Monday, October 11, 2010

Thoughts on the State of Gaming, Part 3

I think GW has a workable business model with The Lord of the Rings line, provided they marketed it right.  The Lord of the Rings Strategy Battle Game is a perfectly workable skirmish game--easy enough for a new player to get into with a relative minimum of effort.  Once they become a veteran and want to play games with huge armies, then they can "graduate" into playing War of the Ring, and purchase the additional loads of miniatures.  If The Lord of the Rings Strategy Battle Game was marketed as the "entry-level" game, it might attract new players.  As it is now, it seems to be presented as a sub-game to War of the Ring.

It seems to me that there are three levels of games that could be tapped in a logical progression for each genre.  
  1. A fast paced "board" game.  This could consist of interlocking board pieces like Space Hulk or Warhammer Quest, and a few miniatures that act as game pieces.  The game should have simple enough rules to appeal to players who are not gamers (the genre itself should keep the veterans interested).  The game should be something that you could play with your children or disinterested SO.  An example is the Settlers of Catan, which is arguably has some fantasy elements and yet is popular outside of traditional gaming circles.
  2. An intermediate level "skirmish" wargame.  This should contain more miniatures than the previous level, while not being huge battles, either.
  3. A wargame.  This is the level of the current games of Warhammer, Warhammer 40k, and War of the Ring.

The key to a marketing strategy like this is to ensure that the games should be as compatible as with each other as possible, at least in terms of the miniatures.  That ensures that a new player will "add on" to his army as he progresses up the chain, rather than feel like he has to "start over" each time.  

For each of the three main lines that GW has, I can envision the following tiers:

    Tier One: Warhammer Quest.  A handful of characters doing a dungeon crawl to accomplish a quest.  
    Tier Two:  Mordheim, or something similar.  Basically warbands fighting each other for whatever reason.
    Tier Three:  Warhammer itself.

Warhammer 40k:
    Tier One:  A Warhammer Quest analogue, perhaps a Rogue Trader or Inquisitorial Retinue on a mission on board a space hulk to accomplish a quest, like retrieve an artifact and then escape.
    Tier Two:  A skirmish game, perhaps more like Necromunda, the original Rogue Trader version of the game, or something along the lines of the Kill Team rules from 6th edition 40k.  A disadvantage of Necromunda itself was that you couldn’t use the miniatures in Warhammer 40k, and, as far as I know, the vice versa.  Suffice it to say, it should a be a squad level game where each player has maybe a dozen miniatures.
    Tier Three:  Warhammer 40k.

The Lord of the Rings
    Tier One:  A game called something like “Escape from Moria”, where the Fellowship (or a small band of other heros), has to escape the mines of Moria before they are captured or killed by its evil denizens.  This is a different concept from the boxed set The Mines of Moria, which is the starter set to The Lord of the Rings Strategy Battle Game.  Rather, this game would have the interlocking game pieces like Warhammer Quest or Space Hulk, which creates Moria as the players explore it, searching for an exit.  
    Tier Two:  The Lord of the Rings Strategy Battle Game, albeit marketed at the skirmish level like it was originally envisioned.
    Tier Three:  War of the Ring.  

Having a tiered structure like this I think would attract more gamers.  As it is, many new players jump in and get hooked for life, while others start to get involved, build an army, get frustrated at the escalating costs or codex creep or whatever, and then and sell everything on ebay and leave permanently.  Those that are lost are going to tell others about their experiences, and potentially drive others away.  However, with more gaming options available, someone who gets frustrated might instead take a break from the Tier Three game and slide back down to Tier Two or One, and still have fun.  Even if their never go back up to Tier Three, they’re still playing games within the company, and even if they spend way less money than they used to, less is better than none at all.


Spyrle said...

What about Tier 4? Like 40K's Apocalypse? Isn't their a similar Huge Battles ruleset for Warhammer Fantasy Battles, or is it just the rules allow for really huge armies with the % based composition.

Darkwing said...

I did think of Apocalyse as a potential Tier 4 game, but then I decided it's really just an extension of 40k proper, so I didn't include it. You could argue it both ways I guess.