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    Chapter Master Karak Norn Clansman's Avatar
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    Timeline leading up to the split Warhammer community?

    It would seem that we're about to turn full circle with the recent announcement that Warhammer Fantasy is returning. I'm casually thinking about writing a short timeline with key events along the way that lead up to the demise of WHFB and the splitting of the community, as a quick shorthand for the future. It would be something like this, though I'd appreciate if you could help me out by pinning years onto the earlier events in particular, and chip in with possible other milestones.


    - Games Workshop (GW) loses the costly Chapterhouse Studio​ court case, triggering its CEO Tom Kirby to look critically at GW's IP (though with a faulty understanding of intellectual property laws) in order to cut away the most generic and historically based aspects to protect it from competitors. Warhammer Fantasy Battles (WHFB), already performing poorly financially, is deemed a lost cause. The setting and wargame are ordered to be replaced with something more IP-secure, over the studio's protests.

    - Games Workshop announce that they are a miniature company, in response to criticism over issues of wargame rules, not least regarding balance or lack thereof.

    - Creative Assembly (CA) gains the right to produce Total War: Warhammer games.

    - The Swedish Composition System (SCS) is launched to account for the worst excesses of rules imbalance in WHFB. Sweden, being peripheral in the hobby, has a thin presence of Games Workshop stores and has seen no tournaments hosted by Games Workshop for many years. Its community is as a result already independently minded. The SCS is adopted internationally by various tournaments.

    2015 - Games Workshop launches the End Times, a series of four campaign books with miniature releases set to conclude story arcs in a hitherto static setting and end WHFB. The End Times create a surge of interest and activity among hobbyists while the event lasts.

    2015 - Games Workshop replaces WHFB (until then a monolith dominating its niche) by launching Age of Sigmar (AoS), a setting designed to not be generic nor historically based fantasy for IP reasons. This ending of much-beloved and immersive Warhammer Fantasy Battles (1983-2015) results in the first ever huge split in its community (Oldhammer movement notwithstanding), and a collapse in the numbers of active hobbyists. The initial version of Age of Sigmar rules are very short and are launched without a points system. Existing tournaments such as European Team Championship (ETC) reject the non-competitive rules and continue to play WHFB's 8th edition for a while.

    2015 - Mantic Games announce that all those who played WHFB will find a home for all their respective armies in its fantasy wargame Kings of War (KoW). The coming years will see many different companies attempt to fill out the void of the massed fantasy wargame niche left behind by GW's withdrawal of WHFB, including among others Osprey Games' Oathmark and Dragon Rampant, and A Song of Ice & Fire Tabletop Game.

    2015 - Tom Kirby resigns as CEO of Games Workshop. He is replaced by Kevin Rountree, who himself play wargames and have insights into what customers want. Rountree will launch a number of new initiatives to invigorate Games Workshop, not least in the marketing department. One early reform is the introduction of a points system to Age of Sigmar, which goes on to become a commercial success that attracts both old and new players. Yet Warhammer Fantasy remains missed, and some continue to play its old editions.

    2016 - Creative Assembly release Total War: Warhammer. A surge of new interest in its setting and accompanying tabletop wargame are met in GW stores with the news that WHFB has been ended and replaced with AoS. CA will continue to release new instalments to Total War: Warhammer, both of an acclaimed high standard and true to the setting. The computer games are a commercial success.

    - The community-driven wargame the Ninth Age (T9A) is launched. Several of those previously involved in the Swedish Composition System are part of its large crew. The Ninth Age summarize all armies found in WHFB by including units not supported in later editions, and develops a rule set aimed for competitive balance. The Ninth Age develops the most balanced rank & file fantasy wargame seen to date, yet it will have problems reaching out to casual wargamers, while others find issue with T9A developing its own setting instead of being an unofficial WHFB fan project. Nevertheless the Ninth Age quickly becomes the largest community-developed fantasy wargame following the cancellation of WHFB. Many of the small fantasy miniature producers sign up as supporting companies of T9A.

    2019 - Games Workshop announce that they will bring back Warhammer Fantasy to tabletop within the coming 2-3 years. The news spread through fantasy wargaming communities like wildfire, a testament to Warhammer Fantasy's enduring allure and immersion attained from over 30 years of development by many learned minds and skilled hands. Excitement and interest are shown by many hobbyists who have been inactive since the End Times.

  2. #2
    Chapter Master Lost Egg's Avatar
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    Re: Timeline leading up to the split Warhammer community?

    I'm not sure I have anything to contribute to this other than to say thanks for compiling this, it was interesting to see it all laid out.

    In one of the White Dwarfs there were strong hints from the designer of 40k that it too was going to go through a similar process but after the disastrous initial reception of AoS they went back to the drawing board and either decided to tone things down or stretch out the 40k End Times...sorry I can't remember which issue it was but I think Lord Damocles broke the article down well in his WD Review thread.

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    Inquisitor Lord Damocles's Avatar
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    Re: Timeline leading up to the split Warhammer community?

