Sunday, 30 September 2012

Sunday Sermon: Does familiarity breed contempt?

I loved 4th Edition Fantasy, warts and all.

I asked myself this very question over 3 weeks ago now. I was thinking mainly about my sometimes awkward 'relationship' with Games Workshop. Here is a company that over the last 27 years, nearly 28, has given this hobbyist countless hours, weeks, months and years of gaming and hobbying pleasure. There is no doubting that without Games Workshop I wouldn't be the horribly shameless nerd, and depending on your viewpoint, totally awesome geek that I am. If it wasn't for 4th Edition Warhammer Fantasy and my High Elf army I'd almost certainly never have gotten into playing wargames as much as I have. If it wasn't for Blood Bowl I would never have made as many hobbying friends as I have. In my Sunday Sermon entitled 'The games that define us' I spoke at length about the games that have come to shape me as a hobbyist. Lets be brutally honest about it here, 6 of my 10 games were Games Workshop products, true they weren't always positive experiences, but they were Games Workshop games. Going further I would say that 70% of my wargaming past-time has indeed been dedicated to the products developed and supplied by Games Workshop, and for the most part I've enjoyed my hobby... just not those rare occasions when I lose!

A few months back now I wrote a Sunday Sermon that was sort of about somebody who had fallen out of love with Games Workshop, and in particular 40k, because familiarity had sort of breed contempt. Then this past week I purchased the first Games Workshop product I have in a fairly long time, thanks to you guys... and even though it felt like a good product, I was underwhelmed... so yes, I have asked myself the question as to whether the same thing had happened to me? Had I become overly familiar with the products produced by Games Workshop? Did this mean I was forever doomed to view their product through the eyes of a jaded cynic? Can I no longer feel the joy of seeing yet another Space Marine Chapter being released? The answer is possibly. Yep, for sure I've seen it all before with Games workshop, very little they do now surprises me... no... scratch that, nothing they do now surprises me. I am more than familiar with what they are doing, and how they do it. There has been very little over recent years that has taken me by surprise. It's all become predictable for me, so is it this predictability that Games Workshop are actually struggling with?

Look at my excitement at the announcement from Forge World about the Horus Heresy. I'm not going to lie to you at all, I squealed like a girl when I saw Angron. I've wanted to see these miniatures for a very long time, and finally we get to see them, and potentially buy them if we're all flush with cash. So on the one hand I was super excited and stoked about the prospect of playing in the 31st millennium and the prospect of finally owning 'official' primarchs... but on the other hand there was my total 'meh' reaction to the Chaos Space Marines. I didn't dislike them, I didn't like them, they just didn't register with me. They were a total non-entity, and here's the issue I guess for me and my relationship with Games Workshop... they were actually something new in a way. A new direction for Chaos Space Marines, sure in many respects the flyer, the big robots and art direction were all totally predictable given similar releases over the last two years, but it was sort of new. Even if the components themselves were predictable. Yet it is was a direction that just passed me by completely. It wasn't for me, and I didn't care one bit. It all felt familiar and wasn't registering with me at all.

However, has this familiarity bred a contempt in me for them and their product? Honestly? I don't think that it has. I just think that as I've matured and gotten older my tastes have naturally changed, and Games Workshop is no longer providing products I want. There's also the point that the things they have begun to change, and the subtle positioning differences with their two main games don't sit well with me. If anything familiarity has bred a sort of neutral apathy in me. But, I am what I'd term a hyperactive hobbyist. By that I mean I have to be seeking out something new, mixing things up. It's the reason I leap from one game to the next like someone with ADHD. I get bored. Easily. I think part of my own personal problem is that I 'get' game systems very quickly. By which, I mean I work out rapidly what they're about, so unless there's something new, or specific hooks to keep me coming back to a game for more I'll often migrate away from it for a time. It doesn't mean I don't like the game, or indeed that I won't ever play it again. It's just once I've got my patter down with a product, I become a quite formidable opponent very quickly.

Freebooter's Fate is keeping me hooked because it's entertaining.

Nope, I need to feel like I'm learning stuff. I need to feel like my hobby is going on a wonderful journey of discovery. I hate feeling like I 'know' a game or faction and I don't view smashing people over and over again as a worthy way of spending my hobby time. It's arguably for this reason that I find myself flitting from faction to faction, learning how they work and fiddling with things. It also explains why I feel the need to fiddle with army lists and try out new combos, and ways of playing that might be considered atypical. Or bat shit crazy! Ultimately I guess I'm a really frustrating opponent to play, and gamer to know. I'm always looking for that next 'hit', so in a way I can say that for me at least familiarity does breed a sort of contempt. It is for this reason that I think I have to be really careful when playing games not to over do it with any one product. This slightly manic side to my hobby was brought into sharp relief this weekend.

