Tuesday, September 29, 2015

I shall pluck no more forever

If you have been playing miniature games for very long, you have inevitably found that there is no greater risk to your wonderfully painted miniatures than to actually take them someplace to play a game with them.  Bumping around in the car, carrying them to the store/venue, carrying them between game tables (not to mention knocking them off the table to the floor).  And this doesn't include if you are serious to pack and take them on an airplane!!!

Since I started playing with miniatures, I've gone through several iterations of storage / transportation.  From my initial GW miniatures cases to Sabol Army Transports, I've plucked enough foam to fill several moving boxes.  And I've found a solution that I quite like.  By request (thanks for the idea JT) I'm going to share my current favorite transport / storage method for my miniatures.

My first army, way back when, was Vampire Counts for WFB.  I very quickly found I needed a way to transport them - so bought the only solution I had seen - hard plastic GW figure cases.  These held 4 layers of pre-cut foam inserts.  They easily held individual models, but didn't quite fit the cavalry or larger models.  I remember cutting up some of the inserts to make a two layer version, and to fit the cavalry.
GW Figure cases with foam inserts cut to hold cavalry etc.
When I started my next army, I knew that those cases weren't going to work any more.  First they were expensive, and additional trays were hard to get.  At that point I found the Army Transport system by Sabol Designs.  These were the custom 'pluck' foam - where the tray was cut into 1/2" squares that you would pluck out to make room for each miniature.  This allowed you to customize the trays to fit your army.  So things like fanatics got more space, and I could fit use the GW regimental bases (4 models wide).  I bought LOTS of different trays, and three different cases (I really liked when they came out with the smaller size cases that could be clipped together.   Plus I could store the army just by putting the foam trays on a shelf, labeling them with a black sharpie.


Army Transport with some trays (holding Ogres)
Plus this worked for other armies, such as my Confrontation Wolfen and Ophidians, and even my Malifaux Arcanist.  I could take one case for these skirmish games, or hook two together for bigger games of WFB.

These weren't without issues however.  First the foam is slightly abrasive - and it can tell over time as you put the the miniatures in and out of the trays.  But even worse, I found that spiky bits, like spear tips, would often get caught either going in or coming out of the foam - and ended up breaking off many an arm without intending to, just because of the storage method.
OverNight Goblins in Sabol Foam Tray

Eventually I found that putting individual models in and out of the trays wasn't working for me - but since they had started making deeper trays - it occurred to me so store the models vertically instead of horizontally - so make the space for an entire unit rather than a lot of little spaces for individual miniatures.  I had long before found the advantages of magnetic bases and corresponding movement trays, so it was easy to pluck out a big space and just drop (carefully) the entire unit in.  Then when ready to play, just pull the entire unit out.  This took up a bit more space - before where 2 1" trays would hold 2 base infantry units, now I needed one 3" tray instead.  But the convenience was worth it.
Ogre Blaster and Mournfangs - unit on movement tray in deep foam tray
What I did find inconvenient though was I still had to deal with stack of foam trays - and of course the one I needed was always at the bottom of the case.  Plus even though the cases had some pockets, they weren't enough for all my gaming accessories (books, dice, tape measures, army lists, etc), so I still had a messenger bag with all of that stuff.

I had seen other people using blastic bins to store their minis - most of these were full of soft foam or egg crate foam, and just replaces the trays and bags.  It occurred to me though to use magnets for transport as well as the movement trays.  At that point I was buying magnetic bases from Gale Force 9, and even some of their movement trays.  I found that these could be too exact however, and even the paint on the side of the bases could cause models not to fit the trays anymore.  I put cheap sheet magnets on the bottom of the trays (free actually - my wife was a realtor at the time and bought some marketing calendars that had fridge magnets - but you took out the center piece to save weight when mailing - so I had a stack of 1 1/2" x 2 1/2" sheet magnets - they fit perfectly on the bottom of my movement trays.  I then bought more of the 'plastic steel' sheets from GF9 which I used inside my movement trays to line a plastic bin with them - and now I had plenty of room for my army and it was all contained in one place.

My Drunk Dwarf Army, including some units that haven't seen play with the newest book, but that I still have room for in this bin.
When I first started using magnetic bases, I would buy sheets of tin from the local railroad modelling store.  These were about $3 or $4 each, and would maybe fit 2 trays.  The plastic steel sheets were also fairly small and expensive.

Then I started doing Kings of War demos (yes, I'm finally getting to the part people currently care about :-) ).  Now I needed to transport lots of armies (currently 12), keeping them separate.  It didn't take long until I found some plastic bins at WalMart (and the first ones came with a free container as well).  These were stackable and came in sets of 2 with one lid.  I looked at sheets of steel or tin at the hardware store, and got a few to start - but they were also expensive.  It then hit upon me to use roofing flashing - this is basically thin stell, but is much cheaper and comes in much larger sizes.

I just picked up my second roll of roofing flashing - it is 10" wise by 10' long.

10" x 10' galvanized roofing flashing
The bins are 10 1/2" by 14 1/2" - but that was the outside measurement at the top.  They actually are slightly narrower at the bottom inside (so they could nest together.  However it was easy enough to cut a 14" piece of the tin off, and then trim the edge slight to fit - also rounding the corners to better fit the round corners of the bin.  It isn't exact, but doesn't need to be.
Corners and side trimmed
I recommend tin snips for this, as you can use scissors, but it will dull and ruin them for pretty much anything else.
slips right in the box
So now I had a bin for each army.  Individual models stuck to the metal because of the magnetic bases.  I was finding it hard to find GF9 bases anymore, as they were transitioning to making games instead of accessories - however I did discover Shogun Miniautres, who made magnetic bases and steel movement trays.  The bases were cheaper, thinner and higher quality than GF9 so I started ordering them (and have not regretted it since).

