Wednesday, 24 July 2013

White Dwarf and the Golden Age

Issue 107. The beginning of the Golden Age of White Dwarf - in my opinion anyway
A 'Golden Age' in anything is always going to be subjective. 

Its a matter of opinion. 

Here at Realm of Chaos 80s (and in the wider Oldhammer Community), the 'Golden Age' of GW is generally decided to be the Bryan Ansell era of 1985ish to about 1992. True, there are many affectionardoes who would argue that the Jackson/Livingstone era of 1977-1985ish could also been deemed part of this, and they may well be right, but for me anyway, its the GW games themselves that inspire me (along with the associated artworks) rather then the D&D roleplaying games that were the basis of the early years of GW and White Dwarf.

In fact, when you think about it, White Dwarf's first 10 years or so were nearly entirely devoted to roleplaying. Games like Dungeons and Dragons, Traveller, Pendrangon, Runequest and so on and so forth were covered and discussed throughout that time, sure GW had its own games (Golden Heroes and Judge Dredd are two such examples) and they would later (under Bryan Ansell) re-publish classics of the genre like Call of Cthulhu. 

Roleplaying games built GW. 

Citadel Miniatures, once a separate brand, produced miniatures at first purely to support these wide and varied games, but focused in particular with AD&D in the early years, before branching out into other areas, most successfully the Men at Arms/Wars of the Roses ranges sculpted by the Perry's (and still available via Ansell's Wargames Foundry). Its worth remembering at this point that it was Citadel Miniatures that bought Games Workshop, and not the other way around. 

However, roleplaying games were very much in decline. Their golden age had passed. And Citadel Miniatures/GW were very aware that is was the case, and had the evidence from their audit of the bricks and mortar stores and mail order service to prove this. Roleplaying supplements were not really selling as they were in years past, but the miniatures... They were selling almost as quickly as they could be produced. Over a million miniatures a month by 1985. The casting teams sometimes worked 24 hours a day to keep up with the demand.

But with no roleplaying games, what were collectors doing with the models? Wargaming being the most obvious answer, with the early editions of Warhammer being a fantasy favourite. More wargames were required and fast. As we know now, the roleplaying skirmish game called Rogue Trader had been so successful that the Design Studio was beginning to convert it into a larger scale wargame. Big box games would follow, all with their miniature lines and supplements. These new releases needed a place in the fictional universe created for the games (an idea with its roots deep in pencil and paper roleplaying games) and White Dwarf was the best place to provide the enthusiast with these materials. 

White Dwarf Issue 107 marked a change. It had been slow in coming, but by its publication it heralded in what I feel to be the Height of Golden Age of GW/Citadel Miniatures. The best way to explore these changes is to head back twelve months or so to issue 96 of White Dwarf.

First up, we have a cover that is in fact take from Caskets of Souls, a very well illustrated 'choose your own adventure; style book, illustrated by Iain McCraig- who had, and not many people know this, designed the famous Games Workshop logo. This wasn't a GW product as such, though it shared writers and artists in common. Issue 107 also used an unrelated cover, this one was a Conan one by Les Edwards. The difference would be in the actual size of the magazine. Issue 107 was different in regards to being much smaller and more compact than WD had ever been. 

Marginalia, the review column, still existed in issue 96. This was a vehicle in which the editors of White Dwarf were able to review 'roleplaying' materials, though to be honest by this point in the 1980s Games Workshop were dominating the market in the UK and were, essentially, reviewing their own new releases, though in a less blatant, more wordy way then they do today. Mail order still pushed, largely, roleplaying games with the miniature releases presented in lovely colour pages (see here and here from the releases from issue 96). By 107, this was refined to lovely colour adverts in a more formal, professional style. Issue 97 also still had Thrud the Barbarian the comic strip, who would depart with his creator, Carl Crithlow when he left to join 2000AD. Its true that GW games dominate, with WFRP's Bar Room Brawl, expansions for Warhammer and Rogue Trader. Roleplaying games were supported with Judge Dredd, Runequest and the Heart of Dust, but these were of course, published by GW. There was a letters page at the back of the magazine, something that was doomed to disappear entirely from WD around 107 alongside external advertising, though the odd piece did slip through later on. 

