Saturday, June 30, 2012

An Explosion of Fantasy Battle Games

Some interesting news from the world of minis recently caught my attention. I'm a huge fan of fantasy miniature gaming. In fact, I've been developing my own set of card/chip driven fantasy battle and campaign rules for a few years now, which I'm continuing to play-test as we speak. Recently, 3 different sets of fantasy mass-battle rules have been announced, each of which looks pretty cool.

The first game, and the one that has me the most excited, is the new Kings of War fantasy battle game by Mantic and designed by Alessio Cavatore. Longtime miniatures gamers will know Alessio from his involvement in the development of GW's Warhammer Fantasy Battle rules.

For those who haven't heard of Mantic, they produce some truly excellent plastic miniatures sets at affordable prices. And their work is improving with each release. I bought a set of fantastic looking Orc axe-men a few months back (have yet to put them together) and really like the unique, characterful look of their Dwarves. Some of the upcoming figures look utterly irresistable (the Goblins are awesome!).

Fresh off their enormously successful Kickstarter campaign, in which they raised an astounding $354, 997, Mantic is set to release their new game in July 2012. It's supposedly chock full of gorgeous  eye candy and I'm curious in seeing the rules Alessio created.

I contributed $100 to their Kickstarter campaign, and I'm simply amazed at the quality of the rewards they offered contributors. Hats off to Ronnie Renton and company for supercharging their business! Ronnie seems like a genuinely nice chap and true gamer. You want to see people like that succeed, and it's good for the rest of our beloved hobby. Mantic is starting to become a real competitor to GW in the marketplace, thanks to their combination of high-quality, affordable miniatures and a much friendlier customer-centric approach to business. Much success guys!

In other news, the second edition of Pride of Lions has been published. These fantasy mass-battle rules were written by John "Doc" McBride and are produced by Splintered Light Miniatures, makers of the best 15mm fantasy minis on the market today (in my humble opinion).

I never played the 1st edition of the game, so I cannot speak knowledgeably about the game mechanics. But I have seen the game played at HMGS East conventions. It struck me as a bit of a cross between 15mm Hordes of the Things and Mighty Armies, but not having actually played this game, I cannot say if that's truly a fair comparison.

The 2nd edition weighs in at a whopping 122 pages, and I think the cover artwork on this is terrific. Well done guys!

The guys at Splintered Light are some of the nicest people you'll ever meet in the hobby, so I wish them all the best with their new game. Although 15mm is not my scale of choice (I'm a 28mm minis devotee), I'm very tempted to buy a copy of these rules to support David and Doc and see what good ideas they contain.

You can buy Pride of Lions from Splintered Light or get a PDF from their publishing partner Ganesha Games.

Lastly, we come to the announcement of an upcoming fantasy battle game from Foundry entitled God of Battles.

This is another mass-battle game which promises to be easy to learn and quick to play. According to the marketing blurb, "If you have played tabletop battle games before, you will find some new ideas and a few unusual concepts in this one." Let's see if Foundry puts their money where their mouth is.

Foundry makes some really great metal minis (their War Orcs and Renaissance Ogres are brilliant), but their prices are quite steep; almost prohibitively so for USA gamers. Plus, the availability of their non-historical ranges is virtually non-existent here in the States. I've purchased packs of Foundry minis (dark-age vikings, hoplites, and medieval knights) from Age of Glory at HMGS East shows, and they're great minis. But I can never find any fantasy figures at the shows which is extremely disappointing, and I haven't found a US stockist of those ranges.

Recently, there's been word that Foundry is going to undergo some business changes, with an eye on making their figures more affordable to overseas (non-UK) customers. I hope this proves true. I also hope they find a USA stockist of their fantasy stuff. In this current world of miniatures gaming, where there is a such a wealth of excellent choices (from metals to plastics), Foundry needs to give me a compelling reason to buy their stuff.