24 May 2013

The Metal Mailbag- Robert from Edinburgh (Scotland)

This will probably become another one of those recurring TheMetalBikini.com things, so if you've got something on your mind, spill it and if I think it's particularly compelling, well-written, silly, or whatever, I'll likely post it. Consider the gauntlet tossed, yo.  

Unofficial, hyperbole-filled image created by me to prove a point. Not to be taken seriously (yet)


I've gotten several emails like this one since I started writing articles to post here on TheMetalBikini.com because well, this game has, nearly since it's release back in September of 2012, had major issues meeting consumer demand. 

This email though, was particularly well done and as it echoes what I think a lot of folks are going through that weren't instant adopters of the game the moment it came out, so I thought I'd share it with y'all, then give a few thoughts of my own on the subject. 

Hi man,

I love the site and it's seriously whetted my whistle for X-Wing. However I've run into a problem that a lot of new players around my area seem have run into. I went onto several of the online dealerships and into my LGS to try to get a starter pack and some more ships but the common thread seems to be a total dearth of anything. I heard about wave three so I figured I'd wait until then, but I heard a worrying rumour from around the local scene. The LGS and online stores are emptied of their stock within a day of it coming in by a small number of individuals! It doesn't help when I go on the forums and people casually talk about the gigantic size of their little fleets and the hundred and fifty dollars of wave three they've ordered. That's cool but it does make me feel as if I'm locked out of the game in some way. I want to play it but the fact that (being a somewhat cash strapped PhD student) my moments of liquidity don't coincide with the rush to buy stock as it comes in means that I never seem to actually be able to get any models beyond the starter set. People are willing to lend me models in the store which is very community minded of them… but it isn't really the same.
Just a thought from a frustrated newbie. I've been wanting to articulate it for a while but I figured that putting it up on the official forums might lead to rage. Probably best to pass it by someone with a keener eye for editing than me to remove any ranty bits!
Cheers man, and keep writing the articles!

Robert Lyon
MEng (Electrical Engineering), PhD Student
Heriot-Watt University
Edinburgh

First, there's no way somebody with only an Associate's Degree in Electronics (that'd be me) is going to do any editing on a letter written by a dude that's working on getting his Ph-friggin'-D in Electrical Engineering. Holy mackerel. 

Secondly, Robert is Scottish. This becomes fairly integral to this article later on, but for now keep in mind that alone probably makes him smarter than me. Any country responsible for producing the author of one of my favorite books of all-time has to be up there in the smarts department. I actually don't know for sure if he's Scottish, but he's at least sending emails from the Scottish University of the Year 2011-2013, where apparently they've either won the award multiple times or time runs differently over there. Wait- wasn't Desmond Scottish too? Hmmm... 

Also, Rangers had three Yanks playing in their starting XI after the transfer window the season before they got Administrated into temporary oblivion, but it still doesn't change the fact that they're like they were like the only side outside of MLS that had three effin' Yanks in their starting XI. I mean hell, I was raised Catholic, but even I had to tip my hat to 'Gers on that one. 

Ok, so anyway, yeah- the shortages. Right. 

The manufacturing engineer in me says you get away with something like that exactly one time- the first time (and even then, you get away with it, but you'd still get bitched at for sure). After that, it's really pretty inexcusable because you're just leaving money on the table, which is of course, as un-American as you can possibly be.  

I mean, sure, some folks still extend them the benefit of the doubt, but for Christ's sake- how in the world could FFG have not made enough stuff for Wave 2? Every single ship from Wave 1 was sold out of most online retailers by Christmas, for cryin' out loud! Yeah, yeah, yeah- they had probably put the order in months ahead of time and maybe they couldn't change it. Whatevs, man. Chinese manufacturers aside, that's still absolutely crazy if you ask me. If you recall, Wave 2 was already significantly delayed once to begin with. To ask your customers, especially your new or prospective customers to put up with a delay, then still not be able to meet demand? That's really pretty ridiculous. 

Full disclosure, FFG says that more Wave 1 and Wave 2 stuff is being "re-printed" or re-released or whatever, so it's coming, but as FFG seems to have a reputation for blowing release dates, who knows when that'll actually happen (don't get me wrong- I want this to be one of those times they hit their projected release). For Christ's sake- there is a Y-Wing going for $27 on eBay right now. Let that sink in for a moment- there is a Y-Wing. On eBay. Going for $27 with 16 hours left at the time of this writing. What in the hell's going on here

This segues into my next point that Robert brought up- people buying too much stuff. 

