So last Saturday, we played Zombicide. I was pretty excited, since Zombicide Green Horde was Kickstarting. I mean, who could say no to zombie orcs?
And there is a new trebuchet! And giant zombie dragon! And a ballista!
I also needed a short break from running RPG’s. I love running RPG’s, but sometimes, I need a break. Running RPG’s is fun. But depending on the game, it can take a lot of time to prep for. I find that Call of Cthulhu usually requires that I read the adventure at least twice before running it. CoC adventures can be written well, but there is a lot of undercurrent and subterfuge, let alone understanding the nature of what is going on. Generally I need to spend about 1 1/2 to 2 times the session tome for CoC just prepping for the session. The sessions are very nuanced, and the lore needs some review. The particular adventure I am running on Thursdays, Terror From the Skies is a Chaosium publication, which should make it easy to run, but it isn’t. The stats, and other information don’t fit into either the CoC 6 or CoC 7 rules. There are missing elements, such as all of the magic spells that are described in the adventure don’t appear in any of the CoC books that I own, which include versions 5.6, 6 and 7. The adventure is missing enough information that it requries some time looking up info on the Interwebs to fill in the gaps, or finding something that is close enough that I can keep the game running.
CoC also tends to have an intertwined plot which requires a lot of understanding of the entire adventure. You can run a standard dungeon crawl by simply keeping a paragraph in front of where the party is. Oh, they are going down the hallway that goes to rooms 45 and 46. I better read those two room’s descriptions pretty quick before they get there. Hmm… This looks complicated. Let me throw some stirges or maybe a few ghouls at them in the hallway while I read the adventure text.
CoC requires that you study the adventure. CoC adventures are amazing cool, but also are quite often amazingly poorly written. The information is not linear, requires a lot of reading back and forth, and cross referencing with other chapters in the same book, possibly in other books.
D&D is more straight forward to run. Same with DCC. Sometimes, I need a change. I love playing Zombicide, since we all get to try to live.
Speaking of Zombicide, I got a coupon for $5 off any Prime eligible package. So I went onto Amazon and looked online Friday night. I found Zombicide Angry Neighbors for something like $36. By the time I applied the coupon paid for tax and ordered it, the game supplement cost me just about $36 for a game supplement that would normally cost me at least $60 at my FLGS.
Now, I am big into supporting FLGS. I typically don’t buy things through Amazon, unless I can’t get them at my FLGS. Amazon is nice, but every time I spend money at Amazon, I don’t get to support the game stores where I play the games.
The elements of the equation is simple for me.
No FLGS means:
- I need to clean the house to have people over to play at my house
- Same for the bathroom
- Same for the kitchen
- I probably need to do some yardwork
Oh yeah, where am I going to see new things, and be able to talk with people about games if I don’t have an FLGS nearby? I get it, there is the tubes of the Interwebs. I could go onto chat rooms, search sites, etc. But, if I know a person who has similar interests, and I can bounce ideas off him or her, then I can decide if I want to try something new. Maybe, I can look at the game components in real life before I invest a cool C note into the game.
Molly, my wife loves shopping online. I wanted to purchase some slacks last weekend. I wear slacks for work. I have specific feel that I am going for in the slacks that I wear. I like the material to be a very specific way. Molly just wants to order things from Kohl.com or JCPenney.com. I know that the stores won’t have the same selection as the online version of the same store has, but I want to touch the fabric, I want to look at the pockets… I don’t get that from online purchases.
Where was I? Oh yeah, So I usually only buy games from the FLGS. Sometimes, I will order stuff on Amazon, or NobleKnight games. I am a sucker for Kickstarter, which does not help my FLGS at all.
Kickstarter is probably the nail in the coffin for the FLGS. There are a limited type of things on Kickstarter.
There is the Cool Mini or Not, where they generate millions of dollars for a new board game. The problem with this is that while they get thousands of people to back the project, which essentially funds the entire project with no risk to the company. This is genius. They take a game that they would sell at $100, and add some extra sculpts which cost them pennies to produce, maybe less. Then they charge us shipping on top. So we feel awesome that we are getting some cool stuff for $100 plus shipping. All of the funds go to the manufacturer. Now the same game will sell for $100 at the FLGS. The FLGS will pay around $50 for the game to the warehouse. The warehouse buys the game for $25 or $30 from the manufacturer. QED, the manufacturer gets three to four times their normal payout for each box… and they charge for shipping… for just giving us some extra plastic pieces that are “unique”. This means that CMON or whatever company is able to bankroll the entire production of the game at no risk to themselves, along with likely using the Kickstarter funding to bankroll the extra shipping containers that they are having made to sell on Amazon, Target, Barnes and Noble, Walmart, and the FLGS.
