Why do people complain about Games Workshop?

For context, I started writing a reply to ImperialRebelOrk’s post “Games Workshop vs Everyone Else“, but then when I realised that I’d written close to a thousand words in his comments box…. well, I figured I may as well make it into its own post and link back to IRO. It’s like a response video on YouTube. Only possibly less fun. :p

So why do people complain about GW? People tend to complain when there’s something they don’t like, and remain quiet when there is something that they do like. That much is just human nature.  GW has also built up quite a collection of people who love their products, but hate the company. This was common WAY back in the 1990’s and shows no sign of declining anytime soon or probably ever.

This is because:

Andy Chambers, Jake Thornton,

1) There’s obviously a large disconnect between the people in the studio and the suits who run the place. This isn’t any surprise to anyone, but there are a lot of “Workshop fans” who enjoy the product and background, and appreciate the creative people behind them – yet they dislike the company as it exists today.

What morphed from a somewhat relatable (sort-of) hobbyist-run business – especially if we skip the very early days under Livingstone and Jackson, which was a time when GW was completely unrecognisable to use today and move up to when Ansell (of Asgard Miniatures) took over Citadel in the first management buy-out (there’s a lot written about Bryan Ansell – I recommend Realm of Chaos 80’s) to a corporate business that was still sort-of consumer oriented to a much more aggressively corporate and anti-consumer attitude under Kirby (following the second management buy-out). The face has started to turn in the last couple of years with Rountree taking over from Kirby, but there are still serious problems…

2) off the back of 1), It’s become part of the “culture” of “GW fans”. Internet being internet, it becomes a self-renewing attitude when new players come in and discover places like Facebook, Dakka, many other forums and the social norms within. it’s the “cool” thing. Sorta.

Let’s face it – you’ll find this in pretty much any kind of fandom. Star Wars? Marvel? GW particularly has a LOT of “bitter ex” type gamers who just can’t move on and let go. Especially when you mention Warhammer Fantasy Battle and Age of Sigmar in the same sentence.

Not a stealth affiliate link. Just a normal link. Relax.

3) GW hasn’t exactly helped this attitude with various anti-consumer business practices over the decades. See things like their hostile and arrogant attitude towards consumers, bullshit regional pricing (AU, NZ, Japan, etc) with even more bullshit justifications and and endless stream of white knights who appear incapable of critical or even thought –  who simply defend their deity’s every action. The same bullshit you get from Playstation/Microsoft fanbois, nee Nintendo and Sega Fanboys back in the ’90s. The more things change…

Even outside of the non-US/European pricing bubble, the way that they reduced the content/number of figures in boxes while increasing the prices (the LotR range being one of the most egregious examples) is nothing but cynical and eventually led to losses that they very much deserved as fans and player abandoned them. This actually helped the industry as many gamers went elsewhere looking for their games and models, often from companies that had a “friendlier” perception. Note the rise of Warlord games, SAGA, Malifaux, Infinity and many more during this time.

GW also got a bit too aggressive when defending what they felt was their IP. Now, companies do face a “defend it or lose it” situation with intellectual property, but GW took it a few steps beyond by claiming a whole lot of names and concepts that fall very much into the public domain. Roman Numerals? Piles of Skulls? Arrows? The term “Space Marine”? Look up the Chapterhouse lawsuit – or even worse – the Spots the Space Marine case for a lot of detail and information on various things that GW attempted to claim that they “owned.” (links to both below). Failure in the Chapterhouse case is what led to protectable names and terms like “Aelf”, “Aeldari”, “Astra Militarium” and so forth. (did you know that “Eldar” is a term used by JRR Tolkien long before Games Workshop existed? Or that Napoleon had an Imperial Guard long before White Dwarf 110 or so changed 40k’s Imperial Army to the Imperial Guard?)

This ties into the “it’s a business” argument/defence – yes, they’re there to make money – most all businesses are – but there are plenty of ways to make money that do not unnecessarily antagonise your actual customers and fanbase. In retrospect, Tom Kirby’s reign was not a good one. Even the “new GW” is far from perfect, but the bar was honestly set so low by Kirby’s eventual attitude and the damage that it did to the company management and their attitude to their consumers that they currently seem super nice. Over the years (decades, actually) of this mentality becoming increasingly pervasive, 1) and 2) got far, far worse.

They are indeed a lot better now, but they’re still far from perfect or beyond reproach.

Amazingly, NOT perfect in every way to every person.

