Monday, October 31, 2016

They're here

It is Halloween, the most iconic time of the year to watch scary movies.  One of the scariest I remember is the 1982 classic Poltergeist

Really, I just wanted that classic line - it really was creepy then.  Of course I'm talking about Mantic's new game, The Walking Dead: All Out War.

The kickstarter is now shipping (which means at least two weeks before it gets here) - I'm not expecting it quickly because Mantic shipped me a demo copy of the retail version on September 19th, and it took 5 weeks to finally arrive on October 25th.  And they wonder why we call it snail mail.


While there are already many unboxing videos out there, as you might guess I prefer the written word and pictures - if anything so you can peruse at your leisure.  So if you want non-moving pictures of what comes in the box you are in the right place!

box front
I find the box interesting in that they decided to do a cutout in the lid to show off five of the actual figures.  This is a nice feature, allowing some of the product to speak for itself.  High quality satin finish and strong box, though I can't help but wonder if the whole in the lid will cause problems storing the game later ( especially if you decide NOT to keep the plastic tray ( especially once you start buying boosters and expansions, and want to fit more 'stuff' into the box.
box back
The back is nice, and shows off all the contents.  I like how Mantic always puts a little spin on the graphic for number of players - this time it looks like Carl is having a go at the game while wearing his dad's hat.

I do find it a little disappointing when Mantic does not include a joke in the copywrite text.  I did not originally realize they did this, but once I found out I look for it on every package.  Being a licensed property they may have not been allowed to do it here, which is, to me, the only acceptable reason why the box does not have one.
open the lid
Opening the box, and there is a tray of minis, cards and dice.  This is not the first time I had seen the game, si I already knew that once you took the minis out of the box it was a bit of a challenge ( think a jig-saw puzzle with no picture on it, just blank pieces) to get them back in the correct place.  So I took a sharpie and numbered each figure under it's base so I could easily put then back where they belonged.

The nice thing about the tray is it makes it much harder to mispack the minis, as you can easily see an empty spot.  It also protects them from warping in storage and delivery.  The tray may be a bit unwieldy for play however ( I almost never keep these trays in my board games - instead putting dice and pieces in zip lock bags and tossing the tray in the recycle bin.)
card decks
There are actually three sizes of cards in the game, each wrapped and the n place on the tray.
dice
The game comes with 11 dice.  I'm not generally a fan of custom dice, however here it allows for varying degrees of chance - the blue die never misses, the white has a single miss, and the red have two.

I'm not thrilled about the black 50-50 die - in the playtest and demos I've done some things just become too difficult ( i.e. frustrating for the player) - especially the 50℅ chance you CANNOT cross a barrier - is it really THAT hard?

A couple (the pair of white dice) were stuck together and took a bit of putting to get loose ( I've heard about this happening for other people as well).
beneath the tray
Underneath the tray is a shrink bundle of rules, tokens and play mat.  This is nice as again it is hard to mispack things when already pre-assembled.
flyer
So what is in the shrink wrap?  On top is what I thought was a 'standard' add for their games, with a place to collect Mantic points.  However looking at it, it is just all this game, describing some of the future expansions and boosters, as well as the minis that will be available via Mantic Points.
flyer back
This is actually worth keeping for more than the points, as I feel that the expansions and boosters are what is going to make this game live or die, so it us nice seeing a list, and being able to know what you can get.
Quick start rules
Next are the quick start rules.  They walk you through first a single player scenario, then a full 1-1 game.
Full Rules
The full rules are, well, all the rules.  What I feel is missing however are scenarios.  Between only having the ne basic scenario, and the very limited selection of survivors, I feel the game suffers and doesn't yet have much replayability.  With 12 zombies, that is enough for a 180 pt game, yet the box set has a total of only 225 points of survivors and equipment (i.e. a 110 pt v 115 pt game MAX).
play mat
I think Mantic changed their minds about not including a play mat in the game, whic to me is great.  If they want to push this towards board gamers ( with the pre-assembled miniatures) then you need a 'board'.  (Yes, there are board games without a board).  Saying you just need this size area with terrain puts this way out the board game space.
counters 1 front
There are twosheets of counters.  One has the threat tracker, initiative token, 7 supply markers, a barricade, a car, the game ruler, activation tokens and Dale's RV.  This very thick cardstock, and looks to be quite durable.  While I will get acrylic counters because I like them more, it is not necessary, and these should last.
counters 1 back
The back side of the counters.
counters 2 front
The other counter sheet has three more cars, five more barricades, two more supply counters, health counters and the kill zone template.
counters 2 back
The back shows the back of the kill zone, which is the blast template.  The numbers on the back of the terrains are the values used when calculating terrain based on points.
Survivor cards
The survivor cards give stats and point values.  Nice quality.
Walker and event cards
The walker stat card is the same size as the event cards.  You draw an event each turn, and the effect is based o. The current threat level - the higher the level, the worse the event.  I like how the artwork on each card goes from clean to dirty to pool of blood - nice touch.
Equipment and supply cards
Equipment cards are what you buy for your survivor group, supplies are what you find by searching in the game.

