Waaagh! Slitherine Gets Warhammer 40K License

By Alec Meer on March 15th, 2013 at 12:00 pm.

Ultraboringmarines

Huh, I didn’t expect this. The disintegration of THQ seems to have resulted in Games Workshop renting its Warhammer 40,000 license to all and sundry rather than keeping them locked up in one place. So we’ve got Space Hulk coming from Full Control, potentially, maybe, who knows Relic keeping hold of something Dawn of War-related when Sega snapped them up, and now strategy publisher/developer Slitherine announcing they’ve been granted a 40K license too.

No details whatsoever on what games this means, but given Slitherine are very trad. strategy and tabletop-inspired, it might be the best hope yet for those in search of an absolutely purist digital recreation of Warhammer 40,000 or one of its spin-offs.

Here’s a statement from Slitherine Chairman JD McNeil, which gives away nothing but has a background hum of people rubbing their hands together in glee.

“This deal represents yet another testament to our continuous aim to reach new audiences, without losing sight of who we are and what we do best. It’s all about creating strategy games that are targeted to a particular audience and addressing a very specific need in the market. The Warhammer 40,000 setting is a perfect fit for the style of strategy games that we make and will be very popular with fantasy and science fiction fans alike. Joining forces with Games Workshop will allow us to bring an wonderfully deep and appropriate IP to the Turn Based Strategy genre”.

Key line there is “turn-based strategy genre”. Ooh.

Meanwhile, the Warhammer Fantasy Battles license is now with the Creative Assembly, who are working on things we could take a guess at but similarly know nothing about. A very big year or two for electronic Games Workshopping, I think.

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96 Comments »

  1. BTAxis says:

    Hey, that might be cool. I’ve never played an actual Warhammer game, but I’d be interested to play a computerized rendition of the board game.

    • jkz says:

      Yeah, I’d like this, can’t be bothered with minatures these days, don’t know anyone who plays but I could get into a faithful recreation with online multiplayer.

      I really want the points system for choosing armies stuff where you can build an army to suit your tactics.

      • King_Rocket says:

        This is all I want really.

      • Serpok says:

        I just can’t see GW letting people play 40k this easily.

        The only way it could happen if the game box (not f2p) will allow player to use some 500 points worth of units for two races, access to one map and dollar shop where you can buy more units one-by-one, access to different battlefields and PDFs of rulebooks.

        • noelkd says:

          Good idea to be honest, having played Vassal40k for quite a good few hours a module for the VassalEngine its great playing 40k the game without the models and with a top down view.

          If anyone is looking to scratch that 40k itch its a good one with friends, I even played games against some randoms on the net turned out to be long games but also really fun.

          edit: took markup out, was fubar

        • Sami Hamlaoui says:

          GW won’t allow this at all. GW is – and admits to in their corporate info – a miniatures company. Their entire business revolves around selling miniature figures. Tabletop games, video games, all to drive the sales of the minis.

          Currently the biggest driver of the sales of those miniatures is from the tabletop games, as for most people the desire is to play the games, not own the miniatures. No way in hell would GW allow you to bypass the buying the miniatures stage in order to play the game.

          DoW, Warhammer Online, etc all work as excellent promotional tools for GW to try and hook people onto the hobby (and if not, they still get the licensing money). But don’t ever expect to see a licensed replica of 40K or Fantasy. The specialist games (Space Hulk, Blood Bowl) are an exception as they are usually limited edition releases. But the big money makers? No, never.

          Not saying I agree, not saying it isn’t a completely back-wards way of doing things when they could make an utter fortune from a P2P game, but that’s the way GW currently operates. The *only* way I could see it happening is by tying the codes for the units in the online game into the sale of the boxed miniatures (i.e. buy a unit of Ork models, unlock a unit of Ork models in the game).

          But GW don’t do common sense :)

    • Jack-Dandy says:

      Same here. I’m not very fond of the RTS games myself

    • Phoibos Delphi says:

      Let me imagine a straight conversion of 40K to TBS for a minute… with the basic game you get 4 crappy units for 1 race.

