Thursday, 21 May 2015

Mantic Open Day Seminar 1 Summary

So today's post is not from me, but by Sam Rounsevell - fellow wargamer and good friend of mine from Brisbane. He did a summary of this years Mantic Games open day Seminar with the founder Ronnie Renton (video linked here) and asked if I could host it on my blog. Naturally I agreed, partly because Sam's a cool guy but mostly because I actually want to read these rumours! Over the past year I've been getting into both Deadzone and Kings of War. At some point I'll probably do a proper blog post about it but for now, here's Sam's video summary!



This isn't specifically related to the seminar below - I just wanted to add a vaguely relevant picture. ;)

Summary of Seminar 1 (Ronnie & Jake) - Mantic Open Day - May 2015

Hi guys, these are my paraphrased notes on the first seminar.  
My comments are in (brackets) so they are not mistaken for Ronnie's or Jake's words.

Note I am Werewomble on the forums, not a Mantic employee and all of this is totally legally binding.
If a single prediction does not come to pass I get to repossess Ronnie's fringe to make a toupee and 12 Molochs for my Abyssals army.  
And some spare Enforcers.  Any Dreadball teams I didn't back that look cool, too.  

Ronnie hands around production model of the Dungeon Saga Dragon.  
Visible on Youtube - its 3-4 inches tall, size is not apparent in the linked picture from Facebook.  
There is an alternate neck piece allowing a rider.

Fantasy version of Deadzone (Mantic Mordheim) is on the list of things to do.    
Short list of 4-5 things order to be determined.  
(Refer later comments re: fewer Kickstarters better - a couple of these will be done properly, not an avalanche of them)

Ronnie states Warpath/Dreadball are in the same universe as are Kings/Dungeon Saga/un-named Fantasy Deadzone.  
This creates great world-building opportunities.  
He says he's not doing a Mad Max game.  
(Notable that a Mad Max / Gorka Morka game could be slotted into the Warpath universe, though - parallels with future vehicle development for Warpath)  
Sci-fu Dungeon Saga is on said list.
(so presumeably Space Crusade / maybe Space Hulk equivalents)
All these are mentioned with the proviso that Kings, etc. are bedded down first.  
(Note later on Ronnie states they want to do a smaller number of Kickstarters better)

Only hold-up with Warpath is being able to make excellent vehicles - no point in doing it without vehicles.  
(pre-alpha Warpath rules to be released on Beasts of War 21st May)

Question about modelling materials.  
Ideal solution is hard plastic sprues.  
Kings of War and Deadzone: Infestation were restic free Kickstarters.  
Hard plastic for majority of troops types.  
Metal and resin for heroes and one-offs.  
Restic only for big things - Jake chimed in that its advantage is having big stuff with less parts (Ogres being an example).  
Ronnie quickly responded that they've heard us loud and clear and restic is not something they want to do any more of.  
(While Jake's comment that restic works for bigger models is true, it was obvious he was being a loose cannon and going off on a tangent Ronnie did not share)

Q: Dwarf plastic kits?
If Kings 2nd edition sells well they can churn out hard plastic sets to fill holes without Kickstarter.  
2nd edition Kickstarter focussed on getting two new armies out.  
Getting older armies' individual units in hard plastic is on the to-do list.  
KSers are better at to doing close to whole armies rather than bits for all armies.  
(My experience buying up Basileans from Kings 1.0 backers reflects this - I must have bought units from 5 different people, none had a use for Basileans but me)

Ronnie wants to service stores & pathfinders better going forward.  
Promoting Kings, Dungeon Saga and Dreadball is a big focus.  
Focus has been on quality control on restic and packing issues which are now manageable.  
Focus can now move to community/retail support.
Community created online content needed.  

