Konstantin Krivenko from Zvezda on Samurai Battles and Barbarossa 1941

Konstantin Krivenko is the Managing Director of Zvezda. He is very much Russian and you can imagine his words with a Russian accent. I sadly did not ask him about my theory that Rocky IV helped end the Cold War, but he did endure some questions from me about the KGB, GRU, and Russian crime which I have left out of the brief interview below. I did play a few of the Sirius Games Krivenko brought with him to the GAMA Trade Show on game night. My favorite was Jabba Dabba Du, an odd caveman hunting game with an interesting secret bidding mechanic from Reiner Knizia.

Samurai Battles

Cover for Samurai Battles from Zvezda from Richard Borg and Konstantin Krivenko

Samurai Battles cover courtesy Zvezda

ZVEZDA: Konstantin Krivenko. I’m Managing Director of Zvezda, company from Russia.
CG: Your company in Russia makes a whole lot of models, right?
ZVEZDA: Yeah, we are making general model kits, airplanes, military tanks, trucks, ships, soldiers.
CG: In what scales?
ZVEZDA: 1/72nd, 1/48th, 1/35ths, and ships different scales: 1/350, 1/72nd.
CG: Now your Samurai Battles game has two different games in it that you can play with the same figures, right?
ZVEZDA: Yes, exactly. There is one game system is Command and Colors from Richard Borg and another is Art of Tactic from myself. We have also other tactic game about World War II, Barbarossa 1941. For Samurai Battles you can use the same miniatures, same game board, the difference would be just dice, cards, and of course, the rules and scenarios.
CG: Is there as much interest in Japan in Russia as you think maybe there is in America?
CG: Ninja and samurai…
ZVEZDA: As far as I know, the biggest market for all wargames is United States and England, of course. Japan, I don’t know. We will see. We have a distributor in Japan. It’s a model kit distributor, not a game distributor.
CG: Which came first? The miniatures and the rules to support them? Or the rules and then some figures?
ZVEZDA: It’s the, the idea came to us after the success of World War II game. So when we were making project for the miniatures we were having in mind the different rules for two game systems, so in the construction of game, you see there is for each figure a possibility to be used for Command and Colors…and also you see there is movement trays for Art of Tactic game system, so it was-, we use this making the project. Because we had in mind that these miniatures would be used for two game systems.

Samura Cavalry miniatures for Zvezda's Samurai Battles

Samurai Cavalry image courtesy Zvezda

CG: The banners look really good. Who designed or sculpted the figures?
ZVEZDA: It’s a company in Russia who specialize on sculpting, digital sculpting. They are a very small private company, there are a few people. They generally working for us and also for TV advertising.
CG: Now there’s Richard Borg’s name in here for Command & Colors and obviously your game, have you played Richard’s game?
ZVEZDA: Yes, of course!
CG: And you enjoy that just as much?
ZVEZDA: Yes, yes, yes, yeah. The game style is so different from each other that you can have fun playing with one, you can have fun playing with the other. So that’s a big advantage for each consumer because in other case, you could buy two different games for about the same price, because here you can buy two games in one box [from Zvezda].
CG: Now Alliance has in Game Trade Magazine, they have you guys on the cover? It’s a pretty big deal?
ZVEZDA: It’s their initiative. You can never buy the first [front] cover from Alliance. They print whatever they want on the cover.
CG: It’s an honor.
ZVEZDA: Yeah, yeah, that’s a great honor for us! And it shows that they quite confident in us, with Zvezda as a good partner for future. We have with Alliance very good, very nice connection. By the way, the main idea of the game and the connection between Zvezda and Richard Borg was done by Mike Webb. He create this idea that Zvezda can make the samurai game with Richard Borg. He connect us to each other.

Art of Tactic WWII

World War 2 Art of Tactic Barbarossa box art

Plastic Zvezda 1/72nd miniature British Infantry WWII soldiers.

Images courtesy of Zvezda

CG: How has your World War II game done in America? How has it sold?
ZVEZDA: It’s quite good, considering that we don’t have a lot of PR and advertising. So we just start doing this job because previously we didn’t do this because of lack of experience. Now it’s, hopefully, we do better.
CG: You’ve sold ten times as many in Russia as you have here in the U.S., right?
ZVEZDA: Yeah, so far. In Russia it’s very popular and also it’s, the subject is very popular and how do you say? The subject is supported by the government. With all this history it contains. And also on the local level it’s also supported in some clubs by local governments.
CG: And you’re from Moscow?
ZVEZDA: I’m from Moscow, yeah.
CG: Have you been to Stalingrad?
ZVEZDA: Now it’s Volgograd, yeah, very shortly once.
CG: For a gamer and a World War II enthusiast is it worth visiting? Is there anything to see there?
ZVEZDA: Yes, of course. There is a museum, but I visited in my childhood, so I don’t know what’s all there.

Next Products From Zvezda and Trade Show Talk

Zvezda Battle of the Danube Expansion for Art of TacticCG: Who distributes your models in the United States for you?
ZVEZDA: The models are distributed by Dragon Models U.S.A. and the games also the mini-kits distributed by Alliance.

1/72nd scale plastic miniature British soldiers and mortar from Zvezda.

Images courtesy of Zvezda

CG: What new things are going to come out in the next year or so for you?
ZVEZDA: In games? Today or tomorrow the first expansion for the World War II is out in America, it’s the Battle for Danube. There is some unique miniatures which are not available as a mini-kit. Then we will have for Gen Con the Blitzkrieg 1940 Starter where Germans versus English, so English stuff will come. We will see how will be successful English subject and I hope to start this year also American.
CG: Now switching companies, what about games like Flames of War, is that popular in Russia?
ZVEZDA: It’s popular in very small society of enthusiasts. You cannot find on the market. Just internet, very small , the price is…. outstanding, outstanding.
CG: Is this your first year at GAMA Trade Show?
ZVEZDA: No, first time we been there in 2002, I think. We participate twice. We have the distributor of Military Model Distributors. They’re from Texas. And we had at that time, the fantasy game Ring of Rule. As our distributors, they showed our stuff to GAMA and they invite me to also participate there.
CG: How important to you is GAMA, the trade show-
ZVEZDA: I don’t know yet. We will see. Hopefully it will create more business. According to suggestions so far from distributors, it’s the most important in America for us.
CG: And do you go to Germany, to Essen?
ZVEZDA: Yeah, we participate in Essen in Nuremberg. We have to do it. If we don’t participate in these shows, it’s all “Something has happened to Zvezda!” So we must.

