Knights Models, for those of you that probably don’t know, is a small gaming company in Spain that is responsible for games like Batman Miniatures Game, Marvel Universe Miniatures Game and its subsequent DC game, and the upcoming Harry Potter Miniature Game (I know, they have a way with names…). I’ll go ahead and say I love their games. How no one else thought of making a game based on Batman and superheroes before them is beyond me, but either way, they were there first! Their games are simple and easy to learn yet not so simple that there’s no strategy. Their games are sound and their figures look badass. So what’s the problem, you ask? The problem lies in the company itself.
Let’s start with my “credentials.” I’ve been playing miniatures games for over 15 years; from well known games like Warhammer and Flames of War, to lesser known games like Chainmail and Relic Knight. I have seen games (and game companies) come and go. I’ve played plenty of good games that didn’t last long and I’ve played plenty of bad games that managed to stick around. That usually has to do with the company supporting it.
We’ll lead it off with the obvious: Knight Models had the rights to make Marvel miniatures. They made a pretty good game out of it. Odd choice to only have heroes in the beginning (who are we supposed to fight?), but it was still a very fun game and the models looked pretty cool. well, after 5 starters and a few singles, KM lost the rights to the game and had to discontinue Marvel. Now that’s not the problem. Shit happens. I can’t hold that against the company. The problem was that they gave no hints that they were losing the license and even went so far as to reassure people that the game was still going on (people started to speculate after a long period of time went by with no new releases and no mention of future plans) days before dropping the bomb that they lost the license. They knew for months but chose to say nothing. They announced that it was over and immediately dropped it from their site. To make things worse, they would no longer take care of any mistakes to those products. Problems with your starters or blisters? Your problem, not their’s. Wrong cards? Sorry, wrong number. Missing body parts? missing f@*ks to give.
Which kind of goes into the next thing. Their customer service is probably the worst gaming customer service you will ever deal with! If they ever respond to your emails, its usually to try to figure out how you (yeah, you!) managed to screw things up. The company refuses to ever admit they were wrong. A lot of their fanboys (more on that later!!) will push that off as a problem with the language barrier. As someone that deals with products from around the world, that excuse doesn’t hold up… at all. They also have this weird thing where there’s 0 tolerance for any criticism. Countless people have been banned from their sites and forums for daring to have an opinion that KM sh*ts anything other than gold. All official groups for all games have a mandatory rule of “no bashing” the company which is left to the admins discretion as to what that means (literally ANY negative comment including, but not limited to, “They are taking too long to ship me my paid product.”)
Now, dealing with the company as a store is some how even more of a hassle. Their “release dates” are not release dates. It’s shipping dates. Which is fine, I guess, if you live in Spain or Europe as you will get them relatively quickly. Anywhere else and it’ll be weeks if you’re lucky. I have never heard of a company NOT having the products in stores before the release dates… you know… so the stores have your products to sell on the “release date.” You think fedex rushes whatever is having a release day to whatever store the morning of said date before opening hours?? NO! The store has the products way ahead of time and then puts them out for sell on that date… literally how it works. As I mentioned earlier, if you don’t live nearby you’re not getting your products for a very long time (I do mean very). KM has virtually no distributors outside of Spain. The few they do, they treat just like any other place ordering from them and ships the product on the release date (maybe)… which kind of makes the distributor ineffective. As you may know (you don’t), I live in the US but I’m from Germany. So when I say this, its not in some pompous “serve America first!” kind of way, but to not have a very good distributor here is pretty dumb. There’s no other way to put it. The market for a game like this is beyond ridiculous. People would literally throw money at them. As it stands, its a relatively unknown game here and that’s because there’s no distribution centers here to push that junk out (a little more to it, I know but that would a big step to cashing in this market). Yes, I know there IS a distributor now, but they have a restricted stock and face the same shipping problems all the gaming stores have. So, you might as well order from KM directly. Shipping time from Spain to the US is apparently about 4 months. Our gaming store waited 5 months for their second edition products before canceling the order… which KM did not seem to care about one bit (customer service again). This all seems to stem from the fact that KM seems to prefer people to order directly from KM as opposed to buying them from their local gaming stores. There are incentives for direct buys such as exclusive figures not offered to bulk orders placed by stores. This paired with the long shipping times hurts the game stores that should be carrying this stuff!
And to the worst part: their fanboys. More like cult really. Though their numbers did go down quite a bit after the Marvel fiasco, they’re definitely still there to assure you that every decision Knight Models makes is actually the smartest move any gaming company has ever made. I have never seen just a fanatical group of players… and I mean that in the worst way. These are the people KM always seem to listen to to base how well they’re doing, too. Any minor complaint is met with a slue of fanboys to assure you you couldn’t be more wrong. The company can’t grow and fix itself when all it wants to hear from are these guys that already think they can do no wrong.
As I’ve said before, I’m not bashing their games at all! If you and some of your friends are considering getting into the game, I would actually recommend them. They’re fun, easy to get into, and pretty different from a lot of other miniature games that are around. That being said, KM really needs to get their sh*t together, cause they’re about to get some company. Monolith games is stepping into the Batman world and their models look epic!! (pictured below) Pretty soon KM won’t be able to rely on the fact that they’re the only game in town for the super hero throw down. If they don’t fix themselves, I think Monolith and other companies will have no problem taking their market away!