Rick Priestly interview December 2015

So another interview with Rick Priestly has shown up. 

I hope he feels good knowing that he inspired an interest in sci-fi and fantasy for hundreds of thousands of people over the years.  The concepts that himself, Bryan Ansell and Richard Halliwell came up with inspired a gaming generation and I don’t think it is too much of a stretch to say that much of the current plethora of sci-fi miniature companies and kickstarters can ultimately be sourced back to the inspiration their brilliant rules spawned in the 1980s.  

I can well remember the Christmas of 1987 when I received a copy of Warhammer 3rd Edition (for the princely sum of £14.99), which still sits on my shelf 28 years later. Quality.

This interview was different because previously Rick has contained himself to not talking much about Games Workshop and Warhammer – perhaps there was a clause where he could not speak about them.  Or perhaps, just as likely, it does not exactly look good for one of the Warhammer creators to start bad mouthing his former employers, and games which he was responsible for, when he wants to develop more games and potentially have working relationships with others in the industry.  So he just did what he does best, moved on and focused on getting creative with 

However there is a hint of what must really be felt, most telling in the line, when referring to Beyond the Gate of Antares

It’s a game with a future, which I don’t think 40K is.”


I am not sure I can agree with this one.  I have been interested in Warhammer for nearly 30 years and I fully expect it to be here in another 30.  The games may be completely different but the fluff will live on and is a very valuable setting. Games Workshop is ripe for being picked up by another company someday.  Maybe in ten years – but some day.  There is a myriad of ways which 40K can expand and change and I think that the new Specialist Games division can be part of that, along with Forge World.  The 40K miniature universe has already expanded with the 30K Horus Heresy fluff and figures being huge.  This is a future for the 40K universe which ten years ago did not exist.  So in 20 years who know what new will be on the shelf.

The second thing, and a slight conundrum is his sentiment, echoed by many today, that Games Workshop has set it out as a company for miniatures collectors first, gamers second.  They are clear that they are a miniatures company, not a games company (despite the name!).  In consequence the rules are no longer the focus. 

But it has always been the case that GW was a miniatures company.  The whole concept of Warhammer, as Rick explains, was to sell more figures.

“Bryan told us: ‘We need a game to sell more toy soldiers, get on with it.’ He’s like that,” Priestley said.

The current rules may not be as strong as they could be according to the (21 year old) Grognards, but the premise of drawing people in to play a game with miniatures is still central to their business model, and central to them selling models.  If after 6-7 years people come to the conclusion the game is no good, it does not really matter after they have bought six armies.  Games Workshop has a large ‘churn’ of people, pulling in 10-12 years olds and then losing them by 18-21.

It relies on this, but it is the fact that the game exists at all which is important to pulling in new young players and future collectors, not whether it is any good.  Warhammer is a bit of a drug – you will try and wean yourself off but always come back for more, even if it is years between ‘hits’.

The Warhammer 40K universe was a brilliant concept, as was the fantasy Old World (before they blew it up).  I hope Rick is rightly proud of it all, it has given me much enjoyment.  

And if he wants to send me a free review copy of Beyond the Gates of Antares then that would be great :-D.

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