It all started again in 2016 when Games Workshop announced they were changing after a devastating 24% drop in profits:
Matt Ward posted on his Twitter on August 2nd, 2016 that, after a then two-year departure from Games Workshop, he was back!
So, it’d seem I have a new client:
Some of you veteran players may remember Ward, who left Games Workshop back in 2014.
According to the Escapist:
The designer behind more Codex and rulebooks than you could shake a medium-sized stick at has left Games Workshop.
Matt Ward, writer and game designer, has left Games Workshop after 11 years. “I can certainly confirm that I’m no longer at GW,” he says. “Beyond that, I doubt I’ve anything interesting to say.”
Ward’s tenure in the happy, carefree land of smiling space marines could best be regarded as fraught. He’s the author or co-author of Codex for Blood Angels, Space Marines and Grey Knights, as well as several army books and the main rulebook for Warhammer Fantasy 8th Edition, among other works. He made many canon changes, some of which upset the fanbase, with predictable results.
Games Workshop reported tumbling stock prices and a profit drop of 24% this year, but its acting CEO Tom Kirby is confident that significant changes, including group consolidation and the one-man-store policy, will keep Games Workshop in business for many years to come.
According to his site, the Tower of Stars, he produced quite a bit of material for Games Workshop in his 12 years there:
- Codex: Blood Angels (2nd Edition)
- Codex: Grey Knights (1st Edition)
- Codex: Iyanden (1st Edition)
- Codex: Necrons (2nd Edition)
- Codex: Sentinels of Terra (1st Edition)
- Codex: Space Marines (3rd Edition)
- The Lord of the Rings: Battle of Pelennor Fields
- The Lord of the Rings
- Fall of the Necromancer
- The Lord of the Rings: Gondor in Flames
- The Lord of the Rings: Harad
- The Lord of the Rings: Ruin of Arnor
- The Lord of the Rings: Shadow and Flame
- The Lord of the Rings: Shadow in the East
- The Lord of the Rings:
The Scouring of the Shire
- The Lord of the Rings: War of the Ring
- Warhammer 40,000 Rulebook (5th Edition)
- Warhammer 40,000 Rulebook (6th Edition)
- Warhammer End Times: Nagash
- Warhammer End Times: Khaine
- Warhammer End Times: Archaon
- Warhammer Rulebook (8th Edition)
- Warhammer: Daemons of Chaos (1st Edition)
- Warhammer: Daemons of Chaos (2nd Edition)
- Warhammer: Dark Elves (4th Edition)
- Warhammer: High Elves (5th Edition)
- Warhammer: Orcs & Goblins (3rd Edition)
- Warhammer: Storm of Magic
- Warhammer: Wood Elves (2nd Edition)
- Warhammer: Wood Elves (3rd Edition)
That is an impressive list of supplements that anyone would love to aspire to in their career with any games company.
The 100% Accurate History of Games Workshop & Matt Ward – SATIRE
So yeah, Matt Ward used to be a 40k game designer for GW and was an incredibly polarizing figure in the company. Many 40k fans consider him to be the worst fiction writer GW has ever hired, and that his codex books were full of atrocious fluff which included gems like Grey Knights murdering the hell out of the Sororitas to wash their armor with super-holy-pure-lady blood, and the infamous team-up battle with the Blood Angels and the Necrons starring in their own buddy cop movie to fight the Tyranids.
Now, this is just my dumbass opinion on the internet, but here it goes- If you think Ward coming back to GW is a bad thing, you’re stupid, and I’ll explain why.
First, the obvious reason- If you care about the fluff in a 40k codex you are riding on the wrong train. Black Library releases new Horus Heresy books every month. If fluff is your thing, there’s nothing wrong with that… It’s just that you should be getting your fluff from BETTER sources, like Forgeworld and Black Library, the guys who do it better than the army book writers.
Now, let’s talk about Matt Ward did for Games Worksjop that wasn’t bad, because to be honest, if you look at the Warhammer 40k army books he did write, and didn’t care about the fluff, you’ll have to admit he wrote some of the most enduring and strongest books the game has ever had!
Matt Ward Did For Games Workshop That Wasn’t Bad
Let’s start with some of his weaker material, and go forward to his greatest triumphs. This is a list of everything Matt Ward has done for 40k, and why you should welcome him back. (As long as he doesn’t write fluff. Also, no comment on the army books he wrote for fantasy.)
CODEX NECRONS 5E
Among Necron players, Ward’s Necron book was a big deal. They all either loved or hated him for it. Mostly because he took Necron fluff in a new direction that a lot of them didn’t like. That’s pretty understandable, but what you need to focus on here is that before Ward came along, Necrons barely existed.
Prior to Newcrons, as they became known, the Necron range had 4 plastic models- Scarabs, warriors, destroyers, and the monolith, and they all came with those awful green plastic rods.
It was up to Ward to write an entire army list. All the characters, all the units, an entirely new range of models in every force organization slot. In 40k, the number of times this has actually happened on this scale can be counted on one hand. Ward wasn’t the first designer to write a book almost completely from scratch, but he was probably the best one.
