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'Fleet' boxes or Blisters?

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So those who started playing Firestorm Armada long enough are aware that old Spartan used to provide all ships in blisters. These blister packs would usually contain 1 or 2 capital ships or 6 or so frigate sized vessels. Eventually Spartan chose to go with fleet boxes up until the end of the company with 'fleets' in a box for various things like Patrol fleets, Destroyers, etc... 

Most of this is well known to all...

I used to really like the blister model. Getting into a game was much easier as you didn't need to shell out for a full patrol fleet up front. You could grab ships slowly. Good for those on a tighter budget. I also liked going into my game store and deciding to grab a blister for fun due to the lower price point ($12-$20 on average in Canada). The other benefit I saw was being able to say run 2 frigate squadrons without needing to buy an expensive 2nd patrol fleet ($60-$75 Canadian).

Now I also see some benefit with the fleet box. You could get new people in with a "Just buy a fleet box" line. Plus you knew you would get a good fleet in most boxes. You also were able to get around ending up with useless ships left over. For example frigate blisters always had 6 ships, but after 1.5 hit, some of the older frigates were reduced in size to 4 or 5 - leaving some ships that are unusable. 

Now this leaves me somewhat wanting to see blisters make a return. The low cost and ability to grow your fleet as you desire is great. But I remember some distributors being concerned with multiple blister SKUs.

 

What do you all think? Would you like a return to blisters only, keep fleet boxes, or see a mix of the two?

 

Warcradle - is there any thoughts on this?

 

 

 

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It isn't some Distributors... It's anyone that has to carry a broad range.  What we don't want is retailers taking product and it sitting for years gathering dust.  Blisters means to carry the range is a vast undertaking for anyone.  We think we have a solution but the reveal will have to wait. We do think fundamentally that everything should be available through retailers. We don't want to act like everyone else in the market and force customers to shop direct for a big chunk of the range.

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Forgot to mention stores too... It's risky carrying a large stock that may not move.

I agree that pushing stock via stores over direct is the way to go for sure.

I look forward to the revealed solution! Thanks for the reply! :)

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This is kind of related. Do you have rough ideas of when we can expect to see firestorm models in stores? I know that your busy and that there is a lot that I don't know about that goes into releasing mass produced products. I am just excited and curious. 

Thanks!

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Glauco, we fully accept the ease of purchase for older players wanting to fill out forces etc.  It is certainly a tricky one. We want the game to grow, and that means generating new players via stores and events etc.  But stores do not have infinite space and resources to take on games with 8+ factions with 50+ products per faction.  We also do not want to push sales directly to us cutting out retailers and distributors. We see manufacturers doing it all the time without thinking and it damages trust. We want to be different.  We need to make sure that if it is available for the game, you should be able to get it just as quickly through your fave retailer.

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Just now, fracas said:

How about boxes matching fleet build options

Definitely, the way we are thinking at the moment. Including Dwars in this subject too.  Don't take this as gospel, but I like the idea of a Battlegroup box that allows a variety of shaped and flagshipped formations depending on extra parts/ship designations.  (Don't be pedantic about my use of flagship please, I mean it with regards to a formations command vessel). So buyers get some flexibility.

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If it's going to be mostly boxes, I hope the price points are reasonable. It was a hard sale locally when a fleet box was much more than a GW product - which is what most play here. It's hard to convince others to try a new game when the price seems high. 

I'm assuming there will be some evaluation on Warcradle's part to see where that price point lies. I would rather get less in a box and pay less. Of course - markets dictate this more than single players.

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I prefer boxes.

I’d also prefer the ships base sizes were standardised and used for all mechanical purposes and never the shop model. Then make the actual ship models smaller and cheaper. Makes transport easier - I carry everything in their fleet boxes wrapped in their bubble wrap, smaller ships fit into smaller boxes and price goes down.

standardising away from model size too removes that blocker from mechanical impact.

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Honestly I think Spartan mostly cracked this with their "helix" system for Planetfall.

 

1) The system easily builds itself into neat boxed sets, which means that distributors have fewer individual products to sell per-faction and new and existing players have fewer purchase "choices" perfection which makes it a lot easier to see what to buy and to pick up and go.

2) Core/larger boxed sets were the start point and were then expandable (repeat buys of the same box) and the style of the boxed sets meant that there were never any waste models in the box - what you got was what you were going to field without question

3) The Helix system allowed the user to build a custom army, within strict rules of army design. This actually works very nicely to theme armies and cuts out "spam" lists very effectively. 

