Hawk Wargames Justifies Scenery Pricing

It seems the general outrage from the wargaming community – much 0f it coming from me – over the prices of Hawk Wargames scenery has provoked a response from them. It can be read in full here. In my opinion it’s largely bollocks.

RANT INCOMING

The general gist surrounds cutting edge technology and a modular system allowing limitless potential and superior resins etc. This is all crap. Their resin is not the best. Not even close. The technology is the same technology that Spartan and the Games Workshop uses. Spartan seem to be able punt their wares out at a reasonable price. And if the tile system was resulting in shrinkage in a ‘cheaper’ resin then it’s a flawed concept and should have been abandoned in favour of something else, not passing on the truly stellar costs on to the customer. Who were hardly demanding a modular scenery system that’s only any good for that one game. Plus, there’s nothing innovative about mounting tiles on foam board. Innovation would have been scenery sets that you can just build out of the box.

There’s also some cock and bull about the tiles being super detailed. They’re not. Don’t get me wrong they look cool, but they’re nothing to hit your hobby spot. The overall finished effect is very striking but they are nowhere near the detail or other scenery kits out there. I also have to ask the question; how important is a modular system in a game where the emphasis is on air units – so you’re only looking at the roofs – and when buildings are essentially obstacles rather than things to be interacted with?

But it boils down to total lack of commercial sense. £720 for 15 buildings make no sense. Even if all of the crap about the finest quality blah blah blah was true, anyone with a shred of business acumen would conclude it is not commercially viable to punt out scenery, the lowest priority purchase for probably 90% of gamers, at those prices, and instead look at an alternative way of doing things. It’s either naivety, arrogance or petulance.

It’s great that Hawk Wargames have such high standards but they’re forcing those standards on the customer. The majority of whom simply can’t afford it. The number of gamers I’ve spoken to who are just going to bust out old Epic scenery or just use the paper buildings compared to those that’ll actually spend the money is 20 to 1. I also have to ask; where’s the innovation in system that requires you to mount your lovely expensive scenery tiles onto foam board? True innovation would have been a system that looks good, is easy to build, and doesn’t bust the bank. Unfortunately it doesn’t do any of those things.

I really feel Hawk has blindly stumbled into the same position the Games Workshop are in now in so much as they are producing a desirable product at a ridiculous price. But whereas the Games Workshop have 30 years of canon to draw in loyal customers time and again to hide their dropping customer numbers by paying increased prices, Hawk just doesn’t. But more than that, gamers can buy proxy models to cut costs so they can continue to play Games Workshop games, short of building paper buildings Dropzone gamers don’t have the option. And for gamers looking at getting into a new system I struggle to see how they can look at Dropzone Commander as a financially viable option any more.

Especially with the stand out comedy moment of the FAQ being when they recommend just 10 buildings for a 4×4 game. So only a £460 layout.  So that’s all right. What makes it worse is that it’s bullshit. We played on a 4×4 board with 15 buildings and we were told that ideally, to play the game the way it was design we’d need at least another 10. And you know what; I’d agree with it. Interestingly as well, pretty much all the scenario diagrams have 15 buildings in them…

I think it boils down to the this. Hawk Wargames may think they can justify £720 for 15 buildings and claim they’re awesome. Maybe they are awesome and maybe £720 is good value for money, but they’ve missed the point. It never should have gotten this far. At the product development stage someone should have said ‘fucking hell, this is gonna come out a bit expensive’. It’s a classic example of being too close to a project to objectively look at it and question it’s viability. The tiles are a great idea but if it wasn’t going to work whilst making it affordable it should have been canned.

As it stands Dropzone Commander is one of the most expensive games in the market with zero justification to be beyond an alleged high quality resin. My sources in the know tell me this is balls. Yes, okay, so they may be positioning themselves as a premium product but in a recession that’s retarded. Plus it isn’t a premium product. Erratas for the rules hit the site the day of release and continue to be updated. The rule book itself is badly laid out. For all their posturing about casting quality, miscasts have been rife. And let me ask this; what happens if the tiles even slightly warp? You’ve paid out a fucking fortune for something that doesn’t line up.

I full appreciate how bilious this post is coming across, but I don’t care. I don’t feel Hawk Wargames have a solid perspective and instead of reconsidering the viability of the scenery, they have instead tried to justify the colossal expense. Because, quite simply, I can buy myself a Warhound Titan from Forge World for less money than the supposed 10 buildings (minimum) I’d need to fill a 4×4 board for Dropzone Commander.

It’ll certainly be interesting to see what they come up with next…

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13 thoughts on “Hawk Wargames Justifies Scenery Pricing

  1. I really don’t get why you have your balls in such a knot over this. No-one’s forced to buy anything. There are plenty of other options for good looking, effective scenery out there.

