Warp Signal

James S at Warp Signal has today posted a really interesting and measured article on something that's been bothering me for some time: the differences in perspective of various 40k players of what the game (or the hobby) is.

I really recommend it if you've a spare few minutes; I think he's overlooked a key aspect in his discussion, which focuses mostly on the age of players, and I think that the drive towards 'competitive play' also has quite a lot to do with nationality and the differences in European and North American models of play (here speaking in the very generic).

Anyway, take a look and see what you make of it all:



  1. A good deal of what that guy is saying makes a great deal of sense. For me, though looking at 40k as an ex-player of 40k, I know exactly why I stopped. It became (for me)a case of not being able to have a reasonably balanced game unless you also had the new big shiny tank or creature in order to take on the new big shiny tank or creature your opponent doubtless had. Where's the fun in taking half your army of the table in one go - or more to the point making your opponent take half theirs off. I think WHFB has been heading the same way recently, with the Tonka Toys style massive spider and crappy looking zombie dragon, (and I'm not even mentioning those ogre things that look like they've been designed by 4 year olds with pavement chalks), big silly towers and uber-spells.
    Anyway, I was digressing. GW seem to be tailoring the things they bring out to the competitive market. And basically I don't like it very much.

  2. Hi Fulgrim. Thanks for the link mate. I've been reading your blog and I think we have very similar views and tastes when it comes to miniature painting. I'm not a professional artist by any means, but I do try to bring a dirty, Blanchian style to my models. Did you see my recently completed Farseer while you were visiting? She came out a bit like a psychedelic Frazetta painting, which was a happy accident!

    There are definitely a few of us around who are interested in trying alternative styles. I have a post on it here, and Dave at Wargaming Tradecraft has a few excellent posts too. Here's one.

  3. Hello James - my pleasure.

    Yes, I read that article on painting (on your blog) a short while ago; it's very good. And reassuring that it's not just me jumping to premature conclusions about a sea-change in the way that people are approaching miniature painting. I like the way that you've painted the Farseer, and the style works particularly well on the Rangers.

    I'll check out the Tradecraft article later on, too; thanks for the heads up.

  4. Tony: I'm not entirely sure I agree. Not completely anyway. I think the whole Storm of Magic expansion was to try and inject a bit more fun into the game; I'm not necessarily sure that it's worked for the reasons that you point out (the removing huge chunks of miniatures in one go is tedious, and I think that's a lot to do with the redesign of 8th edition, tbh), but I don't think it was intended to move the game in a more competitive direction.

    As for the larger miniatures, again, yes, I understand the idea that they can look a bit Fisher Price in the wrong hands, and the drive to have at least one enormous kit in every army could be seen as being a bit misguided - but surely a greater variety of different kinds of miniature is no bad thing? Especially when they're used creatively, either in conversions or adoptions into different armies, or in certain narratives. For example, what could be more fun than using some of the older Warhammer Skirmish scenarios with some of the new kits - like a 'hunt the Arachnarok' scenario, pitting a handful of goblins versus the spider? Or pitting a kill-team of human operatives against a Baneblade? Sure, one side is likely to be crushed pretty quickly, but it has the potential to write considerably more interesting 'filmic narrative moments' than a standard game of WHFB or 40k in a tournament set-up.

  5. This is true, Tim. I was being fairly cynical I suppose.

    I like the idea of having an impressive centre piece to an army, or something big and fun to play about with at modelling and painting stage. At the moment I'm not too keen on the slant it puts on standard games.

    The idea of fun scenarios is not really something I'd considered, but it does sound quality and probably a good laugh, like.

  6. What kind of slant do you think it's putting on standard games, out of interest? I think there's a definite drive on GW's part to produce larger and larger kits, I imagine that they're a good money spinner. I wonder if they're changing the character of certain armies, though, or how they effect the metagame. That's certainly been the case with 40k now, I guess, where everything seems to be in a tank, whereas once upon a time, vehicles were rare.

    I always think that GW miss a trick with how they promote their miniatures; they need to give better exposure to interesting kitbashing and conversions in WD - imho it's a much more effective advertising strategy than 'buy this, it's dead good'. There's a level of sophistication that's currently missing from GW head office that's actually thriving online: promote miniatures as kits in their own right, as for the most part, they're all stunning, but show how people use them outside of the game - break the rules! Make up your own games! Forge your own narratives and worlds!

    This is ultimately what I was (or am) looking for at the CGC; that kind of group of obsessives that I see online that really drive each other forward - the Necromunda system is absolutely perfect for just that.

    Anyway, sorry, this is turning into a ramble, so I'll stop there for now.

  7. Dunno how to express it. Most of the big kits strike me (or at least my inner cynic) as being auto-game winners. So automatically most people are going to want to include them in their army list. It only seems to come close to balancing out again if the other player also has a similar thing in their own list. Dunno. I probs have more fun painting and building than I do when I'm playing these days, whereas I used to find both aspects equally rewarding. I'm a real moaning tw@t aren't I? Haha.

    I get what you mean about the GW marketing stuff. Particularly as most of the plastic kits they are producing these days seem to be designed with the idea of cross-matching parts in mind.

    I quite like the idea of mixing and matching between kits. It's a really fun way of making quick, easy conversions that usually look pretty sweet and an extra dash of character. There's tons of kits out there, and I only wish I could see inside the boxes and get a real close look at the broad range of components out there.

  8. Well, moaning can be productive if it's put to use. It's all about being active rather than reactive. I'm mindful that this is never that straightforward, though, and you need some support to be active. I tend to agree that at present, I'm not enjoying playing as much as I used to, and I haven't for some time: that's why I'm always looking for something different (ie - a different kind of scenario in a 40k game) on the rare occasions that I do play at the club. You need a good group of people around you that all share the same vision to circumvent that 'pick up and play' mentality.

    As for the kit pieces, it's one of the things that WD is still good for: the breakdown of the new box sets and the photos of all the individual components are a converter's dream.