White Dwarf 107 is a far more polished thing than WD96. 

It also focused on, almost entirely, GW wargames or WFRP. And each of these games (Warhammer, Rogue Trader, Bloodbowl and Dark Future) had lots of scope for development and new models. Things were fresh. Issue 107 gave you articles that you could just use to expand your games (if, of course you bought the miniatures released that month too). These are, of course, the very same models that we here in the Oldhammer Community, and beyond, collect and paint. In future issues we would discover the model ranges, rules and background for Space Marine, Adeptus Mechanicus, Heroquest, Advanced Heroquest, Advanced Space Crusade, The Troll Games, Space Fleet, Space Hulk... So much still to come. And it is this wealth of released material that makes issue 107 a really important issue for me. GW had become more professional in its approach, but still had that zany sense of humour and a willingness to dip its toe into the darkness. This is way I believe that WD 107 heralds in the 'Golden Age' of the magazine. Each issue afterwards deepened the canvas, either with background, rulesets, games or miniatures. Over the next 24 issues or so, we saw the development, and publication of, the best fantasy and science fiction roleplaying games ever produced and the manufacturing of the greatest range of miniatures to support them. It would be an astonishing period of creativity, guided by Bryan Ansell's vision, that has gone unsurpassed by any other company since. Even GW themselves. 

Afterall, what have they really done since 1992?

Re-release, re-hash, dilute the products, ideas and miniature designs created in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

What are your opinions of issue 107, or indeed the issues that surround it? Do you have an opinion concerning the article? Do you agree, disagree? Please do share your thoughts. 



  1. Always a pleasure to read these well informed posts. As you asked...for me White Dwarf reached it's zenith about issue 50 (remembering here, I have them all, but tucked away in the attic). The very early Warhammer scenarios (Thistlewood and Minas Tirith) were an inspiration, and prior to that there were the odd tiny black and white picture of Gary Chalks fantasy battles. I was really peed off when Citadel changed to the "C" codes so you couldn't order a specific figure, just a random one from that particular code. The final nail in the coffin at the time was the change to slotta bases, and a move to more caricatured figures with massive hands and heads. I suspect it's a nostalgia thing, I was weaned on solid base figures and battles from fantasy literature (LOTR, Conan etc) so that's what I enjoy collecting now.

    1. My collection starts at 80. I have always wanted to go further back and with your recommendation about issue 50 i think i might start collecting there and studying up on first and second edition Warhammer. Thanks for the tips.

  2. I agree with your overall vision, Orlygg... The quality of Citadel Miniatures has improved with the years, there is little to argue there, but they have basically reciclying for years the material that came during those fantastic years of creativity. I always tell newcomers that all the vehicles that they play today in WH40K were basically created for Epic 40K in the period of a few months, and presented in the White Dwarf. Not a big follower of WHFB but I am sure that the same can be said in that system. Of course they created new races, and units... but not at the rythm and creativity of those golden years.

    1. Well recycling goes for WHFB too, not much new stuff (apart from useless big dual kits designed for the sole purpose to sell big things).
      WD issues I love the most (and there have been in a not so distant past) ar ethose where they make us wnat to buy models by providing original gaming material and strong background rather than showing big pictures and saying "look, Yeah! awsum! da best ! marines are so good!"
      The main difference is when the company concentrates more on designing desirable miniatures than on appealing games (do you imagine them publishing again complete games like confrontation for example?). I'm sure they want to do things right butit's all about cost effectiveness...

    2. I am sure that it has always been about cost effectiveness. Its just strange how once it was possible to create new games and be cost effective and no its not. Actually, its not that strange. Go read the interview i did with Rick Priestley and he explains it all quite clearly.

    3. I think I get what you mean and I didn't express myself correctly (handicap of being french). Reading the paragraph of this interview (the one above the warhammer siege picture) clearly shows that creation was the center piece of the development or at least it's what I understand of the way it functionned then...
      It was cost effective because the game and background were appealing and so attractive it made people buy games and models (to a point we still crave for this very products). I think it was a more long-term investment then to give gaming material or even whole games like confrontation for nearly nothing in a WD.
      Now I believe it's based on very short term rentability (look at limited edition games like spacehulk or dreadfleet) and oriented to a younger audience which is more attracted by anything brand new and shiny.
      I believe everything goes this way, now you throw a bucket load more of dices and your models die far more quickly hence you get bored of your army more quickly and go quicker to another one...

