Welcome to Empirical Purple

A blog by Simon Brady to cover a surprisingly wide range of geekiness, in a combination that no-one else does quite the same way. Probably. Either that, or it'll just be Simon talking about the likes of Football (usually the Soccer variety), PC & Tabletop Gaming, WWE, Movies, Music and occasionally even my actual job of Graphic Design, depending on what I'm up to in the world.



Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Spirits go down while profits expand

This is my 100th blog post. Quite why I felt the need to say that, I'm not sure, as I didn't mark the 76th, 34th or 93rd. That's a Base 10 numbering system for you, I guess.

All the chat lately has been in regard to Games Workshop and their triple-whammy of June's annual price increases, a switch to producing special resin miniatures - which they're calling Finecast - and the shutdown of independent online retailers' ability to ship GW goods outside of Europe.

There can be no arguments now that GW is simply a miniatures company, devoted to an endless cycle of new miniatures for each army, for each rulebook, for each of the two systems they actively support. If you don't come in each quarter to buy a couple of hundred pounds worth of Space Marines (or whatever flavour-of-the-month army they're promoting at the time), they don't really want to know you as a customer.

Me? With my occasional box or particular miniature here or there, or a paint, or a brush, I'm not a particularly valued customer. If I don't walk in to gush over the latest models, I'm wrong. A friend of mine, upon saying he didn't like the latest Tomb Kings, Dark Eldar, or whatever, was told by the manager "If you don't have an actual reason for not liking them, then your opinion don't count." Evidently simple taste and opinion doesn't matter, even at shop level. Everything that GW produce has to be The Miz, because it's all AWESOME!

Except it's not awesome for anything but their cash register. Thanks to the high price of tin reducing their profit margin on metal miniatures, GW have decided to enter the resin market with their Finecast models. Now, resin costs less than metal to produce, which is nice, but generally in business, savings get passed on to the customer.

Oh no, not when it's GW.

In this case, a reduction in the cost of materials is re-inforced by an increase in the price. Boom, double profit! £61, for instance, for a box of five Vampire Counts' Blood Knights. So what if they're gorgeous models, they're more than twelve pounds each for crying out loud!

But what does it mean for the likes of me? Simply, I won't be playing Warhammer or 40k for a very long time. I have a decent amount Blood Angels, a smattering of Lizardmen, handful of High Elves and a Chimera-load of Imperial Guard - all of which (well, maybe keep the Blood Angels the longest) will either be shifted to friends who want/need them, or put on ebay.

So what am I going to spend my limited amount of geekery money on? Well, thankfully, I play more than just what you can get in a GW store. Blood Bowl is my real passion, and thankfully I need never purchase any GW model again, thanks to the variety of stores and miniature producers who cater for the BB community. Admittedly, there are some individual GW models or entire teams that I prefer to any of the independent creations, but that's no more than I'd be buying anyway.

Take the Dark Eldar Mandrakes, for instance, I think - with a simple weapon snip - they'd make fabulous Blood Bowl Vampires, and were I ever to find some decent maiden-like Thrall models to accompany them, I'd be off to buy a box of five Mandrakes to complete my team.

Blood Bowl is the perfect example of what Games Workshop should be doing. It has, seemingly, by far the largest community of any of GW's 'Specialist' Games; more than Necromunda, Mordheim, Battlefleet Gothic, Epic, Warmaster, etc. Gone are the days when GW's 'Big Box' games brought more players into the hobby, and gave them the perfect means of expanding their forces beyond Warhammer or 40k. If you had a Orc army, you could get yourself a matching Orc Blood Bowl team, or bring a Space Marine fleet out to support your ground forces as part of a campaign. It wasn't difficult and it encouraged more styles of gameplay, more boxes of stuff to buy from them, and individual bits to expand and complete the collections.

Now, unfortunately, as all you need to play Blood Bowl is 11 models (with a realistic max of 16), there's obviously not enough profit in there for GW. Despite the fact that Blood Bowlers, like every other GW hobbyist, can never confine themselves to just a single race. Many, I'm sure, have a dream of owning one of each of the 24 teams (of which GW only supports 21, and even then 'support' is a loose definition).

Away from just Blood Bowl (and the PWCBBL Season 2 is gearing up to start in June, hurrah!), I also play my favourite card game in the form of FFG's Game of Thrones, and I'll play any random multiplayer board game that comes along of an evening. I've tried a single game of both Malifaux and Warmachine, and they were fun enough, but not enough for me to get involved in collecting, painting, and gaming with any of them at this point. All together there's more than enough to keep me going, once a week, when my Geek Night comes around.

It's such a shame - the Warhammer and 40k universes are so vast, detailed and varied, with room for everyone to play in no matter what style or game they prefer. The inexorable pull of the 40k universe, in particular, was what brought me back to gaming in my twenties, after officially putting it aside in my mid teens. Warhammer, in particular, has been hit hardest by the increases, as 8th edition promised that 'horde' regiments of 50 or more are the way to victory, while scant months later the price of everything goes up by anything up to 26% - more than seven times the official rate of UK inflation, by the way.

Hobbies are never cheap, particularly niche ones like miniature wargaming, but do they have to be quite this expensive? I would say not, and the online rage is, in my opinion, completely justified. Sort it out, GW!

2 comments:

  1. Yet GW gamers will bend over and take anything up the ass instead of quitting and exploring other game systems. So all this falls on deaf ears

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  2. I'm sure this is a case of preaching to the converted, so for the hardcore GW fans - and anyone not old enough to have their own debit/credit card to be able to order other companies' miniatures online - it's just the latest shiny that just happens to be more expensive than the last.

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