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What's the real story behind the launch of Age of Sigmar?


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Ok beardlings… sit down and put another log on the fire…   The beginning The company that you all know as GW originally was two very distinct businesses working out of Nottingham.  Game

Honestly...call me heretic, but I haven`t played a single game with points yet. I actually believe it is a step back, as the basic ruleset (which still applies, GHB is an add-on!) forces players to in

As a player who was new to miniature gaming (AoS was my first ever experience), I can tell you that the rules as they existed on release were actually a big draw for me. I can’t speak for anybody else

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I think one reason you saw a lot of "new" people commenting on the issue at the AoS launch was due to a few elements:

1) Internet bias - people complain more than they compliment. In fact there are quite a few people one can spot in forums who are clearly still active, but only ever complain in their posts. So its likely that there were active fantasy players who just weren't chatting much until there was something to complain about

2) The fence. Like it or not a lot were likely on the fence of joining into Fantasy. Some, like myself, might have made small starts but never gotten underway; others might have still been planning to join in "one day". So Fantasy ramping up attention might well have drawn them in then when the world blew up and most armies got either dropped or broken into multiple subfactions its decimated those ideas and concepts people had. That Wood Elf army suddenly became two armies; that high elf one about five; that Tomb King army became nothing. 

3) GW marketing ignorance. Lets face it in the AoS launch days GW was still in the old process where they hardly spoke to fans and had been quite active in ignoring fantasy almost entirely. So there just wasn't as much hype nor build up around fantasy to help generate discussion like there was for 40K. Fewer releases; no community articles etc... It's actually hard to imagine considering that GW is now pumping out news and articles 7 days a week that, back then, they mostly just did a "new releases" page every so often. Lack of news and fantasy being ignored for ages likely stifled a lot of online groups in general. 

4) Returners. Those who were fans of fantasy who built their armies and who just drifted away. No big news for ages to draw them in; no major new releases for their army to rekindle interest etc.... Perhaps even just life getting in the way for a while - all those fans suddenly found that the game they'd enjoyed was gone; officially it was nothing in both lore, rules and (for some) miniatures too. That's a painful pill to take.

5) don't forget after just destroying two armies - Brets and Tombkings - many fans were likely concerned that other armies were goin to get the chop too. Tomb Kings were not even an old or small line. It was a major line that had had semi-recent model updates. It was very much not an abandoned faction so seeing it vanish I think sent huge shockwaves as people got worried and angry that Skaven, or High Elves or such could be very quickly next! 

Wargamers invest more heavily into the long term life of their purchases than most other modern markets. We expect models to last decades of useful function. Sure we expect new weapons and scupts along the way; but by and large old armies still work today for the core of the army. So a new sculpt here; a replaced unit there; a dropped hero there that's ok in bits. Dropping whole armies fast is scary because instead of a slow evolution of a faction its the total removal 

And sure you can use old rules and house rules and internet fan rules, but we all know that official rules work best for acceptance at most clubs and for keeping an army up to date with models and lore and the like. 

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1 hour ago, Overread said:

 

3) GW marketing ignorance. Lets face it in the AoS launch days GW was still in the old process where they hardly spoke to fans and had been quite active in ignoring fantasy almost entirely. So there just wasn't as much hype nor build up around fantasy to help generate discussion like there was for 40K. Fewer releases; no community articles etc... It's actually hard to imagine considering that GW is now pumping out news and articles 7 days a week that, back then, they mostly just did a "new releases" page every so often. Lack of news and fantasy being ignored for ages likely stifled a lot of online groups in general. 

I think there was an element of AoS being a test of the market. Everyone on the internet is an expert but only on their own opinions so I believe AoS was deliberately pared right back to see what people really went for and find out what the market wanted rather than just churning out the same stuff they had for 30 years.  With things like points the design team went to the TOs who had been making their own and took that as a base.   I think they also used it as a test bed for what came with 40K 8th Ed.  I guess more of a case of an experiment and proof of concept than Market research. 

