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Author Topic: Matt Ward interview  (Read 1469 times)

Offline The Black Knight

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Matt Ward interview
« on: September 07, 2019, 11:37:46 PM »
From the same guys who talked to the Perry twins.

I know Matt Ward is far from a fan favourite, but it's better to hear things from the horses mouth eh?

https://soundcloud.com/eye-of-horus-podcast/the-elector-counts-episode-11-matt-ward

The interview starts around 1:50 - warning, a lot of foul language as one of the hosts does his best to be incredibly obnoxious (and succeeds).

A couple of interesting takeaways:

- By the time the End Times rolled out he was only responsible for the lore, not the rules writing. He participated in creating the narrative for the books together with Jeremy Vettock, Phil Kelly and someone else I didn't catch.

- Although he chooses his words carefully (and he is obviously a well-spoken man), I could sense he wasn't thrilled with the Old World getting canned. He speaks a lot about being handed a super difficult task and trying to make the most of it. Literally just "killing it and turning the lights off".

- His comments about Bretonnia and that "all they had discussed through the years was put into the Nagash book", made me realize GW had absolutely no clue what to do with them since the 6th ed book. That is way more depressing, than all the rumours about supposed development plans that got cancelled.

- He did not seem to think that there was any point of pitching a cathay or an albion army to the management and that it would be very difficult to market. I think this reflects the overall mental attitude of GW's management during the 7th - 8th ed times. Come to think of it, they weren't really taking many risks by introducing new armies or products - just adding to the existing ranges or replacing metal units with plastic. Whereas the new GW has really made a 180 and is just basically exploring every bit of old fluff/idea they can find. Which I find much better, even though most of their products aren't for me anymore.

- He did acknowledge that new army books had a lot of copy-paste fluff from previous editions, but that it was impossible to remove it as most players were pretty attached to it. It also wouldn't make sense, as this fluff was by this point the history of the world. This left very little room for pushing the narrative forward or just exploring some new ideas.

- He also said that by the time he was leaving, the writing team has actually shrunk in comparison to 6th edition times, when he joined in. Well...that explains a lot!

Anyways an interesting listen. i was wondering what you guys thought about it.
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Offline Gankom

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Re: Matt Ward interview
« Reply #1 on: September 08, 2019, 12:32:07 AM »
I think that generally Ward gets a great deal of flak from tons of things, some of which he probably doesn't deserve. After End Times people would talk to the author josh Reynolds and he was filling in the fates of characters who didn't get mentioned. From the sounds of it some of the characters got straight up forgotten. Characters like Skarsnik originally had big plans, disappeared on 'secret missions' and never showed up again. GW REALLY fumbled End Times.

Offline Rowsdower

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Re: Matt Ward interview
« Reply #2 on: September 08, 2019, 01:57:50 AM »
I can see why GW chose not to do an Albion army. They also probably didn't want to add another 'human' race when they already had so many Empire kits out at the time.

Offline The Black Knight

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Re: Matt Ward interview
« Reply #3 on: September 08, 2019, 10:04:03 PM »
Truth be told I could not work my way through the End Times books, after I've learnt what they were leading to. I might try reading Nagash again I guess.

As for Matt Ward, his name is cited as the author of the 8th ed rulebook if I remember correctly. I happen to like a lot of things about that version of the rules, so I "forgive him" for what he did with demons in 7th (maybe cause I haven't played much demons back then, heh).

Almost every GW rules writer made some mistakes in their career. Even the highly acclaimed Alessio produced the broken 6th ed skaven book.
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Offline Rowsdower

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Re: Matt Ward interview
« Reply #4 on: September 10, 2019, 03:30:30 AM »
^ Agreed. Someone I once talked to mentioned a typo in the first Imperial Guard codex about NCO's being allowed to carry Thunder hammers. Goes to show nobody is perfect

Offline Cèsar de Quart

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Re: Matt Ward interview
« Reply #5 on: September 10, 2019, 08:29:07 AM »
Honestly, Albion and Cathay could have been great armies, even with the design philosophy behind Age of Sigmar nowadays. Plenty of room for big beasts and fantasy ideas. Albion with its Gaelic aesthetics and Cathay with its Three Kingdoms look and its terracotta men monstrous unit.

Such a pity.

Offline The Black Knight

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Re: Matt Ward interview
« Reply #6 on: September 10, 2019, 10:54:31 PM »
It is a indeed a shame.

He said that he (and as one of the main lore guys I believe this was a belief shared by his colleagues) always viewed the Old World as an alternative / paralell version of late medieval Euorpe. Thus the view of the world was very "Europocentric", it was the story of Empire and Bretonnia and the other human nations of the Old World. Ind, Cathay, Nippon were the background, that hinted at how large the world was, but that didn't play a major part in the story.

Then again, Bretonnia was treated like crap for 2 editions while Tilea, Estalia and Kislev had it even worse. So not sure this makes that much sense.

