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Bones Kickstarter #2 Discussion


ladystorm
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Er, not quite. The real problem with DDM was their sales model. The line was fraught with silly amounts of repeat concepts and sculpts, often one set after another. Monsters were often difficult to obtain in multiples, especially if they were popular (dragons, giants, and similar) or had more intricate sculpts (beholders, dragons, etc.). There was also no set cost for a miniature; on the secondary market, dragons could range in cost from $20 to $90 depending on quality, size, desirability, and its originating set -- prices would waiver from month-to-month. Huge miniatures were another problem, especially when they made them available in random "huge packs."

 

Their costing model also increased from $10 a pack in the beginning to about $16 for a standard miniatures pack to $25 (or more) per huge pack. Basically, it was a model doomed to fail (and it did) because people eventually got tired of all the randomization when companies like Reaper were offering set pieces for the same price all day (and year) long.

 

I mostly disagree with your analysis.

 

1) The primary thing that killed DDM was that it wasn't a very good game. Too limited for roleplaying, it was too complex to play real armies.

 

2) For a collectible miniatures game, it didn't support enough sales. For most games you needed perhaps a dozen figures. And a dozen figures per player just isn't enough to support a game, even with upgrades over time.

 

3) For roleplayers (which I suspect was the larger market), it was a huge boon. The completionists supported a secondary market, especially in rares, that functionally provided a huge subsidy to purchasers of commons and a bit less to uncommons.

 

4) The random model, in particular, was tremendously beneficial to GMs. I don't have any hard data, but I suspect that rares cost at most twice what commons cost to produce (because of more colors of paint, mostly). But they went for 10-100 times the price of commons on the secondary market. And since most encounters could be run with commons, that was a major benefit.

 

5) For pricing, I'll agree that the increases reduced sales, which reduced purchases, which increased the cost per figure to produce, which increased prices again. But I don't think that had as much to do with the sales model as it did with Hasbro's requirement that lines produce certain profit margins. They worked exceptionally well when they were a fairly low margin product, but the combination of a game that had run its course with the required increase in margins eventually killed it.

 

Anyway, the upshot is that I was very happy both that the line existed and that WotC decided to market it the way they did, and I know I wasn't alone, as two other people in my gaming group bought their figures by the case as well. It was only when you tried to pick up something popular as a single that the pricing became a real problem until close to the end.

 

Feel free to disagree. However, the Skirmish game was never the primary reason to purchase the miniatures; it was the secondary purpose. D&D RPG usage was always the primary aspect; even the designers admitted this was true. People were really interested in miniatures that paralleled their favorite game--and they were pre-painted! Even better. These reasons attracted my purchases; and, I was buying them by the case, as well. However, the randomization model started affecting a lot of people quicker than it does for Magic. A box of miniatures presents a larger storage problem than a pack of 15 Magic cards. The user base was also smaller. My area had a whopping half dozen DDM collectors versus dozens of Magic players (this was during the height of the DDM product line). Magic players had an easier time trading off duplicates than we did, unless we turned to online trading (which I did).

 

We both recognized the secondary market, especially for rares. However, the random model did not help out DM's as much as people think it did. I talked to many at several conventions who wished they could pick up the "sets" WotC once promised to make but never brought to fruition. Sure, they had some random miniatures, but many of them became sick of using the same models time and time again. Unfortunately, the rising prices kept many of them from buying more in lieu of buying a new game book to expand their games. The DDM price point really was it's primary killer, not the Skirmish game. The Skirmish game was even supported by a player-run group after WotC cancelled the game (and then the DDM line), much like Decipher's SWCCG was after Lucas revoked their license.

 

Randomized huge miniatures also destroyed the line. Against the Giants was the best of them, mostly because of the two huge dragons, red and gold, that made the concept appear worthwhile. However, each huge set thereafter fell short of the original popularity margins because the uncommon huge miniatures were typically far more undesirable compared to the ever-popular rare dragons. When they added the super rares (or whatever the rarity level was called -- I had quit the line by then), I knew DDM was going to fail. Miniatures should not exist at disproportionate rarity levels, especially in random packs; the market doesn't support the concept, as was proven by their falling sales. Limited edition miniatures should be labelled as such and sold separate from the usual sales line to allow customers to choose whether or not they wish to purchase them, which is what they did with their "repaints" -- you had to play the Skirmish game to try to win them (or, again, turn to the secondary market).

 

DDM was a good line, offered by a top company. However, the sales model did not age well, and while the line started out strong, it dropped out of the market much earlier than I thought it should have. I don't have any amazing answers as to how the line could have been saved, and it quite possibly had existed for as long as it was meant to be around. This is where I stop wondering or worrying and decide to enjoy the miniatures I did collect -- I was never anti-DDM. I was simply tired of them filling half the sets with as many repeat miniature stereotypes. How many similar sword-and-board fighters do I need? My personal rate-on-return had hit diminishing returns and I "retired" from purchasing.

