Thanks for your input, Gav, that was interesting to read.
I think Azhag is a false comparison. I don't think there was ever a period when Azhag was alive in the "current" setting. He was created as a historical character (which happened a couple of times in army books back in the day), just from the more recent past. So killing Azhag was never going to spark a riot because his death was a fait accompli on character creation.I kind of agree, also, that not killing off some characters is a mistake. You did kill some before (Azhag), and, well, the hobby didn't crumble, nor did the greenskin players riot (well I didn't, at least ). Azhag's still out there as a SC with one of the best minis in the range, to boot. I think the studio might overestimate the reaction of the hobbyists in face of such things. It's too frivolous.
Better examples would be Marius Leitdorf or Volkmar. The former was not a popular choice to kill off, though, and the latter didn't stick (I recall being horrified when it happened). An attempt was made to kill Kouran off at one point, too; I think that was retconned, or at least never spoken of again. There are a couple of allied problems, really. Firstly, people generally don't like change anyway. Secondly, they don't like characters they're using in their army being killed when they've invested money into them as it somehow makes them less "legitimate"; thirdly, it's rare that a character is given a proper send-off. Often it feels a bit desultory and that's very disappointing. That was certainly the case with Leitdorf and Kouran, and to an extent with Volkmar as well. Recall too that a couple of characters had already been killed off in 40K to a very mixed reaction. Tycho was done reasonably well, but I never heard anybody enthuse about what happened to Eldrad Ulthran.
Also, speaking entirely for myself, I'd have been rather annoyed/upset had Middenheim got the chop, especially if it were done by author fiat as it were rather than as the result of the campaign. Ever got a Dwarf player onto the subject of the Dwarfs being every other faction's punching bag? Of course the players could live with it - it's only a game, after all. But that doesn't mean they'd like it.