I think what he meant is that there is always a need for the "unknown" in a story, for it to be exciting. The far-off nations were meant to provide this sense of mystery and also to let people have a way of filling in the blanks themselves.

I hope I am not twisting his own words too much! Perhaps you should listen to the interview yourselves  :icon_mrgreen:.
« Last Edit: September 10, 2019, 11:10:38 PM by The Black Knight »
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Offline KTG17

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Re: Matt Ward interview
« Reply #7 on: September 10, 2019, 11:08:01 PM »
As I was really into 40k prior to Ward coming on board and missed the whole boat on WFB, what exactly did Ward do to make him so controversial?

Offline Rowsdower

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Re: Matt Ward interview
« Reply #8 on: September 11, 2019, 12:05:31 AM »
As I was really into 40k prior to Ward coming on board and missed the whole boat on WFB, what exactly did Ward do to make him so controversial?
I think a lot of it had to do with a Blood Angels codex he wrote. A small group of people on the interwebs disliked it, took it to 1d4chan and tried to make him out to be histories greatest monster

Offline Warlord

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Re: Matt Ward interview
« Reply #9 on: September 11, 2019, 04:00:43 AM »
He also wrote the 8th edition fantasy rulebook, which lead to army size explosions to remain competitive. Requiring units of 50 models is expensive.
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Offline The Black Knight

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Re: Matt Ward interview
« Reply #10 on: September 11, 2019, 09:17:01 AM »
As far as I remember he wrote the 7th edition Demon book for fantasy, which was a bit overpowered and people complained a lot.

But as he says it, back in the earleir days all of the game developers were pretty much involved in everything at once. So it's pretty hard to point fingers I think.
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Offline Cèsar de Quart

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Re: Matt Ward interview
« Reply #11 on: September 11, 2019, 11:57:02 AM »
I'd buy the "the game is Eurocentric and everything else is in the background" if, when they made the Ogre Kingdoms, they didn't set it at the other goddamn side of the Darklands, or the Lizardmen in Lustria instead of the Southlands.

GW's fluff problem was always that sometimes excuses had to be contrived to allow for a High Elf vs Ogre Kingdoms or Tomb Kings battle. What I don't get is why they never expanded on the Marco Colombo expansion. It was set in freaking 1492, and it's 2522! A thousand years later! There's time to create developed colonies in Lustria, in the Southlands and in the Darklands, Imperial, Tilean, Bretonnian, Estalian, Elven (all kinds)... and that lets you justify inter-continental battles very easily.

It'd be cool if someone like Ward had said "yes, the game is Eurocentric and we only see Cathay, Ind and the Darklands through Imperial eyues... but they may not be what we've been told they are... Maybe the Darklands are harsh steppes, but populated by rich and diverse cultures. Maybe Ind is a very complex place plagued by tiger and elephant faced Beastmen, and many armed daemons of Slaanesh. But no, the Darklands are Mordor, and we're never going to develop it in any way (other than what was done in Tamurkhan, which was not bad, all things considered).

Ibn Battuta, when he travelled to Crimea, descrives "the Dark Lands" beyond the Crimean tatar khanate. His account is full of implausibilities and mysteries (like fur traders who only come out at night and have never been seen by the Tatars themselves, because they take what they want while the Tatars sleep and exchange the goods they've taken for what they believe it's worth, thus the traders never see each other), which are probably exagerations and outright commonplace tropes of Medieval travel literature (I think Herodotus reports a similar tale, but set in Lybia), but they do convey the sense that our civilized known world is a normal place, and beyond this, dragons. Umberto Eco exemplarised this very well in his own mock travel journal set in the 1190's, Baudolino.

Ward and the rest could have benefitted from a bit of what inspired the Warhammer World in the first place: real History.

Offline Rowsdower

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Re: Matt Ward interview
« Reply #12 on: September 11, 2019, 03:08:19 PM »
I think the Columbo expedition taking place in 1492 was something to do with someone at Games Workshop trying to be clever.
That being said; the internet loves a victim. I caught a documentary the other night on a local network that was about trolling. 

Offline Zygmund

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Re: Matt Ward interview
« Reply #13 on: September 23, 2019, 10:12:54 AM »
I'm really liking Cèsar de Quart's input on these discussions. And I especially like this:

Ward and the rest could have benefitted from a bit of what inspired the Warhammer World in the first place: real History.

Back in the 80's, the people who started to create WHFB and the Old World had read the classics at school and in the university. They knew the real history stuff. As they had started with historicals and continued (and still continue!) to play historical games, they had a strong connection to the real world history. And I fullheartedly agree they made very good use of it! They could even be darkly humorous in their writing, because they and their audiences had a reference point.

