For the Emperor!
True & Honest Fan
Tabletop Gaming: What is it?Tabletop gaming broadly refers to boardgames, role playing games, and miniature wargaming. There are forums, subreddits, and boards dedicated to tabletop or traditional gaming and even to specific games, factions, or strategies. On 4chan, the primary board for discussing traditional or tabletop gaming is /tg/ which has its own wiki called 1d4chan. Depending on the type of game, the amount of time, effort, and money that is required to get into the hobby can vary greatly. Board games such as Risk, Settlers of Catan, or Monopoly will have more mainstream recognition and casual fanbase but will still have some interesting and diehard fans. Generally, the more time, money, and complexity is involved, the fanbase will be more niche, dedicated, and autistic. Inevitably, when you have so many autists in one place, it devolves into drama, lulz, and sperging. We've recently had a lot of drama and I believe there will be more to be had.
|George Leopold von Reisswitz tried to make a more realistic wargame in response to critisim of the unrealistic nature of wargaming|
|Georg Heinrich Rudolf Johann von Reisswitz perfects his father's game|
|Wilhelm Jacob Meckel complains the game is too complicated and slow. American version is archived here.|
|HG Wells published Little Wars|
|Shambattle: How to Play with Toy Soldiers by Harry G. Dowdall and Joseph H. Glason (first wargame rules published in the US)|
|The Hobbit is Published|
|Jack Scruby creates 52 mm miniatures|
|Fellowship of the Ring is published|
|Jack Scruby organizes a wargaming convention in the US|
|Jack Scruby introduces the concept of points for units and wargear.|
|Jack Scruby complains about the Vietnam war making miniatures more expensive.|
|The International Federation of Wargaming is founded by Gygax|
|Lake Geneva Wargames Convention is hosted by Gygax|
|Chainmail is created by Gygax and Perren|
|Don't Give Up the Ship! Is created by Dave Arneson and Gary Gygax|
|D&D is first published in three pamphlets|
|Games Workshop is founded; Grewhawk & Blakmoor supplements for D&D are released|
|Basic & Advanced D&D as well as a monster manual are released; Tolkien estate sent cease and desist|
|First Games Workshop store is founded|
|James D Egbert an heroed; D&D was blamed, consequently sales quadrupled due to the Streissand's Effect|
|GW (Citadel) released first miniatures for D&D and other wargames|
|D&D removed references to Cthulu and Melnibonéan in part out of fear from fundies. This set a precedent for how TSR, WotC, and Paizo would handle public outrage.|
|Patricia Pulling founded BADD to protect the children from D&D, satanism, rape, suicide, and violence.|
|1st Edition of Warhammer Fantasy is published.|
|60 Minutes did a bit on how D&D made kids suicidal; sales of the game increased.|
|GW releases Sci-Fi miniatures and then Rogue Trader|
|The autist Chris Pritchard murdered his step-father Leith Von Stein for his fortune, it's blamed on D&D because he made a map based on his house.|
|White Wolf founded; Vampire Masquerade is released, they would actually compete with TSR|
|Black Library is founded; Wizards of the Coast purchased TSR|
|3rd edition of 40k was released, it differed significantly from 2nd edition and Rogue Trader and would make Neckbeard boomers mad for 10+ years.|
|3rd edition D&D was released, it dropped THAC0 and made some significant changes.|
|GW picks up LotR rights|
|Warmachine is released; D&D revised 3rd edition comes out, it’s referred to as 3.5. It’s one of the most popular editions of D&D. Due to the open gaming license, a flood of 3rd party materials are released.|
|Dawn of War, a 40k RTS is released|
|Infinity is released|
|GW Shuts Down its Forums; White Wolf is purchased by CCP Games|
|GW changed their paint system|
|D&D 5th edition is released|
|Age of Sigmar is released; GamerGate takes off; White Wolf sells ip to Paradox Interactive, their executive continues to embarrass them.|
|GW re-established their online presence|
|Pre-Alpha Vampire Masquerade fails to impress; 8th edition of 40k is released, it was the biggest change since 3rd.|
|White Wolf releases a splatbook that included a campaign hook that involved the mass murder of homosexuals in Chechnya. It went over well with Twitter and everyone else. The larpers were fired and White Wolf effectively ceased to exist except to hold IP.|
Major Games and Fanbases: Powder Kegs of AutismThere are too many games and fanbases to cover concisely, but there are two companies that standout above the rest and a few offshoots from those companies that are worth mentioning. They are Games Workshop -sometimes called Warhammer- and Wizards of the Coast. Consequently, they are the two biggest magnets for controversy, skub, drama, and lulz.
