Army Painter: Warpaints, Magic Superglue Activator, and More

The Army Painter crew was exhibiting at the 2012 GAMA Trade Show and I caught Jonas Faering for an interview on March 13. I have used their Quick Shade myself on my slowly growing Ork army for 40k and attended a demonstration they did several years ago in Las Vegas at Little Shop of Magic. I consider them a premier informative company alongside Terranscapes, Hirst Arts, and Worldworks Games for the extra value they offer gamers with tutorials and downloads.

Army Painter Warpaints

Army Painter Display with 36 Warpaints.

Image courtesy Army Painter

CG: So I’m here with Jonas Faering. What country are you from?
AP: Eh, Denmark.
CG: Everyone is from Denmark for Army Painter. So what’s the new product?
AP: New product that we got is actually a range of normal paint, we call it Warpaint. So we got a small range, 36 colors, 27 normal, 5 metallics, and 3 of the Quickshade inks. The real trick about our Warpaints is, for everybody that knows our color primer range and has been missing that exact match whenever they made a small mistake, there it is. So you got the Dragon Red color primer spray, now you have the exact same in a Warpaint.
CG: Was the decision to go for squeeze bottles kind of a no-brainer?
AP: I prefer it myself. I’ve been painting, like so many other ones, since I was 14. So 25 years of experience, I just prefer the dropper bottle. That why I went in for that. And we’ve gotten a lot of feedback, it lasts longer, it doesn’t dry out, so on.

Army Painter Colored Spray Primers

Image courtesy Army Painter

CG: What else is new? Do you have any new tufts planned?
AP: Yeah, we do actually! We got 6 tufts, but we got a few more planned. The next one is a very very pale one and then we got one that is very dark, but with light highlights, it’s called Wasteland Tuft. Towards the end of the year we’re going to have one called Rotten Mold, only 2mm tuft. And then we might look into some other ones. We are tyring right now the Meadow Flowers, which is slightly different than the other ones. And that’s been quite good feedback on that, so we might do other stuff like that. Apart from that, we’ve got a few more color primers planned out. We got Goblin Green towards the end of the year and next year we’re going to bring back the Necrotic Flesh.
CG: What happened to it?
AP: Well we took it out of the range because it was, well it was the slowest-selling one and we thought “Well, we need to trim the range.” As soon as you take something like that away, people start saying “Where is it?! We want it again!” So we’re going to bring it back.

Army Painter Tools, Tufts, and Magic Superglue Activator

The Army Painter Magic Superglue Activator has a spray pump.

Image courtesy Army Painter

CG: At a friendly local game store I don’t typically see this wide range of tools, but you’re competing every bit as much as Games Workshop who has their own line of tools and so on.
AP: Yeah. Well basically, the thing about Army Painter is that we’re everything apart from the models. So whether you’re into Games Workshop or you’re into Privateer Press or historicals, or whatever, well you can take your models and go and use our stuff to get them done. That’s the beauty about being neutral. So yes, we’ve got everything to take you from the box to finished army.
CG: Now can you point out anything-, I imagine your glue is the same cyanoacrylate (CA) glue, but does anything in your line stand out where you go “Actually our tool is a little bit better.”?
AP: The obvious answer in our line is the Quickshade and the Color Primer, because nobody else really does that, but apart from that, and I know that other people do it, but our Magic Superglue Activator. I don’t know if you’ve tried it or anybody else, but once you’ve tried it, you’re hooked. So the trick-, even though superglue is fast-drying, you add a little drop, hold it together, and then you spray it with this activator all over the model-
CG: So it has a spray nozzle?
AP: Yeah, yep. It’s pump action and it instantly hardens the superglue. Then you’re on. Because you know when you’re gluing that wing to your dragon, and you have to sit and hold it for 10 minutes…
CG: So it’s an accelerator.
AP: Yeah! It’s nothing else and I know we’re not the only one that does it, but for a lot of people, all of my gaming group, they’ve never heard of it before, because their shop didn’t carry it until we came out. And I would say again the Tufts, it’s nothing that we’ve invented, but-
CG: You brought it to the market first, that I saw.
AP: Exactly. And if you use Tufts for your heroes, maybe even your front rank, or if you go all in, for your whole army. it just makes all the difference.

Jonas Faering’s Armies, Worldwide Distribution

CG: Now what do you play yourself, Jonas?
AP: Oh, lot’s of stuff! Workshop-wise, I don’t know… I’ve got 20 armies. My latest project is another Ogre Kingdom army ’cause their new models are just so cool. And then I’m really into historical, I’ve got a huge Saxon army and my colleague Bo, from Denmark obviously, picked the Vikings. And lately we’ve had a bit of fun with some cowboys.
CG: What scale?
AP: Eh, 28mil. I prefer that. I do have Flames of War as well, painted a few armies there, but I prefer 28mil to be honest. I’ve picked up a game called Blackwater Gulch. Skirmish game, ace fun I have to say.
CG: “Ace fun”.
AP: [laughs] Yeah, it’s good!

Would you call drybrushing cheating? No! It’s just a technique. It’s the same with our stuff, it’s just a technique.

