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Sunday, July 26, 2015

The Results Are In! Is THIS what GW Wanted?

There was a pretty good turnout on the poll. Thanks to everyone who voted! We had around 155 on each of the first two questions and 133 on the last question. So, what does it all mean?

First question: "If you are a CURRENT Warhammer player, what are your plans now that Age of Sigmar is here?"

I got a lot of comments about the choices, mainly asking why there wasn't an option for playing both 8th Edition and Age of Sigmar. The only answer is that I was thinking in terms of one's main game. So, what would your main game be: Warhammer 8th or Age of Sigmar?

Out of 154 people, 11 said they don't play Warhammer and don't ever plan to. Of the remaining 143 votes, we have:

23 are happy to update and play AoS.

17 are playing AoS because it's current, but wish GW had stuck with 8th or introduced a proper 9th edition.

51 are sticking with 8th or an earlier edition of Warhammer.

3 are shelving their Warhammer models for a while and playing a different GW game.

29 are shelving their Warhammer models for a while and playing a different NON-GW game.

1 is quitting Warhammer altogether and not playing anything else.

19 are not a current players, but are going to start playing AoS.

So, to add a little analysis to the data:

There are 59 people who will be playing AoS, 19 of which were not current Warhammer players, they are either people getting back into the game after a hiatus or totally new players. But 17 people said they are only updating because it's what's current, and they would have preferred 8th or a new 9th edition.

84 people, however have said they will not be playing AoS. 54 are sticking with an older edition of Warhammer, 3 are shelving their models to play a different GW game (not necessarily lost customers in those two categories; people playing 8th edition Warhammer could still continue buying GW's models), but 30 are not going to be playing any GW games after leaving Warhammer.

So, out of those 143 people, in a strictly "what are you going to play" sense, 19 are new or regained Warhammer players (but not necessarily new customers; for example, they could have already been playing 40K), and 30 are lost customers, people leaving to play non-GW games. In total, 101 players are dissatisfied with The Age of Sigmar, but not all of those have stopped playing Warhammer. At the end of the count, GW is down 11 players.

Next question: "For people who are playing or planning to play AoS, which of these categories best describes you?"  


Essentially, I was trying to find out how many people are going to play Age of Sigmar, and how this might relate to sales for GW.

Again, of 155 people we have 5 who said they never played Warhammer and never will. 31 people no longer play Warhammer and 26 quit because of age of Sigmar. The remaining 93 voted as follows:

25 currently play Warhammer and buy GW models, and either already have, or soon will be, updating to AoS.

20 haven't played Warhammer in a while, but will be getting back in using AoS rules and ONLY their old GW models.

27 haven't played Warhammer in a while, but will be getting back in using the AoS rules and a mix of old and new GW models.

8 haven't played Warhammer in a while, but will be getting back in using the AoS rules and a totally new army of GW models.

11 never played Warhammer before, but will be playing AoS now with GW models.

2 never played Warhammer before, but will be playing AoS now with 3rd party models.

This one can be looked at from a customer gain/ loss and from a sales potential. 93 people will be playing Age of Sigmar, but 26 people say they quit because of Age of Sigmar. So here we have GW up 67 Warhammer players.

Of the total 93 players, 22 plan to play using their old GW models or 3rd party models, which translates to no new sales for GW. But 19 people are playing with a new GW army or are new to Warhammer and will be starting AoS with GW models, which means completely new sales from these players. 27 are returning to Warhammer via AoS, and will be using a mix of old and new models, which can translate to some new sales. 25 people currently play Warhamer and buy GW models and will be playing AoS. Presumably, their buying habits will remain the same.

So out of 93 Age of Sigmar players, 46 will potentially generate sales that weren't there before. New Warhammer sales are new Warhammer sales, but some of those customers could be existing 40K players, and their monthly hobby budget (ie: the amount of money they give to GW each month) doesn't necessarily double just because they are playing two games. They might progress with each a little more slowly. Could this be a robbing Peter to pay Paul situation?

