Thursday, May 16, 2013

A Eulogy For Specialist Games

Hi everyone,

A bit over a week ago I heard the news over the blogosphere that Games Workshop was closing down its Specialist section on their site.  Those who know me personally and those who have read my blog once in a while, know I am an avid Epic and 10mm/15mm fantasy wargamer. In fact, this blog is named after my passion for small scale wargaming.

So when I heard the news for the first time I was rather shocked, and to be completely truthful I panicked somewhat.  My first reaction was to get online and check out GW's Specialist section to see what was left?  Was it already taken down? Was everything gone?

It was not - at least not yet.

My second reaction was to buy as much stuff as possible to complete my Dwarf army and the Dark Elf army I always wanted.  I already have a 'not so small' High Elf and Orc armies, but I wanted the above two in order to play out the Elf Civil War, the Dwarf-Goblinoid War and the Dwarf-Elf Wars.  At least that was the dream. 

I also wanted to complete my half built Epic Eldar army and the Tau Battlefleet Gothic force.  I have a huge Imperial force already and I always wanted to start playing Battlefleet Gothic.  So you can imagine how much this was going to cost me, but I was not looking at the online basket.  I was just thinking about the armies I would never have.

After a while though, I calmed down enough to take a step back and take a good look at what I was doing.  I was going to spend a lot of money on games that were dead at the source - not a good idea.  When I finally got around to the price, reality sucked me back in.

It was not easy - not buying anything - but that is exactly what I did.  I decided there and then, that before I went on a shopping spree, I would see what I had and what I needed, as well as talk to my friends and fellow hobbyists to see what they were going to do.  Essentially a time to reflect.

Well to cut a long story short, my High Elf and Orc Warmaster armies where pretty much complete, but the Dwarf army and the Epic Eldar were only half complete.  I had not even started purchasing the Dark Elves and the Tau Fleet yet.

After consulting my friends, the picture was not looking good.  Most did not want to invest in dead games and none of us was willing to encourage new players to invest either (not that they would anyway).  Some were considering selling their Specialist armies, but few had come to any clear conclusion yet.  What seemed obvious to me was that my gaming circle was doomed to shrink were Epic and 10mm were concerned.

After giving it a day's thought I decided that I would keep my 10mm High Elf and Orc armies.  I don't think I could sell them even if I never played with them again - I'm just too attached to them.  However I will sell off my 10mm Dwarfs.  I will also sell off my Epic Eldar.  As for my Epic Imperials - I a still not sure what to do.   I was also going to scrap the idea of building a 10mm Dark Elf army and a Tau Fleet.

With the money I make off these I will complete my 15mm Dwarf and Orc armies and my new Covenant of Antarctica Airborne Force.

I cannot really express how sad this whole situation makes me.  I began playing Epic with the advent of Adepticus Titanicus and Space Marine - and have been hooked ever since.  It has also been my main wargame up till the advent of Warmaster.  I had long since been disillusioned with Warhammer (or HeroHammer as it used to be called back then) to the point that I have not played it in years.  I started looking for alternatives and ended up playing Grenadier's Fantasy Warriors for a while until I dropped out of fantasy completely.  Warmaster rekindled my passion for fantasy.  Since then I have written up my own rules, played several campaigns and expanded into 15mm armies.

So all I can say about GW's decision is that it is a bad one - at least in the long run.  They might make a buck in the short run - but then what?  What about all those old timers who stuck to certain games out of devotion and loyalty?  What about us? Does GW think we will start to buy 40K and Warhammer models instead now that the Specialist games are out?  I don't know and can't say for sure?  I, for one, certainly wont.  One reason is that Epic and Warmaster rules were tactically and strategically superior to their 28mm counterparts - that is why I played them.

What I do know is that if they sold the rights to these games to third party companies, GW would still be making a profit over the long term. A good example is Dust Tactics. They were being produced first by Fantasy Flight Games and now by Battlefront.  If only GW had followed this model!

Now, whoever wants to build an army is going to have to collect an army that is a out of production.  This means that it is going to be more expensive to build a 6mm Epic and 10mm fantasy army than it would be to build their 28mm counterparts - which is absurd!

Ever since they truncated the Specialist division of their company several years back, Epic has been the most resilient of all the Specialist games, with a strong online and club community.  But can it survive this latest blow. Epic has very specific models protected by copyright that cannot be supplemented by other companies. So I don't see the gaming community growing.

Unlike Epic, 10mm wargaming is more generic and one can use other miniatures to build armies - even though none are as good as Citadel unfortunately.  There are also several rule sets besides Warmaster one can use with Warmaster armies. You might only have to change some of the basing and off you go.  I did the very same thing with my armies. I re-based all my cavalry models so I could play my own wargame as well as Kings of War in 10 and 15mm.  Therefore I think the 10mm fantasy community might still have the potential to grow, if other companies decide to invest in 10mm models.  Is this likely? - I can only hope so!

I have been following the dwindling selection of Specialist Games items for the past week on GW's site.  Watching wonderful models disappear for good, and this got me thinking about the future.  I will definitely be playing less now, especially if everyone starts selling their armies.  So what do I replace this allotted time with?  Another wargame - probably yes.  I will most certainly be spending more time now with my Covenant of Antarctica airborne army and might also expand with the sea and land forces.

I also always wanted to do more sculpting and model painting of showcase pieces and maybe branch out into the wonderful and varied world of Gunpla.   So this regrettable development might be just what the doctor ordered!

I honestly hope that this sorry state of affairs might one day change and that GW will wake up and see some sense, but I wouldn't hold my breath.  One will just have to stop crying,  make due and try to find a way to enjoy the armies he already has.

Long live Specialist Games,


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