Wednesday, 27 August 2014

End Times? What End Times?

Usually i like to leave a new post up for a few days before doing another, this allows the new post to get decent exposure. However the WHFB expansion "The End Times" demands a post, not just because i did a post last year where i lambasted WHFB Lore as "Toothless", but also because there seems to be a great deal of panic about this expansion. This post will look at the End Times Expansion from 3 angles: The Lore, The Rules and The Models.

The Rules

Lets start with the biggest source of panic and hysteria, the rules. From what i can gather the following are what we know will be in the Expansion's ruleset:

-50% Lord allowance (as opposed to the normal 25%)

-The Lore of Undeath. Basically is the WHFB version of Demonology, it allows all mages from all races to summon Vampire or Tomb King units

- A Combined Vampire Vampire Counts and Tomb Kings army list

- Nagash rules (there could be other characters and rules to come)

The first two points seem to have gotten everyone up in arms with people panicking that this expansion heralds the return of "Herohammer" (a,apparently, very bad thing from before i started WHFB that has Heroes and Lords become very powerful and plentiful). To me this is nonsense. If GW wanted 9th edition to feature Herohammer type rules then this expansion wouldn't exist. Currently the rumours have 9th coming out next year and if 9th was to include the 50% lord allocation then what is the point of this Expansion? As far as i can see one of the main draw points of this expansion is the 50% Lord allocation so why would GW cannibalise its own sales by putting that exact rule in 9th? It makes no sense and it seems to me that the point of this expansion is to give people a way to play WHFB Herohammer without making it a core mechanic in the core ruleset.

The Lore of Undeath is the other point of contention, with people calling it a money grab and similar such. And for the first time in this Blog's history i disagree, to me the Lore of Undeath is aimed at VC and TK players who have other armies, it gives them a way to use their two undead armies with their other race's armies. And guess what? It can only be used in End Times games so if you dont want to use/face it then dont play End Times games. I didnt buy it and as such i have no need to go out and buy Vampire Counts or Tomb Kings kits in order to use it.

At the end of the day i dont care for the End Times Ruleset, i will be ignoring it and dont plan to play a single game using the rules. Perhaps, one day, if i want to play Herohammer then i may pick up a 2nd hand copy of the rules but until then i wont bother. Now onto something i am excited about.

The Models

Firstly i want to talk about the models without the price. Across the whole release the models are cool, themey and excellent (although i wonder how one is meant to transport Nagash around, he is one tall model) and i cant wait to see what other models are bought out for the rest of the Expansion. But i do need to talk about the price of the things. Nagash is worth 175 NZD, what Nagash is (outside of WHFB and just looking at what the model is made up of) is a great big lump of finely detailed PLASTIC and is not worth 175 NZD!!!! No one should be surprised by this price tag, this is GW we are talking about after all, but this is getting too much, even by their standards.

The Lore

In the past i have decried WHFB Lore as Toothless and held up World of Warcraft Lore (i do play it every now and then)  as an example of well done Fantasy Lore. These reason why WoW lore is better than WHFB lore is because WoW is ever changing, each new expansion and patch changes the lore, battles are fought, people die, the world changes and THINGS DONT STAY THE SAME. This is the fatal flaw in WHFB lore, things never change, characters dont die (or have flaws, another area where WoW beats WHFB) and great battles dont happen in modern times (they happen in the past, sure but when was the most recent great battle that dint get ret coned out of existence coughcoughstormofchaoscough cough).

Now things are changing, violently. The Bretonnia King is dead, Naggroth is being invaded by Khorne Chaos, Ulthan is being attacked by Demons, there are maggots in important Wood Elf Trees and everything is going to pot. So what do i think? I think its a good start but if they want to make a interesting world then the Lore needs to be updated with every new Core Ruleset update, and the army books need to expand on how the lore for their race has changed since the last edition.

Dont get me wrong, i love what the End Times Expansion is doing too the lore and will be buying the Ebook of the Black Library novel that comes with the Expansion but they need to do more, and keep doing more, until we get to a WoW (or really any other Fanasty Universe) level of lore.

So thats my view on the End Times Expansion so far. To reenforce what i said in the rules section its an Expansion, not a core rules update. All the rules here are OPTIONAL  and as such can be included in or not included in your games of WHFB. Don't like Herohammer? Don't play End Times games. Don't like the Lore of Undeath? Don't play End Times games or use it in your normal games of WHFB. Hopefully this post has gone someway to quell the fears that some people (some of whom may even read this post) have. Remember, dont panic, take a deep breath and think logically about the situation. Until next time (or will there be a next time.......)


  1. Lords of war would be optional we once said, now they are in all the codices. D weapons would be optional we once said, now they are in normal codices. Flyers would be optional we once said, now they are in all the codices. Data slates will give us NEW content we said, now they give us old content for more money. Soon, in 40k not having a slot structure will be normal. Summoning Demons is a normal part of the game. A few years ago, if someone predicted this, they would be called a madman, however, its now reality.

    Do not be surprised when fantasy has the same thing happen. Fantasy, for the first time, is no longer in the top 5 wargaming games. They will do what they can to fix this and it seems like this is the route they are gonna go. Thats the 40k route.

    It will happen. Your post should say... its optional for now. All the old 6th edition expansions become core rules in the 7th edition update. its the way of GW now.

    1. Why would they release an expansion allow 50% lord allocation, then cement it in the core rules? It would kill end times sales and 9th isn't that far away

    2. They did it to the 2 40k 6th edition expansions months away from 7th edition. What they did though, was not add the UNITS to 7th edition that are in the expansions, but all the rules to use them where added to the core set (like Lords of war etc).

      Happened before, will happen again. My prediction anyway.

