A Miniature Odyssey

Miniature Gaming Reviews, Tutorials & Musings

Servo Skull Musings: Farewell to the Fantasy Flight/Games Workshop Alliance — February 4, 2017

Servo Skull Musings: Farewell to the Fantasy Flight/Games Workshop Alliance

This is not meant to announce or rehash old news. It is old news; months old. I have taken that time instead to reflect on that impact, and work towards completing a few collections before it is too late. I suppose it is never too late, but when Ebay prices soar, they tend to truly soar.

A few months ago Fantasy Flight Games announced on their website that as of this forthcoming February 28th, their licence agreement with Games Workshop comes to an end. This means that all products involving the Talisman, Warhammer Fantasy and Warhammer 40,000 licences, will for all intents and purposes cease to exist with the exception of the libraries of collectors and the profiteering of Ebay and Amazon.

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Whether this licence expiry is mutual, or by one of the parties in particular may never be disclosed. What we can safely say is that Fantasy Flight still has some potent licences including Star Wars, Lord of the Rings and A Game of Thrones in addition to a plethora of other gaming options.

We also know that GW has been aggressively pursuing changes to the way they conduct their own business brands. Ignoring the sometimes questionable video game licences, they have put out more exciting projects in the past twelve months then they have in recent years. They have launched major expansions across their core Sigmar and 40K brands along with many system-compatible yet self contained boxed sets. In addition to this, the Horus Heresy is continuing to expand in their Forge World line-up and with the Calth and Prospero sets. The Horus Heresy is invading the more accessible sides of GW.

The legend of the once scuttled Specialist Games division of GW seems to be seeing a potential resurrection. Inquisitor, Necromunda, and Battlefleet Gothic are still played albeit without GW support. Warhammer Quest made its return. Other self-contained boxes have been regularly appearing. Is there potential hope for GW to bring back the RPG components of their offerings? Is this simply GW understanding that they have potentially been cannibalizing their product development options?

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A rare photograph of the often rumoured illegal Battlefleet Gothic tournaments. It is believed that this photo was taken behind an unidentified restaurant in Saigon.

Truth be told in this humble opinion, Fantasy Flight did a fantastic job with their access to the GW properties. I say this for a simple reason. Anyone who visits either Lexicanum and the 40K Wikia has probably noticed how much of the guts of those articles is from content created by Fantasy Flight; Dark Heresy, Deathwatch, Only War and Rogue Trader. So much of the interesting fluff has come from those product lines; lines produced under licence by Fantasy Flight Games.

While GW proper has produced an increased quantity of books, supplements and releases in the past year it has also seen an increased level of quality to boot. In my time with 40K, the best produced and executed sources for 40K canon has been a tie between the Imperial Armour and Horus Heresy Books of Forge World, and the RPG source books from Fantasy Flight. The reason for the tie is simply because they approach their offering of canon from different perspectives.

The Imperial Armour and Horus Heresy Books provide all manner of history and details and battle campaigns suitable to satisfy the big picture. The Fantasy Flight options provide a less seen picture; planets, sectors, cities and cultures delved into with incredible depth and fantastic illustrations. Ever wondered what life is like on countless worlds? The RPG books have you covered.

In that sense, the end of this era is a sad time. Perhaps the torch will simply pass back to GW and this will be their evolutionary renaissance; a necessary sacrifice serving as harbinger to great things yet to come. More disappointingly though, perhaps my collection of Rogue Trader books will never be complete.

Those books were and remain incredible sources of fluff. I purchased many volumes, and have never played a RPG in my life. What they contain however, is something that any 40K fan will appreciate and enjoy regardless of their intentions to play any of the RPGs. That alone speaks volumes to their quality.

As always, questions, concerns, comments and existential dilemmas are welcome.

