Monday, 21 May 2018

Warhammer Fest and the changes at Games Workshop

So, the other weekend, my wife and I headed down to Warhammer Fest for a pleasant weekend of geekery and nonsense. By now I expect most of you who keep track of the wargaming news will have seen most of the new stuff announced at the event. If you haven't, I recommend the live feed page Games Workshop themselves put out here.

Trish has finally finished the Khornate Dragon

There are two big changes front and centre at Warhammer Fest. The first was previews - showing things in advance of their pre-order date. The second was more about representation and in particular a better balance of female representation.

A whole bunch of new stuff got announced at Warhammer Fest - a new edition of Age of Sigmar, two updates to AoS factions, the render of the next plastic Sister of Battle, the Dark Elf Blood Bowl team, Adeptus Titanicus, and that Cawdor are coming next for Necromunda. It's saying something that I didn't get to go to the Forge World Seminar as the tickets went too quickly, but that I didn't really mind...

Also, if you looked around, you could see other previews that hadn't even been announced on display in miniature cabinets, as demo items on people's desks, and so on. There was a lot of openness about the next three months.

I'm certainly interested in the new Adeptus Titanicus game. The buy in price point is likely to be a little high, but this is really nice stuff so I'm not too worried. It looks like it's going to be an interesting game focussing on the titans, with mention of the need to focus on your reactor management, and having cards available to configure your titans. The models also come with slots to magnetise all the weapons.

The other side to the changes were the number of really good female models of varying types. The new Stormcast Chamber has a high proportion of women, with sensible armour.

Also, the way the line infantry's armour has been modelled is rather androgynous, allowing for either make or female heads to be added without a problem - and it looks like there's female heads available for the kit.

With a two year lead time for miniature design, Games Workshop needs to be really careful fixing its historical problems. If they make a mis-step and do something wrong with their model design, from feedback to fix can be months or years. They seem to be aware of this, though, and are making an effort to get it right first time.

On the Blood Bowl side of things, we're seeing more teams with women players from the start - the new Dark Elf team has a sensible mix of men and women, and while they dropped the ball on the starting human and orc teams, they've introduced some cool female star players and they seem willing to listen to feedback.

Cheerleaders are a problem. The real world concept for them is fundamentally pretty sexist, but Blood Bowl, parodying such things, and historically using them, is left in a difficult spot. The route they've chosen to take is to make cheerleader models, and to try and do them as sympathetically as they can in the circumstances.

Personally, I think this is the best approach they can take. With the number of third party suppliers in the market, there's a risk that if Forge World don't make cheerleaders, other companies will make really offensive ones to pander to the lowest denominator. This is a place where Games Workshop and Forge World can use their position as market leader to put out sensible cheerleader models and hopefully cut down on the profitability of the more offensive sexist tropes smaller companies might be tempted to make.

Hence, in this particular case, orcs in the Blood Bowl universe have women again, rather than being fungus. The approach they've chosen to take is that these are some of the bigger, burlier orcs (who happen to be female) who cheer the players on with threats of violence if they don't play better. I think that's probably a better comic approach than some of the more outright offensive options taken in the past.

All in all, I'm really interested in how Games Workshop does with all this change. It's always a challenge, but so far they seem to be broadly doing pretty well with it, and long may that continue!


  1. Hermaphrodite Stormcasts? Sign me up! Have to admit that the female Stormcast Hero with the Ghostbusters trap looks absolutely mint with no awkward boob plate or frickin' high heeled boots like Angharad from Shadespire.

    1. Yeah, the new Stormcast look amazing and I'm looking forward to getting some.