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Saturday, 17 March 2018

3D Printing

Ok folks, it's been a long time since either my last post or the last The Hub Systems podcast. The rationale here is simple and a frequent one - there's just bee a whole bunch of other things going on! Work has been busy, our D&D campaign is coming to its climax, I'm playing another campaign on Roll20 and that doesn't leave a whole lot of time to devote to other things. I've also taken a step back from Firestorm, as people involved in the horrible Spartan v3 seem to be quite prevalent on the Warcradle Studios community, and I'd rather not get involved in that whole thing - I'll just wait for what Warcradle do.

On the other side of things I've been doing a lot of 3D printing, and am now an official reseller for prints from the remarkably talented Duncan "Shadow" Louca - a 3d modeller who has worked freelance for several games companies, many of which you will know. he does a much better introduction to himself than me - here his his website;

He also has an active Facebook page ( and a Patreon site ( - check them out and follow him, and you can always contribute to receive his STL files - they're very high quality and look great when printed.

On that note, I actually sponsor Duncan with a commercial licence, and can sell printed models for those of you that don't have a 3D printer but like the look of his sculpts. I'm putting together a website for this at the moment, but for now I'll just be selling stuff that people contact me about until it's up and running. So if you fancy a moonbeast or Kaiju, some rocky terrain or anything else you see on his sites, just drop me a line through the site or Facebook.

Here are a few of the things you can expect from his sculpts and my printing. First is one of the largest models I've printed to date, the Mother of a Thousand Young (32mm figure for scale purposes)

Next up is the similarly horrific Moonbeast

And then the Corpse Eater Kaiju;

Note here I've not filled any of the joins in these multi-part sculpts.

Right, that's all for now - hopefully I'll be back in the not-too-distant future with the website for the sculpt prints and another update.

Thursday, 14 December 2017

Warcradle releases the Ice Maiden - Goddam the b*stards!

A little while ago, an email popped into my inbox...

I was a bit surprised, but popped onto Facebook and the Dystopian Wars group was already alight with...wait...anger?

Two things seemed to have triggered people - the price tag of £75 for the model, and a £40 (or $40) shipping charge. Some also questioned the "reworking" of the model and how this was also bad, but that was a much smaller reaction than the first two points.

Now given the vagaries around exchange rates etc, and the fact I'm used to seeing high shipping charges with transatlantic shipping, $40 for transporting a foot of resin across the globe seemed high, but not something to quit a game over. People also seem to be confusion the release from Warcradle and the shipping from the retailer Wayland Games. Shipping is one of those things you either accept or don't, depending on your desire for the produuct, and there is NO standard for how it's handled either within or without the gaming industry.

It then shortly transpired that the shipping calculator was incorrect, and the charge should have been £5 instead...problem (if ever there was one) solved. There's a phrase in the UK - it's a "Storm in a Teacup"...especially valid in this case, I feel.

Then there's the question of price. Spartan had put an add-on cost of £45 for the Kickstarter-exclusive model, £75 for a retail release sounds eminently in-line with what I'd expect. After all, despite the way many of us treat it, Kickstarter is NOT A STORE. You back projects with the promise of getting some rewards for that, and you get big discounts from retail prices, offset by the risk that these projects don't happen, and you don't get anything. Let us not forget that many people did NOT get their promised models from Spartan....but that isn't Warcradle's fault! It's literally got nothing to do with them, Kickstarter fulfilment is purely the responsibility of the project creator, so Warcradle releasing the Ice Maiden is not them rubbing anything in people's faces - it's them giving you a chance to own something you otherwise never would.

So an extra £30 for a general release 230mm resin ship seems...about right. 

Just to put it into context - this will get you a couple of Predators from GW, which aren't directly comparable, but you get the idea. Someone also commented that it would buy the boxed game of Necromunda too, but that's a whole different genre (being one of many "game in a box with minis" type releases from GW), never mind about game. DW is a miniatures game, and within that resin space we all know prices are higher. For instance, this guy is £75.99

So comparison with niche resin models I think is ok, comparison to board games by big manufacturers really is a bit sus. I mean, how much does Monopoly cost these days? I don't know, because it's irrelevant to this topic. Let's move on.

