It is hard to imagine a time when Games Workshop games were more about telling a story than just random pick up games at a local store. Us old timers can remember when 40k was just a little skirmish game with thick rpg elements. Today the number of models you field in an average game is awe-inspiring compared to those Rogue Trader days. This article is not a lament for those bygone years, because in retrospect Rogue Trader rules were terrible with characters leveling up to God status and force restarts every few games.

So for the most part the evolution has been a good one.

With an ever-expanding range GW intention has changed, creating bigger and better¬†spectacles to fit the galactic backdrop of its universe. Still it was not till the end of 4th edition that all rpg like remnants were completely extinguished. The most compelling remnants were the global GW campaigns GW. The last being The Fall of Medusa V in 2006. These events while flawed brought so many players together across every GW retailer. They were some of the best community building experiences you could have. The best part it didn’t matter if you were a hard-core player or causal painter as long as you played and signed up you could participate.

The most important thing about these sort of events was it created a certain zeitgeist around the game. By Games Workshop supporting the campaigns it got players thinking about what campaigns they would run for themselves and friends. With special armies, rules, and supplements to go along the campaigns it was a great time for many. Since 2006 and Games Workshops complete hands off approach to community building; 40k has in a certain stagnated for many.

Unless you count last November GW to run a campaign called Road to Glory: Aardvaark IV? Oh wait you never heard about it? I know surprise! Well if you happen to pick up the October 2011 issue of White Dwarf and looked on page 114 you might have noticed… by the way only independent retailers could participate. So think just how successful this campaign was? This demonstrates an extreme failure by GW, but it is a policy of releasing or mentioning something and two months later you forgetting it ever existed.

Luckily many tournaments are starting to branch out and add narrative events and forums like Bolter and Chainsword offer home-grown material for players to use, but it is not the same thing as Games Workshop doing something to connect with fans on a continual basis.

Maybe that is the problem with Games Workshop they just don’t know how connect anymore. Instead they often hide behind tropes like “miniature company first” just to hide from the public. The disconnect even resides within the design team where they participate in internal campaigns and events all year– Blood in the Borderlands for Warhammer Fantasy being a recent example. Perpetuating an environment detached from what is really going on in the outside world.¬† As an experiment check and see if you can find anything GW’s website about Blood in the Borderlands.

You can ask what about Forge World? Forge World is perhaps the most functional part of the GW umbrella; they produce high quality material from models to campaign books that thousands of players love. Only problem is you have to buy Forge World products and hope all your friends have bought into it.

The disconnect only plays into the growing feeling for many that 40k is becoming more competitive and casual. With pick-up games and tournaments being the only way most players engage one another. That is not mentioning the many left only to build, model, and paint. While tournaments and game nights do create a community is it really the community that GW wants to only sell? Out reach with a campaign or even just supporting something to get people involved in different ways can pay dividends for the company and its image.

So how does GW bring it back?

Well GW might have a good opportunity. With the death of Ard’ Boyz and the coming of 6th ed this could a be a great and easy way to bring back a campaign and give it the time it really needs. This is wishful thinking of course, but it does hurt to have hope.