Dreadfleet – Feared Cash Cow of the High Seas

I was going to talk about the rest of the Foundry Open Day today, but I’d forgotten that it was GW’s unveiling of their latest one-shot boxed game: Dreadfleet. I’ll finish the Open Day report tomorrow.

There’s a predictably large amount of fuss on the web about this, which seems a little surprising as this was all entirely foreseeable. Admittedly, I knew it was going to be a Warhammer naval game ages ago, before it was common knowledge, but that’s not the issue. Folk seem surprised that this is a once off, limited edition, stand-alone piece. Why?

GW are (and have been) ramping up for the Hobbit game and all the support that will require. They have 3 core games, and that’s more than enough for them. Over the years it has been made plain to all but the most obtuse gamer that the specialist games of yore are far from the hearts and accounts of the current GW shareholders. If they hadn’t been made already they would not be invented now. They are only still available at all as it’s just as easy to leave them as it is to bin them, and for the amount of effort they put into them (nil) they turn a fair profit (more than nil).

GW’s retail chain can’t cope with effectively selling any more than 3 core games, and at time struggles with that many (look at the doldrums that LOTR is in and the sterling effort GW are putting into revitalising WFB). There is no reason for GW to launch something else that will require a continued investment. Far simpler is this model. Spend two years behind the scenes, secretly working away on a cool one-off, standalone box of goodies. Release it with little warning, knowing that it will almost guarantee to sell out. The lack of advance warning is probably as much to protect their own staff from losing focus on selling core games as it is to keep the customers spending on their normal core purchases and regarding this as an extra. It is also conveniently timed so that it isn’t a Christmas present. It’s too early. They’ll still reap the benefit of all the Christmas money.

This is just extra cash.

And money is what it’s all about when you have shareholders. Not the game, not the worlds, not the customers (though these are all a means to an end): but the bottom line. It’s just the way business is, and in these economically apocalyptic times a big fat injection of cash is very welcome, thank you.

So why should anyone be surprised or amazed? It’s only because of GW ‘s size (economies of scale) and fanbase (guaranteed market) that it is possible, but if smaller companies could do it would they all ignore the obvious advantages? I doubt it. And knowing GW’s size and fanbase how could the folk out there in internetland not see it? Looked obvious to me. The only plausible alternative model was the Mighty Empires one, and that looks like more effort for less money, so it was never likely.

Of course, none of this would stop them doing Man o’ War again if they wanted to (which they won’t). But if

We can dream.

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80 Responses to Dreadfleet – Feared Cash Cow of the High Seas

  1. Pingback: Dreadfleet Launches God Bless all who sail in her!

  2. Keith says:

    It may have been foreseable, and you could well be right about the limited release reason, but don’t you think it still looks cool?

    • Quirkworthy says:

      To be honest, I think the jumble of different designs looks a complete mess, despite some of the ships individually being nice. The skull islands look a bit Playmobil, but that can be fixed. The mat looks lovely – possibly the best bit – and I’m sure I’ll be using it for Dystopian Wars too. Yes, that does mean I’ll probably get a copy.

      Am I a big fat hypocrite for this? Not really. Board game pieces do not need the same quality as tabletop ones, and these will do fine for a stand alone boxed game, even if they are a disparate jumble. At least they’ll be easy to tell apart.

      The two things that currently make me less inclined to just part with my money now are:

      1) the lack of any useful information about the rules.
      2) the unspeakably awful voice over on the videos.

      • Minitrol says:

        Poor Phil. Oh wait you mean the pirate one?

      • So, you also couldn’t resist the siren call of Dystopian Wars? Good to know!
        Working on my two fleets right now and takin some pictures and update the post from time to time until my Blog is up an running (http://www.at43-forum.de/viewtopic.php?f=102&t=2957)

        I also am worried about the lack of information on the rules. With the board-games industry this is never a good sign, but I still hope I am wrong and they turn out nice.

      • Quirkworthy says:

        @Minitrol yes, the “pirate” one. Phil sounds like he always does, which is to say: fairly normal.

        Dystopian Wars was being played by several of the guys at my club, and it’s a cheap one to start; rules at £15 and a starter fleet for £30. That sounded like a worthwhile investment for an evening’s entertainment or three. I also used to play lots of ancient naval games so it’s nostalgic in a way. I’ll get round to writing a review at some point.

        The lack of visibility for DreadFleet’s rules is annoying, but I don’t expect it is an insidious plot to sell us drivel. I think it’ll be an extension of stopping GW retail from getting distracted. GW aren’t in the habit of putting new stuff out in pdf anyway (unlike many other game companies), so why should we expect them to start now?

        My guess is that you won’t find out about the rules till very near the launch at the earliest, and possibly not till someone has a copy in their hands to review.

    • Got me the KoB an CoA and while I am typing this the magnets are being glued to the KoB-turrets. Prussians were to modern for my taste, though I love the robot and zeppelin. And I can´t really get around to love the locomotive design of the Blazing Sun. FSA was interesting, but as with the Blazing Sun I can´t stand their land units.

      CoA BB have something stardestroyerlike which caught my eye from the first moment. Had to get used to their crawlers, but after seeing them in flesh I really like them. CoA grows on you I suppose.

      KoB is simply the ol’ Iron Ship style I really love and was a nobrainer, especially with those nice tanks and landships (“The driver of the St.Pauls! You are parking in the store managers parkin space…”). Also with the small tanks called Terriers I couldn´t resist, especially since that´s the family name of a colleague ;).