Regards, Mr Kalidor

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Servo Skull Musings: The Gateway Hobby — February 9, 2016

Servo Skull Musings: The Gateway Hobby

I have dabbled in the world of miniatures, on and off for some twenty years. Granted there have been gaps within that period that may have consisted of years themselves, miniature collecting and the surrounding fluff was always present to some extent. The time where I paused and returned, the return brought with it a pleasant nostalgia. For, there was no other but Games Workshop and specifically their 40K brand. Simply put, if there was no 40K, there was nothing else. No alternatives, and not even a glimmer of curiosity of what else may be out their as alternative options.

The past decade has seen my interest in 40K grow by leaps and bounds. My level of obsessive collecting, painting, and planning has expanded by such means of my creation of my dedicated modelling and painting studio, my expanding to Age of Sigmar, and even by way of this blog.

With that stated in the past few months my eyes have wandered to other options. This surprised me and forced a deep reflection on what that meant, and where it was going to head.

The internet is full of those deriding the direction, cost and even quality of the wares of GW. I do not share those concerns. I recognize them as mild annoyances, sometimes even necessary evils, but I counterbalance that with my enjoyment, in addition to the depth and beauty of their dark worlds.

Enter my favorite of the GW business units, Forge World. For anyone living under a hobby rock, it can be said that if Games Workshop and their brands Warhammer 40K and Age of Sigmar are Chevrolets, Forge World is their Cadillac. The quality of their models, books and supplemental material surpasses anything on the market. Which is why I order their product in spite of the pain it represents to order something from the UK for delivery in my home country.

The problem being… it never arrived. For three years Forge World has been contacted almost daily and four three years, the same response; “research is pending”. As this continues to slowly work its way up the corporate ladder to that level that represents someone capable of making a decision, my love for my little resin and plastic toys reaches an existential crisis. I wanted models. I waited, and waited, and waited. I still want models. I waited and waited and waited. Now, I simply want a refund. I expect I will be waiting and waiting and waiting. I will not give up, but my Cadillac is quickly proving to be a lemon.

That represents the first push towards expanding my horizons onto other alternatives. At first it was minor deviations from the Games Workshop realms, yet still involving Games Workshops. I discovered the beauty and wonder of the GW licensed products being developed by Fantasy Flight Games; Warhammer 40K board games and role playing games.

While I may never get the chance to play a RPG, the books were remarkable; the depth, the art, the details that pass by the militaristic and dogmatic Imperium proper towards the everyday life of Imperials and as yet unheard of worlds. I have mountains of Rogue Trader and Dark Heresy Second Edition books and that seems to be that first addicting hit.

Soon I found myself scouring Ebay for Battlefleet Gothic ships. I was still very much a GW collector, simply having expanded to other companies producing licenced products and tracking down old out-of-print models.

Then two things occurred that simply took me into new directions that have no connection to my history with GW. The first was the discovery of a Kickstarter I found information about on Faeit 212/Natfka. That was Dropfleet Commander. While I was aware of Dropzone Commander, it held little interest to me. This space/orbital based miniature game however was different, and I found myself excited for the game, and my first exposure to Kickstarter.

Next we have the Fantasy Flight Christmas sale. This saw me pick up numerous great deals including additional Rogue Trader books, but more importantly new games. The Merchant of Venus and the Battle of Westeros Miniature games were added. For the Battle of Westeros in fact, the core game and every single expansion was purchased for the same price one would have paid for just the core set prior to the sale.

Thus, the Warhammer world had officially been invaded by Dropfleet Commander and now the Game-of-Throne game that was Battle of Westeros.

It did not end there. Knowing first hand about the depth and quality everything I had purchased fro Fantasy Flight, I made the final leap.

That leap was towards their X-Wing game. A game with pre-painted miniatures that seems to be increasing in popularity fairly steadily since its release several years ago.

So what happens next? Does Forge World magically regain my trust and faith that they can serve this particular customer? Or will other options continue to pique my interest with GW scaling back in my hobby-life.

Time shall tell, the immediate fallout will however become apparent as my GW related posts are joined by non-GW related posts.

How about you? Are you purists? Do you dabble in alternatives? As always feedback, questions, concerns and conundrums are always welcome.

