Something Special

Following the excellent posts by The Shell Case team on the passing of the Games Workshop Specialist Games range I thought I’d offer my own thoughts as it’s fair to say that if it wasn’t for Epic I may never have gotten into wargaming at all.

As Phil and I have recounted before, we got our first taste of the Games Workshop universes through Hero Quest and Space Crusade. Looking for extra cool stuff for those games led us to White Dwarf magazine, and it was in a copy of White Dwarf (owned by Phil as it happens) [I’d saved up my pocket-money and everything. – Ed] that I first encountered Epic. More specifically I encountered an Epic battle report between Blood Angels (backed up by Imperial Guard super-heavy tanks and Warhound Titans) and the Thousand Sons Chaos space Marines (and an assortments of daemonic and monstrous allies, including Magnus the daemon primarch and a Khornate Lord of Battle). After more than twenty years, it’s difficult to remember exactly what it was about the game that was played out in that article that won me over. It probably had something to do with the Titans, and the diversity of troops on the board from chaos trolls to the Stormhammer super heavy tank, but mainly the Titans. For those  of you too young to remember the Stormhammer, imagine a Baneblade with two turrets with twin cannon and four sponsons. [They were…ahem…epic. – Ed]

At the time I had assembled a motley collection of slightly random miniatures for use in Space Crusade (including the old RTB01 Space Marines) but the first miniatures I bought seriously with the thought that I might actually use them in a ‘proper’ Games Workshop game were a box of six of the classic plastic Warlord Titans. [Which he bought in a toy shop whilst on holiday in Cornwall of all places. – Ed] These sadly never got at much use is I might have liked. But at least one got deployed in anger a few times.

Once I finally got my hands on the Space Marine box set (Epic 2nd Edition for those of you keeping track) I was hooked and accumulated quite a collection. Enough to have a 2,000 point army for most of the available factions (even the Squats), albeit not necessarily very competitive ones, and certainly not very well painted ones. I certainly played the game a lot, though. Long before I was able to persuade my parents that I really did need a 6′ x 4′ expanse of chipboard to play one, we roughed out a playing area on the floor using white card with deployment zones handily marked out in biro. [Oh God! I’d repressed that! – Ed] Several glorious battles were fought out, and one or two humiliating fiascos.

This was the era of 1st Edition 40k and 4th Edition WFB, and it wasn’t for some time that either of those games tempted me into straying from my 6mm legions. But peer pressure eventually took its toll as none of my friends were into the 6mm side of things.

I enjoyed Epic. It was a cool concept and the rules were enjoyable to play.  Some individual unit rules may have been absurdly complicated but the overall system was straightforward. Though I remember some of my 40k playing friends complaining about how it didn’t quite match how things worked on a 40k table. Things only improved when Titan Legions (essentially version 2.5 of the game) came out and I could start using entire companies of Titans.

I sometimes wonder if Epic would have been consigned to the slow death of the Specialist Game section if Epic 40k (version 3.0 of the rules) hadn’t tanked so badly. While I see what they were trying to do, the total rule change (it was literally a new system designed almost from scratch) alienated many and ultimately it was a bland over-abstracted system that was still inexplicably fiddly at times. The final version, Epic Armageddon is a much improved version, being based on the similarly excellent Battlefleet Gothic.

Of course, the damage was done by that point, and Epic has gone the way of all the Specialist Games. A loss made all the tragic by it having once been a core game the way 40k is. I will miss Epic, and will probably regret never getting back into it while I had the chance, but I could never quite bring myself to give Games Workshop money for a game or miniatures they were blatantly never going to update or support.

While I appreciate that Games Workshop is a company that sometimes has to make hard-nosed business decisions, and that the Specialist Games were not very profitable, I can’t help but wonder if things might have been different if they had invested a bit of effort into making them more profitable through further development. Certainly the Necromunda or Mordheim rule sets were ripe for redevelopment into a full-blown skirmish campaign game for their respective universes.

