Why Did GW Blow Up Warhammer Fantasy?

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It’s no secret that Warhammer Fantasy sales are down. It’s also no secret that 40K and now 30K are selling like hot cakes. But what is the reason?

 

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Why is one core game doing so well as another becomes stagnant and declines? I’m going to try my best to explain that.

Where is the “I NEED IT!” factor?

To begin with I’d like to say that I am a long time GW fan and still am. Playing since I was 15, I’m now middle aged with a wife and kids, and yet still have time for my toy soldiers.  I’ll get together with my friends (still the original 4 from 18 years ago!) and we play imaginary battles with our little men. GW has provided me with countless hours of fun and I cannot complain.

We have noticed in our gaming group that there has been a lack of “fresh blood.” Yes the original 4 still play from 18 years ago, but in the past new players would pop up and join our band of merry men to partake in our epic table top battles; however this fresh blood has run stagnant. We have not seen any new Fantasy players ask to join our group, or play in our local hobby store for sometime; something is amiss . . .

The first, and obvious explanation, is the increase in prices and increase in army size to play a competitive game of Warhammer. When we started in 4th edition, a standard army was a lord, a mage, a BSB, and 20-30 models.  Now to field a competitive 2,400 High Elf army for 8th edition, you’re looking at a minimum of 40-50 models (likely double that if you’re taking an infantry force) and that will probably cost over $800.00. Oh ya, and also over 50 hours of painting.

 

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There is a term in economics that comes to mind; a barrier to entry. Typically applied to a monopoly, such as a utility company, it means the startup costs associated with something are so large, it is not a worthwhile endeavor to begin. I feel it is also appropriate to apply this term to Warhammer Fantasy 8th Edition. The startup costs and time, are so daunting, most give up before they start.

What should GW do? Should they copy Fantasy Flight games and sell pre-painted models? Well no, we saw Rackham try that and fail.

Should GW decrease the model count necessary to play a game? Well it does seem they are going this direction with 9th (if the rumours online are true) and I do believe this will help make the perceived cost of starting Warhammer Fantasy less than it is, so it should help

But in the end I don’t think these are the problems that have led to fewer people starting Warhammer, or at least they are contributing factors, but not the whole story. I believe they have fallen short when it has come to the “oh my gosh that’s amazing and I need it” factor. I’m not going to delve too deeply into the psychology of it, as I am grossly unqualified to do so, but I have noticed something. This hobby satisfies a want in our lives; namely an imaginary alternate life. Fantasy/sci-fi games play on this emotion; whether it’s a video game, board game, or a table top game, these games ignite a desire in each of us to live a life bigger/better then what we have; and I believe Warhammer Fantasy has not been satisfying this want of late.

When was the last time you finished reading a Warhammer army book and said to yourself, “wow that was amazing, I need to play out that battle immediately.” How about the rule book? White Dwarf? Novel? Ya, same here.

Think of the latest army book releases for 8th edition. Let’s pick one at random, say High Elves (I keep using High Elves as they are my preferred army). Can any of you name off the top of your head what new units were released in this book? Sure, Phoenix’ come to mind, I guess the Sisters of Avelorn (who?) and the Lothern Skycutter (what?). What are these things? Well there is a quick blob about them in the book, but after reading it I basically moved on. I want to put White Lions in my army. They saved the fourth Phoenix King from an assassination attempt, they come from Chrace, are the Phoenix king’s personal body guards, have to kill a White Lion with their bare hands before they can join the ranks and they would rather die then leave their charge. You read about them and you become emotionally invested in them. Cool right? How about the Sky Cutter Chariot? Uh . . . the what? Exactly.

How GW Gets that “Cool” Factor Back?

Well a good example is the recent Raging Hero’s startup on Kickstarter, The Toughest Girl’s in the Galaxy: 2. For those who are not familiar with this start up, do yourself a favor and check it out (it’s over now, but you’ll be able to buy the models in the coming years as they are cast).

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Why was a relatively unknown, little company, able to raise over $800,000USD in under 2 weeks? Did you see the concept art? Enough said. When GW comes up with a poster like this, I will have no problem throwing my money at them.

I do believe that GW has lost sight of this, especially in Warhammer Fantasy.  40K has been doing a great job of this BTW, especially the exponential growth of 30K. Have you read any of the Horus Heresy books? I read the first one that was released and was hooked! I own all 4 books now and a little Emperor’s Children army that sits unassembled and unpainted on my shelves; but I was happy to buy it!

There it is guys; I feel that Fantasy has lost its sizzle. There has not been an exciting release for Fantasy in almost all of 8th edition. Some of you may disagree, and others might point at the End of Times book, which enjoyed some success that’s true; but when you consider the blandness of 8th Edition I figure End of Times had to do well, Warhammer was already on rock bottom and there was only one direction it could go.

