Top of the Class

Talking with a gaming buddy today, I was trying to explain the difficulty in picking which Smog figures to get. ‘The problem’, I said,  ‘was that they were mostly 11 out of 10, and you were left with discarding the ones that merely managed a 10/10 rating’. This is not a normal problem to have. Most ranges of gaming figures such as those by Privateer or GW manage a 10/10 every now and again, though you will often have to take a 5/10 effort to do a useful task in the game (even if the model is fairly minging). Variability is the norm. Smog have managed to maintain a standard that is quite exceptional, and is clearly modelled more on the quality levels of collectable figures such as Pegasus.

Hats off to them, I say. We could do with more of that in gaming in general.

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4 Responses to Top of the Class

  1. quiffproquo says:

    I’m Mr Worthy’s above mentioned gaming buddy. Its funny that Jake has mentioned this on his blog because after our chat i began to think why are the Smog models so great, is it because of the amazingly fine detail, is it because Steam Punk is still really en vogue in the gaming world, or is it because they are Bat Sh*t crazy? The answer is of course all of these. Though it did make me realise the gaming world is becoming a bit stayed. If it wasnt for the for the French, I think the gaming world would creativley would grind to a halt! A prime example of this is Rackham, since their sad demise i think there is a very noticable hole in style & imagination amoung miniatures at the moment.

    I feel at that the miniatures market is just going round in circles and no one is ready to really push the boat out. Let me give a few examples, Warmachine brought out a new race last year and what are they? Elves/Eldar, really? WH 40,000 other than the Tau (and their knocking on a bit) the Space Marines have’nt punched anyone new light’s out in long time. Same goes for Warhammer isnt it about some other race crawled up from their underground slumber or stepped out of some magic portal? Mcvey’s studio has released a new game (the name escapes me at the moment) and the miniatures are nice enough but future war humans in armour, helmets and visors haven’t we been here so many times before, maybe some sort of bio armour suits of lab grown muscles perhaps? Dont most Fantasy ranges just rehash the Armies that GW have already made (in some cases for fraction of the cost). Wouldn’t it be great if a company announced a new release and you couldn’t second guess what you were you going to get and what it was going to look like?

    The fantasy and Sci-Fi authors and Comic Book writers seem to still be able to write strange and inventive stuff (Iain M. Banks wries some brilliantly bizarre material), why does the gaming world struggle so much? Is it our fault do we like to play it safe? In the video gaming world sequels in most cases sell far better than original titles, is it the same for minature gaming?

    Don’t get me wrong I think some companies are trying. Mantic look like they trying to put a bit of a spin on things with their new Warpath Armies. Infinity has a fair stab at being orginal with its Manga hi-tec overtones, werewolves, future Ninjas, historic clones but most importantly some crazy poses (i know this a bit of a marmite thing). Zombiesmith and their awesome Quar, strange WW1 aliens fighting a civil war amoung themselves. Alkemy have tree/medevil knights and their Arbic Ca people. I feel however that everyone is falling short of Smogs 11/10 standards.

    I said to Jake “they seem like Smog were made in an alternate universe and someone snuck them onto the shelves”. Well I think its time that portal opened a little more often.

    • fiend says:

      “Warmachine brought out a new race last year and what are they? Elves/Eldar, really?”

      Take a look at the Farrow and Gatormen. Both got expanded from single mercenary units into minor factions this year, and both of them are a lot more original than the emo ipod elves. The Farrow are boarmen armed with crude black powder weapons and massive frankenpigs under a megalomaniac warlord, and come complete with the mad scientist who built the frankenpigs. That may sound a bit orc or beastman influenced (and there’s other things in there, like Mean Angel inspired aggression dials), but they’re a more original creation than the elves. The Gatormen are voodoo gatormen, which I’m pretty sure hasn’t been done anywhere else.

      “Don’t get me wrong I think some companies are trying. Mantic look like they trying to put a bit of a spin on things with their new Warpath Armies.”

      Orcs in space, and dwarves in space. While the concept art does look pretty good, and obviously is different enough from Orks and Squats to not get sued, there’s no originality in that concept.

      • Quirkworthy says:

        He said Frankenpig 🙂

        Good point about the Gatormen and Farrow. They are indeed more original than the Retribution and both factions have some really nice models in to boot.

        I’ll wait till I see the finished version before I comment on the Warpath races. We’re still looking at early stuff here, and I have a suspicion that there’s a bit more lurking under the hood than is currently public. You are right though: Space Dwarfs and Space Orcs are not particularly original concepts.

  2. Quirkworthy says:

    Given the weirdness that lurks on the other side of the Smog portal, I think we’ll all need our booster shots before we open it too wide. Glorious though they be, I suspect that the Smog delights are not for everyone. Sadly, in a commercial world, the safe bet will tend to triumph. When I worked in software development I was repeatedly told that the new projects to pitch were the safe ones; the ones that basically copied what had just been successful in the shops and in the charts. Few of the bean counters will risk their cash on cool and innovative. They want a reliable return. Alkemy seems to have been a salutary example. Nice game, some lovely figures, and feline Arabian Nights was a great curve ball, but they’ve all but died commercially. A real shame.

    I’m with quiff on this one though: I’d like a bit more innovation with my steady supply of stock fantasy & SF. Judging by many of the posts I read on gaming forums round the net, we aren’t alone. However, it’s market forces that decide in the end, and time and again we see the standard and the safe sell while the oddball stuff withers. It’s great when things like the Quar do well (as they seem to be), and little projects like Twilight look fab too. I’ve done some work myself in this vein, but that’ll not be out till next year. From a creative point of view I do what I can, but getting the wackier stuff published is even harder than getting things like Dwarf King’s Hold into print. Still, I’m working on it.

    What we really need is for the gaming public (that’s you as well as me!) to support some of these smaller and less mainstream games and figure ranges; to vote with their cash and support the creative talent that’s doing something new and different and downright cool. In the end, it’s simple. Businesses stay in business by making what people buy. If people buy more innovative than safe then that’s what we’ll see more of.

    Roll on that day.

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