CG: Where does your product sell the best, Europe or the States?
AP: Both, I would say. We’re worldwide. We got Australia, Canada, US, and obviously Europe, especially England, it’s the home of toy soldiers. Really we’re all over the place now. With Warpaints, I think we’re starting to have a decent range. As I said, you can go from buying a box of whatever miniatures you like and Army Painter can take you onto the stage of the gaming table.
CG: And your company has done that, you’ve gone from almost nothing to now you have a whole line of product. I mean, this is the backbone, the Quickshade right?
AP: Yeah. Well the Quickshade and the Color Primers are really the backbone of the system. In theory you can do it without them. Let’s say you play Blood Angels and you don’t like dipping, well you can still spray them red. Makes sense. And then just, you know, highlight them or do whatever you like. Or if you don’t like the sprays, and you prefer [painting by hand], then you can do that. I’ve got many people who really like the Quick Shade, but they brush it on, use it almost like an ink, but it has a different consistency. At the beginning I had people write to me “Oh, this Quick Shade, it’s like cheating.” or “I went to tournaments where it didn’t give full painting points”.
CG: Oh! [a craven cry of alarm]
AP: And that was just the beginning. Would you call drybrushing cheating? No! It’s just a technique. It’s the same with our stuff, it’s just a technique. Makes your army paint up very fast, but in theory, it’s just a technique.
CG: Thank you.
AP: You’re welcome!

AEG: Alderac Entertainment Group’s Premier GTS Seminar

John Zinser, President of Alderac Entertainment Group, led his staff’s presentation in the afternooon on March 13. With him were Dan Brisco, Jeremy Holcomb, Bryan Reese, and David Trudeau among others. They would be staying in Las Vegas after the GAMA Trade Show for their game development meeting for 2013.

Legend of the Five Rings and AEG’s Development

AEG's Emperor Edition card game deluxe boxes.

Image courtesy AEG

After querying the seminar attendees about how many of them sell the Legend of the 5 Rings (L5R) card game with a strong response, Zinser announced that AEG has never done better on a product than they had on the Emperor Edition of the game, calling it the best L5R product in 20 years. At the time of presenting, Zinser stated that the Emperor Edition would be sold out within 3 weeks from AEG, creating a lag time of 6-8 weeks until it would be back in stock again. AEG admitted that “L5R is not easy”, but “it is long money”. Out of the collectible card game market, Zinser estimated their customer base as maybe three to five percent of the collectible card game market, and even as low as two percent, but AEG has no intentions of leaving the market.

AEG's Nightfall game

Image courtesy AEG

Last year Zinser discussed AEG’s history at the previous GAMA Trade Show; at this one he explained AEG’s process in developing new games. First, they have a brainstorming meeting where they list all the things they want to happen with the game. Then theygo back through and take the crazy ideas out. They thought of vampires and werewolves and came out with Nightfall. Zinser explained a bit more of the process at a manufacturing seminar on a different day. They cited Thunderstone and L5R as games which were easy for them to playtest and detailed a bit more of their process on games like Monkey Lab and Abandon Ship.

Thunderstone Advance by AEG

Image courtesy AEG

What really stood out to me (as well as a few other attendees I spoke with later) was AEG’s commitment to customer service and excellence, as well as their candor in discussing some of the company’s mishaps. The Kolat Edition of L5R came about because of shipping delays. Rather than leaving customers unfulfilled and waiting for the Emperor Edition, AEG made the delayed Emperor Edition cards available online for free as part of the Kolat Edition. They explained that the Kolat are an evil shadowy faction in Legend of the Five Rings determined to overthrow the Emperor. In an odd turn of events, the AEG staff asked what would the Kolat do if they were in the position that AEG was with the Emperor Edition delays and they decided that giving away the cards would be the way the Kolat would undermine the Emperor. Zinser signed off on the idea which the fans took advantage of. The cards were still available online for free up until March 19.

AEG Dominare Boardgame Artwork

Image courtesy AEG

Several other growing pains that AEG covered were an odd shipment of smelly boxes caused by the inks’ drying times and a mix-up involving Spanish cards mixed in with English. As they said earlier in the seminar though, if it is a reasonable request from a retailer, Customer Service will fix it. I have to imagine that this same ethic also extends to their customer base.

Returning to new products, AEG mentioned that Embers of War is on a boat and will be arriving very soon. The expansion to the L5R line will introduce some new mechanics as well as heralding the arrival of the Imperial Herald. Senseis will also return to the game. Embers will come out in the middle of AEG’s Kotai Season, a special global tournament season for Legends of the Five Rings players. A “Learn to Play L5R” set will also be coming out this summer.

The Oracle of the Void

Bryan Reese discussed the Oracle of the Void, an incredibly detailed online database cataloging every single card from L5R’s 20 year history. AEG just got it up in February and the database will store players’ card collections, allowing them to put together haves and wants. It’s also all entirely free. The database is up to almost 10,000 cards and was a mammoth undertaking, taking over 3 years to develop and thousands of hours of labor. Reese summed it up well, “My wife hates the Oracle.”

Other features include making public or private decks and being able to print out cards a player doesn’t have. Members of AEG’s Imperial Assembly enjoy special benefits on the Oracle. The printed cards allow players to playtest decks, but are not legal for organized tournament play. Nevertheless, to me it sounds like a massive amount of value to L5R players and is more of an incentive to try the game out.

