torsdag 21 november 2013

Mirliton Italian Soldiers in Tropical Uniform

In a couple of weeks we will be hosting a Chain of Command game at Flemcon in Stockholm. It will feature a LRDG attack on an italian airfield. We have lots of LRDG vehicles, but almost no Italian defenders. Actually there are very few italian miniatures available. I guess it's because the Italian soldier of WW2 isn't quite hyped up as much as say, the Waffen SS or the soviet Guards Armoured divisions.

Betrayed by higher command and a crappy domestic arms industry, the Italian soldier nevertheless fought with great tenacity in several theatres including North Africa and the Eastern front. Luckily for us, there are some small companies producing Italian models and miniatures, including Mirliton Miniatures, from you guessed it, Italy. I decided to order a few items to try them out, and lo and behold, a few weeks later a package arrived.

Mmm... the golden brown hiding precious treasures...

tisdag 5 november 2013

Kickstarter thoughts, part 2

I'm continuing a post from yesterday about kickstarters. I will talk a lot about the Mars Attacks kickstarter from Mantic games in this post, but if you want the background then read my previous post here.

Mars Attacks! This picture is what initially attracted me to the Kickstarter campaign.
For those who haven't heard about it, Mars Attacks - The Miniatures Game is based on the classic Topps trading cards. It's not based on the Tim Burton movie by the same name, rather it's the movie that's based on the trading cards as well. So while the Martians look the same, don't expect to see miniature versions of the movie characters. I love the movie and the miniatures look awesome, so I jumped on it immediately, thinking that if the game was crap I could use other rulesets for the miniatures, and the terrain and human heroes could do service in zombie games too.
Brandy, Buddy and Joe, ready to kick Martian butt. Or zombies.
I was lucky and bagged an "Early Bird" pledge, meaning my $100 level would only cost $90. This would net me the boxed game and $50 worth of "add-ons". So what are they, you wonder? Well, it's a bit sketchy, and I will come to that in a little while, but basically you get free credits to add stuff to your game. If I had pledged for the $150 level I would have recieved the game and $125 worth of stuff to add. I didn't see any reason to pledge that high as the only thing available then was extra figures and extra terrain sets for $20 and $25 respectively.

Everything included in the base game, so far. I think. It's not very clear.

What about stretch goals? I hear you cry. Well, when the campaign started, and through-out, we have been kept in the dark. We only know WHEN a stretch goal will be reached, not exactly what it is. Early on Mantic released some teasers in form of a free comic that you could download. It featured lots of stuff like Giant Stompy Robots, a Mad Scientist on a Giant Flee (yuck!), Giant Insectoids, Martian Special Troops and what-not. So when the first stretch goal was reached everyone was on their toes, eager to see what it would be. It was... *drum roll* 6 exclusive Topps trading cards. Say what??? And they weren't even included free with the pledges, you had to spend extra credits to get them. Mantic defended themselves saying that not everyone would want trading cards, so including them in the game wasn't fair, selling them extra was better, that way only those who wanted them would have to pay (or use credits) would get them. Fair enough. At the same time they announced the next stretch goal, which would be an upgrade to the boxed set. A fourth hero would be added, free of charge to all core sets regardless of pledge level.

Nice Creepy-Crawly. Too bad nobody knows when he's arriving...
This brings up the question about add-ons and stretch goals. There are three kinds of stretch goals. The first is called Upgrades. These upgrade the boxed set with extra figures or terrain or similar. Nothing complicated, they do what they sound like. The second kind of stretch goal is called Add-ons. They have to be bought either with extra money or the credit included in your pledge, and include stuff like more figures, or more terrain and what-not. The third kind is called Pledge Boosters. They include stuff that Mantic does not produce themselves, so have to be added using real money. They are not included in any pledge levels and they can't be bought with credits included in the pledge levels. Examples are a comic book, Mars Attacks themed memory sticks and terrain items made for Mantic by Antenociti's Workshop. Confused yet? As the icing on the cake, some of the "Upgrade" stretch goals don't upgrade the basic game, but instead they upgrade an add-on...  Confusing as hell, and I think it's a bit cheating to upgrade expansions that you have to pay extra for.

