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The buzz about Reaper

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Well between meeting with the President and dinner with the Queen... I was able to find time to browse some message boards.

 

Other gamers on three different forums were of the view that Warlord was stillborn. They also thought there were too many Reaper fan boys on these boards to risk posting. I agree with the fan boy part.

 

Arguements over mechanics and rules were 50/50 pro/con.

 

One thing that was brought up and discussed on all three was the games lack of a barbarian and viking/North men factions.

 

Lack of scenarios, fluff and flavor and players were also mentioned. Offering nothing original was another. They pretty much said we were the ugly step sister of tabletop skirmish. A poor man's Confrontation.

 

I look at Reaper and see DHLs and the map of Adon w/ 24 other territories beyond Taltos and wonder... what are they thinking? They could have twenty other factions and all they would have to do is make stats for the DHL line. They wouldn't even have to release the DHL in different packaging. If you used them, you would just have to buy your own base.

 

Why don't they have hundreds of scenarios? Don't say it takes time and they have other projects blah, blah, blah. They could run forum contests and there are hundreds of gamers that could write great scenarios.

 

Why don't they have Reaper novels? The blah, blah, blahs again. GW has them, Magic the Gathering has them, AD&D and Dragonquest have them. Don't tell me that the companies mentioned are the benchmarks in miniature games, CCGs and roleplaying because Reaper does a bit of bragging in their company info and for good reason. They are the watermark for miniature design and production. Again they could run a search through the web-site, asking for the first 20 pages of a novel based on Adon and post them on the forum and the members could decide what they liked or disliked. Or they could run an actual writing competition competition in conjunction with a publisher here the winning manuscript gets published. These contests are also usually fee contest and writers pay to be in them.

 

Just seems like easy, inexpensive ways to make the game more original and more to many gamers liking.

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Heyas -

 

I can sympathize with the thoughts about too many fanboys and the Warlord rules. I tend to disagree a little bit, but I can understand where the sentiment comes from (especially after being assailed at a con by folks in reaper clothing - not staff, mind you.. but fanboys)

 

However - to address some of the concerns

 

Using the generic stat cards it is very easy to create a norse/ barbarian faction - and is in fact something I did myself. I used the available models from DHL and warlord lines. We've also experimented with stats and special abilities, such as givem them extra toughness, but forcing them to make dis checks when taking casualties from magic (since barbarians hate magic). This is a great place to post trial rules and house rules for help with playtesting and balancing.

 

We've had fluff and scenario conetsts on the forum in the past, after some discussions about special rules came up. All one simply needs to do is say "hey, lets have a forum wide design a scenario contest!" and it's off and going.

 

The examples you list fo novels are from much much larger companies with much more resources at their disposal. You need to realize that reaper isn't all that huge of a comapny with hundreds of people and printing presses at their disposal. Almost everyone at reaper is called upon to do double duties, so along with their usual tasks, they sometimes have to spend time casting or doing something else. They also have to send to an outside source for publication where as wizards can probably take care of that in house. But again, there is a ton of fluff and what not available online - do a searhc through older posts - plus check out some of the files on reapergames.com

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What they can do in house is an idea from the Privateer Press folks with their rules discussion.

 

A weekly update!! They have amazing online support for Warmachine.

 

It's not asking for the moon and the stars to see the new special abilities, data card changes and rules clarifications in ONE updated, pinned section.

 

I haven't given up on Warlord, but I think if they want to see the game grow, they're going to have to get with the times.

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Am I the only one here who buys a minis game based more on the miniatures and the rules and less on the fluff?

 

I find it disheartening when people dismiss a game system based on too little fluff available for it. I also don't understand the reference to too few scenarios available for Warlord. Have people become so used to having their entertainment served up to them by video games and TV that they can't come up with those themselves?

 

And I've never bought a novel based on a mini or card game's background, but apparently I'm rare.

 

I think the real problem for Warlord comes down to market share and marketing power. GW, WotC and now Rackham have poured so much money into their products and marketing campaigns that smaller companies simply can't compete with them. Game stores would rather stock the mega line that is going to sell, and push people to play that. People can make all the excuses they want about a game, but the fact is, they're going to play what everyone else in their area is playing. Don't beleive me?

 

Before I moved, I used to be part of the dominant gaming group in the town I lived in (pop about 100k). WH40k 3rd edition took a while to catch on in that town because we, as players, decided that we were happy with the 2nd ed rules, and weren't going to switch. So even new players would wind up playing 2nd ed with us, despite the fact that 3rd ed was out for almost 2 years. The only thing that broke our groups stranglehold on the game system in the area was the fact that several of us moved - to recruit new blood, the players left behind wound up having to make the switch, as they were no longer a dominant force in the area, and the guy who used to create all the 2nd ed stats for the cool 3rd ed models moved as well.

