Monday, 6 May 2013

Monday Musing: Specialist Games



Look at how bad the logo looks... they stopped caring long ago.

I'm going to try out a new idea for articles, you're all used to my Sermons, now I'm going to inflict my 'Musings' on you too. The idea is simple, rather than write about certain hobby 'hot topics' while they're 'hot' I'm going to wait until Monday morning, while eating my breakfast (scrambled eggs on toast today, brown sauce of course) to collect my thoughts on a topic. You know, let all the heat dissipate out of the topic first. Last weeks really 'hot topic' was Games Workshop yet again wading in with their massive size 11 shoes and stomping all over Faeit 212. Now I'm not going to discuss that, maybe Natfka totally deserved what happened to him, or maybe Games Workshop really did overreact; and as those of us with Blogs on Blogger know, Google always overreact. Moot points, and totally not interesting to me, and never were. Nope, what I want to talk about is Games Workshop finally putting a bullet between the eyes of their Specialist Games.

I guess I ought to declare my 'interests' right off of the bat shouldn't I? I love many of Games Workshops Specialist Games, and some certainly way more then I do any of their core product. It's not just nostalgia either, some of these games remain real gems even to this day. Blood Bowl will always have a place in my heart, no matter what. Epic will always be to me what the 40k universe was about; huge titans and legions upon legions of ant like soldiers being squished to death in the endless wars that tear the galaxy apart. Epic's various incarnations have been some of the most tactical experiences I've ever had the pleasure of experiencing. It was also one of the game 'systems' that me and my father would play the most together, so what it represents to me as a lifelong wargamer is very, very personal... good father and son time with my dad. Then their is Battlefleet Gothic, a game I was so good at (until bloody Necrons) people used to fear playing me at it. That was the first game I knew I was really, really good at right after the first game, I just 'got it'.


However, the two games that I have the greatest memories of, and not necessarily because of the games mechanics themselves,  have to be Necromunda and Mordheim. True, I never got to play as much Mordheim as I would have liked, but it still served a function similar to Necromunda for me... both were really easy entry points into the hobby for my none nerdy friends. These fabled gateway products I often prattle on about. Like Necromunda before it, Mordheim was a cheap game to get into. Neither demanded too much of a persons time, and both always provided entertaining games. Then there was the narrative elements to them, the RPGesque character development included in the campaign section of their rules. They were fun campaigns to run, and helped build communities of gamers. At the time I really am not sure Games Workshop knew what they had on their hands with these games. Certainly not Mordheim, which they failed to properly evolve into what it could've ultimately become. Thing is I believe they were both vitally important products for Games Workshop, and I've never been sure why it was that Games Workshop's hierarchy couldn't see that.

Ah... fond memories.

I guess they must have had their reasons for thinking the way they did, and for choosing to drop their support for Specialist Games all those years ago; I mean I certainly don't have all the pertinent business facts. Because you see, what happened recently wasn't Games Workshop choosing to stop supporting Specialist Games (they did that years and years ago), no, it was them finally allowing them to die after a terribly slow, painful, lingering death. Fans of these games can argue otherwise, but I think it is fair to say that this has been coming for some time, true it needn't have come at all if they'd continued to support Specialist Games... but, after that decision was made, this was sort of inevitable. Viewed in its entirety, from right back to that original fateful decision, my opinion on what Games Workshop have done recently with their Specialist Games is seen by myself as something of a mercy killing. The real tragedy happened as I say years ago, when they decided to stop being a 'games' company and decided to shift towards selling over priced toy soldiers at back straining quantities, and utilize their games as systems for delivering this 'vision'. I guess I never really understood the original decision totally... probably because I'm more of a gamer.

Don't get me wrong, I got the economic arguments at the time they originally dumped Specialist Games. Yes Specialist Games turned a profit, just not a huge one, and Games Workshop looked at the running costs to yields ratio and thought the staffing investment might be better positioned elsewhere within their business empire. Fine. I still feel though that they failed to grasp what these games meant to their particular hobby ecosystem. They kept those of us who had become disillusioned, bored or otherwise none engaged with their two main systems (Fantasy and 40k back then) involved in the Games Workshop hobby. I would personally have never played Necromunda had it not been for my Wood Elves suffering humiliating defeat after humiliating defeat. I was fed up with Warhammer Fantasy and had just finished a huge Blood Bowl league. I was possibly staring at a chosen hobby break or a jump to a new manufacturer entirely. But a store manager asked me if I'd tried Necromunda... The rest as they say is history.

