Posts Tagged Games Workshop

“Oh god, it’s so unnecessary!”

So, over the weekend the new sixth edition of Warhammer 40,000 was released for pre-order by Games Workshop.

My initial reaction was ‘nice cover art’, and then the rather major issue of the price tag intruded noisily into my consciousness.

Be fair, I’m surprised that GW didn’t just make the book £50, what with it being price-riding season again over in Lenton, but no, this weighty 452-page volume is a snip at a mere £45.

But the question must be asked, do we really want to pay forty-five of our Earth Pounds for a wargaming rulebook?

Admittedly, two years ago I shelled out the same amount of money for the eighth edition of Warhammer Fantasy Battle, so I’m not judging anyone, but since the summer of 2010 two things have happened: 1) I became a father and as such now have only a pitiful allowance to support my plastic crack habit so that we might feed and clothe my infant daughter; and 2) I’ve encountered the products of quite a few other games, including their much, much, much cheaper rulebooks.

This isn’t a price rant, I have no sympathy for those who seem genuinely affronted that a large, international , publicly traded corporation should behave like the business it actually is. I know that this is an expensive hobby, but really, really, £45 just for the rulebook?

I’m sure that the book is exquisitely well produced, generously illustrated and presented in full colour throughout its 452 pages and from that point of view it is probably well worth the price tag. But are those really the attributes we want in a gaming rulebook? Don’t we just want something that will tell us the rules and that won’t drag us down when we are trudging through the snow to and from games?

Games Workshop have a justified reputation for pushing the envelope in terms of what it is possible to provide to the wargaming customer – usually in the form of ever larger and more elaborate kits for us to buy. But in this case I have to wonder if they are pushing the limits of the possible in an entirely inappropriate direction. I’m not sure there is anyone out there who genuinely decides what tabletop game to take up based on the sumptuousness of the rulebooks.

Given that future 40k Codices are probably going to follow the route taken by Warhammer Armies books and go all swanky and hardcover, WFB and 40k gamers are going to have a lot of weight to cart around, and very little of it will be all that relevant once to have minis on the table and the dice have started to clatter. Pretty pictures are all very well, but the primary purpose of a rule book is to tell us the rules, not to allow us to dazzle our friends and colleagues with the production values of said book.

In contrast, for the price of the new 40k rulebook I can purchase both the new Dropzone Commander rulebook from Hawk Wargames and the new edition of Firestorm Armada from Spartan Games, and still have some change left over to get some actual toys. Admittedly, neither book will be as elaborate as the 40k book, but I can be confident that they will tell me the rules of the respective games.

And again, I will have some spare cash left for toys, and surely that’s the point. Companies sell game rules as a means of encouraging us to buy miniatures. As if GW are now charging us so much for rules that there’s nothing left for the shiny then something has clearly gone wrong.

As for the Collector’s Edition, all I can do is echo the words of Homer J Simpson when confronted by a talking astrolabe in Tis the Fifteenth Season – “Oh god, it’s so unnecessary!” I’m sure it’s very spangly, but paying twice the price won’t make the rules any clearer, stop them becoming obsolete any quicker, or make the coffee and BBQ sauce stains disappear. And I doubt Fiona Bruce and the team from Antiques Roadshow will ever be clucking with barely contained excitement over a wargaming rulebook someone found in the attic. Of course, maybe this can be taken as a sign that gaming is becoming part of the mainstream, which has been using ‘collectors edition’ to mean something pointlessly ostentatious. I just hope the bragging rights are worth the extra forty quid.

Maybe this is all part of an attempt by GW to position themselves as being at the ‘prestige’ or ‘premium’ end of the market. Maybe they are trying to portray themselves as Marks and Spenser’s compared to Mantic’s Asda. Personally, I’ll stick with the mid-range Sainsbury’s of Spartan and Hawk.

I talked in my last blog post  about how I was taking the change in editions as an opportunity to finally break from 40k and GW in general, and seeing the book has not changed my view. It’s not simply the money, it’s that I no longer feel I get the return for my investment in terms of value and enjoyment. Other games just don’t make buying and collecting quite so much of a chore and don’t give the same sense of pressure to keep buying more and bigger stuff no matter what. I look forward to a life free from the frustration and anxiety of wondering when (if ever) my army’s codex will be redone.

So, I think it’s so long to 40k for me. A few books and toys I know I will never use have already gone on eBay. The Brazen Angels will probably end up being a cool painting project I will dip into now and then.

I have the rulebooks for Dropzone Commander and the new edition of Firestorm Armada on the way, plus I still have the new version of Dystopian Wars to get to grips with and I have managed to get hold of a full pdf of the Heavy Gear Blitz rules. I shall have plenty of cool gaming stuff to read without having to worry about the 40k rulebook.