For Kings of War, you do not need to have individually based models - since you don't remove models you can unit or 'multi-base' your models.  Shogun will actually make custom bases - so I now get 100x40 (for infantry) or 125x50 (for cavalry) bases for multiple models.
two troops of Ratkin Clawshots (formerly GW Skaven Jezzails) on magnetic unit bases 125mm x 50mm
So the models go on magnetic unit bases - which then stick to the metal in the bin.
and they stick right in the bin
Yes, even metal miniatures hold very well this way.
same miniatures as above, but I've removed the metal sheet and am holding it upside down.  Oh, and the miniatures are metal.
The steel movement trays do not stick to the metal - but since these are block of 10, it is easy enough to take them off the trays so the models go in.
Most of my ratkin army, magnetized into two bins, with the trays and a couple of miniatures that still need magnets
One note - there is a definite height limit to the bins - about 3".  Normal models it is not a problem, but things like lances on knights are an issue - I have broken or bent a lot of these because of poor planning (putting the lances straight up instead of angled forward).  Each demo army fits in a single bin, and bigger armies fit in multiples.  I don't carry more than three bins hooked together, as adding too much weight is a good way for them to break.  The top case of each stack has about 1/2" more vertical space than the others - so I have to be careful what armies end up on top vs. bottom.
Stacked and covered.  Top bin has 1/2" more height than others.
I have a folding, rolling box with all my demo material in it.  I would put the cases on top and roll it into the game areas - but found they still got easily knocked over.  So I glued velcro strips to the bottom case, and to the lids, to keep the cases together.  Bungie cords then hold them down to the rolling case.
I found that if I put the strips in the same direction, the velcro was too strong and would pull off the bin/lid.  This way the bottom holds on two points, giving it stabililty but staying on.
12 demo armies packed up and ready to roll
Originally I was using magnetic tape on the metal in the bottom of the bins to hold units in movement trays.  However I'm seeing these come off, and more when I'm seeing that when I do demos, often people find it easier to pull up the multi-bases and end up leaving the trays in the bin, and then I have to go and put them back on the trays.  What I'm looking at doing now (as seen in my ratkin above) is to put the unit bases directly on the metal, and keep the trays on the side.  Then when I set up the demos, I place the appropriate units in their trays and put them in the bin.  Now these trays easily lift out together (and for big conventions I'm not really transporting them between games, so it should work a bit easier).

One unfortunate thing is that the Snapware plastic bins I've been using are apparently no longer being made.   I can no longer find them at WalMart, but they were the same price on Amazon back when I last got some in 2013.  However looking today it looks like there is a version that has green lids, and goes for even cheaper on ebay.

I was using these for other games - Mars Attacks!, Deadzone and Warpath - those will now have to go into other bins (it looks like Sterilite make make some that are close in size, and it appears that Snapware still makes slightly larger ones for christmas ornaments (that are 13"x13" - but also much deeper, or 9" x 9" as well).  

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Toto, I've a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore.

I've talked about the importance of terrain for fun and exciting wargames ( specifically here ).  However there was an interesting discussion on facebook yesterday that sparked an idea in my mind (always a dangerous thing).  A fellow Mantic Pathfinder was asking about terrain for Kings of War, and if there was any official guidance.  He had found my tournament packet for GenCon 2013 where explicitly describe how the terrain will be laid out for each table.  This was based on the Warhammer Championship packets from Adepticon that year.  (The interesting note was we only had two players show up for that tournament after I spent all that time detailing it).  I remarked that I had never been to a tournament where the terrain was NOT preset and locked in place (though it could make for a 'different' type of tournament).

Yeah, anyone who knows me at all can see where this is going already :-).  One of the challenges I've had in the last year or so is to make tournaments different from each other.  While just the opportunity to play different people is good - playing the same games on the same tables with the same terrain in the same configuration and the same objectives starts to feel - well the same.  I've talked to other TOs (Tournament Organizers), and one thing they all seem to want is something to make their tournament unique and different.  I've been to tournaments where each player gets a set of objective cards - they have to use one each game, and once used it is gone.  Buckeye Battles, a great GT, always has the first round with blind deployment - you can't see where your opponent sets up, making for interesting tactical choices.

So my idea is to have a tournament (oh, and I just happen to be running one on October 24th - go here for more information and to download the tournament rules pack (soon to be updated with the new idea I'm putting up here first)) where I can give this a try.

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Terrain : All players are asked to bring in a piece of terrain for the tournament.  This cannot be more than 10" in any direction.  This needs to be something other than a forest, hill or obstacle, as we already have an abundance of those provided.  Each player who brings in a terrain piece will receive a bonus to their tournament score.  The Organizer will classify and label each piece of terrain (height, blocking or difficult or normal, and if it blocks line of sight or not).

Before the first round, each player must pick three pieces of terrain to use for the day.  A player may not pick the terrain piece they brought, nor may they pick more than one hill, forest and/or obstacle (though if you want to be boring you could pick one of each instead of anything interesting or different).

