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In the grim darkness of the far future, there is only war.... and mega cities and future cops and cyborgs and deathgames and time-travelling dinosaur hunters and mutant bounty hunters and....
February 25, 2012 3:11 AM   Subscribe

British sf tabletop miniature wargame Warhammer 40,000 is 25 years old today, British sf anthology comic 2000AD is 35 years old tomorrow

Warhammer 40K: 25 Years of Orks in Space

2000AD at 35: A future you can still look forward to
Drokk Back In Anger: 35 great things about 2000AD
Covers Special - Who's the McMahon?
Tharg Cover - Mike McHahon
Happy Birthday 2000AD from Simon Gurr
Happy 35th Birthday 2000 AD from Simon Pegg and Karl Urban (as Judge Dredd)
posted by fearfulsymmetry (85 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite

 
25 Thudd Gun Salute!

I'll get the dice...
posted by robocop is bleeding at 3:21 AM on February 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


So long as Urban keeps the helmet on in the film, I'll be looking forward to it.
posted by MattWPBS at 3:32 AM on February 25, 2012


I have cursed Warhammer 40K many times. The only good board game sold in the sole hobby store in my benighted town is Settlers of Catan (seriously the chain bookstore has a better selection), but of course they carry W40K.

A roommate used to play it back in college, and I got to watch first-hand the fall of Games Workshop, how house organ White Dwarf turned from an awesome general gaming mag into an expensive product pamphlet for Citadel Miniatures.

The worst thing is that it looks like it might not be a game I'd mind playing, but there's no way that I could accept all the baggage (and the hundreds of dollars of miniatures, vehicles, rulebooks, scenery pieces and paints) that go with it. (And don't try to convince me that you "can play" with only a small outlay, like how Magic: The Gathering players will try to tell you that you can do well without buying a lot of cards. That's highly disingenuous -- we all know that if you really want to soak in and enjoy the game, you aren't going to be fielding a single bare-bones army. If you really want to participate in it you're going to be turning your wallet out to them.)
posted by JHarris at 3:41 AM on February 25, 2012 [5 favorites]


It's not bad for a Starcraft ripoff.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 3:50 AM on February 25, 2012 [17 favorites]


In my youth, I sank a lot of money into 40K (and even worse, Epic), but honestly, I don't regret it. Granted, I probably spent a lot more time painting and reading and consuming than actually playing the game (it's not easy to find other people into an obsessive British table top game in a small midwestern town), but I still loved it, the story, the silliness, and now, the computer games and animated films. I know what JHarris means about White Dwarf, it used to be a magazine showing how geeks made art (even if they were the only ones to consider it art), but honestly, I'm more okay with a 25 year old WH40K franchise that involves its players by giving them a chance to create, as well a consume, in a way that few other games do.

And blood. Y'know. For the blood god.
posted by Ghidorah at 3:53 AM on February 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


I have a soft spot for Warhammer 40K I've never played it. Nor will I ever play it, but I like the fact that somewhere in the world people are deeply involved in the struggle between fascist theocrat supermen and everything else in the universe that isn't a fascist theocrat superman.

Time to get stuck in boys!
posted by Grimgrin at 3:57 AM on February 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


It's not bad for a Starcraft ripoff.

Starcraft didn't exist when 40k came out. Or am I missing your sarcasm?
posted by Max Power at 3:59 AM on February 25, 2012 [3 favorites]


Just a bit.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 4:04 AM on February 25, 2012 [11 favorites]


I spent a large portion of high school playing brutal marathon Friday after school to Monday morning 40k sessions. Play, have a shouting match, play some more. By Saturday night you are punchy, by Sunday night it has turned evil. People passed out on the floor, everyone who is still interested in the games are playing with a ferocious intensity, constantly on the verge of coming to blows. I brewed pot after pot of coffee and smoked so many cigarette my fingers were stained yellow by the end.

We did it every weekend.
posted by Ad hominem at 4:07 AM on February 25, 2012 [3 favorites]


Totally agree about White Dwarf magazine. It used to be a good read about way nerdy things, back before the internet made that sort of information easy to come by. I had a few issues in the double digits, and they were really good reads that I came back to again and again.

I just gave away an old copy of Dark Future to a friend of mine who really gets a kick out of Games Workshop stuff. I still had the receipt for it in the box; it was £21.99 when I brought it, back in the 90s. I tried to find out how much something similar would have cost on their website, but it was a mess of bad UI and hot money-grabbing nerdery.

I'm not saying that GW should be run for the greater good, but if they concentrated less on pulling the money out of the hands of children, and more on building a community of gamers, I wouldn't have a sense of dread about another 40 years of GW.
posted by The River Ivel at 4:11 AM on February 25, 2012


I really, really tried to get into 40K at one point but it just takes way too much money to build a decent army of miniatures.
posted by GavinR at 4:11 AM on February 25, 2012


Yeah, I think furiousxgeorge is funnin ya, Starcraft is more of a 40K ripoff than the other way around. (40K, in turn, rips off Robert Heinlein.)

One of the better things about 40K is 4chan's tg board's love of the game, which has given us lots of grim dark dark grim funny. Here's 1d4chan's page on the game, and here's the page of tg's own invented SPESS MAREEN chapter, the Angry Marines. (Warning: ridiculously profane.)
posted by JHarris at 4:14 AM on February 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


I don't give a damn for the miniatures game, but goddamn do I love 40K's fluff. SPESS MAREENS!


