These days it's passe for many of us jaded veterans of the miniature hobby to throw stones at the "too big to fail" Death Star that is Games Workshop. Who like a Death Star seem at times to be almost universally loathed by the knowing for their questionable business practices. Starting from the never ending prices increases, while you feel like you're getting less and less all the way down the line to its CIA style secrecy, everybody seems to have some reason to gripe. BUT everyone including this author loves the miniatures and the IP so in spite of our armchair CEO expectations we all just keep on buying the Soylent Green.
In the end it is not a big surprise that GW pays no deference to its hobby veterans, so when one cranky old codger moves on to historicals or other game or leaves the GW branch of the Hobby altogether..the folks in Nottingham pay no mind as there are always 3 young faces to take that exiting veterans place. Such is life when you are "too big to fail" in a niche market.
Then along comes these guys.
At Adepticon this year Privateer Press did an amazing thing..not amazing from a business perspective (this type of promotion is as pretty common these days) , but amazing in this particular niche. Having been in their second year of attendance at what has been a decade old Games Workshop celebratory event. Privateer Press decided they would put a $50 retail Warmachine starter box in the first 1000 swag bags, Ponying up 50K in retail product is no small feat, and any more conservative GW bean counter would call it crazy, and Let me tell you what...they made it all back already, and some. Here's how.
First of Privateer Press did something GW hasnt done at Adepticon in as long as I remember. Shown up in force...I saw Jervis Johnson at Adepticon in 2007 since then the token celebrity has gone down the chain until last year we were left with a lame ass slide show from the regional manager talking up stuff that had been in White Dwarf for 6 months on Saturday Night when people want to go party. This year, other than Forge World showing up and making fools of themselves with their bungling...There wasn't a GW "suit" to be found. I find this particularly odd, given this event is primarily and had been totally about their product...how they never really took advantage of that is...er..well see paragraph 1.
Back to Privateer Press, who as I said showed up in force this year with staff, their best tables, said free product and plenty of people to run their games. They treated Adepticon like Gen Con or any other trade show/convention should be treated as a premier opportunity to expand their fan base and customers.
Let me back track here a second and say, I have never been a fan of Warmachine/ Hordes, its been on my radar forever. even since before I got back into the hobby in 07'. The Iron Kindgoms IP, just always seemed like bad D&D setting gone arwy...(in fact there is a similar D&D setting in its 3rd edition, not sure that was before or after). Anway the D&D meets Steampunk meets Anime oversized weapons has never did it for me, I like my " fantasy" "low" and "old school" I do like some steam punk "Arcanum" but the Iron Kingdoms IP just never clicked.
Compile the above with, the consideration that my number one WFB 7th ed compadre, Felix moved on to become a local PP Press Ganger here and that still didnt motivate me, mainly because ,except for himself, there is literally zero hobby community based around the game in our local meta. People seem content playing with bare metal models on green felt with piece of notebook paper as terrain and whatever else is laying around. This lack of interest in the hobby was game ending buzz kill if I ever saw one. However all along, I was hearing and reading that this was a very good tactical game, and while not a diceless system , the randomness of dice /vs your acquired skill was stacked in favor of the latter. So the game has the ring of actually being a game of skill, and not a game of luck. So I never totally wrote it off, it just became a "maybe one day", but seriously it was the last game, I ever thought I would get around to.
Well its looks like that one day has arrived. Thanks to Privateer Press good sense, myself and who can guess how many people got a look at there free box said "hey this is cool", I am going to try this, "what has GW done for lately other raise the price of a Specials 10 unit box to $45 with tax!" I personally got the Protectorate of Menoth Box in my swag bag, but since I am about done with playing religious zealots, (thanks Sigmar) I was lucky enough to trade with someone for the Cryx box, I like the undead, and we've got undead Pirates, so whats not to like?...I dont have to like the other stuff I am killing, that's the point..In all seriousness, there is plenty I do like in the Cryx and Mercenary Ranges...So I am sold, not to mention the new edition was publicly playtested with fan input so ruleswise that can only be a good thing.
On the hobby side. I know I am not alone in my previous opinion, but of course a quick visit to the PP forums or its No Quarter Magazine and you can find some great stuff on hobby side, not quite at GW levels as a player percentage. but its definitely getting there. The final kicker for me was I know a half dozen + guys up here who are kick ass hobbyists all expressing interest in the game. If you start seeing these guys playing in Chicago land then all of sudden the hobby meta for Warmachine/ Hordes in this area has seriously changed. Because when no one paints, then no one paints..when one guy shows up really painted well, it inspires a couple others to paint, when a half dozen guys are slugging out for best painted, well - its contagious like that. Same goes for terrain and tables.
Anyway..I was motivated enough to try to purchase some additional models (because I am a miniature drug addict) thru my partnership at Cipher Games and quickly was told tons of Warmachine stuff is now sold out?, go figure. My GW collection is probably 5 figures in value on the retail side .IF of those 1000 boxes PP gave away at Adepticon yields a 1% return in the player base on a level such as myself...it paid for all those 1000 boxes retail. The business lesson here is obvious. You need to invest in your customers, if you want them to invest in you. Are you listening Games Workshop?
While I'm in no more than planning/modeling stage right now DO expect to see painted Warmachine here on this blog in the near future whether I ever get past the handful of models and some cool terrain for a game or two who knows? (It not lost on me that WM/H is a "type A" game") The tournament organization and scenarios have also impressed me, so maybe even an event of two. I just wanted to add as I have said many times here before, You have a choice who you do business with "Too big to fail" doesnt mean "only game in town" Anyway I just wanted to give Privateer Press a shout out for doing the smart thing, probably getting themselves a whole bunch of eager new players, and changing one occasionally grumpy venerable gamers mind (that'd be me) ..about a game I thought I'd made up my mind about.
Hey, maybe I get to play Felix again? cool.
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