Model Releases, Rules and Limitations for GW with 8th Ed

This is a response to a common question, particularly from veterans of early editions:

“Why don’t we have XYZ option in the rules right now?”

Examples of this include Blood Angel Primaris having Chainswords as an option, while normal marines or dark angels don’t, for example.  Why aren’t the rules the same for the basic units?

Now, I’m not a lawyer at all, but in my understanding it comes down to a legal decision in the states when a more litigious GW went into conflict with Chapterhouse Studios a few years ago over some of the additional models and conversion packs they were producing.  The decisions were pretty mixed, and no one came away happy, but one point did come out:

If you have rules in a game and don’t actively sell the parts or models for those rules, it is legitimate in the US for third parties to produce their own version.

So if they released rules for all Intercessor Sergeants to have chainswords, and only had chainswords for Blood Angels in the Blood Angels Primaris upgrade packs, it might be legal (I’m staying well clear of morality here) for another company to actively produce and market chainswords for the other chapters.  It might even be OK to produce Primaris Sergeants with Chainswords.  And if that happened before GW released them, there are all sorts of issues.

Essentially, it means that GW are in a position where they literally cannot provide rules for conversions unless they also produce the models without opening the door to alternative manufacturers in the US.  That’s just the way it is.  It’s one of the main reasons that the current codexes have entries exactly matching the single weapon load outs of the manufactured models.

Its also why they release new data sheets with new models, rather than putting all the rules in a new codex months before models arrive, and why we don’t see any named characters without a specific matching model.

Its also why a token selection of Sisters of Battle have been kept up on the site in metal for years – if they don’t have them on sale at all, others could potentially actively start to sell and market Adeptus Sororitas minis.  Actually as Sisters of Battle.

At most, you can complain a little as to why a specific load out hasn’t been chosen and released yet, but differences between ranges and codexes have to match the produced models.  It’s just the legalities of the marketplace. 

One interesting note on this – by providing the legends rules for AoS and one last made to order sale of the classic model before closing down the moulds, they may be opening up the production of some of the classic characters to third parties for those wanting to play narrative games at home too.  It’s a brave move with valuable classic IP, and fantastic for the community, so kudos!