When you walk into your local hobby shop one thing becomes abundantly clear, the market for tabletop games, and trading card games is heavily saturated. There are hundreds of games, from all genres, with varying degree of difficulty, depth of story, and rule complexity. As with all products, some of these games just don’t manage to gather a strong following, and others are dropped due to their creators moving on to new projects. Top notch games are not immune to death though, and over the years several have faded into non-existence despite being amazing games. Here are four games which have met their end, but really need to make a comeback.
Battlefleet Gothic is a tabletop game launched in 1999 which takes place in the Warhammer 40,000 Universe. Lorewise the game takes place during the 12th Black Crusade lead by Abbadon the Despoiler into the “Gothic” sector of Imperium space. The initial release of the game only represented four playable factions; The Imperial Navy, Chaos, Ork Pirates, and Eldar Pirates. Later additions to the game would introduce other major factions within the universe such as the Tau Empire, Craftworld Eldar, and Space Marines.
Unlike most other Games-Workshop games, Battlefleet Gothic takes place entirely in the vacuum of space. The focus of the game is ship to ship engagements, represented through the use of 2cm-10cm long models. The game moves across four phases; Movement, Shooting, Ordnance, and End Phase, advance rules also allowed for special actions such as boarding enemy ships and using one’s own ships as battering rams. The game gathered some popularity, with models being available from both Game’s Workshop, and Forge World. Unfortunately, the game came to an end in 2013, with remaining stocks being allowed to sell out, and no new models or rule sets being created.
The game’s spirit is carried on through a video game version released in 2016. The video game version allows players to control one of six playable factions in the Warhammer Universe but felt limited in game types, and maps. The video game version of the game also takes place during the 12th Black Crusade in the Gothic Sector. A sequel has been announced for later this year under the title of “Battlefleet Gothic: Armada 2”. The sequel allows players to control one of twelve factions from the universe and is rumored to take place during the 13th Black Crusade, bringing the game in line with the current edition of the tabletop game story.
As good as the video game version of the game might be, I would love to see a return to the tabletop version. There is a certain charm that comes from being able to paint and build your fleet of miniatures. With the quality of recent miniatures and the creation of more customizable miniatures by Games-Workshop, I would love to see a rerelease of the game with updated ship models. With the recent rerelease of Necromunda, a once dead Games-Workshop specialist game, I think it’s safe to say that there is at least a glimmer of hope for a Battlefleet Gothic rerelease. Fingers Cross.
Like Battlefleet Gothic, Epic Takes place in the Warhammer 40,000 Universe. Unlike Battlefleet Gothic, Epic focuses on ground combat between large forces represented by 6mm Models. Where the 28mm Warhammer 40,000 and Horus Heresy games focus on the use of small contingents of armor, infantry, and air support, Epic is based solely around legion sized forces locked in large-scale combat. These large-scale engagements are more closely representative of the types of battles described in the lore, specially with armies such as Imperial Guard which in the lore number in the trillions.
Where Warhammer 40,000 and Horus Heresy have players move and engage with all their units in a players respective turn, Epic instead has players move one or two company-sized units per turn instead of their entire force. These rules create a sense of the battlefield evolving in real-time (sort of) while also allowing for greater, and more complex strategic elements to the game. In fact, the rule set for Epic is considered to be one of Games-Workshops best and allowed the game to gather a very strong following. The popularity of the game was not enough to save its life, however, and like Battlefleet Gothic the game was dropped in 2013.
As a result of the game’s popularity, there is still extensive support for the game through fan-created communities. These communities continue to oversee and develop rules, scenarios, and army lists. Despite this fan support though, the only way players can obtain new models is through sites such as eBay, but be wary of Chinese recasts which can be of lower quality than original Games-Workshop and Forge World models. As with Battlefleet Gothic, there may be hope of a rerelease in the future, specially with the re-release of Necromunda.
Halo: Ground Command
Halo Ground Command was released in 2016 and allowed two players to duke it out as USNC and Covenant forces. The core set came with two 1000 point armies of each faction and was designed to be incredibly modular when it came to force organization. Armies could be expanded by purchasing new minis aside from the core set, with various minis planned for future releases that unfortunately did not get to see the light of day. The rules are said to have been easy to pick up, but honestly, I cannot verify. Yes, despite being on this list I am sad to say that this is the one game on here that I did not have the pleasure of playing.
Unlike Battlefleet Gothic and Epic, Ground Command was not dropped due to its creator moving on to new projects. Rather the game appears to have met its end because Spartan Games financially unable to continue production, and support for the game. Also based on local hobby shops, the game just did not sell all too well, at least here. The games appears to have been easy to pick up, and really fun to play, but unfortunately, it was just not able to gather the same following and popularity of its video game counterpart. If you are interested in the game, it can still be picked up at some local hobby stores, but don’t hold your breath as this game is no longer being manufactured. Once stocks run out, they are out for good.
World of Warcraft – The Trading Card Game
The World of Warcraft trading card game was first released in October 2005 by Upper Deck Entertainment. Upper Deck lost the license for the game in March of 2010 at which point Cryptozoic Entertainment managed to pick it up and continue the game until August of 2013. The game spanned several sets, Raid Decks, Dungeon Decks and other special releases. The cards feature wonderful art, with various artist contributing to the wide range of cards over the lifespan of the game.
The game had players build a deck, lead by a hero card, which was either aligned with the Horde or Alliance. Playstyle depended heavily on the class of the hero leading your deck, which determined what skills, abilities, and weapons could be used in game. All major classes were included in the game, with the Death Knight being added in later editions. Hero cards could be equipped with various equipment cards, allowing them to perform special actions, or alter their bases stats. Heroes were aided by “Ally cards” which represented various characters, with various special abilities of their own. The goal is to eliminate an opponent’s hero by depleting their hit points, this is done through hero to hero combat, hero to ally combat, or through the use of abilities such as “rend” (if playing as a warrior). The game could be played between two players or, as my friends and I played it, in large groups. Specialty decks such as Raid Decks allowed for cooperative play as players formed a party to take down epic bosses, such as the Lich King himself.
Unfortunately, since the game’s license came to an end, Blizzard has not shown interest in renewing the license with any other publisher. The spirit of the TCG lives on through Blizzard’s game Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft. Hearthstone uses a similar gameplay system, although a bit simplified from the TCG, much to my disappointment. Hearthstone also makes extensive use of the art used in the TCG which is great due to the variety in the art style. Despite how fun Hearthstone is, and it is a great game, as with Battlefleet Gothic, I can’t help but feel that the video game adaptation lacks much of the charm of the physical trading card game. As mentioned, it does not appear that Blizzard will be bringing the game back anytime soon, as with the success of Hearthstone, I do not see any incentive in bringing the game back. Fingers crossed, as I this game was incredibly fun and easily expandable.