It's so much more than Blood Bowl in space!

'The Cursed' and me headed over to Bulwell in Nottingham to go visit Mantic during their open day. A cracking event it was too, really, really well attended. If I'm honest far better attended than I genuinely thought it would be. I saw many faces I'd seen at many other hobby events down the years. But it was looking at the games in what Mantic termed 'Jakes Room' that got me and The Cursed talking later on, while sitting at Warhammer World in Bugmans. You see, in that room was Dreadball, Dwarf Kings Hold and Project Pandora. All games I own, or will own, and in the case of Dreadball I've already played it extensively. Perhaps Jake and Ronnie won't like me mentioning Blood Bowl again in the same paragraph as their fictional sports game, but I do so with good reason. For years Games Workshop pumped out the likes of Blood Bowl, Necromuda, Mordheim, various iterations of Epic, Man o' War and Battlefleet Gothic. These were eventually grouped under the title of specialist games. New experiences, like what Mantic are looking to offer.

I'm so glad the campaign book is coming soon.

The fact that they existed meant that for hyperactive gamers like me there was plenty of Games Workshop product to keep me happy and bouncing to and from. The loss of the Specialist Games team and official support for these products hurt Games Workshop in more ways than perhaps they first thought they would. I was once told by a pretty famous British businessman at a seminar that he didn't care which of his products customers spent their money on... as long as it was one of his! Games Workshop did care, they operated under the belief that they could only support two / three core games (well, with LotR maybe 2.1 core games), and that we'd spend whatever ever dosh we spent on Specialist Games on Fantasy or 40k. Certainly in my case they were severely wrong. They actually drove me right into the arms of their competitors. In short they stopped being able to offer me new and fresh experiences. Perhaps it is unrealistic to expect just one hobby company to monopolise all of my time and more importantly all of my money.

Heavy Gear is a game I'm just starting to scratch the surface of.

But, in Nottingham yesterday I saw too sides to the hobby coin. Mantic's main games Kings of War and Warpath might not be the best wargames ever made. They might not even be the games for me, but with what Ronnie and co are getting up to it's clear they're trying to create some fresh gaming experiences to keep us all happy. Sure they'll take a swing and a miss sometimes, like everyone does, but at least they've come out swinging. It seems to me that Games Workshop have settled into their old familiar pattern a long time ago, and I think there's a bit of malaise around Lenton Lane. There was a Throne of Skulls Warhammer tournament on, and I chatted with a few people. So did they want to talk about their games of Warhammer Fantasy? Nope, they wanted to know about Dreadball. When you stop trying to offer something new, your product can become old and stale, and that's why sometimes its good for all companies to shake things up a bit, Dream Pod 9 are releasing faction specific field guides, Privateer Press have given us Level 7 and seem intent on pushing through new expansions for HoMachine every year. What have Games Workshop given us that's new? Dreadfleet. Perhaps the familiar isn't so bad after all. Peace out!


  1. Very interesting. You've got me thinking about my own relation with GW now. Some strange conclusions are being drawn :p

    1. Well that's what I'm here for, getting people thinking about things and evaluating what is going on in your hobby... that and, well... selling you shit you didn't know you wanted! ;)

  2. I'm a bit like you in that way of I like new things, and I too am always on the look out for "the next game".

    At the same time though, I've kinda fallen out of love with HoMachine and Malifaux for kinda the same reasons. It seems like you've barely got stuff for one thing, then the next thing is out, and with all the special rules related to each unit in those games, it's getting to the stage were it feels like a full time job keeping on top of both what my faction can do and what my opponents factions can do. Admittedly maybe that's me. I will admit I'm not the best gamer, I've never been able to sit and work out all the massive combos that some people seem to pull off in these games.

    Yet other ones it works. I love Infinity, but I do agree the thing it needed was scenarios or something, anything that will get you into the board and fighting over something rather than just "having a fight". We came up with a few at our club, and now with the YAMS system on the forum, and the new book, I'm very happy with it again.

    So yes I would agree new and shiny is good, keep me interested. Just don't overdo it.

    1. It's not just you. What you describe is exactly the reason why I haven't got into HoMachine and Malifaux, despite liking the looks of both games.

    2. @Mecha Ace I'm sure we're not alone in wanted to seek out fresh new gaming experiences. Sometimes I wish I could be like that guy at the Birmingham Games Expo who always brings his same Necromunda board and plays the same games over and over and is clearly happy.

      Don't get me wrong I still love some of my older games and get a kick out of nostalgia hits. However I love learning new mechanics and styles of play. Seriously I think playing as many different games as I do makes me a much better all round gamer at so many products.

