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.|
|The only thing I've done recently was whacking some paint on an old Nightmare Dragon who was kicking about. Oh, how he looms...|