2012 GAMA Trade Show Press Conference Part One

On Thursday March 15, those of us with press passes at the 2012 GAMA Trade Show were supposed to attend a Press Conference. Most of the companies who signed up for the press conference attended. It was a very small affair, no flashing cameras, and no stunning revelations. This is part one of two for the GTS press conference.

Mage Wars from Arcane Wonders

Mage Wars box art from Arcane Wonders

Mage Wars box art courtesy of Arcane Wonders

Bryan Pope from Arcane Wonders talked about Mage Wars, which is set to come out just before Gen Con in August. In Mage Wars, each spell is represented by a card. Players control wizards who flip through their spell books and select which card they wish to play. Even though in most RPGs, a wizard does not cast spells directly from his or her spellbook, there is something very enticing to me about having the spell book in the form of a binder in your hands. The game itself combines CCG tactics with tactical miniatures play in a magical arena setting.

The initial mages will be the Priestess, the Beastmaster, the Warlock, and the Wizard, but expansion mages are already in the works. There will be a total of 24 mages to choose from and the plans are to release them 2 per expansion, so players will have the Force Master and the Warlord and then the Necromancer and the Druid. The game is not collectible, but it is customizable. The expansions are expected to retail for $30. There are also plans to do Arch-Mages for the holidays. One Arch-Mage can potentially take on 2 or 3 other mages.

Mage Wars Wizard vs. Priestess

The Wizard makes arcane battle with the Priestess, image courtesy Arcane Wonders

Mage Wars will retail for $75, takes 75-90 minutes to play, and will come with everything that you need to play the game. Arcane Wonders has had 18 playtest groups across the country striving to balance the game and its magic-users. Each type of mage has at least 5-7 tactics or strategies to pursue that the playtest groups have discovered, but I bet an innovative mage will create a few more. An interesting aspect of play are hidden enchantments played face down. Another is that while your opponent is normally restricted to 3 copies of a spell for its Spell Points cost, he or she can add additional copies for an additional cost. You won’t necessarily know what you’re up against in Mage Wars. At the same time, there aren’t hundreds of cards to keep track of. The core of each type of mage’s deck is built around 55 spells.

Arcane Wonders will be supporting the game with league play and I look forward to playing it myself this summer.

Square Shooters

Square Shooters Deluxe bot from Heartland GamesAmber Dickens from Heartland Consumer Products talked about Square Shooters. The key concept in the product is that a deck of playing cards has been represented on 9 dice, including 2 Jokers. The concept originated with inventor Carmelyn Calvert and was patented in 2011.

Square Shooters dice with card faces on them.

Square Shooters images courtesy Heartland Games

I can’t quite predict the exact uses, but I do envision some gamers buying the dice just to add to their dice collections. The playing cards on die faces concept is a tricky one. According to Dickens, the suits and numbers are distributed so as to allow every straight flush and every 4 of a kind. The National Parenting Center has called the dice “mindblowing”. That may be a bit of hyperbole, but there are some implications for traditional card games. The fact that the 7 of Spades is with the 9 of Clubs, and 3 of Hearts should make a 6-7-8-9-10 straight more unlikely, because you can’t “draw” or “toss” the other face values.

The Basic Set sells for $12.99 and comes with the 9 dice, 100 chips, a dice pouch, and game cards to play the Square Shooters games associated with the dice. The manufacturer, Heartland Consumer Products, is actually a playing card company which helps explain why the Deluxe Set includes a set of playing cards. You also get a fairly nice felt-lined dice cup for the $19.99 that the Deluxe Set costs.

Square Shooters has been out since August of 2011, but this June, Heartland will be releasing Rodeo Rummy targeted towards younger players, which will be available at Origins.


P.O.W.E.R. Rifle Squad featuring photograph from U.S. Army

P.O.W.E.R. card courtesy Power Games

Wednesday night I took the opportunity to play P.O.W.E.R. and thus much of what creator PK Torretto said on Thursday afternoon I either knew firsthand or was repeated. P.O.W.E.R. is a card game with movement based on the modern military, America’s in particular. Players control M1A1 Abrams, Apaches, Force Recon, and Sniper Squads, battling to reach the opponent’s control or deployment area.

The game was fairly easy to pick up with the 8-card version offering a few tactical choices. The key to playing, at least when not building your own deck, is understanding the icons on the cards. This Rifle Squad, for example, is not equipped to shoot down attacking Aircraft. Instead, because of the icons near its bottom, the Rifle Squad can engage other Infantry, Supply, Defense (like Patriot batteries), Armor, and Artillery. To shoot down enemy aircraft you would need a Stinger S.A.M. card. Some cards enhance other cards, such as the Body Armor for the Rifle Squads, boosting their defense. The Rifle Squad has 1 offense and 1 defense and a range of 0. It must move into the space holding an opponent to do its 1 damage. The directional icon at the top also means that it moves a grueling 1 square a turn. By comparison, the Supply trucks zoom across the battle area with a movement of 3.

Further much-needed expansion cards are in the works including a German blitzkrieg deck, a Chinese infantry deck, and several surprising choices including an animal deck. I say much-needed because the U.S. military battling against the U.S. military is not a very satisfactory experience. Where are the French Mirages and French Foreign Legion cards? Where is the Taliban? Essentially the rules are in place though, so whatever other factions get added, be they zombies, Belgians, or drug cartels, they can use the existing rules.

The first expansion was also at the GAMA Trade Show. It adds a naval and air support column to the playing grid. Destroyers and aircraft carriers battle with F22s. Particularly exciting to me as a Battlefield 3 player, was an anti-air vehicle resembling the Tunguska, the S.A.M. A.D.A.T.S., which can be found in the basic set. Its attacks are not restricted to one square, but to entire rows of aircraft on the battlefield.

M1A1 Abrams Armor card for P.O.W.E.R.

M1A1 Card courtesy P.O.W.E.R.

One of the key components of P.O.W.E.R. is the Build Queue (BQ). The BQ adds a real-time strategy feel to the game with units queueing up on the side to enter the game. You can look at your opponent’s BQ and alter your battle plan accordingly. You can also plan ahead for your own. The BQ3 in the upper left hand corner of this M1A1 Abrams means that it will take at least 3 game turns before it deploys. The game is played on a 4×8 grid with the unit cards navigating the 32 rectangles of the battlefield. Even though the game can be played without a playing mat, I find it hard to imagine. Torretto’s playing mats are made in Alaska, while the cards are printed in Battle Creek, Michigan. All of the game, Torretto is proud to say, is made in the United States. One of his plans for the game is to participate in the Games for Troops program and have P.O.W.E.R. be played in Forward Operating Bases (F.O.B.s).

