Monday, January 12, 2015

Warhammer: The beginning of the end?

I'm worried for GW, not gonna lie.

There has been a lot of doom and gloom lately with 9th Ed. WHFB seemingly around the corner.  You can catch most of the rumors from other sites like BoLS and Faeit, but a lot of popular rumormongers have been talking about round bases, eradicating existing armies, reducing units, reducing scale, and rebooting the setting directly.

I don't know how many of these are true, or how many of these are actually going to happen, but one thing is for damn sure:  This will be the truest test of GW for me personally.  If 9th Ed. WHFB is a giant flop, there's a huge chance that I will sell all my armies (both 40K and Fantasy) and abandon GW entirely.

It's been a rough couple of years for me for GW games specifically.  In the realm of design, I've seen some really nice pieces of work and some really shitty ones.  I've seen armies that I thought was going to see buffs and improvement receive utter crap and nonsense.  In terms of fluff, I'm re-reading some of the older books for material because the newer books are hollowed out skeletons of what army books used to be.  Last, but certainty not least, is the complete and utter idiocy of their business motto and execution strategies.

To sum GW up for me in the last couple of years:
  • Prices have gone up again.
  • Design has been really questionable to downright shitty.
  • Complete watered down army books in terms of material for the same prices.
  • The business decisions GW makes are utter nonsense with their limited releases and availability.  Not to mention the idea that they think their shit are considered collectibles.
I'm serious when I say that GW has been pissing everyone off lately.  It will be the final nail in the coffin if they go about destroying people's hobbies by eradicating armies, and reducing other people's collections to meaningless shit.  I'm really hoping that 9th Ed. will be good.  Not good in the sense that GW will have suddenly better rules and army design, but good in terms of making business decisions with the game in mind, and not some ludicrous idea that GW miniatures are limited edition collectibles.

For 9th Ed. to be good, they need to..
Change the business motto completely:
The whole idea that their shit should be limited release with limited availability is the dumbest thing I have ever fucking seen in the business world.  Your job is to literally provide product for your customers.  That literally is your only job and you have failed at it.  Not once, but multiple times now for every End Times release.  How this is even possible is beyond the scope of my imagination.  No joke GW, you had one job.

As a models company who writes rules for the models, you are now a game company.  If not, don't write fucking rules for your models.  Understand this for one fucking second and maybe your company won't be viewed as dogshit for the vast majority of the table-top playing community.  The second you attach rules to your models and design a rules platform for it, you owe it to your customer base to provide a quality product.

For God sakes, align your business strategies with your design team.  I'm seriously cautious on how 9th Ed. will play out because of this one thing.  WHFB doesn't need to be 2500 points to play, in fact, I would say this is the biggest reason why it's failing as a product.  The buy-in price is huge and no one wants to get started.  Good, so you have made lords and heroes 50% of your army, but is that really enough to get more players playing?  Maybe consolidating the armies to 6?  No and no.  What you need is a simplified ruleset, better points scaling and scenarios that promote smaller games.  If you can accomplish these three things, you will be able to achieve more players in your game.

Reduce the total army count to something more manageable without eradicating player options, units or armies.  This is important for their existing customer base and this will give them greater design space in the future.

Whatever, it doesn't matter, it's only a matter of time. GW has been taking in water for quite some time. It's bleeding cash with a lot of internal strife, poor direction and subpar leadership. You can tell by looking at the company from a consumer standpoint and you can clearly see that the departments are not running in sync. Both business strategy, marketing and general leadership are archaic, outdated and over-reliant on all or nothings.

The only reason why GW has the best "fluff" is because they've been established for 25+ years. I sure the fuck hope they've got themselves some good fluff if they were the first into the fray. Imagine for a second what GW could be if they have a modern perspective in what makes good business truly good business. If they didn't shun their consumers but embraced them, and provided a winning strategy for both hobbyist and gamer. GW would be invincible in the minis market, utterly unchallenged instead of constantly being questioned and doubted.


My Lotto said...

Thank you so much for sharing This post. It's gretful blog I have really enjoyed keeping up with you on this blog. Mylotto-app is a worldwide lotto gaming network. The network has the best-acclaimed code generator in the World. Numbers for lucky lottery winner, apps. Visit for more information.- powerball lotto.

archied said...

I guess im exactly the kind of person they're trying to get to put up or shut up.
I've had a tomb kings army for what must be about 8 or 9 years now. the problem is i don't really get to play fantasy quite as much as id like as my gaming group are primarily 40k focused (or tbh, more board game focused these days). Therefore i don't really buy anything for the game system anymore. ive got 4-5k of the army i like which gives me plenty of play options. Sure, im vaguely tempted by some of the new kits for the newer armies, but i just don't play enough to bother starting something new.

I was chatting to a friend at some point last year who had started to express vague interest in fantasy as he liked the idea of the different game system and always liked dwarves, but he really couldn't be bothered trying to get into it when he'd have to paint '100 stumpy little dudes that will just be shoveled off the back of movement trays'.

Why is that relevant to this? well i think it goes right to the core of the problem, as i got to thinking 'what would make me splash out on new kits?'. I tend to steer clear of overdoing the big splashy new units. In my fantasy armies, i like having an abundance of blocks of core (apart from the very occasional gimmick list of lots of chariots and constructs or whatnot) as that to me is what fantasy is all about. maybe i would drop the cash on an updated skeleton warrior kits?
But having thought about it, i decided i really wouldn't bother, I've got 100 painted skeletons already and when they actually do so little in the game.

