Category Archives: Gaming Company Shenanigans

40k Year in Review

So I’m going to do a simple year in review for 40k.  Not much structure as this is just a horrifically busy week for me.  More an overview.

The Best of Times

8th Edition Release(s)

So after going through the fiasco that was the Age of Simar release, and watching as PP fucks up Warmahordes almost as bad with their 3rd Edition release, GW manages to orchestrate a very careful, organized launch, and carry that momentum clear through the end of the year, starting well before the actual release with the return of Magnus and Guilliman, and continuing through the release of 10 codexes this year, massive upgrades to Space Marine armies, and some pretty solid balancing of armies.

The New Kits

Holy shit these are great.  The Primaris look very good, even if they are a bit of a pain to assemble, the Death Guard look amazing, and all of the Primarchs look simply incredible on the table.

Events galore

Fate of Konor was a ton of fun.  Armies on Parade was great fun.  There’s plenty of chances for events from purely collecting/modeling competitions to ultra-competitive high intensity tournaments.  Des Moines has had at least 1 major event every month, and that’s JUST for 40k.

On Message, On Target

Ok, look, we all know I’m a feminist, and that representation in 40k is a bit lacking.  Female dominated armies are a bit lacking, and boobplate shows up a lot more than it should.  In addition the features of nearly every sculpt are very “European” even for armies that supposedly aren’t.  GW has been vocal about increasing diversity and cutting down on some of the more sexist elements of their models.  While there has been limited opportunity for them to do it with their long pipeline from project inception to release, they’ve played a lot of the right notes, now let’s see if the players on stage match the music.

Living Rules

I mean, yeah buying Chapter Approved every year is going to be a bit of a drain, but MAN it’s nice to see them FAQing and Errata-ing and just maintaining things.  SO nice.

The Worst of Times

(Not) Fixing the Rules

So the biggest things they needed to fix were invuln saves and re-rolls.  They did not fix them.  They added mortal wounds.  Now there’s army comps that can spam them through psychic powers that made the problem with Alpha Strikes just incredibly worse.  I think they will need to figure out what to do about the huge number of 4++ or better invuln saves (I think even special characters shouldn’t have them very often) and re-roll auras… I like how they make any character interesting but holy hell does it slow down the game.  Just give a +1 to hit or wound and call it a day.

Alpha Strike

First turn is huge.  Way too big.  I’m hoping next year’s Chapter Approved brings us some alternating activation because the way things are it’s just ugly sometimes.  You can be crippled in a turn and that before you get a chance to go.

Marines are great, what else is there?

Not.  Much.  Eldar got a brief re-release of old models.  No real upgrades or new releases.  Nids got a little love, but not much.  Grey Knights got nothing.  CSM other than Death Guard got nothing.  Other Chaos got only stuff originally designed for AoS.  I get that Space Marines sell better than anything, but they HAVE more than anything.  Give Eldar or Orks that kind of love and see what happens!

Blue-Washing

Things aren’t all steak and sunshine even for the Marines.  More and more, chapters with distinct and carefully developed histories are being turned into Ultramarines.  This isn’t good, it isn’t interesting and it doesn’t help the narrative.  Hopefully GW starts looking at the issue and either puts someone in charge of fluff development that isn’t Matt Ward.

It’s been a great year.  Probably the best for 40k in a long damn time.  There’s clouds on the horizon but there’s a lot of sun and a lot of clear seas too.  Just a matter of navigating the waters wisely, and so far GW seems to have hit more clear water the storms.

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Blue-Washing the Legions

So the new Blood Angels Codex is imminent.  Recently we got a look at the “New Units” to be featured in it.  Here’s the list from Warhammer Community.  Inceptors, Reivers, Cataphractii and Tartaros pattern Terminators, Stormhawk Interceptors, Stormtalons Gunships, Hunters, and Stalkers.  Stormraven Gunships.  None of these is actually a new unit.  I’m guessing they get all the other Primaris units, since they come in the FUKHUEG BOX that GW has up for pre-order (not a great savings BUT if you want to add Primaris to your existing blood angels, or start a new army there ARE some savings so go for it) but there’s 0 in the way of actually new units.  All of these are units that currently exist now with the exception of the Primaris Lieutenant.

