Empire vs Khorne Tactica Part 2

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In Part 1 of this Tactica, we covered which units to take against the pure combat focus of a Khorne army and with an idea of what your list includes, let’s now look at deploying and using them effectively.

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I’m a firm believer in having a strong core at the heart of your army with everything else flowing around it – the expendable stuff, and that word synergy is at its most prominent at this point as you will want as many of your units as possible to benefit from your ability ‘bubbles’ and not have to spend time shuffling about after the game starts to get into range.

By keeping your core intact you can still win even if the rest of your army gets smeared into a fine red paste, which is still a very real possibility no matter how well you’ve prepared.  This core will of course tend to be your slower foot troops who don’t tend to move much, backed up by their support elements which make them better, and the simple diagram below shows that by deploying them in a compact line with the Celestial Hurricanum behind them, all three infantry blocks will be benefitting from the +1 to hit in combat.  The white squares in the Greatsword unit represent characters which can also then spread their influence to these units – namely the re-rolling of Leadership tests provided by your Battle Standard Bearer and the increased Leadership of 9 provided by your General in the shape of an Arch Lector. This entire group is now re-rolling its Leadership tests on an unmodified Ld of 9 (through Steadfast and Stubborn) whilst hitting back on 3’s with a ton of Strength 4 and 5 attacks. The Lector is also granting Hatred to the Greatswords and can also cast a prayer on them either increasing their chances to wound or improving their survivability. It would take a brave enemy General to charge headlong into that and he will bleed for the damage he inflicts – and seeing as you have around 110-120 wounds in that formation he’ll be hard pressed to outlast you.

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Once you throw in your Archer Detachments that can range in front of your line, you should be able to divert enemies units looking to charge you and set up favourable flank charges for when you do want to step out of formation.  This core also has the benefit of accounting for a significant proportion of your points making it harder for your opponent to achieve a victory and easier for you to avoid defeat.

Some of your more combat capable units can also act as powerful deterrents to those who think themselves strong enough to break your core.  For example, a Steam Tank makes a brilliant protector of this formations flank, it’s hard as nails and unbreakable letting you focus on what’s in front of you.  A counterattacking unit of Demigryphs or Knights can also fulfil this role.

If circumstances are permitting, always endeavour to get a unit of Demigryphs in a position to flank the enemy. This doesn’t have to be out on a flank necessarily, simply using a piece of terrain to hide behind waiting for the enemy to come past is just as, if not more useful.  At worst it delays your enemy as he doesn’t want to get flanked, at best you get to pull off a devastating charge that can roll right up a battle line.

You should always try to place your cannons out on the flanks and this is for two reasons. Many opponents forget to look sideways across a battlefield when moving their army forwards and often assume you will shoot the unit directly in front of the Cannon in an effort to keep them alive. Whilst this is an option, shooting across the battle field into the flanks of units of Skull Crushers and Chaos Knights is far more damaging to your opponent.  Your Cannons’ days are numbered as your opponent will do much to remove them as a threat as quickly as possible, so their only job is to inflict as much damage as possible before they go. The other reason to put them on the flanks plays into this.  They’re a great distraction and buy the rest of your army time while they’re being dealt with – and if they’re way out on a flank it’s even longer before their disposers get back into the fight.  I usually deploy the small halberdier units with my cannons to buy them another turn or two of firing to really soften up the enemy before they go and make sure my opponent has to commit a significant unit or two to deal with them – playing even further into reason two.

In the compressed battle line below, you can see the core formation in the centre – although it can be positioned anywhere – supported by the Steam Tank and unit of Knights protecting its flanks. These, and any other units, moving to assist the centre also have the advantage of coming under your ability bubbles too, further adding to their potential.  The Cannons are way out wide supported by the small halberdier units and the Demigryphs are well placed on either side to support either the centre by arcing around or the flank if necessary, or even to advance forwards and punch a hole through vulnerable points through the enemy line.  You can also see how a simple copse of trees can be hidden behind to set up a trap for any unit advancing on the core formations, with the screen of skirmishing archers being used to pull enemy units into favourable positions for flank or dual charges.

