Monday, May 2, 2016

WSS "Autumn" - Player Lists

The fourteen list for KOW WSS "Autumn" can be found here

Only one of the lists - Ryan's Undead - has utilised Allies.

Some quick analysis:

Drops

  • 8 x2
  • 9 x1
  • 11 x2
  • 12 x2
  • 13 x5
  • 14 x1
  • 20 x1
Living Legends
  • Mhorgoth the Faceless
  • Portal of Despair
Monsters
  • 0 x1
  • 1 x5
  • 2 x3
  • 3 x3
  • 4 x2

Weekend Hobby Update

It was a pretty quiet weekend for me on the hobby front as televised sport took the priority. After the Saints won at "no-rules" (AFL), the Warriors bounced back in the NRL. I was feeling pretty happy until an insipid display by Liverpool at Swansea.


However hobby was had. On Friday evening I put together the metal War Wagon I recently purchased. It went together pretty well though there was a slight war in one side - but nothing I couldn't straighten in the hobby vice.


On Saturday morning Sam and I played a game, Ratkin vs. Goblins in "Kill". This proved to be a really great game and a real change for me as I was outnumbered for once. I managed to make inroads on my right flanks before breaking Sam's centre. However a couple of mistakes by me in the last turn allowed Sam to pull it back to a draw. It was very bloody - I had 655 points left while Sam had 570 points. Both of us felt this was one of our most enjoyable KoW games to date and illustrated the fun you can have when two lots of rabble go at one another.


Painting wise I continued with my "Frenzied Mob" figures which are starting to show progress.

WSS "Autumn" - Racial Breakdown

In the end there were 14 players registered for "Autumn" and the deadline for lists was this weekend past.

Obviously there is something in the water as the Dead are very restless.
  • Empire of Dust x3
  • Undead x2
  • Dwarfs x2
  • Elves x2
  • Night Stalkers x1
  • Goblins x1
  • Basileans x1
  • Varangur x1
  • Twilight Kin x1
Five "Dead" armies likely means five Flying Pharoahs. Certainly, the Dwarfs have left no De 6 unit at home.

It will be nice to see a Night Stalker army out on the table...a new challenge for our local meta.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Fantasy Gaming - The Lay of the Land

Over the past week I've copped a bit of flak by being critical of...well...everything. I've pointed out flaws in the three game systems competing for the Fantasy gamer's attention.

However if people stepped back I think that they would see that it wasn't all negative but in fact "I'm from the Internet and I'm here to help".

Be aware this is at a macro rather than micro level. Your game may be doing really well in your group "but Timmy, the world doesn't revolve around you".

So how do I see the lay of the land? Be warned it's going to be brutal! If you don't like honesty then step away from the screen now.

Age of Sigmar

The heir apparent to WFB. If people are honest it is failing everywhere with the possible exception of Britain (but I'd question even that). Don't believe me? GW threw the sink at it post July 2015 but then had to issue a sales warning in December. It might...and this is being charitable...be selling as much as WFB was (but I doubt it) but look at what its cost. GW had to effectively suspend 40k releases to even get it a foothold.

Now after being told "No Points Good, Points Bad" , in true Orwellian style it is now "No Points Good, New Points Better". This is being dressed up as a win by the AoS community as indicative of the new more community responsive GW. However the more you scratch the upcoming release the less community involvement there appears to be. In fact the cynic in me would say all you have to do to get the UK community stamp of approval is invite them for a game and a lunch and show them a book Finance directed you to produce. This isn't SCGT comp...it's a 2000 point system that was developed post December to save a game that was "failing" financially.

The great myth "We are a model company, not a games company" has been exposed for all its flaccidity. Funny that. You need some context to sell your models. The Old World was a context, the Realmgates of Sigmar...not so much.

One of the great "benefits" of AoS, lower entry costs compared to Fantasy has by all evidence been abandoned. The price point of AoS models far exceeds anything pre-ET. Yes you might not need 40 Witch Elves but is that really relevant when 3 Monstrous Cav cost you 2.5x a box of 10.

