Happy new year to everybody. I wanted to take this opportunity to relay some retrospective thoughts on 2013 and what we could be in store for in 2014. This might end up as a long ramble so please bear with me.
Last year saw a number of changes in what we could expect for 40k from GW, some of which started end of 2012. Releases have become much more frequent and tailored, with codexes being released alongside near everything they need to be comprehensive. The year kicked off with Dark Angels, shortly followed by Daemons, Tau and Eldar, with a summer hiatus for apocalypse and terrain, then the Space Marines in September. Plastic has started to vastly outweigh finecast in terms of releases, with only the odd few special characters seeing a FC release this year (and in the case of the SM codex, no finecast at all) Overall we saw 5 codex releases with acompanying model waves and a few other things thrown in there too, such as the new apocalypse models, new scenery x2 and also the formation boxed sets, which for a change offered significant value. So basically 3 in every 4 months saw a 40k related model release which was just crazy for the hobby (and the wallet!).
Digital and limited releases:
Other concepts have also started to creep in over the past 18 months, namely that of digital editions and limited edition products. The limited edition products are rather gimmicky and, with the exception of dark vengeance, have not swayed me into a purchase thus far. The digital editions are I think a great way to add extra content to the game and it will be interesting to see if in future they are a way of adding extra models into existing codexes rather than just being for existing items. I must admit to being a bit pissed about having to wait longer for black library HH releases in the original size paperback now that there are 4 different versions of each book, but I've caught up with the delay now and so this shouldn't be a problem going forward.
It's hard to remember a time these didn't exist, though the first one was only introduced in May. We now have 5 supplements available digitally with the hard copies for some still outstanding. Some of these supplements are of more use than others (Farsight Enclaves being the one that stands out for me) in terms of rules, but at the very least they provide an optional source of material and a few unique rules / items to pay dues to your army of preference. Of great controversy of late have been the two supplements releases towards the end of the year, particularly escalation, which unlike its fortification-based counterpart, allowed apocalype units to be integrated into maintstream. A big change, and one which has been further compounded by FW (below).
FW have continued to put out some amazing kits at the usual rate, although it has become clear that updating older volumes for 6th (namely IA 1 + 2 ) and Horus Heresy has become their focus of late. By updating the rules and GW finally making a more clear stance on their usage in regular games (plus escalation adding super heavies into regular games) there are now more units than ever to bring to regular games of 40K. The fact that the SM chapter tactics, characters and siege vanguard lists have also been so swiftly updated has also been great to allow players more variety than ever - well, for space marines anyway. Speaking of the Horus Heresy, another great book release followed by
This year has seen me update several armies and progress my hobby targets forwards. I took my humble Dark Angel army from 2012 (then a 2000 point doublewing army) which had already been padded out by a couple of DV boxes and expanded it to the point where the army now stands at a ridiculous 7000 points, and is effectively 3 armies in one. Daemons I grabbed an older battleforce and a couple of kits to use them as a small allied force for CSM. Tau I just updated with a few new kits but also basecoated the entire army. Eldar I got a few new kits but more importantly got the whole army assembled and basecoated as well as painting about 1/3 of it to my maximum standard.
Then the big one: Space Marines. Although I only added a few new units when the codex was released, this year saw some big changes to bring all my armies to the point where I was more or less ready to call it a day with them. Ultramarines gained Calgar, Raven guard some land speeded storms from the Crimson Fists, while the fists themselves gained a stormwing finally making them a viable force. I assembled my whole Black Templar force leading up the release, finally finished assembling my Whitescars and added a few new units to both the Blood Ravens and Iron Hands to finish them off. Salamanders and Imperial fists gained a handful of troops each also and I've just put the finishing touches to basecoating my grey knights which have been waiting to be finished off for ages.
This combined with Tyranid basecoating towards the end of the year, numerous conversions and high standard painting projects and various other crazy projects such as Tau scratchbuilt scenery and Scratchbuilt epic-homage Daemon engines have made 2013 a great year for hobbying. The gaming side of things was more quiet. Between various commitments and losing a member of our gaming group, getting games in has been hard. However, both myself and 'old two eyes' now have set up gaming facilities at our houses which makes things a lot easier for casual gaming. I also attended 3 friendly tournaments, winning a best painted at one (and close at the others) but sadly no placings in the tournament itself - I'm more of a hobbyist and fluff player at heart after all.