Of course what everyone really wants to see are the miniatures.  And I'll get to them.  But I have to get this off my chest first.

The game needs more survivor choices in the main box.  It is fairly disappointing to have 4 pretty much unknown survivors with Rick and Carl. And it just breaks the whole theme to go Rick against Carl - in fact Rick even has a special rule about Carl!

There simply needs to have more variety and numbers.  Yes, the first expansion and boosters add eight more survivors, which can give you more variety, but the eight new ones are all basically on the same side.  The scenarios in the expansion may help (though from people who have received their kickstarter - several of the scenarios require survivors that are not yet available (2 for Glen, who won't be out until the phase II shipments, for example., but should be in the base game.

I've read the comics ( well up to #158), and I realize there are not a lot of antagonists before Woodbury - but that expansion is still quite a ways out.  Throwing in more survivors, both from "the group" and their enemies will only allow people to customize their groups much more, giving much more variety and more replayability.  I think the kickstarter edition may do that, but the retail version seems to fall short.

Ok, on to the miniatures.  First are Rick and Carl.  I really think the quality of these is excellent - quite a lot of detail for single piece 'gaming' miniatures.  Carl's hat does make it difficult to see his face, but that is to be expected.  Some people during the kickstarter were complaining that they seemed 'chunky' - especially Michonne.  I see it as a stylistic difference, and I like it.  Especially when I've had some miniatures in Mars Attacks break because the legs were just too thin.
Rick and Carl
Derek and Liam.  The scavengers were only in four episodes, and even then didn't do much.  Liam was in only a couple of panels - and is in the pose where he is being pushed out the door into a group of walkers.

I can see all the people lined up to get these figures :-).  I did not realize that they didn't show up until issue 75 even - so way after the governor  and his entire crew.  They are some nice models though (and for a plastic mini who is about to get eaten, Liam has nice buns :-) ).
Derek and Liam
Patrick and Sandra are more capable than Liam, so are a little more interesting.  Again no fault with the models themselves though.  I hear they paint up wonderfully.
Patrick and Sandra
There are twelve walkers in the base set.  These are even better sculpts than the survivors - each is full of personality.  One is obviously a waitress with an apron on - and I like the woman in the pantsuit (what would it take to make that Hillary Clinton?)  It is also interesting to me that half of the walkers are actually women - equal brains for equal shambling I say.
Walkers
A couple of walkers have broken ankles, dragging their feet behind them.  A nice touch, as well as some of them having lost arms.
more Walkers
I like the woman on the left - who I am going to paint up in a hospital gown (explains why she has no sloes on.    The one on the far right is missing part of her jaw, and it makes the face look a bit confusing, though a good paint job might be able to clear this up.
and even more Walkers
So that's what is in the box.  Really nice miniatures and high quality components.  The rules seem solid for what I've been able to go over and play (all of once against myself) and demo.

What the game lacks are
1) scenarios
2) more survivors
The addition of both of these would greatly increase the replay factor of the game - as it is you barely have enough models to make two 100 pt teams - it would be nice to be able to make several different 100 pt teams that could play against each other out of the box.  A good example of this is Deadzone 2nd edition - the box set comes with more than enough miniatures on each side to make a variety of teams to try, and starter boxes do as well.