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WHFB wasn't making a profit. End of story.

No company makes decisions like this with products that pull their own weight. WHFB was about 30 years old. The rules were byzantine. The game had the initial barrier of a high investment cost that was mitigating against attracting new players. And the fanbase was becoming more and more and more negative, toxic even (not saying that with the way GW was acting then that it wasn't justifiable but it was a factor IMO). Ultimately they looked at the financials of WHFB and found they had nothing to loose. So they decided to go for broke and do something different.

Did it launch poorly - hell yeah. I was a long time WHFB player and I was not impressed that the world was blown-up (but hey as a Druchii I still get to blame Teclis for that :P ). But was it the right call? Look around the game is in a great place and as a UK based company GW couldn't be in a better position going into the uncertainty of Brexit. 

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3 hours ago, zedatkinszed said:

WHFB wasn't making a profit. End of story.

Source? I've heard this repeated on the internet again and again, without any backing.

Agreed that the marginal return on most of the 40k range was higher than WHFB, and from the latest disclosures we can infer that AoS is outselling WHFB, but I've yet to see any evidence that it wasn't making a profit. Still a good business decision, but please stop spreading internet MBA wisdom if you can't back it up.

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27 minutes ago, Brother Dimetrius said:

Source? I've heard this repeated on the internet again and again, without any backing.

As I've mentioned in my first post, there is no evidence of anything mentioned on this thread to say one thing or another. All of the conclusions made on this thread are purely biased speculation based on what little tidbits of info we can gain from other sources and assumptions.

Take everything said with a grain of salt, and enjoy the speculation with everyone else. ūüėä

On 12/28/2018 at 3:11 PM, CaptainSoup said:

Take everything with a grain of salt...

 

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24 minutes ago, Brother Dimetrius said:

Source? I've heard this repeated on the internet again and again, without any backing.

Agreed that the marginal return on most of the 40k range was higher than WHFB, and from the latest disclosures we can infer that AoS is outselling WHFB, but I've yet to see any evidence that it wasn't making a profit. Still a good business decision, but please stop spreading internet MBA wisdom if you can't back it up.

There won't be any sources for this, as the only people that can know for sure would have been working at GW in finance. 

That being said, we can look at  clues and infer with pretty a pretty good consensus that WHFB wasn't making enough profit. I doubt it was making no profit, but I bet the margins were quite small.  GW at the time was shown to not really innovate, they were using big splash releases to keep their numbers up.  GW at the time would have likely  continued this strategy, if it was producing the revenue that was needed. I infer that it was not, and was likely declining release over release, and thus they needed to find way to fix it, thus AOS is born. Taking such a huge risk with an established franchise and playerbase is not something that GWs management at the time would do unless the situation was dire. 

Over the years many retailers, both LGS and online have spoken about their fantasy sales, and they were quite dismal. This doesn't account for all sales of course, but It was pretty common. 

 At let's be honest, despite it's success now AOS was a huge risk for the company,  and  could have completely backfired. There really was no reset button on it. When you have a failing product line, you generally work on trying to fix it before something drastic. In this case I think 8th edition was that attempt, as there were many Fantasy releases, like wood elves, in an attempt to reinvigorate the product line. 

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8 hours ago, Overread said:

2) The fence. Like it or not a lot were likely on the fence of joining into Fantasy. Some, like myself, might have made small starts but never gotten underway; others might have still been planning to join in "one day". So Fantasy ramping up attention might well have drawn them in then when the world blew up and most armies got either dropped or broken into multiple subfactions its decimated those ideas and concepts people had. That Wood Elf army suddenly became two armies; that high elf one about five; that Tomb King army became nothing. 

That was definitely me.  I had been slowly building a couple of skirmish forces, and while I knew about the End Times, suddenly the gak hit the fan.