 

This scenario is played out hundreds and thousands of times across the country/world. This becomes reflected in the online conversations - not very many people will fess up and say "I like XXX game system but everyone in my area is playing YYY, so that's what I play." Instead they make excuses as to why they don't like game system XXX. I've seen the same thing happen here in Denver regarding D&D and several other roleplaying systems, like GURPS or WFRP. Everyone plays D&D, so the rest of the game systems are "crap" or "not well supported" (yes, I was actually told that GURPS wasn't a well supported game system). Store owners are the worst at this - they don't want to stock anything that doesn't come with a guarantee it will sell, so they make excuses about the system. I even had one local store here sit on my Warlord special order for over two weeks, because the store owner didn't think anyone was playing the system and that it wouldn't matter if the order got delayed by a couple of weeks. He lost that order, and probably much of my business for the near future.

 

The only way around this is dedicated people (some might call them fanboys) who continue to promote and play a game and a manufacturer who supports those people. That's why Renegade Legion continued to sell after FASA decided it couldn't afford both it and Battletech - because they were willing to license it out to a manufacturer who beleived in the game and people were still playing it. (Too bad Magic:TG had such a negative impact on the mini's portion of the game industry at the time). For a look at it from the other angle - take a look at most of GWs specialist games - Warmaster, Epic, Necromunda, etc - even though they have the marketing power of GW behind them, GW basically disregards the systems in their marketing and stocking availability, and therefore, so do most gamers.

 

I wonder how many of those who say they won't post here aren't really scared of the fanboys, but more scared of having to defend their position about the game when their position is really based more on what everyone around them is playing.

 

Because although Warlord has it's flaws, it has no more or no less than any GW/WotC/Rackham game system. It's kind of like arguing over vanilla vs chocolate vs rocky road ice cream.

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I want three out of three. Great miniatures. Great rules set. Great fluff.

 

1. Reaper has some great sculptors and great miniatures, but hardly original. It's all basically a D&D knockoff. Reaper's market share is built on the success of D&D, and roleplaying enthusiasts. Painters also make up a share of the people buying Warlord minis.

 

2. The RAGE mechanic is hardly ground breaking. Defensive strikes and the d10 have been around since Celtos. The more experienced gamers are gravitating towards Warmachine (everything is broken, and that's the point!), Dark-Age, any number of sci-fi games, etc. I'm finding more people to play Chronopia with around my region than Warlord!! A dead game is still having presence at cons when Warlord is nowhere around. Warlord is still on the racks at most game stores, so I don't think people have never heard of it.

 

3. The fluff. Taltos is again, a D&D knockoff. The Orcs are green, the Elves and Dwarves look like Tolkien's, and even the Darkspawn are a twist on the Drow. Reaper has not gone out on a limb to create a backdrop that's all its own. Dark-Age--based on Brom's art and put into a unique setting. Warmachine; steampunk has changed the face of tabletop. Historicals; making a comeback.

 

I can't fault them for playing it safe, but that's the word on other gaming forums, distilled down to three points.

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Rules are a dime-a-dozen. I have plenty of "generic" fantasy rules, as well as plenty of setting-specific rules. WHile quality of figures are an important aspect, one thing that often drives my figure purchases is reading the fluff. I just MUST have another Warhammer so I can make "Black Widow" Kerensky's ride, etc. I thought about getting into CAV...but meh. Minis are nice, rules are good, but I have no inspiration to drop a couple hundred dollars on a game that doesn't fire my passions. Contrast this with Battletech (a ruleset whose mechanic is a bit less realistic, but has infinitely more support in "fluff" in one month than CAV has all year...perhaps in its lifetime!), and I'm planning on when books will (or may be) released, budgeting my money, to make SURE I can make these purchases of games and minis.

 

No, I don't think Fluff is a decisive factor in whether I buy rules or minis. But it absolutely IS a decisive factor that engenders loyalty to a specific product line (i.e. "fanboyism" if you like). In the end I may just go ahead and use the CAV rules for Renegade Legion, and the CAV minis for mechwarrior. SUre, reaper got my dollar for those initial sales, but there's nothing to compell me to come back and make repeat sales...

 

Damon.

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I want three out of three. Great miniatures. Great rules set. Great fluff.

That kind of reminds me of that sign you see in a lot of mechanics shops and custom metal work houses: "Good, Fast and Cheap - pick two" I wonder if it's not also applicable to games as well. I've yet to see a game that has all three.

