Grind and Whine

Grind and Whine
Epic Whining on a Global Gaming Scale

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

A Different Battle on Another Field

I write a quarterly article for The Bellower Ezine published by The Ogre Kingdoms. Below is the original article I wrote that was rejected in place of another piece I did. I feel it important enough to put it out there;

A Different Battle on Another Field

There’s a battle raging. A big one and the stakes are high. It is in many ways a classic David and Goliath scenario. This modern day David, however has more than just one stone to load into his sling. It’s a battle for the hearts and minds of Hobbyists (or Gamers depending on perspective) the world over. I am of course speaking of the current turbulence roiling amongst Games Workshop and Privateer Press.

A little personal history first;

Once upon a time I managed a gaming shop, a pretty successful store. GW was the mainstay, 40k, Fantasy, even Mordheim. I was a regular at all the GW GT’s. To give you an idea as to how Gandalfian I am; I was at the second GW GT EVER! This was way back when it was at the Baltimore Airport Holiday Inn. There was only one GT back then and it was as much about the Beer as the battles. It was a revelatory time. But nostalgia is a dangerous thing. It skews our perception of the present… Sometimes.

I was a devotee of all things Games Workshop. I was a play tester for the miniature giant and in fact had a good hand in developing the Sisters of Battle for the Witch Hunters Codex. I’m there, in the special thanks section. Even wrote a couple articles for White Dwarf. 3rd ed ruled and all was right with the world.

I can’t say for sure how I was introduced to Warmachine though I know it was circa ’04 or ’05. I can tell you though that I was hooked, instantly. The simplicity of the rules, Page 5 and the models all combined to make a compelling and fun game. More than that the gamer that seemed to be attracted to WM was different than I had become used to. At the first Steamroller, the name for the big WM tournaments back then there was an attitude of camaraderie that seemed to be ebbing in the GW arena.

I was in…In like Flint! Built a gorgeous Cryxx force and introduced the game to the store at which I managed. It took off like a wildfire set by Kreoss of WM’s Menoth faction. It was all the rage and once again all was right with the gaming world. When does that EVER last?!

PP inevitably screwed up their rule set turning the game into a war of denial where the victor wasn’t the player who outplayed the opponent but rather disallowed the opponent to play any sort of game. That Cryxx army, which won me two Steamrollers and was the first WM Horde army was also the only force I ever traded away. So pervasive was my disgust. I was not alone.

All throughout that time however I never stopped playing 40k or WHFB. GW’s rich histories and universes keep me loyal but now, some six years later has that loyalty been tested to the breaking point?

A good question IMHO, and one that is being asked by more and more gamers across the globe. Fantasy’s 8th ed was a breath of fresh air after the stale chess-like feel of 7th ed. But this “unbreakable” edition proved to be the fastest to fall under the gargantuan wheels of the war wagon known as the Meta-Game. In short the game has become about monster size units and nuclear magic wiping out whole units and characters in a single die roll.

The Tournament scene, and ipso-facto the local gaming scene fell victim to “Play it this way or don’t play it at all.” I as well as many… MANY others became increasingly disenchanted with Fantasy and 40k.

Enter David…

My buddies had been trying, with little success to get me to give Warmachine, (or Warmahordes as it is affectionately referred to now), another try. They pleaded, cajoled, bribed and inebriated me until finally, worn down by the weight of a thousand geeks I gave in. But so strong was the GW hold on me that I wallowed in guilt and shame reducing my Citadel paints to wash with my tears of betrayal.

I had a deadline, a friend was running a Warmahordes tournament and my presence was requested. I might have said no but the enticement of an unsealed bottle of Makers Mark was too much for this old salt to deny. I frantically painted up a Cryxx force and off I went.

This was about six months ago. It was, without going into detail the most refreshing gaming/tournament experience I had in years. I played 4 games, got bull whipped each game and had an absolute blast.

I have not played one single game of Fantasy since. I have not paid for a single GW miniature since. I have not painted a single GW mini since.


My LGS once boasted 20 participants for a Fantasy tournament. The number now struggles at 6. Our monthly Adults only gaming night formerly ran short of tables for the amount of Fantasy and 40k players. Now we vie for table space between FoW and Warmachine.

Of course the big question is , why?

Well…Here are just some compelling reasons even if they are mostly my opinion.That is the advantage of writing one’s own article after all…

I love Zombies…Always have. I am a Horror addict and Zombies have long been my favorite to the bane of my parents as a youth to the scourge of my wife as an adult. So it followed, logically that I built a Vampire Counts army based on the Undead hordes of Zombies. It was a simple list; Loads of zombie units each led by a Strigoi Vamp. I lovingly converted every single one of the 90 dead heads in the army. All of them.

GW then decided that Characters were no longer allowed to join Zombie units. Suddenly my investment of love and sweat and hundreds of dollars became unusable without compromise and additional investment. Imagine how upset and disappointed I became.

I was not alone.

Along comes 8th ed. I’ve elucidated on the issue in previous articles and here as well. Again, I am forced to invest more and change my desires for my hobby to NEEDS. I am a miniature hobbyist out of desire… not NEED. Forcing me to invest hard earned cash to swell your coffers is not a good business plan. Not when there are choices out there.

I am not alone.

So I pick up Warmahordes again but face a dilemma. I really want to play a list in MKII similar to what I played 5 years ago in Prime. I build a list consisting of ALL Prime models knowing full well that I am doomed to failure… But in their new found wisdom PP has made sure that all the Prime models can integrate successfully in MKII.

HUH? WHAT? So my investment isn’t made worthless and meaningless?

Then comes the rule set. There is a fundamental difference between philosophies here:

GW, as stated by their own selves, is a miniature model company that makes rules so you can play with their models.

PP is a GAMING company that makes miniatures with which to play their games. They are populated with gamers developing rules and listening to other gamers the way GW USED to be.

GW will never, or at least not in the near future go away. Nor do I want them to. But the fact is that there is a younger, sleeker and hungrier upstart out there who have learned and continue to learn from their’s and GW’s mistakes.

And Iam not the only one who thinks so.

Yes, I know this doesn’t seem like a topic for an article about GW and Ogre Kingdom devotees. But it is a topic that can, is and will affect most of us…

From the other side of the table…

Eric J


  1. You know whats funny? This has played out on another scale- you've never been into RPG's, but the same david and golith story is playing out there as well. Paizo's pathfinder has been kicking Wizard's of the coast's 4e lately.....just a better company that treats its fans right, and a damn good product.

    Same things that PP has been doing. Although WotC is not nearly as bad as GW has treated its fan base....


  2. Couple things:

    You were introduced to warmachine before 2004/2005. Because I believe 2004 we moved to the secret lair known as HQ. It was more like 2001/2002......

    The other thing is.....and we've discussed this before- you and I and others of the salty old crew are not, NOT the target audience anymore. We havent been since, by my count 2001 when they killed off internet carts to buy stuff. They dont want us old farts anymore. They want the kiddies and their parents pocket book. For only 18 months or so for the big initial investment. They dont care for the steady stream you or I would provide. Just the big splash of a first investment.

    You've seen it already in WD. Standards of painting went down down down down....painting articles and modeling articles too.