I've settled into things with what I think of the new setting(s), but I also find solace in the fact that because I/m pretty laid back, and didn't have any special attachment to Tomb Kings or Bretonnia, I can still just as easily get together with like-minded people and just use either the normal rules (and especially skirmish, as it's a smaller snapshot of a faction) to just play games in the Old World as a non-ranked units game.  Other than Stormcast needing to be refluffed as some sort of Gelt/Sigmar joint effort, it's not like any new faction can't find places in friendly games as stand-ins/allies for an Old World faction (Fyreslayers->Slayers, Kharadron->Dwarven  Engineers, Idoneth and/or Morathi->Dark Elf Chaos/Ocean creepyness, etc) 

I just think that GW didn't go post-Apocalyptic after-End Times with the setting because they wanted to absolutely break with Warhammer Fantasy.  They really only kept the old factions and Warhammer branding for an "ehh...why not" view of possible sales to people who were on the fence like me, because it's not like they didn't simply have them sitting on the shelves. 

I'm only surprised they didn't can Vampire Counts and Ghouls instead of the Tomb Kings, which were definitely fantastical enough to fit into AoS, with all their animated statues, etc.  The Empire and the Vampire Counts are really the 'Old World" gothic-feel factions after Bretonnia that harken back to the Old World- all the other factions could visually fit into any sort of high magic fantasy setting they felt like cooking up, even something completely without a tie to Warhammer whatsoever, hell, even one without non-Chaos humans.

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To me the lack of actual balance was horrible thing that was heavily dooming the game. The lack of details with the fluff was also hurting it. Some models and armies still being overpriced. The various factions being broken into tiny chunks.  The launch was a huge mess.

I am quite glad that they have been working on or have fixed all four of those things. Some factions still need to be combined and some armies are still overpriced, but the first just takes time and the later you kind of just get used to with GW.) 

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I just wish that from the get-go, GW had really made it a point to say the idea was to choose armies yourself and just play out the battle and see what happens, no competitiveness at all. That's it, a bit of insight into what they really had in mind, not months of people guessing that points would show up the next day, or a proper rulebook was surely coming out next month... (Of course we kind of got that with the general's handbook).

One thing I liked, was the idea of battles being introduced by a short bit of background and poeple encouraged to re-create it. Sadly, that falls apart when the armies shown were of course made up of huge amounts of expensive models that so few could achieve!

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2 hours ago, Aegisgrimm said:

I'm only surprised they didn't can Vampire Counts and Ghouls instead of the Tomb Kings

I spoke to a manager of my local GW and he claimed that Vampire Counts simply outsold Tomb Kings by a very large amount. I know it's only the claim of a store manager but I don't find it hard to believe because the Tomb Kings range as a whole was a lot older, and GW has always had a bad* habit of updating stuff that sells well while ignoring the less successful lines.

 

*I know they have to make money as a publicly traded company, but in my opinion it helps to establish a positive reinforcement loop of new models > more sales > new models > more sales and so on.

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On ‚Äé12‚Äé/‚Äé28‚Äé/‚Äé2018 at 2:47 PM, BunkhouseBuster said:

At the time, GW considered itself a miniatures company and did not worry about the rules and mechanics of their games.  They went with an abstracted rule set and gave the community free reign to play the sorts of games that they would want to play.  They focused instead on producing the best possible plastic kits and did not worry about the points.

As for first-hand experience, I don't remember reading or hearing anything in particular.  All I know is that is was a massive gamble that has paid off in the long term for GW as a business.  The abstracted, modular rules, and still supporting older models released are two great things about Age of Sigmar.

I know I'm a little late to the party but this is bit of a  watered down and 'put a smile on it' explanation for what that period was like. While we have no 100% accurate first person views of what happened during the lead up and first year of launch or Age of Sigmar, we do have enough podcast recordings, youtube videos, FLGS testimonials, financial information, and 'insider gossip' to piece together a timeline that's certainly more complete(and DEEPLY interesting)  than 'paid off in the long term'.