Regards,

Mr. Kalidor

 

Fluffy Grim Dark: A Look At The Sources Of The 40K Universe — October 12, 2015

Fluffy Grim Dark: A Look At The Sources Of The 40K Universe

A recent news post on the Fantasy Flight website announced that a new expansion is in development of Dark Heresy Second Edition. The Expansion, Enemies Beyond looks to add more background and options to the Ordo Malleus. This will be the fourth expansion in the Second Edition after the campaign Forgotten Gods, Enemies Within which is a background book for the Ordo Hereticus and the completed (and on route to stores) Enemies Beyond focussing on the Ordo Xenos.

Information on Dark Heresy Second Edition can be found here:

https://www.fantasyflightgames.com/en/products/dark-heresy-second-edition/

I have the books released to date in addition to some of the Rogue Trader books. This speaks to the quality of Fantasy Flight games’ work because I have never played a tabletop/paper and pencil RPG! Would I? Most certainly but the option has not presented itself as of yet.

This news from Fantasy Flight started me on thinking about one of the most important aspects of the Games Workshop intellectual property; their canon.

When it comes to 40K ‘Fluff’ (and this is targeted towards 40K because of my lack of knowledge of WFB), there are many options; core Games Workshop 40K publications, Forge World publications, Black Library publications and of course the aforementioned Fantasy Flight licenced publications. But what amongst those represents the best?

For me Black Library, despite its role being solely dedicated to the ‘fluff’, to mean represents a combination of the best and the worst. The Horus Heresy Art Book, The Sabbat Worlds books, Guardsman’s Uplifting Primer and Munitorum Handbook represent some rare gems. There are also some passable novels and other literary works, but overall my experiences with Black Library have been underwhelming. It seems to me to be pulp writing at premium prices. A few of the novels and anthologies have grabbed enough of my attention to warrant completing reading them once, but overall I have discovered my money is better given to the other sources.

The Games Workshop entrances, an in this I include the Codices, Supplements, Expansions and War Zones represent the core of the canon. An accessible primary source of the 40K universe that has kept my interest for decades. I have collected numerous volumes for numerous armies over the years. Currently my Codex Astra Militarum, Codex Cult Mechanicus and Codex Skitarii are seldom out of reach.

If Games Workshop presents the core basis of canon, then it is Fantasy Flight that gives it depth and life. RPGer or not, these books are a fantastic source to see the universe, its factions, worlds, organizations and inhabitants expected to great depth. Furthermore, it provides great insight in the very day life of the Imperial Citizens and even the servants of Chaos (see Black Crusade).

Finally, my go-to source and longstanding favourite, the works of Forge World. Forge World make wonderful models, but their books too represent some of the best the 40K universe has to offer. It’s specialty seemingly being the ‘spin-offs’. They brought to life the 30K Horus Heresy with a plethora of in depth books to compliment the 30K-era Legions of the Adeptus Astartes. For me however it was the new flavours of 40K flavours they added. Of particular interest to me Imperial Armour Siege of Vraks books detailing the Death Korps of Krieg and the Renegades & Heretics (Chaos Imperial Guards), as well as The Taros Campaign, The Anphelion Project and The Raid of Kastorel Novem for providing the background on the Elysian Drop Troopers. Finally, there was the Mymeara book providing some new options for Cadian and Elysia-based Imperial Guard forces as well as Eldar Corsairs! Of course some of those books detail factions of the Space Wolves and Raven Guard which too are interesting. I am confident is suggesting the Badab Wars books are likely must haves for the Space Marine fans second only to the Horus Heresy Books.

So if I were to conclude with ranks, I would rank them as follows:

4) Black Library

3) Games Workshop

2) Fantasy Flight Games Licensed Warhammer Products

1) Forge World

Although unofficial I certainly recommend http://wh40k.lexicanum.com/wiki/Main_Page and http://warhammer40k.wikia.com/wiki/Warhammer_40k_Wiki .

What do you think? What sources have I missed? What other gems from Black Library did I miss?

As always, thanks for reading.

Mr. Kalidor