I've always been a little frightened by the world of miniature modelling. Not in any kind of derogatory sense - even if I was inclined to do so, I'm in no position to look down on those who engage in obsessive hobbying.
It's a bit like Dr Strangelove's wayward arm. I simply can't imagine investing hours into crafting something so intricate while resisting the compulsion to streak the brush across the figurine with a maniacal cackle - just because I can. "The Lord Commissar inspires the men of the Imperial Guard by executing those who show fear in the face of the enemy."
But here, at Relic Entertainment's Vancouver studio, is something I can get behind. I'm being introduced to the Imperial Guard, the new race featured in the second full expansion for Dawn of War 2. It promises to give the series a fresh twist with an emphasis on defensive gameplay. Good news for those who prefer to stand and fight rather than drown their opponents in righteous destruction.
At first glance, it's tempting to wonder if the focus on the Imperial Guard is an attempt to provide a more human race with mass appeal, the good guys kicking ass in the trail blazed by Jimmy Raynor last year. Producer Jeff Lydell is quick to scotch any such suggestions, however.
"Nobody in Warhammer is the good guy, everyone is in it for themselves," he says. "If you look at the universe and the story in detail, they have to be. It's not just a matter of people being selfish - every battle is for survival."
Showing frustration with your comrades by executing them with a swift pistol shot to the head is almost certainly covered somewhere in the finer details of the Geneva Convention. So it's a point worth conceding with regard to the cold-blooded, survivor-takes-all universe of Warhammer 40K.
The battle is about to take a new turn. Previously, races used any old excuse as justification for slaughtering each other - historical wrongdoings, territorial hunger or the theft of Lord Eliphas' last Muller Lite from the fridge even though it clearly had one his sticky labels on it.
Now, the Imperium is launching the Exterminatus - an assault that threatens to wipe out all populations. But don't go thinking former enemies will begin banding together as a result. The warmongering remains. Pausing in your quest for survival to take pot-shots at other races adds a layer of grinning lunacy to the glorious violence of the game, and the frantic race to be first past the post.
This time around there six playable race campaigns for the Eldar, Space Marines, Imperial Guard, Ork, Tyrannid and Chaos forces, spread across 16 missions. As yet, it's not clear how much repetition will be involved - and therefore whether players will want to play through the game as all races.
"Some players certainly will, because the stories are unique - the reasons for each race coming down to that fight are unique," says Lydell. "And the gameplay within the races is very unique. Another option is to play in co-op with a friend or increase the challenge."
One criticism levelled at the earlier release concerned the repetitive use of maps in the single-player experience. This feedback was noted and acted upon for Chaos Rising, and we're assured the sentiment has carried through into Retribution.
The portion of the single-player campaign on show in Vancouver is certainly diverse. There are forested ruins, looming scenery and a frantic chase through a hillside maze with the Imperial Gard's heavily armoured tank forces moving ever closer.
Running away to regroup and refocus becomes a tactical necessity. The result is a furious game of cat-and-mouse, one which can only be won by capturing turrets across the landscape.
Relic is at pains to point out this latest iteration is more than an add-on limited to those who own the previous releases. It's an expansion in terms of price only. There's a full game to be enjoyed here, certainly from a PVP perspective and with only previous title campaigns being excluded from the experience.
Along with introducing the Imperial Guard, Retribution awards each race with one new unit. By the end of the expansion, everyone will have a new monstrous harbinger of death to cackle over.
The Orks receive a Battlewagon, complete with a front-mounted spiked roller useful for thinning enemy ranks. For the Imperial Guard, imminent justice arrives in the form of the Baneblade tank - a hideous tool of destruction armed to the teeth with 11 weapons.
The Chaos Noise Marines bring sonic weapons to the table - not, sadly, to invoke the brown note but rather to emit a blast of noise which prevents enemy units from firing.
One clumsier aspect of the earlier releases, now removed, was the need to maintain a Games for Windows Live account for the multiplayer component, plus a Steam log-in. With the advances made to Steamworks since the original launch - "Nerdy networking stuff, P2P networking and that sort of thing" - everything will now be bought under Valve's roof. Hard-earned ranks will, however, be carried over to the new system.
Time now to move on to the multiplayer session. Our first team-based effort is a write-off from the start. I generously offer to switch sides in order to give my former team-mates the chance to learn some tactics amongst themselves. It works and, after changing teams, they gamely rise to the challenge and emerge victorious...
The second result is equally decisive, with the fight critically staying alive until the final moments. Typically, a points-based round of capture-the-flag becomes a miserable experience when the writing on the wall reads 150 versus 500. But here, the maps are broad enough and the objectives spread far enough apart that opportunities to retake control of the situation always seem at hand. You never feel as though you're simply waiting for the inevitable defeat, with one eye looking towards the next round.
Attention to detail and strict adherence to the lore come as part and parcel of a Games Workshop franchise. The voice-acting is also highly accomplished and drives the atmosphere of the story forward in a way that commands your attention, even if the minutia of the universe has been a closed book to you until now.
Everything about the approach taken with Retribution suggests an intention to create accessibility for those coming to the series mid-way through. But existing fans can sleep easy, safe in the knowledge that they're being well catered for.
The RTS genre is often considered to be on the hardcore end of the gaming spectrum. With StarCraft 2, however, Blizzard proved that if you build it, they will come. If you found yourself caught up in the pre-launch hype for that game, dipped a toe in the water and found yourself pleasantly surprised, Dawn of War 2: Retribution needs to be on your watch list.