Here's what I've managed to piece together after long hours of research into this situation. It's one of the most fascinating business cases in the 21st century. If they ever get a complete record of what exactly happened, it'll be taught in every business school for the rest of time.  As it stands it's mostly evidence based speculation as getting a 100% honest take out of most likely NDA bound GW staffers is dam near impossible.

Starting in response to your comment. The 'We're a miniatures company not a games company' thing is a deliberate mocking of the community of both 40k and Warhammer Fantasy by Ex-CEO TOM Kirby. His administration said this in response to people calling out their objectively shoddy rules writing. This is the GW equivalent of the kid on Xbox live calling you a 'try-hard nerd that needs to get a life' when he gets beaten. (sidebar: In October Kirby started doomsaying on GW's stock price, because he's a ******.)

It wasn't just points they didn't worry about, armies tended to be wildly broken relative to one another(even moreso than we see today. 7th edition 40k ended up being a game where it was almost mathematically impossible for some 1850pt  armies to kill a single model against optimized lists), core rules didn't function correctly, or created unforeseen combinations that led to unkillable units(literally unkillable. As in 99% reduction to ALL damage. No mortal wounds in this era). They also had some of the worst onboarding in the history of gaming. You needed to memorize probably close to 150 pages of rules to even be able to start playing a game of either 40k or AoS. Teaching someone either was a massive pain for both of you. BOTH games were an absolute nightmare to play before their reboot, although Fantasy was a LOT better off than 40k was by the end of 7th.

AoS was a massive gamble yes. But just saying 'it paid off in the long run' does a serious disservice to the entire chain of events. When AoS first dropped, Warhammer Fantasy died basically overnight, with 0 warning or communication. Everyone's armies were no longer valid, and were unlikely to be supported even if you intended to continue with 8th edition Fantasy. Extremely expensive end-time books became paperweights and the game that they introduced was seen as a joke. A guy burned his Dark Elf army on YouTube and while in retrospect it's a pretty rash thing, at the time it wasn't totally unreasonable. Saying that 'they supported older models' is a pretty significant retcon too. Two armies got squatted outright and there was absolutely no guarantee at launch that ANYTHING would survive beyond their initial warscrolls(many of which are so terrible that they've mostly all been reworked whenever a new book comes out). No one could be sure of anything and even people who DID support the game at launch did so knowing that the rug could be yanked out from underneath them at any moment.

Imagine if tomorrow, you woke up and Age of Sigmar was suddenly Hello Kitty Island Adventure and you were pretty sure your army wasn't going to be getting anything anytime soon, if ever again, and that's about what this felt like. This outright killed a ton of FLGS and tanked GW's profits pretty hard. Compound that with the first wave of releases being hilariously overpriced(Varanguard 100 USD for THREE models. Liberators and Judicators being so overpriced that they had to rebox them to make them semi-reasonable) along with (and I'm sorry here open play people but) a basically unplayable game. Release AoS had 0 guidelines on how to build armies out of the box. Even for people who stuck with it, it took MONTHS of playtesting against similar forces to figure out what a roughly 'fair' fight was and pickup games were nearly impossible. That's even ignoring the fact that Nagash can literally fill up a deployement zone with so many units that you run out of space to put things.(Yes, there were a subset of people that worked through the launch issues of AoS and found a vast sandbox of creativity and narrative that could only be achieved by the near carte blanche the launch rules could give you. This was a very small group of people, even relative to Fantasy's niche playerbase.)

This almost killed GW outright. AoS was putting out some of the highest quality(and most expensive) models anyone has ever made and they were selling like Snowcones in a blizzard. Stores couldn't shift ANYTHING Sigmar. Between the ridiculous pricepoints, the ruleset that wouldn't even qualify as a Dev-kit for most companies, and the ire leftover from the Death of Fantasy, Sigmar was a massive drain on GW's margin.

