There have been 6 or 8 Grimdark skirmish games out from GW in the past couple years. Let’s sort out what is going on.
There is no doubt that skirmish is a super popular market segment in tabletop. It’s a cheap and easy point of entry into the larger more expensive grand wargames universe. Most companies these days will have a skirmish counterpart for their mainline games.
So Many Ways to Skirmish
But in the last couple of years we have these from GW:
Kill Team (2016)
Kill Team Armageddon (2017)
A strong case can be made for Betrayal at Calth, and Burning of Prospero.
I think we have three things going on here. GW is using these skirmish products to do a few things.
Gussy Up a new miniatures line into a boxed game.
We have kits that are really just excuses to bundle up a particular line of new minis and wrap a somewhat thin game around them. We see this with both the 30K boxes giving us the plastic Heresy minis. Shadow War Armageddon and the recently teased 2018 Killteam look to be wrapped around newly lines of sexy terrain.
Introduce a Distinct Standalone Game
We see this most strongly with Necromunda – a beloved classic relaunched with it’s own distinct minis and rules support. Perhaps a case can be made for Deathwatch Overkill and Rogue Trader just based on how generically reusable their minis are. In the case of Overkill, you get usable units for 40K Deathwath and Genestealer Cult armies. The Rogue Trader minis look bonkers and who knows if they will make their way into standard 40K.
Produce a Low Pricepoint Gateway Into 40K
Here we see the 2016 Kill Team and Battle for Vedros. The real issue for this traditional type of low priced product is that it runs right into the side of their sister products like First Strike and Know No Fear. These low priced starter sets for 40K are aimed at the same market but are explicitly 40K, not a watered down experience.
The risk is obvious – fracturing of the skirmish community. There are just too many products out there for any to really gain traction. In the case of the boxes that are just there to move terrain – no harm, no foul. You pay the price and get a boatload of terrain. I think Necromunda does the best job of growing into a standalone community as it is so unique and its miniatures are unabashedly “Necromundan”. But be honest – when is the last time you saw a group of players pull out a copy of Betrayal at Calth and have a game?
I love that Nottingham has turned over a new leaf and is diving whole-heartedly into skirmish. It’s good for the 40K brand and it offers a change of pace for players. But I would suggest they put on the brakes a little and winnow their offerings down to 2-3 that are really vibrant, unique, and can grow into something for the long haul. Hmm, now I’m thinking what a 40K version of Shadespire would be like…
~ Which 40K skirmish games do you think are the best?