We got some interesting/exciting news last week regarding what Games Workshop refers to as it’s ‘Specialist Games’. In case you didn’t see the post which cropped up on the GW app or on facebook, here it is:
Which is interesting in that it tells us something but it doesn’t exactly tell us much. That phrase ‘bringing back and re-vamping’ is the sort of thing that you say when you don’t want to commit to anything too concrete. Don’t get me wrong, I am incredibly excited by this (giddy I say, giddy!), and the idea of finding some of my old favourites back on the shelves is lashings of awesome sauce, but I am not getting my hopes up just yet. Call me a cynic, but ‘bringing back and re-vamping’ is still something that makes me nervous. But why?
Let’s take Necromunda as an example. I loved me some Necormunda way back when. My Van Saar gangers ruled my local underhive with their grim faces, fancy suits and high-end tech. They were a good looking team too. However, due to what I call the Twilight/Ocarina factor, they may not be that good looking now. Let me explain…
When I completed Legend of Zelda Twilight Princess for the second time (100% goals and levels thank you very much) on the Nintendo Wii, I was hungry for more Zelda action, so I downloaded the Ocarina of Time on the same console. In my head, as I remembered it, it was a beautiful game, as beautiful as Twilight Princess (and that’s very beautiful), and I couldn’t wait to boot it up and start slingshotting my deku seeds all over the joint. And then I booted it up…
SO MANY POLYGONS!! What the flute!? It looked awful (in comparison). I realised quite quickly that my memories had been coloured by the rose tinted glasses of nostalgia and I was pretty disappointed. I still completed it, but I couldn’t help but be creeped out by Link’s thousand-yard-stare and heavy shading. WHAT ARE YOU STARING AT ELF BOY!?!
Miniatures go through the same problems, and the Van Saar boys are a prime example. Look at that juve ganger second from the right on the bottom row. He looks like he just wet himself and is crying for his mother. Look at the faces on the others too. Ok, so they have beards but what skin shows through is almost featureless. Old models, when stacked up against newer models look bad, no matter how much we love them. I get nostalgic about a lot of models (hence the Miniature Focus series of articles on this blog) but would I want to paint a Rogue Trader era Ogryn or similarly ancient Noise Marine now? Hell no. I’m happy to let that stuff live in glorious memories and not have it stink up today’s painting table thank you. I can’t even finish off the old devestator squad I’m working on (which really isn’t that old) because the new SM kits are soooo much better. The glut of high quality sculpts has ruined me when it comes to tolerating the comparatively cruddy old ones.
So, when we get told that a ‘Specialist Products Design Studio’ will be ‘bringing back’ Necromunda, I get nervous because I want the minis that they might release to be modern incarnations of what they once were. If this is a case of just dusting off the moulds and sticking them in the plastic presses, I’ll pass thanks.
However, this apparent negativity that I’m throwing down (I’m actually pretty positive about this development, honestly) may be ill-founded as then we get the word ‘updating’, but again we don’t know what this means. Models getting updates? Box sets? Rules? Without knowing exactly what will be getting updates or what those updates will look like, I am screaming at the wind somewhat here. Necromunda and Bloodbowl were both really important games for me and I always want them to be immortalised in my memory as perfect things. Don’t show me those models now, give me something new.
There were rumours a while ago about Man O’War being updated and we got Dreadfleet. Dreadfleet isn’t a bad game – in fact I’ve had a lot of fun playing it in the past, but it is nothing like Man O’War. My old High Elf Hawkships and Eagleships used to send many a Black Ark to the bottom of the Great Ocean and I have fond memories of that game, so despite Dreadfleet’s playability (and I do think it got unfairly poor press post-release – it was fun!), it was not Man O’War.
But here’s the thing. Look at the models:
The new ones are leagues ahead when it comes to how they look and how they are made. If this is what we end up getting for the likes of Necromunda, Blood Bowl and the rest, it will be one of the best things to come out of Games Workshop in years. Imagine the guys at Forge World sculpting gangers from House Escher or Delaque. Imagine being able to pick up a freshly sculpted Reikland Reavers team, free of mould-lines and complete with extra head and arm options. And how about Epic returning with its Titans and Super Heavy Tanks sculpted to resemble all of Forge World’s range!?
These are the things that my dreams are made of (apart from that one dream where the giant fish gore monster chases me through an endless hardware store where all of the tools are made of rubber and they scream when you pick them up …maybe that’s for a different blog) and I am excited. But for the love of everything, GW, please do this right. New rules, new sculpts, new boxes and continued, evolving support in terms of both production and development. That’s what we need.