Some might say that the development of Apocalypse for 40k makes Epic obsolete. But Epic would allow battles beyond the reach of even the most ambitious Apocalypse game, and what’s more would probably still be over sometime before two o’clock the following morning. So many units and concepts that started out in Epic have been extrapolated into 40k – Whirlwinds, Vindicators, Mantacores, Falcons, Leman Russ tanks, Baneblades, Deathstrike Launchers, Trygons, Vypers, Daemon Engines. And the list will continue to grow. It shows how much the 40k universe owes to that game and maybe one day, the demand to deploy whole titan legions against each other will reach a point when a new version of Epic might be feasible.

Until the day when the God Machines stride again…

A Tribute to Epic Armageddon

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It’s well documented that I embarked on my adventures in wargaming at the tender age of 7 when I got a copy of Hero Quest. However, I didn’t properly understand just what I was letting myself in for until my brother got a copy of Epic: Space Marine. I’ll be honest, it took me a while to get to grips with the game. It wasn’t helped by the fact that back there and back then I generally speaking wouldn’t read. Anything. So my brother had to teach me the rules. Granted, once I had them down I was a contender despite the game being, at times a great lumbering beast that’d take all day to play.

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But we absolutely loved it and were fielding legions worth of Space Marines and a dozen or so Titans between us by the time we reached secondary school and we met people who played 40k. Even then it took a little while for us to be swayed by a game that, as far as we could tell, had less cool shit in it and demoted you from Warmaster to Captain. However, despite moving into the 30mm world Epic still remained forever in my heart as genesis not only for the hobby but for the 40k universe as a whole as it’s near limitless ambitions meant that it was forever fleshing out, expanding or explaining leaving 40k in its wake to rip off the best bits.

As time wore on 40k began to leave Epic behind, despite the release of Titan Legions and the truly mental Imperator Titan. When it eventually resurfaced much to my heart skipping delight it was in the form of Epic 40,000. If I’m honest, it was a bit shit. And not because it contained a fraction of the plastic its predecessor had in the box.

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It was a remarkably ambitious shift in rules and I totally saw what the Games Workshop was trying to do with it. It was a bold effort to strip down the long-winded infantry engagements that were often an inconvenient necessity of Epic into something more interesting, more decisive and quicker. Blast markers were, in theory, a brilliant idea. Firefights as a concept was inspired. Attack runs from flyers elegant. The Death Ray special rule…not explained and over powered but still. The reality, however, was that largely down to shoddy and poorly written rules, everything was complicated, unclear, laborious and, as a result, longer than it should have been. And unless you were Space Marines you would never ever ever win.

Epic 40,000 was a failure by any measure, but not for lack of trying on Games Workshop’s part. The models were good and the plastic scenery was amazing and highly sought after to this day. Pages of errata and FAQs followed on from the release as well as a magazine intended to make it good not shit. Desperately trying to salvage what was the crown jewel in the GW crown.

There were some gems buried amidst the unpolished turd that was Epic 40,000. For a start, flyers were far more devastating. As was anything with super heavy or Titan somewhere in its description. In fact there was no point in taking anything else. On the up side, it was also the first time we saw the current design of the Thunderhawk Gunship and Warlord Titan. Fighta Bomma’s also came screaming into the 41st millennium to harass the forces of man to the present day.

Titans

The design of Land Raiders was moved forward and formed the basis of the current plastic kit. The design itself became a Forge World Heresy-era (ish) kit. But that hull design was, again, genesis for how Space Marine vehicles would look for the next 16 years and beyond. It also, most importantly of all gave us the mechanic that would later be revised and applied to the truly tremendous Battlefleet Gothic and by extension Epic Armageddon.

Sadly by the time Epic Armageddon was released, after years of fucking about and delays and a truly overwhelming amount of community support, the game was doomed. The tragedy is that Epic, back in the day, was just as prominent and just as important as Warhammer & Warhammer 40k. Necromunda & Mordheim were always intended to be secondary systems but Epic was core. And, if I’m honest, should have remained so. I suspect economics and space in the store had as much to do with its down grading as anything else but the fact remains that Epic, whatever its iteration, was never meant to find itself first under Fanatic and later Specialist Games. It was never meant to have the support yanked out from under it.

