As I write this the Specialist Games section of the Games Workshop business is closing down. Not that you can see this from their website. The only indication things are not as they seem is the gradual 'No Longer Available' status being applied to a large number of popular models, as shown by the picture above. They may still have Inquisitor Eisenhorn on the website but you can no longer 'add him to your cart'. Other models from Battlefleet Gothic, Epic 40,000, Warmaster and so on are equally affected.
So what is a long term Games Workshop fan to do? The obvious knee-jerk reaction is to quickly buy up everything you've ever wanted before 'it all disappears', and I have come across many blog posts providing near live-stream updates of what is disappearing, along with tales of woe about models they've always wanted but will now miss out on. I myself have narrowly avoided picking up some Blood Bowl teams 'just in case' I decided to field them in the future. Where my thoughts changed was someone describing how they already had three Eisenhorns but wanted another one 'just in case'....
Aren't we forgetting something? Unless you live in an area with a large wargaming community and the rise of Internet ordering hasn't killed your local brick and mortar stores, you will probably have a great deal of trouble finding someone to play these 'Specialist Games' with. I remember dragging friends away from their football or playstation to give one a try, as the small model count and often streamlined rules are an easy way into the hobby, only to be dismayed when they seemed less than enthusiastic. It's also a big leap for most to go from Settlers of Catan to Blood Bowl, as the scope of ongoing book-keeping through months of gaming can be a daunting commitment.
If you are part of a gaming club or general community then chances are you or someone you know already has the models to play these games, and you are already playing them. In which case, you either bought them when the games were first released or have collected since then, knowing that great deals are always available via other sources than the Games Workshop website. Even most of the bloggers lamenting the loss of the Specialist Games range would never dream of ordering their usual models from Games Workshop directly, so why the outrage?
I guess I am becoming older, and the thought of piles of unpainted, un-assembled models sitting in the cupboard or under the stairs no longer excites me. I am more of a gamer and hobby oriented wargamer than a collector, so I don't see what the fuss is about. If I want to play Blood Bowl I will pick up a box of Warhammer fantasy and have a whole team for $30. If I want to play Inquisitor I will jump on the 28mm INQ28 bandwagon, rather than troll forums looking for the elusive Eisenhorn. If I want a game of Battlefleet Gothic? Frankly I would probably try Firestorm Armada or X-Wing as these games are currently supported and have a much larger fan base, making it easier for me to 'pew pew' in the silent depths of space. This week I will probably get my space faring kicks from the new Star Trek film and stick to 40k for my gaming fun.
Do I sound out of touch with my hobby self of 15 who bought Gorkamorka, Digganob, and three seperate warbands all without anyone to play with except a cousin who lived two hours away and gamed with twice a year? Probably, but without summer holidays to splash the paint around and still have time to play with cap guns and watch a Lord of the Rings marathon, I don't see myself painting up a Tau space fleet any time soon. Which is sad. But what isn't sad is having a disposable income so you can splash out on not one but two Ork Bombers in the space of two weeks! These guys have captured my interest more then any model I have painted in nearly two years, so I was desperate to see what one would look like with all the bells and whistles attached.