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Has Wyrd considered cheaper options for models?


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Has Wyrd consider Skinny Minis, or some other form of cheaper-to-manufacture minis?

Often I look at some crews and wish I could just lasercut them instead of buying expensive minis, assembling them, and painting them. Who has the time?

Granted, a lot of the cost of minis is in the Intellectual Property, but I'd still happily pounce on somewhat cheaper minis if they were available.

There's two areas where this might be useful:

1. The really annoying boxes (First Mate for Neverborn Zoraida, Wanyudo for Reva, etc).

Some minis are just boxed awkwardly, and having even a mediocre alternative could be super useful! Rather than having to buy a whole core box for a specific mini, being able to order a Singleton cheap-o version would be great for players like me (the ones who just don't buy the box if they can't use all the minis in it).

2. This one I'm more dubious of, but would be curious to know if they could offer entire lines of cheaper minis.

Granted, they'd have to do some research as to whether this would increase or decrease profits, but generally two factors would lean in its favour (lower production costs and more opportunities to price differentiate for different consumer types) might lead to increased profits.

Particularly with supply chain disruptions, would love to start seeing some cheap alternatives being developed eventually.

What do others think? Would you buy cheaper minis (if it was profitable for Wyrd to do so?) Or are you a hobbyist through and through?

EDIT: for reference, skinny minis

 

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Not to dismiss your post out of hand, but when I first read it I thought it might be a late April Fools post.

The fact that Wyrd makes such nice minis is a huge draw for me to play this game, so no, I definitely don't want cheaper and poorer quality minis. I think most people see the miniature quality as a major advantage, and the monetary cost is only a slight drawback. You get what you pay for, in this case. A few fiddly boxes aside, Wyrd makes some of the best miniatures on the market, especially given how few manufacturers produce High-Impact Polystyrene minis. Really, the main competition in terms of quality is GW, and they're a massive company with vastly more resources than Wyrd, and GW minis aren't exactly inexpensive.

I agree that it would be great if it were easier to buy single miniatures when you don't really want the rest of the box, but I think Wyrd has consolidated more minis into fewer boxes to help keep SKU bloat down and to make restocking more straightforward for retailers, which I'm sure we're all in favor of.

I could see wanting some cheap proxies to try out a model or something before you buy the real thing or while you wait for something that hasn't been released, but you could just use an empty base for this. When I sit down to play, I generally want to see nice (painted) minis across the table from me. The aesthetics are important. 

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Just from an economic perspective, you've really missed the mark.  The primary investment in getting into Malifaux isn't money, it's time.  Anyone can get together a decent crew for maybe $120-150, and have everything they need for tournaments and game nights for $500-600.  That sounds like a lot, but that will provide years of gameplay, entertainment, investing, etc.  Imagine you went out drinking one night a week with friends, and while out spent $20 on food and drinks.  Most people would say that's reasonable entertainment budget, and in fact commend you on being frugal enough only to spend $20 on a night out.  In one year, you'd spend $1,040 - probably enough to buy an entire Malifaux faction.  A year of going to the movies with your SO once a month ($15 tickets, a $25 meal, no concessions) adds up to nearly $500 - each - and again, no one would say that's a ridiculous expense.  

In fact in a year of attending a weekly Malifaux game night you've probably spent more on food and drinks (assuming you come from work and eat out) than you did on the minis you used during that year.   So the monetary cost of minis is not a barrier to entry for the hobby.  It's effectively negligible in terms of hobby spending.   Wyrd would attract very few extra customers by following your suggestion.

Now you might note the time cost decreased, and that might attract more people, but I'd balance that with the people they'd lose from the hobby side (many buy the figures just to paint them because they're awesome) and the decreased revenue for Wyrd and gamestores, and yeah.  It's not worth it.

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Fair points! A few thoughts.

Re Time. Vs. Money. These two have a relationship with each other as well, though (the less money you spend on a product, the less time you expect to get out of it). I can imagine there'd be a pretty big market for board game level play (i.e., if crews dropped to the same time/money investment as a board game, you'd probably open up to another market). Not to say that extra market would necessarily translate to higher profits, as it'd depend on other behaviour changes.

However, I take the point that it would be quite the clash on the battlefield (some people having gorgeous painted models and some people having skinny minis).

That said, Wyrd is absolutely brilliant at lore and game mechanics, not just models. For me and many others, the mechanics are what keep us in the game. Some of the most popular war games of all time (Chess, Go), are popular purely on strategic merit.  If they made another game as awesome as Malifaux with Skinny Minis, I'd definitely try it out! 

