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AICN TABLETOP: Massawyrm looks at Games Workshop's move towards incorporating Forgeworld

Hola all. Massawyrm here. This has been an interesting year for Warhammer 40,000. Both the Blood Angels and the Dark Eldar have made an impact on the scene, while the BATTLE MISSIONS book has changed the way a lot of us play the game. Coming up in February, we’ve got a second wave release for my beloved Blood Angels, reportedly the long rumored Storm Raven kit and what looks to be a new plastic Furioso kit – both of which fit seamlessly into the forthcoming codex for the Grey Knights (Demonhunters). I’m on pins and needles for both. I’ve been slowly assembling a Grey Knights army over the course of the last year and painted up a GK army for someone in order to test out the color scheme; meanwhile my Blood Angels army has grown far larger than it probably should be, but is still 3 Storm Ravens shy of being complete. But for my money, the single most interesting things going on at Games Workshop is actually happening over at their sister company Forge World. And it looks like GW is starting to notice that. Games Workshop’s biggest problem right now is the fact that the company is having a hard time coming to grips with the digital age. They’ve been incredibly slow to embrace the internet and are still locked into their long outdated quarterly release cycle which offers new content and product to gamers of a specific game only once every three months or so. If you play 40K, then you have to wait through a Warhammer Fantasy Battles and a Lord of the Rings release before you can hope to see something new again – hoping it is relevant to you and your armies. This was a great release strategy back in the day when brick and mortar stores were king and stores didn’t have the shelf space to handle a steady stream of product, but now that we live in the era of the digital download and the online purchase with overnight shipping, it all seems a bit silly. In the current system, once a codex is out, it is out for the next five years – at least – and if a unit in the codex is terrible, it simply goes back on the shelf and no one bothers to buy it until the next codex hopefully makes it worthwhile. Sometimes all a unit or an army needs is a shot in the arm – some fresh blood or a new HQ unit that changes the way the army plays to addresses issues in the play environment – but GW has been resistant. But Forge World hasn’t. On the contrary, Forge World has a steady stream of product from a large range of armies always coming out – once every month or so – and now they’ve gotten their operation running smoothly, they’re putting out 2-3 new books a year overflowing with new content spread out between many of the different armies. This past year saw the release of three new Imperial Armour books – Apocalypse 2, Raid on Kastorel-Novem, and Badab War Part One – introducing 2 completely altered army lists and new non-apocalypse units and vehicles for 7 different armies, several of which that haven’t seen any 5th edition love at all. Even more radical, they’ve been making new Space Marine HQ units, each with different play-styles, allowing you to fundamentally alter the way a Space Marine army plays. In a scene in which 50% of the players are suited up as the Imperium’s finest, now there are a dozen new ways to play it different than your buddies, without the need for new vehicles or codexes. Unfortunately, it’s kind of hard to convince people outside of your circle of friends to play with the new books. Tournament organizers tend to ignore the books and ban them from tournament play because most tournament organizers are brick and mortar stores and they can’t sell either the books or the Forge World minis. In fact, up until just a few weeks ago, if you wanted the books at all, you had to order them directly from Forge World and pay a 15% shipping charge just to get it shipped to you inside of a month – or pay the extra 15 Pounds to get it expedited from the UK (which is admittedly *VERY* fast). But now you can buy the books directly through the GW store – complete with their free shipping on orders of $15 or more. This is probably the biggest shift in GW policy towards the hobby aspect of the game that we’ve seen from them in a long time. If you’ve never handled a Forge World book, you might be wondering what the big deal is; if you have, you know exactly why I’m excited. Forge World books are large, thick, hardback tomes, printed on top quality paper, in color, and almost groaning from the weight of illustrations and content contained inside. Most books contain an entire codexes worth of content geared towards one or two armies, while detailing the history of a particular campaign or series of battles taking place in a certain point in 40K history. If you’re the type of person who spends more time playing 40K with friends in your garage than you do at tournaments, these books are the ones you want to start picking up to expand your armies. Many of the models and units contained inside are things you can purchase only from Forge World – but a large number of them are easily kit bashed from easily available models, or simply slightly altered versions of already existing ones. If you can scrounge together some spare assault cannons, you can build a Deathwind Drop Pod – a heavy support choice perfect for an all reserve army. Or you can buy the Space Marine Commander kit and build 90% of the new characters in IA9: The Badab War. And you’re just some greenstuff and a Soul Grinder away from making yourself a Plague Hulk. The GW store is now carrying Books 3-9 and both IA Apocalypse books (which, for my money, are the very best deals available on the GW site). There are rumors that the shift involves the company wanting to merge the lines. Here are the two books I think you should go over and buy RIGHT NOW.
