It’s not new, and it never seems to go away. First, it was conversions to represent pricy Forge World models like their Greater Demon of Tzeentch for example. Now it’s happening with the most basic of units as well.
Whether it’s intentional or unintentional- it’s still happening, and in our opinion, it is a continued black eye for the hobby.
As a unit becomes popular, products sell out, in some cases overnight. Then those that weren’t lucky enough to get their hands on the model are forced to compromise. This opens the door for conversions which is one of the things that makes this hobby so great.
While GW, being a leader in the tabletop/miniature making industry should be able to fill the demand (which they have repetitively failed to do). However, we as players, who will share hours of our time with each other should also understand that conversions need to be reasonable as well…
Conversions Are a Must, As GW Continues to Hold the Hobby Hostage.
By “holding the hobby hostage” we mean: GW/FW who is also in charge or rules-writing and miniature manufacturing, will make a unit a “must-have” for an army’s new or updated rules. Sales spike and this wipes out the inventory. Then, months go by for any new stock to replenish the warehouse.
We’ve seen this time and time again with GW products. Most recently, with Thunderfire Cannons, and Chaplain Dreadnoughts (which aren’t even made anymore), and back when GSC were huge, Acolyte Hybrids. But don’t forget things like Custodes Caladius Tanks, Artemis Pattern Hellhounds, Renegade Psykers, Fire Raptors, Earthshaker platforms, Rough Riders, Xiphon Interceptors etc, etc…
In the case of the Thunderfire Cannon, for example, for the points and Stratagem support, it’s literally a no-brainer to take one in any Space Marine list. Unless you purely don’t like the model, of course. As it turns out, everyone and their mom who plays Space Marines bought Thunderfire Cannons, and months have gone by with GW not restocking. To compensate people have resorted to making conversions or buying third party kits. Which we’ll talk more on later.
In the case of the Chaplain Dreadnought… GW’s new litany rules made an old character Dread bonkers and now everybody wants one. The only problem is that Forge World doesn’t even make the model anymore. So official Chaplain Dread models are even harder to come by than Thunderfire Cannons.
In either case, you can make the argument that GW/FW has made a demand that they can’t/won’t supply: I.E. holding the hobby hostage.
Sadly as we all know, it’s nothing new…
Conversions & Alternate Models Increase
As a side effect of low supply and high demand, companies with mini-making technology produce their own (usually cheaper) versions of models that would work seamlessly in the place of the model that GW can’t restock. You’d think that a company grossing millions and millions every year with smart robots in warehouses now pulling orders would be able to keep pace with demand for their own product.
While some hobbyists shoot for a quick alternate model. Others like to go for the even cheaper route and convert their own. They dig through the bits box and can usually come up with a pretty cool model to use. It’s unique to their army and looks good.
Convert Within Reason: Playing in Tournaments
Because of all of this, and the frenetically pace of releases, combined with ITC rankings/meta, there is a bit of a domino effect taking place in the hobby right now. Since players can’t get their hands on official models, they have to convert them. When they convert them, they have to clear any converted models with tournament organizers beforehand. Which just makes sense, to be honest.
Head judge Salty John smartly had this to say recently in advance of the 2020 LVO:
Lists for the Las Vegas Open 2020 are beginning to be parsed for data and there are hundreds of Space Marine lists that include Chaplain Venerable Dreadnoughts and Thunderfire Cannons. Those models tend to be pretty hard to come by. We announced multiple times, and multiple places that Conversions should be sent to us for approval. The number of lists using these models, and the seeming lack of conversion approvals for them in relation to that number, is disconcerting. So please take the following under advisement if you are using a conversion of a model, especially the Chaplain Dread or TFC, and did not get it approved beforehand.
To take this a step further, while it’s unfortunate that GW can’t supply their own product efficiently, you also shouldn’t roll up to a tournament with an assault cannon glued to a 32mm base and expect to use the excuse of “well I can’t get my hands on the actual model”… It’s a lazy crutch and it won’t fly.
It’s great that the tournament community is understanding the issues of model availability. However, there’s also the responsibility of players to hobby/convert a decent model and simply get it approved beforehand. Obviously purely 3D printed models are going to be a sore point, so there is even more reason to clear these “conversions” or “proxies” with the TO’s well in advance of the event.
The Honest (Possible) Grim Truth About OP Units
With Warhammer Legends now slowly sucking in non-Primaris kits like a black hole, it’s safe to say that anything non-Primaris will eventually meet its final resting place there. One might be able to argue that GW needed to make the most of their supply for Chaplain Dreads and Thunderfire Cannons. So to some hobbyists it appears that all they did was make their rules crazy and their points cheap to move product.
You can even make the argument that GW has this extensive network of playtesters that could, in theory, notify them which units need to be “retired” because of new crazy rules to avoid situations like out of print models becoming OP and such.
Dark Tidings Ahead for More Space Marine Units?
Who knows, with the new mystery picture showing what looks to be Primaris Bikes, Predators, and Land Speeders, we may see something like regular Land Speeders make an even bigger splash into the meta because of an unforeseen update suddenly making them great.
Nothing has been confirmed here, but we also can’t take it off the table.
All in all, GW will continue to cycle through the Space Marine line making things Primaris. And with the pace of new products/rules never being faster, only time will tell with what happens to non-Primaris units that sell out online. (That could be the last of them).
In the face of that, make sure you are doing your part as a hobbyist and player by providing your opponent with a proper army. That means any conversions you make need to be scaled right and have similar weapon designs. In other words, don’t call a Predator a Repulsor, etc.
Painting your models (aka putting forth actually hobby effort) would also quel potential “feels-badsies” as well.
What do you think about GW’s restock time on their kits? Do you have certain guidelines you give yourself when you convert a model?