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By angling the archers correctly, you should be able to ensure a flank charge at least somewhere along the line and your opponent will likely be hoping to pass his Ld tests to stop his frenzied units charging into your traps.  Don’t be afraid to advance your skirmish screen aggressively to take the initiative away from your opponent who is used to having it when playing with such an offensive army. By getting those archer units high up the board you can clog up his approach with unexpected combats or slowed units trying to avoid getting into combat with them, and then overrunning into your lines unsupported.

The elements not visible in the diagram such as the Helblaster, Outriders etc. can be placed where they are needed as your enemy deploys.   If you can see he’s going to try to rush your core in force, put your Helblaster down in the centre to really make him suffer – or even abandon his plan. If he’s emphasizing (refusing) a flank, you should have an opportunity for your Outriders to find a prime firing position. A lot will depend on how your opponent deploys so try to keep your best stuff until the end. Things like Halberdiers and Knights aren’t going to hold many surprises with where they go, but the likes of Demigryphs and Steam Tanks are crucial units so try to get favourable match ups across the board to maximise their damage potential – and your opponent will be doing the same as he will be fully aware of the danger these units possess. Steam Tanks need to avoid anything with multiple high strength attacks like Slaughterbrutes, Dragon Ogres and tooled up characters. Demigryphs should simply avoid wasting their offensive power on grinding down units in multiple rounds of combat.  They are the point of the blade and if applied correctly should be able to take on almost any unit if they avoid a frontal charge.

The army is also surprisingly offensive when needed, with three mounted offensive units plus a Steam Tank battering ram, you can really take the initiative when the time comes and launch a crippling counter attack to carry the day.  Look for gaps or vulnerable points in the enemy line, as charges are made these holes will appear and capitalising on those moments to get a unit in behind his line will create a real headache as to how to deal with them – all the while you’re pounding him with black powder and magic.

Don’t be afraid to feed your expendable units into his to buy you the time you need to whittle him down with your shooting and get into position with your best units.  Expendable covers everything that isn’t in your core formation – even things like the Demigryphs.  As long as they are buying you an advantage with their sacrifice, you know that by protecting your core (which accounts for around half your victory points) you can still win.

The trick is to get him to underestimate your army.  Let him think he can roll over any unit you’ve got without consideration with his hulking combat monsters, ignoring the risks of charging across the board as fast as he can [With a Khorne army one doesn't have much choice in the matter. - Ed].  Capitalising on his overconfidence and haste in avoiding warmachine fire will let you dictate where the combats happen and with who. Constantly deflect his best units, either into flank traps or off the board to waste their time, and only taking them on when the circumstances are in your favour.  Do this and you will win the battle.

That New Army Feel

I got my hands on the new Codex Orks earlier in the week (review coming very soon) and I’ve been reading it every chance I get and I’ve been thoroughly enjoying it. So much so I’m considering collecting an army of them. I don’t have much luck collecting enemies of the Imperium but the Orks I’m feeling particularly jazzed about.

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The issue I have is that I’m also planning a Lizardmen army once I (finally) finish my Warriors of Chaos army which has stalled somewhat of late. 

The reality is that I’ll probably end up doing both. Much to my wife’s dismay. Because there’s something fundamentally magic about finding an army that you really like to the extent that you want to part with hard earned cash to collect it. It’s a bit like a new relationship. Lots of excitement and trying to learn as much about them as possible. Occasionally a friend might advise caution or tell you all the bad bits that you don’t want to hear like they’re high maintenance.

But ultimately you don’t care because they’re so shiny and new and they’ll let you do stuff that your other armies won’t let you do. And if you’re really lucky you can field them at the same time…

Okay enough of that metaphor.

But the point remains, there’s nothing quite like that new army feel. The excitement of reading the army book, learning their place within the world and the first tentative thoughts around army formations.

Pouring over the model range, the eternal struggle between what’s shiny or characterful verses what will actually win you games. The latter rarely wins for me. And of course the ultimate question – once you’ve settled on your first purchases – what colour are you going to paint them? I never worry about the last one because I get too carried away with the collecting bit to actually apply brush to model. But I always have very high minded ideas and that has to count for something.

