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Thread: GW On The Web

  1. #1
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    GW On The Web

    It’s been over 10 years since I first stepped online and viewed the Games Workshop hobby on the Internet. Ten years. That might not seem like a long time in the normal flow of life, but it’s been a lifetime for GW games online. Following the changing styles along that time has been a hobby in and of itself, and it’s been an interesting look into how the hobby has changed in recent years.

    In 1995, Warhammer was still in its fourth edition, and Warhammer 40,000 was still in second edition. A lot of discussion back then revolved around the use of magic items and wargear, and they were so much a part of the game that they became part of the tactics themselves.

    The first website I remember seeing back then was a site calling itself “The Ultimate Games Workshop Website?, managed by Scott and Jason Hill. It was a simple site, with many of the things that defined a GW website back then. There were a sprinkling of tactics and batreps, and a lot of homebrew rules. Best yet, toward the bottom of the page there was a link to a Guestbook where you could leave your mark. However, this had evolved from just a Guestbook. Visitors had taken to using it to discuss the hobby. It became a forum of sorts, with posts one right after the other. Compared to modern PHP forums, it would be considered crude. The simple CGI script had no quoting code, it only displayed the latest post on top of the others, with a timestamp. You couldn’t stay logged in. But for about 20 to 30 of us, it was “home.?

    Now, I’m going to introduce you to one of the best services on the web, especially for a nostalgic like me: the Internet Archive. It’s made copies of almost every site on the web periodically for quite some years now. For the site that came to be known to its followers as “UGW?, it only shows a page from 1999… sans images. But that can still give you a hint of what it was like:*/http://...jchill/gw.html

    At that time, there weren’t a lot of GW gamers online. Having a gathering place like that was something pretty special. The small group of posters helped to push a feeling of a community. Everyone knew each other, new members were welcomed warmly, posters commented about their personal lives. There were some occasional flames, but generally it blew over pretty quickly.

    At that time, rumors were pretty scarce. Getting information about upcoming GW products was practically impossible. Your best bet for knowing what was coming up was trusting the latest White Dwarf.

    You can get a hint of what the Guestbook was like, albeit from 2001, at

    In early 1996, I decided I was going to jump into the whole website gig. My warboss’s name was “Kaptin Gavrin? so that became my posting handle (or “KG? to a number of people who liked to shorten it, often because they misspelled it). I named my website a simple name based on that handle, “Kaptin Gavrin’s Web Site?. With a lot of the sites having such simple names at the time, it made enough sense.

    My first attempt was just a simple thing. I used Geocities’ page builder to do simple pages, and the formatting was frankly terrible. At the time I knew nothing of HTML. But that didn’t stop me from having my fun. I posted stats for Kaptin Gavrin as an Ork special character. Then, having been inspired, I went further. I created a homebrew codex for the Blood Axes clan. I did some more characters, simple stuff like that, and built my way up to a tactica for the Orks.

    This was the formula for all websites at the time. Games Workshop was our hobby. We could do as we want. Homebrew rules were rampant, especially codices. There was no stopping a lot of people. Around the same time some of the most prominent sites that popped up featured that formula: The Nexus, The Realm of Inisfail, The Old Sage, The Infinity Circuit, Wulfen’s Lair, ASAHEIM, Sigfod’s Place of the Imperium. Basically, a GW website was a reflection of the person who ran it. If they could do what they wanted with the games, introduce any rules they wanted, what would they be?

    I think the introduction of WFB 5th edition followed swiftly by 40K 3rd edition heralded the shifting of the websites. Some sites, such as Inisfail, The Old Sage, and The Maelstrom, had begun taking in a lot of submitted material. You can still see just how much there was by checking out Inisfail’s remaining 40K2 material ( – there’s a new race, variant armies, tactics, special characters, units, wargear, and a lot more. The same goes for The Old Sage’s WFB4/5 section ( When Inisfail was first created, the owner of Farseer Khl’ra’s 40K Page said there was no reason to pay for the upgrade from 5MB to 10MB on Geocities, you could never use that much space (after all, he’d done quite a bit of stuff himself!). Not only did it manage to surpass that, but Inisfail managed to get to somewhere close to 100MB of information stored within its pages, even getting to the point that 40K2 material that had been converted to 40K3 was dropped from the site. I dropped all of my 40K stuff, and when The Old Sage jumped to share Inisfail’s server it left all of its previous edition material at Geocities.

    The mega-sites were in the process of blooming during the period of 1999 to 2001. Those were their glory days! Corribra Sector popped up, TheWarp, quite a few others.

    Another popular part of the GW community at this time were the mailing lists, where you’d register to send e-mails back and forth with a number of other members discussing a topic. From the IGCOM 40K List to the Direwolf WFB list, each list had its own personality. Each of them had distinct posters who stood out, mainly because at best there were only a few hundred members on the busiest of lists.

    During the period following the turn of the millennium, more forums popped up, and dedicated forums to boot. I believe it was during this time that a lot of the forums that are now big in the GW hobby came to be – Bolter & Chainsword, Dakka Dakka, Imperium Online, and so on. They began to pop up during the early days of 3rd edition, and really took flight after the turn of the millennium.

