First a bit of a disclaimer: I haven’t played Warhammer Fantasy Battles in years, around the release of 8th, so yeah that long. I also haven’t bought any of the End Times books – $50 really GW? Fortunatly there are plenty of others who have posted updates for the rest of us like Mengle Miniatures’ State of the End Times.
Oh and this may be a spoiler: but the current Warhammer Fantasy World is ending – didn’t even need to read the books to see that coming. But why am I excited? I believe that the reasons I haven’t played or bought anything related to the fantasy line in years is exactly why Games Workshop is doing such a drastic, and risky, move.
Before the End Times
One of the biggest reasons why I love the 40k universe and had issue getting into the fantasy as much is the story. Rules wise I actually really like fantasy and preferred parts of it over 40k, but why would my Lizardmen, on another continent, be fighting some Ogres in a desert? In 40k everyone has ships, the warp can take you anywhere, and mess with time, so stories are easy to create. In fantasy not so much, especially for armies like the Bretonians who love their horses and not their boats.
Sure GW has tried to overcome this with the border princes, or campaigns – but it has always felt a bit forced or isolated to a certain region.
After the End Times
So at this time it is all rumors and speculation on what will actually happen after the end times from bubble universes, to a whole new world(s) story arc to just starting over in time. Craziest of all would be combining it somehow with the 40k world – but would mess with things way too much.
Either way GW recreates the world of fantasy, one thing will be for certain: they will improve the plausibility of the game’s story. Lets take the bubble world idea, my little empire world doing its empire thing suddenly collides with another bubble full of orks. Crap, now we need to defend our little bubble and maybe even scavenge a bit from theirs. And off the bubbles go to collide into others. Perhaps even the space lizards can pull bubbles together to create little bubble groupings. Infinite stories are now possible.
Before The End Times
You just have to walk into a GW store to see where it is making its cash: Space Marines. It seems like 80% of the shelves are allocated to 40k, and of those, half are of one space marine chapter or another. Why? Because Games Workshop sells a crap ton of Space Marines. They have an epic story, they have options to create your own chapters, and they are everywhere.
Now look at the fantasy line. While there have been some fantastic (and some ridiculous kits) being release for the End Times, many of the armies have never been that exciting. In part because of the story and background, but also because there wasn’t the room to create your own part of the world. Playing Empire? Ok, chose which of the limited number of factions would you like to paint it as. Wood Elves? Oh, those guys never leave their forests here in the middle of no where and are all painted like this.
After the End Times
Here is where the business arm of Games Workshop can keep it cash flowing – and admit it, we all want GW to keep the cash flowing and staying open so we can keep building and painting their miniatures and playing their games.
Going back the bubble universe idea, if their are all sorts of bubbles with a mish-mash of peoples populating each it opens an infinite number of options. No longer is the design team limited to a historic back story of a faction, but instead can create all sorts of spin offs. I’m a big fan of the Bretonian heraldry, but not so much the lack of war machines, well now GW can come out with a crazy mash-up of the mid-evil French and the mechanisms of the Dwarves – and no one can complain. Why? Well if you want to play a ‘true’ Bretonian army, you just don’t take the new things.
Whats Coming Next
While many die-hard fantasy players maybe waiting in anxiety and already hating the idea of 9th edition, I’m excited for the possibilities that Games Workshop is creating. Sure, some of the ‘standard’ armies will probably disappear as we know them, I believe it is for the best. As a hobbyist, this will mean new units and crazy contraptions, and ways to create your own army. As a company, it means GW can stay open and keep producing the Fantasy line rather than shuttering it like its other smaller games. As a player, it will also create new opportunities to improve upon the rules and options for 9th edition.
So my take is bring on the end of the End Times and lets get started with the fresh start! Don’t agree? Well post your thoughts in the comments below to start a discussion.