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With the release of Fall of Cadia, even the most skeptical of gamer must acknowledge we are seeing a re-run of the End Times, except this time it is Warhammer 40,000 receiving the treatment.
The main feature of the End Times was the merging of various Warhammer armies (or their destruction), this paved the way for the new faction organisation coming in Age of Sigmar.
The important point is this: the decisions were made about what to ditch and what to keep before the first End Times books even appeared. It will be the same here. We can garner clues abut the end result from the steps Games Workshop go through on the way to the ending they have already decided upon.
For those who may have forgotten, the End Times ran for about a year, and resulted with the destruction of Warhammer’s previous setting, the dismissal of several armies, and the replacement of the game with the new Age of Sigmar rules and setting.
It was definitely an ending. Of course every ending holds within it the seed of a new beginning, and after a rocky start, Age of Sigmar seems to have found its footing. This took a year of releases and especially the release of a ‘General’s Compendium’, a book which brought back points to allow roughly equal armies to be fielded and also allowed the lost armies of Warhammer to take to the table once more.
Differences between this and The Time of Ending may show us what lessons Games Workshop have taken from the last time they did this.
Warhammer 40,000 is not in the same position as its fantasy cousin once was. Sales seems to be holding up, not collapsing, and are probably growing to look at the latest company accounts. However, Games Workshop have evidently decided to change their setting.
Warhammer 40,000 is a setting that has been overwhelmed by its own backstory – just have a look at the popularity of Horus Heresy releases, from the new boxed games and models, to the novel series that is approaching its 50th title.
Gav Thorpe made some good points last year about what the change in setting to Age of Sigmar ultimately meant in terms of outlook. Scrolling down through the comment of the link above will lead you to this paragraph:
“It’s also worthwhile bearing in mind that the space marines serve a distant master, an ideal almost that they will never encounter themselves, that they learn of through the Chapter traditions and the orthodoxy of the Chaplains. Stormcast dwell in the presence of their creator, their saviour; the theme of rebirth and hope, of a new light in the darkness, returns against and again throughout the Age of Sigmar, and not just for the Stormcast Eternals. If Warhammer was about anything (and if 40K has a central theme), it was about the struggle against Chaos representing our own fears and least desirable aspects destroying us from within. If Age of Sigmar represents anything, it is of our best traits straining to rise above our worst, the indomitable spirit to overcome (rather than stubborn refusal of the inevitable). Hope, not hopelessness.”
Age of Sigmar represent a hopeful battle against Chaos, whereas the Old World was always a doomed setting. Similarly in Warhammer 40,000 the struggle against Chaos is hopeless, and in many ways is already lost.
Our question becomes what changes to the Warhammer 40,000 setting will need to happen to switch the central theme from hopelessness to hope? And who will survive and who won’t?
Get ready for a wild ride in 2017.