Sunday 27 September 2015

The State of the Games of GW


A little bit of an opinion piece here. Nothing too deep, just some musing I have been rolling over my tongue the past few weeks and felt the need to pontificate out loud. Be warned its quite long and there are no more pictures...

Age of Sigmar

Its no secret that the past 12-18 months has seen some seismic changes in our hobby when viewing it from a GW-centric view. The dissolution of Warhammer Fantasy along with the introduction of Age of Sigmar has seen the community, as a whole, split in opinion. The simplicity of the rules is in and of itself not the greatest source of ire with Age of Sigmar, nor is the change in aesthetic (though many may dislike it), but it is two fundamental aspects of the game that have been changed to my mind that have brought about the outcry against Age of Sigmar.

The first of these is the obvious lack of points attached to each unit. The suggested balance of the armies is too essentially "feel it out". Now whilst I absolutely understand why people have this issue with the game, I do not agree with people about it. The only situation where points are truly aiding the rules, to my mind, is pick up games with strangers. Points allow you to set a level, turn up, make introductions and play a game. This is now hampered with the implicit need to talk to and agree with your opponent over your armies, thereby adding to the pre-amble required to get a game in.

But tournaments I hear you cry!? It makes it more difficult for tournaments to be sure, but by and large all tournaments I can think of already make judgement on the value of a model or unit. They don't do this by point adjustment but by gross unit restriction such as banning super heavies or gargantuan creatures, both of which have a ludicrously varied power level within each category Gargantuan creatures rids the tournament of Wraithknights but then denies the tyranid player a whole host of big gribblies that are certainly not OP. The same is true of super heavies in my opinion.

I don't think it is a stretch for tournaments to define points for new units as and when they arise. And for the old units they can just use the old army books. The rate of release is not such that keeping on top of how your tournament rates a unit is impossible. As I said above, you have to twist your army lists to fit each tournament anyway, so shifting points values gives the same effect. 

The second change in the rules that represents a massive change is the removal of the "I go - you go" rule set with variable player turn sequence. I am a big fan of infinities reaction based mechanic within its excellent skirmish game (the lore just hasn't quite gripped me yet), but I am not a fan of the system GW have put in place with Age of Sigmar. HOWEVER, the rules of age of sigmar are so simple and encouraging of house rules that I simply think agreeing to revert to the known mechanic is easy enough.

Overall I like age of sigmar, I like the miniatures, I even like the fluff (I mean really, trying to defend the old fluff as all making sense is silly - its always aaalllwaaayys been crazy) and I do appreciate a simplified rule set. While seeing a lot of hate on the internet, I have heard nothing of the sort in my local GW or FLGS. Many have been ambivalent, some have been ecstatic but none have been hateful towards the game. 

What if it happens to 40K?

I will still play 40k. I don't play 40k for the complicated rule set (though as lovingly familiar as it is), I play 40k so I can go to the club, have a tinnie and some smarties while chatting to a like minded hobbyist for 2-4 hours over a game. I go to tournaments to test my mettle, but mainly to meet new people and see amazing armies, great conversions and have great memories at the end of the weekend of the time I couldn't stop rolling 1's and was tabled by turn 3. I love the lore of 40k and the ethos of wargaming. Even if GW engineered 40k endtimes I would be interested, I don't like Tau all that much being the more brightly lit corner of the Grim Dark but I don't get in a hissy fit over them being in the game (I do however feel smug when I eat fish), I'm just glad other people do enjoy it. 

The Horus Heresy AKA 30k

That is one big tall glass of yes for me. Forgeworld have done a sublime job with 30k and long may it continue. 30k breaking into the mainstream would be perfect for all involved with the hobby. It opens up vast realms of untapped cool for all fans of space marines, mechanicum and imperial guard. There is so much hotness it is unreal and the rules are great and colourful all the way through. I have not played a 30k vs 40k game yet which has felt unbalanced, and my local tournament allows both in their biggest events. 