It's not bad for a Starcraft ripoff.

The Emperor smiles on the recklessness with which you troll. :D
posted by Pope Guilty at 4:16 AM on February 25, 2012 [4 favorites]


I had like 5 miniatures, I used shit like empty bases and paper templates for vehicles.We had a piece of plywood we put down and used Random bric-a-brac as terrain. we didn't stand on ceremony.
posted by Ad hominem at 4:18 AM on February 25, 2012


For everyone who'd like to play it but for the commitment and expense, there's always the Vassal module, which has sprites for all the models and a bunch of terrain setups (against a human player, there's no AI). You'd still need to buy, beg or borrow the rulebooks, but that shouldn't pose too much of a challenge.

I found myself getting back into tabletop gaming maybe a year ago, and since I played as a kid, that inevitably originally meant 40k. Playing out a few games with my long-suffering partner in Vassal really killed that enthusiasm, though - the 5e rules feel fiddly, clumsy and bag-of-dice arbitrary, lacking in much opportunity to make meaningful decisions once the game's underway. Plus honestly, the increasing emphasis on vehicles has made it ludicrously expensive (even by miniatures gaming standards) to get into some factions. And GW have an utterly mindbogglingly insane approach to updating the armies to the current edition, where it's not uncommon for a side to be using rules designed for a whole earlier version of the game for years.

There was a leak of what was supposedly a playtest copy of the forthcoming 6th edition rules a little while back, which looked to be an enormous improvement in streamlining the hassly bits and emphasising the tactical ones. I think the jury's still out on whether or not the final 6e will resemble it in any way. All I can say having run a few theoretical games with it is that it'd do GW an awful lot of good if it did. Still not enough to make me even consider coming back to 40k now my wagon is firmly hitched to Warmachine/Hordes and Malifaux, which are respectively infinitely better balanced and way more charming and characterful.
posted by emmtee at 4:24 AM on February 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Ah! I'm glad to see Games Workshop hasn't completely obliterated all the VASSAL modules based on their games. (Their campaign against all ways to play the game on a computer being another reason I'm no fan of the company.)
posted by JHarris at 4:27 AM on February 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


I had friends in high school who played Warhammer. Their rules were certainly non-canon, because it involved throwing miniatures at one another and spitting. So whenever I hear of tabletop gaming, I think ballistics and loogies.

Also: Judge Dredd - The Bod TV special.
posted by scruss at 4:39 AM on February 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Warhammer 40,000 is a terrible game, from the rules themselves down to the way it is marketed as simply a means to shift toy soldiers. Yes, 2nd Edition was awesome as well as some of the specialist games but that was 10-15 years ago and the products being released today have very little in common with these original gems.

I used to really enjoy this game, but I largely attribute this to the fact that I was a teenager at the time and prone to liking stupid things.
posted by smackwich at 4:50 AM on February 25, 2012


I loved 40K as a 12 year old in the mid 90s, but I never had the money to buy any of their rip-off miniatures. I still had an epic Tyranid horde planned for if I ever found a suitcase full of cash lying around. Of course a few years later I could play with as big an army of Tyranids Zerg as I wanted.
posted by moorooka at 4:50 AM on February 25, 2012


The expense wouldn't be nearly as much as an issue if their pricing were more in line with other metal minis and plastic kits from other manufacturers, but a quick trip down that aisle of your friendly local gaming store makes it clear that they're not just tacking on a premium for the relative power of the unit on the tabletop, but also an across-the-board tax for the Games Workshop look and feel.

I wouldn't mind that second one so much except for the fact that large chunks of their look has been borrowed from other franchises wholesale and had the serial numbers filed off. Tyranids? Alien and other H.R. Geiger designs. Necrons? T-800 Terminators from Ancient Egypt. Catachan Imperial Guard? Rambo, IN SPACE! even before they lampshaded it with the Sly Marbo special character. Adeptus Arbites? 2000AD didn't renew the license for Judge Dredd minis, so just slap some Imperial Aquilas on those molds.

It didn't shock me in the least to learn (via this mefi thread) that the third 3D printer design file uploaded in The Pirate Bay's new category for such torrents was a Space Marine Dreadnought. I'm hoping that the crew at Nottingham is giving some informed thought to the issue and comes to the conclusion that their pricing model may not be sustainable in the long run. They probably won't though. Instead, they'll probably try to do something like include "certificates of authenticity" with everything they sell (along with a bump in price to cover the expense of the anti-forgery purity seal holograms) and require you to present them at tourneys for every unit in your army. It'd piss off everyone who'd bought something pre-CoA, but it's not like they care for anyone who's been in the hobby over a year anyway.
posted by radwolf76 at 5:12 AM on February 25, 2012 [6 favorites]


Happy birthday 2000AD. Read it as a kid, recently re-read the first 250 issues on the iPad. I had forgotten how staggeringly violent it was, and how totally and wonderfully unlike Marvel and DC comics of the time. Such great artists in Bolland, Ezquerra and the like as well. Still haven't gotten over the atrocious Dredd film with Stallone - I hope the upcoming reboot does it properly.
posted by GallonOfAlan at 5:21 AM on February 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


(And don't try to convince me that you "can play" with only a small outlay

Several (?) editions ago, you could field a many-points Space Marine army made up of something like one commander, one psyker (this is where all your points went), and a bunch (count your models, subtract two) of tech-marines with jump packs and las-cutters (think of a man-portable rules loophole), and be quite competitive.
posted by pompomtom at 5:27 AM on February 25, 2012


(oh, I forgot. A lot of the points there went to 'off-board support', which is the WH40K way of saying 'cover the board in nerve gas')
posted by pompomtom at 5:29 AM on February 25, 2012


I have an attic filled with GW minis in various states of assembly and paint. I actually like painting and customizing more than playing the damn game, but ended up giving that up when I realized that none of my friends were all that interested in my conversions and the lengthy backstory required to explain them.