Maybe the senior management did understand all this, and maybe they had KPI's and business critical data that told them that this impact wasn't worth it. Who knows, obviously those who made the decision, but beyond them it's just fervent speculation on our part; and fun though that is at times, it proves ultimately to be a fruitless endeavour. What was less confusing to me at the time was Games Workshop's seemingly gracious decision to allow us all to still buy the miniatures and rulebooks for the games. It was actually a fudge and a bit of a wimpy cop out, that ultimately left the trigger pulling to some other poor schmuck down the line. This was done for two reasons:

  1. Specialist Games did honestly still make them money, and by cutting running costs, as the theory goes, you increase your profit margins. So their logic was no staff over heads equals 'result!!!'
  2. They really, really wanted to avoid the bad press and negative vibes that pulling their support for these products completely would have generated. At the time the games designers still engaged openly with the community, it would have made life difficult for them.

I think the strongest motivator though was clearly not wanting to quickly pull the plaster off, and to take all of the pain in one hit. Totally understandable to me, if not their shrewdest tactical move, it did at least placate many at the time... because you know, back then many wanted to be duped, I guess a bit like today really. Those who love their games are desperate to cling on to any glimmer of hope that proves their love and devotion to their product of choice is justified. We're all emotional creators after all.

Ah I remember this artwork fondly from the dog eared boxed game. Happy days!

Still I think Games Workshop expected their Specialist Games to die significantly quicker than they did. They have however endured, and stubbornly refused to die. Now depending on your viewpoint either this is indicative of just how brilliant these products were / are, or just how pig headed and intransigent our community can be at times. I guess it is probably more a heady mixture of the two, stubborn geeks and games with much love. But regardless, these Specialist Games have proved remarkably durable despite the outrageous misfortunes their creators have foisted upon them, they simply will not die. Part of me took some twisted pleasure in that fact, nothing like a bit of schadenfreude to warm the cockles of a cynics heart! I knew just how many staff back at Games Workshop HQ, and indeed in their retail network were perpetually perturbed by this situation. So yeah, it made me smile. But these tough little games days were always numbered. They were dead games walking, although maybe 'stumbling' or 'crawling' would be more apt word to use.

When Games Workshop announced their move over to Finecast, what seems like many moons ago now, I knew that it would mean the ultimate demise of Specialist Games. Their was no way of Earth they would EVER make new latex, Finecast moulds for these games miniatures. Their move to Finecast confirmed they were through with metal too. Nope, that was an expense and effort too far for them as a company. You know what though... I'm not quite as enraged and angry about this last 'indignity' as some others. I get it. The damage was done long ago by Games Workshop, a mortal blow delivered, it's just the bleed out time was... erm... more protracted than was initially expected. Did we really expect them to transfer masters of miniatures that were designed for metal for some really, really niche games over to resin? If so, we're we really being reasonable and realistic? If we did expect it, then I think not. Clearly the fact that the meagre stores they had of these items in their warehouse have taken so long to finally sell out, should be indicative of just how popular these games really truly were. Do I need to spell it out? Not very.

Giant big stompy robots are cool. End of!

If I really tried hard, perhaps I could've mustered or feigned some faux outrage over it all... but that's not me, and I can't really see the point in expelling the energy over it all. Don't get me wrong, I'm critical of the way the death of the miniature lines were communicated to their fans, well, lack of communication really; however, are any of us really all that surprised about this state of affairs, coming as it does from this company? Communication with their customer base is hardly Games Workshops strong suit now is it? I guess for me, if this had happened a couple of weeks, or indeed months after the initial release of Finecast, there would be more of an argument, or justification for being annoyed about it all. If they'd sold out of stock that fast it'd have shown us all these games were still viable products, and by extension viable games, but that didn't happen. These games have become nothing more that quirky curios for the wider gaming community, and I really don't mean that to be insulting to those of you who still play these games regularly, and for whom they are an important staple of your gaming diet.