      Since I also play VaS (GHQ 1:2400 ships and many of them) and I will probably find more opponents playing DW, it was only a small step for me.

      What I found more irritating was the fact that our local GW had a release/pirate day but not even a store copy to at least show the customers what to expect. The poor guys running the shop were slightly annoyed by this, too.

      • Quirkworthy says:

        So far I have only the one fleet to assemble: Blazing Sun. I’m not really taken with the models of any of the fleets as a whole, to be honest. They’re OK, but few of them really stand out IMO. From the game I played against the Antarctican fleet they look tempting, but that’s mainly because they seem to be a little broken in game terms. That’s only on first look, but the guy who was playing them against me and everyone else who I’ve talked to says the same thing: they get lots of extras, but where are the down sides to balance them out?

        No store copy of DF would be right. They won’t want the staff distracted from selling core games. Just tell everyone this is shiny and take their pre-orders.

  3. JP says:

    I was hoping for a proper Man ‘O’ War re-release in the same vein of Space Hulk; a game in a box, with contained fleets and everything needed to play. Wait… that’s kind of what they’ve done here, but, in my opinion, done in a totally bass ackward kind of way. The story/background makes no sense as it doesn’t fit in with the current timeline of WH. Neither does it offer anything remotely exciting in ways of developing the hobby other than being a stand alone game.

    With Space Hulk, you can use the miniatures with 40K as starting points for the relevant armies: Space Marines and Tyranids. How so with Dreadfleet? Just who is this aimed at?

    A novice to the wargaming hobby? No. Why –
    A) – The price point is way too high. £70 for a stand alone game, then glue, the paints. Total outlay the GW way is £100+ , when aimed at 10-12yrs old… too high a ££
    B) – There is no apparent expansion potential. A limited release means there won’t be any support given for the game. No new fleets (or character ships as the *ahem* trailer suggests). No campaigns and for the newcomers to GW no instore gaming after the initial BUY THIS NOW furore has died down.

    A Veteran to the hobby? No. Why –
    C) – No way of using the game in a greater context within the Warhammer hobby. Why would you waste £70 on an unsupported boardgame when you could use that money to buy the latest army book and unit or two for your army?
    D) – Someone who has been into wargaming of any kind for so many years wants to be able to develop their army/force over time, to learn new tactics, new formations. Better deployment and command/action tactics. Dreadfleet doesn’t seem to allow this. You can’t buy new ships to build your fleet. You can’t gain your Captains experience and see their ships develop. You can’t do much other than play the game. Some may argue Space Hulk is just the same, but at least you could then move your models over into 40K. You can’t with Dreadfleet.

    I feel GW made a serious miscalculation here. One of many, some may say. They COULD have relaunched (as so many have clamoured for) Warhammer Quest, one of the greatest rpg-lite dungeon crawls ever released. They already had a great range of add-on models: need a minotaur for this weekends game… no problem. How about a box of zombies to throw against the adventurers? What’s that… you adventurers want another wizard or a High Elf Captain to journey with? Fine. Cast away to the shelves and have at it.

    But no. Instead they release a game that no one asked for, that they won’t support after a few months and will become a distant memory in a few years time.

    As an ex-GW employee of many years – a Vet Serg if you will – I am sorely disappointed in the way the company seems to be heading. It’s like watching a sick relative slowly fading away. Painfully. you just want the pain to end.

    I hope it does. Then we can all mourn.

    (apologies for the mini-rant but I had to vent somewhere)


    • Quirkworthy says:

      Rant away, JP. As long as you keep it clean that’s fine. I’ll comment on a few of your points:

      A&B) Compared to a lot of the big boxed games the price tag is not excessive. It’s high, but there are plenty of FFG and other games at £50ish, and a couple at £70 (Tide of Iron, DUST Tactics). A lot, but not entirely out of the ball park. And the 10 ships are pretty big too (about 4 inches long), as well as the scenery, mat, cards, rulebook, etc. I expect it will be a pretty impressive box of stuff. For someone just getting into gaming DF may look like an easy start: self contained with no confusing choice between a dozen armies for each of three games. It’s the very self-containedness that makes it a good purchase for the newbie. Add on costs like glue are rarely factored in by purchasers when it’s pester power driving the buy.

      C&D) veterans already have armies and although they may buy a new toy for “their” army that doesn’t equate to something every month (bad for GW). DF stands outside the normal run, and so may have a broader appeal. A 40K player can dabble in this without having to start Warhammer from scratch (which would be vastly more expensive). Whichever army you release something for, anyone with another army can’t use it. Anyone can use this as it stands outside the core games and if you have hobby cash burning a hole in your pocket cos there’s nothing new for your army this month, it gives you something to purchase. Standing outside the core is a strength here; certainly it can be looked at as one. Also, veterans may look at this as a way to get non-gamers into the hobby. You don’t have to buy an army, just come round and command a ship or two. Then if you like it…

      I don’t think GW have miscalculated at all. I think they’ve been very shrewd. They know that however much the internet is full of gripes and grumbles, when it comes down to it the vast majority will put their hands in their (parent’s) pockets and buy it. They can pretty much guarantee that it will be a single cash hit that will not upset the smooth running of their retail, but will inject much-needed cash. I think this is a sign of financial health for GW, not a sign of an ailing patient at all. GW hasn’t listened to its fans for a long time now. Surely the fact that it’s going on its own way producing stuff to its own schedule is not a surprise.