Now I mentioned Warcradle have remodelled the ship too...interesting. Again, there were some "I don't like the new version" type comments, but let's look at them side by side, shall we (well, top and bottom, to be completely accurate!)? I'm not seeing ground-breaking changes in the Warcradle (top picture) version. They've changed the doors and the front...erm...yeah. Now I'm not a personal fan of this ship to start with, but from what I can see Warcradle have made some minor changes to allow you to have the doors open or closed...which is cool, right? It also makes sense, because let's face it, going anywhere with a prow like that is going to SOAK those forward weapons!

Maybe the changes are elsewhere?

Well, the engine seems to have been lowered into the water, but again, not seeing groundbreaking alterations. I think I like the remodelled version better, but it's a 52 vs 48 Brexit-type thing...too close to call for me.

Now I'm not trying to be a Warcradle fanboy here - after all I've yet to see them produce a finished product for these franchises yet - but once again the evidence I'm seeing is that they seem to be doing the right things. Fans called for the Ice Maiden, they've got it...not only that, but Warcradle haven't just done the obvious "make a load of castings of this as an easy, cheap route", but have invested time and effort here to make a model that's more flexible than the Spartan original. If this is a path that Warcradle are going to follow for all of the Dystopian Age and for Firestorm, then I'm in!

I don't know whether the displeasure at this (from what I see is a positive move) is just because WC are tinkering with SGs old stuff, or it's just some weird emotional attachment thing, but I'm failing to understand the hate. Some people's emotional attachment to Spartan is a bit like a rose-coloured glasses look back into an old girlfriend you broke up with years before but she was beautiful, lovely ect, and nothing your current (smart, attractive, loving) current gf does seems to be as good. 

Then you meet her at a university reunion party and realise that you left her because she was an obnoxious cheating cow who was stealing your money out of your wallet. Come on guys, wake up and smell the coffee. We have things good, Christmas is just around the corner and these games (which we had all feared were gone for good) have a new lease of life. Stop being the grinch!!!

Saturday, 2 December 2017

Warcradle introduce the Dystopian Age

Well, it's perhaps slightly coincidental that I manage to post on the blog only just to find out there's another reason for me to write moments later! Here's why;

Yes, Warcradle are "rebooting" the DW universe and integrating their existing WWX universe into it.

Now, there's been a mixed reaction to this, but for the life of me I can't really see why. I mean, two steampunkesque universes sold by the same company, who would have thought they'd merge them? For me, it makes perfect sense - it's exactly what I'd have done in the same situation. Now you have a scalable set of games (1:1200 fleet, 10mm  army and 32mm skirmish) all under the same roof. They have reasonable explanations of the differences apparent in WWX to the other SG-origin franchises. It seems to make good sense.

The other point to me is that Warcradle are doing two things here that Spartan were never good at;

1) They are world building on a grand scale.

For those who didn't know Neil at SG, DW was his baby, and it was his ideas, background (though often written by freelancers) and alterations - he talked them through sometimes, but essentially it was not a discussion, and there was never any grand over-arching strategy to the world, it was more what models could be made, so what games were needed and how did that fit it. To me it seems Warcradle are approaching it from the other direction, and building out the universe with an integrated team (always better) and fitting the games to that universe. This is what I think is the best way of creating seamless integrated games, and allowing a smooth flow and choice for players.

2) They are engaging the community and communicating effectively.

Warcradle have released a 20-odd minute long video explaining what they're doing, why they're doing it, explaining that they're not invalidating people's old armies for AC with scale change, promised clear PDFs and they're hosting a QnA session in a week's time. Oh, and they showed concept sketches and new models too. What more can people ask for??

Now I get it, right - some people are attached to the background as it is, and feel there are substantial differences, but Warcradle has made definite business decisions here in a planned way, and they're handling it as well as I've seen any company do this kind of thing. I'm not sure how they could have done this better other than preserve the settings in aspic, which helps no-one.

I think it's way too soon for anyone to cry "the sky is falling". From a business perspective, this seems an obvious move. It creates an integrated universe which could result in cross-pollination between two sets of steampunk games players. It's a "no-brainer". They're being open about it and up-front before they roll the changes out, and people are shooting it down before anything is released...come on guys, even I'm not THAT cynical!