Now, I'm not going to get on a soapbox and tell you to deny that weird, OCD impulse in your lizard brain that says, "BUY STUFF" (don't act like you don't have it; in all likelihood you're a grown, adult male buying little toy spaceships- you have that impulse just like I do). I'm also not going to begrudge people who try and buy something every time they use their FLGS' facilities as a "Thank you" for being a good host and providing tables and a venue for gaming and end up with a bunch of stuff; more than you need for sure. I will say if you're explicitly buying up X-Wing Miniatures stuff for the sole purpose of turning around and selling it on eBay because there's a 99.9% chance there's going to be another shortage, that's kind of shitty, frankly. 

Look- I'll be straight with y'all. I love this game. If that isn't apparent to you after reading all these goofy posts and card breakdowns and effort I've put into this site the past (almost) 4 months, I have undeniably and decidedly failed in the primary mission of this blog. I love the simplicity of the rules juxtaposed with the depth of the strategy. I want FFG to keep making it for a long time, so I try to do my best to promote the hell out of it on here. I don't want the game to die off because it's a great game that I really, really, really enjoy playing, thinking about, and talking about. That's at least half of the reason I put as much work into TMB.com as I do- I want everyone to buy stuff for this game, talk about it, and play it because I don't want it to go away. That's why I'm such an evangelist for this game. The other half is my embarrassing need for attention, recognition, and validation from strangers, but that's a whole other shrink session, er, I mean subject. 

I used to play a game called AT-43 which was produced by a company called Rackham. I really enjoyed it. It embodied a lot of the things I liked about playing 40k, but was way more accessible and easy to learn for "casual gamers", which in my book, were friends of mine who didn't have hundreds of dollars to spend on models, rulebooks, and paint. 

Of course, as you probably know, or at least have deduced from context, Rackham went out of business and AT-43 went away. Now, I know, I know, just because they went out of business, I didn't have to stop playing the game. Well, here's the reality folks- I did have to stop playing the game. When you can't get new people into the game (or start another army for yourself) without having to monitor eBay as a part-time job, and hauling that stuff into your local FLGS to take up space on their tables from paying customers playing a game they can't sell? Telling curious folks who stop by that this is probably the most fun squad-skirmish type game you've ever played, but they probably shouldn't bother getting into it because you can't really buy it anymore without a ton of legwork and effort when there are a ton of other games out there readily available and probably just as fun? Yeah. You stop playing the game. Or at least I did. Who wants to play the same army with no new units or books coming ever

I realize it's highly unlikely a company like FFG would stop producing X-Wing or go into liquidation like Rackham, but hell, I didn't think it was going to happen to Rackham either at the time, y'know? Back when it came out, people seriously talked about AT-43 being the game that would put a dent into Games Workshop's dominance of the futuristic miniatures skirmish game. Rackham didn't have their toe into stuff like boardgames like FFG does, but they did miss a lot of release dates and have distribution issues though, so there are a couple of similarities. 

I feel bad for the Euros and the folks in Oz because I get emails from these guys asking me if I know any online retailers in the States that are still selling Interceptors or A-Wings or TIE Advanced because, like Robert, they can't even get them from online retailers in their country, let alone their FLGS. That's nuts, man. It's like the total opposite problem miniatures games usually have- there are people who want to play this game but can't because they can't find anywhere to buy it

It's probably unlikely that anyone from the production planning department of FFG reads my silly little blog, but on the off-chance they do, please guys, please- meet the demand for this game. There's gotta be thousands of laid-off, out-of-work materials analysts from the U.S. automotive industry that'd love to manage your materials/ logistics/ whatever for this game. Hell, they're probably not even that far away from you. Get a couple of dudes who were forced into early retirement or just pink-slipped out of a Just-In-Time automotive parts supplier and let them manage the inventory for this game. I worked with some of those guys, man- they're hardcore, battle-tested, and they won't let you down. They're the kind of guys who can work magic like flying parts in on chartered planes from Mexico without having to pass Customs to avoid shutting down a customer. But do something, something different for God's sake, than what you're doing now, because right now, the folks running that part of your show simply aren't cutting it. 

So thanks for your email, Robert. Thanks for taking the time to write it, and thanks for the kind words about the site. I sincerely hope that the reprints comes sooner rather than later, you find some X-Wing Miniatures over the next few months, and I hope you get to play this game with your own stuff.