[Archive] Could a version of Warhammer Fantasy Battle as a game-in-a-box work?

Admiral:

First of all, this is not rumour and it is not speculation. Neither is it a hate or love thread for any wargame. It is simply a thought experiment.

Think of Space Hulk, Dreadfleet and the like, and of Battle For Skull Pass and other starter game boxes.

Assuming Games Workshop decides to steer on with Age of Sigmar as their second main line and leave WHFB as a main game system in fallow just like the previous CEO set out course (and this is a big if)…

And assuming GW want to mark territory and hold on to the lucrative Warhammer IP visibly and cash in on e.g. the Ninth Age’s upholding of the massed ranked fantasy wargames…

And furthermore assuming GW don’t want to invest in expensive plastic moulding for loads and loads of unit kits for a dozen armies…

Would it be conceivable to see a release of a flashy new 28mm heroic Warhammer Fantasy game-in-a-box down the line? Just a starter box with two armies, and gorgeous models which loads e.g. T9A players will want, in plastic unlike almost all of the competition. Perhaps with more games-in-boxes down the line, each with a little scenario and rules package, and each with some other armies with fresh new miniatures leaving former Warhammer players craving them for their collections. Could such a small-scale strategy work? Could it make sense businesswise?

It would seem to involve a way lot less of investment in new kits than Warhammer Fantasy of old did, and the market itself could be upheld in some fashion by T9A and Kings of War in particular, so it wouldn’t be as dependent on a steady stream of new GW releases now that GW has retreated from the driver’s seat of rules, new releases and general support for a main wargame, etc.

Thoughts?

cornixt:

You mean like this?

https://www.games-workshop.com/en-US/Age-Sigmar-Box-ENG

Admiral:

No, a WHFB version not an AoS version. The Chaos faction would work as it stands of course, since Chaos is Chaos, but I’m talking square bases and Old World here. AoS is carving out its own path into magitech fantasy and will become increasingly differentiated from WHFB in design, if previous releases are anything to go by. This is all well for the AoS setting which gains a character of its own, but leaves open room for classic fantasy in the shape of Warhammer. The demand won’t just go away in this niche, even though it has practically never been as large as the 40k market since 40k first got into swing.

Edit: Ah, yes, I might have misunderstood the meaning of the question. Yes, like that, like Isle of Blood and like Battle for Skull Pass. Old World style box in a game.

cornixt:

I think the regular fantasy battle is gone for good, too generic, impinges too much on AoS. They might re-use some of the rules though, a redo of something like Mordheim, but not a ranked battle system at 28mm scale.

Admiral:

You’re probably right. Redundant. Funny thing, since being a generic fantasy smörgåsbord and easily grasped by everyone, but with an original gleam in the eye, was what Warhammer Fantasy was, and is, all about. Still, from my horizon AoS and WHFB often seems like two separate niches, given the magitech leanings of the former.

Carcearion:

Unfortunately I think their more concerned with creating a new IP that they can decisively control then really filling the classic fantasy combat nitch, every release they have done for ages now seems like its significantly more geared towards creating a more unique product then anything else.

Firehammer:

1.) With minimum cost it is possible to just reprint a Warhammer rulebook and pour plastic into the existing forms to produce classic Warhammer miniatures. Development has been done and paid, just make some advertising. The current flood of 40k starter sets (including those Revell ones) is an example how this could be done. Just imagine Revell Warhammer boxes with old sprues and some mini-paints reboxed and distributed through general toy stores.

2.) The two classic (and proven successfull at their time) Warhammer entry games are Warhammer Quest and Mordheim. The rerelease of Warhammer Quest has been botched with a too special theme … and there are too many better alternatives now that GW waited too long (e.g. FFG Descent, CMON Massive Darkness, Myth, … ). Mordheim will be rereleased later this year so we will see. Also there is Blood Bowl, which seems quite successfull and is an ideal entry game.

3.) With GW destroying Warhammer and creating AoS, companies feel a market opportunity and release miniature wargames in just the way you destribed. I am thinking of Runewars and esp. the Game of Thrones miniature wargame on kickstarter, currently having 6000+ supporters and over a million dollar.
A Song of Ice & Fire: Tabletop Miniatures Game by CMON — Kickstarter

So, GW could do anything to revive Warhammer, if they really wanted. But the longer they wait, the stiffer the competition gets.

Oh, and the Warhammer setting is neither too generic (as Kirby/Merrit assumed when killing the Warhammer IP) nor unpopular. Otherwise the Total War Warhammer edition would not have been so successfull, creating all those people going to GW stores, asking for Warhammer miniatures and looking flabbergasted at those Sigmarines :wink:

cornixt:

Oh, and the Warhammer setting is neither too generic (as Kirby/Merrit assumed when killing the Warhammer IP) nor unpopular. Otherwise the Total War Warhammer edition would not have been so successfull, creating all those people going to GW stores, asking for Warhammer miniatures and looking flabbergasted at those Sigmarines ;)

Firehammer
Not too generic for the customers, too generic for GW. AoS has its IP locked down, 40k is almost there (the names of many of the units and armies are so weird now, the space marine phase out has begun and it will be Primaris everything eventually). They only have room for so many big games, they aren't going to produce models that already have stiff and cheaper competition that have the same look and names.

Charging a premium for the best looking models is not enough for the investment in generic fantasy unless they do it via Forge World.

I would not be surprised if they released a book of WHFB rules in the future, but I don't expect there to be accompanying models - not even AoS models with square bases. They are investing more in short-run niche stuff, so a revival of anything from the past is likely.

Willmark:

I’m still perplexed why people are concerned about what GW is doing now? They have told an entire segment of their customers to take a hike.previous versions of WFB are never coming back.

I listened, vote with my wallet and my previous versions of the game continue to function just fine.

Forgefire:

And then CA go ahead and make these beatiful computer games set in the Old World. Feels kind of tragic! But hey i wont complain atleast i finnaly got to play a good warhammer pc game :slight_smile:

And 9th age is a worthy succesor it feels like so far.

Carcearion:

While playing nothing like warhammer I feel compelled to bring up Kings of War- I dunno that an element based game like KoW ever could have taken off if not for the state of things.

But still… Long Live The The Old World!

tjub:

There are still the older versions of WFB! If you want a supported game then try KoW, way better then I thought initially! The fluff works and will grow, though no where near the old world. But I was surprised even there to be honest…

If you want a new box game, give 10/15mm KoW a try! Ive have a hard time seeing a mass battle game in 28mm as a box game.

Firehammer:

Not too generic for the customers, too generic for GW. AoS has its IP locked down, 40k is almost there (the names of many of the units and armies are so weird now, the space marine phase out has begun and it will be Primaris everything eventually).

cornixt
1.) IP is a complicated thing. In British law, almost all toys are considered too generic to be protected by copyright/trademark, as a precedence case with Star Wars merchandise has shown in the 80s or 90s. So AoS has in no way an IP locked down. Adding random letters to well known names (Aelves, Oruks, Ogor etc) may give a copyright to the name, but doesn't hinder anyone to make Uelves, Oriks and Ogar miniatures looking just the same. People are less likely to copy Warhammer IP, because GW destroyed the IP, so it is easier to take e.g. Game of Thrones IP or make something completely generic.
2.) Merret, a layman in law esp. IP law, wasn't aware of that and didn't listen to professionals. So he showed his incompetence on that matter in the infamous Chapterhouse lawsuit, where he claimed GW IP on skulls, Roman numbers, hellebards and grenade launchers under oath. When Rountree became CEO, he got Merret fired very fast. Since then, no new IP nonsense started AFAIK, even if most old nonsense is not yet corrected. So current GW is different from the GW that killed classic Warhammer.
3.) Outside the world of lawyers and wannabe lawyers, in reality so to speak, making generic Fantasy models is no problem. It just means that Dark Elves look like everybody expects them to look, which means they sell to people wanting Dark Elves. Generic Fantasy is more a measure of how popular a Fantasy race concept is. Nothing is wrong with a Fantasy dwarf looking like a typical Fantasy dwarf. Lawyers might complain, customers are happy. It is the fundamental problem with AoS, that they try to make extra untypical versions of every race, that odoesn't appeal to the majority.
4.) Outside the world of lawyers and wannabe lawyers, in reality so to speak, also copying GW designs is no problem. Actually, in GW's most creative times, every artist borrowed from every other artist and the scene was flourishing. In art, inspiration is the motor not the brake. Every second market around GW products only enhanced GW sales, when adding missing but needed models (e.g. Tyranid Tervigon, Thunderwolves, female Eldar Farseers or custom SM shoulder pads). GW's only enemy is GW itself, no other company can harm GW as much as GW did in the past. The design studio is aware of that, bad lawyers try to stop creativity because of legal concerns. When GW lawyers were told to shut up, a new boom started with GW.
They only have room for so many big games, they aren't going to produce models that already have stiff and cheaper competition that have the same look and names.

cornixt
Currently, GW doesn't have a Fantasy miniature game. Tolkien is outsourced to direct only English-only Forge World. AoS does everything to NOT look like classic Fantasy ("too generic"). Actually almost all AoS models look like perfect 40k close combat troops, because Merret wanted it that way. So a Fantasy miniature game for the crowd is missing. And GW flooded us with small Fantasy and 40k games the last two years, so masses of games seems not to be a problem for them.

