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.

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