Taking a break today from WoW reminiscing to talk rant about Games Workshop and in the larger sense, our right to critique our beloved hobbies. To put things into context, Games Workshop is the company behind Warhammer and Warhammer 40k, two of the most, if not the most, populars wargames out there. Their business revolves mainly around selling us the miniatures needed to play their games.
I know this post will probably ruffle a few feathers and I can already hear the GW fanboys grinding their axes in anticipation. Fear not my friends, I will give you ample reasons to go after me. Not unlike fans of certain MMOs, wargaming fanboys can go nuts if you even suggest that their favorite hobby is not so great after all. And just to be clear, Hobby is a fancy way of saying game to make you feel better about spending hundreds/thousands of dollars on plastic miniatures.
So back to the topic at hand, Games Workshop and Warhammer (both kind) are bad! It wasn’t always like that and they do still make some of the best miniatures but the rules are a mess as a result of GW trying to get you to buy more and the material is way overpriced. These days, a new player is looking at close to a 1000$ if not more. By the way, I did the exercise of buying my Salamanders army from scratch including rules and paints and I got to 900$ US. This was just buying exactly what I needed but I know that as a player interest develops in the game he will want to expand his army and buy more paints, terrain and stuff and can easily double and triple that amount.
So why would anyone ever wants to start playing a game with messed up rules that has a near 1000$ buy-in price and is run by a greedy company? Why would anyone defend this? I have a pretty good idea but I’m getting ahead of myself. So let’s get to my arguments shall we, how can I justify what I’m saying?
- 1000$ buy-in. I just went over it earlier by actually going on the GW webstore and adding the stuff to my cart. This was a space marine army that has a low model count and is one the best supported army. I know other armies will run much higher than the 900$ I got.
- Messed-up rules. This is more open for debate but in the past few years I played other games to give me a point of reference. Namely Warmarchine/Hordes, Flames of War, Rules of engagement, Infinity, Firestorm Armada and a few more on occasion. From my perspective the rules of Warhammer, especially 40k are a mess. But I’m not the only one saying it. Do a round of the competitive Warhammer scene and you’ll see intense debate about how organizers need to curtail the rules in order to have fun tournaments. We could talk for hours about this but for now, let’s keep things simple.
- Greedy Games-Workshop. This one I can’t really prove can I? It’s not like GW has put “let’s be greedy” in their mission statement. The 1000$ arguments might help this one but it can’t be the only one. I’ll just go from personal experiences and accounts of ex-employees for this and tell you that GW went from a company that wanted to make a good game first to a company that wanted to sell miniatures first. Sadly, this has not had happy repercussions on the game.
So here’s my soapbox. I posit that given the alternatives systems, given the cost of entry, given GW company policies and based on my 15 years of experience in wargaming, including selling said games, that Warhammer (both kinds) are bad games.
I could leave things as they are, or go into more details about my arguments but for today purposes it should be enough. If I was to hit Post right now I would be one among many who say that GW is bad and I’d have fanboys come over here with the usual rebuttals to these kinds of posts.
Popular rebuttals include:
- The prices are justified, the process of making the minis cost a lot.
- Of course they have to raise the price, oil market and similar reasons.
- I’m having fun with it! Why do you have to shit on my fun!?
- The rules are great! I’m having fun!
- How can you tell me what’s fun or not?
- GW is a company; they should aim to make as much money as they can!
- What do you know? You’re not there; you don’t know what they are thinking.
- If you don’t like it you don’t have to be an ass about it.
- Talk to me when you have run your own company!
- Yet another old unhappy gamer.
And so it goes. My MMO readers might recognize a few of those and for good reason. You’ll also notice that few of these addresses my arguments which by the way are the most common ones levied against the game so it’s not just me saying this. Most rebuttals to topics like these attack the poster by saying he doesn’t have the necessary experience/competence to criticize, they use the fun defense which doesn’t really address anything or they just don’t address the arguments.
- The prices are justified, the process of making the minis cost a lot. Might be true, but still doesn’t change that the buy-in price might be too high.
- Of course they have to raise the price, oil market and similar reasons. Same, justifying the price doesn’t make it lower.
- I’m having fun with it! Why do you have to shit on my fun!? Doesn’t address any of the arguments.
- The rules are great! I’m having fun! Fun does not make rules great or bad in themselves.
- How can you tell me what’s fun or not? None of my arguments are about fun.
- GW is a company; they should aim to make as much money as they can! Justifying greed doesn’t make it less greedy.
- What do you know? You’re not there; you don’t know what they are thinking. I am not my arguments, wrong target.
- If you don’t like it you don’t have to be an ass about it. Wrong target again.
- Talk to me when you have run your own company! Again, not my arguments.
- Yet another old unhappy gamer. Irrelevant to the discussion.
On the real topic!
I admit I had a secret agenda with this post. While I do believe that GW and Warhammer are in a bad place, it was not the only thing I wanted to talk about.
I wanted to talk about how most of this gamer community I’m part of has no idea on how to argue a point. About how most arguments turn into personal attacks and how even when presented with good arguments, people refuses to change their minds about anything.
I do understand that changing your mind about something or admitting you might have been wrong can suck. Especially if you poured hours, days and even years into it. I remember watching a documentary where someone was explaining how he was raised into a white-supremacist family and how hard it was for him at first to get out of the mindset. When he was asked what was the biggest obstacle for him he answered that it was admitting he had wasted years of his life believing in something he knew was wrong.
So going back to Games Workshop I might be dead wrong. There might be tons of valid reasons that will prove beyond the shadow of a doubt that in fact GW is not greedy, that the rules are solid and that a 1000$ buy-in price is not hindering the community.
What I’m asking for is that you read my arguments with an open mind and that when you do present your rebuttal you do it by countering my arguments, not by attacking me or whether or not I’m allowed to criticize.
I swear that if you do so, I will do the same in return and will even change my mind if you can prove me wrong.