So I think it's time for a lengthier than usual post about a big topic - The Golden Age of Wargaming.
Now to many of the older gamers who fondly look back upon the earlier days of GW when White Dwarf had more hobby content and less advertising, specialist games were flourishing, there was a solid bits service by GW, the prices were lower, the beer was colder, the grass greener etc., that represents the golden age.
This is not wargaming, it is beer...however, I live in Slovakia, where the
local brew is great and my wargaming is fun. Beer with a game....mmmmm
I think it's now.
Contentious perhaps but I believe I can support my opinion. Let's take a look at why.
40k has sixth edition.
Here's a ruleset that seems to have people enjoying the game a lot more, whether it be cutthroat tournament play or the more casual scene. 6th edition seems to make for easy cinematic games, people can take allies, which lets you collect more of what you want to collect without the big investment, introduces fliers for more fun on the tabletop. Last, but by no means least, it comes in the form of a fantastic boxed set in Dark Vengeance.
I think the future is bright (ironically) for 40k and GW in this sense. They are stepping up model quality, as always, look to have moved to a more complete release format, perhaps due to the Chapterhouse lawsuit, the rules are fun to play with and in general, the interwebs seem to be happy with 40k.
Warmachine & Hordes have gone colossal.
As probably the second biggest wargaming company out there, Privateer Press continues to develop and grow. The big news recently was their release of the colossals and gargantuans for the players who want a centrepiece model that just doesn't get any bigger. Combined with the ever moving story line, solid Mk2 rules and a shift to plastic models, PP looks set to continue to with what they do best. They''ve also got two really solid starter sets for their core games of Warmachine and Hordes.
They are nicely diversifying too with the release of the Iron Kingdoms RPG and Escape from Level 7 board game.
Dropzone commander has just dropped in.
Here is a game that seems to be taking people by storm. It's got fantastic models with real variety between factions, the dropships are actually big enough to carry units (and have mounting points), good gameplay and just a nice fresh vibe for everyone to enjoy. I love the models and I'll keep an eye out for anyone playing this locally.
Infinity has a new campaign book, and consistently gorgeous models.
Infinity is growing as a skirmish wargame and I hear more and more about what is going on with it. The models are fantastic and when I got to handle some in person I was extremely impressed by the casting quality, especially given their extremely delicate size. I want to pick up a starter set of this and get some games in for sure.
Malifaux gets weirder and more wonderful.
Check this lady out. She's shooting a flaming skull out of her hand and looking pretty awesome doing so. As one of the few games that doesn't work with dice, I'm really interested to try out Malifaux but, as ever, limited budget and play time means I'll put it on hold until I find if there is a local scene for it.
But the older days were better, weren't they?
I think a major part of what is shifting is that in earlier days, Games Workshop basically was the wargaming hobby. They offered the big, core games but also the smaller specialist games, hobby advice and a lot more of the less tangible things. That still happens in GW but has been tempered by their business model now, which focuses on their core lines and making them the best way to sell admittedly excellent plastic models. At the moment, I think few companies can match GW for quality and consistency of plastic models, and fewer still can hope to offer a similar range. That said, the role of variety in the wargaming falls less to GW now and more to the other companies who are on the rise:
40k/WFB/LOTR - Games Workshop
WM/Hordes - Privateer Press
Flames of War - Battlefront
Infinity - Corvus Belli
Dropzone Commander - Hawk Wargames
Malifaux - Wyrd Miniatures
WFB/40k - Mantic Games
Fantasy/Sci fi - Reaper, especially with their bones kickstarter
Fantasy/Sci fi/Post apoc - Ramshackle Games
I'm sure that there are many more I've missed out on and no offence is intended to the companies that are out there.
But....but.....GW is evil and expensive.
I think, and hope, that the signs we're getting are accurate as it seems to me that GW are listening more to their hobbyists and working at least towards giving us what we ask for. The rules have been tightened, allies are in, the fun has been bumped upwards, the models continue to impress and the latest word is that White Dwarf, which is already adding rules and expansions for the game, is moving to a new publishing base where they can deliver more value and less of a catalogue of advertising. Fingers crossed on that.
Is Games Workshop expensive?
Are the prices ridiculous?
I don't think so, at least for the most part. There are some models that are pretty silly in price (Blood knights for example) but overall they offer pretty solid value for money, as long as you're not going crazy and building big armies. Perhaps it's just that I've curbed my spending in a bit and tend to collect now in the way that GW promotes (get a starter, add a unit, paint, add another etc.).
Also, if GW is too expensive for you, now is the time to branch out to other games with much lower cost of entry. You've got a wealth of game types, models, rules and styles to get involved in, from the near(ish) future skirmish of Infinity, to the Steampunk naval Dystopian Wars, through Malifaux's weird and wonderful, the steam and iron of Warmachine and many more besides.
If you love gaming, now is the time to enjoy the Golden Age of what is on offer.
All the best,