Rysaer’s Monday Musing – The State of Play at GW (Part 1)

Hello again lovelies, I’m back after a short hiatus, I’m sure I was dearly missed but alas you can relax and know that I’ll never leave you…. at least not until I do another set of night shifts or fall asleep randomly but anyway lets crack on.

There has been a fair bit of upheaval in terms of 40k and Games Workshop in the last few years and especially in the last year or so, it’s left most of it’s ‘Core’ gaming systems in entirely new situations which many of us who have been in the hobby for a long time have never seen before.

moneyGames Workshop, our evil overlords and suppliers of ‘Plastic Crack’, have moved their position significantly in the last few years, with a reduction in stores and an increased online presence (mostly to cut costs, it’d be assumed). They have also moved to a ‘Windowed’ release schedule and an overall increase of production which seems to have been a popular move and of course we’ve had organizational changes with new management and design staff.

First off, this is not in any way to complain or disparage GW this is just a summary of my thoughts on the changes at the top and how it affects both the hobby and game for me personally and how I’ve found it affect others.

First off we’ll start with arguably the most popular gaming system ’40k’, which as ever remains GW’s main work horse and chief source of income. 40k has changed dramatically, there has been more change between 6th and 7th than there has probably ever been between any other new edition. We have entirely new ways of building armies with the new ‘detachments’ and the ability to use and if you want to, abuse, the allies matrix. We now have a whole new Magic PSYCHIC phase as well as some other significant changes in terms of the core rules and of course the inclusion of Forge-world to the standard game and even tournament scene.

Now as for rule changes, I don’t feel these are as much of an issue as we see these pretty much every edition and while this will inevitably change which units and equipment are popular this only really has a minor effect to the hobby in general, outwith the truly ‘Competitive’ scene. However as we know GW have constantly told us the game is not intended to be competitive. However the changes to the way we create armies has had a significant impact on how GW output products and how much we spend on them. The ability to take formations to acquire additional special rules, methods of deployment and in some cases create new missions is a fairly bold move and an intelligent one for GW.

th‘Decurion Formations… because game balance is Bulls**t?

If you can create formations which have to include less popular units, you will automatically see an increase in sales again especially amongst competitive gamers. However that isn’t to say its just a way to smuggle in sub-standard sales units, if you create a good enough formation of the standard units or the bigger kits you will by default see an increase in players buying and using them. Thats not to say this is entirely profit focused as many of us will have already acquired enough to create many of these formations by this point and it serves as a reward to us also as we can effectively cash in on these significant bonuses. Also from a ‘fluffy’ standpoint these serve as an excellent way to build a thematic army which can still rock onto the table and play consistently well, which tackles a significant balance issue that has lingered in the game for many years as even a match up of semi-competitive players and fluff players would see the huge imbalance in army selection.

We are in a similar position with allies, this obviously works out fantastically for all players involved as we can create the dream combinations we have always wanted to see in terms of both fluff/competitiveness and of course continues to line the GW coin-purse as we seek the extra additions to our armies and the fact that you need to look beyond 1HQ and 1 Troop choice from your ally before you can start grabbing the fancier unit again increases the profit but actually works well as a game balance. However looming in the background is easily the one thing I dislike the most about 40k. Battle-Forged and Unbound.

With these changes, I often found myself confused and a bit irritated when building an army list and from discussions I’ve had with new gamers, it really isn’t a simple process and leaves you open to plenty of mistakes and confusion when it comes down to game play. Unbound lists focus on the concept that you can plonk anything you have on the table and have a game, while battle forged gives you a boost for sticking to the standard army template. However from what I’ve seen of unbound lists and discussions on them, they just seem like a cheap attempt to get you to buy anything random and play with it (great from a GW stand point) but it fails in its execution, most people simply use unbound to create ‘uber’ powerful army lists or incredibly silly lists just to irritate people, which makes it understandable that the competitive scene both love and loathe this concept with most sticking to ‘no unbound lists’. While I can understand the notion of unbound I can’t see beyond battle-forged as it makes sense and of course is the tried and tested method of army construction, the fact that it gets you objective secured is just a delightful bonus.

As for the changes in business practice, I can only commend GW, the move to a windowed release schedule is fantastic and the fact that we are seeing an increase in product releases and codex updates is making for a significant change in the way we play and enjoy the game. The fact that GW have now also finally accepted the notion of creating ‘niche’ armies and supplements must be commended. I for one never thought the day would come when we saw Harlequins with their very own codex, let alone significant miniature releases. This is rewarding for both old players and new as it gives us older kids an excuse to get excited about old favorite units and background pieces (My Kroot Mercs are desperate to see the table again.) and new kids can get more involved in the rich lore of 40k which for me has always been it’s major selling point. I have attributed this to the recent changes in management and design staff as they seem to be taking the game in a whole new direction.

games_workshop_warhammer_fantasy_end_times_skavenHowever while everything seems to  be going well in 40k Land….. back in the Old World things are looking rather grim and it is beginning to look like the end times for Warhammer Fantasy. However we’ll get onto that in my next post, so for now I’ll leave you lingering on 40k and why you should invest all of your money into it….. you’ll feel so much better having no money and tonnes of unpainted figures.

See you soon!

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