Can imagine it'd ruffle too many feathers of enfranchised players to mix it up for Malifaux though.

EDIT: Althoughhhh, the real feeling for my club's players is that we're desperate for more players. I've even played a game against someone who just used putty to sculpt his crew ten minutes before the match started 😂 So for clubs like ours, it'd be a bonus having a few more options to draw people in.

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Wyrd started off as a company that made Miniatures for painting. Then it came up with a game for those miniatures. I expect it to always try and put out high quality miniatures that will appeal to the hobbyist because that is what the Company was created to do, and so I assume that is what Nathan really enjoys.

The Other Side has products made of a different plastic, that is pre-assembled. Some people like them, other people really dislike them.

I know that when Wyrd changed from Metal (and occasionally resin) to Plastic there was a lot of investigation in to the different materials available.

 

I don't think that Malifaux would have the same appeal if it used "skinny minis" or something else similar. There is nothing to stop you making paper cut outs of the figures and playing that way at your club.  All the rules are available for free. I know that whilst I own too many board games, there are very few of them that have had even a 1/100th of the plays that I have managed with my Malifaux figures. I don't know how much of it is the attachment I feel to the figures I have assembled and painted, and how much is the quality of the game, as I also have quite a few other miniature games that I assembled and painted crews for that I am not currently looking for games to play. (Just moved house and am terrified at the amount of boxes of plastic and metal I own but haven't used in years) (And I'm not a fan of painting. Its probably my least enjoyable part of the hobby but I still prefer using figures I painted myself).

Finally, I don't really understand the economics side, but I think a lot of the cost of the minatures that we currently have is actually for the rules etc. And whilst I might pay £30 for a crew box with good figures, I would not be as happy spending £15 on those same figures in Skinny form. I would probably end up wanting to look nearer the £5 mark, and that sounds like as a company its not going to make you enough profits to cover the game designers with out a huge ramp up in players that I don't think you'll find. The game has a high investment in time to learn the rules and crew already. The actual assembly and painting is not the biggest time sink in getting a playable crew for a new player.  I don't think enough people would switch to that sort of game from the board game/Card game markets to make it seem viable.

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Man, who knows what those strange Wyrd people will do in the future.  I mean, eventually the 3D Printing Apocolypse is supposed to come along and wipe out miniature wargaming, right?  🥶

People play Malifaux on Vassal.  I assume people will (or are already) play Malifaux in environments like Tabletop Simulator.  People have played games of Malifaux using bases with labels on them.

Now, I'm old enough that I think it's hilarious to attach a brand name like Skinny Minis to cardboard standees.  Seriously, the use of card stock in miniature wargaming has been going on the whole time.  You can find out how long a 40k player has been around by asking them whether they had or remember the Ork dreadnought.

The thing about miniature wargaming is that it has a few different aspects, and some people get more reward out the different aspects:

* The hobby element of putting together and painting the figures (and terrain), and then showing them off later when you play.

* The game elements.

* The social elements organizing everything and deciding what to do.

and wargaming rests on all of that, together.  Simple card stock doesn't have the price associated with miniatures, but it also generally doesn't have the creative pay off, either.

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Ah dang, these comments made me think of a different issue. I suspect that Wyrd's cost largely consist of:

  • Developing the intellectual property, rules, etc (mostly fixed cost, doesn't change with more customers)
  • Developing the machinery to make the models (mostly fixed, does scale a bit).
  • The tiny materials/manufacturing cost for each unit (variable cost).

So swapping people to a different kind of mini probably doesn't save them on the big cost (building the machinery in the first place, or paying a company).

Idea 2 may be a bit useless then. Idea one maybe, but would look pretty funky alongside regular models.

Here's hoping someday Wyrd develops another game/product line.

P.S. I am an economist, but I have no idea what I'm talking about without seeing Wyrd's data and research. Pure speculation here!

 

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52 minutes ago, Adran said:

 There is nothing to stop you making paper cut outs of the figures and playing that way at your club.

We do occasional proxies, and I sculpt some of my own models for the hard to get stuff (sculpted a grave golem because the official one was hard to get last year).

And I could laser cut or 3D print a bunch of models at the local library (by jumping through some copyright loops).

But overall, I like using official stuff where possible! Even official skinny minis would look gorgeous because Wyrd is great, and I like to financially support smallish companies who don't blatantly try to manipulate their customers.

Wyrd does good by us, the customers, I reckon!

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I'd be very much against this idea for several reasons.