After table assignments, players will roll off to deploy their terrain, high roll (re-roll ties) placing first.  Terrain may be placed ANYWHERE on the table, as long as it is at least 12" from any other terrain piece.  After all terrain has been placed, then it will be scattered D6".  To do this use the provided scatter die, rolling for each piece and moving it in the appropriate direction.  (If the scatter die comes up with a hit symbol instead of an arrow, then the terrain does not move).  After scattering, the terrain is now set for the game.

If objective counters are being used, they are placed after the terrain is set.

Players now roll for sides (again re-rolling ties) with the high roll picking a side by deploying their first unit.  Game rules now proceed as normal.

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I'm hoping this will be fun and a little different.  Plus it lights a fire under my fat, lazy butt to actually get some of my new terrain finished.  I picked up some really nice pieces from THMiniatures during their kickstarter that I've primed but need to actually put some paint on (I'm trying two different approaches - one is primed grey, the other black).  I'll put up pictures when these are done, but this is what the pit looks like (plus the grave).  I plan to have one open and one closed.
Promotional picture from the kickstarter
Original unpainted resin
Primed black.  I find it interesting how these use the same background in my Foldio II, but it comes out much darker against the white resin than the black or grey.
Primed grey

Grave primed grey







Wednesday, September 16, 2015

In the far future, there is only War . . . Path!

When it comes to table top war games, I've always preferred a fantasy setting over a science fiction one.  I simply like dragons more than tanks.  Also, the biggest sci-fi based miniature game is Warhammer Space-Marine, I mean Warhammer 40K.  I thought it was a bit excessive that giving a faction different shoulder pads and color scheme resulted in them getting their own codex.  Does it really need five books for space marines (not including the women - they have their own book as well).  Now if they had the mechanical space marines (Adeptus Mechanicus) when I was started I might have gotten into it because I like the 'robotic' models.

However I never did play that game, and at this point I am not expecting that I ever will, even if it becomes compatible with Warhammer : Age after Sigmar in the near future.  (Yes, I predict that is the long game for GW at this point - they will take the poor sales of W:AoS as a reason to do a 'new' version - and this version will have all the new W:AoS models compatible with 40K (much like Privater Press has Warmachine and Hordes as two distinct games, but they are completely compatible  and are almost thought of as a single game).

Science fiction based games are very popular though (not just 40K, but Infinity and others).  Mantic of course has their own science fiction line of games.

First there is the growing and very popular Dreadball - the ultimate sport of the future.  Next is the skirmish game Deadzone - set in the same universe, it pits small (6 - 10) squads against each other in urban terrain.  The original version was immensely popular, and Mantic is in the process of updating and streamlining ( no more blast!) the rules, with the new version set to debut early next year.  Finally, the had warpath - the larger battle sci-fi game.  Much like Kings of War, it had a box set and some armies, along with a booklet of rules.  The model selection however wasn't quite up to snuff, and there were effectively no vehicles.

September 21st, at 8:30 am EDT (1:30 pm BST) the kickstarter for Warpath goes live.  This is actually going to be two versions of the rules, Warpath, which is the mass battle game, and Warpath:Firefight which is more of a skirmish game (but on a bigger scale than Deadzone).

I just want to be clear that everything else here is pure speculation on my part.  While I am a Pathfinder for Mantic here in Ohio, I have no knowledge of anything having to do with this kickstarter.  But some things seem fairly obvious to me.

So, beyond the books, what will be in the kickstarter?  Ronnie has said multiple times that a sci fi games needs vehicles - so I see lots of vehicles.  There is already a render of the Enforcer drop ship:
Drop Ship fighter
Drop ship with troop transport option
I see all factions getting some cool vehicles.  As for factions - my guess is it is initially 4 - Enforcers, Forge Fathers, Plague and Veer-myn.  Marauders and Corporation may be done if this gets big enough, as possibly all the factions (Asterians, Rebs) from Deadzone.  However I think it is the first four, because they are the ones with hard plastic troops, which is one of their goals.

Enforcers:
  Enforcers Troopers
  Peacekeepers 
  Pathfinders / Dog Drones
  Jet Bikes w/heavy weapon options
Forge Fathers:
  Forge Guard

  Steel Warriors / Stormrage Veterans / Drakkarim
Veer-Myn
  Night Crawlers / Stalkers
\
  Shredder / Ravager (maybe - it says plastic and I believe that now mean Hard Plastic - as Mantic no longer seems to be making new models in restic (i.e. sprue-less plastic, premium plastic).
Plague
  Plague Zombies

Unfortunately the current corporation, rebs and asterian factions do not have any plastic troops, and while the Marauders HAD them, they were variations on the fantasy orcs, and just didn't hold up to the Deadzone versions.   The marauder troops are currently NOT available on the Mantic webstore either.

Now one thing about kickstarters is the pledge levels - where do we expect them to be, and what is the 'sweet spot' - the best bang for the buck.

I am guessing that Mantic is going to do something similar to what they did with the recent Kings of War 2nd Edition kickstarter - with the base level being $50 for the rule books, the kickstarter Blaine figure, and some other figures that will be added as the kickstarter progresses.

I'm guessing there will be a $100 level with the $50 level and a choice of one of the four starter armies, and a $150 level with two starters or one mega army.  Finally I'm going to predict a $400 level which is all four of the mega armies.

In addition, stretch goals are always popular.  Guesses for these?  Well first I see stretch goals for vehicles - I'm actually hoping for at least two kits per faction, and with options for each to do two different variations.
Enforcers - Bomber, Interceptor/Transport
Forge Fathers - Tanks.  Transport, Flame Assault, Battle (would be cool to have one kit with LOTS of options)
Plague - Transport Gunship, Battle Tank
Veer-Myn - Tank and a flyer

Those seem obvious.  Then I'm thinking a plastic sprue for the plague - most likely to do the plague 3rd gens, with a bunch of options.

After that - well maybe if it goes big enough they will add another army (I'd like to have all the lists for all eight of the Deadzone factions (plus Veer-myn and Corporation) myself, even if they don't yet have models).  At this point I expect the fifth army to be the Asterians or possibly corporation.  I personally would like it to be Marauders - hard plastic marauder grunts that match the aesthetic of the Deadzone marauders would be awesome.   If they add another army, then they will up the deal for all the mega armies.

For add ons - I expect that all of the existing models for the armies that are available from the current Warpath AND Deadzone ranges will be available to add on.

If you are familiar at all with Mantic's kickstarters, you know they tend to get very big very quickly, and are a great deal for the money.  They have a new policy now however, where there are also new products coming out outside of the kickstarters - so when the new Warpath is released, there will be additional new stuff even if you max out the kickstarter.





Thursday, September 10, 2015

September SW Ohio Mantic Pathfinder Newsletter

Strange summer, weather wise.  August was actually cool and pretty nice, but so far September has been HOT!  I think somebody got their calendars messed up.  Labor day has come and gone - so what is happening in the world of Mantica?

Kings of War 2nd edition has officially been released, people are receiving their kickstarter packages, and the first printing has already sold out.  Don't worry, they will print up more.  If you haven't gotten your copy yet make sure you ask your FLGS to order it for you.  And while you are at it, have them order some of the 'retailler exclusive' products for you.  These are new releass that ARE NOT kickstarter based that you must purchase through 'normal' channels.

What kind of minis you ask?  How about the new Abyssal Dwarf Iron-Caster?  Or Undead Soul Reaver Infantry?  Dwarf Sharpshooters?  All of these are already available, and soon to come are Orc Skulks, an Orc Godspeaker, Undead Zombie Trolls and Ogre Hunters!!!  But not only that, the new Uncharted Empires expansion book for Kings of War is also retailler exclusive!!!

What is Uncharted Empires?  It is the expansion of army list that Mantic does not currently make models for - like Ratkin, Empire of Dust and Salamanders.  These are the lists that are currently in the final stages of beta testing, which is scheduled to finish before the end of this month (I've heard that the 28th is the deadline for feedback).  If you are interested in getting your voice heard, the beta lists are available at https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1XgQY5vVHs_V19N_2lsrpk59SIF9hi6_KDBqkmyitRro/edit#gid=644257362

For those keeping score - Unearthed Empires contains the following lists
  1) League of Rhordia (men and halflings)
  2) Ratkin (NOT skaven)
  3) The Herd (NOT beastmen)
  4) The Empire of Dust (NOT tomb kings)
  5) Varangur(NOT chaos warriors)
  6) Salamanders (NOT lizardmen)
  7) The Brotherhood (NOT brettonians)
  8) SUPER SECRET - pretty awesome and interesting list
  9) SUPER SECRET - the internet will explode when they see this one.

I saw Ronnie mention that all of the first wave for KoW2 to be completed by the noon tomorrow, so if you haven't gotten yours yet, watch for it.

Locally, one thing going on is we have formed the Ohio War Kings.  This is a group dedicated to promoting fantasy mass combat table top gaming.  We are recruiting people interested in helping me run demos at conventions - specifically Origins (and soon Gencon).  Yes, I have admitted that I could use some help running the fourteen events at Origins.  If you are interested in helping to promote Kings of War and would like to get a free badge four day for Origins, it only requires helping with three sessions (ok, you have to actually run one of them) (and yes, that is a total of 6 hours of work for a 4-day badge).  Contact me at this email address if you are interested.  (Oh, and we may make shirts as well!)  (Yes, I'll be doing the same for Gencon once scheduling for that starts at the beginning of the year).

In other local events, things are actually a bit slow right now.  Everyone wants to do another escalation league, but they a lot of them want to do the new armies that aren't coming out until wave 2.  So until we get those, we are doing beta-testing of the Unearthed Empires lists still on Monday nights (6 pm at the Hobby Shop), as well as practicing for the tournament in October.  So 1500 points in September, and 2000 points in October.  And for those who can't make it on Monday nights (what is it letting things like Jobs, Family and the Real World getting in the way of Gaming?) lets see if we can squeeze in the first and third Saturdays of the month down there as well (starting at 1) (if we can find a table).

Unfortunately the Legendary Game Faire has been cancelled this year.  The main focus of this was a Warhammer 8th edition tournament, and with the recent changes to that game they were unable to get enough of a committment to be able to afford the venue.  Never fear folks - we have stepped up and will be having a 2000 pt, 3 round Kings of War 2.0 tournament at the Hobby Shop on Saturday October 24th.  For full details go to http://www.puggimer.net/kowleague.htm.

Below is my planned schedule for events - all the events next year are still in the planning stages, but mark your calendar now to reserve the date!

