DKH Is Not KOW Skirmish

There seems to be a little confusion. I’m not sure where it’s from – Ronnie thought it might be something he said in a seminar at an Open Day. Wherever it started, I’d like to try to clarify things.

Mantic have mentioned two small scale (in terms of numbers of models) games set in the Kings of War background: Dwarf King’s Hold and a “KOW Skirmish”. These are two entirely separate things.

Dwarf Kings Hold 4: A board game in the DKH series and the next Kickstart project from Mantic (coming in a month or two). All the new fantasy figures you’ve been seeing lately here and elsewhere are for this.

“Kings of War Skirmish”: This is a piece of blue-sky-wouldn’t-it-be-nice-at-some-point thinking. It is not a confirmed project. Even before you guys ever heard of Deadzone we were discussing the idea of one day making a fantasy version, and it would indeed be cool to get around to it. That’s broadly what Ronnie means by a KOW skirmish game. During the seminars he talked about perhaps making 3D plastic scenery to build a castle for this when it arrives, but that was part of a conversation about why plastic walls aren’t really suitable for DKH. This may be where the confusion started. I also mentioned a Stalingrad variant of Deadzone, but that’s not due soon either.

So, two very different projects: one being developed right now, the other some years away and barely even on a drawing board.

Apologies for any confusion.

Posted in Dwarf King's Hold | 22 Comments

The Wanderer Returns

Back from the UK Game Expo, and what a fun time that was! Lots to see and do, both in terms of work and play. Spoke to dozens of interesting folk, met up with some old friends and made some new ones. It’s been a while since I went to a board game convention (which is what Expo is at its heart, even though it has an increasing figure game presence), and I’d forgotten how friendly the atmosphere was. Also, it was residential over the whole weekend, which always makes it more pleasant. So I had a very jolly time and am already looking forward to next year. I think this and Salute are the two shows in the calendar not to miss if you have a broad interest in gaming in the UK.

Naturally I returned home laden with more goodies. I now have a huge stack to talk about (never mind play), so I’ll be doing a load of unboxings and starting some more reviews this week. So many great toys!

More later :)

Posted in Events | 1 Comment

DKH, Expo and Stuff

Lots of interesting and encouraging comments on the post I wrote about the upcoming Dwarf King’s Hold 4. Thank you for those. Agree, disagree or otherwise, it’s always good to have the feedback.

As a folllow-on to that article, I’m part-way through writing a post about pure co-op gaming and why it is not my favourite style. It’s a topic worthy of separate discussion, I think. Despite my personal reservations, it will be included in DKH4 as one of the main styles of play. Sort of. It all depends on exactly what you mean by “pure co-op” I suppose, and I think that my reasons for not liking it stem from a difference in approach and definitions rather than anything else. As I said though – too long a debate to do in passing.

Unfortunately I’ve run out of week sooner than expected, so this co-op post won’t be finished till monday. Today is a mad rush and I’m at the UK Game Expo for the weekend. The rest of the family will just have to cope with our menagerie on their own: I’ve got gamers to herd ;)

If you’re at the show do pop along and say hi!


Posted in Dwarf King's Hold, Events, Random Thoughts | 15 Comments

Dwarf King’s Hold 4 – Some Info

There have been a number of postings on this topic from people who were able to attend the last Mantic Open Day (and ask awkward questions) ;)

barbarianBarbarian. Because every dungeon should have at least one.

This is a sort of round up of where it’s at, and a place for you to ask about stuff if I miss anything. There’s a lot I still can’t tell you yet, not least because it’s not all been decided on. Still, it’s a start.

cover art

The cover art for DKH 4 was part of a rolling display at the Open Day. 


This will be the fourth DKH game I’ve designed, and those of you that have been around for the ride know that this step has been on my mind since the start. I’ve written about what I wanted to do with this a few times, but things invariably change when they actually happen, so it’s a touch different here and there. The basics are solid though.

Dwarf King’s Hold started out as a 2-player dungeon bash, with each player taking control of a small force of Dwarfs, Undead, Elves or Orcs. In Ancient Grudge I added stats for all sorts of stuff so that you could make up your own adventures. This fourth instalment is a new, stand-alone game that doesn’t require you to have played any of the previous adventures. However, if you have played then you may recognise the chief Bad Guy: Mortibris the Necromancer.

necro front necro side


This pose shows the great Necromancer Mortibris as a sort of puppeteer of the Undead. You just need to add the strings ;)


DKH 4 is a 2-5 player game with 2 sides: one is the dungeon full of dangerous beasties, and the other is a party of adventuring heroes. The dungeon is always played by one person, but the adventurers can be divided between different players to accommodate up to 5 players in total. During the game the heroes team up to tackle the dungeon and do heroic things. The player controlling the dungeon full of monsters does their best to stop them.

