Recently I wrote a rant on Deep Space about people who bitch about Games Workshop all the time. I decided to write this corollary to it in my own blog where I thank GW for some things which really help me personally as a player and make the game more satisfying. This article is very much from the Eldar perspective, and there are two reasons for that: 1) I'm an Eldar player, so it's what I've been following most closely, and 2) If I tried to cover all the Xenos-related material, I'd be here all night.
Now, I'm no fanboy. Ask any redshirt I've spoken with; I'm not the "Thank you, Sir. May I have another?" type. I have had some frustration with GW's Marine-Centrism which has been followed to the excusion and detriment of other armies. Just to recap my perspective on the point; I don't resent so much effort being put into Space Marines. I would just like to see some of that high-powered creativity and skill used for some of the less tended-to armies such as Tau, Orks, Eldar and Dark Eldar. Naturally, I have a personal stake in the Eldar content, but I'm aware that there are several armies which are in need of attention. Before I dig in, let me just say that what they're doing with the Tau in particular right now is really exciting. Maybe I'll write that up another time, though.
Lately things are starting to change, and I couldn't be happier. I picked up this month's White Dwarf and saw a lot of emphasis on Xenos armies in the "Enemies of the Imperium" article. There are some great items in there for Xenos players (OTHER than Tyranids, which is nice), including the article I just mentioned as well as a scenery how-to for Xenos defense structures (more Eldar!). Additionally, some interesting Kill Team updates which shine light on all armies equally (not just Imperial or Xenos, but a nice spread of both), and - surprisingly - a very comprehensive tactica for Dark Eldar; just when you think the GW folks are ready to make "Dark Eldar? Who Are They?" into their company line, this shows up. There's also an announcement of a US campaign which pits the newly refreshed Black Templar chapter against Xenos, featuring all the lesser-seen armies (save Dark Eldar) quite prominently in the two-page spread. Lastly, the Canadian supplement has an absolutely kick-ass article about converting Alaitoc using the new Wood Elf models as conversion resources. A quick review has me raising both eyebrows and confirming that it's actually really damn good. Not earth-shaking, but I got some great ideas and inspiration from it, and that's all you can ask from any article of that sort.
White Dwarf is, to some extent, a barometer for where Games Workshop is headed and what they think is important. This has been abundantly obvious, especially over the last few years. I've found that there wasn't much in WD for me as a Xenos player for the last 18 months, so being able to really sit back and pour over an issue is a very welcome and refreshing thing.
Rumors abound about new models for Eldar and, frankly, once you start getting reports of people having laid eyes on sprues coming from different sources, you start to think that the rumors at least approximate the not-so-future plans of GW if they don't actually frame those plans perfectly (which they rarely do). So far I have received reports of the following (each having been reported by at least three independent sources, but remember these are still rumors): New War Walkers, Rangers, Path Finders, Heavy Support Platforms, all in plastic, to be released mid-2006. Additionally, I have heard reports of plans for a new Wraithlord being on paper, but unlike the previously reported items I haven't heard anyone tell me they've actually seen the sprues, so who knows what the plan is there. What's more, new models aren't released like this without a new codex to back them up. Why? Because a lot of those models need new rules. Honestly... how many people are buying and using War Walkers now (I mean other than me, because I'm kind of stupid that way)? If GW is releasing War Walkers (the one model I have heard the most chatter about), then they want that to make sure they're bought. What's more, GW always accompanies new codices with new models. If, therefore, they release five Eldar models in 2006 but aren't releasing the codex till, say, 2007... are they then going to release five additional models at that point? I'm rather certain we're going to see a lot of new models (I'm predicting six to seven new models because I expect an Autarch and Bonesinger) and a new codex next year.
What I'm saying isn't so much "OMG I KNOW WHAT'S GOING TO HAPPEN", because I don't. The rumors I hear are just rumors (or are, at least, uncomfirmed and therefore subject to change). What I do glean from the stuff I'm hearing and seeing is that GW is now taking a slight breather from Space Marine-related releases to bring the Xenos forward a little and give them some attention. I don't know what attention that's going to be, what the measure of it is or exactly when it'll happen... but I am absolutely clear that GW is now putting some serious thought into armies other than Marines and Tyranids, and that makes me feel quite grateful because, if any of these rumors are to be believed and if their work on the Xenos models and codices echoes the quality of the Space Marines, Witch Hunter and Tyranid releases then it seems like it will have been worth the wait.