      However, in a way too much change within in a single system can be a problem for me too. I wrote an article about this very topic myself:

      However, I guess if you just want to play that one game, this constant change and reinvention keeps a game fresh. Like you though it's not for me. Too much change in a system can lead to it dropping off of my gaming rostrum and radar altogether.

    3. @A_G, I don't think HoMachine is anywhere near as bad a Mofaux for rules creep. In fact I think HoMachines strict adherence to universal rules instead of silly duplicate rules that are similar but not quite that Mofaux goes for is infinitely more preferable.

  3. What happened to me was Specialist Games brought me back into the GW universes... My last voluntary games of 40K were for the release of the last Space Hulk iteration... New books, new approach to the IP made me think about my armies and wanted to try them again... now they just linger in their cases. 6th edition was not enough to make me want to play. Currently Black Library is the only thing that is making me want to get a new army or play my good old Space Marines.

    1. Ironically I have a friend who was in the exact same boat as you were when Space Hulk came out. It gave his GW hobby a brief shot in the arm and got him hooked again. Then it all drifted again.

      I'm not sure what the answer is for GW. I totally understand that they can't keep everyone happy and that they shouldn't try to keep everyone happy, because it is impossible. However, I'd have thought they were quite capable of keeping more people happy than they seem to be able to right now.

      I'm sure you aren't the only hobbyist out there Andres whose only current regular connection with GW is via the books of Black Library. I guess as long as you are interacting with them on some level they're still got the chance to get you back.

  4. Familiarity can breed contempt, but just as often the familiar can be welcoming and comfortable. One of the things I like about picking up a GW product is that the rules will be reasonably familiar. Back in the heyday of specialist games one of the things that made GW work as a all-inclusive hobby was that its core rules were more or less universal. So, if you knew how to play Warhammer Fantasy you could pick 40K, Necromundia, et al in no time. GW's core games are more differenter from each other than they used to be, and I think that's a shame.

    I was first attracted to Warhammer Fantasy because it was different. GW's products were dark and strange, gloriously violent while keeping tongue firmly in cheek at a time when other companies like TSR were scrubbing their products of anything even slightly objectionable. Warhammer had rock 'n roll sensibilities, 40K was a heavy metal album in miniatures form, Games Workshop was frickin' cool.

    Those days are long gone and Malaise is the right word for what has settled over GW. WHFB's setting is now so generic that it's just another Tolkenesque fantasy-land with little to distinguish it from the dozens of fantasy settings out there. Nowadays if I want dark or horror fantasy (which I still do) Kingdom Death provides, not GW.

    40K has gone done the same path. Yeah, its still grimdark, but its grown self-serious. 40K is about crazy people in an insane universe killing each other with chainsaw bayonets. The new writers seem unaware of the inherent (and charming) absurdity of the setting.

    GW just seems stayed and set in its ways, which is a real shame. Fortunately, Forgeworld doesn't seem to have that problem, and a lot of what they have been producing over the last couple years shines with GW's old creativity. I like Forgeworld's stuff because it is familiar without being nostalgic.

    Well, that went on a whole lot longer than I intended...

    1. Well Spiffy many would say my articles go on longer than they should too... :P ... so I'll forgive you.

      In my own response to my Imperium as metaphor article I actually pointed out that continuity and familiarity was a strong brand strength for GW and actually allowed relapsed gamers to reintegrate far themselves far easier than had they actually sat down and fixed the many things that are now wrong with their system.

      As for the rest of your points... I concur. I'm not really all that bothered by what GW are doing. I hope it works for them because:

      A) I really do think they do the most recruiting for the hobby as a whole and if they falter it'll hurt us all.


      B) I know a lot of people who work for them and if they struggle it'll put their jobs in jeopardy.

    2. I certainly wish GW the best as well. My only real complaint with GW is that I want to want to buy their stuff (because GW can't be beat for pick up games), but all their recent offerings are just so...uninspired. Maybe I'll just live the dream and buy an army from ForgeWorld.

    3. What do you mean by pick up games? Do you mean the ease of rules, the amount of gamers out there and thus how easy it is to get a game... or a bit of both. Just interested.

      Like you I'd be happy to buy GW stuff if I still enjoyed the games, and or wanted to own the miniatures. But the new stuff is going of at a tangent I just don't like, and what were once lovely miniatures years ago are starting to show their age. Some of their product line is 18 years old!!! It's creaking and much of it needs updating.

    4. Maybe its an Americanism, but by "pick-up game" I mean going to a local gaming store and playing an unscheduled game with someone who also happens to be hanging around the place. Similar concept to picking up a girl in a bar, only drastically less depressing. So, to answer your question: yes, 40k's (and to a much lesser extent WHFB) popularity means that I can easily find an opponent.