Overpriced USB Sticks and T-shirts? For extra money? How is this a stretch goal?
So, besides the confusion over exactly what would be in the game, when certain thing would become unlocked, I feel a bit cheated by all the add-ons revealed about half-way through the campaign. Elite Martian troops, new scenery, Flying Saucers, gun-trucks and a deluxe gaming mat. Had I known about those things beforehand I could better have calculated how much to pledge. As it stands now I want extra stuff for about $70, which means I have to add $20 to my pledge. What I'm thinking of is extra terrain pieces, the deluxe mat, and some extra heroes (I want that giant flea). Personally I think the deluxe mat is essential as the paper mat included in the game will not stand up to much abuse.

However, adding $50 at the beginning would have bagged me $125 worth of credit which I could use to buy lots of terrain and four mats, turning the board game into a fully fledged miniatures game. Now, since all the Early Bird pledges are gone I need to raise my pledge at least $60, which is no big deal moneywise, but I do feel cheated of the reward for pledging early. Somewhere along the line Mantic also added a $75 pledge level which would get you only the core game and no extra credits in response to backers not wishing to buy extra stuff. But the thing is, the main complaint about the game is that you don't know exactly how much is needed to get a good scenario from it. From the beginning the core set would have 8 human soldiers, 10 martian soldiers, 3 heroes and 1 martian general, as well as some terrain. A lot of the backers (me included) was planning to get some more terrain and a few extra figures for our credits. Now the core set contains 10 human soldiers, 20 martian soldiers, 9 heroes and 1 martian general. So what is needed for the scenarios included? Do we need extra heroes? Human soldiers? What?

What the hell Mantic? A stretch goal only useful to some backers?
Furthermore, some of the tasty stretch goals hinted at the beginning -- Giant Bugs -- haven't been unlocked yet. Instead we have got stuff like a Martian Dreadball team, a crossover with Deadzone featuring an Alien hunter character and card decks for humans and martians, sprung from nowhere. That would be like GW including a Genestealer Blood Bowl Team in Space Hulk! With just five days left this could be a disaster. I think people feel cheated by the way Mantic has set up the stretch goals. Personally I feel like they are trying to lure people to spend more money, drawing them in not just to unlock a stretch goal, but to reveal that sweet upgrade that's never coming. In a desperate last minute response, Mantic has stated that the Giant Bugs will be included in the next stretch goal -- if the total reaches $500.000 -- despite the bugs earlier slated for the stretch goal AFTER half a million. However I think people that wanted the bugs already have given up as some backers are starting to cancel.

This is what we want! Hear that Mantic?
The number of backers has dropped from 2509 yesterday to 2480 right now. So, 29 has left, big deal you say. But the amount pledged has at the same time dropped some 10.000 dollars. This means that not only are backers dropping out, the ones that are left are lowering their pledges -- at a guess I would say people are dropping from $150 (or more) down to the $100 level or just the basic game at $75. (And while writing this paragraph I saw the number of backers tick down to 2479 before my eyes.) As one backer stated: "If I pay $150 for a boardgame I expect all components to be miniatures, not tokens or cardboard markers." This was prompted by the fact that some of the pieces (like a flying car) would be Pledge Boosters, not upgrades, meaning backers have to pay extra for them. Mantic responded by suggesting a $225 level which would include the base game and all 3D terrain extras like burning cattle, crashed cars, piles of bodies and more, but not including any extra credits. So that's $225 for a pretty but basic board game with miniatures. That's not cheap. And yes, I get it, we are funding the development of the game. Except we are not, since Mantic always run their kickstarters like giant pre-ordering systems for games they would be doing anyway.

So where am I getting with all this? I don't know. I think the game will rock, the miniatures look awesome. But the devious kickstarter with many meaningless goals has left a sour after-taste. Combine that with the hit-and-miss experience I have had with other crowdfunding campaigns and I think I will wait a long time before supporting another project. I will at least see this one out as I do want the game. I hope that Mantic learns a lesson and do not bite over too much in their next project. So what do you think?

Kickstarter thoughts and a giveaway heads up

First I want to mention a splendid giveaway over at Loki's Great Hall. Andrew is celebrating 200 followers, and you have until 6 pm today (5th of november) to sign up.

You can win this figure!!!

Second, I want to talk a bit about kickstarter and other crowd funding campaigns. This will be a bit of a rant though, be be warned.

Wayland games

Wayland Games