Other Products

AEG's Shufflebuilding Deck Game Smash-Up

Image courtesy AEG

Returning to Thunderstone Advance, AEG pointed out that it will still be compatible with every version of the game. AEG introduced Smash-Up, a “shufflebuilding” card game featuring 8 factions with 20 cards each. The factions include Ninjas, Aliens, Pirates, and Dinosaurs. A player can “probe” his opponent with an alien card and then toss a throwing star at him.

They also announced Mercante and Dominare which definitely had a Eurogames look to them. Mercante seems to be a resource-trading game, while Dominare is about poltiical control and influence. Both seem to be set in a Renaissance Roman setting. They also announced the development of a third game in the same setting with the working title of “Courtier”, though I think “Consiglieri” would be more in keeping with the Latin-Italian theme. At the end, an attendee shouted out his question, asking whether the long-delayed Art of War board game would be coming out and I believe the answer was along the lines of “Not yet.”

Wizkids Premier Seminar – GTS 2012

District 12 the Game from WizKids box cover art.

Image courtesy WizKids

Justin Ziran, President of WizKids, spoke on March 13 to an audience of mostly experienced retailers. WizKids has an impressive release schedule for the calendar year and the mood was positive and upbeat. Citing Fandango ticket pre-orders for “The Hunger Games”, Ziran pointed out that it will very likely be the next cultural phenonomen on the order of Harry Potter or the Lord of the Rings. Wizkids is launching a number of tie-in games related to the movie’s release, based on the popular series by Suzanne Collins. The Hunger Games line of collectible miniatures will feature 27 figures, with tributes from all 12 districts. Jabberjay has a MSRP of $9.99 and is a card game of secrets and betrayal, while District 12 is a more typical board game.

They also have a Smurfs game and E.T. figures coming out which, to me, resemble the previously-released Gremlins or Freddy vs. Jason sets, which have a play mat and 7+ figures.

Jabberjay Card Game from WizKids

Image courtesy of WizKids

Ziran moved on to several other WizKids successes, mentioning that the Mage Knight Board Game sold out of its initial run in 20 days. Another successful sell-out was Star Trek: Tactics. Wizkids is aware that some customers have been buying it to play Star Fleet Battles. Switching games slightly to Star Trek: Fleet Captains, Wizkids trumpeted reviews of it as “the best Star Trek game ever produced”. There are expectations of doing expansions and Ziran noted that the Romulans are missing. Wizkids will also be releasing a Hobbit Heroclix game tied to the release of the movie that will play in an hour to an hour and a half.

Pathfinder Battles

Bryan Kinsella, a VP at WizKids Games, presented on Pathfinder Battles, announcing the release of four much larger figures to be sold as a case. Several retailers expressed their concerns about the four-figure cases proposed, pointing out that collectors would simply “buy the cases online”. Someone then suggested 6 figures to a case (including repeats) which would reduce the likelihood that a collector would purchase the entire case. Kinsella showed a colossal incentive Pathfinder Battles figure, the Rune Giant, standing 6 inches tall, and 8 inches to the tip of his sword. WizKids politely declined my request for images of these figures to share, but Seoni’s figure was Kinsella’s personal favorite as he “personally likes the motion” of the sculpt.

Heroclix

An assortment of Wizkids merchandise including the previously-released Galactus and possibly the Abomination.Jerome Gonyeau next stepped in. He reminded retailers that they can still get in on the Infinity Gauntlet prize support saying that “four cases is a breeze to go through in 3 months of play”. Several retailers near me remarked that they could go through four cases in three weeks. Gonyeau then moved briskly through various release dates, images of figures, and numbers in the sets. Of interest to me was his announcement that WizKids will be having 3-figure thematically tied sets, such as Shield teams or Hydra soldiers to tie in with the release of the Avengers movie. Another Marvel product that will be released is a Galactus in a box (as opposed to the previous prize support Galactus figure).

The Watcher and other Heroclix figures as well as other Wizkids product from their GAMA Trade Show Booth.Wizkids next reacted to a a question about Organized Play prize support being sold on eBay and what WizKids was doing to combat illegimate use of their OP prizes. Ziran announced that WizKids takes such things very seriously and that they have a discretionary policy in place to deal with such violations. He said that he pursues it in the spirit of the law, and not the letter of the law, so if there is even a whiff of impropriety, WizKids is interested.

DC Heroclix – Batman will come out in the fall along with the vehicles appearing in Heroclix. This was further clarified at the dinner that evening when the Batmobile was shown. Batman – Streets of Gotham will also include Birds of Prey, the Outsiders, and a “team never seen before in DC” which was subsequently revealed to be Jim Lee’s Wildcats. There is also Batman – The Dark Knight Rises scheduled for release later in the year with its 30+ figures. I do have to note as a casual Heroclix player that the newer sculpts shown at the GAMA Trade Show do seem substantially better than previous ones.

Responding to a comment from the audience that Wizkids was not game retailer-focused, but instead mass-market focused, Justin Ziran explained that when he heard that various WizKids Hunger Games products were in Hot Topic accidentally, within 5 minutes he was on the phone with Diamond Alliance, telling them to release the products to retailers.

