Rawdogger here to talk about Games Workshop’s latest marketing strategy, the Skyhammer Annihilation Force, and why it’s a really bad thing for the hobby.
For those of you who are wondering what the Skyhammer Annihilation Force is I would first question why you are reading this blog to begin with, but then would apologize if you were just starting the 40k hobby in the sorry state it’s currently in. The Skyhammer Annihilation Force is a formation consisting of miniatures that Games Workshop wants to sell to players that consist of models from kits that they just released with the Space Marine codex release. By taking the models listed in the Skyhammer Annihilation Force the player essentially unlocks several special in game bonuses that will help them ‘Annihilate’ their opponent on the first turn of the game. What are these bonuses I speak of?
- Devastator Squads in drop pods get the relentless special rule, meaning they can fire their Grav Cannons, Lascannons, or Missile Launchers at full BS the turn they drop down. Any unit that gets targeted by the Devastators in this formation must take a leadership test at 3D6 and if it is failed they immediately go to ground.
- Assault Squads in this formation can not only deepstrike turn 1, but they may assault the turn in which they do because fuck you buy those kits that’s why. Oh, and if a unit went to ground due to those asshole Devastators the Assault Squads get to re-roll both hits and wounds when they assault that unit on turn one after deep striking because fuck you buy these kits that’s why.
- The entire force (2 Devastator Squads in Drop Pods and 2 Assault Squads) can either come in turn 1 or turn 2 with no need to roll for it. Deathwing silently cry into their For the Emperor O’s.
Now, this isn’t the first ‘pay to play’ type formation that Games Workshop has released lately but it definitely seems that everything they have done so far was leading up to this point. Starting with free wargear options for Blood Angels taking the veteran formation followed up by the Mechanicum’s take units from THREE DIFFERENT FUCKING CODICES and get amazing super powers deal and then double Demi-Company free transports shenanigans we have seen the slow greed of the GW marketing department negating any type of balance from a game that had that in short supply to begin with.
There are plenty of naysayers and apologists making excuses for GW’s blatant cash grab rules development that we have been seeing for the past year (though there is plenty of evidence pointing to it NOT WORKING) and they do bring up some fair points. It’s too bad my belligerent cynicism clobbers any coherent argument they try to make.
- It’s not a big deal since most people have these models anyways – Yeah, THIS TIME. Remember this is just the scout to probe the defenses of their customer base. They sell a ton of new Space Marine Devastators with those sweet Grav Cannons and babbies carrying missiles and the next thing we know they release some formation consisting of new units and so on and scene. Games Workshop tried to humorously sell the new models kits with a copy of the Annihilation Force ‘official’ rules seemingly forgetting that the internet has become a thing and the rules had been released as a Google image search a week before their ‘limited’ release. Oh, and those people that actually bought the (web exclusive!) Annihilation Force bundle from GW…..You’re NOT helping.
- It makes Assault Marines Viable – Oh so this is how we make an underwhelming unit viable? Man, they should do a formation that includes all the units from Chaos Space Marines then. Look, Assault Marines DID need a boost. They are one of the most lackluster units in the codex but giving them the ability to assault the turn they Deep Strike (on turn 1) without even needing to roll for them to come in is like burning down your house to kill a spider (which is ok in some cases).
Now, does this formation have weaknesses? Sure, if you took the formation by itself and didn’t add in your other 1100+ points into models that will compliment the already powerful formation. With the Skyhammer Annihilation Force we are seeing the beginnings of a purchase models for bonus in game perks marketing strategy from a company that has adamantly professed that they are not a rules company.. We have seen the devolution of the points system to balance the game and now we begin to see obscene bonuses in game as rewards for purchasing certain models. I don’t know what it is but this latest release has just left a really bad taste in my mouth. It’s just TOO blatant. I’d like a little of wining and dining before heading to the bedroom, you know what I mean? I don’t MIND Games Workshop driving sales to reward their shareholders. It’s what companies do. I just wish they did it in such a way that I didn’t know that they were writing rules for their game (remember they AREN’T a rules company) for the express reason of selling model kits. It’s such a great universe they have created and there are so many thousands of fans throughout the world, it just doesn’t seem like it would be that hard to write balanced rules that drove sales as opposed to writing unbalanced OP rule sets to sell the models they were producing.
So how do you feel about this new ‘purchase models for in game special rules’ we are seeing come out of Games Workshop? Do you mind the blatant financial incentives with rules writing or do you think a well balanced approach to rules writing would sell more models?