Originally posted on https://johnwombat.wordpress.com/ in 2020.
Created by wargames and model enthusiast Ronnie Renton, Mantic are a UK-based wargames, RPG and model company which produce a wide range of original and licensed game systems; Kings of War, Star Saga, The Walking Dead, Vanguard, Dungeon Saga, Warpath, HellBoy: The Board Game, Deadzone and DreadBall. Since launching in 2009, Mantic have established themselves as a key player in the hobby industry, their products offering gamers and collectors affordable versatility with no compromise in quality. I was recently afforded some of Ronnie’s time, here is part 1 of my blog feature on him, his company, and their games.
Ronnie is a lifelong fan of toy soldiers and model sets. Remembering his early collection of Airfix kits, Ronnie reflected on his love of toy soldiers and how his passion turned into a profitable enterprise for a budding teenage entrepreneur from Cheshire.
Ronnie: I was always into toy soldiers, such as Airfix 1/ 32 and 1/ 72 ranges. While I was still at school, there was a wargames club that I was part of. So, every couple of weeks I’d head to this wargaming club on a Thursday night, even though I was still at junior school I managed to get in, such was my obsession with toy soldiers! Gradually I progressed from Airfix models to Citadel Miniatures, there were also some Grendel models that I purchased too.
As a kid, back in the 1970’s, fantasy wargaming didn’t really exist. There was the Lord of the Rings, but I’d started The Hobbit aged twelve and didn’t really like it that much. So, I was into World War II and Napoleonic models and games, that was my bread and butter. I was into my war movies, such as Bridge Too Far, Longest Day, things like that, I’ve always been fascinated by war. When I went to Leeds university, I ended up doing my degree on International History, 1450 – 1945, when all the good fighting happened!
I had a pre-order for the very first edition of Warhammer, by which time my love of wargaming was a few years old. Once I came upon Citadel, the quality of the miniatures was just so good, I was fascinated with them, I still have my old collection of metal miniatures. Collecting was so much fun. Obviously, there was no internet back then, you’d have to find the stores, go there and then see all the walls covered with blisters.
I was a painter as well as a gamer. Almost all of us, my friends and I, would actually spend more time painting that gaming. We would paint and think about playing games of Warhammer but rarely actually play any games. Back in those days the figures weren’t even on slottabases, so moving regiments and setting everything up was all a lot harder. I played more historical and World War II games as those rules were a lot easier.
At the age of about fourteen, I’d persuaded everyone at school to play Warhammer. None of the local stores stocked the game, the Manchester Games Workshop store was fifteen miles up the road. So, I got in touch with Tim Wilson, who was working in Mail Order. I’d call him up and have a chat, we got on really well. I found out from Tim about trade accounts. I said, “OK, well, I’ll buy them off you and I’ll be like a shop, I’ll take them into school and my wargaming club.” Tim said, “But you’ve got to spend £300 in one go.” Off I went to my dad and I said, “Look, there’s a great business opportunity here, I can sell all the models to my mates…” He told me to go off and write a business plan, which I did, and it was basically ‘buy them, sell them, keep the difference’. He did buy them for me, giving me the £300, but I think he thought that it was just an early Christmas present and a lesson in life, that I’d end up with a big pile of toy soldiers and he’d tell me that you’d need to plan these things. So, I used his credit card on the Monday, the order arrived on the Thursday and on the Saturday, I paid him back. I’d already found out what everyone wanted, all the new releases and things, and all of a sudden people could get all the miniatures they wanted, from me. I would do this every month, get an order together and collect the money, this ended up becoming my college fund.
Just after leaving school and prior to finding out whether or not he would be attending university, Ronnie secured a summer job at his local Games Workshop store. After achieving the grades necessary, Ronnie let go of the Games Workshop position to follow his university studies and work towards his degree, only to return to the company afterwards. He was soon navigating the ziggurat of Games Workshop…
Ronnie: When I left school I didn’t know if I was going to go to university, I didn’t know what grades I was going to get. So, in the summer I started working at my local Games Workshop, which I really enjoyed. Then I got the grades I needed for university and off I went, but I would work at the store in the summer and kept in touch with all the people there. By the time I got my university degree I was wondering what to do and got talking with the heads of Games Workshop. I didn’t know much about business in those days but was put through some management training. I started in sales and I stayed with the company for the next fifteen years. I left in 2007/ 2008, a little before I started Mantic.
