Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Warhammer 40,000 7th Edition - Thoughts, Predictions and Problems

Word was leaked onto the internet a few days from several sources that rulebooks for the current edition were begin removed along with Dark Vengeance and a number of starter kits. While I did put some stock in this I was personally waiting for a bit more confirmation and, yes, it does seem that 6th edition is coming to an end. While a number of countries do still feature the option to purchase the rulebook and the like on their pages, across Europe and allegedly America the option is disappearing. The supposed date in which the upcoming edition will be released on is the 24th of May. 

Suffice to say this is a monumentally stupid decision on the part of Games Workshop for a number of reasons. The most commonly brought up one is the timing here. This edition has been the briefest one in Warhammer 40,000's long history, lasting only half the time of any other release. This would be bad enough for any usual edition of the game, but for 6th? It causes the most damage imaginable. 

This latest edition saw a massive number of changes to the rules, from the reintroduction of Overwatch and integration of fliers to the massive number of individual rules which were added. Many of these only served to make the game increasingly monotonous and clunky, with turns requiring checking through multiple rulebooks to find more definitions than ever. It takes a great deal of time for players to truly adjust to new rules, and what Games Workshop does not seem to realise (or care) is that many have yet to truly adjust to these changes. Most people are lucky to get one game in a week, and one of the most common complaints I have personally seen from people is how they have yet to memorise the new systems and rules. While this is going to supposedly be a smaller step than 5th edition to 6th, it's still a very early change. 

There has also been little to no official announcement of this, as with almost any Games Workshop release these days. As such, most customers are being given no time to adjust or prepare for this new expensive release. Unlike the many other examples, this is also a . This is not to mention the fact 6th edition has been especially draining on wallets, and some of the gameplay problems.

6th edition has become infamous for one thing beyond the big units: The sheer number of rulebooks it is now churning out. Every other month we seem to be having a new codex. Even ignoring the dataslates, we have had a grand total of twenty-three codices, supplements and expansions. Just for comparison, the last edition had thirteen in total, and that's including a White Dwarf codex. The only thing which comes even close to rivaling this is 2nd edition.

All of these have been built around the 6th edition rules, some integrated very closely to certain points such as Cities of Death and Planetstrike, and now all of that is changing. As absolutely terrible as the vast majority of supplements have been, are we expected to believe that the new rules will take them all into account? It seems a near impossible task for such a small time-frame. Or will these rules simply ignore them entirely, wasting the money of any poor fool who purchased these rules.

Even accepting this however, many codices are still woefully out of date. Even those just one edition behind are at an immediate disadvantage thanks to massive changes such as fliers, with the stop-gap measure of fortifications hardly cutting it. This will also mean that several major armies will now be multiple editions of the game behind everyone else, with Codex: Orks in particular now three editions out of date.

I can only put this down to one or two things on Games Workshop's part. 

The first is an effort to streamline the current edition and take the additional rules into better account. With Escalation, Cities of Death and many expansions being pushed to be used by more players, this could be an effort to better combine them with the rules. Perhaps including them into a single set of rules, containing them it the rulebook and then have future codices be structured similar to the supplements. Namely with each one having a section purely devoted to scenarios or rules for those games.

The second and more likely one is that this is a desperate cash grab due to either greed or financial trouble. The current edition saw a massive rise in units and boxed sets which were game-breaking and extremely expensive. Usually huge units such as mini-titans, or with the direct integration of existing super heavy units into the main game. Even beyond that there has been a sharp price increase with even the most basic codices, under the excuse of hardcover copies. As mentioned earlier, we have seen a massive output of supplements and additional lore books. While some are good, many obviously had no oversight and little in the way of checking the person writing it actually understood what the hell they were talking about. The supplements were an especially egregious example. With the same price as a true codex, but half the content, lore so bad it defaced many armies, and proofreading which manages to make these articles look professionally done.

What backs this is two obvious events: The first is the sudden, massive drop in profit by Games Workshop back in January with a 24% decrease in their overall value. The second is the massive restructuring which took place within their company. The obvious one being vast numbers of their stores suddenly losing half of their staff, but a less remarked one being the lengthy restructuring which took place within Black Library. All seem to suggest problems in some way or an effort to cut costs, and as ever Games Workshop is failing to earn cash by milking its fans for every penny it can find.

These are still partially based upon rumour however, as such we may see changes in dates or times. However, if 7th edition is coming, I can only foresee things getting far worse from here on. Of course, these are merely my own personal thoughts. If you disagree or want to leave your own opinion then please do so in the comments section.


