Monday, February 3, 2014

Will Players Support a New Epic?

So the question was asked on a major blog this weekend if players would support Epic if GW re-released it.  That is a big question even for specialist games fans.  But it is the wrong question; it is not our jobs as the customers to mindless buy what GW is selling.  It is GW’s job as a company to develop and support games that inspire us to invest not just our money, but our time and energy on.
Could GW make Epic a successful release of an awesome game with a growing player base and model range, sure but not by doing things the way they have been recently.  GW has not launched a successful new game in quite a while.  LOTR sold a lot of minis for a while but never caught on as sustainable main game.  Space Hulk was a stand alone release that had a ton of demand built in since it had not been available in 20 years and was known as a great game.  Dreadfleet was just a disaster.  Hobbit also went over very poorly probably for multiple reasons.  Choosing Epic as the first specialist game to try to reintroduce is not a great idea.  Epic has several disadvantages compared to other specialist GW games and GW has managed to reduce its main advantage.  I really do not see that they can do it successfully.

Epic 40K had at least 6 armies: Space Marines, Imperial Guard, Eldar, Orks, Chaos, and Nids.  Epic Armeggadon shipped with only 3: Space Marines, Imperial Guard, and Orks.  They added Eldar later with a supplement but never got to the other 2.  I believe that FW did some Tau stuff later.  40K has all these plus Necrons and Dark Eldar plus all the variant marines and imperial forces which probably are not required for Epic as many of those distinctions are lost in the abstractions or are just slight list priorities.  Now if they want to sell this game to players, the players are going to want to place the race they like, not be shoe horned into the two races you decide for the starter set for long.  Saying that if it sells well we will support it with more races and options is not the best sales tactic for people to invest a ton of money in starting a new game.  You should always claim that you have more releases ready to go.  They should probably even have previews of models and such in the new release info even if they have to 3D print them instead of making the sprues already.

This is where the scale issue of epic is.  At 6 mm none of your other products can be used in the game so you do not get the cross platform support.  If you re-release Blood Bowl with a couple of teams but the rules for them all then you can have all these articles showing people how to convert blood bowl teams out of existing fantasy minis to fill in the gaps while you work on new models if the game has sales levels to support it.   Similarily with Mordienheim and Necromundo where you can sell the normal 28 mm models and terrain and push conversion and kit bashing.  In Epic, if you do not have the model available the only source is going to be another company, ebay for older stuff so they are not likely to give the rules for older models yet.  This is not going to sit well the existing players who you need to be the evangelist for this relaunch.

Another issue with the 6 mm is that the minis are neat but generally not the focal point like in 28 mm.  The epic scale is great for an actual battle game but they just do not look as cool all done up as GW traditional heroic scale.  The 28 mm is actually a horrible scale for a modern/futuristic game as the movement and ranges are all out of whack with reality but the individual man models have real character that players can into.  Not saying that amazing work can’t be done on 6 mm scale just that on average the models do not deserve the same attention as 40K models can.

This leads into the issue of price point.  Epic has mainly be metal.  GW can currently do anything in plastic that they could do in metal or resin before but the issue is volume.  Plastic is advantageous for high volume so they need to actually be very thoughtful in how they design the sprues to get them to sell in bulk.  The second generation of epic infantry came on sprues with light vehicles and a ton of different stuff.  This is probably the way to go where you build an army sprue that has infantry, light vehicles, transports, and maybe something heavier and package like 4 of those into a 40-50 dollar box for each race that actually gets you the core of your army.  For example you could do a box with something like 12 tactical stands, 4 devastator stands, 4 assault stands, 4 scout stands, 4 terminator stands, 8 rhinos, 4 landraiders, 4 speeders, and 4 bikes stands.  Ofcourse before those would have cost like 165 dollars in the metal versions but GW could probably get that all onto a sprue that fits in the tactical marine box and put 4 in there.

You can then have additional multi race boxes for heavier stuff like flyers or titans.  If they try to transition there former pricing model of like nickel sized metal 6 rhinos for 30 dollars and just make it plastic they are sunk.  That is just not going to work as people were just not interested in paying those kind of prices.  X-wing minis are expensive for their size but they come painted with cards and counters and are ready to go.

Would people buying a core game plus a 50 dollar army expansion be enough sales for GW?  They probably would want people to have to spend 2 or 3 times that on the game.  And they will if GW gives them time to expand their forces and get other armies but it will not be straight away.  GW just does not seem to have the patience to build a player base again.

The great thing about Epic was that you got to bring in all the stuff from the 40K fluff into the game, but GW has essentially been pushing that into 40K with superheavies and flyers which just do not belong in the oversized skirmish system that is 40K.  40K never needed flyers since it had skimmers which do essentially the same thing.  A real flyer is across the board in a second and shot at you when they were 5 boards away.  A super heavy with a huge cannon is not going to get up to with 30 yards of you to shoot when there gun has a mile range.  Artillery batteries are not shooting as people who can shoot back with small arms.  This is not the 1800th century.  All the stuff that really belongs in epic they have shoved into 40K to keep it “fresh and cool”.

Epic more recently was a game older players could drift to since it has way more tactical depth from way simpler rule structure but the older players are pretty soured on GW and I would guess expect this type of release to be unsupported long term like the last time.  I hope GW can do it right since Epic is a great game that really does deserve real support but I have a lack of faith.


  1. Epic Armageddon was an interesting rule set, and the updated miniatures were great. I would buy a reintroduced epic box in a heartbeat.

    1. Thanks for coming by. I also would probably buy a starter set if they packed it with plastic like the new 40K starters and such but I not sure since the 100-120 dollar price point would be an issue. They could realy fit in 2 complete armies and terrain but will they.

  2. Never played Epic, and its relaunch would make me curious for sure, but the cost/ contents/ format of the launch would be decisive in my choice.

    1. That is sort of the idea. I would compare something like Black Reach to Dark Vengeance. The contents were pretty similar but one started at 66% higher cost. At 60 dollars you might give it a try but at 100 you really wondering if it has legs and is worth the investment.

  3. I always liked the idea of epic 40k. I also liked the idea of using epic models to build a travel 40k set. I never got around to trying either. A fully functional box set relaunch might convince be to buy in, but I doubt it would carry much further than that.

    I would love to see Necromunda come back out. A plastic ganger box for $45 would be an easy entry for most people plus they'd be great for IG or Chaos conversions. There could also be conversion rules to get the other races into the mix. Something like the Spyrer system where they can't buy new equipment but learn new skills as they develop. Or maybe they don't develop, they just show up for one-off skirmishes in the underhive. Like you said, crossover potential makes a huge difference. A low buy-in is also important.

    Whichever they launch they should use a similar approach as with 40k editions. Have a boxed set with everything you need for two small armies but also offer the rulebook separately and have starter boxes for each army.

    1. Thanks for the comment. Not a real fan of the pocket 40K since epic is a much better game than 40K but being able to play 40K on a 1 ft by 8 inch surface is sort of a fun idea. I assume you would move the infantry as units instead of individuals.