40K: We Need More League Support From GW

Tournaments and Global Campaigns are nice but what about the “local” scene? We need some League Play Support.

Games Workshop has been doing some really amazing things with the community for the past two years. We’ve seen them crank-up the community engagement with appearances at major Tournaments on both sides of the pond, an active Social Media presence, tons of interaction from local GW stores, and two Global Summer Campaigns under their belt (with lessons learned during both). However, there is one area that I think they could really improve on and that is League Play support.

What Is League Play?

League Play is basically some form of organized or structured play. Most leagues run for a few weeks at a time (4-6 weeks or so). Monthly or bi-monthly seem to be pretty popular. Maybe your FLGS already does this – in fact, for many gamers around the world, they may already do this in their spare time. That’s fantastic! Those groups are usually pretty health gaming groups and the stores they play at are typically fairly stable stores, too. Coincidence? I’ll let you decide.

Anyhow, League Play is not a new concept. Many other manufactures do this already. Privateer Press runs seasonal leagues and events all the time. Fantasy Flight Games does this for pretty much ALL their game systems, both the competative and co-operative games. Some of the manufactures provide free downloads for running leagues and some actually have retailer kits stores can order and use right out of the box.

Recently, Games Workshop has announced a new Campaign Kit that is coming soon – Season of War: Firestorm. The biggest difference between that kit and an Organized Play kit is that Firestorm looks like it’s designed for players to purchase and take with them to run where a OP Kit from say FFG is designed to be run by the FLGS.

Now, I don’t see why a store couldn’t purchase the Firestorm box themselves and use it to host a League or Campaign in their store – in fact, if I were a store and I wanted to help promote playing in my store, I would do just that! But after seeing what GW can do with things like the Monster Week (which was two weeks ago, 100% free, and was the size of a supplement) I’m pretty sure they could spare the staff to create some type of league kit for retailers, too.

Initially, it wouldn’t even need to be super fancy and it could be a way for them to experiment with the game a bit. They have the know-how to create retailer kits for their big events, why not have a league kit that retailers can just order and run right out of the box? They did it with Fate of Konor:

These kits don’t have to impact the overall narrative and they don’t have to be linked to every other store running them. But they would give players a reason to sign-up at a store and keep coming back to play week after week. And nothing motivates me to build and paint new units like knowing I’ll need them for an upcoming game…

Games Workshop could even create different tiers or sizes for the league kits. Ideally, they would also come with different level so exclusive swag for the players to have for playing in them. The “Loot” doesn’t even have to be new models (although that could be pretty cool) or epic prize support – FFG does alternate card art for X-Wing as an example. What if GW did alternate Datacard art for units? Or heck, just fancy oversized Datacards would be cool! They also have all the pins and doodads they could include in the kits – They’ve proven they can do all of these things already.

League Support is good for the stores, good for the players, and ultimately its good for Games Workshop. They don’t need to be massive Globally Organized timed events, they don’t need to be Tournament Exclusive packets – League Support kits can be smaller scale and something a store can order every other month or so – when the league ends.


What do you think about League Play? If your FLGS had a league that had support from GW would you want to give it a shot?

  • Karru

    So here’s the thing, if the FLGS decides to run a league or a campaign, it will most likely be much better than the one GW would “support”. If GW is the one doing the supporting, they will most likely have their own set of rules to govern it as well as certain requirements. As everyone knows at this point, GW is definitely not good when it comes to anything competitive, so a league with GW rules would be very boring as you would have the same lists and armies dominate the scene.

    The only “good thing” to come from it would be the possible reward, but even then, I highly doubt that they would go that far to provide an actual proper reward for the league.

    So to give you a short answer, no, I wouldn’t really give it a go if GW supported the League. FLGS people would know better how to run it, as they usually know how the game actually works and how to balance it. They are also aware what kind of players/lists are brought in usually so again, they can tailor the rules should they want more balanced League to take place.

    • ZeeLobby

      Reward support from GW has been extremely dismal for a while, stickers and pieces of paper. I definitely agree that this is something better left to FLGS.

      • Matthew Pomeroy

        The only issue there is that in some places GW has no presence other than their own stores, and its impossible to do much of anything in their broom closet size stores. Leagues that I have been involved in with WM/H have all been a lot of fun, they teach the games and generally make it more enjoyable. I just think that locally GW simply doesn’t have the presence to make it work, the overall attitude towards their games is a resounding “meh” and its self inflicted.

        • Muninwing

          i think, though, that they could outreach it.

          What i’d love to see, really, is a solid and organized club support program for GW to connect to their fanbase. if they used local stores (GW or independent) as some form of “home base” for groups, they’d be able to communicate with groups easily.

          • Matthew Pomeroy

            I think they need to go back to larger stores and support playing in their stores. Its miserable to go into them anymore, even with only a handful of people inside it is crowded and hot. I used to enjoy GW’s (mostly back in England) but now I avoid it unless I really want a specific thing RFN.