Warlock titans

Epic Armageddon, despite a phenomenally good rule set which catapulted it into the stratosphere of all time wargaming greats, it was never going to be enough because it coincided with the decision to produce the entire Epic range in metal. Making everything mind bendingly, and unsustainably expensive, even by Games Workshop standards at the time. And, as with all the Specialist Games at the time suffered from some terrible sculpts.

And the beautiful thing was that, despite its obvious ousting from its former place of glory the fans loved it. And still love it even now. More so even.

But what makes Epic so great? It’s really not just the rules, although the current rules are brilliant, it’s the sheer ambition and imagination that has always come hand in hand with Epic. As I mentioned above, it allows you to be a warmaster. To command legions of Space Marines and company upon company of armour. And because of its…ahem…epic scale, it had room for all the truly mental stuff like the Chaos Daemon engines. Stuff that we’re starting to see crop in 40k and Apocalypse now.

To this day Epic will always hold a very special place in my heart. I will never forget the feeling of excitement I got going into Games Workshop High Wycombe and handing over £5 for a Space Marine Legion or Space Marine Land Raider box. And the funny thing was that it didn’t occur to us back then not to collect all the armies. We had thousands of stands of infantry. Hundreds of tanks. Dozens of Titans. And we had them all on display. Even when Hive War came out I got the supplement and a fairly decent starting army for my birthday and I can honestly say I’ve never felt that kind of wondrous excitement since. Granted I’m a seasoned and bitter old wargamer now but I like to think that I can still be surprised and still be excited by my hobby, but Epic was and is special just for its simple, unabashed desire to live up to its name. Yes it sometimes missed the mark and yes sometimes games would take days because rules just weren’t clear enough or there was too much shit on the board, but that was fine because it was always enjoyable. And that was its real secret weapon. It was eternally fun.

Knowing the game will no longer be produced and that the current generation of young gamers, and those that follow them, will never get to play it, or even hear of it, makes me immensely sad. More so than any other of the Specialist Games we’re paying tribute to all this week. Because Warhammer 40,000 as it is now simply wouldn’t exist. The ambitious nature of Apocalypse is in response to Epic’s passing because on some level the Games Workshop understands that we all want to conquer worlds, not just city blocks.

There is an argument that Apocalypse is commercially driven and on some level that’s probably true, but I also have to believe that on another level Apocalypse exists so gamers like me can look at the Heldrake, the Lord of Skulls, Stompas and Super Heavies and be cast back to that time when we commanded those genuinely apocalyptic forces. And we can smile to our selves and think: I can remember when you could fit one of those in the palm of a child’s hand. And Super Heavies they were 3 for £5.

All that aside, nothing will ever change the contribution Epic: Space Marine, Epic: Titan Legions, Epic: 40,000 & Epic: Armageddon made to the Games Workshop hobby. Its rules, models and background continue to inspire even now. And to this day the Titan Legions rule books have some of the best fluff and rules ever written.

If we have to say good-bye at all, and if Epic Armageddon were its swan song then its melody would make grown men weep. Epic, from the bottom of my heart, I salute you.

A Farewell to Specialist Games

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It is common knowledge to all, by now, that the Specialist Games range is all but dead. The Games Workshop is no longer producing miniatures and the rule books have been withdrawn from sale.

With its demise I and the rest of The Shell Case team have decided that we had to do something to mark its passing. So, we have taken it upon ourselves to write a tribute to the games we loved the most. One will go up each day over this week, starting with Adam’s tribute Blood Bowl and working our way through the other games in the range, ending the week with my true love: Battlefleet Gothic. Sadly there won’t be one for Warmaster because none of us really played it, so if there’s someone out there that would like to write a guest post then get in touch.

The games will undoubtedly live on in the hearts of gamers everywhere but couldn’t let these incredible game fall into memory without giving them a send off of our own.

Stay tuned…

Adeptusly Titanicus

Recently I decided to get back into playing Adeptus Titanicus. It was a decision motivated by a few factors. The first was that it was a game that just Ian, of The Chaps, and I played and although we played infrequently they are some of the best nights I’ve had in the 23 years I’ve been wargaming for. It was as much to do with the company as the game or the game outcome but there is something immensely satisfying about stalking Titans through cityscapes hunting one another. So I suppose I’d like to rekindle some of that fun and general tomfoolery.

