TL;DR Whine and Cheese in the 41st Millenium

Apologies to Wayne England.


Hello, Hive Zero fans (as if there are any)! I'm back from yet another hiatus caused by work and quickly growing teenage girls who need rides to every activity known to (wo)man. Telling a varsity tennis player that her practices are cutting into painting and gaming time is met with a strong reaction in the Hive Zero household. But I have a moment, sooo...

Let's talk about all of the craziness happening right now with Games Workshop. And by craziness, I mean 180-degree-change-from-previous-behavior insanity. I know I will be leaving out
a bunch of stuff, and some of this may not be chronologically accurate, but that's OK; This is my perception of what is going on and how it affects me.

First, the new CEO has had about 18 months to really flex his muscles. In that time, he has done some pretty impressive stuff. During his reign:

  • GW created Starter Sets for both 40k and AoS that are usable AND a nominal savings.
  • They've released some amazing new armies and models: Custodes, Deathwatch, Primarchs, Mechanicus, GSC, etc
  • Rules are coming out faster than I can afford them.
  • Specialist Games are back from the dead, and their offerings are fairly strong!
  • Shares have almost doubled in value.
  • Age of Sigmar is starting to be considered a decent game, meaning that even people outside of the apologist/fanatic inner circle are getting into it without too much gnashing of teeth.
And then of course is the mega-amazing news. 8th Edition is coming, and it is coming soon! It has been a very structured rollout of information, and that's really been the most surprising thing. Their blog has slowly and systematically revealed the changes to each important facet of the rules. This is a sea change of epic proportions.

To truly understand the magnitude of the change in marketing methodology, you don't need to go back too far. I started this blog in 2009. I had just returned to 40k after abandoning it in the mid nineties. Even then, I was not a huge enthusiast, but there was Inquisitor, Necromunda, Epic, Space Hulk, and good old 40k. The box art was the weirdly photorealistic heads with misproportioned toy bodies...all the Blanche goodness was inside the rulebooks. I came back to a scene that was very different. BoLS, B&C, DakkaDakka and others were quite active but fairly amateur due to poor content management systems. They did, however, give a good scope of the popularity of the hobby. But back then, Dark Eldar were stagnant, you could expect a single codex release every 6-9 months or so, and 5th Edition was in full force at tournaments. There were waves of netlists, and it was advent of deathstars, leafblowers, gunlines, and the death of my favorite, nidzilla.

Fast forward to today. We have a company that seems to understand that their revenue and livelihood depend on new customers. While attracting those new customers, they realize that they must also keep the existing user base happy OR off-balance. So for people considering the hobby, they have boardgames, video game licenses (including casual apps), repackaged items for mass market retailers (although I don't think that went well...any numbers on Vedros?), and simplified rulesets. For the die hards, they have a FLOOD of new armies, rules, 30k, models, and books. They've also pushed the storyline forward in a big lurch to cause some excitement. GW has also seriously turned around their social media strategy, and from the point of view of someone who does this for a living, I would say that they've succeeded, at least so far. Why would I say that? Let me present Exhibit D:
In the grim darkness of social media in 2017, GW has finally birthed a meme-worthy star.
In case you are not a YouTube enthusiast, this is Duncan Rhodes, in-house painter extraordinaire for Games Workshop. He's got some serious painting chops, but more importantly, he has become Games Workshop's first bonafide Internet sensation. His "two thin coats" mantra has become an actual meme, and unlike previous similar incidents, GW did the right thing: they just let it organically grow. It didn't get out of hand, nor did it reflect poorly on the company. Again, success.

Other outreach attempts have been productive as well. The latest FAQ for 7th edition was driven by questions submitted to GW's Facebook page. They are really adding content to their blog on a regular basis. Their pre-show closed door sessions at Adepticon were talked about quite a bit, and everything is looking optimistic.


I told you there would be a big but at the end of this. I'm not a real doom and gloom guy. If you read some of my other posts, you'll realize that I'm not a troll or a whiner. I've expressed a few puzzled concerns here and there, and I do truly lament cheating in this hobby, but I'm neither a GW basher nor an apologist.

So here's my concern. As soon as they announced 8th Edition, there was a tidal wave of "My codex that I just bought is worthless now!". When GW announced a contingency for people who bought them recently, there was a slew of "that's not enough". As these rules reveals appear on the GW Community site, I keep seeing comments like "That's so dumb" and "40k Sigmar sucks".


To be fair, there are a good number of reasonable comments, both positive and and negative, on Facebook and even the big hobby sites. But I just thought that this one time, when GW is actually being very careful about what they are doing, some of these common trolls would give them a break if only to not look like a fool later on. But even as I type this, I realize that that is a pipe dream.

A this point in GW's new marketing trajectory, my only complaint is their astronomical prices. Not because I think they are overpriced (I'm a firm believer of "things are worth what people are willing to pay for them"), but because I think that at this time, sales could skyrocket if they had some loss leaders.

I haven't felt this good about 40k in a while. I've stopped reading the big sites because of the negativity, and maybe that contributes to it, but it is my sincere hope that even the loudest complainers will get a game that they will at least begrudgingly enjoy playing.

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