Archive for November, 2008

Fancy Pirates Measuring Sticks

A Pirates player had a local company cut him out some special measuring sticks, and he is selling off the extras that he has. The basic measuring stick is just $7 (including shipping), and the fancier, sextant-style stick is $9 (including shipping).

Measuring Stick(s)

Live Piracy Map 2008

Someone has put together a Google Maps mashup that lists all of the reported incidents of piracy throughout the world. Check it out!

Pirates Game Table and Island Construction

Pirates Game TableArr everyone,

I found a great tutorial site where the guys shows you how he made a very nice 3d Pirates game table, and constructed islands. Check it out!

Picture courtesy of www.shiftinglands.com

Catalyst Bids on WizKids Properties

According to an article on ICV2, Catalyst Games has made an offer to purchase a number of WizKids properties, including Pirates, HeroClix, Star Wars, Battletech and Shadowrun. Catalyst had already licensed the Battletech and Shadowrun properties for other games, and their bid includes the properties and underlying games.

This is good news, because it means that other game companies are interested in continuing the Pirates line, and so I’m hoping that Topps will announce sort of resolution soon.

Check Out the Resources Page!

Arr everyone,

Just a quick note to mention that, with WizKids going away, there is no telling how long their site and forums are going to be up. Since the guys over at Miniature Trading have the forum part covered, I’ve volunteered to host some of the resource files, including the latest version of The Pirates Code (Frequently Asked Questions). I’ve also posted links to the Keyword Reference Sheet and Unique Treasure Reference Sheet. So, click the “Resources” link at the top of the page and check them out.

Oh, and while you are at it, check out the “Ship’s Store” for other piratical goodies!

Man the Buckets – Topps Shuts Down WizKids

Sad news, everyone. Yesterday, there was a post over at ICV2.com: Topps (WizKids parent company) has decided to shut down WizKids and temporarily discontinuing the Pirates, HeroClix and Star Wars PocketModel lines. Here’s the full post:

Topps Shuts Down WizKids
Pursuing Alternatives for Viable Props

The Topps Company is announcing today that it is closing down WizKids, its core hobby gaming business, and temporarily discontinuing the WizKids product lines. Topps CEO Scott Silverstein commented, “This was an extremely difficult decision. But in light of the current economic conditions, we feel it is necessary to align our gaming initiatives more closely with Topps current sports and entertainment offerings which are already being developed within our New York office.” WizKids is based in Seattle, Washington.

In its statement announcing the closing of WizKids, Topps also indicated that it was pursuing “strategic alternatives so that viable brands and properties, including HeroClix, can continue without any noticeable disruption.”

Founded by Jordan Weisman in 2000, WizKids launched the first successful collectible miniatures game (CMG), Mage Knight, and also produced the first constructible strategy game (CSG), Pirates of the Spanish Main, in 2004. In addition to the successful comic book-based HeroClix CMGs, WizKids also released the Star Wars Pocket Model Game in 2007.

WizKids was purchased by Topps in 2003 (see “Topps Acquires WizKids”), while Topps itself was acquired by Michael Eisner’s Tornante Company and Dearborn Partners in 2007 (see “Topps Sold!”).

And then this was posted elsewhere:

As the news of the shutdown of WizKids (see “Topps Shuts Down WizKids”), one of the Big Three of hobby games, percolated through the industry, one of the first concerns was of continuing support for the games. Alliance Game Distributors, the sole distributor of WizKids products to the hobby market, issued a statement to reassure its customers. “Alliance and Diamond, meanwhile, will continue to service on-hand inventory, including the recent Arkham Asylum release for DC HeroClix,” the statement said. In addition, both companies will work with Topps to fulfill all promised Organized Play and Arkham Asylum “Buy It By The Brick” promotions.

Alliance President Daniel Hirsch commented on the news. “We are disappointed by this very unexpected news,” he said. “We have enjoyed a great relationship with WizKids, and together have brought great products and promotions to thousands of retailers in the U.S. and Canada.”

Lax Chandra, President of WizKids, spoke well of the company’s relationship with Alliance (see “WizKids Goes Exclusive”). “Through this strategic partnership, we achieved efficiencies and had many successes, including significant sales growth for HeroClix and successful new product launches like Halo,” he said. “I personally hope to work with Diamond and Alliance, who have a great team, in the future.”

ACD Distribution, at one time the largest U.S. distributor of WizKids products, declined comment on the WizKids closing.

ICv2 also contacted other game companies to get their reactions. Only Upper Deck responded in time for this article. “Upper Deck is very excited to launch our first collectible miniatures game on Tuesday, November 11,” a spokesperson said. “We believe that our World of Warcraft Miniatures Game will bring a breath of fresh air to the category, offering players unique and engaging game play and the highest quality figures yet offered in the collectible miniatures arena.”