The second motivation is I deeply and truly love the Imperial Titan models. Well, all Titan models really, but the Imperial ones especially. They are a triumph of design perfectly balancing the asethtic of each faction whilst making it perfectly clear to even the most untrained eye that they represented an unholy amount of arse-fuckery.

Warlock titans
The third and final factor I suppose comes from the fact that bar Hero Quest and Space Crusade, Adeptus Titanicus and Epic was the point my brother and I properly got into the hobby. We’d been playing Hero Quest and Space Crusade for over a year, writing quests/missions and ever-expanding the game with home-made files etc. But where it changed was whilst on holiday, on a balmy evening in Torquay, Cornwall. I couldn’t tell you the exact year but I suspect around 1990/1. I, rather typically, had already blown the paltry amount of pocket-money I had saved whereas my brother, ever the tight fisted frugal one, had managed to save up and had money to burn. And he came across this…

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I’m not sure if, at the time, he knew what he was buying. Or maybe he’d seen a picture or two in the couple of issues of White Dwarf I’d bought using money I’d saved that our mother gave for sweets after school. Neither of us could have known that this simple box of 6 ‘detailed’ plastic model kits would be the start of our love affair with Epic and beyond that wargaming as a whole.

I rather suspect it’s because of this seemingly innocent purchase and the later acquisition of Space Marine that I have such a fondness for ‘Epic’ scale games be they on the ground, churning through Victorian seas or in the depths of space. It may have also had something to do with the awesome artwork knocking around at the time.

TitanArt

So you can imagine my excitement when Epic 40,000 came out. Especially when you consider that it was then that the new look (current) Warlord Titan came out. As I’ve written about before it is, and possibly always will be, one of my all time favourite models. Even though they’re often badly cast and are an absolute bastard to put together, I can’t help but love them. If nothing else they’re bloody great war engines that can lay waste to an entire city.

More than that though, the Warlord Titan is the natural evolution of a model that fired the imagination of an 8-year-old boy into embracing the hobby that I now couldn’t be without. And they’re bloody great war engines that can lay waste to an entire city.

Titans

It is little wonder then that after Epic 40,000 turned out to be a complete dogs dinner, and it wasn’t financially viable for myself, or Ian, to collect an Epic Armageddon army that Adeptus Titanicus was the obvious choice. Although the rules aren’t going to win any awards it is immensely fun. And there are few things more satisfying than charging a Reaver Titan with a close combat weapon into close combat against a Phantom Titan and hacking its leg off. Granted the resulting critical caused the reactor to blow killing the Reaver along with the Phantom but it was still totally worth it.

There’s a nice symmetry to coming back to Adeptus Titanicus considering, although we never played the original rules, it was that game and those, iconic, beetle backed behemoths that got my brother and I into the hobby. I like to think that my continued excitement for the hobby still comes from that point when my brother lifted the lid and we saw the models for the first time. I try to channel the wide-eyed wonder of 8-year-old me seeing something so awesome and complex he can’t comprehend it.

I also suspect this is the reason I get so cross when wargaming companies let us down. Their job is to make each and every one of us feel as excited as an 8-year-old and more and more that gets forgotten.

Whatever the reason for me rebuilding my Titan force (having sold it during a particularly brutal period of skintness years ago) I feel that same sense of giddy anticipation that I felt when I first played Epic across my mini-snooker table and my brother convinced me that Howling Banshees were long-range troops and Dark Reapers close combat specialists.

The cost of the models and idiocy/greed of some sellers on eBay will mean that it’ll most likely be a slow burn project, but that’s okay because rest assured the God Machines of Mars will stride once more.

A Few of My Favourite Things

I’m at home not feeling very well today. Between that and feeling stressed about work, I’m feeling rather sorry for myself. So, in an effort to cheer myself up I decided to build an Epic Warlord Titan that I managed to blag off a mate in my long-term effort to rebuild my Adeptus Titanicus force that I long ago sold. The silly thing is that although it’s one of my all time favourite models, it’s an absolute bastard to build.