  1. The most I had heard was there would be maybe a 6.5 edition, kind of like D&D Next where they try and fix a lot of the issues in the previous edition, I'm really surprised at what they're doing, since first they get rid of all pdf's, then they delete almost their entire section on digital editions, then they release the updated wood elves, I've got no clue what they're going to do next, the thing that surprises me most though is I'm not too saddened by them losing vast amounts of revenue, or even them going under they had a good thing, they started to screw it up gradually, and now they can't fix it because they don't know what went wrong.

    Now, the reason I'm not saddened by them going under is because of what we both mentioned in previous comments, the old GW is long gone, any amount of sadness at GW dying should be directed at how the company used to be not as they are now.

    The best part is they could easily fix all of this, but they don't seem to know how to, just keep releasing new things at higher prices to try and recoup the losses.

    Maybe the reason they might remove Dark Vengeance is because the price for it is fantastic, buy three, and you've got two pretty decently sized armies with decent equipment for about $300 (in my area anyway), maybe that's the reason the helbrute wasn't selling, on its own it costed more than half of what Dark Vengeance costs (which also contains a far better looking helbrute).
    Incidentally Dark Vengeance is still available on their website... But the Big Rulebook isn't... How odd.

    1. I had personally thought it might be 6.5 as well, but almost every article I can find states that this is likely to be a truly new edition rather than just a slight jump forwards. If it was 6.5 it might actually make some sense as, beyond a number of obvious flaws, the actual basic rules have been relatively solid for the most part.

      Well, that's the thing. GW is old, customer unfriendly and is seemingly bleeding money by this point. The problem is that it's also the only publicly recognised brand and serves as the only real gateway into the hobby, Without it, players are going to be starting much older and tabletop wargaming will be likely garnering far less recognition. I went into it a bit more here -

      A bigger problem beyond this however is what will happen to the universe and the better parts of the company as they go under. For all its problems, Black Library still has a great many decent writers working on stories and trying to fix any damage done to the universe. The problem is that I can easily see it being scrapped or canalised as GW goes under to try and cut expenses. For all the money it makes, it doesn't compare with the main company itself. Perhaps even Forge World might be at risk given the push for GW to make its own big kits rather than run it through the company. Knight Titans, Wraithknights and the lot never had any Forge World equivalent and Imperial Guard super heavy tanks were originally Forge World only.

      That is a possibility to be sure. Given their past decisions with new boxed sets it would be hardly unlike them to release a new one with half the models at a higher price. The fact that a something which costs $300 is considered a fantastic deal speaks volumes about the company and just why it's failing though. For barely a fraction of the same price the young demographic it is so often targeting could get their same tactical wargaming fix via League of Legends or the like.

    2. My hope if they go under is either somebody else gets the license, or if they go under after other games have become a little more popular.

      For example, if D&D went under, I could still talk to people about Pathfinder, because that grew pretty quickly, if it went under I could still talk to people about Warmachine if I said it's "like" Warhammer, and even if it did go under, the other companies making similar products or even the same products (like yoymart in this case) would make sure people could still buy the same products.

      I'm also not too sure the IP will die with them, Black Library I can see sticking around since the author's they have don't have are much better with books and wouldn't be so great with writing codex's, I'm not too sure if Forgeworld will also go out, they might just switch to other companies.

      The $300 army is a fantastic deal because it's really reasonable for everything you get in it, in my area that averages to under $2 a miniature (it's 95 or so with tax), and that's not counting the rulebook, measuring sticks, or templates.
      It's more reasonable to not get them all at once too, I probably should have said that earlier.

    3. I just want to bring something up, it's how I got into the game, it was first introduced to me about 8 years ago when games workshop was having hobby nights at various locations, people could bring whatever hobbies they wanted, but there'd always be a table or two for Wahammer and Warhammer 40k, which Games Workshop would supply all the models for, it helped a lot getting me into the hobby having somebody who knew all of the rules so we didn't have to stop and look them up, it helped keeping the game fast paced, and it helped that they handed out free White Dwarf's (and their really awesome no longer printed supplements) at these gatherings.

      When they stopped doing them they told us they were still going to be having 3-4 games a week at the store in the mall they were set up in, which they would also supply all of the models for, though anybody could bring their own army and have a game at any other time (it had to be fully painted though) and if they managed to win with it they got a free blister of their choosing (they would be playing against a staff member).

      That is how you get people interested in your hobby, I can't remember a single time I walked into that store only to find it empty, there were always people talking to the staff, or getting tips on how to paint (they had painting/converting stations closer to the back), or just looking through all of the models, I remember some parents liking it too because it got their kids out of the house often enough, and motivated them to win (ie make them think more tactically) with the promise of free stuff. It's how you beat the competition and keep them in your stores.

      Of course all of this isn't done any more, I really miss it.

      On the flip side, if other tabletop companies did these things I guarantee they'd become well known very quickly.