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Leemer

Are underpowered boxed game warscrolls an active design choice by GW?

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Reading through the recent Cursed City warscrolls and seeing the various Underworlds and Warcry warscrolls over the years, it seems that the vast majority of these units are underpowered compared to their battletome equivalents and therefore don't see much play on the tabletop.

Do you think this is an active design choice by the developers at GW or just a normal result of the internal faction power variability?

I cant see much of a reason for doing this but it seems to be a consistent trend across all the grand alliances. Improving these to be viable options would only enhance the likelihood of players transitioning from their boxed game forces (typically smaller investments) into full Age of Sigmar armies. Plus a lot of them are great sculpts so it would be nice to see them getting more action.

Thoughts?

As always there are a few notable exceptions: Khainite Shadowstalkers, Iron Golems, Morgwaeth, etc.

 

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I think it’s an intentional choice. When you give it some thought, it makes sense. You don’t want to give powerful abilities to something that some will view as extraneous to the core game. The one that stands out to me is Daedalosus from Blackstone Fortress. People are reselling the model for almost as much as the expansion went for originally. And there’s no way to get the model aside from resellers or getting the original expansion. Feels bad.

Making boxed models a bit underpowered helps people not feel like they’re being required to buy these limited releases for FOMO. Don’t get me wrong: I’d like if they were a bit more usable, but from a design perspective, it makes sense

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I get the impression they are extra careful to make sure warscrolls like those are not too strong, because they have seen the amount of bad sentiment it quickly generates. That said, these warscrolls also tend to not be getting the same level of allegiance ability support due to being sub-faction locked or in the case of cultists non-markable (bar Idolators).

If cultists were fully markable then the bloodwind spoil would be rounding up bullgors to keep up with all the cheese production.

Edited by NinthMusketeer
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Yes, it's an active choice.

Even if they are on a separate sprue, GW wants to keep selling their infantry heroes, and that won't happen if the additional game figures are good because these are also often heroes, and less overpriced per model.

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The assumption is afaik that people will field those models because they like them rather than for the rules, they are also often a minefield for weird interactions with odd composition or weapon choices as well as,as others have said, the potential for them to be tricky or expensive to get down the line. 

It just makes sense to make them a little underpowered/inefficient. 

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2 hours ago, zilberfrid said:

Yes, it's an active choice.

Even if they are on a separate sprue, GW wants to keep selling their infantry heroes, and that won't happen if the additional game figures are good because these are also often heroes, and less overpriced per model.

One could equally say that making the warscrolls in the boxes game OP is a way to get regular AoS players to buy products they would not normally be interested in. Even getting them second-hand on ebay someone bought the box.

I am having a difficult time seeing a marketing plan behind this as being plausible. 

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5 hours ago, AnarchMage said:

I think it’s an intentional choice. When you give it some thought, it makes sense. You don’t want to give powerful abilities to something that some will view as extraneous to the core game. The one that stands out to me is Daedalosus from Blackstone Fortress. People are reselling the model for almost as much as the expansion went for originally. And there’s no way to get the model aside from resellers or getting the original expansion. Feels bad.

Making boxed models a bit underpowered helps people not feel like they’re being required to buy these limited releases for FOMO. Don’t get me wrong: I’d like if they were a bit more usable, but from a design perspective, it makes sense

This doesn’t quite work. Underworlds and Warcry models get reboxed as AoS models after a while and so fomo doesn’t apply 

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I think it's hard to see it as anything other than an intentional choice because of how consistently it has happened over the last few years. I think they're doing it this way because GW doesn't want to have to support the models in any way after their initial release. If they release something overpowered they may have to devote playtesting time or developer time to give it a nerf later on, or to adjust points costs at some point. Plus the obvious issues if they stop selling a model that has become seen as a critical piece of a faction strategy. They can get ahead of all of those issues by just intentionally handicapping the models from the start. Plus I don't think the models are having significant issues selling even without being useful in AoS (as evidenced by cursed city selling out almost instantly and the fact that they're still supporting Underworlds). 

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55 minutes ago, Joseph Mackay said:

This doesn’t quite work. Underworlds and Warcry models get reboxed as AoS models after a while and so fomo doesn’t apply 

Ah, my mistake. I’m still new AOS. Think this will hold true for Cursed City?