Maybe it will be a clusterfuck, but give it a chance. Now some will think I'm being hypocritical here - "you wouldn't have cut SG that slack" I hear you cry...well, no, I wouldn't, but that's because SG retconned their own thin material several times and had a track record of messing stuff like this up. Here we have a new company rolling out something after a track record of pretty sensible and creative changes. Not everyone might like 100% of it, but maybe - just maybe - the changes will be positive and work well. If I were a DW player, I'd be quite excited.

Now I mentioned they showed some concept art, and here it is, this one of a really interesting ship with a whale launcher!;

And here are three versions of the whale construct;

They also showed some renders (in spin-around 3D) of three battleships for the Crown, Union and Celestials...

Not only that, but they showed us physical models - the first of the Union Battleship shown above;

This is a beast of a ship, but it retains many elements true to the original Spartan theme of the FSA. The last models shown were from Armoured Clash, and incorporated both DW and WWX elements;

Honestly, if Warcradle handle the Firestorm universe with half as much integrity and openness, it's looking to be a bright future for Armada and Planetfall in 2018. Let's see what next Friday brings!

Take a look at the video for a full explanation - it's well worth watching.

Note all images are taken from the video, and remain copyright of the original material.

Still here....

Hi everyone....

So some of you may have thought I'd disappeared, but in fact I've just been incredibly busy, with my free time taken up with working on my house, taking my D&D group through Rise of Tiamat and playing my Gnome Wizard Dafriut on Roll20 (Curse of Strahd). Thishasn't left a lot of time for anything else - including this blog and The Hub Systems. Rest asured, we haven't gone, we're just dealing with a lot of stuff!

On our house (which was built sometime around 1740), we decided to replace the grotty carpet on the stairs from the ground floor, at the same time as putting solid oak flooring through from the Kitchen, dining room and hall. When we lifted the carpet, we found the sriars were split, rotten and held together in some places by hardboard! I called a carpenter to replace the bad treads, but he said that stairs like this (its a 180 degree spiral stair) were made on site - they'd all need to be replaced...

This started a month-long saga when led to Oscar and I putting in a set of pre-made stairs (with the help of my neighbour), replastering walls, constructing short a massive job when we envisaged getting someone in to lay a carpet...that was Autumn gone!

In Rise of Tiamat, our group had a "rage quit" - one of the players felt he could no longer play with the group due to "differences in play style". That's fine, but I've not seen behaviour from the group I find problematic except from this player...still I respected his wishes, but then he wanted to dictate how he left the campaign, right in the middle of one of the, no. The party now has to carry on without the almost 70,000 experience that his character represents, which is the main problem I have with a player leaving late in the campaign - if he'd left earlier then the players would be almost an entire level higher.

Still, the group feels more harmonious now, and they still have one more episode to boost them up before they face the final confrontation at the well of Dragons...let's see how they fare!

As for me, I wanted to play as well as DM, so I joined a group on Roll20 playing Curse of Strahd. We've already had 4 PC deaths, making the adventure definitely perilous and there's a palpable sense of menace, which is great. My Wizard is now 4th level, School of Divination and Lucky, giving me a lot of dice control. I thought about going for illusion, but the big kickers don't set in for that school until much higher level, and I figured I may not last that long! So far it's been a blast.

GW seem to be keeping themselves together, releasing Necromunda, more codices and models, and not too many things that look horrible - though there are a few (of course!). They seem to be increasingly interactive, which has to be a good thing, though the problem with 40k as an IGO-UGO system remains - maybe alternate activation was just too much of a mental shift for them, which is a shame since the main issue I see with the game is almost wholly down to this simple and very 20th century mechanic.

Anyway, now December is here we will endeavour to bring you a bit more both on the blog and The Hub Systems, so you can enjoy your festive feasts whilst digesting hobby-related stuff. See you soon,

Alex & Oscar

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Wayland picks up Spartan Games via Warcradle Studios

As will be common knowledge now, the Spartan Games IPs have been picked up in their entirety by Wayland Games via their Warcradle moniker.

This is a Very Good Thing.