I thoroughly enjoyed my first ten years at Games Workshop, working in sales, I covered Germany, the UK, Northern Europe, I looked after Japan, I went to America a few times. Then I went into the studio and worked on some of the marketing and new product design, which was quite interesting. But I’d also done a part-time business course, just in case, as wives and children were coming. Games Workshop had started to change a little bit and it wasn’t quite as much fun as it had been. By the time fifteen years had passed, the culture within the company was different. I thought it was time to go and I thought over the options of what to do next. In the end, the thought of running my own business and the opportunities that I felt existed within the market was too much of a pull. So, you put your shoulder to the wheel and off you go.
Mantic launched in January 2009, in September of that year they released their first sets of figures. Bringing in the talents of sculptors such as Bob Naismith, Ronnie collaborated with Terry Ardener of Renedra in producing Mantic’s range of world class plastic models. Written by games designer Alessio Cavatore, Mantic’s Kings of War game filled the gap Ronnie saw in the mass fantasy battles wargames market.
Ronnie: Working with people like Bob Naismith, the creator of the first ever Space Marine, was wonderful. I then brought in different designers for each of the Kings of War factions… Then, Terry Ardener and Renedra gave us world class plastics, just really great quality. With Mantic, I thought there was an opportunity to put out plastic miniatures with a slightly different design, a different aesthetic, and perhaps allow customers to save a bit of money too. I was interested to do licenses as well, at a time when no one was interested in doing miniatures licenses, only boardgames.
Kings of War second edition had just come out when Age of Sigmar was released and the Warhammer Old World was destroyed. So, the people that really did enjoy the old rank and flank game, some of that crowd came over to us. Really, we became cemented in that rank and flank place of the toy soldier world. Alessio wrote the first two versions of our Kings of War game. I wanted this game because in the mid-1990’s Games Workshop gave Warhammer 40,000 a full rewrite, Rick Priestley had gone away and all the books and codexes were scrapped. A new system was developed, with the six-inch move and so on, until then, with Rogue trader, Warhammer 40,000 had kind of been Warhammer Fantasy in space. Warhammer never got that rewrite, the game was just slightly changing with each new edition since the first one had been released in the early-1980’s.
Having worked with Alessio at Games Workshop and knowing what we were doing with our miniatures, it became clear that there was an opportunity for a cleaner, neater, less confrontational gaming experience. I’d come from the historical wargaming scene, when you get together with your mates and recreate cool looking battles, and while happily balanced and with a good tournament scene, it also allows for, “Let’s just have a good shindig!” Alessio had worked on Warhammer and Warhammer 40,000, and having had that experience was in a unique position to write a new game, like Rick did with second edition Warhammer 40,000. Because you’ve written one version and worked on it and tweaked it, as a games designer you know what’s wrong with it. The Kings of War game just flowed out of Alessio.
The first edition of Kings of War was released in 2010. At the time, in addition to many fantasy wargamers embracing the new game system, a number of Warhammer players were drawn to Mantic’s Kings of War models, recruiting them into their Warhammer armies. The second edition of Kings of War was released in 2015, the same year in which Warhammer fantasy was killed off by Games Workshop to be replaced by Age of Sigmar. The third edition of Kings of War was released in 2019, around the time of this launch Games Workshop announced their plan to return to Warhammer fantasy with The Old World, intended for release around 2022.
Ronnie: I hope the fans that have our game stick with it because they prefer it. We don’t have the marketing power of Games Workshop, and people do have a fondness for their games. But time goes by and I know I’ll never play a Warhammer game again because I prefer the style of games that we make. They’re a little easier to play, less complex, but all the tactical options are there if you want them. Games Workshop are a colossal machine, they’ve got their fans. But it may not be a case of either or, people may play both. I did think the timing of their announcement was somewhat unusual, they normally give people two weeks’ notice for the next product they’re releasing, for them to give three years notice was interesting, announcing it as they did in the same week we released Kings of War 3. I’ll let your readers judge from that what they wish.