Still, painting takes a backseat to my love of the setting. I could seriously go on about it for hours. My balm of late is in two parts. Part the first is in the Black Library and associated in-setting stories, the quality of which has been on the uptake since Abnett started writing.

The second part is that I have a year and a half old, so sometime in nine or ten years, we're going to 'accidentally' wander by a GW store. He'll want to go in to look at the models and I will do nothing to stop whatever GW employee is present from selling him on the game. "Well, if you promise to do your homework first, we can get you some guys... But Daddy will of course need to get some too, right? NO YOU MAY NOT PLAY SPACE WOLVES NO SON OF MINE WILL BE SO CHEESY. Ahem."

So here's hoping 40k makes it to 35!
posted by robocop is bleeding at 5:46 AM on February 25, 2012 [3 favorites]


The alleged 6e rolls a lot of the old support stuff into a sort of complex game of chicken played over who gets to go first vs who receives this rapidly ballooning set of bonuses (including a bunker that swells from concrete hovel to weapon-encrusted death palace if neither player will give in).

Sadly that doesn't mean you can get away with the weird old army builds any more. But I expect it does mean we'll see a $100 Skullworld Skull Storage Bunker SORRY I COULDN'T HEAR YOU OVER ALL THESE FUCKING SKULLS before too long.
posted by emmtee at 5:46 AM on February 25, 2012


I actually like painting and customizing more than playing the damn game

Oh, I had such plans for Chaos if I'd ended up playing 40k again. I had all the bits plotted out for a Nurgle Land Raider composed mostly of swarms of flies in the rough shape of the tank, with armour bits sort of carried along in the cloud. Vaudeville Noise Marines. A Chaos Lord 'blessed' by Slaanesh to look exactly like a G1 My Little Pony in terminator armour, physically deadlier than ever but stymied in enforcing any sort of command structure by his brushable mane and omnipresent artificial strawberry smell.

Malifaux lets me play a combat burlesque troupe, though. I don't have the drive to create stupid shit when the game just hands it to me.
posted by emmtee at 5:55 AM on February 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


I played loads of 40k in high school ... using a gabillion little squares of paper for troops, and crap we found in the basement for scenery. I was amazed when I went off to college and discovered that gamers outside my little circle of friends not only shelled out money for miniatures, but insisted that you had to shell out the money too or your couldn't play with them. Weirdos.
posted by nebulawindphone at 6:12 AM on February 25, 2012


ZARJAZ!

It's my birthday too. You can get me anything 2000ad or WH40K related.
posted by Artw at 6:32 AM on February 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


Yep, that's pretty much my whole childhood right there, once I dropped the Transformers.
posted by WPW at 6:47 AM on February 25, 2012


A lot changes in 25 years.
posted by the_artificer at 7:15 AM on February 25, 2012


Be Pure! Be Vigilant! Behave!
posted by jquinby at 8:01 AM on February 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Check out my fucking badass Black Legion Chaos Lord! Shame the current 40K ruleset is so sterile and dire, I do long for the high adventure of 2nd edition. Warhammer Fantasy is in the midst of a bit of a renaissance, though, but sadly has always had something like a fifth of the player base of 40K.
posted by nicolas léonard sadi carnot at 8:03 AM on February 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


I also enjoyed painting the miniatures and the setting more than the game itself. (partly because i sucked at it, heh) You also didn't need a huge army to play, i had a handful of chaos marines and other players similar. If i remember right all you had to do was agree on a point value for your armies. (we also substituted legos for some battles, made sense with the chaos army, everyone is turned into legos, heh) Probably helped that we didn't get all rules lawyer though too. (mid 90s here)

The setting, while borrowing from other things, has become this amazing and disturbing world that is a thing of itself. I am really sad that starcraft overtook it in popular imagination, as while it's good, it feels more shallow than 40k, and not nearly as bleak or epic. It really deserves an amazing franchise.
posted by usagizero at 8:41 AM on February 25, 2012


This thread made me look up one of my favorite internet image mashups. I will always love WH40K if only because it made that happen. (I never did 40K or any wargaming, but I did steal some minis for D&D-type games. Much love for some of the monsters.)
posted by immlass at 9:07 AM on February 25, 2012


so it takes a 40k thread to get me to sign up... heh.

some fun memories of 3rd edition around early 2000s, I've got a horrible case of the "constantly wants to try new army" bug, so never really finished any. spent entirely too much money, hanging out at Thursday night games at my local comic shop throwing small buckets of dice around.

tempted recently to so modelling to make a space marine vs chaos marine chess set. ok, 16 figures a side, can't be too bad...... oh wait, about $300 if I recall.