Wizards of the Coast owns Dungeons and Dragons as well as Magic the Gathering. Even if you never played either game, if you know a neckbeard you likely have heard of either product, both of which have a large and dedicated fanbases.
Magic the Gathering is a trading card game. The cards are purchased in packs, decks, or larger sets. It’s the most popular card game out there. Yugioh took inspiration from the game and it also paved the way for Pokemon and countless of other trading card games or tcgs. There are dedicated shops, and they are almost always sold at comic book shops. It has a lot of IP attached to it, but since I don’t play the game, it’s not something I’m as familiar with.
Dungeons and Dragons is the other major game owned by Wizards of the Coast. D&D is generally cheaper than MTG or Warhammer. A player only needs the players handbook, dice, and their own miniature although even the miniature is optional. It can be more expensive for the narrator of the campaign, called the Dungeon Master or DM. The DM will generally be more experienced and will have purchased multiple books, miniatures, and possibly terrain. They basically plan the story, play the non-player characters, and enforce the rules. The DM can run a campaign in a pre-established setting, of which D&D has several. Often, they will make their own world loosely based on D&D lore. Technically nothing is required to play since it’s very easy to pirate the books. D&D tends to attract the most lolcows because it has the most recognition, is the cheapest to get into, and the easiest to fake.
There is some crossover between D&D and MTG since Wizards owns both IPs. Occasionally, WotC will release D&D books based on IP or settings from MTG such as with Theros. It’s also not uncommon for a Warhammer player to also play D&D but often MTG and Warhammer are exclusive. The reason for this is that both games can get very pricey and are time consuming, so often players focus on one or the other even if they can afford both. However, a few are able to manage it. They are, however, both a part of the Comic and/or Game shop ecosystem, so what affects one can impact the other. There are dedicated stores for roleplaying games, Warhammer, and Magic the Gathering but very frequently shops will carry products for all three. This especially occurs with shops that once specialized in comic books, since due to the decline of comic sales they’ll sell whatever they can to keep the store running, so they may also sell Funko Pops, shirts, miniatures, paints, cards, etc. Consequently, they are autism magnets and one such example in Christory is The Game Place.
Games Workshop is the other major player, but they fill a different niche. Like Wizards of the Coast, they have some trading card and roleplaying games, but their bread and butter are their tabletop wargames. Like WotC they also have several significant ips which they will license for video games and other products. Their largest intellectual properties are Warhammer 40,000, Age of Sigmar, and Warhammer Fantasy which all have various video game spin offs, merchandise, and smaller board games. They also sell Lord of the Rings and Hobbit miniatures. Most of their miniatures are what is called ‘heroic scale’ which is basically 28 mm but with exaggerated limbs and heads but recently they have increased in size. In order to play the game, you must not only have copies of the rules, but also miniatures, paint, and time to build and paint the miniatures. Consequently, the tabletop games are more niche. However, the tabletop game is not the only part of the Warhammer fandom as they have a decent number of fans that just buys the books, video games, etc.
Funny enough, GW has ties with Dungeons and Dragons. It was founded in 1975 and initially just sold wooden boards for games like Chess, Go, Backgammon, etc. They eventually landed a license to distribute D&D in Europe. and begun to sell their own miniatures that were meant to be played in games of D&D. Overtime they decided to make their own rules to support and sell their own miniatures. They would also distribute their own magazine and run their own events and conventions.
Stores that specialize in one of those games are generally found in large urban areas, so they are more likely to have a liberal bent. The other type of store is what I like to refer to as a 'mixed comic store.' Essentially, it was once a store that focused on comics but as comic sales dropped they began to sell MTG, Warhammer, and anything else to keep themselves afloat. The mixed comic store is more variable in the political leaning of its fans and will depend largely on its location, so such a store in a small town will likely be conservative, while a store in a suburban area will be more mixed. However, in small towns or places with less stores, the fans are more likely be aware of the goings and happenings of other hobbies because if their store suffers too much financially, they may lose one of the few places they can socialize with other fans. This was the motivation of some tabletop gamers to follow ComicsGate and it’s a fear that some YouTubers like to play on – like Jeremy of Unsleeved Media.
