Thursday, July 14, 2011

What the crap is going on with Dreadnoughts these days?


By now, everybody's seen this ungainly monster. I'm still on the fence about whether I like it or not, since it's not exactly a new design:




Yeah, that's right. Instead of grabbing a movie design to repurpose (go see Terminator 5 to see where the Dreadknight came from), FW went back several generations to the old Epic scale game and up-sized that thing. Someone loved that ugly little thing so much, they went back and made it the de-facto "old dreadnought, instead of the one we all knew and loved from the early days. You all remember Chuck, don't you? from the 40k Compendium? 




There he is, the poor lil' roly-poly guy. Look at him. Gonna go stomp some Chaos Squats with those two twin-linked bolters of his. Who's the big man? Not you. Sorry, Chuck. 


We're supposed to believe that during the 40k timeline,  Lee Iacocca took over Mars and started cranking out the K-Car of mecha:




Go research K-car, kids. It's a real term. 


There's more than one entendre at work, here. 


Get it? 


Good. 


Personally, I'm glad GW didn't slink away to the movies again. It wrecks the consistency of their design quality--- ooooh right:



C'mon guys. A Glaug from Macross? What were you thinking back then? Even FASA learned that lesson the hard way with the Marauder. You're all over the place with rules, all over the place with design.

Sigh. 

That brings us back to Monstroso, there:



There are some things I like about this model. I feel that it's generally a step in the right direction, I really do. In fact, you can shut down all the current model production lines now, from Rhinos to Stormravens, and art direct everything around the curved, riveted lines of this model. For consistency. 

However, there is a another shade of consistency at work here.  

This design is consistent not with rest of the angular, slab-sided, reasonably well art-directed army. It is consistent with the brand new, hero-focused, special-characters-grant-special-rules bent of the current codexes. There is one message you can take away from this, and it is:

"We envy Warmachine."

Think about that. 


14 comments:

MC Tic Tac said...

You do know its a pre-heresy design that is plasted all over the Horus Heresy Art works and Card game from several years ago right?

Only bad thing about it in my book its the cost (£/$)

Mordian7th said...

Well, to be fair it's not intended to be a newly-designed current-era Dread, but rather as a call-back to the heresy-era models FW has been making. While I'd certainly love it if they'd gone all the way back to the RT-era Chuck and Eddy style, I think the Contemptor is a rather nice homage historically to the older epic models. My only real gripe about it is how big it is in comparison to the current-era brick-on-legs style dreads - seems like it's awfully big to me. Nevertheless, I'm solidly in the "love it" camp and will be adding one (or more if I can afford it) to my Heresy-Era Thousand Sons. As a 40k-er all the way back to 1st ed, I actually dislike the general angular, slab-sided look of current era vehicle design as you mentioned. The older imperial stuff from back in the day was definitely more rounded and curved (for example the old Predators). Ah well, I can understand that the design teams and their styles inevitably shift over the years but I for one am rather pleased to see FW re-create some of the older models of yore...

An Enemy said...

They used an old epic design for a pre heresy Dreadnought and that equals PP envy? Tell me then...does PP have GW envy since they based their entire game around a GW model? Dial down the fanboy and you'll realize that you're not making sense.

#2501 said...

@MC Tic Tac: I do know that, which is why I posted the pic of the old Epic model from a decade ago, which is what that artwork was based on. The point of the post was why they chose this particular design, not the RT era one. The point is to look beyond just what you see, see? GW has to reinvigorate its line with models based on old and new designs, or die. See?

@Mordian: While I like the look overall, the scale when compared to the current model bothers me too. Arguably, things made during pre-Heresy "Golden Age" were a lot larger than the current designs. After all, that was when Terminator armor was on the horizon (and could've very well become the next standard tac armor, had things not declined) and scale seemed to be of little issue to the Imperium's engineers. Like the Tyranid range, however, this thing isn't goingto be getting many cover saves.

I'd buy one (well, a discounted one), but for the time being, other things come first, and I have more than a few backlogged models in my project bin....

doom_of_the_people said...

I'm in the like camp, but I always had fond memories of epic so no matter which older one they used I would have been happy. I will end up picking one up, possibly two if I can grab a buyer's remorse deal from someone.

#2501 said...

@ An Enemy: you're missing the point. Breathing new life into old models and changing the focus of codexes as they come out and making them hero-centric is a reaction to losing market share. It's the same reason so many tablets look like the iPad.

#2501 said...

It seems I'm a terrible writer. I made my point too late and badly, and for that I apologize.

Maybe it would make more sense to think of things this way; here you have a system that's been around for 20 years. It's framed around the amassing of a great number of models and for the most part it's fun and people like it. For the most part. Lately there have arisen several competitors, including WM, Infinity and Malifaux, that are doing quite well.

In the face of such competition, GW needed to give its system a breath of fresh air. after all, who took special characters last edition? They really didn't do anything for the armies you could buy them for, and were overpriced besides. Thus you have the new codexes and sexy new character-centric armies. More than that, you have to put out newer, better models to boost you flagging inventories. The sculpts are better now (well, mostly) than they have been in years, thanks to competition from other systems on the market.

Basically, they're waking up.

So when I say, "they envy Warmachine", you may take that to mean that they feel every other system out there nipping at their heels and taking away market share, and so are upping their game by releasing new models based on old designs, rethinking the way they write codexes, etc.

