Monday, November 28, 2016

Mantic open meh

Mantic held another semi-annual open day this past weekend (same as last year, the Saturday after Thanksgiving).  Usually I'm jumping all over pictures trying to share them - but this year there didn't seem to be much.  I think that the big reveals all came out last week before the open day.

It seems the cabinets were mostly filled with existing releases.  There were some new Star Saga and Walking Dead sculpts however.  In addition there are some pictures Mantic has put up on their Instagram feed.

First the Walking Dead: All Out War

First is a painted version of Brian 'the governor' Blake - from the "prelude to Woodbury" single player starter.  I wasn't impressed with the pictures of the unpainted mini - but the studio paint job really makes him look like the character in the comics.

There are some renders of the retail exclusive Michonne, with her two walkers as well as a painted up version of everyone's favorite badass with a Katana!

They did have the minis for 'handless' Rick and a much better pose for Negan painted up as well.

The 'mutilated' governor (after he has a little run in with Michonne) was also on display - this sculpt is right out of the comic!

I don't play the Telltale Games Walking Dead game, but apparently there are producing a version of Clementine from it

This is from the instagram feed - and I really look forward to Ezekiel and Shiva coming out.

The only other new stuff that I could find any pictures of were some painted up models from Star Saga.

Some of the mercenaries

Another shot

Security guards
All three poses

and Lab techs

Finally, there is a video up of the Kings of War Seminar with Matt Gilbert and Nick Williams on Facebook: Kings of War Seminar

If you don't want to watch the video (or cannot get to it)  - I did save (i.e. stole from his facebook post) Nick's summary of the session

  • Tournament book coming early next year (Feb I think was mentioned). Contains new scenarios, new artefacts, new spells and puts the CoK changes down in writing. Playing with the changes is opponents consent only.
  • After that we have Trident Realms being launched with full army release in Feb, individual units in March.
  • Campaign book in April I think? Contains background for the summer campaign as well as some scenarios, some living legends etc.
  • Sourcebook towards the end of the year. 200+ pages of background fluff, including what's happening "now" and a chapter for each army.
  • Salamander army release towards the end of the year.
  • Mantic are bringing resin casting in-house from January and will be making some kits (particularly large infantry or larger) in resin. Once the molds wear out for some existing metal kits, such as Wyrm Riders, they'll convert them to resin.
  • Kings of War skirmish at some point next year. Will be used to develop hard plastic sprues for many armies, as well as some resin characters.
  • Siege rules will be done after skirmish. The RC wants to not just do the "Siege" scenario (that's actually an assault scenario) but also all the little scenarios around that, including sallies from the castle, small incursions, camp raids etc.
  • The RC wants to do a new unit for each of the core races (main rulebook + Trident Realms + Nightstalkers), but also bring them all up to the same number of units. This means some armies, such as Orcs and surprisingly Goblins, will get multiple new units. This hasn't been confirmed yet, but Ronnie did agree to flying gore riders for Orcs :)

There was a huge King of War game going on, and lots of pictures of that were posted on Facebook. But new, exciting reveals - well you can tell how excited I am about any of them because I was able to wait until Monday to post them instead of getting them out as quick as I could.

Because it is all fun and games . . .

Thursday, November 24, 2016

When art turns to war!

To the Elves of the Eastern Kindreds chariot racing is an art form, and one which they gladly turn to warfare.  In battle war chariots are frighteningly devastating troops, carving bloody paths through enemy units. - from the Elf War Chariot Regiment box.

Once again I have to thank one of my friends, Keith Ambrose.  He picked up the box of new Elf War Chariots at the Gem City Massacre, and has kindly let me borrow them to get some pictures.

So first up is the box.  Mantic seems to be moving away from the VCR style boxes into standard cardboard boxes.  These have the various product information pasted on them.  The original idea for the VCR style boxes was that they could double as transport cases for the models.  But nobody does that.

