I have discussed both Games Workshop and Fantasy Flight Games numerous times over my time of writing this blog for a variety of reasons. Both have had a major impact upon my gaming history. They publish games that I still enjoy to this day. And they are really key players in the tabletop gaming market. So the recent announcement that they are ending their association naturally came up on my radar.
In the heady days of 2008 an arrangement was made between FFG and GW. FFG were given the access to GW intellectual property to design games around, as well as the opportunity to reproduce some of GW’s older catalogue of board games that did not fit within their current Warhammer and Warhammer 40k universes. And it was a match made in gaming heaven. For all of the criticisms of GW’s Tolkien inspired fantasy world; it did possess some unique elements and the perpetual feeling of dread and impending doom. Furthermore there was always a good dollop of black humour in their creations that can be absent from some of the more po-faced fantasy worlds.
FFG have a reputation of publishing well-polished games that give a lot of consideration to theme and playability. As GW were concentrating on their two main game systems (three if you include their Hobbit/Lord of The Rings system); it made perfect sense to allow another company to explore some more specialised areas of the GW universe.
FFG almost immediately scored a big hit be republishing the classic GW title Talisman – a game which does depend on a fair degree of luck, but is often fondly remembered by gamers of a certain again (of which I am one). They then gave us a series of games that just one of could have justified the entire agreement – Space Hulk: Death Angel; Chaos in the Old World; Blood Bowl Team Manager; Forbidden Stars. Only recently the long out of print Fury of Dracula, was released to widespread acclaim.
For some the writing was on the cards with GW returning to the board gaming industry, although the cynic in me suggests that several of these were designed to sell more models for their ‘core games’. Although I won’t deny that some of them are great fun (of which I will discuss later). Perhaps more relevant is the impending return of Specialist Games – starting with Blood Bowl at some point this year. The areas that FFG previously had the freedom to explore are now being looked upon again and perhaps GW would rather they have full control over this.
Does this herald some major problems for GW or FFG? Of course not. GW have always put their miniatures first and will probably consider to do so. They are arguable the world’s best miniature design company and provided they keep on putting out quality kits, they will keep on going. FFG doesn’t need to sales of its GW licensed products to function – it has the major cash cow that is their Star Wars license. Plus rights to publish games based around several other major intellectual properties.
Unfortunately the big loser in this state of affairs is us – the ordinary customer. Because as of February 2017 we will no longer be able to buy some particularly nice products and it is probably unrealistic to expect GW to start reproducing them in house. And whilst we might see versions of classic GW games crop up elsewhere (Black Industries previous made versions of Talisman and Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay which later went to FFG), some of the other games are unlikely to be see again.
So FFG and GW – thank you for 8 years of great releases. For the rest of us, catch them before they are all gone.