Schedule of Planned Events
Sept / Oct - Kings of War open play, playtesting, practice games
Oct 24th - Tournament at the Hobby Shop
November - February - Kings of War Escalation League
Mar 4 - 6th - OH Con in Toledo OH
Mar 18 - 20th - Manticon in Nashville TN
Mar 30 - Apr 2nd - Adepticon in Chicago IL
June 15 - 19th - Origins in Columbus OH
August 4th - 7th - Gencon in Indianapolis IN

Some people actually play games other than Kings of War (yes, I have to accept that fact).  For you Dreadball fans, the Xtreme kickstarter has completed shipping. Are people ready to play on the new variable pitch from the expansion, or the season 5 and 6 teams?   If you didn't back the kickstarter, then season 6 is shipping to retailers in November (Season 5 is already on the shelves)! I'm not sure is the clear blue Crystallians and Ada-Loren are going to be easier or more difficult to paint at this point.  Of course you can always build your own team with the Mutants or Mechanites.  If you haven't seen these new miniatures yet I talked about them on my blog last month.

Even before then, Dungeon Saga: Dwarf Kings Quest is scheduled to ship to retailers in October.  In addition to the base game, the Adventurer's Companion will also be shipping, as well as separate packs of doors, furniture, counters and tiles, plus the Legendary Heroes and Evil Dead miniatures.  This is schedule to ship to kickstarters before it hit retailers - and is supposed to ship in a single wave as well!  Not only that but I hear rumors that Mantic is working with some new distribution channels in the US, UK and Europe, so it may aleviate some of the shipping issues and long waits coming across the ocean.  So expect lots of awesome toys to be arriving in plenty of time for Christmas.  The Return of Valendor expansion is set to ship to retailers in December.

The Deadzone: Infestation kickstarter is on schedule, and they revealed the latest digital work in progress for the Kalyshi sculpts (I heard the joke that they look like their abs have abs).  Is anyone else thinking that the Brood Mother or Night Terror might make for awesome Ratkin Mutant Rat Fiends?

If you want to get more current information (more than once a month) or pictures of some of the new models, be sure to check out my blog at ttp://blog.untilsomebodylosesaneye.net/.  Also check out Keith Ambrose at http://actingchildish.blogspot.com/.

Because it is all fun and games …
Mike Carter
Your friendly local Mantic pathfinder

Monday, September 7, 2015

An unexpected Kick

I'm not always known for my patience, especially when I start seeing others getting the thing that I'm waiting for.  Well today being Labor Day, I wasn't even looking for anything since the banks are closed and mail is not delivered, but about 10 am there is a knock at the door, and there is a small but fairly heavy box from DHL - who apparently doesn't give their drivers the holiday off.  (I was also surprised to see it wasn't sent until the 2nd - so DHL got it here in only 5 days).

So my Kings of War 2nd edition Kickstarter wave 1 has finally arrived.  Of course, that means I'm going to share (well, pictures and opinions) everything with you, my loyal readers.

First off, of course, is the main focus of the Kickstarter, the 2nd edition books.  Now I bought a copy of the Gamer's Edition just to have and show off at Gencon.  I also added a copy to the kickstarter when they changed the shipping (so I had a little extra).  They also switched out the map of Mantica for a print of the hardback cover - no big deal as the map is in the book, plus I have one from the first kickstarter somewhere.

Hardback, 2 Gamer's Editions and the print
The hardback is a beautiful book, though I was a little surprised when I first saw it that it was smaller than expected.  I had just just expected it to be the same dimensions as the previous book - which is the same as the Dreadball and Deadzone books, as well as the three first edition expansions.  The first edition was 8 1/2" x 12" and 148 pages, with 8 army lists in it (and a few pages of kickstarters names (pg 146, 2nd column, almost half way down)).  The new book is 6 5/8" x 10 1/2" and is 208 pages (with no kickstarters names, nor is it signed)).  This is the same size as all the Mars Attacks! books as well.  The binding is slightly rounded instead of flat, and the book stays open nicely.  It is small enough that it would work fine at a game table - but isn't needed.

Size comparison between 1st Edition and 2nd Edition hardback rule books
The Gamer's Edition softback version is actually the same page size as the hardback (once you account for the hardback cover overlap of about 1/8" per side).  This one is 80 pages, and is all the rules without at many pictures or fluff in it.  There is one page reference that for the Individual rule (the Gamer's Edition references it on page 71, which is the hardback page for this rule (it should be page 22).  However I don't find that this detracts from the book at all - I'm definitely not one that can fault anyone for an occasional typo.

I did notice that when I got my Dreadball Xtreme Wave 3 kickstarter, the books were separated from the rest of the package by a piece of cardboard to protect them.  Unfortunately they did NOT continue this practice for this shipment - the art print is dinged at the bottom, the cover of one of the Gamer's Edition has a slight crease in the upper right corner, and the upper right front edge has a scrape on it and lower right front corner is slightly bent.  The idea of separating the books was a good one - they need to make sure they do this in the future.  Now I'm not buying these as collectibles, and they WILL get additional dings from wear and tear, so it is overall not an issue for me, but some people are not as forgiving.

Now, I (like all the kickstarter backers) received a PDF of the hardback edition some time ago, so I actually didn't need either of the books (as well as having a Gamer's edition for a month already).  It is the rest of the new toys that I wanted.


One of the things that I thought was a great idea for the Kickstarter was the counter set.
Counter Set.
There are 7 objective counters, a turn counter, an arc of sight and a 6" ruler (in green).  (Interesting how my phone balanced these against the green backdrop differently than the rest of the pictures (using green since the grey and metal miniatures area a little harder to see against the grey backdrop)).  Then there are a red and blue set of counters containing 8 nerve check counters, 8 two sided wavering / disordered counters and 2 spell target counters (for bane-chant, as that is the only spell that has any kind of lasting effect) each.

