The Games Workshop Xenos Problem

by | Jan 11, 2018

It came swiftly, over last weekend we were teased to the introduction of a new model range for Warhammer 40,000. As usual the Games Workshop social media did an excellent job starting the speculation train, leading to something totally unexpected. It wasn’t unexpected because no one didn’t couldn’t imagine it; it was unexpected because it illustrated a bubbling resentment by a large portion of the 40k players.

It all started with a simple tease…

Speculation for a good 12 hours ran rampant, as everyone took a guess at what it meant. People even went as far to seeing hidden ghost images inside the poster. The consensus though was it had to be a new or old Xenos army getting a big update. Instead it turned into the Custodes getting plastic range for 40k. These new Custodes are without a doubt brilliant, especially the new speeders which look like they were pulled directly from this famous piece of art.

No sooner had enthusiasts picked up their jaws from the floor, a hidden rage was spewed forth. Forums, Facebook, and Twitter became filled with disappointment and anger. As the hope of something new and alien were dashed. Personally, I hadn’t really thought about it, but when you do think about it, Xenos armies have been getting the shaft of late. Imperium and Chaos forces have dominated the release schedules since the end of 2015. With the exception of 3 Eldar models we have not had a decent model release for a Xenos faction since Genestealer Cult and even a portion of that army uses the Imperium models range to fill it out.

Out of the 8th edition codexes announced we are looking at 3 of 13 being the Xenos armies. Xenos armies represent about 1/3 of the armies, but most of the armies have not seen updates in a years. Even the Tau who are the second best selling army behind Space Marines, hasn’t gotten an update since 2015.¬†While I am excited for the Custodes, Games Workshop focus should be squarely on updating all the codexes and not expanding one, especially for Imperium.

Part of the anger for many Xenos players is the power/fun gaps between Index and Codex armies. The patchwork failure of Chapter Approve hardly does the trick. It isn’t anything new to see Games Workshop with a Power Armour bias, the sales figures justify it, but this is getting pretty extreme at this point. There is no reason in the world for the Thousand Sons should get a codex before the Tau, which sell more and have one pretty fanatic following.

This goes well beyond rule releases, it extends to model updates (with the exception of one or new two models) here is the last time we seen large update for the following armies.

  • Orks middle of 2014
  • Necrons beginning of 2015,
  • Eldar beginning of 2015 (If you don’t count Harlequins)
  • Dark Eldar end of 2014
  • Tau end of 2015
  • Tyranids end of 2014

Meanwhile Chaos and the Imperium see constant updates and new armies. Would it be too insane to get say plastic Aspect Warriors, new Ork buggies, updated Necron C’Tan, Asdrubael Vect, more Tau allies, or a Imperial Knight scale model for Tyranids?

It is unfair, and if I was devoted to one of those armies I would be pissed, not Sisters of Battle pissed, but still pissed. I am sure Games Workshop has some plan, but the Custodes do feel like a big middle finger to patient Xenos players. Only Sisters of Battle could be justifiable after Custodes, but if Games Workshop doesn’t give folks some Xenos love soon, I can see many players dropping the game no matter how much better 8th edition is.