So Much Eye Candy: Cool Mini or Not at Gen Con 2012

While I didn’t get to see Cool Mini or Not at Adepticon 2013, I certainly saw CMON back at Gen Con in 2012.

Every time I stopped by the stretching Cool Mini or Not booth areas at Gen Con, I found a very packed, interested gaming crowd taking in all of the eye candy CMON had on display. Alongside Privateer Press, CMON seemed to have a tremendously successful Gen Con. Attendees new to miniature gaming could be excused for thinking that they were seeing multiple companies’ booths, but the unifying connection in every one of CMON’s 18 booth areas was the high quality and stunning visual displays.

CMON’s Display and Demo Boards

While the Wrath of Kings’ demo boards CMON had brought were functional and better than a simple flocked board, they were not as spectacular as some of their other offerings, but did put the focus squarely on the expressive sculpts of the miniatures. Players had the opportunity to battle as the thin warriors of House Nasier or the porcine warriors of House Teknes.

Piglike Teknes miniatures for Wrath of Kings battle against thin Nasier on desert demo board

Wrath of Kings Desert Demo Board: House Teknes vs. House Nasier

Realistic 28mm scale orange lava flowing over miniature terrain board for Confrontation at 2012 Gen Con

Confrontation Lava Demo Board

Cool Mini or Not kept Confrontation fans’ appetites whetted with a lava demo board of the game. I could have easily missed further Confrontation offerings because there really was so much to take in throughout CMON’s booth space.

There were also demo tables for players to try out Sedition Wars, Relic Knights, and Zombicide, but aside from the two Dark Age boards and Rum and Bones, the most impressive tables were reserved specifically for display purposes.

The Wrath of Kings Display Board

What a sight! The Wrath of Kings Castle was the definition of amazing and probably the envy of rival gaming companies. Designed and built by Rob Hawkins, the table took over 200 hours from start to finish. The Goritsi forces spilling out of the grey stonework buildings really put it over the top. The Goritsi definitely have a darkness to them and are comprised of the lupine Skorza, the female Blood Dancers, and would seem to be led by the red-clad Herald of Blood. Bearing such close resemblance to Confrontation’s Wolfen, the Skorza pose an interesting problem for brand recognition and differentiation, but since they are now released by the same company, the similarities should not matter. The Goritsi also boast the monstrous Ucuzo, which looks like a lab experiment gone awry (or perhaps deliberately concocted).

Pig warriors Union Workers miniatures from Wrath of Kings battle Skorza lupines and monster Ucuzo

A Monstruous Ucuzo Defends the Goritsi City Against the Invading Teknes

Arrayed against the onslaught of the Goritsi are the pig warriors of House Teknes. The rank and file of Teknes appear to be the Teknes Union Workers who wield massive swords. The Ironward is the figure reminiscent of Mad Max’s Master Blaster with a slave-driver on top of a pig warrior/Union Worker.

Beautiful stunning diorama of 32mm Wrath of Kings miniatures clashing at a castle or village

Woodland Scenics Armatures Used as Dead Trees in the Foreground of Hawkins’ Stunning Diorama

In his blog, Rob Hawkins refers to the diorama as a Goritsi City and details its construction in five blog entries, beginning with constructing the hillside foundation followed by the the construction of the buildings’ basic shapes. To enable faster gluing using super glues Hawkins uses Liquid Nails to coat the pink foam in the same way that latex paint is used to protect styrofoam from destructive aerosol spray paint.

Tentacled octopus Zalaak miniatures battles slender female Blood Dancers in Wrath of Kings diorama

Two Tentacled Zalaak Face Off Against Blood Dancers In and Near a Foamcore Building

The city’s buildings are constructed out of pink foam with thick art board used for the roof tiles. Hawkins estimates that over 1,000 separate roof tiles are on the diorama! The one detail that has puzzled me about the diorama since Gen Con is the seemingly unfinished black and white area. This is, in fact, an elemental’s head with white circles for eyes.

Wrath of Kings miniatures fight over a superb Goritsi city at Gen Con 2012 in front of stone buildings with red tiled roofs

The Black Cylinder and Dome is an Elemental’s Head! With White Eyes

Super Dungeon Explore: Von Drakk Manor

Soda Pop Miniatures Chibi Super Dungeon Explore miniatures display castle at Cool Mini or Not Booth

Super Details from Rob Hawkins: Von Drakk Manor

Von Drakk Manor was easily in the Top 5 of all terrain pieces throughout Gen Con for sheer quality and artistry. It also highlighted the expansion forces to CMON’s joint venture with Soda Pop Miniatures. The castle is just as stylized as Soda Pop’s distinctive, chibi figures and was also built by terrain genius Rob Hawkins. He has many more pictures of the stunning layout on his website. The fiery monsters were from the Caverns of Roxor expansion that CMON/Soda Pop released in limited quantities to Gen Con attendees, before they went on sale to the public in October.

