Imperial Knight – A Review

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It’s been a little while since I’ve reviewed anything for the Grim Dark Future of the 41st Millennium so this article is a bit of a treat as I’m taking a look at the awe-inspiring Imperial Knight kit. I’ve always felt very fortunate to do what I do but some days I really have to pinch myself…

For those that either (A) aren’t old enough or (B) haven’t been in the hobby long enough, Imperial Knights made their debut in Epic, the 5mm game of awesomeness that has sadly fallen by the wayside along with all the other specialist games. The Knights filled an ill-fitting hole in the military offering of the Imperium being neither a Titan, nor a platoon of armour. Instead they were a kind of sucky middle ground that were often used as a distraction for the Mega Gargants that were also included in the Titan Legions boxset. The Knight Paladins looked a little something like this…

Knight_Paladins

Now they look like this…

Knight_Paladins_40kI mean look at it! It’s massive. Whilst I lament the demise of Epic Armageddon as much as any gamer as seasoned as I, or as someone who appreciates an amazing rule set, I have to full conceded that the 40k scale Knight is amazing. I wasn’t sold on the idea originally, although I totally called it when rumour of an Imperial large kit was in the offing all those months ago. I thought it was going to be a glorified Dreadknight. Nothing to really write home about. I rarely enjoy being wrong but on this occasion I briefly considered getting t-shirts made.

It looks gorgeous. Now there’s been some nonsense floating around about how GW ripped off the Cygnar warjack design to which I have this to say: the Knight model was there first. Whilst a dramatic evolution from the old models shown above, the hallmarks are all there. Plus it’s just superior in just about every way possible to a warjack model (no disrespect to Privateer). That’s not me Warmachine bashing. It’s better than most models I can think of beyond boutique resin models that occupy a league of their own.

Absolutely everything about the kit screams careful consideration. Not just how the model goes together, which is very clever and in some aspects resembles more an Airfix kit than toy soldiers, but the look and simple posability. Granted it loses something by the legs not being even slightly posable. This does mean that short of attacking your £80 kit with a saw your Knight is going to look largely like any other. However, the way arms and head all go together means that you can still tell a story or strike a roguish pose. And that’s pretty important.

The other significant detail is how very un-40k it is. Now bear with me on this. The Knights are an STC from the first expansion of man. They are older than just about any other fighting machine, suit or armour or weapon in the Imperium. Some have been painstakingly maintained over 15,000 years and so the design aesthetic and the technology level is different. Not vastly but enough that it’s noticeable. Enough that you look at the Knight and can see it’s an entirely more elegant construct than a Warlord Titan or even a Warhound.

It’s all beautiful curving armour plates and simple (but not crude) manufacture for longevity. And the detail is just the best. Everything about the model is stunning. The face plates, the weaponry, even the handles and grip rails that are totally unnecessary but fit right in. My own two – no really – gripes are the battle cannon is a bit bland. I suspect it was designed to look like a lance and it just looks like a slim-line acme cannon. I don’t hate, but I don’t love it and helped me make the decision to build my Knight as an Errant. The other is that some parts of the build are a bit fussy which could be helped if the instructions didn’t suck out loud. The visuals are poor and the close-ups are blurry versions of the main images and so are pointless.

However, it isn’t the most complicated kit in the world so with a bit of careful thought and trying pieces before gluing them you should be fine. One would hope. With careful gluing you can keep quite a lot of movement in the arms just to make things more fun and with some very careful cuts and the strategic placing of magnets you can quite possibly build it to switch out the weapons.

On the board it’s a beast. Weighing in between 370 & 375 points depending on your weapon of choice, it’s a toughie with armour 13 at the front and 12 at the sides and rear with 3 hull points on top. And if that weren’t enough the Ion Shield affords it an invulnerable save. Throw in some handy special rules and some horrendous weaponry and you’ve got yourself a party.

The weaponry is equally tasty. As I mentioned, the options are either a two shot battle cannon – which is nothing to be sniffed at, or a turbo charged melta weapon with more strength and a large blast. Both have merits and your regular opponents will most likely dictate your choice. I opted for the latter mainly from a design point of view, but as I have plenty of opponents with vehicles or multiple wounds, splatting them with a melta gun of doom followed by the fooking great chainsword of destruction is too good an opportunity to pass up. And speaking of the FGCOD, it’s just madness. It has strength D so will pretty much auto annihilate anything it touches. The interesting scrap would be a Knight verses a Warhound. The Knight weighs in a significantly fewer points and would have to endure the torrent of  Vulcan Mega Bolter shots but providing it got into base to base with the Titan I can see the Knight chopping its leg off and then beating the Titan to death with it.

