Friday, 10 May 2013

An Epic farewell

Games Workshop's decision to finally kill off Specialist games has prompted me to pick up the last few Epic models I really wanted before they are gone forever. I say forever, that isn't quite true as I'm sure there will be plenty of models traded around Ebay and at convention bring and buy sales for years to come.

I didn't need a lot, I have pretty extensive armies for Orks, Eldar and Space Marines with a few quirky extras including old Chaos models and Imperial Knights, but it was a nice opportunity to fill in a few gaps. Though it has had the disturbing tendency to drag me back for more. I've put in three separate orders so far. I have told myself that that is definitely it, but then I said that about the last two orders as well.

This sudden focus on Epic has reminded me that it is, more or less, the game that got me into wargaming in the first place. Hero Quest and Warhammer 40,000 are entitled to a considerable amount of the credit, but Epic was the first game I really built and army and the first Games Workshop only game (Hero Quest was a co-production with MB games) I owned. My first Games Workshop models was a box of Epic Orks. I ordered them because of the promise of hundreds of models, not realising how small they were.

Actually, in the early 1990s, Epic was a pretty good starting point for a new player. For a start, almost all the infantry, as well as some of the light vehicles, were available entirely in plastic and the early Epic boxes did contain a few hundred individual models. One or two boxes would easily cover all your infantry needs. In contrast to Warhammer or 40K, where you would often need four or five blisters to form a whole unit, Epic vehicle formations could be had in one or two (Games Workshop had a frustrating tendency to sell tanks in packs of two and require them to be used in groups of three). It was cheap to start an army, and it could be easily expanded in bits.

The drawback was the rules. In 1990, to get the full rules you needed two boxed sets, Space Marine and Adeptus Titanicus, the supplement book Codex Titanicus and about half a dozen White Dwarfs. But then I started out buying models I liked the look of and not worrying about rules. And the rules problem was fixed when second editon was released in 1991.

But the real draw for a ten year old was that Epic allowed you to build up armies that really looked like armies with hundreds of infantry, battalions of tanks and building sized giant robots. In contrast, Warhammer 40,000 armies of the time looked like little more than a couple of gangs.

Of course current Games Workshop marketing encourages players to build huge armies in 28mm scale and the range of tanks and huge things has certainly expanded. But Epic was the game that made massive battle seem affordable to at least one 10 year old.


  1. I got into Games Workshop via HeroQuest and although I dabbled with many of their products, Space Marine was my core game. I can see why they've dumped the Epic scale, as they've been making an effort for years now to get the same kind of wide, sweeping battles into Warhammer 40,000, but something about seeing it at 28mm scale just looks wrong to my eyes. The tables seem crowded whereas with the Epic stuff it really did look like you were seeing an, er, epic battle.

    I stopped playing with the release of Epic 40,000 — I liked the game as it was and I wasn't mature enough to realise I could just keep playing it and ignore what Games Workshop was selling — but even so I'm sad to see Epic go.

    I'm even more sad to see the demise — rumours of a deluxe edition aside — Blood Bowl disappear, as it's one of my favourite games ever.