40k: GW hits peak “rules ransoming”

Posted by Wulfyn on 28th November 2019

40k is an expensive hobby to get into. We all know that at the start. With so much incredible plastic crack it can be hard to limit your spending. But the choice has very much been with the customer. And to start a new army the options are pretty clear that you can go in as much or as little as you like.


The Start Collecting boxes, or even the annual Christmas present Battle Boxes, are a great way to start an army at a discount. Add in the rulebook, the army rulebook (or codex as it is called), some superglue, and you are pretty much good to go. And that’s nice and clear: game rules, faction rules, some models.


That changed a little last year with the release of the Vigilus campaign books. Not only were they full of some of the best and most detailed campaign information, but they also had some additional rules. Now overall these rules were not great or must haves (well at least not until thr Imperial Fist codex supplement). Effectively you paid some Command Points to upgrade a detachment to unlock a couple strategems, which would cost more Command Points and generally be okay but probably not a priority. This was great because it kept the game balanced and ensured that it was a fun, but mostly narrative, option and not a must have.


Psychic Awakening seems to be changing that. With bundles of extra rules and strategems, some of them quite powerful and desirable, they are heading over that line. Now in the latest release we see an upgrade for Blood Angels and, most worryingly, a full army fleet customisation ruleset for Tyranids. That’s right bug players, those cool options are now locked behind a new rulebook.


This is annoying for 3 reasons. Firstly nobody wants to be lugging more and more books around just to play a game. I thought we’d learnt that lesson from previous editions, but it seems to be creeping back in. Secondly it increases the gotcha moments, which is bad for any game. It means that not only will bug players need the book to use the rules, but all other players that don’t want to get caught out will need to do the same. And finally it’s just a way to cynically extract money from the customerbase by spreading their rules over lots of different products. A cash grab in a hobby that is already expensive. They are just ransoming rules to the playerbase.

And to be clear – the issue is not that GW charge for their rules, it is that they are spreading them over multiple products to get people to buy a whole book for just a few things they want.