Wednesday, January 7, 2015

2015 - The Death Of Warhammer As We Know It?

The past few months have seen a lot of navel-gazing as people have tried to work out where Warhammer has going, first with the End Times and then with 9th Edition. There have been tales of impending doom, game resets and annihilation. Generally I have taken this with a grain of salt as people will always try to fill a vacuum.

The following appeared on Warseer over the past 24 hours and sets out one view of what is "happening" to Warhammer and what we can expect in 2015. Now I don't know if it is true or how much credence it can be given but it is an interesting read.

If you like Warhammer, I suggest you better take a seat.

Over the last few months I got a few glimpses on what WHF could change to in the very near future. I have collected messages, asked questions, and tried to form a somewhat coherent picture. The one thing I believe by now is: Warhammer in its current form will no longer be supported by GW. It will be transformed into something else, with everything built up in background and most of the model range being kicked out of the door.
To give you an insight into some of the messages I got, have a look at the following. Please note that I am paraphrasing at times, and have cut out (hopefully) everything that could lead to the original identities of my friendly birdies.

9th Edition to pick up where the ET leaves off in fluff, plus a couple of hundred years or so (to reboot the setting).
The Warhammer World gets shattered on a dimensional level during the climax of the ET. No more "map of the Old World" - it's now little bubbles of reality, where pockets of civilisation try desperately to eke a living before the next collision with another bubble, which may be full of Chaos. (To address the problem of "how come my Tomb Kings of Khemri are fighting against Wood Elves from Athel Loren?", not that I get the impression that either of those will still exist, but you get the idea)

New faction... heavily armoured, religious, "good" human warriors fighting with the power of the gods. (Warhammer Space Marines, basically). Karl Franz Ascended seems to be the prototype or precursor for this concept, AFAICT.

9th edition will have 6 factions. Model diversity cut in half shelf space. New world and new age so current factions and lore aren't recognizable at all. Each new faction has like 3 core units that will always be on the shelf. Much faster releases of stuff, mainly characters and special units of 2-5 fancy models (like Morghasts) that have their own rules right in the box, so not dependent on a static army book. Many of the these non-core models are only available for a limited time (say 6 months to a year), so they don't take up shelf space forever and ever. Many existing models are not usable in 9th.

We can expect the next edition of Fantasy to throw everything up in the air. The whole End Times move has been to wean people onto a whole new take on the Warhammer world and it's going to start with every army being "chaosified". We can expect army play styles and appearance to change quite dramatically and there will be a whole load of new models being released early on to tie everything together. This has caused quite a stir back at GW HQ as there are a lot of people behind the scenes (some of which are very well known to us) who don't like the changes that have been made. I have also been told that the models due to be released are some of the best to date!

'9th' [or] whatever is next for fantasy [...] coming 2015 in the summer. The new faction [plus] future releases after this point for five 'existing' factions (which plus this would make six) […] but I think there will be [...] more.

At first glance, I so hope that this is wrong. At second glance I so hope this is wrong also! To me it sounds awful.

If it did come to pass I can see a fracturing of a the Warhammer Community that would make the 8th Ed Rage Quit look like a minor disagreement. For me the beauty of Warhammer is the scale - big armies/units - and the diversity of the races. This appears to dismantle both of those attractions.

Now I don't know if this will come to pass but the drums are starting to beat with reoccurring messages. The idea of invalidating models and races would be seen by the community as a "betrayal" - and I don't think that is too strong a word for it.

The driver is apparently the need for GW to "own" their IP and restrict the copying of their models. A lot of the concepts that are being talked about have been trialled over the past 24 months - limited editions, restricted print rounds, splash releases - so the mechanisms are there.

Is the sky falling? not yet. However some of the dark clouds have got me worrying for the first time.


  1. I could potentially see it. At the very least the uncertainty is enough that the only $$ I've spent on WHFB since September has been to buy some bases and 5 Dark Riders. In addition I've put a halt on painting the Wood Elves I bought.

    All that said I'm open to change, but not in a rush to get myself screwed financially by models and armies being discontinued.

  2. I'm not so sure a release cycle including limited runs of models addresses any IP issues GW may have with models. As soon as a model becomes no longer available it opens it up for the 3rd party scene to fill the gaps. That seems entirely counter productive.

    Order, Chaos, Elves, Undead, destruction and other...

    We have seen/heard the impending doom of WHFB for the past 3 editions, and it always comes from the same old personalities. It is a reasonable assumption to conclude that EoT will allow a consolidation of the range into 5-6 factions, but invalidating model ranges makes little sense to me.

