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A sucker, yes I am…

Occasionally, there are times when I am forced to take a long hard look at myself and my relationship with our glorious hobby. The latest of these came, after shelling out a hefty sum on a new Skaven army. This was sparked by the realisation that if I was to get hold of the new Warhammer rules, I’d rather get a bunch of nice minatures rather than a rulebook that could be used as a bludgeoning weapon and which would be made obsolete in about four years time. I then had sudden flashbacks to my poor neglected Imperial Guard army, which has still yet to see the light of day. This came about when I found out just how more expensive the basic Cadian squad boxset was going to be once the new codex was going to come out. After a quick panic-buying spree, much has been assembled, but little has actually been painted.

I mention this only to draw attention to the little traps that can quite easily draw us into buying more than we perhaps have time to comfortably paint. I wonder how much of this is the work of canny business decisions or my own preference for avoiding half measures (I tend to judge an army complete, when I have pretty much all the available options for it). Certainly, Games Workshop operates under an interesting constraint. Ideally it would like to sell every new product to all of its customer base, but time and storage space considerations, means that even with devotees to only one of the three main systems, assembling and painting a reasonably sized army before the next “Codex: So much better than your last army” comes out. As a result, I’m sure they do their best to engineer things to maximise impulse purchases. I think this is becoming a taller order each year, as the prices are starting to put things beyond simple snap purchases.

On a related note, one of the more interesting conspiracy theories I’ve heard is the idea that GW deliberately adjusts the internal balance of codexes in favour of new model releases. The most bitterly held example appears to be the new Codex: Tyranids, which makes Trygons a no-brainer choice for heavy monstrous creature close combat ability, compared to the Carnifex (a beautiful model, which every Tyranid player worth their biomass, snapped up in large quantities, when the previous codex came out).

Personally, I believe that this sort of thing is a bit too inconsistent to be a major design policy. After all, this is the same company that gave us the Pyrovore and the latest Codex: Chaos Space Marines, which in turn gave us plastic possessed and Chaos spawn, together with rules for them that are generally considered to be “the suck”. However, I suspect that the reason why Codex: Tyranids seems to be such a blatant attempt to rise additional cash from the fan-base, owes much to the period in which it was developed. Codexes take about 2-3 years to develop, which means that it was probably written at a time when everyone was staring at a hideous beast of a recession and GW was probably fearing for its financial future.

I suspect the new Dark Eldar codex will be hugely profitable for GW. The fact that even long established Dark Eldar fans will probably be buying large quantities of the new models, due to the quantum leap in aesthetics, coupled with the awesome job the team has done on fleshing out the background and giving us a race with a very different playstyle to MEQ, should result in lots of happy customers and a big fat cheque for GW. Hmm.... Evil David Bowie soul vampire pirates.... No.... Must resist....