I am super excited and I’m sorry if any of this seemed overly negative, but those precious memories need to be preserved while evolving what we could be getting. I’m sure, having seen the success of iOS/PC games that they’ve released, from Warhammer Quest to Blood Bowl, from Chainsaw Warrior to Space Hulk, the chaps up in Nottingham know that there is still an audience out there for these ancient treasures. As long as they don’t look ancient when they reappear, that would be lovely. And as someone who remembers going into my local GW when I was a kid and having perhaps five or six games to throw my pocket money at, rather than just three, I’m sure it will be a great way to get lots of new blood into the hobby.
Fingers crossed we get something amazing from all of this. I’m really confident they will do a good job, but I felt the need to voice my reservations. The weight of expectations from my childhood is on you GW, may you carry it in the manner befitting such a treasure. Onwards!
Good article. So far there’s been an outpouring of enthusiasm regarding the return of the ‘specialist games’ (they really need a better name than that – its one step away from ‘adult entertainment’ as far as euphemistic titles go). However I do wonder how much that’s clouded by nostalgia (a lot I’d say). I remember going to a friend’s house when I must have been about 11 (so roughly two decades ago) and seeing his collection of models for some mysterious thing he called Warhammer. I thought they were the most amazing thing I’d ever seen. My little eyes must have been like plates. Whole armies of beautiful, realistic warriors, fantastically painted, utterly captivating to my pre-pubescent brain. As an adult I’m well aware that the models were actually lumpen and – by modern standards – fairly rubbish, and his painting skills were distinctly lacking. Still, it’s to those wide-eyed children that GW is appealing to with this – not the current generation (with their Xboxes – bless ‘em) but the same ones they sold to last time round who are now older and have disposable incomes. Which is fine and well but is there enough nostalgia to make these games sell? Can they turn them into the gateway drug of the new generation in the way they were for our generation? As yet no-one knows but I suspect that a lot will hinge on the quality of the models. Surely (surely?) they will go down the road of Space Hulk and produce high-quality models rather than rehashing the old. I’d like to think that’s a given because otherwise I suspect the lifespan of this project will be rather short.
As an aside the one thing that does seem to be confirmed is the survival of LotR/Hobbit through this new offshoot. Who would have thought a year or so ago that Warhammer would die and LotR survive? Now there’s a specialist game they could resurrect…
I doubt GW would simply re-release old models, with the exception of a few ‘classic’ sculpts being re-released online it isn’t their style. GW are a model company, not a games company and pride themselves on the quality of their sculpts. If any of the Specialist Games do return it will be with new models.
I have written about this same subject over on Miniature Miscellany. I think people need to approach this news with caution. All GW have said is that a new studio is committed to releasing “new boxed games and stand-alone sets” rather than a fully relaunched product range with continued support. It also says that “Blood Bowl, Epic, Necromunda and Battlefleet Gothic are just some of the great games the team are already eyeing up”. This is far from a definitive statement that the games will return.
I think we are likely to see more games like Dreadfleet and Execution Force rather than entirely relaunched product ranges as this seems to be the route GW have been going down in the last four or five years. I am cautiously optimistic though.
When i first heard the news i thought it was bollocks, with the confirmation from GW and the consensus that it would be 18-24 months before we see anything from the spuds (as i call the Specialist Product Design Studio) im avoiding getting into wish listing. The thing which bothers me is that the current GW isn’t the company I grew up with. Little things like the loss of the humor and satire from grimdark, its almost like new bond vs old bond, whilst the recent bond films have been better films than old bond in my opinion, they haven’t been bond films and the added grittiness doesn’t enhance.
The same is true with how i fear a revamped necromunda would pan out, that above any other classic GW game was andy chambers’ baby, and his fluff writing made it a vibrant and believable setting for skirmish battles, with so much potential for making your own missions and campaigns like the bug hunt missions i used to play with mates. I fear the spuds will just turn the IP into a fairly narrow scoped board game which only shares a name and not much else with necromunda.
The fact that the spuds are attached to Forge World also fills me with some pessimism when it comes to updated mini’s for the games, as that to me means dusting off the lead moulds and just pouring resin, with pricing comparable to ebay’s and the quality of failcast. Never mind how much a terrain set comparable to the one in the box that came with necromunda would cost! If for arguments sake necromunda became a board game like execution force then whats the point without multi level gaming it offers nothing but a name, and even if it was just a relaunch of the old box i don’t think it would stack up well against a modern skirmish game, malifaux and infinity are just fresher mechanics and id argue surpass the game play opportunities that necromunda ever offered…
Hopefully i am entirely wrong, and would love some new epic to add to my collection, but most of all i hope that something off the wall comes out like gorkamorka, or a super enhanced warhammer quest, say what you like about AoS as soon as i heard realmgates i thought that would kick ass in quest, start off in metal world, end up in fireworld, all of a sudden the dynamic of your questers changes for what started off as a band suited for one type of dungeon would have to quickly reconfigure to cope with a change like that…
Ho Hum, at the very least i guess it will allow me to rebuy the mini’s i lost to the 3b’s (Beer, Birds, Bills) and be able to paint them better than i ever could in my youth 😀