  3. Pete there has already been a "betrayal" of those in the community that have painted and collected armies from Ulthuan or Altdorf (as I have for over 20 years) as they no longer exist. If the contents of this post comes to pass it will be very similar to what GW did to Space Marine Epic when they released Epic 40k. If you know your GW history, then it's pretty safe to say that this moral abortion isn't beyond the scope of their design team. However, what the release of Epic 40k did do was create was a huge online player community driven adapted rule set of Space marine epic, that I have the greatest pleasure of playing atm. With a little organisation the same thing could be true of fantasy.

    1. Epic was before my time but I did experience Gav Thorpe's Chaos Codex which invalidated 6 Dunn household armies in one soop and it soured me from 40k.

      Don't know what to say about the Elf situation - again we own all three armies. Preference is that they maintain their individual character.

  4. I think the quality of the rules that they release with all this will be the make or break. If they come out with a really good set of rules I think people will be able to handle needing to buy new models (especially if they keep releasing awesome looking models). But if the rules set is a shambles (like most of their rules are) then I can see a really large amount of people just moving to something else.

    Personally I won't be buying a whole bunch of new stuff to play a poorly written game that is stylistically different from current warhammer, because if my current investment in the game (figures, rulebooks etc) is useless and I have to buy new stuff anyway I may as well play something else with a tighter rules set.

    So hopefully the style doesn't change much, because I like the higher model counts and having more of an army than in games like 'faux and Warmahordes, it'd be a shame if warhammer ended up in the same category.

  5. That seems to be the fallout from the End Times at the moment. When Nagash came out everyone went "Wow". Then Glottkin and people went "Cool, Hordes of Chaos is back - makes sense".

    The release of Khaine has had a really different effect. Okay there were no new models with it but I think the major impact has been that it stopped people in their tracks. Suddenly it seemed like armies were being "destroyed" and I know that it has impacted the buying habits of a lot of people.

    People want some certainty around their purchases. Thanquol see the release of new Skaven but even a Ratty Tragic like myself is questioning potential purchases. I'll make do with my FW Vermin Lord rather than buy the new model though I'll likely spring for Thanquol & Boneripper and the new seer.

    But say you are a Lizard or O&G player.....or heaven forbid, a Dwarf.....what do you do? Add to your army or stop buying on the chance it may be invalidated in 6 months?

    Similarly what does your Elf player do now?

    Interesting times.

    1. My ogres are also feeling doomed. Strangely there was a resurgence of Fantasy play in my area for a bit, and ever since End Times started the play opportunities have evaporated. It seems like a lot of people are moving to other gaming systems.

    2. I'm feeling in a happy place after end times Khaine.
      We now live in a new land where it is warmer and has hot and cold running Brettonians.
      The Dark Elves were right, Malekith was the rightful king after all we humbled the high elves and reunited with the Wood Elves.
      If we get bored we can always go and bash a beastmen.

      So far the end times are fantastic.
      On a gaming sense I am inspired to get some wood elves and maybe some yuck high elves for a combined army.

  6. Last year, it must have been around may, there was a post on warseer about how WHFB would be completely altered and it would be re shaped into a skirmish game on par with hordes, the way they would justify this is with a end times campaign where Nagash would return and figth the chaos gods. I, along with everyone else on the thread, laughed this rumor away saying things like "GW wouldn't be crazy to do this".

    Its starting to look like we were wrong, and if this rumor is true then there will be 4000+ points of Wood Elves on trade me soon.

    1. But if the game does go that way who will buy them??

      It's a conundrum...

  7. We'll always have 8th Edition. And Paris.

    1. This is true, but more importantly, it totally made me laugh. Nice one Lliam!

  8. The Dark Elf player is dusting off his WoC and DoC armies, has refurbished his Undead, and is watching from the Tower of Clar Garond.

    1. didn't that tower fall to chaos?

    2. Thats why I'm dusting off the WoC. And I have not read the End Times Khaine book as in my mind, it still stands. LOL

  9. Some of these rumours don’t make sense for how to run your business.
    GW has invested heavily in plastic technology. This has high upfront costs but low production costs. To recoup the set up costs you need volume.
    A splash release strategy where models are available for a limited time or needed in small volumes does not make sense for plastic models.
    A release strategy where models will only be in stores for a limited time then move to direct only makes sense. Because this allows the stores to sell the latest hits while allowing players starting later to expand their collections via online sales.
    GW customers are conservative and resistant to change. Betting the company future revenue of the customer base changing their views and ditching their investment in the existing GW fantasy world and buying a new world and a new game instead sounds very unlikely. It’s not good corporate practice.
    The GW Warhammer setting is an asset, you don’t burn down an asset that still has value and throw it away. That’s terrible on the balance sheet and tends to get the shareholders waving their pitch forks and torches.
    GW wanting to own their IP
    In order to own their IP GW would have to create a fantasy setting without any of the fantasy staples. So no elves, dwarfs, orc, goblins chaos warriors or beastmen or humans.
    GW could invest the effort to develop a whole new fantasy setting with all their own unique races of their own creation but that sounds expensive and high risk.