It is played on a map that is built out of tiles, as before, and like before the games follow a series of narratively linked scenarios or adventures.

undead troll shaman

The Zombie Troll Shaman – a sort of mini boss.

The rules build on the previous ones with a new layer of even harder characters on top of those we have met before: heroes. These come in several flavours, with some on each side. Note that “Hero” does not always mean “good guy”.

paladinThis hero actually is one of the goodies – he’s a Basilean paladin.

Depending on what I can get Ronnie to agree to, there will hopefully be some back-stabbing going on among the adventurers as well as co-operative play, simply because I find that more entertaining. Pure co-ops have a number of issues that have a habit of reducing my fun, so I’d like to avoid that.

The game will be launched as a Kickstarter some time at the end of July or August. At least, that’s Ronnie’s latest estimate. I don’t think a firm date has been set yet. They’re aiming at a $95-ish sweet spot pledge and the latest idea was to have an early bird that gained you an extra model rather than a small discount. This would be time-based rather than limited in quantity, so something like everyone who pledges on the first weekend gets a LE model. That sort of thing. To me, this sounds like a much better idea as I think that a few dollars off isn’t nearly as cool as an exclusive model. I wish more people did this (especially the projects I pledge for myself).


Two Games In One

Dwarf King’s Hold 4 is really two games in one. The first is a simple and fast game where you are given a story and a puzzle (in the form of a scenario), and the tools to unlock it (in the form of heroes). The miniatures will be pre-assembled or single piece, the dungeons planned out for you, the bad guys and heroes’ stats calculated, and each scenario balanced. This is much like DKH 1 and 2, with added heroes. As the story unfolds, both sides grow in strength and experience, with this all being pre-calculated and balanced. All you need to do is set up and play.

Zombie front

Zombie back

Zombie! I really like this guy. The translucent sword and shield are 3D prints of Basilean stuff, I think. Sadly their ghostly nature won’t be part of the final versions.

The second game is a sandbox. Or, as Ronnie keeps calling the rules, the Book of Depravity. This is where everything becomes an option. Instead of a specific, named individual Dwarf hero, you get the ability to design your own. When you gain experience, you get to choose how you improve. There will be stats for all the models in the Kings Of War range, stuff to do between adventures, items to buy (loot to buy them with), doors to unlock, more spells to conjure, traps to set and so on. You get the idea.

These games lead on from one another in terms of complexity, so you can play through the first game’s scenarios and learn how all the core rules work before worrying about any of the extra level of detail. In fact, you don’t ever need to delve into the options at all as the game is intended to work just fine as the first version. I’m just hoping that you’ll want to.

Misc DKH back

The backs of a Zombie Troll, Dwarf and Halfling adventurer.
I mainly took this just to show you guys the level of detail on these models.
Most of these pics are clickable for larger versions. 

So why the extra gubbins? Why not just add heroes and be done? Well personally, I don’t really feel like designing another, different dungeon game in 6 months. I’d like to get it all out of my system now. DKH is a set of rules that I’m quite fond of, which works well, and is robust enough to take all of the extra chrome a dungeon game could want. I don’t need to reinvent any wheels when this one does the job just fine, thanks. And, the best bit is if I give you guys a sandbox of adventuring to play with, then you can make new adventures for me to try ;)


Elf Hero(ine).

When DKH 4 is finished, you will be able to play a fun game with your kids, with people new to gaming, or some mates you used to role-play with back in the day. Or, if you’ve got a dedicated gaming group, dig deeper into the whole experience and make up your own adventures, heroes and bad guys to thwart them with. Speaking of making stuff up, I’m sure I heard mutterings about interesting possibilities for apps to help this along from those nice folks at Mantic Digital. Here’s hoping ;)

If all of this sounds exciting then stay tuned for more news of the Kickstart dates. I’ll pass it on as soon as I hear.

Now, did someone at the back have a question?

Posted in Dwarf King's Hold | 169 Comments

Does Anyone Else Think This?

A ramble and a rant:

I’ve been watching the Spectre Miniatures Kickstarter recently, as I mentioned a while back. In fact, I pledged for it then, and may be upping that amount to get some more of their increasing range of interesting figures. However, one thing they added lately made me think about how I view models in a broader way.

Spectre PMC technical 3

Yup, it’s a truck.

Spectre PMC technical 2

Spectre PMC technical

This looks like both a nice model and a huge one. This is deliberate on Spectre’s part as they’ve gone for something that starts as a large truck in the first place, and then modelled it with raised suspension and extra large off-road tyres, just as the PMCs do. A nice touch, and details that are often overlooked. These mods make it even larger and more intimidating than it would be anyway, and it doesn’t roll off the forecourt as a compact. Of course, that intimidation factor is the whole point…

So it looks like a nice model. Agreed. However, for me it lacks a really important detail: an interior (and non-solid windows).

