The Advent of Physical ‘Piracy’

It’s a WWI Mark IV. Don’t claim ‘unique’ and ‘distinctive’.

I’ve already made a few comments about this story on Twitter, Facebook and G+ but I think it’s really worthy of a full on blog post. The short version, if you don’t want to follow the link, is that some people are already using fabbers to make copies of physical objects or to produce models similar to those produced by certain companies.

 

Yet again, as with ebooks, gamers seem to be a bit ahead of the curve when it comes to adopting new tech, but companies it seems are still lagging behind.

We’ve been through this before with MP3, we’re going through it with ebooks and movies and the same mistakes are being made over and over again. It sickens me to see companies refusing to learn from history and getting into the same, pointless, expensive, litigious, good-will burning cycle over and again.

The music companies did the absolute wrong thing in going after music ‘pirates’, suing little girls and trying to shore up a broken business model. Until the apple store came along anyway. Even now they’re still trying to stop the various streaming and radio-alike services and yet again, all it’s doing is making people resent them.

We’re still seeing it with films, but the better solution – Lovefilm, Netflix, on demand movies, that’s coming around slowly though companies still seem too keen on doing staggered releases which only feeds piracy as people get frustrated waiting for their favourite shows or films to come out.

Ebooks? We’ve still not quite gotten to the iTunes or Netflix stage there, though it’s coming. Book publishers still seem intent on over-charging for ebooks and, again, doing the frustrating, staggered release model that, again, feeds piracy. Wizards removing their old PDFs from the market is a prime example of a ‘Wrong Move’ in this arena.

Now we see GW making the same mistake only with physical objects. What you have here is not a threat, but an opportunity. GW has had some… questionable business practices over the last twenty years or so (since 1990) and has a bad rep. Here’s an opportunity to fix a lot of that damage and steal a march on competitors like Fantasy Flight or Privateer Press who have been gobbling a chunk of GWs business.

Engage with your fans. Put your patterns up FOR SALE at a reasonable price. Go through your back catalogue of designs, all the way back, scan your old figures. 3D printing doesn’t wear out moulds. You have decades of great designs and games and you could make a bundle off the patterns for playing pieces from all the old greats. Gamers would go nuts for it and you’d get a huge amount of good will and be able to create a trusted space in which hobbyists could share their own conversions, modifications and figures.

If you don’t, somebody will. A company less hidebound, more forward thinking, agile enough to innovate and take a risk with a view to the long term.

Not that anybody ever listens to me…

Review: Cadwallon – City of Thieves

Cadwallon: City of Thieves is a board game by Fantasy Flight Games set in the independent city of Cadwallon in the world of Aarkalash, made famous by the now defunct Rackham. FFG, apparently, still has access to a lot of old Rackham IP and in partnership with Dust Games is leveraging some of that into game properties, such as this.

The basic premise of the game is that each player takes the role of a small gang of thieves (each gang is made up of four individuals) and these gangs invade a district wholesale on a variety of missions to steal as much as possible and then have it away on their toes.

 

  1. Everyone enters the same district to pilfer anything that isn’t nailed down.
  2. The thieves tangle with each other and steal each other’s lewtz.
  3. ?
  4. Profit.

You only get seven actions spread between your four gang members each turn, as well as a random chance of controlling one of the two militia guards that are patrolling. Each individual mission also has its own little foibles as well as little sub-mission cards that reward you for collecting particular treasures or sets of treasures and trading them in early.

You supplement your tactical play with bonuses from ‘Arcana’ cards, special effects that influence your various actions, let you move in particular ways around the board or make your fighting and other abilities better or those of others worse.

Halfway through the whole thieving farce the alarm is raised and a bunch of portcullis gates slam down, cutting off many routes of escape. Your gang then needs to get out before the end of play or they get captured! Oh noes!

It’s worth your while trading in what you have early, according to the little sub-missions as you can then trade them in for Ducats, which are easier to protect from being stolen and free up more space in your ‘inventory’ for pilfering more items before time runs out.

With multiple players I can see this all getting a bit hectic, too hectic even, with a very chaotic board full of minis all running into each other and a lot of opportunity for backstabbing fun and hilarity, not to mention vindictiveness.

The only drawbacks I can see is that gameplay can be quite repetitive, not normally a problem with board games but you expect a little more from these sorts of games. The other problem is that there just isn’t really enough differentiation between the various characters in the gangs. The special skills bring a slight difference but for characters that look so different you’d expect them to be a bit more individual in their capabilities.

All things considered, this is what the game brings to mind…

Score
Style: 4 (Good quality plastic minis, great board).
Substance: 3 (Rising to 4 with the free downloadable extras).
Overall: 3.5