Three Cartoonish Dungeon Explorer Miniatures in Cool Mini's Super Dungeon Explore castle with fire elementals at gen con 2012

Von Drakk Manor Plays Home to Caverns of Roxor Denizens at Gen Con 2012

Ron and Bones – Rum and Bones

CMON was also previewing another of its newly-acquired licenses, Rum and Bones. Originally titled Ron and Bones by TaleofWar, the game is a pirate-themed miniatures skirmish game with highly stylized figures. In a booth filled with so many other goodies, the pirate ship did stand out for its quality construction. Little has subsequently been said about Rum and Bones (that I have seen), though Table Top Hell is impressed by the game’s miniatures.

Gorgeous miniature 28mm pirate ship for Rum and Bones at Gen Con 2012 in the Cool Mini or Not Booth

Rum & Bones: Skirmish Pirate Game, Palm Trees from Pegasus Hobbies

From all that I could see of Rum and Bones, each model is a unique personality. The character Teruk’te wears a Sharkskin and will appeal to any gamer who has ever wanted a miniature that wears an entire shark as a costume! Tale of War Miniatures still has information in English available on the game including a downloadable PDF that explains the game’s mechanics, as well as displays the entire range of finely detailed miniatures.

Inside a miniature pirate ship for Ron and Bones at Cool Mini or Not booth at Gen Con with cannons

The View Below Decks Of the Pirate Ship’s Impressive Armament

One of the neater things about the Rum and Bones demo table is that it has been carefully constructed to match the miniatures’ base size and prevent them from slipping or sliding out of position.

Top down view of miniature model pirate ship for skirmish wargame Rum and Bones at Gen Con 2012

The Savage Teruk’te Alongside Pier Del Mocho in Aft Castle High Above the Sloot Gunner

Dark Age Industrial Shop Board

One of CMON’s original brands is Dark Age, of course. Even though I had seen them at the GAMA Trade Show, I still marveled over both of the Dark Age demo boards. Having played on the board with the rock outcroppings, most of my attention was taken by the industrial garage board. The details really bring the board to life with rigging over the top, bike chains used as industrial belts, vats of liquid, and multiple elevations to play on.

Post-Apocalyptic futuristic miniature game Dark Age industrial garage terrain at Gen Con 2012

Did I mention the working lighting? By varying the textures on the board, it creates depth and detail and adds a sense of realism. The diamond-plating used on some of the floor panels is particularly effective. It really does look like a place the mutant Skarrd would have taken over or would be in the process of raiding.

Closer look at industrial garage Dark Age demo board for miniatures at Gen Con 2012

Marie-Claude Bourbonnais as Rin Farrah from Relic Knights

Another attraction in the CMON booths was cosplayer and glamor model Marie-Claude Bourbonnais from Canada as Rin Farrah, one of the chief protagonists of Relic Knights. Bourbonnais posed for pictures with fans and gamers in her self-made costume and later explained that it was her first time attending Gen Con, let alone any tabletop gaming convention. For Bourbonnais it was different than comic and anime conventions, but still “a lot of fun” and reminded her of her high school’s tabletop games organization. At Gen Con Bourbonnais only appeared as Rin Farrah, but she has cosplayed as another Relic Knights character, Candy, in the past. As of early October (2012) she still had yet to play Relic Knights herself, but looked forward to receiving her complete game to try it for herself, but did say that she has watched demos of the game.

Busty Cosplayer Marie-Claude Bourbonnais at Gen Con playing Rin Farrah with miniature her costume is based on

Two Versions of Relic Knights’ Rin Farrah: Cosplay and Miniature

Watching others game is nothing new to Bourbonnais who spent part of her teenage years watching friends paint armies and play Warhammer 40k. While she never got into the hobby herself, for Relic Knights Bourbonnais will be playing Rin Farrah’s faction. Usually though she is quite busy working on her next costume. As a former fashion designer, she’s been sewing costumes and prom dresses since she was 19. Rin Farrah’s leather outfit was a first for Bourbonnais, who makes all of her costumes and props herself.

