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Subject: [un]Review for those new to Games Workshop products [edited 2.0] rss

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Greg Schlamax
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[Goodness, I've never gotten so many responses to a forum I started. So anyway, a lot of you pointed out several things that I should amend in this review, but for the warts and all approach, I will leave all the original intact and include edits in []]

There may be some other potential Space Hulk fans out there who are like me, and have no prior experience with Games Workshop. This review is intended for you. [In other words, not for you GW verterans out there, don't read this, really. Please? Only read this if you are unfimiliar with GW miniatures]

After reading many of the excellent reviews online, I eagerly purchased a copy only to learn some frustrating facts about the game upon opening the box that I wish I'd known ahead of time. Most of them center around the company that makes the game - Games Workshop. [So I wrote this unreview for anyone who is not a miniature collector, or modeler, to let you know what you are getting into]

Games Workshop is a company that started in wargaming some time ago. All they produce in the 'games' end of the business (meaning a system of rules that forms a game) is a few rule books and supplemental books to cover new armies. There are a grand total of (drum roll)... 3 'core' games supported by the company (Warhammer Fantasy, Warhammer 40K, and Lord of the Rings). Now, look up any of the companies to produce one of the top 100 products rated on BGG (You'll notice none of the 3 make it anywhere close to the top 100), do those companies produce only 3 measly games? With the exception of Space Hulk itself, the other games are produced by companies who produce dozens of games with different systems and goals in a constant progression to find new, interesting ways to compete around a board table [though when Space Hulk was originally made. GW was putting out board games at a regular rate]. If Rio Grande, Fantasy Flight Games, or any other company in the top 100 produced 3 games and then produced exclusively supplemental material for those games, they would go out of business. In other words, Games Workshop is not a company that is constantly trying to come up with new exciting systems for different types of games. Instead, games workshop is a company that creates an endless stream of items that support the 3 core games. [this is a successful buisness model since they've been making money for years, but my point is that their focus is not on coming up with new systems of fun games, but on something else]

Who would buy endless streams of supplemental material for a single game? Someone who thinks the supplemental material is way more fun than the actual game.

Games Workshop focuses the bulk of their effort on producing miniatures (hinting that they should change their name to Plastic Moldshop). These are essentially plastic army men you could have bought a sack of 100 for 5 cents back in 1953, except neater looking. And oh, they are nice to look at. The level of design for these things is absolutely something to marvel at. Games Workshop also sells paints and brushes and hosts classes at their stores (Yes, there are stores that sell nothing but Games Workshop Products) to teach you how to paint these miniatures to give you a sense of ownership to your mass produced army men (The irony of that amuses me quite a bit). Also, since these painted miniatures are encouraged to be treated as precious works of personal achievement, there are suitcases sold to safely transport your pieces, because [some] do break, easily. [others are made of metal, but the Space Hulk pieces fall in the easily breakable category]

Also, since Games Workshop is pretty much the only crazy wargame miniatures company [not true I've learned, but they are certainly the biggest game in town, and their competition does not have the same quality standards], they can charge ridiculously high prices for these easily breakable pieces. But if you're hooked on Warhammer, you pay it, over and over again.

So what does all of this have to do with Space Hulk?

Well, the level of quality in the design for the genestealers and terminators in this game is something above most plastic figures I've encountered in boardgames. However, the plastic used for these things is extremely brittle (One Genestealers hands flew off when I was clipping a piece off the frame from the other side). I whipped out my copy of Descent (A far higher quality product in my opinion) and discovered the plastic in that game to be significantly more durable and less breakable. [It was pointed out to me that the brittle plastic used to make the GW pieces is so they can be painted better. Paint doesn't bend well. The Descent plastic is designed for being played with, while the Space Hulk plastic is designed to be looked at. You be the judge] Descent pieces also had thick bases that didn't tip over when you breathed too heavily. I also noted that the pieces in Descent were very nice in and of themselves, and many could certainly hold their own against these Games Workshop designs. Oh wait, one more thing, there were FAR more pieces in Descent for A LOWER PRICE. And they were pre-cut out of the plastic molds and assembled (save for a Dragon wing here or there)

But a little assembly is no big deal for a game, right?

