Thursday, October 23, 2014

A Petition to Games Workshop Limited

So on BoLS there is a post and a set of videos discussing GW's corporate strategy. Take a minute to view it now. It is worth it.

This got me thinking about all the open letters to GW in the past. Well, why not an organized petition. With the internet and social media these days they are easier than ever.

Refocus your business model on the sale of a game and support of a gaming community vice the pure sale of collectible miniatures.

So that is what I did. I wrote a petition for Games Workshop Limited to:

If you agree, please click the link and sign. The recipient of the petition is: if you wish to contact them directely

It reads:

As competition from outside organizations grow and GW revenues and profits fall, your company seemingly continues to pursue a business model not in alignment with your customer base's desires and expectations.

Your business model states "We make the best fantasy miniatures in the world and sell  them globally at a profit and we intend to do this forever". Realize that you produce a game, and that the models are playing pieces in that game, not the end product themselves. Without the game, there is no need to purchase Games Workshop models. They are not collectible in the same sense as scale military tanks and aircraft, nor are they as utilitarian as historical wargames miniatures, applicable to multiple game systems and supported by real world events. GW models are only useable in the context of GW games, the primary of these being Warhammer 40,000 and Warhammer Fantasy Battles. 

I and many others collect your models to play the game. Only a fraction of the community do so purely for the experience of owning, building and painting Citadel miniatures. This is why when armies are timely updated and released, model sales for those armies jump. It is not because of marketing through White Dwarf and Online Stores. It is because people want to play with the newest "Toy". Collectors continue with these factions to keep playing the game, not just own miniatures.

Your fanbase and the dedicated gaming and hobby community ask that you adopt the following policies

1- Support gamers, conventions, and tournaments, primarily through well-developed rules and encouraging competitive play. Despite GW's desire for Warhammer to be a "Beer and Pretzels" game that is simply a reason to buy and collect GW miniatures, gamers want a system that can be used for competitive play as well. Just because this is supported does not mean that fun, narrative driven relaxed play is not possible. Appeal to both sides of the gaming community, not just the one you want to more. You cannot interface directly with the small group playing a campaign in their basement. You can with the 100+ players at a tournament. Doing so will improve your corporate image, impassion your playerbase and ultimately encourage the playing or your game which directly correlates to the sale of your miniatures. This means releasing fairly balanced, well play tested rule sets, and timely FAQs which address the issues players are encountering. The relaxed narrative players will appreciate these clearer and improved rules just as much as the cut-throat tournament gamer.

2- Reduce the number of "Direct exclusive models" and support the FLGS. Game Stores are where your community exists. It is not in their home, alone, painting. Most of the hobby may occur there, but it with the objective in mind that on the weekend they will travel down to their local friendly game store and set up across the table from someone and play a game. That is why they put all the hours into building and painting their army. Sure it may be fun to build and paint it, but it is a means to an end, not the end itself. Since the objective of collecting is to play a game, game store owners are going to promote games they can sell in their store. If majority of your product is exclusively available from your webstore, game store owners will not push your product as they lose potential sales. Without that push or those sales, their gaming community abandons GW games, and without the game they abandon GW/Citadel models. 

3- Competitively price your products. You have some room to charge a slight premium because of the quality of your miniatures. But since the ultimate objective is to play a game at the end of the week, players are going to financially invest in what they can better afford. All wargaming is a luxury market. If a player can get the same amount of game time for less with another game and have just as much, if not more fun, then that is where I will invest my dollars. This is a big factor as to why so much competition now exists whereas very little did before. A potential aide to this point would be to allow sales of bits, aftermarket 3rd party add-ons, and discount online retailers. This all encourages throughput of your products, and for players to gather larger or more forces for their games. Sales for GW have only become worse with the policies that eliminate these possibilities.

4- Change your website to be hobby and gaming driven with a webstore option attached for support. This used to be the way it was. Your website should not just be an online marketplace. Your site should be the one stop shop for painting, tactics, gaming communities, upcoming tournaments, etc. etc. The webstore should then be a feature that a player can access after reading a tactica article or a painting guide. It is in game performance that drive sales of models the most, so discussing the performance and ways to use particularly models in game can only benefit you by swaying consumers to purchase it. Beautiful photos and well painted models help, but a vast majority of your playerbase knows is cannot paint as well as your webstore and White Dwarf images, so they fail to be lured in by that trap.