  3. Its odd for me, in that my first White Dwarf was 145, but I picked up a lot of back issues as they were still running a back issue service back then, and the subscription bonus was six back issues...

    I do still think that there's a lot of nostalgia around the period directly preceding the point I got into the hobby. I think the current edition of 40K is an excellent step forward from editions three through five, and there are still some excellent new and creative models coming out every now and again - the entire Tau race, the Jabberslythe, hell, even the Dark Vengeance Chaos models (I admit the last are looking back a little, but the cultists were worth a mention).

    The pace of creation of new material has slowed because a lot of models do need updating. Metal is not as supportable for the mass market any more, and it isn't as accessible to new gamers as resin or plastic. The current pace of release and update is probably the fastest its ever been, in terms of both models and word count - but with every update, they have to tie it back to what came before to maintain the links. When they come up with something new and different (Dreadfleet) they're asked why they didn't revisit someone's pet love, be that Blood Bowl or some Warhammer army.

    Yes, the company and the magazine has a more professional feel these days, but they are most definitely looking back to Rogue Trader era more now, and incorporating their favourite bits into current work.

    In short, I don't think it is better or worse now - its just the hobby. Some tastes, trends and focuses have changed, but a community has to evolve to avoid stagnating and dying.

    1. Actually, i feel that wargaming as a hobby has never had it better. Just walk around a big show like Salute and have a look at the range of games and model sets out there. The trouble is, some people cannot see beyond 'their game' and live in a rather blinkered world. The irony is that the majority of the companies that are at the cutting edge of gaming are owned by, or at least managed by, the very same people who worked at the design studio in the late 80s and early 90s. Foundry, Warlord, Studio McVey... As for new material, the key word is update. There was no need to update old games during the Golden Age as they were too busy producing new games.

  4. "Afterall, what have they really done since 1992?"

    Games: Necromunda, Mordheim, Inquisitor, man o' war, Gorkamorka, Warhammer Quest, Warmaster, made Warhammer and 40k into games you actually can play, lord of the rings

    new armies: Ogre kingdoms, Lizardmen, dogs of war, Sisters of Battle, Necrons, Tau

    Started up Forgeworld and completely reinvented Black library.

    Oh! Almost forgot! Created the best and most advanced plastic miniatures on the market revolutionising the way you paint and model miniatures.

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. Dark Eldar as well. Forgot abot them...

    3. Sadly, Necromunda, Gorkamorka, Man o War and many of the games you describe have their origins in the late 80s and early 90s. With many of the rulesets and background details developed at this time. Richard Halliwell was a big influence on many of these games, they were simply released (often in a far simpler, dumbed done way than originally intended by their creators) at a later date after the floatation of the company on the stock market when cash was needed quickly. Necromunda, for example, is a rehash of Confrontation a skirmish game published in WD in 1990-91. Also, i and my gaming group have no problem playing older versions of Warhammer or Rogue Trader. Sure, you need to put effort into the narrative and build interrsting forces but thats what we enjoy and why we do it. The Oldhammer Weekender at the Foundry in August just goes to show there are plenty of people who find these games more than playable. Armylists for Ogres appeared in Warhammer Armies in 1988, as did Lizardmen (or Slann) and mercenaries for your dogs of war. Infact you had multiple lists for these. Undead in space (necrons) were also mooted in the late 80s but were shelved by Bryan Ansell for being, well, a bit of a crap idea. The Black Library is merely a reboot of Warhammer books only without having as many talented writers as were used 1989-1993. I could go on...(;

    4. While having my golden GW times in the 90ties
      Necromunda is direct successor of Confrontation with 40k second edition rules..

      And Inquisitor is update of Confrontation rules with a new setting..
      It even uses some artwork (look for Inq cover types and Confrontation cover types picture.

