Thursday, October 23, 2014

Game Pieces or Models?

I was recently working on some miniatures again after a long break where I did not really do anything.  I kept buying pieces of various types but was mainly just storing them for some mythical future use.  Some of those purchases work quite well for me as I had filled in all my Games Workshop Blood Bowl miniatures that go on the pitch (never into stuff like Coaches and Cheerleaders or Trophies) before they disbanded the Specialist Games lines.  Some of those pieces have gotten hard to find now.  Other stuff is just sitting their waiting for me to think 40K is worth investing back into which does not seem like a very likely event with GW's current path.  Or to start playing some type of fantasy game.

As I was putting these minis together, I just did not really enjoy it.  They were a resin/plastic type of material and while they looked fine there were not a lot of workable modeling options to be creative nor was I under the illusion that I was going to paint them up at some point to some outstanding level.  Maybe it was these miniatures in particular that I did not enjoy or maybe it was something deeper.  I will talk about them more in depth in a future post but I found that I just wanted to get them done so I could try them out in the boardgame they came with.  It seemed like a chore as opposed to a hobby.  I probably would have tried the game out months ago if it had come with soft plastic pre-assembled pieces.  So the models where actually getting in the way of me doing what I had bought the game for which was to play the game.

Now some of this comes down to the type of person I am.  I have years of RPG in my background from before I did any miniature gaming and there the miniatures if used are just sort of enhancements and never the focus. I can enjoy modeling(mainly GW kitbashing) but I never really enjoy painting as I have shaky hands but also high standards so I almost always find myself disappointed in the results of my hours of painting for a single model.

For Blood Bowl, I have my metal models.  Mostly unpainted used that way some for almost 25 years now.  I collect those and want the right ones for any game hence I have every team.  In a recent game someone induced a star player but did not have the right model so I told him he should have let me know and I would have brought it with me.  I guess it might have taken away from the surprise it is not like I was doing game planning or anything specific to his team other than reviewing the rules related to his player abilities.  These are the items in the my collection that I really should get around to painting up.  I have a few partially done teams but nothing finished all the way to basing.

Now the X-Wing game fits sort of nicely for me as the models are assembled and painted to a reasonable level straight out of the box and while you pay for this in the pricing it is no worse than GW in for single model level stuff.  The painted and assembled falcon with rules, mission, counters, cards and all that comes in at the same price the GW wanted to for Plastic Monopose Space Marine Captain from the last Space Marine Codex update.  These are model like game pieces ready for action.

For the soft plastic stuff, I have all these reaper Bones and D&D Coop miniatures and I did find those handy.  When I was trying out the rules for the Dungeon Saga game, I did not need to do anything other than grab some plastic pieces out of the bins and get to work and I had good representations for everything I needed.  While those miniatures certainly have their issues with bendy weapons and weakly detailed human faces and mold lines that do not want to submit to my authority, those things do not matter than much if I am just using them as enhancements instead of focus points.

This sort of matches up with the recent discussion of GW direction as targeting the collectable group even though I started writing it earlier in the week.  I want to be a gamer first.  I want to use the pieces to play the games.  I want to games to be fun, then balanced, and I would like to be able to find other people to play them with.

Sometimes I get into collecting to fill the lack of real gaming but what I collect matches back to what I want to be playing.  I collect Blood Bowl models but I do that because of playing the game in my formative years.  It is the only game I play regularly currently.  Even when I collect stuff I do it in a price conscience manner where I watch for good prices on ebay or discounts and such.  I generally only resorted to GW direct for gift ideas for other people as they had an easy to use webstore.

I am not putting anything into 40K unless I see that I would want to take up the game again or need the models for another game.  This is both in terms of time or money.  For X-Wing, I try to get 1 of every ship but given there release rate that is usually not a problem even on a budget as 1, 15 dollar ship every 2 weeks or a 30 dollar one once a month is pretty reasonable investment level compared to GW where 15 dollars does not even get you a single blister anymore let alone the rules to use the model.

I think most of us do have some collector inside as I see very few bloggers who have just the models for their list but that might be a selection bias as gaming bloggers are probably a little more into it than the average player who might not have such large piles of stuff.  GW wants to tap that collecting urge like they did for the big sales numbers from the first Lord of the Rings series, but that was driven by external forces.  To create collectors of the 40K and WHFB lines, they need to cultivate them as gamers first and get them into the fluff and such and then transition them into the more expensive collection style stuff which is where Forge World comes into play.  Focusing on the pretty crowd with continue to erode the sales volume which will erode the margins which will force more price increases which will push out more of the gamers and cut down on incoming customers and so goes GW current cycle. 

I have talked about this issue with respect to GW workshop before when I discussed there end of the year financials back in July.   That is  probably a better post on this issue in terms of GW but this rambling post was more inspired by my annoyance at some particular game pieces.

Not that GW listens to their customers, since the CEO actually says that they do not in the last report, but there is a petition on these type of issues.

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