      Remember, this is all about making money. The core games continue regardless because this stands outside them. The idea of this being forgotten in a few years is actually not a problematic one for GW at all. That means they can do it again.

      • I think this product just seems to scream what’s wrong with the Games Workshop right now Jake. I’m not going to launch of one one on your blog here because plenty of others have done that and probably far more eloquently than I could’ve done, but I did give it a stab on my blog:


        I think I’m not a million miles away from where you stand on what ‘Dreadfleet’ is and while the rational part of me can see the product from the Games Workshops point of view, its that very same rational point of view that has killed the idea of me purchasing the latest mid terms sales boost product to come out of Lenton Lane. It’ll do what Games Workshop want it to do no question and that’s fine, but it doesn’t ‘do’ anything for me, so I’ll steer clear.

  4. SF says:

    I wonder if all the haterade poured upon an unreleased game would be as virulent as it is if it were any other company. GW has earned a negative reputation in the gaming ranks for their oddball and ill-concieved business models(s). I’ll never be an apologist for a company that takes advantage of its core customer base like GW does,. Having said that, though, it just seems to me that people go out of their way to hate GW now, and this game’s announcement is a case in point, as the haterade poured forth on the WWW like ambrosia at a keg party of the Gods…

    Regardless of the game’s merits or lack thereof, it’ll never get a fair shake / review because it has GW stamped on it. That’s an attitude that is as bad as a company taking advantage of its core customer base to me.

    • Quirkworthy says:

      GW get more vitriol thrown at them because they’re the biggest target. Being big obviously makes them easy to hit, but it also gives more of an audience to the person hurling the abuse, which seems to often be the point of the exercise. Additionally, there is the fact that the bigger the company, the harder (and more expensive) it is to really listen and react to your audience. That makes them seem uncaring regardless of the reality. Being bigger means that more people have invested themselves in their games, and so are more bothered if “their” game isn’t developed the way they want. Plenty of reasons why GW always gets it in the neck, whether they deserve it or not.

      I agree that GW should be given a fair shake. I also understand why they seldom get it.

      • And you don´t even need to be the biggest bloke on the court to get all the hatred… I recall the vitriol Rackham got during their latter days…

        Or any company that has to care for cash flow and suddenly in the eyes of their fanboys turn from Robin Hood into The Sheriff of Notts…

      • Quirkworthy says:

        Rackham was a different case. Personally, I feel that Jean Bey lied repeatedly to an existing fanbase that was very loyal to him and his company, and then dumped them completely. I also think that their business decisions were utterly deluded – I understand their goals, but the way they went about trying to achieve them never looked like it would work to me.

        I’m holding back a big rant here (more in sadness and frustration at their idiocy than in anger), because it does no-one any good. Suffice to say that from all the things I’ve heard since, after tempers have cooled and time passed and so on – after all this, all the new things I hear make them sound ever more self-deluding and unrealistic in their expectations. It was a complete and entirely unnecessary waste of a great company, and he was told repeatedly by thousands of fans in advance and he ignored them all.

        What a waste.

      • Ah… Rackham…
        In part you are right, but in part you are wrong. I was there when the last of the Babylon stations… ahem… wrong movie….
        Let´s say that is something that many factors contributed too and it would take quite some time and Ale to explain it all. Maybe next year during my trip to Notts….

      • Quirkworthy says:

        I look forward to it André. It was plain at the time that lots was going on behind the scenes that was not made public. However, *in public* JB made several statements, and repeated and reinforced them, and several of them turned out to be less than entirely true. People felt they had been promised one thing and then taken for fools when it turned out to be untrue. Trust had been broken. People were banned from websites just for asking questions (me included). It was a case study in how to alienate an audience who started on your side and who genuinely cared.

        I’m sure that lots more was happening in the background, though I am not sure it excuses the public behaviour. I would be fascinated to hear more though. Let me know when you’re over and I’ll see if I can find any ale 🙂

      • Well, Rackham was too much run by hobbyists than it was good for it. Jean is a great guy, but definitly not a manager type of person… Sadly many in the business need a little bit more business 101.

      • Quirkworthy says:

        Yeah. From what I can see when the money men rescued R the first thing they did was tell Jean to focus on being creative and not worry about business stuff. A good call, by all accounts, but a bit late by then.

      • Actually the money man saved and doomed them. The final owner trying to cover up its financial problems with the money that came with acquiring Rackham. During the last days they did a lot of things finally right and then discovered that the company that bought that did not buy them to save them, but to gut them.

      • Quirkworthy says:

        That’s a real shame. There was obviously a lot of blood in the water by that stage, so I suppose sharks were to be expected 😦

  5. Minitrol says:

    Jake you’re a sensible voice in an ever spiralling whinge storm…

    To be upfront how do you know no-one asked for this? I never asked for Space Hulk but I was happy to pick it up. This is also a pleasant surprise for me.

    To all the people saying I wont buy this:
    1. It has too many different models they should have released two forces
    2. It is limited
    3. Uncharted Seas is better
    4. There are no expansions (kinda covered by the whole limited thing but some people struggle with this concept)
    5. Its too much $$ (this also covers its too much $$ I can’t afford it)

    If any of the above apply then maybe, maybe you have to consider this product is not aimed at you? I think its perfect for me pick up games with cool ships that look like mechanical squids around skull islands? i can pay this with my boy, my friends anytime anywhere what’s not to love 🙂

    I doubt Warhammer Quest will ever be redone. I can’t see the costs of it contributing to the profit margins they must make on these limited articles. At the time I remember an article/statement (on the old forums my mind is a grey fuzz) saying they made almost no margin on Warhammer Quest it had 4 books in it and a half kilo of plastic and another kilo of tiles and counters.

