It was around eighteen months ago, in the summer of 2010, that the new edition of the game was launched. The impact was felt immediately by postmen all around the world, struggling up garden paths with their two kilo parcels. The thud of the 600 page book landing on doormats was audible, and geeks all around the world marvelled at the production values of such an epic tome, or complained at the size and usefulness of such a stupidly massive book.
My midsummer hibernation was made all the easier by the models released to support the campaign. Though GW are undoubtedly at the forefront of plastic miniature model development, the new monsters were eye-wateringly ugly. The turkey of the crop was the chimera, though the manticore and black dragon were almost as unconvincing. There was a ray of hope in the release of plastic characters, but these turned out to be single pose with no customisable options, so they might as well have been metal. Just when I thought a new low had been reached, the laughable skull infested terrain was released. I felt that I had made the right decision in avoiding this marketing ploy, though some sections of the internet community obviously enjoyed the break from the norm and declared it fun. Finally, a ray of hope appeared in the dark skies as GW announced that they were about to launch something big, something awesome, the biggest and best change the hobby has ever seen.
Never in the field of the hobby has so much been promised in such a spectacularly bad product launch. We expected a revolutionary new material that was easy to prepare, would bounce off the floor with no breakages and would be lighter and cheaper than metal. What we got was resin models, but not high quality resin figures as produced by myriads of smaller companies over the past five years. The internet was awash with horror stories of models melting in shop windows, of bad casts with masses of bubbles and missing details. My own experience was poor, I bought an Eldar homonculus and spent longer preparing it than I would a metal figure. The excess of bubbles were there, along with copious amounts of flash, though luckily the loss of detail was minimal. Apart from it being lighter then metal, I could see no benefit in this change. Somehow, the year had gone from bad to worse in just a few weeks. Surely, things could only get better?
The first disappointment was yet another price rise, with £25 being asked for a 96 page hardback book. This is quite ridiculous when you compare it to most books on any other subject. One of my other interests is photography, books on this subject have to be high quality and are generally hard backed. The average price for them is around £15. Fans of GW pricing argue that £25 is comparable to other rulebooks in the hobby. For me, I think back to just a few years ago when books were £8, then £10, then £12. But you don't need a long memory to look back to March when the Orc and Goblin book was relelased for the princely sum of £18. A price hike of around 40% in six months meant I was not going to pre-order the book, I would wait a little while before taking the plunge.
The rash of leaked pictures of the new big gribblies seemed to please most ogre players. For me, they were a little bit too cartoon like. It's hard to put my finger on this sentiment, after all, an army of fat ogres interested in mostly eating pies is not meant to be taken seriously, certainly not by the game designers. The sad fact was that I only needed the book and one or two boxes of the new minis to make up my collection to a 2.5k army. But the prices and overall look of the new stuff left me feeling cheated. I was probably in a minority when I nailed my colours to the mast, declaring I did not like the models, and sold my existing collection. To date, I have not played against them either, so have no idea if the army book is good, bad or indifferent. Hopefully I will get a few games against them in the new year as my main opponent has collected a small force.
Ending on a positive note, the best thing that happened to WHFB this year was the emergence of so many alternative ways to build your army. Plastic technology is no longer in the hands of just one company, and the figures being produced by mantic and Avatars of War are encouraging developments. When it comes to single metal or resin figures for characters, the choice is growing by the week. There are some excellent companies around that deserve support. I have already started to use non-GW figures in my armies and this trend will continue. I want to support these companies in my own small way and will be highlighting some of them in the new year.
If you got this far, I admire your endurance. Happy New Year!