Friday, October 8, 2010

F You, WotC

They say there's no such thing as "bad" publicity. So this post should be a batch of goodness for Wizards of the Coast.

I was down at Gary's today, shooting the breeze and browsing for copies of SpellJammer or the 2nd Edition PHB (for info on arquebuses and smoke powder, dont'cha know?), when Tim said, "'s something for you to blog about!" And handed me a big steaming pile of Gamma World "Roleplaying Game."

[quotation marks added by Yours Truly]


Folks that love-love-love 4th edition are probably really going to get their rocks off on this stinker, but for me it once again filled me with a mixture of loathing and sheer "what the f...?" $40 (plus tax, of course) buys you a 160 page rule, the requisite board game parts (maps and tokens, 'cause that's what an "RPG" is, right?), a couple decks of cards, as well as a "booster" pack.

"Booster pack?" know like Collectible Card Games? Because GW4 (as I'm going to call this shit-pile) is ALSO a CCG. In addition to the Box, you have to buy booster packs...little 8 card packs of random mutations and technological wonders. "Collect all 120!" says the booster pack box. I suppose making players collect random cards is better than making folks buy "splat books"...since knuckle-draggers that play this game can't read.

But, hey, anyone notice what's NOT in the $40 box (I mean, BESIDES a complete rule set or something)...DICE. Dice needed, but not included...says so right on the back of the box! But don't worry. "Do you need dice?" the box asks. Check out the WotC web site to see how you can get a set!

Fuck you, Wizards of the Coast.

Also advertised on the back of the box are the upcoming "expansion packs:" Famine in Fargo and Legions of Gold. No more adventure modules, just "expansion packs." Just recycled from adventure modules. But that's okay, since adventures don't really seem to be part of the equation. This is a game about fighting monsters...mutants or robots or whatever...not about exploration or re-building a civilization on the ashes of the old. And assuming it has the same kind of 4E "healing surges," probably not much of a grim struggle for survival, either.

But GW4 doesn't seem to be a post-apocalyptic game anyway. Instead, it's a cool-action, genre-colored, ass-kicking board came with a CCG gimmick. And just in time for Christmas, kiddies!

Who the hell is this supposed to REALLY appeal to, anyway?

I mean, the Moldvay Basic set was for adults ages 10+. Mentzer's Basic set was for kids ages 10+. I don't remember the age bracket for the original Gamma World, but I know my little brother was playing it (and loving it) around age 10-11. But it was slim enough, and simple enough, that he could pick it up and figure out how to play it (of course, it DID come with dice).

What 10 year old is going to want to pick up and play this monstrosity? Why not just spend $40 on some post-apocalyptic video game like Fall Out 3? That would probably appeal to more kids, ages teen to twenty-five. Probably quicker to pick-up and learn to play, right?

Hey, but what do I know? I'm just a dude with a blog and a chip on my shoulder that the world has changed, I guess. Maybe I'm just hungry...I'm going to go get something to eat.


  1. What did you expect from Hasbro?

    A whole lot of the game business is about making cool stuff and as much as we'd like to think otherwise money is a secondary concern.

    A big company OTOH can't operate that way most of the time.

    FWIW Pathfinder is tied for sales in the 3rd quarter with D&D4e so it looks like what we call an RPG is in no danger.

    As I said before, its entirely possible for us old schoolers to actually be the upstart mammals feasting on dino eggs if we play our cards right.

    Now people people love video games (my senior 60+ uncle has 3 consoles for Pete's Sake ) and CCG's for various reasons but there is a real hunger for games of imagination that the RPG, especially the older forms are ready to fill in ways that this G4 claptrap cannot

  2. Wow, this actually makes me feel kind of sad. I guess I am calloused to the words "Dungeons & Dragons" being raped over and over again. I never thought it would come to beautiful old Gamma World being turned into a CCG / boardgame hybrid...

    That "dice not included" bit is especially mind blowing. I've been trying to not care about what Hasbro does with their "IP", but I'm starting to feel a negative emotional response to their hi-jinx.

  3. The "dice sold separately" is a true kick in the balls. Way to guarantee disappointment to any new players who took a chance on a game.

    P.S. : Since you're author of the truly awesome "B/X Headgear" table, I thought you might enjoy this thread I started over on theRPGsite: Strange Helmets

  4. I think it's fucked up that people don't seem to realize that by attempting to brand RPGs as boardgames and videogame-lites, they're missing out on what makes role playing games unique. It's about imagination, not about booster packs or "expansion packs" or any of that crap. Any attempt to market them otherwise is a fool's game.

  5. You know my AD&D 1st edition didn't come with dice either, I had to buy them separate.

    This game looks exactly like it was advertised to be. And for the collectible side of it I say kudos for WotC for trying something new.

    If I wanted to play original Gamma World, I have my box of that downstairs. This looks like a fun game to play with my kids.

  6. Allow me to turn it up to 11 for you! There was a review on this posted over a C-Hits.. apparently it's very light on setting info as well, something like 2 pages in total (I expect it to be sold seperately.) although someone says thats a feature not a bonus since the old ones were ruined by too much setting. My thoughts are they should at least give something of a springboard or include something to help with the "randomness" of the setting if thats what they're going for.