4) The other side now – You can’t please everyone. This ties into what is called “entitlement mentality”. Look at Kill Team – see how many people in the lead-up  indicated on various forums and discussion groups that because this newly-announced-but-at-the-time-not-yet-played-by-any-one-of-us game contains a specific thing, or doesn’t contain a specific thing that they wanted that “they’re out!” or worse. From “6 exclusive cards” that would be trivial at worst to get hold of – to not having any of a few factions (Assassins and Custodes for example would be worse than Spyrers in OldNecro – and it would make no sense to release rules for Sisters – which you can barely purchase – only to change them entirely to match the new, upcoming range in 6-12 months), lack of new troop models, lack of hero models, potential use of E2B vs lack of new E2B sculpts.. it goes on and on.

It can be hard to match the expectation of perfection that someone creates in their head. Especially since perfection is impossible.


5) Culture of outrage. This is again, all over the internet and not exclusive to GW, but people these days online actively look for things to be outraged by as a form of entertainment and social acceptance. Ties heavily into #3 above. Find something you don’t like, then be fucking outraged that a think you don’t like it totally agree with dares to exist. Enjoy your moral superiority until you get bored, then repeat.

OMFG! The Horror!

6) All of that is without getting into people with actual issues – though this often ties directly into 5) above. Like the people (including one specific otherwise-intelligent and prominent YouTuber, rather disappointingly) who got bent out of shape because of those kids’ books being set in the 41st Millennium – because it’s not a nice place as things like Servitors and Black Ships are part of their society and won’t somebody think of the children?


Ever heard of this place called Earth? Pick any year and I’ll show you some fucking horrific atrocities taking place – also – it’s all real

Oh, the only “resource” being used there is money, and GW has plenty of that right now. Books are written by freelancers, not the design studio. Nothing important is being diverted from that thing that you want them to make so they can write some books for kids. I was a kid when I got into Warhammer as well. You think this is all serious adult content for mature adults? Think again. It’s just toy soldiers with a quality aesthetic and an interesting backstory.

Even worse are the MRA types getting upset because not everyone who doesn’t have green skin isn’t a gruff white male anymore and we can’t have any goddamned fucking GIRLS or NONWHITES shitting up our special (white) boys-only treehouse anymore. The exact same thing is happening with Star Wars, videogames, and presumably comics and other “geek culture” as it goes more mainstream.

This very last group is probably the easiest to ignore, because just fuck those guys.

Here’s the thing, though. Of course, not everyone needs to like everything, and people should feel allowed to express a dislike of something just as much as a like. I have a lot of criticisms of Workshop, and I hardly expect them to be sending me a free copy of Adeptus Titanicus as an “influencer”, but honestly GW do get more than their fair share of criticism in many ways. Much of it is well deserved, but much of it is also just #2/3/4/6 as described above.

Mommy, where did Chaos come from? What about Dark Elves? (not Drow!)

As an aside – someone in IRO’s comments made a point of other companies like Vic Minis etc “ripping off GW’s IP”. he wasn’t the first, and this does need to be addressed here.

Doing the very same is what GW was originally built on and continues to be built on. You know. Tolkien, firstly and obviously. In SO MANY WAYS. Star Wars. Moorcock.  Giger. Aliens. TerminatorHeinlein, Herbert. Judge Dredd and more broadly 2000AD. Anime & Mecha. Battletech. Dungeons and Dragons. RuneQuest. Anything and everything from history from the Holy Roman Empire to Prussians to WWII to Cruella de fucking Vil and Rambo. Now I’m all for little in-jokes and bits of fan service, but that shit can’t only go one way.

Valhallan Ice Warrior. Yesterday. (Copyright Games Workshop)

The accusation towards Vic is particularly laughable, as she primarily deals in not-Imperial Guard, and the regiments that she’s “ripped off” from GW were ripped directly from history by GW themselves…

Mordian Iron Guard officer uniforms, 1902-1907 (Copyright Games Workshop)

Have some links. Edumacate yourselves. If you like.

Chapterhouse @1D4chan

Chapterhouse Pt1 @Dakka

Chapterhouse Lawsuit thread @Dakka (243 pages, have some spare time!)

Spots the Space Marine @EFF

49 thoughts on “Why do people complain about Games Workshop?