These are more eco-friendly, but have one drawback.  When you cut out the Mantic points, you end up leaving a hold in the box.  Not a big deal if you are going to toss the box in the recycle bin anyway, but if you actually want to keep it - well a box with a hole in it tends to let whatever is inside of it out, or let things from the outside in.  Also at this time of year many people are hoarding boxes for wrapping / sending Christmas presents - and the post office doesn't tend to like boxes with holes in them either.  A minor quibble I know, but still something.

Box - decent picture
Inside the box - well you have both plastic and metal.  Mantic now has a contract with Warlord games (also in Nottingham - is there any miniature company in the UK that is NOT in Nottingham?) to use their plastic horses in their kits.  We first saw these with the Elf Silverbreeze cavalry.  It actually makes a lot of sense to do this - creating a plastic mold is extremely expensive, and there is nothing special or unique about horses.
Warlord horse sprue front
That being said, I noticed on the box (and the sprues) that the saddle is modeled onto the horse.  Great for cavalry - it looks a bit weird for a chariot.  If I were painting these, I would paint the saddle the same color as the blanket, if I didn't use a sharp hobby knife and putty (to fill where I got a bit too enthusiastic) to remove the saddle altogether.  The paint job can hide or emphasize details - and this is one detail you want to hide for the chariot.

The box does include another half a sprue of horses, for a total of 6.
Warlord horse sprue back
For the crew, they simply put in three scout sprues (for a total of 6 models).  The sprue comes with bows for both models.
Elf Scout Sprue, front and back
To help differentiate the crew, they included three spear arms (these are all right arms, so the model with the bow in it's left hand will have to have the right hand with the sword).  The also include three quivers - I like the detail of the sea shell on one side (yes, it is on all three - I find it interesting they didn't put these all on the same side of the mold).
quivers and spear arms for crew
The chariots themselves are all metal.  This is the new standard for retailer exclusive pieces (I honestly still liked, and miss, restic).  The chariot has a base and body, as well as an ornamental head that attaches to the body to give it a bird look (with the body being the swept back wings).  This does a good job of implying speed.

There is also a rail that fits between the body and the back of the base.  This is on a sprue.  You might notice that I only show one here (instead of using two to show both sides).  This is because there was NOT a second sprue for a second set of rails.  All the pictures I can find are ALL of the, well I'll call it the starboard side (i.e. right side when facing the front) of the models - which clearly show the railing.  However most of these pictures obscure the port railing (though the box cover does show part of it).  It took us a while to even determine if there were two, though test fitting these does appear they are all the same (though there is some bending required to get them to fit).  (I am only showing two of each of the components - there is a third but not a third side to show unless I wanted to go all Picaso with the pictures (could you even do cubism with a photograph?) :-) ).

Keith has already submitted this to Mantic, and I hope they continue their excellent customer service they have been showing lately (he is still a little bothered that he never got the marauder heads from the original Deadzone kickstarter even though he had a confirmation email back after he submitted the missing item request).
Chariot pieces
Lastly, there are the wheels, axles and hafts.  The design is, to me, a little different, in that there are two unconnected hafts, one for each horse, instead of a single one between them.  It does make them a bit more unique compared to the other chariots they offer.
Chariot wheels, yokes and axles
You also get three 50x100 bases for these.

I'd like to see these assembled to see how well the pieces fit and clean up.  It will also be interesting to see if the crew fits in the chariot with the round base 'plugs' on them, of if you will need to remove these.

One last minor issue is the price.  I personally find it a little frustrating that Mantic sets the prices in three different currencies at what are lately very high conversion rates.  With the pound falling, you think it would be a good bargain to buy from the UK - however the prices have been set much higher than any current conversion rates.

These retail for £34.99 / €49.99 / $59.99.  However if you manually do the conversion from british pounds, it (at the time I'm writing this) comes to €40.72 / $43.17.  Even the euro price converts to $53.00.   Even though you can get free shipping (and I HATE to pay for shipping) for over $75, paying for shipping (especially since it is a flat rate of £8.00) and ordering in pounds would mean that these would be £42.99 - or $53.02 - saving almost $7.00.  And if you order more than one item the difference keeps growing.