Quality of these is great, though I personally don't see a use for the disordered, nerve check or spell effect counters (these conditions just resolve too quickly to need to mark them).  Wavering yes.

The turn counter is nice (cute that it has a die and a 4+ between the 6 and 7 to mark how you get the seventh turn.  The pointer snaps in, but fits very loosely - I wonder if I can find a rubber grommet to help it fit snugger and not just flip the pointer if it gets bumped.  One thing I just noticed looking at the turn counter (and then checking the book) is they have changed the numbering of the turns, so that there are now 6 (with an optional 7th) turns in the game, instead of 12 (with an optional 13th and 14th).  I like this, as it is the way I have always thought of turns (i.e each player has the same numbered turn instead of one player having the odd and the other having the even turns).

The arc of sight is wonderful.  Of course before Origins this year I made a bunch of these for my demos because they are simply so useful.  I find it interesting to hear a lot of people describing this for war engines - when it actually applies to all units.  Of course the short edge is 50'' to make it perfect for war engines as well.

Lastly is a 6" ruler.  Somewhat useful, but it won't replace the tape measure for me.

I have already seen some nice paint jobs on these - on making the arc and turn counter look like rusted metal, and another where all the markings are filled in with white.

Next up are the wound counters.  In the first kickstarter, people got a set of clear 'splat' wound counters, and Mantic made some red commercial ones.  I was not a fan, because it required you to keep this pile of tokens with each unit - and I could see where one set would not be enough if you wanted to go with several hordes (and now legions).

Wound counters - three 10's, five 5's and sixteen 1's.  Plus four bases.
The new wound counters fix the issue with having to take a big pile of tokens by putting a hole in the center and then having a spike to stack them on.  The spike fits in a base that is 60mm x 20mm - exactly the size of three infantry (so if you wanted to use them as the final middle three models they fit exactly).  The base is designed to hold three dice if you don't want to use the spike.  While better, they don't excite me.

A variety of wound counters, including the 2012 kickstarter clear splat, the red splat and the new grey splat with spike and dice holder.  At the bottom are knitting counters.
I saw someone mention knitting counters on either facebook or the forums, so I did a search on eBay and found these : Knitting Counters.  At $0.75 a pair they are the best deal I've seen.  Plus you only need one per unit and they can track up to 99 wounds (and while I once did 50 wounds to a horde of ghouls, generally you don't need nearly that many).    Free shipping, and these actually arrived two days ahead of the estimated delivery window.

Moving on, one of the the exciting new stretch goals was the new resin Tyrant King Blaine on raptor miniature.  Now, for absolutely no reason whatsoever, I thought that this would be a monster sized model.  There was absolutely nothing at any time that would have implied this, it was just all in my head.  So when I saw this, I was initially disappointed as I expected it to just be bigger.

As it is, it is still an awesome miniature.  I'm not sure why it is resin and not metal (simply because they can always  cast metal at the Mantic warehouse), but I do look forward to assembling and painting this.  I expect it will have rules in the upcoming campaign supplement.

Tyrant King Blaine on Raptor.  Raptor is in three pieces, and Blain is an additional three pieces.
The one thing I dislike is that Blaine's legs are molded onto the raptor body.  I really dislike when they do this, because it really limits your conversion opportunities.  However with only one right now I'm making it as is.

The last of the special Kickstarter models was the Ronaldo the Bard miniature.  Ronnie Renton, the president, CEO, boss and chief bottle washer at Mantic has always been a gamer, and one thing he hates is the idea of Bards in dungeons.  It really makes no sense for a performer to be down facing monsters and traps.  So as a joke, they set a stretch goal to make a miniature of Ronnie as a bard.  As you can imagine, the stretch goal didn't take long to knock down, and most people got one for free.  Me, I bought an extra (because why not!).  (Mantic already makes a 'Coach Ronnie' (available via Mantic Points) for Dreadball)
Ronaldo the Bard
So of course the kickstarter funded some other new models for general retail, and I had to get some.  Now I still have a couple of months to wait for the Abyssal Mega Army and Nature Starter Army that I got on the kickstarter, but the individual miniatures (well, except for the Abyssal Fiend).  So one of the first models I wanted was the new Necromancer for the undead army.
New undead Necromancer - with two arms and two heads
While I don't collect undead, when I made a demo army for them I just found and old Confrontation miniature to use for the necromancer, and I've wanted to replace it with a Mantic model for some time.  Now they came out with a very cool one.  This is a very nice, metal, detailed miniature with two head choices and two arms.  I already know I want the undead skull head, the bearded flesh one actually works if you want an evil wizard.  It also has two left arm choices - probably do the sleeve to match the right arm holding the book.

I have wanted the next miniature since I first saw the work-in-progress green sculpt a couple of years ago after someone posted a picture from a tour of their office.  When they added it to the kickstarter my inner Igor was shouting "It Must Be Mine!".

Ogre Warlock.
Well it wasn't just the Ogre Warlock that the kickstarter funded for the Ogres - but also the berserker braves.  These models don't hit as well (4+ instead of 3+ ME), but have a bunch more attacks (AT 15 and 30 for regiments and hordes, as compared to 9 and 18 for ogre warriors).  What surprised me is that there are three separate metal bodies; I actually only expected two varieties.  The arms fit on any of the bodies so you can mix and match them as well, plus there are four heads, to give even more variety.  Of course now I have to figure out how to redo my demo Ogre list to include these :-)
Ogre Berserker Braves
The last new model I ordered was the new goblin war engine.  This kit is designed to make both the Big Rocks Thrower and the Sharpstick Thrower.  I ordered three of these, because in my demo goblin army I had two big rocks and a sharpstick already.  These were scratch built from older models (I wanted to avoid GW models) and I really looked forward to replacing them.