But it got me thinking about my favourite models. It’s a long long list. You can’t play wargames for 22 and a half (the half is important dmmit!) years and not build a long list of toys that was either inspirational, seminal or massively fucking awesome. Or all of the above. So, with a little bit of thought I’ve done a top 10 of my all time favourite models.

There’ll be quite a few Games Workshop models in it because the vast majority of my gaming years have been spent playing their games. And for those that disagree with my choices, bite me, do your own list.

10. Imperial Cruiser – Space Fleet


The first White Dwarf I ever bought at the tender age of 7 years old had Space Fleet on the front cover. At this point I didn’t understand that Games Workshop was more than Hero Quest. I’d seen a previous issue with it on the cover and therefore made the intellectual leap that White Dwarf (seeing as the drawing for the Dwarf was lifted from Hero Quest) was associated.

I was initially really disappointed to find that there was nothing in there about my newly acquired beloved game. But then I got to the bit about Space Fleet and my mind, already dosed on Star Wars, exploded into a realm of galactic possibilities that I’ve never moved away from. I did eventually get Space Fleet which wasn’t the best game ever but I didn’t care because the models, to me, were just epic.

9. The Barbarian – Hero Quest

The model hasn’t aged well. In fact, it’s entirely possible that if a sculptor produced something like that now they’d be sacked. But the fact remains that it was this single solitary model that got me into wargaming. My brother’s best friend had brought his set of Hero Quest over and this was one of the first model I saw and the heroic stance and the massive sword sold me completely.

8. Kurt Helborg – Warhammer Fantasy

The Master of the Reiksguard and a double hard bastard. At first I didn’t like this model but when I really looked at it I saw what a fantastic model it really is and it inspired me to collect a Reiksguard army. Sadly the project was never completed and I had to sell the models once again because I was caught short, but this model was seminal for as it encouraged me to start collecting themed armies. I also think it was quite seminal for Games Workshop as it was around this time that they started to produce some pant tighteningly beautiful character models.

7. Freebooter

A bit of a cheat really as this is an entire range but the Freebooter models have sparked such a love affair for me with my Mordheim Warband, I couldn’t imagine having them any other way. I’ve posted about my warband here so I won’t bang on about them now.

6. FSA Battleship – Dystopian Wars

The FSA Battleship blew me away when I first saw it. It doesn’t get more Steam Punk than an aotmically powered paddle steamer with clock work 9lb cannons. It’s just ace. And even through I’ve sold my FSA fleet in favour of the Covenant of Antarctica I’ll never forget it and the emotions it provoked in me.

5. Sorylian Battleship – Firestorm Armada

This bad boy gets the number 5 slot only because the Spartan Games models are recent additions to my life and I’m yet to develop the attachment that I have with other models but it was this model that totally and completely sold me on giving Spartan Games a try. Weirdly I bought Dystopian Wars first but I think that was entirely because I really wanted to try something new and Steam Punk was totally unexplored territory for me. But the Sorylian Swordbreaker is a fantastic looking ship and fearsome in the game. I never get tired of looking at it.

4. Space Marine Land Raider – Warhammer 40,000

The Space Marine Land Raider was one of my favourite models and I was immensely jealous of my brother for saving up his pocket-money and buying one. I’m two and a half years younger and I was always shit at saving. The sense of achievement I felt saving for a MkI Rhino was utterly destroyed when he came home with what is now known as the Proteus pattern. The first model I bought when I became a Games Workshop member of staff was the new Land Raider. It’s a beast. It’s an incredibly well designed and thought out model, its doors open and everything. And over the years I’ve built 12 of the bloody things. But it just sums up the indomitable will of Space Marines and for that reason I simply love it.

3. Imperial Cruisers – Battlefleet Gothic

I’m massively in love with Space Ships if you couldn’t tell by now. And also Battlefleet Gothic is largely responsible for this. Not only that but the game and these distinctive models blew open the Warhammer 40,000 universe for me. And the two novels – Execution Hour & Shadow Point are epic. But I love these models. I love how versatile the kit is and just how cool they are.