Nowadays AoS and all other fantasy seem to mimic each other. Whatever the most successful fantasy brand is, it is then copied elsewhere. It's becoming hard to discern which figures and factions belong to which game. Everything is the same. And everything is 'heroic', i.e. bigger, musculous and ripping you apart. As if that's heroic!  :x

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Offline Cèsar de Quart

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Re: Matt Ward interview
« Reply #14 on: September 23, 2019, 11:18:15 AM »
Back in the 80's, the people who started to create WHFB and the Old World had read the classics at school and in the university. They knew the real history stuff. As they had started with historicals and continued (and still continue!) to play historical games, they had a strong connection to the real world history.

Exactly!

There's little things that are easy when real history is your shorthand. The fact that we don't even know what languages are the people supposed to speak in the Age of Sigmar may seem small, but it is a problem. What should I write in my banners?

Offline The Black Knight

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Re: Matt Ward interview
« Reply #15 on: September 24, 2019, 09:08:30 AM »
Spot on comments guys. I've always felt that warhammer's strengh lied in its connections to the history of the real world.

You look at something and you instantly know what it is - Brettonnia? Arthurian knights. Empire? Landsknechts. Tomb kings? Egyptian undead. Lizardmen? Reptile people mixed with ancien Inkas/Aztecs and so on. Got it! Then if you went into the details everything had its own twist of course and that was what made it unique and interesting.
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Offline Rowsdower

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Re: Matt Ward interview
« Reply #16 on: September 24, 2019, 01:15:58 PM »
[puts on deer stalker and chews on pipe] I thin 99% of the time, Ward was just doing what his supervisors asked/ordered him to do. The trolls were just trying to turn him into laughing stock.
ALL these years later, all those books he wrote have been either updated or replaced with other editions and the Ward 'art' you see on certain wiki sites now comes off as very petty and juvenile.

Offline FVC

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Re: Matt Ward interview
« Reply #17 on: September 30, 2019, 03:41:41 AM »
In the old days this would be terrible necromancy, but I guess I did once roleplay a vampire...

- His comments about Bretonnia and that "all they had discussed through the years was put into the Nagash book", made me realize GW had absolutely no clue what to do with them since the 6th ed book. That is way more depressing, than all the rumours about supposed development plans that got cancelled.

Speaking from the perspective of a Bretonnia player/fan, it doesn't surprise me particularly. I suspect that Bretonnia was in the same situation as the Squats all the way back in the 90s and early 2000s - GW would keep putting them off because no one on the design team had much passion for them, or could find a good angle on the army. Eventually the idea of maintaining an army that no one's willing to write an army book for just gets silly, and they die off.

I wonder sometimes if - or how much - GW was surprised by the occasional outpouring of fondness for Bretonnia after their end, or after their implementation in Total War.

As far as the End Times specifically go, I think it's pretty evident just from reading the books that GW had no clear vision or grand plan as regards Bretonnia, and indeed basic things like what Bretonnia is or who the Lady is change from book to book. The Fall of Altdorf's portrayal of the Lady is flatly inconsistent with Archaon/Lord of the End Times', and for that matter so is Warhammer Armies: Wood Elves (8th edition)'s. GW never seem to have decided, so what Bretonnia ended up getting was extremely scattershot and inconsistent. That's not to say there weren't good moments, because they were, but they never cohered into a clear creative vision.

(That said, considering what a clear creative vision got the elves, sometimes I think that might have been a blessing...)

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- He did acknowledge that new army books had a lot of copy-paste fluff from previous editions, but that it was impossible to remove it as most players were pretty attached to it. It also wouldn't make sense, as this fluff was by this point the history of the world. This left very little room for pushing the narrative forward or just exploring some new ideas.

That's always been a difficulty, though. What's a new army book supposed to be? If you just reprint stuff (e.g. 7th to 5th), then long-time players feel ripped off. On the other hand, if all the background is new (e.g. 6th), then new players can be very disoriented, and just begging for a clear explanation of the basics. There's only so many ways to describe the history of the Empire or its various provinces.

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- He also said that by the time he was leaving, the writing team has actually shrunk in comparison to 6th edition times, when he joined in. Well...that explains a lot!

Bear in mind that 6th edition was the time when every single army book was a complete relaunch, with zero reprinted material. That would take more writers, naturally. 6th edition was also the high point of campaign writing: Dark Shadows and Storm of Chaos were both in 6th edition, and I think Nemesis Crown was in early 7th?

I think that generally Ward gets a great deal of flak from tons of things, some of which he probably doesn't deserve. After End Times people would talk to the author josh Reynolds and he was filling in the fates of characters who didn't get mentioned.

I asked Josh about that once on SB (I'm Unhappy Anchovy there): GW eventually yelled at him and got him to stop doing that, and to be fair a lot of the 'characters' people asked Josh about were just their OCs. There was a thrill in getting a licensed author to give 'official' answers - even though I'd personally argue that was a rather silly mentality and you should decide your OCs' fates for yourself.

Still, I do have quite a bit of respect for Josh for trying, and while it did get absurd with online Q&As and silly/annoying fans, I appreciate the sort of thing he did in Lord of the End Times: writing conclusions for Valten, Settra, Volker, Ulric, etc., that were either much more satisfying than the campaign book version, or simply existent at all. That he went to the effort indicates a genuine care for the setting and desire to respect it. This is especially the case for characters like Settra, where End Times: Nagash clearly foreshadowed his return, and the later campaign books forgot about him entirely.

It does show in retrospect that the End Times books themselves were not planned out consistently. I suppose the obvious example is Glottkin ending with the return of the gods of the Old World and their triumph over Nurgle, and then the next time we hear of them in the next book they've all died off-screen, with no explanation offered.

Truth be told I could not work my way through the End Times books, after I've learnt what they were leading to. I might try reading Nagash again I guess.

The hardest part is all the 'bolter porn', I think. Eventually my eyes glaze over through a lot of the battles. Still, I'd argue that, while Nagash is very depressing, Glottkin, Thanquol, and Archaon all have quite solid parts and can get the blood pumping at times. Once you know where they're all going and you're not holding out hope, you can just relax and enjoy the mighty, doomed battles before the world ends. Khaine is the only book that I think is truly irredeemably bad. All the others I can find some merit in - but for Khaine, nothing.

As I was really into 40k prior to Ward coming on board and missed the whole boat on WFB, what exactly did Ward do to make him so controversial?

Ultramarines.

(Personally I think that was rather unfair. The 'spiritual liege' line was dumb, yes, but for the most part I think the Ultramarines are fine. I think he was also responsible for significantly playing up the grimdark with Grey Knights? I myself have more of a grudge against him for the 40kification or eldarification of the elves.)

I'd buy the "the game is Eurocentric and everything else is in the background" if, when they made the Ogre Kingdoms, they didn't set it at the other goddamn side of the Darklands, or the Lizardmen in Lustria instead of the Southlands.

If you sit down and read a lot of 4th and 5th edition material, it's surprising how rich the Dark Lands are and how much is going on there. Chaos Dwarfs, Skaven, and Orcs & Goblins all had large holdings there, Dogs of War naturally had a trade route through there (and not just the one to Cathay; they explored Dragon Isles as well), and of course Lybaras, Lahmia, and Nagashizzar itself are on the Dark Lands side of the World's Edge, never mind the fortress of Vorag. Then add in that the Kislevites came from horse nomads in the Dark Lands and are occasionally suggested to have a few holdings east of the World's Edge, of course the Kurgan, and then 7th edition's eastern Ogre Kingdoms, and you have a very vibrant picture of the Dark Lands, full of potentially warring factions. There are ample opportunities for armies from outside the Dark Lands to go there: the High Elves visited it in the Chaos Dwarf army book (well, compilation) battle report as part of their navigations, Imperial or Bretonnian traders or even punitive expeditions could easily go there (cf. Robert Earl's Wild Kingdoms), dwarfs might well pop over to fight greenskins or prospect for minerals, and so on. Even Dark Elves might occasionally do business with Chaos Dwarfs or do some slave raiding, though it's more of a stretch for them.

As far as I can tell Lizardmen and Wood Elves are the only armies without some plausible reason to ever visit the Dark Lands, and frankly Wood Elves have always had this problem with everywhere.

Offline Cèsar de Quart

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Re: Matt Ward interview
« Reply #18 on: September 30, 2019, 09:50:10 AM »
I wonder sometimes if - or how much - GW was surprised by the occasional outpouring of fondness for Bretonnia after their end, or after their implementation in Total War.

Total War Warhammer's popularity always gives me the smallest glimmer of hope we'll someday see more of the Old World. Of course, the last Cities of Sigmar book and its nonchalante attitude towards squatting entire ranges of perfectly good minis ate this up rather fast.

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That's always been a difficulty, though. What's a new army book supposed to be? If you just reprint stuff (e.g. 7th to 5th), then long-time players feel ripped off. On the other hand, if all the background is new (e.g. 6th), then new players can be very disoriented, and just begging for a clear explanation of the basics. There's only so many ways to describe the history of the Empire or its various provinces.

You could use the occasion to expand upon previous lore. Vets will feel ripped if each army book contains the same lore. Newbies will be confused if the army book doesn't contain basic lore. There's a very easy solution here; write the basic lore differently, or present a different side to it.

For example, even though the first Codex: Necrons presented an impersonal, dreadful and automata approach to the Necrons, the second codex basically retconned them to Tomb Kings in space, with their own dynasties and personalities. Because the first book's lore was presented from the perspective of Imperial and Eldar records, prophecies and investigations, both books are compatible.

So, instead of having the classic "let's just wikipedia the lore and get this over with", present a condensed version (after all, the more in-depth lore has been already published) and use the extra room to develop more stuff. Other communities of Wood Elves (solving the problem of "how can I get my wood elves from Loren to other places") in other parts of the world; other Elven citadels; other times (an in-depth account of the Wars of the Three Emperors would have been a very, very welcome sight, complete with special characters and dramatic narratives).

