Special No More

So it would seem that the Specialist Games part of the Games Workshop will be closing its doors. Although Games Workshop had left the greatest of all its children out in the cold for years now, it did still produce the models and make the rules available. Throwing their pariah child the barest scraps to keep going.

Despite this, Battlefleet Gothic, Mordheim and Epic Armageddon and others found a place in many a gamer’s heart. Including mine. Gothic is still my favourite game and Mordheim the most played amongst me and The Chaps. This love affair has endured despite no updates since Fanatic magazine and some truly terrible sculpts that would put most gamers off. It has endured through price hikes and restricted ranges. It. Has. Endured.

But no more. Games Workshop has announced that when the current stocks of metal models sell out, that’s it. No more. Ever. And, sadly Forge World are towing the company line and will be withdrawing from sale all Battlefleet Gothic and Epic lines from their site.

This doesn’t come as a surprise as the moment they announced Finecast I knew Specialist Games’ days were finally numbered. It’s a genuine tragedy that the most loved games the company have ever produced are the ones they loved the least and supported even less than that.

What this means of course, is that if you want to get your hands of anything for those games then you’ll have to be quick. It also means the second-hand market is going to go mental.

Although it’d be nice if the rules were still made available but with no models it’d be pointless so it really looks like this is it. It’s an inevitable course of things I suppose. All good things must come to an end but I’m struggling with the thought that when I speak about Battlefleet Gothic or Mordheim to a novice or returning gamer I will have to do so in the past tense. That soon gamers won’t have that same pang of excitement I got cracking open a box of Imperial Cruisers or a Battleship is just terrible.

Worse still, new gamers coming to the Games Workshop for the very first time won’t even know they existed.

I don’t particularly blame Games Workshop for making the decision. I’m amazed it took them this long. They tolerated the Specialist Games range far longer than their current business decisions suggested they would. But I suspect that the Specialist Games ranges were making a loss and that would only be tolerated for so long.

It’s an end of an era for Games Workshop – even with a limited boxset of Blood Bowl rumoured to be on the horizon – and it’s an end of an era for me and many others.

To the Specialist Games range and all those that have written rules and scenarios and sculpted models: I salute you. And will miss you dearly.

16 thoughts on “Special No More

  1. The demise of SG has, like you said, been on the cards since Finecast, and I’m not massively surprised by it. I have a few predictions (note that I will focus on E:A and BFG since those are the two that I care most about):

    1. Don’t ignore the chance that Forgeworld won’t take the chance to take ownership of these games. FW is a skunkworks and doing the opposite of what their corporate parent does is typical skunkworks behaviour.

    2. Some of the SG games could be resurrected as special one-off boxed sets. How successful these would be depends on whether they turn out to be like Space Hulk (ie great), or Dreadfleet (not so great).

    3. In the specific cases of Epic, there is a fairly significant black market in “debigulated” miniatures, that is, 6mm scale versions of 40K models that weren’t part of the existing GW Epic-scale product line. When the official products stop being available for purchase, you can expect these guys to start producing their own bootlegs of the old product lines and probably also extend their operations, even in the face of enforcement actions from GW Legal. There is a large market for these models, despite GW’s refusal to support them, and where there is demand, there will be supply.

  2. Don’t be surprised to see a number of them reappear as licenced products, by someone like Fantasy Flight, where they can, at least, generate some licence revenue, with the cost of supporting them on someone else’s shoulders … and, perhaps seeing some long overdue development …

    1. The only problem with that is the FFs agreement with GW is that they don’t produce miniatures (hence the busts for Relic) so as to not infringe upon GWs IP. I know, its silly, but thats GW for you.