    The change seemed to happen overnight. The smaller forums dwindled and fell by the wayside. Massive forums with thousands of members became “the standard?. Discussion of homebrew material, and especially the posting of it, almost entirely disappeared. Forums became less of a community, and it’s hard to find one that has a group of posters who feel so close to each other that they will comment on their daily lives freely, and the other posters will be genuinely interested. When I post on a forum these days, I don’t know who it is that I’m posting to. What is their name? Their home? Anything about them? I can post a message on The Waaagh! about Orks and get dozens of responses within a few hours. Sure, that’s great. But it lacks the personality of logging in, seeing that Sniper posted another story and then a little bit about how he had a slight run-in with another estate gang, and then laughing about the latter while asking about posting the first on a website.

    The focus of websites has reflected this change. Think of GW websites, what do you think of? B&C? The Waaagh!? Librarium Online? Dakka Dakka? These sites are little more than glorified forums. Librarium Online comes closest to the old style of website, but even then you can’t find the owner’s touch to it. With PHP automation, it’s become a simple matter to just open a website up to submission of articles, and have a website that has the same design across all articles. But even then, Librarium Online only touches on the tactics, modeling, and fiction aspects of the hobby. It still gives no room for homebrew.

    That’s another trend I feel increasingly worried about. As if the soul-sucking mega-forums weren’t enough, sapping away the remaining community forums one by one, you have a near reverence for “canon? these days. No one wants to venture into making their own rules. Heck, many of the arguments in the forums center around whether a certain list printed in White Dwarf is legal or not. It’s almost impossible to get a lot of these gamers to experiment, much less invent entire new codices.

    In fact, many of the posts now are people expecting to be told what is coming out in the future, or complaints about GW’s dropping of Chapter Approved, upping of prices, or whatever. “The hobby is in decline!? shout the angry mobs. They provide us with less material for enjoyment! I’m appalled by such comments. I remember a truly great fanzine known as “Total Power? that had no degree of officiality to it. Come to think of it, neither did a lot of the stuff over at The University of Altdorf. Yet people were excited and willing to try it.

    There used to be a time when a forum was a community, gamers loved to play with the system, website owners updated their sites with their own work, and everyone wanted to leave their own mark on the hobby. Now, websites that have that feeling to them are being left by the wayside. Granted, some of them still get plenty of hits – I know Inisfail and The Old Sage do, as well as my own site, because I work on them and I’ve watched them get plenty of hits each day. But at the same time, without any inspiring e-mails, without anyone seeming to care about the parts of the hobby that are all about your own inspiration, I find myself less excited about pulling out an old article and updating it to match the new rules, much less inventing something entirely new. And frankly, that feeling is wrong.

    This is our hobby. It belongs to us, the gamer. Take back your hobby. Reclaim it as your own. Build yourself a web site. Invent a new race, or even at least a special character, one that represents your handle if nothing else. Find a small forum and join it. Talk about yourself. Bring back the personality.

    This hobby belongs to us. It is not Games Workshop’s duty to save it. If the hobby is in decline, it is because the gamers have sapped it of its fun.

    It’s not to late to spark a new revolution.

    This article is dedicated to all the wonderful guys and girls from those old forums and the websites – Frostblade, Whistling in the Dark, Crawling Chaos, Sniper, Lord and Lady Zerr, Orion-kin and Skavenwolf, Despoiler, Coony, Wrathe, Shaggy, Beth, Thanos of Titan, Deadlar, TWSL, Karandras, Buckstarved, Asmodai, Master of the Deathwing, HBMC, Cuchulain, Eldanesh, Kestrel, Kasidy, Khaine, Seraph, Shadow Walker, Slayer, Sithspawn, Wulfen, Ptolemy, Bob Lippman, Jeffrey McDowell, Tim Ray, Jimmy Murphy, Mike Marshall, Bill Edwards, Simon Dyson, and all the other folks I forgot to mention. There’s just so many of you out there.

    Kaptin Gavrin

    Kaptin Gavrin's Web Site

    Imperial Literature's Most Popular Author!

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  3. #2
    Junior Member Icaterus's Avatar
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    Feel better after getting all that off your chest?

    I have to admit I only skimmed all of that but it looks like your complaining the forums on the net have changed so that house rules aren't appreciated any more? Is that right, or should I read it again?
    I think that using house rules and things is great for the long time palyers, but it's really hard for new players to get started as they have no idea what's going on.
    Thanks for watching as I fall.

  4. #3
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    I have to say I found this thread enlightening but I think change is a good thing because where would we be without change. Ofcourse there are many big forums such as this one but I see these big forums as a gateway to other smaller dedicated forums becuase you join a big forum you meet someone, you get along they say "here's my website make a few posts on it" you do and bob's your uncle.
    Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
    Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore
    While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
    "'Tis some visitor," I muttered, "tapping at my chamber door-
    Only this, and nothing more."

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