    Equally amusing, is its being released on 19th. Happens to be the very same release date as Fallout: NV. Good marketing, but still makes my stomach turn in conjunction with it's CCG'ness.

    I have to admit, I don't think the card feature is a bad idea - I'm considering using it for tracking stuff on my side project if it ever gets finished I just don't like that it's fueled as a CCG rather than a "Here is cool stuff to help you keep track of everything!" setup.

  7. A whole game box with no dice or chits?
    I agree, FU WoTC.

    As for other issues of the set, eh doesn't bother me, fantasy adventure games (even sci-fantasy) might encourage people to play actual RPGs.

  8. Has tying CCG to a standard table top game ever worked? I know it's been tried in the past, but I don't think it ever worked in terms of good sales or being a popular game mechanic.

  9. It would be nice if it came with dice, but I agree plenty of RPGs don't come with them. So far I've read good reviews and it looks like the kind of game I could get my non-gamer friends interested in, so the pre-order will remain uncancelled!

  10. @ Folks who like the cards:

    I'm not afraid of using cards as a random mechanic in an RPG (card drawing is just another type of "fortune" dice rolling). However, while it is acceptable (in my mind) for, say, Castle Falkenstein to require a standard deck of playing cards (which plenty of people have lying around), making people by booster packs to collect cards for use in the game is disgusting.

    Basically, you're saying "here's a game, but it's not complete...and screw you unless you want to pony up more dough!"

    Now collecting Magic cards (or Baseball cards or ANY type of collectible card game) is part of the FUN of those games...there are hundreds of cards for each set, and when you play against one another you get the chance to look at and show-off the cards you picked up.

    But in an RPG? Especially one that is...I would imagine based on much about "game balance" (as in everyone is fighting on a level playing field)...well, to reward some people who happen to INVEST more...that's pretty frigging low, even for WotC. It's an RPG. And apparently, not everyone is created equal.

    The fact that they would give you maps and counters and bullshit and skip a few plastic dice? Well, I agree with Cole that it's a real kick to the nuts.

    But, hey, maybe SOMEday people will quit ordering their shit, sight-unseen. Vote with your pocketbook, people!

  11. This sort of thing is exactly why I don't make small talk at Gary's. :)

  12. I know it's a bit rude to respond twice, but something occurred to me only after my first response. I was and am ambivalent to GW, it just isn't my thing, though more power to the fans. However, I was and am a fan of Ravenloft and while I do like 4E... I worry 4E Ravenloft will get this treatment. Mixing CCG and TTRPGs is a bad idea and if I want minis I will buy some. Just something to worry over, like a scratch you can't stop picking at.

  13. @ Will: ???.

    @ Grumpy: I don't mind extra responses.

    RE: Ravenloft...I imagine that, besides the RL board game (which I think has already been published or slated for release..?), the only thing I suspect would be done for 4E is to re-issue it in a format similar to the recent Tomb of Horrors.

  14. @ Will:

    Sorry, I meant I didn't understand your comment, as in "what sort of thing is it that prevents you from making small talk?" And was this a facetious comment (due to the smiley face), or do you seriously not like making small talk and are happy about it?

    I was inviting you to elaborate on your comment, 'cause *I* didn't get it. Please do so if you have the time and inclination.
    : )

  15. As I've said before on other boards, as soon as I heard Peter Adkinson talk at STRAS about WoTCs upcoming purchase of TSR, I knew it was going to be the worse thing that ever happened to the properties.

    As with the WoTCFMMOffRPG (aka 4th edition D&D. D&D in name only), they only thing Gamma World 4th (actually the 7th edition of the game) has in common with the classic property is the branding. The branding makes the sales, which brings the income.

    Which is really all HasbroWoTCTSR is worried about.

    The new Gamma World is very obviously meant as a beer-n-pretzels game with a collectible "by-mor-stuf" aspect (apologies to the Chik-Fil-A cows) to keep it from getting put on the shelf like most beer-n-pretzels games do after a couple of plays.

    With 4th edition, and more so with this new Gamma World "thing," and the *snerk* Red Box it's very obvious that any shred of the classic games are going to be re-imaged into "family game night" versions with little or no thought to anyone outside their target market of 10-14 year old boys.

    The best thing we can do is not buy them, and not give our kids permission/spending money to buy them. Then, after sales ditch enough that Hasbro dumps the rights, they'll hopefully go to a group that's actually interested in the properties for more than the Brand Name.

    PS: I fear for Top Secret is next on the hit list, becoming some strange bastard of 4th Ed and Clue. 8D

  16. "here's a game, but it's not complete...and screw you unless you want to pony up more dough!"

    You do realize the additional cards are not required, right?

  17. Wally, I think you're missing the issue here, the booster packs are what the game is all about--providing randomness and diversity in play. If you were a Magic The Gathering player, you wouldn't buy the starter set and just stop there, right?

    BTW, most FLGS that are participating in the Gamma World Release Event (coming this weekend) have advertised that players who want to try the game need to purchase 2 booster packs. This is a requirement from WotC for this event.

    So one way or another, if you want to play GW4E you're going to have to buy boosters.