What makes the current situation volatile is that despite their similarities, the various hobbies in Tabletop gaming are more politically diverse than they’d like to admit: MTG, D&D, and Warhammer all have fans that are often very opinionated but in very different political camps. It may change from region to region but there is without a doubt a significant number of unironic communists, fascists, ancaps, even monarchists, and everything in between. The strong and strange opinions can of course be attributed to autism. If you’ve been in or around the hobby scene, you’ll have run into a fair number of these people with interesting opinions. This is especially the case with Warhammer which I suspect is due to its grim dark tone and the fact that many of the factions are authoritarian, so it’s more likely to draw edgelords a la ADF – who thankfully hasn’t discovered the universe yet. In D&D some left wing fans have always been vociferous on their opinions, as seen on rpg.net, and a fair number of left- or right-wing anarchists are attracted to the hobby. I suspect part of the reason for this is the low cost of entry. Warhammer has not only a financial wall of entry, but it also requires time and talent to build, then paint the miniatures, and afterwards know to utilize them in a game. In this way it gatekeeps some of the normies but at the same time those who are involved are generally more autistic than the average nerd. In contrast, D&D is a lot more susceptible to infiltration by left or right wing partisans.' This is because it's a lot cheaper to get into and has a lot lower barrier of entry: If someone pirates the books, borrows dice and miniatures, they don’t have to spend a dime. There are also plenty of communities online they can participate in, livestreams they can watch, and references they can get without ever sitting down to play a session. More importantly, whether they’re left or right wing, anarchists or anarchist adjacent types, are more likely to pirate pdfs, print their miniatures, use third-party merchandise, and tend to be the loudest to voice their displeasure. This inevitable results in a lot of drama.
Both fandoms have been prone to outbursts in the past, and I can see a new one occurring soon. There have been recent controversies with both companies, so it’s quite possible that another controversy could trigger another phase of the Culture Wars. It could also be a slow burn with drama occurring steadily over time with no clear beginning or end.
D&D has always been spergy and a bit of a lolcow. In the earlier years, it struggled with the concept of copyright and thus ended up being sued by the right holders of Tolkien’s and Lovecraft’s works. Thus, they had to use the term ‘halfling’ instead of hobbit, treant instead of ent, etc.
More recently they have been sued by the creators of Dragonlance for reneging their decision to publish one last trilogy. Dragonlance isn’t my favorite series but the speculation is that woke employees at WotC weren’t fond of the setting and wanted it axed. It has recently been dismissed.
Satanic PanicWhen D&D was first released, there was backlash from religious American conservatives. Some believed that it was introducing people to magic, satanism, and debauchery. To be fair a lot of RPG fans are in fact degenerates, haha, but the autism was very lulzy. D&D caught headlines when in 1982 a young man named Irvin Pulling an heroed. Whether it was because of grief, the inability to accept responsibility, religious fanaticism, autism, or a mixture of those causes, his mother Patricia decided that he was a victim of cultists. Thinking of the children she formed BADD or Bothered About Dungeons and Dragons. She tried to bring about awareness, prevent kids from having fun, and filed several lolsuits against D&D and her son’s principal. This is despite the fact that Gary Gygax was a Christian himself. There were a few consequences of this in the US, first was that it helped forge an identity amongst RPGrs. second, it made them more likely to be hostile to conservatism and Christianity; third, it actually drew neo-pagans (basically people akin to Styxenhammer) to the hobby. Some Christians still a-log it but they're a very very small minority now.
Although it peaked in the 80s, some boomers couldn’t help but boomer and would whine about it decades later as outlined in the links below. The following was written by a pastor who harped on D&D, never let it go, and is in fact still alive and still very much a boomer. Some of his stuff is still mocked in memes today. It can also be blamed for the rise of fedora tippers, who ironically became just as annoying as the fundies they once stood up to.
He must’ve been scarred by some murder hobos lol.
BWHAHAHAHAHA. It’s this line of thought which led to this meme:
This is why session 0 is important. To establish what is and isn't ok with everyone lol.
You could still find this folks in the 90s and even in the 00's, but they're becoming increasingly rarer.