One of the advantages he also cites of P.O.W.E.R. is that it’s not collectible. He doesn’t like that winning in many collectible card games comes down to the richest players having particular cards. The other thing he was careful to do in designing the card boxes was to make the game easy to fit in a Point of Purchase display on a counter, but at the same time the game boxes have hang tabs to make retailers’ jobs easier in deciding how they want to use their precious store real estate.

P.O.W.E.R. has been picked up by Alliance for distribution with the basic set retailing for $20, I believe. I will be interviewing PK Toretto in the near future.

Michael Bowling from Crystal Caste

The Crystal Caste Farmhouse 25-28mm fantasy buildings are among my favorite gaming products. With opening roofs and hinged doors, they come wonderfully pre-painted on the outside. My review of them is here. Mike Bowling, head of Crystal Caste, was exhibiting at the 2012 GAMA Trade Show and he explained a little bit about Crystal Caste’s process and what some of Crystal Caste’s next products will be.

Crystal Caste’s Next Pre-painted Terrain

Crystal Caste Toxic line of D6sCG: So I’m talking with Mike from Crystal Caste, the makers of the Farmhouse series and, of course, dice, you guys make a whole bunch of dice, right?
CC: We have a full range of acrylic, stone, mineral, and metal dice.
CG: And you were saying you may have a Wizard’s Keep or Tower in terms of prepainted terrain for the future?
CC: Yeah, we’re thinking about expanding into a different direction, rather than expanding the Farmhouse set. We’re considering maybe a Wizard’s Keep. We think that might be a good addition.
CG: With opening doors?
CC: Oh yeah. Multi-level. We’re trying to make components so that a gaming group can have something that they can use over and over and over. So we think that we’ve done the small manor, the small Farmhouse set, we’ve done the Inn, so now we’re looking to do something else. We’ve been thinking about maybe doing like a ruined tower. Some ruins of some sort.
CG: But it’ll all be, at least the exterior, fully painted?
CC: Yes. That’s correct.
CG: How much does it add to have the doors on the hinges? [Like the Farmhouse series]
CC: It’s really not much more additional cost to design it that way and I think we’re known for quality products. Crystal Caste has always worked hard to make something that we would want to play with ourselves and we have high standards, so when you see that most 3D-scapes don’t have moving parts, we thought that was a way we could set ourselves apart from our competitors.
Crystal Caste's Farmhouse Barn with opening doors and damage to the roof.CG: It seems to me a consumer, that you may not have been pushing this quite as hard as some of the other products you carry like dice. You do a lot more business in dice.
CC: That’s what we’re known for. We find that when you make a good-, you have to stay profitable to stay in the industry and so whenever we release something new, we do a run that will be profitable for us to do without overextending ourselves and we find that you don’t really have to market it that much. Gamers know who makes good stuff and they will come to you. We’ve sold a factor of 10 or 20 times more from our website of these types of 3D-scapes than we ever have at trade shows, even through the wholesale market, because people know to come to our site. You can’t believe the amount of traffic we get and people know. You know, it’s like they just come every month or so and they check to see what’s new.

Other Crystal Caste Products in Development

CG: Is there anything that’ll be new in terms of pre-painted miniatures?
CC: Yes, but we’re still developing them, so I can’t-, I really don’t want to go into it, but we do have another set coming out. We’ve got a new dice line coming out called Dragon Fire that we think is going to be a very well-selling line of dice. We have some new giant dice that are coming out that are in our toxic colors. And we’ve come out with a new four-color printing process that we can adhere to any dice surface that you have.
CG: To brand them?
CC: Yeah.
CG: Now what about Crystal Caste’s educational outreach?
CC: Yeah, we have a segment, a part of our company called Effective Teaching Tools and it’s manipulatives, you know, hand-held teaching aides that we sell through to the educational market. We bring the catalogues to the trade shows, but again, that’s more-, we get a lot more teacher traffic on our effective teaching tools website. And it’s something again that we don’t push hard at education shows. People just find out about it and they, they come to you. The key is making a good product.

Craven Games Preoccupation with the Farmhouse Series

Closeup of the Crystal Caste Farmhouse Cottage for 25-28mm miniatures.CG: Who designed the Farmhouse series?
CC: We had a sculptor in Europe that designed it. [Doug Marshall]
CG: They’re manufactured in China?
CC: Yes.
CG: And you just placed an order for a whole bunch of them and now it’s done?
CC: Yeah, yeah, no, we do one run. And as I said, we don’t try to overreach. We do something that we think will sell reasonably well in a year or two and then we move onto the next piece.
CG: And what about the Inn, you said it’s actually close to being sold out?
CC: Yeah, I think we have-, I don’t know that we’ve got more than ten or fifteen pieces left.
CG: And that’s also fully-
CC: Yeah, fully painted. That’s our first piece. It’s a beautiful piece, fully painted, very nice piece.
CG: Well, thank you!
CC: Thank you, I appreciate you coming by.

GAMA Trade Show – Dave Wallace: Your Competitive Edge

Dave Wallace presented many retail seminars at the 2012 GAMA Trade Show as well as appearing opposite Jon Huston at the Online Retail panel on Thursday at the show. He runs a chain of game and comic stores in St. Louis, Missouri called The Fantasy Shop. He and wife Kelli Wallace have also written a book called “A Specialty Retailer’s Handbook: Games and Comics”. His seminars are probably one of the more compelling reasons for retailers to attend the GAMA Trade Show.

I caught Your Competitive Edge Friday morning on March 16. As with many of his other seminars, Wallace had a hand-out covering his topic, but the real value was in his experience which he shared.

“You’re only as good as your edges”

2012 GAMA Trade Show Exhibitors' Hall

The 2012 GAMA Trade Show Exhbitor’s Hall

As far as competitive edges in game stores, Wallace advocates taking the “low-hanging fruit” first, which are low-cost edges such as keeping your bathroom cleaner and nicer than your competitors, having nicer displays, and a more welcoming environment. “There’s no magic bullet” though. Once your bathroom is clean, all your competitor has to do is clean his bathroom and that competitive edge has vanished, it’s “hardly a sustainable competitive edge”. The best competitive edge though, he argued, is customer service, but it also has a great cost and is much harder to achieve. A retailer doesn’t have to be the best, just better than those in his market.