    Plus how would you market it as a limited product? At least with the OZ-NZ Mark up we would never be able to afford such a re-release were it to ever appear!

    I can just about justify this product!

    Personally I think this product plays to the strengths and weaknesses of GW. They have decided to more and more play to their aesthestic (skulls larger than life weapons) and the models reflect this. Look at the new art in Warhammer all the new models are in your face with details but its all exaggerated, hyper realism, even the new house style of painting reflects this. This product is the personification of this path and that is why many peeps are tuned off expecting an exact re-release of a product 15 years past its due date and asking for models. They must, in their hearts, know GW would have no interest in making?
    Minitrol NZ

    • Quirkworthy says:

      Thanks Minitrol. I’m trying to understand what’s really going on in the gaming world rather than just ranting. Hopefully some other folk will find that an interesting idea and swing by Quirkworthy and help me out. I don’t know everything by a long chalk, but I do know some stuff, and I’m happy to share, listen and learn some more by bouncing ideas back and forth.

      GW have long had a policy of not overtly asking the external audience what they wanted. The logic goes: we’re a bunch of gamers so if we think it’s cool then so will our audience. On the whole it’s worked OK so far. I have heard nothing to make me suspect that DF is anything other than continuing that policy which must have been going well over 25 years by now. I actually think it’s a pretty good policy.

      I can see a version of WHQ as one of these releases. The key is the lack of support required. BloodBowl would be harder to do because it would be less easy and rather odder (but far from impossible) to do without expansions. WHQ didn’t really need the expansions. Furthermore, you’d bin the fat roleplay book and trim down some of the other bits. I think it’s entirely possible as a one-off project like this.

      GW’s visual aesthetic has evolved over the years, and will (one presumes) continue to do so. This is a product of the time, and would have been different 10 years ago. The vast bulk of GW’s audience does not stay in the hobby long enough to really notice this drift, so it doesn’t matter. Even if they remained forever locked in that just means they have to buy new models to keep up. How is that bad for GW?

      • You just gave me a reason to bookmark this Blog and move it to the Fore! 😉

        I do like GW because of their professionalism im certain areas (Please, some companies out there, have a look and copy what you see). But there are also days when I wonder how the manage to alienate their customers even more than before.

        Of course we want the cash of our customers to pay our bills and get that nice new Star Wars Blu Ray Set, but for me it is giving and taking, no matter how big you become. Microsoft has learned this lesson the hard way, but today they have improved a lot and GW would be well advised to take a lesson from them.

        Also, GW is pushing the limits of what is technically possible and I doubt Spartan or Rackham would have excelled in their area if not being hounded by GW. Competition is good, but GW manages sometimes to go overboard with it. And that alieneates quite some people without and within GW.

      • Minitrol says:

        I am an analysis junkie and this is all gold (saying that I enjoyed Graham’s blog which was a bit more head in the clouds but its a shame he hasn’t kept writing as it was genuinely interesting – http://behindtherules.com/)

        “GW’s visual aesthetic has evolved over the years” True. This again harks back to the detractors of the models given you have seen everything already they make why are so many people wanting a product to come from GW that GW would not make? Its as if everyone expected a GW license version of Uncharted Seas but using plastic not resin then threw their toys when this wasn’t the case.

        I totally agree that while a lot of decisions are a revenue>margins cost benefit analysis there is still a hell of a lot of things they do which seem to be designers got into the Mountain Dew and thought elite cavalry would ride on giant stone cobras.

      • Quirkworthy says:

        @André bookmark away! The more the merrier. Tell all your friends and invite them too. Always room for one more. Happy to have folk on board that will join in the debate and bounce stuff back and forth. Let’s have some voices other than mine.

        GW can be very professional, and they do innovate at times. Not always though. They are innovative and cutting edge (ish) in terms of manufacturing and technical aspects, but decades behind in game design – certainly for their core products.

        It should indeed be a balance. However, it is easy to see how difficult economic times lead to the sections that are not obviously linked to generating cash immediately to be the first for redundancy. Looks like short-sighted and panicky knee-jerk economics to me (as opposed to improving the market retention, resilience and brand loyalty in the longer term), but what do I know?

      • Quirkworthy says:

        @ Minitrol I did enjoy reading Graham’s blog occasionally. I’ve no idea what’s happened to that, but it may yet rise from the ashes, phoenix-like.

        If GW had offered us Man o’ War 2 (ie Uncharted Seas) I would have been very surprised indeed. The almost certainly care not a jot for what Spartan is doing. For many years now the major competition for GW has been video games, McDonalds and Nike rather than any figure game company.

        It’s a fantasy game, ergo it’s all made up. The only restriction for me is that whoever writes it has to make it convincing and believable within its own context. You write as if you think they have failed in this regard.

    • Zac says:

      >3. Uncharted Seas is better

      While I like Uncharted Seas I don’t know how you can make this statement not having played the game. And it seems as if this game is quite different in structure than US so is a comparison even possible? Apples and Oranges no?

      • Minitrol says:

        I’m not making the statement I have never played it . This is just the common vein I am seeing. The closest I have gotten is a read through of the Firestorm Armada rules which I believe are similar?

        You are completely correct statements like that are irrelevant unless one has played both games. You could say “I prefer the model range in Uncharted Seas and I like that I can expand my force”.

