So - I was sitting reading a back issue of white dwarf the other day, (the terminator release issue), and was having a look at the "history of GW" section. By god did they enjoy talking about Spacehulk, and how it got so many gamers into the wider hobby, and how it was so well loved, how it sold so well etc.

As usual, I let my mind wander off in a fantasy, where GW re-do and re-issue they're older gamers (MoW, SH, Gorka, WHQ). Of course, then I came to my senses and realised that as a faceless, evil corporation, GW will never do something like that... its just doesnt present a good business case in comparison to yet another marine release.

So then I thought... but why not? Given that we can (apparently) put a man on the moon, and (probably) invent corsets capable of giving Kiera Knightly a cleavage... why cant mankind put together a business case to re-issue these titles in an ongoingly profitable, business viable manner? Surely its possible!

And lo... I came up with the following.

Firstly, why "can't it be done at present?" Well, the consensus of opinion runs thus:-

1. Too Expensive - With current models and allowing for the other stuff (cardboard etc), theres about 120 quids worth of stuff in a SpaceHulk set. Plus, theres all the stories about original artwork being lost during the move to Lenton.

2. No ongoing sales potential - Once its sold, thats it... Its a game in a box, where does the ongoing return come from?

3. Lack of game designer time - with all the layoffs and "restructuring" who in the hell is gonna write this stuff?


Well... lets tackle these one at a time shall we?

1. Too Expensive - Yep, your right, the current model range is waaaay to good a deal if included in a £50 boxset (the optimum price point for this kind of thing). So how do we cut this back?

Well, GW are desperate to tell us about this new rapid prototyping, digital sculpting, and computerised mould cutting kit they've just spent a gazillion quid on... so why not use it to solve two problems?

The game isnt viable at 28mm. So dont make it so. Digitally recut your new style terminators and genestealers into 1 piece, 15-20mm. versions. Stick them all on one (or two) sprues. Bingo - you've reduced costs considerably, re-vitalised the old models, and prevented naughty 40kers from buying up Hulk as a cheap source of termies and Genestealers.

Game Design. Well, lets face it, most of it is already done. A few minor tweaks maybe, but the true beauty of these games is that they're already practically complete!

Now... to the issue of artwork. The story goes that GW lost a considerable amount of high quality ldigitised artwork on the move to lenton. Now, lets not argue about whether this is in fact true. Lets just assume that someone in Logistics IS that crap at thier job, and that they're IT department is so amateur that they didnt back up EVERYTHING to tape in advance of the move, and it did happen. Now, since we're scaling back the size of our mini's to 15-20mm... we also get to scale down the artwork! Now, there are two choices here. First, procure an unpunched copy of said games, digitally scan them, touch them up in photoshop a bit, and rescale them down. Or, Secondly, have a whole new set linedrawen, and then digitally colored (the same way all sabretooth card art is done - super fast and cheap!).

Now, lets look at what we have now. We've cut our raw materials cost right down, we can ship it all in a smaller, battalion sized box, and we've stopped naughty gamers abusing the price point to dodge expensive 40k prices. We've also worked around the design and artwork costs nicely. Hurrah.


2. No ongoing sales potential

Well, ongoing sales potential relies on two things. 1. Sell to more people. 2. Sell expansions to existing gamers.

Tackling point 1 - Given the Smaller form factor of a recut box set, its a much more attractive option to independant games stores (who have limited shelf space), and large toy chains. Distribute through these channels, and you triple exposure and potential business. Now, the other major source of new gamers are your existing GW fanbase. Your utilising existing, well loved IP with these games, and giving them an alternate, financially affordable diversion from the regular 40k grind. Great. By inclusion of a 2-4 page monthly article in WD, you can include new material to maintian interest in existing buyers, and maintain awareness of the product amongst potential future adopters playing other systems. Issue a compilation of such articles once a year as an annual, and your laughing.

Tackling point 2 -

2. Expansions. Well guys, lets face it. GW now has the widest and best source of IP and related plastics of any gaming company out there, bar none. Lets leverage this. Every 2-3 months, release a boxed expansion pack (Rhino size box) containing a new sprue of miniatures, some new board sections, and a new book with rules expansions, errata, and missions relating to the new mini's. For example, your first expansion could be based in the SH "Deathwing" expansion (revised of course). Include a sprue with a few extra stealers, a squad of terminators with 2 assault cannons (to mix in with your existing models), and maybe a marine captain. 3 months later, release a "Genestealer" expansion - with some hybrids, a couple of marine librarians, a stealer patriarch, and the 2 cyclone missile launchers.

This were it gets interesting. You can now move on and start issuing material never officially seen in the Space Hulk Game... Release an expansion pack focused on troops for every 40k race - Tau, Chaos, Tyranids, Orks etc etc. All have a good enough reasons to be scrapping in the tight confines of a spaceship! Again, each expansion comes as an all inclusive addon, with a sprue or two of recut, resized 40k models, some board sections, and a slim rules/missions booklet. Produce more marine varients based on different troops - tactical marines, scouts (any remember the "Ultra Marines" boardgame!) etc. The possibilities for quarterly expansions are vast. Whether or not you require all/some of the previous expansions to utilise later ones, or just the core game is a matter for analysis, but essentially, we've covered the fears over ongoing profitability, by issuing a cheap, easily produced quarterly update.


3. Lack of game designer time

Ah, now heres a sticky one. The reasoning for canning the Specialist games/ Fanatic Studio is that it consumed too much resource for too little return. Well, anyone who wanted to purchase Epic Armageddon from a retail store will tell you why that was... lack off logistical support. Only the very first set of stuff was splash released, and it was impossible to order if you where an indy. The game died on its feet due to lack of shelf visibility. Pity. Secondly, with a third "core" game (LOTR) to support and create new material for, designers were re-distributed. Thirdly, with the financial problems hitting the company (the reasoning for which can be discussed elsewhere) meant that a pool of good designers could not be dedicated to a seemingly unprofitable project.

Well. The beauty of a closed system like Spacehulk/Man of war/Warhammer Quest is that the design input and consideration is much, much lower than that of producing an entire 40k army or campaign. As everything is self enclosed, and works within a limited ruleset (and this is where the OOP boardgame division differs from the "wargame" stuff like Epic). A ratio of 1 designer per game could, working fulltime, doubtless produce 2-4 pages a month for White Dwarf, as well as enough material to generate a quarterly supplement for each game. WHQ is a bit different, as smaller "marine bike" sized mini box sets, with a small selection of troops and a pack of a dozen relevent event/treasure cards could be released more regularly. Given adequete artwork support (and there is still a good pool of it at GW) this would be perfectly viable.


Conclusion:-

Well, I think that makes my feelings and arguments known on the subject. I'm the first to admit that I'm a bit of a fanboy for some of the older and OOP GW stuff, and would dearly love to see it re-issued for completely selfish reasons, but at the same time, I understand that a proper business case would need to be prepared to support such a move, and I thought I'd make a start on it!

Gimme your thoughts.

#Wonderdog