  1. Good write up. I agree mostly. GW can get fucked though because they rip us off in Australia and you can’t order kits from overseas any more except by roundabout ways. GW isn’t the only manufacturer ripping Australians off though. It’s why I have no sympathy for Gerry Harvey-of course Aussies are buying stuff on the internet, it’s 40% cheaper including individual postage. Why major retailers can’t have a hard word to their suppliers to stop regional pricing is beyond me. Otherwise modern GW seems to be trying to replicate the good bits of 1990s GW with some patchy success–way way better than 10 years ago and they’ve got some good product coming out now. Good on them.

    Liked by 3 people

    • I’ve hear about the regional pricing. How bad is it, couldnt you just get someone to post you the stuff you want from the UK? I know thats not a solution for everyone, it would make more sense if they just charged you for postsge themselves.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Getting someone to post stuff is an awful lot of fucking around, especially when you buy product regularly. I have my own sources, so I’m mostly ok personally, but it’s really not a realistic option for most people, and the embargo itself is pretty hardcore anti-consumer.

        Liked by 2 people

      • I dont understand what the point would be? There must be a reason if there are other companies doing the same. Seems like a terriblen idea if you actually want to sell your products

        Liked by 1 person

      • GWAURRP is based on currency comparisons many years ago when the AU$ was about 40p. They’ve kept it the same through the years (decades, actually) despite the two currencies becoming much closer in recent years (even before Brexit). So what did we do? We just ordered from UK stores like Maelstrom Games. Then GW dropped the embargo to prevent us from doing so (which led to the demise of Maelstrom and a whole other saga right there) in order to force us to purchase from their local outlets where they make a LOT more profit.

        Liked by 1 person

      • The other key reason is because we’ve historically been a relatively small, isolated market, so companies charged as much as they could get with little to no relation to what they were charging elsewhere. That was before the internet and online shopping really became a thing.

        Liked by 1 person

      • They do it because they can. No reason other than Australia has relatively high wages so they can get away with it. GW is not the only offender and it is why Australian retail is collapsing–people see no reason to pay 30%-50% more when they can just order stuff online.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Oh i see, so they are just taking advantage of the better pay. Not theit makes it would justify it, but is the price hie proportional with the avarage wage difference or minimum wage for exsmple?

        Liked by 1 person

      • Actually i guess the more importent question is, if the price hike is proportional to minimum/avarage as they are based in one country… Does that aoply when selling to countries where its lower? I doubt it.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Everything Azazel has said is also valid, and there is no single explanation other than that “They can”.
        I’m not sure how GW would stack up on purchasing power vs other countries. That would be interesting to know.
        I don’t really if know if our wages in terms of purchasing power are better than UK, Europe or USA on average. But everything here has always been a higher cost than elsewhere and it used to be explained by exchange rate differences but that was 25 years ago and our dollar has appreciated and we can order direct online (except where deliberately prevented).

        Liked by 1 person

      • Well i had a quick look earlier and i compared the price of Dark Imperium to the the minimum wag difference between Australia and the UK and it was almost exactly the same (31% and 32% respectively). No idea what the difference in minimum wage is like in other countries. But i guess theres the issue… They wan to make money, and the worth of an item is only worth what peopke will pay. So i guess they figure peoole can afford to pay more in Austrailia, so they will. It woyld be interesting to know comparative sales figures between uk/austrailian stores in similarly populated areas.

        Liked by 1 person

      • It really isn’t about minimum wage at all, or prices being proprtional to the minimum wage, ro anything like that. Anyone who says it is so is simply uninformed, using misdirection or has a willingness to believe what GW’s white knights and defenders spin (or is a WK/defender themselves). If it *sounds* reasonable, then so much the better…

        What happened is actually much simpler. Long ago, comparative prices rose in line with the currency difference between the AU$ and the UKP. Then when that reversed and the AU$ rose significantly in value, they chose not to lower prices (actually continuing to increase them proportionally in line with every worldwide price increase), as they were now making a much more healthy profit.

        Today, that has not changed with a few specific exceptions:
        Some starter sets, some bundles, and EZ-Build models are priced at a lower ratio. Because they’re designed to get new players in, and they understand that the local prices are a huge obstacle for prospective new players.

        It’s that simple.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I think that is the clearest, best, and most accurate explanation. GW is far from the only offender though so in terms of things GW does to annoy people as a specific topic…this is a bit off topic in a way! But it’s the thing I hate most about them. More than anything else.