  6. Minitrol says:

    PS BTW the modern world is always a strange place. Seems so odd that years after reading your editorials now I am writing to you. Bizarre.

    Thanks for providing a forum for me to articulate a response its been buzzing round my head all weekend.

    I must finally comment on your KoW review…

  7. Zac says:

    I have to say that I really grow tired of hearing people bemoan the fate of Specialist Games and keep talking as if GW gives a flying crap about producing small-market games like Epic or Man O’ War. Your comments were a breath of fresh air. 🙂

  8. The strange thing is: They bemoan something GW left out in the rain and when some other companies fill the gap they rant about them just stealing it from GW, even if the copy is far better. Sometimes I wonder if those people do know what they want.

    • Quirkworthy says:

      Generally people have no ideas what they want until you show them a finished product, at which point they can tell you that it wasn’t that. Sad but true. I used to work with a manager that was like that. He couldn’t brief anyone except in the vaguest and least helpful of terms, but boy could he critique finished work. He was well loved, I can tell you.

  9. mark says:

    You’re right that it’s all about money – incremental revenues. GW hopefully has good insight into its customers’ behaviour – knows they are likely to spend £x per year on products (average revenues per customer) and the distribution of that spend. If the period between start of school term and December is quiet in terms of sales, then launching a ‘must have’ one-off product like Dreadfleet would drive additional revenues over a period that would normally underperform.
    I’m interested in the margins on a game like this though – what’s the per unit cost? £20? If so, a 350% markup would be pretty good. I read somewhere that 100k copies of Space Hulk were manufactured. If the same applies to Dreadfleet that’s £5m in additional cash (if all units are sold) – just under 5% of GW’s total annual revenues.
    But I’m not sure there’s going to be much demand for Dreadfleet; for the time and effort invested, why not go for Bloodbowl, where there’s a clear latent demand? Who decides GW’s product strategy? Is it the game designers, product managers, bean counters? Or did Phil Kelly just dust off an old experimental ruleset for a WH naval game?
    I for one wouldn’t buy it, because I’d realistically only play it a couple of times, and I’d rather invest my cash in building out my Ogre army with a Thundertusk and Stonehorn.
    Great blog BTW, have just discovered it but will now read regularly.

    • Quirkworthy says:

      Thanks Mark – welcome aboard 🙂

      Your comment about incremental revenues and such is what I meant but better explained 😛

      I don’t know how many copies they made, but 100k is a lot. Maybe they did that with Hulk. Maybe. Costing is always fuzzy with plastics as you have to amortize the mould costs somewhere, but with a project like this the tools have no other use so have to be absorbed here (assuming, as I expect< that they will never be sold separately). Regardless of the exact numbers, it's a cash bonus that they would otherwise not get, so it makes perfect business sense to me.

      As I said earlier, I think BloodBowl is less obvious a product to do as a one off (though they could do a "famous" cup final game as a one off,for example, so it's possible). I'm not sure where product choice has migrated to these days, but they operate on a reasonably predictable rotation within the core games so there's really only a choice of army sequence. These one-offs are a different subject. There's probably a team that sorts them out, and they'd naturally be the ones to propose the next options (keeping themselves in a job) from which someone senior would pick. There was an old set of rules for Warhammer naval in this sort of scale when I was there, but I doubt this is the same game. If it is that would be cool as it was designed by Nigel Stillman, and he's good at fun stuff 🙂

  10. Most of it has been said here and I agree. I like the design of DF and our club has two boxes ordered. The rules, written by phil will not be bad, that is something i am sure.

    Concerning US, it looks like a nice game… the CoA looks like a nice fleet. 😉 Until now I could control myself but… 😉

    Btw, its nice to be here! 🙂

  11. Sami Mahmoud says:

    “Regardless of the exact numbers, it’s a cash bonus that they would otherwise not get, so it makes perfect business sense to me.”

    That’s not true in the case of a PLC like GW. If the cash is at a margin below your average then it’s going to drag down several of your key investor metrics (like gross/net margin %, RoCE etc). Ofc they should be taking a balanced view across their entire product range when looking at that, so a below average margin, generating cash might be desirable, but “more money” doesn’t necessarily equal “perfect business sense”.

    I’ll take my working hat off now 😉

    To me there is an upside and a downside…

    Upside: I have no issue with GW producing stand alone board games. I like board games. Though I am too disappointed by the lack of rules info as that’s the main driver, but after a few days thought, I threw myself into the “daft” category and pre-ordered it anyway as in my experience GW are very good at small, less complicated games.

    Downside: the link between the need to produce this and the mismanagment of their overall business strategy, which I too shan’t rant on here 😉

    @Jake: well there’s no reason GW couldn’t borrow/steal/flatter/[insert adjective depending on viewpoint] the DKH style of game (ie that each game also stands alone) for WHQ and thus have stand alone games limited to 2 races that they could later add PDFs for to a) sell a wider range of models for that race (I recently ordered Mantic Zombies just for DKH) and b) allow races to be used cross-set for those that did get more than one set.

    • Quirkworthy says:

      Hi Sami, and sorry for the late reply. Your comment and a couple of others got eaten by the spam filter and I’ve only just fished this out.

      You’ve started using percentage signs and abbreviations, so I’ll assume you know more than I about finance. Not even slightly hard, I have to say. I will admit to being a trifle nonplussed by the concept of more money being less than a good plan for a business though. Mind you, economics never was my strong point and the hoops they jump through on the news these days to explain stuff makes me think that I’m not going to follow big finance any time soon.