Perhaps the kickstarter version will be better since it includes a lot more survivors and walkers.  We'll have to see if Royal Mail takes five weeks to deliver that too.

Because it is all fun and games . . .

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Oh Brother, Where art thou?

Last time on Until Somebody Loses an Eye. . .
Old models, new models.  Learning to pay more attention to the details of ebay listings.  So now what do I do with all this cavalry?

If only there were an army that fit that profile - lots of cavalry.  Maybe even a good army (as in not evil) since they are so outnumbered.  Uncharted Empires to the rescue.

A lot of the armies in Uncharted Empires are based on fantasy armies that some other company used to make for a massed battle game on a world that is now - well Bill Murray puts is perfectly in the classic 1981 movie Stripes

Thus was born the brotherhood.  One of the kingdoms of men that was nearly destroyed by the infant sea after the defeat of winter. With water magic bound into their armor, they watch the Abyss, swearing to defeat their fiercest enemies as penance for failing to protect the world.  (ok, I really want to give the Kings of War Rules committee great credit for the great backstories they gave to the armies in this book - tying them in tightly to world of Mantica.  Great work guys!!!)

So back to modelling reality.  I had sixteen knights and hobelars.  That naturally led me to look at a brotherhood army.  A little juggling of units (the archers were originally going in the KoM army), I was able to create a second army out of the Ex Illis miniatures.  (My FLGS last year had a battalion box of Brettonians in their discount box for months - I didn't grab it because I wanted my demo armies to be all Mantic models - but when Uncharted Empires came out the personal restriction (at least for armies in that book) no longer applied.  Of course by then it had been snapped up by someone for the great deal it was).

First up, is, of course, the Order of the Brotherhood.  These knights are what you think of when you think of a brotherhood army.  Regiments of knights thundering across the battlefield.  I had eight of these, but when basing them the front rank ended up a little more spread out than I planned, and seven is still PMC after all.
Order of the Brotherhood Regiment
One of the coolest units in the old Brettonian army were the Pegasus knights - mounted warriors on flying steeds.  Of course the brotherhood has them - as the Order of the Forsaken.  Guardians of the Forsaken Isles, they watch over what remains of the Brotherhood's old kingdom.

One challenge I had was to make several units of cavalry unique, even though they were essentially single pose models.  Well in all of the Ex Illis sets I acquired, there ended up being four of the angel hero - which directly translates to big wings thus with some greenstuff, I had a unit of three pegasus knights order of the forsaken.
Order of the Forsaken Regiment
I didn't just want to repeat the same unit - so decided to do a troop of the Order of Redemption. These are irregular, but since they are inspiring they fill that role in a demo army (and their regeneration(5+) is not shabby either.  The angel hero was wielding a sword - so easy enough then to give them swords instead of lances - as well as to throw a banner on the back of one of them.  They thus look (at least to me) sufficiently different that, once identified, people should not have an issue with them.

Order of Redemption* Troop
So that was 15 of the 16 knights - now for some of the Hobelars.  These of course were villein cavalry - with the pose of the horses though I really felt they needed nimble, so they became reconnoiterers.  While I had a lot of models, I ended up only being able to fit one troop into the list. These kept the lances (unlike the Kingdoms of Men versions, who were swapped out with bows)

Villein Reconnoiterers Troop

Building the list, I did feel the need for some ranged attacks (I don't like having demo lists that 'skip' a phase of the game), and they needed at least some infantry - so a regiment of archers.  I would have preferred two troops, but that would have cost 55 more points than I had available.  Also I needed more villeins, or else the Brotherhood special rule "Valiant" would be wasted (Rallying(1), but only for villein units - i.e. the knights give courage to the peasants).

Villein Bowmen Regiment
I like throwing in a hero to each list, and giving the a wizard helps to show off magic.  She comes with heal(2), but I upped that to heal(4) and also gave her lightning bolt(3) for when no one needed healing.

