Some Thoughts on the GW-FFG split – Part 2

A little less than a year after it was announced that Fantasy Flight and Games Workshop would be parting ways, WizKids just announced that they’re partnering with Games Workshop to “extend the Warhammer 40,000 universe IP across multiple categories, including, Dice Building Games™, board games and more… WizKids will create two new board games, along with dice games based in the Warhammer 40,000 universe, with additional plans to republish classic board games Fury of Dracula and Relic.”

So, basically what FFG had been doing up until about a year ago. I think Nicolas Cage’s character in Con Air summed up my assessment of this new situation the best:

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In this scene, there’s a ’67 Corvette Sting Ray tethered to the back of a C-123 transport aircraft. While it’s in flight.

 

Nothing against WizKids (I really wanted to like D&D Attack Wing!), but in terms of board games and miniatures, they’ve always seemed like the store-brand alternative to the more expensive name-brand. I suppose if you’re a Trekkie you’d go for Star Trek Attack Wing over X-Wing Miniatures, but the general consensus is that X-Wing is the better game (both in terms of quality of the components and the game itself), and it’s certainly the more popular one. So for Games Workshop to be partnering with them less than a year after announcing their split with FFG seems like a major step down for them.

I had always assumed that it was GW that wanted to end the arrangement with FFG because I couldn’t see the upside of FFG wanting to break away, but maybe this wasn’t the case. Of course, I’m only speculating without the benefit of insider knowledge, so maybe there’s a perfectly reasonable explanation, similar to how the events of Con Air naturally led to a ’67 Corvette Sting Ray being tethered to the back of a C-123 transport aircraft while it is was flight.

Or hey, it’s 2017. We’ve got a pair of infantile man-children at the helm of two different countries playing chicken with their nations’ nuclear arsenals, the Cubs have a shot at winning the World Series for a second year in a row, and Princess Leia is dead*. Maybe GW partnering with WizKids instead of FFG is just part of the new normal.

 

*I’m not speculating on Leia’s fate based on the trailer for The Last Jedi that was recently released; I’m referring to Carrie Fisher. Still haven’t gotten over that one.

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Swarmlord WIP – part 2

I talked about my start on the Swarmlord in a previous post. Of course, where would he be without his retinue of Tyrant Guard? Probably arriving via Tyrannocyte, but that’s for another project.

I’m participating in a Paint & Play at my FLGS, where I picked up a box of these guys the other day. In addition to playing games, we’re painting our armies in 500 point chunks. The Swarmlord plus three Tyrant Guard armed (get it, “armed?”) with crushing claws weighs in at just under 500 points, so I’ll throw in a couple of spore mines to top it off. Now that this first batch of models is assembled, on to painting!

I also made a short video talking about these guys some more.

Swarmlord WIP – Part 1

Behold, in all of his unpainted glory, the raw might of the Hive Mind made manifest in physical form, the Swarmlord! I decided I’m going to change things up a little for my next 40k match, and I’m bringing the Swarmlord along as part of my new list.

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I got into 40k partway through 5th edition, right when the new Tyranid codex came out. The Swarmlord made his debut in that codex, but the official model came some time later, when the Hive Tyrant kit was converted from metal to plastic and new bits were added that let you make either a regular Hive Tyrant, a Flyrant, or the Swarmlord. I stopped playing 40k right around the time that 6th edition was released. I didn’t get in a ton of 40k games the first time around, and I’ve never used the Swarmlord in a game before.

I got this model last fall when I picked up a bunch of second-hand monstrous creatures at a good discount*. The guy I got them used a ton of superglue and greenstuff because to assemble and magnetize this model, along with some other extremely sticky substance that left behind a considerable amount of residue. Fortunately, I was able to clean it off with some dish soap and elbow grease.

I didn’t anticipate having to do this much work to get this model ready. Frankly, the amount of time and effort required made getting the discount from buying it used a wash. Unfortunately, there wasn’t any mention of the sticky residue in the auction description.  I’ve been more and more disappointed with eBay sellers lately.

The swords were magnetized, but the magnets in the torso sockets were so crudely placed that I decided to dig them out and clean out the excess greenstuff and superglue. I was originally planning on going all-out and making this a nearly fully-articulated model, but I decided in the end to keep it simple. I did add magnets to where the torso connects to the lower portion of his body, so at least it has one point of articulation, plus it’ll make transportation easier since I can separate the upper and lower portions of the body.

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Plus, I can mount the torso on a flying base from one of my screamers of Tzeentch!

 

*After writing this, I realized that I left the Swarmlord out of that picture that I linked to, but he did in fact arrive with those other guys.

First Game of 8th Edition 40k!

Got my first game of 8th Edition 40k in the other night at my FLGS with my new gaming buddy, Matt. Not only was it my first game in the new edition, but it was the first game of 40k I’ve played in several years (not counting the super stripped-down games I’ve played with my daughter recently), despite my efforts to get back into the game this past fall.

I brought 1,000 points of nids to face off against Matt’s Imperial Guard Astra Militarum (sorry, old habits die hard). I won’t bore you with the details about how one 20-strong unit of termagants died in a single round due to sweeping gouts of flame from a pair of hellhounds, or how Old One Eye, my warlord, tripped over the burnt carcasses of said gaunts, coming up one inch short of the seven he needed charge the hellhounds, resulting in him succumbing to concentrated firepower himself the following turn.

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We played on a FAT mat lent to us by Matt. Not Matt my opponent, another Matt. Matt and I used Matt’s FAT mat for our match. (Sorry, I only have the budget for low-brow humor.)