So here we are. GW undoubtedly recognizes this; thus its destruction of the old world and the birth of a new world (or floating bubbles if the rumours are true). Can this work? Can 9th edition breath new life into Fantasy? I’m hoping yes! I’m hoping to see some b@d @ss concept art. I’m hoping to read some awesome fiction of some lone dude, with a magic sword he drew from a rock, against a million daemons, fighting them back and winning the day! I want Sigmar back! I want Aenarion back (or equivalent substitutes)!

I’m hoping to see something that’s going to excite me, and make me want to drop my Warmahordes and X-wing fighters and throw my money back at Warhammer Fantasy, just like the Horus Heresy did. What do you want to see?

  • Noveltyboy

    I would like to see my Lizardmen army remain. The points cost of characters/monsters balanced with how actually useful they are vs cannons and the ability to mix in some allies so not all armies look bland and samey. My Lizards would look great with some Elf or Empire support.

    • LordKrungharr

      The Lizardmen should remain and be transformed into round bases to be the Old Ones returned!…in 40k.

      • Bayne MacGregor

        Or both. But Space Slann were cool in 1st ed 40k and i’d definitely enjoy seeing them in some form again.

      • Robert Thornton-Kaye

        Like this?: https://fandexes.wordpress.com/2015/02/22/codex-lizardmen/
        Been having fun with just such an army for a few years now. Feedback on the rules is always welcome.

    • rem234

      I think more likely some armies will change somewhat but probably still let you use what currently is there.

      Some armies will disappear, or converge from multiple into a single faction.

      And i hope this brings some emergence of new armies. One thing Fantasy always could have used in my opinion is some of the Eastern Areas getting some spotlight. Kingdoms of Ind, Kathay and Nippon should have gotten armies to use too.

      Hopefully what comes next will use some of these.

  • I’ve always loved Fantasy. I play Fantasy. My local group has 3 new Fantasy players in the last 4 months. I never quite understand the assumptions I see made from people who haven’t played. They don’t add up with my experience. It’s definitely a more fun game than 40k to me. When you come FROM 40k to Fantasy, you tend to see hesitation. 40k is many players ONLY tabletop experience. Fantasy is played differently. Very differently…but with similar lore. That change of pace is jarring to those “new” players expecting to play 40k with Dragons, Drawfs, and Elves.

    • Aezeal

      I’ve heard 40K games are not THAT much faster than fantasy games.

      • Knight_of_Infinite_Resignation

        40k games take forever these days. More troops, lots of odd things to roll for, lots of book-keeping. Doesn’t mean it isn’t fun, but it is slow, hence I suspect the press for big single models and D weapons. Personally I prefer 1200 points or so, feels like a 1500 point game did in 5th.

        • J Mad

          My 2k games last just as long as 5th 1850 games… My nids list is actually really fast to play 🙂

          • Knight_of_Infinite_Resignation

            well the fewer big models you have the quicker it is, so Nidzilla would be quite quick.

        • muleyyy

          yup, every new codex has more lolrandom tables to roll on and debatable rules

          thats got more to do with GW’s writing skills these days though, just check out white dwarf these days, pictures pictures pictures no actual content

      • J Mad

        Depends on the players, me and a friend ad a 45min 5 round heavy’s ever tire match once, We know each other armies well and we know the rules well. We never had to look up a rule/chart or ask the other, it was AMAZING!.

        • RexScarlet

          Virus, x22 Plasma/etc. Missiles from off table, 4th level Psykers with bandoleers of Force Rods Temporal Distorting the opponents entire turn away, and etc. used to be the fastest games, they were AMAZING!
          . lol

      • Spacefrisian

        Well after you deploy you are busy for like another 5 minutes to roll psychic powers and warlord traits. Than during the game you have to either flip through your book for objectives or psychic powers or you have to remember which psychic powers all youre psykers have. This also goes for cards, but only goes slightly faster.

        Taking this to like 2 or 3 minutes times 12/14 or so and you have another halfhour of paper work in game.

        Note: goes alot faster if you print out the needed pages and put some plastic (similar to warmachine cards, only bigger) on them, its alot faster to keep track of stuff as that way you only need to use a marker to note stuff, than wipe it clean for the next battle.

      • dodicula

        40k is slower thanks to fantasies movement trays. I do like 40ks more streamlined magic phase though

      • Benderisgreat

        Indeed, Fantasy might be faster because you can move everything on little trays, whereas in 40k your opponent takes for FREAKING ever to move his 300+ goddamn orks.

        • euansmith

          Removing template weapons and replacing them with a random number of hits would speed up movement for horde armies, as the player wouldn’t have to spend ages spreading the minis out. 😉

    • Rhaen

      Not to try and sound elitistic or such but I’d have to say that the workings of WFB are more complex than 40k. So besides not having spehsmarheens to entice the kiddies with massive shoulder pads, it’s also less straight forward and requires more tactical thinking in general.

      • Marky

        I find fantasy quite simple. You only need 2 books, the rules don’t have lots of exceptions, units move in blocks. As for tactical thinking wfb is more involved.

