Friday 9 August 2013

New Space Marines: Meh and OH GOD WHAT I DON'T EVEN!?

In spite of what this post might lead you to believe, I am not usually in he habit of moaning about Games Workshop. Usually I quite like what they bring out and when I don't I'm not too fussed. Every once in a while there's a facepalm moment that just has to addressed and this is one of them.

You see, this post started life as just me picking up on some Space Marine rumours and realising how spectacularly unfussed I was about the whole thing.

After all, we know how this goes: Space Marines are so well-established and so well-explored that each new Codex amounts to the same basic structure with a couple of new entries that take an aspect of an existing unit and make it a speciality (Sternguard and Vanguard Veterans, Ironclad Dreadnoughts) and maybe a new weapons load out on one of the tanks (probably a Land Raider), add a few new special character and off you go, bish bash bosh. Simple release, come back next month for something inventive.

Aside from that was the strong rumour that Black Templars were being folded back into the basic Codex, which struck me as pretty sensible pretty much for the above reasons. There's not much more to explore with the Black Templars, who amount to Codex Marines with a single unique Troops choice and a lot less stuff overall. It all boils down to the fact that there's really not much GW can plausibly release for them in the future. They are a concept that is out of ideas.

Not that the Templars are seemingly alone in this, as these abominations recently surfaced on the interwebs:

Okay, I can sort of see what they're going for: a halfway point between Terminator and Dreadnought or maybe a Space Marine equivalent of the Imperial Guard Sentinel. The problem is that they look absolutely bloody awful. The unit comes in two variants of which this picture is of the combat version, there's also a “Devastator” version which one rumour says “will have more guns on them than any single model we've ever seen before”.

And this just makes me shake my head in resignation. Yes, it is obviously only a rumour but it points to a psychology that I think is doing active harm to the 40k side of this hobby. I try not to judge by the vocal minority but in this case the vocal minority does seem to be having an effect on what gets released. The minority in question being power gamers who will buy the biggest, most powerful thing regardless of price or aesthetic worth just so long as it wins them games. Whilst I don't want to rob anyone of their fun (and these are people who do seem to get real pleasure out of discussing statistics and pounding fellow power gamers into the ground) but it does seem to me to be part of a vicious cycle:

The fact that these models sell on the strength of their rules rather than their appearance means we get things like these Transformers cosplay nightmares or the Khorne Lord Of Skulls that are not quite in keeping with the design cues of the army and covered in smooth planes where detail should be. GW can afford to be a little lazy in design and sculpting because they can be guaranteed of sales. I can't even say I blame them for this tactic, they're a business an it's perfectly understandable that if they can save some time and money they'll do it.

The thing is, less powerful units that have come out recently just throw this attitude into sharp relief. The Deathwing Terminators and Ravenwing Knights were wonderful sculpts covered in detail, the Dark Vengeance starter set was spectacular and the plastic Eldar Farseer was brilliant. Foot troops and starter sets aren't designed for the power gamer, though, but a more general audience whilst the big centrepieces find their audience in the deep pockets and competitive instincts of power gamers.

Lest it seems I'm being too hard on power gamers and mono-40k players (neither of which I am) I feel the need to really put the boot in and point out that I think I'm the one reaping the benefits. If I'm right and models like these and the Lord Of Skulls are jobs where the designers get to knock off a bit early then where is the money from their sales being invested?

Fantasy. Which I play almost exclusively. So thank you, 40k power gamers, for buying these inferior models and bankrolling the Tomb Kings Necrosphinx, Lizardmen Carnosaur, High Elf Phoenix and Empire Griffon, most generous of you.

Thank you, Mary, and good night.

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