Well, the level of detail that went into the Space Hulk figures is so precise that you really need a special tool to clip the stuff out since normal wire cutters will mess up the plastic figures (Guess who sells that tool?)[I just went and bought one at GW, I could have gone to a model store for a better price]. Also, it's a really good idea to purchase some plastic modeling glue to make the pieces more solid, yet another Games Workshop product [also cheaper at model shops]. [The clippers and the glue] cost me $22 at the Games Workshop down my street (complete with a lengthy sales pitch for Warhammer 40K). Then I began to assemble the things together and started to notice a pain in my right hand. The shock from clipping out these plastic pieces was taking it's toll on my hand after only 2 hours of snipping. I don't know what I did to my hand, but it's now 3 days later and I still can't push things with the palm of my hand without a lot of pain (Such as a baby stroller). I'll go to the doctor later this week if it still hurts. I was so irritated about the pain that I told myself I wasn't reading the rules to Space Hulk until my hand healed.

Then I realized that they gave me these ridiculously brittle pieces and monstrously thick cardboard pieces. If you put the assembled figures and the cardboard map pieces in the same box and then move the box from the table to the shelf, you will fatally wound at least 4 genestealers. So now I have to spend more money trying to figure out how to safely store these silly pieces. Grrrr.

Anyway, I haven't actually played the game yet. So it could be the game is well worth all these annoyances. But I am more than confident Fantasy Flight Games would have produced a far superior product with a lower price tag if they were granted the license to reprint Space Hulk.

Oh, and I'm never playing any of the 3 'core' Games Workshop games, even if I won the lottery.

[Full review to come later with a different thread.

This has sparked a surprising amount of discussion in the comments with several good points made by folks who prefer beautiful designs, and those who prefer the more durable pre-assembled kind. So check them out.

[/q] and my hand still hurts, thanks for the concern]
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Dave Riedy
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Re: Review for those new to Games Workshop products
While you definitely have a point as to the difficulty removing the figures, as a counter-point: I removed them all in about three hours (over two nights) using nothing but a pen-knife. I accidentally cut off one post, but a little super glue fixed that.

I look forward to reading your review when you've actually played the game. Hopefully you'll be able to put away your annoyance with the process of removing the figures and enjoy the game.
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Kevin Outlaw
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Re: Review for those new to Games Workshop products
This isn't really a review, but I'm sorry to hear you are not getting on well with your introduction to GW. A few things though...

GW is NOT the "only crazy wargame miniatures company." Also, there products are not exceptionally brittle (this seems to be an assumption based on your experience with the stealers - lots of GW stuff is made in metal, not plastic).

You are also comparing a wargaming company with the business model of boardgame manufacturers. These are essentially different businesses. We don't buy "supplements" because the "supplemental material is more fun than the game."

GW is all about building armies to your specifications, painting them your way, and playing the way you want. They used to make a lot of board games, but over time they changed to focus on the stuff that makes them money. That's just the way the world turns.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy the game when you finally play it (maybe you can post a review then), and I hope your hand gets better.
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Shawn Riordan
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Re: Review for those new to Games Workshop products
RedMonkeyBoy wrote:
This isn't really a review


I agree. This was not a review. I don't really want to discuss what it is, because most people familiar with GW and their fans / detractors already know what it is.

So, instead, I will talk about this:

The soft, bendy plastic that is used in games like Descent and Doom is designed to be cheap and take a beating. However, it's soft nature means it is unusable for high detail levels. Also, if painted, the paint will crack if you bend it. (paint doesn't flex well)

GW plastics are more like modeling plastics. Hard, rigid and able to be molded with a high degree of detail. I wouldn't call them brittle though. Maybe needle-thin, protruding details are in danger, if you drop it on floor. Details like the iron halo. Other than those bits, the figures are very sturdy. You would have to throw a figure against the wall, as hard as you could, to get Genestealer arms to break off. I don't consider that to be wear and tear from average play.
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Greg Schlamax
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Re: Review for those new to Games Workshop products
Interesting, two folks seem more interested in reading my review after playing the game over learning if my hand heals.