Accept that you will disappoint others

“Decide who you want, go after them, don’t worry about the rest.”

At the same time, retailers need to understand that they can’t be all things to all people. Wallace advised, “Decide who you want, go after them, don’t worry about the rest.” A hardcore gamer wants to see every expansion for Munchkin and Zombies and doesn’t care about pretty displays. But the casual gamer is probably the best to sell to because the sheer volume of their sells makes up for them not buying as much. Retailers must know “who are you trying to woo?” They also need to identify customer needs. Wallace used the example of a grandmother shopping for her grandson with a list in hand. Why should a store employee approach that grandmother and say “Let me show you how to play the game”? She came with a purpose. Fulfill her need and move on.

Do you want really want price to be your competitive edge?

Much of what Wallace said foreshadowed the Online Retail debate. His focus is sustainable sales. His Magic pre-release events are oftentimes $5 higher than his competitors, so they have a competitive edge on price, but his stores still attract a strong Magic crowd. If he lowered his price by $5, then his competitors might lower their prices. Wallace warned the attendees, “is that a race you want to win?” Instead Wallace adds other competitive edges. He might throw in more extra packs for Friday Night Magic. A competitor offers his players “free” pizza. That becomes one of his competitive edges.

Rethink the Game Store Experience

Probably one of the best retail tips and paradigms that Wallace offered related to how a retailer could add immense value to his customers just by thinking like them. He used the example of RC vehicles sold at hobby stores. I think most of us nodded when he spoke of leaving hobby stores, despite his interest in the RC hobby, thinking “Jesus, I can’t buy this!” The RC hobby is seldom inviting and quite arcane. I know this from my local Hobbytown USA. But what if hobby shops created a beginner’s package? What if they had signage pointing out a lower-end model stating that it would be ready out of the box? To me, Wallace’s suggestion that retailers might open up a copy of Settlers of Catan and have it sitting out on a table reflected the same principle.

I think of Games Workshop stores; they have their miniatures out on the table and employees invite visitors to play. If nothing else, the miniatures are out for potential customers to touch and feel and get caught up in an imagined battle. How many other areas of gaming could benefit from this approach? Good gaming stores are already employing this idea and have it as one of their competitive edges.

David Stennett of Playford Games on Moral Conflict and More

David Stennett lives in Munich, Germany and was attending the 2012 GAMA Trade Show with a prototype of his second game in the Moral Conflict series, Moral Conflict 1940, with him. Though he lives in Munich, he is British and the Managing Director of Playford Games. We talked for a good while during and after the GAMA Trade Show dinner on March 13, 2012.

WWII Games in Germany and Moral Conflict Overview

Cover for Playford Games Moral Conflict 1940 by David Stennett

Moral Conflict 1940 cover courtesy of Playford Games

CG: How would you describe the difference between German gamers and American gamers?
PG: The players themselves or the games?
CG: Yeah, their interest in games.
PG: When you take the subject of the second World War because of the particular role and history of Germany in the second World War. Second World War games are generally very very difficult to sell and there’s very very little interest. In Germany, the whole country’s learned the bad way, the hard way, the lesson. So most wargames, if they are available, have to be more like a sort of anti-war game. You see that very much in the film industry, the film ‘The Boat’, ‘Das Boot’, it was an anti-war film. War is not popular. You see that in the foreign policy of the country. The army is almost impossible to get it out of the country and use it anywhere abroad, very little participation in Iraq. The whole country has probably gone through the worst teaching of the subject of war of any country and today’s Germany: wargames not popular, war not popular.

Generally in comparison with the UK, the US, wargames, and particularly this terrible war, have a very very hard time. Moral Conflict though addresses the central issues of this war and gives inspiration and hope. The moral decisions and the consequences are very clearly seen and you can learn and you can see very very clearly with the moral decisions and also the other dimensions. Not just the war dimension, the economic crisis about resources, or the alternative, economic growth. The diplomatic dimension enables you to make peace instead of war. The technological dimension allows you to not just develop weapons, but also produce the economic growth and, you know, manufacture technologies, and the moral issues. Together these give the reality that was there and you can see very verly clearly there were very very great alternatives to what happened at that time, the way that Germany went and this inspires even the Germans now, to play a game about this time where they had a central role, they – more than anything else – were what drove this terrible time. So this is the first war game that’s really got a great chance at this time of the second World War.

Moral Conflict 1940 British Isles troop buildup on the game board.

Moral Conflict 1940 board image courtesy Playford Games

CG: You describe it as Axis & Allies to the power of 5.
PG: I describe it as Axis and Allies to the power of 5 because it has the five dimensions, but I would say I only use the word Axis and Allies because that’s perhaps the nearest example, but without the power of five, this game, the beginner’s version is much much more than Axis and Allies, that alone. It’s just to help people to understand very roughly what it is. The beginner’s game alone is getting much better reviews than Axis and Allies. The power of the 5 comes on top. You can imagine just basically it’s a revolution; it turns Axis & Allies and many other wargames completely on its head. It just blows them out.

CG: Now you started out with Moral Conflict 1941 and you’re going back in history, so your second is Moral Conflict 1940, and then-
PG: 1939.
CG: Why is that?
PG: Ok. So the complicated game has four seasons. To do a year you have four seasons or four turns. It takes a lot longer to run through the years, so it’s ideal to start a little bit later. June ’41, that is when the Russians, the Americans, the Japanese all came into the war [in a major way, I imagine to a British citizen.] It’s very exciting. As the turns take longer, because it’s a more complicated game. It lends itself to start further on and move in quickly in that way to the focus events. The ‘ 40 has only 3 seasons and then it plays quicker, so we start actually, spring 1940, it’s more than a year earlier, but it moves quickly onto this ’41 and further. And the ’39 game is again, it has just 2 seasons and the game is very very quick, so it lends itself to just start earlier and work your way still to the end, if neccessary.

Picture of the 1940 Moral Conflict board game map showing the globe.