    3. I felt that 7th wasn't planned, whereas 9th has been planned.

      7th edition 40k felt like a reaction that came out of the blue was as 9th ed has been in the works for a while

    4. We assume it has. We actually know nothing about what goes in in GW unless they want us to know.

      The above is my input anyways. I dont really care what GW does. I just ignore what I dont like, play what I like and go on. I wont be updating my rules or anything. Assassins was the only decent thing GW as done in a long time, and it costs 20 something NZD. Complete rip off.

      What happens in 40k, will happen in fantasy. If Fantasy gets updated fast enough.

    5. I agree that 7th was born out of desperation. The gap from 6th to 7th was the shortest in the history of the company for either system and it conveniently was up for pre-order just a week or two before their fiscal year end (Which they knew was going to be dire)

  2. I dont think the lore will be updated as often as we like... In fact i see this as GW moving the lore to the '60 seconds before midnight' doomsday clock scenario they have going for 40k

    In the grim darkness of the Warhammer World... THERE IS ONLY WAR!!!

    1. In 40ks case its more like the cloak is stuck at 11:59 and wont damm well budge to midnight.

      To be fair WHFB has had this going, the Wood Elf book list the current time period as the "Time of Ending", so both systems have the lore set to the end is neigh mode

  3. There have been consistent rumors based around GWs reaction to two key factors.

    1)Fantasy is far too expensive for new players to get into. As the base point level where things tend to get balanced require many hundreds of dollars to enter into.

    2)Warmahordes and the Star Wars/Trek miniature games are exploding in popularity. And the aforementioned games have completely supplanted Fantasy in the top 5 earning games in NA (and most likely elsewhere)

    These rumors point to 9th being a complete overhaul of the game engine using the "End Times" storyline as a catalyst to re-envision the game world as a post apocalyptic setting after Nagash and his unending Undead Hordes do battle with the unleashed Daemonic might of the Chaos Gods for mastery of the Warhammer world.

    This will alllow them to rebrand their game in a model count far closer to Warmahordes while cutting away those concepts which are not protective in an IP sense since they took such a battering in the recent Chapterhouse case. This would be a net positive in terms of attracting new players but would seriously alienate those who enjoy the massed battle appeal of current Fantasy.

    If done well this could be an amazing time for Fantasy. In a perfect world they would release a revised 8th with minor tweaks (It's actually infuriating how close Fantasy is to being almost asymmetrically balanced. It's just the insane prices they charge for each unit and slight adjustments to the core rules holding it slightly back.) and then the post-apocalyptic skirmish setting as a gateway for new players to enter the game.

    If only those Dbags in their Ivory Tower bothered to do some market research (By their own admission they completely ignore the interests and desires of us peasants around their fortress) they would have come to the same conclusion.


    1. I think reinventing WHFB into a skirmish game would be a bad idea for exactly the reason you outline, it would alienate WHFB who like massed infantry battles (so most of us). Some may grow into it but the majority would be angry and pissed off. We already had skirmish WHFB, it was called Mordheim and was great. All it needed was a rules update and some new kits and it could have been the skirmish game to rival Warmahordes.

      The funny thing about Warmahordes is that there are a fair few WHFB players who play Warmahordes because its different from WHFB and can provide a skirmish game and play WHFB because its different from Warmahordes. If GW was to make WHFB into a skirmish game chances are that those players would drop WHFB because its the same as Warmahordes only it costs more. GW would know this if they bother with Market research but they dont bother with that sort of thing (as you aptly pointed out)

    2. Yeah I completely agree. It's absolutely baffling that they have no idea why they are losing market share.

      If you aggressively price out people based solely where they live and what the exchange rate was a decade ago. While Simultaneously treating the FLGS's and Online distributers as mortal foes. That won't work for long.

      This at it's core is a face to face socially interactive hobby. If you piss all over the people on the front lines (FLGS owners everywhere) you will eventually push them to support your direct competition. In a market where you act this way eventually the "I've got so many GW figures already and most people I know play their games" effect will dry up. I believe this is now fully manifesting itself in their financial reports and it will take drastic measures to counteract these self inflicted wounds.

      Imagine if they just took the following two simple steps.

      Fully develop a skirmish system around both 40k and Fantasy (Not just their half baked Kill Team and Regiments of Renown "systems") independent of the parent game but using the same figures and lore. (Maybe even reconnect on social media and open up these systems to beta testing/ Wishful thinking I know but I digress)

      That simple step would open up both games to the same entry level experience their competition is just dominating them in at the moment.

      This would then allow people to keep adding new units and leaders to their skirmish "army" (Something Warmahordes has engineered brilliantly) And all of a sudden you're only a couple purchases away from trying the mass battle format. (You've still spent the same but you've been enjoying yourself and been engaged hundreds of dollars earlier than the current format allows)

      It's infuriating in it's simplicity.

  4. "We do no demographic research, we have no focus groups, we do not ask the market what it wants. These things are otiose in a niche'. - Games Workshop 2014 Financial Report

    1. There are competitors in that niche. Competitors with ears that listen to their niche clients. The thing that GW forgets about that niche is that it is finite. I would potentially be poised to spend more on GW products over the next 10 years (percentage wise of my income) than I ever have over the preceding 20 years that I have been gaming. As beautiful and alluring as these hunks of plastic and lead are, they are just that. Hunks of plastic and lead. There are now many alluring competitors out there, who would value my dollar and opinion, and not rub my face in the fact that they really don't give a damn. Every thread and every blog around the world says pretty much the same thing: GW has lost touch with their clientele. "Let them eat cake!" We are just slightly more disadvantaged in Aus and NZ than the rest of the world when it comes to pricing. The frustrations are the same everywhere else.