so sadly, its been out on perpetual hold. as the joke goes, in the grim darkness of your wallet, you can't afford to play.
posted by AngelWuff at 9:27 AM on February 25, 2012


Aah, 2000AD: Halo Jones, Skizz, D. R. & Quinch, Zenith, ABC Warriors, Rogue Warrior, Old Stoneface himself of course, Hewligan's Haircut, Nemisis, Slaine, Brian Bolland's sharp, clean futuristic artwork and Simon Bisley's incredibly khaotic art, all the dreary old series that have been going on for years (Sam Slade, Harlem Heroes, Dan Dare), the fillers that could be awesome (any Alan Moore Future Shock) or as corny as any Twilight Zone episode, Tharg the Mighty and his script droids, all the ways in which it so clearly a *British* juvenile power fantasy, aah, happy memories.

Warhammer 40K otoh, was always too rich for my blood, but the concept is just as awesome if largely ripped off from 2000AD and many, many other sources. It's like Perry Rhodan, so much has been ripped off and added that it's become its own thing.
posted by MartinWisse at 9:30 AM on February 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Just FYI (or should I say FTE*), Space Marine is on sale at Amazon this weekend. You play as a Space Marine, but it's still pretty entertaining.


*For the Emperor!
posted by longdaysjourney at 9:44 AM on February 25, 2012


There's also a sale on over at the 2000ad site. I particularluy recommend Dvae Bishops Thrill Power Overload too anyone interested in the history of the comic (Though it's only "Thirty years of Thrillpower" - wow, time flies)

Oh, and also on sale is the 86ers, which is in part by me. Thrilling space dogfight adentures in the universe of Rogue Trooper, earthlets! How can you resist?
posted by Artw at 11:44 AM on February 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


longdaysjourney: "Space Marine is on sale at Amazon this weekend. You play as a Space Marine, but it's still pretty entertaining."

I picked this up around Christmas during the Steam sale and it was a surprisingly fun game. The Exterminatus multiplayer mode is especially fun even if you playing solo. Jump jetting into a horde of Orks with a Thunderhammer is very satisfying.

Never forget!
posted by the_artificer at 11:50 AM on February 25, 2012


I didn't make it through the demo - I ended spinning around pointing the wrong way far too often. Dawn of War II, though, I really enjoyed.
posted by Artw at 11:52 AM on February 25, 2012


A Chaos Lord 'blessed' by Slaanesh to look exactly like a G1 My Little Pony in terminator armour, physically deadlier than ever but stymied in enforcing any sort of command structure by his brushable mane and omnipresent artificial strawberry smell.

It's not her generation, but Rainbow Dash still approves!

pompomtom: Yes, that is exactly the argument I was trying to pre-empt with the Magic: The Gathering example. You can "play" and "do well." But you're not really exploring the game, you're using a few set troops over and over. Many players like to explore the gamespace even if they never field a practical army. That is where the real interest in W40K lies, and that is exactly what GW has spent a lot of time and money attempting to couple strongly with the "feel" of the game, so that people cannot explore it without also paying them hundreds, even thousands, of dollars. I consider that to be rather grasping of them, enough so that it's almost a blessing that there's no way I could afford to sink any money into their silly GRIMDARK game.
posted by JHarris at 1:13 PM on February 25, 2012


I have heard again and again the bullshit about how GW killed White Dwarf by turning it from an excellent general-games magazine into a house mag, and I have had enough of it. You'd think, by the sound of it, that GW and WD were hanging on by the skin of their teeth these days. Here are some home truths:

1. White Dwarf was always a house magazine. It has only ever printed material for games which were published or exclusively distributed by Games Workshop (and before you protest let me show you my softcover AD&D Monster Manual and Players Handbook with the GW logo on them, printed under licence in the UK). Oh, very occasionally you might get a T&T or Dragon Warriors adventure, most likely to keep a regular advertiser or regular contributor sweet, but it was always a house mag.

2. And there is nothing wrong with this. To survive, an RPG magazine has to be a house magazine, primarily if not exclusively. Look at the ones that have stuck around more than a couple of years (Dragon, WD) versus the ones that didn't (Arcane, Adventurer, et al).

3. But by 1987 this model had become unsustainable for White Dwarf. In the late 70s and early 80s the number of properly successful RPGs could be counted in single figures. By the mid 80s that number was increasing almost monthly. The magazine could not print enough articles about all the successful systems to satisfy enough gamers to keep its readership at a stable level. (This is what kills general RPG magazines.) Something had to give.

4. Remember that at this time GW was primarily a games distributor and retailer, not a publisher. It produced a few boardgames, a few RPGs--mostly under licence--and quite a lot of rather good miniatures. It had almost no IP of its own. And it was facing a market where, apart from AD&D, there were no dominant RPGs any more.

5. The fact that this moment came at about the same moment that Ian Livingstone and Steve Jackson passed control of the company to Bryan Ansell, who had previously been running the Citadel Miniatures division, is not entirely coincidental. Games Workshop had to change or die, and the job was given to the man most suited to make that change, and twenty-five years later here we are.

6. In its 'golden era', White Dwarf was selling 25-30,000 copies an issue. According to its editor, these days it sells 200,000 copies an issue. And if despite all that you still think that Games Workshop should have "concentrated less on pulling the money out of the hands of children, and more on building a community of gamers" then you have absolutely no fucking idea what you're talking about.

