So you may recall a few months back, I wrote a blog outlining my reasons for being, essentially, an exclusive GW fanboy.
Now, I meant every word I said there, and a lot of it was, to say the least, rather harsh critique of a variety of other miniature manufacturing companies, most notably Mantic Games.
Imagine my surprise, then, to find this in my blog’s inbox:
My immediate first thought was ‘bloody GamerGaters, phishing for my details’; after all, I’d expressed my personal opinions about the idea of nudity in games and in daring to have an opinion, I had drawn notice to myself. So I elected to do nothing about it.
Of course, who can refuse free miniatures? So I reached out to Mantic, curious to know exactly who this ‘Ronnie’ might be.
Imagine my surprise to discover he’s Mantic’s CEO!
Imagine my further surprise upon discovering that the offer of a free game was legit. Not in a million years can I imagine GW doing anything like that. They’d never even acknowledge you existed, but here’s Mantic, being classy as hell.
It arrived on the same day as my order from the excellent Puppetswar; if you’ve not seen their stuff yet, you should really click that link.
After a brief exchange, a couple of weeks ago, my copy of the game arrived and I can confirm: it is exactly as excellent as any of Mantic’s previous offerings. Fun, concise, with tight rules… If you’ve played any of their other games, you very much know what you’re getting into, so I won’t belabour the point any further than to say that if you’re a gamer who likes games, then you should absolutely check it out.
However, in my original column I had already acknowledged as much; I am a huge fan of the rulesets to both Deadzone and Mars Attacks, so I was under no doubt that this would be worth playing.
No, the issue here is the models: are they any better than Mantic’s previous offerings (which, as we all know, I am not a fan of)?
You’ll have to forgive my grainy picture, but I include this pic more so you can get an idea of the scale than anything else; if you want to see better pics, click this link and actually check out Mantic’s website.
As you can see, Rick is still in true-scale… But he’s 35mm, not 28mm, and actually, this makes a huge difference. If you compare him to the Astartes, you’ll see that he’s just ever-so-slightly taller, and that subtle shift is what elevates this model from a fragile, teensy display piece at best to an exciting and worthwhile sculpt.
And it is a worthwhile sculpt. The detailing is great; some lovely CAD work has all the folds in the fabric of his trousers, all the lines on his jacket, and a face which actually looks like the Rick of the comic…. Which is a bonus for fans of the comic over the TV show like me. Honestly, I want TV! Rick to just die, not to mention the walking charisma-free abyss he laughably refers to as a son.
The zombies are equally good, with a ‘delightful’ variety of exposed gibs, missing limbs, and all the usual glutinous good stuff. The manufacturing processes have been good as well; mold lines are either subtle or non-existent, meaning that you could easily shift these from the box to the paint station with minimal prep work. They’re also all single-piece models – an obvious nod to the fact the game’s clearly targeted at non-hobbyists – but which will be an absolute godsend to anyone who just wants to play the game.
So I’ve got a gift horse. Dare I look in the mouth?
Well, obviously, yes.
But my issues with the game are minimal. Firstly, they’re all one-piece models, which for more serious hobbyists like myself, will limit the creative potential of these somewhat. If you just want to play the game, then they’re great, but if you view your miniature purchases as the collection of materials rather than models, they’re not perfect. The fact they’re hard plastic goes a long way to countering this, however.
The second issue – and rather more the severe one if you are just interested in the game is the fact that beyond Rick and The Abyss Which Walks Like A Boy, you won’t recognise any of the other humans.
Seriously, who are these jabronis? Derek and Patrick and Liam and SERIOUSLY, WHO ARE THESE JOBBERS? I’ve read most of the comic and I can’t remember any of them. Where’s Michonne? Or Herschel? Or Carol? Or Tyreese? Or Glenn?
TWD comic has some absolutely superb characters, people I genuinely cared about (unlike the increasingly wretched TV show) and is by far the better of the two potential source materials to draw from. I understand the need to sell game expansions later on, but seriously: Rick is the only big name human character in the initial box?
It’s a little disappointing, especially because COME ON! MICHONNE SHOULD OBVIOUSLY HAVE BEEN IN THERE!
Seriously, we could have had this, and we get Derek?! WHO THE HELL EVEN IS DEREK?!!
There’s also the traditional problem of true-scale weapons being teeny-tiny. I spoke about this in my previous column on the subject, so it’s very much a personal taste thing, but even at 35mm, the models’ weapons are just too dinky for me.
That’s about all I can meaningfully critique, though. This is a damn fine game and a damn fine release for the asking price of £35 (roughly $42, or, what, probably $5 by January, given the way Brexit’s wrecking my country’s currency with the unfettered fury of a honey badger whose dinner got spiked with PCP). It’s bags of fun, the models are great, and – hopefully – a positive sign for future things from Mantic. I especially like the move to 35mm, and hope it’s the direction they choose to take all their models.
I also have to re-iterate that this was a bloody classy move from Mantic. Given that I spent nearly 5000 words savaging their work, for them to behave this way tells you all you need to know about this company.
I said in my previous column that I was waiting for Mantic to make me a fan of their models. And if I’m being truthful, I’m still not all the way to being a fan of their truescale aesthetic; I probably never will be – personal taste and all that. But I am a huge fan of the company, in terms of both their game designs and the way they conduct themselves too. They’re decent people, invested in the community, and I think they deserve a great deal of respect for that.