rules we’re familiar with today. The book is even ordered similar to what it is today.  Throwing grenades. Templates for moving and disembarking. Shooting had vortexes running around. There was just a propensity for randomness.

They had sustained fire dice, RPG style dice; it was a menagerie of rules.

One time I was over-watching with a squad of marines with a lascannon, and a Swooping Hawk did their jump pack move in front of my lascannon, and I shot him out of the sky!

It’s funny how years later, the random rewarding things that happen in-game are all you remember.

squatsCodex Imperialis had rules for all the factions, of course not newer factions like Necrons and Tau, we didn’t have as much choice for Xenos back then. Squats were in here (funnily enough, they are now making their comeback!), and Psykers had their own faction.

Chaos wasn’t exactly the Classical 3rd edition. This had a hodgepodge mix of Beastmen, cultists, hounds, and Chaos Space Marines.

ScrathbuiltScratch Built terrain by Mike McVey

ruinsThe gothic ruin cards are neat.

flamertemplatesYou can really see multiple various sizes of templates, it wasn’t nearly as standardized as it was today.

The box came with a ton of cards and markers from everything from Mission Type to Damage Tables and even wargear. Everyone could pretty much take any piece of wargear back then, so it was a little crazy to keep track of.

datasheetsdamage tableThe kit even came with an advertisement for Epic 40k, Fantasy, White Dwarf, and a Store Locator. We had a whopping TWO whole Games Workshop corporate stores in the United States back then!

I hope you enjoyed this walk down memory lane! If you want to go even MORE in-depth on this awesome box set press play to get even more flashback goodness!

Gaming Like It’s 1993! – 2nd Edition 40k Flashback

Did you ever play with the 2nd edition Warhammer 40k starter set? What’s your favorite starter set ever from GW?

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About the Author: Rob Baer

Virginia Restless, Miniature Painter & Cat Dad. I blame LEGOs. There was something about those little-colored blocks that started it all... Twitter @catdaddymbg
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