Not even letting the grass grow after their successful Dreadball kickstarter, Mantic Games returns with yet another offering- a scifi skirmish game also set in their popular Warpath universe. On the frontiers of Corporate space, prepare for... The Deadzone.
Okay, I'll admit it, I wasn't planning on covering this one. At LXG we generally try to aim for covering projects that the mainstream might otherwise miss, and helping the smaller guy get some attention. However, when one of your most loyal readers personally requests an article, in my book it's only right to do it. So, for everyone out there that'll get it... Roll Tide!
Unless your hobby has generally been under a rock for the past five years or so, you've probably heard of Mantic Games. What began as a man with a plan to make some alternative fantasy lines of models has grown into one of the bigger players in the game. Mantic has a strong following, and has been at the forefront of more than a few changes in the Industry. I first heard of Mantic Games during my tenure with "The Company," when they were attempting to release alternative fantasy models. I found out about them because Mantic was doing the unthinkable- giving away models. For free. While there were certainly people that unscrupulously took advantage of this to merely collect a hoard of free soldierdolls, it got their name out on the market, and showed people their wares.
For the record... I'm not a terribly big fan of their fantasy pieces. I'm not saying their not quality sculpts, or that they're a bad buy- I'm saying they are sculpted, for the most part, according to a certain aesthetic and concept that I'm not personally a fan of. I can appreciate them for what they are, but they're not my cup of tea. Fortunately for Mantic, I'm not an all-knowing, all-seeing, infallible, omniscient God of All Things Hobby, and there's other people that do prefer their aesthetic. That's just part of what makes our hobby amazing, folks! So, Mantic games has not only survived, but has thrived. Their "fantasy bits and bobs" has turned into a full-fledged fantasy army game, authored by none other than Alessio Cavatore. If there's any arguments that can be made about Kings of War, it would be that their armies are "derivative" of another slightly better known fantasy game. To be fair, it's more accurate to call it "generic." There's not a lot of original, non-commonplace fantasy forces at play in it. Not a bad business model to start with, picking generic forces every Fantasy geek could recognize.
And then comes Warpath. Alright, everything I said about that aesthetic is out the window. These models speak to me. Detractors will try to point to it again being "derivative." Oddly enough, though, this one isn't "derivative" for copying what's in another company's game, but for producing everything that fans have been clamoring for in it for years. Really, pick one guys- either they "copy," or they don't, but it's kinda tough to decry them for both at the same time. I gotta admit, I like these lines. A Corporate officer so badass he wears a trench coat over his armor. Guys in some really, really nice armor that is most certainly uniquely Mantic. A sentient rodent race with some gorgeous models... and then, there's these guys. Nuff said!
Then, sometime last year, Mantic decides to use Kickstarter to up the ante. They produce Dreadball Season 2, a sequel to their successful futuristic American Football-Rugby fusion style game which is the galactic gladiatorial entertainment of the settled space of the Warpath universe. The kickstarter goes over moderately well... if you consider 2,500 backers to the tune of nearly three quarters of a million dollars "moderate." The models for Dreadball are something pretty special to look at, and literally every time I see one, I want to pester my buddies to pick this game up- because not having anyone locally playing it is really the only thing stopping me...barely.
This concludes our history lesson dubbed "Mantic in a Minute." Here's where we are now: a brand new Kickstarter for a small-scale skirmish game set on the fringe of the Warpath universe, complete with its own rules and story line. I admit it, I'm a story guy, and the story on this one grabs me by my wallet. Is this a great gateway to get into the Warpath universe with? Seems to be: at least half of the factions in Deadzone are forces in Warpath (with the rest now planned expansions perhaps?). The kickstarter is leading to some new and exciting places, including some very tantalizing terrain options. The models will form a great basis for Warpath or your scifi army-scale combat game of choice- the details seem to be crisp and very paint friendly. The models are -most likely unless otherwise stated somewhere- made of Mantic's
favored combination of plastic and resin, generally dubbed "restic." I am, most assuredly, not a fan of this material. It has certain properties of both resin and plastic, sure... but in my opinion not the best properties of either really, and is beneficial mostly for its cheap molding cost at its quality level than anything else. Now, "this material over that" is a debate which I expect will be waged by armchair generals sipping Mountain Dew until the end of time, and this isn't the place for it. Some people prefer restic, and I am not one of them, so for me it's a detriment to purchasing Mantic models. Your mileage will undoubtedly vary- that's what makes our hobby great.
What are the advantages of backing this kickstarter? Well, like I said, the models are sweet, and if Dreadball is any indication, the rules will be top notch- the same bloke is penning this one too. According to all accounts, the rule set will be some fusion of standard tabletop free-range skirmish gaming and "classic board game elements." Exactly where this is all leading we're not sure yet, but Mantic has shown in the past that they're generally pretty tight in the rules and game design department, so it should be an interesting ride.
Depending on your pledge level, you will be receiving some nicely futuristic sweet looking terrain- suitable for just about any 28mm scifi game, even if you don't like the rules on this one. Did I mention Mantic has already done the Kickstarter thing very successfully and knows exactly how to push the pledges along with offer of free models? In the week this thing has been out, I already have nearly as many free sprues coming to me as I've bought with my pledge... and we've got a month to go. Wonderful evil free things, like hounds which spread a virulent human-destroying plague virus, and "mawbeasts"- cybernetic quadrupedal monstrosities with steel jaws and chainsaws where most people keep a tongue. Worth the price of admission, these guys.
This kickstarter is less than a week in, and already over a quarter million dollars. Yup, a third of everything Dreadball made in its kickstarter in under a week. If you don't think these guys will do everything in their power to push this over the $1 Mil mark, I've got some beautiful oceanfront property in Nevada to sell you. Mantic is hungry to blow the doors off this thing, and that means making backers happy. Great discounts and free swag make backers happy... see where this is leading yet guys?
Don't take my word for it though.... head on over to their Kickstarter, read up on it on their own blog, check out their Forums, or all three. This might just be the next game you can't put down.
See you on the other side of the table.
The Second Class Elitist