Why? Aren't Wayland a horrible online store who give big discounts and fail to fulfil delivery promises? Haven't they ruined WWX?

Well, no, I don't think either of those things is true. Wayland are, of course, a pretty big online supplier in Europe, but the feedback you get on what they're like is mixed and tends to be anecdotal. Have people had some horrible experiences with them? Yes, I'm sure that's true. Is this reflective of the wider company? I doubt it.

Wayland offer big cuts off RRPs for a lot of games, and they may not have stock of 100% of what orders they take - this is normal retail practice and as with anything, "your mileage may vary". I placed an order with Wayland a week or so ago and it was fulfilled very promptly with no issue - it was just for paints, and I'm sure they've dozens of them in stock. If it was a pre-order for "the next big exciting thing in gaming", and my order was beyond their initial stocking order fulfilment, I may have had a longer wait. I'm not going to judge them on the past experiences of others on the internet.

But what about WWX?

Well, what about it? Before Wayland got hold of the game it was a pretty out-there experience, with no visible presence in the UK to speak of. Since they've had it, I've seen booths at two shows this year, which is 100% of the shows I've attended - not a bad hit rate so far. If they do the same with Firestorm, that's great news for expanding the fanbase.

Even better, I listened to episode 219 of The D6 Generation today whilst driving to and from an appointment for work. Stuart Mackaness, general Manager at Wayland/Warcradle, was the third chair, and he seems to be a very balanced and reasonable guy. Even better, he certainly seems to know how to run a game both commercially and mechanically. His rationale behind some of the (self-admittedly brutal) changes in WWX was sound, and made decisively - it was a definitive direction and deliberate change. That's great news if its applied to the Spartan franchises.

So I'm hopeful for the future of our beloved Spartan Games IPs - even if the future does not involve myself, TheoryMachine and departs from prior direction somewhat, I think now at least we can have hope that changes are being made for rational and commercial reasons, rather than on the whim of a single person. That makes a HUGE difference, and I'm looking forward to what happens next.

Bring it on!!!

Monday, 28 August 2017

Just for the record...

OK all, get the popcorn out, this should be fun for you all....I don't like airing dirty laundry in public, but when someone specifically attacks you on a blog, then...well, it's time to wither ignore it passively, or get out the virtual howitzers. I've never been very passive (you'd never have guessed, eh?) so I think people deserve both sides of the story - here's my counter to Josh Linde's continued personal crusade against the "satan in human form" that I seemingly am. I will be using portions of Mr Linde's blog to demonstrate ad respond to here, and I quote verbatim - I don't do cut and paste shenanigans.

"Alex Mann and his gang of supporters have been basically clogging the forums and groups with hate filled vitriol in the guise of trying to better the community.  Yes Spartan had a ton of problems and yes they could have been run way better.  We all know that, its not news.  So why beat a dead horse."

I'm sorry, but "clogging the forums and groups" is rather an overstatement, especially since I've not been posting on Spartan's forum for quite some time, nor have "my followers" (wow, I sound like some kind of cult-leader...I'm almost flattered!)

Now, have I been a prominent voice in calling out Spartan's errant ways for the past year? Hell yes - and rightly so, as it turns out. Saying the company could be run better is like saying Trump could be a better president. So should Americans be quiet about Trump then? Should Trump's response to Charlottesville not be publicly called out? Josh's stance would seem to support that - "shut up and keep quiet" is the mantra. We know it, so don't say anything....hmmm, not sure that's going to change much though, is it?

So have I been vocal? Yes. Too much? Maybe - I can be a dog with a bone, especially when I'm right. I'll come back to being right later on....for now, back to Josh...

"Its because of vanity.  Alex is a narcissist who cannot reconcile with the fact he was replaced."

Errr, let me correct you here Josh, because I'm big on facts and data. I resigned, I wasn't replaced. I saw what was coming, didn't like the shape of it and stepped out before it happened. I have an entire email chain with Neil over several weeks on this.

As to whether I'm a narcissist? Maybe - I don't believe so, however, and my career progression and 360s haven't come up with that either. I'm thorough, driven and know what I'm talking about, otherwise I don't talk about it, but I don't believe I'm a narcissist.