I also think this leaves the way open for other expansions to encapsulate some other races. The war in heaven would be personal favourite but the Age of Strife also. I don't really think any of these will come to pass, but the richness of the 30k/40k lore is such that it could be done and done well it would be amazing. 

If 30k or 40k gets the age of sigmar treatment as discussed above, it would be great if they did keep the known mechanics working with one of the games, and personally I hope this will be 30k as the quality of their content outstrips 40k by some way to my mind. 

Other Platforms

As an avid video gamer (currently stuck on the last boss of Bloodborne (the real last boss) can't wait for NG+!) I have been following the development of Eternal Crusade, Warhammer: Total War and Mordheim: City of the damned with great interest. My housemate has a pre-alpha copy of Mordheim and let me tell you, it look AMAZING. Anyone who was a fan of the tabletop game should be verily impressed with it, it looks the part and plays the part to me even at this level of development. 

GW selling of its ip for expansion by 3rd party developers is a god send. If you haven't already I suggest looking up the recent stream of Eternal Crusade with the developers. GW might now want to talk with its users but these guys do, video games are currently in a brilliant place where the level of openness from drawing board to pre-alpha to alpha to beta to done is astounding. Twitch streams are a digital cornucopia for those interested as well without even needing to play. 

The more that GW is willing to loan out for easy money the better. Yes there will be some duds but there will be plenty of hits too as Dawn of War's enduring appeal shows.

Concluding remarks

So the state of the games of GW. Personally, I have not been this excited since I was 6 and I was painting Heinrich Kemmler and Krell for the first time. The hobby with GW alone is bursting at the seems with new and exiting content. There are plenty of things I don't like, but these are honestly drops in the ocean overall (D weapons and free transports can f*%k off).

And then we can start looking further afield at:

Kings of War
Wild Wild West Exodus
Gates of Antares
Bolt Action
Dystopian Legions

And these games are just the ones I could remember of the top of my head and they are just the tip of a rich and rewarding hobby that is currently seeing its best ever period. I personally think we are in the golden age of table top wargaming and I hope this continues for a very long time. I hope that in any small way I have made some of you as readers feel more optimistic about the hobby, both in the direction of the game/s you may play but also remembering why you play the game and more importantly WHO you play the game with.

As always my friends, Peace Out,



  1. You should read up on the fluff of Tau...they are evil evil evil bastards. The greater good is just a cover for the brainwashing the ethereals do to keep everyone in line, doing what they want.

    1. Yes, that part of their fluff is great, I originally wrote "Tau the bright corner of the grim dark" thought of the fluff and changes it too "the more brightly lit" :P as that stuff is dark. Its more their aesthetic that is too bright for me, all clean lines and such, I love the Baroque nature of 40k/30k in general. But then I was taught in a school with gothic architecture so go figure!

    2. I just can't get over the heads on the Tau mecha, most of them look horrible!

      If my GW trivia is correct, their whole business was founded by people who had a whole heap of miniatures and wanted to do something fun with them. So they wrote some rules that let you do that. For some reason GW has taken this ethos and flipped it on its head. I am at a point now where I have heaps of miniatures and the rules just aren't fun for me anymore; I am literally back where GW was at the very beginning! I am experimenting with a set of rules loosely based on the 2nd Edition system, but with no turns. Each force moves "simultaneously" (some units go before others) then shoots simultaneously. Close combat occurs over two phases where players must choose how many dice to spend in attack and in defense. It is intense ;-)

  2. I'm of much the same mind on most of this. I'm 40K as much for the social and modeling/painting aspects as anything, so even if the Rules do get simplified, I'm still going to get together to hang out with people and throw dice and maybe have a beer or two.

    I mean, I do play competitively, but as much as anything, that comes from the fact that my days for Gaming are somewhat limited, and a Tournament means I can get 3-4 Games in a single day instead of just one. And while I'm not particularly invested in winning, I do generally find it more fun than losing, so I've worked to be able to at least hang in the middle of the pack.