5- Conduct market research and increase player involvement. With the advent of social media this is easier than ever. Rather than just having youtube videos for new releases, have discussions of in progress design concepts to allow hype to be generated and discussion to occur, then systematically feed this back into your development process. Release trial rules again and gather important commentary from the players to fine tune them. Furthermore understand your consumer base and what they need and want to continue collecting, converting, painting Citadel miniatures and playing GW games rather than just assuming another huge kit or wacky limited edition gaming aide is what they need to be fed. With a generation thriving off constant connectivity and insight into early product development in virtually every market, particularly the growing tech and video games industries which manage to steal potential hobbyists daily, a policy of secrecy and blind assumption only will accomplish an alienation of the consumer.

In short, rededicate your company to supporting the selling of a game. This is your main product. Your models are the key playing pieces of this game, and will make you the most money. Without the game though, they are worth nothing.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

What I'd Like to see in Blood Angels 7th Edition 2014 REVISED

So before 7th ed dropped, there were the rumblings of Blood Angels. I did one of my "What I'd Like To See" (that link is to the BA one) posts discussing my hopes and dreams for the army, but now that there are rumours and 7th is actually out, I think it is fair of me to revisit the topic.
Not the official cover
Several of my previous comments stand so I will sum up the ones that don't require further discussion here
1- Inclusion of the Stormtalon
2- Fix Dante and Astorath so they aren't I1 (case 1, case 2, case 3)
3- Honour Guards with Techmarines
4- Moriar the Chosen back in the codex
5- A new blister pack Sanguinary Priest model with a grail bit.
6- Improve the Glaive Encarmine- stat bonuses rather than just MC, especially since they are 2 handed and I can't get an extra attack w/out the BA banner as a result.
7- Fluff/imagery for all 10 companies. I want to know what those banners look like.

First of all I want the feel of the codex to be less Vampiric and more Renaissance. Next I want it to be the first true assault codex of 7th. Shooting is king. Let BA shake that meta to the core so that every army from hence forth needs something assault oriented just in case... 

SO now to readdress a few things and give some new thoughts
1- Mephiston as a Lord of War- I kinda like this idea. I mean it stinks that I may not be able to use him regularly in games, but he isn't really useful right now. He can just be challenged to waste all his bonuses for charging and he is not an independent character, so he can't join any squad. But as a LOW he can be made to fit his true fluff of being the most ultimate BA (pun intended) Space Marine Librarian EVAR. The only thing I worry about is an updated silly model. Santa Logan Grimnar was too much. I don't want to see Mephiston on a giant bat or anything, like something out of Nightmare Before Christmas. But this has some cool potential for a good model (I imagine him floating in the air like a Wood Elf Mage) and a Mastery Level 4 Psyker of DOOM!

2- Viable DoA/Jump Troop Armies- 7th unfortunately continued the 6th edition reserve rules, really gimping the Descent of Angels (DoA) rule and potential for BA DS shenanigans. With access to Jump Infantry as part of your troops, this delivery needs to be better. Auto loss with nothing on the board means DoA armies are not 100% viable and majority DS is a dangerous game. A way around this would be nice. Storm Ravens as dedicated transports could help this and unclutter HS some as well. 
 And though this will not happen, assaulting out of DS would be great. CC is not the name of the game in 7th and this would definitely shake that concept up. Maybe just maybe I will get to keep that on my Vanguard but unlikely. The only other thing I can think is that adapting DoA to allow them to run and shoot on the turn they DS, representing them opening fire during the descent.
Alternatively, a friend of my proposed BA units with DOA always getting to deploy second, to represent a rapid unexpected assault from the skies.
To me this point is HUGE as it can go a long way to making the BA a viable assault army in a game all about shooting.

