Copy-pasted from the Fyreslayer thread. Had some thoughts, might as well share in a post, but as usual the text ended up longer than wanted. Might as well make a thread out of it to get the ball rolling:
Games Workshop has certainly departed on a peculiar style direction with Age of Sigmar. I believe it’s less to most people’s liking than their earlier and less high-fantasy styles, though those appreciating the new style will likely be more pleased with it than they were with earlier styles. The art direction of stuff like World of Warcraft has had an impact.
Personally, most AoS releases are not really my cup of tea even though they tend to look great in their own way and have clear conversion potential. One reason why I originally fell for GW’s WHFB, Lotr and even 40k ranges was how they built realism and historical references into the fantasy setting. With the new AoS style, Warhammer is becoming one of several neat ranges on the market in my eyes, with conversion potential if nothing else. The old advantage, namely the privileged pull of being the clear favourite close to my tastes, which favoured Warhammer purchases over other companies, is gone.
It’s not sad in my eyes. Cycles of style always exist in creative branches, and I might still enjoy much of what the current style has to offer even if most of it isn’t close to heart. Sooner or later the cycle might turn back for another swing through the historical realism fantasy spectrum, and in the meantime I can always play to my favourite styles with sculpting and casting projects of my own (“that’s great and I like what you’ve done with this and that bit, though here’s how I would’ve done it”). I’ll continue to follow GW’s Warhammer/AoS releases with interest, though probably more often than not as an ordinary bystander rather than as a guest seated at the table, so to speak.
Do you have any thoughts to share regarding GW’s general style direction for Age of Sigmar? (Which obviously was heralded little by little since 7th & 8th editions’ exaggerations like High Elf helmet wings, Corsair collars, Empire steam horse, DE one-wheel chariot, Chaos Chosen and so on.) Does it play to your taste, or to the tastes of other hobbyists you know of? Then this is the place.
I dont mind the style really, but i do prefer the darker side.
I think the main problem with AoS’s style direction is what is always the case with AoS - it exists at the expense of Fantasy. People had come to love Fantasy and why there have been shifts in style over the years, those were usually gradual shifts and they could still work alongside each other usually (eg 3rd ed CDs and 5th ed CDs are radically different to each other but can sit side by side because the similarities are close enough that the differences can easily be explained by fluff). I think that if AoS had been created as a sepereate game to coexist with Fantasy it, and its associated minis would be looked upon more favourably by most.
As you bring up WoW, the cynical side of me thinks that this may be one of the problems; instead of keeping their own style to try and stand out, they decided to shift to WoW styling to try and draw in the computer gaming crowd. The problem is that many in that group have no desire to cross over so it’s wasted on them, while those who would may want something different in their tabletop gaming to their computer gaming and those who already do both are most likely happy with the current style rather than wishing for it to be more WoWesque. And there’s also the fact that a better way of drawing in the computer gamer crowd is to make good computer games as a way of entry point, and those games would probably be better served having their own style rather than trying to ape WoW’s and looking like a rip-off/imitation (there are many who see Mantic as this to GW, but they’re profitable despite this partly because of cross compatibility with GW games/minis which AoS and WoW lack, and partly because of how many are disefranchised by GW prices, which again, is probably not something about WoW that AoS can capitalise on).
Frankly, if they wanted to draw in the WoW crowd, they’d probably have been better off negotiating a deal with Blizzard to make a WoW tabletop game (be it a skirmish game, RPGs or board game) and advertising it as WoW merchandise to the WoWers. But that’s unlikely to happen (especially as unless I’m mistaken Warcraft and Starcraft were originally going to be WH and 40k games respectively before things fell through and if so, there could be bad blood between GW and Blizard).
I guess they are just phasing out the generic fantasy stuff as its easy to copy that LOTR tolkien-esque style aesthetic and instead trying to make some new IP that other people cant copy so easily. Granted its more Marvel or DC than LOTR but I still like all the new stuff, feels progressive and fresh to me.