I know what this sort of blow does to you, I was a Battletech player when FASA decided to call it a day, ditto Rackham and Confrontation, Heck even Games Workshop and Man o' War, they never supported that as a Specialist Game. It's a right kick in the bahoogies, and you have my sympathies, you really do. Especially over the lack of communication, that really sucks. However, I'm kinda betting most of you who still engage with these games will have the majority of the miniatures and rules you wanted any way. So it is really up to these communities now to keep these games alive if they want to. Lets face facts, it has been these communities that have kept them going all this time anyway. It's not like Games Workshop have actually offered you any real, or tacit support is it? I guess the best example would be Blood Bowl, a game that has thrived and become so much more than it was under Games Workshops stewardship, and indeed despite Games Workshop themselves being such anal control freaks. It's a success story in many respects and a model for how other Specialist Games communities should do things. Although I acknowledge that not all Specialist Games had the popularity Blood Bowl enjoyed.

Another fond father son game.

The question I think needs asking is, what is it that has actually, really truly changed for these communities, if anything? Well I guess it is now that little bit harder for newcomers to start to engage with these systems. If there aren't the miniatures or rulebooks it's tough to recruit. I know that. However, in terms of the communities that still exist, if you have been playing these games that means you have the rules, you have the miniatures and you clearly have the opponents to continue playing them. From that perspective what have Games Workshop really changed? Nothing! They supplied you with the miniatures and the rules to some games you really love. Sure it might hurt that 'your' game is no longer part of their plans, or the Games Workshop fraternity... but realistically it's only a symbolic, and some might say shambolic severance of the ties that bind. These games had already been left to spin in the wind, so to speak, so what they have done is just make it more official. So what?

In many respects this move should be looked at positively, as an opportunity to be grasped by those still engaged with these games. Please hear me out before you send me letter bombs, and put Fatwa's out on my head, I've had enough of that to last me a life time already! Games Workshop have finally relinquished all claims and control of these systems. They have in effect confirmed that these games are no longer big enough, economically, for them to be concerned about. They have relinquished all control of the reigns. They've set them free. This leaves these communities, if they exist in big enough numbers, to fill this void that Games Workshop have vacated. If it is viable for others to do so, what is to stop other companies springing up to provide alternative miniatures for these games now? Games Workshops C&D hammer just got a hell of a lot weaker, as they are no longer providing product, and can therefore no longer honestly, or convincingly claim economic damage by such actions. If companies are careful trademark and IP infringements could also be mitigated.

What I'm saying is don't be down about it. Be positive. Things might have just got a whole lot better. Lets face it, some of these Specialist Games have had some really crappy miniatures that are well past their sell by dates. If you look around at what other firms have achieved with the sculpting and casting processes available nowadays, quite frankly many cottage industries should be able to wipe the floor, in terms of quality, with what Games Workshop have provided for these games for years. If the marketplace for these games is really as viable as the Internet outrage at these actions would have us believe then it is only a matter of time before some enterprising individuals start making suitable replacements. It'll happen if the market demands it, mark my words. If there is profit and a living to be made someone, somewhere will do it. If not... then the question has to be asked, are these games communities actually viable long-term?

Infinity is really worth a look.

If not then there's the other positive thing to consider; the wider market effects. Look, not wanting to harp on about this too much, but some of these Specialist Games have actually been surpassed long ago by products provided by other companies. Perhaps this is the universes way of telling us all we need to move on. Get with the program, and accept that change happens. The fact Games Workshop all but abdicated responsibility for these products has allowed other firms to come into being, and indeed to thrive. Hawk Wargames have provided a smaller scale of war, as have others at the 6mm scale of sci-fi games. Spartan Games provide naval and space combat games that have thrived, others such as Mongoose also provide product. For me personally, Infinity provides much of the same 'hit' that Necromunda once did, but it does it with a stylish flare and elan that Games Workshop's venerable beast never achieved. What I'm saying is that there are options out there for you if you are willing to look and embrace things. So Games Workshop are dicks, but we already knew that didn't we? Peace out!

49 comments:

  1. Specialist Games are their best products ever - in fact I cant work out how a company that can make Blood Bowl, Epic, Necromunda and Space Hulk can make the crud that is their core games. Oh well.

    I think the triumph of Blood Bowl is that the community that loves it overcame the owner's lack of care despite literally a decade of neglect. Thats awesome (like the game!)

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    1. Paul, I'm sure you can tell from my tone in the article that I wholeheartedly agree with you. I think the problem with their 'core' games is that the games themselves are nothing but justifications for the quantity of miniatures Games Workshop wants you to buy. they stopped being important products, and by extension good games, in and of themselves many years ago. The Specialist Games though hark back to a time at the company when the games themselves were the products and the main focus. I guess there was a grim inevitability about the shift in focus as the company grew bigger and bigger that this would have to change. I do wander whether it'll happen to others. Can this path be avoided? Honestly I don't know.

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  2. Space hulk introduced me to GW gaming, Space Marine started me into rogue trader, the Realms of Chaos volume 1 crossed me over from rogue trader to fantasy third edition. The starter skaven from mordheim is the reason I now have a 5k point skaven army. I enjoyed Necromunda immensely and my collection has added character to my Imperial guard force. I enjoy Battlefleet Gothic and Blood Bowl but local intrest died off when the support dried up. With their kibosh of the Specialist support, I have fleets, armies, gangs, warbands and teams for all of them and plan to keep playing, I just won't be spending any of my gaming budget on their models anymore.
    ColKG

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    1. Heya, long time no speak!!!

      Like you I have a myriad of Specialist Games miniatures kicking around. Back at my parent's home I'm sure there's even more in those old GW game cases I have in the loft. Almost certainly all my Man o' War fleets. Like you, if the desire takes me I'll still play these games. If some enterprising company develops a shiny new line of miniatures for some of them I might even be tempted to buy new stuff. But long ago I decided GW wasn't really the company for me anymore, so buying new stuff from them, for whatever game was never really on the cards for me. There loss, not mine.

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  3. To be honest, I'm not surprised, by any definition. It just means I now need to scramble to get the few models from the range that I wanted before they go away forever. Which screws up my five year buying plan horribly, but there you have it.

    The models are only part of it, as long as GW has the rules for the games up on the site, they will still be lumbering around in some sort of undeath. Three of them can still exist within the current model ranges; Mordheim, Necromunda, and Inquisitor (wrong scale, but still doable).

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    1. I can see how them turning the tap off with regards to miniatures for specialist games for you would be somewhat annoying. So yeah, you're part of the community they are directly screwing I guess. As for the rules for the games being up on their site, sorry, but if they're pulling support for the miniatures I'd bet the rulebooks will be next to go. Why keep them? If they really are cutting them off don't expect the PDF's to stick around much longer.

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  4. Actually, when FASA closed their doors my ability to play Battletech was limited to one Timberwolf and a few novels. Other than that everything has been bought in the last few years. Really GW should be considering licencing out the rights to make these games to other companies and letting them sink or swim on their own merits. It works with Fantasy Flight after all.

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    1. Battletech was pretty much killed off, or should I say FASA tried to kill it off, way before its time. So the fact that it had a very strong and vibrant community, particularly in North America meant that actually it not only survived, but also somewhat thrived as well. Not so sure the same will happen with some of these Specialist Games.

      As to the licensing issue... yeah. We've, by whom I mean my friends and I, have often discussed why it is that GW do not license these products out to others to give them a go. Maybe there is some perfectly sensible, legal and commercially logical reason as to why they don't. But if these games are no longer viable for a company the size of GW, it doesn't mean they wouldn't be for smaller companies now does it?

      In short, I agree. But it'll never happen.

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    2. I can see problems with the stuff being so tied into the core systems, but Blood Bowl is clearly able to stand alone out in FF's care. Other than that, people only seem to get really passionate about Epic, and that's rather well tied into the main line. Blood Bowl without the GW trimmings is still a great concept, and most of the humour of the game shines through just fine. I'm not sure Epic or any other game would work as well sadly.

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    3. Yep I agree with you on Blood Bowl. It never really sat comfortably with the rest of their range in the first place did it? Epic is deserving of the love it receives from fans though. It is a truly brilliant game, pretty much all incarnations have been good solid enjoyable games. But you're right, Epic without the 40k background is just a slick game system. Necromunda and others have actually been surpassed in gameplay terms by other peoples products, so all they have to fall back on is Games Workshops background. They wouldn't work without it.

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  5. Been looking for a decent new 6mm infantry based game for years now - surprised nobody has taken up the challenge. Most the other sci-fi 6mm stuff is just "Not-Epic" stuff though and I'm a greedy bstard that wants it all - backround, plastic sprues ect. I'm pretty sure something like that would do pretty well if it was marketed right though.

