Monday, 27 April 2015
Where is Doctor Who Armada?
The Guardian newspaper have published a review of Star Wars Armada, Fantasy Flight games new fleet level starship game. I think this may be unprecedented. Mainstream newspapers and the BBC have published articles on Games Workshop before, but normally under business or human interest. By publishing a review, and a highly positive one at that, the Guardian are effectively saying to its readers, "here is something that you personally may want to purchase and use."
Fantasy Flight have been very canny here. Star Wars Armada, and its predecessor X-Wing, are effectively table top miniature games, albeit one that uses pre-assembled and pre-painted miniatures, but they are packaged and marketed like board games and sold in the sorts of shops that sell board games. Also, they have managed to do something that the previous producers of Star Wars miniatures failed to do, level Star Wars enormous pop-culture appeal to sell a miniature game to a mainstream audience. In years to come I can see a generation of wargamers cite Armada and X-Wing as the games that got them into the hobby in the way that my generation talks about Hero Quest.
All of this leads me to question why no-one has done the same thing with a British IP that has a similar cross-over appeal - Doctor Who.
Since it's return to television in 2005, Doctor Who has gone from being a huge fad to a respectable part of the UK television establishment. It may not score X-Factor busting audience figures, but it's ratings remain high and stable, especially when you take into account the large numbers watching online via Iplayer. More importantly, its place in pop culture is assured and no longer the butt of jokes.
Board games and card games have been produced based on Doctor Who but these have tended to be either focused on young children or variants of existing games like Monopoly or Top Trumps. There is a Doctor Who RPG but this has remained a specialist product only available in games shops or at conventions and there seems little hope that RPG's will re-enter the mainstream in the near future.
At the same time there have been dozens of unofficial "not Doctor Who" miniatures that the BBC either knows nothing about or has no interest in policing. There are at least four different versions of the 11th Doctor alone none of which are, technically, supposed to be him.
But a well designed, accessible, and well made Doctor Who miniature game could have genuine cross over appeal. It's the sort of thing that, long long ago, Games Workshop might have produced. Is there anyone left to try it now?