        Liked by 1 person

      • It’s part of the overall picture, albeit one more specific to ANZ/Japan players. Though I’ve noticed US players starting to notice the disparity between the exchange rate post-Brexit and the actual product prices.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, I use my “alternative sources” for the most part, and only occasionally buy their product locally. I’m not trying to fool myself by thinking I’m getting one over on them or protesting in any way – they still make their money even if I have to go through some hoops to purchase the product I want. Harvey can go fuck himself – his history shows nothing in favour of Australian suppliers or retailers – only his own cutthroat greed. GW today is better than they were in recent years – still flawed but not nearly as overtly antagonistic towards their customers.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. I place the blame firmly on GW going public. Their first obligation is to the shareholders, plain and simple. That means not just turning a fine profit each year, as any good company should, but make MORE money each year.

    Nu-GW seemed to figure out a way to do that, releases a bunch of new armies. All the stuff that was in the background, but never in plastic. Knights, Admech, Genestealers, custodes, and Horus Heresy saw its plastic debut. They killed fantasy and changed it into a game modeled closer to the more successful line, juicing it up to appeal to new players with wacky new armies that are way different from old common fantasy tropes. They added back specialist games, Necromunda, blood bowl and more box sets. They blew up Cadia and brought back the primarchs.

    But now what? what old corner of the IP can be exploited for new big releases? I dont know whats left, beside Sisters of battle, which they promise they are working on. Here is the rub I have with kid book. MAYBE, just maybe, GW is looking not to expand the line any more, but to expand the customer base. That would be a mistake in my mind. More women and black people, sure why not? yeah that comic is a bit odd and not very funny, but its obviously the are just trying to get people to play the game. “hey guys look at us, we are having fun playing Warhammer” Age of sigmar©!” Not exactly a prestige move, but not really anything that cant be 100% ignored and the game can keep going on as is.

    The kid book implys otherwise. You cannot sell 8 year olds the same product as everyone else, hell, they shouldn’t even use superglue yet. *Cough* snapfit *Cough* There is only so much design staff, and only so much time that can be allocated. They are making new sprues as fast as they ever could, but rule writing and play testing is getting shorter. Redirecting energy into something as so silly as kid books seems like a really bad use of resources. Yeah sure, Black liberty isn’t the game people as the design team, but it still feels like a corporation exploring the idea.

    It seems like GW is making all there decision from a corporate plan to increase profits. Ignoring 40k and just giving them books because people already play that game, and new rules can provoke people to buy existing lines. Turn AoS into “the first game” with self contained box sets to play with friends ,and give away rules for free so pick up games are easy. Kill off huge amounts of forge worlds back catalog, because it isn’t selling well or it costs to much to re sculpt molds. Suddenly get surprised that people want kill team year after year, first with that advent calendar, then that wimpy box, then Armageddon, then finally a real big release. I can bet I know why. They thought that 40k was supposed to be the giant slow moving expensive game with hundreds of dollars, that people already have armies, so they only need to buy rule books and random HQ clam packs to be happy. AoS is supposed to be the “get new players” platform, and they do it with really fancy cutting edge sculpts. 40k is lingering around with ancient sprues from 2003, something they think would turn away new players. if they only have the effort to make one big new 6 box army release, they figure, go after the new player who never played before. It is very logical from a business perspective, but its kinda weird that they choice new people, who are not proven fans yet, over the lifelong players they already have. Just keep throwing codexs and Faqs at them, and they will be happy enough.

    I mean good on them for giving us what they want, but lets not forget that new GW seems to only do stuff now if it makes them more money. They gave us new sprues for kill team, but took away old ones. Which happen to be made in the UK, while the new ones are off of those cheap lowerres machines. and it just so happen that all the boxes so far have been bundles for terrain and minis that don’t get bought very often. Genestealers and cargo creates with cardboard bits, Total investment : the writers time to write “exclusive rules” and the cardboard. We got that new knight realses becuse the last one was such a surprise hit that it actually increasing sales to the point of the shareholders taking notice. Did we really need that “bigger” knight that actually isn’t very big? not really, we have plenty of giant center piece minis. we need updated infantry.

    Everyone complaining about the tiny stuff like the exact rules are all missing the point. GW isn’t investing real money into all the games evenly anymore. They only seem to care about acquiring new customers, and let me tell you this, that game won’t end at a children book series, but its damn close.

