The Most Alarming Trend in GW Tournament Play

By |2018-09-13T08:24:20+00:00September 14th, 2018|Categories: Editorial, jstove, Warhammer 40k|

daemonette close up chaos demon hor wal

Jstove here, and today I want to talk about the worst thing that’s happening in top-level 40k right now. What is it? Take a look at this handy infographic.


Editor’s note: Games Workshop is a company just like any other who’s goal is to generate capital while keeping costs low. To that end, the last year has seen them go from what appeared to be a brand new company with a new direction, to scrambling to keep a foothold in the market who’s independent company tide is slowly rising up to meet them. Over the summer they have made, and continue to make a lot of questionable moves, that while great for business, have once again started to alienate their customers with whom they are trying to re-connect.

Spikey Bits is an industry pundit, we call it like we see it for all companies, especially our friends in Nottingham with whom we stay fiercely independent from GW for that very reason.

This column is one veteran hobbyist’s take on the events of the “dark days of GW” which actually were not that long ago, and how they are parallel to now as GW attempts to rebuild its power base in this hobby once again…

infograpics fw



Some of you new kids that started in the last couple years can be forgiven for this. You’re exempt, you can leave. This article isn’t for you. But for those of you who have been in the hobby a long time and can remember the bad old CEO Kirby days, it’s time for you to put on your Gloria Gaynor records. Start singing “I Will Survive” and remind yourself why you changed the locks.

If you’ve been playing this game for a minute, then you remember the dark days when it took years for a Xenos army to get a new codex, or for that matter, new models (8 years for the one Ork book IIRC). You remember GW scaling back community engagement, closing down their tournaments and events, and shutting down the major company hubs.

Basically, you remember the days when GW abandoned the community and left you all alone. There you were in your dark house with your superglue and your clippers in your hand wondering what to do with yourself.

Your Stepdad Came Home and Begged You to Let Him Back In

Roboute Guilliman Avenging Son

Then like every victim that enables your abuser, when Kevin Rountree showed up and turned the company around, he started handing out a quality product and re-connected with the community. That’s when you threw open the door and let him back in.

“This is the new GW! Don’t worry baby”

It Was Great at First, Then GW Went Back to Its Old Ways

GW meme

The best thing that ever happened to Games Workshop was Games Workshop walking away from their own scene.

In the absence of involved, committed, professional Games Workshop leadership and the rise of plastic production technology, creative entrepreneurs from around the world stepped up to put new blood in the hobby, and it was great. Without GW at the wheel of the hobby community, these things happened.

  • Phenomenal and affordable 3rd party casters.
  • Independent events and tournaments with their own highly-developed mission packets honed over decades of non-interaction with the parent company. These were designed to be the most-fair levels of play.
  • A host of new competitors in the industry pushing fresh ideas and novel game design mechanics.

But then GW showed up at the door again and asked to come out of the rain. GW told you they changed, and you wanted to believe them, so you did. 

And things were good at first. He gave you Necromunda and Kill Team. He gave you regular FAQs and bigger starter boxes with more models in them. He even brought back Blood Bowl and started supporting specialist games again…

Then he told you that he’d come to your independent tournaments. But only if you had a GW-only model policy.

That’s when you should have known that GW is still the same GW. They don’t change, and just like that, you’re a hobby victim again.

You Hobby Like Your Buddy With the Controlling Spouse

Ultramarine Painting Hobby

Remember when you used to go out with your one friend all the time, and you were best pals. Then he met up with that new significant other and he started changing. You eventually figured out that you saw him less and less because she didn’t like his friends and you least of all? Remember when you thought, “well if that’s what our friendship means and that’s how easy it is to get rid of me, then screw you too.” Remember that?

Well, that’s you now.

That’s who you are when you spend the last twenty years in this hobby trying to build an independent community full of robust competition, leadership, and creativity. All to sell your soul back to the devil when he shows up again. All you needed to do was sign in blood on the dotted line.

Whose Hobby Is It, Mine or Theirs?

ocd space marine painting

Who buys your toys, glues them together in your garage with your tools, and paints them on nights and weekends after work? You, you, and you. So who should tell you what toys you can or can’t play with? Someone else, or the person holding your paintbrush and your wallet?

Who Did You Pay to Go to This Event?

start collecting

When you show up at a convention or event registration to go play your game, who is running it? Who are you paying to play? Are you paying the people that made the game, or are you paying the organizer that owned the space and put up the tables? Who should you be taking your orders from, the guy who isn’t there, or the guy running the show?

Who Do You Owe For This Event?


If you’re the person putting together the event, doing the logistics, unpacking the folding chairs, terrain and setting the tables, who do you answer to? The guys who made the game that want to get back in on the action after being gone for fifteen years, or the community you’ve built in their absence?

Who’s A Grown Man?

  • Listen to cops, because they tell you to obey the law so that you don’t go to jail.
  • Listen to your boss, so that you keep your job and he keeps paying you.
  • Listen to your lawyer, because he needs to keep you out of jail to get paid.
  • Listen to your accountant, because he needs to make you rich to get paid.
  • There’s a lot of people in your life you should listen to you, either because they pay you to listen to them, or you pay them for good advice.

So do you listen to people to tell you what to do with your spending money on your toy soldier budget? Yeah, maybe if you’re a child and you get your allowance from mommy. If you’re a grown man though, your money should buy the best product on the market regardless of the manufacturer or who told you that you could or couldn’t use it.

It’s a plastic toy, not a surgical prosthetic heart valve or a precision instrument on a space rocket.

oh yeah

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