I was saddened to hear of the demise of Spartan Games, the company behind the wonderful Dystopian Wars and hope the future bears well for all the staff there.
The Dystopian Wars is one of my favourite games, though to be honest I’ve not played for a while.
What I think is interesting reading the discussions forums, talking to a couple of independent gaming store owners was how the business model and selling tactics of Spartan Games impacted on my buying patterns and potentially the impact this had overall on sales.
When I first found out about the Dystopian Wars back in 2011, it was one of those games which just makes me go “woah!” and I just have to have it. So when I saw the Dystopian Wars when I was a gaming shop in Birmingham, I was like a moth to a candle! This was one of those games that I just had to have and would have to play.
Looking at the models, unfortunately the rules had sold out, there was one model that caught my eye and that was the model I had to have and would set me down the path of the Dystopian Wars. It was the blister of the Prussian Sky Fortress. A few weeks later I managed to get hold of the rulebook and was very impressed with the content and production values.
What I liked about the game, from a purchasing perspective, was that I could pop into a gaming shop and pick up one or two blisters.
Yes I know I could have picked up a boxed set or done a mail order for a load of models, however having the possibility of choosing from a range of models meant that I bought more overall. I would often add a blister to another purchase, I know I wouldn’t have done that if the range was only available in large boxes.
So of course when retailers were no longer able to sell the blisters, then I would no longer be buying the models as I did. As for mail order, well yes I could do that, but then again that would have required a significant purchase of stuff, something I don’t do very often, and it would take a real need for a range of stuff, as few people offer free postage and packing, or you need to spend a bundle of money to get free delivery. I liked to be able to go into a gaming store and buy one or two (or three) models alongside other purchases. I did hear from one retailer that Spartan Games stopped supplying them with blisters, only boxes, expecting retailers to market the game to players, and then for the players to buy extra ships direct from Spartan. I didn’t know that until recently, I just assumed with the declining range of blisters of ships that no one was playing the game. In the end I stopped buying new ships, as there wasn’t anything “new” for my Prussian and Britannia forces.
I also feel that Spartan got distracted by the Dystopian Legions game. Initially I was really excited about the Dystopian Legions, then I found out that the models were 32mm, rather than the classic 25/28mm and that immediately put me off. If I was buying figures and vehicles then I would want to use them with my existing models, but actually I would also be using them with my existing 25/28mm scenery. So though I loved Dystopian Wars, I didn’t buy a single Dystopian Legions model.
I am sad to hear of the demise of the game, I really liked the concepts in the Kickstarter campaign (which I only found out about after the demise) and I wonder if another person or company will purchase the IP behind Dystopian Wars and it will remerge. Even so I have a lot of models, so I can keep playing.