With the End Times approaching the Warhammer world, there is much debate amongst the fantasy gaming community about when or even IF Bretonnia will get a new army book.
For those who are unfamiliar, the Bretonnian Army book is now over a decade old and while is still usable is generally starting to show its age. It is becoming increasingly difficult to keep up with the inevitable power creep that Warhammer books inevitably suffer from in an effort to sell models by Games Workshop (a practice that I cannot overly fault them for although it is sometimes rather painful to watch) and more than ever it feels like we have been forgotten by the development team.
This situation is further aggravated by the seemingly never ending avalanche of Space Marine books that are constantly re-released along with a new box set and a new chapter. While Space Marines are clearly Games Workshop’s cash cow, along with others I feel that they are so busy milking this beast that they have forgotten to feed the rest of the herd. When this cow finally stops giving milk, and make no mistake about it one day it will, they will leave their shed and find the rest of the heard has long since left to pastures new or else starved to death waiting for attention – then ladies and gentlemen we will have a very real situation on our hands.
Anyway, back to the topic at hand: Bretonnia!
There are a variety of rumours flying around the internet, many little more than wish listing, about the new Bretonnia book being released at the end of 2014 (unlikely as Christmas is normally reserved for those god-awful Lord of the Rings Games that people buy, play once then try to sell for double on eBay for the next twelve months) or the start of 2015 (again, seeming unlikely as Space Marines will have gone more than two months without a release by that point and they will need to have some attention).
But WHY? Why is an essentially fully functional army, that needs only minor modifications here and there and maybe a single new units being left to collect dust when it could so easily be released and make Games Workshop a fair old amount of money.
And it comes down to one simple factor in my opinion: they are struggling to Warhammer it up!
What do I mean by that?
Well, look at any Warhammer Army and you will notice that each one has something fundamentally unique to the Warhammer world, differentiating it from the regular fantasy Orcs, Vampires and so forth. As these are unique to the Warhammer World, Games Workshop can therefore copyright it and by doing so ensure that other companies cant muscle in on their turf and steal profits/customers.
A skeleton, zombie or Orc is too generic to copyright: they exist in worlds from Tolkien to D&D to Warcraft, where as a Terrorgheist or Mangler Squig are very much Games Workshop intellectual property.
Perhaps what illustrates this best is the relatively recent release of the Empire Book. Perhaps out of the blue came the Demigryph Knights and the Luminark Kit, even though most Empire players felt that at times they didn’t really suit the army very well. This is down to, once more, intellectual copyright: a Halberdier or Handgunner is so generic that a dozen other companies out there make those models and some would even argue better than Games Workshop. This new, unique copyrighted material means that players have no choice but to buy Games Workshop models.
So, once more back to Bretonnia.
If we are being totally honest there isn’t a whole lot of Bretonnia that isn’t a bastardisation of British Arthurian legend! Games Workshop are already playing a little loose and fast with copyright law in aspects such as the Green Knight, Questing and Grail Knights etc and while I would not advise it I would argue that there would be a case to be made that GW would struggle to prove that ownership!
Now, without a way to “Warhammer” it up, Games Workshop are in the difficult (I use that word with great hesitation) as to what to do in regards to our beloved Bretonnia. Most players are older players who own their army and to produce a new book with no real new units would not bring in much money from the older player base and the newer players may be lured away with models produced by companies such as the Perry Twins or Fireforge models.
Yet I get the feeling that they have already played their trump cards with Empire in regards to the monstrous cavalry and other books with certain unique units. Bretonnia are either going to have to do with essentially recycled units from other books (replace the Luminark with a Shrine to the Lady, Demigyrph Knights with some type of generalised Monstrous Bret Cav) and a slight readjustment to the rules.
I hope that I am wrong, that GW do have a plan up their sleeves in regards to the Knightly realm of Chivalry but I do fear that any effort or ideas that could have been dedicated towards us has instead been siphoned off into other armies to cash in quickly and allow the dev teams more time to keep milking that great cow more commonly known as Space Marines!