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Jeff Kaos

Unwilling to buy 2 core sets. Should I pass on this game?

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I'm addressing this to other readers, as Mep is completely unreachable and unreasonable. He's poisoned the well of FFG games for years and no one should respect his opinions.

It doesn't turn a huge profit for FFG to make people buy multiple core sets, because Core Sets bear all the hallmarks of not being a high-margin item. What you get for a $40 core set is a LOT MORE "stuff" than what you get in a deluxe set for $30 or in a Mythos Pack for $15--those latter two is where the money is, and if a core set doesn't make the buyer say "****, I really want more cards," then it really isn't doing its job.

As I've explained to him more than once, he is simply wrong that the cost of adding cards to the core is only a penny per card. It impacts weight and shipping costs if *nothing* else and he is completely talking out of his *** to claim that they could add a third again as many cards (it's 70 cards, by the way) without either impacting production or hitting some arbitrarily imagined price point. If he were right, Mythos packs would cost only $5 or $10. Also, $45 is past a significant threshold in terms of Price Point. I've tried to get Mep to understand this reality of economics but he insists on embarrassing himself.

The complaints of consumers who are unhappy with the value returned from a second copy of the core set doesn't actually go very far to offset the realities that created the design constraints of the core set.  At the end of the day, to put more copies of cards in the box means starving the overall card variety out of the base set of the game. No deckbuilding whatsoever. If you put more copies into the box and don't reduce the number of cards by title, then cost goes up. And when cost goes up, fewer people buy the game. It's just that simple. 

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Grimwalker - 

6 hours ago, Grimwalker said:

I'm addressing this to other readers, as Mep is completely unreachable and unreasonable. He's poisoned the well of FFG games for years and no one should respect his opinions...

 

Great post. My one wish would be that FFG would sell just the core player cards at around the mythos pack price point. I don't think they "owe" that to me/us, but it would be nice. 

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Grimwalker, you attacked a lot of people on the netrunner forum who had any complaints. You love FFG cause they let you play test once, or whatever, and feel the need to defend them.

You keep bring up these these things you think you know cause you play tested once but they just don't relate to reality. Yes, things like weight are important but have you felt the weight of those X Wing conversion kits? They are what, $50? Way over stating the importance of things here, especially when they charge by the cargo container. I will agree that a lower price point helps the impulse buy and I will agree these LLCs are like printers. All the money is in the ink, or in this case, expansions and small packs. However, $5 more is a huge deal but another $40 for an extra core isn't? It is just bizarre thinking. People look into FFGs LCGs, find out you need to buy 2 or 3 cores to just get a handful of cards and get very turned off. It makes FFG acquiring new customers/players hard and really makes these games difficult maintain over long periods of time.

Kickstarter has taught the community at large what things cost to produce. Cards are cheap to print. Simple math exercise here. Lets say the packaging and card board, rule books, etc. is half the production cost of a core. That leaves 239 cards costing $20, MSRP. Even at the generious 8 cents/card, adding in 70 more cards, at a retail price, would run under $6. Math does not lie. When people give flat out wrong information it is just sad.

It is important for companies to be given good customer feedback. They need to know why people who would otherwise be willing to buy one of their products won't. If people are willing to pay $45 or $50 for a full set of cards in core sets, FFG should know this (and they probably already do). $40 is not a magic number. Attacking people because they don't care how these games sold, especially when you attack people with just flat out wrong information, isn't okay.  I have no problem calling people on it.

 

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3 hours ago, Mep said:

Kickstarter has taught the community at large what things cost to produce. Cards are cheap to print. Simple math exercise here. Lets say the packaging and card board, rule books, etc. is half the production cost of a core. That leaves 239 cards costing $20, MSRP. Even at the generious 8 cents/card, adding in 70 more cards, at a retail price, would run under $6. Math does not lie. When people give flat out wrong information it is just sad.

By my count added a second set of player cards would add 96 additional cards, which by your cost of $0.08 per card would add $7.68 to the price, brining to total cost to $47 or $48. I am sure that if you included these additional cards you would have less players initially willing to pick up the game do to the cost, and you would have players that play solo complaining about having to pay extra for cards that they never use. Since I bought a second core, having a reduced cost option to get the additional cards would have been nice but I do not know what the best solution is. It is hard to be certain with guesstimate numbers on cost and not knowing what FFG thinks the marketing implications are with their various packaging.