Now I am not a business man.  However it seems to me that it might make more sense to set the price and let the markets take care of the conversion.  In this case everything would be in british pounds sterling, including shipping.  Then let the currency markets settle it.

I understand that there may be additional costs when sending to distributors or retailers outside the UK (thus the increase in price), but couldn't this still be accounted for in a standard price?  So while I like Mantic, and in general their prices are great, the fact that they are still converting at the highest rate from back in 2015 ( £1.00 -> $1.71 ) instead of the current (£1.00 -> $1.23) rate is a bit frustrating.  Not so much that I want to disguise myself, board the ship and start throwing things overboard, but enough to whine about it online.  (Oh, and why do they spell it whinge over there?) (Edit - they don't - apparently whinge is a different word).

Remember to maintain appropriate chariot speeds in residential areas.  (Ok, I really love the jokes on the Mantic packaging!)

Because it is all fun and games . . . 

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

The dampness is spreading

It seems the Mantic is pushing out new previews BEFORE the open day this weekend.

These again are renders of work in progress - they are NOT the final sculpts, though they most likely are very close.

The Naiad Wyrmrider Centurion leads from the front alongside the Naiad cavalry

The Riverguard Captain is given responsibility for whole river basins or lake systems.

Yes, these are metal.  However the difference between being in metal and being in plastic is having several releases every few months, or a single release a year.

So who else is thankful for all the new Neritica releases next year, and plans a Cthurkey to celebrate tomorrow?

Because it is all fun and games . . .

Monday, November 21, 2016

Black Friday is coming!

It goes without saying (but I'm saying it anyway) that Black Friday is a big deal for retailers.  For those who have not heard of this, it is the day after Thanksgiving here in America, which is one of the biggest shopping days of the year (the last Saturday before Christmas is actually the biggest).  It gets it's name because traditionally a lot of retailers operate in 'the red' (i.e. losing money) until this day, at which point they finally make a profit for the year.  Whether this is true or not is actually immaterial, it is still a huge shopping day with huge sales.

Mantic, even though it is a UK based company (and as such does not celebrate Thanksgiving (though I can see them being quite thankful for getting rid of those colonial gits)) of course wants to jump on the band wagon.  Their webstore will have some special deals of course (especially since they are having their open day on Saturday the 26th), but this year they are doing some special RETAIL ONLY sales.  There are some great bargains to be had if you are looking to build a new army, or want to give a new army to that special friend of yours for Christmas.

I want to state again, these are RETAIL ONLY.  You cannot get them online.  So if you want these, head to your FLGS (that is Friendly Local Game Store) and have them order them for you (I don't expect many stores to stock these).

So lets start with a great discount (over 35% off) on some of Mantic's boxed games

Mars Attacks & DreadBall Xtreme Reg $79.99 BF Special $49.99

Mars Attacks & DreadBall Xtreme core games will be reduced by $30 during this promotion (MGMA01 and MGDBX01).

A chance to try a new game at $30 off
If you haven't picked up the Kings of War rulebooks yet (and it is about time you stop borrowing your friends and get your own copy), they have a great bundle deal on all of them.

Kings of War Rulebook Bundle
Reg $109.99 BF Special $89.99

This bundle will include Kings of War Gamer’s Edition (MGKW05), Kings of War
Historical (MGKW10), Uncharted Empires (MGKW07) and Destiny of Kings (MGKW09)

All the Kings of War softback books $20 off
Even more than the books, they are putting EVER mega-force set on sale.  The normal great deal gets even better.

King of War Mega-Force SetsReg $174.99 - Black Friday Special $149.99

All Kings of War mega-force sets will be reduced by $25 during this promotion.
Any mega-force - $50.00 off
Sometimes you just want something more specific (instead of the mega-forces).  Mantic has put together some great deals to help boost some of your forces.

Mhorgoth’s Blight
BF Special $249.99

This custom Kings of War deal will include 6x Zombie Swarm (MGKWU33), Undead
Necromancer (MGKWU102) and Mhorgoth the Faceless (MGKWU90)
**$60 Retail Savings**
240 zombies!

