…I brought up a recent discussion where advancements in 3D printing are going to eventually make things more accessible and less expensive to make. In the long term (5+ years) dies may actually be a less cost effective solution than other options…
As 3D printing becomes more and more affordable, and scaling quantities becomes more efficient, it’s going to make dies largely obsolete. Why 3D print a die that you then have to use to produce a thing, when you can just 3D print the thing directly?
Anything the game can physically do, short of storing the pieces in cards, can already done with 3D printed models. Removable parts (masts, flags, etc. in this case) can be done, and even if the models are kept relatively simple, there’s really no limit to the potential designs – find a couple pictures or photos of any ship type in history and it could be created.
AR/VR games are neat, but they’ll never completely replace physical games, at least not in our lifetimes, and many people will actively avoid them. Back when video games first started to appear I’m sure there were people saying they’d make board games obsolete, but now decades later board game sales and the sheer number of options are greater than they’ve ever been.
you could have custom designed ships become part of the official game
Indeed, but I see this as an “anything goes” sort of alternative game idea. I wouldn’t want Wizkids or any other company to only choose certain customs to be “approved” or “official”; players would simply decide if a game would have customs or not. Before the game started they could decide amongst themselves if any customs brought to the game were too unfair to use.
“Officially approved” customs would never work.
There could be some sort of ship creator website/app that would calculate points for you, and even generate a PDF/barcode/QR code you could use to print out a deckplate. But, you’d be limited to only the abilities in the system at their official costs (no custom abilities at all, and discounts/adjustments), and it wouldn’t take long for people to start min/maxing their designs to come up with ridiculously overpowered ships that are still technically legal (i.e. Banshee’s Cry, San Cristobal, etc.).
Letting player groups decide on their own whether to allow customs and which particular customs is the right way to do it.