1. The thing that drew me into Malifaux in the first place was the awesome miniatures and I know its the same for most people. The Game itself is amazing but I'm far less likely to jump into a game if I don't like the aesthetic of the miniatures (even if its a good a game). When you play a game of Malifaux at your LGS it definitely has a wow factor and I often get interest from other gamers primarily because of the cool minis on the table.

2. One of the things I like about miniature wargaming is that everyones crews/teams/armies are aesthetically different. I love looking at peoples painting and conversions. Vassal is ok for playing people from different parts of the world or beta testing (or when there's a global pandemic) but it lacks that personal and creative touch that building and creating your own crew has.

3. The cost. This was mentioned above but honestly the value of the entertainment you will get from the money you invest in miniatures is huge. Especially if you consider painting them part of the entertainment (which I do) I own the Resser faction which cost me a fair amount of money but the hours of entertainment I've gotten from it over the past 4 years is more value per £ than a lot of other forms of entertainment. The other thing to remember is that your investing in the future of the game. I hope Malifaux continues for many years in the future and for that to happen Wyrd has to make money.

4. I don't know if anyone remembers Rackham miniatures but there's another example of a company who started out with beautifully sculpted miniatures and changed their line for crappy pre painted sculpts. The company tanked  

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19 minutes ago, Maniacal_cackle said:

To be clear, I would wonder more if the two lines could coexist (which now seems unlikely).

I don't think so. I think it would be the type of thing that would cause a lot of players to jump ship

Don't get me wrong I see where your ideas are coming from. It would be nice to see a way to buy certain minis like the first mate or Wanyudo who are cross faction and keyword. But I don't think changing a pre existing game over to skinny minis or something similar would work, especially not having a mix. 

I think if a game came out that just used skinny minis and it was a really good game, I might give it a go. But it wouldn't give me my mini wargaming fix. I could possibly see them being good for D&D campaigns or similar where having a wide variety of creatures and monsters is good

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I just think diversifying lines is tough (specially for a small company, and specially if it uses technology they aren't already using) so I don't think it'd ever make fiscal sense.  Now (depending on price) it could be interesting to have it as a store freebie (like the customeeple strategy markers were last xmas) as 'Christmas ornaments' that came with a base if you wanted to use it as a proxy.  I could get behind that for a silly one off, but wouldn't be a solution to model scarcity.

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While in the scheme of plastic miniatures I feel wyrd have a very pricey offering, I don't think that is the biggest barrier to Malifaux.

Malifaux is complex. It's very tough to get into, and the rock paper scissors approach to the rules is very hard to deal with when starting (because you need to have several of your own crews, and know a lot about all crews).

I think the best way to increase the number of players would be to create a "Malifaux Lite" set of rules, with less complex interactions, and perhaps a hex grid system since a lot of the game is placement.

That lower barrier to entry could be enough to drive up sales of the miniatures, which in turn could help lower the price to drive sale further.

However, while other markets will often lower prices to drive sales and ultimately profits, that's not something I notice in wargaming. What's instead happened is the industry has split into miniature boardgames (which are relatively cheap one offs), and wargames (which seem to get more expensive every year). So while I think a Malifaux Lite would bring more players in, I don't think we would benefit from cheaper miniatures like the economies of most other industries would dictate.

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At first I thought this would just be a complaint about the current price of Malifaux, which I would honestly agree with. Malifaux was never cheap, but m3 brought some price increases, which makes certain boxes borderline obscene. Ironsides Core Box is 40£ msrp for 5 small human models and 1 tiny human model. 

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I've seen the "Malifaux Lite" thing tried: Dune advance rules, Mage Wars Arena, Scythe/My Little Scythe, etc. and what happens is the community picks one they prefer playing, and they go there.  Or they split the market and both die, because actually what you've done is created two different games that might not cross-populate with each other, but live in each other's niche.  

The best way to grow Malifaux is more visibility, better structures for buying models, and better demos to draw in potential players.  Malifaux is a complex game.  That's part of the draw.  Making it simple removes the draw, and draws a crowd that isn't actually interested in wargaming.

We have a huge opportunity, because there's a marvel miniatures game that's similar to Malifaux but a lot simpler.  That can draw in new players, and that offers more opportunities for Malifaux to market to players who would be interested, if they knew what Malifaux was.  Because Malifaux's actual biggest problem is brand recognition.  I can talk to 40K players who literally have $2000 armies and can't tell me what Malifaux is off the top of their head.  