The spell casters for the brotherhood are the Devoted (i.e. damsels).  I took one of the many fairy heroes I had, cut off her legs and mounted her on one of the hobelar horses.  A bit of greenstuff to extend her dress down the sides of the horse and smooth out the transition as well as trim off the bedroll and saddle bags, and she was mounted to fit the theme.
Devoted on Horse
With all of the sets, I ended up with 8 of the Soffrances - the big monsters for that game.  The brotherhood have their own monster - the forsaken beast - so while the model is a little small for a Height 4 monster, it is still something interesting to fill out the last of the army.

Forsaken Beast
So I managed to go from being mad at myself for not paying attention to the ebay listing I bought to suddenly having yet another demo army (of course this is a demo army I still have to paint!)

So my plans for the conventions next year are
  • Finish the Basilean army that was my friends christmas present LAST year
  • Kingdoms of Men - finish the 3 new units
  • Brotherhood army
  • Empire of Dust army
  • Ratkin army (I have at least 2500 points of rats, and play tested them for Uncharted Empires)
  • Roman Historical army
  • Barbarian (Celt) Historical army (ok, I'm "letting" my son paint this one up for the historical league).
  • and this doesn't include painting any of the new stuff from The Walking Dead kickstarter or the Warpath Kickstarter.

I guess it is a good thing I don't actually have a social life. I had better get off my lazy butt and get painting!

Because it is all fun and games . . .


Monday, October 24, 2016

Kingdom come

One (very, very) minor issue with Mantic is they currently do not make miniatures for all their armies.  So this means if you want some units you have to look elsewhere.  And for many armies (I'm including Uncharted Empires here) they don't make any miniatures at all.

The one that has been around the longest is, of course, Kingdoms of Men.  Ronnie himself has said that there are so many good historical armies that can be used for a human army - it isn't worth it to try to compete with them.

Several years ago, as I was preparing for Origins and Gencon, I was looking at how I was going to be able to come up with enough demo armies.  I remembered that we had a copy of an old board game that used miniatures - Lionheart.  I pulled it out, and it didn't take long to create about 600 pts of a 1st edition Kingdoms of Men list out of the box.  I painted them up, added an old GW dark emissary figure for a wizard and built a cannon out of bits, and bought some foot knights from Eccentric miniatures and was off and ready.  They weren't good looking, but worked.
Horde of Footguard w/ banner & musician
Horde of Spear Phalanx w/ banner & musician
2 Troops of Missile Troops Block
Troop of Milita Mob*
Regiment of Knights w/ banner & musician
Cannon
Wizard and Army Standard Bearer
They worked, but were fairly brittle.  Eventually all the lances on the cavalry broke, and many of the figures came off their bases more than once.  And when second edition hit, the army needed to make a few changes.

Around this time my oldest son was working on an idea for an army - he wanted to use the abyssal list, but make the army consist of fallen angels.  Mantic had Basilean Elohi, but he wanted more sculpts.  He got some reaper models, but while searching the web I found the Ex Illis angels, and ordered him a couple of boxes.

When they came in, the company (Bastion) threw in an addition hero model as well (which I kept for myself).  If anyone has actually paid attention to my history as a Pathfinder, it seems that the worst thing you can do (for my wallet) is to give me miniatures.  It was when I won a box of skeletons and balefire catapult (Mantic used to sell them together) that got me to build an undead demo army - and to do that I picked up the old undead/dwarf starter box - which built the undead but now I had dwarf models just sitting around - so I picked a dwarf army box - and now I have 12 1000 pt demo armies, with five more in the queue (2 of which are historical).

Bastion had created the game Ex Illis, and subtitled it as Wargaming 2.0.  The idea was you would use your computer to calculate all the hits/damage instead of having to actually do the math.  However you had to register each model on their site.  In addition, it was played on a mat that used 4" squares - and all that mattered was what square you were in, not where you were facing or any of that (because that would be too much to enter into whatever computer (phone, tablet, laptop) you were using.

They tried a kickstarter to reboot the game, removing the requirement for you to register and use a computer to play - but this failed and the company eventually went out of business.  There is still a web store up, but I do not know if there is still anything behind it (I did not feel comfortable ordering from it any more).

