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Thursday, 14 December 2017

Warcradle releases the Ice Maiden - Goddam the b*stards!

A little while ago, an email popped into my inbox...

I was a bit surprised, but popped onto Facebook and the Dystopian Wars group was already alight with...wait...anger?

Two things seemed to have triggered people - the price tag of £75 for the model, and a £40 (or $40) shipping charge. Some also questioned the "reworking" of the model and how this was also bad, but that was a much smaller reaction than the first two points.

Now given the vagaries around exchange rates etc, and the fact I'm used to seeing high shipping charges with transatlantic shipping, $40 for transporting a foot of resin across the globe seemed high, but not something to quit a game over. People also seem to be confusion the release from Warcradle and the shipping from the retailer Wayland Games. Shipping is one of those things you either accept or don't, depending on your desire for the produuct, and there is NO standard for how it's handled either within or without the gaming industry.

It then shortly transpired that the shipping calculator was incorrect, and the charge should have been £5 instead...problem (if ever there was one) solved. There's a phrase in the UK - it's a "Storm in a Teacup"...especially valid in this case, I feel.

Then there's the question of price. Spartan had put an add-on cost of £45 for the Kickstarter-exclusive model, £75 for a retail release sounds eminently in-line with what I'd expect. After all, despite the way many of us treat it, Kickstarter is NOT A STORE. You back projects with the promise of getting some rewards for that, and you get big discounts from retail prices, offset by the risk that these projects don't happen, and you don't get anything. Let us not forget that many people did NOT get their promised models from Spartan....but that isn't Warcradle's fault! It's literally got nothing to do with them, Kickstarter fulfilment is purely the responsibility of the project creator, so Warcradle releasing the Ice Maiden is not them rubbing anything in people's faces - it's them giving you a chance to own something you otherwise never would.

So an extra £30 for a general release 230mm resin ship seems...about right. 

Just to put it into context - this will get you a couple of Predators from GW, which aren't directly comparable, but you get the idea. Someone also commented that it would buy the boxed game of Necromunda too, but that's a whole different genre (being one of many "game in a box with minis" type releases from GW), never mind about game. DW is a miniatures game, and within that resin space we all know prices are higher. For instance, this guy is £75.99

So comparison with niche resin models I think is ok, comparison to board games by big manufacturers really is a bit sus. I mean, how much does Monopoly cost these days? I don't know, because it's irrelevant to this topic. Let's move on.

Now I mentioned Warcradle have remodelled the ship too...interesting. Again, there were some "I don't like the new version" type comments, but let's look at them side by side, shall we (well, top and bottom, to be completely accurate!)? I'm not seeing ground-breaking changes in the Warcradle (top picture) version. They've changed the doors and the front...erm...yeah. Now I'm not a personal fan of this ship to start with, but from what I can see Warcradle have made some minor changes to allow you to have the doors open or closed...which is cool, right? It also makes sense, because let's face it, going anywhere with a prow like that is going to SOAK those forward weapons!

Maybe the changes are elsewhere?

Well, the engine seems to have been lowered into the water, but again, not seeing groundbreaking alterations. I think I like the remodelled version better, but it's a 52 vs 48 Brexit-type thing...too close to call for me.

Now I'm not trying to be a Warcradle fanboy here - after all I've yet to see them produce a finished product for these franchises yet - but once again the evidence I'm seeing is that they seem to be doing the right things. Fans called for the Ice Maiden, they've got it...not only that, but Warcradle haven't just done the obvious "make a load of castings of this as an easy, cheap route", but have invested time and effort here to make a model that's more flexible than the Spartan original. If this is a path that Warcradle are going to follow for all of the Dystopian Age and for Firestorm, then I'm in!

I don't know whether the displeasure at this (from what I see is a positive move) is just because WC are tinkering with SGs old stuff, or it's just some weird emotional attachment thing, but I'm failing to understand the hate. Some people's emotional attachment to Spartan is a bit like a rose-coloured glasses look back into an old girlfriend you broke up with years before but she was beautiful, lovely ect, and nothing your current (smart, attractive, loving) current gf does seems to be as good. 

Then you meet her at a university reunion party and realise that you left her because she was an obnoxious cheating cow who was stealing your money out of your wallet. Come on guys, wake up and smell the coffee. We have things good, Christmas is just around the corner and these games (which we had all feared were gone for good) have a new lease of life. Stop being the grinch!!!

Saturday, 2 December 2017

Warcradle introduce the Dystopian Age

Well, it's perhaps slightly coincidental that I manage to post on the blog only just to find out there's another reason for me to write moments later! Here's why;

Yes, Warcradle are "rebooting" the DW universe and integrating their existing WWX universe into it.

Now, there's been a mixed reaction to this, but for the life of me I can't really see why. I mean, two steampunkesque universes sold by the same company, who would have thought they'd merge them? For me, it makes perfect sense - it's exactly what I'd have done in the same situation. Now you have a scalable set of games (1:1200 fleet, 10mm  army and 32mm skirmish) all under the same roof. They have reasonable explanations of the differences apparent in WWX to the other SG-origin franchises. It seems to make good sense.

The other point to me is that Warcradle are doing two things here that Spartan were never good at;

1) They are world building on a grand scale.