It is a brilliant business strategy.
The second type is the Call of Cthulhu, non Paizo Pathfinder, non WOTC D&D (Green Ronin Games, Frog God Games and Goodman Games) style Kickstarter projects. They follow closely to the CMON style, but there is a big difference. These games have limited appeal. This means that most of the people who want the “Primeval Thule” D&D 5E book will probably buy it on the Kickstarter. There is very little desire beyond the small number of people buying it via a Kickstarter pledge.
Troll Lord Games (Amazing Adventures, Castles and Crusades) are the worst of these. The Troll Lord Games stuff is amazing. The problem with them is that they Kickstart a lot of stuff, then apparently have a glut of product on their shelves. Instead of pushing it out to try to get the FLGS running their games, they send out emails and Facebook posts saying “We are having a huge stale… buy our stuff at 33% off, or in some cases 50% off). This undercuts the FLGS entirely. Troll Lord takes the Kickstarter to the next level. When they decide to create their next print run of books, they kickstart it again, where they talk about how their 7th edition players handbook will have a new cover, and a few of the errata are incorporated into the book… It is also a brilliant business strategy where they undercut the FLGS, and get the crowdsource system to pay all of their bills up front.
Troll Lord is not unique. Frog God does it. To an extent Modiphius does it. So does Pinnacle Entertainment Group. Modiphius and PEGinc don’t do the massive discounts that you see with Frog God and Troll Lord. But PEGinc does do it by offering the free PDF for the book if you purchase the book at full price online, or if you Kickstart the product.
I prefer the Bits and Mortar approach
If you buy the game at a FLGS, you can get the PDF for free.
Anyhow, the third type of Kickstarter is the type where you have a person or group who put out something small and interesting. They are making a small run of a product, and maybe it will end up on something like DrivethruRPG with a POD option. These likely would not be able to be published in any other way.
Kickstarter will be the death of FLGS, most likely because in many cases, the entire interest will be fed by the campaign, and everyone who wants the product will not want it from the FLGS, or they will buy it on POD from RPGnow or DrivethruRPG.
Does that mean that I won’t back Kickstarter? Nope. I am a sucker.
I do buy everything I can from Roy, the owner of the FLGS. If Roy can’t get it, then I will look at Amazon, Miniature Market, or maybe even Ebay.
So what started this diatribe? Oh yeah, me feeling slightly guilty at buying a Zombicide expansion from Amazon. I checked, Roy did not have it in stock. I also checked at a couple of other game stores in the area. Nobody had it in stock, so I wasn’t taking a direct sale from an FLGS. I know that I could have ordered it through my FLGS, but I had a coupon.
I hope that won’t count against me in the Karma thing.
Anyhow, we got together last Saturday to play some Zombicide. I wanted a break from running RPG’s. We are still playing Zombicide game scenarios from the base book. We haven’t gotten into the compendium books yet.
Things started out easily enough. We need to uncover each of the red X objective tokens and get out. That shouldn’t be too hard, right?
Here are some of the minis ready to play.
At this point, there are three types of minis on the board. There are always the walkers, runners, fatties and abominations.
The bases mean something. There are grey bases. They are from the base Zombicide box.
The green bases are the spurty type of zombies, where they need to be killed via ranged weapons, since they will spew goo and cause damage. They are from the Prison Outbreak game. I don’t have the Prison Outbreak game, but I got a box of the zombies to go with.
The red bases are for the armored zombies which must be killed via melee.
I haven’t painted them yet, but there are also zombie dogs, VIP zombies (will have blue bases), and seekers (will have black bases).
The best part of all of this is that the game gets really complicated. Instead of just killing everything, the party needs to make some tough choices. What needs to happen in what order to keep people from dying?
The door is opened, and some fetching zombie horde pops up. This creates a bit of a problem.
Josh is not getting the best end of this deal.
Things are getting bad.
Some spares ready to help out with the action
We are hoping for a few Molotov cocktails.
Herding them into a single space to help destroy as many as possible.
AAAND, Collin gets out, alive. He has a special message for everyone.
Now, I am off to paint more minis…