      PS: I like reading these retro review almost as much as reading retro WDs themselves :)

    5. I know I should have mentioned that Necromunda was based on confrontation in the original post, that I know that lizardmen were based on frogpeople etc...

      Look. Everything they do will be based on something done back the the 80's as that's when their two major gaming workds took shape. Unless they create a entirely new setting one can always argue that they "dont come up with new stuff".

      I love the oldschool stuff. That's what I grew uo on - but one can't let nostalgia take over completely. Most importantly for me at least, the new range of plastics is a godsend that just continues to improve, and makes it easier to be truly creative as a modeler.
      All I'm saying is that they have done things, good things, after 1992.

    6. "Created the best and most advanced plastic miniatures on the market revolutionising the way you paint and model miniatures."

      You what.

      How did people paint and model minis before these 'revolutionary' minis?

    7. I think Jeff is referring to how easy plastic (and later resin) models are to convert and care for, store etc. Which is very true.

  5. One minor point, earlier pre-slotta Citadel were more about the Runequest (check all the lovely boxed sets in the 1st citadel compendium), yes there is a heap of D&D based stuff in there too, and the earlier Fiend Factory range was designed to support the Fiend Factory articles in White Dwarf, which were D&D. Anyway, I think Runequest had a greater influence on Citadel and the development of WFRP than D&D.

    For me the day Ian Livingstone stood down as Editor of WD (72?) was the end of the Golden Age of White Dwarf. And look at the games they produced and published, Warlock, Talisman, Battle Cars, Judge Dredd, Warhammer 1+2, and the massive amount of creative gaming scenarios in WD.

    Yep, 100% since 1992, with the exception of the Tau (Ricks work IIRC, who has now left), all they've done is step and repeat marketing, built-in obsolescence, and managed to get the LoTR license again, after doing that in the 80s, so even that wasn't an original idea.

    After a while most companies stop being creative, and just tinker the core product trying to produce more of it for less (plastic) and reduce overheads (squeese pay, reduce the creative team), typical corporate life-cycle. I have a huge respect for the work the studio puts out and the vision they've achieved (I'm thinking of the old-guard, JG, JB, AP, MP, TM, AM and DA), but it would be nice to see what they'd do without it having to be strictly related to the "Warhammer" context and the economic necessities of mass production.

    1. Zhu, i love your articles about GW's amazons and your recent pygmy post. Any chance of a 'Runequest's influence on Warhammer'style post in the near future. I am sure we would all find such a discussion very interesting.

  6. Personally, White Dwarf 107 is more the pinnacle of the Golden Age. I would suggest it was all downhill from about issue #117. I like WD 96 though as it's full of Slann! :)

    From about 1987 the roleplaying element of White Dwarf had started to recede, and with the release of 3rd Edition Warhammer and the new 40k, there was a greater focus on miniatures and gaming. For me a good change.

    With 40k, there was a definite shift starting in January 1989 with the creation of the new Imperial Guard and then the rest of the lists that followed, the introduction of plastic/metal hydrid models (actually in the case of Genestealers! ), and the move away from the ad-hoc nature of 40k. White Dwarf reflected that change, with more rules ammendments, releases, and artwork which fitted the newer appraoch.
    I think that the path to 2nd Edition and dumbing down was set by 1990 with things such as the new Ork miniatures and 'ere we go'. Some things, such as the newer Eldar were still good, but for me 40k as a whole had become trashy and silly by 1990, and only started to recover by about 1999.

    This change seemed to be helped along by Space Hulk (which was fun), the change in styles of artwork (Paul Bonner, Gary Chalk), the collaboration with MB and the move in apporaoch from ad-hoc (pre 1989, to professional (1989 to 1992), and then Corporate (1992 onwards).

    With Warhammer to it took until 1992 and the release of 4th Ed to lose it's appeal (although the the snide sarcasm from GW shop staff at the discontinuing of the Slann I found very amusing at the time!). However again I would suggest that by 1990 to 1991, Warhammer Fantasy had started to crumble and White Dwarf relfected that trend in the magazine. The older miniatures were revamped to fit in and often painted in bright red and simplistic paint schemes. The minatures started to lean to being less characterful and more souless. The new Bretonnians in 1991 are a good example. I also suggest that the increasing influence of the sculpting style of Marauder miniatures led to the 'stupid grinning' or 'unreleastic weapons' phase of citadel design.