See?

Sorry folks, I'm trying to suck less, I really am.

James S said...

Hey I got it, and I agree with you.

The reason they re-hashed and then released this particular design now is because it looks kind of like a jack, and I too noticed that GW didn't start large-scale designing SCs that altered army performance and build until after WM.

I think it looks cool though. I'd buy one if I had a chaos legion, but I probably never will so I probably never will ;)

The_King_Elessar said...

I get it to, and {^}

Although, re Special Characters - they've never really sold in the quantities they should, largely because they were 'optional' and GW were reluctant to make them particularly good (for the most part) to avoid obsoleting other options and to retain a greater degree of player choice (or rather, the player perception of such)

The advent of fixed-character RPGs on consoles and PCs should have affected this trend, but GW are slow to respond to...well...anything.

That said, of course PP etc have had an impact, GW wants to stay top of their industry, and NEEDS to, given their overheads.

kaptainvon said...

I think you've done the first coherent job of explaining what's 'wrong' with that Dreadnought, viz. "it's a lovely model, but look at the rest of the Marine range, and then back to that Dreadnought, and tell me they're designed from a shared standard template".

I can believe, though, that the Adeptus Mechanicus lost the knack of building in a particular way and ended up making modern Dreadnoughts more ugly. Remember, it's 40K. Everything was better fifteen thousand years ago...

#2501 said...

@kaptainvon; while I have no problem in general with the whole "we've stopped innovating and now design is frozen for thousands of years" idea (as it results in ornate armor and arcane, venerable machines), it doesn't track well the more you look at it. Someone, somewhere is going to want to innovate and improve things, which, ideally, is where you get the evolving Dreadnought from. Now why some moron would think that making it shorter, stumpier, less spry and more clumsy is an improvement worth mass-production and implementation is beyond me.

As with a lot of "just go with it" type tropes in science fiction, the more you think about it, the more you'll realize "No New Designs, Ever" is completely ludicrous. It's not as if when the Emperor killed Horus that all the drafting tables at MIT stopped working. That's like saying Germany gave up on the VW when Hitler died.

The obvious loophole in the improbable "innovation freezes" narrative, of course, is occasionally finding some new STC in a vault somewhere, as is the case with the Storm Raven. Then everyone oohs and aahs and the factories in Nottingha- -er Mars start working again. However, the downside is that this is the ONLY narrative loophole they can use, and as a result must be used often, which isn't good either because it becomes rather a joke, and quickly a tired one.

Yes, I know there have been times where "such and such commissioned a battlefield improvement that went into mass production so we could sell more Land Raider kits", but again, how many times have you seen that used, too? That's why I love the Tau, as a race, because every new model release is the result of that last bit of fighting they did with so-and-so. Eventually the little commie bastards are going to get fed up with being stepped on and field their first Titan, and won't that be a doozy?

Son of Dorn said...

I love the current dread design because to me it is the embodiment of a walking tank. It's stubby exposed legs give you your rear AV 10.
They are my favorite model in the Space Marine range and I currently own five.
While this one looks alright, I want something that is less art and more war machine. We read descriptions of the stormbird gunships in the HH novels and how they're replaced because each one is a work of art. The thunderhawk replaced it in the same way a current dread design would because it's quick and dirty.
It's the same reason the AK-47 is so popular around the world. You could innovate the design, but nothing is cheaper and puts more quick firepower in your hands quickly.

DeadlyGrim said...

New Coke.

I should probably explain.

In the 80s, Coca-Cola was losing market share to Pepsi. Badly. The "Pepsi Challenge" - where Pepsi had blind taste tests in public - was kicking Coca-Cola's butt pretty badly since it became obvious people preferred the taste of Pepsi to Coke. It was slightly sweeter without being overpowering, a bit more mellow, and just overall a better taste among the market. Diet Coke, which tasted more like Pepsi than it did Coke, was also doing a lot better and while Coke + Diet Coke was still larger than Pepsi, it wouldn't be long before Pepsi had a larger market share than Coke or Diet Coke, individually.

Enter New Coke. The formula was genius. It was still recognizably Coke-esque, while having a taste closer to Pepsi. In blind taste tests, New Coke beat Coke and Pepsi. Of course, if Coca-Cola kept Old Coke on the market, as well as the new one, they were essentially stealing shares from themselves (see above about Coke + Diet Coke). So, they discontinued Old Coke.

To cut a long story short (too late!), New Coke flopped because, though it tasted better, it didn't have the brand identity that Coke did. Coca-Cola reintroduced Old Coke as Classic Coke.

Games Workshop isn't a bunch of idiots, despite what some people might tell you and/or scream at you. They're also, by and large, composed of long-time players. So, when they're planning on making a change that is likely to alienate a significant segment of their playerbase (which, remember, is shaky already because of losing market share), are they going to introduce a completely new design or are they going to go dredge through their ancient designs to find something that's close to their competitors design, so that they can say "See, we're not copying our competitors, we're introducing classic designs"? Games Workshop knows that if they brought out a bunch of designs that are obviously the same as their competitors, they're going to anger their players and drive them away. Better still to find a design that fits in their multiple decades-long run and rely on nostalgia/snooty-nerd-trivia to deflect them from criticism.

All in all, it's a pretty brilliant play.

#2501 said...

This guy gets it. Bravo, sir!