Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Promethean Sun

Hi one and all,

I was the seventy-fifth of three thousand that managed to get hold of Promethean Sun, the collocetor's edition that could only be bought as a web exclusive through the Black Library site.  It was a 30 minute ordeal which ended up with me placing three orders instead one, due to the number of times I attempted to log on and actually arrive at payment.

This is my first collector's edition I bought from BL.  I had to buy this book you see, since I am a 30K fanatic, and I love this period of the Rogue Trader mythos were Primarchs walked along Astartes and men, and fought for the fate and soul of the human race.

The book, as I see it,  is basically the character development of Vulkan; the Primarch of the Salamaders Legion.  In the short span of this novella Nick Kyme brings out who Vulkan is and what he is.  He manages to show how demi-god-like these post-humans were, but at the same time he reveals the deep flaws in their character which marks them as part of the human family.

I don't want to give to much away with spoilers but there is a good balance between action and character development.  There are basically three battles described which might have been a bit too much and some great flashbacks into Vulkan's past.

We also get to see the relationships between the Primarch siblings and their petty rivalries as well.  I like how Kyme gives Vulkan wisdom in humility, especially how he concedes to his brothers in order achieve the greater goal.

Overall I think Nick Kyme did a good job on this one.  I would have preferred less battles and more insight into the Primarchs relationships with their legions as well as with the other two Primarchs in the book, namely Ferrus Mannus and Mortarion. 

For example a nice touch was how both Vulkan and Ferrus were smiths and crafstmen, but where Ferrus put more emphasis into function, Vulkan puts more into form, and this translates over into their characters and how they go about things - including how they wage war.

The last thing I didn't really like about the story were the two 'Dragonball GT' moments with Vulkan.  I know the Primarchs were superhuman, and I see that Kyme wanted to get this through to the readers - but these two scenes, which I will not give away, were just two much for me and I could have done without them.

What I was very disappointed with was the artwork.  I bought this book for 40 euros and I had to pay another 20 euros for postage.  That's 60 euros for a novella - a lot of money.  For this amount, I would have expected the artwork to be all original.

In the mid-section we get a fold out painting of the cover, fine but I would have prefered something different since it is already on the cover! We also get armour pictures of the legions in the book taken from the Index Astartes publications. I was expecting something more in the Osprey tradition, but that's just me and my crazy opinions.

The worst though, is that of all the three Primarchs we only get a picture of Mortarion - the Primarch that is featured the least in the novella - and it is not even an original drawing!  I was at least expecting to see a painted plate of Vulkan, but maybe may logic is flawed or not on par with BL Publishing.

Overall I give the story a strong 7 out of 10, basing my judgment more on subjective preference rather than objectivity. I give the product's look and artistic content a 5 out of 10.  The beautiful cover and faux-salamander hide the only redeeming factors.

So overall I don't regret buying the book.  I enjoyed the story and now I am interested in reading Kyme's salamander trilogy. Still, I was a bit disappointed with the artistic content and I honestly was expecting more.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

An Open letter to GW:- A Kirby re-post

Hi everyone,

Like most hobbyists out there I was very disappointed with GW's new price hike and controlling.  Although the shipping conditions do not affect me, I feel a strong solidarity to my fellow 40K gamers and modelers abroad and I would like to see GW treat us ALL with respect and consideration.  We are what makes the hobby popular and the bottom line is that we keep it alive and pay this company's wages.

So I have decided to reprint Kirby's open letter to GW and hope they read it.

To Games Workshop,

Why? No seriously, why? I'm sure the excuse of cutting off Australasia and other countries (Canada, India, Korea, South American countries, etc.) to benefit the independent and GW store sales in Australia sounded good but unless you cut the prices here to not be a ridiculous 200% higher price than overseas, it's not going to happen. Let's look at this logically. You've stopped us from buying from stores like Maelstrom and Wayland with an embargo agreement in your Terms and Conditions (remember globalisation? how's that going btw?). Does this mean we are going to now buy at RRP in Australia or other countries? No.

There are other outlets overseas we can buy from which are still much cheaper (hi America), other companies which you cannot touch without raising a helluva lot of crap (hi ebay) and people who are willing to ship to us overseas (hello family and friends) without the 200% tax. We won't be getting as huge a discount as before but it's much better than buying here at RRP. The other option is of course going to be quitting which I imagine some people are going to do. Check out this thread on WargamerAU where a lot of people are indicating they are. The ultimate bottom line? Your bottom line suffers (more people leaving) and the retailers in Australia do not benefit.

