The Season of War is over – Let’s talk about the how the First World-Wide Campaign for AoS was run!
The Global Campaign for Age of Sigmar: Season of War ended earlier this week. We’ve seen a bit of what the implications are already but we’re still waiting for the full impact to be felt. We all have see the results: Order Won – and it never really looked like it could be dethroned. But I don’t want to talk purely about the results; I want to do a “Postmortem” on the event itself.
If you don’t know what a “Postmortem” is – well, it’s literally an examination of the dead. But in the business world (and other places) it’s meant as expression to signify a review of a past project (if you have had a quarterly “Start, Stop, Continue” review – it’s like that only the project is typically done). It’s used as a tool to figure out what went well, what went wrong and what can be improved for next time. So, let’s get started!
What Went Right
- The Technology Worked – I just want to say kudos to Games Workshop for the Season of War Website. It worked pretty much the entire time and it had (mostly) real-time updates. You could punch in your Postal/Zip Code, find stores near you and see how those battles were going. The integration between results and the “tech” was great.
- Store Participation/Managing Reporting Worked – I thought this was a great move. Having the stores control the reporting and only being able to report battles for their own store was smart. It controlled reporting so no one faction could defraud results and get a “boost” at the last minute and claim victories that never happened (looking at you Tau players – Yes I’m still bitter about it you dirty cheaters). Players could fight over their own store but could also travel to other stores to participate there if they choose to.
- Player Participation – Army Generals & Hobbyist got to participate in meaningful ways. I know at the end of the day GW is a company and they are trying to stay in business and sell models. Awarding points to players for buying units is a way to promote that. But it gives players who are new a feeling of participation and lets them feel invested in the results. On the flip side if you already had an army you could start impacting the event by just playing! If you factor in hobby time, players who had an army should have been able to get in a ton more games. That should have helped to balance out the Gameplay/Hobby impact.
- Mini-buffs – I thought the Mini-Buffs that Games Workshop announced via their Facebook page were a nice touch. I didn’t think any of them were super “over powered” or game breaking. They (mostly) seemed like cool, flavorful buffs that could slightly boost a faction for the week. I’m sure there is probably some player out there that feels like “that one thing” cost them the game. That stinks you feel that way but I hope it was at least fun playing.
What Went Wrong
- No Real Battleline Movement – From the start of the event it felt like Order jumped to a huge lead (I’ll get why that happened). It was an uphill battle for the other 3 factions and there didn’t seem to be a way to unseat Order. If there was a way to form alliances or consolidate attacks… I’m not sure if that would have helped. But I do know that it can be discouraging for the players who want to win battles to feel like they aren’t even making a dent. I know a lot of players think that it was due to “Order has the most armies” but I don’t think that’s the root problem. The real problem was…
- Release of new models influenced results too much – What army came out at the very start of the event? Sylvaneth! Remember, if you bought a unit you got a point. If you painted the unit you also got a point. Well I know that locally the Sylvaneth models pretty much sold out and checking in with other retailers it was more of the same (Kurnoth Hunters are STILL hard to get!). There were LOTS of people who wanted to or have been wanting to update their “Wood Elf” armies for a long time. It was massive boon to Order which explains their explosive dominance at the very beginning of the campaign. Destruction got a small boost as well with the release of the Beastclaw Raider – but those weren’t new models so the impact was much smaller. To top it off, Chaos and Death didn’t really get anything new so they had nothing to throw their wallets behind to get those same boosts. It was the perfect storm for Order to pull ahead and stay there.
- Vague Reporting Metric – While I really liked the website the results were too high level. Having a colored circle with no real numbers to support that visual data was frustrating at points. It also didn’t help that there was no way to compare or track progress day-to-day or week-to-week. I know that I would have been more motivated to play more if I could see that Chaos was only a few more games shy of pushing ahead. And I feel for Death & Destruction players who were pretty much stuck at 3rd and 4th place with no real way to compare how close they were to each other. Pie charts with no numbers aren’t informative.
- Mini Buffs should have been on the website, too – I think this was just an oversight. Or maybe the buffs were an afterthought, I’m not sure. Players participating in the event should be able to go to the event page to see the rules. They should haven’t to go to another 3rd party site to get the full information (even if that site is Facebook). It’s okay to post them elsewhere or link to them, but they should all be on the same official event page.
Improvements for Next Time
- Better Reporting – I’d Love to see Percentages and/or games played and if we are really stretching: actual player counts! I know there were over 1000 stores playing but there was no way to see them all in a single view. If you could have clicked on a zone and then had the option to see the full break down that would have been cool. I liked being able to find my city and see an impact there but it would have been even better to have some other filters available. I’m a data junkie – give me more data!
- Weekly narrative updates – Short battlefield updates under the stories tab that talk about the overall battle. We did them from a high-level/techincal reporting point-of-view. Games Workshop could have a staff writer sit down and add a touch of narrative flair to them. I know that would have added some impact to the story and given players a sense of the over-all engagement. I’m a narrative junkie – give me more narrative!
- A way for faction players to communicate with each other – Did anyone else feel like their games took place in a lonely void? Maybe you were lucky and you could at least interact with the local players but even that felt…well, local. There while there was local participation and interaction I don’t feel like the over-all community interacted very much. Sure, there are forums and other places players were talking but there was no centralized hub of “hey all the Chaos players, come over here to talk” or anything for the other factions. Building the Local Community participation was great. But boosting the Global Community participation would have been amazing! I’m a community junkie – give me more community!
- Give every faction something to buy at the start – I know this seems like a simple concept, however, I know it’s way more complicated from a logistics standpoint. But imagine that at the start of the campaign each faction got one new model or unit added. Even if it’s just one Warscroll per faction. I would have totally bought a new “Chaos Commander Model” for my existing army just for the fact that it would have been two more points! A single model or unit per faction helps to cut down on that “hobby advantage” a new army for a faction provides. A new character would have been perfect for players with existing armies. Stores get to sell more, players get a new toy and the campaign gets impacted. I’m a hobby junkie – give me more hobby!
- A Stated Goal – Why were we fighting again? I know we had the story page on the season of war website but it was basically a blurb per faction. I would have loved to see things like a faction leader give orders for the week. Can you imagine if you were a Death Player and you had Nagash have a section where he “relayed his will” to you? If they tied that into the Narrative Updates I mentioned that could make for a really cool and semi-immersive experience.
Overall, I think the Summer Campaign was a successful endeavor and I hope we get to see more of these for BOTH systems. I really think they had a good format and some great ideas. It’s actually a very solid foundation for how to build on these types of event in the future. I hope they use the lessons learned to make the next one even better!
What do you think? Any other suggestions or feedback you would offer to Games Workshop about how the event was run?