The End Times
8th edition Warhammer Fantasy Battle was bad. While the Chaos Daemons army book had necessitated a new edition the choices they made for what that edition were to be about would ultimately kill the game.
The game was designed for big massive armies consisting of large units far larger than we had seen as the standard before. Army construction limited how many points could be used in certain sections like characters. What’s more the models became more intricate and often units the game was asking for large numbers of, came in small numbers in their boxes yet for high prices, I have heard Witch Elves were one of the worst offenders. This all made the starting cost of playing Warhammer Fantasy Battle immense. Made worse were the changes to army composition which were not designed to work with small armies.
For years 1000 points was a good starting point for an army, you could have a 2 or 3 characters in the army, some units all depending on the army of course. Horde armies would field many characters and large units while elitists could have maybe 2 a warrior and a wizard while smaller but far stronger units filled the rest. A very welcoming image for someone starting out. But 8th did not work well with 1000 points. Those horde armies now demanded massive unit sizes that are daunting to paint for someone and very expensive to purchase. Elitists would only get to wield one character leaving massive holes in their army composition. Since the game was catering more for big armies that just made the starting cost go up even more. And when it reached a certain point, why bother starting?
People unhappy with the way the game was working left and it was too daunting for new people to start. The game was dying. Yet GW didn’t seem to care, it kept pushing on with 8th ignoring the flaws. We were hearing word they were more focused on just selling the models than making the games fun. Why buy an army of models if you aren’t going to have fun with them? Another aspect they seemed to fail to realize. GW stock began to fall as Warhammer Fantasy Battle was being abandoned by its player base. 40k was much more fun to play for people even during the Dark Times of Mary-Sue Marines and a lot cheaper and easier to get started.
They had tried to rebuild interest. Single plastic characters were nice and easy for people to build and paint. Events comprised of massive magical battles filled with magical creatures and amazing towering scenery – but the game was ill and the problem had never been fixed.
Models that were talked about coming out seemed to never happen, armies like Bretonians Beastmen and Skaven all needing new army books seemed to never be coming out. Something was happening, something had to change.
How amusing it is, that what can be considered the end of the Dark Times, was the End Times.
The End Times were the end of Warhammer Fantasy Battle. 5 large books containing lore and rules accompanying said lore that told of the end of the Warhammer World. And to start it out they right away brought out someone ancient, something evil from the early days of the game, Nagash the being that invented undeath in Warhammer. While Nagash’s old model had been rather derpy looking (as people call it) the new one was something different, a thin build of bones and sinew and soul, wrapped in skeletal armour seemingly hovering above the ground standing massively above all before him. It was a model unlike any before.
The End Times told an epic story, countries were wiped out (often those of regions we never got models to or never got updated) Characters like Thanquol got epic new models and brought up to prominence. Many of the individual armies were suddenly combined in a battle for survival as Archaon’s Hordes burst from the north to destroy all before him. The rules even changed to increase the amount of heroes you could use. It was a glorious final moment leading to the God of Man fighting the Lord of the End Times as they fell into the abyss and the Chaos gods themselves walked the world and smote all who opposed them.
Warhammer Fantasy Battle was now dead.
The Age of Promise
The final page of End Times spoke of a miracle happening. Saying something was coming and in 2015 it arrived. The Age of Sigmar. A new version of Warhammer Fantasy with a new setting and ongoing plot. And it came with a fair few issues. First up the opening choice for armies were the brand new Storm Cast Eternals, and against them was Chaos Forces of Khorne the blood god. Both of whom contained big muscular guys in armour so were rather similar in body type and… frankly boring. Also though free rules were given for all old Warhammer Fantasy models they lacked any real points and instead basic rules were provided to give an easy win if you were notably outnumbered.
Age of Sigmar’s first promising signs didn’t show till Fyreslayers came out the next year. What I mean by that is rather than the rather blandness of Khorne and the Stormcast Eternals (who they kept trying to push) these fire Dwarves actually felt like something new, something from its new setting. But the lack of any real organization on army building lasted for the next few books until GW relented and brought out the General’s handbook. It was at this point Age of Sigmar playership started to increase. Storm Casts are still dull and there’s way too much order compared to the other factions but it’s looking up.
Back in 40k some of the effects of the success of End Times were starting to bleed through. While I called Khorne boring it was clear that GW was focusing more on the Chaos gods individually rather than just some amalgammed force. The End Times books themselves would cause the warzones to emerge in 40k. These much Like the End Times books came with new releases of models, and had two halves, one focusing on the story of the warfront and the other that had rules related to it. Some new codex also came out, smaller but well known forces like the Mechanicus and Harlequins saw new smaller armies and Space Marines got an update which contained rules that made everyone playing Chaos envious. Rules for using one of the major chapters. Yet us with Chaos… nothing still, until one of those warzones gave us a new model for Kharn the Betrayer one of the oldest Chaos characters. The story ended abruptly as we wondered what was to come next. Meanwhile a new warzone in Fenrus opened, home of the Space Wolves arch enemies of the Thousand Sons. While the first part mainly focused on Daemons as the antagonists and news went silent for some time. Everything was about to change.
Next: The Rennaisance