There’s obviously the trap of new army syndrome. The waves of shiny models, the new or updated rules and the hype is hard to ignore. I’ve fallen into the trap a couple of times. The Grey Knights stick in my mind the most. I bought the codex, worked out a 3,000 point army list then I realised I found them utterly boring. Just my opinion mind, please don’t fan rage me. I guess the moral of the story is: buy the book, read the book. If you’re agonising over what to take rather than struggling to find inspiration for your army list then they’re probably a keeper.

The hardest part of starting a new army is not going crazy. Resisting the urge to buy stuff before you’ve written an army list, or buying loads of stuff at once so you can get that first game in. I do it every time. 500 points isn’t manly enough so I collect the first 1,000 points. Which is just too many models to be a manageable new painting project so then it becomes a mountain to climb. Unless it was like my Covenant fleet which was black with a bit of copper and wood…

The point is this – be sensible. Don’t be envious of other people’s armies or feel like you need to race to get to 3,000 points because you want to play a proper sized game. Basically don’t do what I’ve been doing for 25 years. I’ve only ever completed one 40k army. And that was my Ultramarines when they were 2,000 points. The models to take them to 3,000 were partially painted. My Ultramarines are now 9,500 points… So…yeah…

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Starter sets, battle force and battalion boxes are a good jumping off point. They’re not as crammed as they use to be and you don’t always get everything you want but with a thriving second hand market there’s always a buyer for the units you don’t want. And chances are it’ll still work out cheaper anyway.

So to return to my earlier metaphor, starting a new army is a lot like starting a new relationship. There’s lots of temptation to go too fast too quickly. Too get too invested only to discover that there’s just no love there. And there’s always that one friend who can’t resist saying ‘I told you so’. But get it right and it’s a joy. It’s effortless and everything evolves naturally. 

Now, how many Stegadons can I take again…

Forge World Empire Landship – A Review

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When the idea for ‘A Tale of Two Armies’ was first mooted, the understandable wrangling over which armies we would collect ensued with both Phil and I swinging between various options.  The decision to collect an Empire army, and then base it on my Marienburger warband I collected for Mordheim, was swung in the end by a very large and very impressive model – The Empire’s Marienburg Class Landship from Forgeworld.

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When I first laid eyes on it I just knew it would be the centre piece for my Empire army, serving as Ludvig von Bomberg’s (ahem) Flagship.  The character of the army was to include the weird and wonderful – and most expensive pieces a general could ever wish for, and this was a perfect fit.  And I reasoned any Marienburger with the means to own such a mighty machine of war would insist on riding in it personally over a mere horse, or Sigmar forbid, on foot.  Unfortunately the rules don’t allow for it to be used as either a mount or a Chariot (they really should look into that) so he would only ever be present as a decoration. The kit even comes with a suitable character model in the form of the ship’s Captain – along with 5 other crewmen.  All are fantastic sculpts in their own right and represent great value for money if you were to weigh up how much a set of 6 would cost to purchase separately.

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The fine sculpting doesn’t stop with the crew either, the whole model is covered in nice details – like the individually designed shields covering the fo’castle, or the figurehead that’s seen better days.  All these details on a model of this size make it quite daunting to tackle painting wise, the photographs on the Forgeworld website show it in comparison to things like a Giant and a Steam Tank, and it’s no less impressive in the flesh – it’s massive, and will tower over most things.  Thankfully, the hull and boiler are cast together in just two very hefty pieces which helps cut down on the number of parts (of which there are still many), but it does mean a lot of time and effort needs to go into making sure these fit together as perfectly as possible and a lot of dry fitting and test assembly is recommended.  Unfortunately due its size and complexity, the Landship falls firmly into the category of subassemblies, which will need painting separately and then putting together afterwards – which is something I’m always keen to avoid but is understandable on something this size.  For example, the location of the cannon makes the area impossible to paint if the fo’castle is glued in place – and still difficult if not.  And the mast is definitely a piece to leave gluing in until last as it obstructs the whole interior. Ditto the Skaven Doomwheel-esque rear wheels.