    • Andrew

      I like Fantasy better than 40k, but that’s probably because I like infantry more than tanks. It’s just a very expensive game to get into unfortunately.

  • Aezeal

    Well if GW can fit titan sized units they’ll get that wow factor…

    • sps87

      Well there are these things called emperor dragons but that got shutdown because there is no real way to take them except in stoRm of magic which flopped.

      • LordKrungharr

        I almost bought into Storm of Magic because of all that cool terrain. Alas, nobody else around cared 🙁

      • Marky

        Fantasy (setting) isn’t about having 1 big dragon for me, it would spoil it… big dragons are ok in warmaster I suppose.

        • euansmith

          Warmaster was cool.

    • Marky

      making fantasy a krapp version of 40k won’t work. I’d say fantasy has picked up a few players who don’t like the massive robot vs plane fights that 40k is now… I used to play both, only play wfb now

  • Spiritof69

    How much does it cost to start a 40k army from scratch? Much less a FW 30k? And how long does it take to paint? I don’t know, I dumped all my 40k stuff when the game got really stupid.

    • Knight_of_Infinite_Resignation

      depends how canny you are. Was talking to a guy tonight who wanted to start Word Bearers. Needn’t be too expensive if you buy cultists and second hand tanks on Ebay, a couple of fortifications etc. The most expensive thing will be IA13.

      Grey Knights can also be cheap.

    • Benderisgreat

      Actually, GW’s prices have rocketed past FW in some areas, so it may end up being more expensive, depending on the army.

      You did a wise thing. Don’t be lured back in.

  • nurglitch

    I remember Warhammer being low-fantasy with a sense of humour, very much in the vein of Handmade Films and Python-esque production. I think that it started losing that flavour in 6th and onwards for a more serious, hi-fantasy approach that lost the magic. That and the gameplay is less fun that watching the paint dry on your wound-markers, I mean “miniatures.”

    • zeno666

      I agree. A lot of the “fun” went away when the old gang left GW.
      Also when computer-sculpts started to show, a lot of the design went super bland and all Disney.

      Face it, Warhammer Fantasy died years ago

      • vlad78

        Quoted for truth.

      • Dennis J. Pechavar

        Which is why other than the Anvil of Doom my Dwarf army is old models. I always say this so please have patience with me but the best models GW released were the Dogs of War. The amount of character and flavor that dripped from those models was/is amazing. They have done some great work lately but overall it’s bland and flavorless. I want to but models that challenge and excite me, force me to paint them now! Most of the new models…not so much.

      • Noctis Lucis

        What do you mean by ‘Disney’?

        I’d hardly call any hard-boiled BL novels such as Darkblade, Brunner, Wulfrik and Gotrek & Felix light and fluffy.

        In terms of design, some of the new Elf, Vampire and Skaven kits are truly unique and freakish.

        And Warhammer is very much so alive in my community.

  • I think Nagash, and the end times stuff is really cool. But it hasn’t really filtered across to any army, I feel

  • Orangecoke

    My thoughts:
    – very high cost of entry
    – long, relatively complex games to set up, play and tear down
    – barrier to entry in terms of feeling like you need to paint (or at least, assemble) potentially hundreds of models.
    – additional requirement (or perception it’s needed) to create movement trays for all these units
    It’s an expensive, daunting, fiddly game to get into basically. 40K is pricey too, but perception wish I would say the barriers are much higher for Fantasy.
    I actually don’t think the “gotta have it” factor is a problem – they have some *seriously* cool models in Fantasy. Often the larger ones like the Vampire Counts or Dark Eldar huge chariot looking things (I forget the names atm).
    But getting started is just really challenging, and that goes doubly for a novice hobbyist or gamer.

    • apackistany

      If building and painting is a barrier it’s probably not the hobby for that type of person.

      • Orangecoke

        Really? I’ve been doing this hobby well over 20 years and even I’m daunted at the prospect of assembling and painting a full army of Skaven (although I have…) or the other high model count armies. It’s not hard to see the problem.
        It’s the relative quantity of those things as compared to other game options. Hundreds of guys vs 30-40 or less. There are some options like Ogres but people also see things like Vampire counts, Skaven etc and it’s probably daunting.

        • dodicula

          ill see your skaven army in price and numbers and raise you an ork horde with their dollar per point trukks

          • Orangecoke

            hah, true

          • Thrawn

            Haha true!

            There will always be specific examples that buck the norm, but on average Warhammer Fantasy is usually much more model intensive.

          • dodicula

            So the biggest armies (Skaven, orcs, infantry empire, are indeed warhammer), but so are the smallest Ogre Kingdoms, Elite WOC,Cav Empire… once you add the transport factor the the more expensive Lords in WFB the difference is neglibile

          • Dennis J. Pechavar

            How do you like the big gunz? 35pts in game…about that in cash.

