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Why doesn't GW publish board and card games?


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My Warhammer entry point wasn't Age of Sigmar. It also wasn't 40k. I have started my journey with ffg's Warhammer Invasion - a living card game that each month received a new pack of cards. It introduced 6 playable factions, it was fast and easy to play. Without a doubt I spent hundreds of hours playing it with friends, almost every evening after college. Than there were titles like Chaos in the Old World, Forbidden Stars, Relic, Conquest... I really miss them.

Now you might say that GW does release board games like Blackstone, Cursed City or Silver Tower. Yes it does, but these kind of games require a lot more of dedication due to the need of assembling and painting minis.

What's more it seems to me that it requires less development and resources to create mentioned board games or card games. These games were insanely popular in my country when they were published. Even now if one would want to buy a second hand copy of Forbidden Stars or Chaos in the Old World it takes at least 3x the initial price compared to when it was firstly published.

Board games might also explore genres different to what GW released so far. Think of an economic game of Kharadron trade routes. Or a Netrunner style card game set in 40k.

So what do you think? Will GW eventually move into those areas? What about Talisman?

Edited by Aeryenn
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34 minutes ago, zilberfrid said:

I may be biased, but I don't think GW is all that good at making games. They make good models have good artists and their lore is really popular, but the games themselves aren't all that brilliant.

Valid point to be honest. Yet only it would take to be successful at this new field is to hire people  already working in the industry. I'm sure people designing board games for a living come and go from one company to another. GW has all the resources necessary to fund such a team of people.

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I think the answer you are going to get to your question will most likely be this:

GW sees themselves as a model company first, game company second. So if a game doesn't sell models, why put work into it?

I think, though, that it would be smart for GW to put some ressources into really entry level games. GW's brand of tabletop or hobby games have a high barrier of entry. The tools and time needed to paint and build models is significant, and a lot of new players might not immediately been drawn this part of tabletop gaming.

I recently watched a video about designing a good starter box for Warhammer. In it, the host were talking about removing the need to build and paint for the starter and including stuff like pre-painted or 2D cardboard miniatures instead. I believe that is not necessarily the right approach for Warhammer proper: I don't think it's likely that you will have a lot of fun with Warhammer if you have no desire to paint miniatures at all, and I don't think a starter box for Warhammer should give the impression that no building/painting is necessary to fully engage with the game.

But I think it would be good if GW had other games that are set in the Warhammer universe where building and painting models is truly not required. This exists to some extent. We have role-playing games like Soulbound and I know there have historically been card games in the past. I think it would be good, however, to have a better pipeline towards miniture gaming integrated into those games. Underworlds could have been this: They could have made the game miniatures optional, because they really are just fancy tokens mechanically. The underworlds models could have been "upgrade packs" for your warbands instead of being the warbands. It's too bad they didn't do it this way. I think the game of Underworlds could have been a lot easier to get into, and it is mechanically strong enough to stand on its own.

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2 hours ago, Neil Arthur Hotep said:

GW sees themselves as a model company first, game company second. So if a game doesn't sell models, why put work into it?

one way I see this maybe happening in the future comes from the gradual (and potential) shift of GW to be an IP company. So, we might have such a board game/card game developed by a different company on the basis of GW licensing.

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6 hours ago, Aeryenn said:

So what do you think? Will GW eventually move into those areas?

Hard to say, even the new Cursed City game is pretty bellow average as far as similar dungeons crawler games go.

The sad thing is there are fantastic Warhammer games like Chaos in the Old World released in 2009 by FFG, but since GW parted ways with them, I dont know if we ever saw any Warhammer game worth mentioning.

Box Front (new English edition)

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Yeah, once, long ago in the dim and distant past Games Workshop made games. They were originally a board game and RPG company. However, over time they realised that their warhammer miniature lines were outselling their other products and so made that their whole business. They have gone through phases of wanting to license out their brand for other companies to make the games they don't. We're presently in a good place for Warhammer RPGs with all the stuff C7 are putting out. However, their falling out with FFG led to most of the licensed warhammer board games, and a fair few older GW created games which weren't part of the warhammer brand being discontinued. Since then there has been no indication that they plan to license those GW games to someone else, and the FFG developed Warhammer games are likely gone for good as the rights are split between two companies which are now rivals.

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14 hours ago, Aeryenn said:

So what do you think? Will GW eventually move into those areas? What about Talisman?

Well they have Shadespire which bridges between collectable card games and small warbands which don't require even glue.  Just some clippers.  

12 hours ago, zilberfrid said:

I may be biased, but I don't think GW is all that good at making games. They make good models have good artists and their lore is really popular, but the games themselves aren't all that brilliant.