1. Reaper has some great sculptors and great miniatures, but hardly original. It's all basically a D&D knockoff. Reaper's market share is built on the success of D&D, and roleplaying enthusiasts. Painters also make up a share of the people buying Warlord minis.

So is the Warhammer World for that matter. GW/Citadel got their start making mini's and scenarios for D&D. D&D/Chainmail practically invented the genre, so it should be suprising that so many games a twist on it

2. The RAGE mechanic is hardly ground breaking. Defensive strikes and the d10 have been around since Celtos. The more experienced gamers are gravitating towards Warmachine (everything is broken, and that's the point!), Dark-Age, any number of sci-fi games, etc. I'm finding more people to play Chronopia with around my region than Warlord!! A dead game is still having presence at cons when Warlord is nowhere around. Warlord is still on the racks at most game stores, so I don't think people have never heard of it.

Just because they aren't groundbreaking mechanics doesn't mean they aren't decent mechanics. Simple and well known can be good. But I comment on this because your one sentance proves my point - "I'm finding more people to play Chronopia with around my region than Warlord!!" People will play what others in the area are playing, and rules systems be damned. I know an area where Renegade Legion is still being actively played, and Warlord has a small presence as well.

3. The fluff. Taltos is again, a D&D knockoff. The Orcs are green, the Elves and Dwarves look like Tolkien's, and even the Darkspawn are a twist on the Drow. Reaper has not gone out on a limb to create a backdrop that's all its own. Dark-Age--based on Brom's art and put into a unique setting. Warmachine; steampunk has changed the face of tabletop. Historicals; making a comeback.

:chuckle: I find it funny that you say Historicals are making a come back. In the areas I've lived, historicals have always had a strong presence, it's just that fantasy and historical gamers didn't mingle much until Flames of War. I find fantasy and sci-fi players are far more fickle than historical gamers.

 

Again, so what if it's a D&D knockoff? So is Warhammer. No one makes this complaint about the dozen or so campaign worlds for D&D - Forgotten Realms, Greyhawk, etc. I've never had anyone complain that my two personal campaign worlds are "just D&D knockoffs". Just because something is different or the same doesn't make it better or worse.

 

Again, it really comes down to - are people playing it? Marketing makes a big difference here. Some of those games (like Warmachine) have had some success because they are different - different (but not too different) can help draw attention and make you stand out from the crowd, which can help in marketing. But it is always a risk to be different - Warmachine could have easily stalled out as well. Does it have staying power as well? Only time will tell that for Warmachine, where as the mini's for Warlord will still be useful as long as the market leading D&D is still around. As for Dark-Age - never heard of it, it's not in any of the stores around here (that I've seen), so again, it comes down to what people are playing - which is usually driven by a few passionate people in a given region - the rest are followers.

 

I can't fault them for playing it safe, but that's the word on other gaming forums, distilled down to three points.

I wonder what those same forums say about Starguard? - which should have died a long time ago, but it's still around...

 

Anyway, not really defending Reaper or Warlord, just pointing out holes in the arguments people make. I've faced the same arguments with games I truly love (like Renegade Legion, Traveller & WFRP) and yet I still manage to play them. I haven't yet played Warlord, so I can't really defend it one way or the other - other than I like the mini's. Around here, the only thing people are playing is Warmachine, 40k and WFB.

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No, I don't think Fluff is a decisive factor in whether I buy rules or minis. But it absolutely IS a decisive factor that engenders loyalty to a specific product line (i.e. "fanboyism" if you like).

Hmm. Maybe I'm a rarity then. Because it's always the mini's that drive me to a particular game system and keep me loyal to it, followed by the rules, then the fluff. Mini's will drive me away from a system as well - for example, GW has gone too over the top with their figs in recent years, and I just don't enjoy painting their figs much any more. I'll never get into Warmachine or Confrontation because I just don't like most of the minis.

 

Very rarely will the fluff will trump the rules. I love the Renegade Legion minis, but the rule system is a little over-bearing. The fluff is pretty decent though, so I live with the rules. I've recently been considering trying to convert the RL system to the RAGE system, just because it looks like it would speed up play and make it easier to teach people.

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Rules are dime-a-dozen, but great rules inspire people to convert all models out there to that system.

 

...and use it for whatever setting they want to use it for. That was sort of my point I wanted to but forgot to articulate...

 

Damon.

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Quite right - Historicals have had quite a presence from victorian times on, really.

 

Little Wars was one of the first commercial war games rules for casual and recreational play, and people have been improving on them ever since.

