Monday, 18 August 2014

Are Mantic figures all completely terrible?

Nothing like a low starting point with a product review! I know a lot of people really enjoy Mantic products, but I have been put off by being near someone trying to put together one of the first Orx Marauder Raptors. They are so bad that I would not accept a free one, and not only would you have to pay me to assemble one, I would be charging you around the cost of the model purely for assembly. Probably more. And then I'd be seriously thinking about it.

One of the Mantic demo chaps was tolerant enough to hear my . . . 'reservations' about Mantic's product quality back in May when I had a demo game of Deadzone. He kindly gave me one of the limited edition Kickstarter minis "Codename: Oberon" to try out and see if things have improved.

First, I used a scalpel to clean off the mould lines. This wasn't too bad - there weren't too many of them (apart from the super obvious one on the base), and they came off pretty easily.

I'm not convinced by the Mantic bases, though. Look at these awkward gaps! As you'll soon see, they're pretty easily fixable, but the clever design on this figure needed a little more precision to pull off well.

I then decided it was time to experiment with basing, because my current bases are pretty dull and samey. So, I glued a few of the most expensive rocks on the planet (I have tons left over from GW basing kits) onto the base to break it up a bit.

I then covered the base with Vallejo Sandy Paste. This was a bit of a pig, so I'd highly recommend doing this before painting. The paste neatly covers up the gaps in the base from the smaller circle fitting into the weird doughnut base, so I'll probably continue this method if I ever pick up some more Mantic figures.


From my limited experience, I'd say that Mantic figures aren't an automatic "avoid". You need to be picky. I'd certainly be cautious around their old Warpath Orx, for example, but some of the newer stuff seems to be OK.

I've heard mixed reviews about their newer stuff. I suspect some of it is about taste and preference - some people don't like their material or casting method. Other people I know who've bought the newer Mantic stuff have said that they've found the quality variable - some tending towards the level of the older figures, others much improved, like our friend Oberon here. All in all, this worries me more than consistent known flaws - will it always be a gamble to buy a Mantic figure?

Mantic tag themselves as being about "Building Big Armies" and talk about "Affordable Fantasy and sci-fi tabletop miniatures and wargames scenery". If you are looking for cheap - sure, look at Mantic. They are unashamedly pitching to that point in the market, and that's fine.

From my point of view, if I buy Mantic, it won't be to substitute their figures into other games - it will be because of their games. From that point of view, Deadzone and Mars Attacks are the only two that really hold any interest for me.

Mantic have had some issues with being seen as rather derivative. Kings of War and Warpath obviously get compared to Warhammer and Warhammer 40,000. Dreadball isn't just sci-fi Blood Bowl, but the similarities have left a lot of people cynical. The first factions for Deadzone left me somewhat indignant on behalf of Studio McVey due to the similarities to Sedition Wars. Eventually, I've just grown to accept that some concepts have been in sci-fi for a while, and similarities sometimes happen. The other factions, in particular the Rebs, have helped build on that feeling, too.

And really, that's where I'm at with Mantic. It's their games which will carry their success or failure - whether through licensed lines, like Mars Attacks, or their own creations, like the growing Warpath / Deadzone universe.

Beyond that, what will gain and maintain my custom is ironing out their remaining quality issues and becoming consistent and reliable in their quality. Mediocre or downright terrible models (especially around assembly) will mean I decide its not worth the hassle, and I'll put my time and money elsewhere. It doesn't have to be excellent, given their pitch to the affordable market - but it needs to be "OK". That's pretty much where I'd place Oberon. I had a niggle about his feet and the base, but I'd not be upset about assembling a box of miniatures like him.

Has anyone else had experience with Mantic miniatures, either good or bad? Is anyone tempted to use some of their figures for other systems? I'm curious how my somewhat limited readership feels on this one...

Saturday, 16 August 2014

Battle Report, Slow Grow League Week 8: 1,000 pts vs Grey Knights

Another week, another Slow Grow. This week, I drew a new player - this was his very first game of Warhammer 40,000 ever.

We were on a lengthways deployment, and I rolled up the Warlord Trait which grants units outflank, so sent some of my models off on a hike around the block. We were using one of the strategic objective card missions.

My opponent was running two squads of Grey Knight Terminators, a Dreadnought and a Dreadknight with a teleporter.

As is to be expected in this sort of thing, the Dreadknight teleported straight up the field to start punching my guys in the face.

My warlord and a combined infantry squad came in at the far end, right by one of the objectives.

While his Warlord decided that a non risky deep strike would probably be wise.

It quickly turned into a brutal fight in hand to hand, with the Terminators trying to carve through all the Guardsmen.

The command squad with melta guns came in to try and grab another objective in some ruins on the far side.

Having carved through the conscripts, priest and psyker, the Dreadknight started tearing the fortification down.

Meanwhile, the command Chimera was ripped to pieces by the Grey Knights.