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11 hours ago, Mep said:

Kickstarter has taught the community at large what things cost to produce. Cards are cheap to print. Simple math exercise here. Lets say the packaging and card board, rule books, etc. is half the production cost of a core. That leaves 239 cards costing $20, MSRP. Even at the generious 8 cents/card, adding in 70 more cards, at a retail price, would run under $6. Math does not lie. When people give flat out wrong information it is just sad.

 

If that is what Kickstarter is teaching, then it is giving extremely bad lessons.

Those may be the costs involved with a Kickstarter, but FFG is not running a Kickstarter for every single AH LCG product. Or for every other product they release. Or even for a fair slice of their products. They also aren't running more than a fraction of their products as print on demand. As a result, they have significantly more costs than someone running a Kickstarter.

A company doing business in the "traditional" way has to pay salaries on a constant basis, and to more than just the designers. They have to pay rent and utilities for buildings. They have to pay to maintain a website and forums like this one. They have to pay for advertising. They have to pay more to run organized play events.

You are also overlooking volume of sales and the effect that has on product price. Does everyone who buys the core set buy every expansion? If not, then every core set purchased just to "try out" the game is going to have a different profit point than those expansions. In fact they may even operate as loss leaders.

It is a simple math exercise, and math does not lie, but you need to start at the right point. If you are starting with Kickstarter, then all of your calculations are going to result in flat out wrong information.

 

As for what price is "acceptable" to players, Arkham Horror Board Game 3rd Edition just came out and I went in to buy a copy, along with FFG sleeves for the cards. (But no coin capsules for the tokens.) I have all of AH LCG except for 2 of the novellas, and all of AH BG 2nd Edition, so I "know" what I am getting into.
And I still did a double take at the over $100 final price.
$100+
To start a new game.
If I wasn't an "experienced" customer of FFG AH products I would have returned everything to the shelves.
I wouldn't recommend FFG double the number of player cards in the core set, even knowing how put out I felt having to buy a second copy.

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I'm not sure what the final card count is. 70 wasn't my number. Maybe it is 96. Either way, you are talking around a penny a card to print, so what, a quarter's difference?

@SamWeiss Thanks for the great opinion. Nothing made up there. One thing FFG does that a lot of people complain about but I am rather sympathetic too, is they rarely over produce a product and often run short and reprint later. Kickstarter has a great business model in that they produce nothing that they haven't already sold. Still FFG orders so much from their suppliers they must be getting a better deal than the random start ups, who do have to give kickstarter a good percentage of their sales.

With them selling multiple cores to people, I guarantee you the cores aren't loss leaders. The margins can't be as good as they are on the other games but yeah, they clearly sell a lot more cores than any other item in the product line.

Putting all this production nonsense to bed since anyone can head to the dollar store and pick up a deck of playing cards for a buck, it really does come down to what is "acceptable". If enough people find buying a second core for for 96 cards is acceptable plus the unknowing impulse buyers at the $40 price point is more than the number of people who pass because of having to buy a second core, then they will continue this business model. That is what it really comes down to. I doubt they can maintain the $40 price point. They already cut all they can from packaging and if they get hit with the tariffs, they'll have to rethink their whole model. If they hear there are enough people willing to pay $50 for a complete core, that is something that could come to pass.

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29 minutes ago, Mep said:

anyone can head to the dollar store and pick up a deck of playing cards for a buck

Talk about a false comparison. A deck of playing cards. With no creative overhead. Produced in enormous quantities far surpassing volumes in the hobbyist gamer market, and thus dramatically lowering the per-unit production cost. And have you seen the quality of playing cards you can buy at the dollar store? 

I'm now entirely convinced you are arguing in bad faith.

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3 hours ago, Mep said:

Thanks for the great opinion. Nothing made up there. One thing FFG does that a lot of people complain about but I am rather sympathetic too, is they rarely over produce a product and often run short and reprint later. Kickstarter has a great business model in that they produce nothing that they haven't already sold. Still FFG orders so much from their suppliers they must be getting a better deal than the random start ups, who do have to give kickstarter a good percentage of their sales.

Once again you confuse things.
Kickstarter's business model does not involve producing anything. As for what they sell, it is financial services along with some internet publicity. They do zero business with suppliers.
Now, the people who use Kickstarter . . .
Meanwhile, consider the percentage of Kickstarter products that turn into vaporware for one reason or another. Is Kickstarter on the line for the costs of any of those? Conversely, is FFG on the line for any products they start developing but never produce?

