All things considered, this year has been pretty rough. I’ll not win any awards for pointing that out. But, for a variety of reasons, 2021 looks like it’s going to be much, much better. I’ll not win any awards for pointing that out either.
I want to take a brief look over the last 12 months in order to say something positive about Games Workshop. It’s not often that we take a moment to be thankful to the company that provides us with our excellent models and rules. And, in one sense, we show our appreciation of GW by purchasing their products. Indeed, that might be the best way to show one organisation or another that you appreciate them: by giving them some business.
But I believe in the attitude of gratitude, so here’s three cheers for GW. I think that the guys and gals over in Nottingham, UK absolutely knocked it out the park this year.
Let’s not forget that they released the 9th edition of Warhammer 40k during a pandemic, meaning that footfall in the average GW store was virtually non-existent. And here in the UK, the GW store tends to be something of a local hub when it comes to the hobby. I know that this may sound obvious, but it bears repeating. The Warhammer community really was centred around the GW store.
Of course, there are plenty of other places to play and discuss the hobby, but the GW store itself is important. It’s probably too grandiose to call it an institution, but if Warhammer is an important part of your life — as it is for many hobbyists — it’s probably not too much of an exaggeration.
How did they manage to pull off releasing a new edition when no-one was in-store? I really don’t know, but I’m glad that they did. And I think, all things considered, they did a damn good job.
Granted, there were a few hiccups in the production and distribution of products earlier this year, but that’s to be expected. All organisations that were producing and distributing one product or another had to go through the same process in 2020, and I don’t think that GW did such a bad job considering the circumstances.
Has it all gone perfectly? Of course not. But no one would expect it to, and, generally speaking, most hobbyists and game stores are sensible enough to cut GW a little bit of slack in this area. Virtually no one knew that 2020 was going to turn out the way that it did, and businesses that kept their eye on the ball and continued on through the hardship should be applauded.
Aside from production and distribution, I think that GW also did a great job with their online work in 2020. The Warhammer Community page continues to be an excellent source of hobby-related news, but I think that the live streams were particularly good.
Let me clarify that somewhat. I don’t tend to watch live streams for things like previews and that sort of thing. I prefer to read the articles afterwards in order to catch up on the news. But a lot of hobbyists enjoy catching up with the chaps who design the games that we all love, and streaming is certainly a good way to do so.
Again, did it go perfectly? Of course not. But, given the circumstances, I think that GW should be proud of the job that they did. Remember, pretty much everyone in the UK was obliged to work from home if they were able for most of 2020, and that is going to present all sorts of challenges. And look, and I’m not saying that we should all be super impressed with GW’s IT department for getting everything up and running, but I am saying that a little bit of gratitude goes a long way. The hobby means a lot to a lot of people, and I think it’s fair to say that GW really stepped up their game this year.
What else did GW get up to this year? Well, we’ve had a whole host of new models and new codex books. That’s nothing to turn your nose up at.
Let me head some of you off at the pass right now. Yes: there were a lot of Space Marines releases this year. Look, this is just the way it goes. I’ve talked about this issue before, and I’m sure many of you will have had this conversation with your hobby group many times, but this is simply the fact of the matter. Space Marines are GW’s biggest source of revenue. And the boys in blue are GW’s flagship army. That’s just the way it is.
What’s more, it’s actually not particularly surprising that GW really leaned into the Marines this year. Look at it this way: 2020 was uncertain in all sorts of different ways. GW needed something upon which they could rely, and there’s nothing else in the arsenal that does better than new Marines products.
And let’s not forget that every faction received new content this year. Whether it was new models, new rules, or both, there was something for everyone in 2020.
Was all of this content created equal? Absolutely not. Some factions received some excellent new rules and some factions received some unremarkable new rules. Take it from me: playing T’au in 9th edition has been difficult. Granted, I’ve not played much this year, but you get what I mean.
A year in which every faction received something has to go down as a pretty good year. Many hobbyists reading this article will remember a time in which players of this faction or that one had to wait years for new content and new models. Thankfully, GW is now much faster with their releases, and we know that the design team is working hard to get all factions updated for 9th edition. Of course, I don’t know when exactly all factions will be updated, but, all things considered, I don’t think that we will have too long to wait.
And this new T’au codex can’t come quickly enough. I’ve gotten a lot of articles this year out of the fact that T’au are really struggling in 9th edition, but I’d much prefer to write about an upper-middle tier faction that has the tools and the abilities to go toe-to-toe with the big boys when played by a strong player. Put simply, I want 8th edition T’au back. I definitely don’t want Drone spam back — let’s move to a new way of playing the faction — but I want to write about an army that can play ball.
As I’ve said plenty of times this year, I think that we’ll get there. All factions have their day in the sun and all factions must endure some time at the bottom of the pile. That’s just the way it goes. But I’m confident that GW will do a good job with the T’au release.
In many respects, 2020 has been a good year for the hobby. As I said, we’ve all had some new releases and the new edition is excellent. But 2020 has also had some significant negatives. Throughout 2019 and into the first month or two of 2020, the 40k tournament scene was growing leaps and bounds. The team here at Frontline has been doing an excellent job with events for a good few years now, and there are dozens of organisations around the world that were running quality 40k events.
And we have that to look forward to in 2021. Granted, I don’t know exactly when events will return properly, but I think that it will happen in this coming year. And 2022? I expect that we will be back in full swing with large events every weekend across the globe. The only way is up.
All in all, even though everyone will be happy to see the back of 2020, we’ve still had plenty of things to be thankful for when it comes to the hobby, and indeed I would argue that it’s worth taking a few moments to be thankful. Practice the attitude of gratitude.
Happy New Year!
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