 

will tell you about the impressive performance of my Trygon, arriving behind enemy lines via underground tunnel (accompanied by a mob of of 16 genestealers, but they were also kind of boring, probably due to me miscalculating and rolling “only” 40 attacks for them when they should have had 64). The trygon managed to inflict a whopping 21 points of damage on an 11-wound hellhound in one turn. This same trygon also managed to shrug off a dozen or more wounds at 3+ against concentrated firepower, taking only a single point of damage by the end of the game. Honorable mention also goes to my other unit of termagants who managed to take down an entire squad of Stormtroopers Scions (damn your neurotic compulsion to rename everything into something you can trademark, Games Workshop!)

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The man, er, bug of the hour.

 

We called the game at the end of round 3. I only had my Trygon and a unit of termangants remaining, while Matt still had most of his gunline intact and along with some of his infantry. Despite the disparity in remaining units, the final score was closer than I had anticipated, Matt with five points and me scoring three.

It was a game that we both enjoyed. It was a good first run with the new edition for me, and both my opponent and the new rules played a significant role in making it an enjoyable experience.

 

 

 

Got a couple of new rulebooks recently

With a new edition of 40k nearly upon us, not to mention a bunch of other boardgames and RPG and miniature game rulebooks that I already own that I have yet to try, the only logical thing to do would be to get even more books for more new games, right?

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In fairness, Open Combat doesn’t exactly count as a new acquisition in the normal sense since it’s a Kickstarter reward from a little over two years ago. Between hiccups in fulfillment on Second Thunder’s end and my experiencing several significant life events since the Kickstarter ended, this one kind of got lost in the shuffle until recently when I got an e-mail reminder to claim my reward. It’s a great looking, high-quality book, and I want to play Open Combat, but truthfully, it may be a long time before I do so.

Two years ago when I backed the Kickstarter, I had pretty much written off anything to do with Games Workshop. I said goodbye to 40k, as I felt the rules were beginning to become too bloated and cumbersome and required too much work for me to find enjoyable (I did elect to keep the vast majority of my minis though). I figured that maybe I’d pick up the occasional miniature now and then if they released something that I thought was really cool, but I certainly wasn’t going to continue collecting entire armies for a game I wasn’t going to play anymore. My, how times do change.

With the renaissance that Games Workshop is in the midst of and with all of the awesome things they’ve been doing and coming out with, I’m dangerously close to going full-on fanboy. Age of Sigmar got off to a rocky start, but I’ve heard nothing but good things about the General’s Handbook and how it brought some much-needed clarity and organization to what I understand is a very open-ended game. I never would have predicted when I started this blog that it wouldn’t be too long before I’d be eagerly anticipating and buying new rulebooks from Games Workshop, singing their praises, and quite simply, feeling connected with them as a customer and a fan.

And who knows, maybe I’ll try to get in a game of Open Combat sometime this week just to spite myself and make me seem like a liar.

Who are you, and what have you done with Games Workshop?

A new edition of Warhammer 40K is coming next month. I never thought I’d see the day when I was truly excited about Games Workshop again. I love their minis, and I enjoy the simultaneously over-the-top and grimdark nature of the 40K universe. But I’ve always found the rules to be byzantine and clunky. And in terms of acting like a company that values its customers and fans by respecting and engaging with them, I’ve always found Games Workshop to be… lacking.

For the last several years, I’ve enjoyed their products almost exclusively as a collector, not actually playing any of their games. A few months ago I started gearing up to play again. While I did add quite a few new minis to my ork and ‘nid armies and even acquired some Blood Angels, I’m embarrassed to admit that I haven’t made the move from collecting to playing.

There are a few factors contributing to this, but the biggest obstacle to me actually playing 40K is the rules. I’m no slouch when it comes to learning games, even complicated ones. Between boardgames, RPGs, and various other miniatures games, I have quite a bit of experience with learning all types of different games. I even did play 40K at one point several years ago. But despite my interest and desire to throw down with my 40K armies, the hurdle of trying to get back into it was something I haven’t been able to overcome. I simply didn’t feel like investing the time required to re-learn the rules to this game when there are so many better ones out there.

But I think this may change with the new edition, for several reasons. Contrary to what was a reasonable assumption, Games Workshop is not going the Age of Sigmar route, blowing up the 40K universe and starting over; but the storyline is advancing in significant ways. More importantly, the various previews of the upcoming rules indicate that some of the more egregious gameplay problems seen in recent editions are being fixed. On top of that, it seems that many of the mechanics are being streamlined and modernized. Finally, everything I’ve read about 8th edition has made me optimistic about the barrier to entry being lowered by simplifying (but not dumbing-down) the rules.

There have been many signs of positive changes with Games Workshop itself as well for the past several months to a year. The fact that there is even a buildup to the release of 8th edition is remarkable. They’re still being coy about the exact release date, but the fact that they announced it ahead of time rather than just having it show up the day of release after months of rumors and speculation represents a major change in how they operate. Games Workshop has also finally entered into the modern age, becoming more transparent and actively engaging with fans using social media. Everything they’re doing now would have been inconceivable two years ago.

The modernization of the 40K game mechanics and Games Workshop as a company is truly a momentous event for miniature gaming. The undeserved loyalty of longsuffering fans is being rewarded. The miniatures are still awesome and expensive, and the new game will have its flaws, but I’m excited and hopeful about what the future will bring — next month for 40K, and then beyond, not just for Games Workshop, but for the larger miniature and tabletop gaming community.

Oh, and I’m also feeling the desire to check out Age of Sigmar now as well.