Previously we announced that War at Sea’s 3rd set named Flank Speed has been confirmed and with a release of June 2009. Unfortunately, the release date was changed without this information being given to the lead designer Mr. Richard Baker. In a recent post on his blog he attempted to clear up the confusion and by way of recompense also share some inside information.
The delayed release is a significant blow to War at Sea, which although small has a dedicated group of customers and gamers who have been relegated to secondary citizen status in the world of Wizard of the Coast games. The skeptic may say that Wizards will push anything back if it gets in the way of a Magic: The Gathering, Dungeons & Dragons, and/or Star Wars Miniatures release. Clearly, those three games (both the D&D RPG and its collectible miniatures game offshoot) are the most popular products in Wizards’ arsenal and we don’t begrudge their placing the spotlight on the big moneymakers. But, WAS is no slouch either. It regularly sells out at my FLGS and FLGS across the country and beyond, according to gamers I regularly converse with, and deserves more respect than two releases (base set and Task Force) in an 18 month time frame.
Thankfully Mr. Baker is a fan of WAS and is dedicated to bringing gamers a great product. In his blog he said:
A couple of months back, someone asked me if it was true that set 3 (Flank Speed) had been delayed. At the time I replied that no, as far as I knew, Flank Speed was still on target. Unfortunately, I didn’t know as far as I should’ve. I learned a couple of weeks that the set has indeed been rescheduled for a late August release. I sincerely apologize for telling people that the set was still slated for the earlier release time.
You might wonder how it is that I wouldn’t know that the set’s release date had been changed, but in all honesty, all my work is really in the front end of the production line. We designed the set on time, and we were ready to launch on the original schedule, but the folks on the sales and marketing end had to make some changes to the company’s release schedule. I’m only looking at one release at a time, but in a typical month Wizards of the Coast might have four or five different products releasing in various categories, and sometimes the “master schedule” requires individual products to move back in line a bit or hurry up to the front. Those decisions are above my pay grade, but I trust that the guys who do make those decisions know what they’re doing.
Anyway: Sorry I got it wrong, and sorry for the delay. It’s on the way, just a little later in the year! And, if this helps to soften the sting a bit, I’ve already done a lot of work on a fourth set that may be coming your way before too long.
New Starter on the Way
By way of putting some weight in my apology, let me add some good news: We’ve got a redesigned, repackaged War at Sea starter set in the works. You can expect to see it in the first quarter of 2010. I can’t say too much about the details right now, but I will say this: We’re redoing the rulebook to incorporate the “rules update” material all in its correct place, as well as including the night and weather rules for scenario building, updating the historical restrictions list, and so on. Also, the revised starter will include new units in the form of some reprints/re-painted sister ship. Even longtime veterans should find a great deal of value in the new starter.
That’s it for now – thanks for sticking with me this far.
There’s a lot to dissect from his blog, along with information he shared but not in his blog, so let’s get started. The delay is both good and bad. WAS has been shafted numerous times before but out of the darkness has come a more vibrant light. I don’t mind waiting a little longer for a set if it is prolonged to create a better product. But, that isn’t what Mr. Baker is saying. He says that “the folks on the sales and marketing end had to make some changes to the company’s release schedule.” They’re not changing the date to make the product better but to better coordinate the product with other products. Maybe they think that gamers can’t go a month without a major D&D release or maybe they think that WAS isn’t important enough to stick to the pre-agreed on release schedule. I don’t know the answer to that but I do know there is a silver lining.
The new release date of “end of August” means Flank Speed has only been pushed back two months. These two months will allow many gamers more time to save up to purchase cases of the addictive product. Personally, I’m saving up for my 2010 wedding and need to put all of my funds aside for that. But, I’ve already informed my bride-to-be that I am picking up a couple cases of Flank Speed. The extra two months will give me some more time to put funds aside to pay for the naval military goodness without dipping into my wedding funds.
Also, the new release will better coincide with some other rumored WAS releases. Not too long ago Battlefront Miniatures, makers of Flames of War, acquired Gale Force Nine who recently acquired the license to manufacture official Axis & Allies Miniatures and War at Sea product. GF9 is planning to make new maps, dice, templates, and terrain (read islands). Some of this product is already unofficially available from Litko Aerosystems. Supposedly GF9 will release some of their new WAS product at GenCon Indy this year, which will be a great lead in for the release of Flank Speed.
Although Mr. Baker covers a lot in his blog posting one thing he failed to include is that the confirmed Flank Speed releases are not 210% accurate. He privately said that a few of the units are not included in Flank Speed but will appear in a later set, most likely Set IV. This leads into another bit of great news. There will be an as of yet unnamed Set IV of War at Sea. No information regarding the distribution ratio, units, or a release date is available but if we use the existing sets for comparison it is likely that there will be fewer units in Set IV, more new sculpts, and that it will be released sometime in 2010 (2nd or 3rd quarter).
Finally, this brings us to the confirmed rumor of a revised Starter Box. For some time I’ve been discussing this with my gaming group and saying that a new Starter Box is a necessity. The plethora of rules updates, while free and helpful, need to be centralized for new players. This avoids the confusion on game night of “which version do you have with you?” The new starter is stated to be a static distribution, which means that customers will know exactly what units come in the box. There is some debate as to whether the entire box will be static or only portions of it. Star Wars Miniatures has done it both ways and may be used by Wizards as a model for the WAS revised Starter. The new Starter, as Mr. Baker stated, will be out 1st Quarter 2010/
There’s lots of good news along with the disappointment of Flank Speed’s delayed release. We need to hang in there and use this time to fully accustom ourselves to the February 2009 Rules Update.