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    1. 6mm is that scale that pretty much anyone can do as well. It's not like 28mm or 32mm where the experts really can make the amateurs look... well... like amateurs!!! Why there aren't more games at 6mm though might have something to do with profitability I guess. In short, perhaps there really isn't the market for it. However, I know that many people who love the scale, or should I say, loved the games they played at that scale. I'm no different, really think for mass battles it's the scale that is most likely to work.

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    2. Yeah that is true. From my experience, everyone I've known or come across into 6mm has been very hardcore about it with multiple armies and huge ones at that - allthough to be fair, that doesnt prove that that is how things are in the wider world.

      If I was gonna do a 6mm game I'd go all the way though and really force the idea of truly massive armies (thousands of infantry ect) with the artwork and rules relating to that as well. I think with CAD programs, the miniatures can look a lot better than too. I saw some stuff on Tactical Command that some fans had done that absolutely blew me away and I always wondered if that talent was put towards creating a whole new game.... maybe oneday we'll find out?

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    3. Well it seems some of the readers on this Blog (PO and Brent) are looking to perhaps exploit the gap left behind by GW.

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  6. I would license a couple of those games (Necromunda, Bloodbowl, Mordheim, BFG, Epic, Warmaster...) and then KS them... I'm sure I will be able to collect a million or two :P

    Andres

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    1. Yep, no question. Blood Bowl and Necromunda in particular would get lots of support. Perhaps that's part of their problem with them. They know that actually their current core games don't really stand up to many of their Specialist Games in terms of that all important gameplay element. Perhaps it's competition Games Workshop would rather not have to face? You know, fighting themselves, except it's themselves when they were actually quite good!!!

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    2. Rumored price to license the Blood Bowl board game is $2 million USD. Then you need to add the startup cost of producing the physical components. Ouch. Kickstarter isn't going to be able to cover that kind of money. :-(

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    3. Wow, if the licence is that valuable you'd wonder why they don't support it themselves!

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    4. @Talarius... $2m USD, actually depending on how long that license would exist I have to say that's actually not a bad price. Bearing in mind that a game like Kingdom Death: Monster raised $2m USD's on Kickstarter you have to assume that a game as visible and popular as Blood Bowl would actually be able to exceed such figures... IF, it was done properly. My only concern would be that Games Workshop are highly unlikely to want to sell their licenses.

      @mickey, there are many reasons as to why GW don't want to support it. Blood Bowl locks people into leagues that last a very long time in gaming terms... all for a paltry 16 miniature lay out. It's too successful at detracting from their vastly overpriced core games. Having worked in a store that ran highly successful Blood Bowl leagues I could see their concerns.

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  7. I'm personally delighted. I'm going to dust off the second edition of Inquisitor that I nearly finished with GW's blessing nearly a decade ago, before they pulled the plug, re-skin it as generic pulp SF and put it out under the 1£W banner. I can also have a go at marketing HorizonWars as an alternative Epic system.

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    1. You see now that's the spirit!!! If you do either of those things let me know and I'll throw a few articles up for you.

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  8. While I'm not totally shocked by any of this, I am a little saddened that the people getting in to GW now will never get to play Mordheim - in my opinion the best set of campaign rules GW ever came up with. And with each day that goes by I am ever more sorry that Blood Bowl had been and gone by the time I had the cash flow to support my interest in more than the core games.

    But as you quite rightly say, there are other games out there, and we don't have to count on GW to enjoy that style of game any more. I have heard that Titan Games are opening a shop in Stourbridge in the near future, which means that there will be a gaming shop close enough to me to justify me going in for a browse and trying a couple of things out. Plus I'm on good terms with the guy running it, which will be a bonus. Maybe I can start getting a bit of inclusion into none-GW wargaming. I say this not out of spite - GW is what it is and I've never thought it wise to moan about it - but out of a genuine desire to try something different. Hopefully soon I'll be trying some of the games you've spoken about on your blog for the last year and a half!

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    1. Yes I believe Titan are opening up in Stourbridge, but I thought the area had already had two failed stores recently and I hear tales of a mythical store on some back street somewhere... but I've never been able to find it. I hope though for the guys behind Titan Games that it isn't a step too far. I believe Brett is involved in some capacity and he has a lot of passion for the hobby, and if that's all it takes to be successful I'm sure they'll be golden. If you ever want an intro game of something you'll have to drop me a line, I'd be happy to help you out.