Admiral:

I'm still perplexed why people are concerned about what GW is doing now? They have told an entire segment of their customers to take a hike.previous versions of WFB are never coming back.

I listened, vote with my wallet and my previous versions of the game continue to function just fine.

Willmark
For the record, since this was brought up, here's my own reasons for caring about GW's doings even though their move away from classic fantasy has made me no longer follow them closely:

The Warhammer world is a marvellous smörgåsbord fantasy setting, and a splendid IP. I only care about the good bits, and fundamentally ignore the warts like mechanical Emire horses, ending the setting and pricing levels. Life is not long enough to get upset about the mistakes and bad moves of others all the time, but certainly long enough to savour the good stuff.

GW still design great miniatures, and in plastic at all that! How many other producers out there can claim the same? They made the fantastic Warhammer world which won me over as soon as I read my first White Dwarf, and they can resurrect it at will, if they wish to. They no longer produce any fantasy stuff that I'm interested in (good for magitech fans, though!) but they can start to do so again.

I never took any of GW's idiocies personally. Great stuff as they produce, they're still just a company. One I'm pretty loyal to, but I would never view it as a "former lover" as some disgruntled T9A member put it with a tone of hateful bitterness. I care about the positives, don't care about the negatives. Only want for more good stuff to come in the future, just like they brought us classic fantasy fans in the past.

Also, new CEO, hope for improvement. Hope is the last thing that leaves a living being. :hat off

Roark:

Admiral, you keep talking about magitech, dude, but it’s really only the one faction: Kharadron Overlords. That’s certainly not the direction of AoS as a whole. Stormcast have repeater mini-bows, but so did Dark Elves. Khorne is as barbaric and naked as it was in 8th…

Insofar as IP protection is concerned, I feel like people are sometimes missing the mark. It’s not about the names (Aelves, Orruks etc). It’s about de-homogenising the actual minis. All of the new stuff is very visually distinctive, eg: Dwarven sky mariners, heavily-armoured masked angels, Khorne symbols freaking everywhere, chunky stylised wyverns. All the old stuff is super generic and copyable.

Admiral:

I might be under the wrong impression, but this artwork in fresh memory alone made me think of Age of Sigmar when seeing the movie Treasure Planet for the first time, before the Kharadron Overlords were released (they’ve got some nice artwork, by the way!):



Treasure Planet shots:




There is a persistent tendency in fantasy to drift toward high technology, and often it happens early on in development of a setting. It kind of started with Tolkien, who admittedly went out with highest technology early on in his writings and actually had iron dragon APCs assault Gondolin when he wrote that masterpiece battle story in the early 1920s. This was toned down, but with Saruman we still see a glimpse of it, and possibly in the downfall of Númenor as well.

This tendency is clearly visible in Warhammer Fantasy. Settings which have taken it much further include Magic the Gathering and Warcraft. At least according to friends who have showed me pictures and told me a little about it. Warcraft started out without any gunpowder or steam machinery IIRC, but quickly got both and more in Warcraft II. It was a lovely image. Since then it has continued with Goblins and Gnomes and more, until it today probably is a magitech fantasy complete with spaceships and rifles everywhere. This is not to say that Warcraft has lacked classic low-tech fantasy elements, on the contrary it has run with both.

I might be mistaken and please forgive me if I am, but it would seem that the case is somewhat similar to Age of Sigmar. Here, GW use classic fantasy elements not least in Chaos and keeps the tech level down with Fyreslayers and the Wood Elf successors, and the Stormcast Eternal models bar the boxy ballistas. So some classic fantasy elements are being catered to, without doubt. But it also runs with a much higher tech level for other things such as the Stormcast Eternal base in orbit and the Kharadron Overlords.

But the market for more or less generic classic fantasy as epitomized by Warhammer Fantasy has not gone away. Age of Sigmar has struck out in another direction if I’m not completely mistaken, and best of luck there! But it means that the niche for Tolkienish low-tech fantasy with Elves, Dwarfs, Orcs and dragons and semi-historical stuff is no longer monopolized by WHFB as has been the case since… the late 1980s?

Correct me if I’m under the wrong impression. This is not an accusation. On the contrary the Kharadron Overlord artwork made me curious as to what GW will do with AoS. To me, who reads it as magitech like Warmachines/Hordes/whatever it’s called, it looks like GW already with their steampunk Dwarf range is creating a more interesting magitech setting than their competitors. :slight_smile:

Roark:

I didn’t mean to sound adversarial at all mate! Sorry if I have that impression. And I really love these big posts of yours where you discuss something in detail with interspersed artwork. They’re a journey in and of themselves. :hat off