Rotgut’s Regenerating Rabble
BF Special $119.99

This custom Kings of War deal will include 5x Troll Regiment (MGKWO19-1)
and 1x Troll Bruiser (MGKWG103)
** $50 Retail Savings**
15 trolls!

Abyssal Incursion
BF Special $179.99

This custom Kings of War deal will include 3x Hordes of Lower Abyssal (MGKWA102),
2x Abyssal Efreet (MGKWA106) and 1x Archfiend of the Abyss (MGKWA107)
**$50 Retail Savings**
120 lower abyssals!

The Heavens Descend
BF Special $149.99

This custom Kings of War deal includes 5x Elohi Regiments (MGKWB13-1),
Jullius (MGKWB72-1) and Samacris (MGKWB73-1)
**$50 Retail Savings**
15 Elohi

Hearts of Fire & Stone
BF Special $149.99

This custom Kings of War deal will include 5x Dwarf Ironclad Regiments (MGKWD21-1),
3x Dwarf Ironbelcher Cannon (MGKWD14-1) and 1x Dwarf King (MGKWD76-1)
** $50 Retail Savings**
100 dwarfs
Remember, that eBay seller that may give you a discount DOESN'T have tables to play on nor help to sponsor local events.  So go out and support your FLGS.

Because it is all fun and games . . .

These will make you wet

Mantic's open day is not until Friday, but they have just released some work in progress shots of the models for the new Trident Realms of Neritca army that is coming next year for Kings of War.

I hope that all of these (especially the troops (Thuul and Riverguard)) are not metal, but I expect them all to be (I've said it before, and I'll say it again, I liked Restic).

The betentacled and slippery Thuul Mythicans are aggressive and surprisingly powerful, given their size.  Yes, betentacled is now a word.
The Thuul are ferocious creatures that are a bizarre blend of Halfling and octopus.  Halflingtopi.

The Riverguard are the ever watchful amphibian sentinels for the Trident Realm.  It isn't just the navy that has frogmen!

The Leviathan's Bane is a massive harpoon gun that can pierce even the thickest hide.  It only took me four or five games playtesting against these to realize it was a harpoon gun and not a cannon.

Unbridled spirits, Water Elementals are entities of raw energy, bound together by the will of the Trident Kings.  I expect a good paint job will do wonders for these.

The deadly pincer-like claws of these huge Gigas can crush and slice through the thickest plate armour.  I can easily see some cool conversions using these bodies and the claws from the Giant Spiders and Giant Ants from Mars Attacks!

Naiad Centurions (left) are trusted with command of highly effective fighters. Naiad Envoys (right) use marbled conch shells to convey messages.

Because it is all fun and games . . .

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Here I was, all ready to complain

So I already had some of what I wanted to say in my head.  I was all set to gripe about my kickstarter shipment going out on the LAST day AGAIN.  Lo and behold, I have to hold my tongue on that one - as it arrived after only 16 days (much better than the 5 and 4 weeks for the last two packages from Mantic), and was marked as going out on the FIRST day or shipping!

The box is more than twice as thick as the retail edition, though much less color on it.
Retail box on top of Kickstarter box
I'm only going to talk about the things in the Kickstarter edition that are not in the Retail starter set, as I already went over that here.

So of course the box is much deeper, and different art, and it says Kickstarter edition.
honestly, who hasn't seen the box by now?

Removing the lid, you of course see the plastic tray, molded to specifically fit the figures.  Having already experienced trying to fit the figures back into the tray, the very first thing I did was to take a sharpie and number all of the models so it is put them back when your games are done.  I also went through the character cards for the set, and wrote the model # in the bottom corner of the card so it would be easy to get the correct figure (because survivors like Craig and Reggie, who are not even named in the comic, are easy to get mixed up).
38 models, plus exclusive initiative marker and supply counter
Beneath the tray of models is another tray with cards, dice and terrain.  It actually has a clear plastic lid over it (though the dice bag sits on top).
The bottom tray - cards / dice / terrain
Beneath this is a sealed package, containing the rules, counters and two play mats.
The last layer
Backing up a bit (we'll get to the books/mats later) - when you take the character cards out of the bottom tray, you find eight more walkers.
More walking dead
So the cool part of the game is always the miniatures.  Rules may be good, cards interesting, but we all want to see the miniatures.

