Counting down the days until the Wrath of Kings
Cool Mini or Not’s Wrath of Kings Kickstarter campaign has entered its final days, and at the moment it’s heading for $450K.
Final Tally: 3,754 backers, $717,962 raised, 218 miniatures for the $200 Ancient King level.
Right up front, let me say that I’ve bought into this Kickstarter campaign at Ancient King level, so I obviously have a vested interest in seeing the campaign become as successful as possible and lots of stretch goals unlocked. That said and out in the open however, this seems to be a really good value deal, and it’s brought up some issues that I think are worth discussing.
Let’s start by having a look at what you get for $200 at the Ancient King level. Ready? We’ll talk again at the end of this graphic:
Hello again! Not bad huh? No one can deny that is pretty amazing value—way under a buck a figure, and five very thematic little armies.
And yet for some strange reason CMON seem to be copping a lot of criticism on the internet. I find this quite curious, so I entered this discussion on Tabletop Gaming News to get some insight on why such ire is reserved for a company that seems to be offering pretty good deals.
Now I can only speak from my own experience, but I bought into Sedition Wars, and despite a few issues, I’m very happy with what I received. Yes, the boards are a bit dark and could warp. I did what I always do with warping boards, which was to put them under some heavy books for a while, and that did the trick. Yes, the rules need some work, but I’ve played the game and enjoyed it. Yes, the plastic is not Games Workshop-level quality and they were a bit fiddly to put together and clean up, but we are not paying anything like the exorbidant prices that GW charge. In the end, you can see for yourself the miniatures painted up well.
These are miniatures for a boardgame, not display pieces to be entered in painting competitions, and I think here lies the problem. Some people seem to expect competition-level quality from plastic miniatures that, in the case of Wrath of Kings, are costing them less than a dollar each. This is patently unrealistic. These are gaming pieces. If you want miniatures that you can paint to an exceptional standard and display in competitions, buy yourself a $10-$30 metal miniature and go to town. But don’t expect low cost plastic miniatures to hold detail and clean up perfectly to the kind of standard of resin, metal and more expensive hard plastics.
To me, this just goes back to the same principle: keep your eyes open when you buy into Kickstarter campaigns. Engage your critical thinking muscles. If a publisher is a first time publisher like Studio McVey, expect some growing pains. Take the marketing with a grain of salt—seriously, anyone who takes marketing spiels as a guarantee of what to expect in life is destined to a life of disappointment. Look at how much you’re paying, what you’re getting in return and weigh up your expectations.
When I pay $200 and get over 200 plastic gaming miniatures (and a game) in return, I don’t expect display-quality miniatures, I expect good miniatures that will paint up well and look great on the tabletop, nothing more. If I can’t get at a few mold lines, who cares? If a few joints aren’t perfect and I can’t be bothered to get out the green stuff, it isn’t going to bother me. In the end I received great value for my money, and I can field lots of cool miniatures on my tabletop and play and enjoy the game.
It worries me a bit when I see more and more evidence of a growing sense of entitlement, not only among gamers, but among people in general. No one is forcing you to spend your hard-earned money on these things. No one necessarily owes you a standard of perfection that you have decided is acceptable. You have a certain amount of information at your disposal with which you can make a relatively informed decision. Occasionally, yes, you will be ripped off in life; but in most cases, if you keep your critical thinking facilities sharp and avoid the obvious pitfalls, companies are not out to get you at every opportunity. It just doesn’t make good business sense.
So, there endeth the rant. To me, the Wrath of Kings Kickstarter is great value. Sure, I’ll be a little frustrated if they do end up relaunching Confrontation, because as big fan of that game I’ll probably want to buy into that as well, and the two universes do have a lot of visual similarities. But again, that’s an issue I’m fully aware of and have weighed up as part of my current purchasing decision.
Personally, I hope that the campaign goes great guns and even more stretch goals are unlocked. But in any case I think I’m getting a lot of gaming goodness for my money here.
As always, I’m interested in your opinions, but please, keep it civil if things do get heated—I know we’re all passionate about our gaming.