    I manged to turn a comment into a whole blog post as well… ;]

    Liked by 4 people

    • Heya and thanks for your post!
      Simply put, the problem was Kirby and what he evolved into. There are companies that go public that understand that a non-adversarial stance towards their consumers is best for long-term business. Kirby did what so many governments choose to do and did everything with short-term goals in mind, which worked well for years (buoyed by the LotR bubble), but it did not and could not last, and the pricing on The Hobbit range compared to LotR killed any chance of a resurgence there (especially given the reception that the films itself got compared to LotR).
      Some of the stuff we celebrate today occurred under Kirby’s watch, but it’s being (re)done in a more sensible (and successful) way with Rountree. The Chapterhouse case blowing a series of huge holes in their impenetrable IP moat had a lot to do with WHFB’s shuttering and revamp into AoS, along with specific directives from Kirby and his goons like Merrett (4 pages for rules, no points, etc). No to mention Merrett’s personal dislike of GSC being why it took until he left for what appears to be a decently popular line to be released.
      Factions and older IP to mine? There’s plenty to potentially come. Sisters will be back soon. Beyond that there’s Inquisition, Arbites. Ynarri, World Eaters and Emperor’s Children. Any number of Loyalist Chapters that they may or may not bring back with a new kit or two to interface with the SM and Primaris ranges – Templars. Eldar Pirates, Eldar Exodites, IG Abhuman Companies. Traitor Legions and Chaos Renegades, Hrud for something sort-of entirely new.. then we have Squats/Demiurg – and that’s just 40k.
      The thing is I can’t see them doing that many due to a much more grounded reality – physical retail space in their stores. There are plenty of models that need new/revamped/plastic kits, though, so I’m sure they’ll be fine for years to come insofar as releases go.
      I don’t see a problem with aiming product at kids. Warhammer has always skewed younger. It’s just that the kids of those days have grown up to be the latest batch of old grognards today, except we don’t all only play historicals. We’ve kept Warhammer and in a lot of cases added the historicals. I was in my early teens when I discovered Rogue Trader, and shit – here I am several decades later still talking about Space Marines. Slaves to Darkness had a “mature readers” box on the cover that probably helped it sell to the under-18s a lot more than it hurt. It’s a smart move, and uses very little in terms of resources. GW is a big company, and not everything needs to be about what you or I personally like.
      EZbuild is fine by me as well. When I started we only had metal, aside from Warhammer Fantasy Regiments, RTB01 and the Skeleton Horde. Metal went together in one way, and usually didn’t even require assembly. As someone who cut up metal models to convert using a sharp blade and a saw for years (with the scars to prove it), plastic monopose models don’t scare or irk me in any way, especially as they can often achieve poses that are next to impossible with multipart kits. With a nice selection of both, it’s too easy.
      There’s clearly a fuckwit bean counter making decisions over at Forge World. That’s one area Leakycheese is rightly on top of, along with many at Dakka. The really sad part there is that by cutting off access to those FW sculpts, they’re turning people towards China, which will cost them a lot more in the long term than keeping those items available to order. They could add a 30-day to produce disclaimer to them and still keep them around, but poor choices are poor.
      AoS is getting whole new armies because it’s selling well, people are buying the new hotness, and they’re still transitioning away from Dwarves and Elves that look like the fantasy models that everyone else (including GW) has been selling for the last 20-30 years. Squatting the Tomb Kings was a particularly classless move, though. I’m not as hot about Brettonia since the Perrys make fine models that fit that bill for a fraction of the price.
      I don’t know where you’ve been for the last year or more if you think they’re ignoring 40k. With a release schedule like they’ve had I think it’s unrealistic to expect new units for every force. Am I disappointed that we didn’t get at least one new unit for each faction or at least plastic aspects, redone CSM or Berserkers? Of course. Then again, Custodes are now a proper thing rather than one note plus Forge World. I know I’ve gotten a fucking ton of new 40k kits since 8th dropped. And I mean new kits, not ones I never got around to picking up.
      I have to wonder why anyone would complain about constant releases of codices and FAQs. You remember what that landscape was like very, very recently, right? Do you remember the wait for a Codex when someone played an army that was something besides Space Marines? We’ve had full released for Primaris and Death Guard, Custodes have been expanded into a full faction (even if they recycle a couple of vehicles) and yeah, we got some Knight Variety that doesn’t involve Forge World. Maybe you weren’t personally interested in the bigger knights because you wanted something else. Me? I bought two of them. The Knights codex is pretty thin as it is, and having the extra units available makes it much more of an actual faction. Doesn’t mean I don’t want new Berserkers and proper plastic Eldar as well, but when they release stuff I like, I’m good with it.
      Armageddon was a mess of a release, and it appears to have taken them properly by surprise. The upswing of that is that we’re not getting “proper” Kill Team with promises of proper support. No argument that previous iterations of Kill Team were a joke or worse, but then the last box was attached to the dumpster fire that was 6th-7th edition 40k, so the less said about that, the better.
      Bundles for KT? Again, I’m fine with them. The terrain is stupidly expensive if purchased as individual kits, so bundles are the way to go for me. If you have the models and don’t want more or the terrain, just skip them. They’re for people starting out and completionists. The “exclusive” cards will be online within hours of the release. In fact, you could probably just GIS them already without needing to go any further into the online rabbit hole.
      The “new people vs proven fans” argument isn’t really one. A lot of long-time people jumped right into AoS. I’ve personally bought a ton of it. Not exclusively to use in AoS, since I also play KoW and the main fuck I give is whether the models I buy look appealing to me. Besides, the alt-hammer market has never been better than it is today. 😊

