A Closer, Speculative Look at the Warhammer 40,000: Conquest Partwork

Back in March, Warhammer 40,000: Conquest (not the Fantasy Flight Games Living Card Game) strode into the zeitgeist of Warhammer 40,000 players throughout the United Kingdom for a hot minute. It came, flourished, then folded back into insignificance when demand outstripped supply. Today, those who to subscribed to the service originally, myself being one, received emails saying that the service was back on track and ready for national release on August 29th 2018. Myself and those early subscribers now face a dilemma, as do prospective future folks planning to join in on the partwork. Do we sign up, or let Warhammer 40,000: Conquest pass us by?

So let’s have a closer look at Warhammer 40,000: Conquest. How much is it? Will the service bring the kinds of savings one might hope? Where will things with the subscription go in the near and not so grim, dark future? Let’s take look. Get your speculation glasses on.

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Before I go any further, I must clarify something. Hachette have neither shown nor announced concrete plans to expand the service beyond UK borders. Sorry America, Canada, Europe, and everybody else hungry for a postal dose of hobby each month. They do however state that they’re looking to bring Warhammer 40,000: Conquest to other territories though so keep those fingers crossed.

What’s a partwork? Have you ever sat down and seen magazines advertised on TV using lines like “Issue 1 only £2.99!” or “Over 100 issues the collection grows to…”? Then congratulations are in order because you’ve seen a partwork. They are a subscription service, offering you a weekly, fortnightly or monthly armful of stuff along with a magazine in return for your cash. To get a copy, you can either tell your local newsagent you will purchase a copy every time a new one arrive. If you’re lazy like me or don’t live near a newsagent (and these days who does?) you can instead set up a direct debit. Do this and once a month a parcel containing the materials released as part of the series will arrive at your door.

Every heard of Loot Crate? Yeah. That,

It sounds simple because it is. I’ve subscribed to two of these myself, both operated via Hachette. I’m still signed up for Warhammer 40,000 Legends, hooked on glaring at the postman when he doesn’t bring me my two books. Throughout my family, at least five others are in possession of full Hachette collections or still receive parts of what they’ve subscribed to. The logic behind them is sound. Not perfect, but it does what it says on the tin.

The service advertises what the first four issues will contain. Issue One comes packed with three Easy To Build Primaris Intercessors, three Citadel Paints, a single Starter Brush (the sort you get in Games Workshop’s other painting starter sets, and a handy booklet. This booklet looks to be split into three sections. Building, Painting, and Gaming, three major pillars of the hobby and each month will offer gaming tutorials and painting tips key for any upcoming hobbyist. Issue Two contains the three Easy To Build Plague Marines, a pot of Death Guard Green, and some dice. Easy To Build Reivers head up Issue Three alongside a pot of Leadbelcher Paint, with 6 Easy To Build Poxwalkers and a Bugman’s Glow rounding out Issue Four.

So, the value proposition, The pots seem to be real pots and not the shortfills found in the starter paint sets. That’s a boon in itself given that these pots normally cost £2.55 each. On its own that makes at least Issue One a purchase for definite. Games Workshop don’t sell the Starter Brush on its own, and the Easy To Build boxes cost £10 each. From that, the first four issues have an estimated worth, of £55.30. Not bad, and better considering the cost of these first issues.

Issue One will be available for £1.99. Issue 2 is £4.99 (free if you subscribe). From Issue 3 onwards each costs £7.99. We don’t know how many issues it will be. I remember the figure 80 being tossed around when it was first unveiled but I’m likely incorrect. Seems a lot doesn’t it? Or is it? If you look at other subscriptions offered through Hachette, 80 may in fact be on the money. The Warhammer 40,000 Legends Collection, one I’m subscribed to, advertises 80 issues. Their others run for similar lengths too, with their Classic Pocketwatches at 80 £8.99 issues, the 2000AD Ultimate Collection with 80 £9.99 issues, and The Art of Crochet putting out 120 issues at a cost of £2.99 each.