This is wildly hilarious and inaccurate.  GW could not have survived on making games that are bad which would then stop people from playing them.  GW makes great games and you constantly hear people talk about games like Dread Fleet, the khorne champion games, Shadespire, etc being fun and enjoyable.  

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6 hours ago, Popisdead said:

Well they have Shadespire which bridges between collectable card games and small warbands which don't require even glue.  Just some clippers.  

This is wildly hilarious and inaccurate.  GW could not have survived on making games that are bad which would then stop people from playing them.  GW makes great games and you constantly hear people talk about games like Dread Fleet, the khorne champion games, Shadespire, etc being fun and enjoyable.  

I don't know dreadfleet or the khorne champion games.

Underworld is a decent game, but it decided to make each season more powerful, which means you really can't mix them. And of course the power of new seasons comes at a steep monetary cost.

Cursed city showed they were bad at actually producing the game, and compared to games like Gloomhaven in the same sphere, it doesn't really hold up.

Their boardgames do not compete just with Risk and Monopoly, they compete with Spirit Island, Cascadia, Wingspan, Azul and many other brilliant games and just do not hold up. Especially for the price.

AoS has its strengths, but wait time between your turns is too long, especially a double turn is awful. Mortal wounds give you even less to do. I vastly prefer alternate activation. It's also full of rules that almost require you to have the book of the opponents factions as well, and I hate "gotcha" rules. Of course, the books you buy have a very high page price, and are worthless after about three years. So can half your army, if GW dumps them, and they dumped a lot. 40k has similar flaws.

Necromunda required over €100 in books to field a 10 person team, which also means you have to reference that library for a game. Stargrave is one €25 book that has all gameplay options (so the next crew has no book cost).

A lot of the models they make are good, but I don't vibe with anything they put to paper.

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There is a short and simple answer to this. GW don't print cardboard. 

They'll make money printing rulebooks sure, but that's because they want you buying new books every 12-18 months. 

They do print plastic. With the way they have been performing as a company lately, if I was a shareholder, I don't think I'd want that to change. 

Best we can hope to see is more licencees for the IP. 

Edited by Cmidrfti
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The GW of the 80s definitely would be making board and card games. But the GW of today is more mini focussed and rules second. They are clearly market leaders in minis but I don’t think they would take the risk / investment into the board game arena. It’s very competitive and crowded space that GW would need to invest heavily in for potentially marginal returns. Most games disappear unless they are truly special eg Gloomhaven, memoir 44, nemesis etc. the rules, depth and crunchy-ness of these games blows GW out the water. I recently introduced 7 other people at my club to Gloomhaven and the consensus was he games like cursed city were like riding a bike with stabilisers on.

Saying that, some games developer could do an amazing job with the Warhammer IP or even simple reskins. Memoir 44 would make an amazing mini Warhammer game, nemesis would make a great looking space hulk type game, betrayal at house on the hill just oozes chaos corruption, eclipse or twilight imperium as a 4x simulation of the galaxy at war. Heat is squig races and so on. I think this is a more likely route, assuming these manufacturers want to get into bed with GW and some of their practices.

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1 hour ago, Cmidrfti said:

There is a short and simple answer to this. GW don't print cardboard. 

They'll make money printing rulebooks sure, but that's because they want you buying new books every 12-18 months. 

They do print plastic. With the way they have been performing as a company lately, if I was a shareholder, I don't think I'd want that to change. 

Best we can hope to see is more licencees for the IP. 

Couldn't they just outsource printing cardboards? They already do for current games like Kill Team or Cursed City.

It's not a matter of a forced choice: plastic or cardboards. They could do both. There are many board game companies that produce board games that consist of cardboard, cards and plastic miniatures. 

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22 minutes ago, Praecautus said:

Saying that, some games developer could do an amazing job with the Warhammer IP or even simple reskins. Memoir 44 would make an amazing mini Warhammer game, nemesis would make a great looking space hulk type game, betrayal at house on the hill just oozes chaos corruption, eclipse or twilight imperium as a 4x simulation of the galaxy at war. Heat is squig races and so on. I think this is a more likely route, assuming these manufacturers want to get into bed with GW and some of their practices.

So let's hope GW will return to lending their IPs. I think we all agree that there were some great Warhammer board and card games in the past.

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21 minutes ago, Aeryenn said:

So let's hope GW will return to lending their IPs. I think we all agree that there were some great Warhammer board and card games in the past.

They did allow 40k in Magic the Gathering recently, so there is hope.

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20 minutes ago, Aeryenn said:

So let's hope GW will return to lending their IPs. I think we all agree that there were some great Warhammer board and card games in the past.

It would be great to see the ip licensed out properly. I could see a company like CMON being interested to see what they could do with a Warhammer license. They seem very interested in applying their brands and ideas to as many IPs as they can already.