But seriously, the first Codex Necrons was very good.

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The hardest part is all the 'bolter porn', I think. Eventually my eyes glaze over through a lot of the battles. Still, I'd argue that, while Nagash is very depressing, Glottkin, Thanquol, and Archaon all have quite solid parts and can get the blood pumping at times. Once you know where they're all going and you're not holding out hope, you can just relax and enjoy the mighty, doomed battles before the world ends. Khaine is the only book that I think is truly irredeemably bad. All the others I can find some merit in - but for Khaine, nothing.

To me, the bolter porn was unbearable. It was baffling how, for a battle game, the accounts of the battles of the End Times were completely devoid of drama or tension. Since armies went merrily up and down the map, teleported, or just flat out disappeared, there was no sense of tension in the war. Only Glottkin had some sense of real battle narrative, but even then the magic antics ruined the effort.

Armies come and go without any mention of recruitment, supplies... and I just can't for the life of me understand how the writers at GW don't see that a compelling war narrative NEEDS clear stakes and rules. A battle narration needs a clear setting, clear stakes and clear rules to follow. The joy of reading about Alexander, Napoleon, Wallenstein or Rommel is to see how they used the setting to rig the game in their favour, how they changed the rules in ways that are relatable. The Storm of Chaos understood this (at first...). The End Times is just a mess.

But I did like Khaine more, because it was more character driven. Even though Malekith's character made no sense.


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If you sit down and read a lot of 4th and 5th edition material, it's surprising how rich the Dark Lands are and how much is going on there. Chaos Dwarfs, Skaven, and Orcs & Goblins all had large holdings there, Dogs of War naturally had a trade route through there (and not just the one to Cathay; they explored Dragon Isles as well), and of course Lybaras, Lahmia, and Nagashizzar itself are on the Dark Lands side of the World's Edge, never mind the fortress of Vorag. Then add in that the Kislevites came from horse nomads in the Dark Lands and are occasionally suggested to have a few holdings east of the World's Edge, of course the Kurgan, and then 7th edition's eastern Ogre Kingdoms, and you have a very vibrant picture of the Dark Lands, full of potentially warring factions. There are ample opportunities for armies from outside the Dark Lands to go there: the High Elves visited it in the Chaos Dwarf army book (well, compilation) battle report as part of their navigations, Imperial or Bretonnian traders or even punitive expeditions could easily go there (cf. Robert Earl's Wild Kingdoms), dwarfs might well pop over to fight greenskins or prospect for minerals, and so on. Even Dark Elves might occasionally do business with Chaos Dwarfs or do some slave raiding, though it's more of a stretch for them.

As far as I can tell Lizardmen and Wood Elves are the only armies without some plausible reason to ever visit the Dark Lands, and frankly Wood Elves have always had this problem with everywhere.

There were colonies of slann-less savage Lizardmen in the Dragon Isles. But to say that the Darklands were richly developed because they were sometimes mentioned during a 30 year timespan is a bit of a stretch, in my opinion. Also, GW never seemed to decide if they wanted the Darklands to be Mordor or the Altaic Steppe... so you had Ropsmenn and Ungols and Gospodar running around with the Chaos Dwarves hell-fueled industrial nightmare simultaneously ruling over the land...

Offline FVC

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Re: Matt Ward interview
« Reply #19 on: September 30, 2019, 10:48:24 AM »
You could use the occasion to expand upon previous lore. Vets will feel ripped if each army book contains the same lore. Newbies will be confused if the army book doesn't contain basic lore. There's a very easy solution here; write the basic lore differently, or present a different side to it.

There are only so many ways to write an introduction to the same content, surely?

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For example, even though the first Codex: Necrons presented an impersonal, dreadful and automata approach to the Necrons, the second codex basically retconned them to Tomb Kings in space, with their own dynasties and personalities. Because the first book's lore was presented from the perspective of Imperial and Eldar records, prophecies and investigations, both books are compatible.

Um, well, that's just false. Codex: Necrons (2002) is not written from the perspective of Imperial or Eldar records. It's presented in third-person-omniscient mode, just like any other codex. The next codex genuinely had to ignore the 2002 version: it's a retcon-and-replace job, not building on something that existed before.

In this particular case I approve of it, because while I don't particularly like Tomb-Kings-in-Space, I like them more than Oldcrons. I really disliked that codex; I feel it had some really egregiously dumb bits, it wasn't checked for consistency with, well, anything, and it had a terrible habit of trying to crowbar the Necrons into things that they should have nothing to do with. The newer version at least provides more room for player creativity. But 40k is quite a diversion, and at any rate I haven't looked at anything 40k-related for years.

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So, instead of having the classic "let's just wikipedia the lore and get this over with", present a condensed version (after all, the more in-depth lore has been already published) and use the extra room to develop more stuff. Other communities of Wood Elves (solving the problem of "how can I get my wood elves from Loren to other places") in other parts of the world; other Elven citadels; other times (an in-depth account of the Wars of the Three Emperors would have been a very, very welcome sight, complete with special characters and dramatic narratives).

