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.
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…