      Everything else (Races, Units, Character Models,Maps, Scenery Pieces) can be bought from the Ingame Store.

      And as far as I know GW (having worked in an indipendent gamestore for more than 10 years) the digital Baneblade might as well sell for the price of the physical model from Forgeworld (Magic TG Online and their Booster-Prices a few years back anyone?).

    • Leeroy says:

      there is something called Vassal if you want to give it a spin

    • frightlever says:

      ” but I’d be interested to play a computerized rendition of the board game”

      Never played WH40K tabletop but I painted a few figs and I played 15mm Ancients extensively back in the day so I feel completely qualified to say that, no, no you do not want to play a computer game that replicates the tabletop gaming experience because it will bore you to tears.

      WH40K is not a board game, BTW. Space hulk is a board game. Different kettle of fish.

      • Delinth says:

        Two words: Blood Bowl

        Yeah, you could call it a board game as well since it’s played on a standardized field with squares, but a lot of the underlying mechanics are Warhammer Fantasy.

        As long as they take out the manual movement measuring and add in some good animations for combat, I could totally get behind a digital, turn-based version of Warhammer 40k

      • Rack says:

        I’m not a massive fan of the tabletop game but it’s substantially less likely to bore a man to tears than something like 15mm Ancients. From 4th edition onwards it was a reasonably fast paced strategy game, ruined only by GWs deliberately poor balancing of the races and units.

        If Slitherine can replicate that without letting capitalism get in the way of a great game I will be almost as pleased as I will be surprised.

      • Bluestormzion says:

        B the W, actually, you could classify Warhammer 40k as a Board Game. Though it does not come with a board of its own, it is played on tables, most commonly constructed of planks of wood, or boards. People construct their own terrain, creating a scenario which even in video games in the old parlance would be referred to as a board. Want to get Semantical? I’ll keep it up all month, since Obama took my job.

        • stupid_mcgee says:

          Actually, the correct term is “table-top war game.” there’s tons of them. There’s also the “pen and paper” designation that gets thrown around a lot for RPGs, like Pathfinder and D&D.

          Typically, a “board game” is one where the board is an essential element of gameplay, meaning that the board is basically a necessity to be able to play the game. HeroQuest is a good example. The board is an essential element. Monopoly – the board is essential. Blood Bowl, as previously mentioned, is another good example.

          • Aedrill says:

            Thing is, it’s not easy to define a “board”. Games like Monopoly, or Game of Thrones, or Blood Bowl, and so on, have very distinctive boards, there is no room for interpretation. But take Twilight Imperium, for example, and it gets complicated. In TI you’re building a board out of hexagonal tiles. So you don’t have the board, and building one is already a part of the game, so is it a board game?

            Same with table top miniatures games – there is no “board” that you can fold and put in the box after you play, but instead, you’re building one out of your table and some terrain models. Miniature games are a type of board games, unless you want to be REALLY anal about it.

      • imperialus says:

        But, if you had the computer dealing with all of the fiddly bits in the background combined with an intuitive UI it could work very well.

        I mean take a look at Unity of Command. If that game was actually in board wargame format it would be an absolute monster, and I say this as someone with considerable experience playing some remarkably complex board wargames. If you actually start drilling down into the number of modifiers for specialist steps, suppression, terrain, weather, armour shock value, moral, ect. it’s absolutely ridiculous. You’d be cross-referencing half a dozen charts to make a single attack.

        In the final game though the computer does all that calculating for you and you’re left with a really simple, easy to understand odds calculation and ‘anticipated’ result. Right click and bam, the dice are rolled, losses are calculated and you move onto the next unit.

        • Arglebargle says:

          My iconic memory of watching Warhammer40K being played had two players madly totaling numbers, rolling dice ten times, and having absolutely nothing happen.

          • stupid_mcgee says:

            That was much of my experience playing Warhammer: FB.