We make miniatures, we make models, we make games, but by no means is any part of it exclusive. Of course we want people to play our games but have no problem with people using our figures in other manufacturers games. At the end of the day it’s their hobby to do with what they want.
Receptive to the feedback from their customers and supporters, Mantic are a community focussed wargames company, something which Ronnie described is an important guiding principle for the business.
Ronnie: A guiding principle of Mantic is to be community focused. There’s so much talent out there that wants to help, in the real world they have a grown-up job but on a Thursday night they want to be on one of our rules committees. Our games have rules committees behind them that are fans. We’ll have an open day and play testers will come down and play our games. Huge amounts of work come from rules committees. There’s also so many talented painters out there and the more people paint, the more people want to see. We wouldn’t be half the company we are without our community.
I’m not a tournament wargamer, I think I’d get my butt kicked! And it would be a bit embarrassing to go to a tournament and end up with the wooden spoon! I do enjoy going along though, talking, meeting the players, being part of the community, hanging around and enjoying the vibe and a few beers. I do like to chat with gamers so that we can make games and products that they love. I do enjoy painting, that’s something I do quite a bit of. It’s important to remain hands on too, to keep involved and in touch with the hobby.
All Things Mantic: A Talk With Ronnie Renton… Part 2: Kings of War.
Created by wargames and model enthusiast Ronnie Renton, Mantic are a UK-based wargames, RPG and model company which produce a wide range of original and licensed game systems; Kings of War, Star Saga, The Walking Dead, Vanguard, Dungeon Saga, Warpath, HellBoy: The Board Game, Deadzone and DreadBall. Since launching in 2009, Mantic have established themselves as a key player in the hobby industry, their products offering gamers and collectors affordable versatility with no compromise in quality. With special thanks to Ronnie Renton, Alessio Cavatore, Matt Gilbert, Rob Burman, Bob Naismith and Luigi Terzi, here is part 2 of my blog feature on Ronnie, his company, and their games. Today’s feature is Kings of War.
My review of Kings of War, Product Review: Mantic’s Kings of War (Third Edition), can be found HERE.
Kings of War timeline…
- 2010: 1st edition
- 2015: 2nd edition
- 2019: 3rd edition
Led by Ronnie Renton, who prior to founding Mantic had worked for Games Workshop for fifteen years in roles within sales, studio, marketing, and product design, Mantic launched in 2009 and made use of some of the most well respected and experienced characters in the model and wargames business. Model designers for Mantic’s Kings of War have included Bob Naismith, Gary Morley, Kev White, Matthew Bickley and Nicolas Nguyen, plus advice from Mike McVey. From sculpting to casting preparation and occasional design, these days, Luigi Terzi is the leading miniatures designer for Mantic.
The initial games and rules designer for Kings of War was former Games Workshop games designer Alessio Cavatore (famed for being the lead writer of Warhammer, Warhammer 40,000 and Lord of the Rings at the time of his departure from Games Workshop, and someone who has gone onto write many highly successful games since, such as Bolt Action (Warlord Games) and Deus Vult (Fireforge Games), as well as Kings of War and Warpath for Mantic).
At the time of it’s first release in 2010, Kings of War boldly entered into the fantasy wargames arena with industry giant Games Workshop’s Warhammer serving as the go to 28mm scale rank and file wargame system. Released in the same year as Kings of War, the Warhammer 8th edition boxed set featured the evil Skaven pitted against the valiant High Elves, meanwhile the Kings of War boxed set, Mhorgoth Rising, offered players the opportunity to field Undead and Dwarf forces.
Feeling that they had an exciting alternative option to offer, with simpler rules designed for more flowing games combined with competitively priced miniatures, Mantic were not daunted by Games Workshop’s dominance in the fantasy wargame sector. Five years later, the Warhammer fantasy world/ Old World was obliterated by Games Workshop and replaced by Warhammer: Age of Sigmar; mass rank and file battles were replaced by a skirmish based rules system in a fictional setting which held very little similarity to the game’s predecessor. Meanwhile, following an enthusiastically receptive response from gamers and hobbyists alike, Mantic released Kings of War 2nd edition.