      Liked by 3 people

  3. Well done for covering this so concisely. This is obviously a volatile subject that rears its head every so often and i never have exact answeres or direct references. Just some things im aware of happening and my own experiences. I already expressed my views in IRO’s comments but yeah… At the end of they day, i like the stuff so i get the stuff i like. At one time i was ebaying a lot of stuff but in an ironic effort to curb my spending, i decided to only buy new minis.

    There are things i dont like about GW, but i think those are just things i dont like about capitalism so i just have to pit up with it. But theres enough i like to keep getting stuff.

    I think people do take things too personally though, like the childrens books thing. Just… Dont read them. The only thing i though was well out of order was completely cutting out tomb kings from AoS. Seems really rough on people those armies to not even provide them with an ebook set of rules and slowly phase them out if theuy are not selling.

    I dont know the firstvthing about retail management so its difficult for my to form a decent opinion.

    Liked by 2 people

    • This pretty much covers it for me. The substantial issues I have with GW, I generally have in some form with basically every large company, because they’re all embedded in the same system.

      And yeah, Tomb Kings were a really cool aesthetic, and even tho I never played them, I miss having that Model range available to work with. They had a bunch of aspects that I would have thought Nagash was fine with, too, since his beef was only ever really with the kings of Nehekara.

      Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Rountree has made a lot of good decsisions, and I’m actually hopeful that TK (or some of the more interesting and unique kits) will make a reappearance one day. I don’t take any of it personally, and my main gripe with them at the moment is their regional pricing and regional blockade, which I know a decent amount about (the GW stuff specifically as I have known people at GW head office in AU), but I’m not up for typing it right now.
      Short version is simply “because they can” and that guesses apologists come up with about local wages, import duty and taxes are terribly ..uninformed. At best.
      Here’s a more generalised explanation:

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Interesting post! You’ve done a good job at laying out the facts on the subject. 🙂

    My personal experience with complaining to GW was mostly on the demise of the old world for Warhammer fantasy. There was a lack of communication towards the consumer, which as many will know didn’t help when AoS 1.0 was released with barely anything.

    I can understand why many consumers are angry at GW still, however, I’ve noticed that GW has improved a lot more since Kirby left. Not entirely perfect as you’ve said in your post, I’ve heard Australia has it rough with costs for GW products (a YouTuber called Maka from the Outer circle has a lot of videos on the subject).

    On a side note, I love Michael Moorcocks books! I’ve read Elric of Melniboné, The War-hound and the Worlds pain and The Sailor on the seas of fate. Michael is one of my all time favourite fantasy writers, he does a great job building worlds, characters and cultures (sorry for the off topic gushing 😅).

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, they shuttered WHFB in about the worst possible way, and I can understand people’s anger 100%. The thing is, that was years ago now and it’s time to move on. The number of people who spend an inordinate amount of time busily shitting on AoS (especially on Dakka, etc) at every opportunity is just mind-numbing.
      I’m not saying don’t be pissed at GW – I’m saying that it’s done and dusted, WHFB isn’t coming back (despite too many requests for same) and getting past it (if not over) and going with your existing friends and WHFB 8th books and models, or 9th Age/Kings of War is a better use of people’s time than staying angry and bitter and pissing on *other players’* fun out of spite for what *a company* did.

