Today I have mostly been playing with the Landing Pad and Fortifications Battlezones from Mantic. The potential for these kits is absolutely fantastic. Their execution is not quite so brilliant though.
First off, the Landing Pad. I started off building this in the square pattern shown in the Kickstarter. On my first go I used the flat connectors all over the pad to get the sturdiest construction possible. This did work. But, it was only when I came to put the support pillars on, these also having connectors on each end, that I realised the potential drawback of a belt and bracers approach.
That is, if you connect the top surface all over and then connect the bottom surface with the pillars it can be difficult to remove them without prising. Prising is the enemy of the Mantic connectors, you really need to push them out with a pin or dowel of some sort. So I ended up gingerly removing a lot of the pillars again, before popping out the flatties on the top, and replacing the pillars.
As you can see, you can make a very nice looking landing pad. But, here's where it gets really cool: you still have a bunch of stuff left over on the sprues that, unlike a certain other game company's kit, is still useful. After building the square pad you will still have four square floor sections and half a dozen triangular ones too.
Note that none of the pictures I have shown so far include all the parts on the main sprues or any of the accessories. you can, for example, put a skirt all around the landing pad, not just on the corners like I did. You get a laser cannon or radar dish in this kit too, which can also be put anywhere. There's a whole accessories sprue with loads of crates, and barrels, a ladder, and a cool looking elevated light that doubles as a connector for wall sections too.
The main sprues come with several sections of stairs as well. These are the weakest part of the kit though, at least as far as I can tell. I'm just not sure how they are supposed to actually connect to the landing pad. There seems to be a half-hearted attempt at putting connector slots at the top, but I haven't found anything they will actually clip on to yet. They are supposed to join to each other as well, so you can have double or triple width stairs. But the sockets are too small for the pegs. So unless I've missed something, these are not so useful.
Still, check out that pad! I can totally see Stormraven's landing on the larger one. Perhaps the smaller one gives us an idea of the kind of size of kit Mantic are working on too.
Next up is the Fortifications zone. This is a funny one.
But what happens if you do mix it all up? Well, you can do stuff like this for a start:
It reminds me of the Forge engine from Bungie. The ability to mix and match terrain pieces in infinite combinations is fantastic and I am so excited to see what people do with these kits.
When Forge came out, a map editor for a console multiplayer, the first ever I think, it blew people away. It has been iterated on a few times since then, growing in both subtlety and complexity. The maps that have been created have likewise become more and more amazing. I really hope we see the imagination of the community go to work on Mantic's kits to produce some similarly amazing boards.