Yellow tinted glasses and yellow and black spandex on busty Hornet played by Marie-Claude Bourbonnais at Gen Con 2012

MC Bourbonnais as Canadian Superheroine Hornet

On Thursday Marie-Claude Bourbonnais initially appeared as the black-and-yellow spandex-clad Hornet, her character in the Canadian web-series Heroes of the North. Filmed in Bourbonnais’ home city of Montreal, the series is in English, available to view for free online, and follows the adventures of Canadian superheroes. The character of Hornet only appears at the tail end of the first season of the series, but becomes more prominent in its second season, says Bourbonnais. While she came to Gen Con to promote Relic Knights, another company specializing in 3D body scans had also contacted Bourbonnais about capturing her 3D image in the Hornet costume.

Blonde busty anime woman in green swimsuit on Pool location for card game Tentacle BentoBourbonnais also has the distinction of having modeled for a card in Soda Pop Miniatures’ Tentacle Bento card game and has subsequently cosplayed as that character, essentially doing a cosplay of herself. Bourbonnais was also the basis for one of two promotional pewter miniatures in support of Tentacle Bento’s abortive Kickstarter run.

And the Display Cases

Gamers could have also easily missed all of the wonderfully painted miniatures packed into the glass display cases at the back of the Cool Mini or Not booth areas given all there was to see elsewhere. Here and there though gamers’ faces pressed up against the glass that stretched yard after yard. Sedition Wars, Dark Age, Relic Knights, Wrath of Kings, and Confrontation all vied for visitors’ attention, but were safely locked away, like heroin just out of reach of a junkie. There may have been little puddles of drool on the carpet. As one would expect from the home of cool miniatures on the internet, almost every miniature was beautifully painted. The exceptions were the gray master sculpts on display in the cases.

Anime-influenced miniatures for the Relic Knights game with power familiars on display at the 2012 Gen Con

Anime-Infused Miniatures from Relic Knights with Chibi Power Familiars

On top of the display cases though, within reach of any eager gamer was the impressive winged form of the Titan Dragon for Confrontation. Fashioned out of resin, the figure is a true status symbol among miniature gamers with a hefty price tag of $300.

Red, black, grey, and white massive Titan Dragon miniature for Confrontation at Gen Con 2012

The Massive Titan Dragon for Confrontation Lives Up To Its Name: Free from a Display Case

Ravage Magazine

Cover of Ravage Issue 7 Advertising Zombicide Toxic City MallWhile I would have liked to browse CMON’s wares a bit more, all I really had to time to do was to pick up the first three issues of Ravage Magazine. Ravage is an import, translated from French, and plays off of the gorgeous artwork CMON and its affiliates have access to. Like Harbinger Magazine of the early 2000s but with a much stronger visual focus and appeal, Ravage focuses on a wide range of miniatures with Cool Mini’s lines featuring prominently, but there have also been articles on MERCS, Infinity, Privateer Press, and even a look at 6th Edition Warhammer 40k. There are some translation artifacts in the articles that vary from interviews with designers, to game overviews, to painting and terrain tutorials, but despite the language difficulties, the magazine is off to a very strong start and is now in April on Issue 7.

GTS Press Conf. #2: Chaosmos, Ares Games, North Star Games, CMON

After Arcane Wonders and Crystal Commerce spoke at the press conference, we heard from four more exhibitors, Mirror Box Games, Ares Games, North Star Games, and Cool Mini or Not.

Mirror Box Games: Chaosmos

Joey Vigour from Mirror Box Games presented Chaosmos. While still in development, Chaosmos is a science fiction board game wherein the 2-4 players search for the mysterious singularity, the Ovoid, in a “cosmic treasure hunt.” The game is still so new that brothers Joey and Danny Vigour are still deciding on its final components, but have a rough estimate of a $40-50 price. What’s clear to the Brothers Vigour and their two co-designers is that Chaosmos’s play style is “emergent”, with no particular path to victory. Whoever holds the Ovoid at the end of the game will be the victor. Players who have good memories and deductive powers though will be rewarded because the game has a Clue-like element with an envelope on each of the game’s 10 planets. Players have a maximum 7-card hand, but can trade out cards on the planets. The Pheromonic Harpoon is a potent weapon card in Chaosmos, but a player with the Pheromonic Recoiler card can resist its devastating effects. Keeping track of where the two device cards are is part of the challenge of the game, but the focus of Chaosmos isn’t really battles, says Vigour. Instead, battles are just a further way of obtaining information.