While Europe, the USA (outside pockets of Ohio) and Rest of the World has, on anecdotal evidence, been an unmitigated disaster all is not necessarily lost. GW is still the big dog on the block. They make by far the best models and they have by far the deepest pockets (although they are a listed company with those constraints). What we do know is that they will be around in 5-10 years still making models.

Personally, I'll never play AoS because I'm not interested in a Fantasy Skirmish game as my main outlet the removal of ranks and flanks meant I was never part of the target market. GW may make it succeed out of sheer obstinacy but certainly the evidence is that they've done a fair amount of throwing baby out with the bath water.

The Ninth Age

Mea Culpa. I never thought that they would get this far. At the outset I thought committees full of European technocrats would have the whole project splinter in 6-12 months. It still might but hats off to their progress.

Effectively it is a thinly veiled reproduction of 8th Ed - which isn't a bad thing. They have assembled a cast of hundreds to recreate what was essentially the GW game with 15% ETC input. That 15% has balanced the problems that ETC gamers saw with the game and to that goal they've done a great job.

The problem is that it is effectively euro-centric. It does have exposure in the UK and USA but in both cases it is definitely behind the main game.

The elephant in the room is where does Ninth Age get new players. Already this year's ETC is going to be much smaller and you've got to think that over time the rules set will appeal to a less and less numerous core group. The term "Ever Decreasing Circles" comes to mind.

There is constant reassurance that this is not a problem. It is sufficiently "not a problem" that there has been an official blog post on why it is "not a problem" and various acolytes have been dispatched to forums to explain why it is "not a problem".

But it is an issue. And the authors know it. There is a massive reliance on local community to run with it and we all know that gamers are a fickle crew. An argument here, boredom there and people drift away.

Similarly keeping a crew of 100+ authors involved and motivated post launch will be a very interesting exercise. Real life is likely to remove people from the mix and the glamour work is now done.

I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that T9A will never have more active players than it does on 30 April 2016.

It is also not necessarily helped by being the ETC system. I mean this in that it is the most competitive of environments. While participants have been helping development you've got to feel that Easter eggs have been squirrelled away to give teams an advantage come Greece. I'm envisaging a pretty substantial patch post ETC.

Kings of War

I love this game as I find it best pushes my ranks and flanks button. It has enormous advantages as I see it:

  • No single figure removal
  • Tight ruleset with limited ambiguity
  • Fast play mechanics allowing a game to be all over in less than 2 hours
  • Ability to use existing armies

However it also has one of the most defensive group of players/adherents I've seen. Any implied criticism is taken immediately to heart as though you've told them their child is ugly.

 

Suggest potential changes and immediately the accusations come that "you are trying to make it into Warhammer". However that market is the best pool from which to convert players - perhaps listening to some of their barriers wouldn't hurt people too much. Maybe suggestions are impractical but at least entertain the conversation.

 

Suggest Mantic could do things better and the White Knights mobilise in force "Mantic are a small company" "they have multiple focus e.g. Kickstarters".

 

Sorry but that only works to a point. A tournament pack from Rules Committee has taken 4+ months and still not arrived.

 

Suggest Mantic have missed opportunities at a macro level and you just don't understand. Well I think it is fair to say that a UK Clash of Kings drawing 30 people is a failure, that not taking advantage of the ETC as a continued opportunity is an opportunity missed, etc. In the UK KoW is definitely in 3rd place and to ensure future growth the company needs to support the community. This isn't prize support but the running of marquee events. The same in the US. Mantic really need the USA to fully embrace KoW and I know I'd be running company CoK events in each of the Masters regions for the next two years at least.

 

 

So that's how I see it. From my own POV I'm going to continue to play KoW put will try T9A and see how it develops. AoS isn't aimed at me and I'm unlikely to ever be a convert.