What’s more interesting, or concerning, is that these new units do not have the Black Rage.  So that’s no Death Company, no tragic flaw, just a Red Thirst bonus to attacks.  From the stream we got a lot of stratagems, most of which are picked up from the Space Marine codex although they did steal some speed from the Craftworld one.  I worry a lot that the Blood Angels are becoming Ultramarines painted blue.  Sanguinary Guard, Death Company, and the special characters are… ok.  Librarian Dreadnoughts are great, Furioso Dreadnoughts are great.  Death Company Dreadnoughts are apparently amazing.  All the flavor comes from old units.  OLD units.  Like, Eldar old.  Like Squats old.

I think this is one of two things.  Either a missed opportunity where GW wanted to get this army out fast without bothering to add anything good so they just threw in all the old shit they hadn’t given them before, or a deliberate step to bring all the chapters closer together.  This has happened before.  Black Templars used to have a codex.  Imperial Fists used to at least rate a supplement.  Then they stopped getting new stuff and started losing stuff they had.  Now they sit in the “other” section of the Space Marine Codex.

I don’t think GW wants to get rid of the Blood Angels.  After all, before the obsession with Ultramarines came about THEY WERE THE POSTER CHILD FOR 40k

Image result for 2nd edition 40k

3rd Edition btw featured the Black Templar.  4th Edition’s Battle for Macragge actually brought the Ultras into the spotlight.

I do think GW is painting themselves into a corner.  Primaris are lore poison.  They are so loyal and pure they never fall to chaos.  They are better at shooting, they are better in close combat, they are tougher when taking damage.  Have you ever been cornered by a guy in your FLGS telling you about his homebrew chapter that are “like X chapter but better”?  That’s the primaris marines.  There’s no flaw.  In fact they clean up flaws that already exist.  I have to think going forward that something will change.  Right now they are literally a bad fanfic of existing marines.  Only they are GW’s bad fanfic.  They are GW’s bad homebrew, and they are mucking up the Blood Angels.

Here’s the funny thing.  I don’t hate Primaris unconditionally.  I think it’s great that GW is advancing the story.  I think it’s very interesting to have these new troops joining the chapters.  I think conflicts like that between Dante and Seth in Devastation of Baal and soon whatever happens in the upcoming Dark Angels book are super interesting.  But so far all the flaws, all the conflict drivers emotionally are coming from non-primaris characters.  War of Secrets doesn’t come out until 2018 so any real resolution is going to take some time to get to us Dark Angels fans.  On the tabletop they are very interesting.  Intercessors are very good overall, but have no ability to specialize for better firepower up close or at long range, just solid, above average firepower, 2 wounds, and 2 attacks in melee.  Hellblasters have less power individually than devastators, but everyone gets a big gun!  2 wounds each!  And now for something completely different.  Inceptors are just plain neat.  I love them and already have 6.  I may go up to 12!  Repulsors are crazy tanks.  I’m VERY MUCH disappointed by the build, it’s just sloppily executed, but they are great tanks.  Ton of firepower, ton of points.  Really neat and go well with the slick, lots of firepower look of primaris.  There’s so much to like about them.

Fluff wise I love the idea of them being less experienced, less adept at the little things, and having some penalties to go with their strengths.  The recent Alpha Legion book played on this some.  They simply don’t know what they don’t know.  However they haven’t shown any fundamental flaw.  GW fluff operates on pretty much the classical model.  Heroes have a tragic flaw.  Guilliman can’t NOT build an Empire.  The Lion can’t NOT be secretive and sinister.  Dorn can’t NOT be defensive and stubborn.  The Khan can’t NOT be inscrutable and hate centralization.  Horus can’t NOT desire power.  Perturabo can’t NOT be jealous.  The Primaris can’t… what.  What is their tragic flaw?  When do they stop being the bonnie blue boys.

And next week pre-orders for the Dark Angels codex go up.  I was hopeful at one point that we’d see the Lion come back in the codex.  Now I’d settle for not having the codex be a glorified index with 8 pages of badly updated fluff.

PETA vs. GW

Ohhhhhh myyyyyyy.

Two organizations I love to hate.  PETA for their overbearing moralism.  GW for… basically being GW.  Yes it’s self referential but at this point if you don’t know why “GW being GW” is bad… I don’t have 10,000 words to describe it.

ANYWAY.

There’s been some great responses.

Fur is murder. In a universe where star ships sail through a sea of liquid murder guided by a murder powered lighthouse

No.  Seriously.  The Warp is the realm of murder (and a lot of other things) and the Astronomican is powered by the souls, not just the body, and blood, but the very SOULS of psykers being consumed to power this lighthouse.