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Four issues a month adds up to £32 (okay £31.96 but whatever) a delivery on a normal month. In Warhammer 40,000 hobby circles, spending £32 a month is nothing out of the ordinary. A box of infantry models and this month’s copy of White Dwarf comes out at close to that figure for most of us. Not bad, but is Warhammer 40,000: Conquest for most of us? That largely depends on the kind of hobbyist you are. If you go from army to army, building a workable force then moving on to your next challenge, then probably not. If you’re a devout painter, someone who spends the better part of a month highlighting a Squig’s rotund back-end, then again, probably not (though the potential monthly bucket of paint pots delivered to your door 12 times a year could tempt in itself).  So who is it for?

To me, the majority of potential customers fall into four distinct camps. The first are the Games Workshop devour. Does it have an Aquila on it? Does it carry the Citadel brand? Is any element of the product touched by the hand of the Nottingham-based manufacturer of toy soldiers? Then they want it. And good for them. This is a hobby after all. We all enjoy it in our own way and for them, this is just one more avenue down which they can shove their support of the company.

Next up are the hobby butterflies. Admit it, you either are one or you know one. They bounce from project to project like a Blue Horror in a rubber factory. A monthly box full of paints and materials, not to mention a booklet detailing building and painting techniques? Sounds like something that would be right up their alley.

Then there’s the “Back When I Were A Kid” brigade. These people perhaps dabbled in the hobby but let it slide in favour of such spurious pursuits as having a life or advancing their careers. When you’ve got disposable income but lack the time to head down to a Games Workshop store every Thursday night because it clashes with your weekly squash game, Warhammer 40,000: Conquest may be right up your alley. That it comes loaded with the materials needed to play a game or two helps too.

The final group, those one could argue are the key target for Warhammer 40,000: Conquest are those who just want to get started. The booklet with each issue is a shining example of this. And frankly, in that regard, Warhammer 40,000: Conquest sets itself up as a great avenue for this.

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Now with all that being said, be wary. If the service does indeed plan to run for 80 issues and you subscribe from the start, the total cost comes out at £625.20 spread out over 20 months with the second issue free. Not some awful, ruinous cost, but worth consideration, especially if you can’t guarantee a stable income.

The key question, one that the Warhammer 40,000: Conquest website does not reveal the answer to, is precisely what subscribers can expect going forward. We know there will be booklets and paints and models. We just don’t know what it’s building towards.

Maybe you like this. Maybe for you, surprise is part of the fun. Then great. Good for you. Seriously! It’s like a monthly Christmas present!

But me, I’m reticent to sign up based upon what we have so far. We don’t know what to expect beyond the first four issues. Will everything included in the collection centre on the Easy To Build kits, perhaps moving from the lower price sprues to the parts of Dark Imperium or into the multi-part, poseable Primaris or Death Guard sets? If that was the case then, bearing in mind the cost of paints and gaming supplies, the overall price tag becomes somewhat more palatable. Can’t say I’m opposed to having the units necessary to field two full 100 Power Level/1750 point armies thanks to a monthly gift. Honestly, it would not surprise me to discover that the Warhammer 40,000: Conquest subscription ends with you owning at least one of every box in the Primaris Space Marine and Death Guard ranges, minus perhaps Guilliman and Mortarion. Whether it will, though, is another matter entirely.

One question comes to mind with this though. It’s one I cannot break away from. Are armies from other factions or races expected to join the fray? Could Orks, Thousand Sons, Adeptus Custodes, Tyranids, hell absolutely anything in the Warhammer 40,000 range come into play? If THAT were the case, then I can tell you I would sign on the dotted line quicker than a Cadian buying Planet Insurance. An opportunity to dip my toe into a different part of Warhammer 40,000’s miniature ranges every couple of months? Yes. Right now. Do it. I’m in.