 

Hopefully people will read his as an honest assessment and hopefully it provokes some conversation.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Call to Arms 2016 - KOW Players' Pack Posted

The Players Pack for Kings of War at Call to Arms, the Wellington Warlords' Annual Convention has been posted in the Event Calendar.

Robert Higgins is Umpire for the event which will be six rounds at 2000 points over two days.

Dates for CTA are 6/7 August and it will be held at the usual venue of St. Pat's Kilbirnie.

More Gamemat.eu Mats

Last evening I received a parcel from FedEx containing the latest mats I had purchased from Gamemat.eu in the Czech Republic.

First point, delivery. Six days from Prague tracked the whole way. The six days included one day spent sitting at the FedEx depot in Rongatai (Wellington), 20 minutes away. Sigh. I guess FedEx are just too efficient.

Second, the mats. They are great. I purchased one late last year and was so impressed that this time I got two.

The first one is Sands of Time. Egyptian themed with a sunken road running through it. It should prove excellent for my Egyptian desert terrain. Above is the website photo that gives a great indication of actual colour. The photos I took had the colour a little washed out as I was taking them just before dusk.

As noted they are 6' X 4' and printed on a sheet with rubberised backing - think mousemat.

The detail is exceptional. You have photo quality with great resolution. The above photos give an idea with collapsed columns, exposed paving and dried stream beds.

I think Gamemat.eu have done a wonderful job to capture the field of a decaying desert culture.

The second purchase was the Highland Meadow.

Again I have grabbed the website photo that gives a better colour indication tham my photos. However the detail on the mat has been captured and gives you an idea of the surface.

The mats come in carry bags to protect them between games.

They have double zips on them and multiple handles.

These game mats are two of the best I have seen on the market. The surface deal is fantastic. Their website is well constructed and easy to navigate. For those of us outside the EU they remove VAT (sales tax). You can check it out at gamemat.eu

Any for you 40k fans they are currently selling a limited edition Mars Forgeworld mat, ideal for Skittari or Adeptus Mechanicus.

 

Warlords Super Series "Winter" - Change of Date

Just a heads up that I have managed to move the date of the third leg of the Warlords Super Series - "Winter" - two weeks earlier to July 2nd.


This has been done to avoid a clash with Panzershreck 9th Age event in Palmerston North. They were both scheduled for 16th July and I believe that this would cannibalise numbers for both events.


Thanks to the Warlords for allowing me to shift the date. Think it is a win for Fantasy gaming.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Kings of War at the ETC

After last year's ETC, a vote was held to determine the major Fantasy gaming system for the 2016 tournament. Not surprisingly - given a lot of the authors were voters - The Ninth Age was selected.

This must have been disappointing to Mantic as they had made efforts - including supplying a free Rulebook giveaway at ETC 2015 - to get Kings of War selected.

By way of consolation, it was proposed that KIngs of War be included as a two day side event to increase European exposure and position itself for future growth. Initially this seemed to gain good traction and it looked hopeful that a significant event would be held.

I was checking through the ETC forums on TWF the other day and saw that this KOW event appears to be in trouble. It was initially envisaged that there be four man teams arranged along ETC national lines. Some countries, notably France, pushed for multiple teams from each country. I note now that there appears to be less than half a dozen committed teams and three of these are French.

Again this looks like a massive missed opportunity for Mantic. I appreciate that they must have been disappointed to miss out on the big dance but they did have a real opportunity to widen their community. However the company, and their marquee players have put what appears to be little or no effort into build a foothiold at what is a substantial gaming event. There was no reason that given support by the existing playing base that the side event could not have grown to a "main ev enter" like Flames of War did.

To me this is real symptomatic of what I have seen from Mantic since I have been interested in KoW. They get an opportunity and then they fail to capitalise on it to the extent they should.

At present they seem to be relying largely on the adoption of KoW as the system for the US Masters as their key KoW growth mechanism. I've seen little evidence that there is real growth in the UK despite the opportunity they were presented with WFB's demise. In the rest of the world the push is purely from motivated individuals rather than from any efforts by the company as to how they can help. Yes, I know they see things as community led but I am seeing no evidence that they reach out to the community.

