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Meat for Meta: A Torrent of Fail

Competitive 40k Is Dead, Long Live Competitive 40k


Meat for Meta is rated editorial nonsense. These articles are meant to complain about some group, somewhere, that is playing the game for all the wrong reasons or simply to just make fun of 40k nerd rage.

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This post might get me in some trouble, because certain people don’t handle criticism well, but what the hell some things need to be said. Last week just before Christmas the site Torrent of Fire mostly called it quits. If you are unfamiliar with the site you probably are not alone, but for most competitive American 40k players it was a important resource. Since BoK covers competitive events, it was invaluable, many tournaments the site tracked provided great analytical information I often used. I tired to link back whenever it was applicable.

What did Torrent of Fire exactly do?

It was a tournament management system, or this found on the about page…

At its core, ToF is a tournament management app that will revolutionize your Warhammer 40k tournament experience, whether you’re at the event or just trying to follow along at home. Instantaneous pairings … smartphone self-scoring … streaming results … and more.

But the real power of Torrent of Fire has been locked away in the darkest corner of the Warp… until now. Be among the first to own the ToF Ultimate Weapon, a vast database of Warhammer 40k results that gives you all the intel you need to destroy your next opponent: Which army does he use most? How does it perform against other armies? Is there an army he has trouble beating? And more!

Ultimately, all this data will give you and your adversaries a transparent and worldwide ranking system you can trust.

ToF was basically RankingsHQ 2.0, you remember those guys trying to compile and rank 40k players world wide? Anyway, ToF tried to do the same, but had the extra leverage of giving tournament organizers the tools to automate events.

What happened? Here is how Chip Boyd explains it…

Product Management, Games Workshop, and the Future

The post is a long winded diatribe basically stating Games Workshop screwed competitive play and thus ToF failed. Now, Chip’s criticism of GW is valid; all we can do is speculate on what exactly goes on with the project management of that company. What we see is an unresponsive entity making plastic toys. The truth is obviously not so clear cut as Chip makes it out to be though, but sure enough GW didn’t help.

Let me propose an alternative thesis as to why ToF failed, as it relates to 40k. Instead of putting blame towards the easiest target (GW) why not have a little self reflection.

The biggest mistake ToF made was not understanding the “market”, a market never big enough to profit from. You are taking a niche like 40k and then cutting it down to just competitive 40k. Then you cut that down by going after people who you think would pay to have access to tournament data, tactics articles, and bi-weekly e-letters. All things a competitive player either already knows or can look up for free. It leaves you with only players who are striving to become more competitive and don’t know how to use Google or doesn’t have competitive friends to discuss and practice with.

On top of it ToF never got deep enough penetration, where we had every event using the Tournament App. Which as a side note, is unintentionally false advertising as it kinda implies an app like… found on a all iPhones! Not an often times slow website that won’t resize correctly on a some mobile devices. You also put the most important part of your product at the top of your website in a small font where first time visitors wouldn’t notice. Then we have the lack of actual content, even in its heyday you would get 10-12 posts a month at most, with one post a month being for paying customers, that is just not going to cut it. You need to be producing 3-5 posts a day and having at least one post a day for members only. ToF “experts” would were also rotating group of authors without a clear purpose or plan.

Alas, I haven’t been a project management for the last three years, so I could be wrong. I could go on, and go into darker details, but it is late and I am sure I already going to get a few nasty grams for what I have already said.

This story has two morals.

First, who is right three year old website vs. 40 year old company that is publicly traded? It is close I know, but I am going to go with the 40 year old company this time on who is better at project managing.

Second, moral is no one makes money off of competitive wargamers. The dustbin from RankingsHQ to Torrent of Fire to blogs like 3++ or Yes the Truth Hurts should remind everyone to think twice about trying. Any profit seeking endeavor has to do a little bit of everything and also produce a product EVERY player in the community can use.

Finally, I leave you with this…

Maybe, Chip Boyd of today should go back and listen to what Chip Boyd of three years ago promised and ask, “Should I Chip Boyd share some blame or is it all just Games Workshop’s fault?”

Chip Boyd, Creator of Torrent of Fire from Chip Boyd on Vimeo.