    Since 1992 it has'nt been all bad.
    1992-9 was rubbish, although a many of the later plastic kits and ideas were formulated and refined in later editions. 21st Century, has Tau, Tomb Kings, Necrons, but I feel that the 1999 to 2010 era was a Sliver Age that has passed. With Finecast, endless re-hashing of ideas with little brand new, erratic releasing, and ever crazy prices, that whatever gains that were built by the people who were came into the hobby in the Golden Age and then had influence in the Silver Age, will be lost and people will look elsewhere. That is maybe why Oldhammer is gaining popularity?

    1. I do agree with you on the gaming aspect and dates. As i don't have issues of WD older than 135, I can't say anything on the matter. What I do know is that even in the very early 90's likle in 91 as you say, there were still good gaming material, modelling articles, the very first battle reports (EPIC and then RT) and a lot of this was very good because it's what I personnally expect from such a magazine. I alo agree about the blank decade from92 to 99. Some recent stuff is really good to me like chaos marines chosen which are what all marines should look like (what a turn down to see they were keepoing these shitty horned marines) or even recent dark eldar (oh a project led by Jes, what a coincidence...). What i dislike the most now is the will to make dual kits for everything even if it means making redundant or useless entries and force them in the army background. Oh and I miss Chaos warriors looking like violent maniacs rather than slow and tired armoured schoolboys.

  7. I'll have to agree with Jeff Vader here: I hugely enjoy this blog, I love reading about the vintage stuff, some of which really influenced what I would like to think of as my formative years in the hobby. And it's certainly great that you guys get together in the spirit of Oldhammer, not necessarily because I think everything used to be better, but because it's always brilliant when people find a way to practise the hobby that satisfies them and doesn't force them into conventions they don't want to follow.

    That said, the rather strong feeling around here that everything kinda went downhill from the early 90s at the latest onwards is kinda baffling to me, because while I dislike dumbing down and adhering to economic shenanigans as much as the next guy, there is stuff I can do with models today that I could only have dreamed of 20 years back. Granted, with models it always comes down to personal tastes and preference in the end, but reading how almost everyone around here seems to think there's almost nothing good left about GW (even though a lot of talented artists are still working there and making a mark on their properties) somehow makes me think I may be seeing things. Or not seeing things. I don't know.

    Anyway, maybe if I like the new stuff as well, this blog isn't really the right place to vent my observations. And I certainly don't want to give any offense. The passion many of you are exhibiting here is admirable, to be sure. I just sometimes don't get the bashing of modern GW...

  8. Some interesting points made here. And yes, my question at the end of the article was rather loaded wasn't it, yet I intended to create debate and this has occurred. I have to say that I heartily agree with Zhu about the Silver Age, and I think this period was guided by the editorship of Paul Sawyer in White Dwarf. I got back into wargaming the GW way in 2004 and thoroughly enjoyed 40k around this time. I knew that there was 'something missing' though (this was probably depth and/or an adult tone) but the magazine was fun and I enjoyed painting my all metal Sisters of Battle Army. Then came the 'Giant Issue' and a very rapid decline, and the rest is history. As for the quality of the models these days, yes some of the kits are technically brilliant when it comes to actually putting them together, a quick wander around a major show like Salute will quickly point out that there are many, many modern manufacturers whose models are equal to anything GW has put out, and in many case exceed.

  9. For me, the golden age of White Dwarf is between around #60 to #180. Ish.

    1. So my view is slap bang in the middle of my own. I am not so keen on later issues, 150+ as the games i enjoy were by that point were (largely) oop. I must admit to indulging the odd appreciation of earlier issues too!

  10. I do agree that WD has become something rather lacklustre (even though it´s picked up in it´s latest iteration - more hobby material, lots of gamers own models and, of course, Blanchitsu).
    For me my favourite issue was 127 where they presented the Eldar in their current form. That was just a fantastic article and everything eldar done since has been more or less completely based on that one article (and the one about harlequins a few issues earlier).