 

As opposed to that old hullabaloo, this is why I'm really enjoying Reaper's Bones Kickstarters. They represent the single largest purchases of miniatures I have made since the DDM heyday. Moreover, we can see what we will be purchasing, something I much prefer when buying gaming materials!

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Randomized mini packs turned me off right away. I've never once bought or used a DDM.

The only time I've purchased a randomized mini pack was recently when I bought one of the pathfinder goblins. I knew whatever I got I would like it. Otherwise I agree 100%.

 

And really, bones are so much better. The price is often a better price per mini, you know what you are getting, and you could do a really quick base coat and wash for some basic color if you don't want to spend the time painting.

 

Bones > random minis

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We use the ddm that our DM had for our game ... And that is why I quickly got into buying and painting miniatures after I started playing dnd again. They are pretty crummy and we use the same couple of figures for almost every group of monsters. I am happy to have the huge variety of the ks packs, even unpainted, because at least it isn't all the same.

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We never bought any of the random ddm packs either, we prefer to know what we buy. A very dumb way to sell minis in my opinion.

 

Worked for them with cards.

 

I actually liked the Axis & Allies mini game. But random, so no. I think that might have changed near the end though.

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Can someone link a stat block for the Goroloth? I'd like to marvel at how it's going to be killing my players... :D

Aboleths, when used right, are one of the most terrifying monsters in the game, but not for the killing part.

 

They are ancient, psionic hermaphrodites who like enslaving any and all creatures, both for servitors and food. Oftentimes both. Their mental powers are unrivaled, they have stronger minds than Mind Flayers. They are ancient, possibly the oldest sentient beings in the universe. They are older than the Gods at a minimum, and remember a time before they strode the earth. They are lawful and evil, legendary for their cruelty, though they would not consider their actions evil or cruel, any more than a farmer considers himself cruel or evil for keeping chickens in a coop. They do not age after adulthood, and many are tens of thousands of years old. Only misfortune via disease or violence can end an Aboleth's existence. And with no known predators, that is very rare. They also have a shared racial memory, so every Aboleth remembers a time before all the slave races and their Gods came into being.

 

Aboleths are so alien even artists have trouble drawing them. They are hunters, not prey. They do not have little eyes like cows, horses or fishes on the sides of their heads. No, they have three greatly enlongated eyes, all pointed directly forward. Indeed, with their telepathy they don't even need the eyes, but they use them to stare, unblinking, straight ahead, so you know your doom is upon you.

 

And their powers? They have the aforementioned psionic ability, allowing them to mentally dominate the lesser races and making them one of the strongest minds in existence. But that is secondary. Their true power comes from their touch. You are inflicted with a disease on contact. This disease works far faster than any other known diseases, taking effect almost immediately, partially dissolving your flesh, leaving you with a soft, translucent, mucus layer. This layer weakens you greatly, in body and mind. It also needs to be kept constantly wet, or you will rapidly dry out, wasting away in minutes until you die. Your new existence is as an aquatic creature, albeit one who cannot breathe water and will soon drown. All is not lost however, as the diabolical creature has a secondary power, designed to keep it's thralls in line. Aboleths secrete a slimy mucus. Inhaling it will fill your lungs, robbing you of the ability to breathe air. Leaving water after breathing in this substance will cause you to suffocate when you leave the water. Fortunately (or not) for their new slaves, this mucus also grants them the ability to breathe in the water, provided they sidle up nice and close to their new master and breathe deeply of the substance every three hours. Of course this means slaves must sleep next to the Aboleth, and pray it doesn't get bored of them and swim off whilst they rest, leaving them to drown, alone and unmourned, deep beneath the cold, dark seas.

 

Aboleths are also an aberrant species when it becomes to their ecology. As large, evil, apex predators with the ability to produce asexually and create legions of servitors, they would be expected to be solitary creatures. Instead, they are very social, building vast underground cities with countless miles of tunnels and buildings. No scholar has been able to discern the function or purpose of their designs, though some have surmised they could be some sort of shrine to ancient primeval forces trapped in time immemorial. One prominent scholar surmised that when they build enough of these structures across the planes, the ancient evil will awaken, and all of existence will tremble. This could possibly even explain why such creatures act in such a social manner. Whatever the reason, the Aboleths aren't saying. Even Aquatic Elf rangers have gotten lost in the vast depths of their cities. This adds another layer to the horror of the enslaved, as even if, by some miracle, you manage to break free of their mental control, and can avoid drowning in minutes, you are still lost in the vast depths, surrounded by hundreds of telepathic monsters and their thousands of slaves.

 

If Aboleths aren't one of the scariest creatures in your campaign, you are using them wrong.

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That is a perfect chart! You can pretty much guarantee the creator was an Aboleth slave. That's why it has all the arrows pointing in the wrong direction. Misdirection, the devil is never where you are looking.

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