Fall of Cadia: Are we Approaching End Times for 40k?
Games Workshop, via their Warhammer Community blog and their Warhammer TV service, revealed some juicy secrets yesterday about the upcoming year. 2016 was simply amazing for fans of GW products. For 40k fans we saw some nice campaign supplements in the forms of Curse of the Wulfen, Angel's Blade, Traitor's Hate, and even an old faction resurrected in the form of Genestealer Cults. Wrath of Magnus and Traitor Legions capped off the year with some exciting new ways to play Chaos Space Marines and the introduction of the first Primarch in the game in the form of Magnus the Red. These are truly exciting times for 40k fans. But after yesterday's news, the internet is abuzz and the prevalent theme is dread.
January will see the release of a new campaign supplement with an ominous title; Fall of Cadia. Everyone who follows the lore knows that Cadia is sort of the front line of defense against the forces of Chaos as it sits on the gulf of the Eye of Terror. As the forces of Chaos mobilize and proceed on their "Black Crusades" the story has been stagnant for quite some time. Abaddon has been preparing to engage the 13th Black Crusade in the fluff for years now and the storyline has not moved much beyond that.
Traitor's Hate and Angel's Blade sort of started this as precursors to the storyline we are currently engaged in. Wrath of Magnus tells of Magnus and his rubrics return to Fenris to devastate that world. The story is moving forward. And people are concerned. The theme from the fanbase seems to be fear that 40k is about to be "Sigmarized."
It has long been rumored that we will see the story progress as GW pushes forward to 8th edition of Warhammer 40,000. An "End Times" scenario, where the lore gets completely flipped on it's head as a herald to the coming edition has long been feared, but with GW actively taking steps to move the story forward those fears are slowly becoming a reality and people are concerned. With good reason to be fair.
Long time Fantasy fans know the pain of having their world turned upside down. Players who spent years, maybe even decades, collecting models and playing Warhammer Fantasy felt betrayed with Age of Sigmar, a complete reboot of the game they loved so passionately. Videos popped up online of disgruntled gamers literally setting their models on fire watching hundreds of dollars worth of finely detailed plastic and countless hours of painting go up in smoke. A symbol of what GW had done to their game.
Should we be concerned as 40k players? Are we facing a similar fate and is GW willing to risk gutting their money maker in Warhammer 40,000? Maybe yes. But not to the degree that Age of Sigmar had on Fantasy. There is no question that the rules for Warhammer 40k are becoming more and more convoluted. 7th Edition is a mess. Rules and datasheets are scattered across various hardback tomes. It's hard to know up from down at times. And the ruleset has become more and more complicated with the introduction of Formations and "Decurions" which are scattered about various supplements. To put it plainly, the game is in a fragile state right now. The rules are a mess and even though the company has taken great lengths to communicate with the fans and try and clean it up through their new Facebook community, it is still, in large part, complex and complicated.
This is not a concern for those of us die-hard players. We're in it for the long haul. The majority of us have been playing for years and we have followed the changes closely especially as it concerns factions and armies which we have invested time into to build, paint and play. The problem with that is, the game as it stands now has a pretty strong barrier to the new generation of table top gamers.
First, there is the price point for entry. While GW has tried to soften the blow with their Start Collecting boxes, the entry to get into Warhammer 40,000 is not cheap considering all the books you have to buy on top of the models. It is not an easy game to learn just by nature, and even more daunting considering how the rules are spread out among many different books now. If someone gets into Chaos Daemons they might think they can simply pick up the Codex and a few boxes of models and be good to go. Not knowing that they need Curse of the Wulfen to actually run their army. These costs can add up quickly.
Next is the rules themselves. It is complex and complicated and it gets further complicated with every new release. The Split rule for Pink Horrors was mind numbingly frustrating to figure out even though they issued out a FAQ for it almost immediately. Then there was the Death from the Skies debacle which, to use a terrible pun, crashed and burned. If you talk to many Age of Sigmar players the one thing they will tell you, especially with the addition of the General's Handbook, is that the game is incredibly easy to learn and play. The rules are streamlined, and while it isn't the same as Warhammer Fantasy by any stretch, it is welcoming for new players and easy to get into once you figure out what you need to play. Also, the basic rules themselves are free as opposed to $75 as you see in 40k.
GW has changed their approach to business over the last year. What was once an isolated ivory tower that was inaccessible to the fans has now opened up the gates welcoming in a new era of doing business with their social media pages, and their new Warhammer TV streaming service. They have spent a great deal of effort in promoting their new products from Magnus to Traitor Legions and now the upcoming Fall of Cadia campaign supplement. Moreover, they are listening to fans and giving them what they want. Is that all for nothing? Do they plan on just scrapping everything and rebooting the game? I don't think so. At least not to the drastic degree they did with Age of Sigmar.
I think what we can expect with the new edition of 40k is a streamlined ruleset. One they can still incorporate into existing product lines where special rules still have a meaning. Expect a reworked Psychic Phase to make it seem less clunky than it currently is in 7th. Expect to see apps for smartphones and tablets where people can pay and download specific things they want be it rules or datasheets, much like they have done for Age of Sigmar. Expect rules which reiterate competitive play mirroring matched play for Age of Sigmar in the General's Handbook.
8th Edition will likely be a pretty big overhaul to the game, but not to the same degree as Age of Sigmar. It just doesn't make good business sense. If GW were really wanting to scrap the game altogether in favor of something completely new, I doubt they would be spending the effort and energy engaging with a fanbase and opening themselves up to backlash via social media. That would be corporate suicide. But change is coming. 2017 will be an exciting time for Warhammer 40,000. The sky is not falling, however and I have complete faith that GW will do the right thing for long standing customers and players while making the game more friendly for the new generation of gamers.
Fall of Cadia: Are we Approaching End Times for 40k? Reviewed by Robert Chandler on 9:04:00 AM Rating: