That's a bit of an odd title, isn't it?  This is because it's a bit of a tongue-in-cheek response to Frontline Gamer's lengthy and fan-favourite article "Is the Imperium a Metaphor for Games Workshop?" (here).

I say tongue-in-cheek because his article is fairly long, obviously has had a lot of thought go into it and expresses the rage at the very centre of his dark being.  I, on the other hand, don't write articles that long, generally don't put that much thought into them and am just running with the idea.  Don't be too offended, it's all in good fun.

Born Amongst the Stars
For those of you who don't know (shame on you), the Combined Army is the Xenos faction for Infinity.  While all the lovely humans are busy smiling and stabbing each other in the back the Combined Army just wants to take everything, enslave everyone and generally be a bit of a dick on route to it's own goals.  Think the Borg with less cybernetics and more religious fanaticism.

Like our fabled company, the Combined Army didn't always exist.  Great minds worked together to give birth to EI, the artificial intelligence that rules the Combined Army.  It wasn't trying to rule everyone, it just wanted to be happy in its own little corner.  So, too, our little store thrived.  Picked up a few distribution licenses, got a few people under its wing and away it went.  They both wished to understand and to be something greater, having run to the end of what they could achieve in their limited existence.

The Push
They both grew frustrated with their small size.  Unable to comprehend the reason for their failures, they pushed out into the wider world.  Games Workshop's goal was transcendence - to change from a niche store serving the nerdiest of the nerds into something mainstream.  To this end, they consolidated their power into a few key games systems and conquered all others.  Sometimes through legitimate competition, other times through abuse of their position of power as chief importer/rights-holder, but they grew.  So, too, does the EI wish to expand and conquer, through strength of arms, through corruption, through subversion.  It too is driven to achieve it's own transcendence and become something so much greater.

Like the aggressors of so many battles, Games Workshop has earned itself long-lasting ire from these moves (seriously, people are still angry over this and most of them weren't even born when it happened).  Gaining momentum and becoming vastly popular (within the wargaming community, at least), it spread further and further throughout the hobby.  Soon signs of Games Workshop were everywhere to be found, if you knew what to look for.  The Combined Army would bring hundreds of smaller systems under its wing and rule, as Games Workshop had expanded its reach into most populated areas of the UK.

The Great Setback
Games Workshop entered a period of rapid growth with the launch of the Lord of the Rings system.  The films were wildly popular and Games Workshop planned to use the influx of fantasy into the mainstream to leverage Warhammer Fantasy Battle, the less accepted and nerdier brother of its Warhammer 40,000 franchise, through side-selling from the Lord of the Rings games.  For a while it worked, Lord of the Rings was successful and getting new hobbyists into the stores is the very nature of the goal.  Then Lord of the Rings was over and Games Workshop had failed to gain the mainstream recognition for its core fantasy game that it so longed for.  Having over-extended their resources Games Workshop fell into a sudden and rapid decline, the shock-waves of which can still be felt to this day.  They failed to understand themselves, their market and their product, and so fell by the acts of their own foolishly-exploited creation.  Only by vast restructuring did Games Workshop mange to ensure the presence it had worked so hard to gain could be maintained in the face of such disaster.

Similarly the EI, pleased with it's own success, planned a great project of the moment.  Born of itself, the new Intelligence would allow it to finally achieve the transcendence it so craved.  Impatience and a failure to understand its own flaws brought forth Nemesis - a rival intelligence that waged war upon the EI from within.  Resources were spent, whole systems destroyed in the civil war before it was finally brought under control and Nemesis defeated.  The Combined Army continued, but at a great cost and in a new fashion.  The EI was forced to realign it's goals, restructure and consolidate its power, and think more carefully about its next move in its attempted transcendence.

The Young Races
So, as we approach the present day, what are these two concepts to us?  How are they similar as we come to them today?  As unifying forces.

Both Games Workshop and the Combined Army represent the inevitable.  They are the supreme power, for whom resources seem endless (from the perspective of the young) in the pursuit of their goals.  But they are also flawed and unable to perceive the very weaknesses that keep them from their transcendence.  They provide the great unifier to the "alternate" gaming scene - something to abhor, to fight against, to compete with.  Together the Human Sphere stands united against the Combined Army, or it will fall divided.  Together, the smaller companies (Privateer Press, Corvus Belli, Spartan Games, etc) unite against the unstoppable, yet slow-to-change, behemoth that is Games Workshop.

They have great power, vast armies and limitless resources.  But they give us hope by building communities and forging alliances amongst those of us who would otherwise quarrel with each other.  They will never be defeated, but even when their own methods are questionable, their very presence can be a force for good.

The End Draws Near
So, did Corvus Belli intend the Combined Army as critique/appraisal of Games Workshop?  Of course they didn't, don't be so silly.  It's just amusing to me how they line up, and hopefully hasn't been a huge waste of your time reading the workings of my brain.

Also, Frontline complained that nobody seemed to take up arms against his article, so I thought I'd oblige.  It's not the shot across the bow I might normally write in defence of Games Workshop, more of a light-hearted wink at the silliness of it all. Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...