So let's start with some of the Kickstarter exclusives.  Not these aren't quite as exclusive as they might feel - as Mantic has announced a special booster pack that is the six kickstarter exclusive items (Negan, Michonne, Abraham, Walker Ronnie plus the bag of guns and sheriff's badge)
Supply counter - bag of guns, and plastic version of the initiative token 
Abraham and  Negan are both very tough survivors - they are the two most expensive characters in the set so far (at 66 and 70 points, respectively).  Not only that but they are both leaders (giving you 5 with Shane).
Abraham & Negan
A fan favorite, Michonne is a one woman walker killing machine.  This is an exclusive sculpt - they will later be releasing her in a booster with her two walkers (and maybe even a different card).

With this being a licensed product, they are pretty tight with what can be made for the set.  As such there is no Blaine at all.  They did, however, turn Ronnie Renton, the big man behind Mantic, into a walker!
Michonne and Walker Ronnie
The Walking Dead wouldn't be the same without Rick's family - and the set includes Lori.  But to make things more complicated, it has to include Shane as well.  Shane is the only survivor (so far) to also get a walker version as well.  Like Walker Ronnie, there are no special rules or anything with them, just a cool new walker.
Lori, Shane and Walker Shane
The world of the Walking Dead is full of more than walkers and good fighters - there are simply normal people that have managed to still be alive.  Donna is an example of this.  She comes with her husband Allen.  While he is capable - she is one of the cheapest (and weakest) models so far.  They can still have their uses in the game however.

Allen and Donna are more known for the fact they are Ben and Billy's parents - I won't spoil who they are if  you are not caught up with the comics however.
Allen and Donna
One of the favorite early characters, Dale is finally here.  I find it a little funny that they give you the RV token in the starter set, though Dale doesn't come along until the Days Gone By expansion.

Jim is another survivor, the only one who made it out of Atlanta alive.  (I had to look him up).  He actually could be a good model to have in a game (he gets 2 repair rolls as a single action).
Dale & Jim
If you are a fan of the tv show, you know Carol.  However she is not nearly as tough in the books and game.  She comes with Sophia - who unlike the tv show actually is still alive in the comic series.
Carol & Sophia
Another 'couple' from the series is Andrea and her sister Amy.  Amy is another cheap 'disposable' character - however in the game she actually boost Andrea (who is pretty good).
Andrea and Amy
The last two survivors are Reggie and Craig.  However when I try to look them up on the Walking Dead wiki, I can't find an entry for either of them.  Checking the kickstarter however, Reggie is the guy who shoots Rick at the beginning of the first comic, putting him in the coma.  'Craig is one of a trio of marauders who ambushed Rick, Carl and Abraham on the road to Cynthiana, KY, as they returned to visit Morgan and Duane. At gunpoint, they attempted to pillage their supplies and steal their transportation. When Rick and Abraham fought back, they changed tactics, taking Carl at knife point. Seeing his son on the brink, Rick furiously fought back...' adapted from the Survivors’ Guide. (and then stolen from the kickstarter update by me)

So two new 'bad guys' that are not named characters in the comics.  Maybe they can do more in the game :-)
Reggie and Craig
The kickstarter version had five more unique walker sculpts (bringing that total to 19).  The mohawk walker is one that has been shown in a lot of the playtest pictures.  The other walker is another female
Mohawk & walker
There are three more - including the 'crawler' without legs - and what looks, to me, to be a walker version of Reggie (plus another female)
Crawler, walker and walker reggie?
So what else is there.  One thing they seemed to make a big deal out of in the kickstarter was the 'exclusive' dice bag.  It is ok. And with all the dice needed it sounds useful.  I put the dice in it from the box, and then found there was no way to fit the full dice bag back into the box with the trays.  So the dice went back in the tray, and the dice bag will sit there.  At least until I get rid of the trays.
dice bag
One of the really awesome pieces was the 3d terrain - cars and barricades.  There are two cars (well a pair of cars and a pair of trucks).  These are simply empty shells, however they seem sturdy enough and look like they will paint up pretty well.   These aren't scale models, they are game features, and look to fulfill that role very well.