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Screw this, I’m out of here!

So, the big buzz amongst my fellow Warmongers on Twitter today revolves around the latest GW news. First off, there are the leaked images of the forthcoming Space Marine, Ork and Necron aircraft for Warhammer 40,000. Most of the talk is about who does and does not like the new Storm Talon gunship for the Space Marines. I personally think it has some strengths, in this is clearly inspired more by helicopter gunships rather than fixed wing aircraft the way the Storm Raven is and it does look interestingly futuristic. That said, the weapons do look cumbersome and over sized and like they were bolted on as an after thought. I will wait until I can see a better image than a scan of a magazine page before I make final judgement.

The bigger news – in the eyes of many – is the news that price rises are imminent from GW. Details are sketchy at the moment, though some rumours suggest that some kits (like the aforementioned Storm Raven) could go up by as much as 25% – though the average price rise should be much less than that.

I’m not going to launch into a rant about Games Workshop and their pricing policy, for what would be the point? I know I’m not qualified to provide any kind of worthwhile analysis of the financial implications and I have no desire to throw my lot in with whiners and haters and the sort of people who seem to think it’s unreasonable for a business to act as such. But this still unwelcome news.

As mentioned in a relatively recent blog post, I have been becoming more well disposed to Games Workshop in recent months, after having been turned off them by last year’s price rises. I had started to paint up by Brazen Angels Space Marines again, and I even succumbed to temptation and splashed out on some of Forge World’s excellent MK IV Marines to use as a unit of Sternguard Veterans. I was even thinking of starting an additional army, to compliment my Brazen Angels, but that plan might now need a rethink.

This is a hard hobby sometimes, it requires us to balance our hobby against all our other commitments, work family and all our other interests, just to get our toys built and painted and read our rules, let alone to play any games. Paying over the odds is another thing to make the hobby just that bit more difficult.

My fellow Twitter Warmonger @TheBlueHeretic (aka Ryan) expressed it thusly:

I’m thinking this is the year GW prices itself out of my reach. Not Doom & Gloom, or rage quitting, just realization I’m not made of money. A price increase, plus a new edition of 40k (new rules, new models needed to counter new tactics), means unhappy wallet. Not going to decide on it right now, but it is a distinct possibility. Then again, its not like I play much anyways.

I had been drifting back to 40k. I had been won around by so many excellent Black Library books and some cool new model releases. I was even thinking of painting up another Space Marine army using some of the cool new Forgeworld Marines and Terminators and the new Storm Talon gunship. But Ryan’s words crystallized in my head all the reasons why this is not a good idea.

A new edition of 40k is imminent, it will probably be presented in a sumptuous rulebook that will have to be paid for in diamonds and platinum. Every player will then have to go through the traditional period of optimization when they have to tweak their army to gel with the new rules – maybe retiring some models in favour of other unit choices, maybe bringing a little-used troop type out of the depths of the cupboard. Then will come the march of the new codices, new troop types, new models, more changes. It’s a lot of work and potentially a lot of money.

And the thing is, I just don’t think it’s worth it.

Games Workshop are very good at making you want their stuff. Their models are arguably the best in the industry and their background is one of the most compelling – that’s how they were tempting me back. Spartan’s models are fantastic, but there’s something just a bit more visceral about toy soldiers compared to model ships. But the models cost, and so do the books, and more than any company, a GW army is never finished and as time goes on there will always be new models to be sandwiched in and rules changes that mean you have to recompose or enlarge your army. There’s little question that GW are aiming to have gamers playing ever larger battles so they can fit in the growing number of cool super-monsters, mega-tanks, aircraft and other super units. I have never felt the same pressure to buy toys for the other games I collect for that I have for GW games.

So, yeah, I think I’m done. And if this cause me any anguish it’s because GW will always be what got me into this hobby and will always be one of my favourite fictional universes and dabbling with their games if like a familiar comfy coat, or a security blanket to ward of the frighten unknowns of the gaming world. Plus, as the market leader they do dominate the gaming scene and Firestorm Armada and Dystopian Wars will have to pick up a bit if I want to get a game in the local clubs.  Part of me wants to finish painting up the 2000 points of Brazen Angels I still have cluttering up the study, though that might be a futile endeavour. That said, painting is fun in itself and I like painting Marines. Otherwise, I will start getting my Firestorm Armada and Dystopian Wars stuff sorted. I have two fleet for each and only a fraction of them is painted.