I don’t see anything wrong with the points you bring up from your perspective, except maybe a bit of a condescending tone; when you say that people expect this and that, I think you are misunderstanding the issue. Most people understand that the only way you can offer 204 figures at $200 is by using the cheapest material available in the industry coupled with the cheapest production method…
From my perspective – I don’t expect nor do I really want 204 figures for $200 (or a rulebook for that matter) as I don’t intend to play the game. I would have preferred less figures in a different material of higher quality. I can see how that is not happening at this point, so ideally I’d love to see a seperate pledge for painters that has the resin figures in a package deal of some sort so I could save some on buying them seperately. The other option is to offer a pledge of say $100 value to purchase resins at better value.
As it stands i think they lost out on a big part of the community (collectors/painters) that was ready to throw big bucks at them. They overlooked the fact that almost everyone has had chance to work with the material by now and far from everyone deems it ok. You argue it’s good value, but to someone like me it would be a pile of figures that I probably never get to because of the material. To me it’s $200 down the drain. Obviously I don’t have to buy into it, but it’s a loss for them if they are not going to cater to people like me – because I am not the only one. I am not going to be buying very many resins from their store because they are too expensive with the shipping and import taxes, but if they did a resin deal through the KS they’d get a wad of money.
This is just a different perspective and I strongly feel it’s entirely justifiable.
I apologise for any condescention, it’s not intentional. As someone who spends a lot of time frequenting the tabletop gaming world online though, I do get tired of what I perceive as that sense of entitlement I mentioned, because the endless whinging and complaining strikes me as unfair and misleading.
I see your point, but also, this is the product as presented, this is the way that it is affordable and profitable for the company to offer it. While you may wish to have less figures of a higher quality, that’s not what is on offer here, and the economies of scale may not even make it viable, for more reasons than you or I can probably understand without weeks of research. I don’t think that if a product doesn’t meet your needs, then you can blame the company for not doing what you wanted them to do.
You may be right about missed oportunities, but I suspect that the collectors/painters community is far less profitable and widespread than the people who just want a big bunch of good figures to play with. I’m somewhat obsessive about quality usually, but I don’t want to pay NZ$30 for a single plastic figure, and I don’t think the difference in quality is so extreme as to impact the enjoyment of my gaming. I’m interested in fun, attractive-looking games, and that’s what I’m getting here for a really good price.
It reminds me of the Rackham debacle. Their metal miniatures were stunning, but very expensive. Unfortunately they went to the other extreme and suddenly alienated their loyal customers. But the point is, they felt they needed to go more mainstream in order to grow and profit—the high-end collector/painter market wasn’t enough.
My point is, lots of people are happy with the quality level and the price on offer here. The problem is, there’s a very vocal group who are bagging out the company because they’re not getting what they want, and it is unfair to the company and the people who may otherwise have enjoyed getting into the game and may be negatively influenced—and it’s this that I wanted to highlight with this article. There are certainly different perspectives, but I felt that not enough attention was being paid to this one.
Thanks for writing!
Hello, Universalhead, I followed you over from your TGN post, but I remember you back from the AT-43 days. It’s good to see you still floating around. For full disclosure of my own, I’ve backed a number of CMON projects these last couple of years (Zombicide, Sedition wars, Zombicide S2) and generally consider myself a satisfied customer.
To the object at hand then, wrath of kings and the blowback CMON is taking.
First, I don’t think all of the flak that CMON is taking is specifically aimed at the WOK kickstarter itself, but I think it includes a fair amount of pent up hostility from customers built over numerous kickstarters and WoK is just suffering bad timing. The vocal minority that you are talking about, at least the ones I’ve seen, seem to be repeat customers of CMON kickstarters and some of the more disgruntled ones seem to come to the new projects with an ax to grind. As long as you can pledge a $1 and make all of the disparaging comments you want, that’s something that CMON is just going to have to deal with.
Next, you make the point that kickstarter backers aren’t looking before they leap. I wholeheartedly agree with you there. On the other hand, it seems very clear to me that CMON has a deliberate strategy to avoid informed customers. Their kickstarters seem (again at least to me) to be about flash, a false sense of urgency, and hype. I agree that a large volume of high quality figures, at a low cost would be a clear value for most everyone. In reality however, CMON kickstarters produce a large volume of modest quality figures at a low price, while giving the impression of high quality.
I think this was especially true with Sedition Wars. The concepts and painted figures shown on the KS page were of high quality. The front page of the kickstarter stated that the figures would be of the “highest quality” and made in plastic. To me it looked too good to be true, and when I asked in the comments, it turns out that they would be made of restic, which at least at the time, most gamers would not have described as “plastic”.
