Last week I started talking about Warhammer Quest: Silver Tower, the new big box board game release from Games Workshop. Actually, it's not a board game. Oh, it is. But it's a strange hybrid thing, where miniatures from further into the GW line can be incorporated into the game, and characters from the board game can be used in the GW miniatures game Age Of Sigmar. It's an interesting product, incorporating a classic design ethos and fusing it with modern marketing sensibilities. That's why I continue to tell you about it this week.
WARHAMMER QUEST: SILVER TOWER 2
So you've bought Silver Tower, and you've assembled all the miniatures. You've punched all the tokens and unwrapped all the decks of cards. You are ready to play!
But wait. Aren't you going to paint those things? Are you really going to play the game as if every character and every enemy is in black and white, like an old Bing Crosby movie? Or are you going to go all in, just like Games Workshop has planned it?
Painting these things is important. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that you're better off having a crappy paint-job than no paint-job at all. There will be people in the comments section below – guaranteed – who will be able to explain how to do some nice washing techniques that will allow your miniatures to pop properly without a full paint-job. That's a great idea, and something I completely support. But it's not for me. I plan to paint my Warhammer Quest in its entirety. And I've started!
Check out my first paint job. He's the barbarian chaos guy from Silver Tower, and he's a beauty of a model. Look at that smirk on his face!
I took the opportunity to introduce my 9 year old daughter to painting too, and that's her little dwarf in the picture. Don't tell anyone from Games Workshop, but that's a Mantic dwarf, I'm pretty sure. A wee spare I gave her to paint, just for practice. In fact, that's a compliment to GW, I guess.
But yeah, once you've painted one miniature, you have to do the rest, because the whole concept that Games Workshop is built on these days is not just “gaming” but “showpiece gaming”. Attractive gaming. Visit one of the shops and you'll see tables full of beautifully painted miniatures scattered around incredible scenery. It's sheer spectacle. In the shop window you'll see a cabinet full of beautiful minis – on display, not in play. Calling this thing “the hobby” is not just a weird affectation – it's genuinely how you have to treat being a customer of GW stuff if you're going to let the products reach their full potential.
Let's talk about that potential. I don't think the design work has ever been better at Games Workshop. As I was browsing through the range of the new Age of Sigmar stuff I was struck by how imaginative it all is. I know there was controversy over the ending of the Warhammer Fantasy Battle line, and I know that some people haven't warmed to the Age of Sigmar line just yet, but it surely can't be argued that this break from the traditional Western fantasy tropes has allowed the GW designers to go crazy with fresh ideas. I've been showing the models to casual gamers and non-gamers alike, and they've been blown away by how spectacular the new miniatures are. Silver Tower is a psychedelic freakshow, a circus in a box, and it's been pulling some gasps of admiration out of some very jaded mouths, believe me.
And it all ties in. It all ties in. A guy like me goes back into the shop because of Silver Tower. I buy it, unwrap it, assemble it, start painting it. I then read a White Dwarf that offers free rules for another Silver Tower character. That character is an Age of Sigmar mini. I go in and lay down my tenner to pick that one up, the Lord of Plagues. I now have an excuse to pick and choose the beautiful miniatures that I want to build and paint.
Let's talk about this app that can be downloaded onto your phone. It's a Warhammer Quest: Silver Tower app, and it tracks your progress in the board game. It has the rules for your favourite characters, and all the treasure cards your character might find as they move through the game. But it's also an app for tracking your collection of characters. You pay a small sum on the app, less than a quid, and it unlocks the ruleset for more miniatures that can be transported into your game. Great for those who already have the miniatures, and so very very tempting for those who don't.
So yeah, I've already bought a hero expansion. Four new characters. Four new beautiful miniatures. Bought the rules for each of the characters through the app. I've expanded my collection already. Five new miniatures, new heroes, within weeks of buying the original game.
I've been finding it fascinating, to be honest. It feels like Games Workshop have really hit on something big here. There's been many a day when I've wandered past the Warhammer shop and looked at the miniatures in the window, feeling that little pull to pick one up and make it beautiful. But I've never wanted to commit. Not to 40K again. Not to Fantasy Battle again. Not to Age of Sigmar. It's too much. Too much! But now – here comes a lovely new board game, complete in its basic form. But with it comes the excuse. Now I can do “the hobby” again, at my pace, at my leisure, picking and choosing what I want to incorporate into my game. And all that stuff I'm picking up? That free rules sensibility that comes along with Age of Sigmar might just end up dragging me into AoS too. I mean, I have the toys, right? I might as well play!
Silver Tower is a gateway - no – a portal into “The Hobby”, and maybe the finest one that Games Workshop has ever devised. But what about the game itself? What of the game?
That's for next week.