Saturday, April 27, 2013

It's not the size, it's what you do with it

The long wait is finally over: this year's Mantic Kickstarter is here!

I've been waiting since the Mantic Open Day last autumn for this. Ronnie all but promised a Kickstarter for Warpath, Mantic's sci-fi property, and this is it: Deadzone.

The idea is that there is a plague, a contagion, of unknown origins, that is irritable and unstoppable. Where it strikes, all men die, or are at least converted to horrific monsters. The only method down to successfully stop the disease us absolute containment, even of while star systems. If your ship happens to be in a system when am outbreak occurs, you will find yourself stranded there, as the corporation switches off all navicomputers and halts all traffic trying to leave the area.

For some, the 'Deadzone' is an opportunity. The rebels and marauders see rich pickings to be had on the afflicted planets - the challenge is getting in and out without entanglements with plague-carriers and corporate Enforcers.

Deadzone is a boardgame, not a full on tabletop wargame. The guys I spoke to at Salute last week tools me it was expandable though. So you could initially play it at a skirmish level on a 2x2 table, but expand it to larger surfaces add you want. Handy that Secret Weapon Miniatures are doing a Kickstarter for moulded plastic gaming surfaces now too. And that Mantic are going to be distributing them...

Its not the full Warpath Kickstarter many of us were expecting then. But I think Mantic have learnt from the Kings of War and Dreadball funds and made a smart move. Both funds showed there is a lot of demand and support for what Mantic does: quality minis at low prices. But it is hard to seeing large numbers of people from the established market leader to your new system even so. Kings of War massively exceeded expectations on Kickstarter, but is still not widely played. Dreadball did more than double the business on ks - the market loves boardgames right now and its a great way to get large amounts of your miniatures into the public's hands, priming them, if you will, for a full on launch of a wargame later on.

It took Deadzone about 33 minutes to raise its initial funding goal of $50k yesterday. At time of writing it is closing in on $200k. If I were a betting man, I'd put money on it beating the KoW total comfortably. Its hard to say whether it will top Dreadball's though. Dreadball probably benefited in this case as much as it suffered from comparisons with Bloodbowl. People like GW's game and the real sports Dreadball is based on. The comparison a lot of people will probably make this time is with Necromunda. Us the market really ripe for a small scale skirmish game?

I certainly hope so. I think the strong miniatures line and scenery will help.

Deadzone is the debut of another of Ronnie's favourite things for tabletop games: scenery. Deadzone will come with several sprues of it, walls, floors, and windows that clip together. I was told at Salute that they also unclip, so different configurations are possible in different games. It Ead also pointed out though that, at the moment, noone is sure how strong those joints will be. That is, how many times can you reassemble them.

Details on rules and gameplay are also scarce at the moment. We know the game
uses d8's, which suggests more refinement to encounters than standard d6 games, but that's about it.

Given that this game has been in development fora good few months now, I'm surprised at how little info Mantic did choose to put up there from the start. Is this a sign of laziness, or certainty that the magic of Kickstarter nabs punters will put down cash no matter what is shown to them up front? I hope not. I hope it is simply just another case of Mantic genuinely not expecting such massive support so early in the game.

The coming days will be important though. An initial surge of interest can quickly die away unless new material and information is given out to keep the hype going.

I've made my pledge any way and am looking forward to seeing more goodies unlocked and more background shared.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Salute 2013 Part 1 - Anvil Industries

This past weekend saw Salute 2013 go off at the Excel Centre in lovely London. It was my third time at the event and the most fun I've had there to date. Part of that is probably due to amount of toys I came home with, the first of which I'm showcasing here.

The floor was fairly dominated by retailers this year and there was a fair amount for sale to fans of 28mm gaming. The first thing that really caught my eye was the Anvil Industries stand. I have, in the past, enjoyed the Horus Heresy novels and it has been fun seeing Forge World come out with models to match. I really like the more baroque styles of armour and weapons they have been putting out. Their prices though are something else. Now, I'm not saying Anvil are making their own version of FW's stuff. But it is extremely 'compatible'. That is, it shares enough similarities that, I reckon, you could use Anvil's 'Exo Lords' in your 40k or 30k games, but with some different twists.

It was the Black Ops squad that first attracted me. They look like knights in space (notice I didn't say 'space marines' there?) but with a Halo accent. Extra ammo pouches, more streamlined weapons, but still like dark ages suits of armour with power packs. Perfect, I decided for bulking out my Blood Angels Vanguard Veterans in time for some Apocalypse games this summer.

The only hangup was realising the Black Ops packs only come with rifles - not close combat weapons. Luckily you can buy most of Anvil's range 'a la carte' - mix and match legs, torsos etc. to get the look you want.

Now, get ready for really the cool part - the complete set of five miniatures cost me £14.50. For all five. I then bought some 'Silver Wing' jet packs from Max Mini at £6, meaning I now have a full assault squad in cool armour for twenty quid. A similar sized set up from FW would run to £33. I added some chainswords and purity seals from my bits box to get some extra Blood Angels flavour, but this is still a massive saving.

The guys running the Anvil stand were also really friendly and helpful. Every part I chose they showed me several different styles they had for sale and I felt like I was really getting the models I wanted, rather than the ones they were trying to sell me.

There are options for 40k players then - at least if you play marines or, maybe, guard. Not so much Eldar or Tau and it would be nice to see a few more companies in the market with alternate parts for those races. Maybe the Chapterhouse/GW legal tussle is keeping companies out of that arena for now, although recent depositions and testimonies would suggest GW doesn't really have a leg to stand on when it come to some of their copyright claims.

So, now I've told you all about the alternatives to expensive Forge World resin, my next post will be about the Eldar Lynx I bought :)