Among the topics arousing speculation is the possible landing place for the WizKids brands. There are only three other companies in the collectible miniatures game business at this time. Wizards of the Coast, which has several collectable miniature lines, including Dungeons and Dragons, Star Wars, and Axis and Allies, would seem to be a logical candidate because of its experience in handling licenses, its existing relationship with Lucasfilm (which licenses WizKids to produce its Star Wars Pocket Model Game), and its Seattle-area location, which would make it convenient to absorb any WizKids staff. But WotC recently revamped its D&D Miniatures, turning them into supporting pieces for the D&D RPG (see “WotC to Stop Supporting D&D Minis Skirmish Game”) and moving away from totally random packaging, making its appetite for collectible game acquisitions questionable.

Upper Deck is entering the CMG market this month with the launch of its World of Warcraft Miniatures Game, and it’s an experienced producer of licensed products and already has licenses with Marvel and DC, which are licensors for WizKids’ HeroClix line. But Upper Deck and WizKids parent Topps had an acrimonious dispute last year surrounding Upper Deck’s interest in acquiring Topps (see “Topps Fires Back”), so its unclear whether the mutual trust necessary to complete a transaction is present.

Privateer Press recently entered the CMG market with the successful launch of its kaiju CMG Monsterpocalypse (see “Monsterpocalypse the Biggest Ever”), and its Seattle-area location is a plus. But Privateer is smaller than the other two CMG companies and it’s not a producer of licensed products.

Of course, there’s no rule that says that an acquiring company has to currently be a CMG producer, or even a collectible game producer, which opens up the possibilities considerably.

Fantasy Flight Games, which has extensive experience with licensed games and miniatures, is another possibility, although it, too, is moving away from the collectible game format (see “FFG Explains Its (Non-) Collectible Game Strategy”).

The good news is that Topps seems intent on completing a transaction quickly, and has a strong incentive to do so to preserve as much of the brand value as possible, so perhaps an announcement on the sale of the WizKids brands will be forthcoming soon.

What does this for Pirates? Right now, the news is so new, that no one really knows. It’s possible (and supported by the “temporarily” comment in the original press release) that Topps will continue the Pirates line eventually. It’s also possible that Topps could sell the line to another publisher.

Personally, I hope either option works out. But for now, I have a large number of ships, and I don’t plan to stop playing in the near future. And I plan to organize local games in the future.

Savage Shores Sneak Peek #3

WizKids has posted a third Sneak Peak for Savage Shores, and Woelf has posted a few clarifications in the forums.

First, the new action-ship in the set is called the Hoist. The Maui’s Fishhook ship that I mentioned in my last post is this type. Unfortunately, still no word on what exactly this keyword does.

Another new keyword to show up in this set is Dories. This keyword allows your ship to unload gold when you are S away from your Home Island; a very good ability for the 10 masted Mercenary junks (see below).

One of the new 10 masted junks in this set is the Mercenary ship Celtic Fury. Costing 25pts, and capatined by Eileen Brigid O’Brien, this ship should prove to be a formidable challenge to your opponent. The ship comes with a cargo hold of 7, and the combo of ship and captain has the abilities of Dories, Born Leader (5 or 6 for same action twice), Hostile: England, Ex-Patriot, and gets a +1 to it’s cannons rolls vs English ships.

A new Sea Monster, the Ophidious, has been posted. This 4 segment creature with 4 cannons, moves L+S, and costs just 12pts. For this, you get the Eternal keyword, and the unfortunate ability that if an enemy successfully boards this sea monster, they can “steal” one of it’s segments. The segment can then be unloaded on their Home Island for 2 gold. But, effectively used, this Sea Monster could be a useful addition to your fleet.

Something really new in this set is Native Canoes and Cheiftans. I’m a bit confused on exactly how these new units work, but from the WizKids previews and discussions elsewhere, the Cheiftan keyword gives you 5 Native Canoes that start docked at a Wild Island. Each canoe is fast, with a speed of at least S+S, and at least 1 cargo space. They cannot explore on the first turn, can’t be assigned crew, can’t ram or be rammed, board or be boarded, pin or be pinned, and sink as soon as they are hit. The loophole here is that you could assign Fireshot/Exploding Shot equipment to a bunch of canoes and swarm a larger foe, hoping that a few would survive the foes initial attack (since the canoes don’t have Captains). Supposedly, the Native Canoes have abilities of their own, as do the Cheiftans, so we will have to wait and see how useful these new ships are.

for an extra boost of speed, there is a new Unique Treasure called the Frond of Fisaga. You can reveal it when you give the ship it on a Move action, on a roll of 5 or 6, you get +L+L to you base move. The downside is that on a roll of 1 or 2, the Frond is spirited away by the wind and lands, face down, on the nearest Wild Island.

The new set comes out tomorrow, so at least we wont have to wait long to see the exact wording of the new units.