Following his departure from Games Workshop, where at the time of his leaving he was heading the latest editions of Warhammer, Warhammer 40,000 and Lord of the Rings, in addition to having worked on a number of other systems, such as Mordheim, Alessio Cavatore founded his own games design company – River Horse. Two of the first projects a post-Games Workshop Alessio worked on was Kings of War for Mantic and Bolt Action for Warlord Games; both systems going on to draw huge fan bases.
Alessio Cavatore: I had just started my own company and met Ronnie, the owner of Mantic, at an event. We started to talk, and he explained that he wanted a new game system based on rank and file fantasy battles, and asked me if I’d write the rules for it. He also provided a faction list and explained the range of miniatures that Kings of War would cover.
Having being briefed about which miniatures were going to be in the game and what sort of game Ronnie wanted, I went away and did some thinking. He had said that he wanted a game that was not complicated and had simple rules, and I absolutely agreed. I came back and said that I could write him a game that, with an A5 sized rulebook, was eight pages long. He said, “No, that’s not possible.” I said, “Yes, it is, very possible,” and so the challenge was set! I remember, a guy later telling me, “Eight pages? That’s nothing. I’ll show you a game with just two pages!” He showed me, it was the reference sheet. I had to explain to him the difference, “No, that is not the complete rules, that is a reference sheet. What I have is a complete set of rules in eight pages.” He couldn’t believe it.
Now, the story goes that Ronnie thought he’d end up with a child’s game, an entry level system, however what he actually got was a proper game, in eight pages. And the rules system which Kings of War uses has been very successful, it’s a game that has always been appreciated in terms of game mechanics.
Initially being somewhat generic and sparse in detail, the fantasy world in which Kings of War is set has developed over time. In addition to the ‘standard’ fantasy races of Elves, Men, Goblins and Dwarfs, Kings of War has some unique factions too, such as Nightstalkers and the Trident Realm of Neritica. Whilst Alessio was the writer of the rules for Kings of War, he also collaborated with Mantic in creating some of the fantasy world elements; for example, it was Alessio who had the idea of demons within Kings of War coming from the Abyss, and labelled them Abyssals.
With a nod to timers used in chess and his appreciation for historical wargames, such as Black Powder and Hail Caesar, Alessio expanded on some of the rules and game dynamics in Kings of War.
Alessio Cavatore: One of the big advantages in Kings of War is being able to play with a chess clock. In competitive games, one of the worst things is when your opponent is ahead in the game, and then, all of a sudden, “Oh, I have to just go to the toilet,” and off he goes for ages and he ends up winning the game… So, with a timer in games, you can say, “OK, you both have one hour available, if your time runs out before the game ends then you lose,” just like chess.
There are no saving throws in Kings of War and the reason was two-fold. The game, because it’s been designed to be played with a clock, means that I have to do everything in my turn, you have to do everything in your turn. So if I have to roll and then give you the dice, then the timer feature doesn’t work, a player could take advantage and waste time. So, in Kings of War a unit has a Defence value, which is a mix of the armour and toughness of the troops involved. The same concept applies to the absence of reactions to charges. In Kings of War everything is done within your own turn and without the involvement of your opponent.
The concept was a game like chess, where I think and do my turn as quickly as possible and execute everything, then when you’re doing your turn, I’m doing my thinking. The key to winning is doing the thinking in your opponent’s turn. If you start to think and hesitate in your own turn then you’re under a huge time pressure. Everything was written from the point of view of making sure that the other guy cannot stall, I hate stalling in competitive play. Kings of War, of course, does not have to be played competitively and can be enjoyed in a laid-back atmosphere with beer and pretzels. However, in competitive play, Kings of War is a very good system.
With regards to Line of Sight, there are two major ways to do this. One is to do it by looking from the top down, like a board game approach, you draw a line from here to here and see if the line crosses X, Y and Z, then you have to see what is in the way and the size of what causes any obstruction.