In all seriousness, I'm flattered that you guys want to read my review, so I'll write one when I play it, hopefully later this week.
 
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Greg Schlamax
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Re: Review for those new to Games Workshop products
Oh, one more thing. Part of the reason I wrote this with such a snarky tone was so people could offer counter opinions defending GW products. I also want to point out I focused this unreview on everything I disliked about the game, I'll update to make it a review with all the positives (And from what I've read, I'm sure I'll find plenty).
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Greg Schlamax
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Re: Review for those new to Games Workshop products
I've read that there isn't a lot of competition for GW, which seemed to make the outrageous prices make more sense. What is their competition?
 
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C Sandifer
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Re: Review for those new to Games Workshop products
CRasterImage wrote:
I wouldn't call them brittle though. Maybe small details are in danger, if you drop it on floor. Details like the iron halo. Other than those bits, the figures are very sturdy. You would have to throw a figure against the wall, as hard as you could, to get Genestealer arms to break off. I don't consider that to be wear and tear from average play.


As I clipped out my figures, "brittle" was the first word that came to mind. So I have to agree with the OP.

Also, I recently had a Genestealer arm break off without doing anything nearly as wacky as throwing it against a wall. Again: brittle.
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Richard Watney
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Re: Review for those new to Games Workshop products
ive spent a good portion of my adolescence dabbling in various GW products, and i have to say everything youve said is pretty much on the money.

how do they keep it going? keeping their primary customers (12 y/o boys) ignorant of other options, like Rackham or privateer press, or even Memoir 44.

would it have been so hard to ship a pair of clippers+glue with each box? they do it with the 40k starter sets.

that said, space hulk is good fun.
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Greg Schlamax
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Re: Review for those new to Games Workshop products
Can 12 y/o boys afford GW products? One army will cost you the same as a PS3.
 
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Re: Review for those new to Games Workshop products
I am totally new to GW products and I was able to clip out my figures within 2-3 hours in one night with only two very tiny mishaps, which were easily fixed with Plastic Glue.

I don't agree that the plastic is brittle, either.

I think Greg should probably have just posted this piece along with an actual review, would've saved space and hassle for him (and readers). I can appreciate that he was annoyed and the hassle of putting together the pieces though. It's somewhat tricky, I'll give him that much but I don't think it was THAT tricky, either.
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Re: Review for those new to Games Workshop products
While Fanstasy Flight is near the top in Board game production, and I would certainly have bought their incarnation of Space Hulk, their bits and boards are not equivalent to what I received in GW's Space Hulk. After I saw the quality first hand, I did not regret the extra $20 for a game I will never relinquish over the $80 FFG big box price.

I am by no means a modeler and I managed to clip and build my figures in a very enjoyable 2 hours. I bought some flat bladed jewelry nippers from Michaels with a 50% off coupon ($5 with tax), and used common .99 Testors model glue.

I hope you enjoy the game when you actually play it. I know I certainly do. Please post a review about the game when you've tried it.
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Re: Review for those new to Games Workshop products
FunkyTable wrote:
Can 12 y/o boys afford GW products? One army will cost you the same as a PS3.


While I also find their prices to be pretty tough to swallow, I imagine that with the production costs associated with miniatures, they're probably giving customers the best deal they can. I am only just starting to get really keen on GW products (after seeing the awesomeness of this Space Hulk game first-hand) but I think that after many years of bashing their products (for cost and the hassle of painting figures), I'm starting to come around and see that they offer something truly amazing in a variety of ways.