4) Cutting down on the "choice" of army  variation doesn't actually cut down on Viable choices. In fact it makes it easier for new players to get into the game since the composition aspects are not as tricky to get to grips with. 

 

I think a helix system would be very strong to work with. Players get what they want in boxed sets and build their fleet up with the Helix approach. Now granted Warcradle could change things in terms of how many of a single helix could be taken and suchlike (it doesn't have to be the segmented and opposite based system that Spartan devised). 

Granted this is less flexible for gamers who already have fleets, however consider how Spartan handled its game release (esp nearer the end) Warcradle could potentially consider individual orders, at least through the store, for a limited time on models - ergo allowing existing players to patch-up what they've got to form box-designed helix choices. 

Another aspect to consider is expanding the range. Swap-outs could be an option - eg a new dreadnought model could be released and instead of releasing a whole new helix boxed set that might carbon copy an existing one the new dread could be released in blister form. This allows for some blisters and variation of helix designs without changing the helix themselves or requiring every army release to be a helix. Another option would be to have the "core" of the fleets built on helix and then have free points to add in specialist ships that could be sold in boxed sets or as blisters (eg things like dreadnoughts could be blister sold). 

 

The biggest risks for Helix are

1) Moving the game to a new edition. Any change to the rules/points is tied to the helix compositions. This limits what can be changed in the future and how armies can change because players will own set numbers of each option as corresponds to the helix. Even just swapping models between helix choices could be tricky and leave some players without - putting pressure on an individual model ordering service (which can be viable short term but more tricky to keep going long term as it puts greater complexity on production)

2) Reducing actual variety of army compositions - esp competitive or viable choices. This might be even more the case for minor factions that might only have one or two boxed helix choices

3) Increasing perceived game cost. If everything is £35 boxed sets then that makes the game feel more expensive than if players have access to cheaper blisters and packs. Even if the end cost of viable starting armies and even bigger armies is the same as comparable games on the market. Higher base unit costs can also block out gifts for many people (birthdays/christmas oft being a time for such gifts and sales*)

4) Releasing new models or updated versions of existing models will require entire boxes to be completed; reducing the chance for individual ship releases. This is a Warcradle issue more so depending on how production and development is planned to take place. With boxed sets, any update/replacement would generally require all/most ships in the box to be updated** which, of course, means increased costs to revamp an existing box or to release most new things. 

If most ships are sold in type boxed sets or blisters of squadrons then there's more scope for new releases to be multifaction. Eg with boxes you might only get 1 box with 6 new sculpted models within released for one faction whilst with blisters/squad boxes you could release 6 options (one for each core faction). (totally rough numbers just to illustrate a point). This comes into play regarding the ability to support multiple factions and keep fans happy - nothing is worse than having factions that are ignored or which tend to always end up at the end of a production release cycle (Games workshops gives multiple good examples of this - even where viable major armies have gone wihtout release for very extended periods of time)

 

Whatever approach is chosen I think that the best approach is to view it as a new game and to build it as such. Run that alongside a permanent or short term individual ship order service (could be done through the online store or could also be allowed through retailers as well as) to then give existing fans time to fix any gaps based on their collections. 

That way what comes is based on how Firestorm is to be in the future with Warcradle, rather than slaving itself to a system that tries to please both sides (new and old) too much and sort of doesn't work for either (or works for customers great, but is a nightmare for retailers)

 

 

 

* personal experience is that Games Workshops steadily rising boxed set prices have reduced its viability as a gift. It's great to get 3 zoanthropes in a single boxed set; but the cost is beyond a gift for many - whilst a single blister of a zoanthrope is more a giftable price

 

** You 'might' get away updating only the biggest ship in a key set (eg a dreadnought or bigger scale ship) And keeping smaller escorts and the like the same sculpts

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We will be releasing some product in 2018.  We are having the production meeting today.  A few things need to be resolved first - finalising packaging style and designs to ensure they are in line with the new version of FSA in the works. But we have recognised there is demand for existing product so will begin repackaging and releasing product this year. The same will happen for Dystopian Wars.

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30 minutes ago, Warcradle Richard said:

We will be releasing some product in 2018.  We are having the production meeting today.  A few things need to be resolved first - finalising packaging style and designs to ensure they are in line with the new version of FSA in the works. But we have recognised there is demand for existing product so will begin repackaging and releasing product this year. The same will happen for Dystopian Wars.

Neato! Would that be normal fleet boxes, starter sets or both? And would the designs be the old molds, or will the models be in line with what is going to be available to use/field in the new versions of the game? I'm excited!