Q:Unit bases for Warpath?
Ronnie says they will be optional like Kings...
Not necessary to have individually based models.  
Dioramas/trays make more sense.  
Ronnie relates his own evolution of keeping single model bases to be able to go back to Fantasy, realising it'll never happen and going nuts with dioramas on movement trays.  
(Me and all my Kings playing friends went through that exact same process - its trays all the way now and dioramas are pretty)
If you are playing Warpath with 100+ figures you may well end up sticking models to movement trays/dioramas.  
Warpath measures everything from the Commander.  
Keep the Commander figure loose to show the unit is in a building.  
Interaction is between "big bloody tanks", flying vehicles, infantry units, objectives to blow up, clear people out with grenades and flame throwers, etc.  
(This sounds better than just a 40K replacement - reminiscent of Dropzone Commander's infantry and objectives - awesome!)

On the lowest points level Warpath will crossover a bit with Deadzone models.
(Only reason to keep models separate I can see unless 40K becomes a game again)  

Jake:  Learning curve of Deadzone is quite steep.  
Rules could be cleaner.  
Layout, graphics, rules could be slicker.  
Deadzone 1.1 is a chance to remove stumbling blocks to learning.  
Rules review.  
Book layout to be fixed.  
Not having unit cards as a requirement.  
Simplifying statlines like the Command stat so there is less to remember.  
Nothing is final yet - there will be a public playtest session in "a month or so".  
(All sounding good - I taught two new players last night and I felt like an old silly explaining Command, etc. and they were asking what the symbols meant a lot more than you'd think)

Special Rules in Deadzone are straight forward individually...this makes for too many Special Rules.  
Some of these can be integrated into a statline or clumped into umbrella Special Rules.  
Which is easier to remember during play?
(Jake is having way too much fun talking about where the line can be drawn on Special Rules - good thing he makes fantastic games!  Going to be great pitching in with Deadzone 1.1 testing - he needs feedback.)

Rules wangling will impact balance between units and require testing.  
Jake begins to talk about scaling Deadzone points values to match Warpath.  
Ronnie steals the mic.  
(This is interesting as Deadzone naturally scales up to Warpath but is currently Alessio's baby.  
There are pros and cons to both - Alessio writes elegant reductionist rules hiding a deep strategic core whereas Jake puts in all the bells and whistles then cuts back to the gold - I want to hug them both - interesting Ronnie took the mic off Jake when he started talking Warpath.  Whatever happens they both need lots of playtesting feedback from us - I don't think we'd be seeing Deadzone 1.1 now had there been a Kings 2nd edition style public beta)

Q: Are you going to be doing a Deadzone campaign?
Ronnie: A very droll "Yes."  
Hilarity ensues.  

Deadzone Special Rules
New Deadzone player points out its Special Rules system is overwhelming, possibly reminiscent of Games Workshop.  
Jake woffles on about pros and cons to lots of granular Special Rules or one big grouping of Special Rules for a particular weapon.  
(This does sounds like its up in the air - please make sure to pitch in when the beta test opens!)

Dungeon Saga's learning escalation...
Ronnie segues from Deadzone complexity talk into the simple introductory step-ladder of scenarios that add complexity in steps to Dungeon Saga. 
A professional writer who'd never seen the game before put together a Getting Started sheet included in the game.  
Can get through the first game without the rulebook in the first couple of games.  
Ronnie Notes there is no Heroquest dungeon crawler equivalent.  
Descent is a wider scope and complex.  
Super Dungeon Explore is a different aesthetic.  
(Having personally played and loved both these games I agree - SDE's mechanics are fine but aesthetic is not.  
Decent's aesthetic is Heroquest-ish but mechanics are needlessly complex.  I gave up playing at 4am)
Stat sheets on one table for Dungeon Saga - no need to have individual cards like Deadzone 1.0.  

Dungeon Saga & Deadzone: 
Its not the rules.  
Its the presentation of the rules.  
Lessons learned on presentation of Dungeon Saga may be applied back to Deadzone 1.1

On new rulebook for Deadzone:
Free digital copy of Deadzone 1.1 for KS backers.  
Ronnie says it is a year too early to replace the rulebook.  (damn straight!)
Make sure people don't feel forced to buy the new rulebook but there is a need to streamline. 
Ronnie and Jake seem to appreciate the sensitivities involved.  
(Can't help but feel a public beta on Deadzone would have avoided the need for Deadzone 1.1
Having said that - bring it on!  I love Deadzone and would love some corners knocked off to make it easier to teach new players.  Reckon I will pick up the $100 pledge now, much more faith in Deadzone's future)

Deadzone was originally envisioned as more of storytelling, less tense game with simpler rules.  
It is played more as a competitive battle game and less narrative than planned.  
(How good is it that they are aware we play the game differently?  Yay Mantic!)

