Tabletop Deep Thought: When Is It Ok to Kill Off a Faction
40K has dozens of factions, while other games have only a handful. But when and how should a company deal with factions who are hurting the game?
Wargames and wargamers are fickle things.
Is you ask a group of 5 gamers a hard question, chances are you’ll get 6 answers.
Factions have been on my mind of late due to the wide variety of them in the “big games” in the industry. Take a look as some of the big guys:
- Warhammer 40,000 – it’s easily pushing 2 dozen factions, and way more once you throw in the Forge World stuff.
- X-wing – 3 factions.
- Warmachine – Hordes – roughly a dozen.
- Runewars – 3
- Star Wars Armada – 2
Yet if you ask a lot of Star Wars Armada players – you don’t hear complaints of not enough factions. But if you ask people about RuneWars – you will often hear that the 3 factions are not enough. Odd.
I feel that with licensed games, you get way more leeway based on the universe. If you make a Game of Thrones game – folks will start bitching if you leave out any of the major Houses. If you do Star Wars – apparently 2 is good enough for a lot of folks.
About the Executions…
But back to the real topic. What should a company do when they have introduced a faction into a living ongoing product that is just not a commercial success? It can happen to any company – but with the effectively eternal lifespans of the big tabletop games, a company can really paint themselves into a corner if a faction fizzles. They made the models and rules, probably worked it into their tabletop universe, but for one reason or another it’s not selling.
- A company could double down and rework the faction’s rules or models to try to revive it (arguments can be made for several factions this could apply to).
- They could just not update or limit its models and put it’s rules on the backburner – keeping it “technically in the game” and let it die on the vine (looking at you Sororitas).
- They could just drop it entirely from the next edition (the Squat option).
- They could quietly fold into an existing line and unify it’s rules with a more successful faction (hello Black Templars).
It’s a really tricky problem as you risk alienating customers and lets face it – customers who collect and paint up their army are very very VERY touchy about anything bad being said about it. On the other hand ignoring such factions means a company is devoting resources to something undesirable in the market that they could reallocate into other projects. It’s a problem you can’t just ignore.
I’m genuinly curious about your opinion on how to best handle cases like these and I want to hear some examples of when you thought a tabletop company dealt with an unsuccessful faction quite well and cases where they could have tried harder.
~ The floor is yours friends.