I'm sure GW will continue to churn out 40k releases this year, with the Tyranid codex confirmed in January and the Imperial Guard, Ork and others sure to follow. There are clearly kits either missing or in bad need of updating in the armies above, but a few questions are raised by this. First, what happens to the units without current models or with FW models? RUmour has it that the mycetic spore, Doom and Parasite are being removed from the Tyranid COdex, which considering they don't have models being released sounds likely true at this stage. As for Imperial Guard, would they have tanks such as the medusa removed from their main codex to make room for newly invented releases now that FW units are more official? Other armies such as SW, BA, GK, Necrons and DE are harder to judge as their ranges are almost full and up to date. Will they see smaller releases or will the design team come up with radical new units to accompany the releases? Will units like the voidraven and DE special characters without models be cut from the dex altogether like it seems with Nids? So many unknown factors at this stage but likely we won't have to wait long to see which way GW is going to play it.
I would predict that the supplements for 6th ed codexes will continue to come out thick and fast, hopefully with the gap between digital and hard copies narrowing. Similarly, dataslates will hopefully continue to be released eventually alongside models. I don't think it's outside the realm of possibility that GW will publish a hardcopy compilation of various rules, such as those for Belakor and Cypher, once there are enough of them to fill a volume. With the volume of releases mentioned, it seems there may be room for one or two side releases, such as the rumoured chaos god books. This would be a great move as they would be able to fill gaps in the range as well as maybe releasing new models without rules currently. For example, book of Khorne gets new beserkers, fleshhounds and bloodthirster all in plastic.
A couple of other interesting rumours point to the integration of FW and GW to the point where they share a website, can all be purchased from stores and GW produces plastics for some of the larger/more popular FW kits with FW casting resin for the GW character models etc. This would be a fantastic move in my opinion so fingers crossed. On that note it's worth mentioning the rumour that warhammer 30K will become the official 3rd game system when the Hobbit dies the death shortly after the 3rd film release this Summer. Not a moment too soon on both accounts if you ask me. The last rumour pertains to a new, updated version of 40k which, while farfetched, would make some sense given how quickly things have evolved in the past 18 months. Would LOVE a new starter (rumoured necron/BA one to tie in with their codex updates) set also, but again don't know how feasible this is so soon after DV. Then again, if they update the rulebook they'd have to recall all the DV boxes anyway.
This year I should finally achieve the goal of having everything I own assembled and ready for painting at my leisure. The armies I have in boxes that still need some love are CSM (half assembled 2500 point force), Luna wolves (half assembled 2500 point force in need of a few FW bits) and Imperial Guard (tanks all done, infantry needing assembling). Plus a couple of armies need more minor adjustments such as Orks and necrons. I plan on getting the Codexes as they're released, which hopefully should be 5-6 this year. As several of the armies needing attention should be in this category, I aim to use the release schedule to dictate my hobby schedule, with other things fitting in around that. One things that is also very high on the list is to grab a copy of IA2 second edition which looks beautiful.
Things which are not getting a release but that I hope to do in 2014 are as follows:
· Finish the chaos daemon engine scratchbuilds.
· Finish various scenery projects.
· (maybe) give my scratchbuilt warhound some detailing and finally spray it
· (if money allows) embellish finished SM armies with a FW unit each
· Give my inquisitorial warband some love.
· (maybe) get ahold of the other half of the heroes of Badab project
· Build me a Cypher conversion for fun!
· (very maybe) I'd love to take on a super scratchbuild project, such as an Imperial Leviathan (think this one will be on hold til 2015!)
Well that's all folks. Quite the ambitious year ahead and, as always, likely to be expensive. Still, we all have our vices and I say if you enjoy something this much then it's worth spending the money - there are far worse and less productive ways to spend it after all. Hope everyone has a great 2014 and that our hobby continues to grow and shine. Cheers.