I’m sorry but “highest quality” and “restic” do not go together. It didn’t matter to me, I had the facts, I’d worked with restic before and the figures I received were pretty much what I expected. However I can certainly envision a gamer with more limited experience, buying into the hype and marketing and then being sorely disappointed on the back end. I don’t have a whole lot of sympathy for those customers, but I can at least understand how that can build resentment.
Flash forward to WoK and it looks like CMON is running the same kind of campaign, pump the positives, downplay the negatives and keep the figures per pledge moving up and up and up. So you and I both have a pretty good idea as to what these figures will look like out of the box, but can you honestly say they are portraying that in the campaign? Look at the first two models on the home page rendered in outstanding NMM paint jobs sporting custom bases.
To sum up, I believe that CMON takes more than it’s fair share of trolling, but I think it invites a lot of it by selling the wrong things to the wrong gamers. They should be more up front about the quality of the miniatures and focus less on big kickstarter numbers.
Hi mate, and thanks for the interesting post. You make some fair points and I certainly agree that CMON should perhaps be more circumspect in their descriptions.
It all still seems a bit strange to me though. Companies always display their product in the best light they can—when did you last see Games Workshop feature a new model in an unpainted state? They’re fully painted by professionals, in fantastic settings with thousands of dollars worth of scenery and careful lighting and photography. And yet no one would ever expect to get that kind of thing out of the box. I’m exaggerating for effect of course, but I don’t see anything wrong with a bit of marketing hyperbole, some fancy bases and a professional paintjob.
On the WoK page, they show an actual production figure being painted. They’ve shown production figures at GenCon. There are pictures of the unassembled models. I just can’t see a whole lot of deception going on.
As I said before, I’ve been painting for decades, and I got the Sedition Wars figures and did not have any problems with the quality at all. There was the usual cleanup, but the detail was fine and they came out looking great. It just seems that there are these ‘collector/painters’ who for some reason are being surprised and outraged when they pay a buck a figure and then don’t get miniatures of a quality that sells for ten to twenty times as much. Then they go and whinge all over the ’net that they’re being ripped off because they can’t paint them to their award-winning standard. Doesn’t that seem a tad naive? Even, dare I say it, a little bit arrogant?
Kickstarters are always going to be about flash and urgency and hitting stretch goals and getting more stuff for the same amount of money—it’s the nature of the beast. I guess I’m just trying to advocate some more realistic expectations here, as I’m reading so many posts around the ‘net from people complaining, when I fail to see the seriousness of the issue.
I’ll be first to rant and rave if there is premeditated screwage going on, but it just doesn’t seem to be the case here. A bit of marketing and customer service inexperience perhaps, a bit too much enthusiasm at the expense of reality, but all stuff that can easily be seen through with a minimal bit of critical thinking.
I promise you, if I get the WoK figures and I think they are absolute crap and not worth the less than a buck I paid for them, I will abjectly apologise, publicly, on this site. 🙂
To be clear, I don’t believe there is any deception going on. You’re right that the information is there if people want to dig for it. It’s just that it’s all at the bottom half of the page after you scroll through all the beauty shots on the top half of the page. True, GW and others do the same thing, but usually those companies have an established reputation for quality, good or bad that a customer can fall back on.
Also, I’m not in the “restic is crap” crowd, but I’ve also been in this hobby a respectable amount of time (16 years), and my honest opinion is that this material is not desirable. I’m no master painter, but I take pride in the minis I build and paint. After building and painting the sedition wars core box miniatures, I can objectively say that it takes me around a third longer to get an equivalent level of clean up to either metal or hard styrene figures. The fact that the material can’t be scraped or filed accounts for most of this.
Take away a lot of the hyperbole you see around the net and that’s what most of the complaints boil down to, at least with respect to the miniatures.
The bottom line for me is that WoK is now the eighth kickstarter for CMON in two years, combine that with other blockbuster recent campaigns (Kingdom Death etc) and there is now a kickstarter fatigue setting in. Many potential WoK customers already have money tied up in past projects that still aren’t delivered, others have been disappointed by past projects. I think that has more to do with where WoK sits dollar wise than a small but vocal crowd of complainers.