Then the new starter lists came out - and these weren't included.  They are in the list, but not in the free download.  I had made the decision to have all my demo armies only use the starter lists (for those that were available).  So the remaining question for me is if Mantic is ever going to release the full lists for download, at which time I could add these.

It is a nice kit though
Goblin war engine kit - makes a big rocks thrower or sharpstick thrower
I thought people might like to see how to make the two different war engines.  The base for both is the same with four wheels.  There is then a piece that is planks set at an angle.  This is basically what determines which model this makes - and if someone wants to be able to use magnets or pins to make both kits, this is the piece that has to be moved.

For the big rocks thrower, the planks lean away, and you put the padded bar on the top.  The arm / basket has a pin that goes into the main body then.
Big Rocks Thrower (blu-tacked together)
For the sharpsticks thrower, you reverse the planks to face back,  Each of the bows goes over the bolt and then connects back to the bolt thrower frame.  This frame is then attached to the planks and again has a tiny pin that goes in the base.
Sharpstick Thrower, again blu-tacked together
There are a couple of shields as well - it looks to me like these can go anywhere to help 'proctect' the machine.  One last piece I noticed was the crew member firing the machine.  This is the middle goblin in the picture.  He holds a big bar that fits in a notch in the back of the machine.

This is a nice model, and the crew are VERY characterful (I really like the one with the spyglass).

The one thing I've found that I don't like is the 'firer' miniature.  Since war engine crew are purely decorative in Kings of War, I have typically glued them to the base for the engine.  War engines are now defined to be on a 50mm base as well.  My point is, this length of this from front to back wheel is close to 50mm - so the firer miniature won't fit on the base with it.  I actually have a lot of 50mm square magnetic bases specifically for war engines, large cavalry and monsters.  So for me to include the crew on the single base I need a 50mm x 70mm base (or have him separate, which I don't care for either).  This is just a nitpicky item for the way I want to model it, and should not be taken as something bad about the miniature at all.

So that's what I got in my box - now to decide what to paint up first!

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Off into Uncharted territory

At times it doesn't seem like it has been six months, but then it also feels like it has been forever.  Beta testing for Kings of War started in March, and it is now September.  The great news is that the new edition of the game is shipping - and in fact the first printing has completely sold out, and they have are already waiting for the second print run.  Even better is that the beta testing is nearing the end.

The Mantic Blog today talked about the new expansion, Uncharted Empires.  This is what I used to call the proxy book, and then was corrected to call the supplement book, and now has an official name.  The first iteration of the nine lists that are being publicly beta tested came out three months ago at the beginning of June (ok, so it was June 7th, not quite a full three months).  The beta testing for all the lists in this new book will wrap up by the end of this month so the book can go to print and start shipping in November (I was hoping and mistakenly said it would be October).

So what are the Uncharted Empires?  The main rule book has 11 army lists in it, fully fleshed out and balanced.  These are the major factions in the world of Mantica, the ones (except for Kingdoms of Men) for which Mantic supplies models at this point.  The Uncharted Empires are the minor races, those that are not currently major 'players' in the world of Mantica.  They still exist and have background, they just aren't as strong or plentiful as the other races.

If you want to try any of the lists in playtest, you can download the spreadsheet with them here.

So what are the Uncharted Empires?

1. Ratkin - A race originally created by the Abyssal Dwarfs (Evil)
These evil rat men gain courage from numbers - they have a special army rule that non-irregular infantry regiments and hordes boost the nerve of any other units within 6".  So the more rats there are nearby, the more courageous a unit is.  So if you haven't guessed, this is a horde army whose strength comes from lots and lots of rats.  They have slaves, warriors, armored warriors and even the disease carrying blight.  While not an army to pick if you like heavily armored knights, they do have a light cavalry option as well (and who can't use some nimble cavalry in their force?) If you want huge powerful creatures they have the Brutes (call the brute squad, I am the brute squad).  If you like to stand back and shoot at your enemies they have throwing weapons and long barrel rifles as well as a variety of war machines, including indirect artillery, the height 2 'shredder' and mobile weapon teams.  They are also set for big gribbly monsters with the Mutant Rat-fiend, Rattlewagon and Death Engine (shooting firebolts in all directions).  Of course they have characters, including a Blight Lord, War Chief, Warlock and Assassin.  If you have skaven models, then you should feel right at home fielding ratkin.

When I first saw this list the night I returned home from Origins, even though I was exhausted from running events and teaching people how to play the new edition of Kings of War, I immediately ran down to the basement, pulled out the half finished skaven arm I had started over five years ago and wrote up a list - fired up to finish and play this army.  I loved the clan skyre contraptions (the DoomWheel, the Screaming Bell, and the Warp Lightning cannon) enough to actually have finished them (well the first two, I have to kit bash a base for the Warp Lightning Cannon - I mean shredder).

Skaven Screaming Bell will be a Ratkin Death Engine
Skaven Doomwheel is now a Ratkin Rattlewagon

2. The League of Rhordia - an alliance of human city states and the halfling shires (Neutral)
I've been told that this lists can fit many Empire models than the standard Kingdoms of Men.  A wide variety of infantry and cavalry, they have the large cavalry, volley guns, Iron Beast and Battle Shrine that the KoM lists lack.  Sure half the army (see what I did there?) is short, expects second breakfast and has furry feet but that does not make them any less competent in battle.  Any human models can be used, or if you have some models based on the Lord of the Rings movies, then you have a force.

3. The Herd - satyrs, centaurs, minotaurs, owlbears and other beastmen. (Neutral)
Not just goat headed satyrs and minotaurs, this army includes many other beastial creatures, including the living version of werewolves (lycans, with Pathfinder instead of Lifeleech).  Some of the infantry is also based on 25mm bases, in case you have some models already based that way.  The have a couple of big monsters, and you can even field a stampeding herd of rhinos, elephants, etc.   A fast army that is all about getting into combat (with no real war engines and no long range shooting).  Dust off your minotuars and centaurs and give the herd a try.  (Me, I'm thinking about trying a small (1000 pt) army of all lycans using some of my really old Confrontation Wolfen (warriors and fang / great fangs as lycans, the larger Predator models as Guardian Brutes, and the huge Worg models as heroes (one that is barely started to be painted, while the other has yet to be assembled))).

4. The Empire of Dust - a ancient cursed race (Evil)
If you prefer your undead to be ancient, dry and brittle from the desert sands (as opposed to the wet and squishy variety normally seen in undead lists), then this list of skeletons, mummies, scavengers and giant guardian constructs is exactly what you are looking for.  Instead of the pets often seen in other lists, many units can take a one use upgrade that adds five dice when the unit is surged.  Since they are dead, most of the units have shambling, but chariots, worm riders and some of monsters have the speed to make up for it.  So dust off your old skeletons and give them a try.

5. The Varangur (aka The Shattered Clans) (Humans) (Evil)
Some people just like to watch the world burn, and the Varangur are worships of an ancient god who seek destruction of all who do not bow down before their deity.  All the units in the list have higher nerve values than 'normal' to represent their devotion to their god.  Unarmored warriors, slaves and sneaky, mobile short range killers are all there, but of course what people want to see are the Sons of Korgaan - heavily armored warriors (on 25mm bases) that represent the greatest warriors of the shattered clans.  Each unit of SoK can choose an option to indicate which of the ancient gods they follow - Brand of the Warrior, Guise of the Deceiver or Mask of the Reaper.  Of course there are cavalry and large cavalry options for these as well.   Plus they have cave trolls and large, broken, corrupted gargoyles.  One of the most interesting monsters has to be the Jabberwock - who gains an extra attack for each wound already on the target unit - truly a nasty combat monster.  One interesting idea is the living legend Herja of the Fallen - who is the bride of the Gargoyle living legend Ba'su'su.  (in the Abyssal Dwarf or Abyssal army lists).  So if you are tired of the wishy-washy neutral human armies - bring your warriors and monsters and fight for the shattered clans.

6. Salamanders (Good)
Born of fire, the salamanders are an army of fire and lizards.  The salamanders are on 25mm bases (including the ancients, ceremonial guard and corsairs (yes, lizard pirates!!!)).  They are accompanied by Ghekkotah warriors and hunters, the small, faster lizards with blowpipes, or cloaks that make them much hard to shoot at.  Fire elementals and some monsters, as well as both normal and large cavalry are all available.  If the poison blowpipes of the ghekkotah aren't enough ranged firepower for you, them you can take an Ankylodon Battle Platform as a monster choice, or Komodon Artillery as a war engine.  The new salamander plastic models coming out early next year were practically made for this army, as were you toy dinosaur collection.

7. The Brotherhood (Humans) (Good)
The last of the announced lists are the Brotherhood - for the player who just can't get enough knights in their army.   While they have a decent selection of infantry, most of them are villeins (or peasants or surfs if you like), though they do have a unit of knights on foot.  But it is the cavalry, the knights, that attract people to his list.  Four types of knights and two types of villein cavalry give them lots of powerful, fast forces.  Whether you take the standard Order of the Brotherhood, the flying, large cavalry Order of the Forsaken, the monster hunting Order of the Abyssal Hunt or the (irregular) regenerating Order of Redemption you will have no end to the pageantry you can display (and most knights are inspiring to the villeins).  Arthur himself would be proud of this force battling for good.

Did I say there were only 7 lists?  There are 9!  But the last two are being developed and tested in secret to give you a sweet surprise when you purchase the book.

8.  SUPER SECRET
The REDACTED REDACTED are an cool new idea that hasn't been seen in a mass combat game before.  Being able to field regiments of REDACTED, hordes of REDACTED and very characterful heroes and monsters like REDACTED and REDACTED make this a very different and fun list to play.

9. SUPER SECRET
When the REDACTED hit the stands the internet is going to go crazy.  Not only does it have REDACTED and REDACTED, but awesome REDACTED, REDACTED and REDACTED.  Yes, you can now play REDACTED in Kings of War!!!  And if you are a fan of the writings of REDACTED then you can even play an army of REDACTED and REDACTED.

If you have ever felt that no one listened to your opinions, well now is the final chance to let your voice be heard.  The playtesting on these lists only goes to near the end of the month.  The rules committee isn't looking for thoughts and ideas on the lists, they want feedback based on playtesting.  So get out your knights, our rats and your evil warriors, play a few games, and submit the battle reports on the mantic forums.  Just remember the most important rule when playing a game - have fun!!!

* One last night - make sure to get your FLGS to order enough copies of this for the Christmas season, as they expect the first print run to sell out, and may not be able to guarantee a second printing will make it in time.