Moving on, Ziran also revealed that they’ve been toying with the idea of scenario packs for Heroclix featuring a map and a big bad guy to fight against. When asked about Horrorclix, Justin Ziran replied that “Horrorclix is not on the menu. There’s a reason that Horrorclix isn’t around anymore.” When asked whether WizKids wasn’t oversaturating with so many releases, WizKids responded by saying that they had expected the question much earlier. Several retailers voiced their support for WizKids releases and one retailer earlier was overflowing with thanks to WizKids for the presence of Adam Warlock in his store (and the ensuing sales generated) saying that Warlock had “changed the face of the game” in his store. While I did not catch WizKids actual response to the question of oversaturation, Ziran affirmed that “Marvel and DC are our tent poles.”

CoolMiniorNot’s Kevin Clark Talks Wrath of Kings, Relic Knights, Zombiecide, Confrontation Phoenix, and More

Relic Knights miniatures including Noh as seen at the GAMA Trade Show

Relic Knights: Noh Looming

CG: Kevin Clark, you’re basically the brand manager for…
KC: I’m the brand manager for Wrath of Kings and I’m also one of the two developers for Relic Knights.
CG: Which is most exciting to you right now?
KC: Uh… that’s a real tough question. I did the work on Relic Knights first, so I’m really excited to see it finally make it out into the marketplace, but Wrath of Kings, I think, is going to be a great launch this year. I genuinely think it’s going to be one of the biggest things to hit this year.
CG: And which will be available at Gen Con?
KC: Both.
CG: And Zombiecide?
KC: Zombiecide is a game we’re publishing through a partner, Guillotine Games. We’re doing the publishing work for them and the distribution. It’s a zombie board game, super strong, comes with about 70 models in it, and playable 1-6 players. It takes about 45 minutes, good board game, good solid product.
CG: You guys have gone from Dark Age, really one product that I’m aware of, besides the website, and now suddenly exploding with a lot of other ones, right?
KC: Last year Super Dungeon Explore was really kind of an experiment for us to see if the publishing model was something that the industry would really take to and Super Dungeon Explore was so successful that it really just made sense to keep looking at stuff and we reached out to some other partners that we had, that we had other pre-existing relationships with, and you know, looked at some new properties that they wanted to get done and here we are. We are showing off five new games that are all launching this year in August and September.

CG: Super Dungeon Explore seemed to have a high price point to get into the game. What does it retail for?
KC: When the game comes back out it’ll be $100 for the starter box, when it comes back in stock.
CG: You guys came from Dark Age where it was thirty or forty dollars for a starter set back in the day.
KC: Way back in the day, yeah. They’re forty to sixty now, depending on the model count in the box. They’re also very different products. Super Dungeon Explore you’re looking at a full contained board game with an abundance of miniatures. I think there’s 65 models, no 50, 50 models in that box. Sorry, too many numbers in my head, that you get for that $100 price point. All the tiles, all the counters, you know, the whole thing, so it’s a very different type of product than a miniatures game, a pure miniatures game, as opposed to a board game with miniatures.
CG: What is similar? Wrath of Kings is more along the lines of Dark Age?
KC: Wrath of Kings is just a miniatures game. It’s going to be a full-on miniatures property. We’re looking at the average game size out of the gate is going to be 30 models. That’s what we think the sweet spot is right now. You can play with as many as 50. The game doesn’t use points. It uses a force org chart, so you know we have a little bit of creative control over what the scope of the book is designed to handle.

Wrath of Kings

Teknes from Wrath of Kings miniatures game character art.

Teknes image courtesy CoolMiniorNot

CG: What would you describe the IP behind it as?
CG: Wrath of Kings is a brand new IP. It is a fantasy setting, a little bit of steampunk element, a little bit of horror element, you know some things like werewolves, vampires, that kind of stuff, but it’s very bright, high magic, but very human-centric. Whilst if you look at the models, it looks like there’s a bunch of different kind of critters, most of those are humans that have been modified somehow, in some way, shape, or form for Wrath of Kings. I think the setting is really bearing out to be very real and gritty, but not overly dark and horrible, which I think seems to be sort of the trend right now, that all of the big miniatures properties are all kind of grim and fueled by anger, if you will. We’re trying to make something that’s a little more grounded, more foundational, and intriguing. All the feedback that I’ve gotten on the writing so far has told me that we’re in the right place. We’re making something that’s new. We have our own place in the marketplace, so I’m pretty excited to see how it does.
CG: How long has this been in production?
KC: We started the development work a year ago, for just the development. The setting itself has been in development about that long. The art assets and the sort of the creative direction, the foundational elements of the setting have been in production a little bit longer.

Sniper overlooks the Relic Knights demo board at the GAMA Trade Show.

Relic Knights Demo Board

CG: Has Infinity been at all an influence?
KC: Not for Wrath of Kings. I think Relic Knights, we definitely we looked at Infinity, as something else that’s in the marketplace that we want to be in and we wanted it not to overlap with that. We didn’t want to make a game that’s just a clone. As a developer I like to come up with new ideas; I don’t want to copy somebody else’s stuff. Anybody can do that. You can’t help it, right? There’s a certain point where you will duplicate, right? But we try to be as unique as we can. We try to be as creative as we can and me and the guys over at Blackball Games worked really hard to know what’s out there and to make something that’s unique and different and that really fits the setting that we’re building the game for.