I absolutely agree with you that they’re pushing it, and that there’s general Kickstarter fatigue. As a Confrontation fan, I keep hearing about a Confrontation reboot, and then along comes WoK with a very similar design aesthetic (I even heard some of the werewolf figures were originally Wolfen sculpts, but I don’t know if that’s true). So I would have certainly liked some information on whether or not that’s going ahead before I bought into WoK. If Confrontation follows hot on the heels on WoK I’ll be a bit annoyed, and will agree with you even more—though, I weighed up these things and decided to buy into WoK anyway.
They should definitely hold off a bit and concentrate on fulfiling and supporting the games they have in the pipeline now, I think.
I must have got a great bunch of SW figures, because the cleanup wasn’t too bad. I wasn’t impressed with the way the little bits were thrown in bags without instructions and the complexity of some of the assembly, but it certainly didn’t seem to take a third longer than other clean up jobs. Perhaps it’s just different people’s standards of quality—I take pride in my minis too, but they are gaming pieces to me first and foremost.
One thing I don’t agree with you is that I think there’s nothing wrong with having half a page of beauty shots—sellers gotta sell the dream after all!
Well after all this it’s going to be very interesting to see the WoK figures when they arrive, and how well the game is supported after that. I still think it’s a fantastic deal and that, based on my SW figures, the figures don’t deserve the abuse that people throw at them (I’ve heard several people compare them to dime store army men, which is just ridiculous hyperbole). I think it’s good that CMON are providing me with the chance to get so much for so little. But they obviously have some serious PR work to do.
It all reminds me, again, of the Rackham debacle. I understand all the old fans hacking into Rackham when they swapped to pre-painted minis, but the fact remainded that AT-43 and the new Confrontation were good, fun games, and they got completely squashed by bad press. Rackham no longer satisfied the old fans, and they made a very bad call by going completely to pre-painted plastic and alienating them, but they were still two good games that deserved to survive, and that I play and enjoy to this day, and that a lot of people without the time and inclination to paint figures would have played and enjoyed. In other words, the one customer base didn’t have the right to ruin it for the other customer base.
Appreciate your comments mate!
I remember having read something about what actually happened with Rackham, however this is retold from memory and as such i can’t vouch for an accurate retelling. I still thought it worth mentioning, just take it as a rumour.
Rackham was having monetary trouble before going plastic and was bought/backed by a company that expected returns within a year. In this company reformation they cut the high cost stuff completely, and the metals and shiny books and all the good stuff went with that. It seems like a bit of a gamble, but as far as I understand Rackham was not just Rackham at that point and the push for a plastic game-in-a-box was a pure win (or lose) strategy.
The strategy I suppose was a sane one, but it was executed kind of arrogantly. The problem with the new product was that it had nothing in common with the Rackham branding other than the setting. In essence they should have gone with a complete rebranding or went with an offshoot company. They put out a product that was aimed at a completely different demographic than their current supporters, but wanted and expected to sell it to them and a wider demographic. This just made it all that much harder considering they did no longer support the fans of their older product and expected them to just accept the new product that lacked all the good stuff (I mean everything from layout to paper quality to miniaturesthat made Rackham RACKHAM). This would have been an awesome product to fill the gap for more casual gamers and new gamers – but they were aiming for the same demographic and wanted to basically “steal away” people from WH Fantasy. I don’t think the bad press they’d get from supporters of their old system was taken into account at all.
The game systems like you say might not have been bad, but the business decisions were atrocious. I never vocalised any thoughts on the subject at the time, but I was genuinly sad to see the metals go and then the company die. I don’t think it’s fair to blame anyone other than whoever made the business decisions.
I think it would have been a different story today with KS and such, but to make a parable – had Rackham offered the plastics in a KS with the studio shots and such, there would have been a massive backlash once people got them in hand as the paintjobs on the confrontation stuff were terrible (the AT-43 were really good imho).
To clarify my point – I don’t think what CMoN (or any other figure company using restic) are selling is necessarily a bad product. It is good value and the quality issue is purely perceptional. Like you said, if you know what to expect you won’t be disappointed. The real issue is with the marketing. As such I feel they are kind of doing the same mistake that Rackham did. They are throwing a wide net to catch as many fish as they possibly can which is a very short sighted business model. Part of the flack they are getting now is a result of that wide net having caught fish they really don’t want. I know the gaming scene is already a small niche within itself, but they need to better define the demographic they want to sell their product to.