The Averages*

The results can be more or less averaged together. Each poll had a turnout of about 150 people total. Each one yielded close to 50 people that are getting on board and potentially generating varying degrees of new sales for GW via Age of Sigmar. And each poll had about 30 people quitting because of Age of Sigmar, plus the rest that seem generally disenfranchised by the state of affairs and are staying with the older edition, or playing AoS but not generating any new sales, etc.

Was it worth it? I guess time will tell. 


*I realize this data is purely anecdotal, and it was hardly collected or analyzed with any scientific accuracy.  What do I know? GW will probably make gangbusters on Age of Sigmar.

A quick recap of the third and final question: "To everyone who IS playing AoS, what attracted you the MOST?"

First off, there were 66 people who said they are not playing AoS. The remaining 67 votes fell along the following lines:

15 like the fact that the rules are free.

14 like the actual rules and warscrolls and would have paid for them if they weren't free.

14 like the fact that they don't need very many models to play.

5 like the fact that they can mix and match any factions I like.

2 like the new models and armies.

5 like the new story and setting.

12 like nothing in particular, and are just updating to the current version of Warhammer

I think the new models and story are the clear losers there. People seem to like the rules though.

And even though I've only played one game so far, I must admit, other than the fact that the battle seems to devolve into a disorganized clump of models in the center of the table (and I'm not the only one to make that observation), it plays just fine. I find myself thinking about army builds and new ways to use units, and I think Age of Sigmar could make for an interesting game.

I haven't even been bothered by the Stormcast's appearance since I made the visual connection between their armor and Balthasar Gelt's golden halo mask (the new boltstorm-bolter-gaussbow cannon notwithstanding). I think the golden armor and death masks look pretty nice.

But here's something else to consider:

I've been playing Warhammer since the 5th edition, and I can't think of any edition that underwent such a drastic house-ruling –practically out of the box– to the degree that Age of Sigmar has. Even 8th edition, which people will argue "ruined" Warhammer, was played pretty much verbatim. Believe me, 8th has its issues, but I never encountered anyone who actually house ruled the magic section and spells, or a store who disallowed the Horde formation. I think the closest we came was the Swedish Comp System, which didn't alter the way the game played at all, it merely provided a scale on which to grade armies, and gave a handicap to the after-game scoring for tournament games where a particularly hard army went up against a soft one. It didn't change points, game play, or add any hard restrictions.

The internet, however, has been deluged with ideas for Age of Sigmar composition, point costs, and house rules. Essentially, even the players who have enthusiastically moved on to the Age of Sigmar seem to be dissatisfied with how the game plays to the point that they are rewriting the rules to make it "work." It's as if they are only playing because it's there, because it's the new, official version of Warhammer. Even to these people who "like" and "want to play" Age of Sigmar, at the end of the day the game is apparently just not good enough.

Which is a shame because I would want to try the game as it's written and make that work, but any place I go, I'm likely to encounter a completely different set of house rules:

Some stores or groups do not allowing summoning unless you already have the unit on the table. Some require having a preset pool of "reserve scrolls" that you can summon from, while others have outlawed summoning altogether. (Yes, really!) Army composition attempts come in the form of restricting the total number of wounds in a unit or in an army, the total number of characters or monsters, not duplicating certain units. Rule modifications include changing the shooting rules to disallow shooting at or with units that are within melee range of the enemy, adding a "Look Out Sir!" saving throw for character models.

And the worst part is that many units in the game already have rules that come into play under those specific circumstances– shooting penalties when close to the enemy, bonuses in combat for units over a certain size, etc. The game is less than a month old and people are already trying to over-complicate it to the point of making it unrecognizable. (I wonder how many of them are the same ones who complained about the difficulty of introducing new players to Warhammer because they needed to read the rules, and the army book, and all the FAQs and errata. Yeah, I guess negotiating a million different, conflicting sets of house rules is much easier.)

I guess one could argue that taking the game and making it your own is exactly what GW wanted by creating a system without points or army composition, or structure. But it seems to have just fractured the Warhammer gaming community. Was that part of their plan too?

'Til next time!


