Oh boy, here we go again.
We're counting down to the release of 10th edition. All the factions have been spoiled, people think Eldar are overpowered, it's a grand old time. It won't be long until people put their theorycrafting to the test, once we receive points costs for all the factions, something promised to be given to us sometime next week.
I'm really looking forward to 10th edition as a whole. Whilst 9th should be remembered for its mechanical depth, complexity, and overall flavour, my early impressions of the new edition are that it will be a stronger game, closing the skill delta between newer players and more experienced players, by eliminating possibilities for the player to immediately lose the game at list construction.
Looking at you, terrible subfaction internal balancing.
The new box set, Leviathan, also looks good. I don't like that the Terminator squad forces you to build it with an assault cannon, and that the Sternguard kit comes with two combi-weapons, which have been homogenised and thus have very little use. On the whole, these are minor complaints, and the box set will be just as good in multiples as it will be as a singleton purchase.
It still feels like GW is trying to find the sweet spot for their premium box offering. Indomitus went gangbusters at $300, GW have pumped up the cost and value of the box (the rumour is that the box will be $420), and it still looks like an excellent purchase for an established fan of either Tyranids or Space Marines.
So if I like 10th's design, the miniatures and the value proposition, what is there to justify the heading of this article? Well, it comes back to the same thing it always does - the lack of respect for Local Game Stores and their clientele.
I covered this problem last time.
The app that Games Workshop released eventually turned out to be rubbish, with each new faction's rules locked behind a paywall, making it functionally useless. The army builder was often wrong, complicated, and too narrow in scope. So back to battlescribe the community went.
But the absolute cherry on top, was the limited release run of the premium box set. Even without the baleful eye of scalpers, GW massively underestimated the interest in the box - and so Local Game Stores were starved of product, and the evil empire prioritised its own retail channels.
You could get a box - you just had support GW and had no way to get a copy from your local game store. Sound familiar?
Which makes sense if your only aim is to maximise profits in the short release window. Margins are bigger when GW sells the product to consumers directly, after all. I really did want my local game store to get enough copies to service their userbase, because in my case, the best place to play 40k in my town, is there.
My correspondents advise me that the owner was initially told sixty copies was possible. Based on this, a further fifteen copies, taking the total to seventy-five, was requested. And then, when crunch time rolled around, even the promised allocation shrank to thirty-five.
No doubt, you will be able to go to either of the two Warhammer stores in my city and get a box. So no prizes for guessing where a chunk of those sixty copies went.
The problem here, is that whilst GW will make money win, lose, or draw, the cost will be paid in local game stores being able to keep the lights on. Especially with WoTC trying to squeeze LGS' out of the supply chain as well. Margins are already razor thin, and the owners of these stores do so because of their enthusiasm for the hobby.
Just like I noted last time, these releases are huge money spinners for local stores. Advice provided to me was my local store had approximately seventy expressions of interest for a copy of Leviathan. The store will be able to assist half that number, which is a massive feel-bad for folks that missed out, and the store.
Will this kill my local game store? Probably not, but how are you supposed to forecast for GW fucking you over at the last minute. COVID left much of the traditional retail sector on its knees, and you don't have to look far to find brick and mortar hobby stores closing because of the overwhelming financial pressure heaped upon these locations.
I've covered this in the previous GW smear article, but there's an unwillingness of GW to acknowledge or respect the institution of the local game store. This thinking is toxic to the hobby, though, because the game grows through being able to find people to play with.
Even as a simp for Warhammer 40k and Space Marines, I will happily admit that there are better systems for miniature play. But the difference between them and anything Games Workshop makes, is that I can find a game of 40k every week. I can't say the same about any other system.
But the reason I can find a game every week is because my local game store is well patronised. You can play there, and buy Games Workshop products. My local GW, when I had one, was never accessible to play at. If the only place I had access to as a budding hobbyist was a Games Workshop, if I didn't have local events (and later, access to a local game store with a place to play) I would not have pursued the hobby for as long as I have.
And, just like last time, I do not accept that GW's actions are acceptable because direct sales with higher margins are "good business sense". Corporate behaviour in pursuit of short term gains doesn't give you a free pass. Particularly when it comes at the cost of local game stores, who have a far greater hand in building the hobby at a grassroots level.
So what do I want from GW? The same thing I wanted last time. And, because GW is a monolithic entity incapable of introspection, when 11th edition launches in 36 months, I look forward to writing literally the same article, but with the names changed.
It is still a disgrace.
The expectation now, for me, as the bare minimum, is to complete a made-to-order wave of Leviathan, much like Indomitus. Cut game stores in so those poor souls who missed out and are prepared to wait, can get their box in three months' time. But that is dependent on an adverse community reaction, and I just don't know if folks have the stomach to do that again.
Apparently scalpers have finally identified Games Workshop limited run products as an area for profit, however. With no announcement of MTO presently, maybe the volume of inflated eBay listings will anger the community enough to demand a second wave of Leviathan boxes.
Catch you next time,
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