Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Games Workshop's Formerly Known as Prize Support

I posted this long-winded comment in response to a Brent BoLS post. I liked it so here is a re-post:

GW cutting the cord from indie conventions has turned out to be a boon for the hobby side of the tournament scene. Once upon a time, GW hosted Grand Tournaments which included requirements for Citadel model usage down to the very percentage of GW vs non-GW parts on a model. Many indie events adopted these requirements in order to ensure that GW prize support would not be compromised. People would agonize on forums and chat boards as to whether certain models were tournament "legal" based on the model composition and parts used. This in turn influenced the local gaming scene as few people wanted to pour time into an intricate conversion that could potentially be nixed for use in a tournament.

Having said that, how much truth there was in reality versus perception of model requirements is up to some debate. I don't remember anyone getting kicked out of an event due to a 75% non-GW model. Objectively this did influence the models used by gamers and very much limited the creativity seen in armies both at national and local events.

No longer laboring under the "yoke" of GW prize support, tournaments are free to allow any and every type of model manufacturer at 40k, Fantasy, and LoTR events. Creativity abounds and gone are the forum threads regarding "legal" models - other than the occasional WYSIWYG discussion. The only place where model composition matters is at GW stores and very few tournaments of note (at least in the US) are held at these stores.

Editorial comment: From a business model perspective, GW dropped the ball when they dropped prize support. I realize that this support was sunset in large part because GW had no effective enforcement avenue and that there were abuses of their largess. However, prize support was the only real carrot to enforce the stick of GW-only models - even if the stick was perhaps more perception than reality. Games Workshop has inadvertently opened the doors for other model manufacturers to fill their product void (greatcoat guard, alternate greater daemons, tank and APC variants, etc.) - and these are now all "tournament legal".

From a more mercenary perspective, I would have continued prize support along the more restrictive model requirements and made sure that any prize support was provided by an on-site Games Workshop employee. That employee would have adjudication in deciding whether a given event was in general compliance and describe remedies (punitive or otherwise) when an event was found wanting. This policy would have continued to foster a very stove piped model mentality which had reach both within local communities and at national events and at least provided a chokepoint for the entry of new model makers into the space.

Thankfully that was not the route GW chose - I like the event/tournament scene as it exists today!