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 The State of Play – Warhammer 40,000

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Warmonger

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PostSubject: The State of Play – Warhammer 40,000   Thu Mar 13, 2014 2:30 pm

by Kirby

Forewarning, this is a bit of an odd post which I've tried really hard to make sure it doesn't ramble but these things happen sometimes… Other than personal feelings which are influenced by a lot of different things, it seems quite apparent than 40k has shifted drastically. 5th edition were probably some of the best years in terms of competitive options, variety of armies, general rules and play while still maximising hobby, etc. That's changed and I want to look at why. So bear with the personal stuff!

Outside of 4th edition, my motivation is at an all time low for 40k currently. It's not one simple thing – I've been playing pretty strongly since the beginning of 5th edition and I generally only last three to four years per cycle (it's now been six?) so it's pretty natural to go through ebbs and flows. Work's increasing along with further studies (it's a long-term joke now that further studies will always be a part of my life) as well so that leaves me less free time and I've been quite keen to give Warmachine / Hordes a stronger go (attending first tournament this weekend). All of that's before we even get to the 40k itself and I don't want to really focus on that stuff; it obviously has an impact but how much is it just me and how much is it objective change? 6th edition isn't terrible – and this less than doom and gloom outlook is certainly aided by the fact that all of my parent armies were released in the last year (Tau, Eldar, Space Marines and Tyranids) but it's not great either and its a step back from 5th edition.

This has given me lots of opportunity for list crunching, hobby, games, etc. but despite this, the drive to get out there and throw down with the new Tyranids or variant Space Marine lists just isn't there like it used to be. Again, most of this could simply be time – time playing 40k without a break, time constraints from other essential tasks, etc. Or it could be something else. 6th edition is most certainly a contribution factor there but what specifically about it is getting to me the most? Now I'm not saying 6th edition doesn't have… well gaping holes but it's still enjoyable to play (I'd prefer 5th edition hands down though) in a competitive environment. Again, this can be part and parcel of the fact that most of my main armies were updated with strong books so I have those options and have never needed to, nor want to, rely on deathstars. We can walk through again and again what the issues are, possible fixes, how much better this mechanic is, etc. but this is the game we have currently and I think for most, 6th edition as a whole concept has hurt the game and Games Workshop.

It's not rocket science. It's not a new statement. It's something that's been talked about for a long time now but I think most recently it's hit home the hardest. Not only do we have Game Workshop's half yearly financials and seen the impact but we have had several shoddy codex releases in just a year timeframe when we were used to very few throughout 5th edition, we've had a complete lack of proper FAQs since about April 2013 and we're getting peppered with THIS IS NEW TRY IT OUT NOW bullshit all the time. I feel like I can't keep up without effort and that's something that is very foreign to Games Workshop. Even Privateer Press who release things at a very quick rate really trickle things in and if you're really involved in the scene, keeping up with a new addition to each army every one or two months wouldn't be too hard. If you weren't involved though, yes it would take a lot to keep up and lack of knowledge hurts a lot more in Warmachine than 40k. However, the way these are released is also done slightly differently. Everyone knows the release rates for several games – there's generally an announcement, spoilers, pre-releases, etc. or whatever to prepare you for this. Every time I log online currently, I feel like I'm about to find out something new for 40k.

The ironic thing is, these supplements, dataslates and stand alone armies are things which would have been greeted with open arms not two / three years past. Even the codex release schedule – put your hand up if you one of the people complaining how long it took Games Workshop to release your army? Ya, everyone put their hand up and if you didn't, stop lying to yourself. Hell 10 years ago things like this existed – Chapter Approved (Vehicle Design Rules anyway? Stupid but fun) and White Dwarf were actually useful additions to the Games Workshop arsenal and we've seen how White Dwarf has gone recently.