As for comparing these game cards to playing cards, are you serious?
Let me check a standard playing card.
Hmm . . . no artwork.
Okay, let me check a standard FFG game card.
Wait . . . is that a unique piece of artwork? Why . . . yes it is.
Hold on, let me check a bit more.
Hmm . . . that playing card looks to be duo-chromatic.
Meanwhile, this FFG game card appears to be fully polychromatic.

Now let's look again at that pricing. First you were willing to grant a "generous" 8 cents per card. Now you insist on reducing that 1 cent per card. You talked about how adding $5.60 (8 cents times 70 player cards, which is how many unique class cards there are in the core set - the neutrals are already doubles, and they don't need extra basic weaknesses) was no problem. Except . . .
That's not how MSRP works. Adding $5.60 in production cost won't add a mere $5.60 in retail cost. You see, the distributor has to get paid, along with the FLGS. Years ago, talking to people at a wargame company, I was told that you can expect the price of a product to double at each stage. So $5.60 in production cost becomes $11.20 from the company to the distributor, $22.40 from the distributor to the FLGS, and $44.80 to the buyer. That drops back to your original $5.60 at 1 cent per card.
Of course some will find that excessive, but have you ever compared the prices at a FLGS to those from online distributors like Amazon? Have you ever really compared some of the wholesale prices offered on things like boxes of CCG boosters or cases miniatures boosters? Go ahead and check some of them. 30% of store price perhaps? Ask yourself how they manage that if they aren't getting those boxes and cases at a 75% discount on MSRP. 

With all of those factors, all of that "production nonsense" is anything but, and your dismissal of it pretty much places everything you are saying firmly in the category of "flat out wrong information" that you find to be "sad" when provided by others. Indeed if you want to call out anyone for attacking others with such flat out wrong information, you really should be starting with yourself.
 

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I defend positions that I feel to be true. It’s beneath you to actually try and apply an ad hominem argument. It’s one thing to attack a person’s arguments—which is what I do to you—it’s quite another to pretend you know anything about hidden motivations. The latter is just another attempt to poison the well, not actually prove a point. I invite anyone to search my post history for when I’ve brought up playtesting and they will see you’re a liar.

I detest bad arguments made in an attempt to shore up a presupposed position. You’ve decided long ago, and have proclaimed repeatedly, that FFG are money grubbing scum and you’re willing to make false arguments and ignore counterpoints in order to walk back to that conclusion.

1) As pointed out in the posts prior to mine, adding cards to fill out a playset of cards puts you well past the $40 or even (the rarely seen for economic reasons) $45 price. That puts you in the $50 range.

2) you refuse to educate yourself about the economic reality of Price Points. (Hint: it’s on Wikipedia even.) There’s a world of difference between $40 and $50, and there’s a reason you rarely see anything in between. 

3) yes, shipping is by container. But raising the overall weight of the contents raises the overall weight of your freight, plus the added expense when it comes to actually loading it on trucks and sending it to distributors, who then have to load it onto further trucks. Ignoring the additional costs added all along the production and distribution chain so you can continue to bleat about how little paper and ink costs is simply dishonest. But then, poisonous and dishonest arguments are all I expect from you at this point. 

4) everything about the Core Set indicates it’s a low-margin product, and you simply don’t make much more money with repeat sales of a low margin product. Twenty percent profit times two is still 20%. Much better to get people onto the repeatable high margin sales of Deluxes and monthly packs.

At the end of the day, it’s better to light a candle than to curse the darkness. Stoking discontentment for bad reasons gets my goat when it’s about games I love, and that’s all you do. It’s much better to explain that there are valid, sound reasons for the core sets to be designed and priced as they are, and advise consumers to make rational decisions for themselves within these circumstances.

One thing is for sure: getting people to complain about the design and to not buy the core sets is not going to result in positive change. If anything, poor sales are just going to result in game cancellation. At the end of the day you’re trying to hurt sales, that hurts the game, and so you’re doing more harm than good. 

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When I refer to kickstarter, I also mean the people who use it. Yes there are plenty of failures and successes on kickstarter, so what? My point with kickerstarter is that what things actually cost to produce is no longer a mystery to the general public. I am certainly not equating FFG business model to kickstarter or it's users, no idea where that came from.

When you are talking about development costs, artist contracts, etc. those are one time fees which are static, regardless if one card is printed or a million.

When I did the math for the cards going for 8 cents, that was the retail cost, not production cost. Try to keep up.