    Oh, and Goblin Lee:
    "I think that the path to 2nd Edition and dumbing down was set by 1990 with things such as the new Ork miniatures and 'ere we go'. "
    As a longterm ork player and lover of everything orkoid ´Ere We Go, Waagh the Orks and Freebooters are the ork equivalent of the Realm of Chaos books. Combined it´s about 800 pages of background, gorgeous illustrations, armylists and tables galore. How anyone can bring them up as an example of dumbing down the game and background is just completely beyond me?

    1. I agree that there has recently been a rapid decline with the big new White Dwarf. Also that WD 127 with the Eldar was very good, great artwork, background and miniatures.

      In answer to Jeff Vaders query, there were different streams of parallel development at the same time. I felt that the direction of the Orks was dumbing down, especially in comparison with the work on the Eldar.

      There was a mix of different things going on at the time. Realm of Chaos had been released (had to wait ages for Lost and the Damned, but Slaves to Darkness was out ) and so a lot of us were re-gaming the Horus Heresy. However alongside material that owed it's conception to the mid to later 1980's (such as the Rogue Trader Rulebook, Slaves to Darkness, 3rd Edition Fantasy), you had newer stuff that was being influenced to cater for the change in the younger customer base of GW at the time, and reflecting the change in the Design Studio staff and tastes, for example 'Ere we go' and Freebooter.

      As a long term Ork player too, starting in 1987 with the Space Ork Raiders boxed set, the early background and feel to the Orks was very different. From 1987 to 1989 the Orks had a meaner feel to them, a cross between a sort of semi-organised military and a raiding biker gang. The miniatures were more reflective of the 1980's style of fantasy Orcs, and I personally think had better quality sculpting style. If Orlygg does'nt mind, here's a link to my early Rogue Trader/Book of the Astronomican Ork army on my blog:

      When 'Ere we go' and Freebooters came about, a lot of us at the time felt the Orks had changed into a more silly and slapsstick army. We thought that was reflected in the newer miniatures that seemed comic and grinning, and that the background and paint schemes, whilst more involved, was more dumbed down. I only think that changed when both aspects of their design background merged in the 2000's to create a less meaning feeling army with elements of the background and ideas from the 'Ere we go/Freebooters era.

      We will probably have to agree to differ, but it does'nt matter, as long as we enjoy our particular era or era's of gaming and collecting, and appreciate the effort of gone into others interests. :)

      Anyway, all this is diverting the thread away from discussing about White Dwarf.

    2. There were always some artists who tended to make their Orks look rather caricatured and silly and others (such as myself) who, whilst keeping some humour also tried to make them look nasty and hard.

    3. Mr Goblin, or should that be Mr Lee? I think your comments are very relevant to the discussion in hand. I agree with the view that the Orc books are RoC for greenskins. However, we must remember that Rogue Trader was a runaway success for GW and most of the studios efforts went into supporting it. Warhammer was left largely alone during this period after many years at the top of the food chain. As for the direction of the orcs, my opinions are mixed. I loved the rich background that developed around them; clans, kults etc but i was not a fan of the plastic armed metal hybrids that came later. I much prefered to biker gang feel of the early orcs.

    4. Mr Hough. I have got to say I always liked your orks. But the greenskins had a great deal more depth back then, hence the likelihood that some of them would be evil, others comical, some powerful and others stupid. Rather than the two dimensional brutes they have now become. Variation is, after all, the spice of wargaming!

    5. To Orlygg:
      Just Lee is fine, LOL :)

      I agree that at the time Warhammer Fantasy was neglected to some extent with the rise in popularity of Warhammer 40K. A game of Fantasy Battle was an unusual event at my local Games Workshop!
      I also agree that the Ork background was largely improved, but personally I think the over abundance of new rules and the later design and painting of the miniatures was not an improvement. All of this seemed to be reflected in the content and direction of White Dwarf at the time. The current Orks do seem a little two dimensional.