      On the subject of standalone games, I think that they could actually present any of their old games in this format if they chose to. BloodBowl could be a replay of a famous cup final, WHQ could be a specific dungeon with fixed foes, etc. There are only a handful of these in their catalogue though, so it will be very interesting to see whether they continue this process and what they choose to run with next.

  12. Dr. Rudolf von Richten says:

    I’m a bit confused about people asking for a ‘re-release’ of Blood Bowl. Why is this needed? The game is available on the GW Website, as are nearly all the teams (only the Slann are really not supported unless you go converting). The rules are available for free, and if you don’t like GW there are plenty of third-party producers that make teams (some really, really nice ones too!), and you can print out pitches & dugouts etc. to glue on some cardboard. So what’s the problem?

    On topic, I think this game (Dreadfleet, that is) looks pretty cool at least, but, like many have said, I’m not spending 90 euro’s unseen, so this will probably be sold out befor I can decide whether or not it’s worth it 😦

    • Quirkworthy says:

      BloodBowl: the GW webstore has the boxed game plus most of the teams still available, so why do people whine? Partly because GW are so quiet about it that not everyone realises it’s still about. Also, it’s because they imagine that a new edition would be somehow shinier, which it may be. It could include a nicely printed copy of the current rules (from the Living Rulebook), which would be useful. They may also imagine some textured plastic board, carefully pre-flocked, with painted markings, and gouged eyes or broken fingers littering the margins (with tiny motors that cause them to twitch convincingly for the first half) and a set of individually detailed models for two famous sides.

      Of course, now that GW has missed the 20th anniversary as a time to release this stupendous (imaginary) edition, they have to wait for the 25th. This sounds better anyway. That’ll be 2012, by the way, in case you were wondering.

      Dreadfleet: I was thinking a similar thing. How many people will wait to see whether the game’s worth the effort before they part with their cash?

  13. Nazrat says:

    Great blog, Quirk! You are a breath of fresh air in a world of (mostly) biased anti-GW hysteria. I agree with all your points.

    I am amazed that everybody can be so absolutely sure that DF won’t sell. I go to a good number of gaming sites all over the web and although there is a huge amount of negativity I have seen lots of guys saying that they will definitely buy this game. I’m pretty sure I will, even though I play almost all historicals nowadays and still have almost all the fleets for Man O’War floating around (sorry) and which my group plays and enjoys greatly about once a year.

    DF looks like a really cool board game. Support is unnecessary and unneeded if that is what it is intended to be. Space Hulk sure didn’t require any support for it to remain fun and challenging after many, many games! The limited edition thing is just a sales tool, and one that works well. I still see guys bemoaning not purchasing SH because they were so certain that it would be sitting on the shelves gathering dust in a year after it was released. Too bad, so sad! 8)=


    • Quirkworthy says:

      Thanks Jerry. You can come again 🙂

      I was considering buying two copies, myself. Before you clamour and wail that I’m a profiteering scoundrel (though that would be rather appropriate for a Pirate game), I have another, even more cunning plan for it. You may want to sit down for this.

      Contrary to popular opinion, Games Workshop is *not* the only game company on the planet, and some of those small and bijou companies make things that are unspeakably hard to get hold of as well as quite excellent. Often it’s not so much a matter of money as a matter of rarity and not-for-saleness. My second copy will be a bargaining chip. Rare games are better tools than cash when dealing with some of the dodgy game collectors I know, so a second copy will do me much better as a bargaining chip for some rarity I have set my sights on than another seventy quid. I know, I know: it’s darn cunning. But don’t all copy me. I have a patent on the notion and shall issue Cease and Desist orders to everyone on the planet if I don’t get my way. Not to mention holding my breath until you all stop. You have been warned.

  14. John Austin says:

    Why do people feel the need to incessantly whine about stuff like this? If you don’t like it, don’t buy it… pretty simple really!
    OK, so nobody asked for this, we have no idea how it works and the “fleets” do look a little thrown together but look at it from the positive side…
    It does look good, the models look fantastic despite being from all the different races.
    I’m actually excited that I don’t know how to play it, having collected games from GW for at least a decade now, it is good to finally have a game that I have no idea about.
    I agree it would have been nice to have either Man o’War or Warhammer Quest rereleased, but remember that these were niche games in a niche market, even the first time around. People have to realise that it makes sense for GW to streamline their product range. More long term support for more games ultimately means more costs, and we all cry at rising prices already.
    While it may look like they’re ignoring/ fleecing their customer base, look at the flipside. By sticking to 3 core games and focusing mainly upon them they are actually helping to safeguard the hobby we enjoy.

    In short, don’t look at this as an evil way of making money, but as a pleasant surprise for us to play with.
    And, if it does suck, I’m sure we’re all inventive enough to do something with it
    Besides, i can’t believe everyone is so down on a combination of Warhammer and pirates… what the hell is wrong with you all?

    • Quirkworthy says:

      Thanks John. I think we’re gradually collecting all the people with a glass that’s half full instead of half empty into one place 🙂

    • Keith says:

      Here, here, I really don’t understand what is with all the hate I’m seeing all over the internet over this game. To me it looks like a box of pirate warhammery goodness. And if you don’t like it, don’t buy it. I think the ogre kingdom models look horrible, so I didn’t buy any and moved on…

  15. Keith says:

    🙂 to be honest I’ve hardly bought anything from GW since the finecast release/price rise. This hasn’t been a concious plan, just an indivual assessment of their products as they come out and me (whilst liking some of them) not thinking that they are worth the price. I like the look of this and for me the price is fine so I’m getting it. Even if this turns out to be the silly bussiness dicision some pople are preaching (and I don’t think it is) and GW somehow goes bust, whilst that will be a shame it will hardly be an end of my hobby.

