With only a few days left of 2012, and with the world stubbornly refusing to end, I thought I'd spend a bit of time and look back across the past 12 months and what they've meant for both the hobby community at large, and myself.
January saw the release of the 'Vampire Counts' Army Book for Warhammer, alongside some truly astonishing multi-unit kits. Multi-unit kits are sets that allow the user the choice of building several different units and whilst the idea was first played with at the Space Wolf release, it was really the 2011/12 winter that showed them off. With Necrons in 2011 and a stunning few units for the vamps (Hexwraiths/Black Knights, Crypt Horrors/Vargheists, and the astounding Coven Throne/Mortis Engine) we really saw a lot of options coming off a small amount of frame.
Mordekaine the Black leads a faithful unit of ghouls
Personally, these models and the book thrust me back into Warhammer, and really kicked things up a gear for my local gaming group. To this day, my Phil Kelly signed book is one of my proudest GW items.
In February, Tolkien fans got utterly spoiled with the release of the new Sourcebooks (I grabbed all 5 day of release) along with three pretty epic Finecast kits, and a whole slew of was-metal-now-Finecast releases. As it was the 25th Anniversary month for Warhammer 40,000, a significant portion of the vocal minority on the Internet got noticeably butthurt that GW had 'betrayed' them and the 'sacrilege' of their holy month. Personally, I was too busy nose deep in Rohirrim to notice, and the voices were silenced later in the year.
As a note, February 22nd was also my first open day as Manager of Games Workshop Epsom.
March was a curious month for me, containing releases for both Tyranids (my biggest 40k love) and Space Wolves (my biggest Imperial army). Finally we saw the Tervigon and Tyranofex released in the flesh alongside the Swarmlord (!!!), a Winged Hive Tyrant (that has not left my army since building it!) and, of course, the much wanted Thunderwolf Cavalry. I spent a lot of money.
But the best was yet to come. April was a humongous month for everyone. Alongside 'Warhammer Armies: The Empire', possibly one of the most iconic of races in Warhammer, we saw a complete reset of the Citadel Paints, moving from 76 paints to 143. At first, the change met with a lot of grumbling (as usual) of "These new names suck", "I don't know what colours to use anymore" and my personal favourite, "Why do they have to change everything?", but now at the end of 2012, I think we can all collectively look back and giggle quietly to ourselves at the idiocy of ever questioning the new paints. Sorry, I'm going to say it, I honestly do not understand why anyone would not want to use the new Citadel Paint range.
May was a a minor month with the new wave of Necrons. In honesty, of all the months of 2012, hobby-wise, May was the slowest for me personally. I thought the models were lovely, but I wasn't ready to do a Necron army then, even though I really REALLY wanted one of those Canoptek Spyders...
So I got one...
June was the precursor month, by now people were beginning to hedge bets and whisper of dark things... With three new flyers (including my personal fave, the Stormtalon, which I truly love - and rebuke anyone calling it the Space Potato) 40k tool to the skies in style. Now most of the major races had flyers and a whole new dimension of gaming was unveiled. This inspired me to start a Raven Guard army that reached 1500 points, fully painted, in one week. Of course, none could have quite predicted what was yet to come.
In the first week of July, Warhammer 40,000 6th Edition was released. Again, as with all things GW, there was an initial wave of people feeling betrayed or let down because 'their' vision of 40k wasn't realised. Within weeks, most of them had shut up and were comfortably enjoying their new system, creating new armies and exploring a vast array of new exciting ways to play. Allies? Fortifications? Battlefield rules?! HOLY HELL YES. This was 2nd Edition 40k, but playable in a single evening. Brutal, bloody, fast paced, heroic. Personally, 6th Edition saw my return to 40k (yep, I wasn't a huge 40k player beforehand) with me focussing heavily on my Word Bearers Chaos Space Marines. As a staff member, July had be going crazy teaching everyone the new rules... or at least pretending to. 90% of the time, I think we were in it together, with all of us looking up everything!
My Word Bearers
I think that July was a very exciting month for me personally, not for building or painting models, but for seeing a community enthused - the slate reset and everyone suddenly being very much upon the same page.
August was a curious month of misprediction. A teaser trailer arrived on the Games Workshop Website, and everybody yelled "CHAOS SPACE MARINES!". Well, no, actually, it was Chaos Daemons, and a whopping great release for Warhammer and 40k, a rules update, some awesome new models, and a Soul Grinder in Warhammer!? YES PLEASE. Admittedly, again, August was very much the deep breath before the plunge...
...For September was the big one. Dark Vengeance. The new starter box; Chaos Space Marines VS Dark Angels with some simply stunning models. Chaos Chosen, Cultists, a Hellbrute... Deathwing Terminators, Ravenwing Bikers, possibly the most wonderful plastic space marine mini ever made in Librarian Turmiel (I anticipate a lot of this guy showing up at Golden Daemon 2013). Dark Vengeance was a new type of 40k. It told a story, had multiple named characters, a book, an audio drama. It put the story back into 40k for me, and thus inspired me. You don't need this blog to repeat a sizeable chunk of my blogging history - story is important to me.
September also saw my first Games Day as a Manager, and I'm proud to say I didn't leave anyone behind!
October saw the unveiling of the new style of White Dwarf - a more mature and quality product; something I was very excited about. We've had the previous style of White Dwarf for generations, and to see it undergo such a hefty alteration was nailbitingly intense. When the issues arrived on the doorstep at work, I took a humongous sigh of relief and delved hungrily in. Codex Chaos Space Marines! The first of the new hardback, full-colour codeces for Warhammer 40,000 and what a beautiful book! Again, if anyone had had any doubts about the directions of the new 6th Edition Codex range, I think this book silenced any fears. Alongside the book came two of my favourite 40k models of all time; the Heldrake and the Forgefiend. I've ranted and raved about these incessantly. I love them. They astonish me now just as much as they did then, and have a permanent pride of place in my hobby-heart.
The Forgefiend blasts the enemy from across the board!
Then came November. In the wake of the Chaos Space Marines, came more Warriors of Chaos. The lithe Helstriders, the indomitable War Shrine ("At last!" we heard the Warhammer community cry out) and the devastating Skullcrushers, and a whole load of new Finecast characters, including the one and only Valkia the Bloody! Valkia had been possibly my favourite Black Library release of 2012, and to finally get a model of her was amazing. Again, this inspired a whole new army for me, and got me to actually sit down and play around with figure painting, rather than just painting quickly.
Finally, we come to December, the release of "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey - Strategy Battle Game". I really needn't say more, just look at any blog posts since the end of November...
2012 really has been quite the year: from making leaps forward into how they design multi-unit kits, to perfecting Finecast, from Warhammer, to 40k, to The Hobbit, it really has been a year for everyone; and I can only see it getting better into 2013.
I, for one, am waiting eagerly.