2. Warlord Titan – Epic Armageddon

Not a massive shock really seeing as I’ve been talking about this model recently. It’s just the tits. I mean look at it! A striding building sized weapon of war. I had a Adeptus Titanicus force a few years ago with 3 Warlords in it, each one modified slightly to make them unique. I had to sell the force because it was that or not eat and I often get a pang of regret. It’s my hope I can rebuild the force, starting with the one I’ve just built…

1. Multi-part plastic Space Marines – Warhmmaer 40,000

Unsurprisingly the multipart Space Marines made it to the top spot. I’ve been collecting Space Marines for years and years in one form or another – most recently my Ultramarines. When the multi-part kit came out, replacing those God-awful push together models from Second Edition Warhammer 40,000 I felt like I fell in love with Space Marines all over again. I’ve literally built hundreds of these models and I’ve never ever grown board of doing so, because they look so fucking cool.

So there you go, a few of my favourite things.

And it was Epic!

@Chris_S_79 has written a cracking post over at Paint & Biscuits about Games Workshop’s Epic. And it was Epic! Seeing as we’re related, his journey into Games Workshop games mimics mine (or vice versa) and I too graduated from the awesomeness of Hero Quest and Space Crusade to Epic. Mainly because he got the box set so I played too.

The first game we ever played was over my mini-snooker table, with the datafaxes precariously balanced along the edge. Cardboard buildings hastily made (and springing open throughout) and I’ll never forget how he ‘mistakenly’ informed me that Howling Banshees were long-range fighters and Dark Reapers were the close combat monsters. Needless to say I was horrified when my Dark Reapers charged headlong into a detachment of Space Marines and were pistol whipped to death.

Like @Chris_S_79 my collection of models was silly. At one point, through shrewdly cultivating a second-hand market at my secondary school, I’m pretty sure I had enough Space Marines to field all the first founding chapters. Not that they were painted. You didn’t paint Epic infantry. Oh no! You only paint Titans and Super Heavies my son!

Where @Chris_S_79 and I part ways in our hobby journey was that I never really fell out of love with Epic. I still got into 40k and Warhamster, and he’s right in what he said about Epic 40,000. It was bland and disappointing. There were some genius rules in that game but the liberal coating of grey that covered everything meant they were largely ignored. But despite that I just couldn’t let it go. In no small part because of the models – particularly the new Warlord Titan which remains, to this day, one of my all time favourite models. And despite the hideous generalisation of the rules I carried on playing.

Warlord Titan

I only stopped playing because I simply ran out of people to play against. Even though I’d collected two sizable armies so my opponents didn’t have to collect themselves, I had no takers because the fact remained that the rules simply made being anything other than Space Marines a complete waste of time.

When I became a Games Workshop member of staff back in 2000 I took advantage of the quite silly discount and bought myself a bunch of Warlord and Reaver Titans just to paint. Shortly after which I discovered Adeptus Titanicus 2 which was simply brilliant and prompted many an enjoyable evening against of The Chaps (before they were The Chaps) spanking his similarly sized Eldar Titan force across a ruined city-scape.

When Epic Armageddon came out I was really excited as it seemed to answer all my prayers for the rejuvenation of the game – the best bits from Epic & Epic 40k with a bunch of new cool stuff thrown in. The true tragedy is that it was never going to be successful. It’s an absolutely brilliant game (although Battlefleet Gothic will always hold a higher place in my heart) but the models were all suddenly produced in metal making it impossibly expensive and was the first warning sign that the Specialist Games range were being abandoned like a prom-night dumpster baby.

It’s true that I could proxy or pick up models on eBay the fact remains that despite all those things, I still have no one to play against and so the book sits on my shelf unread and unloved waiting for someone to come along to challenge me for the fate of worlds…

Being a bit Special

There’s been a lot of chatter on the interwebs lately about the lack of love the Games Workshop shows for its Specialist Range. I think this has been largely prompted by Fantasy Flight Games’ expanding range of licensed products such as the all new Blood Bowl Manager game. Although there’s a few rumours floating around that Blood Bowl will be the next in line for the Space Hulk treatment. Personally, I’d be quite happy with that because I think it’s the one game that never worked terribly well. I’m probably also the only one who thinks that.