 Which leads me to the reason GW isn't anywhere near the dumpsterfire of a-holes and d-heads they used to be: A rare moment of humility. One group of people managed to help create a pretty significant community with a fairly large tournament scene out of the ashes with their own HEAVILY modified AoS ruleset. These were the guys from South Coast GT. They called those guys in and said 'We want to make Age of Sigmar the best game it can possibly be' . Together, the guys from the South Coast GT and the designers (who were never bad guys, just a bit put upon by their frankly evil corporate structure) created the General's Handbook. The single best selling rules supplement GW has EVER released(at least at the time). Sales of Sigmar exploded, basically overnight(especially in North America) and this led GW to reach out to other prominent community members Like Reece and Frankie of Frontline gaming and the guys at Nova and Adepticon, which compounded on itself to jumping back into social media, actively supporting their rules, being more involved in the community, being involved in the Independent Tournament scene, the Twitch stream, and every other cool thing that GW has done as part of their 'New GW' initiative. This then spread to 40k, which also resulted in a MUCH better initial launch that revitalized the game and has 40k more successful and popular than it's ever been as well.

Everything good or admirable that GW has done in the past few years is a DIRECT result of their mishandling of the Fantasy-AoS transition and the serious negative impact it had on them as a business. Both games are thriving and it's because they got their nose smacked and learned from it. Remember when you couldn't have an online shopping cart for GW products? I member.

This is one of the most powerful stories of a company choosing to behave in a more ethical, customer centric, and all around more positive way, and being massively rewarded for treating their customers like people instead of numbers on a spreadsheet. The turnaround is amazing and I hope companies in similar positions can learn something from them.

That said, GW still has a long way to go. Their prices are still fairly ridiculous, their processes could be a bit more transparent, some of their rules decisions are still highly questionable, along with a few other issues that persist from their Kirby days. They're doing so much better than the mustache twirling villain GW used to be though.

If you disagree with my overall take on this or want to get more information for yourself I HIGHLY recommend looking into anything you can find from the Kirby era to the GHB from financial news sources, game sites, content creators, official shareholder statement, and even 4chan if you're brave enough. It's a pretty interesting rabbit hole and a great way to spend a quiet Sunday afternoon brushing up on your investigative journalism skill.

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10 hours ago, zedatkinszed said:

WHFB wasn't making a profit. End of story.

No company makes decisions like this with products that pull their own weight. WHFB was about 30 years old. The rules were byzantine. The game had the initial barrier of a high investment cost that was mitigating against attracting new players. And the fanbase was becoming more and more and more negative, toxic even (not saying that with the way GW was acting then that it wasn't justifiable but it was a factor IMO). Ultimately they looked at the financials of WHFB and found they had nothing to loose. So they decided to go for broke and do something different.

Did it launch poorly - hell yeah. I was a long time WHFB player and I was not impressed that the world was blown-up (but hey as a Druchii I still get to blame Teclis for that :P ). But was it the right call? Look around the game is in a great place and as a UK based company GW couldn't be in a better position going into the uncertainty of Brexit. 

It was the right call, implemented in the worst way it could possibly of been. Once they figured out that sometimes people react to things that happen in ways besides handing them their wallets, they wised up.

Like I've said in my last post and in other places on this forum. It wasn't JUST Sigmar that got GW to where they are now. It was Sigmar's failure to launch and the subsequent culture shakeup they made. Without the GHB, and 40th 8th, and the New GW initiative, we very well could have been looking at an actually dying company at this point.

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4 hours ago, Lousy Beatnik said:

I just wish that from the get-go, GW had really made it a point to say the idea was to choose armies yourself and just play out the battle and see what happens, no competitiveness at all. 

Open Play =/= not-competitive. Not by a long shot. Thinking they are synonymous is a mistake and is  the sort of mentality that had led many people to dismiss Open Play.