What would that look like in practice? The few times I can think of where something like that has been tried, it wasn't terribly popular? Sticking with 40k, consider the shift from Codex: Chaos Space Marines (2002) to Codex: Chaos Space Marines (2007). The 2002 codex is fairly traditional, describing all nine Traitor Legions in significant detail and giving special rules for each one. The 2007 codex barely contains the Traitor Legions at all, and instead focuses almost entirely on renegades in the wider galaxy, when Loyalist Marines go rogue. That seems like a pretty good example of a choose to not regurgitate the same old background (I'm sorry, I hate the word 'lore'), and instead focus on something new and different.

My recollection, though, is that fans hated that. The Traitor Legions already had established fandoms, and reducing their prominence made plenty of fans angry. They wanted more content - and rules - for the factions they already cared about and had been playing for years. How would your approach avoid that problem?

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But seriously, the first Codex Necrons was very good.

*shrug* To each his own.

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Armies come and go without any mention of recruitment, supplies... and I just can't for the life of me understand how the writers at GW don't see that a compelling war narrative NEEDS clear stakes and rules. A battle narration needs a clear setting, clear stakes and clear rules to follow. The joy of reading about Alexander, Napoleon, Wallenstein or Rommel is to see how they used the setting to rig the game in their favour, how they changed the rules in ways that are relatable. The Storm of Chaos understood this (at first...). The End Times is just a mess.

Have you read The Empire at War? One thing it did that the End Times books might have benefitted from, in my view, was contain fairly detailed maps.

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But I did like Khaine more, because it was more character driven. Even though Malekith's character made no sense.

I stand by the belief that shortly before Khaine began the skaven invaded and conquered Ulthuan and Naggaroth, and all the 'elves' you see in that book are in fact skaven wearing unconvincing rubber elf suits. :P

Characterisation for me isn't any good if it violates the established identity of both the characters in question and the entire factions they represent. For me the High Elves were probably one of the worst-treated races in the entire End Times: sure, they got a lot more content than, say, the dwarfs, but the dwarf content at least treated them well and saw them dying on their feet. The High Elf content seemed to betray everything about the High Elves to me. Bretonnia didn't do well in the End Times either, but frankly I think we got off lightly compared to the Asur. (And yes, this is even counting that nonsense about Lileath.)

Ironically, the only other army to spring to mind as being treated that badly is the Warriors of Chaos, who spend most of the End Times being distant and ineffective, and finally 'winning' only by arbitrary fiat. Even, say, the greenskins or ogres, who to all intents and purposes just weren't in the End Times, managed better than that.

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There were colonies of slann-less savage Lizardmen in the Dragon Isles. But to say that the Darklands were richly developed because they were sometimes mentioned during a 30 year timespan is a bit of a stretch, in my opinion.

I didn't say they were richly developed, as such. I said that the Dark Lands are quite rich. That is, I think the Dark Lands as an area of the world are implied to have enough interesting stuff going on there that you could explore them, set games there, and have some quite rich conflicts going on. I agree that not enough material was published in the Dark Lands to flesh them out beyond that.

Offline Cèsar de Quart

  • Posts: 80
Re: Matt Ward interview
« Reply #20 on: October 01, 2019, 08:57:20 AM »
Um, well, that's just false. Codex: Necrons (2002) is not written from the perspective of Imperial or Eldar records. It's presented in third-person-omniscient mode, just like any other codex. The next codex genuinely had to ignore the 2002 version: it's a retcon-and-replace job, not building on something that existed before.

Alright, there are some wikipedia bits, but there was also much which is presented through third party sources. Inquisitorial reports, an Eldar prophecy, several reports and many short stories which are not obviously connected (except for, obviously, the fact that they must all be related to the Necrons), the puzzle-like nature of those pieces of lore... To me, that was ten times more atmospheric and engaging than any other third-person omniscient explanation on the character of the Necrons.

I understand that you'd like to customise and give character to your armies, and the Space Tomb Kings do that a little, but I preferred the Oldcrons eldtrich menace. And I started a Necron army with that codex.

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My recollection, though, is that fans hated that. The Traitor Legions already had established fandoms, and reducing their prominence made plenty of fans angry. They wanted more content - and rules - for the factions they already cared about and had been playing for years. How would your approach avoid that problem?[/ quote]

I can't quite get it, the Traitor Legions had a lot of prominence, give the spotlight to the other guys, what's the problem? But, honestly, I don't care if something is popular, as long as it's good.

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*shrug* To each his own.