A few months later, a friend asked if I had a hero she could borrow for her Basilean army.  I pulled out that hero, and painted it up.  Afterward, I liked the model so much that I repainted it to match my KoM army and added it as a mounted ASB.
Mounted ASB
For some reason, I just really liked this model.  As I mentioned, the lances were breaking off of all the cavalry - and even though I repaired them, they were stumpy and looked even worse.  So since I liked the hero - I ordered a couple of boxes of Ex Illis cavalry.  I then found that these were essentially mono-pose models - the only variety on them being the shields and lances.  However compared to the ones I had been using they looked great.

The new regiment of Knights
Each box had 4 knights and 4 hobelars.  The new edition of Kings of War now removed the move & shoot penalty from nimble units - making fast cavalry with bows a viable option.  Back to the bits box, and I was able to come up with eight bow arms - so reworked the list to include two units of mounted scouts.

I really liked the dynamic pose of the hobelars, so put them a bit unconventionally on the multibase so they were all circling and shooting at a target. I really like how you get the fast, maneuverable feel out of them.
Two Troops of Mounted Scouts
One thing I hadn't counted on was the cavalry sprue included a fairy hero - a good way to replace the old GW model I had been using as a wizard.
Wizard
With these new models, the infantry was looking even worse - so I looked at infantry options for Ex Illis (to keep the same style), and they had bowmen, crossbowmen, villeins and billmen.  A bit of looking around on ebay found some starters being sold - and eventually I bought all of them.  (I may now own more Ex Illis models than anyone considering how poorly the game sold).

One of the 'starter' sets I picked up actually wasn't the starter, but was the combination of two starters, with the rules, software, and double the cavalry with none of the infantry.  Of course what I wanted was infantry (thus me getting the third box).

I now had enough infantry to fill out my army with consistent models - though these are waiting for paint.

Two troops of Militia Mob*
Regiment of Pole-Arms Block
Regiment of Crossbowmen
I was 70 pts short, so I pulled out an Eccentric Miniatures great crossbow, cut the weapons off of two of the villeins, and thus have a ballista for the army.
Ballista
So I now have sixty three ( counting the ballista as 3 models) to get ready for next year, and the entire army will be replaced with nicer, more consistent models.

However this also meant I had a lot of cavalry left over - sixteen knights and sixteen hobelars, plus multiples of the fairy hero (not to mention a ton (40) of the ymps and eight of monsters, and four of the angel hero).  It got me thinking - what could I do with all this cavalry?  It isn't hard to see where this is going.

Because it is all fun and games . . .

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Must there be only one?

As geeks, we all remember the classic bit from Highlander (I won't say the first, because I prefer to live in my own reality ("I reject your reality and substitute my own" - Adam Savage) where the god-awful sequels don't exist - "There must be only one".
Is this true however?  I don't think so.

Yes you can play other games.  And yes you can buy miniatures from other companies.

*Shock*

Heresy you say.  Blasphemy!!!  Burn his miniatures at the stake!

But even a die-hard Mantic pathfinder (pronounced fan-boy) like myself occasionally needs to get other minis.

This is especially true for armies that Mantic does not make themselves - which now includes all 33 lists in the Historical book.

I am still amazed at how popular historicals are (yes, I thought it was mainly old grognards who played them), and even more so how excited I got about them - because in the past I have hated painting humans.  But when I first went through the book I decided I needed to have two armies so I could demo the rules.  After a while I decided on Celts (or Babarians in the book) and Romans - in part because I was able to find plastic miniatures (from Warlord games) for the armies, and these two fit together (i.e. it made sense for them to be fighting, as opposed to Crusaders vs. Egyptians).

My three boys bought me a Celt army for my birthday ( which took less than a week to come in from the UK), and my wife bought a couple of units of Romans (one of which has still not arrived from a store in the US - go figure).  It occurred to me that I like to show the models for all the Mantic releases that I get - so why not for Historicals?