As many of you might remember, it was two years ago that our local group of players, led by the guys over at Bell of Lost Souls, began constructing armies and rules to play through the famous Badab Campaign – the war between a number of feuding Space Marine chapters. I took up the Fire Angels while the remaining 15 armies were assembled and painted by folks around town. In the wake of that – whether inspired by the effort or simply coincidentally – Forge World set out to make their own rules for the Badab conflict. Split between two books – each focusing upon the beginning and the end of the war respectively – each books offers new Space Marine HQ units, vehicles and in the case of book one, a complete army list drawn from a strange mix of Imperial Guard units and altered Space Marine units. The book is incredible, offering up 12 new characters (one of them a Dreadnought Chaplain) from 10 different Chapters. There’s a new version of Red Scorpion bigman Carab Culln, fixing his rules to allow the Red Scorpions to play more smoothly in 5th edition; there’s an early war version of Chaos Space Marine Huron for use in Codex Space Marine armies (not to mention two of his lieutenants); and there are chapter masters and captains that grant their armies crazy abilities like Tank Hunter and Stealth or allowing them to count Terminators or Vanguard squads as scoring units. The Tyrant Legion list is probably the most interesting list to come out of Forge World, mixing IG tanks and troop choices with a Space Marine troop choice that allows up to 20 marines in a unit and up to 4 heavy/special weapons in each unit, options to pull some units out of Codex: Space Marines and a special conscript unit that allows Space Marines to use them as human shields to gain a 3+ Cover save. I’m actually putting together 2500 points of the Tyrant’s Legion to run in friendly games around town. It’s certainly not a tournament winner as the list is stripped of all the nastiness that makes IG so gross right now, but it will find itself well balanced against most every other codex out there that doesn’t begin with the word “Space” and end with the word “Wolves”. In addition to the usual shit ton of fluff and historical refights, there’s a new set of rules for fighting boarding actions during ship to ship combat. It’s another style of mission type in the vein of Cityfight and Planetstrike that requires you to build your army for the missions and offers new options and stratagems for engaging in them. Pretty great stuff if you’ve ever wanted to run Space Hulk battles in 40K with a modicum of balance. My only complaint about this book at all is a single entry, located conspicuously next to the section on my Fire Angels, noting that the records throughout the Imperium are pretty screwy and occasionally entire histories or chapters can be fabricated, flawed or just plain wrong. This exists, of course, to give a polite “screw you” to guys like me with red and white painted Fire Angels when the new color scheme looks identical to the Grey Knights Silver and Red. (Yes, I thought about repainting, and no, fuck them, I won’t. Red and White they stay. I’m not stripping 150 minis, dreadnoughts and vehicles.) Several of the chapters found themselves with new (and sometimes improved) color schemes. Others, like the once proud Space Sharks, are finding themselves complexly rebranded with a new name.
The single best value there is on the GW website, IAA2 is 112 full color pages of new units for both Apocalypse and standard play. A large, Hardback book, this will set you back $33 – just $4 more than a Codex, despite the disparity on printing quality and content. This book sports units and Apocalypse data sheets compatible with 13 different codexes: IG, all Space Marine, both Chaos, Tau, Eldar, Ork, Grey Knight and Witchhunter. But where this really excels is as a codex expansion for Imperial Guard, Space Marines and Chaos Space Marines. Each of these armies get so many new standard (non-apocalypse) game options to play around with – especially Chaos, which has been sorely neglected in 5th Edition – that you can build armies that pretty much center on the new options listed within. Highlights include the Lucius Pattern Drop Pod, which lets Dreadnoughts assault immediately after deep striking; Plague Hulks and Blight Drones, which flesh out the Nurgle Heavy Support option as well as providing a killer Fast Attack option; Slaneshi Sonic Dreadnoughts (best Chaos Dreads in the game; read: useful chaos dreadnoughts); Imperial Guard Heavy Quad Launchers, effectively super mortars; and a Grey Knight Land Raider sporting twin linked Psycannons and an assault ramp that grants Grey Knights initiative 10 when assaulting from it. Effectively supplemental material for so many codexes, you are going to be hard pressed not to find a use for worthwhile something in it if you play any of these armies. If you’re like me and have several armies on the shelf, you’ll find that this book is invaluable, providing a large amount of new content for a very low price. Just keep in mind that unlike the other Imperial Armour books, the Apocalypse line is all about the crunch and not the fluff – don’t expect the same kind of story depth with these; just the stats, facts and army lists you’d expect out of the second half of any good codex. Well, that does it for me today. Check back on Monday as I look into what Wizards of the Coast have been up to lately.
Until next time friends, Massawyrm
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Readers Talkback
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  • Dec. 3, 2010, 8:57 p.m. CST