Sure

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I stand by the belief that shortly before Khaine began the skaven invaded and conquered Ulthuan and Naggaroth, and all the 'elves' you see in that book are in fact skaven wearing unconvincing rubber elf suits. :P

Don't get me wrong, aside from a couple of concepts, ideas and moments, I regard the End Times as a huge gaff and a very, very misguided narrative. But the idea that Tyrion gave in to Aenarion's Curse, that Malekith may have been wronged (but not his change of character), that the Elven gods are dying or acting upon the world as a last resort against Chaos, the death of Marienburg or the rebirth of Nagash, Vlad being made Elector again... but the overall story was bad, the themes were incoherent... ugh.

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Ironically, the only other army to spring to mind as being treated that badly is the Warriors of Chaos, who spend most of the End Times being distant and ineffective, and finally 'winning' only by arbitrary fiat. Even, say, the greenskins or ogres, who to all intents and purposes just weren't in the End Times, managed better than that.

You know, I hadn't thought about that. You're completely right.

« Last Edit: October 02, 2019, 10:11:13 AM by Cèsar de Quart »

Offline Rowsdower

  • Posts: 1016
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Re: Matt Ward interview
« Reply #21 on: October 02, 2019, 03:37:16 AM »
I just had a quick look through the 1999 GW catalog [Has it really been 20 years since the Y2k scare] and i noticed that in it; the Necrons get barely a single page to their meager range while most of the other armies received 2-4.
Correct me if I'm wrong, Necron players but didnt the Necrons and Sisters of Battle debut at the same time. And both of which received a limited range at first. The Necrons received a fairly well received update in 2002 with a new army book and a handful of new models while the S.O.B only received a handful of things.


Offline FVC

  • Posts: 1037
Re: Matt Ward interview
« Reply #22 on: October 02, 2019, 06:28:57 AM »
Alright, there are some wikipedia bits, but there was also much which is presented through third party sources. Inquisitorial reports, an Eldar prophecy, several reports and many short stories which are not obviously connected (except for, obviously, the fact that they must all be related to the Necrons), the puzzle-like nature of those pieces of lore... To me, that was ten times more atmospheric and engaging than any other third-person omniscient explanation on the character of the Necrons.

Are IC sections not present in newer codices?

That said, I wasn't a fan of it because I thought it went too far in trying to portray Necrons as spooky, invincible, ancient, and behind pretty much everything. It felt it was trying to crowbar the Necrons in as the secret cause of everything, to the extent that the eldar War in Heaven is now really about the C'tan (whereas before it was about Khaine's war with Vaul, and the Yngir were minor players at best), the Necrons interfered in human evolution (despite doing this over sixty million years ago when the closest extant relatives of humans were small rodents), and the Nightbringer is apparently so scary that he inspired the Grim Reaper.

If it were me I'd have wanted to tone the Necrons down a lot. They are ancient and mysterious raiders, certainly, but they don't need to be this invincible force about to conquer the universe, and they don't need to be clumsily inserted into every other bit of backstory.

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I can't quite get it, the Traitor Legions had a lot of prominence, give the spotlight to the other guys, what's the problem? But, honestly, I don't care if something is popular, as long as it's good.

Well, imagine the next Empire army book was almost entirely about the Empire colonies in the New World, and only gave the briefest of nods to the Empire proper. I think people might justifiably be unhappy with that. It's not that it wouldn't be great to get more material on the New World - but the heart of the faction requires some focus.

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Don't get me wrong, aside from a couple of concepts, ideas and moments, I regard the End Times as a huge gaff and a very, very misguided narrative. But the idea that Tyrion gave in to Aenarion's Curse, that Malekith may have been wronged (but not his change of character), that the Elven gods are dying or acting upon the world as a last resort against Chaos, the death of Marienburg or the rebirth of Nagash, Vlad being made Elector again... but the overall story was bad, the themes were incoherent... ugh.

There is good stuff in the End Times, though to me very little of it has to do with elves. Also, Vlad was never an elector. Sylvania does not have an electoral vote.

I liked a number of things in the novels - Rise of the Horned Rat was particularly good in the way it handled both Skarsnik and Queek, and I liked Belegar's death and Thorgrim's battle against Queek; and a few passages in Lord of the End Times really stay with me - and I think there are plenty of good concepts in the sourcebooks. Balthasar Gelt's fall and redemption is great. Settra was handled magnificently: he was a very generic, forgettable special character beforehand, but Nagash and Lord of the End Times practically singlehandedly made him incredibly beloved, to the surprise of even the authors. For all the problems to do with Bretonnia, I'm a big fan of Jerrod, I liked our implied ending, and even Louen had a couple of moments. (Shame that everything to do with the Lady was so bad.) Thanquol had some excellent material: blowing up the moon is exactly the sort of ridiculous world-ending scheme I would expect the skaven to try, and the End Times was exactly the right time for that sort of no-holds-barred madness.

