I must bring this petition to your attention if you've not already seen it. Evan Valdyke has taken the good time to write an excellent petition highlighting what many of us feel to be the fundamental reasons why GW products are no longer fun or worth the purchase. You can read and sign his petition here.
Since I haven't posted for a while though, I thought I might write down a few reasons of my own explaining why I haven't spent a single pound on GW since the release of the Ork codex.
1) The Ork codex was a massive disappointment. Here's some context. I started an Ork army like so many others back with the release of 5th edition 40k (without doubt the best edition) from the AOBR boxset. From my first few games I was completely hooked. Orks were literally perfect for me, they played exactly the way I enjoyed and they were full of modelling and painting potential. Fast forward an MSc and a PhD and I've found myself needing to downsize my armies for the sake of convenience. Of course I decided to keep my beloved Orks!
So with all that in mind, imagine my disappointment when after 6 long weeks of waiting for the codex release, I finally get my hands on a long overdue codex and find it to be utterly below my expectations. For a start all the creativity had been leached out and replaced with obnoxious pictures of GW stock models. Where was the brand new full colour artwork for each unit that previous codexes had received? Where was the hobby section in the middle? Why was only half of the fluff included? Oh yeah I know the answer to that one, GW wanted to sell me another codex for the same price, which begrudgingly I bought because my clan is Goffs. Then I realised that I actually have the power as a consumer to stop this madness! I looked at myself and thought, I have spent £60 on one codex to play a game I barely enjoy. Why have I done this?
2) 40k is no longer fun to play. I don't think it's because of any one thing in particular but rather a death by 1000 cuts. Fundamentally the game is no longer immersive and can actually be quite stressful to play. Let me explain. Obviously, 40k is not real and so common sense can't always be relied upon to set the boundaries of the universe you're fighting over. Historical wargaming doesn't have this problem because armies of that nature actually fought for real and often there is plenty of source material available to inform your environment and army choices. 40k has a long and established base of fluff which I love but the rules do a very poor job of defining the context of the game. Instead they say 'do whatever you want' and as a result you get a complete abstract from the intended context, which completely kills the immersion. For example, I attended a local tournament recently and fought a legal list with nothing but 6 Eldar flyers in it. It was a complete comedy fest as these 6 fliers danced awkwardly around the table, while my guys could do nothing but watch. Yes, yes I get it's a tournament and by its very nature is an aberration of normal games but there was nothing special about the comp. All lists were GW legal and could legitimately be taken in any game. It's the lack of benchmark that makes the situation lose all sense of continuity. How can a context be established if we're not told what that context is?
As a passive result of this lack of context, the game can be quite stressful to play. There used to be a time when I could turn up to club and expect to play someone with army X. I'd say 'fancy a game?' 'Of course' they'd say, 'I've brought my Blood Angels'. Great, I now now what to expect from Blood Angels. I don't know what he's taking and so the elements of mystery and challenge are still there, I've not had an opportunity to see his list and tailor mine accordingly. These days, however, you ask someone for a game and they could bring out a vast number of different codexes and rules supplements and date slates and formations etc....... I have no idea what to expect half the time, which by its very nature is stressful. So now I associate playing 40k with stress and not fun?! That can't be good surely.
3) Value, value, value. I will always spend money on wargames, the industry know this about me (and you too!). It's a hobby I take great pleasure in and human beings do love their hobbies. Having said that, I'm still a consumer and there is a threshold that when reached means that I start asking awkward questions like 'do I actually need this?' Nothing could be more fatal to a hobby company! The simple truth is GW no longer offers value to its customers through the products it sells. It constantly pushes 'super models' on us and expects that we'll buy them. Take Nagash for example, GW expects me to buy a Nagash model because its massive and cool and highly detailed and as a modeler and painter I'm meant to cream my pants and immediately buy one! I haven't because I have no interest in the undead and the model is too expensive for a curiosity purchase. Lets look at a model I would buy, the Ork mek gun kit. It's a nice model with some fun options and plenty of conversion potential, exactly the sort of thing I want in a model. Did I buy one? No of course I didn't! You need at least 3 for the unit to be worth taking and they're £28 each! Let me put it another way, that's £84 for 3 plastic kits which come to around 120pts in the game! Where is the value in this? For the same price I could buy a box of killa kanz, which comes in a box of 3! I am just simply not prepared to spend that amount of money regardless of my love for Orks and their models.
I'll be posting up images of my latest obsession, my US GI's for bolt action very soon but they highlight my decision to stop purchasing GW products very nicely. For less that the price of the aforementioned mek big gunz, I got a 1000pt army! That's roughly 50 infantry, 1 tank, 1 transport, 1 mortar, 1 .50cal and command. That, GW, is value! Guess what? I spent a further £100 on extras!
So to wrap up, I have seen a lot of people say they're quitting GW over the years and I've always thought to myself 'yeah, yeah, whatever, you'll be back.' But inadvertently, I have also stopped purchasing GW products for reasons which I made as a consumer almost naturally. Now I realise this I wonder what it will take to get me buying GW products again? Perhaps the changes outlined in the petition above, if enacted, will do the trick? We shall see. In the meantime I'd be very interested to hear your thoughts on the petition and your recent experiences with GW purchases.
All the best!