The other way is the way I prefer. This is real line of sight, and involves getting down and putting your head on the table to see what the model sees. It’s cinematic, this is how pictures of models and games are taken for websites and magazine and it is so cool. But there are problems with this method in wargames because you can be seeing something, looking across a piece of cardboard that represents woods, then the opposing player will say, “You can’t see through the woods, they’re too thick!” “But I can see your models!” So Line of Sight becomes a little more complex. Sometimes you end up with a complete ‘top down’ version or, more rarely, a complete ‘line of sight’ version. Normally in wargames, it’s a combination of the two.
The block of units and not needing to remove models after suffering casualties is something that I’m a big fan of in Kings of War; you’re not left with masses of individual models to pack away after each game! Historical wargames like Rick Priestley’s Black Power and Hail Caesar really inspired me with this.
Mantic are a community centred company and are highly receptive to their customer base and supporters of their games. With Kings of War Second Edition, Alessio continued in his role as games designer and factored in changes for the initial rules he had devised, whilst also taking into account suggestions from Mantic’s Kings of War community. By the time of Kings of War Third Edition, Alessio’s commitments to River Horse and projects elsewhere meant that he was not available to work on the game. Instead, with Alessio’s previous rules serving as its foundations, Kings of War Third Edition is a more community driven creation.
Matt Gilbert emerged from the thriving Kings of War community to take up the leading position of heading Mantic’s design studio, where he now sets the overall direction for their games; coordinating each project’s artwork, writing and sculpting, as well as designing ranges and release schedules.
Matt Gilbert: I originally started playing Kings of War before the first Kickstarter for it, when I was just a Mantic customer. I was involved in playtesting version 1 and was on the Kings of War rules committee for version 2. I coordinated and wrote a good chunk of the background in the Uncharted Empires book for version 2. In version 3, I wanted to expand the background a lot, with new art and maps, expanding the world. The goal of the version 3 project was to launch the whole game to a new level.
The lore for KoW started off as snippets of text and small articles in the old Mantic Journal. In the first hardback book, there were only sixteen pages of background and a simple map. Version 2 probably doubled the amount of background but didn’t really add much new until Uncharted Empires, some expansion books and also the Dungeon Saga game, which all began to explore the wider world. In version 3 we opened the map of the world much wider and gave the world a name: Pannithor. We have delivered about one hundred and fifty pages of background across the core rulebook and Uncharted Empires, with more on the way in future books, and expanding range of novels, the Armada naval game, the Vanguard game, and RPG and more. The storyline will continue to progress and move forward, introducing new things, through all these mediums.
Other Mantic games set within the world of Kings of War:
- Armada (released on November 21st, 2020, available for pre-order HERE.)
- Kings of War Vanguard
- Dungeon Saga
First released in 1982, then developed and expanded over the three decades that followed, to some fantasy wargamers the discontinuation of Warhammer fantasy and subsequent creation of Warhammer: Age of Sigmar was considered a betrayal by Games Workshop. Some Warhammer players felt their previous support to the company was being disregarded with scant consideration for their feelings, as the company looked to drop their maturing Warhammer players and collectors and push forward with a simplified game which bore no semblance of similarity to the fantasy Old World. The decision of Games Workshop was unlikely to have been personal, more probably they cut off their fantasy line as it was simply no longer sufficiently profitable, hence Age of Sigmar; a game which does not require many models to start playing and has a set of rules designed for a younger audience. A natural consequence of Games Workshop killing off Warhammer was that a vast number of Warhammer players switched to Kings of War (after all, rather than all of their models now being consigned to gathering dust on top of gaming room shelves they could serve as armies in Kings of War). Over recent years other fantasy wargames have entered the market too, such as Warlords of Erewhon (Warlord Games), Red Book of the Elf King (Lucid Eye), Oathmark (North Star Military Figures/ Osprey Publishing) and Conquest (Para Bellum), all of which are well worth investigating. In addition, high quality fan-made fantasy battle wargames have been developed in the form of games such as 9th Age and Warhammer Renaissance.
