Tuesday, 10 March 2015

On a road to nowhere?

My hobby efforts have stagnated of late. After a frenzy of activity preparing for and reporting on Heffengen and then Cancon, I am a little burned out. However, that is not the true source of my recent lack of motivation. What has really been killing my hobby mojo is the End Times and the threat of 9th edition coming close behind. 

The End Times books have been coming thick and fast since End Times: Nagash first appeared in August last year. The fifth and final book in the series is due to be released on Saturday. That's 5 supplements in 7-8 months. The level of uncertainty caused by this steady stream of change has made it incredibly hard to focus. In fact, it's been hard to even really absorb everything that has happened. I've managed to read each part of the story before the next one arrived (sometimes barely), but that's about the limit of it. I really have not had a chance to make use of any of it at all.

Games Workshop appear to be in the late stages of destroying the Warhammer world. The finale is still coming, but already most of the world has been reduced to a smoking ruin. There have been rumours online for months suggesting that this was going to happen (the ones saying that "bubbles of reality" will be all that is left), but it probably took a while for most people to accept that there might be some truth to what they had to say. It's getting hard to deny it now. If there is somehow anything left of the world after End Times: Archaon, it certainly won't amount to much.

I have been a Warhammer player for close to 25 years now. That's two-thirds of my life. What I am witnessing right now is something that I didn't really think would ever happen. The background of the game has basically not moved in the entire time I've been playing, but now it's being systematically pulled apart over a period of less than a year. Whilst you probably can't accuse them of obliterating everything in a single big-bang approach, what we're seeing is as close as you could really get. 

As each new edition is announced, you tend to get certain parties declaring that they've had enough, and won't embrace the new release. Instead they will stick with the existing edition, and keep playing the game are already happy with. I've never really considered such an approach until now. The combination of End Times and 9th edition may just be the change that pushes me over the edge. I'm not sure I buy into the rumours suggesting that Warhammer will be replaced with a skirmish game and that the big battles will be a thing of the past. That doesn't make much sense to me. I could see a proper skirmish format being added as an easier buy-in for new players, but Warhammer has little competition in the large battle format, and giving that up would seem to be removing all of its existing strengths in favour of a far more competitive market. I also struggle to see the game shifting to round bases, although with the unit bases they use in War of the Ring nowadays, I guess it might happen.

Assuming that the game retains its focus on battles between armies rather than small skirmishes, the other hurdle will be what seems an inevitable change to the background and the character of the races involved. Those of us with existing collections are already pretty invested in the factions as they currently stand. Chopping and changing them a little might be acceptable, but with the way we're heading right now, what is left of the existing races will be unrecognisable. Rumours also suggest that the timeline will be advanced by a few hundred years, which gives plenty of excuse for the survivors to drop any stylistic connection to what we have now. Whilst all of the existing material and models might be theoretically compatible with 9th edition, the "way forward" would likely leave all of that behind as new models and lists are released. The existing 8th edition armies and models would soon be a relic of the past, along with the edition itself.

I can't help but feel that I am too heavily invested in the status quo to fully embrace such changes, if they do indeed occur. If it becomes a purely skirmish game then it's easy - I won't go there. If the game remains recognisably Warhammer but the races all change, then my ability to move with the times will depend upon how dramatic those changes are. I can't see myself effectively replacing vast swathes of my collection. It may just be that GW's desire to hit the reset button will leave me behind.

Time will tell.

In the meantime, I am not really getting anything done. It's difficult to apply myself to a painting project when I feel like I am stuck in limbo, waiting for the changes to wrap themselves up. Each End Times book is coming out so hot on the heels of the previous one that it feels impossible to really embrace any of the actual gaming content. Some of it might be fun to come back to once the dust has settled, but I don't feel like I'm getting time to breathe right now, let alone delve into the scenarios and other content. At least my armies aren't the ones getting all the new shiny models, or I'd be even more confused.
My absence from the painting table has been noticed. Owen was sitting there last. Have parts, will fiddle. I'm told it's the next generation of walking steam tank. Or something.
I'm still trying to work out if I even want to attend tournaments right now. Rumble in the Bronx and Cancon were both a good distraction from the End Times stuff, but events are now starting to embrace the rules changes like 50% lords and these new allied army lists, and it feels like I no longer have a firm grasp of what to expect on the table. 
The only thing I've done recently was whacking some paint on an old Nightmare Dragon who was kicking about. Oh, how he looms...
Anyway, there you go. If you've been wondering why I've been so quiet recently, this should give you some idea. Maybe I'll find my feet again once the dust settles, or I might snap and throw myself into a tournament just to see what happens. Again, time will tell.

25 comments:

  1. I feel like many WHFB players are in the same boat, we are all now holding our breaths waiting to see what the final End Times book brings and what 9th will look like

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    1. I think the community is divided between those who are excited about anything new, those who are already resigned to their game being doomed, and those of us caught somewhere in between. There are always people in each camp. But yeah, hard to do anything until we know where we're headed.

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  2. I don't have your long time with the hobby (read about it for years, but only been playing coming up on two years), but I earnestly feel your pain. My two WFB armies are Beastmen and Lizardmen, and whatever happens none of the tea leaves suggest promising futures for either of those lines. I've been focused on the Beastmen, primarily (Lizardmen won too much in friendly games to feel fun, but then got et up by dwarves in every conflict) and I'm a conversion-heavy kind of guy...so every unit I might construct is going to use a lot of green stuff, and a lot of effort, and it's hard to feel that's all of it worthwhile at the present time.

