Wednesday, 20 May 2015

The Calm before the Storm?

Much is being lamented over Warhammer these past few months.
We have not had a single release since the End of Times: Archaon was well received. It concluded the saga of the Warhammer world that we all have grown to know and love, ended. But is it permanent?

Many times have Games Workshop run campaigns but never before have they been supported in such a manner. Multiple model releases, without question some of the best models for WHFB they have ever created, and 5 volumes in the end of everything that once was... That's a big investment to kill off a system.

Now if you where to believe the internet, its all over. Fantasy is dead. But is it really? I'm personally 2 weeks out from heading to a sold out 90 person tournament in Melbourne, Australia. You know, the place that has the most expensive GW products in the world. The world over tournaments are still filling up, and no doubt many epic battles are still being fought in garages across the globe. But I digress. 

There have been many rumours about the future of Warhammer.  We have had many hints such as the former CEO stating that WHFB is not where he wants it to be (sales wise) yet these systems tend to wax and wane. There was even talk from some more reputable rumour mongers that shelving the whole lot was discussed. This all sounds very plausible, as any company worth its salt will look at all options, however unpalatable to them.

One just has to look at the economics of it all. Its a well established fact that it cost a fair sum of money to create a mould for cast plastic models. Any manufacturer will need to recoup the cost in design, tooling, materials, marketing, logistics etc etc. However we have seen GW investing heavily in a whole range of models that are not only exclusive to WHFB (as opposed to cross over into other systems like Daemons), but also rather exclusive to a new faction of limited release army. So are they really limited release?

The evidence so far really paints a different picture. 
We see large monetary investment in the system. This in itself tells us that WHFB is not going anywhere. GW is at the end of the day a profit driven company, responsible to (and only to) its share holders to generate a return on investment. There is no obligation from them to do what a vocal minority want, nor is there any such thing as a social contract. This is business, not lala land. 

We also see a massive advancement in the story. This is uncharted territory from GW. Never before have the so radically "advanced" the story. This in itself signals a move to redevelop the brand "WHFB". And more recently, we have seen a move to round bases confirmed, although we can only guess as to the extent of the change. In the wider market place, none of this unusual. Companies redevelop their range of products all the time. Interestingly we also see GW re-branding, or reinvesting in its image. Let us not forget that WHFB circa 95, 05, and now 15 are all very different beasts.

So what to expect? Its very difficult to say. But know this, every single major system over-hall for both WHFB and 40k has been preceded by an (approximately) up to 3 month period of nothing. We have entered into the calm before the storm. All edition changes have traditionally had this period where no new releases or information is coming from that what we love and loath. In addition for the past 10 years new editions are launched in the region of June/July (5th, 6th & 7th edition 40k, 6th, 7th & 8th edition WHFB).

So what do I think the future will hold?

  • An updated rule set that will incorporate the option to play smaller and larger scale battles. Smaller may be a skirmish/warband based game with simplified rules.
  • The introduction of round bases will quickly see the tournament scene adopting them as the standard.
  • New faction and/or allies matrix to introduce more flexibility in how you choose your army.
  • An evolved rule set based on 8th WHFB/7th 40k. It will be slightly simpler and a little bit tighter, but not much.
  • No army will be squated, per say.
Crystal ball gazing and all...

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