  1. Do this same Poll in 6 months and in 12 months, numbers will have changed significantly. :)

    1. Probably. I'm sure more will get in, some who tried AoS will drop out. I'm sure the original numbers are skewed, as well. People could have voted more than once, or not voted in all three. Like I said, it's anecdotal.

  2. As Mantic's Kings of War grows, I'm curious what impact it will have on the numbers as well. I think it will fill Warhammer's vacated "fantasy mass-battle" throne, especially since it is *very* easy to use existing Warhammer Fantasy armies with KoW. Between that and the free rules, that is a lot of incentive for players to jump systems.

    1. I've been thinking about that as well. There's a lot of talk about people switching over to Kings Of War with their GW army. In the end, I don't think it will matter to GW. They are now making literally no money from rulebook or army book sales (sure, there are AoS books, but they're not really "rulebooks") so what would they care if you continue to buy their models and use them to play a different game?

      The irony of it all is that Mantic originally started as a miniatures company selling cheaper alternative models to play Warhammer with, and now people will be using Warhammer models to play Mantic's soon-to-be free rules system.

    2. more Irony : GW rules are free while Mantics 2nd edition KOW free rules are only partial / starter rules.

      Also check out the Warthrone rules on thier website which were recently tranlsated to english.

      IMO the old world will stick around somehow as its a popular setting for video games, novels and the rpg. Age of Sigmar as a setting just wont be that popular.

    3. I thought I saw an announcement that Mantic would be giving away the rules to lure over disenfranchised Warhammer players. (Actually, I guess not-- it's right there on their site for $25 pounds.)

  3. The rules are free, available now on the mantic website. The rulebook will be larger with fluff n stuff in. Currently cut down lists for most armies are up as well, expecting fuller lists in the future. You can also get the full lists and beta lists for new new armies on the mantic forum

    1. I found it, thanks! It looks like the game rules are pretty complete in that PDF. And yeah, I guess the rulebook has the extra story, lists, and whatnot. I'll have to give these a read through...

  4. I just played my first game of Age of Sigmar last week with my vampire counts (I reviewed the game on my blog http://standwargaming.blogspot.co.uk/2015/07/age-of-sigmar-battle-report-and-first.html ).
    I was really looking forward to trying it out but I had no fun whatsoever with the game. My characters were sniped easily by the enemy war machines and my hard hitting units from previous editions were totally ineffective in combat. I think the lack of shooting really hurts vampire counts as it is pretty powerful in Age of Sigmar.

    1. I read a twitter post from The Dwellers Below, saying that out of seven games over the week, the random turn was the deciding factor in most of them.

      I haven't played against any war machines, but it sounds brutal. There must be a way to keep characters safe (screening, the Necromancer, at least, has the ability to trade off hits onto nearby infantry). Maybe the shielding spell would help?

      One of the "beautiful" aspects of AoS is that now Vampire Counts DO have shooting. Literally anything you want, because there are no army restrictions! Even staying within the theme of "Death" we have access to Skeleton Archers and Screaming Skull Catapults, plus the Banshee and Terrorgheist screams.

      Skeleton Archers are a great bet; if you have at least 20, they can fire twice. And If you were inclined to include Queen Khalida, she can buff their shooting.

    2. The Necromancer has his ability to pass wounds on to other models, but to use it later in the game, he wound have had to get in to range of combat so would probably have died anyway. With the shielding spell, it might help with durability, but would prevent summoning other units or buffing existing units, so it would be a trade off.

      I could take some archers or catapult, but I don't have models for these yet. I'm not sure I want to spend more on my vampire counts at the moment with the game the way it is at the moment. Might be worth proxying for a few games to try out.

  5. Fascinating reading. Thanks for doing this and the analysis.

  6. I am thinking we are missing the future sales potential that GW has cranked in.. The AOS rulebook is nothing short of a campaign book for 1-2 of their bubble worlds... with limited edition terrain features, etc.. so I would expect we will see quarterly "rulebooks" come out with scenarios to play (as in the current book) across their new bubble worlds. I expect they do have an in house points value to balance out the scenarios, and make them playable. I expect them to move to the Warmachine/Warzone model where each new book has shiny new toys you must buy to play those scenarios. So in essence, you never "finish" your army buying.


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