Relic Knights

Rolo the Cypher on CMON's demo board for Relic Knights at the GAMA Trade Show.

Relic Knights: Rolo the Cipher

CG: Now what’s this little creature?
KC: That model is… what’s his name? I can’t remember his name, but he’s a cipher.
CG: Rolo.
KC: Rolo, that’s his name! I can’t believe I forgot his name. He’s an awesome little dog with a pith helmet. How do you go wrong? The ciphers in Relic Knights are kind of a little power conduit. In the setting, the knight characters, so the guys in the big mechs or the Questing Knights, who haven’t found their big robots yet, are all kind of avatars of the different expressions of the universe. And their ciphers are sort of 50 percent direct guidance from the universe, 50 percent their subconscious, So they’re expressed in a way that they’ll attach to them, so you know, Suicide Queen has her dog with his pith helmet, Super Punky Dog. Malia, the racing chick has her cute little happy bunny, and so on, they kind of go down the line.
CG: Possibly changing topic, have you found yourself cast as a character or a miniature?
KC: I don’t think that I have been put into anything that I can think of, but I don’t know that I’d make a good-looking model haha.
CG: Some figures we can recognize who that is based on.
KC: There’s definitely some people who have gotten models made, I mean, Dark Age, there’s guys who have won the opportunity, right? To do stuff like that. Most of the stuff I have worked with has been concepted well before I ever got involved or just didn’t want to make a typical gamer nerd model haha.

Beautiful Dark Age demo board from GAMA Trade Show 2012.

CMON’s Dark Age Demo Board

CG: Now what do you play in Dark Age yourself?
KC: I have an Outcast force that I play and I just started building a Saint Luke force because St. Luke is amazing. That model is so cool. I had to build a force, so I started in on that just last week actually.

CG: And then what about the other offerings? Obviously Zombiecide is all-inclusive in one box, but what do you play for the other games, like Relic Knights?
KC: Relic Knights is a tough chocie for me. I really like Black Diamond, but everybody likes Black Diamond, so I try not to play the thing that everyone’s playing. I’m probably going to end up playing the Shattered Sword with Sebastian Cross, the big giant robot dude and the other knights. They’re sort of the paladin faction.

CG: What’s this tortoise army?
KC: That is the expansion for Super Dungeon Explore that will be coming out later this year. That’s some preview models for it.
CG: Bad guys?
KC: Yeah, some of the new minions.

CG: How did you get involved in the gaming hobby?
KC: In this company?
CG: Just in general.
KC: I’ve been working on the backside of the industry for about 10 years now. I started working up in retail stores when Wizards of the Coast opened retail stores. I’d just gotten out of high school. I went to work in one of those for a few years. During the beginning of the Pokemon craze and all that stuff. And some years later, when Privateer Press was starting, their warehouse was just down the street from where I was living. They needed help, so I got a gig with them and worked for them for 7 and a half years and did all that stuff and have since started working with CMON doing my own development stuff and kind of a lot of the same things I did before.
CG: Have you remained up in the Pacific Northwest or did you go down to Georgia?
KC: Still the Pacific Northwest. I work remotely from the warehouse property.
CG: Skype?
KC: Yeah, I live on Skype all day long.

Goritis Artwork for Wrath of Kings from CoolMiniorNot

Goritis image courtesy of CoolMiniorNot

CG: What is really cool about Wrath of Kings?
KC: God, I’m not even sure where to start! I think that the game has a lot of room to grow and that’s the thing as a developer that’s really intriguing to me that we really, really build a strong foundation for a property that can last a long time and that can still maintain relevance and interest without getting diluted or sort of losing its focus in the marketplace. The models as you can see are phenomenal. There’s so much life and character. The pig soldiers, you look at every single one of those faces, they’re gorgeous. There is so much life to the things. Even just the simple swordsmen are so cool. I love every single one of these pieces. We had been working in development for a long time and I got my first set of the resin masters showed up at my house a little while back and I was so happy. I just immediately started cleaning them and putting them together. Like stopped everything else I was doing, because I just needed to build them, because they were so cool. I’m still happy to have them in hand. It’s kind of like the beginning of it being done and real. It’s been super exciting. I think the game mechanic is really clean. I think it’s very unique and fast and awesome. Makes for very dynamic gameplay with very little complexity. Lots of variation, lots of opportunity to do a lot of things. So I like good tactical game play, but still not so tactical if somebody becomes slightly more competent than you, you become incapable of playing it. I shoot for a good middle ground.

Confronation Phoenix

CG: Then you also have the re-release of Confrontation.
KC: It’s going to be using the 3.5 rule set, well a derivative of the 3.5 rule set. We’re going to clean it up and make some adjustments and sort of refine and polish it, but other than that, we have all of the masters. We’re sorting through them right now. We’re going to push out the releases as fast as we can to sort of get the existing concept out as quick as we can and then our intention is to move forward with it. Also our intention is to never move it into more than a skirmish game setting and Confrontation is a great skirmish game. I think it demonstrated very aptly that it doesn’t make for a good mass combat game. History has kind of shown us that. So we’re going to make it good at what it does. One of the first factions coming out will of course be the Wolfen, so you can expect to see those coming soon.
CG: Will there be organized play for it?
KC: Absolutely. The CoolMiniorNot Legion program, which is our volunteer program for all the products we publish, is absolutely going to support all these things. We’ll have organized play, tournament kits, all that stuff is in the pipe.
CG: What about players who bought the plastic figures-
KC: The pre-painted plastics?
CG: Yes. Obviously they could just remove them from their base and put them on an actual square base, right? And play. Do you think, at this point, they’re going to be allowed to play with those in organized play?
KC: I don’t see why not. I don’t think we’ve gotten to that point of building this stuff, but I really… They’re Confrontation models. I mean if you’ve got them, then play with them. We want to see people playing. That’s kind of the point.