Having carved through my combined squad and Warlord, the terminators headed for an objective they'd drawn.

The command squad  botched their "Forwards, For the Emperor" roll (which was actually going to be used to run away), leaving them caught in the open.

The vengeful Grey Knight terminators, having lost some colleagues to melta fire, charged in for vengeance, wiping them out.

The Dreadknight finished off the fortification, then stayed on an objective and pushed for linebreaker, leaving only my Leman Russ alive at the end of the battle, and another solid defeat for me!

I still had a lot of fun! I think my army definitely needs some more mobility and more ways of dealing with 2+ armour saves. I shall be having a think about how best to do this in the near future.

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

London UK Convention: Games and Gears Con, August 29 - 31

There's a new wargaming convention in town!

So, it turns out Games & Gears, makers of brushes, wargaming battle boards and other bits and bobs, have decided to set up a convention. I found out about it from my friends who work at Dark Sphere, who are running several events at the con. The event is running from 29 - 31 August, at a hotel  in / near Gatwick.

There are tournament events for Warmachine, Hordes, 40K Kill Team, 40K Doubles, Warhammer Fantasy Doubles, Dreadball, Deadzone and also Magic The Gathering.

The full event schedule is up here.

You can get tickets here.

Sadly, I can't go to this myself this year, but I'm really curious about what conventions like this are like. I've only really done Salute from a wargaming perspective, although I went to UK Gencon once, that was primarily as a role-player. I've done a ton of LARP cons, but they are very different beasts.

I hope this is of interest to some of the folk who read this blog. If any of you do go - could you report back on what it's like? I'm definitely intending on going to something like this in the future, and I'd like to get an idea of what it's like.

Monday, 11 August 2014

Yet another Kickstarter delivery, but finally some painting progress

So, it has been a really busy weekend. Saturday, the wife and I had an expedition to both the Royal Mail sorting office and the local FedEx depot to pick up an assortment of parcels. This also resulted in a trip up the Beckton Alps, because it's kind of awesome that one of your local landmarks is a giant post-industrial toxic spoil heap.

One of the parcels was the Through the Breach Kickstarter reward. This was my first Kickstarter, and it was meant to deliver in September 2013. It got massively delayed by Malifaux 2nd Edition, though I've had the PDFs for a while. I backed early, so got a complementary Miss Terious figure, who is lovely. Sadly, money at the time prevented me from going in for a larger reward - ironically, I want the "Hanging Tree" model more than pretty much anything else that came in at the higher rewards, although the plushie voodoo doll is kind of adorable.

Wyrd were kind enough to send out a Malifaux starter box to apologise for the late delivery. While this was very kind of them, I'm not an Arcanist player, so have entered into an arrangement with The Anxious Gamer to take them off my hands and not add to my backlog any further. Hopefully I'm not dropping them in trouble by mentioning this!

When I got in, I decided to do me some painting. This was partially because I was sad I couldn't afford to go to either "Bring Out Your Lead" up at Foundry near Nottingham, or a small cancer fundraiser 40K event being held down at Wayland Games in Essex, and wanted to distract myself!

Sim had been amazing and had helped me out with these Beastmen on a previous weekend, and they just needed basing to finish off - so they got done and ticked off the list.

I also got one of my two Squat mercenaries painted up, for use in skirmish games and Inquisitorial retinues and all that sort of good stuff. The other chap still needs doing, but I was glad to get one of them done in between waiting for bits of basing materials to dry.

Of course, now I notice I caught a bit of his shoe with the basing paint. I'll go fix that. But this is really starting to make me think about starting to paint my models separately from the bases and attach them after they've been painted separately.

Saturday, 9 August 2014

Dakka on Bakka: 40K tournament at Dark Sphere

Last Saturday, I pottered down to Dark Sphere to play a 1,500 point, four game 40K tournament. Army list selection was entirely by the rules, so data slates, formations, Forge World and White Dwarf articles were all legit. Each game was to be completed in an hour and a half.

Thanks to a lift from a fellow player (which was awesomely helpful) I arrived in plenty of time. The table set up was reasonable, with plenty of space to get round every table.

I was also able to borrow a fold out table, as opposed to a tray, to move my army around. This was the most useful thing ever, and I'm starting to have the opinion that a side table is the way to deal with off table models (reserves, casualties, etc).

My list was a company command squad with an Astropath, a Tank Commander with a full squadron who was my warlord, a large infantry platoon and a Veteran Squad with only an autocannon sitting in the Firestorm Redoubt which had a Magos Machine Spirit and a Void Shield on it.

For all the games, we were drawing from the same strategy card deck as the other player. The decks were provided by Dark Sphere, so that was pretty stress free.

The first mission had three 'sand pits' on which three objectives stood. For the purposes of the cards, there was an objective which was 1 and 2, another which was 3 and 4, and another which was 5 and 6. The sand pits were difficult and dangerous terrain.

