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Gathering of Engineers

Ludographic considerations from the Silicon Forest

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

The Price Of Fame

I have a little extra cash right now, and while most of it is earmarked for a new (to me) car in the near future, some of it isgoing towards a few games. A few days ago, I stopped by Bridgetown Hobbies thinking I would pick up Men of Iron, recommended by Chuck. While there I stumbled across Triumph of Chaos, designed by an acquaintance of mine from WBC, Dave Doktor. As it's a card-driven wargame similar to Paths of Glory (and in fact is set in almost the same period, in this case the Russian Civil War), I immediately picked it up.

On my way to the register, I noticed the price. Now I'm more than aware that wargames these days are more expensive than they used to be. $70 is not that uncommon for most games, and even MoI in it's "slim" box is $65 retail. ToC does have a lot of cards (two 55-card action decks, plus 66 political cards and 44 leader cards), but I have to say I was very surprised to see a price tag of $90.

I have never spent $90 on a game in my life, much less one that I have yet to read a review of. I managed to swing Europe Engulfed for something less than $70 with mail order discounts and a coupon. In fact, I shudder at $65, as I didn't pick up MoI at all. I can't even imagine buying a euro at more than $50. When I was in high school 25 years ago, I though that $25 was outrageous for a game! Yet I still purchased ToC without too much hand wringing. This got me thinking about how I compute the value of a game. Since I'm not concerned with resale value or speculation, I have to somehow translate dollars into other metrics.

In fact, this will be the topic for October for my compatriots on this blog: How do you determine what a game is worth, and how much is too much?

In the case of ToC, I think that I bought it at list price (and a high list price at that) for two reasons:

First, I'm more liquid than usual (in terms of cash position, not in terms of blood alcohol). I tend to spend what I have, and while a $90 game seems to be a lot of money, it isn't a $1500 laptop and thus is a very reasonable purchase. I tend to be pretty good at rationalizations like that. Two months ago, I would have waited and bought it at discount from Fine Games or Boulder. I will also admit to wanting to have local brick'n'mortar stores in my area, so I do like to support them. Although usually not by purchasing $90 games.

Second, the game was done by someone that I know and have increased my blood alcohol percentage with on more than one occasion. "Herr Doktor" is one of the good guys in this hobby, and his passion and sportsmanship are apparent to anyone who has the good fortune to engage him in a game. Sure, buying the game from a discounter wouldn't have affected Dave's take at all, but it did increase the apparent value of the game in my eyes at the point of purchase.

Was ToC worth $90? Too soon to tell, and once I get a playing or two in I'll put up the review on my own blog. For now, I'm hesitant to speak of my concerns, as I had most of the same concerns for Paths of Glory and it turned out OK.

That's plenty for now, I'll speak more about what factors go into my "calculus of value" next week, as will my partners in crime.

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