Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Excessively awesome or just excessive?

Oh my.  I'm of two minds with this, what is presumably a new trend for Games Workshop - bigger and more expensive books.  To the left is the new Orcs and Goblins army book for Warhammer Fantasy, weighing in at 112 pages and $37.25USD.

On one hand, I think these books will be great for those that love the army or are getting into them.  Full color, new art, lots of pictures of models, undoubtedly lots of background stuff.  It can be something to cherish.

On the other hand, it's a close to $40 thick hardback.  It's good for collectors, but poor for actual gamers, when there's probably only 20 pages or so of that 112 that you'll actually use when gaming.  For someone who plays only one army, plays at home against a few mates with a limited range of armies, not a problem.  For tournament players or just enthusiasts who would like to get all or at least most of the books, problem.  If all the books go to this price point, you're looking at a cost of over $600 for all the army books and the core rules, not to mention the weight!

I know that it's a hobby, and that few hobbies are cheap.  And as a book, it's actually a decent value.  I dug out some old books and my old 3rd edition Space Wolf book was like 32 pages, mostly black and white, and had a price tag on it for $9.99.  On a per-page basis, it's pretty comparable, and when you add in full color and the fact that it's a hardback, the new O&G book looks even more reasonable. 

But for a lot of gamers, it's not a book.  It's the access point for the army.  Most of the time, they're only going to refer to the 20 pages of it that have rules, stats, and point costs.

Now, if GW changes other aspects to go along with these monster books, I can feel a lot better about them.  If there's great proofreading and playtesting, and the edition cycles get slowed down considerably I can live with it.  Solid books that stand up for over a decade before new ones come out; great.  If that's the idea, then hardback makes even more sense.  Shoddy ones riddled with mistakes and things that obviously need clarification (remember the multi-printing mess of the 3.5 ed CSM codex or the poorly-thought out and worded Doom of Malantai?) that are rendered obsolete every four years doesn't make sense...even at previous prices.

I would personally prefer for GW to break up the books.  Make two books for each army - a faction book that covers the fluff and is filled with pretty pictures and hobby stuff, and an army book/codex that just has the nuts and bolts, point costs and minimal background info - the stuff that actually gets used in the game.  Make the faction books big pretty productions for $30-40, and the army books/codexes light, tight, 16-32 page black and white minimalist paperbacks for $10-15.

I hope that this new O&G book is fantastic, and that it's the start of a wave of great, tight books and rules sets that stick around for a long time and provide great value. Regardless, I can foresee even more players photocopying the relevant bits of their books to save their backs come game day!  As it is, I fear I may have to give up my thoughts of re-entering WHFB and save my pennies for upcoming 40K hardbacks!

Also wanted to throw out a couple of reminders:  

-Check out Deepstrike Radio's auctions to benefit Flood Relief efforts in Australia

-Get your hype on for fun and prizes!  Ends Friday!


  1. Yeah it's true... it looks awesome. But honestly, as a gamer who just generally wants know the other armies I'm playing against, this is way too much money.

    I'd read the fluff sections I suppose- once. And then the only part I'd use would be the army list part. Seems like a waste of money to me. /shrug

    Makes me wonder what's going to happen to fantasy- people already don't really like the new edition. Now huge overcosted books and smaller boxed sets...

  2. I think it will encourage more dirty downloads considering the sheer cost of the books already.

  3. @Xaereth - I doubt that this is going to be restricted to Fantasy.

    @Adam - most likely.

  4. '...Solid books that stand up for over a decade...'

    What? You mean like my SM codex who's binding fell apart about 6 months after purchase & I had to have spiral bound @ Kinkos?

  5. It's about $7-8 more than the older books with full color and hardcover binding. That's a pretty good deal in my eyes; I was expecting it come in over $40. In any case it's easier to leave a hardbound book open on specific pages than a softcover counterpart; especially pages near the start or end.

  6. @DMC - Yep, I'd like to see quality construction as well as content. Hopefully the binding and rules will be able to last.

    @hatchet - I agree that on its own, as a book, it's a good value. But some will have to consider total cost, not just per page cost, especially if the amount of the book they really use is the same 20 pages, regardless of if it's a $40 fancy book or a $10 pamphlet.

    I know that price concerns can sound hollow from someone who recently bought two Imperial Armour books, but I was getting those for the whole package - the rules were secondary for me there (I haven't even read most of them). Not so much with army books.

  7. I'm excited about the new book, and the cost isn't that big of an issue - certainly the Army book is a drop in the bucket compared to revamping an army from 7th to 8th edition model counts.

    And plastic Savage Orcs really do make up for a lot in my eyes. My old metal Savages are so beat up and have been simple greened so many times that I'm very excited to replace them wholesale.

    I'm hoping that Animosity is both crazier and less crippling than in the current book. I'd love to have a unit of Boyz charge my own lines on occasion; I just want to be able to have a Savage General who doesn't squabble 5 of 6 turns...

  8. It seems a pretty logical progression of things. The 2nd edition 40k codicies were all large and fluff-filled, but in the interest of cutting costs (I presume), they were reduced to "rules only" style of books and put out for slightly cheaper than the originals.

    Slowly, fluff has been added back into the books over the years, and their corresponding size (and price) has increased. I suspect they'll commit to this for a run, and then next edition, they'll wind up trimming things down again--but the price will be comparably higher than they were in the past.

  9. Briefly got my mits on the book today, it feels and looks like a quality publication. But isn't really any thicker than a regular army book - minus the hard back covers.

  10. As long as the new rules don't suck.. I'm sure Orks and Gobbos players will love it...

    Also, while we're not made of money, this hobby is expensive... I think we all figure that out after our first army... so the cost of the book isn't that big a deal

  11. For Aussies this equals a whopping $62 on the Warhammer store! If only Book Depository sold Games Workshop books :(


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