So taking out my motivation levels and trying to look at this objectively, what is really impacting upon the state of 40k currently? Let's see if we can break this down…
•Rules – rules are always, always going to be a Games Workshop issue and very few games ever have a balanced ruleset for long (even video games change all the time) but 6th edition is certainly no paragon of excellence; the biggest issue here though I find
•Release schedule (and the attitude behind it – see Chapterhouse v GamesWorkshop) – this is the biggest thing for me; I can get around the rules as they are still playable (as much as I hate playing with or against deathstars) but it feels much less like an enjoyable hobby and much more like work when I need to keep up with everything
•Lack of support – again this isn't new to Games Workshop and it's great to see someone operating their Facebook page and responding to people but the retreat from even semi-official playtesting, no FAQs, continued disregard for player wants/desires/needs, etc. seems to have escalated even more in 6th edition (mostly no FAQs)
•Players are leaving – natural attrition is natural attrition but this seems extremely accelerated to me and unfortunately decreases the chances of new players entering and decreases the challenge for on-going players
•Changing technology – we all know video games are much easier to access than tabletop and this is something which has really stayed constant in terms of luring new gamers but Games Workshop has not kept up to date; Dawn of War rocked – what have we had to that level since? Include 3-D printing and will Games Workshop simply be resorted to producing rules? Can they sustain a business model which does that?

What this is all pointing towards is a decreasing player base and no matter what, once that player base evaporates, you can't play the game. It's been an issue for a long time that 40k wasn't generating new players. Dawn of War helped followed on by 5th edition but the general mainstay there was 40k “vets” didn't leave; they might have decreased playing time, etc. but they didn't sell up and walk away and that seems quite common currently. There have been several discussions all around ways to increase the playerbase or make the current playerbase more unified however; none of these have been successful and unification requires everyone throw their little fiefdoms out the window. Even then, that's great for tournament regulars but what about when you go to your local or introduce new players, etc.? Is that sustainable?

The question is – what next? Most tournaments have already increased general restrictions (i.e. no escalation, two army books max, trying to nerf the 2++ re-rollables, etc.). Comp has started creeping back into play in Australia (this greatly disappoints me but if it's required to bring people back to play, fuck it – I'll accept it), the US East coast is talking about mass spamming MSU as was discussed in early 6th edition to simply overwhelm you with Hull Points, people are quitting, etc. etc. Games Workshop has obviously identified this is the way they are going to right a sinking ship and unless someone comes in and changes everything or they get bought out, this is going to continue for a while yet. As a community there have been lots of discussions or identifications of what needs to be done to make 6th edition (or 7th) better; the issue is of course what we have already seen, FoB is going one way, LVO another, 3++con this way, Adepticon thataway, etc. If someone comes up with a great ruleset is everyone going to use it? Unlikely and although we're already trending back to a KISS strategy rather than re-writing the rules, the game is still going to be bleeding players. I don't have a fix, I know what would get me re-invigorated and really that's a stiff challenge but how is that going to come about when the newer or medium skill level players aren't playing enough to improve?

So long-winded discussion / sad rant winding down – when push comes to shove, 6th edition has probably nibbled on most peoples' desire to continue with the game. What is needed to give that a kickstart again?

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Crawling Chaos

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PostSubject: Re: The State of Play – Warhammer 40,000   Fri Mar 14, 2014 12:18 am

I'm actually starting to see a surge in fantasy at the FLGS. If it weren't for some of the people involved, I might try too. I have a Daemon army after all. My biggest gripe, has been that in the last year, I've had to dramatically change my Daemon army too many times. This shit's expensive and I've got a bunch of models I can't bring to a competetive event.

Compare that to my Warmachine Cryx army. I have almost the whole faction, and I can only think of one models I would never take to a competetive event.
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Wayno

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PostSubject: Re: The State of Play – Warhammer 40,000   Fri Mar 14, 2014 1:03 am

I am with you Monger. I have all these new players down here (which is a nice change) but they have just about got me talked into Warmachine.
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Warmonger

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PostSubject: Re: The State of Play – Warhammer 40,000   Fri Mar 14, 2014 7:37 am

I know Wayno it's kind of sad after so much time, energy and money invested. Like I said I'm really getting into FoW, not because of the historical aspect (while I do like that era, but I like all military history stuff) but the game system has pretty good balance and good customer support from BF. Besides who doesn't like playing with cool looking tanks, infantry, artillery, planes. I think the change in scale throws a different aspect into it also.

I've been looking around and have found some tournament action and a couple of groups that play locally. So I'll see where it goes from here. I'm not done with 40k yet just redirecting.

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dewen

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PostSubject: Re: The State of Play – Warhammer 40,000   Mon Mar 17, 2014 12:52 pm

I really relate to this

by Kirby wrote:
feels much less like an enjoyable hobby and much more like work when I need to keep up with everything
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