Here in New Zealand, for instance, the game is in a delicate state. It could easily flounder in the next few months as competition from other systems - T9A, possibly a revamped AoS - come online.

Mantic really need to do some community intelligence because as I see it they are letting things slip through their hands......regularly.

Age of Sigmar Analysis from Warseer

I don't frequent Warseer very often but with the hype around the new "Three Ways to Play", earlier this week I visited both it and Dakka Dakka. There was the usual internet hyperbole both pro-AoS and anti the system - and not much reasoned analysis.

However I did find the snippet below from Hastings who is one of the GW rumour oracles (generally he and "Harry" have a view into both the company and future releases.

I have reproduced it here because I think it is a good read. How true it is I'm not sure but as I said in the past Hastings has proved to have his finger on the pulse.

Be aware I am open to charges of confirmation bias here because it supports my view that AoS is doing very poorly.

I guess the important question is:

Why would GW change tack so dramatically nine months after the product launch and travel down a road they had previously been so dismissive of?

Remember all the lines around "our customers are collectors" and "we don't do market research", well I think a few chickens have returned home to roost.

Have a read of the below and then I'd be interested to hear your take on it.


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Let’s look at Age Of Sigmar (AOS) vs. WFB “spending”.

Let’s imagine the costs for development were GBP 5 and the cost of production of each box after development were GBP 1 and a box retails at GBP 10. That means if you only sell one box you have made only GBP 4, i.e. sale is GBP 10 minus GBP 5 for development and GBP 1 for production. If you sell 2 boxes your profit becomes bigger, example GBP 20 to buy 2 boxes, minus GBP 5 development, minus GBP 2 production costs equals a profit of GBP 13. Obviously the more units you sell the more profit after you have paid for that initial development fee.

This is where GW got greedy, initially not so much, but towards the end of WFB they certainly made starting out in WFB harder.

A basic unit for WFB was say 40 infantry (4 boxes)(certainly under 8th) that would be a total spend of GBP 40, minus GBP 5 dev, minus GBP 4 production, that’s GBP 31 profit on the 4 boxes, or GBP 7.75 per box. Now let’s look at AoS, a unit no longer needs to be large, in fact as a skirmish game you are probably looking at say 20 models, that’s 2 boxes. So that’s GBP 20 sales, minus GBP 5 dev minus GBP 2 prod, that’s a profit of GBP 13, or GBP 6.5 per box.

Herein lies the problem, to support the AoS business model you either have to:

A/ sell in much larger volume, however as a skirmish game it is not promoted in game to buy multiples of each box, it serves no real purpose or

B/ increase the sale cost of a box from 10gbp to say 15gbp to account for less sales of each unit.

However GW are reporting reduced sales DESPITE having raising the sales cost, this makes the model unsustainable where the outcome is one of three things. You end up selling very small amounts of units at a very high price or you reduce dev costs to maximise profit but at the expense of quality or you find a way to start selling multiple boxes of the same product again, it’s almost a vicious circle and one that outpriced WFB players which in turn then goes back round to reduced sales. Without the sales volume improving I cannot see how GW will be able to continue supporting AoS, either that or they end up with a very small customer base that will pay whatever they ask . Neither is good for growth or sustainability.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Thou Shall Not Speak Ill......

One of the things that has been very evident in the last 24 hours has been the evidence of just how duplicitous the wargaming "press" is.


Visit any news site/forum and I expect podcast and you'll now hear how wonderful GW are in addressing the issue of points/listening to the community etc. You'll see comments like "Every FLGS xxxx reached out to over the past nine months said Age of Sigmar was in trouble and not selling" or words to that effect.


Yet wind back a week and these very same "media" never mentioned this supposed trouble. If there was any negativity it was minor.


You can't help feeling that rather than objective, a lot of "media" are totally reliant on good press to get both information and reward.