          • Muninwing

            counterpoint: i think they need to get rid of their stores entirely. they are ghosts of what they were, and are not good representatives of the product anymore.

            instead, they should channel all that money and effort into setting up clubs at local stores, and supporting those clubs with official events… or giving them the power to run their own.

            replace the overhead of all the brick-and-mortar stores and their payroll with “player support” — social media outreach, gamer tools, prize support, building the hobby into an experience and hooking new players through outreach instead of just hoping they walk by a store.

          • Matthew Pomeroy

            I could get behind that completely if I thought they had a snowballs chance in hell of winning back even a fraction of the good will needed here locally. likely a great idea for other places where GW is not as reviled, but AoS really killed them here and 8th ed did them no favors. Gamers can hold grudges, so while that might be a winning formula in some places, its an upstream swim in others (not impossible mind you, but very improbable).

    • Muninwing

      you are, i think, arguing something different here.

      i will agree with you that your FLGS will probably do it better. i will agree that current and recent-past GW would probably micromanage or otherwise botch this. i will agree that their rewards will probably be crap.

      but i think the spirit of the article is in good faith, which you’re missing.

      this is stating that there is a need for GW to do this right. not to assume GW will do it wrong, and argue there. and i’m inclined to agree with this — i think that if they wanted to optimize their product, they would find a way to implement this correctly.

      that would require them to
      – organize better
      – communicate better
      – actually incentivize players
      – potentially fix rules problems

      and we know how bad they are at these things. but imagine, for a moment, if they decided to fix the problems. imagine what that would do for the hobby.

  • I don’t see a need for GW to provide “league support”. Leagues are run by stores for years without needing any support to do so.

    The one thing that I do think GW would benefit from however is a world ranking system. I think that if leagues gave world rank complete with ego-stroking global recognition ala warhammer community spotlight and white dwarf spreads that they’d pull in a lot of players on that merit alone.

    • Muninwing

      i have a rather large and interconnected idea as to exactly how GW could step into the current century, and benefit players (and in turn their own sales) immensely.

      first, they debut something like a “gaming account” where you can register.
      – you can plan out armies
      – manage your digital purchases
      – create wishlist armies
      – buy stuff from the store
      – catalogue your paints (indexed with the paint app)
      – post battle log/batrep posts on a simple gamer blog
      – have access to submitting rules queries
      … etc. some functions might be accessible only with certain kinds of accounts. some might be accessible through individual phone/pad apps that synced up with the main account for on-the-go usage

      Also on there is your “gamer score” ranking. with an easy reporting tool (more on that later) and interface with other utilities (more on that later), it would be easy to set up a two-tier ranking
      – use the system that chess uses for a number score… it goes up or down based on wins/losses, and it goes up or down based on the difference between scores.
      – use the fencing letter system for tournament ranks. playing in a tournament gets you an E. smaller tournaments might only give out a single D to the winner. the larger the tournament, the higher the letters available to top scorers. thus, with only a dozen or so As given out a year (and potentially to the same people more than once), it is a huge indicator of achievement.

      then debut a club registration system, where you can sign up for different levels of clubs. small (2-8 people) would be free and gain minimal advantages, medium (9-15) would give you some extra access in your account, like to an actually-functioning armybuild program that synced up with your other stuff, or a “picture of the week” submission where you could post shots from your games. maybe give free digital copies of WD to tier 2 and 3 members. Tier 3 would be big clubs, that would have to run events quarterly, with support.

      then GW debuts support. through the clubs, and claimable via the accounts. tools for running and managing leagues. lists of possible narrative missions and a random chooser. tournament setup apps that report results to the scoring system. options to use different styles of setup (assigned, swiss, double dutch, etc pairings, with customizability). registration tools with announcements to players and reminders. list-submission tools for tournament registration to go efficiently. tools for board creation, mission creation, and assignment of board/mission to players to keep track of each round. and score tabulations — including voting or ranking when needed, like comp, play, or “favorite player” nominations. score submitters for in-store games. league organizers similar to the tournament tool above. all unlockable for those running events through their club.

      combine it with the return of prize support. add in things like that year’s “league model” for people who register for and report games (via a club’s reporting app). take an active hand in the stimulus of local events — make larger clubs have to run events to keep their charter, make it easier for smaller ones to run their own. communicate local events via the account, as well as a club-finder tool.

      in other words, make it easy to interface with all the disparate data, and unify it all for the benefit of the game and the players instead of just heavy-handed sales pitches.

  • Marco Marantz

    This post x1000000. My local GW store does nothing to promote the games or assist in players getting in touch with each other. Some time ago I flatly refused to buy any more models until the store manager actually does something. Apart from Thursday night (all three hours of it) nothing goes on at the local GW store and GW doesnt even have any contact with the largest gaming club in the area. Its insane. I think we have a particularly bad manager but the last manager wasnt any better.

    • SacTownBrian

      If that’s true I would expect the store manager to be fired or the store closed due to lack of revenue. This is quite literally the job they are paid to do.

    • I_am_Alpharius

      Thats unfortunate. Broadly, the local GW’s I have lived near have had engaging staff/managers who have a plethora of activity planned every weekend and on late night openings. I’ve bad ones, but they never seem to last long. Guess I’ve been fortunate.