Failing that, take two.

The Imperial Knight is a superb model. It’s not cheap and it’s not the easiest model to build but I can think of at least 5 kits from Forge World that fall into the same category and they’d cost you more. And this you’ll actually use. It’s an indulgence. A gift to you from you. And it’s absolutely bad ass on the board. Not indestructible by any means and it’s the proverbial bullet magnet but it’ll look ace whilst it gets shot to shit. It’s a triumph for Games Workshop and I don’t say that often. Is it worth the money? Honestly? Yes. I’d happily buy another. And another.

The Imperial Knight is available from Firestorm Games priced £76.50.

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…

Warhammer 40k Apocalypse – A Review

warhammer 40000 logoSo the time has come for me to cast my eye over the supplement that has had both sides of the community foaming at the mouth but for very different reasons. I of course can only mean the second iteration of the 40k supplement: Apocalypse.

It’s an aptly named book because it’s fooking huge. And were you to drop it on any gaming board containing any models at all – especially those of a resin persuasion – much mayhem and destruction would ensue. Not to mention what your opponent would do to you.

ApocBookSo what’s all the fuss about? Well it takes 40k and tries to turn it into Epic. As I say, there are those that get hot and hard at the merest mention of 9,000+ points of aside of 40k. There are others who roll their eyes and think back to the old days when epic battles were fought with tiny wee space marines and titans a bit smaller than 40k dreadnoughts. I fall somewhere in the middle of these two groups. So I suppose that would mean I have a semi…

I fall in the middle because I have two companies of Ultramarines. The 1st and 5th. The former rocks in at about 6,500 points, the latter about 3,000. Or there abouts. That’s a lot of blue blokes. At least they would be if they were painted. But anyway, it does mean that I rarely get to use all my toys at once. Apocalypse, despite being a bit mental, does make that a bit easier.

Now let’s clear two things up. The first is the book is beautifully presented. Lots of gorgeous artwork. Lots of fold outs. There is however 30 pages of photos. Thirty. Now I’m all for a showcase but they could have made the book twenty pages thinner and knocked a fiver off the price. The second issue is to address the elephant in the room dressed in the suit made of money, there is a case to be made that Apocalypse exists purely to sell shit loads of toys but you know what? I don’t think the Games Workshop’s motives are entirely sinister. I think this for the following reasons: 1. It’s fun to have shit loads of toys. 2. It’s fun to use shit loads or toys. 3. It’s fun to roll shit loads of dice whilst using shit loads of toys and 4. the book brings more to the table than just taking massive formations of stuff.

What makes Apocalypse interesting is that, at its heart, its driving force is to make Warhammer 40,000 as close to the novels as is possible to do within the existing mechanic. For a start there are various tables that juice your heroes to legendary levels. The Sons of the Primarch table is ace. And it makes me immeasurably glad I collect Ultramarines because there’s is awesome. Not that any of them are to be sniffed at. Space Wolves players get to double the strength of their character in an assault. I mean really? Chuck in the right weapon combo and that is one choppy bastard.

Equally the strategic asset cards add a nice flavour to the game which can easily be migrated across to standard games of 40k. As can the formation special rules from most, if not all, of the formation profiles in the book. With the emphasis on flavour, the special rules do add a characterful something extra rather than charging a additional points for something you were going to take in the first place as seemed to be the case with the first book.

Obviously you also get the added bonus of rules for super heavy tanks, super heavy flyers (including the Thunderhawk Gunship – huzzah!) and Titans. Now although the likelihood of you taking a Titan in anything other than an Apocalypse style game the fact that the rules are now available to me is rather nice to know.

And I think that’s this book’s greatest asset: it gives you a lot of cool stuff, like the character boots, the profile for all the big kits, the strategic assets and the like and lets you have fun with them. I’d happily adopt the formation rules in my standard games of 40k. I think it’d also be fun using the Sons of the Primarch and Exemplar tables. But I’m a Space Marine player, so I would. Especially as it does feel like Space Marines on both sides of the divide do rather well on the cool rules front.

A really nice touch is, aside from the usual scenario chuff, narrative campaigns around the third war for Armageddon. It’s got lots of lovely fluff, specific scenarios as well as formation cards specific to the factions that were there. It was this addition that convinced me that maybe, just maybe, the writers were trying to make Apocalypse like Epic and this was a small tribute to its origins.

