Friday, 17 January 2014

Mutant Chronicles??

Hello people,

Back from the wonders of the week-long work training course this pile of shrink-wrapped geek-goodness was waiting for me. It's about bloody time as there were some "issues" with delivery resulting in a re-send, direct from the States thus incurring Import Duty, and a previously un-mentioned product split. Annoying but at least it's here, unlike Heroes of Normandie which is delayed further than the second front it represents!
Tomorrow night a few of us are getting together round at Rich's for another run-out with Firefly before heading down to TTN on Sunday for their most recent ST-AW Organised Play event. So, this seems like the post to expand my recent musing about "hybrid board-games" (Rich J's phrase), especially given GW's 25% share-price nose-dive following the announcing of their half year financial, though I appreciate that this is a relatively tenuous link.

Meanwhile, back in the room, the thought process works something like this;
- "Traditional" wargames take a lot of time and effort to get going, building and painting armies, scenery etc
- For new gamers this can be something of a barrier, though naive enthusiasm usually sees them through
- Veteran gamers, or at least the ones in my group, tend to have time as their most limited resource, as demonstrated by the number of abandoned projects that litter the bits boxes
- Wargamers are all about the toys, the figures. We tend to be somewhat disparaging towards "pure" boardgames and those that play them. Where's the "hobby" in that we ask?
- Boardgames with "proper" figures are apparently far more acceptable, they scratch the required itch. Thus the rise of the Hybrid-Boardgame

The Hybrid-Boardgame has a number of major selling points; 
- Everything you need to play the game comes in the box, it's (potentially) a self contained project
- You can get to playing the actual game very quickly
- There is still the possibility / necessity for figure painting
- The game tends to play quickly, 2hr max making campaigns far quicker
- The games themselves are well crafted being fast, fun, furious and even true to period / genre
- Less of an investment in respect of both time and, often, money

For myself, my apparent conversion has snuck up on me somewhat, starting with Blood-Bowl and Space Hulk whilst still playing 40K and Fantasy as my main games. I suppose that as my gaming has moved towards skirmish then its become less of a leap to make. The important point here is that I'm not complaining, I'm more than happy to be a Hybrid-Boardgamer!

As much as I'm still not a fan of pre-paints, painting my own figures is a big part of "my" hobby, the figures themselves have improved no end in terms of sculpt quality, material and re-paint potential, just look at the Zombiecide offerings! Speaking of ZC the rise of the Hybrid-Boardgame seems intrinsically linked to the rise of KickStarter within the hobby. The nature of Hybrid-Boardgames lend themselves to KS particularly well to the point of being almost self funding, they form Mantic's entire business strategy, and in some cases an apparent license to print money.

The offerings available have simply exploded over the past 18 months or so. Dreadball, Deadzone, Mars Attacks, Kingdom Death, Descent, Hero-Quest, Incursion, Dust Tactics to name but a few. Then you've got X-Wing, Attack Wing and Wings of War as various birds of feather competing for our Geek time and money. How about Spartan's Uncharted Seas, Firestorm Armarda and Dystopian War, tha tmuch different?

So is this doing real damage to the 6"x4" plus wargames community? GW's aparrent woes are likely far too circumstantial but the rise of KS and it's effects on the wider community have been well documented. Plenty of hobby wedge is being hoovered up in this manner and there is surely only a certain amount to go around. We've certainly noticed an effect in and around the club.

A bit like Marmite the reaction seems to be love or hate but whichever camp you're in I'm sure the Hybrid Boardgame is not only here to stay but likely to keep growing. The question is where and when is the saturation point?

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