"He and the former focus group members overstepped their bounds and scope.  When this was corrected they threw tantrums like a bunch of petulant children."

Oh dear, Josh is not great with his facts, is he? We overstepped no bounds at all, because I was theoretically given free-reign on Firestorm - and again I've definitive proof on this. Of course it never was free-reign because I was a volunteer and had to get Neil to actuate everything the FFG how exactly could they overstep these non-existent bounds?

"Alex says I stabbed him in the back and I am clueless and several other things."

Ah, at last, we have some facts.

So Josh Linde was an FFG member, though ask any one of them as to his input and productivity and they'll tell you the same thing - he did little. Mainly he made single-meta points and then sulked when they weren't taken up (because we had a global group of players with many different metas, and produced what worked across the board, not just in Lansing.

What Josh DID do, however, was talk to Neil at GenCon. He misrepresented some of what the FFG were saying to Neil in order to get himself a leg-up into Neil's favour...I'd call that stabbing a group in the back pretty solidly. Now how could he do this? Well, a lot of what the FFG did was mulled over on Skype, both in calls and on chat (calls are difficult when you have a 12-14h time difference between some of the participants!). As you might imagine from spirited types, we had a lot of discussion - which I generally encourage. Chewing the fat and disagreeing is where creative ideas can come from sometimes, other times its just needed to blow off steam. Nothing we discussed was ever things I wouldn't have said to Neil's face.

But see, that's the thing with the written word and the spoken - you miss nuance, allowing others to misrepresent it. Everyone in the FFG knew what SGs failings were, and wanted them addressed because they all knew that without that, SG would never succeed long term. The FFG members were all passionate about Firestorm, and none of them sought a job or recompense from SG, unlike Mr Linde.

Oh, and he did this all at the same time as being a guest on my podcast too - classy, not in the least bit snakelike or betraying....nooo.

"What he does not tell you is that several of his cronies and he himself harassed me and attacked me personally on the forums and on the Facebook groups and went so far as to send me threatening messages on FB messenger.  I blocked them. They blocked me."  

Wow - perhaps Josh is a Trump supporter, because this is really familiar - the truth being represented backwards as reality. Now I'll admit it, I said some pretty unpleasant things to Captain Snake, sorry, Mr Linde on response to him and his friends being pretty vile to me, after which I blocked him. It was a two-way exchange. But hey, I don't expect you to blindly believe me, so here's our entire Messenger discussion, from when I was asking after him and then when he says he likes the new Relthoza ships we did, to when I asked him not to post on my Threads, which I felt was entirely justified as I explained...
 Now did I cover myself in glory here? No, I'm happy to admit that, but this is a two-way exchange, not some Rotweiller mauling a puppy. Yes, I was pissed at Josh for selling Neil a line on the FFG that ended up hurting the development of the game in a MAJOR way, but it's not like I have some hate campaign against him, I just think he's untrustworthy.

"This allowed them to basically say anything they wanted unchallenged.  I am glad community members started to fight back against all the negative talk. I did not stab you in the back Alex I talked to Neil about my concerns."

Eh? OK, so no-one challenged me and my imaginary army? No, that's not true. Yes, people probably got tired of me saying the same things about Spartan, but SPARTAN DIDN'T CHANGE! If they had started treating people right, I'd have said so!

I also have a real issue with "I talked to Neil about my concerns". Yeah, you stabbed the FFG in the back. You didn't come to me, you didn't raise your concerns to us as a group, you went straight to Mr Boss man at GenCon and whispered in his ear, when no-one was around to put context or an alternative viewpoint, or correct your interpretations.

"He shared them when I showed him the rules you had never shown him." 

Uh-oh - bullshit alert everyone! Here's the synopsis I sent to Neil on the FFG v3 developments:

Aside from that, NEIL HAD ACCESS TO EVERY SINGLE FFG COMMUNITY THREAD. So where are we plotting or taking Firestorm off down some country lane? Ah - Skype, you say. Well yeah, we bitched and moaned on Skype in the way everyone does about the stupid things their boss or employer does, but it was all stuff that either needed saying to blow off steam, or was a concern for the future of the game.