      Moorcock deserves all the praise he gets. It’s kind of amusing to see how many stalwart defenders of “GW’s IP” have no actual knowledge of where so much of it was cribbed from back in the 1980’s and 90’s…

      Liked by 1 person

      • I do find it really funny that anyone mosnd about people ripping off GW stuff! As you rightly pointed out so much of tgeir stuff is “borrowed” fom so many other sources. That being said, i dont blame either party, as its so hard to come up with truely original concepts these days. Even when someone thinks they have, we are only a product of our experiences and they could easily be subconsciously influenced. Also theres the issue of frame of reference… You could go wild and come with a crazy idea no one has done before… But if its too out there people (who like familiarity) would potentially be confused by it and just turn back to more familiar content. Its really nice when someone comes up with an idea that is unfamiliar and works well.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Yeah. I’m actually totally fine with GW’s background and design and so forth. I enjoy it a lot. What I don’t enjoy is people who declare how original it all is, and how everyone else is ripping GW and their IP off. Or when GW tries to claim that they created it all themselves without any external influences. (Part of, I believe, Alan Merrett’s testimony in the Chapterhouse trial.) :O


      • Haha, we’ll have to agree to disagree on a personal level at least – 5th/Herohammer was the nail in my personal WHFB coffin. I enjoyed 3rd a lot, and not saying that simply because it’s the “cool” “oldhammer” answer – though I think a lot of us gravitate a lot towards what we first enjoyed, especially when later iterations aren’t as enjoyable to us.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Howdy, just a quick one to clarify my position. I wasn’t defending the originality of GW over their IP. Only that what they view is theirs is jealously guarded, regardless of the legitimacy to it. I’ve bought from Victoria Miniatures and other companies that create excellent models that fit in to many settings and would happily do so again.
    Solid article btw and I think you make a number of noteworthy points.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Cheers mate and all good – I’ve seen the same point made before, but much more vigorously and far less reasonably than yours, so it was triggered by yours but was aimed much more at others – as you can see by my KT comments. Apologies if I wrote it in a poor way and you took it as a personal attack. 🙂
      There’s no question that Vic, Artel, Raging Heroes and many, many others ride GW’s coat-tails – the main difference being if they’re using unenforceable “IP” like Vic, RH or ShieldWolf’s “Mountain” (Savage) Orcs, doing more direct rips (like Artel) or somewhere in the middle (though still unenforcable) like Anvil, Kromlech, Maxmini, Spellcrow, etc..

      Liked by 1 person

      • All good, deffo didn’t see it as personal, just figured I’d clarify my thoughts. Really appreciate you getting back to me so swiftly as I respect your opinion. Cheers bud 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  6. I knew it was worth coming late to this party! Since I do mainly historical stuff, or alternative timelines based on history, GW itself just passes me by, although I like their paintbrushes and (spoiler alert), based on the blogs I’m following, I’ve even bought some Nuln Oil to try out! Otherwise, I’ve read the whole of this post and all the comments through and found it very interesting (even though I don’t quite follow it all)! Some good points made all round I think, so a big thank you to everyone who’s taken the time to share their thoughts!


    • No problem. I’m sure that GW can work for you as simply one of many sources of some hobby supplies and the odd kit that can be kitbashed into something that fits the games that you play. Glad you found it interesting!


  7. Great blog post- very fair and balanced. I’m less a complainer of GW than a piss taker- so much of their past is easily mockable. The ‘we never looked at a gun when we designed ours’ from the CH case was especially funny.

    Ultimately, and this is something that you didn’t cover, their business model is or at least was sell to teenage boys for a short period of time (eg before girls. alcohol) with the avergae gamer/ hobbist only buying or 18 months; the source here being my mate who used to be one of their managers (I know I’m sterotyping here but GW has long been a male, middle class WASP hobby (and to a lesser extent most of ‘geek’ culture too (the broadening of the hobby and the diversity that it brings is def welcome in my book))) and a lot of the complainers are those who fall out of the age range the product is aimed at. When 40k aimed itself at a demographic that was younger than me I left. It has only been the more ‘adult’ (relative term) of the Blanchitsu style stuff that always threatens to bring me back in.




  8. If there’s one thing that annoys me more than constant complaining about something, it’s people that complain about other people complaining! You pretty much sum up succinctly the genuine and bullshit reasons that people have to rubbish GW here, defending them when it’s required and holding them to account when they deserve a kick in the collective crotch.

    I came to GW in the late eighties on the back of things like Hero Quest and Space Crusade, and then found that there was so much more on offer from them that was instantly and vastly more accessible than alternatives such as D&D, helped by the fact that there was also a rich vein of adolescent humour running through most of what they did, it was somehow nerdy and yet dovetailed with my natural creativity and they even promoted Heavy Metal.

