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Monday, June 20, 2016

Demise of an Era

Hello my hobby friends.  Today I’m going to say something that has taken me a long time to come to terms with.

I don’t really enjoy Warhammer 40k anymore.

Now, that’s a loaded statement.  I still like some parts of it, but not all.  I’ll explain.

Games Workshop has historically talked about the “Four Pillars” of the Hobby (note the capital H).  You’ll sometimes see people jokingly call 40k and its related parts the HHHHobby to signify these pillars.  GW is referring to the enjoyment that people get from collecting models and books, building models, painting models and, of course, playing the game.  I’m going to follow this same breakdown below.


So Shiny and New!
Games Workshop is convinced that people love collecting models, books and other bits of lore/fluff related goods.  Based on the number of unopened models I own, I think this is true.  In the past, I would see a new model come out and I’d buy it because it would complete my army or match up to a character in a book.  I’m predominantly a Tau Empire and Necron player.  Both of those armies have units I know I’ll never use, but bought just so that the army would be more complete.  I also have a pretty decent Skitarii army that I’ve only played with once.  I bought it after reading several books centered on the Adeptus Mechanicus.

Buying models on a whim has more or less stopped as the prices have skyrocketed over time.  I’m not going to quote specific data points, but anyone who has followed this hobby will easily note that prices have been rising faster than inflation.  This means that although things are generally more expensive than they used to be, GW products are even more so.  My hobby dollar doesn’t go nearly as far as it used to and there are many other products vying for my money.  In that sense, it’s difficult to justify collecting models that won’t see immediate and ongoing use.

I also want to point out that collecting can include things like the Black Library books.  When the Horus Heresy series started, I thought, “Awesome!  I love these stories.  Can’t wait to buy them all.”

This will never happen...
And now we have book 38 in an ever more fragmented series being released soon.  There are so many limited edition stories, short stories, novellas, novels and other tie in products, that it becomes unfeasible to own it all.  I’m the sort of person that if I can’t own it all, I’m not interested in knowing only part of the story.  GW has effectively pushed me out by making the actual collection and reading of the stories feel like a job.  Plus, I don't really believe they'll ever finish the story.


I hope you like Marines...
This is an odd one.  Games Workshop puts out some of the nicest models on the market.  Very few companies can compete in the multi part plastic model segment.  Give me a new and exciting model and I’ll put it together with glee…  but the models aren’t always new and exciting.

Anyone who follows my blog knows that I picked up the Betrayal at Calth set and have been working my way through it.  I’ve hit a wall.  So help me God, I can’t force myself to put together another Space Marine.  They’re all the same.  It’s like building the same model 40 times in a row.  It gets old quick.  I’m tired and am looking for a little variety.  Unfortunately, since the models are tied to a game, I feel compelled to stay within certain Faction limits and feel like spending money on a random model from a different Faction is a waste of time.  In that sense, building GW models has become a bit of a chore.


Now paint 99 more...
If building models is a chore, then painting models is even more so.  To use the same Betrayal at Calth set as an example, I basically having to paint 50 or so models to be more or less exactly the same.  Regardless of the Faction, you end up painting most of your models the same with a 40k army.  Iron Warriors?  I hope you love painting metal armour.  From a painting standpoint, Tyranids are all basically the same model with variations in size and shape.

Why don’t you just paint different things, you ask?  Well, if I painted different things, I’d never actually finish an army.  A big part of this hobby for me is presentation.  I like to finish projects.  I don’t want to paint random one off models that are never going to see table use.  The end result is that I end up painting a lot of the same thing, over and over.  It’s boring.  It’s really, really boring and starts feeling like work after a while.


I don’t even know where to start here.  The Warhammer 40k rule set has become this sprawling, expensive monstrosity that caters to wealthy individuals who are willing to be slaves to the tournament meta and throw sportsmanship in the trash if it means their min/maxed list has a better chance to win.  Casual gaming in an environment where you can’t control the community (as you
Basically a direct quote.
might if you only play at home) can be difficult at best.  Purchasing every rules publication at this point costs well over a thousand dollars and requires multiple different formats as no single format (physical book, eBook, iBook, etc) has everything available.  Add in limited edition rules that are only available to 100 or so players worldwide (unless you’re ok with IP theft) and you end up with a rule set where the “basic” version is ridiculously expensive and the “elite” version isn’t even available to all players.

By contrast, a full set of rules for Warmachine/Hordes covering every faction is 79.99 USD as of this writing.

From a gaming standpoint, the rules are poorly written, they cost too much and they currently describe a game that I’m not really interested in playing.  I’m a casual player who would rather spend his money on models and not rules.


The End?
I used to love Warhammer 40k.  I still do, in many ways…  but not in the ways that matter most.  I feel no compulsion to buy the latest and greatest things.  I’m tired of assembling infinite variations of the same few models.  I’m tired of painting the same should pads over and over.  And then, when all is said and done, I’m not even wanting to play a game with the models I’ve bought, assembled and painted.

It’s sad.  I kind of feel like I’m mourning a friend who isn’t dead, but maybe went off the deep end with drugs and I just don’t really want to be around anymore.  I hold out hope that he’ll be back…  but I’m just not that optimistic.


I’ve been filling that 40k shaped void in my life with other things…  mostly Board Game things.  You may have noticed lots of posts about Descent: Journeys in the Dark, Imperial Assault, Star Wars Armada and Massive Darkness recently.  These games have expansions I can collect, lots of little fiddly bits I can sort and store, miniatures I can paint and most importantly, easy, free rule sets I can enjoy casually with my friends.  Most recently, a friend has talked me into trying out Warmachine.  I have high hopes for it, but I’m a lot more cautious than I used to be.

You're damn right we will!

On the one hand, I’m a little sad and am mourning the enjoyment I used to feel for 40k.  On the other hand, I’m being exposed to so many new games and aspects of the greater hobby (lowercase H) that I know I’ll be better off in the long run.  It’s the change that is never fun.

Apologies for the long, rambling post.  I’ve been needing to get this off my chest recently and writing things out helps me get my thoughts in order.