(6. And my credentials: former WD contributor; former journalist for the UK Press Gazette and Magazine Week; UK-based RPG publisher 1994-2002; former GW licensee and author; current GW shareholder which gives me access to their financials; conversations with involved parties including Ian Livingstone and at least three former editors of White Dwarf.)
posted by Hogshead at 1:27 PM on February 25, 2012 [9 favorites]


You mischaracterize my earlier statements. I do not dispute that it has always been a house organ, but as the nature of GW's business moved away from lots of cool things to FIGHTING MINIATURES ALL THE TIME, my personal take is that it have become grossly less interesting, and I can't see how anyone who doesn't directly live and breathe miniatures games could disagree.

You can agree or disagree with me as you like, and point to how much more profitable it is for the company now, but regardless of how financially successful it is, it's tons more fun to flip through classic issues of White Dwarf, when they did awesome things like the 40K Orks vs Paranoia Troubleshooters game, than another load of pages of photographs of painted figures.

Whatever the reason that this is true, it doesn't change the fact that it's true. It has nothing to do with profitability; I don't pick up books at the bookstore saying "I bet that made the publisher a lot of money. I'll give it a try!" Lots of profitable things are uninteresting outside their subculture. Look at Twilight. Some people like it, sure, but if you don't have that particular knack you look at it and scratch your head.
posted by JHarris at 2:17 PM on February 25, 2012


the 40K Orks vs Paranoia Troubleshooters game

Have to admit, I'd totally flick through a stack of White Dwarves from when they were doing mad stuff like that, whereas later ones where it's all more formal Warhammerish stuff hold a lot less interest for me. IIRC the Paranoia crossover came along fairly late, as they were transitioning into that phase - I have a memory of reading it between bouts of Dark Future or Space Hulk or similar whilst Conan The Barbarian played on VHS.
posted by Artw at 2:28 PM on February 25, 2012


Amongst the various groups of men-folk that I associate with, pretty much everybody knows what Games Workshop is. I normally hang out with arty folk or computer folk, and there's a big cross section of those guys who have some Games Workshop fandom in their past. But out of these adult males, it's really rare that anybody plays the games.

I don't know. Maybe all my friends and acquaintances are living in tiny hipster hutches that wouldn't accomodate an Epic skirmish. But thens why Carcassonne or Catan is growing in popularity? You'd think somebody would want to whip out that copy of Necromunda occasionally.

There's a lot of comments above that are echoed by the intelligent nerds who I have the pleasure of hanging out with, that seem to be saying "I don't want to get burned by spending money on that stuff again". It's not a good sign that such a popular, well-loved thing has so little retention, and such a bad association in it's previous fans. And that's before you factor in the outright vilification of GW that you see in some areas.
posted by The River Ivel at 2:57 PM on February 25, 2012


The River Ivel: "It's not a good sign that such a popular, well-loved thing has so little retention, and such a bad association in it's previous fans. And that's before you factor in the outright vilification of GW that you see in some areas."

From Reddit: IAMA former Games Workshop employee. AMA.
VladTheEmailer posted:
The logic for the price jumps is simple: nobody actually NEEDS any of this, and the market can withstand it. More to the point, if the company made buying an army or a unit extremely affordable, it would suffer financially.

CornflakeJustice posted:
When you say they would suffer financially do you mean that they would simply take in less profit by lowering prices? Or that it would cause them to not be able to maintain their business?

Why not drop prices some so help kill the cost of entry and get more players? Which would likely drive their profit up.

VladTheEmailer posted:
Remember that this is a non-necessary inelastic commodity. There is no earthly reason that you need to buy more Bloodthirsters. But they're cool, and you want more, right?

The cost of entry is part of the panache of the whole thing.

I understand your point, but I also understand the company's point: they don't want everyone to be playing.

They want it to be a prestige game. And, quite frankly, take a look at the new plastics. It IS a prestige game.

I am not shilling for their business model (I got out a long time ago), but I do think it's the right thing to do for their profit margin, which lets them pay the best artists around. I dig that.
posted by the_artificer at 3:11 PM on February 25, 2012


"...regardless of how financially successful it is, it's tons more fun to flip through classic issues of White Dwarf"

For you, sure. But to assert that hundreds of thousands of kids are getting less of a charge from each new issue of WD than you got from the issues of your youth is pretty arrogant.

"awesome things like the 40K Orks vs Paranoia Troubleshooters game"

'Vulture Warriors from Dimension X Meet Plenty of Cheerful Orks with Plasma Cannons', from WD112 (April 1989). Despite being written by Ken 'Elder Scrolls' Rolston, it's a basic Army A vs Army B miniatures scenario with fog-of-war and flavour text. It's far from great.
posted by Hogshead at 3:15 PM on February 25, 2012


it's a basic Army A vs Army B miniatures scenario with fog-of-war and flavour text.

Well, that's a lot of things... :-)
posted by Artw at 3:50 PM on February 25, 2012


I don't dispute that from a strict design point of view. But you are neglecting the awesome cool factor of Orks vs Troubleshooters. And Ken Rolston is one of the old Paranoia guys.

From a business standpoint, of course, it's whatever gives the most pluses scores the most dosh. But that is shortsighted. If you fleece the customers long enough, they become resistant to it. And they have pretty solidly put all their eggs into that basket.