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To some extent it already is; skeletons and zombies are getting new boxes with the upcoming Soulblight Gravelord battletome. Bat swarms and fell bats also already have warscrolls and the new models are updates. And the evil characters bar zombie shovel are named versions of generic warscrolls; Vampire Lord, Necromancer, and Wight King. Using them as such is unlikely to get any pushback even at a tournament.

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I have always felt that's its poor planning and communication between the departments, and poor general marketing. As a business model, it makes little sense. Cross promotion between your products should result in greater sales overall. AOS players should want to get their hands on underworlds models, and from a design perspective, the small underworlds warbands open up a fantastic opportity to update old models or introduce figures into existing gaps. (the Ogre trapper comes to mind as a good example of this). As for the "exclusivity" problem, there's no reason that with some better mold planning that figures from games can't be reboxed for AoS. No reason they cant sell the cursed city figures as an "Ulfencairn" starter box for legions of nagash or similar. 

 

Lets face it, as a company who's goal is to sell models, NOT making your products cross-proportional between games seems counterintuitive and silly.  Warcry/AoS/Underworlds should all share warscrolls. And Chaos demons should bridge 40K and AoS. The more overlap, the greater appeal of your products. Its not like they don't have enough space in thier books for an extra warscroll or two. Their hardbacks are overpriced, contain about 10 pages of rules and 60 pages of story, and 30 pages of photographs. You 'd think they could squeeze in the rules for a few more models. 

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5 hours ago, NinthMusketeer said:

One could equally say that making the warscrolls in the boxes game OP is a way to get regular AoS players to buy products they would not normally be interested in. Even getting them second-hand on ebay someone bought the box.

I am having a difficult time seeing a marketing plan behind this as being plausible. 

For Kharadron for instance, the Khemist was as expensive as Khemist Thundrik, with a four other lads and cards. Without cards, the Khemist alone is more expensive. Buying three of them (let's do that without cards) would net you three Khemists, a MSU of Skywardens, four Arkanauts and (with minimal conversion) five Thunderers for the price of one Khemist, three Skywardens and a cup of coffee (€2.50). Those spare Khemists are not that hard to convert to an Admiral and a Navigator if you have some spare parts, apart from a hammer all available in the SC, giving you four Arkanauts, a unit of Thunderers and a unit of Skywardens to boot for less than the price of those heroes.

3 hours ago, AnarchMage said:

Ah, my mistake. I’m still new AOS. Think this will hold true for Cursed City?

Yes and no. Heroes from Silver tower were sold seperately, but everything that could have gone to Cities has been dumped (as GW is want to do).

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So it is cheaper to build counts-as normal unit options with the WH underworlds kit, and because of that the special warscrolls (which in this theoretical are not even being used) need to be underpowered to make sure people buy the regular option?

That makes no sense. People will just buy whichever version they like better and use it for the game(s) they play. No one has a problem with people using underworlds models as generic characters.

Edited by NinthMusketeer

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2 minutes ago, NinthMusketeer said:

So it is cheaper to build counts-as normal unit options with the WH underworlds kit, and because of that the special warscrolls (which in this theoretical are not even being used) need to be underpowered to make sure people buy the regular option?

That makes no sense. People will just buy whichever version they like better and use it for the game(s) they play. No one has a problem with people using underworlds models as generic characters.

I'm sorry, that turned into a rant about infantry hero prices.

Edited by zilberfrid

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I view this as : "look you can play AOS with those mini, but it will be only for fun and no competitive intention .. if you are interested in going further you'll need an army so why not just buy a few more miniatures ? Oh and now that you have an army you don't want to stay in the kid garden don't you ? Just get rid of thoses nice looking miniatures but with awfull warscrolls and buy expensive miniatures like a boss, you'll only need a few .. "

 

"why am i broke now ? "

Edited by Perturbato
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It does seem like boxed game warscrolls are generally weaker. I'd say it's intentional, but we can only speculate about the reasons.

At least in the case of Warhammer Quest there is a fairly clear one: GW don't know how long those games will be supported and don't want important game pieces for AoS hidden away in out of production boxes that cost $200. This might seem a bit out of character for GW for being too pro-consumer, but AoS and 40k generally don't have a scarcity/rotation component like collectable card games often have and they have never (to my knowledge) tried to introduce one. Plus, kitbashing exists, so it probably would not work anyway. For that reason, the damage from a marketing standpoint if AoS and other GW games became know as "Those games where you need discontinued models from a box set from 20 years ago to win (or need to scratch build them)" probably makes it more attractive to err on the side of underpowered. As a player, I definitely welcome the fact that there is no chance that the new Cursed City models will become staples of the dominant tournament lists. It's nice not to have to worry about getting those models to play the meta lists just as it is nice not to have to worry about not being able to find a copy to actually play Cursed City as intended.