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    2. Ah, I look forward to it... it'll be nice to have a local gaming store without having to get the Number 9 all the way in to Wayland's Forge :)

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  9. I'm with 'Precinct Omega' on this one and ready to help fill the gap with both games and support. The core rules for my new mass battle game MAYHEM are already up on Wargame Vault, and I have something special in development that is almost ready to see the light of day.

    Jody- I just sent you an email. ;)

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    1. Yep I've received the email and thanks. I'll download it this evening and give it a read. I hope it does give others a chance to exist and indeed to expand. You have to look at these things as an opportunity.

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  10. I agree completely. I've been musing over your last post for the last few days and today's has helped to bring my thoughts into focus! It is terribly sad that GW has gone in the direction it has. I'm not going to moralise about it as all of that is quite subjective. Objectively, though, they have been incredibly stupid in persisting with their business model as it currently is.

    I think that there is a pretty good analogy in the ongoing "battle" between copyright holders (hollywood and record industry) and the internet warriors favouring more freedom in the publication of protected material (as about an oversimplification as you can get, but bear with me). I'm not going to go into the morality the legality of the arguments involved, but rather the opportunity. The internet has been a game changer in the retail of copyrighted material due to the emergence of the digital medium. It is clear that the industries involved didn't anticipate the issues involved very well. The way in which people want to consume these products has changed. Instead of clinging to the old way of doing things they need to find ways of distributing material to people the way that they want it in a monetized way. There is so much money to be made, but too much vested interest in the archaic and cumbersome business models.

    As I understood you to be saying in your Sunday sermon, the root of GW's problem is in its retail business. It has failed to adapt to the challenges and opportunities presented by the internet. It's overheads result in continuous price increases and the narrow focus on selling miniatures. Theyre no longer interested in making good games (their core products are never finished with the continuous and long review cycle - designed to replace perfectly serviceable miniatures every few years for the sake of it). Their good games were the specialist games. Solution? Restructure. Bring some new, innovative management blood in. Close the retail stores and reinvest in "retailer liaison" staff to run events and keep hyping the hobby. Reconsider the review cycle of core games. Refine them rather than constantly replace them. Release new products and games to generate new revenue. Advertise to impressionable children. Invest in licensing GOOD video games to draw people into the IP. Licence out specialist games. It's revenue, and at the same time increasing the interest in core GW products. IP goodwill if you will. No brainer?

    As a last point, I recall a while back reading a quote from the game of thrones director that he wasn't worried by internet piracy as it increases word of mouth about the show and results in more people accessing the show legally. Harm from the piracy is debatable as pirates arguably wpuldnt have bought it anyway. In this way it is hard to see how the blogging issues and licensing of games could be harmful to GW or their IP - seems the problem is of their own making.

    Sorry about the wall of text. You have prompted a lot of thought! I'm sad about GW due to my nostalgia for their IP, however I won't buy from them again, especially not in NZ!

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    1. Restructure the company? Yeah, just do it sensibly!!! No more one man stores. Their worth hasn't been proven, and in some cases is proving counter productive. I do think having a smaller number of larger battle bunker stores around the world would be good enough for them and probably prove more profitable and useful. Either way they seem to be sticking to the 'tried and tested' retail model that is floundering somewhat in every other sector.

      Thing is I accept that as outsiders and critics looking in, we're not really in the position to fully judge the business decisions taken by GW HQ. It's always easier to be the critic rather than the critiqued.

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  11. I too am not suprised by the plug being pulled, I am very disappointed though!
    A long time ago, I suffered through a track shelf collapse that smashed my BFG fleets. As much as I loved the game, I felt ill looking at the wreakage and stopped playing. Fast forward to today, I recently finished repairing the damage and was gifted a new sealed box game, chaos ships, ork ships, and the Armada rulebook by my wife who had bought and hid them from me since at least 2005!
    Unfortunately, the modest ork and chaos fleets will be all I'll have unless I find some deals on Ebay.
    At least my Imperial fleet is back to fighting form and also was reinforced by 12 cobra destroyers! And I still have all my Necromundia and Mordenhiem stuff to stay in skirmish Nirvana!

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    1. David, as somebody who had a massive Epic Eldar force smashed to bits by a glass cabinet failure in a store you have my utmost and deepest sympathies for your miniatures loss. It sucks. And it is why all my miniatures now live in carry cases!!!

