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September 14, 2013

Wargaming ASKEW: The Most Infamous Moments in GW History #10

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Blogs and forums are constantly bombarded with rage filled hate letters, directed at the largest and most successful company in wargaming: Games Workshop.

The road to infamy is always paved with unseemly behavior; which is why I want to countdown the Top 10 moments where the GW love is turned upside down. Before we jump the rage shark, just remember many of these moments produced something better, by you the hobbyist.

Number #10: Dropping Tournaments not once, not twice, but three times.

In the annuals of infamy killing off Games Workshop sponsored tournaments may seem trivial to a large percentage of players, but for many who lived and breathed the "official" events, it was a blunder of epic proportions. Games Workshop always had a long history of supporting tournaments from Rogue Traders to the Grand Tournaments. The Grand Tournaments were numerous with events from Baltimore to Los Angeles. Then something happened, as a change occurred within the halls of GW corporate. So, in 2008 was the last year for the Grand Tournaments, it was also the same year 5th edition was released and Nob Bikers were all the rage.

In addition, it was the last year of multiple Games Day's as they were regulated to once a year affairs. The finger pointing for the demise of GTs is simple: money. Remember, this happened at the onset of the Great Recession and blowing up these expensive events made for an easy target. It marked the start of the end for Games Workshop direct involvement in tournaments. Before anyone knew what was going on, Games Workshop tried to build a Tournament Circuit on the backs of independent events.

As a concept this was a smart move. If done correctly GW could build a relationship with events across the country offering a standard for all events to play by. All it would cost was a little coordination and prize support. GW even had a carrot for all those competitive gamers: a GW held event where only the winners of the independent events could attend, bringing in theory the best players from around the country for one amazing showdown. The biggest problem as it turns out wasn't GW fault, but the fault of many events. As fly by night events appeared, they relied on the lure of a golden ticket to bring in attendees. This lead to mismanaged events with cheating, corruption, and low attendance being the staple for many. Now, GW was forced to police events creating a burden they weren't expecting.

The final nail through this experiment was the Throne of Skulls event itself held in Las Vegas. Created by Jervis Johnson the event was designed not as a Ard' Boyz styled free for all, but instead rewarded as many players as possible without crowning any true winner. This system poisoned everything as winners with admittedly competitive bents refused to attend. The Tournament Circuit lasted two years and the second year even saw the Throne of Skulls event allowing anyone regardless of skill, as long as they paid to enter.

This also coincided with GW decision to drop prize support to independent events. The excuse was GW wanted to focus on giving prize support to retailers as the "real sources" for driving business. That left Ard' Boyz as the last bastion for competitive players in North American, and many could see the writing on the wall for that one. The final Ard' Boyz was a disaster as regional winners were crowned instead of one as always before. So, by 2011 GW had given up, with vague promises of returning to run events in the far, far future. GW retreat from direct contact with the public is legendary, but losing these tournaments was one of the clearest examples.

As is typical, with any GW action players fill the void. The Tournament Circuit brought players together as gaming groups and the Circuit's demise turned the same player passion into great events. The vacuum left, allowed for events like the Bay Area Open, NovaOpen, Da Boyz, Adepticon, WargamesCon to exist or grow. By GW dropping prize support they also inadvertently lost any leverage, as events were forced to look elsewhere for prizes and sponsors. Not shockingly prizes and sponsors came from competitors, and GW only events went out the window.

And speaking of competitors...

Over on my website Blood of Kittens I am running a contest along with Mirco Art Studio to produce the next great set of miniature bases, for more information just follow the link.

“All Your Bases are Belong to Us 2013″

So, what is your Top 10 list of GW transgressions? What fond GT memories do you have? In a couple weeks look for number 9 on the list of GW most infamous moments. As always, if you want some more editorial fun head on over to Blood of Kittens

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