MA truckThe Patriot truck from Mars Attacks uses the same approach.
I’m not sure what this will be made from. Probably not resin. 

This isn’t just Spectre (they merely inspired this rant). The vast majority of cars and trucks you see for gamers are exactly like this: a big block of resin with details on the outside. All well and good, but especially in skirmish games I really want to be able to interact with light vehicles¹. Think of the movies and the newsreels. Trucks aren’t simply large boxes, they have doors you can open, and if they are armoured can use as cover. They have windows you can see and shoot through, engine blocks to hide behind, unarmoured panels to offer concealment, and so on. I want to be able to get in and drive off, or roll up and bail out. Of course, I can do this in an abstract way, and even if they had a full interior I couldn’t bend my models to get in. However, the vehicle could still be shown with doors open and this flexibility allows it to become not just part of the terrain, like every other modelled box, but a mobile and mutable part of it. It also looks a load better.

I appreciate that most people don’t seem to care about this. But I do. In this specific instance it’s the difference between me buying 3 and buying none. I expect I’ll end up with either 1/48th kits or die-cast models.

At the end of the day it comes back to the usual question: where do you want to compromise? In gaming there is no option – you have to compromise somewhere because reality is way too complex to model on a tabletop. You’ll compromise on models and terrain as well as rules because you need all these things to be practical and affordable as well as working in-game. Too fiddly a model and it will break, too complex a rules set and people will get bored. But in making these (necessary) compromises we remove our games from the realities we are trying to replicate in the first place. We all have our personal limits to how far is too far and which elements of the puzzle are key. Where are yours?




1: Note that this is predominantly an issue with light and especially light, unarmoured vehicles. Think cop cars at a shootout. Doors open and windows shot out all over – at least some of the time. Properly armoured vehicles tend to keep their doors closed in combat to retain that integrity, unless someone is actually getting in or out at that particular moment. In that sense they are just large lumps in combat.

Posted in Random Thoughts | 10 Comments

Plastics Going Cheap!

Seems to be the season for it. Both Warlord and Victrix are having a sale on some of their plastics.

Warlord are doing 50% off their sprues until the end of May, and Victrix 25% off boxed sets till the 12th of June. At least for Victrix it’s something to do with the World Cup. Whatever that is.


From Warlord, it seemed like a great opportunity to try one of each of some of their ranges I haven’t looked at up close yet. It’s always very different seeing things online and in the flesh, so to speak.

The list of things they make plastics for these days is pretty impressive too. They’ve clearly been very busy bunnies since I last looked properly at their store.

VictrixFor Victrix it was the push I needed to actually try a few of their toys too. I mean, individual figures around 30p for Victrix Napoleonics!¹ Can’t really argue with that.

I’ve read a lot about their models, usually compared to Perry ones, but I’ve never tried assembling any myself. That is always the proof of the pudding. And they make proper² French Napoleonics too, which the Perrys unfortunately don’t seem interested in :(

It is entirely possible I may have accidentally bought a lot more models.




1: On the ones I counted. I didn’t check them all.

2: Peninsular War period, obviously. Not that Bardin uniform silliness. Hundred days? That’s not a war, it’s a stroll round Belgium.

Posted in Random Thoughts | 3 Comments

Deadzone Scenery Details

I’ve been collecting interesting bits to do a series on building Deadzone scenery. The idea was to start with the basics and explore various ways of adding detail as we went on. This is partly because it’s something I’m asked about, and also because it’s the best way of making me do it myself. As always, when I develop a game it’s before any of the proper bits are made, so I live in a gaming world of proxy everything. By the time it actually comes out I’m usually neck-deep in something entirely different.


In the course of this collecting I noticed an Indiegogo campaign by a small company called Etch-Master. As you may have guessed from their name, they make brass and other metal etched sheets for modelling. And, what’s particularly intriguing about this project, is that one of their new sheets is specifically designed for Mantic’s Battle Zones. In other words, Deadzone terrain.

I’ll let the pictures tell that story. Suffice to say that I think it looks really rather spiffy and will be reporting back on how I get on with it as soon as I can get my paws on some for real. Of course, as they’re not made yet this will be after the campaign ends, so if you’re interested then you might want to jump in now.

Some before and afters:

Crates and company logos.

igg-dz-001 sml-deadzone-01

Ladder rungs.

igg-dz-003 sml-IMG_5176

And a rather splendid open access panel.

igg-dz-002 sml-IMG_5165


Like I said, I think this lot looks great!

Posted in Deadzone, Terrain | 11 Comments