    I drifted back in and out of the hobby throughout the 90’s and 00’s, drawn by the quality of the miniatures rather than the systems they were touting, while at the same time GW had served as a gateway into other areas of fantasy, sci-fi and roleplaying, so the changes in the fluff and rules didn’t really effect me that much.

    Sure I was sad to see things such as the wider scope of the 40K universe reduced until it was nothing more than armies shooting at each other across a battlefield, but I never really understood why people didn’t vote with their feet or just return to the previous version of the rules that they preferred.

    It was only when I went sideways into military scale modelling at the start of the 00’s that I actually realised how odd GW were in some ways. It surprised me that many companies tolerated third parties manufacturing and selling kits specifically intended to be used with their own products. But the logic was explained to me as working on the basis that the original manufacturer relied on the fact that their own kit had to be bought in order to use the third party product, so both companies profited.

    Maybe it’s different when it’s your own IP in question, but as you already pointed out, GW basically created its entire product range by tweaking the content of the licences it possessed in the earliest days and various influential historical and contempory franchises just enough to get away with it.

    I’m rambling, but my point is – don’t be a querulous fanboy (or girl), and get out there to see what else is on offer.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Great post.

    My own turn away from GW products was related to their rule systems. The inter- and intra-faction balance was just terrible during the times I was a player as an adult; for reference this was WH40K 5th edition and WHFB 8th edition. Most of my wargaming is against a small number of friends, so if we perceive that one army book is much more powerful than the others it really turned us off. A notable incident was playing my first game using Lizardmen against my friend’s Tomb Kings toward the end of WHFB 8th edition. Even though he had better experience than me with his army and I made endless errors, I still won crushingly due to the power difference between the forces.

    If GW can convince me that they can make tight balanced rulesets, I’ll be back on in a heartbeat. In my opinion, their miniatures are significantly better for both assembly and painting than the competitors (at least, than the competitors whose rulesets I value). In the meantime, I use GW stuff for playing with my children since the game balance doesn’t matter at all there.

    At least in the UK I would say that the pricing for GW compared to their main competitors is quite reasonable on a per miniature basis. I can understnad complaints that the standard army size for the games can make it such that you ‘need’ to buy more miniatures to play GW’s games but for me that is an issue that the community can resolve by themselves by making the standard game size smaller.

    Another thing that does put me off GW is the highly toxic internet communities that have sprung up around it. I love to be a part of a worldwide community to discuss a game. Dakka is probably the most offensive. Whenever I look on that forum, even the most positive posts are drowned out by the number of haters who can’t seem to find something more productive to do than share their negativity about a game that they could perhaps be better served by walking away from.


  10. I don’t have too much more to add here, but I do appreciate your post and your sharing more background on the subject. I think for most companies, it really helps to get a good PR person or Face for the company. I don’t know much about GW at all, but I see “Duncan” in the GW Tutorial videos all the time (and some other faces). He seems like a nice enough chap, and that sort of speaks to people about the company. Having good PR and just being open with your customers will go a long way. On the other hand, shutting people out and neglecting your customers is a great way to kill your business.

    I also liked your point regarding GW using a lot of already existing stuff. Plus it’s always great to see an Elric book cover! 🙂


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  12. I really like your article. What personally always kept me from GW was their pricing and that was long before it became ridiculous.

    But to be honest, what really bleeps me off is their ground personal.

    1) This does not apply to all stores, but roughly 50% I have entered. When the sales people approach you, you feel like you are talking to a used car salesman. I once went into a store, just to buy some paints, which i also told the sales person. He kept on bombarding me with facts about their Finecast which was about to go on sale that week. 2-3 Minutes of me repeatedly stating that I did not play GW but was just looking for paints, I simply left the store because he would not leave me alone. While this was extreme, I have often found that the only we to shop in peace was to blatantly tell them to their face.

    2) The attitude they teach children. Games should be about having fun with your friends and at most a healthy level of competition. But when I look at the way the store personal often talk to the kids and youngsters, t is always about winning and beating your opponent.
    Also games should teach you tactics. This is also important for the whole life. How do I cope with a situation. How do I find a solution for my problems. The whole point of GW marketing is an escalation curve. The newest Codex has to be the most powerful and you need this Codex or that new unit to win. For what i have heard this aspect is no longer as strong as it used to be, but still this is not about tactics, this is just about “buy the newest stuff”.


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