      Honestly, despite years of interacting with them, I don't find GW rules that easy to use or learn. The core mechanics are fine (if a touch inelegant), but they really struggle to support the number of special rules and complexities added to them over the years. Both games work best when there aren't a lot of figures on the table, the problem is the number of figures on the table keeps going up.

      You put it perfectly, the new stuff is on a tangent I don't like. Pure and simple.

    5. I had a discussion with a store owner once who said that GW games were so expensive because you were paying for the playerbase. I think the "pick-up game" effect is right there. I make a point of visiting a game store whenever I travel, and you can always guarantee that they'll have a decent stock of GW.

      I'm not much of a GW player - the lament that is Specialist Games has been covered, so I won't revisit that. But I don't honestly believe that the issues players are feeling are due to familiarity. My thoughts:

      1. Options and price. Gamers have more options than ever before, and whether it's less expensive games or the reality that you can get an XBox, 42" TV, and a half-dozen games for the price of a GW army... it hurts. People are looking at other gaming options.

      2. Corporate mentality. Let's face it - nobody likes this. And when you see them abandoning games you love (damn, said I wasn't going to hit the Specialist stuff) just because it doesn't make as much money... it hurts.

      3. It's just not all that great by today's standards. I know this one may draw a lot of fire, but... Take away the decades of familiarity and try and consider it as a first-time comparison. Look at a Space Marine next to something from Infinity or Heavy Gear or Malifaux or Warmachine. It's just... bland. Bulky and blocky, large empty plates, very little interesting detail (except skulls - gotta have skulls!) They LOOK like early-80s power armor concepts. When they were originally designed, they were solid and current. But take a look at what we've seen in movies lately - when your current view of power armor is Iron Man, Space Marines just look outdated.

      So, in conclusion of yet another long addition - I don't think familiarity has bred contempt with GW. Honestly, it's exactly the opposite - familiarity is the only thing keeping them going.

    6. @Spiffy, nope that's what I thought you meant. You are absolutely right about the rules as well. Can someone explain to me why we still have a Ballistic skill and a ballistic skill table? You take your BS away from 7 to get what you need to roll to hit on a D6... well why don't they just say 4+ or 3+ and so forth and so on? It's bloody pointless and it has always annoyed me. The how WS and To Wound chart thing always seemed unnecessarily flabby to me as well.

      @Buhallin, for me I might be more personally inclined to be sympathetic to your way of looking at things. Like you price even when I was earning a really decent wage made me personally balk at the prospect of buying their products. It wasn't that I couldn't afford it, it was that I felt I could get way more for my money elsewhere. But that's the thing, as a wargamer I've always looked elsewhere any way so I guess I struggle a bit with understanding where a lot of GW hobbyists come from on these sorts of point.

      Corporate mentality? You know what I wouldn't mind this if what they did made business sense. Half the time it doesn't and it makes poor business sense. Even forgetting the Specialist Games for a second, their attitude towards customers in the Anzac nations, Dreadfleet (official flop apparently) and many more bizarre business decisions like actively courting the kiddy pound, which they know from past experience is volatile and fickle. So while I agree I can't understand their business decisions, I wouldn't go as far to say it's because it's a cogent well reasoned and brutal 'corporate mentality' because it is clearly not.

      Point 3... well I don't think I need to say any more. I've said for a while now that much of their miniatures range is well over a decade old and a lot of it is getting on for being two decades old. It looked lame in comparison to Confrontation miniatures, so it definitely looks lame compared to many of the games and product lines that are coming out now. As to our current view of power armour... I'd throw in Master Chief from Halo too, amongst other computer games. The Space Marines though have always looked a bit silly design wise. Or at least I thought they did.

      As to your final point I think in some respects you are right, familiarity does keep them ticking over to a certain respect with some people. But, with others I do think it is killing them, it can be both. Hell in my Imperium as Metaphor ripost post I mentioned that their familiarity or stagnation was a positive to some customers... I guess though that isn't the case with them all.

    7. Buhallin, I agree you are paying for the player base, and really the only reason I would ever seriously consider buying into a GW game would be for the player base. Obviously, this is a self fulfilling prophecy, you buy GW to have people to play with so others much buy GW to play with you, and so on.

      I'm less inclined to blame a corporate mentality for GW's poor decisions than I am to blame their corporate culture. GW firmly believes that they have an endless pool of potential (short-term) customers in the fifteen-and-under age group; and that their products have an equally limitless amount of price elasticity. I also suspect that they believe they have no serious competitors (which might be true, no other wargames is fighting for the kiddy dollar). In light of that GW's business decisions make sense. Of course, I disagree with their core assumptions, but still its more the fault of the people in the structure, rather than the system itself.

      I hadn't thought of it before, but you're right: GW's designs tend to be old fashioned without being retro or nostalgic. They are a little bland. Though, in GW's defense, they are often copied, so part of their same-y-ness comes from how many of their designs have been adopted and expanded on by other companies.

      As Frontline said, price is an issue for me not because I can't afford GW's offerings, but because there is just so much other stuff out there. By-and-large GW isn't wildly more expensive than other sci-fi/fantasy figures, but you need a lot of figures to play a GW game. I'm happy to buy ten Infinity guys, and I'm equally happy to buy ten Space Marines, but the prospect of buying fifty Space Marines leaves me cold--as does the thought of painting fifty Space Marines blue.

      In general though, I completely agree with you, GW survives because of familiarity in the form of brand recognition, market-share, and customer loyalty. Also, buy-in plays a huge part, after you've bought and painted a GW army or two, you want to get a lot of use out of it.

  5. You can't give GW crap for not coming up with anything new, mock Dreadfleet and give Mantic a free pass for the occasional "swing and a miss". I'm not a GW lover, and everything I've seen or heard about Dreadfleet was that it's got a lot wrong with it. Okay, so GW took a swing and missed. Most people loved Space Hulk the year before, which, as I understand it was reworked quite a bit and not just a reprint of the original. Give credit where it's due, even if it's just a little credit for a little effort.

    1. I'll give credit when I think it's due. I don't think there was anything worth giving credit for in Dreadfleet. Sorry I just don't. The basic's of the game were sound, if derivative (therefore not that new) and the junk they added on top was utterly awful. I've also criticsed Mantic for their swings and misses as well. But they are giving things a go. Space Hulk wasn't as reworked as many made it out to be either, although in many respects that's a very good thing. So yeah I can give GW 'crap' as you put it, not that I have. I've said that they're fighting familiarity and that I feel "neutral" to what they're doing right now. Doesn't even get a positive or a negative response. just a 'meh' response. I've also given GW credit in the past. It's just they don't deserve much in my opinion. Given their huge market share and supposed dominance their lack of innovation and effort is startling.

    2. You could give Dreadfleet credit for the better of the ship models, some of the scenery and the play sheet. Those bits were good (and why I picked up a box cheap second hand).

    3. I guess one reason to give Mantic more of pass is they are still quite new they have been producing games and gathering an ever more fervent set of hobbyists for what, ~5 years?

      GW has had over 25 years of experience riding trends and taking the best attributes and rebranding them as GW initiatives. By rights Mantic shouldn't be able to hold a candle but they are and in some respects are better!

      No Spaceshulk's not really changed at all and I have owned all editions. They took it back actually to the original roots streamlined a bit, cocked up the scenarios ala GW and made some jawdroppingly gorgeous models!

      @Fiendil I agree Dreadfleet's imagery and design was amazing for the components. But it was a lazy release rules wise like a chops shop car all style no substance. And this is from someone who LOVES it (I am just not totally one-eyed ; P )

    4. @Fiendil, in my review I gave them credit for the ships I liked, but not all of them I did like. The style of them over all was far too child like for my tastes. It felt like I was playing in the He-Man universe... and no... that's not a good thing!!! Feck off Adam and your silly blond bob cut!!! As for picking up the box cheap second hand, how cheap did you get it for? I know someone who picked up a copy for £11 with all the components from a car boot sale. Really held its price well didn't it. Shame, I was planning to retire on my profits from selling it in a few years time!!! :P

      @Minitrol, I'll give Mantic a pass for now, but I have criticised some of their moves as being derivative and formulaic. However, the DreadBall Kickstarter has shown that maybe, just maybe the Warpath universe is about to break from 40ks Fantasy in space mould and strike out a bit more on its own. If they do I'll be very pleased indeed! However, they are now getting to the point where I think they need to be showing a stronger hand. Undoubtedly though the KoW Kickstarter has really helped them.

    5. Less than half price, but not that cheap, off someone who just wanted shot. I forget exactly how much.

      (I used to be a big fan of He-Man, back when I was a nipper, but it's not aged at all well.)

    6. No. No it hasn't, it certainly does not have the 'power' anymore! :P

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    1. Funny you should write about this. Whilst I don't have time to play, if at all, my hobby relationship with GW is starting to waver. Like you'd described, I am also kind of getting tired of their products. Little is novel I’ve realized from the stuff they’ve released before now. A new edition of the rules is once again upon us, yet I’ve still to play a full game since 2nd Edition. Something is saying I should perhaps step away altogether – collect something else, something new; but I've been collecting them for so long (Since RT in fact), part of me is almost scared to let go. It’s almost like a drug, porn, alcohol addiction or the like – they’ve been the products I’ve collected for so long, have painted and put together for so long, that it’s become almost a silly hobby “habit”. Not doing it because they are the best games or sculpts or so forth, perhaps just carrying on because… well… I’m carrying on. Like usual. And then I look at the why’s of it, and I see the new releases and realise it’s all the same. (And I wish this American version of MSWord would stop changing my perfectly fine British spelling into incorrect Colonial garbage.)
      Or I could be rambling. Tired and needing a drink after suffering another ugly trip to Costco... Ugh...

    2. You could reduce the points of the games you play... That'd help with finishing...

      The other thing to do is something I've had in my head for a little while, but done nothing about - Find a different game system that you can use the same models for. There's Stargrunt or Gruntz to start with, both of which can be played with anyone's models. I'm leaning toward the latter to try first, as it seems to be a more stripped down system, that has a more organised way to throw together stats for games.

    3. Fiendil, thanks for the response! Like I mentioned though, I really don't play right now. But your suggestion is one I've already pursued and hope to commit on at least a little. Between Flames of War (A group has invited me to join.) and Relic Knights (My friend also jumped on that Kickstarter.) I am hoping to get at least one night a week for minis gaming in the future. :)
      With that said, I'm not even feeling all that bad about thinking about selling all my Raven Guard Marines.....

    4. @Dai, sometimes I have my finger on the pulse as it were. :P

      It's just that recently I've been starting to get more and more comments and emails off of disgruntled GW gamers all saying similar things. Yeah it started as a trickle at first, but since my Polish friend tried tearing me a new one over my comments re Dust Warfare it's grown more steadily. So I wandered whether what I was feeling was similar to these gamers. I'm not sure it is. I just don't feel anything towards GW actually anymore. As to Fiendil's suggestion I can second it. Hopefully I'll be getting my Gruntz rulebook soon off of my Indiegogo campaign, but the truth is I've heard nothing off of Robin Fitton and co since it was funded. I thought I'd have had an email or something by now.

      @Fiendil, I used to play Stargrunt II and you're right, rule wise it can become a bit complex at times, but it's like most things, once you've wrapped your noggin around it, it's not so bad. Hopefully I'll get to see what I think of Gruntz soon when my stuff turns up.

    5. I'm stripping down my 40k too. I'm keeping 2-3 useable armies of painted models that I'm still fond of, but everything else is gradually getting chopped.

      I got the Gruntz mk 1 pdf, and liked the look of it. My local evangelist for it has been MIA from the games club though, so I've not actually played yet.

    6. Yeah well my fire sale of Space Marines went relatively well. I also got shot of a few other things to people locally that I just knew I was never going to use. I might sell my painted Dwarf army too if I can find a buyer. There's nothing really of my GW stuff that I consider sacred anymore. The only things I might have considered sacrosanct were my gorgeous Wood Elf army I spent an entire year of my life on, or maybe my Nid army from a few years back. But I got really, REALLY good prices for both. So I can't complain. So yep I can totally understand your desire to offload stuff, even me who is an admitted hoarder wants shot of most of my stuff.

      Well hopefully I'll get my Gruntz stuff soon. I haven't played the game yet myself, but I am looking forward to giving it a go.

  7. I think that Angron model is minging. I've seen it in person, and I've had a look at the Forgeworld photos, and while some of the sculpting is decent, it's a fairly generic model of a terminator sized Space Marine lord, with some spare Space Marines flying through the air. And a *£50* price tag!

    It's a long way from Forgeworld's best, and *stupidly* expensive even by their standards...

    I think it was more the things they did to the games, combined with the attitude of a lot of the players, plus the attitudes of GW, that have driven me from playing the Warhammers. I'll happily throw dice for a Specialist Game, but it's been years since I did for 40k or FB.

    1. "minging"?? Is that a British term? It's a bit non-complimentary for us antipodeans.

    2. Interesting Fiendil. I haven't seen the miniature in the flesh. Actually we went to Warhammer World in the hope they'd have it on display in the shop there. Sadly they didn't. I guess the difficulty is that I can't really see the detail or composition properly in a 2D picture. I'd be greatly disappointed though if it's not up to scratch as it were.

      And Minitrol you are right minging is very non-complimentary.

    3. I saw one that was bought at Games Day. I seem to be in the minority of opinion over him though.

      Minging = ugly, smelly, tastes nasty. That sort of idea.

    4. Right. This has been educating o_O

    5. Education comes in all shapes and sizes Minitrol... so at least you now know what minging means!!!

      @Fiendil, if you don't like it you don't like it. Just because you're in the minority doesn't mean you are wrong. It's about opinions my friend and everyone is entitled to one... except Piers Morgan... he lost his right to an opinion a long time ago.

  8. I'm afraid I haven't really been doing this long enough to be able to see this from your point of view FG... Nonetheless, I can turn my personal experience into a far more literal point that almost completely misses yours:

    My experience of familiarity breeding contempt is when I try to paint large armies and I end up painting the same thing over and over and over again. This happened a lot when I worked for GW because I was supposed to build and paint armies for myself as part of the hobby that I had to bring into the store. It wasn't so bad with Chaos Space Marines because there's not very many of them anyway, but Empire was awful for me to do for 6 months, and Harad... Harad. Even though I was painting a lot different colours onto the models, I still baulked at the thought of having to spend another night painting yet more red, purple, pink...

    This is the reason it takes me absolutely for ever to paint a whole army, and why these days I tend to paint lots of little armies rather than one big one. I guess, if I thought about it, it would be a good idea for me to jump ship to a different wargame that uses different models, and less of them, more to the point. And if I'm honest with myself, the reason I don't is that I know that if I took those models I've painted into Games Workshop, chances are I'll be able to get a game in.

    Does this breed contempt for GW as a company? For me, no more so than anything else they do. And when I can go in of a Monday night and have a paint, and a game of Lord of the Rings, I'm not complaining. There is a gaming club near me where I could possibly try out some new games, or introduce it if I felt the need - but since I upset one of their committee members a couple of years ago, I've felt it better to stay away from there. I'll wait 'til I move away from the area and get involved with some of the clubs down South, see if I can't broaden my horizons a little bit!

    Until then, if I want a smaller game than a standard GW army size, I can always crack my board games out...

    1. Matt if you read the article I say that I don't feel contempt for them. I say they're fighting predictability and if anything it's led to apathy from me. I no longer feel positive or negative towards them... just 'meh'. Others though do feel contempt for them, and I think for many it's actually born of over familiarity with their product as opposed to their product not necessarily being good enough.

      As to painting row upon row of identikit miniatures... yeah that build contempt in me!!! :P Whether it be GW or Mantic, I have developed a very low tolerance for such tasks over the years like you. Perhaps it was painting that HUGE Moria Goblin army for B'ham GW when I worked their for that Saturday game... Oh God... the horror, the HORROR!!! ;)

    2. Yeah man, I get you, and it's an interesting perspective on it. Rather than GW doing anything necessarily right or wrong, they're just doing something... and over-familiar veterans just don't enjoy it anymore.

    3. Yeah it was just an observation I'd made, which not many others would be able to do, but as I get a lot of emails off of people I get to see what people are saying across a wider spectrum. Interestingly the same things keep coming through.

  9. Specialist games are, and will always be the best thing that GW ever produced. While it was 40k that introduced me, it was Necromunda that kept me. Even today I spend my days on ebay searching out for all of the original run models for Necromunda (not the replacement models they released post 2000... blech). Games stagnation is a real problem for a lot of people I believe, and unless the games themselves stay fresh and interesting, the models mean little. They become only trophy figs for the display cabinet.. not a real investment like those models you'll so lovingly model and paint and croon over for your favorite army/warband/gang/whatever.
    Games Workshop is leaning their models more for the younger crowd with Forge worlD running more to the mature gamer, which is why Angron and the HH is so fantastic. Their models speak to the true gamer crowd, and less the knee-jerk "mummy can I buy this" crowd we see so much of in the stores of GW... though, of course, it's also firmly aimed at milking the HH series of books for every cent they can get. which makes sense really.

    I wouldn't say that the games breed contempt (though the companies certainly can!), but staleness of the newer concepts and the nostalgia based jadedness we older gamers take on lead to, in the very least, contempt, if not outright hatred of the games companies make.

    Hmm.. I think I just wrote a long winded version of "I agree"...

    1. PMSL... yeah, that was a long winded version of I agree! But in a round about sort of way. You clarified that you think it's not necessarily the games but the companies and their actions. I sort of agree with that truth be told.

      But is that familiarity though? I have to say from what I'm hearing the answer is yes. For me I still mainly feel apathetic towards GW. Although during HoMachine MKI I got very tired of the constant power creep and one-up-man-ship that seemed to define it as a product. MKII is perilously close to running that risk now I think. So familiarity with something and seeing the cynical tactics in play yet again could breed contempt in me for HoMachine.

      I just thought it was something worth discussing. :)

  10. Not sure if this is entirely on topic but anyhow...

    The funny thing about GW is that I find it very hard to actually go in to their stores these days, like it's something that I have to actively make myself do, and I think that part of the reason that I have this problem (aside from being a thirty five year old man and finding the whole process vaguely uncomfortable) is that there is something rather tiresome about these stores. I think that ultimately it's a massive lack of variety. I mean, what do you really see when you do go in a GW store? There's the current product range for the two games that they continue to support, some nicely painted models and miniatures in the display case, a very eager shop assistant who will approach you about five seconds after you put a foot across the threshold (not blaming them mind, it's their job). Maybe some youngsters will be playing a game on one of the tables, and another staff member might be giving a painting demonstration.

    But I wouldn't say there was any atmosphere. You can't browse and expect to find anything interesting or unusual(or at least I can't). You can't talk about non GW products because they will claim to be ignorant about them or deny they exist. There are no longer any side or niche products for people who might want to play shorter, skirmish level games. Essentially they have flogged the same old product over and again for the last twenty odd years and have refined the rules well enough, but have also taken out anything that makes them interesting.

    Now I've been out of the hobby for a while (last played 40k during the second edition rules sometime around the mid 90s), and I recall back then that people were saying that over simplification had made the game less interesting than the rather more experimental and narrative based 1st ed. From what I see of the game now though it has had even more of the colour taken out of it and it has now become, for want of a better word, sort of homegenized and rather stale. I remember 1st ed rules like the crazy tables they had for things like Ork bionics, and Shokk attack guns when used on Terminators. Little touches like that made the game for me.

    Anyhow. Waffling a bit there. I guess the point that I am trying to make is that nothing that GW does seems interesting anymore. Look at what other companies are putting out. Look at what Fantasyflight Games have managed to do with GWs intellectual property. Chaos in the Old World, which you reviewed here, is a great example of what could be done with what they have. Ask about Chaos in the Old World in my local GW store and I would get a blank look; but they sell it round the corner in Forbidden Planet and it has Games Workshop's logo on the box. That's the sort of product that GW should have thought of and produced themselves. Heck, they even managed to get some of my money when they rereleased a limited edition Space Hulk; the first time I had spent anything in one of their stores in over a decade. Look at FFGs take on the Warhammer 40k universe in their excellently done and supported series of RPGs. Even their company website is laid out ten times better than GWs, and they have a forum and listen to the comments of their customers.

    Right, I'll shut up now. Hopefully there is at least some food for thought there and that didn't come across as to much of a tirade.


    1. Right I've felt this needed a proper response so I've been thinking about what you have said for over a week now. So sorry for the late response.

      Your point about forcing yourself into a Games Workshop is one well made. In a previous role I was quite often shooting off all round the nation for work. I'd seek out any local Games Workshops genuinely just to have a look at the display cabinets. But then about 6 or 7 years back I started to notice that most of the cabinets and gaming tables all started to get homogenised. It's like somebody beat them with the bland stick. No interesting looking armies, all boards done on the Realm of Battle. Honestly they became sterile places and now when I see a GW I don't even think about going into it to check out the boards and cabinets because I know they won't be up to much cop!

      Again the talking to staff thing is a bit of a bugbear of mine. I don't expect their staff to have an encyclopedic knowledge of the company history, or indeed to know everything about every army and miniature they do. However, I do expect them to know how to play the sodding games!!! The amount of times I've seen or overheard staff in GW's blunder their way through conversations where they clearly haven't got a clue about the basics is unbelievable. So they don't even know their own product anymore, so I really don't expect them to know about other peoples. lol.

      Like you I've been in the hobby for a very long time. My dad dragged me into it in the mid to late 80's and I suppose I got going under my own steam as it were around about the same time as you did and the early 90's. For some the switch to 4th Ed Fantasy and 2nd Ed 40K were the death knell for them. But, I can assure you that it actually brought more people into the hobby than ever before. I'm not a fan of over simplification, but rules should be as straight forward as they can be. There's no need to to over complicate things either. The main issue during this switch over from my perspective tough wasn't the simplification issue. Nope, it was why they were simplifying things.

      Things became simpler to allow larger games to be played. Warhammer 3rd Ed was a very small game really in terms of mini's on the board. Almost over night 4th Ed doubled it, and by the time the transition came for 5th Ed it had tripled to what we sort of have today. 2nd Ed 40K was even more startling. It's that what really changed not the simplification of the rules. Straight forward rules also don't have to be bland, they can give rise to complex and tactically in-depth games. It just so happens GW's products don't do that. I also think ironically they simplified the wrong bits and have left some really bizarre complex moments still lingering that were never a good idea in the first place!!! :P

      On the point of other peoples products... well I can't disagree can I? I mean my entire Blog is devoted to the entire hobby and what is out there if you look beyond GW. I even said very similar things to you about FFG when I reviewed CitOW and their Blood Bowl card game. Other people are making far better use of GW's intellectual property, of that their can be no doubt. FFG is just one of them. I will disagree with you though over one thing, I hate navigating FFG's website!!! Although I guess the fact that they have so much product to wade through could be part of that. Any way thanks for taking the time to explain your opinions so fully. Cheers. :)