Monday, January 13, 2014

Dizzying turn of events.

40K went from a Codex every 4-6 months, allowing people to catch on to its nuances, buying the model stock they printed and getting most of those who were bandwagoneers to finish their buying cycles and 4-6 months later:  a new codex!

This pace was much maligned and ironically, someone shook the executives awake at GW and said:  "If you dummies would read the forums once in a while you'd know how pissed the gamers are about the slow releases and the lame FAQ rollouts; and the inconclusive and glaringly obvious conflicting answers people would get from the "boyz" when you called in for rules questions."

And someone heard, listened and said "Lets kick this bi**h into gear boyz!  They want more, we'll give 'em more.  Privateer is doing massive releases all at once, our competitors are stealing market share all over the place with X-Wing, WarMachine, Flames of War and a host of other games..."

And so it was that the wheels turned and they decided on an aggressive schedule of not only a new edition, but also a massive...MASSIVE...increase in codex production, product releases. FAQ's and essentially supplements to update EVERY aspect of the game, plus tie it all to the fluff just in case "narrative" sorts wanted to recreate the books in some cases.

And the vitriol and controversy was inevitable.

The irony shouldn't be lost on any veterans.  You know who you are.  YOU there in the back.  Yeah you.  It was you that grumbled and complained and always used those other companies as examples of "progressive and better" than GW because they "got" that everything should be released more or less en masse so it all flows".

And now let's count em, shall we?

SPECIAL Editions of every codex from Tau to Ultramarines.  Just the cover is different, and for $40 it can be yours!
Escalation
Stronghold
Black legion
Farsight Enclave
Codex: Iyanden
Wall of martyrs
Armies of Renoun
Apocalypse (take II)
Death From the Skies
Warzone:  Armaggedon,
Warzone:  Damnos
Warzone: Pandorax

Then we have the Dataslates and other things recently:
Codex:  Inquisition
Codex: Tyranids and soon to be released "Dataslates"
Adeptas Astartes Storm Wing
Tau Fireblade Support Cadre
Be'lakor, The Dark Master
Sintinels of Terra (effectively like Farsight Enclave only for 3rd Company.  Still requires the SM Codex to use)
Clan Raukann (Like sintinels of Terra, only for Iron Hands)

And the list goes on.  I bet half the people reading this don't even recognize some of those titles, because it belched out like a cloud of smoke from the Willy Wonka factory.

Now if you want to keep up with what's going on in 40K, you have your work cut out for you.  To be an expert on the capabilities of all these things and the viability of them, the usefulness of them or the application of them, I'd say you could be overwhelmed relatively soon if you're a newer player and if you're not new.

That is really what ALL games must cater to:  the newest player.  new blood.  TSR was one of the foremost gaming companies of its time in the 80's with an indomitable market position:  books for miles and supplements constantly churning.  They learned that the newest players had slowed to a trickle and their entire company was going to collapse under all the expense they accrued to maintain such a library without the new players to keep it funded.  The same number of players could not.  And we saw the sale of that iconic company at a time when it had NO real competitors!  Even a company like that was forced to admit it had grown but not grown its player base.  This crucial error is seemingly being repeated.

Warhammer has a safety valve like D&D did:  new editions.  when 3.X came out, it was hailed and loved.  Still is in fact.  And at first it was a totally manageable flow of materials they put out.  As time went on they realized they had to release new product or face the same problem and the pace near the end became so great and the product so poor, that they were FORCED to go to 4E...  and that edition was villified and hated such that their problems are worse than before, or very nearly approaching it, giving birth, literally, to Pathfinder and seeing 4E market share drop precipitously.  What 4th Edition did right is focused ENTIRELY on growing the newer player base and tapping into the now fully matured wargaming scene that has boomed.  That foresight, while unfortunately accompanied by 4th Edition D&D rules(Yuck) put them in a better position for the FUTURE as they prepare 5th Edition for launch (and its well underway, I've play tested it quite a bit).