To further clarify my own stance – I don’t think they have accurately conveyed the properties and qualities of the material. They keep boasting about high quality and awesomeness and have in the KS comment section and in the video (of the sister model being prepped and painted) stated things that ring untrue to my and other peoples ears. There is already a fleshed out discussion on TGN with links and all if you haven’t read it already. Myself and others were wondering if this was some new superblend of restic that had better properties etc, but no responses were made to clarify… As it stands I feel they have not been honest. It’s perhaps an overreaction from me, but if they had not hyped the material so much I would not have reacted this way if you know what I mean. Still, this does not instill any confidence and has made me apprehensive and yet I am still itching to buy in. I really do like the models and would love to have them – the restic material is not even the issue anymore since I know what I will be getting. Sadly I had to come to that conclusion on my own as imho they’ve cleverly avoided to properly answer any real questions on that subject, which inadvertantly aswered all my fears. I could have been the right fish 🙂
The KS fatigue has already been mentioned and I think it’s clear that a lot of it has to do with the hyped up marketing not living up to the actual goods. Again, don’t get me wrong, the products are fine, but there is a discrepency in the description and the reality. That little difference can be tiny, but perceived as huge depending on what you are expecting…
To summarise: Properly market your product and you’ll have happy campers.
Phew. Sorry about the lengthy rant. I didn’t even set out to say this much. I suppose I kind of cleared my head.
Apologies for butting into this very reasonable discussion, but I thought it worth chiming in on something.
I’ve also been in the miniature accumulation hobby – I refer to it thus, as I still own more unpainted minis than painted – for many years. I don’t hate restic, but do find it harder to work with like yourself. However, I’ve found you absolutely can file restic minis.
Since I discovered how, I thought more people might like to benefit. You’re right that you cannot scrape restic without leaving marks. It’s also true that you can’t file with hobby files without burring the surface. However, if you’re preppared to invest in a good quality jewellers file (a good swiss cut file – I recommend a Vallorbe #4 or #6) these file restic without the issues seen with hobby files. Significantly reducing clean up time. The files aren’t cheap, but if you’re spending $200 on figures you can probably afford to spend $40-$50 on a good jewellers file that will last years if looked after properly.
Anyway, I made the investment and am much happier working with restic. As such I felt much more comfortable backing WoK.
An excellent tip. I just used a sharp scalpel to cut away mould lines and flash on the SW figures. But I’ll definitely look into this. Normal hobby files get very clogged quite easily, and never seem to clean up well. Thanks!
After hearing all the doom and gloom about Sedition Wars I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the miniatures for the boardgame. A few figure has assembly issues but the Studio McVey had some helpful videos and assembly hints for them. I’ve had “plenty worse” problems with fitting some GW figures together smoothly. The boards weren’t all that dark, again several other boardgames need to be played under much brighter lights. My boards were not too badly warp but if they deteriorate further then I will just put them under some perspex sheeting. Seemed like a case of trying to outdo the original complainer.
My annoyance with CMON associated KickStarters is the delays and repeat problems that could and should be avoided like keeping an eye on how the molds and figure production are going.
Wrath of Kings looks very promising and could fill some of the voids left by Confrontation’s demise. Some of the models are very nice and would not look out of place in a Confrontation army.
I just hope CMON can use the experience gained from previous Kickstarter to ensure the delivery is a trouble free as possible.
And if all goes well then may be a new version of the Hybrid/Nemesis board game in the future.
I do wish we could get more information about the future of Confrontation. I’m very confused about the stylistic similarities between that game and WoK.
But I agree, calling the SW figures ‘army men quality’ is just blatant misrepresentation; they were fine for gaming. If I worked in marketing for CMON I’d be jumping on all this bad press and doing as much as I could to get information out there and clear up everyone’s fears. The delays and problems are probably just a result of inexperience, but there’s no excuse for poor communication in this age of so many communication avenues.
You also had people demanding replacement boards when the new print run of SW came out with lighter boards. I mean, come on, what other company goes and replaces everybody’s first print run game when they do a second print run? It’s ridiculous, and again, you have to anticipate this kind of thing if you want to get in first with Kickstarter.