    Another interpretation of these rumours
    People have been asking for an entry level game where people can get into the Warhammer hobby without needing to buy a huge army. GW hasn’t had a low cost of entry game since they stopped support for Mordheim.
    GW have always set each of their games in a different variant of their worlds to give it their own setting.
    Maybe these rumours are describing a new GW fantasy skirmish game where warbands of adventurers roam across the fractured realms to battle each other in search of magguffins such as crystal skulls.
    This fits all of the available information and the game could even be called something like Warhammer realms.
    GW may also need something that is simple to play in stores when the Lord of the Rings licence expires.
    This strategy is also allows GW to:
    1. Have a lower cost gateway game with its own range of models
    2. Have something that is easy to run in stores
    3. Does not destroy 30 years of the companies IP in one stroke
    4. Maintain the value of their investment in plastic casting technology.

  10. It looks a lot like aspects of LotR rules playsets meets WHFB with 40k memes thrown in and creates a new yet familiar... thing.

    1. well said Hagen.
      LOTR has a warband scale game with models on individual round bases and then these models can also be used in an army scale game by sticking the models in regimental bases.
      That sounds great to me.
      People playing skirmish games don't buy less models they just put less on the table at one time. You end up buying new units to vary your skirmish list to maintain interest.

    2. I'm just suspicious that LotR might have been the opportunity to test all the new formats (skirmish and large games)... Particularly the whole basing thing. 'People' do say LotR is a good ruleset too..

  11. *takes another look at Kings of War*

    1. It would be interesting to get a review of KoW. Some people seem to love it others seem to think it's bland and too simple.
      I suspect that after fantasy where jsut about every unit is unique and has it's own special rules all games will seem bland and simple.
      Look at flames of war. units only have two stats with only 3 variations so there are only 9 different combinations of factors to make up all units.
      I imagine fantasy would be much simpler and easier to balance if there were only two stats combat and morale and only 3 variations of each.

    2. I'm in the love it camp. yes the mechanics are streamlined but there is a lot of strategic depth to it and it is pretty well balanced and will be even more so once the new edition gets released mid year. Plus its extremely quick to learn as unit stats are very simple (no comparing charts).

      Sure it doesn't have the same level of 'forging the narrative' and it won't suit people who luck running character buses, death stars or winning a game by throwing down an extremely powerful spell. But as a tactical and strategic massed fantasy battle game, especially at tournament level, its fantastic.


  12. So I have 3 armies now two of which Ogres and Dwarfs will according to these rumours disappear and basically leave my large expensive collections as little more than piles of plastic scrap and the third High Elves in need of reworking to fit into the new edition. Considering that I really don't enjoy playing my High Elves that much it doesn't really leave me that optimistic...

    1. John,

      All rumours at the moment. Step back from the ledge.


    2. No no I can't I feel the Dwarven gods of Cynicism, Fatalism and Grumbling calling to me

    3. Pete's right, step back for the moment.

      We'll be playing 8th Ed for at least the next six months; even if 9th Ed comes out in April/May, people need time to pick up the new game.

      9th Ed might be good, or at least good enough. We might be able to use our collections with only moderate changes (like in 7th-8th).

      If it is rubbish, Kings of War and possibly Warthrone (from Avatars of War) look like possible replacements. Both are mass fantasy games aimed at 28mm figures, with no need to rebase. Look up the Bugmans site for a review of Warthrone.

      Whatever happens, my Elves and Dwarves will be dying heroic/pointless deaths for some time to come. Don't ditch your models.

    4. I agree with Tane and Pete, step back from the ledge. Wait until rumours are confirmed before taking the slayer oath.

      PS: First dibs on your dwarf army.

      - Adam Richards

  13. I have to admit, that I am the owner of an army full of bearded men and have been a follower for 7 years now. When I got into them there was a huge wave of new models coming out here ther and everywhere, but after we peaked we seemed to have fallen silent for a long time. And then suddenly rushed new models just as we are going to be possibly removed from the scenes completely? Frankly with the thought of this I am looking else where to seek refuge in WFB and my 2nd choice was the lizardmen......

    But I hope they keep the model variation high because that adds to the game and differentiates it from 40k.
    I say stick with the old.


  14. for what its worth Kow is a great game. it is a little plain compared to fantasy battle but it plays well and allows large units and large armies and looks great on the table.

  15. Why the hell doesn't GW ever answer any of these rumors? I f-ing hate the whole secrecy thing and vagueness that GW and bunch game manufactures got with their new products and answering questions. I mean seriously whats their problem. People who invest money in something need a word allot of these game companies don't ever seem to project stability. Keeping your customer base in the dark is not a good business model.