Maybe, in the future, something will come along to scratch my 28/30mm itch – maybe Privateer Press will finally release their long promised sci-fi game. Maybe my fellow Warmongers will convince me of the virtues of Warmahordes yet. Or maybe I will turn to the ways of the 10mm game and give Dropzone Commander a try (though I’m buying an Odin Attack craft just to paint whatever happens).

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A Lasgun By Any Other Name.

Recently my eye was caught by the previews of the upcoming Corporation Marines for Mantic Games’ sci-fi wargame Warpath.

I’ve generally regarded Mantic miniatures as being okay quality wise, but nothing to write home about. But these new figures actually really impressed me. Nicely detailed and futuristic enough without going over the top.

Corporation Marines

That said, they won’t help with some people’s perception that Warpath is just a stripped-down version of Warhammer 40,000. There’s no denying that the Corporation Marines look quite a bit like Imperial Guard. The helmets in particular are very reminiscent of the Elysian Drop Troops. And there’s no ignoring the very ‘lasgun’ looking barrels on the rifle. That said, there are clearly other influences. I think we can be reasonably sure that when the headgear of the elite Rangers was being designed, someone had the Spartans from the Halo video games in mind.

Corporation Ranger

Of course that will be a good thing in the view of quite a few people. I’m sure that lots of people on seeing the previews immediately began thinking through the practicalities of doing a proxy Imperial Guard army for 40k using these models.

It wouldn’t be a perfect solution. Any such army would be quite restricted, at least until Mantic release more Corporation models (whenever that might be) An army built up this way would be limited to lascannon and autocannon for heavy weapons teams, power fists for sergeants and whichever of the three special weapons in the box most closely match the Imperial equivalents. Not crippling restrictions to be sure, but harder than some people will be happy with. On the plus side, there will be Ranger and Veteran kits that would be good for Storm Troopers or grenadiers and there is nothing about the figures that would clash with the standard Imperial vehicle kits. Though Scout Sentinels might need some conversion so that the pilots match the rest of your force.

Major General

That said. If you want to save money on your poor bloody infantry, you could certainly do that with these models. £24.99 for 20 figures comes in a fair what below the £36.00 that twenty Cadian Shock Troops would set you back. Meanwhile the Army Set gets you forty infantry and three weapon teams for £15 less than a Imperial Guard Battleforce box. That’s a lot of extra guys and you’re saving enough to buy the Sentinel separately if you want it.

Heavy Weapons Teams

Of course, a proxy armies will exclude you from some tournaments and most likely from playing in GW store. But that may be a price many players would be willing to play in order to make playing as the Imperial Guard more affordable.  And I’m sure a few people will just like the opportunity to do an army that isn’t Cadians or Catachans (or incredibly expensive collector-models). And you will always have the option of playing Warpath with the minis as well.

So some interesting stuff from Mantic and I’m sure a lot of us will be watching how the range develops.

 

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Making Peace

Caito recently posted an interesting article over on the Shell Case:

Scratching That Itch.

Apart from demonstrating the urgent need for an intervention to stop Caito collecting yet another Space Marine army, this article makes some good points.

There isn’t much point holding a grudge against Games Workshop. It won’t make anyone feel any better and it prevents you appreciating those things that they do well. Resenting price increases won’t magically undo them and I have no desire to throw my lot in with the sort of people who seem to resent the idea that a business should seek to make a profit, or the people who are convinced that all Games Workshop employees are secretly trying to sabotage destroy the company from within.

Like Caito I have been tempted to do another 40k army. Imperial Guard in my case, though the new Necron stuff is also very shiny. Thus far I’ve resisted because I have had ships to buy for Firestorm Armada and Dystopian Wars and I know that I only have so much cash to splash. I’ve now decided to hold a moratorium on buying new toys until I can reduce my backlog of unpainted models so there will be no new armies any time soon. But I do still have my Brazen Angel Space Marines to finish, and I would actually quite like to play at least a few games with them.

Of course by the time the army is painted. 6th edition may have come out and I will have to do a lot of thinking about whether to upgrade my rule book. It will probably depend on my financial situation at the time and wow likely I am to be able to get a game. Certainly, the idea of laying out what will probably be a not-inconsiderable sum for another back-breaking tome of rules and fluff does not thrill me. Perhaps it would be wiser to wait for the starter set and get the mini-book and sell on any unwanted minis. I’ve not paid much attention to the rumours about sixth edition as I have enough stress in my life without exposing my self to that level of internet fan-rage.

Of course. I am now quite happily invested with my toys from Spartan, but I’ve not found much else that grabbed me the way 40k did. Warmachine came closest but I just don’t like the models enough and there’s no faction that makes me want to buy and play them as much as some of the 40k, FA and DW ones did. Dust Tactics briefly held my interest but I’m not sure that’s for me either. I will keep an eye out for news of Level 7 from Privateer Press though asi t could be good.