 

Kristof65 is quite right - games like Flames of War have helped bridge gaps between historical gamers and sci-fi fantasy gamers. Also, I really agree that fantasy and sci-fi gamers are way more fickle than historical players when it comes to rules, fluff and figures. They will be happy to pay a premium for good figures, where as historical players generally want cheap figures that will fill a roll.

 

Historical players tend to want better mechanics in a game, I think sci-fi and fantasy players are much more forgiving to a rule set if it's for a product like they like. Case in point - Warhammer 40k is a pretty mediocre game. It doesn't suck, but it's nothing earth shattering either - there are tons of other, better (and sometimes free) rules out there, but there is a terrific brand loyality to Games Workshop (although some people just don't know any better, or can't find people to play other rules with).

 

I can write at length about the difference in genre and it's players... maybe one day I will.

 

 

I like Warhammer because it also really rips off historicals. :) The old bretonians used to be hundred years war - the new ones are still very historically influenced, but tend to be a bit more arthurian in nature (and add in classism really nicely.. the knights are pretty, the pesants are revolting..), The empire (used to be) the Holy Roman Empire, as well as other italian renaissance. Their fluff borrows heavily from history as well - the same goes for 40k. D&D borrows really heavily from history and mythology. Tolkien has a strong historical influence in his work as well. There is an old saying that the good writers borrow and the great ones steal.. ;)

 

I admit to getting tired of the standard fatnasty staples of tall, lithe pointy eared elves, stocky bearded dwarves who live in mountains, humans being the youngest race with the most potential etc... but there is still something to be said about the classics. And people do love it - which is why it sells and is so cliched.

 

I also really like that fact that Warmachine went a different way with it's steam-fantasy, Rackham has it's own unique style as well. To me, that really makes a system. Someone can pick up a space marine, and know instantly its a space marine and it's part of the warhammer 40k universe. Someone can pick up a warjack, and it's the same thing. The confrontation races and styales are also really unique and stylized, so they are really easy to pick out.

 

I think this is one of the things that I both love and hate about reaper. Stylistically, Reaper is all over the place - which means that there is something from everyone. I'm typically not a huge fantasy fan, but I still find things that really get me excited in the warlord and DHL lines. Conversely - especially with games like warlord and CAV (it's more forgivable with Warlord) - there isn't anything distinctive about the various races. The Reptus have a very unique new style, but everything else seems pretty standard. I think the Warlord line has a more manga feel to it, which is pretty cool actually (again, comming from someone who is rather tired of seeing manga everywhere) - it has it's own twist. CAV, however - everything looks the same. It's all cool, but it all seems like it comes from only onw or two peoples imaginations and there isn't really much difference between each factions CAV. Nothing jumps out and makes me think "Ah yes! This is Ritterlich!" other than the fact that I remember which CAVs their faction use.

 

Speaking personally - I'll pick up whatever models I really like and I'll use them with whatever rules I really like. For example, I don't care much for the crusader line of miniatures for Warlord (there isn't anything wrong with them, they don't appeal to me aestetically) - so I use Anhurians from DHL as crusaders. I really like the baroque over the typ styling of the 40k miniatures (although the new fantasy minis are leaving me cold) - so I'll use them and I'll probably play them with the Defiance Rules.

 

I also eat up 40k fluff. Bigtime. It's a huge guilty pleasure of mine, and I'll pick up just about every novel and fluff book released as I can't get enough of it. I think a big part of it is I like to see which historical influences they are using this week - but honestly the fluff is probably the biggest appeal that 40k has for me. I'll play games I don't dig the background for as well, however, if the game itself is good. But if the game AND the fluff is good, its just that much sweeter.

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I look at Reaper and see DHLs and the map of Adon w/ 24 other territories beyond Taltos and wonder... what are they thinking? They could have twenty other factions and all they would have to do is make stats for the DHL line. They wouldn't even have to release the DHL in different packaging. If you used them, you would just have to buy your own base.

 

IIRC it was said somewhere in the early stages of Warlord's development that the Taltos setting would be the first of many more settings to come that would include other parts of Adon. BUT what they found was that just like with the old DHA ruleset, the amount of models that would need to be produced and the amount of additional statistics and faction fluff (not to mention betatesting) would weigh the system down like a lead balloon. Those of us who played DHA were constantly having to proxy in other makers' models because Reaper did not have the resources to create every model needed. They were (and still are) a small company with no stockholders and not a whole hellu-lot liquid capital to throw into minis, writers, printing etc. The Taltos setting was probably "a bite they believed they could chew".

 

As for the setting being "a D&D ripoff", don't forget that D&D was a Tolkien ripoff..and JRR ripped off dozens of existing sources including the Kalevala. Still, it's what people like..and what people pay money for.

 

As for need for more "fluff", I agree...so start writing. There's a fan-fiction section at ReaperGames.com as well as on this forum. Novels, just like fancy printed data cards, cost money to print..money that at this point is better spent in developing/fixing the existing product. Also, the CAV novels sold rather poorly. Whether this was a reflection on how well they were written or how eager game stores were to carry yet another game system''s literature I don't know. All I know is they were practically GIVING them away at RCon'04.

 

That.s my $.02.

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Hmm. Maybe I'm a rarity then. Because it's always the mini's that drive me to a particular game system and keep me loyal to it, followed by the rules, then the fluff. Mini's will drive me away from a system as well - for example, GW has gone too over the top with their figs in recent years, and I just don't enjoy painting their figs much any more. I'll never get into Warmachine or Confrontation because I just don't like most of the minis.

 

Very rarely will the fluff will trump the rules. I love the Renegade Legion minis, but the rule system is a little over-bearing. The fluff is pretty decent though, so I live with the rules. I've recently been considering trying to convert the RL system to the RAGE system, just because it looks like it would speed up play and make it easier to teach people.

 

It's all part of the whole. I don't like Confrontation or Warmachine for the same reasons (though in addition to Warmachine, I don't like the fluff either...2 strikes and your out; I have no idea what the fluff for Confrontation is, and have no desire to find out since again the figures look like poop in my opinion). But it is a synergy of all these aspects that makes a game attractive for me, IMHO. Strong fluff is an important aspect for me coming BACK to the game. Sure, the RAGE system may be very capable, and while I think the rules for CAV are sharp...I don't feel inspired to play the game. Part of it is that there is not enough there to make it distinct from games like Battletech. One advantage that Heavy Gear had over Battletech (FREX) was solid rules (which I like BETTER than either Battletech or CAV), and a very different look and feel. In the end, though, I play FAR more Battletech than either CAV (none) or Heavy Gear (not much since DP9 seemed to loose focus).

 

IMHO I have an opposite feeling for Renegade Legion. Like the minis, like the concept, like some of the "tech-fluff.' The setting, IMHO, is sort of lame (we have the TOG...which is ROOOOME IN SPAAACE!!! They even have chariot races!). However, a CAV conversion may be the ticket (and just what I mean about rules being a dime a dozen; such a person will convert CAV to RL...and never spend another cent on Reaper products ever again...).

 

BTW, you also touched at another pet peeve of mine about minis games when you said loyalty is based for you on the quality of the minis. In this age of disposable plastic minis, I don't think as many people see their figures as an investment, but more a glorified counter. I fully expect to be playing with my minis for the next 30 years, perhaps more.

 

Damon.

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As for need for more "fluff", I agree...so start writing. There's a fan-fiction section at ReaperGames.com as well as on this forum.

 

I don't think fanfic is going to solve the Reaper fluff issues. For one thing, fanfic is not nearly as well respected as actual literature printed on a piece of paper (or at least on a website with a big ol' Reaper stamp of approval). I as a general rule don't read fanfics (even though I sometimes write fanfic). A big reason being that talent could vary widely. Some fanfic I've read in the past tended to vary between somewhat good and just godaweful. I don't have a lot of time to sit and read, and if I sit down with a piece of unofficial fanfic that turns out to be an adolescent fantasy, I feel a bit like my time was wasted. But beyond my personal opinions, if it does not have a stamp of approval, and I use it as a component of a campaign or RPG (or something), someone later on can come along and contradict that piece because they were ignorant of it, hated it, or were just being lazy. IMHO actual published fluff has a level of officialdom that fanfic cannot have...

 

Damon.

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Different people are drawn to miniature games for different reasons. Here is a short non-exhaustive list in no particular order:

 

1. Attractive models.

2. Attractive paint jobs on said models.

3. Genre/Fluff

4. Rules

5. Other locals playing the game.

 

I was drawn to Warlord for one and only one reason. I like Reaper miniatures. Locally what I witness is that #5 seems to be the most effective way to recruit players. It's effects are like an avalanche.

 

People fall out of a game also for a variety of reasons:

 

1. Difficulty of finding players.

2. Lack of support for the game.

3. A dislike of rules (broken, confusing, boring, unsatisfying, etc.)

4. The company/miniatures/prices are beginning to stink.

5. Too many games to play, have to pick and choose where to spend the time and money.

 

It's usually a combination of the above. In my case, it's been a combination of 1, 3, and 5 (however I still look forward to a few pick up games at ReaperCon). I think as the miniature game market has grown, the competition between games is more fierce, and #5 has become the major deciding factor for most players.

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