A lesson for Games Workshop on keeping gamers onside during a rules edition transition
2 March 2017 | 7th Edition
On March 11th 2017 version 4 of Battlefront's WW2 historical tabletop game Flames of War is launched worldwide. It's true to say that just as it would in the 40K world, discussion on the proposed changes are polarising opinion on whether the new edition will be for the better or not.
Now this will be my first FoW edition change, but I'm liking what I see particularly in terms of their attitude toward their existing customer base.
A bit of background. Due to the significant technical developments in aircraft, tank and weaponry design during the course of the war, FoW divides three eras: early-war (1939-41), mid-war (1942-43) and late-war (1944-45). Gamers pick an era (or eras) to fight within, and build their armies from the relevant theatre sourcebooks. This ensures that 1939 Polish cavalry are not pitted against 1945 German King Tigers.
Now as far as the V4 edition goes, initially it's being released Mid-War only – with the new hardback rulebook focussing on the North African theatre involving the Afrika Corps and Desert Rats. All good so far. The new edition has major changes involving units costs and stats and list-building mechanics, and all this is within this V4 rulebook, but only for this North Africa Mid-War period.
To enable late-war gamers (like me) or early-war gamers to use V4 the new rulebook won't work as many of the units/tanks/weapons etc don't feature. So how will Battlefront Miniatures get around this?
In essence the deal is: for early- and late-war players, if you currently own a V3 rulebook (either the hardback A4 version, or the softback A5 from the starter set), and you take it to any Battlefront stockist over the weekend of the 11/12 March, they will stick a "Version 3 Veteran" sticker on it, and give you a brand spanking new V4 early-late war rulebook FOR FREE! This will be an A4 softback containing all the game rules from the main rulebook but without all the unit stats etc from the mid-war North Africa theatre. The sticker is there to stop you swapping multiple times. The V3 book can be of any age and not just purchased within a limited timespan prior to the new editions launch.
Not only that, but you will also be given an additional book. This second free book converts early- and late-war characters and other special and national special rules to V4 use.
Now how good is that for ensuring that a good majority (those who want to) can get hold of the new ruleset?
No matter how good/bad the new edition actually is, Battlefront have at least given themselves a fighting chance of getting many existing players to make the migration to V4 with the minimum of fuss and expense.