    Quote Originally Posted by Lost Egg View Post
    In one of the White Dwarfs there were strong hints from the designer of 40k that it too was going to go through a similar process but after the disastrous initial reception of AoS they went back to the drawing board and either decided to tone things down or stretch out the 40k End Times...sorry I can't remember which issue it was but I think Lord Damocles broke the article down well in his WD Review thread.
    January 2019. It might be my favourite issue now, because the absolute gibberish in it is just golden.


    I think it's clear that there was a push to simplify the two main games, and both Age of Sigmar and 40K were created along the same template (as clearly evidenced by the similar design language used regarding each game ('accessible'...) and layout/nature of the rules (short as possible, remove USRs in favour of more rules on the unit datasheets, remove points etc.).

    The launch of Age of Sigmar was at best disappointing for GW, and at worst disastrous, and they could see that if 8th edition 40K launched the same way it would be catastrophic for their bottom line - so they bodged points back into the 40K ruleset (but didn't have enough time to re-introduce them to individual datasheets) and spun the 'three ways to play' narrative. This would also explain Forge World's embarrassing lack of preparedness at the beginning of the edition.

    I suspect that the Gathering Storm narrative (and/or immediate aftermath) might have been heavily re-worked at the last moment as well, to make it less of a '40K End Times' scenario. Possibly this would explain why the timeline skipped several hundred years to after the Indomitus Crusade was already over.


    Also of interest might be March's issue, in which Jervis just openly admits to taking the various community points systems as the basis of Age of Sigmar's system (professional games designer, everybody!)


    EDIT: I'm not sure that it's accurate to say that GW 'lost' the Chapterhouse case - they didn't win on every claim, but as I understand it, they way such cases work is that you throw everything possible at the defendant up front, and then see what sticks; as it is far more difficult to add to a claim which is already under way.

    I'm also not sure that the generally accepted narrative of GW removing the more 'generic' elements from their settings/games due to the outcome of the Chapterhouse case is true.

    There is nothing stopping third part companies from essentially copying GW's designs, regardless of how original or derivative they might be - as evidenced by the various small studios making Not-Primarchs, Not-Orks etc.
    The issue with Chapterhouse was that they were actually infringing GW's copyrights, and directly using GW parts in some of their products.

    The name changes are more likely to be due to, for example, 'Astra Militarum' not being so easily confused with material from other franchises as 'Imperial Guard' (Star Wars, actual France, etc.), and a belief that gobbledygook names sound better/more serious from a lore perspective; which may well be true in some cases - 'Dark Eldar' was always pretty campy as a faction name.
    Last edited by Lord Damocles; 25-11-2019 at 20:38.

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    Chapter Master Lost Egg's Avatar
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    Re: Timeline leading up to the split Warhammer community?

    Quote Originally Posted by Lord Damocles View Post
    The name changes are more likely to be due to, for example, 'Astra Militarum' not being so easily confused with material from other franchises as 'Imperial Guard' (Star Wars, actual France, etc.), and a belief that gobbledygook names sound better/more serious from a lore perspective; which may well be true in some cases - 'Dark Eldar' was always pretty campy as a faction name.
    This didn't work out with the Adeptus Astartes as they changed them back to Space Marines.

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    Chapter Master Rogue Star's Avatar
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    Re: Timeline leading up to the split Warhammer community?

    Quote Originally Posted by Lost Egg View Post
    This didn't work out with the Adeptus Astartes as they changed them back to Space Marines.
    ... they're still Adeptus Astartes. I mean they've been that since like, 1993, it's not a name they've recently came up with...
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    Chapter Master Lost Egg's Avatar
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    Re: Timeline leading up to the split Warhammer community?

    Quote Originally Posted by Rogue Star View Post
    ... they're still Adeptus Astartes. I mean they've been that since like, 1993, it's not a name they've recently came up with...
    Yes I know.

    I was referring to a few years ago when GW tried and failed to claim the term Space Marine; if memory serves they tried to get an author on Kindle to change her work and as a result GW suffered backlash from the community and a number of Sci-Fi authors. As a result the Space Marine section of the GW website changed to being Adeptus Astartes and that was how they commonly referred to them in White Dwarf and blog articles. Maybe a year ago they changed back to Space Marines...I guess the new (old) name never quite rolled off the tongue.

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    Re: Timeline leading up to the split Warhammer community?

    Regarding the End Times, my understanding is that the first books were actually released in 2014, the last ones in early 2015. A dig through old threads in Warseer might help to find the approximate months.
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    Inquisitor Lord Damocles's Avatar
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    Re: Timeline leading up to the split Warhammer community?

    GW do obviously [still] have have a trademark for 'Space Marine(s)'. They just don't have it in all areas (in the same way that Apple have a trademark for electronic devices, but not fruit, for example).

    The Spots The Space Marine incident seems to have been a case of GW being a bit overzealous with issuing cease and desists - to be fair, there were a bunch of unofficial 40K backround ebooks on Amazon at the time, so it's not like they didn't need to be doing something. They just ballsed it up, because that's just GW's style.

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    Chapter Master Lost Egg's Avatar
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    Re: Timeline leading up to the split Warhammer community?

    Ahh thanks for the clarification Lord Damocles.

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