            Haven’t played the game in years, but one of my friends gave me his game box, and I’m planning on painting and selling all of those goblin and high elf miniatures. It’s pretty crazy what painted miniatures can go for.

        • Chris D says:

          I think the problem might be that, if you take away having to do the calculations by hand, you’re in danger of revealing that actually nothing very much happens over the course of a game.

    • Roger-McCarter says:

      my co-worker’s mother makes $65/hr on the internet. She has been without a job for nine months but last month her pay check was $19250 just working on the internet for a few hours. Here’s the site to read more… http://zapit.nu/31b

  2. Soulstrider says:

    I would like to be excited but dunno, nothing from them seems particularly good.

    • PostieDoc says:

      Panzer Corps is very good if you enjoyed the Panzer General games back in the day.
      Bit expensive though.

      • Ergonomic Cat says:

        They just released Legion on the iOS, which is (from my understanding) a straightforward, if utilitarian, port of an older, very deep, tabletop war game. It’s getting pretty good reviews.

  3. dembadger says:

    Aren’t slitherine the guys who did the “simulation” system for deadliest warrior? I can’t wait to see some chainswords being used on pigs in the name of science!

  4. GenBanks says:

    I’ve always wanted a turn based 40k game… In theory it shouldn’t even be that hard right? Just stick all of the rules from the tabletop game in and have the dice rolls happen in the background.

    • Svant says:

      There is one, Warhammer 40k Chaos Gate, complete with awesome chanting music that will drive you insane after 20+ hours.

      • SkittleDiddler says:

        Good luck getting that one to run on anything newer than an XP-based system. I’ve been trying for years.

        • RedWurm says:

          hm, I’ve got a cd with it on that I had very few problems with a couple of years back, dunno if I was on windows 7 though. I may give it another pop and report back.

          • jRides says:

            It works fine with Windows 7, (from the disk install that is). I cant remember if I had it in a compatibility mode, i probably did though. You do need to fix the cultist lasgun bug, but otherwise it should be fine.

            EDIT: XP service pack 3 set on the compatibility tab and 256 colors checked, according to this post.

          • SkittleDiddler says:

            Hmmm, it’s been a while since I tried to get Chaos Gate running, so maybe I’m missing something. Thanks for the tips, jRides, although I’m not sure why the game would work fine on 7 when I’ve never been able to get it to run on Vista. I’ll try again once I dig out my CD copy.

          • Oathbreaker says:

            Absolutely love that game. Tried to get it going on Windows 8, but runs spastically and can’t seem to install the patches.

    • Mr Monotone says:

      Not too hard no. Just a really bad idea from a business perspective. The amount of money GW makes on minis and paints and the like is absolutely absurd. They are fully aware of how much a faithful recreation of either of their two big games would eat in to their profits. It’s the same reason that the only feature complete Magic: The Gathering game has you buying virtual booster packs for the same cost as real ones.

      • pretty fiendish says:

        It’s the fact that I totally agree that worries me. It’s going to be turned based, which immediately gets you thinking of the tabletop version of the game. But as you say, GW don’t want that as much as I do, which means every license will always have to bring something different or new, just to differentiate it from the tabletop version. Despite my understanding their reasons I guess I’ll always end up disappointed as I’d love an electronic version now that I can’t be bothered with, and don’t know anyone who plays, the physical version. I’m sure/naively hopeful we’ll still get some great games, but there will always be that nagging voice in the back of my head saying “if only…”

      • Calculon says:

        Im not so sure about that. I think that given the right game mechanics and Micro Transactions (Yes, I said it.) it could be a Gold Mine for GW, and be something simply amazing for those of us who played the tabletop game, and want a faithful rendention with the points system included.

        I had this all worked out in my mind as a potential project years ago. Think about it for a second: You can buy additional squads, tanks, dreadnaughts, hero’s etc (all Micro-transactions). You can buy them painted (more $$) or un-painted, you could even go so far as to setup a game where real losses occurr (optional) and have to replace squads.

