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Subject: Wargame Rant! rss

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Steve W
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Ok, without getting into company names and all that, I just wanted to express some frustration here and see wonder what the general consensus was.

A particular company who's products I buy recently made some changes and are charging some pretty outlandish prices for models, particularly a new one that cost $165 for a single (albeit large) model.

I know these types of games are huge money pits, but I don't quite understand why they are and why it's acceptable. A "large" wargaming model is usually over $100, comes unpainted, requires a lot of work to build nicely, and you have to paint it for it to really be considered complete. A plastic toy, specifically any one of the older McFarlane Dragons series, is comparable in size and detail, comes built, articulated, and well painted, and cost $15-$25. I owned a few. They are very well done figures and make excellent display pieces, at a fraction of the cost. Proxy models FTW!

I understand there is a whole hobby aspect to wargaming for some folks, myself included as I use it as my artistic outlet when I have time, but it does seem crazy to spend so much $ on one model that even then you can't play a game without also owning the rest of an army.

For $165, I could buy Gloomhaven (retail) and maybe the cheapest organizer for it. Or I could buy Zombicide Black plague and a couple of big expansions. Or I could buy Star Wars Imperial Assault plus some Ally booster packs. Or I could pick up plenty of competitive style games like Load or that Piratey one I can't remember the name of right now. All of these games are fully playable and provide countless hours of enjoyment. How does a $165 model ever become a viable business model?

I feel like as a consumer, we let things get this ridiculously out of hand by continuing to support companies like this, but I also get that the hobby may not be for someone that attempts to be semi-conscious about their spending. I can honestly say I've never spent MSRP on a single wargame component ever, and stick to deals and used armies and crazy low online prices. If I can't find a model thru those channels, I don't own it. But not every gamer out there has a Scrooge McDuck gold coin pit they can swim in, so how does everyone afford this stuff? Granted some people prioritize games over stuff I consider more important in my situation, but surely that can't be all there is to it.

IDK, rant is over I guess. Whatcha'll think?
 
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Chris
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I assume you are talking about Games Workshop. I don't know what you mean by "recently made changes." They have been charging an arm and a leg for their products since the 80's. Every time I make more money they up the price of their stuff.

Basically, they have a rabid fan base and have realized they can charge as much as they humanly can and those people will still buy their stuff. They might complain and moan, but they will still buy it. so they charge as much as they possibly can with no care about expanding the hobby.

Now I thought their new CEO was changing direction on this, but I guess not. Anyway, I stopped buying their products a while ago and haven't looked back. Their are a ton of superior systems out their such as Infinity, Bolt Action, Flames of War (not much cheaper), War Machine etc. Plus a ton of board games now. Plenty of alternative products to spend your money on. I suggest voting with your wallet and get into another game.

P.S. Their products do look incredible. To do that they use hard plastic which costs money. To do hard plastic like that you need to use injection molding and those molds costs a lot. Realistically, miniature games are a small hobby so their print runs will be in the thousands, sometimes hundreds for some models. So they need to charge a lot to recoup those costs. When things were made out of lead, pewter and resin the molds for those are cheaper to produce. Someone can cast a few hundred models out of their basement with those materials.
Thus it is easier to take a risk on small print runs.

Not that any of that is an excuse for those insane prices but to give you some insight why they are higher in price - it isn't all greed. (just 90%)
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shumyum
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This is a longish lead-up. The short story is: "I agree, miniatures seem way too expensive."

I have a few Euro/Ameritrash games that have components I have painted (Winner's Circle horses and the gears on Tzolk'in). I decided to have a go on The Godfather figures this fall, going very slowly.

A family member asked what I wanted for Christmas I decided to up my game and ask for a magnifier light. I'm hard to buy for so another family member decided to buy me some miniatures from my favorite game store. They went with some Star Trek figures (six of them in a pack, maybe 4 cm tall each).

I told them I normally like painting things already in a game, but it would still be fun to paint them. They said "no problem, here's the receipt if you want to return them". $50! Of course, I immediately thought I could buy a game I like at that game store for that amount, maybe with many more than six figures to paint.

I seriously don't understand how that works.
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Steve W
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It isn't actually Games Workshop, although I understand why anybody would jump to that conclusion. I've pretty much avoided them entirely due to their pricing, despite them having an entire faction revolving around dinosaurs (my kryptonite).

I just don't understand it! I am still pretty new to the boardgame scene, but am thoroughly amazed at the amount of content I got in Zombicide: Black Horde for the grand total of maybe $120 I've put into it. Same with The Undercity and Widower's Wood and Massive Darkness. Sure these are all co-op games, but still the amount of bang you get for your buck isn't even comparable to wargaming ludicrousy.

I suppose it is all about the money for these companies, but I don't understand why someone like McFarlane hasn't come around and created something similar but out of a different material, prepainted, for a fraction of the cost.
 
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James Thompson
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GW's prices are the reason I jumped ship from 40k to boardgaming... To save money...