Whether you liked newcrons or not, half of that codex still worked and was playable when 6e rolled over. Some of the builds like flyer spam were of course ludicrous, but the point stands that Ward wrote an army book for a new model range that stayed playable to some degree even when it was an out-of-edition codex.
CODEX BLOOD ANGELS 5E
Again, the fluff was stupid. Also, for the record, I think Astoroth the Grim and the Sanguinor are stupid characters. The Blood Angels already had a full house of decent characters with Lemartes, Mephy, Dante, Corbulo, and Tycho.
Most Blood Angel players who were around for the 5e codex remember it for one hilarious reason- Deep striking land raiders. However, if that’s all you remember that codex for, then you didn’t read it, because it was full of gems. When the current blood angel codex came out and replaced the 5e Ward book, I was laughing my ass off at my local blood angel fans because of how badly they got hosed. Ward’s 5e blood angels were the best that Sanguinius has ever had.
Here’s a list of things that Ward did for the Angels that made his book fun.
- The Stormraven. When this thing came out it was insane, and it was also the only flier marines had until the stormguppy came along and replaced it by being faster and cheaper. Also, keep in mind that although the stormraven is the most god-awful-looking flying brick ever designed by GW, that’s not Ward’s fault.
- Librarian dreadnoughts. This is a giant wizard robot with a S10 force weapon that could cast wings on himself and give himself a jump pack. That’s just fuckin cool. Ward was designing dreadnoughts that did awesome stuff back when dreadnoughts still were, and for the most part, still are, not that great in the game. Every dreadnought that has ever been good was a Wardnought.
- Assault squads as troops. It’s the freakin blood angels! Guess what happened in blood angels 6e? Tactical squads again. You’re welcome, blood angel players. Remember when your assault army had assault troops in it? Yup, that was a Ward army.
CODEX SPESS MEHREENS- ULTRAMARINES EDITION
Codex Ultramarines was one of the most cringeworthy god-awful tributes to the Smurf Legion ever written and made us all hate ultramarine players even to this day. However, as is typical with Matt Ward army books, even though the fluff sucked, the book itself was full of some of the best ideas that the marines have ever had.
Van and Stern veterans- Before Ward’s marines, all space marine veterans were just tactical marines with 2 attacks and better leadership, and by that I mean they were pretty much a worthless waste of an elite slot that you would never use. It was Ward’s idea to specialize veterans into the shooty sternies and the assaulty vannies, giving marine players something to do with their elite slots.
Less shitty dreadnoughts- Ward invented the ironclad, the AV13 gold standard of dreadnoughts that weren’t lame. Before Ward showed up, all dreadnoughts were the same. It was Ward that made them interesting and split them into vanillas, venerables, and clads.
Choose your own chapter tactics- For all your homebrew fluffbunny needs, if you didn’t want to be one of the original legions, this was the book you did it in.
GREY KNIGHTS 5E
Probably Ward’s greatest triumph and failure, this was a book that was as dumb as it was magnificent. Dumb, because Kaldor Draigo is the worst character ever invented in 40k. (Mordrak was way cooler) Triumphant, because this book was pretty strong, and like blood angels, stronger than the current codex that replaced it. I think it would be fair to say that Grey Knights 5E was one of the strongest army books ever written, although it did have a lot to do with goofball wargear and cheese choices like taking Inquisitor Coteaz in every army.
- Rifleman dreads- Again, Ward did dreadnoughts proud. That’s reason enough to like him, in 3 books he tried his hardest to make the coolest model in 40k lore actually playable.
- Another new range- Once again, this was a book Ward had to write more or less from nothing. Grey Knights didn’t have a full plastic range until this book, and all of the inquisitorial models and the GK heroes were still metal as well.
- More psyker shenanigans- This was the codex that introduced brotherhood of psykers. Ward was trying to make psykers cool before 6e When we actually got a psyker phase that worked (and then made the game wacky) Ward was the first designer to create psykers that weren’t independent characters with infantry statlines- First with his BA libby dread, and then with psychic pilots and brotherhood of psykers GK units.
That, in a nutshell, is the history of Ward in 40k. He was one of the best designers and one of the worst writers, but if you ignore the writing, then the only designer in the GW studio that has ever put more fresh ideas into 40k was Andy Chambers.
Matt Ward Joins The Darktide Team
Love him or hate him, Matt Ward has done a lot of things for Games Workshop over nearly the last 20 years. Now he’s talking about his part on the Warhammer 40k Darktide Team.
I finally get to talk about one of my secret projects …
I’m Creative Consultant (translates to writer, voice director, lorekeeper and roving busybody) on Fatshark’s upcoming #Darktide, and I can’t wait for you to see it!#warhammer40k https://t.co/lc7lIo5Lxp
— Matthew Ward (@thetowerofstars) April 8, 2022
One really good thing is he also confirmed that Abnett is still on the project and according to his own words, he will be writing, voice directing, and lore keeper. Considering we haven’t seen much else yet about his involvement, we’ll have to wait and see how it plays out.
Whatever you think about Matt Ward, he has done some good work in his time at Games Workshop, so we’ll have to wait and see how it all turns out.
Do you like his addition of Matt Ward to the Warhammer 40k Darktide team for Games Workshop?
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