Sunday, January 14, 2018

Edition Wars Eventually Become Edition Purges [Part 1]

In the future, all that you have sodomized must become unsodomized.
Inspirobot knows when you've been naughty.
So I'm going to talk about a big change that happened a few years ago that changed the landscape for tabletop gaming in my area.  What I'm about to say might not be your experience, and your mileage may well vary.  I'm not going to go out of my way to attack anyone, but I'm going to line out the reality here.

In 2014, after many years of happy gaming, Games Workshop decided to jump editions to 7th Edition Warhammer 40,000 after a period of only two years.  This was after many long years of suffering by some players, who didn't have a codex updated in over a decade.  The change in editions came merely two years after the publication of 6th Edition, which was touted with great gusto on the old club blog.

After years of perceived abuse at the hands of GW and their favorite game brand, this simply broke the club's Warhammering - all across the board.  The club dropped all GW workshop games from the roster, and we went looking elsewhere for a game.  All the GW stuff in the vault was sold off at a discount (well, most...not all) and no one in the club would actually speak of wanting to play.  GW had made themselves pariah - except in our Texas chapter, which only two years after that had to replace everything with 7th Edition.  Three years after that, in 2017, the cycle repeated again.

Putting longtime fans through that kind of edition grind will garner you some animosity.  For proof, let's look at some other games we were playing at the time.  We had adopted both Warmachine and Flames of War a few years earlier, and these games were great.  We believed in the companies, to deliver us from GW.  However, these games got dropped pretty quickly as well.  Why is that?

Warmachine Mk2 came out in 2010.  Flames of War released the Eastern Front for 2nd Edition in 2010.  Yet after GW proved that you can make gamers buy the same thing over and over again to very little consequence, the publishers of both these games got the GREAT idea to start an edition treadmill of their own.  Flames of War 3rd Edition debuted in 2012, lasted about 4 years until 4th Edition debuted last year to very little fanfare.  Warmachine Mk 3 debuted in 2016, shortly following suit.  Let's put that in perspective for folks who play all three games, plus Warhammer Fantasy.

  • 2008 - 40k 5th Edition
  • 2010 - FoW Eastern Front
  • 2010 - Warmachine Mk2
  • 2010 - Warhammer Fantasy 8th Edition
  • 2012 - 40k 6th Edition
  • 2012 - FoW 3rd Edition
  • 2015 - Warhammer: Age of Sigmar
  • 2014 - 40k 7th Edition
  • 2016 - FoW 4th Edition
  • 2016 - Warmachine Mk3
  • 2017 - 40k 8th Edition
Now imagine you have at least four armies for each of those games.  Can you imagine how much cash that is, just in books that you can't use, in that time?  Trust me, my gaming budget was fairly large for my personal gear...usually $100-150 per month during most of that time.

This model of edition treadmilling is not only unsustainable, but terribly disrespectful to the customers.  And before you ask, YES - these companies should pay attention to what each other is doing.  Movie studios pick and choose releases so they don't compete with something similar at the box office.  2010, 2012 and 2016 were very silly years for wargamers.

I'm not saying we didn't want new releases.  The publishers probably should have taken a lateral design, and not demanded so much money for what is essentially bookshelf trash just a few years later.  Turning over the entire game every few years is getting cumbersome, and it has led to folks dropping entire game lines out of their lives where before they could co-exist and they could collect multiple lines.  Well, folks - of course that's detrimental to sales.  I'm just at a loss that changing the entire system is the answer they always come up with...but I suppose that happens when development on a publication cycle is done pretty much by the seat of one's pants.

All that has already come to pass, however.  Gamers have moved on, and Frostgrave and Star Wars have ruled the land for several years. The clang of nary a Warhammer or Warjack on the site.  Not even the Germans are stirring.  The old guard has been put to bed, a victim of their own edition wars they manufactured for themselves.  The endless repetition of buying material we already owned ground the players to the bloody nubs, and the great games of old were cast aside.

What can those of us who long for the glory of battle do against such reckless capitalism?  There is an answer...

Go to Part 2?

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