The Moral Conflict 1940 Game Board, image courtesy Playford Games

Reality Change Games

CG: And what is a Reality Change Game?
PG: So a Reality Change Game. The whole point of this game is and the way it’s build up, structured and the materials that are with it, is what can I learn from this period of history, this game’s representation of that? What can I learn about the military war, the first dimension? You’re taught not just to play the game, but to become a general with some of the skills: focus, strategy. Is defense always better? Is attack always better or a combination of the two at the right moment? And how do these skills that you can learn and practice, how can you put them into practice in everday life? Again, we all have our battles of everyday life. Do we make friends with the guy across the street we don’t like or do we beat him up? It’s so simple. That’s just a case there. The diplomatic one is even more, it goes into detailed negotiations where you can, instead of just trying to beat someone in negotiation and win-lose, which many people know, what happens if you both sit together and try to make the cake bigger and both of you win? So these are the very very successful strategies in business, for example, in “7 Habits of Highly Successful People”…
CG: Stephen Covey.
PG: Covey, yeah! Hey, just as then, today these things are very very important and you can practice these things great in the game.
CG: What were you saying about the 33…
PG: And hey, there’s a book called “The 33 Strategies of War” [by Robert Greene], it shows you a great range of strategies you can have in military conflict and then how you can also put them into practice in the everyday battles of life. The social battles of everyday life. So one of the examples in that book is it’s good to have a high goal which really challenges you. If you’ve got your back to the wall, you will win. You will make sure that you do and learn and develop to win the situation. And there’s many people, they live their life, they don’t have any goal, and they don’t have any challenges, and they don’t change. It’s an example. Also in the war, if you set and have a high goal, but also in private life. These books here are just great. It’s just a great training ground, the challenges of these dimensions. These dimensions represent the biggest passion of human kind over the centuries, over the thousands of years. The military is the force. Do you fight or do you defend with force? But force: strength. That’s one of the biggest passions. Economics is materialist. Everything that money can buy. Diplomacy is with or against, team or not, fight or make peace. These are the passions of life. Technology is everything that science and knowledge can offer us. Is this really going to give us heaven on earth, the technology? And the moral battle between good and evil, you see it in all the films, you see it in all sorts of interactions between people and everybody has the battle within them and without them. These are the mega-themes of life.

CG: What are some examples of moral choices or moral conflict in Moral Conflict 1940?
PG: Yes, I could perhaps summarize it for you. This dimension proves to be very difficult to see, but actually the strongest. It influences all the other dimensions. So here you see, this is an overview of how the moral conflict works, the military war, the economic crisis, the technologic race. So for example, take the military war, you can decide at low levels here to oppress the occupied states, the states from your enemy that you’ve captured and you get less of a reduction on the production from these places. You can basically do what Germany did, take the guys, the women out of the towns and cities in the occupied areas by Russia, bring them to your country, they do the slave work in your countries and factories and your men are free to fight in the army. But then you have the disadvantage of “Hey, these enemy territories, instead of being occupied by one army, you need maybe two or three, where even in your home territory has to be then, you have to keep a large force there to keep the slave laborers in check.”
CG: I see that Germany and the Soviet Union start with low Moral values.
PG: Yes, so the starting levels are actually here. So actually Germany and the Soviet Union were not very different from each other from a Moral standard. The Soviet Union had probably more and bigger concentration camps. The sort of level that they were at, the things that were happening were very very similar.

Board Game action in Moral Conflict 1940 in the Mediterranean

Moral Conflict 1940 image courtesy Playford Games

CG: Now what’s an example of a Small Ally? France?
PG: So here I’ve made the Small Allies as a nation that a player can take. It’s Italy with a few other countries like the Balkan countries, and then if possible, you can win through diplomatic pressure, nations like Spain or Portugal, Turkey, Iran, and these nations can then be added onto the Small Allies to make a sensible way of playing these different countries and giving one player these. But it shows very very effectively in this case, half of these countries are won or most of these countries are won through diplomacy. You want them to be also on your side to build up your power. You could invade these countries, but of course then, the population’s not going to fight and you have the problem, you just get very little support from them. So this is actually the Small Alllies is the new Roman Empire you could call it, and the best way to build it up is to do that through diplomacy instead of force.

David Stennet’s Background

CG: Now what is your background before starting all of this?
PG: That’s a good question. I’ve worked in electronics industry in sales, international sales, for 25 years. I actually studied Physics and Electronics and then my Masters in Business Administration. The sales work has helped me to be able to sell the game, build a channel, marketing, sales, work internationally. Another background that you really need to understand, so in the moral conflict dimension, my first 32 years of life I was shall we say fighting on one side and then in the last 19 years I’m a Christian and have been trying hard as I can to put the moral standard of the Bible into practice in my life and help others as well. So I feel that I can also very very clearly bring this dimension, the moral conflict dimension, into this game. I’ve seen both sides. Very little knowledge of moral decisions or really both alternatives and I’ve changed sides in a way. I’m not perfect, nobody’s perfect, in this game you see it as well. Everybody plays it really deserves to land in the war courts, but basically that Christian background of many years is the basis to be able to try and tackle something like this and actually an inspiration.
CG: To me it seems like for you, maybe not even just your own game, but a lot of these games involve metaphysical choices about what the nature of your life is and about being?
PG: Well, of course. Games have been played for centuries. I think for many it’s a practice, for young kids, for example. They play games when they’re 5, 6, it’s a practice for adult life or later life. It’s a practice to help them make decisions, character decisions, which will probably go with them the rest of their life. As you get older, it gets more difficult to be influenced and change direction. Games and particularly these games are a very very important basis to make the decisions, life-changing decisions. Here because of my background on the Christian side, as a Christian you’re supposed to be constantly learning how to change, it’s not enough just to stay the way you are. Many people, they learn and learn and learn, they finish at school and then they stop. They might learn a little bit for their job, but otherwise they’ll watch TV and that was it. And it’s sad. They don’t develop further. They don’t develop all of their potential and that is basically the message as well of the Bible, to learn more and more, to change. The idea is to change from bad to good. It’s a process. It’s a process you’ll never successfully complete in your lifetime, but at least you now know the direction. You now know how to do this and you have many friends that can help you go in the same way.

