Monday 9 October 2023

Deadzone Minis... and the inevitable LotR

I'm curious as to Mantic's future niche. They used to be the 'cheap and nasty' alternative to Warhammer Fantasy and 40K, but lately they have had a price hike and they are just nastier, not a lot cheaper - in Australia at least. It's $A140 for a Deadzone starter kit (vs $120 for Kill Team) and ~$40 for a team squad box vs ~$65 for a Kill team box. Admittedly you don't need the 101 extra supplements and books - so it's probably cheaper as a system overall (though good luck finding players) - but the minis aren't significantly cheaper considering their distinctly inferior quality.  After GW stole Mantic's thunder by relaunching Epic after Mantic planned to move into small scales - it feels like GW is increasingly reclaiming the niche Mantic occupied. Heck, even Old World is planned to come retake its old spot currently occupied by Kings of War.  

(Random thought: I wonder how a new Epic will impact Dropzone Commander - a tidy game with lovely quality minis - another game I always felt was on the verge of collapsing. I like the dropship mechanics but I doubt it can compete with Epic's titans, rich background and 'cool factor').

These peacekeepers could double as Space Marines but are kinda paramilitary police for me.

The big guy certainly gives off terminator vibes.

These are 'scouts'. However I quite like the "guardsmen/generic sci fi troops" which come with lots of bitz and customisation. They have more realistic proportions than my old potato-faced, banana-fisted Cadian bodybuilders.

Snipers and weapons teams as well as some modified with Kasrkin heads and guns or whatever they are called now.

I wonder how wargame companies stay afloat in the increasingly crowded marketplace. Everything has a kickstarter. Everything can be 3D printed. Everyone can put out a catchy, trendy rulebook. I wonder if we have already passed the golden age of gaming choice (back when Warmachine, Infinity, Malifaux, X-Wing were bigger and had presence locally everywhere) and are actually heading into a new dark age as GW reclaims market share and the borderline gamers (like myself) abandon lower-tier mainstream companies completely.... at the expense of having anyone to play against...  There are more choices than ever, but is it getting harder to play something non-GW?

I wonder about product churn and shelf space. The local game store can't justify $$$ of stock sitting around and everyone has so many models competing for space that could be filled by a box of Magic cards that sell much faster and take up less room. I wonder if that is a reason Privateer has moved to print-on-demand? I.e. a bloated product line and no incentive for stores to stock them in bulk. Problem is, they are now competing obviously and directly with 3D printing and retaining the premium prices... They seemed to die after ditching Press Gangers? Malifaux seems to have reinvented itself  a dozen times and seems to putter along quietly. I'm interested if Infinity stages a comeback as it seems to be streamlining its bloated rules and seems comfortable to retire models like GW does.

OK, here's the inevitable "I painted some Mesbg stuff" pic.

Some cheerful hobbits and random models (mostly 3D) I found in a box. I'm kinda done - probably have a dozen broken models and duplicate heroes left, as well as 30-40 or so Rohan foot I have no need to paint. I may go back and touch up some paint jobs as they tend to be largely 'table ready' standard. 

LoTR model painted count for 2023 is now 430. Of those only a few are 'official' models as GW has a shameful level of support - they don't even MAKE some key units or you need to rely on Forg$world. Good luck if you want to play corsairs or Haradrim, for example...  Corsair reivers, I never knew ye...


  1. Vivo en un pueblo al este de España y prácticamente todo el mundo juega GW, especialmente Kill Team. La mayoría de jugadores no quieren otra cosa aunque se ven cosas como Infinity o Punkapocaliptic.
    Los wargames de temática napoleónica/medieval/antigua no florecen y la gente olvidó que podía seguir jugando a Warhammer Fantasy, aunque quedan algunos Oldhammer y alternativas fan, que van cayendo poco a poco.
    Soy padre y tengo poco tiempo, aunque aún puedo dedicar algo a un grupo de jugadores (11 personas) y jugamos mucho con reglas hechas por nosotros mismos y una almagama de proxies/ minis/ figuras de cartón porque nos hemos cansado del monopolio GW, la verdad.

    1. Sounds like you also notice a drift back towards GW monopoly? Interesting - I'm from a small town in Australia on the opposite side of the world!

      I've heard people refer to this as the golden age of wargaming but I disagree...

    2. No veo esta época como la edad de oro de los wargames, nací en 1979 y como muchos, comencé con el rol (d&d, rolemaster, etc) y pasé luego a los juegos de mesa (battlemasters, space crusade) y acabé en wargames (warhammer, battletech, mordheim, etc).
      No sabría decir cuando fue la edad de oro, aunque en España al menos, me decantaría por los 90. Es una opinión puramente personal.
      Antes creo que tenía más peso el reglamento. Ahora veo que se busca más la estética y pelusa de un juego, yo lo llamo "síndrome del objeto brillante".
      La gente más joven te mira con escepticismo cuando juegas un hex and counter donde tus fichas son un símbolo sencillo y algunas cifras.
      Si me preguntan si esta es la edad de oro, diría que en cuanto minis y los recursos, sí podría serlo, pero no en cuanto a reglas y ganas de jugar. Creo más que es la edad de oro del kitbashing, el modelismo y la estética, no del juego en sí.
      Siempre desde mi perspectiva, no soy "una autoridad" sólo un viejo loco que vive rodeado de naranjos en una zona rural.

    3. I grew up on hex and counter wargames (SPI & Avalon Hill mostly) and still love them. That vein if games killed itself through the excess of simulationists who needed a table and rules for every edge case, weather pattern, and equipment variant possible. Those games (even advanced squad leader and star fleet battles) we're good games at their core, just down in an ever-growing library of special rules. I think we're seeing the same thing today with miniatures games but instead of rules bloat it's heavy theme with little game behind it because miniatures games are at their heart about the spectacle.

  2. I've been consolidation my minis collection, and the only stuff I really hold on any quantity is GW. GW minis are 'evergreen', but the rules churn is disgustingly expensive.

    I played a bit of early Warmachine, but soured pretty quickly on the meta shift from mechs to infantry, and soured even more on the company and its attitude.

    I have a soft spot for Wyrd's Malifaux, but hardly played it at all.

    My solution for all niche wargames is to collect small forces from 2 (sometimes 3) factions, so the game can be played "chess-like", where I can simply bring a complete 2-player game in a box. If someone else wants to get in with a different faction, great, but we can always play.