So as a 'customer' thats not spending any money ever, what are GW to do to try and prize some cash out of my wallet? (well, apart from actually letting me purchase end times: nagash at some point when i thought i actually wanted it?)

as such, i really can see the reasoning behind all this, and if done well i think it could even revitalise the game system (and might lead to me getting to play more)
but that 'if done well' caveat is making me very worried. given how i feel about a lot of their other recent rules releases, i just dont trust that its going to be executed well at all.

Karvala said...

GW is neither 'bleeding cash', nor 'taking on water'. It is losing sales volume and profit amount, but still makes a profit.
This doesn't make it a company with a good business model, or even one with a good chance of surviving another 25 years, but it is not in immediate danger.
Unless it does something mind-numbingly dumb to antagonize a sizable proportion of its customer base..... which, if the rumors are true, it seems to be planning to do.
Over the last 2 months, I dug out my old WFB models from 20 years ago and acquired a handful of new models and started learning the latest edition. That has come to a screeching halt with this round of rumors for the next edition. Well, we will all just have to wait and see what GW is planning, but they really need to get some information out if they want to avoid a LOT of players holding back on WFB purchases before the next edition hits.

Thuloid said...

Over the last few months I've been slowly introducing a young man to the game, the son of a coworker. I had vague notions of 9th on the horizon, but nothing so dramatic as the current rumors. Kid now has a fair sized pile of lizardmen and is anxious to fight some bigger battles. The current 9th rumors are making me regret ever mentioning WHFB to him. All I can say is I hope much of what I hear isn't true or lacks context, and that the company somehow lucks into a good product. Thanks for the post, Hero.

McNs said...

I'm worried as well, but cautiously optimistic. End times has been a solid product and while I'm anxious about 9th, I'll give GW props for making ET compelling, albeit with non-tournament friendly rules.

The rumors we've heard have sounded too bonkers, even for GW. I wouldn't be surprised to see the world broken into 6 generic factions, with Ravening Hordes style updates for all existing armies. I could certainly see future model releases focused on specific battles (similar to the current 40K three-book warzone drops).

I guess we'll see.

Michael Sellwood said...

Interesting post Archied, and I think it illustrates some of the current issues, and provides an insight into the issues that I would see Games Workshop as having.
Many of the people who are concerned are veteran players with a lot of time and money invested in their current collections. I think they have a right to be concerned but from a sales point of view they are very poor customers. Would you rather focus on the customer who has spent $250 a year for the past twenty years or the customer who will spend $750 this year?

And realistically GW do not want to invest lots of money and shelf space and production capacity in a new product to prise some money out of the veterans for that product. They want people to see the awesome new storm vermin and they buy that and a box of warriors and a character and then play a fun game. In this context some players not being able to use all their models does not hurt the sales potential of future releases.

As Warhammer currently stands I think it is a little moribund because of the high buy in cost. This is also somewhat driven by the long standing nature of a lot of people's armies and GWs own desire to sell large armies meaning that the game works best at 1,500 - 3,000 with 2,000 - 2,500 being the sweet spot. This is not an issue when you have most of your army but not great when you are planning to get into the game and looking down the barrel of $500 - $800 to get the best out of the game.

The issue from GWs point of view is not that past customers may lose out, it is more about the damage that might be done to customer goodwill leading to the lack of a gaming environment and negative word of mouth. If however the existing gaming ecology does not support the current model then a radical break may be needed to actually create something new and hopefully successful.

archied said...

Im far from in the 'warhammer is now dead to me' camp as i can absolutely see the point of all these changes (if they turn out to be true). And, quite rarely for GW, i can even see the logic behind the decisions. I am willing to give it a shot.
However, there is a part of me that feels that such a drastic change wouldnt be necessary if they just tidied the annoying bits of 8th and made the game scale better (something like different tiers of scenarios? 3 missions designed for 0-1000 point games, 3 for 1k-2k games etc?).

LordAK said...

I started my TK army from zero when Nagash came out and now have about 4000 points of skellies. Imagine my horror when I read the rumour..

.. Damn it better not be true or just a new additional way to play WFB like mordheim.

Prince Yrellian said...

Personally, I like the reduced army books. But within reason. 6 is far too few if the rumors are right. Id just clean up the ones that fit nicely together. Basically what they did for End Times. Undead Legions, Chaos Trifecta, Elven Triumvirate, and I could potentially see Empire, Bretonnia and Dwarves (maybe ogres annexed in there as well as mercenaries). I feel like from a rules perspective, internal and external balance would be much easier for them to achieve. I also dont mind them axing a couple units here or there as well. For example, with combined elf book, high elf spearmen kit and archer kit (some of the most herp derp models in fantasy right now) dont need a redo. Glade guard unit entry from Wood Elves and Dark Elf spearmen, both with a great looking kit, can perform perfectly in that niche. It works fluff wise too, from what i have read in Khaine book and novel. The limited stuff is annoying, having to fork out extra 80 bucks to get LE Khaine book cause the basic one sold out was BS. This is starting to get ranty, but I feel like the combined books would be awesome, as they could cut out some of the pointless unit entries that exist solely to try and form a complete army that should have just stayed in a book together.

vlad78 said...

I disagree. One of the strong point was the fantastic background which GW did let wither and die over the last 20 years.

Why did you play WFB in the first place?
- Prices? Hell NO!!
- Rules? Not anymore
- Miniatures? Yes but most of the time was tied to the following point.
- Fantastic background? YES
- The certainty to find other people to play with? BIG YES!

GW did let the background become stale by letting the setting become a high fantasy wank fest and an excuse only to play miniatures instead of nurturing it, making it evolve in a convincing way, capitalizing over the fantastic roots established 25 years ago by the founders of the company.

By starting from scratch, they will just remove the thing that kept the boat from sinking totally.

Dave Bone said...

Shared this on our club's Facebook:

Post a Comment