Environmental Crisis Pending

Oil crisis in Moral Conflict 1940 from Playford Games

MC 1940 Oil Crisis image courtesy Playford Games

CG: Now moving from the moral or the spiritual level down to the real physical realities of your game, Playford, that’s you or that’s a company?
PG: Playford Games is the company.
CG: And they have other titles as well?
PG: No. This is our first family of games.
CG: So you’re the head?
PG: I’m the head. We have the graphics guy working fulltime with us and we have a lot of freelancers. I’ve got somewhere here an organization plan, but yeah, this is our first great family of games. We already have a second family. So this was the greatest crisis of the 20th century and we are trying to see what can you learn from it after the event. We believe, this is also a particularly German theme, we believe that we are going to have an even bigger crisis in the 21st century, and that is the environmental crisis. We want to prepare a game called, or a family of games called, Environmental Crisis after we finish this…
CG: Series of three.
PG: Yes, so in two years time, I’m going to dig very very deep and try and bring, in the five dimensions again, the environmental crisis. The concept is basically such, it’s again unique, many people treat the world as if they’ve got another ten in their pocket. I don’t know. We’ll just fly into space and find another Earth. It’s a bit of a fantasy. But that is one way, in this game, to win. Others try and look after the world as best as possible, really conserve the nature, conserve the planet, and look after it. That’s the main focus. We will stay here and that’s where we will fight and survive or not. And of course, there’s others. As with any problem, with force, they try to get the best place on the Titanic. So those will be the three ways to success and we will try and very realistically represent what would the possibilities be and this will be done hopefully before the crisis and some of the things that are learnt can be put into practice in daily life and may even help to avoid the crisis getting too deep and we don’t manage it. But certainly we will have to work together to get over this crisis.

Moral Conflict’s Partnerships and Game Pieces

Moral Conflict's currency of gold bar pieces

Gold currency image courtesy of Playford Games

CG: In just real physical terms, you have the game [Moral Conflict], it’s being distributed through Alliance.
PG: In the US. We have other partners in Europe.
CG: So who’s your main European partner?
PG: Esdevium, I think he’s the third biggest in the world. Esdevium Games. They’re the third biggest, as far as I know, worldwide. They’re based in the UK.
CG: I noticed on your packaging you have something with Chessex.
PG: Yes! We have a partnership with Chessex. So we use the Chessex dice. Our players said “Hey, these are great. These are the best dice you can get.” So we’ve agreed with Chessex that we will always name the dice used on the box, on the website. It’s good for us to get their name on there. We do get a slight reduction in the prices, which enables us to be more competitive with our pricing. We have two other relationships like that as well with other companies. We have very very special playing pieces which are partly mosaic stones from MosaikStein, these sort of very nice stones here are mosaic stones which we also, in this case the instruction book, here’s some of the resources, the oil and things. These are not made by us, these are made in China for Mosaik Stein, for example. We get very good, high-quality pieces, at very good prices right from the start. These are very unique. The gold is the currency for the game, it’s these wonderful gold stones here. It’s not real gold, ok, everybody doesn’t expect that. So that again, we have a cooperation with them. And then what is very innovative is these charts here. If I show you the Submarines… And it works because we have the best pens you can get in the world. These are Staedtler from Germany, included in the box. For example, the submarine started off in winter ’39 on that Pacific 12, maybe here you put Pacific 14, Pacific 16, and these are the only pens in the world that then do a dry erase with the eraser on the thing here. We have with them also a marketing agreement. So there, the stones here and the pens are listed very clearly in the rulebooks and with the advantages and names of the companies and where you can also get them from. So what we were able to do is then slightly reduce the price right from the start for our customers. We give them very good quality, but we’ve tried to do a win-win, diplomacy with all of our partners.
CG: Now what’s the price point on this?
PG: The 1940 is the second game. It’s got a recommended retail price of 98 euros. I don’t know quite what that is in dollars. It’s still a pretty good price, but we’re basically using the best quality materials. It’s very very clear. We’ve got an incredible game with these five dimensions. Every game will go differently because of the complex interaction of these. You can treasure this game for life. The money’s not going to wear out. It’s made out of these stones. The only plastic is a few little things here and these special rings. I told you about them. Specially designed to be used with the planes and then the atom bombs. But it’s very very high quality. Everything’s very very high quality. The graphics are right at the top. Look at this picture here or this board is actually a work of art, if you really look at it, and our graphics guy is more of an artist. The work here, it’s well worth the money. The players are going to be able to play something like this for the rest of their life. Not just the quality of the materials, but the concepts. They will probably take many years to go the path that’s here, they’re guided to be able to learn and master these dimensions. It’s something that will be with them as they grow and mature.

Cover for Playford Games Moral Conflict 1940 by David Stennett

Hitler’s Nightmare: German Surrender to the Russians, image courtesy Playford Games

CG: Now where’s the cover image from?
PG: So this cover image is Hitler’s nightmare. It didn’t happen, but it should or could have happened. So this is 1941 just in front of Moscow. It’s minus 55 degrees, the German Army is in their summer uniforms, their tanks are all not working because the oil can’t take that temperature. The war is over actually. The Russians have not been beaten. It was supposed to be a three month battle and then victory. Hey, there’s Siberian troops there! And the German general’s army is negotiating with the Russians about peace. The Russians have just handed over three German nurses to look after the German wounded. This did happen in Normandy and Rommel said “This is the moment to make peace with the Allies.” But it was too late in Normandy, but this would have been actually the point where the Germans should have had the courage to basically end it all, because Stalingrad just confirmed what already there was clear: they’re not going to win.

Expansion for Moral Conflict

Far East Action in Moral Conflict 1941

Moral Conflict 1941 image courtesy Playford Games

CG: Now is it going to be an expansion when you add in characters like you could have Marshall Zhukov.
PG: That’s right, yeah. That’s part of the expansion game. There’s many many concepts coming into the expansion game. There’s going to be a lot more difference between the different nations, for example. Some of them have special weapons or the German army have particular fighting characteristics, the Japanese others, the Italians were well known for some of their [laughs] special characteristics, things like that. The big issue, what really excites people, is with the moral dimension. What would happen if the Germans started off maybe not as a Nazi state, but a more benevolent state, or the Russians? Basically the options are then greater to just start with different moral levels and just experiment and the possibility for the first time to actually go up morally when you make peace with an enemy. So these things, people see straightaway. They want to be inspired. They want to see-, this was the biggest crisis probably for 500 years or more and they want to see actually, they want to be inspired how it could have been different, how it could have been avoided, or so much better.
CG: How has the game been received in Germany?
PG: The game’s been received very well in Germany. As I say, normally people, the first, the first reaction is no interest. Then you explain it’s called Moral Conflict and just like that-
CG: In German?
PG: In German, it’s still called Moral Conflict in Germany. The Germans use a lot of English words. They call it neue Deutsch. The title stays the same. Actually the boxes are in three languages at the bottom, so you can see, I think we’ve got French, German, and English. But basically, the name is kept. So very easy to understand. But the name, the name Moral Conflict with the year, it seems to have very very powerful effect. Particularly women want to be inspired and women are very interested. Maybe not the complicated game where war and the wars are very detailed, but as we come down to the cheaper versions, the less complex versions, the women are very excited to play this. And this is very unusual for a wargame. Generally, a girlfriend or wife might occasionally play with the husband or boyfriend a wargame, but generally they don’t play. Here now, sometimes the women at the lower levels are taking the lead and saying Moral Conflict, this is something that they can relate to in a way perhaps different to a lot of guys.