Also, can we respect this is a hobby where the largest single company MSRPs a Dreadnaught, ONE dreadnaught, at $50: https://www.games-workshop.com/en-US/Space-Marine-Dreadnought 

Really, Malifaux's problem is super not the price.  

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As a hobbyist first and gamer second, I’d say the idea is horrendous. The entire draw of miniature gaming is to get away from board game abstracts, hex-movement or fixed board and get the experience of cool minis duking it out in a mini-diorama. 

Lack of time, really great argument, except we’re all lacking resources somehow, and there are plenty of people offering to do the hobby part for a tiny sum. In general hobbyist are often better artists than merchants.

Expense again a great argument, miniatures are an expensive hobby... If you’re the kind of guy that fill a cupboard with Grey plastic and unopened boxes and waste your money this way. But used minis are plentiful and cheap. If you on the other hand make use of your models, the hours of entertainment you can squeeze from model them are huge. In the end its a question of priorities, if you can’t afford a hobby, then don’t whine about it. Invest in yourself and make yourself eligible for a decent job instead, hobbies are one of the least perks of affording a decent lifestyle, it’ll make you happier in the long run. I Personally would rather throw a couple of hundred bucks at my hobby, than spend them on a flashier car or a hangover.

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In the end Malifaux is an offer, if you don’t feel you get your moneys worth, then just turn it down and walk away. 

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I don't want this draw this out too much but:

Deadzone is a prime example to counter arguments in the two posts above. Miniatures are close to a quarter the price, and the game rules are far less complex. Yet still the game is as good, if not better than Malifaux (although very different, while similar scale).

I would say the biggest draw for Malifaux is the story. While having a lite set of rules may split some of the target audience, I don't think the current tournament crowd would give a lite set of rules a second look. It would however open the story up to a much wider audience.

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Personally for me, at least, I wasn't speaking to the quality of Malifaux as a game, but to the success of Wyrd in making and marketing Malifaux.  For instance, I cited 40K.  Data is extremely conclusive, 40K is the best selling miniatures game by far and away.  Is it the highest quality miniatures game with the best rules set and the most strategic depth?  Well that's an opinion, in some sense these are subjective.

I don't dislike the idea of moving Malifaux's story using other things than miniatures, but why decide to move the IP in other ways and then decide the best vehicle for more story is another, slightly different miniatures war game?  You could have board games, computer games, books, etc.  All would be great ways for finding new players.  I personally think a 4P board game covering the tensions between the Guild/Arcanists/Ressers/Neverborn could have a lot of potential.  

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54 minutes ago, MrPieChee said:

Deadzone is a prime example to counter arguments in the two posts above.

What is Deadzone supposed to be a "prime example" of?  🤨

Because my experience with Deadzone was this:  Mantic produced an interesting board game/wargame hybrid thing with some really neat ideas for vertical terrain, let that run for a bit, and then tried to turn it into a feeder system into a larger scale wargame.  I know a few people who bought into Deadzone the boxed set because the original hybrid approach was interesting, or bought the terrain for games like Infinity.  My sample size is small, but no one locally was interested in converting to Deadzone 2.0 or the larger wargame.  

 

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7 hours ago, solkan said:

What is Deadzone supposed to be a "prime example" of?  🤨

A much cheaper system, and a much simpler set of rules, but equal amounts of fun. Countering the argument that you must spend £100+ on a hobby and that a simpler system won't work.

Deadzone is very popular by sales number (for mantic). Obviously nothing compared to gw/40k, but no idea how it compares to Malifaux in physical sales. In popularity it's Facebook group is much more active than this forum and the biggest Malifaux Facebook group combined. For me Mantic are a much bigger name than wyrd, but that might differ by region.

Deadzone isn't a feeder system. It could be called a stepping stone, but it gets leagues more support than Firefight or Warpath.

While I might describe deadzone as a board game hybrid to non gamers, it's not really at all. With TLOS the grid system just speeds up gameplay instead or making it a boardgame.

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Lite rules and expensive models are two problems that I wouldn't fix with one solution.

A lite set of rules should be for the same game, with the same story - a way for gamers wanting quicker less complex games to get involved in the Malifaux lore. The goal of this would be to increase the audience, creating a larger market for existing Malifaux models.

Cheaper models shouldn't be fixed with a new game, but by reducing the price of the existing models to drive demand. However, as I said above, I haven't seen this happening in the wargaming industry. I think it would work*, but would be slow to see rewards and would require spending time/money on advertising (and/or a lite set of rules).

*I don't have any sales figures, so this is a bit pie in the sky.

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