    I bought about 3000 points of PHR on release. Is it overpriced? Sure. Is it better than average quality? Yes. Maybe not quite at the Forgeworld level, but you pay a high premium for Forgeworld gear too. I don’t feel like I got ripped off.

    But no-one will buy this ludicrously priced scenery. Not enough to make it worthwhile for Hawk anyway. The market will sort this out.

    1. I have my ‘balls in a knot’ as you so charmingly put it because I don’t like being lied to. Hawk Wargames are making a mockery of the community. They made promises that it would be faultless quality, affordable prices and community focussed. And not one of those promises came to pass. At least Games Workshop have the manners to be honest about screwing us with our pants on. I’m glad you don’t feel ripped off, and believe me I love the models, I really do. But the vast majority of people I’m in contact with feel completely taken advantage of.

      1. I’m not trying to be a smartass, truly, but I still don’t get it.

        No-one really thought they’d get “faultless quality”, did they?

        The “affordable prices” part was clearly not true, but again, no-one is being forced to buy anything. If people don’t want to pay what they’re asking then no-one has to.

        As for the “community focus” part, I’m not even sure what that realistically means. Sounds like salesman jargon to me. People are only gonna be interested in quality versus price. Anything else they throw in is purely a free bonus.

        We both know these buildings are never going to sell in any decent numbers, so I’m just not seeing how anyone has been taken advantage of.

        In the end, this’ll only hurt Hawk. People will obviously feel like they’re being gouged, so they’ll go elsewhere. And Hawk will pay the price for making some shifty promises.

        Again, not trying to be a smartass, but it seems that you got your hopes up with Hawk and ended up disappointed. Which is cool, I’ve been there buying online. And because I live in Australia we usually get reamed on the postage, so I definitely know what money wasted on inferior products feels like. But that’s the gamble we all take.

        BTW mate, great blog, I’ve checked it daily pretty much from day one.

      2. I think for me it boils down to this. I don’t like to be lied to and I don’t like companies fucking over the community. And I hate to see great ideas squandered. I’m just so frustrated to see something that had so much potential completely wasted.

  2. Its certainly interesting watching the whole Hawk thing unfold. Really, the negative publicity is only going to hurt them in the long run.

  3. I’m not so worried. I have never seen the new buildings as mandatory and have only used the paper buildings together with some N-gauge buildings. I knew the new buildings were going to be expensive (not that expensive, though) so I have never seen them as a valid choice. For me, DZC is still much less expensive than 40k as I don’t consider the amount of resin as apart of the price – only the amount of gaming time. I love the inexpensive paper buildings and think that it is hard to find another sci-fi game with a less total cost than DZC if you also includes a gaming table or two 8ignoring the new buildings, of course).

    Nice rant, though. Thanks.

    1. I’d say it’s on par. A big army with the kind of unit sizes you’d need to pack real punch will set you back £500. It’s the cost of the scenery that catapults it into the realms of ‘are you fucking kidding me’. But as you say, people don’t have to buy the scenery. My issue isn’t that people are being forced into it, it’s that they’re punting it out at that in the first place.

      1. I see your point. But I think you wouldn’t mind the price if you just ignore the buildings. Whenever I have read anything by Hawk they have been always stating that they would be pricey. All the readers then seemed to think “Ahh, they are almost up at GW prices for terrain”. I have been mentally prepared to the “Too expensive, don’t bother to play unless you love the cheap free buildings” – mindset.

        There are other things I have found that set me back a bit about the game that takes up space in my mind when it comes to complaints. Way too much to keep track of. We still haven’t played a game where no player have forgotten or we have needed to calculate which units belong to which and which has forgotten to move or hasn’t moved yet. Also record keeping is a bitch. Too small miniatures to have many rings on them for damage markers. also, the rules are hard to find in and are not intuitive to where they are placed in the text.

  4. Have to say I agree with Notch, there’s not that much too get upset about here.

    While I do agree the pricing is outrageous ‘and’ it reeks of a vanity project gone badly wrong ‘and’ yes it probably should’ve been shelved, I personally don’t bear Hawk any ill will over this.

    They’ve provided some beautiful free downloadable equivalents and they said right at the outset, “hey use N scale, it’ll work well with our stuff”.

    The market will decide how this one will pan out and Hawk will learn and move on.

    I think/I hope the arrogance you’re perceiving from Hawk is actually the actions of a small company that’s working it’s little ass off and climbing an exceptionally steep learning curve.

    1. As I keep saying: their greed offends me. At least GW is at the mercy of share holders who demand annual growth. I know people don’t have to buy the buildings but the fact that they exist, at all, with that price sticker saddens me because they were suppose to be for the community. That kind of profiteering only makes them for themselves.

  5. Very interesting rant – and I have to say that one thing Hawk have done for me is drop a lot of 6mm sci-fi buildings on the net with a little bit of re-scaling. Not interested in a new scale of 10.432mm or what every they are selling but always after some more scenery for Epic.

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