Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Ground Zero - Fantasy Gaming

One of the most disappointing aspects of the Games Workshop decision to nuke the Warhammer world has been the impact on the tournament gaming scene.

I know that the outcome we have had in New Zealand is reflected around the world.....a splintering of the "community" into different game systems. Here in New Zealand we have seen the people playing Warhammer Fantasy move in a variety of different ways:

  • Kings of War
  • The Ninth Age
  • Age of Sigmar
  • Warhammer 40k
  • Ceased playing altogether
In some cases people have cycled through the groups looking for a game that scratches their itch. Now in larger population centres this may not be much of an issue as there are plenty of willing faces to fill gaps but in smaller centres - or those with dispersed population - it is having a massive effect (in terms of numbers).

To be fair in the last 12-18 months of 8th Edition, numbers had peaked and were starting to decline - I suspect because the edition had matured and had been "worked out". This wasn't helped by the lack of love GW was showing the system, largely phoning in army books and then not following up with after sales care (FAQs, etc). However WHFB was largely the only Fantasy game in town.

As a result of the splintering, the resulting communities have had to adjust. Tournament numbers are much less which in itself restricts variety.

Hopefully all of the various systems will grow, attracting new players to the fold. It was good to see multiple systems in play at the Warlords' recent convention Call to Arms. Every game has its attractions and advantages and the key thing out of it all is that people continue to game.


  1. I quite like the options some forces I wouldn't another using in one system but are more comfortable in another. For example my wood elves are non existent really in AoS but I quite like the rules in 9thA.

    I'd like to try 40K again but it's so impenetrable there are so may booms and formations and ways to wrote a list I don't know where to start! I am thinking of giving Kill Team a go.

    As for KoW I can't be bothered making a new army for that the Nature list is dull and I don't see any third party minis that yet inspire me to lay down some paint sadly.

  2. Good take Pete. What I perceive is that us veterans of the halcyon days of WHFB clung to the genre due to our investment, ? misplaced loyalty and lets face it, the excitement of relatively frequent good quality new models, (some not so good army books and balance) and shifting meta as a result. We had most (personally, over decades) amassed sizable armies and developed friendships around our shared hobby, extending to the tournament scene. The massed army concept still appeals, but I think first FoW, and now Bolt Action have broken the mold for traditionalists. Skirmish games are the flavour of the month. The more static nature of Napoleonics do not appeal to me, and the mediocrity of the magic phase and nerfed value of characters in KoW has left me cold. 9th Ed does appeal, but no real ground swell in Kapiti. What has got me enthused is Saga, Bolt Action and Konflikt 47. Yeah, they are skirmish games, but I am getting my gaming and modelling fix from that direction at the moment. I too lament to destruction of what really was quite a cool NZ fantasy gaming scene. It does appear that the gaming scene is growing, and attracting some new and also younger players.

  3. I've probably said this somewhere else but I don't understand why the warhammer fantasy community didnt all jump on board the 9th age train?

    We all used to love the game so much, the community was great and so was the banter. It saddens me that we no longer really have this.

    We all used to moan about comp, balance and that GW never listened or really had a face in the community.

    But with 9th age, we kinda have all that. Admittedly balancing will take time, but I think they have done a really good job so far.

    I encourage everyone who loved warhammer to give it a try.

    1. Yeah I know Sam. It's so stink that everybody won't do what I want.

    2. On a more serious note there does seem to be two main types of gamer. The first plays a variety of games, tries new things immediately they come out, etc whereas the second has more of a single focus with wargaming equating to their game system.

      I believe that tournament gamers generally fall into the second camp. They become invested in their system both through thorough rules Knowledge and the tailoring of their models to the system.

      Once in it is hard to get them out.

    3. Sam, I think it was the sense of betrayal and desolation that came (after the elation of the End-Times books) when AoS floated, simply caused a dying of passion for the fantasy genre a lot of people. Then there was also the lag-time to get 9th Ed out, while KoW was able to capatalise on the vacuum created by WHFBs demise. Unfortunately, I think for most, it has been found wanting after the richness of the Warhammer universe back story.

  4. The landscape is just looking a lot more varied, people are finding the games which they enjoy for their own various reasons rather than just begrudgingly sticking with something they used to like but then came to kinda resent.

  5. Player numbers will always be the key factor behind the support for particular systems. The number of regular Fantasy players in Palmy effectively dropped to 0 after AoS hit the market, but it was declining anyway as people moved away. In truth tournaments were the primary means of getting regular games for gamer's here.

    The size of the WHFB gaming community was always small hence why we always saw the same people turning up to tournaments with very few new players joining in. Once they split into different camps then those events were only going to die. That split was understandable as 9th isn't a company backed game, 8th die hards can't get regular games & KoW doesn't appeal to everyone. Personally I looked at the Fantasy stuff at CTA last month and didn't miss the game at all.

    Its a shame but regardless I'll hang onto my collections as you never know things may turn around and I can always teach my kids to play AoS to get them into things.

    1. Whereas I look at the bloated carcass that is the current Warhammer 40k ruleset and would never envisage devoting time to it. I hope for the day when GW AOS it as it is currently an embarrassment of bloat and bolted on supplements. Will it happen? I don't know. I think that GW probably makes too much out of the unneeded flyers, super heavies, fortifications, allies etc for them to strip 40k back to a playable game at tournament level.

    2. Still Hagen will get 34 players to Maelstrom and they'll get 50 players to Conquest down in the Village of the Damned, so what do I know? :-)

    3. I enjoy 40k but do I agree that rule bloat is a problem. There are simply too many books out there for anyone even GW to be capable of knowing them all let alone balancing the game. Same thing happened in FOW. A simplified rule set won't happen not after all the new books they've brought out recently. I agree flyers have no place in the game it's simply not scaled properly for them.

  6. I have played 4th/5th/6th/7th editions of warhammer (depending on opponents/armies/scenarios/whim) for years, so this didn't really bother me much. Much less than say, the gradual disappearance of my favourite models from GW stores. AoS has inspired me to go back to Warmaster actually, which I bloody love.