Then there’s the Daemonculaba.  1D4chan, a rather infamous hive of scum and villainy refers to this is Chaos’ “Aristocrats” joke…I’m not even going to describe it.  It’s beyond horrific.

Now let’s look at our fuzzy little cuddly bears in the 41st millennium.

Most of the ones you see are Fenrisian wolves.  Think of a horse.  No.  A draft horse.  Good.  Now bigger.  Bigger.  Bit bigger.  Ok, close enough.  Now add fangs, teeth, a skeleton that would make Wolverine blush, and add a dash of PURE RABID PSYCHOPATH.

So yes.  That fur is murder.  Angry, bitey, scratchy murder.

The Unloved Rhino

So why would anyone buy just a Rhino anymore.  Seriously.  $37 bucks.  Rhino.

Here’s your other choices.  Razorback, $42 bucks.  For 5 dollars more you can choose a pile of extra bits that give you a lot more flexibility in the build.  Basically for each Razorback you see yourself needing, you buy the kit and you can swap it for a rhino just by changing the top deck.

Then there’s the armored assault squad.  For $55 you get a Rhino, a tactical squad, and I do love the current tac squad kit, for me there’s a Dark Angel upgrade sprue.  Finally there’s one of the REALLY hard to find Dark Angels Squad Transfers.  I’d rather get one of the really big ones, but even these are really useful.  My current build needs at least 5 of them.  Either way, this is a steal at less than $20 more than the Rhino on its own.  Heck just the upgrade sprue is $14.  The squad is $40.  Another way of looking at it is, any Dark Angel player that wants a tac squad gets the transfers, the upgrade sprue, and a free Rhino.  Basically there’s a lot of value in these packs.  Where there isn’t a lot of value is in units on their own.  Any unit you are looking for, look for it in a package these days.

Sea Change

Two huge items in gaming news this week.   The first is that Massively is gone.  This is surprising at first look but now that I’ve had time to think about it there really isn’t much to be surprised about.  Basically there’s a lot of problems with Massively

  1. Groupon School of Journalism:  Look I have a lot of respect for anyone who makes a living doing something creative.  I consider writing my biggest strength on the creativity side and let’s face it, I’m ok.  I can capture a phrase, I can communicate but I’m not the next Kurt Vonnegut, Mark Twain or even Doctrine Man!.  All that being said… the writing quality at Massively was all over the place.  Even article to article by the same writer you never knew if you were getting a carefully crafted piece or a hack job taken straight from the game in questions website.
  2. Poor Editorial Direction:  Not covering news on events in game, especially when you are writing about… say… EvE Online, is like writing about fashion in the halls of Congress but not about ANYTHING else.  You are missing the point even if the suits are nice.  Neutering your coverage or having other writers step in who don’t know the game/community/meta to cover breaking events means you look awful, especially when the community itself can provide capable coverage (as EvE bloggers do)
  3. Formatting:  Look at the website.  It’s functional.  It works.  There’s a lot of whitespace.  It’s painfully white, and just… dull.
  4. The Media Itself:  For all the success Massively had, it was a written word format site in a media meta dominated by podcasts, streams, vlogs, tweets, and with more formats all the time… written articles just don’t grab the key demographics.  AOL may have killed something that was successful while it was still successful but the writing for this format (including blogs like this) is on the wall.

Now I feel awful for the people that worked there.  From what they’ve been posting the experience has been awful with uncertainty, rumors, and apathy rampant from their corporate masters.  Now these people have to scrabble for work and I hope they find it.  I’ve enjoyed the page for all the criticism I’ve leveled at it and I wish them all a swift, safe landing with bosses who understand things better and who give them the creative direction, freedom, and inspiration they will need to succeed.

Then there’s the SOE fiasco.  WOW.  This is… I can’t… I don’t… Ok I wouldn’t trade places with John Smedley for anything right now.  I follow him on Twitter, along with about 73 thousand other people.  He’s a brilliant social media, guy, but man there’s no way to spin this.  I don’t think the investors will be doing much with any of the IPs outside of Planetside 2, Everquest, and… well… let’s count ourselves lucky if those come out.  The company will be sold for parts and soon, and I suspect that Smed himself is actively looking for a “new challenge” to take on that doesn’t involve shuffling the deck chairs on the Titanic.