No Solid Plans for Terrain, More Properties in Development

CG: And is there anything in the works in terms of terrain for any of the products?
KC: I don’t think that we have any actual terrain, terrain products right now that we’re working on or that any of our partners are working on at the moment. I know that we’re looking at a couple of opportunities that we were pursuing, but I don’t know if those are going to pan out this year or at all. I know in Wrath of Kings terrain is a tactical part of gameplay. So we’ve discussed building stuff for that, but we’re more interested in getting the game out at the moment than building accessories for it! So there’s a lot of really good terrain manufacturers out there. Some really good people who make some really good stuff.
CG: So you have actually have so much to promote-
KC: So much!
CG: Is it safe to say that there’s not too much in development right now in terms of new properties you’re going to focus on?
KC: Not safe to say that at all. We have a whole list of things that we’re vaguely looking at or starting to plan out for next year and future releases. And obviously many of these things are going to have releases coming out next year as well. So we’re onward and upward. Go big or go home. Haha.
CG: Do you think you can support full lines for several, at least 3 or 4 games? [5 or more actually.]
KC: Absolutely. Absolutely. I’m a hundred percent confident that we can manage the workload that we built.
CG: And you came from Privateer Press-
KC: I did.
CG: Where that was also your experience. They had rapid growth pains.
KC: Absolutely. It’s inevitable, that’s just the way it works, right? There is one thing that kills companies faster than anything else and it’s success and the inability to handle it. And you know Privateer worked really hard to get through that. I was there through the heyday and I can tell you we worked really hard to get through that! And I’m looking forward to the opportunity to do it again. Honestly it’s a lot of fun. It’s a lot of hard work, but I think it’s really rewarding, especially in this industry, you know, where you meet so many of your own consumers and you work so close with so many people that it’s really rewarding that you build something that people really enjoy and that people really get into. That’s honestly fifty percent of the satisfaction for me, just building something that people really like and I really enjoy doing that, so I don’t mind putting in the labor to get it done.
CG: Do you still play Hordes or Warmachine?
KC: I barely have the time to play the games I’m working on right now! Haha, but I haven’t played a game of Warmachine in a while.

How Employees Refer to CoolMini, Licensing

Abigail image courtesy of CMON

CG: What do you guys call CoolMini?
KC: How do you mean?
CG: Do you refer to it as CoolMini or CMON (see-mon)?
KC: I tend to call it CMON, just cause it’s easier, faster than saying CoolMiniorNot. Everytime I tell my email address to somebody I have to spell it out haha!
CG: Has CoolMini for any of these properties started licensing them to comics creators or anyone else?
KC: Most of the properties, most of the things we own, some of it’s things we own. Dark Age obviously is our property. Wrath of Kings is our property, but a lot of it is stuff that we’re partnered with other companies. Soda Pop Miniatures, for example, does all of their own development and stuff. So we make the miniatures, we produce the games, we do that side of it, but we don’t own the rights to it, so if they were going to do something like that, that’d be on them to get done. Zombiecide is again someone we partnered with [Guillotine Games]. Confrontation we have access to, but I don’t know if we have the license rights to do like, that kind of stuff with it, but it’s something we could pursue with the license holder if we wanted to. So it’s something we look at for the properties we do have, control over that kind of thing. I don’t think it’s anything we’re opposed to, for sure. Anything people want really. We’re in the business of making people happy, so whatever’s going to make people happy is kind of what we’re going to do, you know?

Clear plastic resin sculpts of the miniatures Hailkin for the Dragyri from Dark Ages Games.

Image courtesy of CoolMiniorNot

CG: Real quick: top 3 favorite scultpts from CMON.
KC: I really really like the new Core robot. All I can think of is the new stuff and they’re conveniently right on the shelf. Like I said earlier I just started a Luke force, because the figure is so gorgeous. That’s probably one of my top three easily right now. I love the new Hail Kin, the clear ones, they’re frickin’ awesome. Those three are probably my favorite sculpts right now. The new Abigail sculpt that just came out, the Abigail CMON exclusive model, steampunk chick with a rifle was awesome. I really like that model. I got to name that model, so I feel good about that!
CG: Great. Thanks!
KC: No problem.

North Star Games: Wits and Wagers Party, Say Anything, and Crappy Birthday

Luke Warren is the P.R. Director of North Star Games as well as being a Sales Rep and a designer. I interviewed him on the floor of the GAMA Trade Show’s Exhibitor’s Hall on March 14. We had an unexpected third person join us towards the end.

Wits and Wagers Party

Cover for North Star Games Wits and Wagers Party game.