For those who didn't know Neil at SG, DW was his baby, and it was his ideas, background (though often written by freelancers) and alterations - he talked them through sometimes, but essentially it was not a discussion, and there was never any grand over-arching strategy to the world, it was more what models could be made, so what games were needed and how did that fit it. To me it seems Warcradle are approaching it from the other direction, and building out the universe with an integrated team (always better) and fitting the games to that universe. This is what I think is the best way of creating seamless integrated games, and allowing a smooth flow and choice for players.

2) They are engaging the community and communicating effectively.

Warcradle have released a 20-odd minute long video explaining what they're doing, why they're doing it, explaining that they're not invalidating people's old armies for AC with scale change, promised clear PDFs and they're hosting a QnA session in a week's time. Oh, and they showed concept sketches and new models too. What more can people ask for??

Now I get it, right - some people are attached to the background as it is, and feel there are substantial differences, but Warcradle has made definite business decisions here in a planned way, and they're handling it as well as I've seen any company do this kind of thing. I'm not sure how they could have done this better other than preserve the settings in aspic, which helps no-one.

I think it's way too soon for anyone to cry "the sky is falling". From a business perspective, this seems an obvious move. It creates an integrated universe which could result in cross-pollination between two sets of steampunk games players. It's a "no-brainer". They're being open about it and up-front before they roll the changes out, and people are shooting it down before anything is released...come on guys, even I'm not THAT cynical!

Maybe it will be a clusterfuck, but give it a chance. Now some will think I'm being hypocritical here - "you wouldn't have cut SG that slack" I hear you cry...well, no, I wouldn't, but that's because SG retconned their own thin material several times and had a track record of messing stuff like this up. Here we have a new company rolling out something after a track record of pretty sensible and creative changes. Not everyone might like 100% of it, but maybe - just maybe - the changes will be positive and work well. If I were a DW player, I'd be quite excited.

Now I mentioned they showed some concept art, and here it is, this one of a really interesting ship with a whale launcher!;

And here are three versions of the whale construct;

They also showed some renders (in spin-around 3D) of three battleships for the Crown, Union and Celestials...

Not only that, but they showed us physical models - the first of the Union Battleship shown above;

This is a beast of a ship, but it retains many elements true to the original Spartan theme of the FSA. The last models shown were from Armoured Clash, and incorporated both DW and WWX elements;

Honestly, if Warcradle handle the Firestorm universe with half as much integrity and openness, it's looking to be a bright future for Armada and Planetfall in 2018. Let's see what next Friday brings!

Take a look at the video for a full explanation - it's well worth watching.

Note all images are taken from the video, and remain copyright of the original material.

Still here....

Hi everyone....

So some of you may have thought I'd disappeared, but in fact I've just been incredibly busy, with my free time taken up with working on my house, taking my D&D group through Rise of Tiamat and playing my Gnome Wizard Dafriut on Roll20 (Curse of Strahd). Thishasn't left a lot of time for anything else - including this blog and The Hub Systems. Rest asured, we haven't gone, we're just dealing with a lot of stuff!

On our house (which was built sometime around 1740), we decided to replace the grotty carpet on the stairs from the ground floor, at the same time as putting solid oak flooring through from the Kitchen, dining room and hall. When we lifted the carpet, we found the sriars were split, rotten and held together in some places by hardboard! I called a carpenter to replace the bad treads, but he said that stairs like this (its a 180 degree spiral stair) were made on site - they'd all need to be replaced...

This started a month-long saga when led to Oscar and I putting in a set of pre-made stairs (with the help of my neighbour), replastering walls, constructing short a massive job when we envisaged getting someone in to lay a carpet...that was Autumn gone!

In Rise of Tiamat, our group had a "rage quit" - one of the players felt he could no longer play with the group due to "differences in play style". That's fine, but I've not seen behaviour from the group I find problematic except from this player...still I respected his wishes, but then he wanted to dictate how he left the campaign, right in the middle of one of the, no. The party now has to carry on without the almost 70,000 experience that his character represents, which is the main problem I have with a player leaving late in the campaign - if he'd left earlier then the players would be almost an entire level higher.

Still, the group feels more harmonious now, and they still have one more episode to boost them up before they face the final confrontation at the well of Dragons...let's see how they fare!

As for me, I wanted to play as well as DM, so I joined a group on Roll20 playing Curse of Strahd. We've already had 4 PC deaths, making the adventure definitely perilous and there's a palpable sense of menace, which is great. My Wizard is now 4th level, School of Divination and Lucky, giving me a lot of dice control. I thought about going for illusion, but the big kickers don't set in for that school until much higher level, and I figured I may not last that long! So far it's been a blast.

GW seem to be keeping themselves together, releasing Necromunda, more codices and models, and not too many things that look horrible - though there are a few (of course!). They seem to be increasingly interactive, which has to be a good thing, though the problem with 40k as an IGO-UGO system remains - maybe alternate activation was just too much of a mental shift for them, which is a shame since the main issue I see with the game is almost wholly down to this simple and very 20th century mechanic.

Anyway, now December is here we will endeavour to bring you a bit more both on the blog and The Hub Systems, so you can enjoy your festive feasts whilst digesting hobby-related stuff. See you soon,

Alex & Oscar