  16. Tordeck says:

    Yeah, I have to agree with Frontline Gamer and JP on this one. I just think that GW missed the mark.

    • Quirkworthy says:

      The jury is still out for me, simply because we don’t know how the game works yet. There’s also the issue of the models being painted like toys, which is a painting and not a modelling issue. I think we’ll see some paint jobs that are perhaps not as technically skilled, but which look much more evocative once the game is out.

  17. sam cooper says:

    Greetings squires,

    I am relatively new to tabletop gaming (2 years) and I absolutely love WHFB. Very interesting to read all your comments, I see myself as a hobbiest for the rest of life therefore it’s essential that I broaden my understanding of the industry!

    Just to add my pennies worth (as a customer), I will be buying this because;

    – I like a lot of what Phill Kelly has done.
    – It looks nice and I don’t think the price is unreasonable for what’s included.
    – It will be a good way to get my more sceptical friends around to the idea of gaming, as they don’t have to spend months (and £’s) collecting and learning rules before they can fully enjoy the awesomeness of tabletop war games!
    – I’ve waited to find out more about limited edition before and missed out!
    – I like the fella’s comment that he can easily play this with his family. I’ll be starting my own soon.

    I can see why some people are sceptical but we live in a capitalist world, one which we all blindly prop up, so I don’t understand why you complain when big business acts like….big business!

    Let’s see how it plays before writing it off as a gimmick with no substance!

    I for one hope that DF is a success and they re-invest the money to make more awesome models and games for me to enjoy!

    Peace and love,

    Lord Samulus

    • Quirkworthy says:

      Hi Sam and welcome aboard!

      The gaming hobby (in it’s broader sense) is a huge and varied beast, with enough variation to incorporate a wide range of different interests and styles of play. I know this because I’ve spent so long immersed in it, and am happy to see the internet enabling people that are new to gaming a far greater access to some of the really cool corners that were previously quite well hidden. But it’s still a case that it’s hard to find stuff if you don’t know what you’re looking for. One of the good things GW does, in my view, is to act as an easily findable entry point to gaming. My concern in this regard is that they intentionally (for obvious business reasons) brainwash people into thinking that GW makes the only option and discourage people from branching out.

      Games like DF are great for introducing other people to gaming, especially people who might otherwise not wish to invest their time and money, just as you say. The fact that there are probably better things to do this with already on the market for less money doesn’t make DF bad, per se.

      • Lord Samulus of the Cooper dynasty says:

        Thanks for taking the time to respond dude,

        I would really appreciate it if you drew me a quick sketch map of where to find said treasures. As you rightly assume, GW has done a pretty good job of putting blinkers on me and I don’t have the first idea (largely due to the time consuming activity of both having a wife and friends who dismiss tabletop gaming as the reserve of spotty, bespectacled teenagers) where to look!

        Any help in rigging my sails would be most welcome and gratefully appreciated,

        Look forward to your review of DF!

      • Quirkworthy says:

        Now there’s a big subject.

        There are a number of maps, and which one suits you best depends on what you’re after. There are a number of considerations and you can pick as many as you like: it’s just worth thinking about first. Of course, just because there is a question, doesn’t mean you know the answer 😉

        Type: board game or tabletop? Roleplay game or computer?

        Style: high level strategic game commanding millions of men, small scale skirmish leading a single squad or something in-between? Different levels of game offer different sorts of challenges.

        Theme: fantasy, science fiction, historical, “family” or abstract?

        Without knowing your preferences, the best place to start is with something general, like http://www.tabletopgamingnews.com (TGN) or http://www.beastsofwar.com (BOW). They’re both good sites for just seeing what’s new and have links to all the different companies as their news is reported. You can also search the sites for old news items if you see something that catches your eye.

        Without being able to show you in person, the best idea is probably for you to look at TGN and BOW and see what catches your eye, and take it from there.

  18. Add says:

    GW have chosen to drive the core range and cut back on the specialist. Personally i prefer
    necromunda and bloodbowl to any of the big 3. I was gutted when jervis got moved out from
    fanatic though. That was my last hope for major overhauls of more obscue/specialist games. Can’t
    see why they haven’t reprinted the rules for heroquest and then told us to convert fantasy though.
    That would have been relatively cheap and would have filled a different target audience.

    • Quirkworthy says:

      They’ve simply decided that there’s more money in getting new blood into the core games over and over again rather than retaining older customers with the specialist games, etc. I was working in Fanatic when they binned it, so I’d rather they hadn’t done it too.

  19. gamerdad says:

    Here’s one example of the target audience…
    I don’t play any of the GW miniature games, but I picked up SH3 because I have fond memories of playing it in my younger years. I was so amazed by the high production values that GW are now on my radar for all stand-alone boardgame releases. Until I get burned, I will likely preorder any of their future releases that fit this model, assuming that the theme appeals enough. And over-the-top pirate ship game with amazing components? Yes, please!

    • Quirkworthy says:

      That sounds like fair comment. Interesting that you say “until I get burned” as if you assume it’s only a matter of time 😛

      Do you think you are representative of the target audience they are mainly aimed at?