I will say though, that if you are interested in board and card games then go and check out board game geek or sites like shut up and sit down. Your wallet may not thank you though - it is a golden age of gaming

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1 hour ago, zilberfrid said:

They did allow 40k in Magic the Gathering recently, so there is hope.

And there is a 40k and AoS Munchkin game I think.

1 hour ago, Praecautus said:

I recently introduced 7 other people at my club to Gloomhaven and the consensus was he games like cursed city were like riding a bike with stabilisers on.

Never played Gloomhaven but I recently recieved my Frosthaven box. If nothing goes wrong, I will start playing this weekend!

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1 hour ago, zilberfrid said:

They did allow 40k in Magic the Gathering recently, so there is hope.

I hope they lean into this kind of thing. Warhammer versions of existing games, potentially with GW miniatures, would be pretty cool.

Although I wonder if GW would want to produce "board game quality" miniatures (single-cast, not requiring assembly). They might perceive it as cheapening their brand.

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I just hope GW sticks to what they do best and make good minis and war/skirmish games. There are tons of boardgames and cardgames. Imho the market is already really oversaturated. Gw doing a reskin of a good/popular game could be fun for fans though. 

Edit: i think mtg is also destroying its own game with all these other things that got nothing to do with mtg and revisiting the same planes for a third time gets boring real fast. Also the the amount of content they release is close to impossible to catch up to for being a collectable game.

Edit 2: i would kill for an AoS version of the lotr lcg.

Edited by Gitzdee
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  • 2 weeks later...

Bit late to the party on this one 😉

The short answer is they already do.  Gorechosen, Elector Counts, Fireteam, Bladeborn, Doomsday, Lost Relic & Blitzbowl are all examples of games produced that I would consider "game in a box" where you pick up the boxed set in a shop and have everything you need to play it.  Sadly many of them are region locked for reasons I've never fathomed

What we have seen is GW struggle to keep on top of everything they produce though.  Cardboard production has been a thorn in their side for many years now as much of it is done in China with the horrific logistics issues we've seen in recent years.  That's resulted in GW pulling back to focus on things they can support & manufacture in house.

Board games that have long term support (and purchasable in GW stores) you've largely just Underworlds and Bloodbowl.  Both work out the box with the teams in them, but have support mostly through miniature releases.  The new Rivals format introduced a couple of seasons ago in Underworlds means that you don't need to keep up to date with every item being released now.

Would I like to see more board games?  Absolutely!  I've Horus Heresy, Space Hulk, Dreadfleet, Gorechosen & Talisman at home which are all excellent games without the worry about being a brand new game system to learn.  None of them have a requirement to paint the miniatures, nor do I need to purchase a mountain of miniatures to play the game fully.

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On 3/14/2023 at 10:58 AM, RuneBrush said:

Bit late to the party on this one 😉

The short answer is they already do.  Gorechosen, Elector Counts, Fireteam, Bladeborn, Doomsday, Lost Relic & Blitzbowl are all examples of games produced that I would consider "game in a box" where you pick up the boxed set in a shop and have everything you need to play it.  Sadly many of them are region locked for reasons I've never fathomed

What we have seen is GW struggle to keep on top of everything they produce though.  Cardboard production has been a thorn in their side for many years now as much of it is done in China with the horrific logistics issues we've seen in recent years.  That's resulted in GW pulling back to focus on things they can support & manufacture in house.

Board games that have long term support (and purchasable in GW stores) you've largely just Underworlds and Bloodbowl.  Both work out the box with the teams in them, but have support mostly through miniature releases.  The new Rivals format introduced a couple of seasons ago in Underworlds means that you don't need to keep up to date with every item being released now.

Would I like to see more board games?  Absolutely!  I've Horus Heresy, Space Hulk, Dreadfleet, Gorechosen & Talisman at home which are all excellent games without the worry about being a brand new game system to learn.  None of them have a requirement to paint the miniatures, nor do I need to purchase a mountain of miniatures to play the game fully.

I believe they're retailer locked because they're commissioned to be exclusive to specific retailers that don't have a presence in other countries.

It's a similar issue with Transformers. Walmart, Target and Walgreens all work with Hasbro to make them exclusive releases. With Hasbro they usually work to make a limited amount available in other countries where they don't have those stores but it kind of varies (we got all of wave 1 of the Velocitron Speedia 500 collection (Walmart exclusives) around the world last year but didn't get any of wave 2 aside from Galaxy Shuttle in the UK).

With Games Workshop I could see them considering that the models aren't unique so there's no need to push them all out through every market. They've certainly improved a bit with it though. It was nice being able to pick up Bladeborn in the UK

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