Bahahahaha

Send help...
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Rich P
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Are some dibs in order here?
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Lewis Goldberg
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The answer is usually something to do with economies of scale. McFarlane is a smallish company, but they mass produce and sell mass market. GW is a much larger company, but I bet they have fewer customers. McFarlane only has to sell one item at a time to 500K to a million people to be able to price their products low - and with mass market, they don't always sell to the same half million to million. GW has, from what I see of educated guesses online, 200-400K customers, but that's a relatively static pool of people (not static, mind you, just relatively static). When GW comes out with a new toy, not everyone's going to buy it. If a plastic model kit has 4 plastic frames with 32 parts on each one, that's going to be $300-$400,000 just to set up the mold! If GW sells 75,000 kits, the first $6 or so goes to the mold, then there's a unit cost for pressing each kit (don't know what that is), then there's shipping from the plastics plant to GW warehouse. Then there's a box printing, then there's printed material, then there's labor to collate the models into the packages, shrink wrap, then shipping to the retailers. Then the retailers mark it up 40% so they can pay their bills. Yes, that's a $100 model.

McFarlane is churning stuff out to a lot more people, so their unit costs are WAY lower. It's that simple.
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Steve W
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woodnoggin wrote:
Are some dibs in order here?


Ha! Nah, I've sunk too much into the game already and managed to drag 2 cousins in as well. I'm in too deep! But I don't have to continue supporting this company, and I definitely will be looking into the secondary market for those products for sure. I just hate being wrong, especially as we specifically picked this company because they weren't GW, and even then I've been disappointed by them on multiple occasions yet still keep coming back. What's wrong with me? Lol
 
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Steve W
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lgoldberg wrote:
The answer is usually something to do with economies of scale. McFarlane is a smallish company, but they mass produce and sell mass market. GW is a much larger company, but I bet they have fewer customers. McFarlane only has to sell one item at a time to 500K to a million people to be able to price their products low - and with mass market, they don't always sell to the same half million to million. GW has, from what I see of educated guesses online, 200-400K customers, but that's a relatively static pool of people (not static, mind you, just relatively static). When GW comes out with a new toy, not everyone's going to buy it. If a plastic model kit has 4 plastic frames with 32 parts on each one, that's going to be $300-$400,000 just to set up the mold! If GW sells 75,000 kits, the first $6 or so goes to the mold, then there's a unit cost for pressing each kit (don't know what that is), then there's shipping from the plastics plant to GW warehouse. Then there's a box printing, then there's printed material, then there's labor to collate the models into the packages, shrink wrap, then shipping to the retailers. Then the retailers mark it up 40% so they can pay their bills. Yes, that's a $100 model.

McFarlane is churning stuff out to a lot more people, so their unit costs are WAY lower. It's that simple.


I still feel like they're doing something wrong if those are the prices. Check this out.
https://www.facebook.com/titanicreation/videos/2020599303559...
It's a 30cm prepainted vinyl kaiju that is gonna be up on Kickstarter soon and it'll be starting at $75. One of these companies is either incredibly stupid, smart, or greedy. How else is that explained?
 
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Neil Carr
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grandmasterstevo wrote:
lgoldberg wrote:
The answer is usually something to do with economies of scale. McFarlane is a smallish company, but they mass produce and sell mass market. GW is a much larger company, but I bet they have fewer customers. McFarlane only has to sell one item at a time to 500K to a million people to be able to price their products low - and with mass market, they don't always sell to the same half million to million. GW has, from what I see of educated guesses online, 200-400K customers, but that's a relatively static pool of people (not static, mind you, just relatively static). When GW comes out with a new toy, not everyone's going to buy it. If a plastic model kit has 4 plastic frames with 32 parts on each one, that's going to be $300-$400,000 just to set up the mold! If GW sells 75,000 kits, the first $6 or so goes to the mold, then there's a unit cost for pressing each kit (don't know what that is), then there's shipping from the plastics plant to GW warehouse. Then there's a box printing, then there's printed material, then there's labor to collate the models into the packages, shrink wrap, then shipping to the retailers. Then the retailers mark it up 40% so they can pay their bills. Yes, that's a $100 model.

McFarlane is churning stuff out to a lot more people, so their unit costs are WAY lower. It's that simple.


I still feel like they're doing something wrong if those are the prices. Check this out.
https://www.facebook.com/titanicreation/videos/2020599303559...
It's a 30cm prepainted vinyl kaiju that is gonna be up on Kickstarter soon and it'll be starting at $75. One of these companies is either incredibly stupid, smart, or greedy. How else is that explained?


It is frustratingly abstract, but economies of scale really are the major factor in all of this.

To elaborate a bit more on what Lewis was explaining. The $165 model I'd presume is part of just one faction? If you apply that to the GW market then that one model only is relevant to one of a dozen or so factions. So you have to take that pool of 400k of customers and reduce it down (roughly of course) to just 33k of potential customers. Then due to it being a large deluxe model that will invariably be relatively expensive you're reducing that pool down to maybe 10% of the customer pool within that faction, so around 3300 customers. At that point you need high profit margins to be able to make up for the low demand for the product.