The parallels here are pretty obvious.  Games Workshops quality has gone up, their responsiveness has gone up, but their roll out schedule is oppressive and the spaghetti approach of throwing whatever they can out there and working their writers to death to create barely readable stuff like the history of young commander O'Shovah (which really is boring and amateurishly written) is going to weigh them down.  It may be less weighty than other companies because of their clever utilization of the Ipad phenomenon but still...  the patience of the players shrinks the base, the cost of the hobby shrinks the new players who can join and they are set up BADLY for the future even while profits stream in.

I think you will see that as 6th Edition rules age, and all that comes with it, the damage will become more apparent.  ANY significant misstep when that 7th Edition comes out could be as cataclysmic as Warhammer Fantasy:  8th was.

Time will tell if I'm right.

3 comments:

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    1. I believe that Games Workshop's release schedule is more to do with the Chapterhouse case than it is with catering to fans. Seriously, Gee Dubs giving into their player base- let alone the internet pundits? Madness! I don't think that the Company pays much attention to the internet. If it did, than Crudface would have been less likely to malign the 'nids dex- I mean that was clearly cruel and unusual punishment to a 40K faction that made C:SM and DA look competitive by comparison (lawl).

      As you pointed there are two things barring new players from the game: Price point and sheer amount of rules needed to play it. I mean, when Matt and I started I could find army bundles that offered 30-40% discount online, and, a brick and mortar that was willing to compete. At 2010 prices, that wasn't a bad deal. Games Workshop prices have since increased three or four times! How are new players expected to compensate for that? What happens when a poor sucker actually cracks open one of these rulebooks...digitally...on their iPad only to discover how poorly written and unbalanced their 50 dollar digital rules are? By the way, I think 'forging the narrative', is code for 'rushing the product'.

      Lets not forget what brought me back to the fold of 40K, and how Matt was introduced to the universe: Video Games. We played DoW together because of our shared enjoyment of RTS games, which eventually led the both of us to try table top 40K. Games Workshop's video games stable has disappeared with the collapse of THQ, and as a result another media outlet bringing the curious to tabletop wargaming has dried up. There were two reasons that I chose to collect Blood Angels as my first 40k army: A guy with the pseudonym 'Jawaballs' shared a bunch of fun, video bat-reps of his Blood Angels army and how assault-centric it could be. The second reason was the chapter specifically created for the DoW series: The Blood Ravens. I had wanted to play something as close to the 'Ravens as I could find, and the Blood Angels were it for me at that time.

      Oh well, onto other conquests: My DZC will be delivered this week, and, I look forward to giving FOW a try with you, Josef. Another game I'm itching to try is Malifaux 2E. After reading about it on Whiskey and 40K, I got curious and watched a few bat-reps on youtube. For a skirmish game, M looks fun! In the meantime, I have a small X-Wing collection, as that game is a nice distraction. Its quick to set up, too, and the rules are deceptively easy to learn.

      I look forward to participating in the 40K narrative, but, only with my existing collection of 3+ armor should prove more than plenty for the occasion. I guess my point is that I don't want to support Games Workshop as a company in it's current state. When I started playing in 5E, I quickly realized that the rules contained a lot of gray areas', that RAW (for the most part) could solve. In 6th edition, it seems that most of those old issues were replaced with new ones- doubly so. Balance has been forsaken for something else entirely...apparently balance doesn't 'forge the narrative'.

      It is a gloomy picture indeed; Gee Dub ostracizes, and polarizes it's current player base while it has all but shut out new players from discovering the game. Perhaps a change of hands is exactly what the Company needs.

      (edited after morning coffee).

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  2. Well we have a great Campoaign starting that should help us rekindle some local interest. Theres a short campaign being done to help people bring their stuff in and play with it, as well as try out new missions. Get signed up at Gabis. It will be for a couple weeks, so no major commitment. 40K is alive and well. We just gotta be responsible TO's moving forward.

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