TSR set a precedent which would later be followed by WotC and Paizo: Drop potentially offensive materials from the book. It’s true that Lovecraft’s ip wasn’t public domain and had to be dropped but they had received permission to include deities inspired by Moorcock’s Elric series. They dropped it in large part out of fear of the Fundie mob. Despite these attempts at appeasement, fundies still weren’t happy nor became customers.
GW Past Errors, IP, Lolsuits, and Turn AroundGW made several strategic mistakes which eventually culminated in the sacking of the CEO and a complete 180 as well as one of the biggest shitstorms online. Prior to the change at CEO GW was a lolcow company and on a steep decline. Many still state this even when GW stocks have generally gone up.
The DeclineMuch of the previous decline was the fault of leadership who minimized the importance of having an online presence, did not collect data on what fans wanted or even had focus groups, and in general took their fans for granted, assuming the gravy train would never stop flowing. These assumptions would result in GW sunsetting a popular IP and filling a few lolsuits that angered fans. This eventually resulted in a very brief fan revolt that successfully changed the direction of the company.
What triggered this revolt was a string of poor decisions the most notable of which was their sunsetting of Warhammer fantasy. Warhammer Fantasy was stuck in a negative downward spiral. It had begun to suffer in sales for several reasons, including rules bloat, an increase in competition from other gaming companies, a lack of investment by Games Workshop in favor of Warhammer 40,000 and specifically Space Marines. As sales decreased, the cycle would continue with Warhammer Fantasy getting less and less support, resulting in fewer sales, resulting in less support, until GW decided to scrap it altogether. This was in part because Games Workshop is a publicly traded company, so it is ultimately at the mercy of its shareholders and the CEO was known for trying to BS numbers for the shareholders. However, he couldn’t keep sweeping problems under the rug forever.
The other driver for Games Workshop decision to sunset Warhammer Fantasy was ip protection; Warhammer Fantasy like many fantasies was inspired by Tolkien, but it was darker and edgier. (Funny enough to this day they still sell Lord of the Rings miniatures). Although there are high fantasy elements and it could appear as high fantasy to outsiders, within the universe entire factions were completely unknown to the average citizen, just knowing about the Skaven or Chaos could result in one being killed by the inquisition. However, due to the generic fantasy elements of the universe it was easier for other companies to sell cheaper miniatures with a similar aesthetic. One such example is Kings of War, but there were even cases of gamers using historical miniatures such as those sold by Warlord Games. Their solution was Age of Sigmar. It would give them a unique IP which made it easier to defend against third party vendors. It also was an attempt to increase sales in what they saw as a disappointing IP. This same desire to protect their IP led them to make several lawsuits which would have dire consequences.
Chapterhouse LolsuitThe more impactful lawsuit was with a company called Chapter House. Generally, GW would ignore third parties that created alternate units or miniatures because they were generic or were distinct enough. The founder of Chapter House was a lolcow and refused to consider just slightly changing the names like everyone else. He also refused to think he did anything wrong. This meant that inevitably he would be sued. Everyone, including GW, thought that he was going to lose easily.
Chapter House openly advertised their products as being compatible with or alternatives to Games Workshop products. It wasn't unusual for people to state that they were similar or usable with GW lines, most others would couch it in generic terms like space crusaders or devil cultists. However, Chapter House not only obviously copied warhammer designs, but openly used the names of Games Workshop units, factions, and other IP and was unapologetic in doing so. The lawsuit angered some fans who liked Chapter House, but others defended GW actions as necessary to defend the IP.
Although GW won several of their points, they also lost a few too in particular with units or characters that had rules but did not have models. This meant if there was a character or unit with rules but without models that others could make an alternate for it. Since then, they have removed units and characters without models and have designed their miniature kits to make it more difficult to use third party bits. Although chapter house mostly came out on top, it was a pyrrhic victory and it soon went out of business.
Spots the Space MarineAnother lolsuit, however, earned GW a lot more hate. Unlike the first it was not justified in the slightest. Basically, they sued an author for a book called Spots the Space Marine because of her use of the term space marine. It’s as stupid and as petty as it sounds. What was idiotic is that Space Marine was not a new term, nor one utilized exclusively by GW. This was a PR disaster and earned the company worse will with fans and non-fans alike. It contributed significantly to the image of GW being greedy, dirty, and antagonistic assholes.
