I attended a regional gaming convention this past weekend in Rockford, IL. The convention, What-Khan (formerly Rockcon) featured 40K, Pathfinder, Malifaux, X-Wing and several other miniature and board gaming systems. After spending part of Friday evening and Saturday playing Malifaux, I had several interesting conversations with former 40K players.
A few hundred people attend this Con, including about a dozen members of my local (Milwaukee) gaming group, D-Company. I actually spent about 10 hours over the course of the weekend throwing dice and pulling Tyranid models from various gaming tables. However, I am one of the few in my group that delve into other gaming systems; in my case, Malifaux and various board games of interest. On Saturday, there were 20 people participating in a Malifaux tournament, including a guy I had played 40K with over the last few years at Rockcon. It turns out that he and a dozen of the folks participating in the Malifaux event had quit 40K and moved over. When I say this, I mean they have totally given up on 40K and are now exclusive Malifaux hobbyists.
I was curious. What would cause folks that had invested so much time and money in a hobby to completely abandon it? The answers will sound familiar, but I think that we need to be honest and have this conversation. The two top reasons; broken rule sets and game length. One of the Malifaux players I spoke to was a genetic researcher. Educated, intelligent and very knowledgeable about the 40K hobby, she was formerly a Nid player. When she spoke to me about why she had left, she talked about how every time a new dex or set of rules is released, it is just a fix for the last set of broken rules, which in turn are broken themselves. A bandage on a bandage was the way she put it. She also mentioned that there is little player input, other than cabals of playtesters, many of whom are not even known to their fellow hobbyists.
Another former 40K player mentioned how the cost of staying in the hobby became prohibitive, at least compared to other gaming systems. He talked about the buy-in cost for Malifaux and X-Wing (which he also plays), and the differences were startling. Moreover, he spoke about game length being a significant issue as well. The sentiments of these two were echoed by the other ten former 40Kers that I spoke to over the course of the afternoon and evening.
Earlier Saturday, I spent six hours playing a 5000 point grudge game (Tyranids vs Chaos) with a friend from D-Company. It was the fifth game in our “campaign” (I am 3-2 so far). How ironic that I not only spent six hours playing a single game of 40K (my Malifaux friend knocked out four in that same period of time), but some of the rules issues during my Apoc game with my 40K friend really jumped off the page. First, my friend gave Invisibility to his Lord of War ( Khorne Lord of Skulls). I am not grousing here, it is in the rule set and I think it is creative on his part to use it. Honestly though, how broken is that??!! Then he had a formation of three Forge Fiends that due to a nearby Dark Mechanicus dude, got 24 S8 shots at BS5, rerolling 1s, and also had Preferred Enemy! Sorry my lads, but that is not only broken, it is down right insane!! We beat on each other for five very long turns, then I called it after six hours.
It was almost surreal how the conversation with the Malifaux converts was played out in my game with Mike. Is this group of converts just an anomaly? Are these small groups of serious hobbyists leaving 40K part of a larger migration to other gaming systems? I think of the significant revenue that group of Malifaux converts represents, and wonder if GW even cares that this is happening? These converts are not casual games. They are mostly young professionals with steady incomes. That, and they have a passion for their hobby…whatever that hobby may be.
I have, admittedly, played as much Malifaux as I have 40K in the last month.
Is GW dying the Death Of One Thousand Cuts as more and more players migrate to other more user designed and user friendly gaming systems?