There are also six barricades, two of each design.  These are actually a bit more detailed, and should also paint up very quickly and really improve the look of the game (since it is a miniature game after all).  I an't help but wonder if they will ever do an RV, tents or trees (or leave those to the more 'hobby' minded).
Tires and salvage

Crates against a fence

reinforced police barricades
Loot markers were also part of the 3d terrain.  There are five pairs of supply markers.  The original game has 9, and with the bag of guns you now have 11.  The Days Gone By expansion has two more  cardboard ones, so you have exactly enough either way.

I do wonder how they will work during play however - as walkers can walk over and even stand on them.  I've run into this in Kings of War, with cool 3d loot or objective counters that then failed a bit when models needed to move on them.  I can see where you will still need the cardboard counters to both track who has picked up a supply counter, and for dropping "searched" counters.
3D supply markers.
The kickstarter box comes with two paper play mats.  I saw where someone online had posted about laminating them - and I believe that is an excellent id IF you are going to use them.  Wave 2 will have the deluxe neoprene mats, that should wear better and look great as well.
Days Gone By play mat

original play mat
On the back of the Days Gone By mat is a list of all the models for wave 1 - both survivors and walkers.  This easily allows those of us who are collectors by nature a handy checklist - showing 4 survivors and 8 walkers that are not in the kickstarter box (and if you want to see those - check out my post here)
back of Days Gone By play-mat - checklist of all models
The included Days Gone By expansion has two smaller sized (same size as the rule books)  counter sheets, adding more activation and wound counters, four tents, four sets of woods, a campfire and an additional supply token.  In addition they include 10 fire tokens - because the expansion now lets you set walkers on fire (as well as other items)
Token sheet 1

back, with terrain point costs

token sheet 2

and back
Last are the expansion rules.  There are a few new rules - for fire and breaking and repairing 'stuff' (based on scenarios).  There are six story based scenarios in this expansion - five solo and the final one being Rick vs Shane.  Unfortunately, there is only two of the scenarios that play 'out of the box', #3 & #6.  Scenarios 1 & 2 require a different version of Rick - and I'm not sure where that card will be (it would be logical to me for it to be int he Rick on Horse booster).  Scenario 1 also is set with Morgan and Duane - who at least are coming out soon.  Then scenario #4 and #5 require Glenn.  I guess he was originally supposed to be in Wave 1, but got pushed back to wave 2 due to problems with the model.  Each of the scenarios can be played with other survivors (they give a point and number limit to use any survivors you want), but that misses the point of playing through the story lines.

The last section of the book has the rules for creating your own custom characters (I bet there are already a bunch of versions of 'not Daryl' floating around :-)
Expansion Rules
There are also new event cards, new equipment and supply cards.  All the survivors have stat cards, but there are even a few upgrade cards to take a different version of several of the survivors.

I haven't had a chance to actually play using any of the new parts (as opposed to the retail box), however this does seem to take care of a lot of the problems I have seen in the retail box (no scenarios, not having enough survivors to make different teams).  This just seems 'almost' like a complete game - except for the missing models / cards for the scenarios included.

The quality of the components is excellent, and so far the rules look good.

Mantic has said they want this to be a full competition game, with players bringing their own teams of survivors to struggle over supplies.  I think some people could get started with this, but while it definitely has replayability that the starter may not, but there may not yet be enough variety for a truly competitive environment.  The only team aside from 'the group' (c'mon Kirkman - they need a danm name) is the Saviors, and the only person there is Negan.  However the later expansions (the farm and the prison) do list many more to add.  I'm also curious to see what further 'retailer exclusives' will be out for wave 2 and beyond to continue to keep the game new and exciting.  A full Woodbury expansion would be a good one, especially adding more people for the Governor's group.

Looks like fun with a lot of potential.

Because it is all fun and games . . .