3- Flesh Tearers Supplement- I think they are deserving of this and divergent enough from BA to get it. Some separate wargear (more eviscerators), a different Warlord table, greater use/access to Death Company (scoring DC perhaps?). Plus it allows them to slim the BA codex by one character (Seth), since they can't any other way, which it a relief (sidetrack- Thank goodness ALL BA models are already made. I would hate to have something cut from the Codex just because GW does not have a model for it yet).
Also not the BA cover, it is the cover for the forthcoming Lemartes book from BL as part of their ridiculous 6 month $450 rewards program.
4-  A One Week Release- WHAT! WHY WOULD YOU SAY THIS. I WANT NEW MODELS! NEW KITS! 3 WEEKS MINIMUM!!! WARGARBLLL! Well calm down and I will tell you. I think the line of SM and BA stuff is pretty full. Other than some character resculpts, I don't think BA are wanting for anything. They have all their characters, their own tank variant, their own dreadnought kits which makes 3 types of dreads, Storm Ravens come with BA Icons, Sanguinary Guard and Death Company kits. That is all pretty good IMO. Mix and match those last 2 with standard SM kits and you have plenty of Blood Angels.
As I mentioned earlier, a new Sanguinary Priest would be nice, but that can fit into a 1 week release alongside a resculpted Mephiston and/or Tycho.
I know some people want Sanguinary Terminators (you can make your own) and other crazy cool things, but I don't want GW to make them. I want FORGE WORLD to do it. I think this will lead to better looking models and better sets. The Signus book is slated for sometime in the next 2 years. I can be patient enough for that to get my fancy Blood Angels. Plus my wallet could use the break right now (especially once I buy the special edition BA codex). In the meantime, if you need fancy BA terminators, try buying Space Hulk off Ebay, or at least the Terminators.
5- Death Company with a purpose. In a game where everything is scoring with objective secured, DC is useless with their "we can never be a scoring unit" rule. They are great assault troops, but without scoring, a high cost and with 7th ed being the edition of shooting, they just have no place in the meta. To fix this and help with making number 2 possible, maybe allow DC to DS and assault, or give them Fleet (constant mad running at the enemy). Really, the +1 I for Furious Charge would be WONDERFUL to have back. Or at least lower the price tag to something I can stomach.

6- Land Raiders as heavy support. Having them as dedicated transports was cool, but it made some tactically flexible options impossible for me. I'd rather see this tank returned to where it belongs.
7- Access to Centurions. I am going to get 9 of these guys eventually anyways, and then stick them with a Sanguinary Priest in a Spartan Assault Tank and have them be part of my 8th Company detachment. It would be nice for that to be legal for me to do.

8- Grav Guns. At least in Centurions, Sternguard and Tactical Squads. I understand if it is too much for my assault squads, especially since I already have toys like hand flamers and Glaive Encarmines. Whether you like those or not, there have to be limits to what each faction has and its capabilities. No other SM army has those 2 things, why should I get their shinny stuff when they can't have mine.

What do you think? Did I miss anything?

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Completed Scratch Built Great Unclean One

So some years ago I did a Scratch Built Great Unclean One (GUO from here on out) for a friend as a commission. Through a series of trades and sales and such it eventually came back to me, for which I was glad as it really was fun to sculpt and looked great IMO. So I did a little bit more work on it (because I had excessive green stuff that had to get used) and just sat around. I eventually primed it but that is all.
The face was inspired by the goblins from the old animated Hobbit movie, Jabba the Hutt and a black and white image of Ku'Gath
Then all this Nurgle stuff started showing up for the end times, and while I am not going to start an army, I was "divinely" inspired by Grandfather Nurgle and had the perfect model to work with.

In the past I had got to paint two Deamons, a Daemon Prince Conversion I had done and a Forge World Scabeiathrax, both for the same guy as the GUO I had made. Both were alot of fun and are really different stylistically then the Marine I paint day in and out. While I love my BA, the break and freedom an Nurgle Daemon represents is fantastic.

So I present to you, my scratch built GUO, completed after over 5 years...

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Fluff Question: Where did CSM back packs come from?

This is a question that has bugged many a CSM & SM player for ages- Why are there different power packs between CSM and SM in the year 40,000, other than the simple fact it makes the models look different (which, as we all know is the real reason). That isn't good enough for many a fluff driven player, and really goes against the FORGE THE NARRATIVE mentality of GW IMO.

I recently saw this in the preview for the next Horus Heresy book.