So it’s all rosy then? Well…not quite. Apocalypse is still played using the 40k mechanic. Nothing strips anything down or speeds anything up. So instead of moving 60 blokes around a board you’re moving 215 blokes around the board. And that means you’re also rolling nearly four times as many dice. All of which takes time. The book doesn’t make any bones about how long it’ll take to play, which it suggests will be a full day. In response to this issue the writers came up with the simple, if inelegant, solution of just blowing massive holes in everything. Templates are bigger as are many of the weapons.

The object of the exercise can rather seem like whoever gets the first turn wins as, providing you’ve taken the biggest of the big toys you can afford, you get to unleash hell upon your opponent first and wipe out entire sections of the board. In a turn. No matter how many blokes you started with no one can lose a significant part of their force and keep fighting the good fight.

And this is the part of the book that certain people struggle with. They’ve made a lot of models with the Destroyer special rule (which may as well be changed to Death Ray) which inflicts untold misery and harm. But just to really speed things along, they’ve introduced unnatural disasters. Now, I’m not saying that they serve no purpose. I am saying that I think that there is an element of speeding up a game that would take forever by blowing up huge swathes of the board as quickly possible. That’s not to say that they don’t add flavour to the game, I’m just not sure if you’d like the taste.

The affect of all this wanton carnage is that you can very quickly find yourself playing a standard game of 40k with the odd super heavy chucked in for good measure. At least that would be the case for me and The Chaps and, I dare say, most gamers out there. Apocalypse is designed for huge games. So take whatever points value you were thinking of and double it. Then possibly double it again. Looking at the size of the templates and option to take, and the overwhelming urge to buy, the biggest baddest war machines going, this really is Epic, 40k style. And that’s not a bad thing, it’s just a bit of a mind fuck.

Arguably to get the best out of Apocalypse you need either one of the following:

1. Lots of toys to us against a mate with an equally vast collection.

2. Lots of mates with reasonable numbers of toys.

The latter is more likely. But then we’re into the murky waters of justifying why Tau would be fighting alongside Tyranids or Chaos with Imperial Guard. But, as Apocalypse is, quite literally, Epic 40k let’s take a leaf out of the grand an honourable Epic Space Marine. Which is to not give a shit. I lost count of the number of games I played when arrayed against my Space Marine Legions were Chaos, Guard & Orks. It just didn’t matter because it was all about the scale and the ambition. Apocalypse is exactly the same. It’ s about fun. It’s about grand tales, epic sagas and legend forging battles.

Everything about it screams ‘yes we know it’s a bit daft but, who cares, look at all the toys!’. And that’s fine with me. It’s not for everyone. Some gamers won’t have the desire to play big games. Or the time. Or, arguably, the money. But the great thing about the book is that it gives the core rules some nice optional extras, and most importantly puts the narrative and the spectacle of war in the 41st millennium firmly in the driving seat. Yes you might end up spending loads of money and yes you may only play Apocalypse a handful of times but that’s true of any gamer who plays multiple systems. And if we really worried about the money we wouldn’t be in the hobby, let alone playing Games Workshop games.

Apocalypse is all about what we as gamers choose to take away from it. There’s no shortage of coolness in there to jazz up standard games, or to make standard games bigger. And with a little organising an ‘epic’ sized game of Apocalypse is well within reach. Certainly if you attend a games club with any regularity.

I’m still not sold on the power of some of the unnatural disasters. They’re just a bit too mental and feel like they’re designed out of lunacy rather than because they work. That said, who doesn’t want a zombie uprising mid game? But Apocalypse is a book that you can take from rather than use verbatim. Leaving them out or toning them down won’t have a detrimental effect and quite possibly make it a bit more appealing. Some of the weapons and the sizes of the templates, too, bother me as most games could be won by fielding two Shadowswords. Because they’re mental. But with all things in balance, if you’re fielding two Shadowswords, your opponent will be fielding something that can stomp on them.

I began reading Apocalypse almost determined to dislike it and write it off as little more than a money making exercise by the Games Workshop. Although I can’t deny they will no doubt do very well from it, I do feel that this book is about fun first and foremost. It’s that teenager in all of us that just wants to get all the toys out and have a big scrap. And its a thin but tangible link Epic and all it did for the Games Workshop hobby. And for that reason alone I’m happy to dust off my Ultramarines, buy a super heavy, slap some blue paint on the lot and challenge all to a battle for the fate of the world.

Warhammer 40,000: Apocalypse is available from Firestorm Games priced £40.50.

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.

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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…

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.