That said, for the most part for me it was good moments in what was overall a poorly-conceived event. I appreciate the idea of wanting to give Warhammer Fantasy this giant, glorious send-off of an event. Frankly given that GW was going to stop publishing Warhammer Fantasy, I'm a bit surprised and glad that they decided to do this year-and-a-half long event lavishly saying farewell. If it were me, though, I might have focused more on making the End Times a genuine love-letter to the entire setting and its fans, and so I'd have written some of it differently. Factions like the Vampire Counts, skaven, or lizardmen got a great, positive treatment - imagine if it was like that for everyone?

I just had a quick look through the 1999 GW catalog [Has it really been 20 years since the Y2k scare] and i noticed that in it; the Necrons get barely a single page to their meager range while most of the other armies received 2-4.
Correct me if I'm wrong, Necron players but didnt the Necrons and Sisters of Battle debut at the same time. And both of which received a limited range at first. The Necrons received a fairly well received update in 2002 with a new army book and a handful of new models while the S.O.B only received a handful of things.

The Necrons were introduced in an article in WD217 called 'Necron Raiders', in January 1998. (There are a few odd mentions of 'the quiescent perils of the C'tan beyond the Gates of Varl' in earlier material, and the C'tan phase sword, but at that point 'C'tan' was just a meaningless name.) That article contained the first ever rules for the Necrons and debuted alongside their earliest models.

The Sisters of Battle had their first codex in Codex: Sisters of Battle (1997). They did, however, have rules and stat-blocks in Codex: Imperialis (1993). I can't off the top of my head go back any further than that - I'm not presently able to go digging through older Rogue Trader material. That said, I would not be surprised if they were at least mentioned earlier than that. Still, this does mean that the Sisters had rules and were technically playable at least five years earlier than the Necrons. (I don't think they had models in 1993, but I could be wrong... Also, to be fair, what Imperialis has is more like a single stat-block that might be useful for an allied unit or for incorporating them into scenarios, rather than anything you could collect as an army.)

Anyway, speaking of Necrons, I'd emphasise that the 1998 White Dwarf treatment of them was extremely sparse. There was no real Necron background then. The 1998 version makes no connection to the C'tan at all. What it tells you is that 1) the Necrontyr were an ancient civilisation that went extinct over sixty million years ago, for unknown reasons, 2) a mysterious attack on a hermitage by machines marked with Necrontyr glyphs, has brought them to the attention of the Imperium, 3) these machines are efficient raiders and appear to be designed to strike terror into their foes, but who they are, where they came from, and what they could possibly want remain mysteries.

That was it. That was all the background there was for them.

As such, Codex: Necrons (2002) had to create the Necrons practically from whole cloth. To all intents and purposes I take 2002 as being the Necrons' real debut, because there's just no content in 1998 beyond "there are these robots, they look like The Terminator, they raid things and no one knows where they come from".

Offline Cèsar de Quart

  • Posts: 80
Re: Matt Ward interview
« Reply #23 on: October 02, 2019, 10:21:00 AM »
That said, I wasn't a fan of it because I thought it went too far in trying to portray Necrons as spooky, invincible, ancient, and behind pretty much everything. It felt it was trying to crowbar the Necrons in as the secret cause of everything, to the extent that the eldar War in Heaven is now really about the C'tan (whereas before it was about Khaine's war with Vaul, and the Yngir were minor players at best), the Necrons interfered in human evolution (despite doing this over sixty million years ago when the closest extant relatives of humans were small rodents), and the Nightbringer is apparently so scary that he inspired the Grim Reaper.

I liked precisely those elements of cosmic horror. Mind you, Necrons was my first 40k codex. I'm one of those people who came from WHFB and whose first forays into 40k came relatively late, so I had no preconceptions about what Necrons were or weren't supposed to be.

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Well, imagine the next Empire army book was almost entirely about the Empire colonies in the New World, and only gave the briefest of nods to the Empire proper. I think people might justifiably be unhappy with that. It's not that it wouldn't be great to get more material on the New World - but the heart of the faction requires some focus.

I'd be perfectly happy, I've got the older codices for more general information. The Empire won't go away just because the next army book is about Port Reaver or Sudenburg or whatnot.

As for the End Times, I only ever read the campaign books and the lore that came within them, generally contradictory and written with inconsistent quality. I've tried reading the novels but I only ever found them in Spanish, and our fantasy translators are... questionable. I shudder at how bad the translation of the Expanse series is. Maybe I'll pick them up someday in English if I find them at a reasonable price.


Offline FVC

  • Posts: 1037
Re: Matt Ward interview
« Reply #24 on: October 02, 2019, 01:43:19 PM »
I liked precisely those elements of cosmic horror. Mind you, Necrons was my first 40k codex. I'm one of those people who came from WHFB and whose first forays into 40k came relatively late, so I had no preconceptions about what Necrons were or weren't supposed to be.

*shrug* To me the whole thing came off as trite and monotonous, not horrifying.

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I'd be perfectly happy, I've got the older codices for more general information. The Empire won't go away just because the next army book is about Port Reaver or Sudenburg or whatnot.

In that case I suggest that you are in a distinct minority.