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dargrin

GW review I found amusing

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Game Retailing 101:

 

Using your example of a $100 game, any company that had a cost-of-goods-sold higher than $20 would almost certainly be out of business in short order. A smart company would arrange the retail so COGS is closer to 10% of retail than 20% of retail.

 

What that means is that rather than making 6 times the gross profit, the company would be making not better than 2.5x the gross profit by selling direct to consumers.

 

Now, note that I said gross profit. That would be before the cost of keeping the doors open and selling the product. Selling direct entails higher advertising costs, since you don't have salescritters in stores around the world selling your game for you. Selling direct also entails significantly higher distribution costs (shipping, order taking, order fulfillment, customer service, whatever).

 

All of these mean that net profit is unlikely to be much higher when selling direct than when selling through distribution. There are companies that have made excellent businesses through total vertical integration, so it's certainly possible to succeed that way, but they tend to have larger and denser customer bases than are available in the games industry.

 

GW has not stayed in distribution as long as it has through altruism. Oh, they tweak their formula regularly, and they make those tweaks without regard to the profits of any entity but themselves. Sometimes, I think they're far too oriented on the short term and insufficiently interested in the long-term success of their business. But they're still in business when dozens of hundreds of their competitors are gone, which argues that they have a formula that works.

 

Finally, let me note that I'm no apologist for GW. They design for an audience with far different tastes than mine and always have (both games and miniatures). I'm not even completely convinced that they're a net positive for the industry. But they're not doing whatever they're doing just to mess with people.

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While I'm disappointed that PP couldn't keep their prices lower than GW's going forward, they have a good game going, and while it's model heavier than the previous edition, I'd say that they're relatively even with GW on army cost on the average. And so far, they haven't had edition changes cripple armies yet, like GW has (as evidenced by talking to Wood Elf/Beastmen players in the current edition), and left armies with very little current updates (Necrons are from what edition? Chaos Dwarf Army Book, anyone?)

 

Although PP is more expensive per figure the overall cost to play a basic tournament size force is a third less than GW. In fact small based infantry costs almost the same as Reaper's Warlord and Chronoscope figures. Try building a Warhammer army out of Reaper or Privateer stuff and you'll easily spend more cash than on GW stuff. The difference is scale of games is what saves you money.

 

 

 

And I wish that Reaper's game systems were accessible enough that the systems could actually support their figures. Warlord and CAV are nice, but not many people play them at all compared to GW and PP's games, unfortunately.

 

 

This is a self inflicted problem by Reaper. Good games go unnoticed when the company does very little to push them.

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Although PP is more expensive per figure the overall cost to play a basic tournament size force is a third less than GW. In fact small based infantry costs almost the same as Reaper's Warlord and Chronoscope figures. Try building a Warhammer army out of Reaper or Privateer stuff and you'll easily spend more cash than on GW stuff. The difference is scale of games is what saves you money.

 

Luckily for me, there is Reapercon. :;): I started a Tomb Kings army recently, and picked up a troop of Reaper skelly archers .. and some skelly calvary pieces, and a few other odds and ends. Thanks to Reapers metal trade in ... it cost me zilch. Saved myself 100 bucks easy that would have gone to GW.

When I do purchase minis I try to by Reaper products as much as possible for this single reason. It might only be once a year, but its the greatest thing since sliced bread, to be able to look at part of an army and say .. man i could turn those guys into X if i ever wanted.

 

This is a self inflicted problem by Reaper. Good games go unnoticed when the company does very little to push them.

 

 

It's a sad truth. Miniature company first and gaming waaaaay down on the list. I have been working on my own projects associated with Reapers products to try and promote their gaming and move things along. Fan based things aren't honestly the way to go though :(

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Glad to hear that PP's still a bit more cost-effective overall than GW - though I will have to admit, the sheer number of figures on a GW gameboard CAN be impressive at times. But given that, especially in WHFB, figures act like wound markers for a unit, a large force of figures may not actually ACT as impressive in action. Skaven anyone? (Actually I like Skaven, but the usefulness of an individual figure leaves a LOT to be desired from a modeling point of view.)

 

Still, $50+ for five rather unremarkable plastic Space Marine Terminators has ALWAYS irked me, and will probably do so 'til the end of time.

 

And, it's unfortunate, but it's hard to get people to try a new system these days. Money's tighter, the hobby's more expensive, and games go extinct so quickly... I'm a little surprised that Privateer was able to get its foot in the door, sometimes.