Consequences Will Never Be the SameBecause of these two lawsuits, GW immediately began to rename factions and moved to make all of their IPs more unique. The Space Marines became the Adeptus Astartes, the Eldar were now referred to as the Aeldari, etc. It also made them reevaluate their current lines, especially Warhammer Fantasy. Warhammer Fantasy was not as profitable, but multiple companies had managed to create alternative lines that siphoned off sales. This was in large part due to the generic look of a lot of Warhammer Fantasy. GW made the decision to make a new more unique IP that others couldn't easily make minis for. GW set out to reboot first Warhammer Fantasy and according to rumors even Warhammer 40k. As I mentioned before, any changes at all anger fans… but GW was convinced that their fans would always buy from them and that the gravy train would never end. Due to this flawed miscalculation, GW made the decision to retire Warhammer Fantasy and to replace it with something that they believed the fans would eat up.
Tom Kirby Makes an Oopsie: Age of Skubmar
An accurate portrayal of GW under Tom Kirby.
Tom Kirby, the former CEO of GW likely knew there would be a negative reaction to their decision to end support for Warhammer Fantasy, but he didn’t know how much he was hated, and he underestimated how much good will GW actually had. The amount of hatred he culminated from the fandom can be felt in this quote:
“Chairman and former owner of Games Workshop. How bad is he? Forbes magazine allegedly described him as a "fucking tosser," which for those unfamiliar is akin to being called an unpleasantly diseased scrotum by Nurgle, or being asked to control one's temper by Angron…
Bottom line, Tom Kirby is a typical douchenozzle, next financial quarter thinker type, in an industry that thrives first on genuine creativity and imagination. He only cares about leeching the phenomenon the great Ian Livingstone created.”
Sunsetting Warhammer Fantasy made sense form a business perspective since their sales were down and it was even more difficult to protect that particular intellectual property. Additionally, a booming industry of alternate models had come into existence and likely drew their ire, and a lot of it was connected to their fantasy line. This led to Kirby’s decision to nix the line…
Warhammer Fantasy was ole yeller’d in a large event with books, models, and other releases. This event was referred to as The End Times and resulted in deaths of characters, the destruction of entire factions, and eventually the end of the world. Not surprisingly, this resulted in a large outcry aimed specifically at Age of Sigmar.
Much of the anger was related to the fluff of Age of Sigmar and not just disdain for Tom Kirby. As I mentioned before the tabletop games are a big part of the fandom, but they aren’t the only element of it: Many loved the books, the rpgs, and video games. The original world of Warhammer Fantasy was dark, gritty, and had high fantasy elements but from an in-universe perspective many did not even know the existence of some factions like the skaven or chaos. In this way it was like a mix of a lot of fantasy IPs but it has its own unique flavoring. Many worried that the universe would be lost forever. Their fears were then seen as justified because of the release of Age of Sigmar.
Age of Sigmar departed significantly in the look and feel of Fantasy. It was even higher fantasy, had a completely different world, a cleaner aesthetic, but it was still dark. What caught the most ire was the Stormcast Eternals which were negatively referred to as sigmarines for their appearing like Space Marines from 40k.
Some examples of Classic Warhammer Fantasy
Age of Sigmar
To add insult to injury the rules at launch date were extremely unbalanced and virtually unplayable without house rules. This is because distances were measured from the models themselves. This resulted in players building their minis in such a way to try to gain an advantage. More importantly, the inherent balancing system in most tabletop games, was completely thrown out: Models and upgrades cost points which mean in theory the two sides are relatively balanced. They were replaced by model count which would inherently benefit more elite armies which in a point system would less miniatures. Such a system put horde armies at a significant disadvantage.
All these combined factors resulted in one of the largest outcries by fans everywhere. The entire fan base united in their outrage (archive) and the investors collectively shitted themselves. A video went viral of a fan burning his Warhammer army which he already paid for. Some other spergs tried to burn their minis too. There was a lot of sperging (the burning starts at 8:33):
What makes this funnier is that Age of Sigmar evolved into a decent game that many argue is better than 40k. The guy who burned his minis is rumored to have gotten back into AoS, which is extra hilarious because he still could've utilized those old minis or at least sold them on ebay.