Image courtesy North Star Games

CG: Luke from North Star Games, what’s different about Wits & Wagers Party that’s coming out in July?
LW: Well, Wits & Wagers Party is a cross between Wits & Wagers Family and Wits & Wagers. It’s essentially an easier form of Wits & Wagers to allow people who are not as familiar with games to get into the Wits & Wagers brand. So if you’re familiar with Wits and Wagers at all, it’s a trivia game for people who don’t know trivia. Everyone answers the same question, the answers go on a betting mat and you bet on the answer that gets closest to the correct answer without going over. Depending on whether the correct answer is ultimately placed you get a payout 2 to 1, 3 to 1, 4 to 1, something like that. In Wits & Wagers Party we’ve eliminated the betting mat and the odds. So if you bet correctly you get a poker chip for each token you bet on the correct answer. On the seventh question, you can wager your poker chips, you can wager your winnings. The idea is that will increase your payout, but if you’re wrong you lose the chips. There’s only seven questions in the game, so on the last one, you can go all-in. It has a little bit of that gambling element of Wits and Wagers, but during the play of the game, it’s a lot easier. You just get that one to one, you’re collecting chips, much like you get points in Wits & Wagers Family. In the last question you get that gambling element, so kind of a hybrid between the two.
CG: The key part of Wits and Wagers is that everyone is playing at the same time.
LW: Yes, that’s still true. Well, what we find is that waiting around for your turn is boring. So all of our games everyone’s playing constantly. You always have something to do. So in Wits & Wagers, if you’ve ever played Trivial Pursuit, for instance, whenever somebody’s turn it is, you wait around, they answer all these questions, they go back and forth between the Roll Agains, they get a couple questions right, but they’re not the pie pieces. It could take 20 minutes to get back around to you. That’s boring. Nobody wants to do that. So in Wits and Wagers, everyone answers the same question, so you’re always playing. And you can bet on other people’s answers, so even if you don’t know, that doesn’t matter. You can bet it on other folks. So if you’re playing with somebody who follows sports and you don’t, bet on the sports guy.
CG: By knowing the player and his knowledge?
LW: Yes, so a lot of it is about knowing who the players are that you’re playing with.

Say Anything from Northstar Games

CG: Now what about Say Anything?
LW: Say Anything is kind of a similar mechanic, but is based on opinion, but all of the questions are things like “What is the worst thing to say to a cop after being pulled over?” or “What song would make the worst song for the first dance at a wedding?” or “What’s the best band of the 70s?” So some are more serious, some are completely, you know-
CG: What is the worst thing to say to a cop if you’re pulled over?

Say Anything from North Star Games box art.

Image courtesy North Star Games

LW: Oh, I can’t say that on a podcast, but depending on who’s playing it, they can go with a conservative answer, like “Oh, let me put down my beer” you know, to something about their daughter. You know, so it’s like it could run the gamut. So it molds itself really well to the audience.
CG: It comes with dry erase pens?
LW: Yeah, dry erase pens, answer boards, nothing added. The idea there is to write the funniest answer, because the person who asks the question picks which answer they like the most secretly. And everyone bets on what they think that person just picked.
CG: So you’re still wagering-
LW: Yes, you’re still wagering. So even if I don’t write the answer that gets picked, I can still get points, unlike say Apples to Apples. If I don’t have a good answer, there’s nothing I can do. So here, if I don’t have a funny answer I can still bet on somebody who I think did write a funny answer.

Crappy Birthday to You

CG: What else is coming out? Anything else?
LW: Well, Wits and Wagers Party is the only thing this year. Crappy Birthday came out the end of last year. And it’s literally the game where you try to give bad gifts. You get a hand of cards, they all have zany gifts on them. Whoseever turn it is, everyone else gives them a gift, and they have to pick which one they think is the worst. So very simple game. Exact same mechanics as Apples to Apples, but a lot funnier, because you’re trying to give bad gifts to people. And you can learn a lot about people that way. Great as a gift to take to a party or something. Just have people open it, play it, they’ll have a great time and you leave the game at the party. Like a bottle of wine. Instead of a bottle of wine, take Crappy Birthday.

Crappy Birthday box art from North Star Games

Image courtesy North Star Games

CG: What’s the price point?
LW: $15.
CG: So it is a little gift.
LW: Yeah. It’s in a gift box package. Gift box price. And it’s so simple. People literally, all your drunk friends can open this game and start playing, like Paul.
Paul: Even I could play this game drunk.
CG: Paul from?
Paul: Ohio.
CG: Ohio. And you run?
Paul: Spellbinders. I do a pop-up store. Some retailers hate me ’cause I’m only open for Christmas.
CG: You play Crappy Birthday? Are you a shill?
Paul: I’m not a shill. Well yeah, I am. Because I like this guy.
LW: The connection is only tenuous. It’s only because he likes Crappy Birthday.
Paul: I believe that Crappy Birthday would still sell at $25. It feels like a $25 game, but it’s only $15. That’s why I give it a thumbs-up.
LW: Yes, it’s definitely worth the price. We designed it on purpose to be something that people would buy impulsively to take to a party. That’s really what the game is about.
LW: Yeah! Thank you.
CG: Thank you!

Collins Epic Wargames Introduces Polyversal and Spearpoint Expansion

Polyversal 6mm Sci-Fi Mass Combat

Polyversal 6mm Sci-Fi game cover art with tanks and mechs.

