Games Workshop and the Bandwagoners

With the impending release of what I hope will be an awesome new Ogre Kingdoms book for Warhammer Fantasy (might have to sell a vital organ to buy the new models though) I was thinking about something you see more with GW games than with anyone else.

As most of you are no doubt aware, the Sherrif and posse are the only gaming company I know of who release army books rather than lists included into the main rulebooks or expansions. You could claim that this is a part of their “Milk-you-dry” business strategy. With games like Warmachine or Infinity, in fact pretty much every other miniatures game I can think of (Confrontation doesn’t count as it doesn’t exist anymore) releases models for all factions simultaneously with each manual. Now, GW doesn’t do proper expansions, they release books that change the rules and expect you to buy certain models off that, but they release individual army books. What gets annoying for a lot of people, yours truly included, is that some armies can go an entire edition (or two) without getting an update to their army list. This causes all kinds or problems. PP updated their rulesets for both their main games and in each instance released updated army books for all the factions within a year, the only thing that gets updated that frequently with our Nottingham based friends is Spaase Mehreeens.

Now, I’m not going to get into decrying this way of doing things *mutters about over a decade waiting for new Dark Eldar* but this strategy does lead to something that I am sure is trying to be capitalised by our northern overlords; the bandwagon jumping.

Considering how infrequent the army book updates are for any one particular army (exception: Speeesh Mahrooons) you can spend a lot of time waiting for your favourite army to get some new toys, therefore when it finally comes around to an update that has been a long time coming there is a temptation for people to jump all over the “new” faction. You see people buying huge numbers of stuff and they end up on eBay in a few months when the next new book comes out.

I think GW are quite clever with this although they seem to be shooting themselves in the foot somewhat with their latest decision to curb rumours. I understand their thinking, they want you to keep spending money expanding the army they’ve not updated in fifteen years so when a new book and new models come out the week after you’ve just spent £200 on that unit of White Lions you’ve always wanted you then feel obliged to go spend even more on the new models they’ve released. As if you’d do that rather than be massively annoyed at the douchebag manoeveur that has just been pulled on you.

In days of yore I was definitely a bandwagoner, jumping all over the latest releases and owning pretty much all the Codices and some models for most of the factions too. I think that part of the problem is that there are so many armies with so many units that it makes it very hard to do it any other way than staggered releases of army books. However, just when I think of that I look at how they did War of the Ring and that was fantastic. Sure there are some issues regarding the pricing of some of the Epic Heroes in that tome but can you honestly say you’ve not heard of things being overpowered/undercosted in 40k and fantasy? I didn’t think so.

Obviously if the bandwagoning creates a sales market GW are not going to shut it down, but I much prefer the other games manufacturers way of doing things. In every book everyone gets something new, you’ve already chosen our faction and know that you’ll be getting models for your stuff pretty regularly. You never feel left in the dark and are less at mercy of the all-powerful codex creep that GW are frequently maligned for.

GW do seem to have stepped up their pace, we’ll be getting the third Fantasy army book next month and as 8th only came out last year that’s a pretty ferocious rate of release considering their past history. I hope that we get some nice balanced books overall so we don’t end up with this tiered system that some armies are better than others overall. I think as long as they either let Mat Ward write everything, or retire him in some concrete boots to the mid-pacific, we should be OK.

So then dear readers, how do you feel about the bandwagoners? Especially if they are jumping onto the release of your own favourite army you’ve waited half a lifetime to get an update!

3 thoughts on “Games Workshop and the Bandwagoners”

  1. I must admit that one of the other things I find annouying is when they add new units to a new codex, but then don’t make/release models for them. They often go on to the next codex without ‘finishing off’ the previous one. For example the Dark Eldar codex has been out for several months now and to be fair they have released models for most of the unit options in there, but there are still a few missing such as the bomber and most of the special characters. The Tyranid codex has been out for over a year and a half and they still need to do models for the Tervigon, Tyranid Prime, Ymgarl Genestealers, Mycetic Spores, Shrikes, Sky-slashers, Harpy and Tyrannofex, not to mention the special characters and weapon options that are new. Out of the 18 new units they added to the codex they’ve released models for only 6 of them. That mean’s that overall the Tyranid codex is missing 11 out of its 32 units. Now I know I’ve converted many of them, but still it is frustrating not to have a third of your army.

    I also feel the frustration about missing army books. Last edition of fantasy had a number of missing army books; Bretonnians, Ogre Kingdoms, Dwarves and my favourite Wood Elves. All of these armies (except maybe the Dwarves) sorly needed updating. And they weren’t alone. Like you said Dark Eldar got their first update in a decade, but they also missed the Daemon Hunters (although there is now a Grey Knights army book), Witch Hunters and Necrons for 40K.

    I think the ‘band wagon’ strategy seems to be working for them, i just wish they’d finish what they started before moving on to the next new thing to squeeze moeny out of us.

  2. Or even put all the options a squad can take on a sprue! It really does wind me up when you need to buy two boxes of troops just to get that extra special weapon in a squad that can take 2 in five models. Honestly, who takes a Devastator squad with a single Plasma Cannon, Heavy Bolter, Lascannon and Heavy Bolter?

    1. Raaaarrrrrggghhh power fists!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!11 Power fists are very important upgrades for most tactical marine sergeants, but guess which box doesn’t have them as an option?!??!!!

      Seriously though, good post. I think bandwagonism will be stalled by price rises. Let’s hope therefore that GW doesn’t increase codex creep to compensate!

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