With Underworlds and Warcry it's a bit harder to see the reasoning. I guess maybe they don't know if they want to continue restocking these warbands indefinitely. Or it's the point about the availability of those boxes for Underworlds/Warcry mentioned above. We definitely don't want a graphics card/bitcoin mining situation on our hand with respect to Underworlds models in AoS.

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I can understand why, if they were to be publishing very strong warscrolls in things like Cursed City, Blackstone Fortresss etc it would very frustrating for people who need to target single models from those larger boxes. 

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29 minutes ago, Neil Arthur Hotep said:

AoS and 40k generally don't have a scarcity/rotation component like collectable card games often have and they have never (to my knowledge) tried to introduce one.

As far as I know, this was exactly what they intended with AoS at the beginning, but they have decided against it. In a way, Stormcast do have this, with the older warscrolls not really holding up to newer ones that are about the same (the various big armoured guy with hammer stuff).

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Just now, zilberfrid said:

As far as I know, this was exactly what they intended with AoS at the beginning, but they have decided against it. In a way, Stormcast do have this, with the older warscrolls not really holding up to newer ones that are about the same (the various big armoured guy with hammer stuff).

I could see that! Stormcast and the AoS 1.0 stuff were definitely the time of experimentation at GW, both in terms of game design and business models.

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10 hours ago, Gothmaug said:

Their hardbacks are overpriced, contain about 10 pages of rules and 60 pages of story, and 30 pages of photographs. You 'd think they could squeeze in the rules for a few more models. 

They do actually include warband warscrolls in recent battletomes. That has not made them any less poor though.

 

5 hours ago, AaronWilson said:

I can understand why, if they were to be publishing very strong warscrolls in things like Cursed City, Blackstone Fortresss etc it would very frustrating for people who need to target single models from those larger boxes. 

Which is why they could just pack those models separately eventually like they did with half of silver tower, the underworlds warbands, and Indomitus.

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Seems like quite the consensus then, a mix of game design and sales.

I think most of the FOMO and ebay price gouging stuff doesnt apply in the same way to Age of Sigmar as the majority of these warbands are still available, they've released characters separately in the past, and the regular points updates would be able to mitigate any major mistakes.

I was listening to the warhammer weekly podcast yesterday and thought their idea of designing these units for power pairs would do a great deal to make them a bit more useable. i.e. heros providing buffs to unit keywords that don't already see much use. I think the example they used was an order hero that could buff flagellants.

This doesnt risk pushing them into 'overpowered' or even particularly strong territory but would open up list building options and maybe even push players towards buying kits they might not otherwise. 

While this would be mainly effective in factions with lots of warscrolls, it's better than the current state where we have lots of unique characters, lore and sculpts not being utilised by 95% of players.

Edited by Leemer

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Well... Sword of Justice on that chained aelf dude was pretty popular.  

I think the AoS Warscrolls are afterthoughts for people to feel validated they get to use their Box Game in the actual game they play.  

Most of these models are not readily available nor is GW making them with the intent for them to be core product (time will tell regarding Cursed City I'm hearing they will release the models in clam packs but also hearing they won't).  

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I think that warscrolls are intentionally made like that. However, many of these WHU models could be use as an alternate versions for heroes or unit leaders, or they can be used in Warcry/Skurmish (where focus on individual models is much greater). 

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I should mention the belief at GW  is that Rules dont notably affect sales. That may have shifted a bit with more community engagement , especially since the enormous growth of the last few years all kinds of conventional wisdom/demographics may have changed but i doubt they have much tbh. Competitive gamers are noisy out of proportion online because they tend to be the customers wanting to talk about things a lot more and hone their forces but a huge majority of buyers pick things for looks or other inscrutable reasons. 

I mean from personal experience (As useless as anecdotal evidence is :D )  when i worked in a GW store our most regular customer came in 3-4 times a week to buy some models he liked the look of, painted them up and then came back for more, no interest in the games or background at all despite our best efforts, he just liked painting figures. When i ran my own store one of our best customers is just on a mission to apparently build a full Imperial Guard army given the amount they bought, but also had no interest in gaming or apparently rules as they still buy odd random legends or rules-less Guard stuff ive made over the years  and sell on to buy more plastic crack ;) 

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