Tuesday, 6 January 2015

The end of the world as we know it?

I came across this on TWF and decided I had to blog about it. Disclaimer: I've not played Warhammer in well over a year and sold my army over the summer so I have no dog in this particular fight.
From Darnok over at Warseer
If you like Warhammer, I suggest you better take a seat.
Over the last few months I got a few glimpses on what WHF could change to in the very near future. I have collected messages, asked questions, and tried to form a somewhat coherent picture. The one thing I believe by now is: Warhammer in its current form will no longer be supported by GW. It will be transformed into something else, with everything built up in background and most of the model range being kicked out of the door.
To give you an insight into some of the messages I got, have a look at the following. Please note that I am paraphrasing at times, and have cut out (hopefully) everything that could lead to the original identities of my friendly birdies.
- 9th Edition to pick up where the ET leaves off in fluff, plus a couple of hundred years or so (to reboot the setting).
- The Warhammer World gets shattered on a dimensional level during the climax of the ET. No more "map of the Old World" - it's now little bubbles of reality, where pockets of civilisation try desperately to eke a living before the next collision with another bubble, which may be full of Chaos. (To address the problem of "how come my Tomb Kings of Khemri are fighting against Wood Elves from Athel Loren?", not that I get the impression that either of those will still exist, but you get the idea)
- New faction... heavily armoured, religious, "good" human warriors fighting with the power of the gods. (Warhammer Space Marines, basically). Karl Franz Ascended seems to be the prototype or precursor for this concept, AFAICT.
9th edition will have 6 factions. Model diversity cut in half shelf space. New world and new age so current factions and lore aren't recognizable at all. Each new faction has like 3 core units that will always be on the shelf. Much faster releases of stuff, mainly characters and special units of 2-5 fancy models (like Morghasts) that have their own rules right in the box, so not dependent on a static army book. Many of the these non-core models are only available for a limited time (say 6 months to a year), so they don't take up shelf space forever and ever. Many existing models are not usable in 9th.
We can expect the next edition of Fantasy to throw everything up in the air. The whole End Times move has been to wean people onto a whole new take on the Warhammer world and it's going to start with every army being "chaosified". We can expect army play styles and appearance to change quite dramatically and there will be a whole load of new models being released early on to tie everything together. This has caused quite a stir back at GW HQ as there are a lot of people behind the scenes (some of which are very well known to us) who don't like the changes that have been made. I have also been told that the models due to be released are some of the best to date!
'9th' [or] whatever is next for fantasy [...] coming 2015 in the summer. The new faction [plus] future releases after this point for five 'existing' factions (which plus this would make six) […] but I think there will be [...] more.
I gather from some other threads that this Darnok chap is considered pretty reliable as a source and that his stuff tends to be fairly accurate. As ever with GW it could all be lies and nonsense (this is what happens when you are so scared of people copying your ideas that you lock down your release schedule).

It's an interesting idea and actually makes me a bit interested in Warhammer again,  certainly interested enough to keep an ear out for the next stage in the story. I've always had a fondness for GW's world (both fantasy and 40K) but long feel out of love with their games and business model.

My reading of that is that they want to reduce the model count to boost the popularity of the game - people have been suggesting for ages that the top brass believe fantasy is the poor relation of 40K because people don't want to sink the cash into getting a playable army.  If they change that maybe it will revive is fortunes - it would also explain the End Times theme of merging multiple armies into combined forces (The Undead Legion, The Elven Warhost and a Chaos Legion thing).

The change in seeing seems a bit left field - The Black Library seems to make a tidy profit from stories about the world, though this would give chance to write a whole load more...

Watch this space I guess! 


  1. While there are some bits in there that I like, such as the reduced model count and the merging of forces, I strongly suspect the entire thing is just too much for them to actually do.

    I'm really not sure if they'd risk the fluff. The IP (IMHO) is GW's strongest asset. A full fluff overhaul/change would put a lot of people off it, though I admit it would potentially attract others.

    1. Yeah, I'd wondered about that. The coherent, popular world it's ahuge thing for them and this would utterly destroy that.

      A lot of people were talking about how it would make the game more like Hordes (stat cards, smaller units, evolving fluff) and I'm just not sure that's a market GW can compete in...

    2. The fluff itself is dead. The End Times is happening now. This is the first stage in this run up to ninth edition.

      Will ninth be successful? I dunno, but I think it will happen. I think they feel it needs to.

      It is all about making this more like Warmahordes I think, and I think they will compete because of their market share.

      The End Times has already shown they are willing to make massive changes to the fluff, for better or worse (worse in my opinion), but I think we can say this is a thing that will happen.

    3. IMHO the only change that would be absolutely required for me to get back into Fantasy is the army size. Having a box be the unit size, and viable in game, and I'd be tempted. The rest is just gravy.

      Hell, I remember the days when I had a five man unit of Black Orcs. Those were in the days when a twenty man unit was considered big.

      GW can easily compete with Warmahordes *if* the game is good. They already do better models. They already have the market share. They just need a game that is good enough, and that players can build up to. The fact that you can have a good 15pt game of Warmachine with a handful of models is amazing, and I bet few people remain at that 15pt level for long.

    4. One thing that stuck me - are there now any large scale fantasy battle games? I know there is Kings of War but that is less of a game and more of a legal defence...

    5. To be fair to it Kings of War has some very interesting things going for it, it just seems to lack any oomph.

      Warmachine can be fairly big if you run infantry heavy but I can't think of any games that have a similar model count (without resorting to strangely scaled historical games).

  2. I think the merging of forces is a good idea for players and for the business. I don't think they will go as drastic as to completely destroy the Old World, limit it to 6th factions and remove some of the armies.

    I find that even with the reliable sources that they can still be subjective and prone to wish listing or drama lhama'ing.

    I think this End Times series is evidence of true inspiration. Fantasy was in danger of being cancelled entirely and this has injected some sorely needed activity into the failing body.

    This is coming from someone who hates 8th edition due to its rules that incentive's spending more but used to play Fantasy non-stop beforehand and counted it as his main GW game.

    I think the timeline will likely go the way of 40k and the 13th Crusade. Setting it just at the start of the apocalypse so people can dip in and out of it fluff wise but have all these options available to them.

    1. I don't think they would remove any armies, as much as merge them into larger forces. It's definitely something I can see them doing too. Having players split between fifteen (or whatever it was) factions means only 1/15 of the player-base buys a specific model. If there are only six factions then 1/6 of them can make use of it.