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.