Friday, June 22, 2012

How To Host a War: Or: How Mantic Wants To Increase My Time-Debt by Three Lifetimes

There's been a lot of Kickstarter success lately for gaming.  And while Mantic's isn't quite at the numbers of a couple recent big splashes, it's certainly in the "wow, that's impressive' camp.  In just the last 24 hours, looks like it's gone up almost $50k.

If you haven't looked at it, go check it out here.  There's less than 2 days till it pumpkins.

Mantic has been steadily improving since their start as a company, and I like where they're going.
I've used their ghouls and zombies in a number of projects and when GW announced Warhammer Fantasy Battle 8th edition, I staked my hopes (bu-dump-bump) of making a Skeletal Host.  Then I heard more about the rules, the new Vampire army book, and those hopes turned to dust.  True, the new 8th ed. promised to return to the days of "big armies of infantry' but it didn't really pan out... still a lot of reliance on big magic & monsters/monstrous infantry/monstrous cavalry.

But it seems there might be hope in Mantic.

I've been looking at the rules for their mass-combat fantasy game, Kings of War and really do like what I see. The game is straight forward and simple, in a good way.  And best of all, the armies are characterful, yet balanced.  Balanced armies is a concept GW has been very upfront about not caring about. That's fair, they don't have to be, but I, and probably a lot of others, do care about it.

Also, the system is such that units fight until they start to lose confidence and finally abandon hope through attrition and loss of conviction- but they physically do stay on the table as an entity, you don't remove miniatures as 'wounds'. This means you could, if you want, make large element bases so that you can build nice mini-dioramas or scenic elements within the ranks of your troops.
You could even use 15mm minis and element bases.

Another nice thing is that characters don't seem to be demi-gods striding across the battle like they do in Warhammer.  I'm sure the upcoming rulebook will give them some more abilities, spells and such, but it doesn't appear they're going to win battles single-handed. That's a positive tick to my thinking.

Looking through the different army lists -which the current edition lists are free online on their site- has been very fun to look through.
In fact, I haven't been this giddy about looking through army lists since Warhammer Armies 3rd edition.
I don't know how many hours I lost decades ago looking through this book, contemplating armies.  
The Mantic lists remind me of this: solid armies with a lot of characterful choices.  
The current Mantic offerings aren't as varied as this book, but from the sound of things, the 3rd edition will be pretty close to the same feeling.  OK, warhammer armies did still leave a few unbalances, such as the all dragon rider high elf army, the all chaos chariot army, etc, but the drive of this book was flesh & bone, blood and angst armies with characterful support: the unit minimums helped to establish that.  Mantic doesn't have any unit minimums, but looking at the lists, I don't think they need to, they've captured the spirit of this old book in a way that none of the subsequent WHFB editions have for me.  

It's got me seriously considering committing to a BIG project.  

That itself is pretty impressive.  My time constraints have had me hooked on skirmish and small force systems for many years. And while I love skirmish gaming, there is something appealing about a BIG army. 

I was very tempted by the idea of a Skeleton army 

A true host raised from a Medieval battlefield, but the Kickstarter rewards all had a lot of zombies in them, and I'd want a Skeleton army, not a zombie one.  
I know I know, Zombies are a constant hotness now, but to me, Skeletons are just much cooler.  
Sorry Romero, Long Live Harryhausen! 

Another army I've always wanted to make is a Goblin Horde.  Not exactly a force to be reckoned with in Warhammer (Giants are now laughed at and not many troops with better than strength 3) but that's not a problem in Kings of War! The armies are balanced. Goblins have appropriate handicaps, but they can function and you can get a lot of them, and they get good support. And if you convince them to charge, they can deal out damage like any other army.  In WHFB goblins are just part of the Orc & Goblin army, in Mantic, Orcs are a separate army from Goblins! Finally Goblins are Masters of their own domain! 
... well they probably are that pretty often. 
And I like the Mantic Goblins! These are cool goblins! 

I don't care much for the mawbeasts, but I can find other minis- no manufacturer is going to please everyone with every item in their range, I wouldn't expect to like everything.  But the goblins I like and they're a good price.  The Kickstarter package has close to 200 goblins for $225.  Not bad at all.

The big question is: element bases or individual? Only reason to keep them individual is to have the option of using them in Warhammer, which is admittedly tempting... maybe I'd want to go to a tournament just because, or maybe Warhammer 9th ed will be awesome? Who knows.  But element basing has such great potential for making the army look cooler.  Heck, they die so fast in Warhammer, removing them in sets of 10 is probably not much of a problem anyway ;) 

I do want to try the Kings of War game, and given that it has over a thousand backers now, other people might be willing to try it out too.

I've heard that the $225 level gets you about $1,000 retail price of minis. Yep. 
The free minis from the stretch goals means you get about 70 or so free minis!  
And they have a long list of Buy One Get One Free deals.  Unfortunately a lot of them are just concept sketches or descriptions, but 6 trolls for $25 or 10 goblin wolf riders for $25 or 20 flying gargoyles for $25, or 20 cool battle nuns... you see what I mean.  