"For better or worse, in this case worse, it was his game and his company.  He calls the shots, you don't. "

And THAT worked out just GREAT for everyone, didn't it now? Remember how I said I was going to come back to being right? Let me share with you another email I sent to Neil back in Autumn of 2016. 

Now forgive me if I'm wrong, but I think I spell it out for Neil pretty plainly in the above, and once more, I (and the FFG) were always speaking as "the critical friend" - someone who is close enough to you to tell you you're doing something monstrously stupid before you do it, however painful that might be. These are points I made to Neil on several occasions, and note the date - this is almost a year ago.

"I knew what my place was and what I was getting into. Unlike Alex I am an adult."

Hahahahahahaha...too funny. Well, glad you knew what your place was Josh. How did the position of telling Neil his shit didn't stink go for you? Was it adult enough for you. Sorry, but toilet humour always works when you're a child like me.

"So congratulations FFG assholes you got your way.  Happy?  People lost their jobs and a company we loved is now gone.  It is of their own doing, but relishing in their defeat makes you all the worst kind of people."

No Josh, you are the same sort of fool that said the Emperor was wearing fine clothes, when he was in fact being made a fool of himself. Standing by and jockying for personal gain and not understanding the ramifications of saying "hey dude, everything is good" makes you culpable in Spartan's demise far more than me.

If we' in the FFG had "got our way", Neil would have devolved FA development, Taskforce would have been a proper cut-down intro-version of the main game and released as part of the new v3 (as v2.5), which would have been out in Summer this year with a new Sorylian vs Relthoza (plus Pathogen) 2-player set. It would also have included Firestorm Inferno (a way to play much larger fleets), giving us all a fully scalable SF game set in the universe we love. It would also have been accompanied by a new set of commanders and new background books fleshing out the technology and worlds of the FA Galaxy.

So if you're going to throw pitiful rocks, please do so whilst not standing on a glass floor, you dope!

Friday, 25 August 2017

The Demise of Spartan Games

Well, today is the day....I came back from the beach and opened my laptop to look at emails, to see a tide of messages and tags on Facebook. I read the news, and posted a couple of responses, replied to PMs and such, then went to cook dinner.

Why the nonchalance? No fan-fares? Well, of course not. The demise of a gaming company is never a happy event, even when it is so blatantly obvious in coming as this.

Who is to Blame??

Alex, the Spartan-Slayer?

No, of course not. I'm actually very sad that Spartan has come to this - especially when it was definitely avoidable. I could point the finger at individuals who were instrumental, but that would be as childish and stupid as those who have already gone onto social media and essentially said this was my fault (which I could potentially use as evidence of cyber-bullying, were I so inclined - I'm not, of course, I blocked their puerile blither long ago).

Of course blaming me is also ridiculous. One person (or even a group of determined people) writing a blog cannot bring down a company - even one as badly organised and run as Spartan. People would not read this blog (or at least not more than once) if there wasn't truth in what I said. All I do is hold a candle to what companies do - if they weren't doing stupid stuff (or people didn't agree that it was stupid), my writing would gain no traction.

It's easy to understand why people jump to these conclusions - a lack of facts and/or understanding is common, and I'm very vocal (deliberately so), so in the tin box of social media (which amplifies such wittering), it seems like I'm making the difference. I'll let you into a secret - I'm not. Retailers and distributors do not make their business decisions based on some random guys internet scribbling. If you really believe that this did not have more to do with Spartan's business model and approach to the market than any fan-based discussions (positive or negative), then you should never consider starting a business yourself - seriously.

I've used the analogy on Facebook, but I'll reiterate it here for the hard of understanding. The guy standing by the snake-oil salesman's pitch saying "that looks like snake oil" is NOT the bad guy, Spartan were selling The Emperor's New Clothes - here's a Wiki if you don't know the story...(what are you, kids?!?)

Now, in case you still don't understand, the bad guy in this story is NOT the one who first says "but the Emperor isn't wearing any clothes". It's the one's trying to sell you something that doesn't exist - a false promise. There's another phrase that's appropriate here - "Don't shoot the messenger".

So What Happened?

