Tuesday 21 January 2014

Guest Post - Games Workshop Past, Present and Future - Part 1

 Something different today for my blog, a bit of an experiment if you will.  One of my long-time gaming partners asked if he could write a post on my blog explaining his current frustrations with Games Workshop.  I agreed to let him have a go, I got a lot more than expected, this is part one of a three part discussion/rant that I'll be posting over the next few days, over to Mike......
Sometime in late 1997 I walked into Games workshop and purchased my first Warhammer fantasy model. It was a £5 Undead Skeleton Chariot; an average model but I was chuffed with it. Collecting GW minis seemed fun and affordable to me and I was soon able to get enough models to play a fantasy game at the minimum recommended 1000pts level. Several more armies and regular gaming followed. We lost our gaming area for a while (When I went off to uni as I was the only one with a big table - Keith), and it wasn’t until somewhere in the mid/late 2000’s (6th and 7th ed. by then) that the old minis were brought out again. At that stage I realised that I no longer seemed to have enough, or the correct models to play larger games in the new editions. Despite having a job, I was also reluctant to purchase the models I needed to play those battles.

What had changed? One reason was the cost of minis (more on that later), but first a more general observation.
Some of the old chaos warriors that were popular in our gaming group back in the day.
I have compared GWs sample 1000pt list Chaos warrior list from the 5th ed. Codex (I used it couple of times in the late 1990’s) with the same list, but constructed from the much later 7th edition Warriors of Chaos codex.
Sample war band from 5th ed. Codex
Chaos Hero with a shield on a chaos steed with the potion of strength and helm of many eyes
6 Chaos knights with lances, hand weapons and chaos armour including a standard
12 Chaos Warriors with hand weapons, heavy armour and shields
= 999pts
The same war band selected from the 7th ed. Codex
Chaos Hero with a shield on a Chaos steed plus a maximum magic item allowance
6 Chaos Knights with lances, hand weapons and chaos armour + full command
12 Chaos warriors with additional great weapons and shields + full command
= 797pts
Right - I’ve gone to town a little with this 7th ed. list by adding full command groups and some slightly more expensive extras; however there’s still a deficit of more than 200 pts.
One sensible way to address the balance is to add some marauders. A basic marauder (which in 7th ed. was 1/3 of the points cost of the 5th edition selection). Give a 30 man marauder unit shields and flails + full command and phew we’re there! Okay, okay I could have thrown in a unit of warriors instead, but there’s noting like variety and besides, I wanted to make a point!
Mike concentrating on a game of Axis & Allies
People in our gaming group have commented that we have generally needed more models to play the same points limited tournaments which we had organised in previous years. Clearly, any collector would need quite a few more models for the above 1000pt Chaos list in 7th ed., than they would have in 5th. Now, I only have a handful of armies, and I don’t have an exhaustive collection of current and past codices to browse through. I’d be interested to see if this thesis holds up for other selections (perhaps Chaos is a poor example?). I’d be equally interested to see how other armies have changed over the years, right up to the current edition in 2014.
I don’t think many enthusiasts want to go back to the old rules of 5th edition. However I have to say that as a teenager it was essential to my staying in the hobby that I could acquire armies relatively quickly at a ‘minimum’ 1000pts level within 2-3 months. Moreover I could do this using money from my paper round. I wonder how many young potential gamers can do that today? And I haven’t even begun to discuss a more pressing issue – the ever increasing cost of the miniatures…. Part 2 to follow.
Mike does have a point about decreasing points costs for minis, I remember back when I started 40K a space marine tactical squad was twice what it was now and a 1K army was a leader and three squads.  But the question is whether this matters? Some might say an army with two units and a hero isn't really an army at all and that even at 1000pts you'd hope to field more than that.  Having said that chaos is a bit of an extreme example with very expensive elite troops, but I do think Mike is right about the overall trend.  So again does it matter? We'd be interested to hear peoples thoughts.


  1. My old club had this same argument with GW in the mid-90's.

    In the end one of the main reasons why the club folded was that the members bought too much into the GW dogma of thinking, that you had to keep updating with current rules, and army books/codex's, that they brought out every two years or so.
    Because the members wouldn't [possibly couldn't] look past the idea of deviating from the GW doctrine of "our rules, our" figures only, and all have to be kept up to date", that members couldn't afford new kit, and all went off arguing and in the end individual members broke away into their own groups, and the club ceased to exist.

    Sad. That a gaming club broke down over something like this. Now I only solo game and stick to one set of rules, and I do not update.

    1. that is sad, luckily in our small group we've never insisted anyone go out and get the new book, as long as we know which book they're using that's ok with us.

  2. I've been watching the Oldhammer movement with interest. We started playing in 4th ed, not the 3rd ed that seems popular with oldhammer groups, so its an edition that I'm not familiar with. Whilst I like a lot of the style of the old minis they tend to use overall I prefer the current ranges by quite a long way. I'd like to give 3rd ed a go at some point though.

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