Should 40k be more Competitive or More Collectable?


40k Today is it a Mess or is it Just Chaos

There has been a lot of talk about the over complexity of 40k and how Games Workshop focusing on collectables over game play is a bad thing. In fact I signed a petition last week to that effect, however I’m having second thoughts and I want to explain why.

Background Restrictions

For a long time Chaos players have wanted to represent legions in their armies but have felt the codex does not support this. I’m embarking on a Hersey Emporer’s Children army at the moment and naturally want to be able to use my very expensive army in 40k as well as 30k. In fact as I know no other 30k players I expect it will be a case of mostly using it in 40k. I have been contemplating which codex will best support this army. Would Space Wolves make more sense? Heavy weapon squads with more than 4 heavy weapons are possible. Squads larger than 10 men are also possible. However the Chaos Space Marine codex enables me to field 20 man tactical squads, more in keeping with a legion. I’m also happy to except chaos have miss placed a few of their heavy weapons over the years. With the range of choice Games Workshop and Forge World are offering us for army builds at the moment the possibilities are almost endless. So does 40k need an increase in the number of armies possible with legion rules added in the new Chaos Space Marine Codex?

Game Play

The new lost and damed forge world book has got me very excited. This opens up the possibility of using lots of 30k tanks and other vehicles. Quite frankly the thought of 40k being balanced with so many units which can impact each other is just crazy. Transports and fortifications are a big factor for game balance the impact of a fortifications 3++ save on a squad of 10 terminators is totally different to giving a 3++ save to a group of scouts. So what do we expect the studio to do? restrict the use of units, Stop using rules which allow units to effect bonuses on other units and if they did do that where would you draw the line? Remove transports and fortifications from the game? Stop squads being able to use them unless purchases specifically for that unit? There is no simple answer which turns the complex system of 40k into chess. Although that said chess is only balanced because each opponent has the same army. 40k can become balanced quite quickly if you play guard vs guard, more so if you take identical units.


What do we want here? The survey I signed talked about shifting focus away from collectable releases. Are we really saying we don’t want limited edition releases? Granted sometimes GW makes questionable decisions on what should be a limited edition. To me a limited editions should be something that will always be desirable. Does anyone really want a limited edition version of 6th edition rule book, now most of us are playing 7th edition? I’m also not that keen on these plastic limited edition models. Don’t get me wrong the quality of the sculpts are fantastic, but in no way are they in the same boat as the metal/finecast models for the level of detail. I want my limited edition model to look like a work of art not something that came out of a plastic mould. All that said, I enjoy all the limited productions GW are putting out. I think they add to the hobby and I don’t see where they are taking away from gameplay.


Direct Only Models

This is the part of the petition I really agreed with. Limiting the range of models available in store does not help the hobby. Direct orders are something I have only ever excepted should be needed to order very specialist parts. Moving entire Armies to direct order can’t be a good thing. The problem here is what else can GW do. We wouldn’t be happy for even more popular units to be removed from store so less popular armies could return and GW would gain very little in doing so.

More Competitive Pricing

Well who doesn’t want cheaper models. Games Workshop that’s who! As a long time veteran of the hobby I can still remember when GW had end of line sales, indeed most of my epic Imperial Guard army was purchased in a sale. Recent pricing would suggest Games Workshop appears to think they are immune to the price elasticity curb. This is the rule that as prices go up number of sales goes down.
Some markets e.g. fine art does not suffer form loss of sales when prices are increased. This is due to the market they appeal to; rich collectors. The last time I checked I wasn’t rich at least not in terms of the country in which I live, I acknowledge it’s one of the riches companies in the world. However within this country I’m very much middle class, my disposable income has remained largely unchanged in recent years, in real terms it has decreased. Games Workshop’s prices for their new models appears to have ruffly doubled in the last 5 years. Average release prices have gone from £20 something to £40 something. The last 3 years of financial results appear to Indicate they are very much not immune to price elasticity and increasing prices has not helped their profits. Going through my Games Workshop purchase history I know I am spending far less on new models. Seeking alternative sources such as swaps with friends or buying from auction sites with all their pitfalls, no delivery, recasts and damaged models. I don’t blame GW for trying to put up their prices, but making if more expensive to start out is not good marketing, in my own view 6th edition could have been left in play for at least another year. Asking player to cough up another £50 for a slightly revised rule book less than 2 years after the previous, is not going to make you popular, if anything it says you are desperate and puts people off buying the latest rule book . So in short I think more competitive prices would be good for the hobby, good for Games Workshop and good for existing players.