Sunday, April 23, 2017

KOW - GW - Why the Resentment?

This afternoon I started reading a thread on the KOW Fanatics page that was signalling GW's announcement today about Warhammer 40k's revamp, as some sort of victory for Mantic. Bubbling below some of the comments was bare disguised animosity to GW.

First of all, I'd be very surprised if the revamp has anything to do with Mantic. To suggest that Warhammer 40k was in any way threatened by Mantic is nonsensical. Warpath to 40k is the proverbial mosquito to an elephant.....the Warpath player base in relation to 40k is a rounding error.

Second, 40k was a bloated mess. It has been 17 years since the last major reboot and the rules currently in use span three editions and ten years. Playing the game has slowed to a crawl - evidenced by the completion rate for 1850 point games at major US events like LVO etc. Power creep which had previously been related to codex release was now being driven by the freedom allowed in list building whereby the game had become seriously divorced from the fluff.

Third, GW had in AOS trialled organisational mechanisms for armies that reduced reliance on individual codexes/army books and instead used the war scroll (datasheet) as the building block. This allowed the use of keywords which meant the rules could be more streamlined. Now I have never played AOS (I have no interest in a skirmish based Fantasy game) but the people who do play seem to like it ..... more power to them.

What I don't understand is the antagonism that some people have towards GW?

GW made a business decision to blow up the Old World because they did not make as much money as they wanted from Warhammer Fantasy. What was the upshot of that? A more splintered community and the removal of 30 years of established fluff. I lament the second part more than the first.

Why? Well it got me to look at Kings of War which I never would have done without the demise of Warhammer Fantasy Battle. I'm sure that this has opened up the world of Mantica far more than anything Mantic Games could have done. My guess is that the influx of "refugees" increased the player base for KoW by orders of magnitude.

Personally I'm grateful that I found KOW as I think that the second edition is undoubtedly one of the most enjoyable wargames I've played (along with 40k 3e/4e, DBM and the first three years of WHFB 8th). In fact, as I look back now I roll my eyes at some of the WHFB rules mechanisms - comparatively they seem so clunky.

It also gave us "Uncharted Empires". It is highly unlikely that this expansion would have got off the ground or received the commercial reception without GW binning WHFB. KOW players now have 21 largely balanced armies giving a greater variety of opportunity to build and play. Following on from this, I'm pretty sure that the Empire of Dust models and those of the Trident Realms owe at least a hat tip to the large player base KOW now enjoys.

Miniature wargaming needs the GWs of the industry so that companies like Mantic can flourish and grow. While they didn't create the hobby they did undoubtedly push it far more into the mainstream and gave it a high street presence.

Yes they can make decisions we all think are shitty. But they are a publicly traded company and in the end their only responsibility is long term enhancement of shareholder value. There are a lot of Monday morning quarterbacks who felt they made poor decisions (myself included) but you can't argue with their share price. From my perch it seems as though the company is far healthier than it was prior to AoS.

And just as importantly so is Mantic and Kings of War. So why the resentment?


  1. I enjoy AoS but if it wasn't that I too would never have taken a second look at KoW.

  2. me too - I only got into KOW because GW killed off the Old World. I love 8th ed.WFB though and still play it regularly - the fact that it isn't 'current' bothers me not one iota

  3. I left GW back with the ending of the specialist game line. WHFB always seemed clunky and unbalanced - 2nd edition, 3rd edition etc - they all claimed to be balanced and quick before turning into a method to sell models that ruined the game due to imbalance.
    KOW brought me into large scale fantasy war gaming.

    My dislike for GW has been their general disregard of their established customer base.

  4. I've only in the last few years tried 40k and found it difficult to get into, not in small part due to the number of rules (and because even if they shared a name with whfb they often had different mechanics). This in itself led to a greater appreciation of why they upturned the rule set for whfb. The fact that the KOW rule set is so streamlined in comparison just made it far easier to pick up and get into. If it was like the rules for whfb and 40k I probably wouldn't have bothered. The new CEO of GW has done a lot to get the company back on track with the customers and if the new 40k rules are more streamlined then I'll definitely be giving it another go.

  5. Dalton, new management at GW have changed their customer interactions completely around. They are doing amazing things with the community now.

    Im not sure its being AoSed that much (rumoura seem rather 2nd Ed40k tbh) but
    The best part of all of this is the number of players making sweeping statements about how ruined 40k will be based on what they show to be a complete lack of understanding of how AoS even works...

    Also what really confuses me is this exact thing (rules overhauls and redundant books/models) has occured in pretty much every major miniatures game I can think of...

  6. Just a note:
    people are mad at GW because they used unsavory business practices to up their share price and then sell out.
    They used short term sales techniques to get some burst sales, which hurts their business in the long run.

  7. hjp is right on. GW got increasingly arrogant and divorced from the gaming community. They made major mistakes with Lord of the Rings (Alessio wrote Lord of the Rings, but Matt Ward's War of the Rings book was a disaster and seriously damaged a small but growing player base), Fantasy, and then 40K to try to get more money out the existing player base and stopped aggressively trying to grow the player base in the US at least. They stopped play-testing, tried to shut down rumors and feedback on concepts in the works, and became increasingly insular. They did not listen to the better and longer serving store managers, stopped listening to (even attempting to shut down) the player base, and kept drinking their own Kool aide about how everything was fine. Revenues steadily eroded but profits were up for a time, until raising prices reached the pain threshold even for those that are loyal and with more disposable income. That is why they are not liked.

    1. And they have changed management and completely turned that attitude around.

      This version of 40k has been playtested and worked through with the community just like AoS is. If nothing else, it seems theyve learned some lessons from the AoS initial disaster (it certainly isnt one these days!)

    2. No, Im all in on Malifaux at the moment. But think I might give new 40k a tryout.

      AoS isn't that bad a game these days though now Gw have developed it with points etc

  8. Blowing up the Old World was bloody awful, and I don't remember 2015 with much fondness. But in hindsight, I'd never have tried KOW without it, and seen what a really good ruleset could be like. 8th was good, but this is better, much better.

    I see that GW is really making strides in improving its customer relations and engagements, good on them, long may it continue. But until they bring Aus/NZ pricing into line with actual exchange rates, they can bugger off.

    If they do though, I imagine I'll buy quite a bit of their stuff for KOW.