I met with my gaming group last week to kick off our Warhammer campaign. We settled on the Border Princes map campaign from the General's Compendium. We've got six players, and the armies will be The Empire, Ogre Kingdoms, Dark Elves, Lizardmen, Orcs &Goblins, and my Skaven.
I'm going to use this blog to post updates as the campaign unfolds. We won't be starting until sometime in February but, in the meantime, we're all working to get our armies in shape.
I'm in the middle of a large terrain commission, so I haven't had much time to paint, but I've managed to work on my Doom Rocketeer in bits and pieces here and there, and he's finally ready to launch a volley of whistling death across the battlefield:
The rocket is one of the few bits of red in my Skaven army; I wanted the projectile to resemble a large firecracker. Since the Doomrocket fires a random distance, my strategy will be to run the model up the side of the battlefield and fire along the length of the enemy's battle line, maximizing the chance of it hitting something. We'll see how things play out when we finally get to gaming.
The internet exploded this week with talk of GW's impending implosion because of the stock drop. I've been reading all kinds of rumors about the future of Games Workshop and what it means for the the hobby. Having been doing this since the late 90's and even working at GW for a time, of course I have my own opinions on the matter.
"Because it's Wreckable, Alright!"
First off, GW isn't going anywhere. There have been ups and downs throughout its history. When GW US was hemmorhaging money back around 2004, they gutted US HQ, rearranged things, and got back on track. Does anyone remember Marvel Comics? Remember when they filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy back in '96? No one was concerned that there weren't going to be Spider-Man comics anymore. Marvel made it through their rough patch and is doing pretty well (and it wasn't from the Disney purchase, because that didn't happen for another 10 years).
This sort of thing is cyclical; GW will bounce back. If anything, I would say now is a good time to buy stock in GW if you have the means. Buy low, wait a couple years and maybe make a few bucks. If another company does come in and buy them (like people suspect) stock prices will probably skyrocket.
*For legal purposes it should be noted that I am not a financial adviser, licensed or otherwise, and none of my investment advice should be listened to. It's solely speculation, based on no evidence or analysis whatsoever.
On the subject of a buyout, I keep reading that Hasbro could come in and buy them. To which I say: Is Hasbro even aware of GW's existence?* I mean, Hasbro is a household name. Take a poll of people exiting a movie theater– I'll bet almost all of them have heard of Hasbro and none of them have heard of Games Workshop. Those that do will think you meant Game Stop, the video game store.
What I'm getting at is that five years ago people weren't sure if GW was even aware of a "small" game company like Privateer Press (I'm sure that they've taken notice by now). So if people actually thought GW wasn't aware of the 2nd largest company in their same industry, what makes them think that a corporate juggernaut like Hasbro would be aware of a comparatively small toy soldier company. Maybe things are different at the corporate level where rival companies are concerned, but I don't know if I'd even consider GW competition for Hasbro. If this is a move Hasbro has been considering all along, this stock drop would probably be the time to do it. So if it doesn't happen soon, it's not going to happen.
*Edit: When writing this I overlooked the fact that Hasbro owns Wizards of the Coast, D'oh! So they're already in the gaming community. But I stand by my point that unless a buyout is something they'd been preparing for, it won't happen; D&D and Magic: The Gathering are much bigger cash cows, more commonly
known, and more easily marketable than our little toy soldier games.
The GW haters' fantasy of another game company purchasing and liquidating GW isn't going to happen either. Remember, they wouldn't just be buying a factory that they could convert to produce their own products (which they wouldn't have enough of a market share to make efficient use of, anyway) they would also be paying for the perceived value of the IP. To buy "Warhammer" just so you can liquidate it is literally throwing money away.
Another bit to come out of this is that GW and Forgeworld (Warhammer Forge?) are merging into a single company and that Forgeworld will be available in GW hobby centers.
Maybe it's just me, but I find the idea of Forgeworld products being readily available in GW stores absurd. Isn't that kind of a niche market within a niche market? And if I'm not mistaken, FW doesn't produce resin kits at the same rate as the plastic kits. Can they really produce enough product to stock GW stores everywhere? At the same level of quality?