 

37 minutes ago, Bellfree said:

. One group of people managed to help create a pretty significant community with a fairly large tournament scene out of the ashes with their own HEAVILY modified AoS ruleset. These were the guys from South Coast GT ...  this led GW to reach out to other prominent community members Like Reece and Frankie of Frontline gaming and the guys at Nova and Adepticon, which compounded on itself to ... being involved in the Independent Tournament scene, 

Not saying your overall point is off, but your emphasis on the value of the tournament scene is highly overstated. Tournaments have value, even if they do bring it the gawd-awful worst in gamers, but their impact on sales is likely negligible.

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The ‚Äúwe‚Äôre a miniature company not a games company‚ÄĚ quote is a¬†misquote/paraphrasing¬†it was actually ‚ÄúWe‚Äôre a miniature manufacturer not a games retailer‚ÄĚ and taken from their business model. A similar statement still exists. Both then and now it has context and further explanation with it as part of a document that explains to investors and protential investors how GW functions as a business,¬†It can be read on

https://investor.games-workshop.com/

along with loads of other information on how GW runs as a business.  Have a look it might clear up some misconceptions

 

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There have been other changes too - in the past GW was very iron fisted with regard to rumours, leaks and such - in fact several news sites stopped carrying any GW rumours at all because GW was more likely to swoop in with scary legal letters. Now when a leak happens the public side GW might just release the pictures themselves or even do a comical video - ergo they "roll with the punch" rather than punching back. Though I'm sure behind the scenes they ferret out the leak and deal with the source; its not as vindictive as it once was. Plus they aren't hounding after their fanbase with it. They've torn down that whole artificial wall of "them and us." 

 

I do think that in years to come it will be an interesting case study for students to look at the GW model and see how things changed and how a disposable attitude is not always the most profitable for a company. In fact its great to see a company that essentially produces a long term product doing so financially well in modern times when oh so many markets are focused around the idea  of short term product lifespans and quick profit injections. 

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On 12/29/2018 at 1:47 PM, Aegisgrimm said:

Well, unless you wanted to play Fyreslayers, which are hugely overpriced even for a GW army.  I'll never understand GWs intention with pricing some of the new AoS stuff, if they were going to make fantasy accessible to the masses.

The major point where fantasy pricing went wrong IMO was the decision to price WFB minis at the same level as 40k, whilst at the same time introducing 'horde' rules which made units of 40+ almost compulsory. It meant the barriers to entry were much, much higher for fantasy, coupled with minis which were generally harder to paint. AOS was meant to address this by being playable at any size in a way WFB  wasn't. However, with the player base demanding bigger games and massive regiments, a few of the older armies have been left behind. I really hope GW reverse this creep back to huge armies being the norm.

On 12/29/2018 at 7:26 PM, Sleboda said:

I'll go out on a limb and say that nobody, and I mean nobody, came to AoS for any rule that gave a benefit in-game for having a mustache.

Those rules were a slap in the face.

I'm actually that person. I'd played WFB for decades including the random tables and utter silliness that existed in 3rd ed. I distanced myself from the community largely because I couldn't find the type of fun casual game I liked outside of close friends playing at each other's homes. The silly rules for me brought those kind of games from my childhood back into the mainstream. The AOS launch meant the only people playing were those who embraced this style of gaming, and I made a whole bunch of new friends I  the hobby who had previously been drowned out by the highly competitive tourney practice scene that predominated beforehand. This side of the hobby is IMO much stronger thanks to AOS being an explicitly non-competitive game at launch.

2 hours ago, Overread said:

There have been other changes too - in the past GW was very iron fisted with regard to rumours, leaks and such - in fact several news sites stopped carrying any GW rumours at all because GW was more likely to swoop in with scary legal letters. Now when a leak happens the public side GW might just release the pictures themselves or even do a comical video - ergo they "roll with the punch" rather than punching back. Though I'm sure behind the scenes they ferret out the leak and deal with the source; its not as vindictive as it once was. Plus they aren't hounding after their fanbase with it. They've torn down that whole artificial wall of "them and us." 

