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Cardboard Children - The FFG/GW Divorce

A conscious uncoupling

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The rumours were true. Fantasy Flight Games and Games Workshop are ending their relationship. It’s a conscious uncoupling that will send shockwaves through the board gaming community, and no wonder. For a blissful period, the two were a match made in heaven. But now it’s over, and everyone is just trying to wrap their heads around what it all means.

As for you? You need to act fast.

Fantasy Flight published a lot of games that used Games Workshop’s brilliant intellectual property, and many of these games are some of the best games you’ll ever play. Now, all of a sudden, Fantasy Flight has released a statement clarifying the future of that relationship between the two games companies. And that statement makes for very bleak reading for anyone who hasn’t yet picked up these titles.

“Beginning February 28th, 2017, Fantasy Flight Games will no longer offer for sale any games in conjunction with Games Workshop, including Talisman and all games taking place in the Warhammer Fantasy and Warhammer 40,000 universes.

We’re extremely grateful to our friends at Games Workshop for giving us the opportunity to play in the worlds that they created, and we wish them nothing but the best in their future endeavors.”

Yes, it’s a good old future endeavor statement, like you see when someone gets released from the WWE. The party is over, completely, and right now. It’s like that bit in Trading Places where Eddie Murphy suddenly flings all the party people out of his flat. The warhammer has fallen.

The list of games that will no longer be printed is here – OH NOOOOO – and it hurts to look at it. I want to talk a little bit about what’s about to vanish, and what you should do about it.

TALISMAN

Forget what naysayers might tell you about Talisman. It is magic in a box. A universe of possibilities in cardboard. And this Fantasy Flight edition, with all its expansions, is about to vanish forever. If you have any interest in Talisman, hear me now – START BUYING TODAY. Grab the base game and The Reaper first. Then fill out all the corners of the board, with The Dungeon, The City, The Highlands and the Woodland. Then pick up those incredible small boxes like The Firelands and The Harbinger and – Oh, listen. If I was you I’d just buy it all. I have the whole set of Talisman, every bit of card ever printed, and I’ll own it until I die. Move quick.

(Also, RELIC is about to vanish too – and that’s a game much like Talisman, but set in GW’s Warhammer 40K Universe. And you know what? It’s probably a more interesting game design. It has a couple of fantastic expansions that really drag it into new territory, and it’s a brilliant game in its own right. I’m sorry, but you also need this.)

CHAOS IN THE OLD WORLD

It’s only one of the greatest games of all time, that’s all. I’d argue that it’s one of the first games that perfectly merged old-school board game settings and themes with new-school board game concepts. Designed by star designer Eric Lang, it is a dark, wonderful board game with very different player roles, rich in that beautiful Warhammer lore. The board is designed to look like a map made of stretched skin, and the game that plays out there is deep in strategy and tactics – but tempered with the fickle tides of chaos. You simply NEED to have this game in your collection. This isn’t even a controversial statement. It’s a game you’ll play often, and never tire of. And the game is also historically significant as a key milestone in Eric Lang’s career as a game designer. If you’re lucky enough to find the Horned Rat expansion – grab that too!

FURY OF DRACULA

This one is only just BACK in print, and now it’s about to vanish again. One player is Dracula, the rest are hunting the great vampire. It’s the best hidden movement game there is, better than any of the recent pretenders to the throne. And it’s rich with story, as Dracula flees across Europe and the hunters try to survive the nights and days to find him. This one will disappear fast. Go NOW. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

SPACE HULK: DEATH ANGEL

Space Hulk: Death Angel is a ridiculously fine game. It’s a small box card game that has no right being as tense and exciting as it is. It pulls elements of the masterpiece GW board game Space Hulk into a smaller space and still captures much of that same drama. A messy rulebook is the only downside of this excellent example of game design that I sometimes play solo just to remind myself about how brilliant it is.

EVERYTHING ELSE

Look, maybe not everything else. But I could just go on all day here. I mean, you need Blood Bowl: Team Manager, because it is fun and funny and thrilling. And you need Forbidden Stars, because it’s an enormous game of conquest set in the universe of Warhammer 40K and it looks BEAUTIFUL and it has brilliant combat and an ingenious order system. The Warhammer Quest Card Game is brilliant too, and it’s a tragedy that it is dead before it even got going. Warhammer: Invasion is a fantastic card battle game by Eric Lang, and probably my favourite of all the Fantasy Flight LCG systems. And poor old Warhammer Diskwars, a misunderstood game that is great fun – a real joy to play – but was punished by mystifying poor word of mouth in the early going.

Just… I dunno. In a decade, for sure, many of these games are going to be so highly sought after. And they ain’t coming back, people. So do what you feel you must. But please – don’t buy any just to sell on later for profit. Don’t – excuse my language – be a dick. Just get what you feel you need to play while you still can. Time is running out.

Why did this all happen? I don’t know. but the one positive is that it looks like Games Workshop are back in the board game arena in a big way. I can’t wait to see what they come up with next.

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Robert Florence

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