Deadzone missions:
Faction missions to be reviewed - each army wins in different ways is a good idea to avoid a straight kill game. Current missions require review.  
Current method is a bugger's model, requires refinement.  
Ronnie says "nothing will happen unless we bring the community with us" implying public testing.  
(This is perfect.  Our current Rebs player feels he can't win the majority of missions and I agree.  
The faction-specific missions are great flavour but more general objectives are required.  
Something like Rebs can always Scavenge for VP regardless of missions rather than narrow objectives.  
Can't wait for the public beta!)

Q: Are all Kings armies "safe"?
Ronnie: Yes. 

Two new armies are human-themed.  
One that "accessed the undead but don't see it as evil" (that would be Ophidia)
Fan: "So its basically dead are on community service."  Hilarity ensues.  
Other new army is human-based but mixed with Nature with the idea of balance.  
Basilean are extreme good.  These guys are about balance.  

Ronnie wants big tent armies which don't over-define what the player can do.  (a reaction against GW's micro codexes?  Kings beta showed evidence of this with Warlocks still benefiting from Braves but not forcing restrictions)

Mantic needs a community manager to market the retail side.  
Trade team and marketing teams weren't resourced well.  
Q: Do you accept ... too many KSers at one time?
Ronnie: Kings and Dreadball KSers went well (Deadzone notably not mentioned - guessing due to packing hell caused by complex custom pledges) 
Q: The end product is great...
Could have got it right the first time...Dreadball Xtreme aspects could have been in the core book.  
Dreadball was a 2 million dollar KSer by the time it finished...scope creep could have been handled better.  
Kings of War 2nd edition was a chance to go back and re-do Kings right.  
Likewise Deadzone:Infestation let the Deadzone diamond in the rough shine better (possibly a step-up?)
Ronnie acknowledges issues in communication and is looking for good people to fix that.  

Ronnie strokes his glorious bouffant and talks about white hairs.  

Kings of War has benefited from extensive tooling (beta testing)...
...Warpath is going to be worked on until they have a mass combat sci-fi wargame that does something the market wants like Kings.  
Ronnie is playing Warpath alpha now and he likes it.  
They are going to put it out in alpha, see how people like it, go to beta if it works.  
..."awesome vehicles"...first put out the book then the first expansion will be "interceptor"...this year (2015), maybe, early next year (2016) but only when its perfect and we have team capacity to handle it.  

Q: A lot of stuff competing for KSers...
Ronnie: If we are doing a new gaming system like Warpath...
I don't want more guff to come out.  
I want it to come out big and that requires money.  
Ronnie would love to do a smaller number of Kickstarters better.  
The next Kickstarter will have local gaming store exclusives so you have to buy it in-store 
(very important for community development - Mantic has gravitated towards an online model that unintentionally penalises retailers - A local stockist who should be all over Mantic has stopped stocking because Kickstarter cuts them out of the deal.  Great to see.).  
He wants retail to show off the quality of games.  
He wants to use KSer as it is intended - to Kickstart, not to make their money.  
Retail exclusives to get people in stores.  
(Notable that the Dungeon Saga tome-like box is perfect for retail shelves)

1:00:00 Ronnie shows and tells Dungeon Saga cards.  
Worth checking out the visuals if you are Dungeon Saga oriented.  
Legendary version of characters on the back of cards.  

1:02:00 3D prints of Deadzone:Infestation minis
Not visible on Youtube sadly.  
(Great to know they are at that stage already - 3D prints are what production molds are made from)

Stay tuned for seminar two featuring Ronnie unleashed.  

Quote from Ronnie in Seminar 2:
...Brawler is +1 combat dice? "You know what? PUT IT ON THE ****ING CARD" 
(a sentiment I can only echo)

1 comment:

  1. Thanks Rathnard, here is the link to the video in question: