As I said a few days ago, I’d ordered a couple of presents for myself from Foreign Parts. Choosing them spoils the surprise of course, but it doesn’t diminish the excitement!
Before I mention the first of those to arrive, I’ve also got to mention a gift of the Island of Blood Warhammer 8th set. Lots of goodies in there.
The somewhat contentious 8th edition of Warhammer has been mentioned in various debates on this site, but I haven’t played 8th yet. Now I’ve been given a set I can join in the comments with a better understanding rather than having to extrapolate my knowledge of the first 7 editions. On first skim I have to say that I’m not seeing the disaster that the doom-sayers have been touting. Perhaps I’ll find it when I get into the detail and put some armies on the tabletop. We’ll see.
However, putting that aside for a moment, I was woken early this morning by the postman delivering a very special present. A dragon, sorry, Dragon. But not just any old Dragon – A Legacy Miniatures Titan Dragon! I was going to keep this under my hat for a while as it’s so much more appropriate to start on the 23rd of January. But I can’t.
In case you weren’t aware, the 23rd of January is Chinese New Year, and next year is the Year of the Dragon in the Chinese calendar. And what better Dragon to celebrate it with than the mother of all of them?
So this is just a tease for the moment. Sorry for that. I couldn’t resist. I’ll be doing a full review and assembly in due course, but it’ll take a while to get it even just cleaned and put together. It’s huge!
Well, Warhammer 8 did introduce a couple of significant changes from WH7. They are not game-changers per se, but makes army selection a very different beast since not everything works the same way anymore. Also, magic is more powerful and dangerous, both for the caster and the target of the spell.
Now I haven’t played WH8 enough to judge if it’s better or worse, just that it’s a bit different. I suspect the doom-sayers are from the tournament crowd. As I don’t do tournaments and don’t number-crunch the army lists in the same way I can’t really say how the different army books are affected. My dwarf army felt a bit sore after meeting the new all-improved magic system though 🙂
Well, for my taste magic is a little bit too random in 8th with some races and can really mess up your day. Also the back-door sales-rise by raising standard army size did also not sit well with some, especially coupled with the Fincast/price-rise doublepunch.
And I see you finally caved in to the Rackham dragon…. caved in back then when I got me the Dirz Titan beast. 😉 So I can feel with you and your wallet. But I do own the smaller brother of your dragon and a nice numbered litograph of the big dragon by John Howe.
My birthday present I treat myself to this winter will be a nice 50″ plasma to finally enjoy all my movies in all their glory. 😉
I’m reserving comment on 8th till I’ve had a proper read and a play. However, it’s interesting to hear what areas of the game people think of as suspect because I can pay particular attention to them. I take your point about the price rises though.
I have the smaller dragon as well, and he’s very nice. They share a strong family resemblance in face if not number of limbs 🙂
I watch a lot of movies, and a big telly makes a load of difference. When we bought ours they gave us a blu-ray player free, which was clearly just a cunning ploy to get us to buy all our DVDs again. The quality of sharpness on blu-rays is impressive. If I had more money (and fewer dragons), it might have worked…
I think Finecast would have been more appreciated if they had not rushed it and not couppled it with the annual prize-rise.
The only problem I had with the smaller dragon was: It needed a lot of pinning to make it withstand some rougher treatment (which it surely will receive being a centerpiece and quite some folks touching minis without asking beforehand 😉 ).
The best about the plasma: I can finally again watch my Region 1 DVDs after me old region-free PC-drive went to heaven. It just needs a numbercode on the remote of my Denon DVD-Player and I can watch all the regions I want. Nice service Denon!
I am also astonished how good the Faroudja-chip inside the Denon scales the DVDs. Some DVDs even look better than their BD-counterparts (which admittedly got a bad re-rendering for BD). For BD I got me the Philips 7500 MK II (nice metal body and really great video output for just 180 Euros) and hooked it up to my PC-monitor (well, only until the plasma enters the room).
If ever there was a Great Satan, he was the one who invented the idea of region coding DVDs and blu-rays. Hanging’s too good for ’em, I say. Thank goodness for companies like Denon who actually understand the concept of customer service.
Our blu-ray does a similar thing, upscaling DVDs as it goes along. It’s an improvement, but the proper blu-rays are a big step above that.
On topic, sort of, GW’s timing did seem poor for a couple of reasons. Firstly, as you say, it arrived along with a price rise. Their “annual price rise” as their staff are calling it. That’s bound to make people more resistant to the whole Finecast thing.
Secondly, they clearly hadn’t sorted out their quality issues beforehand. It seems foolish to me to release something that plainly isn’t ready for market – doubly so when they were the only one pushing for it. The market hadn’t been asking for Finecast so they had till they were ready. Nobody forced them to go off half-cocked, instead they chose to. Very odd. Someone really dropped the ball on that project.
imo for every improvement in 8th there’s something that brings it down. The actual box set itself is a nice feast of miniatures though! I think 8th wins purely for the sensible rule of “supporting attacks” though.
More attacks = more carnage. Of course, the more cynical among you might suggest that it’s there to support the main thrust of increasing army size ;P
I actually like the added usefullness of big blocks. Makes your army look like an army instead of a pub crowd… so OK, it sells more models, but GW has to make money somehow.
Well it sells more models to an individual gamer, but less people play because you need to spend more to get a proper army. Overall I’m not sure it is working as well as they’d hoped.
Is it the case that the horde unit is turning people off the game? I suspect the price rises are a much bigger issue though they in turn are driven by a diminishing customer base. I’m of the generation that was GW’s target audience in the 80’s and they got me good but I suspect computer gaming is taking a big chunk of that audience now. This is purely my ill-informed opinion but I get the impression that GW is reacting to this inevitable decline in customer base the way companies usually do, by squeezing as much money as they can from what remains. It happened to comic books (which have had similar price inflation and even more dramatic drops in sales) and tabletop RPG’s (which is an industry barely on life support any more).
Are hordes turning people off? I’ve been told by quite a few people now that they don’t play any more, and one of the most common reasons they give me is that “GW made the armies you need so much bigger”. Hordes is usually given as the way this was done. So the evidence is anecdotal, but that’s the only evidence we have or are likely to get. Price rises won’t help, but when compounded with a need to increase your model count too…
I think that computer games are not the issue here. They’re been around for ages, and every dip in sales is blamed on them, but we now have more and more games based on the same IP, and so you get some crossover the other way too. probably not as much, but it’s there.
I think the more important issue is that many tabletop games in the marketplace are growing in popularity. Look at Privateer, for example. And also look at what seems to me to be an every growing number of games in the market place. Can you think of a time there were more? Kings of War is also growing apace, and that has many obvious parallels with Warhammer. So if Warhammer sales are diminishing, I don’t think you can fairly point at the market, which means it has to be something to do with GW.
If the problem lies with GW then you can say it’s the game itself, the model range or the price. Largely I suspect it’s not the models, as individual gripes and moans about Finecast aside, people rarely complain about Citadel mode’s quality (as a whole). Whether the game is better, worse or simply not the game for the current marketplace I don’t know. That’s why I’ll be playing it. Price may be the simple reason. Price coupled, ironically, with the increasing number of options. If I can buy a game and all the models I need to play Infinity, Bushido, Warmachine, KOW, Nemesis, Carnevale, etc, etc for a fraction of what I can buy the Warhammer equivalent, then why buy Warhammer? GW management like to tell thier staff that the company is “recession-proof”, based on the idea that luxury items survive recessions better and that folk will always put money aside to give their kids gifts. However their reasoning ignore the fact that whist this is largely true, people also become much more discerning, and if I can give my kid 2 games instead of half of one then guess what I’ll be doing. I don’t think the economic straits the world is in is entirely unlinked to the rise in skirmish gaming.
GW may well be reacting to the reduction in numbers by trying to get more out of the remainder. However, you could argue that this endless cycle of price rises is what is actually causing the loss in the first place.
What’s interesting about the army size problem is that it’s more a function of marketing than anything else. The game is still perfectly playable at 1000 point levels and its hard to see what more could be done to the rules to make it play better at that level.
However, White Dwarf is now packed with sample armies of 3,000 points and above and no battle report is ever played at lower than this level. The end result is to create an impression that this is the standard sized army.
I actually think Games Workshop would do better if they emphasised Warhammer’s scalability to a greater extent, showing that it was possible to have a fun game with 1,000 or 4,000 points. But they seem to have run away from this in the mistaken belief that their customers will just buy more models if told to.
Are armies bigger? Individual units may have gotten bigger but the points values the games are being played at are the same. We play most of our games at the 1500-1800 points range. In 7th ed that meant I usually fielded a unit of Plague Bearers and a unit of Bloodletters, now I field one large unit of Bloodletters and the Plague Bearers only come out when we play battles over 2000. My army is the same size, just the composition has changed.
Of course it did mean I had to buy more Bloodletters to convert my army to 8th ed so I’m wondering if this is what the issue is. Fortunately I’d bought 30 of them a few years back when they were still only £12 for 10 so only had to pick one more box up at the new and improved price of £18 for 10. Now if I’d had a WoC army and needed to pick up 20 more Chosen to make them into a horde unit at an RRP of £82 I would have been less than impressed.
Has the attrition from GW been picked up by other companies? My impression is that the tabletop gaming market is much smaller than it was when I started gaming in the 1980’s but I can’t claim to have examined the figures. I certainly do think GW’s price hikes have pushed some of their existing gamers into cheaper alternatives as that’s what’s happened to me. I don’t think I’ll ever build another army consisting of primarily GW minis (though ironically I’m tempted to buy some of the even more expensive Warhammer Forge stuff lol) and the practicality of playing skirmish games makes them much more appealing than full scale wargames if I’m looking to pick something new up.
Is anyone here of the opinion that if GW rolled back their prices to, say, 2008 levels, that people would come flooding back?
EDIT: As I finish typing this I’ve just read the reply about the standard size of army that GW promotes being around 3000. Obviously from what I’ve already written we play a fair bit lower than that so I may not be representational of the typical GW customer.
@ Hum Con – I agree. Personally, I’ve always preferred Warhammer as a small game as it plays faster and makes each unit matter. It also makes army building that much more challenging and fun as you have to make hard choices about what to include.
@ Ben – regarding your edit, I don’t know whether you are under the real average army size, or just under the size GW wants to be the average. As Hum Con says, GW now present Warhammer as if you need a 3,000 point army to play, and that is a fairly steep hill to climb if you’re starting from scratch. The fact that you can play at much smaller sizes is conveniently forgotten by marketing and sales, and that big jump from 0 to 3,000 is putting off people I’ve talked to. And it’s not just new blood – it’s also anyone who might want a new army. Even if you know you can play at 1,500, the impression is constantly given that somehow you’re not doing it properly.
Incidentally, this relates to the discussion elsewhere on this page about management and business desires outweighing design. In this case it isn’t that the design forces you to play at 3k, but that the design that is present is ignored.
Kinda weird where I am and aren’t allowed to reply in the order of conversation, so I’ll drop this here:
I agree that the new rules make armies look like armies, and IIRC they talked about more attacks per unit being a reaction to being dissatisfied by combats seemingly being decided between the front 5 guys on each side….
….but question for you Jake, have any design decisions you’ve been involved in been decided by commercial considerations?
Regarding points and army size: points values haven’t really gone down, but because people want bigger units AND still be able to pack in a decent amount of toys, there’s been a bit of a step up in the size of games played at event/tournament level (2k to 2.25k or 2.5k). And casual players probably want to slam all their exciting units down too.
Growth: all the anecdotal stuff I see suggests that the tabletop gaming market is flourishing despite the global economy, and (being a financial analyst) having reviewed GW’s annual reports going back several years, it’s pretty clear that they’re the architect’s of their own troubles. I won’t pay GW’s prices unless they’re the only choice, and I can afford to.
I’ve just turned on another level of nesting for comments, so I hope that helps.
You asked if “any design decisions you’ve been involved in been decided by commercial considerations?” Yes, lots of them, but mainly in advance. I’ll give you some examples:
1) When I was working on Warhammer Armies: High Elves and Orcs & Goblins, the decisions of what to make in terms of new units was generally taken largely because of how much space the boxes and blisters would be able to have on the store shelves. Nothing to do with what an army “needed”. This was SOP. Note that this isn’t bad per se, though it sometimes seems odd to gamers.
Whether you remade a range or not was largely immaterial to the design, unless equipment changed. Because Warhammer has a close relationship between model appearance and game effect, it made a difference if the sculptor decided to randomly add or remove gear, which they sometimes did. You’d then be stuck with whatever they’d done and have to accommodate it accordingly. The money had been spent on the sculpting, so the design had to follow. This was uncommon, but it did happen.
2) When I wrote my new tabletop fantasy game (that will be out next year) some of the ranges were already made. However, the client said I could ignore anything that didn’t fit the background I wanted to write, and they’d make some extra ones to fill in gaps if I added them. That was luxury for me. I suppose their stipulation of a minimum number of armies was a commercial one, and it was quite a big task to fit everything in. Bear in mind that this is being done from a blank page. A slightly more irksome issue, though not to do with design, is that they wanted to hold off on publication until they have made and painted most of the ranges so they can all be photographed in the book. It’s a good idea because it will make it look great, but it means I have to sit on it for another 6 months.
3) When I started work on Dwarf King’s Hold, we agreed on what could go in the box before I began. That was my starting point for the detail design and game balance. No point in designing something for a horde army when you can only have 2 of them. It’s a commercial decision, obviously, as you’re balancing what you put in the box against what you will have to charge the gamer for it. However, this kind of commercial impact on design is fine. This is how I like to work: define what elements you can have and then work to make that a great game. This is the commercial reality of design.
Does that actually answer the question?
I’m not Sami and nor have I played Sami on TV so I don’t know if this was the gist of the question but it certainly would have been had I asked so I’m just gonna outright ask it. When writing the army books or working on 6th ed were you ever asked to make certain units better than others so GW would sell more of them? It’s an accusation I frequently hear levelled at GW by players.
I actually like to work with guidlines and restrictions if reasonable. It makes it a challange and life without challanges ist meh…
What I don´t like is clients that give you free hand and later complain that this is not what they imagined… Doh!
@ Ben – no, not disproportionately better. Sometimes people wanted particular units to be powerful, but then that usually made sense when you looked at the models. If something was powerful though, it paid the points for it. Or, if they didn’t, it was because we’d done something wrong rather than cunningly planned it to sell more models. Usually this only came up when a model will be expensive in money terms. In a commercial environment (not just GW) it must therefore be good in the game for the effort to be worthwhile.
There’s a world of difference between making something better, and making it better than it should be for its points. The former is fine in my book, the latter isn’t.
@ André – yes, that’s very frustrating. However, some folk just can’t articulate what they want until you show them something (then they can say definitively that it wasn’t that). Very, very frustrating though…
It’s never been something I’ve had much truck with myself. For every one overpowered/undercosted model that was expensive to buy you could point at another that was expensive but not worth the bother or overpowered and (relatively) cheap. It’s something that people keep repeating as if it must be true.
Price rises weren’t an issue for me. I already have al the WFB miniatures I’ll ever need. My Dwarf army is vast and could and was easily shaped into a competitive 3000pts list. Ditto other forces I have. I just stopped enjoying the game. Didn’t like the huge blocks of infantry as it ‘clogged’ the standard 6′ by 4′ board up too much. This took away the one element of WFB I really enjoyed, the maneuvering of your forces to out wit / think your opponent.
I’m not going to be one of these people that says 8th doesn’t have ‘tactics’ because that’s silly. All game systems will have tactics to them, nope it’s just I don’t find what WFB 8th ed chose to focus its tactics around very appealing. Army list building for points denial, yuck. Selecting the right lores of magic, well that’s not mentally stimulating at all. It just bored me to death to be honest with you. Taking all that time to rank stuff up to then have to just take it off the board.
The game takes too much of my time up now. That’s in set up, play time and preparing an army. Before 8th came out I was tempted to finally do my all mounted Bretonnia army as a painting challenge, with individual hand painted heraldry. Yet when I looked at the game I knew I wouldn’t enjoy playing with them. Nothing to do with price rises as I’d set £1000 aside for a major push on the Bretonnian to do it right. That money rapidly went to other game systems.
@hum_com I agree and disagree with what you’re saying. I actually preferred WFB myself when it sat at roughly 1500pts per side. It lead to the sorts of tactical movement games I like with blocks of infantry and cavalry all having their place. I really do think though because of magic and certain other changes that the game has been ramped in points to an average of 2500pts to 3000pts. I played some 1000pts to 1500pts games shortly after it came out and found the game wholly uninteresting at this sort of range. The games were brutally brief and decided by buckets of dice on spells. The game is no longer as scalable as I think people like to think it is.
@Ben, I used to hear the computer game argument all the time, but you still get young kids entering the hobby today. And I still see kids interested in the hobby walking into stores. The thing now that I think GW really struggle with is that when parents look at the cost of getting little Johnny a WFB army, with rulebooks paint etc. and then look at the equivalent bundles prices of Xbox 360’s and PS3’s with multiple games, online gaming and the fact they double up as movie / music players and more besides parent’s are more likely to see value in the quite frankly cheaper console option.
I’ve physically watched that have an impact in the Solihull store. I’ve seen two parents tell the store manager there that the hobby is a rip off compared to computer games. So yes I think what your saying has some weight of truth to it, but not as much as people think. Computer games offer a different hobby, not the same. In the same way that my comic books aren’t novels, doesn’t mean I’ll only read either novels or comics, I don’t I read both. Same with wargaming and computer games. The tabletop gaming hobby is thriving right now. Just chat to the heads of some of these smaller start ups like I have and hear the volumes some of them are doing with non-GW product and it’s clear something has happened, and it’s not external market forces, it’s something GW have done to themselves.
@Quirkworthy, you know that I agree with you with regards to consumers becoming savvier in recessions with their luxury spend. We’ve had that discussion, and current woes of certain toy manufacturers back this up. What is also true is that young kids are the most fickle of all consumers, one week they want G.I. Joe the next its Pokemon. There is a reason that companies that target the childrens market do so with short term product and multiple product lines, GW’s business plan and hobby is the exact opposite of how young go about extracting cash from the kids market. Makes me wander if they employ any psychologists at all… lol.
@Sami, I think what you assert is also what I’ve witnessed myself anecdotally. WFB 8th has been kicked up in scale and size. And while GW sales seem to go down, other companies seem to be doing fine and growing. Admittedly they’re smaller beasts and therefore don’t have GW’s overheads… but perhaps that’s kind of the point?
Actually people love to have big armies…
… if it is still playable and affordable.
Whether you are forced to play 3000 or not is also a local issue. Over here many switched to 3000, though they still complained about it ;).
I think most problems GW encounters stem from:
> The way they comminicate the prize rises and the quick succession of open and hidden rises.
> The rules being a jungle and the mangement being shy when it comes to major changes creates a rule-mess that is time consuming to wade through.
> The arrogance the company as a whole radiates when it comes to the hobby as a whole (most people working there are nice guys, it is the management that cultivates this image and sadly the whole company is perceived in such a way)
> balance between creatives and beancounters being to much leaning towards the latter
> They way the company PR treats the customer, sometimes openly, as a cash-cow that only needs some nice shiny new object in front of him to get milked again to excess.
GW would fare way better if the balance between business and creativity would be level. They could still make big bucks, maybe a little bit slower, but they would not need to burn through new customers at the rate they are now.
On the other hand: Good for the other TT-companies! More customers that have a bone to pick with GW that will switch to other games.
As a primarily HE player I’ve found the game difficult to play at lower points levels, essentially I get to choose between a Mage and a Battle Standard and pick my poison as to whether I get zapped off the table or scared off it.
GW’s overheads relative to the rest of the industry are not a factor of their size, they’re a factor of their store chain. I’ve just spent 4 years doing store/product profitability analysis for a similar sized UK high street retailer and IMO they need to accept that the store model as it stands is probably dead, and certainly dead in conjunction with their “boutique” pricing model.
@Sami….I’m in thunderous agreement that the bricks and mortar store model is dead.
@Sami if you read some articles on my blog I think you’ll find I’m in pretty much agreement with you. I can’t be bothered to find the links right now as I’m supposed to be doing something else, but you’re right. Their retail chain is too large but more importantly their product range too restrictive for them to actually maximise the profitability of their retail sites. In short they have too many shitty little shops stocking crappy expensive product not many people want. lol. 😛
Totally agree with you!
@Andre… You raise a lot of good points. I’ve already blown a lot of hot air on the topic already so will restrain myself lol. The one thing I did want to comment on is people leaving GW to play other games. Back in the 80’s and 90’s if something wasn’t in a bricks and mortar GW store I wouldn’t have had a clue where to go to find it. WAB was released not long after I stopped playing 5th and when I came back in 7th and found out about it I honestly thought GW had released a wide range of historical minis and I missed it lol. The internet now means a company can get it’s new game or range of minis straight to it’s target audience and GW has competition I don’t think it had before and I think that’s at the root of people leaving for other games. All that said, GW have done themselves no favours in competing with these new games. It does seem as if they believe they have a core loyal consumer group that is always going to buy their product so there’s no need for them to compete.
And out of curiousity, what is it you do in the industry?
Translation, Game-design, Playtesting and Promotion.
I do game-design, translations, promotion and playtesting. Working as freelancer for all who pay me ;).
@Brick and Mortar
It still has its place, but it needs to be coupled with the internet.
I’m all 8th raged out. I can’t hear anymore rages about it I really can’t. It didn’t make me angry as such, it just made me chuckle to myself and apathy quit. I too had a bad incident early on in 8th involving Teclis and my Dwarfs. I learned pretty quickly though and runed up! To many little things just wiped me out with 8th ed. And don’t get me started on the Ogre Kingdoms FAQ and the “we didn’t mean it to say that but as it does carry on, but we rather you didn’t”. WTF?!?!?! make a decision Jervis!!! Now that made me angry reading it and I don’t even play the game anymore. lol.
I can see where Jervis is coming from there. He’s trying to be reasonable, and hoping others will be too. I make the same mistake. What most people seem to want judging by their comments and actions (rather than what they say they want) is a cast iron ruling that allows them to abdicate any responsibility. It’s not me, it’s the rules. It’s official. It also allows them to complain that it’s wrong 😉
I come at 8th from a slightly odd perspective. I’m not expecting to play it lots as I really do have the T-shirt already. Plus, I just wrote my own system and that naturally suits me (almost) perfectly. However, after spending so many years playing it, and then another decade working for GW and writing and designing within that world, I have more than a little curiosity to see what’s happened to it now. Out of curiosity, and without wanting to stoke your ire, what would you say were the top 3 gripes FG?
(Don’s sturdy helmet and stands well back).
I’ll think of more as they come to me but aside from the magic issues already mentioned, the removal of half VP’s for reducing a unit to half-strength is something we house ruled back in. That you can kill 39 models of a 40 model unit and get nothing for it is absurd and we did early on have a game where one side decimated the other and the game was still a draw because of this.
I don’t really see Jervis being reasonable there, if anyone’s abdicating responsibility it’s him.
1) The decision isn’t balanced because it makes the Slaughtermaster by far a superior choice to a Tyrant.
2) I think it’s incredibly naive to not recognise the impact official word has on decisions made by players in private gaming groups, clubs and tournaments.
3) IMO the vast majority of players, even ones like me who love to tinker with the rules and write their own stuff, want certainty in the rules, not some wishy-washy comment where two players can come to the table and neither is in the right or wrong
I honestly can’t see a sensible argument for not just giving a straight answer.
@ Ben – I always thought that half VPs was an entirely arbitrary idea, myself, and one that makes less and less sense the more closely you look at it. After all, why not points for 1/3, or 1/7 or, ultimately, 1/40 of the VPs for each model you kill in a 40 strong unit? Why only 1/2 points for 1/2 the unit killed? Against a unit of 60 Goblins, isn’t killing 29 for nothing just as silly as your example?
Personally I rather like the all or nothing approach to killing units as it reflects more on the reality of battle. If the unit is still romping about doing stuff then it’s still viable so you haven’t got any “victory” from the wounds you’ve caused, regardless of how many bodies that may be. If it’s so badly damaged that it’s hiding at the back then you have the tabletop advantage against its mates and should be able to exploit that positional and numerical advantage to cripple the remainder of the foe. It’s the difference between thinking about individuals and armies. Killing Pedro in the third rank of the halberdiers is of no value in terms of victory other than the fact that it is a step towards destroying his regiment and depriving the enemy of a tactical maneuver unit. Historical accounts of ancient and medieval battles are full of heavily attritted units that carry on fighting and are, in effect, worth no VPs for that battle. Over a campaign things are different, but that’s another story.
In a battle, if you’re leaving all the enemy units a little bit damaged, but failing to administer the killing blow to any one of them then either your opponent has been very clever or you’ve failed to concentrate your forces effectively. Why should you be rewarded for his smarts or your error?
@ Sami – you’re probably right. I’ve been having a number of offline conversations recently with people about the difference between gamers today and gamers of my generation, and I’m being prodded to do a post on an aspect of that. This is partly what this touched on, so I’m sort of in the middle of an internal monologue about it at present. Which won’t make any sense to you guys who don’t live in my head 😉
Naturally, people want a rule that says this or that and not some fuzzy middle ground. Well, maybe. It wasn’t always natural. I’ve no idea what the specifics of this particular rules error was in terms of the Ogres and was talking in more general terms. However, both Jervis and I come from a gaming background where it was not only reasonable but entirely normal for gamers to be told to sort it out for themselves. Here are some guidelines, now off you go. Maybe it’s a bad thing, maybe a good one – but it’s a thing nonetheless. Is it appropriate for someone to be that way for a game as large and popular as Warhammer when the audience is generally from a different era? Not sure.
I’ll stick with ancient battles as medieval isn’t really my sphere of knowledge. Ancient battles didn’t have an arbitrary turn limit that prevented you from driving home a hard won advantage. If a battle ended indecisively (which they rarely did) then you had the option of coming back and finishing things off a day or two later (Phillipi). A game like Field of Glory is able to do a much better job of mapping actual victory conditions as in that game both armies fight until one of them flees the battle field. VP’s are a much more artificial way of judging a winner based around who did more damage* (especially in 8th ed which no longer has VP’s for table quarters). In that respect, and given that WFB is an individuals-in-units wargame rather than a unit-based one (DBM, FoG, Hail Caesar, Impetus etc.), and with the introduction of mass units of infantry which are very hard to kill to the last man, especially ones which don’t break easily, then the killing of individual models should be taken into account when determining who did more. I think there’s a case to be made for 1/4 units when determining victory but that will largely come down to how much book keeping you want to do.
All of that aside, the more important point, is that it doesn’t pass the eye test, at least for us. When you look at the battlefield at the end of a game and use both systems to determing a winner the half-VP one has always done the job better. And yes, I do think there’s a lot more to be said for killing 39 out of 40 goblins than 29 out of 60.
*which is itself a poor way of determining a winner of an ancient battle as casualties tended to be low on both sides. It’s been estimated that Classical Greek hoplite warfare averaged 5% casualties for the winners and 14% for the losers (reference Peter Krentz who collated information from Greek historians’ accounts of battles between 472 and 371 BCE). The enormous casualties suffered by Pyrrus in his first two battles against Rome (that gave us the term “pyrric victory”) were at most only 50% and probably a fair bit less. Battles like Cannae, Carrhae and Chaeronea (the Sulla one) were very much the exception. All of which is a long-winded way of saying that VP’s for casualties is a very unhistorical way of determining a winner, especially in a game that lets each side fight it out to the last man.
That turned out to be a much longer post than I intended :s
*Assuming, of course, that you imagine that “killed” means dead and not fled, injured, helping wounded mates to the rear, etc. Lots of those that are lost to their unit in the heat of battle turn up later. At least, in every period I have read about for which there is any sort of decent detailed accounts this is true and I suspect humans were much the same in the gaps as well.
You are entirely right that the actual body count is very low historically, and that counting the dead is not a convincing way of showing real winning. However, I’m inclined to say that it’s the turn limit which is the real problem here. It’s a bit of a pet peeve of mine, and was when I worked on 6th too. Couldn’t get it changed then either 😦
Whether a game uses elements or individuals is something of a red herring. If it allows the players to fight the battle to a proper conclusion (which Warhammer’s turn limit often doesn’t) then element/individual is irrelevant.
All that aside, what really matters is what looks right to you: your “eye test”. At the end of the day you’re playing with your mates, and that’s the audience it has to convince. Personally I thought FoG was a huge retrograde step from DBA, but that’s just me. They both, however, play to a convincing conclusion far more often than Warhammer though 😉
I don’t take casualties to mean fled or helping others, just dead and wounded beyond the ability to fight. Of course I appreciate I didn’t design the game and I’m speaking with someone who once did lol
I understand why WFB has a turn limit but I think we’re in agreement that it’s one of the biggest impediments to an effective resolution system. At least it’s not 4 turns anymore.
Taking the model off the table means to me that it is, to use the man’s phrase, “combat ineffective”. That could be any number of things, but the detail of why is not as important as the effect of him being so.
And we are indeed in agreement on the turn limit issue. I try to avoid them unless there is a background imperative (overwhelming enemy reinforcements arriving in 30 minutes, time bomb ticking down, etc).
I don’t agree Jake. Jervis and GW provided a set of rules that are supposed to govern how we as hobbyists play the game. It’s all very well and good saying it’s “your hobby, play how you want to” but the reality is we often play people we don’t know in this hobby and the rules are supposed to give us a common language. When that common language is difficult to understand or ambiguous then its up to those who provide the rules to change that, and put it right. It was a total abdication of responsibility and a tad cowardly. My number 1 gripe? Would be the already aforementioned magic. Although if you take that out of the equation many of the other problems would subside somewhat. The large blocks of troops causes my ire to rise the most I guess mainly because of steadfast. Hmm so many things I guess picking the top 3 would be difficult…
1) Pre-measuring – random charges negate it people say. Bollocks I say my Dark Elf repeater cross bows aren’t random!
2) Magic – so many of the games other ills are a direct consequence of how stupidly powerful magic now is.
3) The army books – Sorry GW, but if you are going to make such a major over haul of the game system as you did, then realistically you needed to bring out a ravaging hordes book and change all the rules to all the armies at the same time you dimwits! Or better yet stick it in your fecking massive rulebook instead of all those awful jokes and shitty hobby articles that no one and I mean NO ONE read!!!! ARGGGGGGGHHHHH… rage mode on!!! 😛
4) It now takes too long to play! Last club night before Christmas I’d played a game of Infinity, a game of Malifaux and did an intro of Bushido all in the time it took the table next to me to start turn 2 of their 3000pts WFB game. laughable. I then played another game of Infinity had a rest. They never did finish the game…
Oh bugger that’s four, but I could go on and on. The game just isn’t internally consistent with itself. On the one had we have ranged attacks being certain, while charges and infantry movement isn’t. Heh? You what? It’s just a horrid hodge podge of a game and a total mess. I better stop. I’m a systems analyst and when I looked at the rules to 8th within 3 hours I’d written down the things people were likely to gripe about. I’d also written down what sort of armies we’d see, I plonked it in an envelope and sealed it. Took it out 6 months later and bingo, my predictions were right. I have to be honest it did make me feel a little bit smug in front of my friends! But then again any half competent gamer saw the same issues almost straight away.
@ FG – I’m probably not expressing myself clearly enough regarding Jerv’s comment. My excuse is that I went out for 2 hours and came back to 30 comments to read (and I really should be working). I’ll come back to it another time so you can disagree with me at length ;P
As to your 3 gripes, I’m intrigued that you place pre-measing first. I’m part way through a post on that as it’s arecurring theme, and have been thinking quite a lot about how it works (or doesn’t) and what it means.
Magic is a recurring complaint, especially the wild variability and generally killyness of it.
The army book problem is one that comes back with every edition. I have fond memories of writing the Ravening Hordes book for 6th with Alessio. I think that is a better model than patching on patches, which is what seems to happen now.
In terms of time, 40K seems to suffer a similar problem, and the guys at the club seem to run out of time more often than they finish. Someone can pipe up and tell me otherwise, but it seems that way from outside. Lots of “what would have happened if we had another turn” sort of discussions. That’s fine if they’re happy, but I like games to come to a conclusion on the tabletop.
On a side note, I’m very much looking forward (with some trepidation) to reading your scathing reviews of my tabletop games when they’re published. See how many mistakes I made. At least they don’t have pre-measuring in 😉
PS. I also don’t like the fact that now before you play a game of WFB you have to enter protracted contract negotiations about which FAQs you’ll use and not use. Which uniots get comped or not comped, whether Teclis is allowed etc. etc. etc. oh and do we ban mind razor and dwellers. You both need legal representation before playing the chuffing thing. Why bother? there are way better more fun games out there.
That´s why I am really a sucker for KoW`s Nerve-test, It approaches the problem in a simple way and solves it more often than not.
Regarding designers: As much as as we admire the designers as the ultimate rule-masters…
… sadly they are not!
Quite often the business side rampages through carefully designed rules or changes them because they do not understand the long-term plan. Business often wants quick solutions, that can be measured in money. The designers craft the rules, but the final say is with the bosses. One of the reason some designers left GW, was because they got frustrated by this. And I salute Jervis for staying that long. Battlefront, Rackham, Privateer Press, Warlord Games, Mantic, etc. were/are all former GW-staff that left because they realized that their vision for the game was not shared by the management. Battlefront even offered FoW to GW back then and it got rejected. Chambers SST, was originally intended as 3rd edition 40K. And some stuff from WHFB/40K that never made it into the most recent editions went into Warpath and Kings of War.
That’s true to an extent, and it can be very frustrating. However, when you work for someone they get to call the shots, and this is as true in gaming as it is in anything else.
The problem for me is the ground rules being changed part way through a project (which is just unprofessional), and luckily I don’t have this problem with my current clients.
What I mean is this. If you are told that you can have a certain number of new models per army, or pages in a book or card in a game at the start then you write that into the brief and work accordingly. If they change it half way through then it can upset the whole balance of the piece as you have planned (on their say so) to do something else. Restrictions at the start are actually a help rather than a hindrance, and are often what forms the basis of the most intriguing mental challenges.
Changes and restrictions which appear in the middle of a project are always a pain.
As to being the ultimate rule-masters, I don’t think that’s what you’d call most management (and not always the designer either). Apart from saying that such-and-such a model needs to be really good so it sells well, they rarely interfere in the detail (in my experience). Not if they have any competence or professionalism at all. Sure they have opinions, and that’s fine. But the competent ones will let you get on with what they pay you to do, which is the design. Maybe that’s just me being bolshy, or maybe it’s me insisting on an agreed brief in advance, but management/business interference hasn’t really been an issue for me.
Of course there have been times when I’d have liked more models in a range or pages in a book, but you learn to find other ways round restrictions, and as I said – if you know in advance they’re not an issue.
As to why all these people left GW, I’d debate the difference of vision angle. Perhaps that was true of Andy C, but I doubt a difference of opinion on the design of a game was the cause of Warlord’s bosses’ departure. Different marketing strategies, perhaps. But design? The truth is that I don’t know the details, nor really care to delve into John and Paul’s personal affairs in that way. But insofar as they reflect on GW’s game design, I think it’s very rare that they do. Far more common is people being removed for other reasons (waves of redundancies are a GW classic), and then continuing in the field of business they know most about.
Like I did 🙂
Another slightly out of sync reply, sorry:
“However, both Jervis and I come from a gaming background where it was not only reasonable but entirely normal for gamers to be told to sort it out for themselves. Here are some guidelines, now off you go. Maybe it’s a bad thing, maybe a good one – but it’s a thing nonetheless. Is it appropriate for someone to be that way for a game as large and popular as Warhammer when the audience is generally from a different era? Not sure.”
I have no issues with playing homebrew rules, unbalanced scenarios, tinkering with the game etc (I’m second run of the Citadel Journal era after-all 😉 ), but even I want the base to be “solid”. If I turn up to an event I want to get on with playing without having to have a pre-game phase where me and my opponent discuss/argue/already don’t feel quite satisfied with our game “negotiating” the rules that we play by, or having to read a small novel that the organisers have prepared in order for everyone to get down and have their version of fun (whether it be trying to stomp as much face as possible or just throw some dice.
(Yeah, the whole GW/FW “is it legal?” saga has given me a right bugbear about companies not recognising their influence within the social sphere and how it can effect their customers).
Rules at tournaments need to be clearly defined and understood by all. That’s a given. However, I would suggest that 98%+ of games are not played at tournaments, but within small groups of friends. That is a very different gaming atmosphere and allows for much more mutability and experimentation without upsetting any apple carts.
I totally agree with you!
A recent project you also write about on this blog had some restrictions but also some changes during design. The company being very unexperienced when it comes to TT it was understandable that they acted like this and when you explained to them what this and this would do and why better not to do this they were understanding. That´s the way I like to work and though not both sides might get all their ideas through it is still a satisfying one, since both sides have their triumphs and the final product is a good compromise.
I also discovered that I am one of the rare individuals in the business that has no problems walking on the creative and business side and combining the best of both worlds. One of my clients was a little but surprised hearing from a creative guy the question: “Why don t we write more of the products with the highest net-return into the lists. Since it made sense rules-wise and from a financial PoV it was natural for me to suggest such a thing. In the end: Better sales mean also more follow-up products to work on for me. 😉
Sometimes basic rules need to be changed if the lead into a dead-end. And it is always hard to let a pet of yours go. But from what I know GW management sometimes goes way beyond this.
Definitly it was not an issue of design with most of them, I only had them in my list of the guys whose visions regarding TT was no longer the same as GW´s.
But from personal contact with quite some guys of the rest of the companies I do know that rules design was one of the straws that make brake the camels back.
My God, that thing is huge! 😮
8th ed is flawed but so was 7th. Our High Elf player won’t play Teclis at the gaming table anymore after he single-handedly wiped out a Skaven army but that’s been the only real issue. The horde unit may require you to buy bigger units but in terms of gameplay they’ve greatly improved things. Elite M4 infantry had rings ran round it in 7th edition but the horde unit makes them a real factor now. Worth the trade-off IMO.
IMO the special characters are always off, since they need extra snazzy rules to sell the pretty models. Teclis is a case in point. He’s the inventor of the colours of magic, teaching magic to men, been around for ten millenia or so, knows more magic in his little finger than anybody else, and he regularly turns out for small skirmishes with around 100 blokes aside. That would be like Rommel and Montogomery personally taking part in every little platoon action in El Alamein…
What’s good about the horde rule is that it gives those non-elite figures something to do too!
The Teclis-as-Rommel comparison made me smile, though it was probably more Rommel in a flouncy dress riding a dragon that did it 😉
Teclis is more of a Beowulf type hero than a Rommel type. It’s a class of hero that is more celebrated in fiction than history, though there are some there too. The heroes of the Iliad, for example, fight in the front rank of often very small engagements. It’s the difference between a leader that gets stuck in and leads from the front compared to one that commands from the rear. Both styles have advantages, but in fantasy games you rarely see the latter.
As I worked on 6th, I’ll just assume that edition was perfect and they’ve broken it since I left 😛
I may have left that out intentionally ;).
6th ed is actually the only one I’ve never played. 5th ed killed WFB for me for a few years and it was just into 7th when I started again. I find it hard to believe 6th wasn’t a vast improvement on 5th. 1st is comfortably the worst though that isn’t exactly fair on it.
In my opinion 3rd edition was best. But that magic system was broken too, although it had loads of flavour. Man, parasitic rune, 25 points. For every wound you make you can increase one of your stats one step, up to a maximum of 10. Incredibly overpowered, incredibly fun 🙂
3rd has always had a following, and if you find people playing old editions it’s usually this one. I think this is simply because it was the odd one out. 4th really follows on from 2nd, not 3rd. It was, in a development sense, an aberration, but one full of detail and character.
Started with 2nd/3rd and left with 5th and only Half-returned with KoW-Undead in some way ;).
I really do miss the little funny margin illustrations…..
I remember Dave G coming in with them. If I remember right we ran then in White Dwarf as a kind of trial. That was a whole slapstick approach that isn’t nearly grim and dark enough for GW these days.
Yep, they showed up first in the WD.
I still like the one with the Greif “fondling” the back of the Bretonian horse best. There is so much story in this little drawing.
Some of them do reward a close look. There are all sorts of oddities going on in the backgrounds…
I started Warhammer just after 4th was released and 8th is my favourite edition by a long way. But if you’re looking for gripes:
Magic: too random, scales badly – but then IMO Warhammer has never had a magic system I would even consider “good”, so it was just something I was expecting to put up with again.
War Machines: too accurate, Bolt Throwers in particular are totally outclassed by WMs that use the Scatter and/or Artillery dice.
Special Rules: too many of them, and it’s ruining 40k for me as well.
TBH I’ve started writing my own “Kings of Warhammer”, which merges together the elements of the two games I like.
I’m “looking for gripes” only insofar as I’m curious about the general take on what’s “broken”. It’s me not being involved in the community any more that makes it easier for me to ask you guys than do weeks of trawling (and ending up asking anyway).
Maybe I’ll agree with your gripes, perhaps I’ll think they’re the best idea ever. Who knows?
I’m intrigued by your comment on the magic system. Why do you think that Warhammer magic so bad, and which game has a significantly better one? Surely not KOW (which barely has one).
Hm… not sure it’s broken, but it’s more powerful. Maybe too powerful. I had Teclis Total Power something nasty on my big block of dwarves with my Battle Standard Bearer AND runesmith in. They had loads of protective runes, none of which work against total power.
Now total power can induce a demon attack, but High Elves have some spell which makes them immune to those on 2+. So they always cast that one spell first, then rock on without any worries. In this case the spell cast (don’t remember the name) made each figure in the unit roll below toughness or die, regardless of wounds or armour. Against T4 that’s 50% chance. Predictably, about half the unit died, including the Battle Standard Bearer.
What was annoying was that I couldn’t do anything about it. But I haven’t played enough games to work out if magic is overpowered or not. I mean, those wizards cost a lot of points, are they worth it? In this particular battle I actually managed a partial victory by killing off enough units in the last round, very much to my own surprise.
Actually I like the approach of KoW to handle magic as distance weapons, though it still needs quite some improvement.
I find it utterly characterless and dull. I want my games to tell a story, and this doesn’t. But then the more I think about it, the more I think that Alessio and I come from different ends of a particular spectrum.
Well, I would prefer it to be a little bit mor flourishid out, but I like the basic mechanism. On the other hand Alessio and Me seem to have a rather similar KISS-approach when it comes to magic.
It is simple, but then how simple is simplistic is always a judgement call.
Sorry, another not quite in-sync reply:
@Leif Laffe Eriksson: something doesn’t have to be broken for it not to be fun. I don’t particularly think Jaws of the World Wolf or Dante’s Death Mask in 40k are broken, but they are things I know if I see them in an opposing list it’s going to spoil the game for me.
6th Ed – I don’t remember the specific issues, but Gav T issued a set of trial rules in WD towards the end of the edition to experiment with a method of overcoming them.
7th Ed – dice spam armies + tools that gave you much more reliability
8th Ed – too random, too risky, some spells aren’t fun to play against
My memory of the card system in 4th is a bit hazy TBH, but certainly 5th had some nasty rules combos (eg Forbidden Rod) that just weren’t cricket.
In all cases, whilst I know it’s a fantasy game and magic is a key part of that, I don’t enjoy playing what is effectively a side-game every turn, I can go and take up MtG again for that!
And I think that really comes to the crux of the issue: the basic system is so random and erratic that once you grab a few rules (items, character abilities, whatever) that give a player a measure of control over it then any balance that might have existed in the base system just gets trampled over.
My experience of other systems is probably quite limited and I don’t feel I’ve played a magic system in what I have tried that does grab me, but what I do like about KoW, Malifaux and also 40k late 4th Ed/early 5th Ed is that the powers integrate much more closely with the rules for doing similar actions which aren’t driven by magic. A Fireball is a shooting attack, I don’t need a 10+ page system for shooting someone when there’s already shooting rules.
@Jake (starter set):
IoB is a bad starter set, unbalanced armies, mini-rulebook does little to “sell” the game’s IP to new players and no quick-start set. Though I guess since mine came with an errata card it at least gets new players realistic about their future GW experience 😉
@Jake (win conditions – from further up):
Would be interesting to see a longer ramble about different ways of ending games other than a turn limit if you have enough material floating around in your head
Magic – the principle of it – I don’t think of it as any more of a side game than rolling shooting. It’s simply the mechanism by which that particular unit (wizard) has a game effect.
Whether the Warhammer system is inherently flawed because of the way it’s constructed is another issue, and one I’m not able to comment on. I’d need to spend a great deal more than I am willing to to get all the current army books to really get my head around all the ins and outs.
The reason why I would argue for a different system for magic in many cases is that using the KOW model (as an example we both know) is so utterly bland and tedious. It makes magic no more than another shooting attack. HOTT does the same. Dull, dull, dull. No life, no majesty, no colour, no character, indeed: no magic. Of course, if you don’t care about the game telling a story, then that doesn’t matter.
Starter set – oooo you cynic 😛
Win conditions – it’s on a long list of things to post 🙂
I can’t tell if my “sub-game” comment came across as intended. I wouldn’t consider the WH shooting or CC phases as sub-games because they essentially work the same way, but with magic there’s a whole other to-ing-and-fro-ing between players, a whole other set of rules interactions etc etc and for me it just doesn’t “fit”. From a story-telling point of view I’ve never really felt it works because once you’re finished with counting dice, reading spell effects etc you’ve got too bogged down in the process.
I’m not holding KoW up as a shining beacon of magic system. The point I was making is that there’s no need to have a totally different system for “generating” magical effects. Now, ofc wanting more variation in the actual “outcome”, in the same way that, say, missile weapons are all slightly different, is fine, and indeed encouraged 😉
But TBH I don’t think KoW is a good example for discussion even if it is our common ground because all the spells that exist lend themselves to being resolved as a shooting attack within the context of the mechanics of that game system.
In fact, as I originally read your response in e-mail notification on my commute home from the office, I’ve mentally drafted some WH house rules to use the 40k system in 8th edition (Ld test modified by magic level, difficulty of spell and ancillary adjustments to the way magic items work…. I’ll probably drop it into my Kings of Warhammer house rules that combines what are IMO the most enjoyable parts of both systems.
On a side, though related note, if I gained access to both a gun and the ability to shoot lightning from my fingers in real life, I don’t think there’d be significant differences in how I actually went about trying to hit a target (fellow commuters, say) with either of them 😉
I think that one of the major issues I have with systems that use this KOW/HOTT style approach is that they tend to crowbar everything into one process. This reduces the entirety of all possible magics to a shooting attack with a variable effect, which IMO is dull and characterless.
What I would suggest is that you have a magic system that replicates shooting attacks (or whatever) where appropriate, but which allows enough flexibility for it to do more evocative and, well, magical things too.
Warhammer’s current dice system is not very characterful either, and can distract as you say. Personally I preferred the old card based system as it carried a lot of colour and evocative language, as well as drama during play. Incidentally, since someone asked about design decisions that were overridden by commercial ones, that’s a good example. The Warhammer card based magic system wasn’t broken, it was replaced by a dice system to avoid having to print card decks in different languages. From a commercial perspective this was understandable. From a game POV I continue to believe that it was a mistake.*
*Note that I don’t think that this system was without its problems, exploits or “broken” spells. It was, however, full of character and drama in a way that the dice system tries (and fails) to replicate.
Good stuff Quirkworthy! So pleased that you’ve finally going to dip your toe in 8th. I’m a great fan of Warhammer Fantasy, and 8th edition is my absolute favourite. The best way to play 8th in my opinion is to take it easy, have a laugh and not take it so seriously. Have the odd beer, tea or whatever your poison and you’ll have an absolute blast. The support for 8th amongst the gaming community is slowly growing as more and more gamers are realising what a cracking game it really is.
Saying that, the Island of Blood set is rather uneven in terms of the armies you get inside. The Skaven army is rather quite small and ill-eqipped to take on the High Elf force. An extra box of clanrats and rat ogres are needed to give the Skaven units (an army based on hoards) a half decent chance against the High Elf Swordmasters (one of the best units in the whole game) and the Lord on a Griffon (the beast causes terror which can send the whole Skaven force running off the table without you killing a single ratman). To be honest I don’t think the 8th edition starter set is very good at all for new gamers as it contains no easy-to-play rules, scenarios, play aids or rules for the soldiers you get in the box. You can get rules for the Island of Blood units but only if you fish around for them on the GW site. Nevertheless, the miniatures you get inside are wonderfully sculpted.
Anyway, hope you have fun Quirkworthy. Happy Battles!! Go give those arrogant High Elves a damned good thrashing.
This is something I noticed: there doesn’t seem to be an army list for what you get in the box. To me, that’s a major failing for a “starter set”.
My first impression of the “Read This First” book is of a big advert to spend more, not a help in actually starting. Where are my army lists? I mean, you know what I’ve got cos it comes on the sprues. I’ve just got this for Christmas and want to play. I’ve got rules for moving and shooting and so on, but where are the stats for all my models? Oh, hidden right at the back, and listed generically rather than as an army list for what I actually have.
One point in the “con” column so far. If I’d just got this for my son and was trying to teach him I’d be a long way from impressed. This is especially so when compared to things like Heroica, which actually helps you to play.
That was a huge issue when the box came out and all agreed that it is a good army deal, but not a real starter.
For my taste I would have to invest too much to get started with it and just consider it as beer&pretzels-game. That’s why I got me a huge Undead army for KoW and organize gentelmen-style tournaments ;). And most of my friends shae this view.
I actually do have two big Tau (quite some FW stuff) and Elysian armies and probably will use Warpath as a vehicle to play them once again.
I’m not sure, but I think the current two boxed sets are more aimed at the gamer already into Warhammer than to new players, at least more than the previous two sets. In 40k at least, the previous boxed set had a scenario book with progressingly more complex scenarios forming a mini-campaign using the miniatures in the box. There was even some terrain and a special mini — the crashed shuttle and pilot — to use. In the current boxed set there are more miniatures, some which are only available in the boxed set,like the plastic ork ‘copters, but no scenarios or anything to get you going. Yes, there’s a read-me first booklet, but that’s it.
Sort of they actually expect old gamers to buy the sets to start new armies.
It can’t be a good business plan to aim your starter sets at existing customers, can it? Not unless you do something to attract new business. And GW don’t seem to be doing much to that end other than maintaining their chain of stores.
This is a tough one QW and no mistake! I have to agree with Mr FG that I am all 8th edition ranted out as well… still…
From my vantage point we have played since 4th edition but really only had “proper” armies since 6th edition. Can is say barring the original Lore of Heavens 6th edition was damn near perfect I believe (I may be wrong) but it was the first time we had lists for every race – the world expanded, supplements, global campaigns it was all ours for the taking!
Then 7th edition came along and it made me bleed despair. We had the start of the justification of rule changes blatantly because, it looked right, ranks expanded from 4 to 5 the psychology rules all changed in a way that no one ever got a handle on them. Maybe if you were new to Warhammer then 7th would have been great but it was like every rule changed in a subtle way that was impossible to get your head around the changes as they weren’t clearly identified until someone pulled you up on them!
Then 40K had 5th edition and after avoiding 4th edition 40K it was a breath of fresh idea. I know a lot of detractors still for this system but really in terms of playability we found it the easiest to get back to – every-time we got stuck shock horror we found the answer in the rule book! So we were really gagging for 8th edition believing it would be clearer, better communication and a hard-cover!
Well one out of three isn’t bad right?
But wait there’s more! Hey don’t go! Oh well where was I…
So we GW sheeple lined up they took our cash and the first thing I notice is sticky taped note telling me the victory point table was incorrect (I assume this was fixed in later printings)
Anyway I will cut this short before the next infant feed session! Like other commentators started for every good change there is another that negates it. The whole game is infuriating like that you can see the shape of a good game but it isn’t allowed to be voiced. It has the styling of a newer system bodged with the trappings of old they upscaled everything but by sticking to the same formula designed for 50-100 models it doesnt wok for 80-250 models you just end up playing who has the best mass removal technique versus who has the most ablative wounds.
I mean games of 40k have gotten bigger but at least i feel like my models are still engaged in the game.
There is a lot to admire in the new system, there is! And we played it consistently for 8 months but now when we decide to game we get out the Dwarfs and Dark Elves and we play Kings of War.
That´s also my problem with 8th. You really can see where Alessio and Co had their moments of brilliance and where they had to retreat. There is so much shiny under the surface, but there is this crusty old shell you can`t get off.
From what I know never before has a WHFB core rules book been sold in greater numbers, but ironically neber before have more stopped playing it and looking for alternatives.
@minitrol, yeah I think that’s where I’m at. WFB is like staring at a half finished jigsaw puzzle that you know you can never finish because the bloody dog ate a couple of pieces. 8th feels half finished and as such has the internal consistency problems I touched on.
@Andre Winter, that is so true!!! I go round to friends houses and see them used as paper weights and all sorts… but never to play the game. I’d love to know where this WFB revival is happening as well because it’s not happening round by me. We’re actually getting more and more leave every day. I’d honestly struggle to get a game of it in now, even if I wanted to.
Warhammer had a really big resurgence here but there was an 8(ish) month gap between the rule book and the first new army book and many people thrashed out by then what they liked and didn’t and as no new army books left to play Imperial Guard (no really).
@ Minitrol – very nicely put. I do like your “7th edition came along and it made me bleed despair”. Very evocative. Regarding the correction on the VPs, the little rulebook in the copy of Island of Blood I just got given has a shiny errata sheet in it correcting the VPs, so no second print corrections there yet.
I’m sure Ronnie & Alessio will be pleased to hear of your conversion to KOW 🙂
I bet there bank manager is just as pleased! Mantic certainly don’t do everything right either but 8th has me feeling a little deceived. Over promised and under delivered.
KOW definitely needs some major re-work again but even left as is I would still play it because it is easy!
In saying that our next tournie is March and will likely enter the Warhammer again as I still enjoy playing against 6-8 different armies and knowing the games cant take more than 2.5 hours : )
Nah, major rework is not needed only some fine tuning here and there when it comes to the rules and als the adding of some modules that are still missing from the rules.
But Mantic definitly needs to iron out some production/sales issues…
“But Mantic definitly needs to iron out some production/sales issues…”
@Andre… I’m intrigued, tell me more 🙂
@Andre (don’t know why you can’t always respond directly to people here?)
The new lists were clearly written over a fortnight or two and barely tested there are holes I can drive an 82 Valiant through…
The actual rules themselves I guess to be clear are okay. A bit more interaction would be nice but then Alessio would have to abandon his baby (murder his darling eh) of timed games. I still think they missed an opportunity by alluding to orders but we are limited to Halt, Advance Shoot Charge
@ MInitrol – why can’t you always reply to a specific comment? The number of levels of nested comments (what gives you a reply button under a post or not) is something I have to set. For most threads, the default 3 has been sufficient. However, with complex and very long threads like this it may not always be enough, so I made it 4 instead. It may still need to go up, but I’m balancing the issue of how narrow a column the right hand comment becomes. Every comment is indented further, and there is plainly a limit to how far that can be done on this page layout and with some resolutions/font sizes. The site looks different on each machine I see it on (and completely different on mobiles), so I don’t want to break it on a format I can’t regularly see. If you see what I mean.
I have to agree with Minitrol, whilst the base rules are mostly very functional, the new set of 8 army lists present themselves as poorly tested.
I don’t agree that the interaction darling is worth murdering in this particular game, it is an IGOUGO game so I see little to be gained in terms of interaction anyway. If he wants to murder a darling it should be the army-wide special rules now that lists have included associated races is starting to make a mockery of the idea, if he wants to keep it he should take a leaf out of Legions of Middle Earth and dump things like Gargoyles into an “Evil Monsters” list.
Also, the points system is very weak. When I first started playing I thought the difference in points between unit sizes made no sense, and I’ve since built two different spreadsheets models to look at it (one regression analysis, one based on comparing every unit’s effectiveness to an Elf Bowman Troop) and they agree with my initial assessment.
It might be my expectations then ; )
Can you reply to every comment? I can only reply to the first comment in each “chain” – it ends up at the bottom but its when I am posting I am never sure how its going to look.
@ Minitrol – read my reply on comments and replies above.
@ Minitrol & Sam – whilst I personally don’t much like the strict IGOUGO turn system of KOW, it’s built in at the core, and so I would leave it as it is. Fiddling with such a key design principle really means that you want to play a different game, based on different principles, so I’d do that rather than mess with what you have. Of course, Sam said he’d already built his Frankengame out of bits from KOW and WH 😉
Can’t say I’m very surprised that your analysis of the points shows them to be a bit squiffy.
@ Quirkworthy Got it now.
“@ Minitrol & Sam – whilst I personally don’t much like the strict IGOUGO turn system of KOW, it’s built in at the core, and so I would leave it as it is”
No I agree with that. Change it and it’s not the same game. I meant by making it clear you have to order a unit to complete an action which is the whole essence of his champions/sergeants as godheads then this could be expanded. For example in the move phase with At the Double, Advance, Charge you could Entrench to disregard the first damage marker received and so on could add a level of tactics like piquet I feel is missing currently.
I see what you mean. A bit more like Warmachine with rules for shieldwall, etc? That would work. It’s a very simple system as it stands: both an advantage and a disadvantage.
I honestly think all in all 8th is a perfectly good or “fine” edition. There are annoyances such as the randomness of magic, the damage done to skirmishers, and the pointlessness of trying to charge first. But there are good things like hoards, the attempt to reign in magic items, shooting in two ranks and so forth.
Some rules are like marmite. For example the weakening of ‘fear’ means it’s not very effective, however it also means undead armies can take a point drop meaning more skeletons on the battlefield (also sells more models… but then it makes sense at the same time). This might be why Vampire Counts are about to be re-released despite a very recent armies book.
As a Starter Set the box fails. It delivers a lot of fantastic miniatures to paint but not that great a battle. The price, of course, is the most harmful thing. Why would you spend towards £100 on a starter set for a game you may or may not like? It baffles.
I don’t think people are moving away from Warhammer due to the 8th, a lot of people think it is one of the better editions. I think people are moving away simply because they’ve been priced out of gaming full time. Who can afford £18 for ten plastic ork warriors? Or £15.50 for 10 empire soldiers? A hoard of 40 empire soldiers will put you back £62…. the cost of the starter set!
As great as finecast is, and I think it’s a superb material when you get it without defects (I’ve been lucky here!), the cost is simply too high for most of the their models. I think it’s inaccurate to say finecast only appeared to cost more than metal, as it came with the annual price hike. GW’s price hikes are more or less arbitrary. They pick and choose which items go up in price. They made the decision to put the price “up” on finecast – note the metal equivalents are not as expensive. This was a deathblow I think. Many people can’t afford to play the game. I don’t think it’s 8th editions fault.
If you’re right that it’s simply cost that is driving people away from Warhammer, then 8th must carry some of the blame as it’s clearly aimed at a higher model count (and therefore higher cost). Now it may be that you can play it at the same size you used to, but that’s plainly not where they’re aiming it. See the comments on WD articles, battle report army sizes, etc. It may be that it’s not so much to do with 8th in a game design sense, but in a management (who wrote the design brief) and marketing sense.
And before people make a final call on how brilliant FInecast is, let’s see how it does in a nice hot summer. I’m told that 32 degrees is the key temperature here.
I left some finecast sprues in direct sunlight on a blue cloth …. no bending etc but.. it turned blue.
Yes, you make quite a scary point. I’ll be sure to put all finecast in the fridge come the summer. GW screwed me over with the cost, i’ll not be screwed a second time! < famous last words
I wonder if you can turn it any colour if you have the right cloth. Perhaps if you put it on a photo of the studio’s painted model and leave it in direct sunlight then it will magically paint itself 😉
The problems facing Warhammer 8th are three things: prices, marketing and the starter set. The product – the actual game – is very good. Admittedly not to everyone’s liking but there is a sizable community that is forever growing that enjoys 8th as a game system. What frustrates me a fan is that 8th edition in terms of popularity and expansion is constantly facing an uphill struggle, much of which is GWs own making.
Firstly the price increases in the summer also came with the reorganisation of many box sets. For example, before this year I could buy 16 Orcs for around £15-£18. Now it is 10 Orcs for that much. It is £25 for just 10 Black Orcs. But anyone who plays Warhammer will know, orcs need to be in units of 20+ to have any chance of being effective in battle. So before you’ve even started there is a massive price barrier to overcome.
Secondly, marketing of Fantasy, as already pointed out, is always focused on big battles. On the GW website and in White Dwarf all battles and example army lists are generally over 2,500 points. As a result many gamers assume you can only play 8th edition properly with large armies that cost enormous amounts of money with a heavy commitment on the pocket. During a recession that assumption is rather quite damaging. Yet Warhammer 8th can be easily played and enjoyed with smaller armies in lower point battles but this has never been expressed in any of GW articles or promotional materials. It hasn’t even been expressed in the starter set! Warhammer 8th fans are so put out by GW’s lack of support for smaller introductory games that they’ve even started writing their own rules and scenarios!
Which brings me to my third point, the starter set is an absolute liability. If anything I’d point it out to any marketing executive working for a gaming company as an example of how NOT to make a starter set. The starter set is a crucial tool as a means to market the product to new customers: the lifeblood of the business!!!. All the crucial elements needed in a starter set to help ease new comers into the game are absent. Play aids, easy play starter rules and quick scenarios have all been replaced with a booklet that is essentially nothing more than a glossy advert. This starter booklet then points you to the small rulebook to get your rules where you find only the most basic stat lines…in a grid. To get the most out of your new models you need to buy the individual army books that are £20 a pop. Wow, what an excitement killer!
So as a 8th edition fan I’m not surprised by the lack enthusiasm for the game because GW make it so bloody hard for anyone new to like it. And I find it enormously frustrating because the game is really good, the best it has been and so much work has gone into the production of the books and miniatures. But due to the reasons already expressed, the only people committed to it are those who already own old Warhammer armies from previous editions. A great shame!
Thanks Mike. It seems that we’re getting an interesting sort of consensus here. Putting aside the quality of the game itself once you have it on the table and know what you’re doing (a question about which we have 2 clear camps), we are left with a general agreement. Warhammer 8th seems to be suffering in popularity, and that suffering is GW’s doing. The root cause is not the economy, not GW’s competition and not the changes in the game, though these all contribute, but the way in which GW treats its customers and presents its products.
If you aren’t a fan of the game then this provides you with ammunition to point at a declining interest and say I told you so. On the other hand, if this is the best edition ever (as a few have said), then that leaves its fans with a problem. If past experience is anything to go by, petitioning GW directly is a futile gesture, so that leaves you – the fans of 8th. If you want something doing you’ll have to do it yourself. So step up now. Who’s going to step up to promote GW’s product for them?
Despite any issues with the suitability of IoB itself as an introduction to the game I think that between the existing players and the shops there’s enough support for it not to be an issue. Our group has picked up a couple of players brand new to wargaming with no issues.
Price is the bigger barrier and I’d encourage any player, new or old, to be creative with their approach. I’ve just used an Amazon voucher I got for xmas to get 40 Celts and 44 30YW Imperial pike and musket, both from WG, for a total of £30. As well as hitting the table for what they were intended I’ll use the former as Chaos Marauders and the latter as Empire units. Then there’s obviously Mantic too. I’d tell them pick up a copy of the rulebook that comes in IoB offa ebay which they could get for £15-20. Make very good use of ebay and forums for buying your GW minis. I recently purchased a Beast of Nurgle and a Fiend of Slaanesh from someone on a forum for £12, less than half their retail price.
If you want to play WFB then it can be done without needing a second mortgage. Of course, buying second hand or from alternate retailers will hit GW’s sales but as far as I’m concerned that can only be a good thing as it’ll force them to re-evaluate their pricing policy.
New recruits to a game have always been inducted by veteran players, and in GW’s case by their stores. I have no doubt this will continue. However, these being true does not reduce the impact of a lack in other regards. WD used to be a better training ground, and the getting started bits of their starter sets used to actually help that too. Not every potential customer has access to a veteran group or a store to teach him, especially outside the UK.
Ebay, online retailers and other routes to cheaper gaming are a sensible approach for everyone in whatever they play. It’s perhaps more obvious for GW as a whole army costs so much more than most, but the principle applies across the board.
That´s what really causes me to shake my head… In our GW and some others too, veterans are asked to leave the store if they show up three times and do not buy something. Sometimes they are even asked to only come back when they really want to buy something.
That’s how to encourage your customer base and build loyalty.
@Andre…. I regularly visit two of my local stores and I’ve never experienced that so it can’t be company policy. I don’t even get the hard sell anymore off some of the staff when I pop in. Whoever is responsible for the decision it is atrocious customer service.
With regards to WD, I’d tell any new player never to buy it (barring the rare issue that actually has something useful in). There’s nothing the magazine could do to help the new player that the internet can’t and if you have no local store or veteran gamers then the internet is far more useful to you than WD ever could be.
Whilst IoB could do a better job of being an introduction to the game I think it would be a mistake to think that that is a significant barrier to entry. It’s no worse than what we started with back in the day and we had no internet to draw on either. Though we did get helpful photos of Rick Priestly showing us how to pick a blister pack up and take it to the till in 3rd ed lol.
From what I got it is company policy especially in one-man-stores and definitly in our sales district. If you do not get pushed out of the store down here it probably has more to do with the shop-sarge having some understanding of business and ignoring the policy. And I know of at least one “motivational”-course where sarges were told that veterans are bad, because they do convey strange ideas to newbies (like how to safe some money, how to really built an army, etc.) ;).
@Ben: I have to disagree… I started with 4th, the first box set edition, which included:
4 page walkthrough of one Elf vs one Goblin covering moving, shooting and combat mechanics
Battle for Mauthrod pass scenario (which wasn’t just a pitched battle) to use the models in the box
“Ravening Hordes” style army list for each race
As an aside I was a “Space Crusade recruit”, though I went in to Fantasy rather than Rogue Trader off the back of having read the LotR I was a sucker for HE, and I’m one of the people that thinks GW is missing a trick by not having similar games (whether they or FFG make it) as a lead in product.
@Sami…. I started pretty much simultaneously with 2nd and 3rd not long after 3rd came out and I started 40K with Rogue Trader.
I am not sure I agree we have consensus. I can’t affords to lay out the cash for a tournament sized army in any game its never stopped me starting to collect or playing proxies. So for me and my gaming group I can say cost influences the models from Games Workshop we buy but the rules we use (tournaments are pretty loose here too unit fillers were always the norm and other manufacturers very common Westwind, Harlequin and so on)
The way it is presented certainly and the way customers are treated almost certainly but overriding all is the game system.
In your Dreadfleet remarks you stated (paraphrasing I don’t want to venture back in to the maelstrom to get exact wording) you felt the game played you rather than the other way. This rings very true for Warhammer 8th.
Again you asked for gripes and this is the main thing that when you drill right through it this is what gets on peoples nerves they don’t feel they are controlling the game any more.
It is absolutely a matter of perspective and not always a bad thing the game certainly feels more like Warhammer than a historical game with Elves and mages and I love that aspect.
I am Minitrol’s sense of confliction
Hi Minitrol’s sense of confliction, nice to meet you.
There has been a bubbling undercurrent of comments that DF was only the most obvious tip of that “game plays you” iceberg, and some have suggested that this is an intentional trend in GW design style. I don’t know. I think that a new edition of 40K may be fun to hold up to that measuring stick if it is indeed released in 2012.
I come from a very design-oriented end of the hobby, as you might expect. I read rules and proxy things as you do, but I’m pretty sure that I’m in a minority, at least in the UK. Judging by the gamers I’ve spoken with over the years, most are doing their best to build an army “properly”, though how many actually achieve it is another matter. Increasingly I’m seeing people using cheaper alternatives such as Mantic, though on the whole they still want Dwarfs for Dwarfs, and so on. Of course, this is all anecdotal, but I’m basing this on quite a few years meeting quite a lot of people at conventions, clubs and tourneys. Perhaps it’s a regional thing.
The consensus I spoke of really refers to the way in which things like the island of Blood “starter set” fails to really help newcomers, and the general lack of introductory material to be had in places like WD. I specifically set aside the rules for that comment because I think thet it is such a tangle that looking at individual parts is the clearest way to disentangle what’s happening. Sure, people have gripes about the rules. But there’s something else going on too, and I think it has at least as much impact.
The funny thing about the current pricing is how arbitary in can look. The current pattern that elite infantry must cost at least £25, even if the models are no bigger or better than standard infantry that can be as much as £10 cheaper.
On the other hand, I picked up a unit of 10 Savage Orc board boys the other day and it cost me £31, about £1 more than it would have cost me nearly twenty years ago. Similarly, the £18.50 price tag of Chaos Knights seems quite reasonable when I consider that my first six cost me £20, back at Games day 1994.
I have seen the move to include more huge creatures and monsters decried as a money-making scheme, but they are actually quite good value when you consider their points cost. The Arachnarok may set you back £31, but its over 300 points, equivalent to around eighty Goblins or forty Orcs (when you include command).
The overall effect of this will be, I think, to encourage some quite odd army builds as players are encouraged to build the largest army they can for the lowest cost, which probably means more cavalry, more big monsters and less elite infantry. That said, this has always been the case to some extent, Back when I first started out their were units and even armies that no-one touched because it was economically unviable to field them.
Has this really changed? From my recollection your last comment is right: there have always been units that were very pricey in money for their game presence, and army builds that you could go for on a budget.
Is this any different from any other tabletop game? I don’t think so. In Infinity, Warmachine, and even skirmish games like Eden or hybrids like DUST – you can choose to reduce your financial pain by picking your army carefully. Has there ever been a game where game points and real world cost have been in accord across an entire range? I can’t think of one.
Well to be honest, one of the things that turned me of warmachine (1st edition) was the fact that to be competitive you needed expensive infantry. I was drawn into warmachine because of the warjacks but down the line you’d get better game value from infantry for the same points value but at triple the money cost.
Yup. That’s another famous example.
Warmahordes is not for me since I am not a combo-cruncher and if you want to see some daylight and not always get you back handed to you you need to play it quite often.
I find a similar thing with WM. If I don’t play for a while then I do get stomped. Some factions are rather more forgiving than others, though the problem/challenge is intrinsic to the way the game is structured, and I rather like that despite the difficulty it gives me. It’s a game about unlocking the puzzle and devising a series of moves to pick apart an opponent’s carefully constructed defence. But instead of doing this over time you can try and do it all in one grand series of moves within a single turn. When the game gets to 2+ casters it flops for me, as this breaks the cleanness of concept, which is what is attractive in the first place.
Something which haven’t been discussed is how people swing back and forth between 40k and Fantasy. Often you play both, but you don’t have the time and money to work on an army for both at the same time (usually that is) so you tend to put one of them on the back-burner for a while.
People say that less people are playing Fantasy — in my area I haven’t noticed as much, but it may be true globally — but have those people started playing something else entirely, or have they moved to 40k? GW might not be in such trouble as you think… I don’t know. Do you?
Anecdotally, I’d say that people are leaving Warhammer and a fair number are either no longer gaming or are not playing GW games. I don’t think you’ll find any real numbers on it, and the anecdotes will be patchy and regional like those for the tournaments in general. However, the overall picture I’m getting is one of either no change or a reduction in GW gaming. 40K seems to be pretty stable.
Personally I was always more of a fantasy player than an SF buff, though I did have phases of playing 40K and I played it since RT. Only in later editions did I get bored and ignore it completely. Of course, I’ve seen many folk who do exactly as you suggest and float between the two. Collecting both at the same time is very expensive.
I wandered off to do some chistmas shopping and have a few beers ….and a few more , built lots of Lego for my kids…(weeks went by )
And when I look on here there are loads of interesting discussions….
As reguards to what people expect from a ‘rules set.’
Years ago most of the ‘rule sets’ we used were basic A5 white paper ,(bound in cardboard with hand drawn pictures in black and white over some pages).And were relativley cheap (£4 to £10 in todays money.)
Some were just a few pages of ‘sci-fi rules for 15mm mimatures’ which were basic outlines of a game system gaming groups used and adapted expanded.(‘Banda'(Sp?) sheets for 50P at the local FLGS.).
Others were more detailed rules for competative play with army lists in the back of the book.(Mainly historical.)
BUT these were used in the domain of gaming groups with the experianced gamers , sorting the game play and house rulings for the newer gamers .
(My group was blessed with ‘Chiefy’ for historicals ‘No socks’ for fantasy,and ‘ Hedghog’ for Sci fi. ‘TNT’ was brilliant at sorting out RPG games and campains etc.We all had nick names back then mine was ‘Lurch’…anyway I digress)
In the social hotchpotch of games groups, gamers took inexpencive materials and crafted the games and environments thay wanted to explore.
Eg ‘To the sound of the Guns’ was used to create ‘Cannon Ball Run’ rules for the newb friendly introduction into Napolenics.
GW plc promotes its products as highest quality , and all encompasing of the ‘GW hobby ‘(tm) complete and perfect in every way….hence the high price.
IF they supplied the rules and codex/army books as a FREE PDF down load , then the current quality would be plenty good enough.(Only good things are said about the specialist game AFAIK.)
If the developers at GW towers are writing ‘ a rough guide to how you can enjoy games of 40k/WH’.Then they should be promoted as such IMO.
When GW plc charge alot of money, (half a weeks shopping !)for a rule book .
It sort of infers that the rules are well defined and apropriate for the game.
(High price =expectations of high quality.)
If you pay the money for a Buggati Verrone , and end up with a Mini Clubman you tend to be disgruntled.
There is NOTHING wrong witha Mini Clubman if its sold at the apropriate price.
I hope you get the jist of this?
(I may need more or less beer…Happy new year folks …)
[I just unspammed Kevin’s commment above, so you may have wondered where it had gone.]
I think I follow you, Kevin. However, it is probably Games Workshop who define a lot of our collective expectations of quality for products, so what you’re saying is that they fail to live up to their own standards 😉
I agree Kevin when you compare the rule book with other hardbacks of a similar size or if you were geekily inclined already other hardback game systems or comics or role play book where you previously spent you money the WFB book is very…very pricey (in NZ they make ours out of powdered gelfling hence why we pay more so that’s fair). If you were trying to get someone interested its not exactly a gateway book is it?
I wondered where all the gelflings went…
There are rather a lot of comments here for me to dig through and find the right thread so I’m just posting a new reply and hoping the conversation is recalled 🙂
I got WAB 2 for Christmas and as well as having the usual turn limit + VP’s determining the winner it does also have a system for calculating an army’s breakpoint at which it’ll all flee the battlefield. A far more realistic of going about it and if it works out I’ll suggest importing it in WFB.
What’s the calculation?
You get –
– 2 points for each formed unit or elephant in your army. +1 if the unit is worth more than 300 points.
– 1 point for each skirmishing unit in your army. +1 if the unit has 15 or more models.
If the unit is destroyed or flees off the table you lose all its points. If it’s reduced to half strength they lose half their points rounded down. If your general is killed or flees you lose 2 points and 1 point for your BSB.
Your break point is 25% of your total. Once you reach that many points your army flees the battlefield.
I haven’t had the chance to play this yet. My impression is that the break point seems low, especially if imported into WFB. Monsters and powerful characters would need a value assigned. You’d also want your total points to be a multiple of 4 plus 1 to get the most efficient break point number.
25% does seem low in theory, but I’d need to see it on the table. Perhaps we’re coming back to the debate about what being “dead” on the tabletop really means. I’m not sure it would look like a won battle if you only need to kill a quarter of the enemy at most.
On reflection it doesn’t seem so bad for WAB. Assuming you keep your skirmish units below 15 then they have to be wiped out/run off the table before they’ll contribute any points. Your ranked up units will only ever contribute 1 point at half strength. If you have two large units, a cav unit, a smaller unit and three skirmish units you’d have 13 points (which would seem an optimum number) and a break point of 4. As WAB lacks the kind of devastating attacks you can get in WFB from magic, warmachines, powerful characters etc. then doing enough damage to the units may take a few turns (as long as you keep your general alive).
OK, that sounds like a fair assessment (though quite a small army). My question is would it look like a win though? I’d have to get it on the table to be sure.
GW have released their half-yearly results to November – http://investor.games-workshop.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/2011-12-Press-statement.pdf
Income derived from game sales is slightly up on the same period last year but there’s no breakdown as to how individual games are performing or whether rising prices are offsetting declining unit sales. They also seem to have been give a fair whack by THQ for the Space Marine game. Royalty income has increased from £1 million last year to £2.6 million this year and Space Marine seems to be accounting for the difference.
As Jake mentioned earlier, they also make the claim to be recession proof given the nature of the industry.
GW is indeed largely recession proof but that’s not necessarily a good thing if you think about what they do and have had to do, to achieve that.
I’m not sure I follow what you mean Poosh.
I mean they are recession-proof in that their “target audience” are less likely to be affected by a recession, i.e. their disposal income. They have a core group of buyers which GW seems to extract money out from again and again. A generalisation of course, but a valid one. When your target buyers are the middle class etc, or their children to be more precise, you are recession-proof to some extent. The problem with this is refraining from extending your charm to everyone. This makes your product less popular, and it accounts for a small audience. That small audience, mostly, might be able to afford the hobby during a recession, (and insulating GW from the recession) but it certainly is not a preferable state of affairs for a rational capitalist seeking to widen its audience as much as possible. That’s kinda what I meant. This seems to be what GW has moved towards. When I left miniatures at the end of secondary school in the 90s, GW was a large number of games that everyone could play at affordable prices. Everyone could get by and have fun. When my interest returned (miniature-crack as it were) back during university the landscape had changed and I could not see how anyone without an above average disposal income (or someone with a student loan…) could seriously play the game. Nothing wrong with wanting money and wanting to make a profit – GW do not owe anyone anything – but it seemed like just bad business, ESPECIALLY since the “geeky” negative aspect of miniature-collecting is seriously being eroded in 2000+; the Warhammer product has been effectively dispersed via video/computer games. Hell the Space Marine CGI “movie” had some pretty big actors attached to it. GW should be bringing down the prices of some of their products to get everyone in – but then that would make them liable to take damage during a recession.
That was what I used to think until I had a series of conversations with different parents recently. You know how the same topic keeps cropping up once you’ve seen it once. Anyway, the important bit that was added to my thinking was that whilst middle class folk still have relatively large expendable incomes, they are not entirely unaffected by the economic squeeze we’re seeing. They too are likely to have had a drop in real world income.
Whist this net loss is unlikely to stop them spending money on their kids (the core concept in the recession proofing idea) what it does seem to do is make them more discerning. In order to continue to get a good stack of prezzies for little Johnny, they shop around more, and when they do buy they are likely to get him 3 cheaper products instead of 2 expensive ones.
When I was at GW, the mantra was always that they were not in competition with Privateer et al. GW saw themselves as competing with McDonalds and Nike for the cash spend that the audience either had in their pocket or could effectively control. Does the customer spend their birthday money on Call of Duty 9, a new pair of trainers or a box of plastic toys? Or an iPod, new smart phone, etc, etc.
If this is an even partly correct analysis then GW would probably be well served by looking to retain people a bit longer on the one hand, and offer people a less expensive entry point into the games on the other. Or perhaps they’re just relying on the licensees to do that and feed back royalties.
Ironically I just switched off the latest Call of Duty before I took a peek at your blog.
It’s defo necessary to retain customers, but GW seems to rely too much on these customers. As to their mantra, that’s true, how else can you explain the presence of a Games Workshop on highstreets (which even got a mention on E4’s comedy “Phone Shop” lol). Everything you said I bet is spot on, which is why it bothers me so much, GW’s prices that is. It’s not that they are greedy – nothing wrong with that – it’s that they are shooting themselves in the foot.
Who decided that 10 plastic orks (which are inferior to Mantic’s plastic orks oddly enough) should cost £18? It seems sensible to keep the bog standard fantasy models at a fairly cheap rate, but they don’t do this, at all. There’s all sorts of odd decisions, the yearly price hike looks like it’s merely intended to absorb defects in their profits. As you said they want to compete with other non-miniature products, which is good, I think the world could do well with more wargamers and collectors, but they engage in business practices which almost no other company, etc, would engage in. Can you imagine KFC raising their prices every year? Or charging £2.50 for a small pack of fries? GW constantly make me scratch my head and wonder who the betty is running the show!
There are blips though, GW’s christmas blessing on us were the £130 megaforces and armies. Saving you over £70 each.
Your comment about KFC is a good one. Perhaps a better thing to do than consider GW in isolation (or in relation to other games companies) is to look at what they’re doing compared to Nike, Sony-Ericsson, etc.
KFC sell low quality food at a low price so I’m not sure they’re an appropriate comparison with GW. Nike, on the other hand, sell £5 trainers for £100+…..
The point is: what do GW’s perceived competitors do to win their share of the diminishing and increasingly hard fought over pool of money? Does this illuminate GW’s policies as being sane and reasonable, or out of step? I don’t know the answer, I’m just posing the question.
It’s difficult to find direct comparisons for a company in a niche industry but with a mainstream presence. The Game Group (who own high street chains “GAME” and “Game Station”) have responded to falling sales, and particularly lost sales to supermarkets and internet stores who sell the product cheaper, by closing 19 stores, reducing the price of new releases by up to half to encourage footfall into their branches and then presenting and marketing themselves as a place for gamers, giving an experience that online stores and supermarkets can’t match. It hasn’t worked, profits have plunged over the last year and a half and the most recent figures show an operating loss followed by a dramatic reduction in the share price.
There’s not a direct comparison with GW. Game don’t produce their own product and the market they operate in is far bigger than the mini gaming market. They do compete for largely the same entertainment dollar as GW though and I would imagine their core demographic is very similar.
So some similarities, and some differences. But slashing prices was not the way there. Perhaps GW are smarter than they’re given credit for.
KFC or any company you like. Insert whatever company you like, it was just an example. It makes no difference. No company, certainly not even a minority, raise their prices every year, certainly not companies of the same scope as “McDonalds” etc. Even Nike sell many good quality footwear for little cost. The super premiums are £100 – £300 but Nike make footwear for all levels of income-earning etc.
Talking about GW is hard because there’s the products, and then there’s the shops. And it adds all sorts of brain-ache when you are discussing them because they’re both separate yet intertwined components of GW. When you buy a GW product, some of the money is going back into the “brick and mortar” buildings for example. Then there’s what I believe is the clear difference in costs between Warhammer and Warhammer 40,000 (Warhammer being far more expensive in terms of price tag – which became even worse when 8th and hoards appeared!). So many different factors. It’s probs not appropriate to record them here.
It’s not GW’s greed that is a problem. It’s stupidity. And I really think GW needs fresh blood at the top. Did anyone get fired for the Finecast trainwreck? They should have. GW fail to do what is necessary to really push their product out there , despite doing all the groundwork (their videogame presence etc). Knowing this probably all comes down to a few select people, making a few bad choices, really bugs me.
Actually GW is more like Apple.
They both have nice products that offer you quite a lot and you could be quite happy with them.
Only problem: Their prices are incredible at some levels, they unneccessarily live in their own bubble and they sometimes act overly arrogant.
Apple is a good analogy in that sense, but in terms of their perceived competitors are they so similar?
We could spend the rest of our lives looking for a direct comparison and not come up with one. That GW competes with these companies for disposable income is not the same as saying their product is the same and therefore they can pursue similar strategies. My point about KFC stands. Their business model is to mass market low quality food at a low price point. If they were to double the price of their product it would kill their business overnight because it fundamentally goes against what their product is. GW sell a high quality (depending on your POV but it’s at least presented that way) luxury product to a niche market. Whilst they may look like a Nike/Coca Cola/McDonald’s-esque monolith to us within the hobby, they’re in actuality a big fish in a very small pond. More like Marvel, DC or World Wrestling Entertainment. All three of those companies have responded to diminishing markets (that dates to long before the worldwide recession) by squeezing ever increasing amounts of revenue from their core audience.
A US comic book has quadrupled in price in the last 20 years whilst the page count has dropped. Their consumer base has contracted even moreso. They could drop the price of a comic in the hope that it would attract more people back but in isolation this wouldn’t work and would just send Marvel and DC out of business. The diminishing sales are not the product of price rises and their collective IP has never been more popular. For the third time in the last few years people are going to turn out in millions and millions worldwide to watch a Batman movie this summer but Batman comic book sales have diminished year on year in that time to historic lows. Likewise, someone playing Space Marine or reading a Black Library book isn’t going to bring them into the hobby if they’re not already inclined to do so and if they are already inclined to do so then they probably already are. The IP is a major strength of the GW product but don’t confuse it with the hobby. Playing a tabletop mini game (with all the attendant by-product that entails) is not the same as reading a book or playing a computer game and the IP will not bring book readers and computer game players into the hobby.
Just as with Marvel and DC, the challenges that face GW as their sales decline are not simply ones of price. They could half the price of their product tomorrow and at best it would just mean current mini gamers who don’t buy their product might start doing so. A minimal increase in sales. It isn’t going to bring the masses into their stores. They could equally release their rulebook as a free PDF online to go with these price reductions and it still wouldn’t bring noticably more people into the hobby. This is because mini gaming is and always will be a niche market.
None of this is to say that I think GW are being anything other than short-sighted in the pursuit of profit and share price.
None the less, no one raises their prices every year, and certainly not by 10% every year etc. But another point is most companies have direct competition, GW do not. Even with PP it is arguable they still do not. So they are competing for cash on the highstreet – that’s their aim. The IP is a massive gateway to people moving into the hobby or at least having a peek at it. The problem is GW has priced itself out of a larger market. Which is one of the reasons it will run into massive problems, again, once the Hobbit bubble bursts. GW simply do not advertise their product or allow gateway products to exist, blood bowl, Heroquest etc. I am very confident that the amount of people who can enjoy wargaming is no where near the maximum. Times have changed, and GW have their IP out there via their games but are not maximising that advertising. At £70 for a starter set it just isn’t viable. It is not a mistake to think people will be attracted to “the hobby” from playing, say Space Marine. It’s a mistake to think everyone who plays the video game will then move to “the hobby” – but no one would suggest that.
Again there’s a disconnect between the idea that GW are a “premium brand” and what they actually do. One of their, if not their primary source of income seem to be children who simply cannot utilise their premium products or afford them outside their parents. Trying to make sense of what GW do hurts the brain too much, and maybe that’s because they quite literally are a bunch of headless chickens running the show. We keep seeming to run around in circles trying to work out the logic of GW, and perhaps the real answer is… there is no logic. Their profits seem modest if poor from what I see, once you deduct profit made from their video games.
I strongly disagree, in part for the reasons I outlined above. That GW have maintained their turnover and profit in the face of a recession that is driving other high street brands out of business and eating heavily into the profits of others shows that they understand their business. As I say, I think they could do a number of things a lot better than they do but cheaper prices and gateway games utilising the IP will not make tabletop gaming anything other than a niche hobby. At that point I think we’ll have to agree to disagree 🙂
Actually its not the price that causes the problems for most folks out there (though some prices are way out… Vargheists are insanly prized, on the other hand the undead riders are a steal).
I am put off by three things:
1) Skull fetish (too much is too much, and for strange reasons my Garden of Morr has less skulls than the average GOOD army)
2) Rules are a mess (cleaning up is direly needed)
3) Behaviour as a company (you should not bite the hand that feeds you)
Most people I know have the same problems and if we ask even more we will probably get those three answers somewhere in the top ten.
But: GW is quite good at “repairing” miniatures quickly, something Apple is abysmally poor at. 😉