      • Marco Marantz

        I think I will write to head office hear because it sounds like we are missing out based on yours and Brians experiences, and what I know the store should be doing. I dont think i can give any better example that even during the Battle for Konor campaign to my knowledge no games were organised by the store itself. If people turned up and decided to play and contribute, it was by mere fluke.

    • Muninwing

      yeah, there’s really no reason why these clubs should be islands floating alone in the current. GW could help gamers connect with each other.

  • Pete Croucher

    Uuuurgh no. Leagues were the worst thing Privateer Press did (until Mk3. Then they just started going full-on Captain Whackypants) – competitive players get tournaments, let us normal people have normal open game nights!

    • marxlives

      Leagues were the best thing that has come out of it. The last Grymkin leagues have been a huge source of promotion when most people can only make one tournament a month – month in a half due to outside obligations and Company of Iron was so successful they created a game around it.

      • Pete Croucher

        Yes, and whenever it’s happened here it’s driven out all the people more concerned with playing a game than winning it.

        Seriously, if you want to play competitive games, stick to the tournaments. Leagues drive out everyone else as the waac crew turn up and start crushing the people who want to build themed lists and have a laugh.

        • Muninwing

          why not both?

          if you’re going to be taking up a table anyway, why not have the option to play it for credit if you like that, or to play it for funsies if you don’t?

          how is it really a problem?

          • Pete Croucher

            OK, why do waac players NEED organised play to turn up? What is the point of a league apart from to bring out the ludicrous over-competitive streak in everyone?

            If competitive players want to play that’s cool, but why do they NEED to formalise it and screw over everyone else in the process?

          • Muninwing

            i don’t understand your central claim…

            why do players turn up? to play.

            why do competitive players turn up? to compete.

            if you don’t like the level of competitiveness, then the league needs to be structured to support that.

            i’m not competitive, but i like leagues because they are organized. that way, i can plan my week. i know i go to x story on y day from A:00 to B:30. i’m assuming that competitive players feel the same way.

  • I_am_Alpharius

    To play devil’s advocate a little, but why is this persistent need for GW to provide support for every minoucha of gaming? What happen to people being proactive and organising/planning and thinking up a event structure for themselves? What happen to someone in a gaming club going:

    “Hey everyone. I was thinking about running some kind of friendly league for a little bit of competition. If people are up for it, then I’m willing to co-ordinate and handle the book keeping. What do you think?

    Similarly what happen to independent stockist, who maintain gaming space/nights saying the same. Surely, running any event, and the such, is in a owners own self-interest, forgetting GW stake, to encourage more sales from their patrons?

    • Zingbaby

      I don’t even use the toilet unless RAW says it’s legal. How can we expect to function as normal adults if GW doesn’t “officially” (not some community post!) tell us everything all the time?

    • Its the ever present desire to have a world ranking system using globally standard rules and procedures.

      • I_am_Alpharius

        Not sure why a “world ranking system” is needed. It a hobby of random dice rolls and toy soldiers. It not exactly the pastime that is going to be in the Olympics or TV anytime soon (at all)….

        • Because the hobby is populated with a large number of competitive players that want it to be an esport with a world ranking.

          • I_am_Alpharius

            Waaaaaait a minute…”esport”…as in “electronic-sport”. When did wargaming become a entirely digital enterprise…this ain’t no Pokemon Go activity.

            I can’t think of a more droll and dull thing as a league for wargaming. As popular as the competitive scene is, I’d bet my bottom dollar more than half really couldn’t give a hoot of a ranking system. Indeed, I’m as sure that the non-competitive hobbyist far out size the competitive population by a fair whack; hobbyist that couldn’t give a poo about it. What would be next a Betting App? – Bet40K


          • I’d take your bet lol. I’m sure the non competitive players do outnumber the competitive players, but the whole point of being a competitive player is a leaderboard. Its one of the thing that I hear on a daily basis about how awesome xwing is, because they have global championships.

        • marxlives

          True, world ranking defeats the casual narrative play Leagues are supposed to encourage.

          • BrianDavion

            over all GW seems to be CONCENTRATING their focus on the garage groups, of a half dozen people. etc. and focusing more on a narrative etc. my gut feeling is chapter approved will provide rules and guidelines for tourny play but GW will trust the TOs to do what they’ve been doing for ages, without getting involved and mucking things up

    • marxlives

      True, as far as i know GW releases campaign books. Those could be used to run campaign play. The biggest component is…is your local store supporting it. That seems small but it takes someone at the local store to be positive, get the information out, and reserve tables and manage the other games that are played at the table and running tourneys and campaigns as well. If you haven’t experienced it, a fully engaged store owner who supports all the products he/she carries makes a world of difference.

  • SilentPony

    We’re going an escalation league right now. Runs for a few months. 500pts, then up to 1000, 1.5k, 2k, and variable higher if both players come to an agreement.
    And we’re just using the rules. No need for special treatment.