You may have run across this press release from Fantasy Flight Games stating that they will no longer be providing distribution for the Rackham line of products, specifically AT-43 and Confrontation.  If you haven’t picked up from my posts on this site and others, I’m quite fond of both games and was quite hopeful that one or both would “make it.”

Now you may find yourself wondering: “Why is he writing a eulogy for these games?  Its not like I won’t be able to order them from Rackham!”  While that’s true, let’s think back to Rackham’s track record for the distribution of both games (a period I like to call the dark age of pre-painted miniatures):

  • No rule books were available in stores (online or off) for months at a time
  • Support materials like Cry Havoc were almost NEVER available
  • Miniatures were released infrequently and often before rules were available for purchase or download
  • Distributors didn’t receive shipments on time, if ever
  • Retail stores ordered product and hoped that it might arrive on time (it often didn’t)

Its worth noting that these comments really only apply to the US market (though support outside of France in general has been fairly lackluster), but without a strong US & UK market, I don’t see these lines being viable in the long term.  In likely related news, Rackham has announced that they have received venture capital funding (English translation of the announcement is here) and have formed a new company that has acquired the former company’s assets (this is really just a clever way out of their current bankruptcy).  Rackham claims that the new company will be working with American distributors in addition to starting an organized play program.  This would be very comforting if it wasn’t the exact same plan the company had two years ago, prior to their deal with FFG.

Confrontation is suffering badly with many game stores in the US not carrying the product at all and several seemed skittish about the future of AT-43 before this recent wave of announcements.  I love both these games and have quite an investment in AT-43 and am really hoping that Rackham makes good on the latest round of promises, but at this point I’m very skeptical of the viability of these two product lines.