Mike McVey strikes me a nice, genuine guy who really worked hard to get a high quality product out there, and no one can deny his sculpting pedigree. Sure his studio made a few beginner’s mistakes, but he’s certainly been given a real rough welcome by the public to the world of game publishing.
Hopefully WoK will run a lot more smoothly; surely they’ve worked out most of the kinks by now. I think that the fact that the weapons are made of a different material is a sign of how they’re learning as they go.
I have Hybrid & Nemesis too, but I’ve never got around to playing it, even though I spent ages making a rules summary after much grappling with the terrible rules translation!
This I have to take exception with. Not everyone got the replacements they requested. I had two of my boards that were damaged because the box was too tight and whoever packed it just jammed them in and bent up the corners. I requested replacements for those two boards, CMON said they would but never followed through and after a month, stopped responding to emails. I’ve given up and you can find similar stories of promised replacement items not showing up over at the McVey forums.
Lesson here is that just because they say they’ll replace all those boards, doesn’t mean they actually will.
Well that’s absolutely unacceptable, definitely; they have to replace damaged components. Very disappointing.
I shrugged my shoulders and moved on. My assumption is that there were so many people that simply didn’t like the dark boards and demanded replacements that CMON stopped listening at some point. Word on the McVey forums is that if you actually call, you can get service, but at this point I don’t care that much about it.
Speak of the devil, I just received the a whole bunch of extra figures, new cards, and a how-to-paint DVD in the mail, the extras from my Sedition Wars pledge. The figures look great. Seriously, I just have to say again—how anyone can complain about this kind of value for money is just beyond me. I’m all enthused to start painting and playing this again; and if I have to skip a few mold lines on clean up and make up a few game rules that aren’t fully explained—who cares? It’s all good fun!
And I’m usually a perfectionist … 😉
“way under a buck a figure”
204 figs for $200? Seems I’m missing something.
“Way” is obviously an imprecise term but calling 98 cents “way” less than a dollar is seriously abusing it’s definition by anyone’s standards. 🙂
“”No one can deny that is pretty amazing value—”
Decent value perhaps, but “amazing”?
As compared to what exactly? Buying individual figures at retail?
I should certainly hope so. A pre-order investment of $200+ had damn well better get customers more than they can while buying a la carte at retail.
But if we’re talking about crowd funded KS projects, I have a hard time considering this even close to an amazing value when for $75 I received 240 miniatures in the Reaper Bones KS.
That also had way more unique sculpts whereas here entire groupings look practically homogenous. Tons of actual duplicates and many of the varied sculpts within the same band look almost identical despite slightly different poses.
Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of minis here that look fantastic, and I’m not suggesting this isn’t a worthwhile investment. I just feel some of the perspectives expressed feel a bit hyperbolic.
I believe you’re not taking into account the hardback rules book. Hence way under a buck a figure. And they’ll probably hit the next stretch goal, so add another 5 figures.
I didn’t say anywhere that the Reaper KS wasn’t amazing value, it is. Though I also think there’s a whole grab bag of stuff in it, a lot of which you’ll never use. And correct me if I’m wrong but a large proportion of them were already existing sculpts.
I also think this deal is amazing value, and there’s about 70 different sculpts here, so plenty of variety—remember, this is an tabletop army game so a bit of homogeneity actually looks good on the tabletop; and most of the duplicates were extra figures thrown in as stretch goals anyway. There’s also a unified style, a new game system, a background world—stuff that wasn’t part of the Reaper deal. All of this has to be taken into account.
I reckon Sedition Wars was pretty good value too. I’ve just been cleaning up the bonus figures I got today and they look great, especially the two large figures. Armed with a sharp scapel, the cleanup isn’t that hard at all.
Anyway, none of these Kickstarter need to be compared—they’re all offering lots of fantastic figures (and sometimes games) at prices a lot lower than you could ever get figures before, and yet people still complain. If I can say again what I said in the Tabletop Gaming News thread, GW charge US$15 for a single bloody halfling figure, and in New Zealand dollars it’s $35 (even though US$15 equals about NZD$19, I might add).
So in my book, way under a buck, under a buck, a buck a figure, hell, even two bucks a figure, is amazing value—no hyperbole.