The anger in some circles against Games Workshop is completely justified. It doesn't help that they were once pretty awesome, regardless of how unprofitable awesomeness sometimes is.
posted by JHarris at 3:57 PM on February 25, 2012


OK - anyone able to identify this White Dwarf scenario? The players encounter a blind tapestry weaver in the middle of nowhere. The tapestry is actually a portal to a fantastic land. There's some kind of beast that wears a cloak made of threads from the tapestry, beaded with human eyes. The weaver is trading the eyes of unlucky transports for threads from the tapestry.

(there may have been a thing with a Melnibornian ship in the same issue)
posted by Artw at 4:53 PM on February 25, 2012


Also I have to admit a part of my soul died when Smurf helmets went away.

In some ways the early 90s were a pretty grim time for UK nerds - there was that, 2000ad entering it's decade of suck (it got better! Honest!) and Doctor Who was gone seemingly forever...

No wonder I started getting into videogames, music and girls.
posted by Artw at 5:01 PM on February 25, 2012


I don't know of that from White Dwarf, but that's damn close to a story in The Dying Earth concerning Chun the Unavoidable. Could it have been an adventure set in one of the Dying Earth themed RPGs?
posted by JHarris at 5:03 PM on February 25, 2012


Also, although I esteem Hogshead greatly, I feel like I need to address this:

For you, sure. But to assert that hundreds of thousands of kids are getting less of a charge from each new issue of WD than you got from the issues of your youth is pretty arrogant.

Maybe I am arrogant. Maybe I must rely on whatever meager justification I can pull from my own soul in climbing the tall mountain, and proclaiming over the land HARK ALL YEE SHEEPLE, AND AWAKEN! BE IT KNOWN TO ALL THAT GAMES WORKSHOP IS NOW TEH SUCK! Maybe none of these people need pay my goofy little voice any heed at all.

But at least I can take comfort in the fact that that path up the mount is well-trod, and I am far from the last to climb it. Anyway, why not listen to me? I've kicked around a while and have at least a few ounces of perspective. Maybe I'm right and maybe I'm wrong, but presumably I believe what I do for a reason, I think that counts for something.
posted by JHarris at 5:13 PM on February 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


/Googles.

Now you mention it, it must be exactly that.

I guess D&Ding up a Vance tale makes a lot of sense.
posted by Artw at 5:15 PM on February 25, 2012


I notice that nobody has bought me a skull faced deactivated war robot as a present.
posted by Artw at 5:24 PM on February 25, 2012


"But you are neglecting the awesome cool factor of Orks vs Troubleshooters"

Such awesome cool is slightly mitigated by the existence of Orcbusters, a 32-page Paranoia adventure written by Ken Rolston and published by West End Games three years before the White Dwarf scenario in question, and to which the scenario explicitly refers.
posted by Hogshead at 5:40 PM on February 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Bet they didn't have that down WHSmiths though. That was the appeal of early WHite Dwarf to me - it was this cross section of all this really cool stuff that was new to me, and they had it in the shitty small town newsagents that were the ones I was able to frequent.
posted by Artw at 6:17 PM on February 25, 2012


Sadly you are correct -- although Orcbusters is pretty great itself, it is easy to see it as being the beginning of the end of classic Paranoia, the slow abandonment of the core setting for a bunch of crossovers and out-of-game jokes. It's one of the last really excellent Paranoia products before West End started doing stuff like crashing the Computer, and which reached its nadir with the much-loathed 5th Edition.

I've said a lot of unkind things about D&D 4th edition 'round these parts, but it's not nearly as bad as Paranoia 5E. Wow. I, unfortunately, still have my copy of it.
posted by JHarris at 6:18 PM on February 25, 2012


On Price:

I just threw 1600pts of orks together without really trying to maximize effectiveness or minimize price and came up with $1100 at full retail in Canada for what would be a decent mixed boyz/specials list. (Really I probably should have more boyz and there by reduce the price). At any rate over two years that is less than $50 a month; add another $200 for paint and glue and it's still less than $60. Certianly not cheap but very competitive with many other hobbies and much cheaper than a lot of main stream hobbies and activities (EG: skiing or hockey).

Now you can reduce that price by 20-25% pretty easy with internet shopping. And Orks can be made cheap via the black reach set (plastic rather than metal choppers and the boyz it includes can be used to get both lootas and burnas out of the either/ork burnas/lootas box). So for orks anyways the one can easily drop the model price down to $750-800.

At $800 you are only looking a $35 a month if you spread it out over 24 months, or roughly the cost of 3 movie tickets a month and less than second tier cable. It seems like a lot of little bits of plastic but considered as entertainment W40K is all that expensive.
posted by Mitheral at 7:36 PM on February 25, 2012


Despite being written by Ken 'Elder Scrolls' Rolston, it's a basic Army A vs Army B miniatures scenario with fog-of-war and flavour text. It's far from great.

Despite? What do you mean, "despite"? The Elder Scrolls is all about cool worlds with horribly shallow details. It's what Bethesda does.
posted by Pope Guilty at 7:49 PM on February 25, 2012


My Hobby Minimum Cost vs Enjoyment threshold traditionally has been around 5 bucks an hour. So if I spend 5 dollars and get an hour of enjoyment out of it, all is good. This price was set based on what I paid for AOL back in the day, but has since been pegged to movie prices.