It was not simply the prices that frustrated me about GW, but I felt that I wasn’t getting value of a kind that I wanted. Objectively, the £50 hardback rulebooks with their sumptuous colour illustrations and exhaustive background sections might broadly be worth the cost, but I do wonder if they are fit for purpose as a wargaming rule book that you have to cart around with you. Similarly,  I sometimes feel like a lot the price of a new plastic box set is going on kibble rather than important components. Games Workshop have always tried to push the envelope in terms of the quality of their products but I do feel a lot of the time that they are pushing it far beyond what a lot of gamers actually require. Or to put it another way, just because modern sculpting technology allows you to produce a model that looks like a John Blanche  sketch in 3D doesn’t mean you should (I’m looking at you Vampire Coven Throne).

So, while my hard line rejection has softened to a more open minded ‘never say never’ point of view for the time being I’ll stick with what I’ve got, but once I’ve caught up with my painting, if I feel that I have enough spaceships and steampunk warships I might feel tempted to venture back to the grim darkness of the far future. Perhaps with the Imperial Guard, or perhaps by then there will be shiny new Tau or Eldar Codexes to dazzle me with their Xenos hyper-technology. Alternatively, perhaps some other game will be unveiled that will make we want to buy a million shiny things from elsewhere.

But we shall see.

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Chaotic enough for you?

All the latest online rumours suggest that the next year or so will see two new codexes for Chaos Space Marines in Warhammer 40,000. These are tipped to be ‘Chaos Legions’ and ‘Chaos Renegades’.

The unpopularity of the current CSM codex is well known by anyone who owns an interweb. It remains to be seen whether the new ones will be better received.

To be fair however, any Chaos codex is going to be an extremely difficult proposition. A Chaos force can be based around any of the following:

1) The original nine Traitor Legions, each with their own unique character.
2) Renegade chapters who have turned to Chaos since the Heresy.
3) Cultists, mutants, traitor Guard and other scum.
4) Daemons
5) Warbands made up of forces drawn from all of the above.

Plus, all of the above can be dedicated to one or more of the ruinous powers, or to Chaos Undivided. There is clearly a lot that any Chaos codex worthy of the name has to cover.

This is a difficult challenge for any Codex writer so splitting things into two books might be a wise move. The test will be whether both books can be well executed.

With Chaos Legions in particular, in order to satisfy Chaos players everywhere they will have to create a balanced list that allows players to represent all nine of the original Traitor Legions without any of them being either overpowered or underpowered. I hope that they do find a way to incorporate all this into a single list and that GW do not have to resort to variant lists. The problems with variant lists are three fold. One, they tend to be based on fairly narrow and stereotypical interpretations of the background and help perpetuate and exaggerate those stereotypes. Two, they are frequently not very well balanced as they generally get less play-testing than the core lists. Three, variant lists often work based on a core list that ends up artificially restricted in order to ‘create’ the extra options for the variant list.

It will be interesting to see how much scope there is to personalise your own army within the list. With some like the Black Legion or Word Bearers it should be relatively easy, but with the Thousand Sons or World Eaters, the options would presumably be more limited. Perhaps it will be the role of the Renegade codex to allow players to field a non-World Eaters Khornate army or a non-Thousand Sons Tzeentch army. Although the Black Legion should allow some flexibility in this regard.

We might also see some fleshing out of the units available to some of the legions that have historically had fairly restricted choices. Those players who remember the days of the Cannon of Khorne and the Doom Blaster would probably welcome a diversification of the all-chainaxe-all-the-time approach to Khornate and World Eater armies that has become the norm.

It’s early days yet and time will tell if the upcoming books will satisfy some, most, all or none of the Chaos fans out there champing at the bit for new rules. But whatever the outcome we should at least acknowledge the scale and complexity of the task before we rush to judgement.

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Necrons Unleashed

Check out @CaitoGalenus’s rundown of the new Necron stuff available for pre-order: Necrons Unleashed.

Speaking for myself. I quite like the new Necron infantry. They have a very definite style with plenty of options without being over the top and it looks like you could have some fun choosing a cool colour scheme that suits both your taste and the new models.

I’m less keen on the new vehicles. the Catacomb/Annihilation barge is okay but I don’t much like the look of the Ghost/Doomsday Ark.

The character models are cool, and speak to the new direction GW are taking the Necrons. I think this is overall a good move for what had hitherto been quite a bleak and characterless race.

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Epic Thoughts

@SixEleven has joined @CaitoGalenus and myself in blogging about Epic.

Read his post here.

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