But then I also don’t feel that large groups of people should spend years of their life developing games, playtesting, creating art, sculpting figures, having molds worth tens of thousands of dollars made, enduring all the endless business bullshit, taking the financial risks, etc etc etc, and then still have to offer me the result for a pittance.
For me, part of the enjoyment is participating in the development of the kickstarter project. Watching suggestions taken to heart by the designers to improve the game, and watching designers and developers improve their games because they have access to the capital that allows them to do that. CMON doesn’t seem interested in that. Their actions have become formulaic and predictable. It is very typical of them to wait a day or 2 after the announcement of their projects before they even mention stretch goals. They are gauging how well the product is received and strategizing about the increments they will offer. They have minimal participation in discussions leaving the sense we are dealing with a corporation rather than people. It seems too much like a profit making scheme designed to circumvent the retailer rather than a genuine intent to develop a game. I am not saying this is wrong, but my vested interest in such projects will be a very simple test of value for money. In which case, the more I can get, the better….and don’t ask for my love or loyalty.
On the flip side there have been some very excited newer developers who take their kickstarter experience very seriously. I’m not going to try to name them as it would be an injustice to the many I don’t know. But if you have been on kickstarter long enough, you know what I mean. They are excited and we join them in that excitement as we support their ideas and watch them do their best to bring their best to us. It is a much larger investment that involves more than money. It is an infectious joy and a genuine participation. It is a little easier to part with said money, a little harder to be critical of their decisions.
I have involved myself in a few of CMON’s projects. Respectable deals? Yes. Do I measure every dollar and weigh every alternate use of that money? Yes. Bottom line – if CMON is going to continue to behave dispassionately with their projects, they should expect dispassionate participation. This will include every effort to get as much for as little as possible. Rightly or wrongly, the natural extension will be criticism about quantity and quality. Simple math, really.
Well, there are some very interesting points there, and if CMON are smart they’ll take that kind of very constructive feedback very seriously indeed. Personally, none of the things you mention bother me—I don’t have a problem with them maximising their profit as long as I’m happy with the deal, and not everyone is interested in getting involved in the minutiae of a game’s development. But I completely understand how some people need that kind of emotional involvement in their game, especially if they’re backing something on Kickstarter. It also sounds like CMON need to employ some switched-on, passionate customer relations people …
@basement.dweller Thanks for that interesting post—not ranty at all! I agree about Rackham and their very poor business decisions. It was those decisions first and then the bad press they got from everybody as a result that certainly did them in. Very sad the suits got hold of the company.
Actually, the Confrontation pre-paints aren’t that bad at all. Apparently the second Wolfen boxed set was pretty bad, but I have heaps of the figures—all 5 last release armies—and the prepaints are quite acceptable for tabletop gaming, and some—the Ram and Lion sets especially—are actually quite good. They’re all certainly better than, say, the D&D pre-painted minatures. Mixed with some metals for hero figures and the armies look fantastic on the table (with a fraction of the effort required to prep and paint them; all I did was rebase the plastics). And if you want to make them look better, a bit of highlighting and shadowing is all that’s required.
I think we’re all agree here that CMON need more transparency and communication. I agree that CMON shouldn’t be marketing their figures as top quality. My points are that it’s still a great deal for what you get, and that if you do a bit of research and look at it realistically you’ll see that for less than a buck a figure, the quality is still good enough to make it an amazing deal. And I think people are going over the top with the criticism (eg “army men quality”), and turning off potential customers who would be more than happy with the price vs quality ratio.
But there’s definitely no future in not communicating clearly with your customers these days, and being perfectly unfront about the pros and cons of your product. In fact, customers really respect you for it. Very strange that CMON don’t seem to realise this.
Still really looking forward to my 210 figures though! 🙂
Another point that seems to get lost in these comparisons of various CMON kisckstarters is the fact that the actual roll of CMON is pretty murky.
From the surface, they seem to be just marketing and distribution and independent companies are in control of design and production (Guillotine Games, Studio McVey, Super Robot Punch etc).
For the actual production of the physical game, it has never been clear where the actual responsibilities lie between CMON and the designer. For most of the sedition wars problems (real or perceived) Mike McVey has taken responsibility for the production issues, while generally referring any shipping issues back on CMON.