        You could support deep painting/decorating options, and spin off some micro-transactions there….and last but certainly not least – you could also produce art work and buildings for players to build their own virtual tabletop. I dont envision this as a crappy map editor, but assets purchased which could then be added to a map editor and placed wholesale on various map sizes.

        If there was enough interest, create a competitive leage and VOila – Cash Cow extrodinaire.

      • Machinations says:

        It might be a good game for DLC, as others have said.
        Their miniature prices have gotten completely insane, and I am sure growth is completely stagnant.
        Theyre not going to be expanding anymore with their current model.

        Plus, if tehy dont release something faithful to the franchise while it is still relevant, in 5 years 3D printers will have cannibalized sales of their overpriced plastic. They need to work these IPs while they are relevant or they are done.

        • Mr Monotone says:

          Oh I can see them releasing a micro transaction run game where you buy your little imaginary soldiers for the same price as you buy your little toy ones. It’s certainly not a game I would be all that interested in playing though.

          Also that is probably the single best use for a 3d printer I have heard so far, assuming they can get the precision necessary. The thought of people creating their own model designs and sharing them around like mods or other software makes me all warm and fuzzy inside.

          • MondSemmel says:

            Certainly 3D printing game miniatures will be great, if only because it pushes prices down. But the single best use of 3D printing?! The technology offers so much more. For instance, google these key words: 3D printer medicine
            You end up with articles like this one:
            http://www.businessinsider.com/3d-printing-medicine-manufacturing-2013-3
            I already read about a case where a bone fractured into numerous pieces. A 3D printer printed these numerous bone fragments. Then the surgeons could practice putting them together – like a puzzle – before the actual operation.
            And that’s nothing compared to what the technology _might_ become capable of.

            That said, if 3D printing miniatures or Tupperware or something ends up driving the prices of 3D printers down, I’m all for it.

          • Mr Monotone says:

            Alright, I should probably clarify. Best use for consumer 3d printers that I have heard so far. I’m not likely to argue that my desire to be able to print a toy tank is more important than life saving medicine. The level of detail used to synthesize cancer drugs is probably a little over what your average household needs.

            A better way of phrasing it might be “This is the first idea I have heard that would make me want to actually buy a 3d printer.”

        • InternetBatman says:

          The flip side of that is that IP will become even more ridiculously important. Obviously, there are going to be a lot of talented people making their own miniatures, but I expect quite a few of them might be sued for being too close to ____.

      • Delinth says:

        I completely agree. As much as I’d like a completely faithful digital version of either Warhammer Fantasy or 40K, I just don’t see it happening due to their miniature sales.

        Now having said that, I can see them making a completely faithful digital version of Necromunda. And I could get excited for that.

      • Calabi says:

        See thats your presumption. I mean its not like the aspect of collecting the miniatures assembling and painting them is completely different to the digital.

        I’m betting any game would subsequently increase the sales in miniatures and boardgames, especially with the way everything is going with ownership and digital.

        • Chris D says:

          Regardless of whether it’s true or not I suspect that’s also GW’s presumption, otherwise we’d have seen a game already, but perhaps they’ll change their minds.

    • Spacewalk says:

      There was Chaos Gate which I haven’t played in aeons so I can’t remember how closely it implemented the rules but I loved the shit out of it anyway.

      What I’d really like to see is for someone to pick up the Epic license and do a Final Liberation 2. Final Lib got passed around friends so much my disc has too many scratches in it to work properly if it ever will on a modern OS.

      EDIT: Ninja’d by, like, everyone.

  5. DanPryce says:

    I’ll have a 40k license if they’re letting any Tom Dick or Harry have them. I’ll make a Pikmin rip off with the player as a Tyranid Hive Tyrant. We’ll make millions. Call me GW. Laters.

  6. Hoaxfish says:

    http://www.gamesindustry.biz/articles/2013-03-14-slitherine-lands-warhammer-40k-license

    A Games Workshop representative contacted GamesIndustry International to provide a comment on the company’s new less exclusive approach to licensing.

    “The days of monolithic Warhammer or Warhammer 40,000 licenses on all platforms are behind us,” the representative said. “In the future, games based on our properties will be platform and subject specic, which is great news as it means there are far more opportunities than before.”

    • Axyl says:

      Funny then, how we never got Kill Team on the PC.
      Granted that may have had more to do with THQ than GW, but the point is still valid imo.

    • mondomau says:

      Translation: “Our insanely short-sighted 6-month price rise gauging and staggeringly obnoxious attitude towards our own customers and distributors has now reached critical mass and our profit model is looking decidedly shakey, so we decided to fling our IP at anyone with an Xbox SDK and a passing interest in little plastic men.”

  7. razzafazza says:

    great news, pretty much what i hoped for when THQ went under – the license beeing given to smaller studios to make more niche titles instead of THQs streamlined mainstream titles i mean.

  8. bstard says:

    Oh lordielord noos, not Creative Assembly, the only movie studio that brands their products as games.

    • Mr Monotone says:

      Aren’t they most well known for the total war series? TW games have their flaws but I wouldn’t call them movies.

      • bstard says:

        Ofc it’s a relative thing, but the TW series isnt exactly renouned for its dept and freedom. Well, I hate this, but ok: IMO.

        • Carbonated Dan says:

          I enjoy a spot of acid too but you’re wasting it on the internet I think

          • WrenBoy says:

            You say that but who you havent seen the blue cyclopes-eyed unicorn reading the comments to him in the soothing deep tones of Barry White.

            Well, maybe.

    • sonson says:

      Total War games aren’t particularity historically accurate (or heniously inaccurate either mind) but they are PC gaming to the core. Hardcore simulation, pretty much infinite combination of possibilities occurring, grand in ambition, fantastical and deep concept, with a touch of whimsy thrown in. You might not like them but it’s ludicrous to argue that they are like movies given how involved and deep they are to play.

  9. Jams O'Donnell says:

    Cautiously optimistic about this — Slitherine have a decent track record for turn-based things, but they’re not much with the visual whizzbang a 40k game needs. It’s easy to imagine them making something like the old SSI 40k games though, which is not necessarily a bad thing.

    • razzafazza says:

      i d rather play a 40k game with Panzer Corps like graphics (pretty good for its genre) than play a glorious looking dull piece of crap like the DOW2 singleplayer campaign that was pretty much a poor mans dungeon siege with space marines.

      before the DOW2 fanboys come in legion: its possible that DOW2 Multiplayer more than made up for the singleplayer or that people didnt care about the singleplayer but whats not possible is that someone with at least SOME standards and good tastes seriously enjoyed DOW2s single player campaign unless going into “well its 40k, i have to play it (so did i)” mode.

      • guygodbois00 says:

        Couldn’t agree more with that first part. That singleplayer campaign was, in a word, terrible.

      • Davie says:

        I liked DoW2′s singleplayer, and before you jump on me, I thought the original’s campaign was just as good. The “15-minute-map-plus-boss” formula did get a little old after a while, but overall it felt much more like I was actually commanding a bunch of Space Marines, rather than just watching as they did things and incidentally taking control every now and then, which is what the first game felt like to me. No, it wasn’t the traditional RTS formula, but it was a perfect setup for a 40k game.

  10. SanguineAngel says:

    I heard that they make play by email games. Is that correct? If so then the appeal may be a little limited?

    • Hmm-Hmm. says:

      It doesn’t have to be PBEM only, though. PBEM as an optional way to play can be a fun way to play with friends, especially when ‘then-and-there’ online play isn’t feasible for someone.

  11. Malibu Stacey says:

    Here’s hoping for an electronic version of WH40K Epic. Me wants Titans.

  12. buzzmong says:

    *crosses fingers for a Necromunder game*

    • Fiyenyaa says:

      Necromunda! XCOM meets 40k! Do it! Do it now!

      • SanguineAngel says:

        XCOM is essentially Necromunda as it stands already! I’d love them to do a fully licenced version

  13. Gap Gen says:

    So which games have Slitherine developed themselves, or are they just a publishing company? There are a bunch of games on their site that I’m pretty sure they didn’t develop themselves.

  14. Squirly says:

    If SEGA has Warhammer Fantasy, does this mean we might see a Dark Omen again?

  15. slerbal says:

    I won’t be buying anything Slitherine makes – I can’t go into specifics but they have a bad habit of treating contracted developers terribly.

    • wodin says:

      Interesting. I can imagine their exclusivity contract and the fact they don’t lower the prices of the older games annoy developers as their games just become window dressing on the website..where if they dropped to bargain prices at least some money would come in.

  16. Machinations says:

    They have such great IP, and such horrible management. They need to start using those IPs.
    Look at how they killed off arguably their best games – Necromunda, Mordheim, Space Hulk, etc. They could be money printing machines, but instead they put them in a specialist games range and hardly support them. Same with blood bowl.

    Space Hulk as a turn based game coming out soon = good idea.

    More crap licenses for shooters/actiony games/RTS = trash, even though DoW and the sequel are good RTS – they are still RTS. People want a turn based game.

    As others have stated, does anyone actually know anyone who still plays with the actual figures? Besides the fact that you can put a child through university for the cost, there are physical logistics issues.

    • Hroppa says:

      A turn based Necromunda game would be excellent, and perhaps feasible in this post-XCOM world.

    • tattertech says:

      I want a Battlefleet Gothic game. Not even sure what type of game I’d want out of the property, but it could be awesome.

  17. Mordsung says:

    I knew GW would get antsy with 3D printing gaining popularity. We may finally see a true digital conversion of the game rules.

    3D printing may not be very advanced, but it can sure as hell do a WH mini pretty easily.

    • buzzmong says:

      If GW were rather canny, they’d sell an officially licenced 3D model file (with certain rules like you can’t resell the file or the models you make) for their “core” models in order to head people off at the pass, and continue to offer higher detailed/diecast parts and models via their own stores.

      Considering they already sell paints and people generally use them because they’re quite easy to work with and want colour matches, I suspect they’d also make a nice sideline out of selling a recommended 3D printing fillament as well.

      They’re going to have to do something soon as 3D laser scanners are getting easier and easier to DIY.

    • SanguineAngel says:

      Hah, given the prices of GW miniatures when I stopped buying I can assume that buying a 3D printer just for that purpose would save the more dedicated WH players a lot of money!

  18. Christo4 says:

    Am i the only one who wants an FPS with the HUD similar to Republic commando in a Space Hulk kind of combat scenario but with a Horror twist? Similar to Dead Space but MORE HORROR. I want to crap my pants.

  19. SkittleDiddler says:

    Where’s my Advanced Heroquest videeya game?

  20. Syt says:

    I can see this going like Slitherine’s “Field of Glory” series – a base system for pre-modern battles that has a dozen or so army pack DLCs that cover various nationalities/eras.

  21. Gnarf says:

    So a turn-based WH40K game with nice and hassle-free asynchronous multiplayer is fairly likely now :)

  22. Beybars says:

    As long as they provide a fully customized army painter.

  23. wodin says:

    Been told today it WON’T be a PC version of the tabletop game…as GW is way to protective of it etc etc..still have high hopes. I’m expecting something more like Chaos Gate.

  24. jRides says:

    Epic 40k.. It would be right up Slitherines street. I’m hoping if I just say this enough it will come true one day. :)

  25. FRIENDLYUNIT says:

    Surprised. This eliminates many barriers stopping me playing 40k.

    However don’t be surprised if you have to make microtransactions to buy all your units.

  26. mandrill says:

    Please let it be Epic. Pretty please?

  27. Raiyan 1.0 says:

    Slitherine will take good care of it, you Gryffindor schmucks!