        • RexScarlet

          exactly, then add in the Interwebs posting tournament results and said low model count and low entry cost armies performing poorly, and then it becomes even more daunting that a player will have to buy the current meta to even stand a chance… (perceived of course, lol)

          • dodicula

            But LOW model count armies are not bad in the Meta, Daemons, Ogres, Warriors and Wood Elves are all low model count

          • RexScarlet

            Exactly, but you see my point, and WHFB 8e is going away, so if the armies you mentioned………….

      • Aezeal

        Actually the first like… 5 years I played with unpainted metal models. I like the metal look they had.
        If I’d ever get a 2nd army it’s be dwarves.. with lines of iron breakers.. (not plastic ofc) all painted nearly 100% iron colored.

    • Aezeal

      MIght be becuase my biggest model is the forest dragon and I’ve had 2 already for 15 years.. Never played with more than 1 in a single game either.
      No real need to buy much big… I bought a new treeman but I really don’t play with it either. I play with 0 in nearly all lists.. and I also have 3 15 year old treemen.

  • Thrawn

    I agree with most of you, particularily nurlitch and zeno. the hi-fantasy/disney move was not welcomed by myself either.
    they can still make it work, much like warmahordes, but they have to make a more serious effort . . . so far it has just felt like a change of direction for conveneince.

    • dodicula

      I just hope the new direction isnt a pointless boring game like 40k

      • Talarius

        I hope the new direction doesn’t actually feature “bubbles” of reality as rumored. There’s no way I’ll be remotely interested or willing to invest in such a “fantasy setting.” A world that isn’t even a world anymore, with all of its history and geography wiped out? There’s literally nothing for me to grab onto there. No Cannae, Waterloo, Gates of Thermopalye (sp?), no War of the Beard or the Sundering, no Black Fire Pass or La Maisontaal. By wiping the slate entirely clean they will have removed anything that might interest me other than well-sculpted minis. Imho, if this “bubbles” rumor turns out to be true, the game will die *very* quickly.

        • Talarius

          Forgot to add: White Dwarf’s battle reports are absolutely terrible at inspiring readers to get into their games now. I can remember reading them avidly back around issues 190-2xx. I only played Necromunda in those days, but the batreps for 40K, Fantasy and Epic really got my attention. Pictures of the armies, overview diagrams of the battlefield and colorful commentary from the players and editors. WD is a pale shadow of its former self; they already have the formula for a successful batrep and they insist on the trainwreck approach. Oh, and lets remove any mention of the actual humans behind the green curtain at HQ. We wouldn’t want our customers to empathize with any of us. Sorry for ranting, but GW just makes so many bad decisions among the good it can drive you bonkers.

        • CelticMarauder .

          I’m a little worried about that as well. I, too, will miss the rich history, lore and setting that has been previously established. I enjoyed the depiction of the Warhammer world as a grittier and more fantastical version of real-world history, nations and mythologies. I’ll personally wait until more details are released before I actually come to a conclusion, but the rumored “reality bubbles” are something that I’m going to be wary of.

  • ronin_cse

    Very good points. It also makes sense that End Times did well as it did have those “WOW” models. I don’t play Fantasy (YET!) but even I wanted to go out and buy Nagash just because he was amazing looking. If I did play Fantasy I almost certainly would have gotten it.

    40k on the other hand has lots of “OMG wow!!!” models that thanks to allies just about every faction has access to.

    • dodicula

      If only the game were actually fun

      • Knight_of_Infinite_Resignation

        I think 7th is great fun, the Maelstrom missions in particular.

        • dodicula

          Maybe, 6th sucked so much I didn’t bother trying 7th, maybe it got better

  • I have to say i dont agree that games have to be a handful of modelsor less to be viable.

    Going through my old battle reports and army rosters from 2000-2005 i fielded about 50/60 models on average.

    Today i fieldabout 50-60 on average.

    I dont feel armies are huge compared to the past. I think thats a gross exageration.

    Also no onesaid you have to field 2400 pts. Play 2000.

    • Aezeal

      I play 2000 usually and with WE.. elves being somewhat high cost/model usually and I tend to have 34 GG, 15 WW, 10 scouts and 12 WR and some other stuff.. that is 60 models with elves. Humans, OnG, skaven, lizzies most probably would have more at the same points.

      • My post wasnt to say all armies are 50/60. Of course there are armies that can field more or less. I was saying my model count did not blow up with 8th

  • Gentle_Ben

    Y’know there are some other companies out there making some great games of their own. Might be worth at least mentioning in an article about WHFB sales being down.

    • confoo22

      Or, you know, we can actually stick to the subject at hand instead of trying to promote other games that get plenty of their own articles on this site.

      • Gentle_Ben

        The subject at hand is “why isn’t whfb doing so hot” and mentioning that other games might be eating into their profit margins isn’t on topic?

        • confoo22

          The subject is “What can GW do to right the ship of WHFB.” He points out that sales and new blood are down as an intro, talks about what GW has done wrong, and then goes on to ask what GW can do to change that. Why should he shoe horn in a commercial for other games when it’s not really relevant to the conversation?

