Thursday, April 16, 2015

An Unfortunate Experiment?

I'm starting to wonder whether GW are finally starting to wake up to the realisation that the last ten years has been a lost opportunity.

Cycle back ten years and if you went to a tournament you were likely to see wonderfully crafted and themed armies - I'm talking both 40k and WHFB. This was encouraged by the GW Rogue Trader system first, then their own GTs and the NTS system they launched. And then something happened.

Suddenly they closed down all creativity in their codexes and army books. Variant lists whether they were in White Dwarf or in the back of books suddenly stopped. Index Astartes, Ork Klans and Eldar Craftworlds all "died".

In 40k the triology of books that did this were Gav Thorpe's Bastard Child, Phil Kelly's Eldar codex which introduced Eldar Allsorts and the Ork codex that was released in the 2005-2007 period (the ork klans including Speed Freeks were dustbinned).

For me that was when 40k died. I was heavily invested in the prior incarnation - six variant Chaos armies, Ulthwe and Iyanden plus a Goff army. Suddenly they were all invalid - and often illegal.

So what did we get instead? Nidzilla, Leafblower and the bastard offspring they sired. Suddenly theme/backstory went out the window and you could cobble any old shit together and call it an army - unless it was actually an army.

The last 5-6 years has seen this get even worst and we are had the introduction of allies, flyers, superheavies so things looked less like an army than ever. In the tournament scene numbers reduced with ever year as the game became even more detached from the backstory.

But I'm wondering if we are starting to see a new spring over the past 12 months with some of the releaves and "supplements". Suddenly forces like Harlequins are an army rather than a unit in Eldar Allsorts. The Imperial Knight and Adeptus Mechanicum armies have been released - imagine how welcome they would have been in 2005 - and will you can abuse them as allies in other armies, more importantly you can make a dedicated force. Finally this week we hear Craftworlds are back.

So is this the first germinating shoots of realisation by GW that the past decade has been an unfortunate experiment and a lost opportunity? You can produce great models but if you divorce the rules from the backstory you alienate a whole section of your market who wander off and find other games.

Why? Because the backstory is GW's chief advantage over its competitors. Yes, the quality of the models is a major plus but no matter how beautiful the model you need context. Think I'm spouting shite well as evidence look how excited the WHFB world was when they heard Nagash was being redone. The whole concept of the Great Necromancer was what drove that excitement.

So I'm hoping we are seeing a realisation that there is a trinity to a great game by GW. Backstory, rules and models. The last ten years have seen backstory ignored but with a retrospective look at the past 12 months I think GW are waking up to how important the context is.

And that is part of the reason why I'm optimistic that 9th Edition WHFB won't see the baby thrown out with the bathwater.


  1. I came into 40k and wargaming as a whole in what you describe as the golden era of 40k and remember it fondly. I ran Fleshtearers for years because of how awesome they seemed in an Index Astartes article.

    What bothers me though is that if you talk about a trinity of backstory, rules and models I feel that it's now rules that suffer. The lack of willingness to put out an FAQ or errata for WHFB just blows my mind.

    9th could (and I hope it is) be fantastic, but for me it will stand on the strength of it's ruleset due to having a new feel/fluff to it, and frankly given happenings in 40k, the rules aspects of ET and lack of errata/FAQs I'm not sure why one would have a lot of faith in GW.

    I'm hoping to be utterly wrong though.

  2. Pretty sure it was a golden era BECAUSE I was playing Jeff!

    1. By this logic all it would take to spur on a new golden age in 40k is your return.....

    2. Yeah, pretty much. Nottingham are talking to my people.