The above also highlights another factor that is different from McFarlane models is that the $165 game model is part of a system. It's value is largely bound up in the game's ecosystem. That greatly restricts the audience that the model is intended for and thus demand is low and the prices have to be higher to not only cover the manufacturing, distribution and marketing of the item, but also all of the development costs around the design and integration of the model within the game system. McFarlane doesn't have to worry about any of that. He just negotiates licensing fees and makes a cool model and then the marketing is halfway done by the model already being known in pop culture. McFarlane is riding a wave of popular culture, while a game company is in the process of creating a niche culture.

Still, I can definitely see it as annoying. I gave up on GW over a decade ago, so I can relate to your exasperation. I promise that if I ever become a trillionare I'll make a McFarlanesque miniature game company to crank out massive fully fleshed out pre-painted armies that cost $100 for the whole package. I'll become a dark lord of the miniature gaming world, destroying the hobby as it is known with the cheap, yet high quality pre-painted miniatures that will draw in a larger crowd who have no desire for the creative part of the hobby, but just for the min-maxing technicalities of the rule sets. It will be glorious! sauron
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Steve W
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You guys make some sense with all your logic and numbers. I've only ever invested in this one wargame, and I'm seeing it as a pretty costly mistake. Between model prices and constant rule changes/erratas/editions, it really is a money pit. Rulebooks and edition cards were all a literal waste of money as they became obsolete in less than a year. Board games, on the other hand, don't ever feel as soul-sucking. They've become my comfort zone, and I think I much prefer the lack of constant expansions as opposed to the looming threat of new and overpowered stuff always on the horizon invalidating my old purchases.

Neil, I'll be waiting for your company! Get to work becoming that trillionare!
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Neil Carr
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grandmasterstevo wrote:
You guys make some sense with all your logic and numbers. I've only ever invested in this one wargame, and I'm seeing it as a pretty costly mistake. Between model prices and constant rule changes/erratas/editions, it really is a money pit. Rulebooks and edition cards were all a literal waste of money as they became obsolete in less than a year. Board games, on the other hand, don't ever feel as soul-sucking. They've become my comfort zone, and I think I much prefer the lack of constant expansions as opposed to the looming threat of new and overpowered stuff always on the horizon invalidating my old purchases.


Yeah, all of that has been happening with GW for what feels like eons now. I stepped away once 40k went to their 4th edition. 3rd edition had a reasonably long and stable period, but to have to rebuy so much of the ruleset again to keep up with the game was too much for me at that point. A friend stayed on and within a year or two a 5th edition was announced and I laughed and laughed. My friend was livid for months.

Boardgames are definitely on a per-unit level a huge boost in value. I think the big challenge with the boardgame hobby is that there is this cultural pressure to have an extensive library. You're supposed to have this wide range of games, creating this flexible menu of options to pull out at every game night. So, sure one particular game that costs $60 can be a great investment if you end up playing it dozens and dozens of times. If you treat it like a miniature game system where you essentially just play that one game for several years then it is a steal in terms of value. The problem is that tug for you to own 100 titles that all average out to $60 a piece. Suddenly you've sunk $6000 into the hobby and you've hardly played at least 50% of them due to the vicissitudes of game night selection, fads and whatnot. Even if you're buying everything at 30% discount with free shipping its still $4200. So yeah, boardgames are great, but beware of their own economic trap.


grandmasterstevo wrote:
Neil, I'll be waiting for your company! Get to work becoming that trillionare!


Plans within plans within plans... when the world is ready, the geek industrial complex will wash across the globe!
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Steve W
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I actually own surprisingly few games, but the ones I have tend to all be similar.

Zombicide: Black Plague plus expansions, Monsterpocalypse, The Undercity: An Iron Kingdoms Adventure Board Game plus expansions, Widower's Wood: An Iron Kingdoms Adventure Board Game plus expansions, Massive Darkness, Star Wars: Imperial Assault plus expansions, Mechs vs. Minions, and Raptor.

Most of these are dungeon-crawl, co-op games that our group all enjoy. A buddy has Mansions of Madness, Shadows of Brimstone, and recently Gloomhaven.

While we have yet to play all of them, the amount spent is less than what 3 of us have poured into the wargame and hobby-time aside, the board games see about 90% more tabletime.

I'll never own more than 20 games, but I do see all these massive collections and people with "lists of shame" and huge selloffs of games they've owned but never played. I can easily see how that becomes comparable to wargaming for sure.

The nice thing about the games I own is that most of them are aching to be painted, so I can still use them as my much-needed artistic outlet at a fraction of the price. Seems like a win-win!
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Lewis Goldberg
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The solution is to get 40K into Walmart. Then the models will be $15, not $100+, and then all you will quit it, because it won't be cool anymore laugh
 
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lgoldberg wrote:
The solution is to get 40K into Walmart. Then the models will be $15, not $100+, and then all you will quit it, because it won't be cool anymore laugh


Ha! Like any tabletop wargaming will ever be considered "cool"!laugh
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lgoldberg wrote:
The solution is to get 40K into Walmart. Then the models will be $15, not $100+, and then all you will quit it, because it won't be cool anymore laugh


Talk about the immovable object meeting the irresistible force. Wal-Mart pushes everything to be cheap as anything and GW wants everything expensive as possible. This might possibly lead to a paradox that might destroy the time stream in this section of the galaxy.
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