 

I do think that in years to come it will be an interesting case study for students to look at the GW model and see how things changed and how a disposable attitude is not always the most profitable for a company. In fact its great to see a company that essentially produces a long term product doing so financially well in modern times when oh so many markets are focused around the idea  of short term product lifespans and quick profit injections. 

As someone who helped run a WFB fan site I can confirm GW legal were a nightmare back in the day.

Edited by AGPO
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For me the big error at launch was alienating two groups of fans at the same time. If they had leaned in to the narrative aspect, released thé AOS rules  as WFB 9th ed along with the End Times as a year long narrative event with all those shiny new minis, I think that side of the fan base would have embraced the primacy of narrative games and been a lot more open to the Age of Sigmar when it appeared. Likewise if points had been present from the start that side of the community may well have welcomed the streamlining and smaller armies that came from AOS. Rather than choose a team, GW took away the thing both sides were most attached to.

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Aye I think that was one of the more shocking things. AoS wasn't just chasing a new market, but at the same time it turned away a vast majority of the previous market GW had built over decades. Granted many of that market had drifted, but many were ready and willing to leap back in with the right approach. Denial of that market entirely left GW with a lot of haters and a negative impact that also split the community. We still feel some of that split even now after several years and its going to take many more and a lot more releases to fix it - Goblins and Beasts of Chaos I think have been outstanding releases in bridging the gap and I hope GW continues to do likewise through the rest of AoS's lifespan. 

We can see the effect of a well rewarded customer market in the insane sales rate that 40K has had through its current edition. I think it showed, more than anything, how many people had drifted but were easily brought back into the fold and brought back as customers to the game. Driving GW's production to a point where, after one year, they've had to buy land and commission the construction of a brand new production factory in the UK is a very big thing! Granted Specialist games and AoS are part of that pattern too! 

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Am i right in remembering that the factions weren't split at launch but rather with the release of the Grand Alliance books the following year. At launch free pdfs were provided for every wfb army including TKs and Brets, and all the special characters, many of whom had just been killed in the End Times. The new factions were slowly rolled out with the first few Realmgate Wars books, which just added to the confusion, until the GA books came out, squatting Brets, then TKs, and a whole bunch off random stuff like high elf infantry and empire knights. 

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Pretty much AoS launch was a perfect example of "Old GW" where they became so relaxed in the fact that the fans would simply eat up anything they dished out that they stopped caring about public relations, expecting everything they put out to simply be a hit. 

Everything became tailored to whatever form they felt like putting out, rather than being geared towards what the market really wanted.  AoS got insanely close to absolutely blowing up in their face, and the mad scramble to change how they approach the fan market is finally stabilizing out in positive ways for both games and the company.

The problem they have now is keeping the two games from getting as bloated and cumbersome rules-wise as their predesessors.

 

Edited by Aegisgrimm
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17 minutes ago, Captain Marius said:

Am i right in remembering that the factions weren't split at launch but rather with the release of the Grand Alliance books the following year. At launch free pdfs were provided for every wfb army including TKs and Brets, and all the special characters, many of whom had just been killed in the End Times. The new factions were slowly rolled out with the first few Realmgate Wars books, which just added to the confusion, until the GA books came out, squatting Brets, then TKs, and a whole bunch off random stuff like high elf infantry and empire knights. 

Yep. We got the "joke rules" at the very start of AoS for all the factions. Then came half a year of only Stormcasts and Khorne and then came the Grand Alliance books (plus the legacy warscrolls) that cemented which figures are going to stay and which are gone.  The Grand Alliance books also provided some background for all the new factions. 

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Just some thoughts of mine; I have no insider knowledge

A friend of mine and I played the rule set the first weekend it was released and we both felt like it was a beta test. The framework was very good but no points and some wonky rules (not even counting the joke rules) made the game feel incomplete. The lack of scenarios was also a big part of this too. I've always wondered it was purposely released in this state with the GHB marking the end of the "beta test".

On burning armies: One reason I like miniature wargaming as opposed to card games like magic is that even if I stop playing I have cool painted miniatures with good memories attached to display around my house.