          • Gentle_Ben

            The first sentence is “It’s no secret that Warhammer Fantasy sales are down.”
            Competition by other companies is totally relevant.

          • confoo22

            It would be if the article was titled “Why are sales down?” But it’s actually an article focused on WHFB and how it’s lost its way. It’s a soul searching article about the current state of the game, not sales, and what sort of future might be in store for it. There’s nothing that mentioning other games just for the purpose of mentioning them can add to the conversation except to remind people that GW is losing market shares to other games.

          • Gentle_Ben

            That is one take away.

            Here is another.

            The article asks why sales are down and makes the conclusion that it’s because GW lost it’s way. Maybe? But regardless that conclusion ignores a huge giant piece of the puzzle and that piece is competition from other game companies.

            Maybe if the article was titled “Why I won’t be playing WHFB any longer.”

          • confoo22

            It’s really not asking that at all. It makes a statement at the beginning of the article that sales are down as part of the introduction to that actual topic at hand. That’s it. It’s not asking for or engaging in discussion on that topic.

            I know that you’re the PP/Infinity/non-GW mini author on this site, so you should write your own article talking about how other games are eating GW’s market share. It’s a fair topic and one that will generate conversation, no doubt. But that’s not what this article is about, and I don’t think it’s fair of you to criticize this guy for not pushing a subject that you have a personal, vested interest in.

          • Gentle_Ben

            Perhaps I came off as too critical.

            But what’s making me feel really stupid is I just read the last paragraph of the article.

          • V10_Rob

            WFB does not exist in a vacuum, much as you or GW would like to wish or pretend otherwise. If WFB is in decline while similar games are in ascension, you can’t not analyze the competition and their strengths.

          • dodicula

            I think its relevant GW does not seem to realiZe it has serious competition

          • RexScarlet

            “What can GW do to right the ship of WHFB.”
            Maybe GW could learn from the success of these other tiny companies and their games… ROFL! (I am kidding you here).
            .
            BUT, GW needs to do something, what do you suggest?
            Rather than getting all bent out of shape over someone mentioning other than GW games, and Gentle_Ben did not even name said games by the way, we would like to hear your solution?
            .
            My solution is “well written, well thought-out, balanced, and supported” rules, and then;
            a Mordheim style and level skirmish game.
            a multi-player big battle game.
            a large head to head game.
            .
            That way players can start small (one unit), grow to bigger battles with friends (by adding a few units) and fit more players on a precious table at FLGS, and THEN grow their army into a large player vs player battle.
            .
            😉

  • Aezeal

    Obviously the reason is that these days sci-fi is more popular than fantasy.

    • Which is odd as Scifi novels are in a bit of a slump compared to the Fantasy boom these days. It isn’t quite so clear cut, I’m afraid.

  • Noctis Lucis

    This was a great editorial Thrawn, thanks for posting it. Warhammer Fantasy was how I got into the hobby,not 40k.

    And to watch GW systematically torpedo it’s fluff during the End Times, was like nuking all the fond memories from my formative years.

    I think the problem is ‘Steampunk’. All the other players in the field, namely Privateer, developed a visually cool look with Warmahordes.

    Fantasy was still stuck in this Dark ages/ post renaissance-era that just didn’t shout ‘cool’ when you walked in the door.

    A steampunk’d Warhamer is what I’d play. Advance the timeline by a century or two and I’d totally play.

    Nagash, Malekith and the Chaos Gods can still come ply in my sandbox. They are immortal afterall.

    • Brae

      I disagree. GW shouldn’t bow down to pressure from Steampunk simply because that style is in vogue at the moment. It tends to cover that stuff with Empire anyway. I do agree with your sentiments regarding the destruction of the established fluff. I’m all for moving the Warhammer world forward, but it should be in a much more subtle and stylish way. The current ”end times” just reeks of desperation.

  • Alvin Adorno

    any model company can make any one of the fantasy battle armies out. by killing every thing they get a chance to put an ip on the new eldardrak “dragon”.

  • Manowaffle

    I have to think it’s a mix of financial barrier to entry and rules complexity. I don’t understand why GW has completely abandoned Mordheim and Necromunda when both of those seem like such perfect gateways to the larger WFB and 40k games. Buy 10 models, fall in love with the fluff, learn the hobby, then you get ambitious and decide to try playing with 20 models, then 30, and before you know it you’ve got a full-blown WFB or 40k army. Mordheim was appealing because the buy-in cost was about the same as a video game, the starter set was about $70 and came with two complete warbands, ruleset, and terrain. Today, the WFB and 40k starter sets cost twice that and barely give you the minimum amount of models for a legal army. The minimum cost for a new player is exorbitant compared with the slew of RTS games available for $40-$60 nowadays.

  • violencejack

    I’ll offer my point of view about why I never got into Fantasy, but first, my opinions on why “Toughest Girls in the Galaxy” did well.