So first off is the celt warrior sprue.  Warlord is using Renedra  to cast their hard plastic sprues, so the quality is top notch.  Mantic used Renedra for their earlier products before they started having them made in China - and the first two sets that came from China (Goblin spitters and Basilean Men-at-arms) are some of the lowest quality plastic sprues I've ever seen).  Sharp detail - and I notice a 'style' on how the sprue is laid out.
Celt Warriors Front
I started then looking in detail at the sprue.  There is not much variation in weapons - all but two bodies are already holding swords or spears.  There is a great selection of heads however - 15 different heads for 10 models.  I was disappointed when I found that there are only shields for half the models.  I looked on the warlord site an they do sell packs of shields - but I shouldn't have to buy an additional pack of 20 shields for each box of 40 models.
Celt Warriors back
The command sprue is Identical to the warrior sprue except for the area where the heads are - which is replaced by two standards, a horn, and some severed heads (I guess for a unit champion to hold.  But no heads - so the great variety now gets cut down, as you get 45 heads for 40 models in the box (and again 20 shields).
Celt Warriors Command Front
There is only one horn - so my plan to make 2 regiments from  each of the three boxes will mean 3 of them don't have musicians (without pulling bits from other kits).
Celt Warriors Command Back
One thing I've notices browsing some of the sites for historical miniatures, is they seem to like to use decals for shield decorations.  A pretty cool idea - and there are 5 extra decals as compared to the number of shields in the box.  However for the 130 (6 regiments of warriors, 1 regiment of cavalry) I have a total of only 100 decals - so I'll have to get two more sheets of these to fill out the army as well.

So after the three boxes (40 warriors (4 sprues of 10)) warriors, there is a box of cavalry.  First off you get a sprue of warriors - which is ok, but I have to wonder if the cavalry ought to have different weapons than the infantry.  However since they are med cavalry they only get TC(1), so I guess the swords and shields (again, half shields) is ok.  There are five horse models, giving plenty of variation for your units.
2 of the horse sculpts
I don't care for having the legs sculpted onto the horses.  I can see why this was done financially (making plastic cavalry legs would have required a third warrior sprue), but it really makes conversions from these very difficult.
2 more of the horse sculpts
They did include 5 metal shields so all the cav can have one, and a full set of decals, which will be used on the additional infantry models (once I get more shields - which are metal and come in packs of 20 - I assume they are simple four sets of the ones here).
Last horse sculpt, plus 5 more shields and banner / horn for command
The army also comes with two blisters of eight archers - of which there are four sculpts.  I like these as they look like a unit that would actually be in battle.   I like the two sculpts that are kneeling, as they then would naturally be in the front row so the others could see over them.
Celt Archers
The deal also comes with an army standard bearer.  The face on this threw me off for a bit - at first glance it looks like is a vampire - with the accentuated brow leading into the hair that implies a pointed, and then a mouth full of fangs.  I then realized the jagged mouth was actually a mustache and beard - so perhaps he won't look quite so bad once properly painted.
scowling standard bearer

from behind
Finally a blister of three chieftans is included.  I see them as a heroic king, a berserker, and a more active hero (with separate arm and sheild).
Celt Chieftans

Celt Chieftans from behind
The quality of everything is top notch.  I'd like to say that I'm looking forward to painting these, especially doing a little freehand work adding tattoos to all of them (I kind of enjoyed doing the tattoos when I painted up the Kalyshi Dreadball Team).  However I have said that my son could paint up this army as part of our escalation league (since he doesn't have any real interest in building a historical army).  Ultimately it is a demo army anyway, so I'm not vested in making it a great army (not to say he won't do a great job.  On the contrary, his skills are getting to the point that he may be a better painter than I am (though like me, his favorite part is converting models, not painting them).

The one thing I don't like (and wasn't anticipating) was that they would not have enough shields for all the warriors.  So for each box of 40, you need to buy another pack of 20 shields, as well as more decals (I'll need two sheets of decals).

Not being a history buff, I don't know if this was based on how the units actually fought (i.e. was it more of each warrior furnishing their own equipment instead of the army itself supplying them?  Is this simply an army that is struggling for resources, so can't equip everyone fully?  Were they not able to fit them on the sprue?  And if it is the last, then why not include the metal bits to finish them off in the box (even it it raises the price a bit?

Regardless of the answer, looks like I'll be making another small order to Warlord to finish these off.

Because it is all fun and games . . .