      • gamerdad says:

        Haha, I don’t mean to sound pessimistic. I just mean that until I regret spending money on one of their limited runs, I’ll continue to buy games like this based on little information and little notice. I was just so impressed with how much love they showed SH3, that I imagine I’ll appreciate any game that receives the same treatment.

        I expect that I fall into one of their target audiences for this product, but it may not be their primary one. I say that because I am not likely to be converted into a WHFB/40K/etc player with these games. However, I would not be a GW customer at all without these board games, so they are reaching new (or returning) customers that they wouldn’t otherwise reach and aren’t cannibalizing their other products. By releasing a new version of SH, they reconnected with a lot of old customers that had moved on. By doing such an amazing job, they likely established a customer base that would not have otherwise considered or noticed products like DF (especially with the limited run format). It seems like a smart business move to me. It’ll be interesting to see how it all plays out.

      • Quirkworthy says:

        Me too. There are all sorts of interesting things they could produce.

  20. Da Mighty Girth says:

    Wow great blog/forum just found you! Awesome read!
    Let me introduce myself my names Geoff and I’m a thirty-something hobbiest and x GW employee (don’t hold it against me. I know Jake wouldn’t!) I’ve been an active member of the Wargaming world for 20 years and worked for GW for 12 of thoughs years. I started in ’97 and was made redundant in ’09 when I join GW was a small company with less than 100 shop and was still a PLC! The mission statement as I recall was ‘Total Global Domination’ and as a lowly Part Timer felt that every customer and every product was important. I now feel GW may have swung alittle too far towards a professional ‘Money is the King’ big business. While this is not wholey a bad thing I’m still waiting for the pedulun to swing in a more Hobby first profit can look after itself kind of mission statement!
    Now you can look at this as an old Vet saying that it’s not as good as it used to be or that GW has changed it’s way and new people will always start the Hobby.

    DF looks really cool and from a purly cynical stand point could be seen as just wonton profiting (pirate pun not intended!) or it could be seen as it F-ingg Pirate Fantasy Arrgh! I still hold the right to make a choice once I’ve played a game!

    • Quirkworthy says:

      Hi Mr Girth – good name by the way 🙂

      GW has changed as is only to be expected. Whether that’s for better or worse depends on where you stand, and I suspect that the vast majority of their customers weren’t about all those years ago to compare. I’ve ordered a copy of DF and will be posting my thoughts here once I have it in my hands and can comment more based on facts.

  21. It seems like this will turn into a hang-out for “The Old Gang”… 😉
    Started in the 80´s with the Hobby (D&D and Battletech).

    • Quirkworthy says:

      …but young at heart 😛

      Seriously though, I’ve never been one to worry about whether my opponent had their veteran papers or not. I generally play against people younger than me, but now I come to think of it that is really a guess as I’m hopeless at estimating ages. I’m really much more interested in whether people are fun to play against and whether they’ve got worthwhile things to say. So rest assured that you won’t need to send in a photo of your pensioner’s bus pass in order to comment here.

  22. osbad says:

    I must admit that I am enthused at the concept of GW producing their first brand new game since LotR. That must be nearly a decade! I’m also impressed with the quality and quantity of the components, or at least what they look like in the pictures I have seen so far. Will the game be to my particular taste? Not sure yet. Will I punt 70 notes on it? Probably not.

    Now analysing my reasons, after the initial froth from the release has subsided, it boils down to this: It’s a limited edition release. Now that in itself doesn’t bother me, I can see and support GW’s reasons for doing such a thing. But if I bought it I would be at war with myself. Part of me would be desperately wanting to build and paint all those cool models. Another part of me would be wanting to leave it all shrink-wrapped and pristene simply because of its *limited edition* status and the knowledge that once I’d assembled and painted the stuff I’d have ruined its “collector value”. And at £70 a pop I’m not insane enough to pay for 2 copies just to saisfy my weird proclivities!

    So I’m going to take the coward’s way out and hope that one of my mates buys a copy! 🙂

  23. Danny says:

    A companies goal is to make money, so why rant about this fact? Buying this game is not a rip off, it is a high production value game, that seems a lot of fun to me personally. If you like it you buy it, if you don’t you don’t. Life is simple people, stop trying to make it complicated.

    • Roy says:

      A-Freeking-Men, I think it’s a horrible waste of $100+ US and there for instead of complaining about it for hours on end & obsessing about it until it ruins my life I’m simply going to not buy it and get on with my life. If GW put this game out & then never produced another thing ever & rested on this game then sure maybe there would be something to complain about but that would be insane to say the least & I’m certian more content for thier flagship(no pun intended) games will be forth coming.

    • Quirkworthy says:

      Of course this is only a small part of GW’s range, and like you both say, an individual should get it or not as they see fit.

  24. Pingback: Reading (and watching) about Dreadfleet… | The Letters from Xanadu

  25. hijackthemic says:

    This one off model is clearly what they’re sticking with, assuming they bother to continue doing it at all, but I’ve become rather excited at the idea of a one-off Blood Bowl with two famous teams like the Reikland Reavers and Chaos All-Stars. With no worries about expandable mechanics and balance they can go nuts with the “Deathzone” side of things, and also custom sculpt all the players and possibly a coach or cheerleader models. That would be sweet even as a one off.

    • Quirkworthy says:

      It certainly is an exciting possibility. As next year is the 25th anniversary of BB’s first publication it would be nice to see some sort of commemorative edition. I have no idea if this will happen or not, it’s just fun to look at the possibilities.

  26. Pingback: Reading (and watching) about Dreadfleet… » ¡bitzkrieg!

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