Well, only Spartan know the exact reasons, but it's a pretty easy trail to follow if you want to. Essentially, Spartan tried to do too much too fast, started too many things without building up support for them before moving onto the next thing - that doesn't win permanent customers. In essence it's like doing the same with a tunnel - dig too far without adding supports and sooner or later the whole thing caves in. Burning their bridges with rules writers and contributors along the way also doesn't help your cause, nor does over-promising and under-delivering to your customers.

This makes the "personality" of your company seem a little unhinged, and less trustworthy, meaning people think more before parting with their cash. Take Prodos, for example - that name likely fills you with some unease, or "nice minis but I'd not buy from them" feeling, because they've developed a similar sort of reputation with their AVP game and other projects (like the White Dragon Kickstarter project Shattered Void, where Prodos were supposed to be making the master minis for them).

But aside from that, Spartan did not build an appealing global distribution model - it was often hard for customers to get product from anywhere but Spartan, and Spartan did a lot of "order from us" exclusives which sidelined distribution - this approach, together with its haphazard releases and ADHD personality made it a pretty unappealing partner. This effectively self-limited Spartan's reach to us customers. Whilst customer service when you were dealing with Spartan as an individual was often great (probably because you were dealing with one person, Lizzie, at the company), this wasn't the overall experience.

Customer experience is a HUGE thing in most big global companies - at my company it forms part of the metrics and KPIs of most leadership and a lot of the coal-face customer-facing people too. It's reviewed in leadership meetings, it's pored over and analysed, and action plans put in place to prevent decline, and to drive positives. This is because most companies understand that customer experience is a massive part of customer retention and it goes beyond just how customers find dealing with those at your company directly, but all the dealings with your company - whether that's delivery (which is most likely through a 3rd party you have little or no control over) or stocking (does my local store have your product?). If their delivery is late, or the shop doesn't have your stock, saying "it's not our fault" no longer cuts it in modern retail.

Fundamentally, Spartan failed to really grasp what a wargamer in 2017 wants to be happy. They had a window of opportunity back in 2010-2016 that they only partially exploited, and instead of shoring up and building on a few internal franchises, they kept creating new projects - splitting resources, baffling retailer and customer understanding / support, and ultimately killing their business. No one but Spartan's leadership is responsible for that.

So What Now?

Spartan is going - sad but maybe not without a silver lining. As you'll all undoubtedly know, I've been very critical of SGs (entirely unnecessary) "new direction" for Firestorm. I hope their v3 stuff does NOT make it out of Evercreech, and instead the franchise is picked up by someone who really understands wargames, miniatures, community support and business. I hope they re-engage the community and get Firestorm back to where it belongs - as a great and fun game up there with X-Wing, 40k and the like.

Of course, I'm still going ahead with Fanstorm, that hasn't changed. Whilst on holiday I've actually put a lot more work into my mammoth Firestorm valuation spreadsheet (which has been several years in the making). It's shaping up really nicely because I want to use it to re-cost the ships in the Firestorm universe to more accurately reflect their game value - which of course means you have to have a way of properly assessing their value in an unbiased and scientific way....turns out that's a LOT harder than you first imagine, especially with all the options in Firestorm v2.

As I think I've mentioned before, this Excel document assesses every ship and squadron's survivability against every other ships weaponry, and vice-versa, to give both offensive and defensive values based on statistical probabilities (at every range band, with every Hardpoint and Option, direct and indirect, accounting for MARs, damage etc). Funnily enough, the great majority of ships in FA are very closely pointed to their actual potential, with only a few types and individuals being obviously outside the norms and needing significant adjustment (battle stations - we're looking at you!).

Anyway, don't be glum about Spartan's demise - the people who used to work there are the ones who deserve more, as do all of you paying customers out there. At least they pulled the plug before the Kickstarter funded, as there would have been a lot of people losing money if that had been the case. Look at it this way - Spartan had produced very little for Firestorm over the past year, so what have you lost? OK, if you're a Halo GC player you've probably lost out more, or are a DW Kickstarter funder who still hasn't received their pledge, but if you're a Firestorm or Planetfall player, you're not in any real different position than you were yesterday, only the future is now a little clearer. I'll continue playing Firestorm and continue working with TheoryMachine to produce Fanstorm to keep all your models relevant and the game as vibrant as it ever was.