      To Mr Hough:
      When I think of the early style of Rogue Trader Orks is it a lot of your artwork that springs to mind. I love the feel and style of your art used in the 1988 Book of the Astronomican. You’re right in that some artists went for a caricatured and silly look, but you kept that balance of humour and nasty hardness very well. Thank you for some great 40K artwork. :)

  11. First off: Thanks for providing an excellent blog. I only came across it yesterday and am looking forward to many hours of reading interviews and articles.

    Regarding this particular article, I guess the chosen golden age of WD coincides rather nicely with page contributors' *own* golden ages of gaming. To me, WD peaked somewhere in its late 90s (the #96 as illustrated would be a good choice), but that's probably because the first issue I picked up myself was #89 as I recall. To me, White Dwarf was at its very best at the time - late 80s, to earliest 90s - when it operated in about equal measure between the spheres of tabletop wargaming, roleplaying games, and boxed games such as Blood Bowl and Dark Future.

    Yes, RPGs were on the wane, and tabletop mini games were on the rise, but for a while the balance was just right. To my mind, pre-issue 75 or thereabouts were too RPG-heavy, whereas post-issue 125 or thereabouts are too tabletop-heavy at the expense of other niches.

    More specifically, the WFRP game and its supplements that WD was supporting intensively in its late 90s/early 100s issues had production standards - editing, artwork and sheer quality of text and creativity of scenarios - that have *never* been surpassed, although many have tried, and late 80s GW boardgames such as Blood Bowl and Dark Future had just the right balance between playability and sillyness. All things GW just reeked creativity at the time; I could easily forgive them that WFB3 was unbalanced and basically unplayable, because the quality of the game's fluff material alone was far better than the utterly bland stuff that TSR et al. were churning out at the time.

  12. It's funny you should mention the GW released RPG briefly in this blog, it reminded me that I had found a very good condition copy of the Call of Cthulhu 3rd Edition hardback in a charity shop for about a pound last year.....

  13. Hi Guys,

    Gadge here from 'tales from the maelstrom' blog. Andy and I always say the 'golden age' of GW is the first two years you were into it. It's terribly subjective! I worked at GW hq in marketing and events from 2000-2005, i never saw that as a silver age. I saw it as an age of frustration and stagnation where you had to really scream to get GW to do anything new (massive hassle trying to get them to let me take GW to outside shows like Salute etc).

    To me the pinnacle of GW is the 1980 to 1990 period. I looked at the ranges/games sold between 80-89, 90-1999 and 2000 - 2009.

    Its something staggering like 80, 30 5 for diverse ranges or games.

    admittedly about 20 of the 80s creation were licensed reprints like RuneQuest but there was clearly a lot more going on in that period.

    I left the GW gaming circuit for historical about 1991 because i was finding it too 'silly' (and i was 16 at the time!), i didnt look at GW until i was at university and in my second year of so (around 1995 ish) and saw the new cadians and necromunda which dragged me back in... i luckily missed what i call the 'red period' but its legacy was still there in the stores.

    In fact even working in lenton in the 2000s the 'waaagh, run round the table, paint everything red and be 'frothy' ' culture was clearly still in retail, particularly among area managers (and so filtered down to 'redshirts')

    Andy and I do 'maelstrom' to capture the stuff that entused us as 13 year olds but we still really enjoy a lot of new GW and GW licenced product.

    While we love 3rd edtion WFB and Rogue Trader (if you think its unplayable you're probably playing it without the GM it was designed to be played with!) we also like playing FFGs excellent range of 40k based roleplaying games and are currently building up horus heresy forces to play the game using the newist rules.

    To me GW will never get that 80s charm back for a variety of reasons.

    1. (most importantly) im not an impressionable teen anymore
    2. they are understandably subject to larger market forces now.

    To explain point 2... in the 80s they just had to make a profit and pay the staff, if a game bombed it was no big deal. Now GW as a shareholder led company not only have to make a profit, but make an INCREASING, profit to keep shareholders happy. They simply cant afford to take risks.

    This was really evident when i was there running open days, games day, campaign weekends etc. I'm a bit of a risk taker and i remember being told off for making too many new 'one off' games for events because people kept asking when those rules were coming out! One friend at the time said 'you're what GW needed a decade ago, they would have gone mad for these ideas then but they wont take risks anymore'