One of the concepts in the expansion game is very very important, very very unique. If you look at books on this period of history, they were all written by men, but there’s a great book called “The Taste of War” written by a woman [Lizzie Collingham]. It’s all about the food supply situation. You’re thinking, “Yeah, boring.” She starts off the book and says well, there were 20 million people killed by the battles and the guys love that with the tanks and the planes and the weapons. And then she says 20 million died of starvation. So it actually takes a woman to show us guys that we’ve actually forgotten about the other half that was very important. So the food industry here is very important. You see here on the maps here the different sorts of livestock or grain and so on. You can’t conquer the world on an empty stomach. And if you’re going to lose maybe as many of your population through hunger and starvation and disease caused by the hunger, you’re not going to win the war. So this is a very very essential theme, again, in the expansion game and very very unique, because very few games really address that, but the importance of that is very very clear. There are millions, millions died of starvation! 20 million. So we’re really trying to do a very realistic, a very mature, a very deep representation of this time and there are many many unique things in it.
CG: It sure sounds like it. Thank you.
PG: Ok. Thanks.

Ed Pugh from Reaper Miniatures at the 2012 GAMA Trade Show

I spoke with Ed Pugh, head of Reaper Miniatures, on March 15 at the GAMA Trade Show. I was pleasantly surprised by their move into plastics (Hello, $2.99 Purple Worm!) and tried to wrap my head around Reaper carrying multiple lines of miniatures, as well as several other things about Reaper which I wasn’t expecting.

Reaper Miniatures Bones Plastic Miniatures, Master Series Paints

Plastic Purple Worm from Reaper Miniatures.

Purple Worm image courtesy Reaper Miniatres

CG: So I’m here with Ed Pugh from Reaper Miniatures and also three other companies in your Hobby-Q group?
RM: Hobby-Q is a group that has Reaper Miniatures, Master Series Paints, and Asylum Miniatures under it as well as distributes CollectA.
CG: One of the new things you have, just from last week released is… Bones?
RM: Bones, yes. They’re plastic miniatures ready to paint out of the blister. They don’t require primer. You’re more than welcome to prime them, do anything you want. The main focus for us is the price point. They are a fraction of the price of the equivalent piece of metal.
CG: Why do that?
RM: The idea is, is it’s a hobby. You get somebody into this and you get them excited at a paint-and-take or some event like that and then you immediately take them over to a wall, and it’s going to cost them 50 or 75 bucks just to get started. And you lose a lot. We’re not getting a new influx. This will help us get an influx of hobby people. At the price point of $1.99 and $2.49, several figures, paint, they’re in it, they’re in it big.
CG: And so you have a lot of the same sculpts that are in the existing line, but you also have some newer sculpts in this Bones line, that are new?
RM: Yes, they’ll be in the next releases. You’ll have 12 go out in the first release and over the next three months there’ll be 7, 7, and 6, of which 2 are brand new totally to the line, and then 2 will be new to this whole thing as well. But these’ll start getting new releases much like the other lines do. The figure’s done, they’ll go straight into that line. No crossover.
CG: The plastics are being done overseas right now?
RM: Yes, yes, they are being done in China, but our goal is by the end of the year to have it done in house, and to be producing it there in house at Reaper in Denton.
CG: So all of your metal miniatures are made in-house in Denton, Texas?
RM: 100%, yes. We do all of our tooling, we make all our paint there. We mix our paint all the way from scratch from the base materials. Everything is all made there right now. The only thing we don’t produce in-house are our brushes, which we get those done in Italy, and then the plastics.

Ed Pugh and Matt Clark from Reaper Miniatures pose at the Reaper booth at the GAMA Trade Show 2012.

Reaper’s Matt Clark (left) and Ed Pugh (right)

CG: Speaking of paints, just how big a part of your business are paints?
RM: They’re a substantial part of the business. I don’t want to give a number. I mean yesterday I gave you a number, but I don’t like those floating around in print. But it’s a very very large substantial portion of business. We provide paint around the world and to a lot of different industries as well. Like I told you about the film industry. A lot of the mattes, because we’ll match and they’ll be able to repetitively do whatever their scenework [is] and that kind of stuff. We do a lot of private licensing. Like our first license is this Heavy Gear set.
CG: Speaking of that partnership, how did that work? Who approached who?
RM: They approached us and we had never done any sort of a licensed paint set. So in turn, it was actually, it’s a test for us, it’s a a test for them and see how this goes, if it works successfully. Part of the problem you face is Heavy Gear has a very rabid community like most popular IPs do, but Reaper’s not neccessarily known in that arena and for that community. So will we able to translate? Will their fans go and accept and pick it from us? I mean obviously they’ll be buying it from them, but how does it work? Will it translate in distribution and in the stores and things like that? That’s really our big test. If it works, there’s no telling what you could see. Pathfinder sets, anything.
CG: What about the fact that you have three miniatures, you could have three potential sculpts of the same miniature: prepainted, Bones, you have the classic metal, is this confusing to retailers?
RM: Actually no. While it’s the same item, you have three different consumers. And while it doesn’t sound like it should happen this way, it really does. Metal people will focus on the metal, they’ll get some crossover to look at the bones, but they’re really over here, ok? They’re already past a lot of these. Bones people are going to be a lot of new people and they’ll eventually work up, and they’ll move over into metal, but they don’t really worry about it, in that sense. The prepainted, again that’s your dungeon crowd. They expect to just get it, pull it out, and put it on the table, they know nothing about painting whether it be metal or this [Bones plastics]. So they’re really, inside a store, and even here, the stores we’re talking to, they’ll carry this line or they’ll carry this line, or sometimes carry both, but you don’t really have much of a crossover. That customer’s there to look for a metal miniature to paint or he’s there to look for a prepainted miniature ’cause he needs a character that night.