I do wish they'd offer pre-painted minis (GASP! THE HORROR!) but I doubt that'd ever happen so I'm going to have to learn how to paint someday. ::: groan :::

One comment about 12-year olds playing the game - from what I saw when I was stationed in Cornwall back in 2000, kids would do a large chunk of playing in the stores, with store models or models brought by all of their gaming groups to pool together. That's one way that I suspect the game is able to thrive among younger players. I've also surmised that players simply don't go out and drop $300-400 at one time (not many 12-year old could afford that, obviously) - instead they buy units and characters little by little, from the looks and sounds of it. They slowly build up their armies. I think that's the key to this hobby actually being successful (in light of the prices).
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Re: Review for those new to Games Workshop products
As a long time GW player, both the old boardgames as a kid, and warhammer later as a teen, and more recently a few years back, I do think this commentary is particularly funny. Especially the point about how proud one becomes of the army, and the carry cases, etc. I myself must admit that I have 9 or so guncases with foam to carry around minis, though I mainly bought them to protect my '80s minis from my son (they have lead in them).

If I had it to do all over again, I might pick up one or two armies, but only at wholesale, or used (warhammer players are always selling their armies to buy new ones).

All that said, there still is nothing quite like building out an army list, painting it over a few weeks or months, and then facing off against some good opponents. Despite all the luck, the game really does require skill to play well. I deliberately tried to build out armies specifically tuned to skilled opponents, and they still routinely beat me.

There is also something very interesting and fun about a game that uses analog movement. By that, I mean movement without hex or gridmaps. Games can get quite interesting without pre-defined movement spaces, provided players can agree not to get too anal about it.

Anyway, Space Hulk is a great game. Probably the best thing GW ever produced.
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Dan Cain
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Re: Review for those new to Games Workshop products
FunkyTable wrote:
I've read that there isn't a lot of competition for GW, which seemed to make the outrageous prices make more sense. What is their competition?


Privateer Press
Rackham
Wizkids

These are just different models then the board games you are used to. It's like complaining that TSR only really did one game, or WOTC for that matter. These are all different business models in the game industry.

Funny enough just with those three products GW has managed to keep a magazine in print for years. How many board game publishers can say the same? The board game community can't even keep a general interest magazine in print.

And I am by no means a fan of GW collectible miniatures games. But this level of ignorance just had to be called out.

LA
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Re: Review for those new to Games Workshop products
I am no modeler by any means, also I am not perticularly patient. But I found over two nights and forcing myself to take it easy I extracted all models from their sprues without mishap using my wife's eyebrow straight razor (she was thrilled) and a pair of scissors.
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Re: Review for those new to Games Workshop products
I have no experience with GW products, but didn't find the assembly all that hard, and bloodless as well. I find the comments on price interesting. At my FLGS, Space Hulk is $119 CDN plus GST. As a comparison, the FFG coffin box games all fall in the $101 - $113 CDN plus GST range. Now I know if you order online, you get a much bigger discount on the FFG games, but I do like to support my most excellent FLGS. Seems a fair price to me, considering the quality of the product. In case anyone is interested, the Sentry Box in Calgary still has lots of copies (maybe 10 to 15 or so).
 
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Re: Review for those new to Games Workshop products
I am not at all new to GW stuff and I have to say that while the models for SH are better than any other models available from them they are also considerably harder to get off the Sprue than usual. Maybe this is a result of the detail of these models maybe it is just how they designed them so they would survive life in the box. Anyway a good set of clippers is needed as is some patience.

I highly recommend either building or buying a foam insert for the game the extra $25 bucks or so is well worth the investment as a way to protect the mini's. (It is a must if your gonna paint them to keep them form chipping.)

-M
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Re: Review for those new to Games Workshop products
I'm a GW fan and a general miniatures wargamer, I own minis from a variety of companies. I'm no fan of *some* GW policies, but I do understand a lot about their market.

Yes, it's easier to break "proper" figures than the vinyl stuff you find in a FFG (or whoever) game. However, it's also MUCH harder to fix the vinyl pieces, and they are usually VERY inconstant of scale, often poorly cast, and not as easy to work (that is, clean-up, glue, repair miss-casts, convert, et al).