I feel that, provided I actually have the time, that GW prices are not onerous. To do a box of troops up right (40 bucks) would take awhile. You have to assemble, prime, and paint the dudes. Given that, as I mentioned, I don't actually play and don't have a game I'm rushing to be sure of the 3 color rule for, that means GW was an affordable hobby for me.

Now that I have a kid and 300 bucks a week in daycare, not so much, but hell, I'll be back. At some point the 10-15 bucks an hour hobby threshold cost will be worth it if I can spend that time assembling, priming, and painting with my son.

What I really want now is a retrospective as to how a game based on "fuck it - I like Genghis Khan, let's put the Golden Horde on motorcycles and make them fight space vegetables" became the setting it is today.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 7:55 PM on February 25, 2012


Inter-galactic comic book's success is all down to Scots
posted by Artw at 8:16 PM on February 25, 2012


If I can throw in a sort of tangential sidepoint... If anyone's ever played Space Hulk and loved/hated it, there's a game for the Android system created by the Trese Brothers called Templar Assault. It's currently in beta, undergoing the usual slew of improvements that the devs do, and is as tense and as frustrating as the game it's based on. You can download the beta for free. Long live the Emperor! (just not "long live me," judging by my death rate.)
posted by Zack_Replica at 8:19 PM on February 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


A shot glass of rocket fuel - Former editor Andy Diggles mission statement for 2000ad circa July 2000, which is round about the time it started becoming good again after a pretty terrible stretch in the 90s.
posted by Artw at 8:40 PM on February 25, 2012


Ewins and Dillon of Deadline Gulch
posted by Artw at 9:05 PM on February 25, 2012


On the fun-per-dollar ratio: for me, $5 for an hour is very high. The $50 Puerto Rico set I got around 2005 has been probably played over a hundred times, the last time two days ago. At a conservative estimate of an hour each game, that's fifty cents a game, and it's still perfectly serviceable. Even your typical cliche-ridden JRPG will get you 40 hours for $60. Any good European board game will deliver similar value, and you don't have to worry about it going obsolete in a couple of years due entirely to some manager figuring their customers are ripe for another shearing.

And if I ever had the money to put into W40K? Rather than spend that $500-800 on bits and rules and paints along with the time to doll them up (although I must admit a Pony-themed Space Marine army might be awesome), I could get 10-16 more board games for that much, and I could easily find enough good ones too, and one set means I can play with friends instead of expecting them to put in all that outlay too.
posted by JHarris at 9:57 PM on February 25, 2012


The Elder Scrolls is all about cool worlds with horribly shallow details. It's what Bethesda does.

I'm not sure if you can blame Rolston for that. (At least, I hope it isn't his fault.)
posted by JHarris at 10:31 PM on February 25, 2012


I don't know. Maybe all my friends and acquaintances are living in tiny hipster hutches that wouldn't accomodate an Epic skirmish. But thens why Carcassonne or Catan is growing in popularity?

Apples and oranges. It takes about fifteen minutes to explain and set up a Catan session, you can play it in about an hour or two, start getting a good grip on the game in a few sessions and have fun from the start. (As I discovered over Christmas as me, my brother(s) and parents played it every evening for about two weeks.)

Warhammer 40K is much more complex and even if given away free would need a much larger investment in time and effort to get the same sort of enjoyment out of. It appeals to a much narrower demographic, the kind of person who finds pleasure in collecting and building models as well as playing wargames with them, where part of the appeal is in the obsessive list building and the chasing of rare variants.

And of course it's far too earnest and nerdy and just not cool to appeal to hipsters in the first place; can't have an ironic detachment faced with an Ork warband.
posted by MartinWisse at 2:25 AM on February 26, 2012


re price: I've spent around $200 on ebay to get far far more space marines than I can ever be bothered to paint. Yes if you want to buy a lot of boxes in a shop you're up for a bit of money, but really, in perspective you'd get more fun out of two squads of terminators than out of a copy of most console games.

re WD: have you actually read an issue in the past five years? I've read most of them. They constantly stress that the point of the game is to have fun, that the point of the rules are to have fun, that creativity should be rewarded, that artistry is to be commended.

GW's IP is unambiguously their own. Of course they've taken from everyone that came before them, just like, oh, every single game designer and nearly all fiction writers that have ever existed. Taken together, the 40K universe is a coherent distinct whole that does not have to apologise to anyone for being derivative or a pastiche, it is quite unique and quite fun.

That said the rules are a bit crap. And I prefer Warhammer.
posted by wilful at 3:41 AM on February 26, 2012


Speaking of WFRP, Blood Bowl for PC is pretty fun.
posted by Pope Guilty at 4:55 AM on February 26, 2012


Just saw this and thought it would fit well here, Building a Space Marine Terminator helmet from paper.
posted by the_artificer at 2:55 PM on February 26, 2012 [3 favorites]


I don't play Warhammer 40K, though I have read the books when I can mooch them off friends. However I would like to point out that basically nobody sells minis for more then Games Workshop. I can get good quality metal D&D minis for half the cost of a box of undetailed and rough plastic ones from Games Workshop. If you think Warhammer minis are good get your hands on some of the old Ral Partha ones. It seems odd that one of the worst mini crafters somehow needs to charge twice as much as anyone else to make money, doubly so when they have economy of scale on their side.
posted by Canageek at 10:02 PM on February 26, 2012


Yes, that is... odd. (STARES DIRECTLY ACROSS THE ATLANTIC AT CITADEL MINIATURES, A FULLY-OWNED BRANCH OF GAMES WORKSHOP.)
posted by JHarris at 1:20 AM on February 27, 2012


I don't know how anyone can call the new citadel models bad. The current models they are producing are amazing.