    Yes the concept art was cool but really I think one of the biggest factors is mostly due to something else. That being, there’s a large community of gamers that always wanted badass cool girls in their 40k or Fantasy games. GW never made such models so, here you go. Your Alternative choice source. I know they cover other figures for other genres/settings but most of their stuff is cool/sexy/stylish females for 40k/Fantasy. THAT’s why I think they did well.

    Okay, about Warhammer Fantasy. Y’know, I’ve always wanted to get into it. It really wasn’t the high model count that caused me to not start. Although, it did make me feel like it was going to be an “uphill climb” factor. The reasons that usually stopped me were:

    1.) Every time I picked a faction, it had a model line that had horrible base troop models. High Elf spearmen for example. Tomb Kings, another.

    2.) Or, when I did like the base troops, I was told the army was at the lowest end of the power curve and be prepared to be stomped a lot. Beastmen for example.

    3.) I would get in the mood to finally dive in and I’d hear horrible things about the current state of the game. Example: there was an era where Demons just stomped everything. As I already playing 40k , I was already dealing with that game its times of popular front runner power armies. Example 40k, had an era of Grey Knights being overwhelmingly everywhere. Although, at the time Demons in Fantasy were supposedly OP, 40k didn’t have OP Grey Knights yet and we were enjoying a brief calm period of “our game has slightly more balance than Fantasy’s” … at that small window in time.

    So yeah those were my reasons. As you can see reasons #2 and #3 aren’t very good reasons. If I liked Beastmen, I should’ve just gotten them. Who cares if they’re the least powerful. Just enjoy the game. At the time though I was on an unlucky streak of always getting into things that were the least powerful. Whether that be a miniature game’s faction or a computer game MMO’s character class. My current day self cares less about that and would’ve just gotten into Beastmen.

    With reason #3, I should never listen to what “people” are saying. Often they are wrong, or … if they’re right, the truth is a bit exaggerated. Or if they’re dead on right, it didn’t matter if I just stayed away from Tournaments. As I am a mostly casual and just play with friends or local games, it wouldn’t have mattered what the Tourney meta was.

    Even if some of those reasons were wrong, they did effect my decisions though.

    • Sieza

      This! All three.

      I could have probably got past 2 & 3 but the armies I wanted to start were Lizards & TK – both which have amazing elite models but really old basic troops. I just couldn’t bring myself to spend so much time and money on crappy basic troops which you need before you can field any of the other stuff anyway.

    • Michael Sellwood

      Agreed on the fact that a lot of the old core troops are decidedly average looking (High Elves, I am looking at you). It doesn’t help also that sometimes their role in the game is to act as throw away drops, or some minor shooting support, or a tarpit, or board control, yet they still cost like the fun models that actually are choppy in game and they still take as long to paint as the much nicer models.
      On the other two, I play with a small group of friends, so relative power level has never been that important to me.

  • BonesoftheDesert

    First time poster, created just to join this discussion. I wanted to point out as someone who started as a 40K player (6th/7th edition), and played a few games of Fantasy (Tomb Kings), I was really wowed by the depth of strategy and thought that goes into playing Fantasy. As someone pointed out locally, you can screw up in 40k, and you won’t miss much. If you fail to _deploy_ well in Fantasy, it’s over before you started. I love 40k, love the fluff, but Fantasy really stole my heart for sheer strategy fun.

    The barrier? The rules. That was my barrier…I saw the Fantasy ‘bible’ and nearly ran from the store. It’s tough, and that, I think, discourages younger players. Should GW change it, simplify like the miniatures? Absolutely not. Why? The complexity and breadth of the rules is what makes the game.

    Dumb it down and I may as well go play Warmahordes or somesuch. (Not insulting PP, just stating their rules are much simpler).

    To put it simply: 40k – Checkers, Fantasy – Chess. IMHO.

  • WestFargo Dave

    Skaven + space= Spaven
    Skaven + Necromunda = Skacromunda
    Skaven + End Times= Skavend Times
    Skaven + Mordheim= Skardheim
    Skaven + Index Asartes=… Skaven….

  • jonathon

    good post however I have a comment regarding one aspect of the “Barrier to entry” that you discuss:

    namely GW hasn’t set fixed army sized for any of their games. The idea that 40K needs to be played at 1500+ points, or WHFB needs to be played in the 2500-3000 point range is something the community has done to itself because WE want to use as many of our cool toys at once as we can.

    There’s nothing inherently wrong with playing a 1500 point game of WHFB and using only a single lord with 4-5 supporting units (only one or two special and maybe a rare….) except for the fact that you then can’t include a giant monster AND a cannon battery AND a lvl4 wizard AND a tooled to the gills general AND, AND, AND, etc.

    the COMMUNITY has set this barrier to entry & thus it lays with us to tear that barrier down. Support events calling for smaller games – run a tournament in 40K using only 1000 point armylists. This type of play eases the strain on the wallet, on the available hobby time (less modeling, painting, and shorter games!) and makes each and every dice roll feel that much more epic.