      While I can understand others being disappointed and even angry over the change, I personally struggle to muster such feeling where Specialist Games are concerned. The damage was done long ago, and regardless of the logic for such decisions I guess over the years I've just come to terms with it.

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  12. I wonder if any of the specialist games other than bloodbowl have a different enough feel and a strong enough following to bring people to make minis for them. Bloodbowl has it's fantasy football knock-offs which all have people building teams which 'fortunately' port over to bloodbowl nicely. Would anyone be willing to do similar for Epic?

    Necromunda, Mordheim etc couldn't care less, all you need are the rules (picked up off T'internet) and some fantasy or futuristic models. Pretty sure anyone can still get them with minimal effort, for instance buying warhammer figures or something cheaper that's out there if you really want to not support GW for dropping the games.

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    1. Well I know one 6mm sci fi company with a big range who had to wait a fair number of years for a profit. There isn't really a 6mm system with the same name as epic, though there are around 3-4 ok ones.

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    2. If you liked Epic, check out Dropzone Commander. It's harder sci-fi than the 40k universe - no psykers, no daemons, no towering typhoons of weirdness - but it's supposed to be quite good.

      Spartan Games is supposedly working on Firestorm Planetfall, an epic scale ground combat game that will operate alongside Firestorm Armada. I plan to invest in forces for both my Firestorm Armada factions. Combined sci-fi warfare campaign, here I come!

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    3. I'll be looking at DZC shortly myself I think. I have a list of games I need to look at as people have asked me to review certain things. I guess it's about time I got round to doing some of them... DZC is one of the most requested.

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    4. 1) It costs too much
      2) It is not very good...
      In general the guys that like DC seem to be ex 40k players and really for them snakes and ladders can offer unheard of tactical challenge...
      Ok I am being a bit mean, but I guess what fails for me with DC is it could be faster and the core engaging concept actually doesn't play out as you wish it would. Hell I can have more of that sort of dynamic movement with an Epic Space Marines army - orbital bombardment and drop pod attack from an orbiting cruiser followed by thunderhawk extraction to be re-inserted into another part of the battlefield turn 2.

      Plus it is 10mm. I am just not going to buy a new scale. We played it with 6mm stuff but it just wasn't a good enough game.

      Spartan games? Makers of 40k/fantasy level rules. Each time I have played we have ended up wishing we were playing something either more tactical/strategic or more fun. Or both.

      Really all that is happening is, well for people like me, we are getting more into boardgames or doing more historicals (king of the batlefield for the win, or not if you are me). Too much sci fi product measures itself against 40k which is great if you are used to that sort of thing, bad if you have been spoilt by better games.

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    5. I think DzC has a solid start. They've got a few issues to iron out - Chris is right that the core idea (rapidly mobile combat) doesn't play out as well as you'd hope, but it's got some good foundational ideas, the universe is interesting, and the models are beautiful. It does manage to handle combined arms in a realistic (if not always satisfying) way, and the rules are relatively well grounded in the hard SF setting.

      Cost is, of course, relative, but I don't think it's that bad. It's no Malifaux, but it's not much more expensive than WM/H would be for a set army and it's certainly far cheaper than anything GW produces. I wrote the army builder for it (FFoR), which includes a cost calculator. Putting together a standard-sized PHR force comes out to around $260 or so.

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  13. Enquired with GW about the rules now the links are gone from the website
    "You are welcome to pass on any PDFs that you have relating to these rules but for legal reasons you won't be able to advertise them on any websites."

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    1. How odd I can now see the links again... Maybe a website error? I was not the only one to not see them.

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  14. I was surprised GW had not done this sooner. They really stopped providing anything for these games years ago. It does make me sad though as BFG and Epic were some of the only GW games I still find enjoyable to play. Guess I'll be holding onto my BFG and Titan Legions box sets, maybe even assemble and paint the Eldar Void reaper I have...

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    1. I really enjoyed Epic, particularly 2nd Ed Epic (or Space Marine as it was known). Really good game. I also really enjoyed BFG, before the power creep infested that particular system... Necrons anyone? They should have killed these games years ago, or tried to breath new life into them. As the second option was never likely to happen I think they should have just bit the bullet so to speak.

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  15. Battlefleet Gothic is dead - long live Firestorm Armada!