    It's a double blow, with the Beastmen, because I invested thinking "This army book is kind of outdated, surely they'll get a new one soon" and now it seems that the End Times stuff is what I'll be left with instead. Which definitely proved a boost for the boys, but doesn't handle our pricing issues. So I'll either jump ship to the much easier and more powerful Warriors of Chaos or continue to limp along on hobbled hooves.

    But who knows! Maybe we'll both be thrilled in a year!

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    1. Yeah, I'm glad I don't have Lizardmen right now. The Beastmen seem likely to live on under a larger Chaos umbrella, but they may lose their individuality. I traded for a Beastman army pretty recently, but I'm unsure if I will ever really get to use it now.

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    2. I agree I have recently traded my entire beastmen army about (5,000 pts painted and about 7,000 unpainted) for my friends undead and about $50 because I think that they are just going to be sucked into chaos and become one army.

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    3. Well it's 18 months since this post, and I have still not done a single thing with those Beastmen. GW really did destroy the best laid plans of mice and men. And goatmen.

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  3. Fellow Empire player here, and I'm in the same boat. The difference is I was planning to get back into the game and then the End Times kicked off. So much for that...

    I'm excited for things to move along, and to see what the future holds. At the same time, I really liked my Empire the way it was :/

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  4. Never mind all this end times brooding - will you be assembling the next generation walking steamtank or not?

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  5. I would not worry too much. 3rd edition still has a massive following and has regualar events and compertitions here in the UK. It's the same with Rogue Trader. I play both Rouge Trader and 40k but just look at them as different systems. Love the chaotic, cyber punk vibe of RT but understand that the system was a pain for larger battles and needed a fix.

    I feel the same about End times. There will be a massive community which will continue to support 8th (including myself) and once the dust has settled with end times i will have a proper look at it and see how it fits in with the folks I play with. You have far too much invested in 8th to walk away and one day you will be giving a demo game and a 9th edition kid will walk up and have his mind blown by how it used to be done.

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  6. I am aware of things like the Oldhammer community that keep some of the older editions of the game alive. Still, as someone who has always stuck with the "latest and greatest", it would feel like a major thing to step away from that. We'll see...

    And no, I'm not making the steamwalkertankthing.

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    1. Even if 9th ed. features rules for it?

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  7. I remain optimistic to see where 9th edition goes. Yes, I have played approximately one (or two games) of 8th, but that won't stop me from weighing in.
    Having seem "The Paragraph" that's floating around I think that
    Yes, the game will change
    No, it will not be a skirmish game (ridiculous to completely destroy 25 years of work)
    Yes, I will actually get either a Lizardman and/or Skaven army ready for the new edition!
    I know there's a lot of doom and gloom around. Putting hobby into a holding pattern is a good idea to see where the game goes. If nothing else, there's always the round-base-grim-dark game; you'll be used to getting screwed over by new rules by now.

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    1. I can't say that I would describe myself as optimistic about things. I'm really just waiting to see where things settle before deciding what needs to be done.

      I have pointedly not read "the paragraph". I want to read the book as a whole.

      Lizardmen and/or Skaven, huh? Well, I'll believe it when I see it...

      I drifted away from 40K many years ago. I think I am mostly beyond its grim-dark-round-based reach. I think.

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    2. Come to the Round Side. Once you start down the path to the round base, forever it will guide your destiny.

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    3. Round bases can never dominate my destiny. Not when I am surrounded by so many square ones. It's hip to be square.

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  8. Lost optimism years ago, still have the original 1st edition Warhammer books in the shed out the back so that tells you how long I have dabbled. I will play 8th and enjoy it, but 6-7th seemed to really work for me, maybe it was the opponents. But our club had 4 games of 40K on the table last Tuesday night and they all used the rules from 2 editions ago and had a blast, as in really enjoyed it, they mixed the newer codex/army books and it still seemed to work. So who knows maybe you can play 8th with end times 9th army books and all the new toys. At least some of the new toys will get your mojo back. Oh and do some more 3d printed baggage elements. Walking great cannons is so 40K.

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    1. Yeah, maybe this will be the push I need to stop adhering strictly to whatever is the "current" set of rules.

      Not a fan of Owen's Steam Defiler, eh?

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  9. The whole end times blow up the old world has left me very deflated.

    After in excess of 20 years of playing GW to see the old world treated this way which really is just an attempt to bridge the gap with 40k sales disappoints me beyond belief. Guess it's back to my chaos dwarfs or did they not find a bubble to escape on?

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    1. It is all a bit hard to absorb it all. Who knows about the Chaos Dwarfs? They were already dwelling in a little corner that GW had largely forgotten about or ignored.

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  10. I feel much the same way about the 9th edition rumors. Which is a shame, as I've had a rough 2014 (couple funerals, lost job) and bad start to 2015. Warhammer was something I was hoping to get back into, kinda like getting back in touch with an old friend who you missed a lot. Instead it's looking like I'll be packing up my armies and looking elsewhere for that old friend as it were.

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    1. Doesn't sound like you've had a great run recently. I agree that it's probably not the best time to get back into Warhammer, however if 9th edition doesn't really pan out, it's worth bearing in mind that Warhammer at the end of 8th edition was probably about the best the game has ever been. I wouldn't be at all surprised if the big shift to 9th ed sees a lot of players choose to stay behind with 8th (and perhaps play with the "historical" background).

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    2. It was interesting to see the change to 8th scared a lot of people in the same way, CanCon numbers, MOAB numbers were right down immediately after but as Greg has just said 8th ended up a fine game and the 120? odd entries at CanCon seemed to prove it. Just remember that you can play the old game and you probably have a mount of plastic still to paint BillGnossis85. I know I do.

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