I'm not saying the two won't merge (I think that's even been officially announced, and not merely a rumor), but if they do carry FW products in GW shops, my bet is that it will be limited to the Forgeworld 40K vehicles, since they have all become part of the standard "official" army lists. I can't imagine them stocking every iteration of Guardsmen & chapter-specific Space Marines, or Warhammer terrain. How many of the $400 Tau Orca dropships will each store carry, I wonder? I foresee a lot of special orders requiring return visits.
And I'm sure the line between Finecast and Forgeworld will begin to blur. If we start seeing Forgeworld-labeled blister packs of previously metal Warhammer models, I think we'll all know what's really going on there.
Warhammer: The Game of Fantasy Rumors
Aside from the future of GW corporate & stores, there's the future of the games themselves. I've heard rumors about everything from Warhammer Fantasy Battles getting phased out all together, to select armies being eliminated (specifically Tomb Kings, Beastmen, Bretonnians, and Wood Elves). I wonder how this ties into the other rumors about 9th edition– The one where there are no individual army books, just a few all-encompassing tomes like Evil Armies and Good Armies.
Having Beastmen folded back into the Chaos army book isn't much of a stretch, and means Beastmen armies can still continue to exist. If Warriors of Chaos players could field Beastmen troops it would also help help boost sales of those kits. Maybe two books: Chaos Mortals (focusing on Warriors and Beastmen) and Chaos Daemons.
The same is true for Wood Elves. They could be rolled into the High Elf book, and call it Elves of Light or something. That's actually a prospect I'd considered before. In fact, here's an excerpt from a Facebook discussion I had in back in February of 2012:
"I know its a bit of a catch-22: Wood elves would get more support if more people played them, and more people would play them if their books were kept current. I just don't think they were ever that popular to begin with, even dating back to 5th edition when they had a solid, current book. Ravening Hordes brought their rules in line with 6th edition, and then they were pretty much neglected until the end of the run (as I said, I suspect because there wasn't a large enough player base to warrant attention.) Same thing with Chaos Dwarfs. The people that play them love them, but the fact is, there just aren't enough players to make generating models and rules profitable, and so they were eventually dropped as a line. I'd hate to see the Wood Elves go the same route, but I wonder if 3 Elven armies is one too many."
The loss of the Tomb Kings army would be a bit of a blow for me, as it's the only army on the alleged chopping block that I eventually plan to build. I guess those Khemri Skeletons I've been hoarding will just have to find their way into my Vampire Counts army.
But, if GW really will be consolidating army books, maybe we will have come full circle back to when I began in 5th edition, and the Tomb Kings and Vampires will be consolidated into a single Undead force. Which would be great if it still allows the player to build either of the two individually-themed armies, or a combination of the two. Maybe they could even bring back Nagash in the fluff.
Or maybe those four armies will simply get new books this year as another rumor suggests. Maybe having multiple armies folded into a single book would be a way to simultaneously encourage and limit/ balance allied forces. Personally, I prefer the individual, thematic armies, and do not miss the "good old" days of "take whatever monster you want!"
The Future of Warhammer for Me
I've often said that I'd keep painting models for my Vampire Counts army even if I stopped playing games with them. So if Warhammer as we know it comes to an end The Legion of the Infernal Skull will continue to grow and evolve, although it might become a little more difficult to find new models (fortunately, it will be a while before I run out).
My friends and I are meeting this week to hash out the framework for our upcoming campaign and I have seriously considered recommending that we use the current army books with WFB 6th edition core rules (the best rules edition, with all of the currently available unit entries and points costs) We'll probably stick with the current rules because that's what everyone is used to, but if things take a turn for the worst I'd happily go back to an earlier edition.
Since I don't play in tournaments or get many pickup games, there's absolutely no not reason to use whatever edition (or combination of editions) I and my gaming group prefer. But I do miss the days of the old Grand Tournaments.