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Honestly I hope that Warcradle keeps it simple - even if its very few models - I'd hope everything released for Firestorm is "current". I think the existing Spartan fanbase (the early supporters/buyers/promoters of the game when it relaunches) have had a lot of hit/miss confusion in the past with regard to new sculpts and such (One of the deathnails in Uncharted was everyone being on the fence about if factions were getting resculpts or not and when they'd come and which were new and which were older). 

Even if it takes longer I'd rather see everything published by Warcradle to be current and to fit with the game they are making for us - that way there's no confusion or disappointment. 

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Personally I love the blisters idea. Spartan's releases for capital ships and cruiser groups were perfect in my opinion, with the patrol fleets and starter fleets making up the larger box sets. Its important to me to at least see full cruiser squadrons (full resin please!) and Tier 1 choices offered with escorts. I'd be fine with smaller blisters for frigates and (fingers crossed) flight stand faction SRS tokens!

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I Think the fleet boxes are vital as a way to entice new players simply - but as a player who wants to be able to buy frigates without buying 4 or 5 Capital ships I hope this can be accomodated going forward. 

(The rules do -and should- provide the scope for frigate heavy forces which would currently neccesitate sitting with a couple of unusable battleships - which you can't give to someone else, as they would need the frigates to make up their quota...)

I understand Warcradle need focused stock for retailers - but if you don't want retailers to carry the full range, why not have the core fleet boxes and cruiser boxes for FLGS' to sell and provide the Kurak & Zenian Allies and frigate packs from Wayland - No need for other retailers to carry the stock - unless they order them specifically, and make it available for them or sole customers if they request it.

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Thank you Richard for the replies, like the idea of formation-based boxes.  With the smaller ships, might I suggest a "small squadron" reinforcement box?  (Now forgive me I'm a DW player so I'll use their ship designations)  Say a box with 1 maxed Frigate squad, a Maxed Destroyer squad and a maxed Corvette squad?

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57 minutes ago, Benchpresser said:

Thank you Richard for the replies, like the idea of formation-based boxes.  With the smaller ships, might I suggest a "small squadron" reinforcement box?  (Now forgive me I'm a DW player so I'll use their ship designations)  Say a box with 1 maxed Frigate squad, a Maxed Destroyer squad and a maxed Corvette squad?

I think this is a phenomenal idea, an easy way to take your 800pt fleets beyond without needing to pick up a ton of boxes. 

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Do not take this as gospel at the moment. But we like the idea of themed Battlegroup boxes, focused on Carriers, Battleships etc.  Those capital type ships being named and themed perhaps.  With generic groups also.  Then throw in flotilla box sets for numbers of lighter/smaller ships. Then maybe auxiliary/support sets.  Only ideas at moment though.

 

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21 minutes ago, Warcradle Richard said:

Do not take this as gospel at the moment. But we like the idea of themed Battlegroup boxes, focused on Carriers, Battleships etc.  Those capital type ships being named and themed perhaps.  With generic groups also.  Then throw in flotilla box sets for numbers of lighter/smaller ships. Then maybe auxiliary/support sets.  Only ideas at moment though.

 

I support this

carrier task force: carrier, light cruisers, point defense escorts (as tier 3)

Battle task force: dreadnought, gunships, frigates

strike / commerce raiders:  battle cruisers, destroyers, corvettes

patrol: battleship, cruisers, frigates 

installations: station, weapon platforms

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Would it be better to theme the boxes around mostly ship sizes? It would keep down SKU creep and allow fleet growth without buying ships you don't want/need. Something like:

- Command Vessels (Battleships/Carriers/Dreadnoughts & Escorts)

- Fleet Vessels (Cruisers/Destroyers/Heavy Cruisers)

- Support Vessels (Frigates/Corvettes)

If you are slick with optional components, each box could make various types of ship at that size.

One of the issues I heard locally is that people couldn't grow fleets without ending up with completely useless ships, so it turned them off of buying more.

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9 hours ago, Warcradle Richard said:

Do not take this as gospel at the moment. But we like the idea of themed Battlegroup boxes, focused on Carriers, Battleships etc.  Those capital type ships being named and themed perhaps.  With generic groups also.  Then throw in flotilla box sets for numbers of lighter/smaller ships. Then maybe auxiliary/support sets.  Only ideas at moment though.

 

So more ships in the box fitting fleet composition and army building? I would like that. :)

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I like the idea of Boxes and Blisters. 

I find it is the balance of contents that counts most. Don't pack the same frigate in every fleet box available to a force as there will be over collection. Don't make a unit impossible to get without getting something unrelated. 

It is a tough job, arranging distribution of miniatures. I am not sure I could do it any better

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