Three players trying new board game Chaosmos

Brothers Joey and Danny Vigour (center and left) Demo Chaosmos at the Mirror Box Games Booth

In addition to the 10 planets, there are also 10 aliens, each with its own unique powerful racial ability. These racial abilities combined with players’ hands of cards makes “every player begin to start thinking they’re invincible,” according to elder brother Joey Vigour. For example, the alien Drusu the Scryer can look at other players’ hands and into the planetary envelopes with his Scrying ability. A powerful ability, but the Scryer can also tip off his opponents by his probable knowledge of the Ovoid’s location, so discretion is advised. Mirror Box Games’ efforts at demoing the game at Game Night and in the Exhibitors’ Hall elicited interest from attending distributors and game publishers, with at least one prominent company making the brothers a serious offer at the show. Mirror Box Games has not rushed to a decision about how Chaosmos will be produced and released, but their experience goes to show just how powerful the connections made at the GAMA Trade Show can be.

Diagonal view of board game Chaosmos with 10 planets and play pieces at GAMA Trade Show with three players

Danny Vigour Points to Alien Playing Piece on One of Chaosmos’s Ten Planets

Ares Games

Model miniature ships battle in Sails of Glory on blue mat representing ocean

Sails of Glory: Still Kickstarting

Roberto Di Maglio briefly touched upon Ares Games’ past releases, Wings of Glory, Lord of Middle-earth, Aztlán, and Micro Monsters. The Italian native explained that Ares Games released World War I and World War II lines of pre-assembled and prepainted miniature planes “realistic enough for simulationists” for Wings of Glory in 2012. The game’s mechanic of a maneuver deck of cards to move the planes around has been a hit and Ares Games adapted the mechanic for their Age of Sail game, Sails of Glory. The first Kickstarter attempt for Ares Games, Sails of Glory is currently funded, but still open for backers. The game is set in the Napoleonic era. Kickstarter has also doubled the hits to Ares Games’ website, Di Maglio revealed.

Shiny plastic sci-fi miniatures for board game The Galaxy Defenders on hexagonal playing surface

Plastic Sci-Fi Miniatures from The Galaxy Defenders from Ares Games

Two other games Ares Games will be launching later this year are The Galaxy Defenders and Inkognito. The Galaxy Defenders is a cooperative game using sci-fi miniatures with the players taking the part of the Terrans and battling against the AI aliens. Di Maglio expects an August or September release for the game. Inkognito will remain close to the spirit of the classic game released by Milton Bradley in 1988.

Large round playing pieces for board game Inkognito by Ares Games

The Stylized Playing Pieces of Inkognito Which Ares Games Will Release Later This Year

North Star Games: Clubs

Luke Warren from North Star Games kept his talk quite brief, focusing on the company’s newest release, Clubs. Clubs marks North Star Games’ entry into the light strategy market with the trick-taking game for 2-6 players, which takes 30 minutes to play. Retailing for only $14, it releases in April and may appear in Barnes & Noble stores. Expect a review of Clubs on Craven Games in the near future. Warren also noted that Wits and Wagers – Party will be replacing the regular version of Wits and Wagers in mass markets.

Light strategy card game Clubs marketing artwork with box cover from North Star Games

Cool Mini or Not

Dave Doust wearing Cool Mini or Not shirt gestures with left hand at press conference

CMON Director Dave Doust

David Doust introduced himself as a director at Cool Mini or Not, then provided a little overview of CMON’s 11-year history, describing the CMON of the past as a place where he used to sell boutique miniatures and users would upload their own miniatures for rating. Now CMON has many partners and Doust referenced Rivet Wars as an example of the company’s success with Kickstarter and multiple brands, with CMON releasing 6-8 titles a year. Rivet Wars is also exclusively distributed by ACD, Doust noted. He then turned to another huge release, Zombicide, and pointed out that alpha gamer Kickstarter backers who receive the game tend to become salesmen for the game for retailers.

Cool Mini or Not in the Exhibitors’ Hall

CMON had a much more modest booth compared to their 2012 GTS booth or their sprawling 2012 Gen Con complex. The two glass display cases they brought though were packed with miniatures and they had a recognizable face backing up Sedition Wars in the form of Mike McVey.