Ed Pugh’s Favorite Sculpts, Reaper’s Audience, More About Plastics vs. Metals

Reaper Miniatures #2059 Calindra Silverspell by Sandra Garrity

#2059 Calindra Silverspell image courtesy Reaper Miniatures

CG: Speaking of your whole vast line, what are some of your favorite sculpts of all time?
RM: Personally, I’d go all the way back to 2059, which was an elf girl done by Sandra Garrity. Nowadays there’s so many of them, it’s so hard to pick. I’ve always liked Gauth the Dragon, it was a very large dragon. Our popular characters are really-, our audience is so diverse. For the RPG people, you can literally see, if an RPG company releases a book and in that book, gnomes with swords are popular or something, then you’ll see a lot of those sales with those models start to move out.
CG: You’ve correlated that?
RM: Correlated. At the same time you have the whole gaming community of collectors. They really don’t play the games at all. They just paint and collect and produce and all of that. And in that community, that’s where a lot of these eclectic sculpts that you see that would not really fit into any RPG world, that’s that audience. And even though, they’re in the same line, Dark Heaven, you’ve got again, two or three different demographics going to that same line and buying.

Reaper Miniatures Gauth dragon rearing up on its hind legs.

Gauth image courtesy Reaper Miniatures

CG: Did I hear you correctly when we spoke yesterday that your audience is more about painters than it is about-
RM: Gamers. Yes, very much. Gamers, the gamer-, let’s say we’ll use Games Workshop. You know they have a very very precisely defined world. And in that world, let’s say they come up with a Duckman and they’ve decided and already told the world what that Duckman looks like and here’s his miniature and here’s his art and it fits. And so even though if we or anybody else produces one, it doesn’t really cross over, because you might find a cooler Duckman, but you put him in there and no one knows who he is. So it’s easier to just buy that company’s figure, whether it’s Privateer Press or Games Workshop or Confrontation or whatever they’re doing. The customer feels comfortable in that environment. For us, RPGs are much more flexible. So that crowd is, you know, playing a dwarf. Well, my dwarf has X. Yours has-, you know, it’s not as strictly confined, so we have that audience in there. Like I said yesterday, Games Workshop, I used to tell people Games Workshop and we have nothing in common other than we make figures out of metal – and now they don’t even do that, so technically, there’s nothing in between the two.
CG: Now that you’ve gone into plastics, has there been a backlash from your metal community.
RM: Not at all.
CG: Because you haven’t eliminated the metal line.
RM: Correct, yes. And I don’t see plastics replacing the metal line. What I see is that plastics – and the way I refer to it is – is PC or not, it’s just another bullet in the chamber, there is no magic. Just like resin figures. We have some resin pieces and we’ve done some, but it’s not an end-all. Metal’s not an end-all. This [plastics] is not going to be an end-all for that. It’s really no different. When WizKids was coming out years ago with MageKnight, the original prepainted plastic, I would get calls from friends in the industry. They’re like “What are you going to do?!” And I’m like “I don’t know, ok? Unless I got 3 million dollars, which I don’t, we’ll find out.” And actually nothing happened. You know, they went out and created a whole new world of consumers that don’t want-, they’re not a hobbyist, “I want to take it out of the box and use it.” And that’s not what we are, we’re more like building models and the hobby side of it.

Reaper’s Prepainted Miniatures and Retail Support

Reaper Miniatures Prepainted Mind Flayer Bathalian

Bathalian image courtesy Reaper Miniatures

CG: What about your prepainted? Is the painting quality going up?
RM: I like to think our prepainted sets the standard. We started off a little rocky. The difference is is we had to rise really fast, because in our prepainted it’s not blocked, so you see it in the blister. If you don’t like that paint job then you’re not buying it. So the bar got really raised very fast for us and unlike, you know, WotC, I mean they’ve done a great job, but you talk to their consumers and it happens in our store, the notion that “Yeah, looks like this on the box, but don’t expect it to look like that in the package.” It’s sort of like one guy gave me an example of McDonald’s. You go in and look at the picture of the hamburger, it never looks like that when you open yours. So they really didn’t have much of a backlash like that. We got hit pretty hard from that idea, so I like to think that ours are some of the best.
CG: On the internet things like that are hard to judge. Your miniatures are carried in stores, but you also sell on the internet. What do you do as a company in terms of helping retailers. That’s what GAMA Trade Show seems to be all about, “How can you help us? Please help us!” What’s the response been?
RM: Very good. Any retailer that calls us, we can put together a package. We don’t have a standard package, but if you can tell us what you need, we’ll go get you posters, we’ll get you samples, if you’re doing a Grand Opening, if you’re doing an anniversary, if you want to do a paint-n-take, we provide tons of this stuff at no cost. We have plenty of support structures. We have a massive return policy which allows the stores to send weathered product, you know, it’s sun-faded, and they send it back and get credit and they get fresh product. And then when you have laying around, it makes it real easy to go pull samples, and whatever a store might need, so for our end, to help retail stores, we’ll do whatever we can, you know, in that sense.
CG: Do you still-, you mentioned a product code earlier, you just happened to know that one, the elf?
RM: Yeah, 2059. 2059 is the elf, I can’t remember her name now, I don’t have a catalogue. [Calindra Silverspell, pictured earlier]
CG: You just know this off the top of your head?
RM: I know it off the top of my head, yeah. That was one of literally the earliest models and I’m just like “This is cool.” You know, for me. One of the weird things is that we see all of the models so many months before someone else does, 6 months, 8 months, that this is cool, because it’s in our hands and we’re looking at it today. By the time it comes out, the customers are coming up to you and saying “Oh, this is cool!” and you’re going, [unexcited tone] “Yeah. Yeah it is.” I mean I’m looking at something that you’re not going to see for 8 months.
CG: What number of sculpts are you on in terms of miniatures made?
RM: Oh, we have 5,000, I think. If you add everything together, 5-6,000, if you go by pieces. Probably about 4-5,000 in SKUs, probably 5-7,000 in pieces, because you know, a model might be 3 or 4 pieces.
CG: Do you still have a hand in approving artwork, concept artwork?
RM: No.
CG: That’s someone else?
RM: Ron Hawkins is the Art Director. He does that almost entirely. And in fact too, I’ve been asking for several years to get an Undead Pirate and still haven’t seen it, so I don’t have much better luck than a lot of other people trying to get what they want.