If that’s true that CMON has little to no role in the production side of their games. That leads me to a couple of conclusions:
First it explains the vast gulf in some of the kickstarter results. Figures aside, the components for the zombicide games have been head and shoulders above sedition wars.
Second, all the talk of “I hope CMON are learning from past mistakes” is irrelevant because Five Houses can’t learn anything from Studio McVey unless they are in direct communication, which is unknown.
Hard to comment on these things without more information. I would hope that all the parties involved have cast-iron contracts and know exactly whose responsibilities lie where…
No, I assume that CMON and the game design companies know what role they each play, but as we do not, the oft seen comment “I hope CMON learned it’s lesson from passed kickstarter mistake X” seems to be wishful thinking.
Well, I’ll let you know sometime after May next year! 🙂
Wrath of Kings was developed by CMON’s in-house development team. This one is all theirs, which may account for the more cautious nature of the KS. Of course they may just be implementing what they have learned so far. . .
I think it’s great value and would’ve backed it if not for the ruleset not being my cup of tea. I’m delighted I got to see it prior to purchase. Thumbs up again.
On the Confrontation front I doubt there’ll be a meaningful relaunch now. This makes me sad as the rights are locked down horribly preventing me getting at them to do something :-D. However, considering the test rules I last saw I truly hope to hing is ever released. IMO Confrontation would benefit from simplification but needed to retain its depth of game play. I don’t think CMON cared for that. In their quest for quick, single roll to resolve, gameplay they would strip everything but the models out.
A few of us are trying to set up an open source confrontation rules group to develop and grow the game. Maybe we could incorporate some WoK stuff as new profiles next year?
Oh, and hello 🙂
Hello! Yes, I would have been very surprised if they released Confrontation, which has such a similar design aesthetic (hello Wolfen!), hard on the heels of WoK. But I’m also surprised that no one really checked out the rights situation with it before announcing the whole Confrontation: Phoenix idea. I heard—no proof of this, mind—that all the AT-43 molds are rotting in a factory warehouse in China (apparently the same one where Dust is being made) because no one wants to pay the 100s of 1000s of dollars required to pay back the company involved that got left out of pocket after Rackham collapsed. Always makes me sad to think of them languishing there. Possibly there’s a similar situation with Confrontation—someone who was left with a big debt wants it repaid before releasing the rights. Who knows?
Old Confrontation (wish there was a good acronym) players seem to regard the last set of rules as an abomination, but they seem fun and fast to me, and the one game I’ve had so far was great fun.
Sadly we must differ on our opinion of the last set of rules, although I am inextricably linked with them 🙁
They are fun, quick and horribly unbalanced. However they are not the rich and deep game that C3(ish) is/was. To me and many others this small scale game had a complexity that belied its playability (or is that the other way around?).
The sheer variety of competitive forces available is astonishing.
However, market forces (details I can’t go into here) caused the end of the game.
I believe that with little effort the game can be made quicker to play, easier to balance and even more fun. All this without losing the great depth of tactical opportunity that I have yet to find in any other game of this scale.
What I lack is the continued attention of a group of interested play testers and solid, honest feedback.
Inextricably linked? Pray tell!
I never had a chance to play C3 (ish). Well, you have me intrigued. I don’t know if you’ve seen my summary and redesigned unit cards for C4 (?) on this site, but I (and at least one other person I know) might be interested in being involved in an open source version. I don’t have time for much playtesting, but I do have graphic design chops. Of course there may be lots of other interested parties that might have other ideas… for example whoever was planning the Phoenix version must have progressed some way towards a new set of rules, surely.
Phoenix and the rights are with Legacy/CMON. I’m not in on that act these days. My artistic preferences differ 😉
I shall get my stuff together and send you what I have, it may take a week or two due to an imminent arrival in the real world 🙂
Cool. And congratulations! 🙂
I just knew revisiting this article last week was a fatal error. Now I’ve an Ancient King level pledge because I could not decide on two factions. Atleast there is a breather now to decide on the extras to select.
Mr U Head, you had better start planning your painting videos there is going to be a lot to get through.
I have to agree with Kenton, the C3 rules were a great skirmish game. C4 seemed orientated for larger armies and to keep the company bean counters happy.
Whoops, sorry about that! 🙂 Yep, I’ve got about 8 months to clear the decks of all painting projects…
I must hunt down a copy of C3 and check it out.