    Seriously, I just picked up the Mk2 equivalent to an Aquan starter box and the standard Directorate starter box (I plan to become a Vanguard and evangelize the game in my area). Firestorm Armada is everything Battlefleet Gothic ever was, plus being just a little bit better because it's written with modern game design principals, rather than being old and clunky and kind of outmoded (but still fun - you will never catch me talking smack about BFG).

    GW doesn't want to tap the market for tabletop games in other scales than squad-on-squad? Fine. Other companies will fill the gap, and they'll do it well, with excellent products, at excellent prices.

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    1. BFG might be dead, but mechanically it's still a pretty solid game. Firestorm Armada isn't bad, but it is really quite a different beast to BFG. Both might be space combat, but both do it very differently... As to the point of other companies filling the gaps. Yep, no disagreements there, and it's a damn good thing they do.

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    2. I'd be curious to read a post where you compare and contrast BFG and FSA. As a new FSA player, I'd find it really helpful. As someone trying to sell FSA to a pretty GW-centric crowd, I'd find it very useful!

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    3. I might give that a go Mark, but I'm sure my Blogging doppelganger over at Fire Broadside did a good article on it somewhere... I'll have a blitz through his Blog and see if I can find it.

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  16. I'm sorry to see them go, but have to agree with your core article. Necromunda is one of those things that it seems everyone around here talks about wanting to play, but nobody ever does. Anyone who wants it already has it.

    Still, it is a bit sad. I loved Necromunda especially, and the old Space Marine box set (which would become Epic) was my first exposure to the 40K universe.

    Mainly, it's disappointing to see GW abandon all semblance of trying to make good games.

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    1. Yeah, while there was a pang of sorrow at the thought of these games going to the scrap heap in the sky, the truth is they've been waiting in line to clamber into the scrap heap for a very long time. Games Workshop wasn't / isn't in a position to support them properly then keeping them on life support isn't good for anyone. Time to move on.

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  17. Hi FG, I have to agree with you about Mordheim. It is hands down my favourite GW game of all time. The ability to customize your band, the experience system, it's like a lite RPG where you get to paint more than one model.

    Since my son was born I have had to take a long look at how I game and what I actually want from it, and now that the dust has settled a bit I've realized what was obvious since my childhood, but which I bone-headedly didn't notice: I am at heart an RPGamer who has a serious love for converting and painting miniatures. The only reason I ever even played 40k and WHFB was because they were some of the only widely played sci-fi/fantasy games out there for a good while, and because I got carried away with the miniatures due to having a lot of time on my hands.

    My sci-fi needs are being met by Infinity these days as you may know, but if someone designed a generic Mordheim-like game, I'd be on to it like a shot. It's sad GW never made of it what they could have :(

    One little point. You said "The real tragedy happened as I say years ago, when they decided to stop being a 'games' company and decided to shift towards selling over priced toy soldiers at back straining quantities, and utilize their games as systems for delivering this 'vision'."

    Did you hear the interview with Rick Priestly on D6 Generation a little while ago? The way he tells it he was working in the Citadel mail room and they button-holed him to design a game specifically so they could sell more models, as he was one of the only people on staff who actually had an interest in game design. So presuming he is being honest, I don't think there was ever really a time when making games came before selling loads of figures in GW's collective brain.

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    1. I hadn't heard the interview with Rick actually, but I did seek it out, and I think Rick might be doing a bit of revisionist history there. lol. He's prone to do that you know. ;)

      Games Workshop originally sold RPG books and games from the states. When importing large quantities of metal got a tad too expensive they branched out into producing their own. The games did come later, but for a good long period the quality of the games was important, because you didn't sell mini's if you didn't have good games. That pressure doesn't seem to be their for GW anymore. They are the biggest show in town and people will play regardless. As such their games have become nothing more than justifications for stupidly large tanks, Tonka-toy-esque flying toys and stupid amounts of plastic. But each to their own.

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  18. seems to be back to the past that homeless sleeping on the streets barbour clearance outlet day. cheap caught up in thinking barbour factory shop that he did not like this long quiet daze. He had been barbour factory shop covered in barbour factory shop the body, to find a comfortable position to look at the lights too bright shining stars, wandering, wandering after it has been barbour factory shop mens barbour jacket sale mixed, and with the ability to establish a goal, he has rarely quiet.

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