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Rules wise, the Landship is not quite the beast I would have expected – especially given its points cost.  Offensively it falls significantly short of the only model you could really compare it to – the Steam Tank.  Its cannon is the lighter Strength 7 version instead of the standard 10, and it doesn’t have the same destructive potential in combat, doing only D6 impact hits compared with the D6 plus D3 per Steam Point expended in moving for the Steam Tank.  It does have the advantage of having Thunderstomp and close combat attacks to win a combat with – but it’s only D6 attacks at a lowly Weapon Skill and Strength of 3.  In comparison to the Steam Tank’s ‘Grind’, which again does D3 automatic hits per Steam Point at its usual Strength of 6, you’d have to say again the Steam Tank is the better.  The Land Ship’s secondary ranged attack of a Fusillade comprising D6 Hand Gun shots is not really something you can compare with the Steam Gun on the Tank as they are very different weapons, but with the premium placed on template weapons in 8th Edition Warhammer, yet again the Steam Tank is looking the winner.  Weapon for weapon, it’s quite easy to see which unit will be doing the most damage on the battlefield.

Defensively it’s a bit more even.  They have the same toughness of 6, and although the Steam Tank has the better Armour save of 1+ to the Landship’s 3+, the Landship has 2 more wounds (for a whopping 12!) and a 6+ Ward Save.  It also doesn’t have to rely on Steam Point generation to carry out its actions and potentially damage itself in the process.

They are of course very similar machines with merely a slightly different focus. The Steam Tank has the sheer brute force and damage potential, whereas the Landship is the more reliable (somehow!) of the two and more likely to see the end of the battle, even if it does have a scarily unforgiving misfire table for when it goes wrong – just pray you don’t roll a double 1 or 6 when charging.

Generally I can see myself using the Landship to proxy a second Steam Tank most of the time and then using it as intended for larger battles or special scenarios.  It’s an effective war machine that will terrify your opponent through its sheer size if not its damage output, but at 300 points it’s a tough decision as to whether it will be worth the points.  It’s certainly a hard task for your opponent to get points out of it and the non-reliance on Steam generation is a definitive advantage – but is it enough to overlook the raw destructive power of the 50 point cheaper Steam Tank (who I’ve just remembered also has an Engineer with another gun)?  If it was based on looks alone it’s an all hands down yes, but as always the choice is yours.

Lee

The Empire Marienburg Class Landship is available from Forgeworld priced £118.50

White Dwarf “Wood Elves” – A Review

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From the mists of Athel Loren emerge the warriors of the Wood Elves to repel the encroachment of man and daemon alike…

Today we get our first official look at the new Wood Elves as they return with a vengeance to the world of Warhammer. Anyone who’s been involved in the fantasy tabletop Games Workshop scene will know that Wood Elves have been long overdue an update (to put it mildly) and there’s no doubt now, that despite many of the rumours regarding scrapping them, combining them into a dual or multiple army book with Bretonnians, Games Workshop have given them a full army book makeover and the results look pretty special!

Thematic shifts

One of the most interesting shifts in the Wood Elf army is the emphasis that Mat Ward seems to have placed on the duality of the Wood Elves and their alignment to nature as both a creative and destructive force. This is borne out in what little we know of their rules (through things like access to both Dark and High magic lores, with the suspicion of more like this to come) and in the way that they are described, as walking a dual path, embracing the unpredictability of their choices and revelling in the somewhat chaotic environment that they reside within.

New Models

The most obvious changes with the release of an army book refresh prior to anyone actually having seen the inside of it (not available until next Saturday), is the model range. This week’s White Dwarf (issue number 13, not unlucky for Wood Elf players) contains new models across the range, including characters, monsters and new infantry in the form of what could be a new Eternal Guard kit.

Treeman!

Model

The biggest release, in both change of style and size of model has to be the new treeman model. Available as a ‘triple kit’ and capable of being assembled either as a Treeman, a Treeman Ancient, and the special character Ancient ‘Durthu’ (that’s him with the giant sword on the front cover) it’s a stunningly detailed kit with a myriad of options available to the hobbyist putting it together. The leaked pics available earlier in the week have already proved that it’s something of a marmite kit on first impressions, but I predict that few will be unswayed once they see it in the plastic, as it were. It’s obviously a break from the traditional Tolkien-esque versions available for the Wood Elves previously and I suspect that’s in no small part due to the Lord of the Rings line that Games Workshop have been selling since the Wood Elves were last re-done. The new Treeman kit certainly will make it clear to everyone whether you’re using a model that is what Games Workshop call a “Warhammer Wood ElfTreeman” as opposed to a “Lord of the Rings Ent”.