They still have some older sculpts for sale that aren't as nice, but as things are getting updated the quality is going through the roof.
posted by WinnipegDragon at 9:50 AM on February 27, 2012


I agree WinnipegDragon, GW are consistent in recent times for producing generally excellent product, with a high level of artistic merit. Not every time, but mostly. Forgeworld has some amazing stuff.

Regarding IP again, they are far more the offended party than the offending one - little studios are ripping them off left right and centre, while cheap knock-off casts are appearing from China and other places.

All that said, I am thinking of an IG army made up mostly of generic "space troopers" from anywhere and everywhere. But I'd have to get a baneblade from GW for AU$165 (or $100 from ebay).
posted by wilful at 5:10 PM on February 27, 2012


Regarding IP again, they are far more the offended party than the offending one

Well that's a matter of opinion isn't it? It's only because the law has evolved in order to protect things just this way. I personally agree that it's important to allow people to be inspired by outside influences without danger of being sued to smithereens, but there is a tinge of the Disney in how GW attacks people "infringing" on their "IP," even while profiting from their gigantic bucket of stewed tropes.
posted by JHarris at 5:25 PM on February 27, 2012


wilful writes "But I'd have to get a baneblade from GW for AU$165 (or $100 from ebay)."

You are still allowed to field scratch constructed models even in GW organized events. I've got plans for a baneblade if you are interested.
posted by Mitheral at 5:55 PM on February 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


You are still allowed to field scratch constructed models even in GW organized events.

I think I would have much more fun playing with my local club where there's a fair amount of anything goes (more than half my dwarves are not GW) than be subjected to rules abuse by some pathological little 14 year old.

I've got plans for a baneblade if you are interested.

Really? In principle, yes. That would be cool, thanks. But in practice, given that I can't even get around to painting my dwarves, let alone my marines, let alone the non-existent IG army I probably wont get, cutting up plasticard for a big tank will remain at the edges of theoretical hobbyist enthusiasm for me. Maybe if I broke my leg one winter. I get my vicarious thrills looking at the project logs at CoolMiniOrNot.
posted by wilful at 6:33 PM on February 27, 2012


wilful writes "Really?"

Yep, two different versions, the original plans featured in WD and an updated set that looks more like the current model.

It's a pretty big investment all right. I'm scratch building all the vehicles for my Mad Big Mek Orc army and it's been quite the investment in time. Everyone loves the custom trukks though. I really like the look of the cat head battlewagon in the background of this picture. I'm thinking of using at least the cab for my battle wagon.
posted by Mitheral at 7:16 PM on February 27, 2012


I don't know much about minis myself, but the guy I was with showed me how the fine detail on GW minis is much cruder then other ones. As I recall the GW chainmail was just a texture, where on certain of the other lines you could actually see the individual links. Now these were the fantasy line, but I mean, GW minis are mostly *plastic* and still cost more then pewter.

The guy I am with might be a bit picky though: He is still annoyed that they switched to pewter because it doesn't take the paint as well as lead did. Also apparently if you want a REALLY nice looking mini stop using GW acrylics and get some Testors oil paints. Just be careful with the paint thinner (Toluene can cause brain damage, isn't that nice?)
posted by Canageek at 8:34 PM on February 27, 2012


Canageek, having painted a fair number of minis myself, both old and new, I will say again that GW minis are and always have been generally on the higher end of the quality scale. There are of course some better individual moulds out there, and some of their big box plastics are pretty awful, but their newer resins are better than metal, even if not what we grew up on...

Meanwhile their 'Eavy Metal artists continue to astonish.

What a job that would be.
posted by wilful at 9:15 PM on February 27, 2012


WinnipegDragon: "I don't know how anyone can call the new citadel models bad. The current models they are producing are amazing.

They still have some older sculpts for sale that aren't as nice, but as things are getting updated the quality is going through the roof.
"

I noticed that all those you linked are from Citadel's plastic line. The plastics are great but their Finecast line has some serious problems. Aside from quality control issues I hate the bendy resin they used to replace the metal. The resin from Forgeworld is much better. Also that miniature I linked isn't one of their old sculpts that was intended to be cast in metal it's their limited edition 25th anniversary Space Marine. Maybe they need to talk to the Japanese guys that do the casting for the resin Gundam kits.
posted by the_artificer at 12:18 PM on February 28, 2012


Here's an interesting video that gives a pretty good overview of how Games Workshop does things. Looks like an investor relations video.
posted by the_artificer at 3:30 PM on March 2, 2012


Looks like Fantasy Flight Games is releasing a 40k flavored version of Talisman.
posted by the_artificer at 8:51 AM on March 15, 2012


Something Warhammer This Way Comes - A longer version of the Why are adults still launching tabletop war? piece the BBC ran a few days ago, though without a hilarious caption reading "Women and girls do play, but are outnumbered" which evokes some kind of desperate struggle involving the Sisters of Battle.
posted by Artw at 11:11 AM on March 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


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