Sunday, May 5, 2013

Lack of Specialists got ya down?

    Upset that a mega-corporation is killing off your favorite micro-games?  We'd like to offer you some in-print alternatives, from companies who will actually appreciate your business.
     While it has not yet been "officially" confirmed, the general chatter is that Specialist Games are no longer going to be produced.  Whatever models are still in tubs will be sold, but nothing new will be molded... so consider this fair warning to buy anything you want that may not be around soon.

     Now, you can go on just playing your same game with your same models you already have- and there's no fault in that, you're upset at it going away because you like it.  However, take a moment to think on a larger scale.  If we all just stick to the same old games we're used to... the industry dies.  New products need to be sold and manufactured to sustain companies, from the homegrown mom and pop level all the way up to the big boys.  (Ironically, in part that's part of the reason this is happening- a decision not to continue to create new material for Specs. has lead to a constant decline of their sales.)  My belief is that the industry grows when companies challenge each other for our attention, and that growth is beneficial to us the hobbyists- better models, better rules, better terrain.  

     You can continue to play your old game, euthanized by its own manufacturer... or you can go another way.  Support another company with a vision for growth in a micro-game similar to the one you enjoy playing.  Support a company that will actually appreciate you spending your hard-earned money on their product, rather than deciding that producing what you want in your hobby simply isn't worth their time. Even port over your old models until you develop a fancy for the new ones.  There's a lot a of great semi-unknown manufacturers out there, producing surprisingly solid products.   I urge you to take a look into them. 

Battle Fleet Gothic
Oroshan Imperium - Reaper Class Dreadnought & Riever Class FrigatesZenian League: Rense System Navy
     One of my personal all-time favorites. In my store back in the day we used to have massive fleets of warships fighting galactic-sized battles.  Ahh, the memories... For me, the clear winner in this category is Firestorm Armada by Spartan Games.  Six different races, each with a clearly different design aesthetic, and a very "space opera" quality rules set makes this one a great pickup for BFG fans.  If you're not sold in this one, head over to Starship Combat News, a site dedicated to nothing but ship-to-ship space combat, and find something more to your  liking.  It's a big galaxy, and there's a lot of different games in it!

     In many ways, Bloodbowl left long before it got cancelled.  Very few people actually play by the "official rules" anymore anyway, as the most often played version is the "Living Rulebook" developed by fans and tournament organizers alike- currently on it's 6th edition (also referred to as the "Competition Rules Set").  Add to that the fact that many model companies offer "fantasy footballers" of equal or better quality, and this game really no longer needed mega-crop sponsorship.  So, odds are, you don't need a replacement... however if you do, take a look at Dreadball by Mantic Games.  Set in Mantic's "Warpath" universe, Dreadball is the futuristic sport of the masses, a gladiatorial football where scoring points is only slightly more important than survival.  As a fan of the old "Mutant League Football," I'm a big supporter of this. Dreaball just finished a major team expansion with its "Season 2" kickstarter, so there's a lot more coming for this game. I'm looking forward to painting a team like the London Jets Zero-G Football team... double points for you if you get that reference. Come on you Reds!

     This one going away is really nothing new guys... The Company had been trying to disavow any knowledge of its existence for about a decade. Sad really, as this was a lot of people's first forays into this universe, coming over from Battletech. Again, futuristic micro-armor is a well developed genre.  I'm going to discuss two preferences: one is amazing and in production, the other is... kickstarting mid-month.  There's advantages to both.  
     Out of the gate, the easy answer is Dropzone Commander. This game just celebrated its one year anniversary of being announced, and still does not fail to impress.  Read up on it a bit here, and here from my colleague Belgarath97.  In this far-flung future, Mankind has rebounded from an alien invasion, and is set to take back what's ours. (Wait a die rolling minute... you mean the future doesn't have to be grimdark??? Heresy!!!) The models in this range are stunning, the game play is unique, and if you need terrain you can now buy a whole table's worth on the cheap.  This is one game I wish more people played.  Why aren't they, you ask?  Well, after an initial explosion of interest, Hawk Wargames could not keep up with the initial demand, and the fervor extinguished itself.  Since learning that initial lesson, however, Hawk Wargames has yet to miss a release date, has weathered its own make-or-break storm, and is still around... so this one looks like it's here to stay.  
     The second suggestion up would be Mecha Front, the new mecha combat system coming out from Paulson Games.  If you want some solid mecha/titan style combat, this one is for you.  With a brand new, quick to pick up revolutionary game system and simply stunning models, this one is going to be impressive.  Mordin56 and I have been hard at "work" play testing this one, and it's quickly becoming one of our favorite games.  In this near-now setting, mankind in the 22nd century is wracked with Mecha-fought wars fought in and around urbanized centers for control or resources.The Kickstarter for this is slated to drop on May 15th, which means you can get in on the ground floor of this game's development- the alpha rules are currently available for free to playtest.  

