We are often encouraged to forge a narrative when playing 40k as it adds to the experience. (which it most certainly does) I have found that themed games or campaigns adds a certain luster to 40K that most pick up games lack. Often times I look for sources of inspiration to create themed games or campaigns. Today we'll discuss one area of inspiration- historical literature.
Adding a bigger picture to the backdrop of your games makes it far more interesting. It answers the questions of why the fighting is taking place and suggests goals and objectives that may not be represented in simple secure objective 3 sort of way. For large scale games and campaigns I heartily recommend the Osprey publishing series on campaigns. Well written (mostly) with fantastic maps and well Illustrated it can provide a number of scenarios for a campaign.
Not every game will be the size and scope of the battle of Kursk and for that I find the Stockpool infantry aces series a fantastic read. it provides platoon or company sized engagements against a far larger backdrop. A good campaign should have small games as well as large ones to give it an authentic feel. Further small games based on historical missions can led to increased modeling as you tailor a force to match the historical one. For Example during the battle of Stalingrad the germans were delayed for days from rolling up the soviet flank due to a position known as Pavlov's house. Where a sgt. named Pavlov and a handful of men fended off attack after attack. Imagine a cityfight scenario where four squads of marines and a character hold a building from a weak force of cultists, then a second match pitching them against cultists and a helbrute or two, and finally against chaos marines with armored support. There you have a series of two or three games set against a larger picture providing a great narrative mini-campaign.
For those of you who enjoy this blog the Operation Nesting Asps campaign was based off of the Rhodesian war and I like to think it provided a fun narrative to read and to play through.
Well I'll get off the soap box now (I know I know sighs of relief) Hopefully this will allow everyone to get some inspiration for a few fun themed games or even a campaign.