Image courtesy Collins Epic Wargames, LLC

CG: This is Byron Collins about Polyversal, which comes from, your company is?
CEW: Collins Epic Wargames.
CG: Are you the founder?
CEW: Yes, sir.
CG: Not your dad?
CEW: No.
CG: You’re pretty young.
CEW: [Laughs.] Yes, sir.
CG: So Polyversal, what’s it all about?
CEW: So Polyversal is a 6mm sci-fi mass combat system. It’s designed by Ken Whitehurst who’s played miniature games like this for 20 years. He’s played a lot of different rules sets. He’s got a lot of expertise so he wanted to create a game that is something that anybody can play and is easy to learn and play, something that keeps players engaged the whole time. So there’s a lot of ebb and flow in the game of combat and morale and effectiveness of your units.

Byron Collins smiling at GAMA Trade Show 2012So what’s cool about Polyversal is that we’re going to have some boxed versions that include miniatures from various manufacturers, basically a sampling of their line. In that respect, we’re going to be able to show gamers what’s out there regarding manufacturers. There’s a lot of great manufacturers out there already. We’re already working with Plasmablast Games, Steel Crown Productions, Microworld Games, and other miniatures manufacturers to basically create stat cards for their minis and to include them in some box sets. Dark Realm Miniatures and Brigade Models too. It’s a growing list. So with that you’ll have everything you need in the box to get up and running and play the game. You’ll also have a rules set that is compatible with other miniatures out there in the same general scale, 6mm.
CG: It’s fairly generic?
CEW: It’s fairly generic. Adaptable system is what I would say, where you can actually design miniature stat cards for whatever you’ve got. If you’ve got green army men, you can stat them out and play with them, I mean, that’s fine. But no, we prefer that you use some nice-looking minis from Plasmablast or you know, Microworld Games, or whatever. It’s neat, because you can take their line, stat them out however you want, and we’re going to have an online tool to help you do that, to create your armies to go into battle. So more info is on the website for the game which we just launched last week as part of our initial marketing at the GAMA Trade Show. The website is polyversal-game.com.

Frontline General Spearpoint 1943 and Map Expansion

CG: And what else do you have in terms of Collins Epic Wargames?
CEW: Collins Epic Wargames has been primarily historically based right now. We’ve been based in our games on World War II. We’ve got a game called Frontline General Spearpoint 1943, which is our fast play card war game. It’s very simple to play and teach. It’s about a 5 minute learning curve and a 30 minute total. So you can teach anybody to play it. It’s got everything in the box to go. It’s non-collectible, so there’s not endless boosters to buy. It’s got a low price point as well. And we get a lot of good feedback from the game from both reviewers and players on boardgamegeek and so on, so it’s done really well for us.
CG: It uses these double-sided tiles?

4x4 Tile Image designed by Marc von Martial for Spearpoint by Collins Epic Wargames

Image courtesy Collins Epic Wargames

CEW: Well the Spearpoint card game at its core is just a boxed set of cards and dice and one sheet of rules. Very simple. Now what we’re about to release is a game that we’re just coming off of a successful Kickstarter campaign for it. It’s called Frontline Spearpoint ’43 Village and Defensive Line Map Expansion. The map expansion that you’re looking at here is actually a terrain-based expansion for the card game, where we were abstracting some of those elements in the card game, we actually add those back in on the terrain boards along with destructible terrain tiles. There are various ways to set those up. Some tracking counters, some gorgeous artwork from Marc von Martial from Germany, and also fictional scenario intros written by Mark Walker, who is the owner of Lock and Load Publishing. So the goal of Spearpoint 1943 Map Expansion is to take Spearpoint a little further tactically. It adds a lot of miniatures-like rules, so it does feel like that, regarding line of sight, terrain effects, and so forth, to go a little further with the card game and to take it a step further.
CG: Did you say that someone actually put miniatures on the board and was playing that way?
CEW: Yeah! We actually have some photos on our Facebook page. You can find us there and look under our photo albums. You’ll see some alternate ways to play the map expansion, some optional things you can do. If you have your own 15mm WW II minis, you can take one or two of these stat cards, or take the stat card, substitute a miniature for that card on the board, and the miniature looks even better. So you would just keep the stat card off the board and use it for the information, but visually you’re playing now with a miniature, so it’s totally doable.

Ruined House 4x4 tile for Spearpoint beautifully detailed by Marc von Martial

Image courtesy Collins Epic Wargames

CG: Just looking at the boards here, what I notice too is that there’s not really a scale. I know there’s some building tiles, but also people could use these for any kind of other game.
CEW: Sure, yeah, the boards themselves are generic. It’s a gridded system. The grid’s a 4″x4″ square. The board itself is 36 inches long by 12 inches wide and it’s nice and compact like that to keep people in the game and the action. We found that if it was too spread out, it just took too long to get into contact and to get into the battle. So we want you in there blowing things up and hiding in cover, and having to be on your toes. I think we’ve accomplished that with the game. Everybody who’s played it at demos over the past year has been very supportive of it and really have enjoyed themselves and the majority of those people have pre-ordered which actually helped us get to this point of production. We’re about to release it in early April, and at the earliest March. So we’re in production now.
CG: Great. Thanks!
CEW: Thank you.