The BOGOF offers are simply amazing.  

You could easily set yourself up with the majority of a large scale army and have 60 extra minis to add to it or have available for other projects: Trolls and Mummies for Blood Bowl, Golems for Pulp gaming or statues, Ogres for fantasy skirmish, Gargoyles for Horror skirmish, Battle Nuns for Empire of the Dead ...that's my plan for them! all for about $300 if taking advantage of a few extra BOGOF offers. 

Most projects don't come close to this affordable, and this is a major army as well as many other projects or trade goods.  

So yeah, curse you Mantic.  Those Goblins are just too hard to resist.  The plans I have for them are too fun. 

And I also blame Mr. Lee.  Reading his blog, seeing his massive goblin army with TWO gargantuan spiders, rekindled my long held need for a goblin army.  
If you haven't checked out his blog, Mr.Lee's Painting Emporium, you should: he's a great guy and his blog definitely should have more followers than it currently has.  

So between nostalgia of the old 3rd ed. Warhammer Armies, Mantic's insanely good deals and enticing direction for large scale army battles, and the come-hither gaze of goblins, I will have another crest to my 'lead plastic mountain'. 

Your Guide to the Lead Mountain

What do you think? Tempted by their offers? 


Paul of the Man Cave said...

Get thee behind me Satan...

Hobby Horse said...

You don't have to decide between elements and individual bases, you can do both in one unit. Break a regiment down into a mix. So 5x2 at the front is a nice mini diorama, then a 3x2 and 2x2 behind for a couple more mini scenes, then a few singles at the back for casualty removal in WHFB. As the unit is depleted, you shuffle around the bases to give you how many you need. You might need a spare command group on single bases in case your warhammer unit gets down to less than 10, but that's easy. Have a look on my blog at the unit of mantic zombies for a fuller explanation.

Must give mantic rules a try at some time.

ColKillgore said...

When they get the battle nuns made I want to pick up some to convert over to Sisters of battle close combat troops for 40k.


Bill said...


PsychosisPC said...

I must be in a minority, because I cannot stand their goblins, and absolutely hate their orcs.

Their undead are cool looking.

Laughing Ferret said...

Paul: had to laugh at that. spot on, but I don't tend to resist temptation ;)

HH: (though will always think of you as 'old fogey') Yes, that is a good idea, I'll check out your zombie units. As logn as the height of the bases & element bases are the same it should be fine- especially since mantic bases are not beveled, something I've been a big fan of since the Bayou Elves.

ColK: I suspect that is going to be very popular :) I was also thinking a lot of that army would make nice Menoth troops for Warmachine.

Bill: well if they get your approval that's the greenskin god smiling down upon them :)

PsychPC: That's fair,anything artistic is going to appeal to some and not to others and nothing really 'right or wrong'about it. I really like the olderGW night goblin multi-part plastic kit, but find the new one-piece ones not characterful, and the common goblins, while still available, are unbalanced to my eye- too head-heavy, where the robes helped against that with the night goblins. But those night goblins aren'tavailable anymore and more pricey to get when you can track them down.The mantic ones I do like, they're quite vicious crafty looking, though I really don't like the prototype metal character that comes with the mawbeast..odd helmet and a mohawk, just doesn't work for me,but the troop kits look good to me.

There are so many minis that a lot of people like that I can't stand, so I can understand how that can be :)

Paul of the Man Cave said...

Sometime not having the time to paint boxes of sprues like that can help resist! But not always of course...

I am, however, being sorely tempted at the moment by Heavy Gear Blitz. I'm looking for a gateway type game to move the Lad from Skirmish and small scale games (like Blood Bowl) to larger, massed battles. I loved HG when it first came out but went away from it in the intervening years. If they've cleaned it up well it could be fun, and what boy doesn't like mecha combat!

But of course in 1/144 - N scale, its a whole new scale of terrain and everything...

Laughing Ferret said...

I haven't ever played Heavy Gear, but I do like the minis for a lot of the mecha, I looked into them for possible battlesuits for use in 15mm scifi.

another game that looks appealing in that vein is the 10mm sci fi Dropship Commander from Hawk Wargames. some great minis there

Mr. Lee said...

Wow.. really did not check out the cost vs what you got for the Mantic deals on the kickstarter.. and I didn't support it unfortunately.

Though I have been buying up a ton of Mantic Dwarfs as of late, and I really like the rules they have. Simple, and effective. Will be interesting to see how they play out once I get around to them also.

Also, I am really happy to hear that your going to hopefully move forward with a Goblin force! Would love to see what you do to the Mantic Goblins. I too like their style.

Oh and thanks for the shout out! Hopefully I put up some articles that everyone likes this week ;)

BuRock said...

Awesome guide to the top of the lead mountain.

looping between step 6s ftw ;)

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