    Hawk Lords

    by HiWayRobry

    I wish someone would come up with some background for the Space Marine Chapter with the most bad-ass color scheme: The Hawk Lords! Actually, I'm an Eldar player. Talk about not getting any love from GW for a while!

  • Dec. 3, 2010, 11:51 p.m. CST

    Badab War

    by Bald Evil

    Great book, highly recommended. I loved the well-considered and clearly painstakingly plotted (and plausible) events leading to the Badab War, and how it could easily have come about without the influence of Chaos. I also liked how even in what amounts to a historical document the characters and demeanours of the various Astartes chapters are evident, from the stoic and methodical Red Scorpions to the bloodthirsty Minotaurs. I haven't played 40K in years, and am not likely to any time soon, but I've been fascinated by the Badab War since it was first described in WD 101; this book is long-awaited and very much welcomed.

  • Dec. 4, 2010, 12:46 a.m. CST


    by Cap'n Jack

  • Dec. 4, 2010, 1:19 a.m. CST

    Those guys are always at war.

    by Dennis_Moore

    Don't they ever relax?

  • Dec. 4, 2010, 5:51 a.m. CST


    by DamnMichaelBay

    Do you play any other of GW's 40k-set games like BFG, Epic, Inquisitor? It just seems like you only focus on their least tactical/interesting game (40k)...

  • Dec. 4, 2010, 9:39 a.m. CST

    TV Tropes Guide to 40K Pt1

    by Rendell

    From the TV Tropes website:<p><p>Warhammer 40,000, known informally as "Warhammer 40k" or just plain "40k", is a miniatures-based tabletop strategy game by Games Workshop. Drawing heavily on their previous Warhammer Fantasy game, it began as "Warhammer In Space", but has over time grown distinct from (and far more popular than) its fantasy counterpart.<p><p> Thirty-eight thousand years in the future, the mighty Imperium of Man has expanded across the galaxy... to discover that the galaxy is a hell that would make Hieronymous Bosch shit himself in terror, and that it has a hell. From without, the Imperium is assailed by alien monsters from the depths of space, nightmare death-machines and soulless daemons (as well as soulless death-machines and nightmare daemons, and the occasional soulless daemon in a nightmare death machine); from within, treachery, heresy, mindless incompetence and the festering taint of Chaos threaten to tear it apart. Warhammer 40,000 is not a very happy place. Rather than just being Darker And Edgier, it paints itself black and hurls itself over the edge. The Imperium of Man is an oppressive, stark, and downright miserable place to live in where, for far too many people, living isn't something to do till you die, but something to suffer through till something comes around and kills you in an unbelievably horrible way, while enslaving your soul and melting down your body for more biomass for its army - quite probably something on your own side. The Messiah has been locked up on life support for the past ten millennia, laid low by his most beloved son, and an incomprehensibly vast Church Militant commits hourly atrocities in his name.<p><p> The problem is, as bad as the Imperium is, they're not quite as bad as many of the other factions. Death is about the best you can hope for against the vast majority of the other major players in the battlefields of the 41st Millennium. The basic premise of 40k, insofar as it can be summed up, is that of an eternal, impossibly vast conflict between a number of absurdly powerful genocidal, xenocidal, and (in one case) omnicidal factions, with every single weapon, ideology and creative piece of nastiness imaginable turned up to eleven. The standard-issue sidearm of a Space Marine is a fully automatic armour-piercing rocket-propelled grenade launcher. The Astronomican, a navigation aid has the souls of thousands of psychic humans sacrificed to it every day, dying by inches to feed the machine. The Faster Than Light Travel used by most factions carries with it a good chance of being eaten by daemons. There are also chainsaw swords, armored gloves that crush tanks, mountain-sized daemonic walking battle cathedrals, tanks the size of city blocks and warships that level continents, if not simply obliterating all life on an entire planet just to be sure. And sometimes even that doesn't work. There is no time for peace, no respite, no forgiveness; there is only war.<p><p> And you are going to die.

