Tuesday, April 26, 2016

State of Gaming Locally

So, been seeing a trend that I wonder is just not limited to here in the Valley of the Sun. From my little perspective, it seems that miniature gaming is on the down side of popularity. It seems that card and board games are on the upswing.

Let me explain why I think this is the case. At my local shop (Imperial Outpost) out of the ten or so game tables, you would see a plethora of miniature games being played. Everything from 40K & Fantasy to Flames of War and other miniature games. Heck it used to be hard to get a table due to all the miniature games being played. But in the last few years I have seen a decline in games being played in the shop.

Now, certain companies have not helped with this either by changing up their rules or discontinuing rules. Some companies have also raised prices to a level you would think you were getting solid gold figures instead of plastic and resin. And before you say it, there are many companies that have raised their prices, I can think of three companies that have product on my local shops walls that have suffered from price creep.

So I wonder if this has caused the miniature gaming community to look for alternate games? Has the miniature player base had enough? I don’t know, it is just that I am not seeing the same level of gaming activity like I did in the past.

Now part of the problem may be with games like X-Wing and Attack Wing, while these are miniature games, they really are not. Yes, you have miniature ships, but its more about the cards you have. I watched a local tournament recently, and I was shocked at just how many cards most players had. And listening to players talk about tactics, it was more about what equipment card you needed to make a certain ship be unbeatable. It was more about the cards that the miniatures.

And speaking of the miniatures, they are great and well painted. That may be one reason in regular miniature gaming. The ships are pre painted and ready to go out of the box. I overheard one young player (17 – 19 years old) say the reason he got into this games was that he could not paint, he sold off all his 40K stuff to get into X-Wing. In fact, one time when my buddy and I were playing the Spartan game Halo, we had many people walk up to the table and ask if the models came out of the box painted like X-Wing. You should have seen the looks we got when we said you had to assemble the models and paint them, it was like we threw a sunk at them.

Maybe that’s the problem in decline in miniature games, the time commitment to building and painting. I have noticed that the younger gamer (younger than this old 47-year-old man) that they do not have the attention span to commit to painting a whole army or project. Perhaps that is the allure of other games. Another store here in the valley had a ton of Magic players, while the store owner was a huge miniature gamer. He often told me that his customers had no money and little time to buy and paint miniatures. But man, they had money for the latest Magic card release and man they could shell out a ton of money for snacks!

Board games are at least trying to keep miniatures alive, you are seeing more board games that are coming with actual miniatures. Games like Zombicide and others have entered the market to take their place in the board game world. But these are really more board games than miniature games. Yeah, you can use your zombies in other games, but they were made for the board game.  A certain company has started to release special miniatures with these basic games, capitalizing on the board game phenomena. I guess you can blame them.

So I wonder if other folks are seeing this in their neck of the woods or is it me just going a little bit crazy (could be that!). Are you seeing more board and card games being played over miniatures? All I know is that I will keep doing what I enjoy and that collecting, painting and playing with miniatures.


Robert Brightwell said...

Not seeing this. Every time I go to the shop there are lots of miniature games being played. This includes Sundays, traditionally a slow day. Darren has Infinity and FoW going on on most Sundays. You are just over thinking things and just need to get back to gaming.

Tim Kulinski said...

Well, this past weekend there was not going on, there was a small Warmachine tourney (10 people) and Mike and I, that was it during the day. Sunday had a few guys playing Infinity, but that was it. Your right, I do need to do more gaming though.

Dagreenskins said...

I have mentioned this the past few weekends seeing the lack of gaming on Saturdays. I remember when Saturday was the day to play and the shop was packed. There are a few factors and one the one that stands out to me is the fact people are not really playing big games anymore. More skirmish games on the market that can be played on the kitchen table and I don't need to play at a shop. It was not too long ago that you wanted to play at home and I had to drag you out to the shop to play. Times are changing and I can buy terrain prepainted and don't need the big table anymore so why play at the shop. Gaming is changing and maybe we are just the old guys trying to relive the good old days

Andrew Burgoyne said...

I live in Wisconsin, and I see the same trend.

I started playing miniatures games with Battletech 20 years ago when I was a teen. (I suppose CBT was a hybrid between board game and mini game in some respects.) I came back to collecting and painting miniatures about 4 years ago w/GW LOTR. (I got in on that late.) I enjoy the painting, but with small kids and lots of other responsibilities my hobby time is extremely limited. Because of that, I have been focusing more and more on card games and pre-painted miniatures (Heroclix).

Furthermore, not only does it take a long time to paint the miniatures themselves (especially if you are a perfectionist and trying to match the level of detail and quality seen on many internet sites), but it also takes a long time to make terrain. Plus, to play a game, you need a large enough tabletop.

With pre-painted stuff like Heroclix or card games like LOTR LCG, the only real prep time is reading the rulebook and selecting a force.

I still dream of armies of home-painted dwarves, elves, and mechs, but that may have to wait until I am an empty nester or my kids are older...

Tom O said...

I think it is a combination of things ranging from prepainted figs, the hybrid mini-boardgame rise, GW, the ebb and flow of local player interest, the seeming decrease in tournaments (maybe a local thing) is what it is. Just have fun and play/do what you want too...that's what this hobby is about afterall.

Tom O said...

I think it is a combination of things ranging from prepainted figs, the hybrid mini-boardgame rise, GW, the ebb and flow of local player interest, the seeming decrease in tournaments (maybe a local thing) is what it is. Just have fun and play/do what you want too...that's what this hobby is about afterall.

Slow Fuse said...

Hey Tim, are you in the Phoenix metro area? I'm new around PHX and looking for fellow painters / gamers to get together with. I'm a little further east, but could jump up and get some games in once I get some forces painted again!