So after months of build up Mantic has finally released Warpath. One thing you can't say is that they've failed to generate sufficient buzz. The release strategy has a been a master piece of slowly released data. You might quibble over the final product, but not with the way the release has been managed. And yet I find myself unlikely to start on Warpath any time soon.
Regular readers of this blog (I think there may actually be some now) may have realised that I have a fair bit of time for Mantic. I applaud their ambition and am glad to see a company attempt to take on Games Workshop at their own game (in more ways than one). I have generally found their miniatures to be well sculpted and good value. In spite of this I have not invested in Kings of War, at least not yet.
The reason for this had little to do with the quality or value of the product and more that it felt like more of the same. After nearly twenty years of Warhammer, I don't have much enthusiasm for starting on another army of generic fantasy types, however, cheap or well sculpted. So far I have acquired Dwarf Kings hold and left it at that.
Warpath, however, was of greater interest. I have been a Warhammer 40,000 player in the past, but not with anything like the same dedication. I have one fully painted army and a few scraps of others. Also, Warhammer 40,000 is a much more distinctive setting and, while they share the same Fantasy in Space, concept Warpath does seem to be aiming for a different style. What we know of their humans is that they represent ruthless capitalists rather than excessively gothic, bigoted, religious fanatics. So, initial impressions were good.
I have not been put off, as some people had, by the discovery that the Orx sprues are essentially Orc sprues with different arms. This isn't exactly a selling point, especially as the Orcs sprue offers only three different bodies, but isn't a deal breaker either.
When Mantic first started out, they released their first miniatures with no game of any kind. Kings of War had a logo and that was that. The miniatures were co-opted for Warhammer, mostly, and any other game players liked. The releases trickled out steadily, Undead followed Elves, and then Dwarves. It wasn't until the last release that we saw any game rules at all. By this point all the major armies had several plastic boxes. When the Kings of War starter set appeared, it came with two substantial armies and was followed by army boxes that put Games Workshop's battalions to shame.
In contrast, with Warpath the rules were out months before the models. We know that eight armies are planned and we have a good sense of what's going in them. The first of the Forge Fathers and Marauders have been released, but so far there isn't much. It's at this point that Mantic have put out a starter box and two starter armies.
Compare and contrast the Kings of War dwarf army box with the Warpath Forge Fathers box. The former has 85 infantry figures and 2 artillery pieces, the latter 30 figures and 2 artillery pieces (admittedly, huge artillery pieces). The former is a really stunning amount of figures for the price, the latter is a decent deal. The story is the same with the Marauders. The Orcs get 84 figures, the Orx get 50 and 2 vehicles.
A good part of the reason for this is the inclusion of resin-plastic figures in the Warpath boxes. While the small number of releases so far mean would mean that including more plastic would mean much less variety. But the contrast is still striking and presents a very different idea of the game. Both are meant to be based around big armies, but while Kings of War makes a big army look achievable, for Warpath it much more of a challenge.
Putting it simply, I was expecting to be wowed by Mantics Warpath starter sets. So far I haven't been wowed. They look like decent value, but that's all. And to really grab me from the word go Warpath needed to be more than decent.