Monday, 17 January 2011
Warhammer 40k Update
aka 'Where'd I put those Deathwing Models?'
In case you live under a rock. On Europa. What happened was Jervis Johnson was maimed in a horrible bear/singularity/hysterically oversized black rubber phallic shaped adult toy... accident and the Dark Angels were set free from 4.5 edition codex design.
Ok that's not exactly it. Basically GW simply decided that folks had bought just about all the Space Wolves and Blood Angels they needed and that Space Marine sales could use a boost. Since the Dark Angels and Black Templars weren't going to be updated any time soon, why not make them the best armies in the game in a four paragraph update?
Well... that's not it either, at least I'm not convinced that's all of it. To me it seems that GW is basking in the glory of a successful "high-risk" release. The Dark Eldar had been postponed for years for fear that they would not draw the sales that GW needed to carry them until their next power armor codex release. Now it seems that players will be attracted to any release of the quality we've come to expect from GW post 5th edition. Therefore early designs of the Dark Angels and Black Templars that were believed necessary to boost sales between Xenos releases can safely be pushed back. This, in turn, opens up release slots for more "exotic" codex releases. I'm more convinced of this the theory than any other for the simple fact that the Grey Knights were not likewise updated (since they're going to be re-released soon anyway) proving that another power armor-centric release is not on the horizon.
But that's a topic for later. What we should focus on now is the sudden, overwhelming difference in game design policy GW is implementing. What we're seeing is an almost Privateer Press-category rules update upgrading all the synonymous wargear options across all the power armor codices. This is not just good news for all the DA players that have been silently weeping in closets all across the gaming world, shakily gripping their dark green pens and writing army lists for Deathwing that begin with "Logan Grimnar - 275 points"; it's also a breath of fresh air for the rest of us core gamers that are sick to death of GW's stubborn refusal to keep their older releases in the spotlight. No longer will we suffocate between each army release staring sidelong at players whose turn it is to receive a new codex. Suddenly any army that doesn't have an update coming within the next year is likely to be updated making it still playable (or in the case of the Dark Angels the most playable army in the game).
Always with 40k the player is pulled in several different directions at once by a quicksilver ruleset that can change its metagame like Guidos change T-shirts. "Codex A was written for my army but the rules from Codex B represent the fluff better. Still if I want to win I should play codex C and just dilute my army's theme until it's inconsequential." Now Games Workshop says "no army will be left" behind and there's no longer any need to fear being faithful to any one faction because, should it fall behind, it will be given all the bells and whistles of its younger siblings. This will prove doubly true if whispers of the Stormraven becoming available to all marine codices turn out be well-founded.
Rewind to the the Spearhead release that saw the emergence of a brand new unit - the Night Spinner - in the game and we could be seeing GW's "kicking and screaming" introduction into the rapids of customer satisfaction and product maintenance. Is this the result of growing chagrin on the part of long-time customers or the blossoming of competitors in the wargaming industry? I'd like to believe it's both and so I'll close with this: if you want to see more of the same from Games Workshop go buy a cartfull of Terminators but make sure you pick up a Warjack or ten while you're at it.