Going Small – Should TOs Buck the 1850 Trend?

As you may recall, I gazed into the crystal ball a little while ago in describing what I was looking forward to these next few months. Conspicuous in its absence was Apocalypse, and with the price tags associated with the new releases and zero-discount 1-click bundles, it’s pretty obvious why.

In my opinion, Apocalypse is a money-grab, plain and simple. Produce an expansion rulebook and a new kit or two, and hope people buy 5 more of something they already own for their existing 40k armies. For a company like GW, where expanding your customer base is difficult at best, your only hope is to sell more to existing players and/or put them through the wringer every time a codex gets updated.

Do some people really enjoy playing those ridiculously large multi-player games? Of course. And I understand why — if you have all those models, including superheavies and Titans, then you’re going to want to use them!

But for us mere mortals, who live in a realm of mundane concerns like mortgages car payments, there isn’t a lot of incentive to go off the deep end here and start snapping up these oversized behemoth kits and bundles. With the previous edition of Apycalypse, several formations were available at discount and that at least made it somewhat appealing. But at the end of the day I don’t particularly enjoy painting vehicles, so something like a Baneblade (now almost double its original launch cost) or the mighty Truckasaurus of Khorne simply doesn’t appeal to me.

Even the models I do like from the Apocalypse launch are excruciatingly expensive. $30 for a guy who looks like a Sergeant?

Even the models I do like from the Apocalypse launch are prohibitively expensive. $30 for a guy who looks like a grumpy old Sergeant? The old Masters of the Chapter set is a steal by comparison.

Let’s do a quick comparison. Truckasaurus costs $190 in Canada. My giant pre-order for X-wing wave 3 ships (4 TIE Bombers, 3 B-wings, 1 HWK-290 and 1 Lambda Shuttle for 9 ships in total) weighed in around $140. That was easily 100+ points each for Rebels and Imperials; more than enough to do a tournament list of just the new ships for each faction. And it cost $50 less than a single superheavy! Not all the models will be available from local stores very often, but you can easily do most tournament lists for around $75 or less.

Rather than just rant about price hikes, I want to propose something we can do about it… reduce our game sizes.

GW won’t like it, but I know a few long-time tournament-goers and TOs around here are starting to ponder smaller point sizes at events. Not only does it reduce the barrier to entry, allowing people with smaller collections to sign up, it also provides a large number of benefits, including:

  • shorter game length (making the day itself much easier to schedule)
  • more time can be spent on painting each unit in a smaller list
  • a less intimidating pricetag when considering starting a new project
  • easier army transportation
  • less chance of the dreaded “3 of everything that’s good” army lists

We’ve all surely run into one or more of these obstacles before. I still say that starting a new 1850 army is just about impossible these days, especially with cheap deals online disappearing. Something like 1200-1500 might be more affordable.

1850 point or larger 40k armies can be almost impossible to transport and store, as some armies can still pump out vehicles, flying monstrous creatures and other large models like nobody’s business. Especially with GW’s trend towards flyers and larger-than-ever centerpiece models like the Riptide and Wraithknight!

Tactically speaking, constraints on your resources force you to be a little more thoughtful in how you fill your points. If you can’t have multiples of everything you want, then you have some tough choices to make. Balancing quality and quantity within a small points limit is part of the charm of X-wing, and I’d like to see it come back for GW games — 40k especially.

Overall I think there’s a lot to be gained by moving to something like a 1200-1500 point standard for many events, especially smaller ones. By all means, keep some of the bigger ones at 1850! However, variety is a good thing and having a full spectrum of smaller and larger tournament lists will give every gamer an option that they are comfortable with. It might even allow for some growth in the ranks of hobbyists, something you don’t see as often anymore.

What do you think? Would having a broader spectrum of events (especially on the smaller side) increase or decrease your willingness to branch out towards a new army or compete in a tournament setting?

4 comments on “Going Small – Should TOs Buck the 1850 Trend?

  1. Smaller games also means lower barriers to entry for new gamers, which means more opponents and a bigger community. That’s not a bad thing either.

    I’ve always been a fan of campaign style formats where game sizes can vary but lean towards the smaller side. The narrative is richer, victories are less certain and therefore sweeter and it becomes a game of skill on the tabletop rather than a willingness to spend lots of money to build the “right” list.

  2. Exact reasons listed why I moved to War Machine.

  3. I have a feeling OOTB is going to move to 1500 as the LARGEST tournament size we play. That would be for our two day event next year. I think the OOTB Open in January of 2014 may move to 1250 points. This by no means is written in stone, but has been tossed around as a realistic game size. Crazy hey?

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