There’s been an interesting development in the local Warhammer 40,000 tournament scene recently. Apparently no-one is willing to organize the yearly event at Cancon in 2014. This is possibly the largest Warhammer 40,000 event in Australia. It certainly was until recently – I believe Mother of All Battles may have overtaken it in recent years. At any rate there are easily over a hundred players normally, and it is the largest single event at Cancon, which is itself Australia’s largest traditional gaming event.
The fellow who ran it last year has not so gracefully bowed out, citing the excessive amount of bitching and rage he was subjected to before, during and after the event. No-one else seems brave (or perhaps stupid) enough to step up at this stage. The man who has run it for many years in the past is currently living overseas, and the Canberra Games Society is even reportedly considering flying him home to be the tournament organiser! Cancon without standard 40k seems almost unimaginable. To give international readers some context, it’s comparable to the organisers of 40k at Adepticon throwing up their hands and saying “you guys are jerks, we quit” . . . and then no-one volunteering to take their place. It will be interesting to see what happens as the event looms closer.
So there’s some local gossip for you. But what does it say in a wider context? I’ve seen it claimed on the internet that the advent of 6th edition Warhammer 40,000 has driven away many competitive players, and that those who remain are mainly of the toxic variety; their egos can’t function without 40k tournament wins. Naturally, this drives away casual tournament attendees, many of whom seem to be shifting to the growing Apocalypse scene in these parts. At Wintercon this year there was a very successful Apocalypse event, and Good Games is starting to run them semi-regularly as team events so anyone with a 1500 point army can join in. It feels as though hardly anyone can be bothered with standard competitive 40k any more, let alone willingly taking on the grief of organizing the events.
If that’s a fair assessment – and I’m not sure it is, I’m just reporting what I’ve heard – then I can finally understand the real anger that many competitive players felt over 6th edition. The game was rendered unplayable for them, and that game is expensive, in time and money. Not to mention that something they enjoyed had been arbitrarily taken away. I admit I was a little uncaring when it happened, not being a competitive player myself, but now I really do feel that their anger might have been justified.
Interesting times continue for the Games Workshop gaming scene in Australia. I can’t lie, I feel a little tingle of schadenfreude given that I no longer play or collect Games Workshop products. Their decline is terrible for the many people who are Games Workshop hobbyists as opposed to simply hobbyists. But it’s exciting too. Will Australia be the first miniature gaming community to truly break free of Games Workshop’s stranglehold en masse?