Thin British painter Mike McVey with crossed arms in front of Zombicide poster at Cool Mini booth

Miniature Gaming and Painting Legend Mike McVey at the CMON GTS Booth

Some of the Zombicide miniatures on display were brand new, a CMON booth worker pointed out. He also showed the new mechanic whereby the survivors turn into zombies themselves by flipping over Amy’s character card, as well as the new survivor Derek, before slowly thumbing through the Toxic City Mall rulebook.

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.

Gama Trade Show Day 1 & Confrontation Phoenix

The Rebirth of Confrontation: Phoenix

At the Gama Trade Show mixer I met Kevin Clark, Director of Research & Development for CoolMiniOrNot. At the show CMON will be announcing three exciting new product lines, one of which is the return of Confrontation. Based on the 3.5 rules beloved by the Confrontation community, Confrontation Phoenix will utilize the existing masters from the metal range of figures previously put out by Rackham before their ill-fated turn to pre-painted plastics. Confrontation fans will have square bases once more. It sounds as though the rules are also getting a new translation from the French as well. Perhaps my Drune will also rise from the ashes.

The Gama Trade Show Itself

I jumped ahead of myself in my eagerness to share the news of Confrontation’s rebirth. The Gama Trade Show, as John Coviello of Little Shop of Magic reminded me before our interview, is a trade show. It is not open to the general public or to fanboys, even though some will still get in.

It is being held in Bally’s and is oddly divided between the casino’s north tower and the south tower. The first two days of the GTS are almost exclusively seminars and are held in one tower. On Wednesday and Thursday the Exhibitor Hall will open a distance away in the other tower, forcing a traversal of the Bally’s casino floor to move back and forth.

The Mixer

Having registered, I meandered up and over to the mixer, meeting the co-owners of The Comic Shop in San Leandro, CA, the owner of Game Night Games in Salt Lake City, Kevin Clark of Cool Mini, and later Clearfield, Utah’s Endzone Hobby Center’s owner. Attending retailers received a deluxe black leather deck case for Magic: The Gathering.

Seminar: The New Rules: IP Issues for Developers and Publishers

Gregory P. Silberman, Patent Attorney with Kaye Scholer LLP spoke to the attendees without the aid of a projector as he addressed the four broad types of intellectual property. The small audience allowed him to field many questions as he proceeded along. The New York firm he works for handles mostly larger cases of intellectual property and increasingly more cases involve apps for the iPhone, the Droid, and Facebook. A gamer himself, Silberman’s examples were all fresh and contemporary, referencing VASSAL, the d20 system, the ESRB’s M for Mature rating, and the possibility of lapsed gaming trademarks of the 1980s being taken by new registrants. While he had the usual lawyerly caveat that he was not representing any in attendance and was not our lawyer, two things he said stood out in particular. First, that qualifying as a national trademark (and not a localized one) could be as simple as sending a copy of your game or product to a reviewer in another state or selling a single copy across state lines. The second was his praise for the US Patent and Trademark Office’s helpfulness. While an IP lawyer can certainly be very helpful with narrowing the recitation of goods and services, in Silberman’s experience, Examining Attorneys at the USPTO are often both friendly and helpful.

All of the Gama Trade Show seminars are being recorded by Pulp Gaming and will be available for GAMA members who could not attend.

Seminar: Demoing Games

I missed the very opening of Luke Warren’s seminar on Demoing Games. The PR Director for North Star Games, Warren said that the most important thing to remember in demoing games (and selling them) is that “Your average consumer wants to know how the game will apply to their life.” He also stressed that why is more important than how; a game manufacturer’s game mechanics are less important to a consumer than why he or she wants to play a game. He used the game Wits and Wagers to illustrate bad demoing and then good demoing.

In Wits and Wagers players are asked a question with a quantifiable answer. They write their answers on white boards and then the answers are revealed. Players then bet on what the closest answer will be. Very oddly, if you guess over the actual answer, even if you’re close, your answer is not correct. If the question was “When was Barack Obama born?” and someone answers 1215, another 1517, another 1969, and another 1995, it seemed that the person who answers 1517 would be rewarded or closest. Obviously that mechanic could be ignored and closeness to the actual number could be rewarded.

When the volunteers played the good and bad demos, one was asked if he liked Trivial Pursuit. He answered in the negative and it was pointed out that in Wits and Wagers, there is less pressure to get the right answer and not as much fear of looking ignorant. Wits and Wagers’ players are all engaged at the same time and not waiting for someone else’s turn, which could last a long time. I have to agree with the latter point, but I also enjoy Trivial Pursuit and can easily be the player on the roll moving around the board for 8 minutes at a time.