 

I really hope that Warlord/CAV are able to garner a bit more support. I'd like another game with good figures to explore. (Confrontation was really disappointing in this regard - and it has such nice figures, too.) Though I might have to start proxying for GW games - I'm not keen on a lot of their sculpts these days. (Want... to find... previous edition... Daemonettes... :angry: )

 

My 2 yen,

 

Akiosama

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Glad to hear that PP's still a bit more cost-effective overall than GW - though I will have to admit, the sheer number of figures on a GW gameboard CAN be impressive at times. But given that, especially in WHFB, figures act like wound markers for a unit, a large force of figures may not actually ACT as impressive in action. Skaven anyone? (Actually I like Skaven, but the usefulness of an individual figure leaves a LOT to be desired from a modeling point of view.)

 

While I can understand the desire for every figure to be "important" and not just a "wound marker," if you want to play that sort of game, you also have to accept that it CANNOT be a mass-battle game. WHFB is a mass-battle game, dependent on ranked troops operating in a unit. Rather than an army of warriors and heroes, it is an army of soldiers. If this sort of thing is a bug for you, then I suggest WHFB is not the game for you, and you should be playing skirmish games...

 

The field is becoming increasingly bare in the realm of fantasy games for "Mass battle" games. There are a few out there, with WHFB being the most visible and successful one, but the numbers grow thinner every year. The trend is to offer more "skirmish" games, fewer army based games. Painting projects become focused on squads or individual figures, rather than units or regiments. I can see why these games spring up: figure support does not need to be as intensive (you can do a single pose for every "slot," requiring a smaller investment from the gamer, and thus encouraging gamers to take the "risk" on the game because the investment is relatively small). There is nothing inherently wrong with skirmish games, but if lets say GW collapses tomorrow and WHFB disappears, the fantasy gaming market will be IMHO far, far less than it was if all we have left are skirmish games like Warmahordes (which would guarantee I leave fantasy wargames, since I'd rather re-fight the Battle of Cannae, than an Irish cattle raid).

 

Damon.

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GW has not stayed in distribution as long as it has through altruism. Oh, they tweak their formula regularly, and they make those tweaks without regard to the profits of any entity but themselves. Sometimes, I think they're far too oriented on the short term and insufficiently interested in the long-term success of their business. But they're still in business when dozens of hundreds of their competitors are gone, which argues that they have a formula that works.

 

Finally, let me note that I'm no apologist for GW. They design for an audience with far different tastes than mine and always have (both games and miniatures). I'm not even completely convinced that they're a net positive for the industry. But they're not doing whatever they're doing just to mess with people.

I agree completely, and will add to the non-altruistic bent by saying that GW's representatives, at least in the area where I live, act more like the Mob with regards to the gaming stores, than they do partners or producers of a sellable product. I am not at all kidding or exaggerating when I say that I have heard hair-raising stories of threats and intimidation by GW from managers and owners of these stores. Not of physical pain, of course. But they keep a tight leash not only on how their own stuff is presented and promoted, but they also try to dictate to the stores how and if they will display the product of other companies.

 

They do have a formula that works (though I find the mentality necessary for continuing to buy from them when the "formula" seems so anti-customer to be something like collusion against oneself). And I agree totally that it is one focused on the short term, without regard to other companies (which is to be expected), but more sadly, without regard to the very hobby-community their game requires to itself be successful. It's no wonder the regional reps are okay with practices that would get somebody in another line of work brought up on ethics violations, when the company they work for is itself so insular and cutthroat.

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The field is becoming increasingly bare in the realm of fantasy games for "Mass battle" games. There are a few out there, with WHFB being the most visible and successful one, but the numbers grow thinner every year. The trend is to offer more "skirmish" games, fewer army based games. Painting projects become focused on squads or individual figures, rather than units or regiments. I can see why these games spring up: figure support does not need to be as intensive (you can do a single pose for every "slot," requiring a smaller investment from the gamer, and thus encouraging gamers to take the "risk" on the game because the investment is relatively small). There is nothing inherently wrong with skirmish games, but if lets say GW collapses tomorrow and WHFB disappears, the fantasy gaming market will be IMHO far, far less than it was if all we have left are skirmish games like Warmahordes (which would guarantee I leave fantasy wargames, since I'd rather re-fight the Battle of Cannae, than an Irish cattle raid).

 

Damon.

I don't see it. Flames of War seems to be doing just fine and Warmahordes is releasing rules for large-scale armies battles as we are typing. Yes, a few skirmish games are up-and-coming, but just as many are coming and going, which leaves room for plenty of them without stealing the thunder from large scale stuff. There will always be somebody who wants huge armies on the table.

