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Dice Men: The Origin Story of Games Workshop

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The format lends itself to this kind of picture-gallery stuff, though it isn’t necessarily the style you’d want for reading an in-depth history. Ultimately it’s hard to escape the idea that they just didn’t want it that much, and Ansell really did. It was a very interesting read; I enjoyed it a lot, especially after finding out that Ian and Steve were the authors of the Fighting Fantasy books I used to read when I was a kid.

He is ruthless in its pursuit; he resigns no less than three times in a 4-year period, and each time it’s a power play. First, the fact that such an amateurish, if enthusiastic, operation would never be able to find its feet nowadays. You have a significant subsidiary helmed by a bloke who has already resigned twice in the last four years to force your hand in giving him more power, after telling you the reason he quit the last company he founded was because his co-owners lacked his vision and ambition.We began thinking of ways to be more hands-off in the day-to-day running of our company but without giving up control,” says Livingstone, clearly anticipating the best of both worlds, but the agreement that puts Ansell in charge also includes handing him a majority of the company within four years, so the “without giving up control” part doesn’t last long. He was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Technology by the University of Abertay Dundee in 2000, and in 2002 received the BAFTA Special Award for his outstanding contribution to the interactive entertainment industry. Something that rarely happens to me even with the best fiction, let alone a history of a gaming company!

It’s a publicly-traded company comfortably ensconced in the FTSE 250, with annual revenues that are positively eye-watering when you consider they come from selling toys to a relatively narrow audience of teens and adults who want their free time to be taken up by building and painting the things with which they then play pretend, or at least consider using to play pretend before realising it’s been another six months since they actually arranged a game. Then, they started publishing their own games magazine, White Dwarf, that was similar to Dragon magazine at the time in that it was full of role-playing articles and scenarios. Second, that it's clear from the text that Livingstone was - and is - clearly a businessman first and a gamer second.

Despite being one of the minds behind Warhammer Fantasy Battle, Bryan Ansell comes out of this history looking pretty mercenary.

Dice Men is the fascinating, never-before-told story of an iconic company which changed the world of tabletop gaming for ever. The focus is clearly what he has always wanted it to be – Citadel manufactures miniatures in ever-increasing ranges and volumes, and the rest of the company exists to sell those miniatures, whether by making up games for them to be used in or by marketing them or by literally handing over boxes of them to punters for cash.

This is also a business environment alien to the modern age with no e-mail or IMs; for most of the time Ansell in Nottingham is going to be running things independently from Livingstone and Jackson in London and so by necessity he is going to be out of sight – and probably out of mind – for long stretches.

But anyone still having flashbacks to those 14-hour sessions at a friend's basement will know what I am talking about. To my understanding the book is now on general sale, but it was originally funded through Unbound, a crowdfunder for boutique publishing like this.

He is the former Executive Chairman of video games publisher Eidos where he launched blockbuster titles Lara Croft: Tomb Raider and Hitman. I am more familiar with the history of the Citadel Miniatures side of the story, so it was interesting to see how the London based board games side of the business developed the brand that eventually became the miniatures oriented company that GW now is. A minor complaint - the timeline jumps around a bit, focusing on the chapter subject more than the chronology. There are lots of pictures and topics covered such as Citadel Miniatures and the start of Warhammer which I’ve never read before.

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