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Archive for the ‘Warhammer’ Category

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.

The rebuttal

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.

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Drop pod picture added in the Salamanders Project page. I finished this model sunday and I have to say it was a time-consuming and rather boring model to paint. There’s a lot of surfaces and details to cover and you have the repeat everything 5 or 10 times wich makes for repetitive and somewhat boring painting. I am not especially looking forward to painting the next two ones. That said, I am happy with the final result and I do think it looks great, just not especially fun to paint.

This is exactly why I started the painting project. No matter how much you love painting, some models are less fun than others and it’s easy to start painting an army when starting out and your super motivated but you end up loosing interest over the less fun models only to end up with a half done army. I often say if something’s not fun then you shouldn’t do it but in this case I’m willing to put up with some “grind” to get to end result.

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Moving a bit away from MMOs and since my Salamanders posts do generate a bit of interest I wanted to write this for all of you wondering whether or not to start an army and how to go about it. I plan to write on this on Mondays for the next few weeks so stay tuned. This week I will give a quick overview of wich army you may want to pick based on what you’re looking for and I’ll go into a bit more details about the armies in the following two weeks.

Choosing an army

Choosing an army is probably the most important decision you can make when starting to play. With the cost involved and the effort you put into these minis you want to get it right. The thing is that not everyone is looking for the same thing in an army and it can be hard to figure out what you really want. So before starting take a moment to truly think about what you would like from your army.

The list bellow is based on my personal experiences from when I was selling them and my involvement in the local gaming scene. These are opinions and some people might disagree, they are welcome to leave their comments below if they feel something should be rectified.

Solid beginners choice: Space marines / Orks

Some people when starting an army simply want an army that is easy to learn for a beginner while being solid,current and competitive at the same time. In short an army that one can grow into. Spaces marines are hand down the best choice for sheer versatility and endurance while orks will appeal to those who prefer a more close combat army. Both these armies are the ones in the Battle for BlackReach box, the excellent Warhammer 40k starter set.

Massive ranged destruction: Imperial Guard / Tau

If what you like is throwing huge amount of lead, explosive, ordnance and all sort of ranged destruction these armies are for you. Even if a lot of armies out there are capable of winning through ranged firepower, these are the two that will make your enemies quake in fear.  The Imperial Guard is more of a traditional tanks and artillery style while the Tau goes for high-tech weaponry. A note should be made that the Tau is not very beginner friendly and demands an excellent level of play.

Tearing your enemy apart limb from limb:  Tyranids / Blood Angels

Again, a lot of armies can do an ungodly amount of close combat damage but Tyranids and Blood Angels are my two picks because these two are almost exclusively focused on close combat and they have distinctive styles.  Tyranids are your horde of hungry genetically engineered alien killing machines while Blood Angels are your ultimate warriors tooled up with epic gear. Both armies hit incredibly hard and you’ll see your opponent sweat at the tought of having to fight you in close combat.

Tournament champions: Space marines / Imperial guard

When starting some people want to win and beat their opponents first and foremost. While every army can potentially win a tournament these are the two you will encounter the most often and for excellent reasons. Both are extremely well designed, robust and versatile wich gives them good chances in an environment where you don’t know what you will be up against. Not only that but they both have bottomless bags of tricks with wich to surprises their opponents and give them the edge.

Artist choice : Chaos Space Marines / Chaos Daemons

Chaos lore is basically a blank check to do whatever you want to do with them. You can be as conventional or crazy as you want and the conversion possibilities are limited only by your imagination. The best part is it’s all possible in the lore so you don’t get nerd rages when you show up with something weird. It’s no coincidence that over half the Golden Demon winners have done it with Chaos related minis.

The lazy painter: Space Marines / Chaos demons

Some people are not really interested by modelling and painting and want to get that part done and over with as quickly as possible. With simple color schemes , few details and not too many minis to paint both these armies can be done relatively quickly without too much effort if you don’t want to.

Cheap and efficient : Space Marines, Necrons

If you’re looking not to spend too much and want to get that army completed easily enough those are you two best choices. Necrons do have some pricey units but so few of them are required you save that way.

Good guys: Tau / Imperial Guard
Bad guys: Chaos Space Marines / Chaos Daemons

Good and evil are relative terms in the Warhammer 40k universe but those are the armies that come the closest to your classic definitions of good and evil. Chaos especially reeks evils.

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Terminators!!

First, pictures of my terminator squad I completed during last week have been uploaded in the Salamanders project page. I changed the format a bit since the ealier pictures where too heavy in my opinion so I’m trying to find a happy middle ground. If anything these pictures will teach me about how to use my camera. On that happy happy weekend!

