Note – As with most things surrounding Warhammer, Games Workshop, and the community, there is a lot to talk about – and not all of it is negative. I will try and cover both sides of the coin here.
There has been a lot of hubbub surrounding Games Workshop’s latest ploy for nickel and diming its customers. Not too long ago, GeeDubs announced they were bringing Seasons to 40k. This, in theory, meant 40k was going to have a push towards competitive play, and this lead to some interesting developments – such as the Balance Data Slate.
The first big release for Seasonal 40k is the War Zone Nachmund Chapter Approved GT pack. This little bundle of paper comes with a bunch of new missions that will act as the scene for the new season, and new points values that should, in theory, alter, shift, and dictate the meta.
This has, for the most part, not gone down well with the vast majority of the unconfirmed vocal community that makes up the 40k community – but why?
It Is Terrible Value
It is impossible to talk about this bundle without first discussing the value. This thing will set you back £20, or approximately $14327.98 (Australian, of course). This is way, way too much for what you get in terms of quantity. These are – if I am being generous -pamphlets, not books. At most, these should be £5 – at most.
But that isn’t even the real issue – it’s the fact you have to buy them at all – especially the points changes. If Games Workshop is going to invalidate a £35 Codex, they should, at the very least, provide the changes to that investment, for free.
Look at any other season-based game. Magic: The Gathering, heck, League of Legends (the video game). These are highly competitive games that are constantly receiving tweaks and updates. This is accepted by most player bases – and should be accepted by 40k players. The thing is, those other games? Yeah, they don’t charge for those updates. They roll them out for free.
At no point should Games Workshop have looked at tiny – and I mean tiny – changes in points and thought “damn, we could charge for that”. It’s a travesty. These aren’t substantial, sweeping changes – these are minor alterations (for the most part) that could have been plonked into a PDF and sent out – like their Balance Dataslate.
Changing it to a PDF would have also, you know, be more economical, environmental, easier to maintain, and better as a whole. These books have a shelf like of, at most, six months. Once the next season starts, these books become worthless. All that paper – all that wasted production – will be thrown away for the next set of pamphlets.
If Games Workshop wanted to charge for these – and let’s not beat around the bush, they shouldn’t be charging for these – they should have made it part of their 40k App subscription, or Warhammer+. This would still get them sales, they could update it instantly with the changes every six months, and it would get people to interact with their apps more. There is no downside here.
Lacking In meaningful Content
Then you have the issue of how much content you will really glean from this pack. Realistically, how many armies does one player have? One? Two? The general consensus is between one and three. The vast majority of these points changes do not apply to the vast majority of players.
Did I mention all of this content is crammed into a tiny pamphlet? Because it’s crammed into a tiny pamphlet. And they are charging £20 for it. Ok, that’s disingenuous because it comes with the Mission Pamphlet too – so they are charging £10 for it…kinda.
There Is Good Content Here
I’ve done a lot of talking about the points stuff, and I think I have mostly covered it. So what about the mission pack – is that good value? No. Why? It’s still £20 to buy the fricken thing. That being said, there is real, tangible content in this pamphlet, and that content looks to be interesting. The changeup to the mission structure, and how armies are constructed are great.
Not only have Games Workshop put a stop to most Soup lists (a FANTASTIC change), but they have also made it easier to take Lord of War units, among other things. They have streamlined the list building process, without bogging down the game with bullshit. They even altered how points scoring works on a concession (bad), and how points scoring works on an unfinished game (good).
Overall, this is great stuff. I am a huge fan of the soup changes in particular. This is probably getting competitive players in a tissy, but this is a great change for the balance of 40k. You can’t have everything in one army – you have to make compromises. Compromises are decisions, and interesting decision making is, in my opinion, always a good thing.
Nobody was making meaningful compromises during list building before this. You would put your shooty stuff in a shooty detachment, and your smacky stuff in the smacky detachment and reap endless rewards. I am all for the removal of this nonsense.
Flipping The Narrative
Who Is This for?
For the most part, I have been pretty down on this pack. Sure, I like the changes to the core rules, but I still don’t like the cost of entry. Again, all of this could have been free, included in a subscription, or made substantially cheaper. The thing is, none of this should matter to most 40k players.
The clue is in the title of the product – Grand Tournament. These changes do not have to impact you in any way. This is for the hardcore competitive players who are travelling the country and duking it out with the best of the best. None of this has to impact the casual player – it’s simply not for you.
If it’s not for you – don’t buy it. Casual 40k makes up the majority of the 40k fandom. Let me reiterate, casual players can still play Matched Play. If you are playing the same group of mates every week/month, then why bother? At most, everyone chip in a few quid and get it as a group if you want to spice up your mission pool or something.
Elephant In The Room
I am aware that Games Workshop recent tweeted that all Custode changes are being handed out for free. This is a good move by Games Workshop, but it doesn’t fix the issue entirely.
Custodes have had their book for a little over a week, and their book is out of date. It might just be a single page, but that feels bad. The rage of that player base is echoing throughout the community, and rightfully so.
People will be quick to defend Games Workshop by saying the book was delayed by a few months, so this is just an unfortunate result of those unforeseen delays. That’s true, but does this not highlight how dated the Codex formula is?
Down With The Codex
The humble Codex needs to go. It needs to be replaced with an electronic equivalent that is either free or comes with 40k/Warhammer+. An electronic codex can be updated instantly, for everyone, and nobody feels like their book is outdated before the ink dries.
Not only that, this is a fantastic business opportunity that is being missed by Games Workshop. It’s so obvious, it hurts that they haven’t jumped on it. Let’s look at Joe Public. Mr One Army himself. This dude will buy one £30 Codex every two-to-four years. He will buy units for that army, and he will stick to that army. A common player archetype.
If Games Workshop dropped their current Codex model and charged everyone £2-5 per month for a subscription service (which they already have in place), then good old Joe Public is paying £30ish every year. On top of that? That product is of objectively better quality and is much easier to develop.
Finally, since Joe has access to every Codex Games Workshop has to offer at once, he is more likely to look at different armies and maybe, buy more units. This increases sales. Not only are Games Workshop getting more money per player for their rules, but players are also getting a better product, and Games Workshop is selling more kits. There is no loser here.
The Final Word
This pack is pretty bad. There simply isn’t enough here to justify the cost, and most of the content could, and should, be free. This is a concerning precedent that is being set by Games Workshop, and I hope they pivot to a different method of dealing with seasonal play. Hopefully, the Custodes drama will lead to something great, but we will have to wait and see.
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