 

I happen to be one of those people who does not think the sun rises or sets in GW's pants. If they were gone, we'd all feel it, sure. For awhile. Then something else would grow up to take their place. Wargames existed and thrived before GW, and will continue to after they are gone, which they inevitably will be. Nothing lasts forever in the world of business. Things get bought up, changed, released in some other form, and years later we (still gaming) all look at each other and say, "hey, remember when everyone played x?"

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I can understand and accept the idea of a mass-battle game like WHFB - I do collect that game and understand how that works. However, in the most recent edition, it seems to be taken to a new level - 'horde' rules for frontages of 10+ models, massive amounts of ranged fire, counterattacks, and destructive magic - more so than any edition before it. This is good in some ways - it can be more exciting to watch, and the number of models on the board seems to be higher than ever. But it is just that, more models on the board - so many that the game feels like it's losing some of its tactical nature since troop blocks are so unwieldy and large now. For example, I think this is the first edition I've seen where a block of 40 Skaven Clanrats is a small block - the few players at my local store run multiple blocks of 60-80 now. And many of those are there just for wound markers, so to speak, as maybe 60% actually make it into combat. I guess that seems like a lot of figures to buy and paint for models that actually don't contribute to the game other than as placeholders in their unit.

 

Is that a bad thing? Not necessarily - those huge units look impressive on the board when done right. However, it seems to lead to a lot more unpainted or half-painted/built forces where I play as the players themselves don't value the models enough to see them as worth the effort to model and paint... And that doesn't seem right to me for a game that is such a significant investment of money to play. And don't get me wrong, I do like Skaven - I have a lot of them. But despite how much I have from previous editions of Skaven, this new edition makes my Skaven collection feel insufficient, and that's despite having the original army box, a battalion box, the 25th anniversary Skaven box, and many other individual models.

 

And 40K case feels even worse. Despite it being a skirmish game, troops there, too, are seen as wound markers that are primarily there to keep the special/heavy weapons troops alive. I've heard Ork boyz squads described as a 20-wound Power Armor Nob, for example, or regular Space Marines just there to shield the Missile Launcher Marine.

 

Maybe the people I see playing see the game differently than intended, but it just seems like the average trooper is there only to screen wounds for the few troops that really matter on the board, and that seems odd to me for a wargame. I dunno.

 

I guess what I'm trying to say is that it feels inefficient to pay $40 for 20 wound markers that you have to build and paint? It just didn't seem to feel as extreme in previous editions...

 

Don't get me wrong - I do still enjoy the game. It just seems that the number of models needed to play ramps up each time the game is revised.

 

But this IS just what I see in my local games. Maybe it's not like that everywhere. I'd like to hope that there are games that still feel tactical out there for WHFB, 'cause most of the games I've watched just seem like two lines of large blocks of troops running straight at each other, with a couple lines of missile troops behind them trying to whittle them down before they run into each other. It just doesn't seem as maneuverable as it used to be.

 

My 2 yen,

 

Akiosama

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I don't see it. Flames of War seems to be doing just fine...

 

But I said fantasy games. I am very well versed of what is out there for historicals, but that is not the same thing as playing a fantasy wargame (scratches different itches).

 

I'd hate to see what a Warmahordes mass battle game would be like. If GW is expensive...

 

Damon.

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Anyone played Mantics massive fantasy game? I heard good things about it... and they are working on a sci-fi shooter to compete with 40K now too.

 

And their models are like half the price of GW and look good to me.

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I read Kings of War, and really wasn't impressed. If you liked Warmaster, you might like this. As I don't care for WM, and really play enough element based games in historicals, it didn't really look different enough, or enough of an improvement. Still the rules are free...

 

Also I don't necessarily agree that the figures look good. The undead range is very good, but IMHO both the dwarfs and High Elfs look terrible, dwarfs moreso. GW's dwarf range is pretty so-so as well, so unfortunately there hasn't been a plastic dwarf range on the market I really love...

 

Damon.

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I haven't read the rules for Mantic's game, but I have heard that they go back to an earlier edition of WHFB.

As for the models, they also seem to go back to previous editions of WHFB.

(Big surprise given that Mantic was founded by ex-GW employees.)

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Mantic's rules probably have more to do with Warmaster than Warhammer. I don't think the figures go back to earlier editions of Warhammer either (the High Elves do not resemble Melniboneans FREX).

 

Damon.

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We started playing Kings of War at my local club, and it plays like WHFB with faster flow and fewer interuptions IMO. The rules are very short (around 10 pages IIRC) and since units are basically just blocks that don't change size as they take casualties, you should be able to test these rules easily. It just takes a little bit of reading, something to represent units (playing cards perhaps?) and a tape measure.

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