    … pretty much everything else you wrote was spot on, however beware the “I need it” factor – look at the common complaints currently levied against 40K. A significant portion of the community is chaffed at the idea of a new book every 2 months “requiring” them to spend another $50-$100 to buy another new unit or two to address the “shifting meta”

    • Andrew Thomas

      Yep. TO’s should get on that.

    • RexScarlet

      Great examples!
      Mordheim; basic book ONLY, with Proxy and Counts As rules; example; Ork models used as Possessed, or Marienbergers, etc. we had huge success here.
      .
      I cannot speak for WHFB 8e, but WH40K 3e-7e 1500-1999+1 point tournament/standard-start-up games came about because of “minimums” (Troops and HQ). Example at lower points, say 500; IG have a high weak unit model count and point sink minimum, whereas other armies do not and can squeeze in two Demon Princesses, etc. = huge unbalance…
      .
      We used to play WHFB 6e at 2999 (one Lord), the local FLGS played 1500, so I agree with you here, but still a mess, (citation; Swedish comp, which is a large Group and able to fill 100 person Tournaments here in the US easily)
      .
      Another issue is start-up games, players do not want to discuss for hours the point total, what rules, what restrictions, and etc. to use before the game, no standards just creates more confusion and more unbalance, especially for new players.

  • guillaumetexas

    To bring back Fantasy, bring back “Warbands”.

    This 200-500 pts system was created by the USA White Dwarf team about a decade ago and was absolutely mind blowingly good.

    I even organized an escalation league, from 250 to 500pts, where the fee to enter, was a box of WHFB miniatures.

    All players were 40K players, and I managed to get all of them to start a fantasy army. After which, many slowly built their armies. Others kept their 500pts warbands, and we continued to play for a while.

    It was so much fun, we had 4 way games, with a 6×6 table, 4 armies, central objectives and hidden objectives (magical weapons or duds) which you would reveal when you move onto the objective.

    Unfortunately, I had to move, and left that particular game group.

    This is one small experience, but many players applauded me (I really did little, but implement the escalation league which was published in WD), and they assured me that they had never thought of starting Fantasy before the Warband system.

    In short: Bring back small games. Break that miniature barrier entry.

  • JP

    They decided the best way to change it was to wipe it clean.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WfxKtroY-6M

  • J Mad

    I stop WFB b.c I dont like movement trays AND I was beastmen… I had 140 gor/ungor, 3-4 boards and chariots. It was way to much to just move and remove from the table every game for VERY LITTLE what play out in the game.

    So many models with so little to do. it felt way under whelming.

  • Adam Davies

    needs to be updated an become a pc game that works

  • Hans Johansson

    “all 4 books”, is this a typo? 😛 The Horus Heresy have what now? 31 books in total? Or are you mentioning them just cause of the 4th book Fulgrim. The Fulgrim book is retardedly good

    • SithKnightGalen

      He was referring to the ForgeWorld 30K Army/Campaign Supplement books (Betrayal, Massacre, Extermination, and Conquest). The novels are great, too, but I believe he was referencing the game books.

  • Hylander6

    Personally, I think the decline is a gathering of a few things gone wrong. 1) This hits most of us, is “Cost” I know that making molds is not cheap, but when I have to work a full 8 hours to afford some of the higher priced models, it becomes a concern. 2) All of the names we have grown up with have left, Andy Chambers, Jervis Johnson (Kinda), Fat Bloke and all the rest. The company is now owned by “Stock-Holders” who care nothing about game content, just the profit margine. GW needs GAMERS to give us what we want. 3) Customer support, bring back the excitment of Rogue Trader Turnnies. Rehire the “Outriders” to peddle your wares. Embrase your Local Hobby Centers and even the Mail Order Gurus, as they are feeding into your image. Rethink the world wide campaigns. I can remember driving a car load of bleary eyed gamers two hours to St. Louis to be at the GW store in St.Louis Mills at opening. We played epic battles of both 40k and Fantasy. We had the GW store in Seattle declare an orbital bombardment on our store. It took out the center table and all 6 armies on it. THese are the days to remember, and it could all happen again if we tell GW how we feel.

  • kaptinscuzgob

    i think they blew the world up so they could get rid of the derivative bits and redesign the setting into something a little more inventive. the old setting was just Earth’s map with a few extra bits, and was full of areas that were just real countries shoehorned into the setting, like Araby, Cathay, Ind, and Nippon. Hell, Nippon is just the Japanese name for Japan, and all it was is Japan with dragons and magic! talk about creative.
    With a new setting, they can make a much more imaginative world that is inspired by our reality instead of just having stuff like “oh we have Nippon because every fantasy setting must have a Far East Zone”
    maybe itll even get them to make forces for those places

  • Vomkrieg

    A new edition won’t breath life into a game. Games tend to suffer player drift after new rules editions as people who were comfortable in one set can’t be bothered learning the new rules.