My favorite projects are the ones that come about organically– An idea that turns into a quick conversion I can knock out in an afternoon.
Skaven Warlock Engineers are fun to experiment with because they're dirt cheap. They start at 15 points (about the cost of the average elite rank-and-file trooper) and upgrading them to a wizard or giving them equipment increases their cost to that of a more conventional character.
This makes it possible to create a bunch of Engineers, each with a single magic item, for a cabal of disposable characters that each clock in under 50 points. My Warplock Snipers follow this principle, and it was what led me to build my Rocketeer.
The concept for the Doom Rocketeer was inspired by the Protectorate Deliverers– Troops armed with rocket launchers that are little more than a tube housing a projectile. I wanted something similar for my Rocketeer, with a little more Skryre tech.
I began with these parts for the Warpfire Thrower and Packmaster in the Warhammer starter set.
To begin, I removed the Warpfire Thrower's arms and weapon.
The arms were taken from the Packmaster.
I cut away most of the shock prod, and rearranged the Warpfire Thrower to build launcher. The handle on the top is made from brass rod, pinned through the hand and into the weapon.
I removed one of the shock prod cables and assembled the parts to complete the rocket launcher.
A little trimming was necessary to get the arms in place, but the pose is exactly what I was going for.
A little putty work to fill out the joins, and the body of the model was complete.
The Doomrocket itself is made from thick floral wire and plastic tubing. The nose cone was sculpted from putty, and the fuse is brass rod. Basically a giant firecracker with a needlessly complicated warpstone-fueled fuse lighting system!
As I was working, I decided to make the rocket removable, as the Doomrocket is a "one use only" weapon. Removing the projectile will serve as a reminder that the weapon has been fired.
If the Doomrocket ever misfires, there is the potential for it to land as a dud that may explode in a subsequent turn. I made a token to mark the spot where the rocket lands. The plastic smoke is from the smokestack on the Warpfire Thrower's backpack.
I'm striving to make Tuesday the regular day for updates. Well, this is the first post of the new year, and I've already broken my resolution. But I'll at least try to keep things on a weekly schedule.
I have so many personal projects that have been piling up over this past year– New models for my Vampire Counts, the Dreadfleet boxed set, not to mention my Space Hulk and my Black Templars, which I haven't touched in ages. I have boxes of Protectorate, Khador, and Trollbloods to build, and there are a bunch of newer games that I'd like to try out.
My focus tends to be on whatever I'll be able to game with, and right now that's Warhammer. As I mentioned, my gaming group is gearing up for a league, and I'll be using my Skaven. I dragged them out of retirement for their first game in about a year. They performed very well against my friend's Ogre Kindoms army, a foe they've never faced before. The Jezzails were able to whittle away enough of the Ogre Ironguts so my infantry only had to face a few of them. I allowed my Rat Ogres to get charged by a large unit of Maneaters and an Ironblaster, which obliterated them, but I really wanted to see how they'd hold up in a worst-case scenario. The Rat Ogres dished out plenty of their own damage. I just need to make sure they get the charge whenever possible.
My attention is going to be on my Skaven army for a while, but first I want to take care of the projects that have been lingering in my to-do list.
Terrorgheist & Corpse Cart
I'm poised to delve into all the new Vampire Counts units like the the Hexwraiths, Vargheists, and Mortis Engine (and by "new" I mean "came out two years ago but I haven't built any yet") but first I need to put these two models to rest. I've finally put some paint on the Terrorgheist's base, now to finish the rest of it.
The 4 new Rat Ogres are underway. I was struggling with how I'd handle the movement tray for them, but I've found a solution that will accommodate all eight, the packmasters in the back rank, and I've even got an idea on how to fit Skweel Gnawtooth off to the side of the front rank.
Hopefully, I can finish this one as quickly as the first one. I'll need to convert it a little to differentiate the two. Maybe I'll pick up the new Plagueclaw Catapult and cannibalize the spare Warp Lightning Cannon parts.
So, those are the immediate projects I'll be working on. I'll also squeeze the Garden of Morr and bunker tutorial in there somewhere.