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10 minutes ago, Aegisgrimm said:

 

The problem they have now is keeping the two games from getting as bloated and cumbersome rules-wise as their predesessors.

I think the real problem is not rules bloat but faction bloat. AoS set itself up early with the idea of having LOTS of factions. This would have worked well as I figure their plan back then was to have a lot of smaller armies that basically acted like Magic the Gathering card blocks. Ergo every year or so we'd see a few more models added or a new faction added; but also see a legacy set go out of production (likely tied to which ever small block broke its moulds first). 

Right now my feeling is that GW isn't going to cut any more models/armies out fully. I think we will see more releases like Goblins where they hoover up a selection of the subfactions into a single Battletome and force where there might be two or three armies within that can stand alone; but which are also allied together. That makes for fewer armies and means that GW can release a new, for example, Troggoth and its a viable addition to the Troggoth and Moon Clan and Spiderfang. Even though its not directly tied to the latter two by name and theme, its still in the same army and can be taken without any alliance penalties. 

I think that is far more viable than having dozens of small factions (Even though armies ilke Daughter's of Khaine shows that they can work well) where GW is then under heavier pressure to try and keep them all updated with new models/updated sculpts every so often. 

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20 hours ago, Brother Dimetrius said:

Source? I've heard this repeated on the internet again and again, without any backing.

Agreed that the marginal return on most of the 40k range was higher than WHFB, and from the latest disclosures we can infer that AoS is outselling WHFB, but I've yet to see any evidence that it wasn't making a profit. Still a good business decision, but please stop spreading internet MBA wisdom if you can't back it up.

GAMA (Game Manufacturers Association)  does  yearly sales numbers across all lines and historically split GW into WFB/40K etc.    For many years the top two  miniature games  in sales were WFB and 40K  with LoTR thrown somewhere in  the mix of rankings.

Post Warmahordes release roughly WFB was dropping and by late WFB era fantasy  was really quite far down in the total yearly sales.   Various games had spikes in sales at their release that put them at or near the top for a year or two (Xwing, Bolt Action, Warmachine)  but WFB kept going down.   I think we're talking around tenth in total sales at the end of 8th ed with Xwing in number one 40K 2 and thinks like Bolt Action and Warmahordes rounding out the top 5.  Aside from Flames of War I'm not sure I can name another national high volume miniature  game at all much less 4-6 more that  could plausibly be ahead of one of the flagships of the biggest player in the room GW.  

Website for the organization is here but the yearly data on sales is part of their trade magazine and not as far as I know on the internet http://gama.org/

How that relates to profitability is conjecture as GW doesn't split their shareholder reports into by line sales/costs.   

I'll say subjectively as a guy who has been very active as a player and paint judge on the regional/national warhammer circuit for 20 years in the US I was very conscious there weren't new players showing up at our local stores or at the GT's I was attending during 8th ed.   It was a massively complicated rules set with a high learning curve and high model count minimum requirement  in an era where other manufacturers were pushing smaller scale easier to learn  games.     People were still attending GT's but as a paint judge I was seeing mostly the same armies year in year out with noticeably  less new ones - the new ones I saw were often Mantic.  

I've heard Jervis interviewed about the launch of AoS maybe on Heelenhammer or maybe on a Blood Bowl podcast in the last few years and it's pretty interesting how Open Play was sort of his assumption on how people wanted to play.      Obviously a miss step.

I've said before AoS's launch hit an unholy trifecta of pissing off the fanbase

1) Destroy the emotional connections people had to the world by literally blowing it up (and almost all the characters/stories)

2) Change essentially every element of the core rules and launch with an initial focus on all new models/units so nothing felt familiar in game play 

3) Take a game with a micromanaged min maxing points system (which was some of it's core attraction) and give them a game with no points.) 

If GW did one or two of those it might have been tolerable to the fanbase - do all three and it was destined to drive folks off.

 

 

 

Edited by gjnoronh
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