    Changing editions rarely, to fix problems and develop a game is fine. Changing them frequently just causes player fatigue.

    There is one thing on the horizon that could really boost fantasy numbers, and that is Total War: Warhammer.

    A genuine AAA game made by the Total war franchise could be just the thing to boost interest in the IP. I will bet that many people who pick up that game will do so for the “Total war” brand without any real knowledge of “Warhammer”. Sure, many people will be familiar with the setting, but it’s a rare chance to get Warhammer in front of a new audience.

    • Chris. K Cook

      A new audience of horrible antisocial jerkoffs? I am still convinced the obnoxious aggressive types we’ve seen flooding into 40K of late are here via DoW.

      • Vomkrieg

        And you base your hypothesis on what?

        The irony of a tabletop wargamer calling another fandom “obnoxious aggressive jerks” considering the reputation tabletop wargamers have of being aggressive, petty, neckbeard jerks is pretty funny.

        The fandoms for both table top games and total war contains good people and jerks. Because people are a mix of good people and jerks.

        What they have in common is an interest in wargaming, the difference is the medium. I honestly don’t see why you think people who will play a mostly single player strategy PC game are inherently worse quality human beings than table-top wargamers.

        • Chris. K Cook

          “The irony of a tabletop wargamer calling another fandom “obnoxious aggressive jerks” considering the reputation tabletop wargamers have of being aggressive, petty, neckbeard jerks is pretty funny.”

          Which we have only been getting of late. Been in the hobby a good 20 years and those sorts of folks only started to flood into the hobby at the time DoW got big.

          You do the maths.

          “I honestly don’t see why you think people who will play a mostly single player strategy PC game are inherently worse quality human beings than table-top wargamers.”

          Maybe the fact that they are coming from a hobby where social interaction is not required? I know that some of our number have issues with that these days, just look at all the raging and screaming about the idea that 7th edition expects you to talk to your opponent about what you both want from the game before you play. But I wonder how many of them got into the game via DoW?

          • Vomkrieg

            What utter BS. Wargaming has always had that reputation.

            When i first went to a games club to play 40k in 1990, I was tabled by a Jokaero player using the worst WAAC army i’ve ever seen. Using jokaro weapon combining rules he bought his army knives, by turn 3 they all had heavy weapons for 2 point each.

            Also, from about 20 years ago. The jerk who fielded one callidus assassin and “off the board” leman russ tanks to bombard. Couldn’t actually lose a game as he had 1 figure on the board. Oh, and those lists of space wolf terminators with assault cannons that would kill everything on the board with one squad.

            40k had to introduce a sportsmanship component to tournaments and events to curb the neck-beardness, before GW finally gave up on tournaments. That was what, 20 years ago they tried to introduce sportsmanship to curb the amount of jerks playing and winning?

            And that’s not to mention the DBM/ancients neckbeards who have been around wargaming since time began.

            If you think wargaming was a hobby of caring and sharing and somehow Dawn of War ruined it. Then I can’t possibly convince you, because it’s not like we have empirical evidence, it’s all anecdotal. All i can say is “lol, what a load of bollicks” based on my personal experience, which is all you can offer as well.

      • CelticMarauder .

        I’m personally a fan of both the Total War and Warhammer (Fantasy and 40K) settings, and I wouldn’t generally consider myself obnoxious or aggressive. I also spend a good deal of time on the TWCenter (Total War Center) forums and they’re by and large decent people as well. I agree with Vomkrieg. Every playerbase, fandom or grouping of people comes with a mixture of great people and jerks.

        • Chris. K Cook

          Well that’s a relief. as much as I like DoW myself its the most likely source of the hyper aggressive types we seem to be finding in the hobby of late.

  • Morten Dragoth

    Games workshop is company full of idiots…long live historical wargaming!

  • Nathan Bundick

    How about about a FAQ already.

  • DavidtheDuke

    Since Total War is going Warhammer fantasy I don’t really see a reason to buy the things since I can see them in “live action” soon, and probably magnitudes of a better price.

  • AdeptusAstartes

    GAME. OF. THRONES.

    Hobbit gone, Fantasy shrinking … watch this space.

  • I actually think it’s more due to competition in genre, more than anything else. While Warmachine/Hordes feels a bit steampunky, it definitely scratches the “fantasy” itch more than sci-fi. Malifaux also kinda competes, although the scale is much smaller.
    There really aren’t many games out there which compete with 40k at what it does, however. All of those who fit into the sci-fi category are either much smaller in model count (MERCs, Infinity) or much bigger in scale (Dropzone Commander). Fantasy, however, is rife with competition and GW honestly doesn’t compete well with others (they don’t even acknowledge them).
    If GW wants to compete they don’t need to just lower prices but overhaul the entire game system. It seems like Fantasy will be heading in both directions, at least, and maybe they’ll be able to compete again.

  • Halladall

    Maybe its because 40K is so much better made?