For those of a certain hobby inclination and age, this period in the Games Workshop development cycle represents one of the most uncertain. The rumour mill is in full swing. It’s pretty clear, that whatever the details are of what emerges from Nottingham in the summer of 2015, it is going to include fairly drastic changes to the place that I have called home for the best part of 20 years – The Warhammer Universe. I refer, of course, to the impending 9th Edition of Warhammer Fantasy Battles.
Whatever else you might think of good old GW, they know how to spin a cracking yarn, or at least commission someone to write one. The Warhammer: End Times novels that have formed the overture to this impending apocalypse have been of the highest quality. I have lapped up every word with relish, whilst simultaneously wincing, as the world I have inhabited in so much of my spare time in recent decades has been collapsing around my ears. The Dwarves, that most iconic of Warhammers races, have been essentially destroyed, leaving me uncertain whether they will even get another army book of their own. The three elven blood lines, once so clearly defined, appear to have been smashed together in the furnace of the end times and reforged as a single mass. As a wood elf player for so long, it would sadden me to see them go out like this.
However much I have enjoyed The End Times story arc, there is a big part of me that would greatly resent it if GW decreed that 9th Edition starts where the End Times left off. Or worse, in the rumoured “reality bubbles”. I’m not sure I could play Warhammer in a fictional place where Dwarves are no longer a force to be reconned with. I have enjoyed the stasis of eternal struggle, I’m not sure I’m ready for the post-applecart tipping apocalypse world.
But at a higher level, I wonder if it really matters. Sure I’d be annoyed, but the truth is I’ve lacked the time or inclination to take Warhammer seriously for a around three years. For those who have been paying attention that’s, not-coincidentally, a little more than my son Arran has been with us. I haven’t successfully painted a new Warhammer army since he was born (although I have bought a whole new Wood Elf one – see forthcoming Backlog Blog). And in that same period I’ve attended a mighty 2 tournaments. Instead I’ve diverted myself with such frivolities as X-Wing and Blood Bowl. Both games which require significantly less time investments.
One might reasonably draw the conclusion that I don’t have time for army scale games. So, when in June, GW does its worst and reveals 9th edition, I’ll probably buy it out of habit. Indeed I’m almost certain to buy the most stupidly expensive version of the rule book, because I like shiny things. But will I play it more than once or twice? Unlikely. Will I buy a new army? Even less likely. Will I be pissed off with what they have done to “my hobby” ? Possibly. But is it really my hobby any more? No.
Am I waiting for Warhammer? Yes, but only out of curiosity, and a sense of nostalgia for a different time.