Monte Cooks WotC’s Goose

Well, not really – his Line of Sight column on this week’s big WotC hoo-hah is as level-headed as it is insightful. In my opinion Chainmail was mismarketed from the get-go, and it looks like a lot of people agree. But here’s the thing: Monte’s comments open up another thing GW gets right that Wizards may get wrong. Specifically, Games Workshop almost never kills a game. Old, out-of-print titles like Epic 40,000 and Blood Bowl? Not only can you still mail-order the models, but new bits of rules – yes, actual game support – are released online and in periodicals all the freakin’ time. These people know how to support a game and support it cheaply, and as a result a lot of GW gamers are fanatically loyal to the company and the hobby. (However, when GW notices that a game isn’t selling minis, they kill it deader than Elvis before you can blink – see Talisman.)

Now, as an exercise, go down to your local game retailer and have a look at the Chainmail game product. Not the models, but the game – Blood and Ice, or Fire and Ghostwind or whatever those campaign things are. (Eww… I smell ghostwind.) Is there anything in those books that couldn’t be printed three times as cheaply? Is there anything about the Chainmail models that couldn’t be duplicated in the regular line of D&D models that’s staying in production? Is there any reason to formally kill this game, rather than just selling it as a few books to go with your Dungeons and Dragons miniatures?

Whatever. Just more proof that Wizards doesn’t understand the minis-gaming market and would do better to stay out. As far as GW goes, it’s their big Games Day weekend out in their American HQ-city Baltimore, and we may have a full report on it in the next couple of weeks. I have a good time razzing GW on this site, but I’ve actually gained a lot more respect for what they do, in the past several months working here at the store.

Which leads me to my final point: today is the final day of my savage journey into the heart of the retail dream. I’m giving up my discount and moving on. I’ve learned a great deal but, well, if you see me at Origins, congratulate me.