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!