Spartan Games discovers that 24 hours is a long time in wargaming, never mind politics…

On Wednesday, Spartan Games published a blog announcing plans for a new game: Dystopian Empires, with the idea of launching a Kickstarter campaign towards the end of October.

This would be a 1/100th scale (15mm) VSF game, based in the Dystopian Wars universe, and would be a company-level game that would combine infantry, vehicles and aircraft in a different way to what had previously been done with either Dystopian Wars or Dystopian Legions.

I spoke to Neil Fawcett, Creative Director at Spartan Games, about this game when I visited Spartan HQ in August. The plan was to use the same basic game engine as Halo: Ground Command – which is a very good set of game mechanics – and give it a new theme and ‘skin’ for the DW universe. was also shown some of the renders for the infantry and vehicles, which looked really nice indeed.

However, it’s fair to say that the announcement had a reception on the Spartan Games Forum and Facebook page that has varied between lukewarm and hostile.

Here are some typical comments:

dl-fb-feedback-1

spartan-blog

These are just a few examples of what was said – which was essentially the same thing from person after person:

please give more support to your existing rules and player base, rather than bringing out yet another new game.

It is interesting that Neil Fawcett was very active on Facebook on Wednesday evening, responding to comment threads as they arose over the space of a couple of hours. He signed off Facebook late on Wednesday evening with the following comment:

dl-fb-2

24 hours later, Neil was back on the Spartan Facebook page with the following response:

Thank you all for your valuable comments yesterday. As you’d imagine, we hoped they would tell us you loved our new idea and would be pledging on Day 1, but we’ve learned so much from your comments that although they’re not what we were hoping for, they are incredibly valuable for us. Page one of the handbook tells us to build products that customers want to buy. We have a number of Dystopian, Firestorm and Planetfall projects already underway (new narrative, new scenery and …new models) but based on your feedback yesterday we need to gather more information directly from you. So we’re working up a short new survey to ask you EXACTLY what you want now from our game systems. We thought expanding the Dystopian World through Empires would be welcomed, but it is clear you want us to do that in other ways and we want to learn what you need. Watch this space and thanks for so openly sharing your views – we are committed to responding to them. All the best, Spartan Neil.

This was a very measured response from Neil, considering the fact that he was probably gutted by the response to Dystopian Empires – Neil is first and foremost a gamer, and like most of us, loves new toys – I know there has been a lot of work going into this idea in the background. However, it also shows that Spartan are not above recognising when they have potentially got things wrong, and look to take action about it.

I hope that this is not the last we see of Dystopian Empires – I for one would have readily jumped on board with this.

But equally, kudos to Neil at Spartan for listening and quickly responding to Spartan’s vocal customer base. It will be interesting to see how this shapes the direction that Spartan takes over the next year.

6 Comments on Spartan Games discovers that 24 hours is a long time in wargaming, never mind politics…

  1. My only comment is that those that shout the loudest aren’t always the majority. There is evidence for this throughout our society. With a project involved & the associated financial investment to go along with it, it is wise to tread carefully.

  2. Interestingly, this is pretty much how I feel about BF/FoW. They continue to support their WWII line, and that is great–where else will you find some of the country forces that nobody else has covered. But when they launch other lines, they initially support and then things seem to languish. Where are the USMC forces for the Tour of Duty line? Will the Fate of the Nation line get any more love? Will we see (do you sense a theme?) USMC forces for Great War? How about cavalry and the like from early in WWI?

    How long before Team Yankee (the current “hotness”) languishes?

    I’d really rather see companies support existing lines rather than constantly launching new.

  3. I also think it doesn’t help when an established company like Spartan makes an announcement for a new line of miniatures with a single black and white illustration and a block of 750 words of text. I’m afraid that as in fiction, Show Don’t Tell is the key to getting gamers excited about miniatures, and had there been examples of some stunning 15mm DW models much grumbling might have been drowned out by positive reactions.

  4. Spartan make the best models but I’m afraid they are terrible rules writters. They need to decide if they are capable of doing both or concentrate their efforts on bringing out the best miniatures to suit other games including historical. Or hire a third party to write their rules for them.

  5. Was looking forward to this to see if they could actually write a decent set of rules.

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