Mordheim and Necromunda
    Okay, I know some people are going to get offended by me tossing these two in the same bin, but here me out:  Individual model movement/activation where in a campaign setting models can gain experience and alternate gear.  So, in effect, the same game with a different setting (grimdark scifi vs grimdark early renaissance) and a couple specific rules options.  That means a lot of the alternative will overlap as well, so rather than going through everything twice, this is a far easier method.
Spinespur Book 1: Threshold
     If you've been reading this blog at all (and since you're here, I have to assume you have), you'll know that one of my favorite games right now is Spinespur.  Everyone at LXG is playing it, and rightfully so. The modern psychological horror aspects of the game are well done, the game system is unique in that it is easy to pick up but has a great deal a variance, the factions are all very different, and while some of the models are showing their nearly decade-old age, the new pieces coming out are spectacular.  This game just finished a "relaunch" Kickstarter to great success, which includes a "campaign system" to develop and add experience to your gangers, and it has a tight (dare we say "cult") following on the interwebs. If you want to check out a few battle reports on this one, I have them.  One of our regular readers, Captain Pete, has a few excellent articles on the subject as well on his blog... even if he needs to get his butt in gear and paint some figures. 
     If you asked him, Dark Age would be B97's game of choice on this one.  A post-apocalyptic setting with both campaign rules and an incredibly solid tournament cycle (called the "March to Immortality" because the winner each year gets their likeness sculpted into a model!) Dark Age offers a competitive rules set with limited shooting (more Mordheim in that regard than Necromunda)...oh, and the models are based on the artwork of Brom.  You really, really can't go wrong there.  Several different factions- 3 human ones, an entirely robotic one, 2 completely separate alien races, and a "accidentally" cultures genetic experiment "race" round out your option for just about every kind of play style.  This game has been around for almost a decade at this point, so the rules have been very thoroughly worked through and tweaked for easy of play.  
Warzone: Resurrection.  It's no secret that I'm cuckoo for cocoa puffs over the release of this game.  A popular well-described back story that has withstood the test of time and several failed incarnations, Warzone has a cult following that at times rivals Trekkers, Whovians, and Star Wars fanatics in its ferocity.  Not only does this game -prelaunch mind you- have a strong internet community both on its own forum and on Facebook, but they also already have a Podcast series: Doomtrooper Radio, starring Big Jim V and Carl Smith. Not to mention blogger/vlogger support worldwide including LXG,  Dice and Brush, Galaxy in Flames, TemplarsCrusade, and VoodooOrk for a start. The only thing making it a tough sell at the moment is its Kickstarter has completed, and we are in the waiting period for this game to be released.  However, Prodos is taking preorders on their webpage, and assures us this game is going to be released on time next month. So,you wouldn't have a large wait to play what promises to be a truly Capitol game. (See what I did there?) Gameplay for WZ:R is incredibly modular in scope, ranging from only a few models to skirmish levels to mass combat.  This was intentional, as Warzone has often had a companion RPG set in the same universe, and this time is no exception.  Work is being put into both games to make them highly compatible- how's that for being able to add experience?  
Godslayer.... alright, I have to admit up front I've neither played nor play tested this one in any way (which is the first game in this article to need that disclaimer). Godslayer is a fantasy skirmish game generally setting various medieval fantasy factions against one another.  The models for this one are very, very sweet.  Why don't I own this one?  To be honest, I missed the boat.  I started looking it up right after the kickstarter ended, and since that time most of my hobby budget has been going in to either existing Kickstarters (getting the best return on my investment that way) or building a new table.  This one is definitely on the list to pick up and play the crap out of... it just hasn't been a priority.  Now that I'm done with Spinespur and Warzone and Dwarven Tiles and WWX and EotD and almost paid for in Tablescapes, it's likely to see some more interest... once I get past Deadzone and TJH Terrain and By Fire and Sword... Kickstarters are going to be the ruin of me!

     If you play any or all of these, I'd love to hear your feedback.  If you have other preferences for replacement Specialist games, please share them with us below- after all, more people playing is more games for everyone.  Most importantly... don't let corporate policy and boardroom greed ruin your hobby.  Play what you want, with whom you want.  The most important rule in wargaming is to have fun and assure your opponent does as well- something all to often forgotten in the search for more currency. See you all on the other side of the table.

The Second Class Elitist

1 comment:

  1. I'll have you know I have almost 20 painted SpineSpur models right now, with another dozen or so just getting started. Hopefully, I'll get pictures up this weekend...