In this game, I faced a Necron list with a Lord in a command barge, two annihilation barges, and two small warrior squads with Haywire Crypteks coming in from reserve in flyers. They were backed up by a Tau dataslate formation, who handily enough decided to hide one of their Broadside squads in a bunker.

I was both outmanoeuvred and outgunned in this mission, losing handily and only getting a single victory point.

Next up was a Space Marine list, led by Tigurius, with a whole ton of scouts, an Aegis defence line with a quad gun, a Thunderfire Cannon, and two nasty flyers. I did much better in this game, as Tigurius and Scouts do not win a gunfight with an Invisible Leman Russ squadron, and his flyers failed to show up at all in the allotted time.

Next up, a lovely lengthways battle against a Farsight Enclaves list with three Riptides.

This was an absolute drubbing. It was the first time I actually lost the Firestorm Redoubt, and my Warlord, both of whom had survived their previous two games.

Next up, for my final game I got Imperial Knights with White Scar biker allies. The Knights were in some swanky formation, too. Here's a picture of one knight climbing over a wrecked Leman Russ to punch my Warlord to death with his giant chain weapon. This was, unsurprisingly, another loss, but was excellent fun.

All in all, I had excellent fun with the tournament. It was exhausting, but I learnt a lot about how 7th edition plays in a short time period.

In terms of feedback, I've been lazy, so I'm just going to put it on the blog and point the organiser here! I know, I know, I'm a terrible person.

  • The time slots were too short. I only finished one game naturally, and that's because Imperial Knights are really quick to move. I think 3 games of 2 hours each would probably work better.
  • There was a bit of a lack of clarity over how the shared mission cards thing worked. I ended up playing it differently in different games because the people I was playing had understood it differently. Perhaps making a draft mission pack available in advance of the tournament would allow for queries and clarifications?
That little feedback does really show how much of a success the tournament was, though. The table spacing was good, breaks were well publicised and sufficient to get food, and players were generally polite and reasonable, with hardly any rules discussions in the games I was in. I'd definitely recommend people give a tournament at Dark Sphere a try if they get a chance.

Thursday, 7 August 2014

Battle Report, Slow Grow League Week 7: 1,000 pts vs Space Marines

Another week, another battle. This time facing some Space Marines. I was pretty tired after work, and did manage to make a pretty big mistake in deployment.

You may notice I pretty much totally failed to actually deploy my Veterans, instead just piling them up in a heap. Whoops!

As well as the Razorbacks, there was also a small squad of Devastators up in the ruins, with some Tactical Marines on the ground floor.

My opponent had managed to draw Invisibility with his Librarian, which led to a five minute rules discussion before we even started. He also managed to roll "Skyfire Nexus" for all three of the objectives on his side of the table - clearly this flyer heavy force was keen to deny these locations to their opponents.

The Razorback raced out to grab an early objective...

And managed to get itself immobilised on the crater. Still, it did its job, scoring a point for the Marines!

Perhaps in punishment for my failure to deploy them properly, the Marine commander's Warlord trait pinned my Veterans.

The Razorback did not survive the experience of sitting out in the open against a Guard army.

Enter the Stormraven - and this is not the worst I was expecting! Still, the new Firestorm Redoubt was seriously discouraging my opponent from wandering around on my left flank.

Here you can see a tiny half inch of a Stormraven from my Firestorm Redoubt...

And here's the final movement position - flying with millimetres to spare behind the building so the Redoubt couldn't open fire. Still, they're Space Marines, ridiculous super human feats are entirely reasonable.

The Marines in the ruins, though, were pretty much down to a heavy bolter carrying Marine due to the fire from the brave Guardsmen!

And numbers were beginning to thin in the centre ruin too!

Uh oh.

The Fire Raptor is a lethal menace, and something I was really worried about.

Although the Firestorm Redoubt proved why my opponent was nervous about it, managing to graze it and mess up the majority of it's targeting computers for a turn.

Although despite that, it managed to take out the command Chimera.

The command squad scrambled onto the roof as a nearby squad took out the surviving Tactical Marine so they could open up with Skyfire - but to no avail!

The Stormraven and the Fire Raptor converged on the infantry squads, both dropping into hover mode to confuse the Firestorm Redoubt. Pretty much everyone got wiped out in a turn over here!

Now targetting the nearest unit (as all the flyers weren't zooming), a single Scout got the unfortunate job of waving his camo cloak around like a bull fighter in front of the automated targetting systems of the Redoubt, successfully drawing all their fire to him.

With nothing left but the bunker, the Marines closed in to take it out, but it managed to survive - although the game still ended with a solid win for the Space Marines!

I'm definitely impressed with the Firestorm Redoubt from this experience. It's pricey, but a serious challenge to anyone who hasn't planned for AV14. Of course, it's over-costed if your opponent doesn't have much in the way of a flying problems, but in this situation, for this game, it was just about perfect.