Now I'm all for one in supporting the locals. I buy all my products such as spray paint, paints, plasticard, magnets, drills + bits, modelling putty, brushes, etc. from Australia. As an aside, do you actually stock good quality merchandise for all of those options? I don't see you selling plasticard, magnets, good sized drillbits, custom bases, etc. I'd be happy to pay a 5-10% premium on these objects compared to other stores to support your business but then again, I don't really want to support your business currently do I? The point of any business is to make a profit but the problem with your business model is you do not do this whilst concurrently supporting your customer base. We don't ask for much but a short list would look like...

  • not raising prices every year, without fail, regardless of the economic situation or inflation rates
  • basing prices around the world upon exchange rates (I wouldn't be averse to paying 20% more in Australia compared to the UK or America locally but I am adverse to paying twice as much) - there are circumstances in each country that make operating there more or less expensive but you need a base retail price for your product which is then translated by exchange rates at a given time (i.e. quarterly) rather than a price set many, many years ago. It's part of being in a global market.
  • regular and quick FAQs - you've done a fantastic job IMO of creating some pretty balanced books for 5th edition, fix the grey areas quickly.
  • official erratas - man up and admit you've made mistakes (hi Tyranids) and work on erratas that are official and re-print the books with these amendments. Admitting a mistake and fixing it isn't a problem and I'd applaud you for it. Ignoring a problem is.
  • fix Fantasy - you did it with 40k, why go backwards with Fantasy?
  • don't think your customer base is moronic - the resin re-cast to be cheaper than metals whilst hiking prices, not fooling anyone.
Ultimately people in Australia and other countries go overseas for their Games Workshop products for a reason: it's significantly cheaper (I.e. half price). What motivation is there to therefore buy from our locals when you aren't treating your customers with loyalty and support? People will walk away and your bottom line will hurt. A simple solution: care about your customers. Change the Australian (and other countries) prices so they are at least similar to the UK and US. This doesn't have to be the exact same price but some parity would be greatly appreciated.

Here's a quick example. If you could buy a similar product for $45 compared to $150, what would you do? How about if the product was the exact same but if you ordered it overseas it was $80 compared to $150 by the time it reached your door step? I'm pretty sure you'd want to take the cheaper option correct? For you as a company, you make your profit margin through the reseller regardless of where it is purchased. You may make more money off a direct sale at an Australian store compared to an Internet sale from the UK but you have already achieved the profit margin from the Internet sale already. The Australian stores may be hurting but this is down to the initial price you have set, not market trends. Simply put, you are alienating customers from a large and developing market

I and many of the readers here obviously enjoy your game. We've played it through thick and thin (4th edition...) or come back thanks to an improvement game balance (5th edition) and don't want to leave. We will though sooner or later if you keep piling on idiotic choices on us. Other companies like Privateer Press did very well in the early to mid-2000s for a reason and people will migrate to other gaming systems if you continue to mistreat them and their loyalty.

As it stands I question why you do the things you do. Raising prices every year annoys me but I cannot complain too loudly as your products are a luxury item but you do not provide excellent customer service one usually expects with such goods. I certainly find minimal fault with your staff or when your product is damaged/faulty but your overarching business model seems counter-intuitive to maintaining a customer base. Even if you are getting a large amount of new customers imagine how much better off your company would be if you had maintained a significant portion of your repeat customers. The model you are running currently to me does not seem sustainable as your turnover rate in customers is just too high. I applaud your efforts in making 40k 5th edition a more competitive game but what you've done to Fantasy 8th edition doesn't bode well for the future.

Please, look to satisfy both the shareholders and the customer rather than just the former.


Well, that is it.  Well said and written Kirby!  I agree wholeheartedly with you.  Personally, I have already reduced my spending drastically two price hikes ago.  I no longer build new Citadel armies; I have switched to 15mm fantasy armies; and only buy citadel models to paint and display.

Also, I only use my old fantasy armies that I bought years ago whenever I play 25-28mm fantasy games and the only army I have rebuild lately was my Space Wolves which I have bought exclusively from Maelstrom Games and Ebay.

The only side suffering from my decision is GW, and as a result many other companies and games systems have benefited like - Infinity, Warmachine, Hell Dorado & Malifaux. Not to mention the enrichment and broadening of my gaming experience.

There are also other options like playing smaller games like Killzone and Mordheim.  You only need a dozen models and they are great fun to play.

I encourage everyone to do the same.  If you do, I am confident that in the future we will see a giant bend the knee.

Farewell and good health,



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