  • Dec. 4, 2010, 9:42 a.m. CST

    TV Tropes Guide to 40K Pt2

    by Rendell

    The 40k universe is a spectacularly brutal playground of tropes and horrible things taken to their absolute extreme, and in some cases, beyond. Entire planets with populations of billions are lost due to rounding errors in tax returns. Orders a million strong of capricious, fanatical, genetically engineered Super Soldier Knights Templar serve as the Imperium's special forces, while the trillions of soldiers in its regular armies take disregard for human life to new and interesting extremes. A futuristic space Inquisition ruthlessly hunts down anyone with even a hint of the taint of the heretic, the mutant, or the alien, and is backed up by legions of psychic daemonhunting elite super soldiers and fanatical pyromaniac power-armoured battle nuns. The ancient and mysterious manipulator-race contrive wars that see billions dead so that small handfuls of their own may survive, while their depraved cousins cannot endure the agony of a life not spent torturing numberless innocents to death in ingeniously horrific ways. There are several vast Bug Swarms trying to eat every organic thing in the galaxy as part of their natural life cycles, two light-years-wide holes in reality through which countless daemons and corrupted daemon-powered super-soldiers periodically attempt to destroy the universe, and an entire civilization of undying Omnicidal Maniacs serving their star-god masters' desire to exterminate all living creatures, down to the last bacterium. There's a genetically-engineered survivor warrior species infesting every corner of the galaxy and cheerfully trying to kill everything in the galaxy (including each other, if nothing better presents itself) because it's literally hard-wired into their genetic code to do so (and because it's fun). The closest thing to the "good guys" you can find in this setting is a tiny alien empire sandwiched between all the other factions, and they may or may not have a thing for forcing new subjects into their empire through orbital bombardment and concentration camps, but at least they'll offer you admittance into their club. So long as you don't mind being, as with most subjects in their faction, mind-controlled by a few benevolent elites.<p><p> As well as the game itself and its rulebooks, faction-specific, setting-specific and campaign sourcebooks, 40k has spawned a range of spinoff games and publications. Over sixty 40k novels and short story anthologies, including the successful Gaunt's Ghosts, Eisenhorn, and Ciaphas Cain novels, are published by the Black Library, a subsidiary of Games Workshop, who also published the now out-of-print comic book Warhammer Monthly and short story magazine Inferno. Boom! Studios now publish comics set in the Warhammer 40K universe, in the form of various mini-series, rather than an ongoing title. There is even a full-length fan film, Damnatus, which was approved, made, banned over conflicts between British and German IP laws, then leaked online. Spinoff tabletop games include the space combat game Battlefleet Gothic, large-scale strategy Epic 40,000, gang-based Necromunda, all-Ork Gorkamorka, small scale Alien-influenced Space Hulk, RPG-influenced "narrative wargame" Inquisitor, and the more traditional RPGs Dark Heresy, Rogue Trader, and Deathwatch. A small but growing number of 40k videogames have also been made; early examples include the Space Hulk series and a slightly obscure isometric Genesis / Mega Drive game called Aspect Warrior. More recent are Warhammer 40,000: Dawn Of War and its sequel Dawn Of War II, a pair of Real Time Strategy games for the PC; Warhammer 40,000: Fire Warrior, a First Person Shooter; and Warhammer 40,000: Squad Command, a turn-based tactical game. Currently in development are a third-person shooter, Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine, and a MMORPG titled Warhammer 40,000: Dark Millennium Online. An official CGI movie, Ultramarines, was recently announced, following up on a number of live-action shorts shown at various Games Day events in the 90s. Before you start screaming about the former, consider that the script is written by Dan Abnett. In the meantime, you can watch the fan-film Damnatus, track down an old Games Workshop VHS release film called Inquisitor, or even watch Event Horizon (which has long been accepted as an unofficial prequel, since the creators seem to have accidentally matched the franchise's premise and style with remarkable exactitude, though not the time period).<p><p> As you may have guessed from the incredible size and attention to detail on this page, 40k has a huge, diverse and fanatical following, despite the niche status of the hobby. The franchise has a lot of appeal even to people who don't play the wargame itself, and who only follow the spinoffs (many of which are perfectly good in their own right). You don't have to spend all your money to experience the inimitable beautiful insanity that is Warhammer 40,000.

  • Dec. 4, 2010, 10:25 a.m. CST

    I wish

    by GhostofCicero

    it was cheaper.

  • Dec. 5, 2010, 5:14 a.m. CST


    by David Cloverfield

    Thanks for the info. My knowledge of Warhammer 40000 was the following: "Tolkien shit, but in SPACE!". I guess I was way off. 40k sounds insane.

  • Dec. 5, 2010, 7:46 p.m. CST

    an entire civilization of undying Omnicidal Maniacs serving thei

    by TiNSeLToWN TeRRoR

    They will conquer all....

  • Dec. 6, 2010, 2:09 a.m. CST

    When Warhammer Online Was Announced

    by Briestro

    I said, god dammit, if it was 40k, I'd play it! I'm a former retailer who used to sell full Games Workshop lines, I don't play the tabletop but secretly always thought 40k was cool. Then came Dawn of War, and it is still one of my all time favorite games ever made. Sign me up for the mmorpg when it hits! I haven't seen the Ultramarines movie yet but sure will. I'm currently also a fan of the Audios. B

  • Dec. 6, 2010, 2:44 p.m. CST

    David Cloverfield

    by Rendell

    You're very welcome, that was my thinking about posting that summary... especially after Cap'n Jack's comment.<p><p> I am a big fan of the game obviously, but when I first read that TV Tropes article, I was quite literally crying with laughter! Even if you have no interest in the game I would HIGHLY recommend that you got to TV Tropes and read their (extensive) pages concerning 40K. If for nothing else than to piss yourself laughing!