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Games Workshop and Fantasy Flight Games fall out of love

by on September 10, 2016
 

So after much gossip and general scuttlebutt following Gen Con, it’s finally official. Games Workshop and Fantasy Flight Games are parting company. After a successful 8 year run of FFG producing what many agree has been some of the best implementations of GW’s Warhammer/40K licenses the party is finally over.

gw_productfanSo what does this mean? Well, aside from the initial Sturm and Drang only time is going to tell on this, but personally, this is a somber day for us board game collectors. Under FFG’s firm and steady hand, they have produced some cracking games under this agreement that now adorn my shelf many of them beloved and precious things.
The final carnage is pretty hefty:
• Black Crusade
• Blood Bowl: Team Manager
• Chaos in the Old World
• Chaos Marauders
• Dark Heresy
• Dark Heresy Second Edition
• Deathwatch
• Forbidden Stars
• Fury of Dracula
• Only War
• Relic
• Rogue Trader
• Space Hulk: Death Angel
• Talisman
• Warhammer: Diskwars
• Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay
• Warhammer: Invasion The Card Game
• Warhammer Quest: The Adventure Card Game
• Warhammer 40,000: Conquest

It’s quite a list, and some are genuine classics not least Chaos in the Old World, Fury of Dracula and Talisman. My biggest regret from this was that the fascinating Forbidden Stars never saw even the one expansion, probably the first signs that something was rotten in Denmark.

maxresdefaultWhile we will never know the exact reasons behind this, an educated guess can be made and besides everybody loves some wild speculation. GW has in the last year aggressively moved back into the boxed board game hobby sector with an abundance of releases including, Assassinorum: Execution Force, Lost Patrol, and the Recent Warhammer Quest Silver Tower with more in the pipeline including the long requested return of Blood Bowl.

warhammer-quest-silver-tower-bannerIt seems plausible that GW were probably the instigators of the split. Let’s take what we know and extrapolate from there like some tired TV star in one of numerous CSI spin-offs. FFG only recently reprinted Fury of Dracula, and with both Warhammer Quest and Invasion still relatively new products ripe for expansion, it seems unlikely they would have voluntarily pulled the plug on lines with potentially years worth of product left to be produced.

Now behind closed doors we can assume that they’d seen the writing on the wall, early in the summer the designer of Forbidden Stars Sam Bailey was “let go” and by his own admission, an expansion for Forbidden Stars was well into development. It’s obvious from a business standpoint investing significant resources into miniatures and artwork that was only going to offer you at best 6 months of retail life doomed the project. And likewise, Warhammer Quest has seen barely any expansions aside from two POD heroes that had the whiff of rushed cash grab to them. And let’s not forget all the Invasion players which with this announcement has seen their game killed off entirely.

So what next, well it’s an interesting question. The agreement formally takes effect February 2017 after that FFG will remove all of the above products from their catalog. This announcement is only going to mean one thing for the consumer and its the prices for these titles are set to go through the roof, especially in the case of Talisman and its multiple expansions anyone looking to complete their collection had better get on that fast. Short term we may see some bargains to be grabbed depending on how much product is still out in the wild or at FFG they may well look to clearing out these lines over the holiday period but my advice is if you want any of this stuff you better move fast.

The other concern is what GW’s long term plan is for these lines. Granted Warhammer and 40K will undoubtedly return in-house in some capacity, although it’s unlikely we’re be seeing more Forbidden Stars or any of the card based games. It’s more the question of curios like Fury, Chaos, and Talisman will they be licensed off to 3rd parties, kept in-house or dread the thought consigned to gaming history.

runewars_miniatures_by_garystorkamp-dacw7ejFantasy Flight made clear their feelings on the matter with the Gen Con announcement of the new Runewars miniature battles which puts them in direct conflict with Games Workshop and its own miniature lines. Short term it’s not great news for any fans of the affected games, long term we shall see but it looks like the split had been less than acrimonious and it could be interesting times ahead as these two gaming juggernauts clash over our hobby pound.

FFG certainly have the resources and some great design teams to call on, whereas nobody could argue that GW’s miniatures probably lead the world in quality and detail. The one sad fact is that 2016 having already decimated the ranks of Hollywood has now narrowed its merciless gaze upon our own dear hobby, here’s hoping this is the last bad news we have to endure this year.

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  • September 11, 2016 at 2:57 am

    “whereas nobody could argue that GW’s miniatures probably lead the world in quality and detail” I’ll give it a shot. GW’s miniature design has been declining for nigh on a decade (while their price point has been spiraling upwards and somewhat out of control.) Certainly among those of us appreciate the art of traditional sculpting. GW is almost entirely reliant on digital sculpting which feels somewhat souless in it’s end result. Additionally GW is reliant on china for it’s casting which leads to vast quantities of miscast, poor detail and quality control. The once excellent Lord of the Rings line has become a hideously misshapen group of single piece minis with a severe lack of detail and poses that look like they were based on shop window manikins. (Take a look at the original minis hand sculpted by the Perry Twins and compare them to today’s digitally produced offerings)

    I will admit that GW probably produces the best plastics for board games though, even if I detest the style and the aberration that is the destruction of the Old World and the mess of artistic choices that make up The Age of Sigmar. However GW can only do this because they pull from their existing lines for their minis, so there is zero additional production cost, no other company can afford to compete with that.

    FFG losing the licence for GW is a horrible loss for the industry, but its even worse for the individual gamers. No company in the history of Games Workshop has had respect for the licence that FFG had. Each game was lovingly crafted and supported over nearly a decade with a level of quality that has never been seen before. To bring that to an end, to consign these games to annals of history is a disservice to the fans and to the designers that worked so hard to bring these games to life.

    This sucks and it makes me sad!

    Chris (UKGMN)

    Reply

    • Mike B
      Mike B
      September 11, 2016 at 8:15 am

      That’s interesting you mention those LOTR mini’s I’ll have to take a look at them. And yes whatever spin either company wants to put on this, its a terrible time for fans of these games. And worse I still don’t own all the Talisman stuff and now probably won’t, which makes me very sad.

      Reply

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