But it doesn’t say that. Warhammer 40,000: Conquest does the same thing every other Hachette Partworks product does. It offers incredible potential, one which I must admit the company meets far more often than it misses. But these aren’t books or fancy pocket watches. These are models, and we tend not to buy models we don’t like or don’t want to paint. If I told you to give me £30 a month for three months in exchange for a Start Collecting Astra Militarum box this month you might jump at the chance. Next month I follow it up with Start Collecting Miliatrum Tempestus. Not a deal killer but whatever. At least they can play together. And for the final month I throw you Start Collecting Tyranids. You going to be happy about that? My guess is… no. I’m not suggesting for a second that Hachette obfuscate nothing here. Of course not. It’s a core part of their business model and a key aspect of why some people come to partworks and Loot Crate-style subscriptions for. Just give us a vague idea of what’s on the horizon. Please? If you’re listening Hachette, you might get more subscribers that way if we’re offered a hint at what’s to come. Now I must grant that the image bearing the Ultima “U” and the triple-skull Death Guard symbol does imply that it will stick within these two factions. Thing is, are there enough kits between them to support more than a few months of subscription?

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It also has the chance to dissuade voracious hobbyists from really delving in. Put yourself in the shoes of little Claire. Claire’s grandfather knows she likes painting. Claire’s grandmother took her to the local Games Workshop over the summer holidays. She had a great time playing with the Space Marines. So, for her birthday, Granny and Granddad bought a subscription for their grandchild. Over the coming weeks Claire learns about putting models together, absorbs the sacred knowledge of paint thinning, and paints her Intercessors as Ultramarines.

Don’t judge her for it. The book told her to do it. Everybody makes mistakes.

Seeing this, Granny comes around for Sunday lunch with a massive box in tow; Dark Imperium. Oh Claire is overjoyed by this! All of these models to paint and play with.

And then, two days later, the next month’s subscription arrives. In it, Claire finds the same 7 Plague Marines and the same ten Primaris Intercessors she finished painting last weekend.  Not the end of the world by any stretch, but a downer for sure.

For what it’s worth, I can’t help feeling that Hachette need to be at least a little more transparent than normal in the contents of future issues, if only to avoid disappointment for its subscribers. I have my fingers crossed that they will, or at least detail what is coming for the next month or two in their booklets. Whether or not they will is another matter.

I would also be remiss to even assume that you’ll be getting the same value as you do with the first four issues all the way through the subscription. It’s a standard practise in such services. Entice subscribers, offer up bonuses further down the subscription line like the legendary Citadel Painting Handle, lock them in on a direct debit, then wind down the savings going forward.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying this WILL happen. Frankly, I highly doubt Hachette would dare hamstring Warhammer 40,000: Conquest in such a way, especially with Games Workshop looking over their shoulders. Hachette, for me, have proven themselves to offer a valuable service. It’s just worth being careful to avoid possible disappointment, you know?

But we’ll see. Will Warhammer 40,000: Conquest be the next big thing? I do hope so. It’s an exceptional proposition and a digestible gateway to the hobby, just so long as Hachette and Games Workshop work hard to keep it as the exceptional value proposition is seems to be right now. Anyway. What do you think? Are you already setting yourself up to subscribe to Warhammer 40,000: Conquest? Let me know below or on Twitter.

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4 Comments

  1. It’s a series that certainly has a lot of potential and I’d be all over it if I had a bit more disposable cash, but it’s tough enough keeping up with the things I want on GW’s release schedule without signing on for such a lengthy commitment.

    That being said though Hachette does, as a rule, provide value for money. The Judge Dredd collection I recently finished was a great example of that and I think this is likely to go down the same road, as far as value is concerned. If I can get my hands on it, I’ll certainly pick up the first issue.

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  2. to be honest i’ve subscribed for the first month simply because it’s awesome value, i may keep it going for a couple of months after, but tbh, i have zero interest in any of the terrain pieces or most of the freebies, so i’ll probably cancel it as soon as they become a thing

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