What you are doing in that minis comparison is apples to oranges. It's comparing a sports car to an off-road vehicle.

GW's competition?
Most people will moot Heresy, Reaper, Privateer Press, Rackham, Wizkids, et al, but again it's apples and oranges. If you're only looking at the minis, it's the same thing, but any product includes the service level and economic considerations which makes these companies (and others like them) only semi-competitors.

No-one-else uses domestic production in a country with decent labour laws, minimum wage and pollution controls, while also providing a dedicated retail chain and exceptionally high levels of customer service coupled with community organised play co-ordination on top of the minis & rules. If they do, then they are a direct competitor. Otherwise, any competition is tangential.

It is for the same reason that games like Descent and Doom are not really direct competition for Space Hulk. Sure, I can pay an extra £10 and but a copy of Descent instead. It will have twice as many , lower-spec pieces, and provides a gaming experience of a vaguely similar type. I love both games, but they are very different products and very different games.
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Kevin Outlaw
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Re: Review for those new to Games Workshop products
FunkyTable wrote:
Oh, one more thing. Part of the reason I wrote this with such a snarky tone was so people could offer counter opinions defending GW products. I also want to point out I focused this unreview on everything I disliked about the game, I'll update to make it a review with all the positives (And from what I've read, I'm sure I'll find plenty).


This comment makes it sound like you were purposefully trying to rile up Space Hulk fans rather than give any kind of balanced opinion (which is fine, if that's what you want to do ). But I think in fairness you should have waited to post, and you certainly shouldn't have said you were giving a review for people new to GW as most of your opinions are based on seemingly incorrect assumptions. (Your review does make it sound like you had no idea GW make metal models, for example.)

I definitely think your idea of giving a proper review is a good idea, simply because a balanced review will lend more weight to any grievances you actually have. I have never opened a game and liked 100% of it, but I have never opened a game and liked 0% of it either.

I think you may have "over-snarked" your post so now it just comes across as you bashing GW, and you twist a lot of arguments to make GW sound bad (people do this a lot). For example, you don't have to buy GW plastic glue or clippers, many companies sell this sort of thing. And of course, if you read lots of reviews before buying, then none of the things you have listed as a grievance would have come as a surprise to you

Anyway, I hope you eventually like the game, if only because I know how much it sucks to buy a game you don't then enjoy (this happened to me with A Touch of Evil, which I had expected to love and just really didn't enjoy at all).
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Re: Review for those new to Games Workshop products
FunkyTable wrote:
Then I began to assemble the things together and started to notice a pain in my right hand. The shock from clipping out these plastic pieces was taking it's toll on my hand after only 2 hours of snipping. I don't know what I did to my hand, but it's now 3 days later and I still can't push things with the palm of my hand without a lot of pain


muzzynyc wrote:
While you definitely have a point as to the difficulty removing the figures, as a counter-point: I removed them all in about three hours (over two nights) using nothing but a pen-knife.


wytefang wrote:
I am totally new to GW products and I was able to clip out my figures within 2-3 hours in one night


Steampunk wrote:
But I found over two nights and forcing myself to take it easy I extracted all models from their sprues without mishap using my wife's eyebrow straight razor (she was thrilled) and a pair of scissors.


In about 2 minutes, I can dump out all the pieces for Descent, and be ready to play. And, I'm not particularly worried that pieces will break, that my immaculate paint job will be chipped, or that I'll hurt myself in the process.

As for the GW plastic not being brittle, there is a brittleness scale (related to material properties).

http://web3.unt.edu/news/story.cfm?story=11040

The GW pieces ARE more brittle than the Descent pieces. Metal would be less brittle, of course, but not a serious option for packaging with the game. You might find metal replacements if there were some kind of interconnected series of computers used world-wide, which people occasionally used to sell their things they no longer want.