There’s quite a few strong opinions out there. Some are understandable and passionate, others are the usual bilious nonsense that seems to follow Games Workshop around like a bad smell. As the Specialist Games range has been largely my sole focus for the Games Workshop part of my wargaming hobby at the moment I thought I’d wade in.

Whatever people feel, the simple truth behind Games Workshop’s lack of support towards the Specialist Games range boils down to three things:

1. There’s no money in it. This argument won’t come as a surprise to anyone. Any doubt gamers had that profit was at the forefront of Games Workshop’s mind has vanished following the recent price increases. But it’s a true and a fair reason (to a point – no profit means no company). Once you have the rules and a warband box for Mordheim you don’t need to spend another penny if you don’t want to. And all companies rely on repeat business.

2. The Specialist Games ranges stall peoples development in the hobby. This argument may well be anchored in economics but it’s valid. From my experience as a member of staff when Specialist Games was in its heyday, gamers that just played those games didn’t develop their modelling, painting and gaming skills as quickly as other gamers. A gamer that spent a couple of years playing skirmish games before graduating to Warhammer or 40k had their arses handed to them which put them off progressing further. Especially those that considered themselves ‘experienced gamers’.

3. There’s no space. The truth is there’s only so much space in a hobby store for stock and gaming boards and so the company has to give the space to what sells. Especially as ranges are getting bigger all the time. Even the Black Library is relegated to the smallest space possible in most stores. Granted more could be done online but the Games Workshop’s success is based on interaction and sharing the hobby with like-minded people. And, again, you’d still have to pay someone to write free content for a game that makes the business no real money in the first place.

I suppose, really it’s one reason when you scratch beneath the surface of points 2 & 3. Money. And that’s not unreasonable, but it does suck.

So, what can we as gamers do to enjoy the Specialist Games without the ongoing support of the publishers?
Obviously there’s nothing you can do about the lack of models or the relatively high cost of those that are. eBay is the obvious place to go but as I’ve talked about in my By Proxy post, starting a Necromunda gang that way can cost you twice as much as it should. Proxying is the obvious place to go but that’s not being covered here.

The great thing about the Specialist Games range is that the core rules are free to download from the website which is bloody handy and saves you a tidy bit of cash. Granted, printing it is a bind and it’s never the same as having the real deal but for zero investment you can suck it up if you ask me.

Beyond that and trying to track down the supplement magazines, the only thing left to you is writing campaigns.
And actually this is where the Specialist Games range gets one over on Warhammer & 40k because Epic Armageddon, Battlefleet Gothic, Mordheim and Necromunda are all set within a very specific place or time that gives you a very solid and detailed foundation from which to build your campaign on. Most of the leg work has already been done with regards to who’s who and why you’re there. All that’s left for you to do is think up a storyline, come up with some cracking scenarios and have fun. And I certainly have been with the chaps. You just need to have a read of the Blood in the Barrows scenario in the gaming resources part of this site to see that. And Inquisitor gives you a complete blank canvas. But that game does my box in so I’ll not say much more about it.

And if you’re feeling really adventurous, there’s nothing to stop you from revising the rules yourself, a bit like the chaps at Coreheim did. It’s certainly an option and could give your game of choice a new lease on life I’d ask yourself first; is it really worth the effort?

Granted we still come back to the issue of models and often the need to proxy which becomes increasingly difficult with games like Epic & Battlefleet Gothic but the ranges are still largely intact. Especially for Gothic which reinforces my belief that the game is like the Games Workshop’s bastard love child. It desperately wants to embrace it as their own and give it all the love and support it needs but to do so would be at a tremendous financial and personal cost.

I don’t think Games Workshop willingly abandoned the Specialist Games range. If they really wanted them gone they’d just pretend they never existed like Gorkamorka. I just think that the business has a very single-minded strategy which doesn’t leave any wiggle room. Do I like it? No. Is it cost-effective? Yes. And with the recent, cliff like, drop off in sales that Dreadfleet will go some way to rescuing them from, probably as the result of the price increases, there’s even less chance the company will have the funds to put into these wonderful and very special games.