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Rules

The rules for Durthu, included in full in White Dwarf, are interesting and he looks like he’ll be a very cool option for anyone’s army. Your standard Treeman probably hasn’t changed that much but the Ancient Treeman certainly has – they are now all spellcasters (as is Durthu, as the oldest of all Treeman Ancients) and though it remains to be seen what lore choices standard Ancients get (Durthu is a Level 1 in Beasts) it will certainly give Wood Elves an interesting new dimension – especially given that standard spellweavers now have access to Dark and High magic alongside the 8 standard schools, albeit with their own special lore attributes. Durthu is also listed as having the “Blessings of the Ancients” special rule, which isn’t articulated anywhere. I presume that’s what makes him a Treeman Ancient, or possibly the big cheese of all Treeman Ancients, but that’ll take the army book to work out. Durhtu also has the rather nasty Tree Whack option in melee, which allows him to sacrifice his 5 standard attacks (at WS7, S6!) for one big bertha, that requires your target to fail an initiative test for you to deal d6 wounds with no armour save – ouch!

Araloth and other special characters

Model

The main character model featured in White Dwarf is Araloth, again with his rules, a Wood Elf noble who was diverted from his arrogant path by an encounter with an Elven Goddess. Araloth’s model is rather nice, posed giving flight to his hawk Skaryn, who can pluck the eye from any enemy careless enough to leave it unguarded. There also look to be a number of other new special character models appearing, but pictures are rather small so we’ll await confirmation on that front when the army book arrives!

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Rules

Araloth has a number of generic special rules, such as Always Strikes First (does this mean this isn’t a standard rule for all Wood Elves as had been previously rumoured? Or is it simply Games Workshop listing it this way in White Dwarf to avoid revealing more than they want to?) and Stubborn. He is armed with an Asrai Spear, which itself appears to suggest that any ‘Asrai’ weapons will be armour piercing (Asrai arrows, anyone?). A further interesting comment by one of the Games Workshop staff interviewed about using Araloth is the comment that “If you keep him in a wood, he’ll be able to re-roll To Wound rolls of a 1″, which suggests that Wood Elves may gain some benefits from being inside a wood as a general army special rule.

Eternal Guard?

One of the most interesting new models on show (though you have to peer quite hard to see them) are potential new Eternal Guard models. The Eternal Guard are definitely still in the army, as they’re mentioned several times in White Dwarf by those interviewed, and it would seem that they will retain their role as the ‘elite guard’ and ‘hard hitters’ of the Wood Elf army. The new models, if Eternal Guard they are, appear to be armed with a two-handed extended axe type weapon that could either be a halberd or a two-handed weapon. Whatever it turns out to be, I’m assuming it will be an ‘Asrai’ weapon as well, meaning it’ll either be S4 Armour Piercing, or S5 Armour Piercing. If Wood Elves don’t get ASF across the board, it’s probably going to be a halberd, but it will be interesting to see how it turns out. Either way, the new models look pretty damn cool.

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And what models are not there?

No pics of stag rider models in this White Dwarf, though two different art-works featuring them are in there, including those in the leaks earlier in the week. There aren’t any pics of treekin either – which given the way that the Treeman model now fits the theme of the dryad models suggests that there could well be new models forthcoming from them, but that’s a long way from confirmed. There is a very ‘in the background’ picture of a warhawk rider, but it’s impossible to say whether it’s new or old.

And the rest…

There’s also a nice paint splatter section on painting a Treeman, a whole load of interview content with people who’ve used the new Wood Elves in battle and lots of lovely pictures!

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New Wood Elves White Dwarf Leaks

The internets are aglow with many wonderful pictures of the new Wood Elf releases due out in May.