This is the first time I had seen a definitive SWITCH in the two styles. Even the model for Erebus is using a traditional style power pack.

His is actually even closer to Mk7 Aquilla Armour (40k Space Marine) packs then anything else, which is odd given that doesn't exist and judging by his knee pads Erebus is wearing Mk IV Armour which pack looks like this
The old school plated pack look from way back in the day combined with funky conical exhausts.
Doing some research I found this gem on the "Anvilus" pattern pack, which is in the Horus Heresy book BETRAYAL.

For those who don't want to read the caption it says:

Death Guard Legionary Caipha Morarg (Pict-capture Isstvan III Atrocity)
Morarg was a Legionary assigned to the 24th Breacher Squad of the 2nd Great Company of the Death Guard Legion, and fought with the Traitors on Isstvan III. Note: "Iron" pattern power armour utilizing a prototype Anvilus backpack unit - this variant has enhance stabilizing thruster vents to aide in void operations, but inferior rad-shielding

So that is what the shape is for? Really? Thrust in space. If that is the case then, why don't Loyalists have this at all? Or any Space Marine chapters 10,000 years down the road. Isstvan III is too early in the war for it to be the sole provenance on the Dark Mechanicum. Additionally, it is not like it is an Iron Warrior development as it is on Death Guard and Word Bearers early on, but not them.

If it truly was for void operations, why and how did it 10,000 years later get spread to every single traitor marine. And furthermore, why don't void based chapters, like the Carcharodons, use it regularly. Why is it not seen as specialist equipment utilized by Death Watch or Grey Knights. The only loyal Marines I have ever seen with it are the Space Wolves 13th Company, who have been lost in the Eye of Terror since the Heresy and plunder it from CSM they fight.

And only some of them have it at that.

To me, the reasoning and description of the Anvilus was just an easy excuse and/or was not caught by an editor as a MAJOR PIECE OF FLUFF. While it may not seem that big, it covers in a single sentence with a broad stroke the largest fundamental difference in appearance between CSM and SM.

I for one don't like this description, at least not as presented in Betrayal. Had it come later in the war and produced by the Dark Mechanicum, then it would be slightly more plausible, but still weak IMO.

The problem is though, visually this is probably the best reason given the design of the pack. It tactically has more disadvantages, especially as it grows in size (like the Word Bearer one above)- bulkier, larger silhouette, greater potential for critical damage (shearing off one of the vents).

The only other real explanation is the warp over thousands of years. The problem here is some CSM aren't trapped in the warp for 10,000 years, just fast forwarded into the 41st millennium. Additionally, not all CSM fully embrace Chaos and the warp to have mutations, and for even those that do, why start with the backpack...

However, who knows, maybe that inferior Rad-shielding is the real reason for all the Chaos mutation and not the blessing of the Dark Gods.

What do you think? Is the explanation in the FW HH book good enough? Is there another possible reason? Or does it really just boil down to model making aesthetics?

Monday, October 13, 2014

Converted Blood Angels Assault Terminator Sergeant- 1st Sergeant Rodrigo

Just a quick update to show you what I had been working on this weekend.

A while back I had some WIP photos of my Terminator conversions. The idea behind this squad is that since 1st Company has no honour guard, they are the defacto one as the Terminators of the 1st Squad, thus having the 1st Sergeant (not a rank like First Sergeant in the Army, but rather a position as this would be the #1 Sergeant in the entire Chapter).

Black and White is artsy. And smooth.
The conversion is a normal Terminator body and arms, with a Sanguinary Guard torso, a Grey Knight Terminator head and Chapter House Studio shoulder pads and storm shield. I had to cut up a normal shield to get the hand/handle combo for the CHS shield, as it does not come with a hand. The basing will come later (snow basing like all my marines, but since there is so much room on a terminator base, I want to add some elements to it).

The banner and all emblems were free hand. Redemptor is an actual name of a Blood Angel's veteran squad and the banner is based off the old sticker banners that used to come with kits. The shoulder pads are in line with the codex (black for Vet Sarges, white skull for 1st Co, Yellow BA logo on black shoulder pads), as is the right knee pad (Black w/ white skull for 1st Squad).

Without further ado, I give you 1st Sergeant Rodrigo