Quote Originally Posted by Commissar von Toussaint View Post
In which case GW would be competing with itself.

This, by the way, is what I think ultimately doomed WHFB. LotR had better models at better prices and better IP.

For a while the boom of LotR disguised the weaknesses of the other lines, but when the movies faded, the deterioration was clear to those who wanted to see it.
LotR had better prices and the game was quite fun, fast paced and precisely everything they want WH to become nowadays... but very little people played it. They sold a lot of boxes to casual 10-year-olds when the films were popular, but I don't know anyone who has played it regularly or who can say "I am a GW LotR player".

It was a bubble, but it didn't "doom WHFB".

The suits who run GW are often mistaken about why their product sells. I think one thing they've missed is that it isn't the background that sells the fantasy stuff, it's the lack of background. It's generic and people who like fantasy default to them because of the variety.

Yes, there are people really into the Old World and I get that, but I don't actually know any of those people personally. GW hit upon the idea of using existing fantasy genres and that allowed people who wanted to use the system for mass combat in an RPG environment (or who just liked fantastic battles) do to so.
You do now, I am one of those, the Old World was my playground as a child. But I agree, it was the vagueness of the setting, but not just any vagueness; a vagueness with strong foundations in the real 15th Century history of Europe and popular culture in general. It was easy to make something into the "WH style", the flavour of the setting was very subtle: anything goes, but it has to be darker, grittier and remember the Endtimes are coming. Make it pulpy and tongue-in-cheek, remember to not take it too seriously, but take it seriously enough that it makes sense within its own context.

Want ninjas? They are an ancient order of assassins in Nippon hell-bent on fighting the Tzeentchian Triads and the Empire newly arrived ships, trying to convert the nippons to Sigmar's faith.
Want Chandragupta-era Indians? They are beset by Khornate cults of Kali worshippers.
Want Romans in Egypt? Why not imagine the time before the Empire, when Nehekhara was still "alive" and Remas was Rome? Also, a chance to use your Warlord minis.
Want Conquistadors? Empire fortune-seekers and the Aztecs are dinosaurs. Want Wild West-like adventures?
Does "Wild East" count? Imagine the Empire sending settlers into the Darklands, complete with lone rangers, sheriffs (call them Constables), "reward: dead or alive" posters and guns. Want Crusades? Bretonnians in Araby fighting Sultan Jaffar (I didn't make this up, that's actually in the lore, and it's histerical).

That, I think, was the appeal of the Fantasy setting, just like it's the appeal of the 40k setting: anything goes, as long as you set it vaguely into the general rules of the universe we've built. The more pulpy, the better.