Going on a GW Diet in 2011 – a Rant

There was a very sinister revealing of Games Workshop, in 2010, that I really didn’t like. It compels me to write.

I’ve been a long time GW fan – played almost everything they’ve ever created at one time or another, and some that I still do: WHFB, 40K, Mordheim, Epic, Space Hulk, Warmaster, BFG, LotR, Necromunda – blah blah blah – you get the picture. And in those 20+ years I’ve been getting more and more cynical – prices have been raised far beyond comparable products, (to the point where, no matter how much money I make, GW minis just aren’t value for dollar anymore). I’ve seen many, many rulesets come and go – exciting stuff! I’ve always been a fan of rules in all miniature genres and scales – it’s really neat to see how developers want to organize our simulated warfare. Well, at least until 8th ed WHFB came along.

Warhammer 8th ed. at first glance, is a serious rules improvement – better writing, better tactics, etc. But here’s the sinister part – even though I had 3 complete armies, they all became sub-standard in the new edition. They all needed more models in some way or another – certain troop choices were optimized and should now be collected, or already usable troops were still effective, but in larger numbers! It was then that I realized I had been deliberately manipulated. And now, after a few months of pondering, I’ve decided I’m not going to take it.

Why, when I have display shelves crammed, crammed with models for 2 or 3 specific GW gaming systems, should I have to go out and get more to remain competitive? And we’re not even talking tournies here – which I don’t do. “BUT”, says Games Workshop, “our games are designed for friendly basement matchups between mates on the weekend! If you’re not playing nice, you’re not playing in the spirit of our games.” – Bullshit. At first glance this seems like an honest and caring corporate statement – why can’t we all just get along and play like Christ would if he had a High Elf army? Because every kid or adult I’ve ever played in WHFB wants to win more games than they lose. In fact, I’d be disappointed if they didn’t – they owe me their best game, and so do I in reciprocation. But what I find other people’s best games to be, has been fucked up by Games Workshop in one way or another. Here’s how (and see how many of these apply to your gaming group):
1 – $100 rule book – It’s big, it’s finally all colour, and it’s beyond the reach of many younger players. WHFB play is down in my area because of the new rules alone.
2 – The multi-hundred dollar buy in. It’s ok – just buy the Island of Blood starter set. Noobs soon realize that the unequal miniature forces in the set are the tip of the outlay iceberg – hundreds and hundreds of more dollars will be needed to meet the standard 2000pt lists on tabletops today. And everyone wants to play at the 2K standard.
3 – The extreme time required. Just try and get a friend to temporally buy into Warhammer these days. You’ll have to explain why you paid $50 for the privilege of buying 10 plastic guys you had to flash, assemble, prime, paint and base yourself. Seriously. Then tell him it’s only part of your Phoenix Guard unit, and you need to do it again – maybe twice.
4 – Low standards in a demanding hobby. How many times have you showed up for a pickup game at your FLGS, only to be facing an army of unpainted, semi-assembled, semi-primed, night goblins, dwarves, lego pieces and skinks proxying as the new army on the block. And oh yeah – they haven’t fully read the new army book, which was bit-torrented off the web last night. And no, they don’t have their army list written out, but they have most of the units memorized anyway. Really? Never happened to you? Just wait. It looks like fun kids, but don’t fool yourself how many hundreds of hours you’re going to have to invest. Hundreds.
5 – Out dated army books. The absolute rock-solid foundation of every army, is its ARMY BOOK. But some of these are now so horribly out of date, either points-wise, or functionally, or magically, that they can’t be played without a huge handicap. Why why why why didn’t GW, after a major revamp of their ruleset, not revamp the points cost and magic of every unit in every army book in the game? They paid attention to the rules, but my Tomb Kings are shit-on-a-stick compared to Skaven played by a competent opponent. Years will pass before TK, Ogres and WE are up to date. Years. Unacceptable.     

And there you have it with GW in a nutshell. Excessive cost, combined with excessive time, divided by conflicting army balance = well… umm… disappointment. You can forgive or excuse many tactical things in a “fantasy” game. But in the “real” world of miniature gaming, Games Workshop, for me, has just reached the cost/time/rules tipping point – the combined return just isn’t worth the combined investment anymore. And it pains me to say it, but I’m going on a GW diet in 2011, hell – maybe forever, and will only pay attention to their paints, washes and scenery pieces.

The argument “I’ve invested too much to not keep going” is really, really fucked up. I think it’s ok to say no, finally, after 25 years of gaming.

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10 thoughts on “Going on a GW Diet in 2011 – a Rant

  1. Nothing special about 8th ed – every new edition and/or army book puts about 50% of an existing army on the display shelf. I have a 40K IG army which was created for 3rd ed, lost it’s EDT rules, was reworked for 4th and is now abandoned as I don’t play 40K anymore.

    My Chaos army for fantasy is much the same (you’ve been around long enough to remember that all Chaos used to be one book – not three). My once fully functional Beast army is in shreds. My demon units are incomplete as they were intended to support a combined army. And my Warriors army is full of proxies as I sort out 8th ed.

    I’d say come play Warhammer Ancients, but GW is doing its best to kill of that product line while still milking out a few last sales.

  2. Looking at my blog I can see my total GW diet started in August but my non specialist games diet started back before that. My toys money has been going to wotc to check out 4e and Lego to get some classic Star Wars Ships.

  3. I couldn’t agree more. My tipping point came ages ago with the 3rd ed 40k ruleset, but it’s been iterations of the same issues ever since. It’s unfortunate that they are able to stay in business in spite of treating their customers the way they do.

  4. Yeap GW is about making money. No surprise, so is every other games company. The difference is that GW just take it further than everybody else… they charge for everything! They charge more cash for everything than anyone else!! And to top it all off the game rules are rubbish!!!

    Personally I’ve moved over to Warmachine / Hordes, Infinity and Firestorm Armada. You should check them out.

    • Thanks for the comment Angus. I play all the games you suggested, except Infiniti. It’s been really nice to be able to ignore the GW marketing engine since the new year – a weight off your shoulders, so to speak.

  5. The good old days of GW and all the expensive excitment that went with it are over!
    For old times sake I just went to the GW site to see that they FINALLY released a Grey Knights book. If this was 3 years ago, I’d be out spending $350.00 and spending 2 years painting the 40K army I always wanted to play….

    • I hear you Gus. The TK are finally being rereleased, after being an underpowered and fairly disinteresting army for more than 3 years now. I sold my army just before the new announcements of the new rules and models started last month. No regrets! I don’t pyne for my models back – and I’m damn glad I don’t feel compelled to buy more! Quite a change from last year…

      On the 40K front though – how many freakin’ Marine armies does one company need? Really. Also, you’ve got to consider the Daemon armies aren’t that prevalent. So who’s fighting who?

  6. Late to comment.. hope it is not a problem.

    I gave up on 40k shortly after my army (Space Wolves) got redone, mostly because of the same reasons you mention. Sure, they updated and fixed things.. but they made more of a mess in the process. Years later, some of the ‘specialty’ units in the book (Like Thunderwolf Cav) STILL do not have models. But dont you dare consider using something that is not GW if you plan to play in any ‘official’ events. Total BS.

    At the time I switched to Flames of War, but also tried Ambush Alley (now Force on Force). They just released a sci-fi version called Tomorrow’s War, which I plan to use my 40k figures for. Might be worth taking a look at? If you like Modern wargaming, Force on Force is excellent.

    The best part is that you can say all of this in a way that does not come off as a rant. Well done!

    • Force on Force eh? I might just look that up! Tomorrow’s War sounds good too. Like you, I’ve got alot of good looking 40K minis hanging around waiting for a good set of rules. Thanks Omar.

      • http://www.ambushalleygames.com has more info. I have yet to play TW myself, but it looks great. Play is the same as FoF. I just like the idea of being able to use miniatures from any game, any scale. Battletech, Heavy Gear, 40k, Star Wars.. though maybe not all at the same time.

        Keep up the writing, its getting me motivated to get some more stuff up on my blog.

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