First up we have the teaser video from Games Workshop themselves:

And then there are the lovely, lovely White Dwarf leaks from Saturday’s forthcoming issue, enjoy:

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I don’t think it’s too early to say that Games Workshop have absolutely nailed this one on. The Treemen alone are enough to make me consider picking some Wood Elves up!

 

New Games Workshop Website Live!

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After the mysterious activities on the Games Workshop website yesterday, presumably just to build tension (given that these days there is no technical reason to take a site offline for a whole day to launch a web site!) it’s back, it’s new and, er, well is same but different.

It’s still just Games Workshop

No clever attempt at an integration of the Forge World and Black Library sites (as expected really, given that at no point yesterday did these sites disappear), it’s just the Games Workshop website, with some differences (see below). This is a good thing in my view, Forge World and Black Library have great individual identities and if they had been subsumed into a new ‘pure eCommerce’ site like this one then the community would have lost a significant amount of the flavour that they bring to our hobby.

The new design

Isn’t a million miles away from the old one. It’s still image-driven but now it’s even clearer that this is a retail store. Pretty much all of the ‘hobby’ content, bar the “What’s new” and “White Dwarf” sections, has gone and the menu layout and options are definitely geared towards purchasing, with options to select by price range and force organisation/ army composition rather than just driving you through the standard ‘army’ channels.

There are some good tweaks here, specifically to make the site more generally accessible across more devices, and as a result the hover menus have died a necessary death. It’s slightly annoying that you have to click on check boxes, not words as that gives you a smaller target area to aim at (especially on a mobile device), but I definitely prefer it over the last front end, much cleaner and easier to read and the new ‘list’ of products view is nicer.

One potentially useful new feature is the ability to select multiple categories at once from the side bar, very much a standard eCommerce feature but I’m not sure how necessary it is for this site. Unless of course you really need to look at Beastmen and Dwarves in one product list…

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Mobile/ tablet friendly

Probably the biggest change folks are talking about (on Twitter, where Games Workshop notably still are not) is the introduction of a ‘proper’ mobile site. My feeling on this is, yup it’s nice, but really if there had been a site relaunch without some response design to accommodate mobile users then that would have been a serious negative point against it. It’s good to have, but should be auto-include for a retail web site these days.

FAQ off!

This is probably the ‘biggy’ in this revamp, Games Workshop have completely stripped out the FAQs section.

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This isn’t totally unforeseen, after all the FAQs haven’t been updated in a long while, and Games Workshop’s general shift towards digital content might suggest that they’ll simply shift them into automatic codex/army/rule book updates plus possibly a return to the old days of ‘official’ update books? I think that latter option is unlikely, Games Workshop have put considerable effort into their digital offerings of late and I suspect they want us all to just buy iPads and receive over the air updates so that we’re all using the version of rules they consider to be ‘the right ones’. Not that that’s much help if you don’t have a fruit-based tablet, of course…

We will have to wait and see what impact this has on the tournament and general hobby scene. After all if Games Workshop have taken them down, does this mean they won’t allow them at Warhammer World events? Most tournaments, I suspect, will still count them as valid (after all, they’re still an official Games Workshop offering), but how will new players get hold of them if not from the Games Workshop web site?

Your account is dead, long live your (new) account!

Part of the revamp involved a new platform and I guess rather than attempt (and therefore pay for) a migration of existing accounts, Games Workshop have scrapped all existing accounts and wish/gift lists. Not a massive issue really and certainly not worth holding up a new site for, but something to be aware of nonetheless!

Final thoughts

So all-in-all not a bad revamp, but clearly another step towards Games Workshop’s online presence being about two things, retail sales and retail sales. Oh wait, that’s the same thing twice. I do think they’re trying, with the White Dwarf revamp, the weekly release schedule and the hiving off of all social content to the stores to explicitly split off our relationship with Games Workshop HQ as a retail body from our relationship to the stores, hence retaining the store Facebook pages. It’s an interesting move on their part and I guess time will tell how successful a strategy it is, but with their one-man store policy and a clear desire to drive footfall back into stores as hobby centres you can see a picture developing where we go back to the days of our primary relationship to the Games Workshop part of the hobby being bricks and mortar centric. At least I suspect that’s what Games Workshop are trying to achieve.