Thanks to my good friends at Titan Games a new wargame has intrigued me. It's not often that a tabletop wargame gets my attention - let's face it, the last time it happened was in the late 1980s when I bought the first edition of Warhammer 40K - but recently I've been introduced to two great new games called Kings of War and Warpath, both from Mantic Games.
I'm not a great wargamer. Truth be told, I pretty much suck at it. I think I won one game of Warhammer 40K, and that was only because I was playing at a Games Workshop store and the manager of the shop I was playing against had the good grace to throw the battle so that a potential purchaser wasn't put off buying the game. I still didn't buy it, to be fair, but it is a good game. The great expensive breezeblock that is the WH40K rulebook is really impressive with great production values and the game is fun, with plenty of support. It's an expensive hobby, mind, which is one of the things that has always put me off.
Being a roleplayer I always wonder at the roleplaying aspect of wargames, anyway. I used the WH40K system a few times to run WH40K roleplaying games back in the 1990s and just added a few of the Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay stats to flesh it out. The games worked okay, we just used the WH40K rules and played characters. In my experience, a wargame must be good if it gives me those kinds of ideas.
So now we come to the Mantic Games offerings, Kings of War and Warpath, which is their version of Warhammer Fantasy Battle and Warhammer 40K. They've also got a game out called Dreadball which is a boardgame along the lines of Games Workshop's Blood Bowl. It's all good quality stuff with simple, easy-to-learn rules.
So, and you'll have to excuse the bluntness of this statement, is this just a rip-off of products that Games Workshop have already produced? I wouldn't say rip-off, to be fair, just another version of fantasy and science fiction wargaming that Games Workshop has a huge chunk of the market of. The rules for these new Mantic Games products were designed by Alessio Cavatore, the guy who bought us such games as Mordheim: City of the Damned and the Lord of the Rings Strategy Battle Game, both released by Games Workshop. So, the designer of the game already has some major experience for the premier producer of these games, anyway. Mantic Games took his expertise, designed the game and released it as a test product to the public. The public played it, sent fedback, and the game was created. What we have here, then, is a game designed by a Games Workshop dude that has been refined and played by wargamers at large, and they took what the playtesters said and put it into the game. What we've got is a game designed by experienced wargamers and refined by the very fans who would be playing it. It really is a game by the fans for the fans.
I've got the Warpath rulebook here. It's a paperback, it's the size of a paperback and it's 29 pages long. It has rules for combat both ranged and melee, vehicles, ordnance, and it has some special rules and four army lists. And it cost me three pounds.
You see, Mantic Games are not only releasing a game that's been designed by fans, it's making them affordable. The Kings of War rulebook is a hardback 144 page tome that will set you back 24 pounds. You can buy a two-player battleset with a mini rulebook and 95 plastic miniatures for 50 pounds. Yes, you read that right. 50 pounds. That's about 53 pence per miniature, and they're good quality minis, as well. You can get some battle sets of up to 50 miniatures for 30 pounds; that's 60 pence per miniature. The prices are absolutely outstanding, and that's where it counts, at the end of the day. Model and paint sets from 15 pounds. 2-figure packs from £1.60. The prices are an absolute delight.
This can be an expensive hobby and not only have Mantic Games made the rules easy to learn, they've made the miniatures good quality and easy to afford. Not only that, the figures are the same scale as pretty much every other hobby figure, even Games Workshop's, so if you have an existing army you can use that.
I'm not only interested in thegame itself but how I can use it as a roleplaying game, and more importantly if they intend to release a roleplaying version of it because, and I'll tell you this now, at less than 2 pounds for a couple of decent figures, I'd start using miniatures in my RPG games again.
I'm looking forward to seeing what else Mantic Games produce and I'll be picking up the Kings of War rulebook to do a lengthy review soon, not only of the game system but of the setting itself.