8/20/2015

The Problem of System Hoppers


With the announcement today that Privateer Press is releasing the Warmachine/Hordes rules as free PDFs, they may have just gained my business. I say "may" because I still dislike the aesthetics of their models, but people have been raving like rabid fanboys over their rules systems for years.

I haven't played a game of Warhammer 40,000 in three months. I did, however, participate in a Malifaux league at the Battle Standard. And I've had a Dropzone Commander itch that I need to scratch soon.

My Arcanists vs Matt's Ten Thunders

But am I ready for another new system? I spent my first six years of tabletop gaming focused solely on 40K. I even stuck with one army. By doing so, I learned self-control, moderation, patience, and dedication.

In recent years, though, I'd begun to stray. It started with D&D. Then it expanded, rather quickly, to board games like Zombicide and Super Dungeon Explore. Then, metaphorically speaking, a floodgate opened and I bought BattleTech, Malifaux, Dropzone Commander, Mercs, and Kaosball.

I'm also a lot wealthier now. There's no denying that. I went from making $150/week to $600/week. Am I just impulse buying? I rarely play most of these games, and I haven't gotten around to playing a few of them. Yet they sit on my shelves, collecting dust.

I even built a bookshelf to house stuff!

They're hobby games. Meaning in your spare time. It's not a sport. It's not competitive. It's not something thuper theriouth [sic]. It's my little plastic dudes versus your little plastic dudes, and most of the outcome is decided by dice. You can win all the tournaments in the world, but there's still a chance - as minute as it is - that a lone Guardsman (or whatever GW calls them now) could single-handedly wipe out your entire Space Marines force.

I think the biggest issue I have is actually the gaming community itself. Most gamers these days have ADD/ADHD. And I'm not some quack doctor spouting false diagnoses for the sake of selling Ritalin. I've seen it first hand, the way people just jump ship and hop on a recently updated faction's bandwagon, or the newest gaming system. These are the same people who barely assemble their miniatures, never mind paint them, just to get them to the next tournament. There's no loyalty anymore. And it's really, really frustrating.

Because of this, once I buy into a system, there's already a new, shinier system that's caught these players' attentions, despite the fact there's nothing actually wrong with the gaming system they were just obsessed with.

Is there a perfect system? No. Will there ever be? No, because you can't please both RAW and RAI players.

I enjoy 40K, as stupid as the rules have gotten and as convoluted of a game it has become. Finding someone to play against, however, has become the biggest challenge. They're a multi-million dollar company, but good luck finding people interested in it. And those that have already bought in have moved on.

I'm starting to think, at this point in time, that the reason I collect these other games is to increase my chances of actually getting to play a game. Any game. "I don't care which, it's my day off, let's just play a friggin' game!"

But sadly, once I buy into a game, before I even get to build or paint my miniatures, the trendsters have moved on to something else to glorify. Think about that for a moment. Let it sink in how the "must have the newest" generation has affected the hobby. It's literally ruined the community. It also undermines store inventory.

If kids jump on X-Wing, for example, retailers will order tons of it to keep up with demand. But what happens when the bubble bursts only a few months later? That retailer is left with tons of overstock. That's not terrible for chain stores that can absorb the costs, but what about local mom-and-pop shops?

As an example, I distinctly remember Privateer Press's Monsterpocalypse releasing. It was touted as an amazingly fun game with awesome mechanics. It was the only game people would play. About six months later, the game flatlined. My local gaming store had several racks of overstock that they stuck "buy one, get two free" stickers on. And now the game has pretty much disappeared from stores. I haven't seen a box in years. Probably because retailers are afraid to take a chance on making an order.

Even the web site hasn't been updated since 2011!

But back to my original rant, I'm nervous about getting into yet another gaming system, investing money and time into it, only to have it be abandoned. The rules being free are a great start for people like me, or anyone really, but taking the plunge and buying miniatures... that's the toughest part. I guess only time will tell on what my decision is.

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