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At last! Pictures!

It took a while for me to figure all out but finally, here’s some pictures of my first marine squad for my Salamanders. It’s a bit scary for me to see them up close like this so please be nice 🙂 I’ll try to work on my distance for next time. If you are wondering why the dark skin and red glowy eyes it’s a chapter trait of the Salamanders. They come from a radiation heavy planet and the mix of radiation + the genetics to make a space marine gives them this particular trait.

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The salamanders project

This has absolutely nothing to do with MMOs but I need to kick myself in the ass if I ever want to get this done. See I’ve been playing Warhammer for a really long time and played in quite a few tournaments. I wanted to get myself a new tournament army wich I knew would not go obsolete(spaces marines) and with wich I could show my improved painting skills. In most of these tournaments you are ranked on a number of criteria, one of wich is painting.

Now most tournaments ranks painting on a scale of 0 to 3.
0: Unpainted or uncompleted. So ugly you would rather die than play them.
1: While an effort was obviously made to paint the army it is of poor quality and not great to look at.
2: Standard tabletop quality. The army is well painted but a few details might be missing and/or it’s not painted to a high standard.
3: Above average. While it may not win the best painted army awards this army is very well painted and you would want to play with it if able to.

My Dark Angel army painted over 8 years ago score an average of 2 with a few 1 depending on who is rating my army. My Tyranids from 3 years ago get a steady 2 with a few surprises 3 from time to time. Since its obvious that I managed to improve I want my Salamanders to rank a steady 3.

So I started to build my Salamanders last year and… well I got one squad done and a start on some other models. Thing is most of the army is already bought so its starting to get on my nerves to see it still in boxes.

In order to finish this army I am now making it a priority and using this blog to force myself to finish. The steps are:
-Set up a page on this blog where I will put pictures and advancement so I get reminded to get to work.
-I have to paint a minimum of 1 hour on weekdays and 2 hours on weekend.
-I have to finish a project within two weeks of starting it. A project is either a squad, a vehicle, a character or anything else that takes up a choice in the army listing.

If I manage to follow this I should have my first complete list done by mid september. Wish me luck.

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I’m not talking about the MMO here but rather the tabletop strategy game. There’s been a few posts recently on Warhammer online(WaR) with some people wondering about what the strategy game was about. Since there’s also a Warhammer 40k MMO in the works and the fact I’m a crazy Warhammer fan plus I’ve worked in a hobby shop before I tought I’d write this for all those wondering about us strange people playing with toy soldiers.

The very basics

Let’s get some basics out-of-the-way first. There’s two main strategy games with the Warhammer name out there, Warhammer Fantasy Battles(Fantasy for short) and Warhammer 40k (WH40k). Both use the same basics systems(stats) and some miniatures (demons) can even be used in both systems. The main differences between the two are setting(medieval and Sci-fi) and how the game is played. So when talking about Warhammer, I’m talking about the hobby in general.

Warhammer is first and foremost a hobby with both a miniature and game aspect. Most Warhammer players will favor one aspect over the other but people who stick with the hobby enjoy both aspect of it. For example, I prefer playing the game but I will take the time to assemble and paint my minis. A friend of mine will only assemble them and another is mainly a painter with a few games here and there. Still, we all participate in every aspect of the hobby.

Second, Warhammer is not cheap. This is why I say to people wanting to start that you must participate in the full hobby and not only parts of it. A starter army will cost anywhere between 200-300$(Canadian) and it’s not uncommon to spend close to a 1000$ on  a single army once everything is added up.  You obviously don’t want that money wasted.

Finally Warhammer is a social activity. Just like MMOs there’s an active community out there that loves to talk about and debate the game ad nauseum. Tournaments are fun places to be and it’s not unusual for local communities to meet up after games for beer, food or any other kind of activity. Where I live the local Warhammer group has a good Paintball team going on. This aspect is why you see full-grown men and women play with toy soldiers.

It all looks so incredibly complicated…

To be honest it is and it’s not. The actual game of warhammer is actually pretty simple to grasp when you get down to it. You can play one or two turns and you would already know how to play 95% of the game. The last 5% is special armies rules and special situations that you can learn pretty fast.  But just like MMOs, the real learning is all about tactics, army building and trying out new strategies.  What makes the game so much fun is that you never play the same game twice.

So why exactly spend a 1000$ to play with toy soldiers

Well like so many geek things there’s no real reason to.  There’s something about seeing a fully painted army and play at being the general that appeals to some people, myself included.  It’s just like asking “why spend 4 nights a week in front of your computer to earn pixels?”. The simplest answer is “because I enjoy doing it”.

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