Finally, having played WH Fantasy and WH40K for years up until about 10 years ago, I'd have to say the op is dead nuts on with his observations about modern GW (modern=the last 15 or so years). However, as others have pointed out, "back in the day" they used to make some excellent stand alone (ish) board games that should still be in print. Space Hulk is an excellent example, and totally deserves to be in print. The decision to use plastic pieces was a non-issue for GW, I'm sure, for several reasons. Requiring assembly is annoying, though, however painting your figs is not required...but all modelers will want to. Personally, I'd like to see a set of counters that could be used instead of the figs. I know that it takes me a very long time to get stuff painted like I want it, and I may want to actually, you know, play the game in the meantime. Here's to GW for making Space Hulk available, and a raspberry for making it so damn assembly intensive.
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David desJardins
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Re: Review for those new to Games Workshop products
I'm hoping this "review" is a poor attempt at humor.
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Greg Schlamax
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Re: Review for those new to Games Workshop products
Landstander wrote:
I'd have to say the op is dead nuts on with his observations about modern GW (modern=the last 15 or so years).


Um, what?
 
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Re: Review for those new to Games Workshop products
Actually Games Workshop pretty much started with board games and then spread out into wargames and then all but closed the board game side of it.

As for diversity? Um. They produce primarily wargames. If every one was diffrent no one would buy them as much as they do. The cross compatibility of Warhammer and 40k lends for some unusual aglomerations and conversions. (With a little or alot of work.) And they have only 2 flagship games. LOTR is just a side note that they will drop the second their contract expires. Periodically they release something unusual like Mighty Empires and now Planetary Empires, or oddities like Inquisitor, Gorkamorka, Blood Bowl etc...

Also, To date essentially all of GWs board games have had diffrent rules. No two have been alike straight up on the ruls side with the exception maybee of Advanced Space Crusade and Space Hulk being compatible.

One of the reasons GW games arent higher rated is that they are wargames, and damn expensive ones at that, and tend to require at least some small painting skill. As GW themselvs state. Its a hobby game.

Why buy endless supplements for a single game? Who says you have to? Most players grab just what they need or are looking to expand into. Example: I started with the Fantasy Battles Skaven book and then picked up later the Lizardmen book and finally the Undead book. Thats it.
In 40k I had the Chaos, Space Marine, and the Tyranid books. No more, no less. The supplements are there for the individual tastes in army types.

As for the brittleness of the Space Hulk figures. Id have to say its a flaw of just that game. Normally GW plastics are very sturdy indeed.

ADDENDUM: On the other hand. Their prices are exorberant and have lead to an escalation of other board game company prices over the years. Some of their business practices leave alot less than to be desired. And currently they've started aping WOTC's old marketing ploys. Which may or may not come back to haunt them some day.

Least you tend to get excellet customer service.

FunkyTable wrote:

Games Workshop is a company that started in wargaming some time ago. All they produce in the 'games' end of the business (meaning a system of rules that forms a game) is a few rule books and supplemental books to cover new armies. There are a grand total of (drum roll)... 3 'core' games supported by the company (Warhammer Fantasy, Warhammer 40K, and Lord of the Rings). Now, look up any of the companies to produce one of the top 100 products rated on BGG (You'll notice none of the 3 make it anywhere close to the top 100), do those companies produce only 3 measly games? With the exception of Space Hulk itself, the other games are produced by companies who produce dozens of games with different systems and goals in a constant progression to find new, interesting ways to compete around a board table. If Rio Grande, Fantasy Flight Games, or any other company in the top 100 produced 3 games and then produced exclusively supplemental material for those games, they would go out of business. In other words, Games Workshop is not a company that is constantly trying to come up with new exciting systems for different types of games. Instead, games workshop is a company that creates an endless stream of items that support the 3 core games.

Who would buy endless streams of supplemental material for a single game? Someone who thinks the supplemental material is way more fun than the actual game.

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Scott B
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Re: Review for those new to Games Workshop products
FunkyTable wrote:
Landstander wrote:
I'd have to say the op is dead nuts on with his observations about modern GW (modern=the last 15 or so years).


Um, what?

Heh...I'm saying "I agree."
 
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