  3. SG really was the red-headed stepchild right from the off, which, as you note is responsible for most of the true originality we’ve seen from GW. I remember Warhammer Quest and spending a lot of the mid 90’s playing Necromunda. My brother would even play that game and he’s so far from being a gamer we seem at opposite ends of that spectrum. Unfortunately, no matter how awesome the game (I still have the last edition of Blood Bowl) you’d see a couple years of releases, an expansion box or two and then they’d be left to fade into obscurity. As much as I enjoy Fantasy and 40k, the best games that they made for those universes were the ones that fell under the SG umbrella.

      1. Phil, this is the end of a whole generation of games that have a place in our hearts. Me, I’m dying to see BB, Epic, Necromunda and the rest again. Until then I have to wait to see what the sun brings tommorrow.
        Until then, I think I should learn how to play Warmahordes, even Infinity.

        Brother G

  4. Amen, to that brother.
    What’s going on with GW? I have been a fan of Bloodbowl, Necromunda, BFG, Epic 40k and others. It hurts to see them go just like that.
    What I noticed is the dissmay of GW towards the customer in all their games. I remember the time when I like others were able to exchange bits or even buy them straight from the store, now it is worse than going to the dentist and getting your wisdom teeth pulled.
    GW is falling from grace and you can see it from the point of view of all this “NEW” game companies that are surfacing. The 40 Ton monster is coming down. Or is this another scheme to try to gain some air and not drown?
    Only time will tell.
    My hat’s off to you. (all gw Secondary games)

    Brother G

    1. If you think about it I believe the reason that so many other companies are experiencing the success they do is that they are providing the experience we used to get from Specialist Games with the full time support GW never gave them. What was nice about the specialist games was that you could play straight out the box and even adding a new faction wouldn’t cost you the earth. Look at the Deadzone Kickstarter for Mantic, it’s semi-Necromunda. I pledged for the $150 on Early Bird and am going to be getting a load of stuff for that money. Games like this are what I really cut my teeth on, more than 40 and Fantasy.

      While I still do enjoy the army games the depth and richness of the skirmish games will always be something I lean more towards.

      1. You and I are bassically the same. I’m enjoing other games since this whole mess started. But my heart is still with 40k and Fantasy.

        Brother G

  5. Final straw for GW and my custom. Only still got stuff because played many of the SG games so maintained an interest in 40k. Thats gone now, no more GW for me. Still I am not their target market being too old. In fact all my gamer friends and I got into GW through various SG titles, mine was Epic.

    1. I got in through Necromunda. That was what got me into wargaming in general, and it was the shenanigans of GW that got me looking around and into historicals.

      Still as someone with way too many BFG fleets and Necro figures, this hurts. They killed Bitz. They killed Warhammer Historical. They killed official US tournaments. They killed their metals. They wildly inflated prices. There’s just nothing left. I was about to forgive a bit with the new Tau, but I can’t now.

      It’s easier to let GW go. I’m now in my 30s and they don’t want me and frankly, I don’t want them. I’ve got SAGA, and it’s fantastic. I’ve got Muskets and Tomahawks and it’s equally fantastic. I’ve got Republic to Empire, Heavy Gear: Blitz, Maurice, Black Powder, War & Conquest, Triumph and Tragedy, and Beneath The Lilly Banners. I have loads of games and miniatures not produced by and for a pack of semi-literate shit heels.

  6. Reblogged this on Steam and Shields and commented:
    This is an absolute shame! Some of my fondest memories are of playing small scale skirmish games such as Mordheim or Gorkamorka with friends! The loss of Bloodbowl and Battlefleet Gothic are really sad. However, as the games market has expanded over the last 10-15 years, there have been some real comptitors for GW’s specialist games range, often with the design time and develpment that they deserve!

    Infinity – Necromunda
    Dystopian Wars/ Firestorm Armada – BFG
    Dreadball – Bloodbowl
    Hell Dorado/ Malifaux – Mordheim.

    So while the loss of some solid games is dissapointing, I can take the older minis I have, pick up some new ones and start playing games that are going to see further development, rather than frantically trying to inhabit the ‘glory years’ of GW’s specialist games line.

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