Yes, the playing cards at the dollar store are cheap. Keep in mind that $1 price tag is retail and dollar stores do very well for themselves. It is an EXCELLENT example of how cheap it can be to print cards. FFGs cards are clearly superior as they aren't printing the sub penny cards and FFG clearly does better than 2 cents a card retail. Thinking that there is a massive cost increase for including another 96 cards is silly. For those that are confused, feel free to educate yourself buy looking up what it costs to print custom playing card decks with your company logo on them or whatever. You'll find out, even what printshops retail those print on demand cards for, is rather cheap when you buy in bulk.

It is just not expensive to print cards. Sorry, that is just reality. 

Which comes down to the real problem. We are basically shelling out $40 to get a few dollars worth of cards (priced at retail). Yes we are chumps for paying that. When someone points that out, people get hostile and come up with all kinds of excuses and explanations why they really aren't chumps, but guys, we are.

Yes price points are important and once someone educates themselves about this multiple core thing, they aren't looking at a $40 prince point, they are looking at $80 or $120. Those price points are huge and and some walk. The reason why FFG keeps their price point where it is at is because they know they'll get more impulse buys at $40 and there are enough chumps out there dumb enough to buy multiple copies. Doesn't have anything to do with production costs and not a lot to do with a particular price point. This is the same company making an SSD for Armada for $200, seriously. If that $40 price point is absolutely important why isn't Elder Sign raised up to the point, or the Arkham board game made cheaper to fit that price point? Why? Because it isn't THAT important. Yes price points matter, but not nearly that much. There are many considerations that go into the perceived value of an item. Price is only one of them. 

BTW, if anyone is thinking about getting Teraforming Mars it is one sale on Amazon for $45. Imperial Assault is a great game too. It's smaller expansions are only $45 MSRP for those interested. ?  And no, that one wasn't hard at all because the $40 price point isn't really a thing.

The real reason these cores are sold the way they are is because there are enough chumps willing to buy more than one. They get to keep their costs down to get it in at a lower price point and sell them in volume to make up for the lower margins and that volume in sales is all do to us chumps buying multiple copies. If there weren't a bunch of us chumps willing to buy the same thing over and over again this business model would not work. That is what it comes down to. Sorry for pointing that out and getting you guys angry and feeling the need to flame me for it. Seriously though, it has nothing to do with an extra dollar/unit production costs, or a price point. It is a business model predicated on that fact that their core customer base are chumps that will buy multiple copies of the same item.

 

BTW, that $40 price point won't hold for much longer. Prices always rise and inflation has been high lately. They've been holding their prices steady and covering the increase cost by changing their packaging and raising the wholesale costs. The retailers aren't happy about the wholesale costs of course. No idea if they will just do a straight up price increase or revamp the product like they did in X-wing to increase those prices. It's coming though. With good feedback maybe they will change their business model and it will result in them getting even more customers. Coming up with a bunch of excuses for this model didn't get the sales numbers needed for pen to hit check when the netrunner license came do now did it?

 

Edited by Mep

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Price points for gaming products have been relatively stable for the 40 years I have been a gamer.
What has changed has been the quality of components and the rate of releases.
So yet another aspect of the industry you are completely wrong about Mep.

 

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Mep, obviously you dislike the current model of how they sell the core. If I wanted to complain about the price I would target the cycles themselves. In the long run I would think that would be more money savings for people who are serious about the game. I personally would prefer to get a cycle in one package, and not split into multiple products. If sold as one package, presumably the cost could be less than the current $120, although people might balk at paying it all at once, and so what the effect on sales would be I wouldn’t know.

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Yes, the cycles are also part of their business model and the part where they probably get their largest margins but also the highest risk of not selling through. Yes they are pricey over the long haul but it provides a SKU for the game once a month which rsdockery pointed out is important. I don't mind them too much personally, but they are problematic. Game stores I am sure don't care for them since as the years go by, to carry a variety of those packs takes up space and there are always a few dud packs. Although Arkham is such a well designed game that isn't so much a problem with it as other LLCs. The other problem is those packs become a huge purchase for some one new to a LLC after so many years of that LLC being out. It would be nice if they sunsetted old cycles and did one big pack. Though people would complain about the price of the big pack and it is easier to selling things at $15 piece mill than a big box of cards at $60.

BTW, due to inflation, $40 in 1980 is now worth $120. Some of that inflation has been kept in check due to inexpensive Chinese manufacturing. That offset is pretty much coming to an end, so yes, expect to see prices starting to increase. This can already be seen with X-wing ships costing $20 now compared to $15, a 25% increase over 6 years, which far out strips inflation.

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4 hours ago, Mep said:

BTW, due to inflation, $40 in 1980 is now worth $120.

So since the core set is not $120, why are you complaining?
Or should that be;
But as the core set is not $120, it seems you are wrong about price points, and just can't bring yourself to acknowledge that.

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I hate weighing in on this.

Kickstarted products often do not work when they are sold in stores.  Certainly not with all of the extras.  Compare what a CMON Kickstarter comes with, versus what the vanilla set sold in stores comes with.  7th Continent was originally supposed to be sold in stores, but they couldn't because of price point.

There are 2 steps of profits missed when a company sells straight to their customers: distributers & game stores.  Both of those need to make a profit off of the given product.  Both must do a balancing act of overhead and final sales.  And both of them must have the product shipped to them before they can sell it.  Money, money, money.

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Yeah, price points are all over the place as already pointed out and if you want to see how much can be stuffed into a game box, pick up Gloomhaven.

@Duciris Yeah, kickstarter generally only works on kickstarter. They may be part of the competition, but they have a very different business model. Once the people on kickstarter try to leave kickstarter, they have all kinds of issues small game companies have. They are far better off licensing their product to one of the big boys that have good relationships with factories, distributors and advertisers to get those costs way down. There is so much that goes into a product's final price that a few more cards is a drop in the bucket.

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2 hours ago, Duciris said:

Compare what a CMON Kickstarter comes with, versus what the vanilla set sold in stores comes with.

This is the reason i consider CMON as a moneygrab company. Buying a boardgame with only 50% content for a ridiculous amount of money. They made some good games though

Edited by Raahk
typo

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2 minutes ago, Raahk said:

This is the reason i consider CMON as a moneygrab company. Buying a boardgame with only 50% concent for a ridiculous amount of money. They made some good games though

I hate that they got Eric Lang to sign to an exclusive.  He made some amazing games for FFG.

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On 11/14/2018 at 1:03 PM, Mep said:

Yeah, price points are all over the place as already pointed out and if you want to see how much can be stuffed into a game box, pick up Gloomhaven.

Gloomhaven retails for one ******* hundred and ******* forty ******* dollars.

You should be *embarassed* you brought that up given the arguments that have already been raised in this thread.

Edited by Grimwalker

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1 hour ago, Grimwalker said:
On 11/14/2018 at 8:03 PM, Mep said:

Yeah, price points are all over the place as already pointed out and if you want to see how much can be stuffed into a game box, pick up Gloomhaven.

Gloomhaven retails for one ******* hundred and ******* forty ******* dollars.

You should be *embarassed* you brought that up given the arguments that have already been raised in this thread.

Edited 1 hour ago by Grimwalker

Not over here it doesn't. I've never seen it for under 200. 

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I know I'm late to the party and the OP already checked out, but...

A second core is 100% not mandatory.  This game is GREAT and there is a lot of build/replay available in just a single core set, assuming that 1-2 players are building out of it and you're not building into the same specialties.  Played through the original scenarios twice with just a single core, and it was fine.  I'm lucky that my group also doesn't care too much about "optimal" builds, we're more of a "use the starting deck guidelines, fill in anything missing with stuff that looks fun" group, and it's been perfectly fine.  I would recommend a single core with zero reservations to anyone in the same situation.

If you're the type that needs redundancy of the "best" cards, if you support more than 2 players, if you can afford it--sure, get a second core, you won't regret it.

Watching simple questions devolve into arguments like the last couple pages of this topic sucks.

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13 hours ago, Grimwalker said:

 

Gloomhaven retails for one ******* hundred and ******* forty ******* dollars.

You should be *embarassed* you brought that up given the arguments that have already been raised in this thread.

Embarrassed about pointing out that a game can have a lot of content, have a high price and do very well in the market place? I would say that is a great example of how a game can be both complete and still do well dispute a higher price point. There is no magic price point or maximum amount of content for games. What is embarrassing is when people try to argue there are when there are just so many examples that proves them completely wrong.  FFG has a business model that decides how much goes into a core and that model hits a certain price point. That business model is only successful if people are willing to buy multiple cores. You understand just enough to know what a price point is but are clueless about what a business model is and why FFG decides which price point and how much content. They are clearly trying out different strategies with the LLCs at this point as their current model isn't working well enough for them. It is an excellent time for feed back.

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