Can one blogger use his modest writing skills to mind control an entire gaming company? The entire gaming industry? Let’s find out.
So the other day, between drooling over the impending Thousand Sons release tidbits across the wondrous Net, I got to talking to my brother about kickstarters we’re following. As I noted in my Kickstart My Heart article, I’m a big fan … and so is my brother. If anything, ever since I introduced him to them, he’s become even more addicted than me. Our tastes differ, but we both do kickstarters for the miniatures (it goes without saying they’ve gotta be games as well). He tends to like Cthulhu-esque games and miniatures, or failing that, just horror stuff. Oddly enough, only I seem to get slapped with the “tentacle” label. At any rate, though we like different things, we do have a couple kickstarters in common, such as Mantic’s Warpath, the first wave of which should be shipping to us any day now.
So we were talking about Mantic’s Warpath. We both agree that the game looks cool, though to be honest, we primarily intend to pillage the various miniature lines for ‘counts as’ Warhammer 40,000 (40k) projects that we have planned (the Plague for various Chaos armies I always having brewing and the Veer-myn into a crazy Dark Eldar Haemonculus Covens army for my brother). We both like Mantic. Me mostly for their Mars Attacks game system line, though their modular urban terrain is very cool too. My brother likes their Deadzone stuff. Both of these interests lead to Warpath, especially when Mantic launched their kickstarter last year to improve the game line and add some pretty sweet looking hard plastic vehicles.
Face it, Space Rats are waaay cool.
Despite our excitement for the impending first wave of Warpath, I turned the conversation to other Mantic projects – since dwelling upon Mantic’s sometimes fickle deliveries of their kickstarters can be aggravating if you allow yourself to fixate on the due dates. My brother is most excited for Mantic’s newest kickstarter which he backed – Star Saga. This game is a modular dungeon-crawler board game in the same vein as Heroquest, or perhaps more aptly Mantic’s own Dungeon Saga. The difference, which my brother was most excited about, is that Star Saga is set in Mantic’s Warpath science fiction setting, and is filled with all kinds of crazy aliens and Plague zombies. I’ll admit, the miniatures are quite cool, especially the tentacley aliens and the futuristic furnishings, but I resisted and my wallet did not succumb. I did get him to add an extra set of the furnishings to his pledge though … still, I call it a win.
After he waxed on about how that the kickstarter had gone, I pointed to Mantic’s other big kickstarter that is shipping to stores even now (and irritatingly enough likely displaced our Warpath shipments) – the Walking Dead: All Out War miniature game. I’m a big fan of the Walking Dead, though my brother is indifferent to it – he likes zombies well enough, but believes the market is already saturated with zombie games. For my part, I’m a big fan of zombies and the Walking Dead in particular, and despite agreeing that the market does indeed seem saturated, I foresaw that were Mantic to get the license to do the Walking Dead, the name alone would be enough to carry the game to success, as long as Mantic did it as well as they’ve done most of the other games they’ve done the last couple years (Mars Attacks springs to mind). The game itself looks really well done, and I like the premise – namely that it is a skirmish game between rival bands of survivors and that the walkers are merely hazards that must be dealt with. The funny thing is, despite all these seemingly draws for me, I still managed to resist pledging for it – mostly because I have 80-odd Plague zombies coming with my Warpath pledge and those will be used to fill my dual purposes. I’ve still kept my eye on the project though, as I find it compelling and because I want to nab some of the cool modern Apocalypse terrain the game features for use in my Mars Attacks games once it is finally available at retail.
But talking about Mantic’s the Walking Dead revived an old debate that my brother and I had had shortly before they announced the game’s kickstarter in the first place. I ultimately won this debate, though looking back on it, I kinda wish he had. At the time, Mantic was being coy, teasing the fan base with tidbits about how Ronnie (Mantic’s head honcho and an enormously entertaining guy to watch on Yutube videos) had flown to California to secretly negotiate the license of some unknown, but sure to be exciting, property. I, of course, guessed the Walking Dead, though it hadn’t occurred to me that it would be just the comic license, which ultimately proved brilliant on Mantic’s part, as the AMC license would no doubt have been far more costly. So I was right, and my prophetic vision prevailed. But my brother’s guess was so much cooler, and both at the time, and to this day, his arguments convinced me that even if he weren’t right, he SHOULD be.
So what was my brother’s brilliant idea? It’s simple – Mad Max: Fury Road the miniatures game.
Zombies are cool, and a game a featuring the Walking Dead property would no doubt do well if pulled off correctly (I believe this will be the case with Mantic’s All Out War), but my brother is completely correct, the genre is over-saturated in the gaming industry – particularly board games. But a miniature game featuring crazy vehicles composed mostly of a motley assortment of trucks, jeeps and motorcycles, preferably in 28mm or a similar scale? Well, I can only think of one game that meets that criteria, and it is very old and out of print. What’s more, that game, as awesome as it was, is very dated now. GorkaMorka.
So why would Mad Max: Fury Road make such a great miniatures game concept? Well, if you think it through, it’s got everything you need to get a gamer excited. Insane villains, crazy vehicles and weapons, over-the-top violence, speed and explosions. What more can a gamer ask for? Mad Max is also a decades-spanning cult classic and has a built-in following, many of whom are already gamers. And despite being born in the 80’s, the franchise has modern appeal in the brand’s recent revival in the Mad Max: Fury Road movie. The best part is, though the movie did well enough, and I’ve heard gamers walking around yelling “Witness!” all too often, it wasn’t exactly a box-office smash-hit, so the license should be attainable for a company such as Mantic.
Are we sure this isn’t a 40k movie?
If you’re a Mantic fan and you think about it, creating a Mad Max miniatures game can also be used as a short-cut to expand their already existing brands as well. For example, along with the revamping of the rules, the Warpath kickstarter that I mentioned previously was billed as Mantic’s first foray into producing plastic vehicles. Oh, they reworked many of the armies’ troops as well, but the big, cool Sci-Fi vehicles were definitely the stars of the show. And … this is key … they only did five of Warpath’s available factions. Several other factions of the game were left to some future kickstarter, notably their Marauders, which are basically 40k orks. In 40k, orks drive around in dilapidated trukks and buggies upon which they bolt an assortment of crazy weapons, accessories and a wide array or other seemingly unnecessary things. Sound familiar? Were Mantic to do such a Mad Max miniature game featuring such vehicle models, it would be a simple matter for them to port these vehicles to the Marauders (perhaps with a tweak here and there or additional sprues to ‘Marauder’ them up a tad) once they launched the next kickstarter to expand Warpath. Such vehicles could be used in their Deadzone game as well, particularly if used by said Marauders. In short, Mantic would be saving themselves a bunch of work, and basically killing two birds with one stone (I knew there would come a day when that cliché would come in handy).
But it gets even better my friends! As pretty much everyone who frequents this site knows, Games Workshop (GW) has been getting much better at engaging with their customers and, shocker, even catering to us. In particular, GW has brought back long-demanded specialist games as well as creating new, self-contained board games in the same vein. Fan favorites such as Space Hulk, Warhammer Quest (with a twist) and Blood Bowl are back, and the whispers in the wind say others such as Titanticus, Necromunda and several others will follow. Absent from all such rumors is GorkaMorka. Indeed, I’ve heard on occasion that GorkaMorka in particular will not be rereleased. In my view, this is a mistake on GW’s part, and a great opportunity for Mantic, who, let’s face it, has built their company upon exploiting GW’s mistakes and neglected properties. Ork players are always looking for new vehicle bits to cram onto their ramshackle truks and buggies. Even more significant, though the truk of the old GorkaMorka days has long been replaced by a huge, and awesomely orky improved kit, the same cannot be said of the ork buggy. Ork players, despite their loud protestations, still must contend with a buggy kit that hails from those days of yore. You hear that Mantic? That’s opportunity knocking.
Kazzigum has hypnotized the entire industry! And they don’t see it! But I see it…
So, if anyone from Mantic is listening (or perhaps another gaming company with the cojones to seize the day), gaze into my eyes. Listen to my soothing words and slide your thoughts into the hazy ether. Can you hear the roar of the engines? Can you feel the wind-blown grit swirling against your teeth? That’s destiny roaring up on you from behind, but it you hesitate, she’ll scream past you and leave you choking in the dust.
What do you guys think? Mad Max, the perfect miniature game idea? Personally, I’d love to seen a line of gritty, ramshackle vehicles I could just steal for a whole host of miniatures games.