In 2019, Mantic released Kings of War 3rd Edition, at the same time Games Workshop announced their intention to return to Warhammer fantasy with Warhammer: The Old World sometime in the next few years; Games Workshop perhaps seeing the continuing enthusiasm for rank and file fantasy wargames and looking to return to such systems.
Obvious comparisons to draw between Kings of War and Warhammer include the facts that both game systems are set in a fantasy world populated with races such as Orcs, Goblins, Dwarfs, Elves and Humans, also both games use square bases and blocks of rank and file models. An unfair comparison would be to tag Kings of War as a poor man’s Warhammer. True, Mantic provide models and products that are designed to be affordable to the average wargamer and hobbyist, however their ranges do not compromise on quality, be this in their models or rules.
Factions available in Kings of War…
- Abyssal Dwarf
- Forces of Nature
- Empire of Dust
- Forces of the Abyss
- Northern Alliance
- Trident Realm of Neritica
Shadows in the North: Kings of War 2-Player Starter Set contents:
- 44 Northern Alliance miniatures: 40 Hard Plastic Clansmen/Pack Hunters, 3 PVC Plastic Snow Trolls, 1 PVC Plastic Ice Kin Master Hunter
- 44 Nightstalkers miniatures: 40 Hard Plastic Scarecrows/Spectres, 3 PVC Plastic Butchers, 1 PVC Plastic Horror
- Square Bases
- 144-page Rulebook
- Getting Started booklet
The rules for Kings of War have been designed for smooth game play, with a concentration on a flowing dynamic that is not punctuated by drawn out details that may otherwise interrupt things. One of the main differences between Kings of War and other fantasy wargames is that individual unit causalities are not removed from play. As a unit’s soldiers fall, the damage caused leads to greater likelihoods that the unit will break and flee. This saves time and also allows players the opportunity to create a more interesting unit scene, many players like to create dramatic dioramas. Another rule that sets Kings of War apart from other fantasy systems, in keeping with reducing potential hinderances to game flow, is that a model does not receive a saving after receiving a ‘wound’. Of course, there will be players that are not enamoured with such rules. However, to many, the ability to take charge of an army of hundreds of models, comprising hordes of troops, monsters, and war machines, and have the game resolved within a couple of hours, is massively appealing.
- I go into detail of the rules of Kings of War in my review HERE.
Kings of War has been designed to be played competitively and in keeping with traditional approaches to wargames it uses points driven army lists. Each army within Kings of War has an Alignment (Good, Evil or Neutral) and this allows for alliances between races to be formed, a Goblin force may draft in some brute Orge support, for example. Whilst the rules of Kings of War are succinct, there are still plenty of nuances to allow for interesting, exciting and tactically challenging battles. In addition to each race within Kings of War having an Alignment, each also has access to respective special army upgrades. Meanwhile, no fantasy wargame would be complete without magic spells and artefacts, and Kings of War does not disappoint, a dozen spells are covered within the rules as are five different Unique Spells (limited to one per army).
As is commonly the case with model manufactures these days, the majority of Mantic’s figures are plastic, with a splattering of metal and resin pieces. Mantic make no secret in their motivation to provide affordable products that appeal to a host of different fantasy and science fiction wargamers and collectors, however there is no compromise in quality and production. Mantic’s Kings of War models are typically multi-piece kits that lend themselves superbly to kit-bashing and converting.
One of my favourite sculptors and the man responsible for creating the aesthetic of Kings of War’s Undead range and sculpting most of the models, Bob Naismith is a model figure designer whose extensive portfolio covers six decades, ranging from historical to fantasy to science fiction genres. I asked the puppet master of the Undead some questions…
What’s your idea of a good fantasy horror model?
Bob Naismith: Oh that’s a good one – tricky. I always think of models on the table as mnemonics for the images that live elsewhere, i.e. in movies or books, etc. You want to connect those ideas with your mini. So you need drama, impact, shock if you can and always, always, always make a blooming good mini!
Do you have a balance in terms of how far you like to go in terms of gore?
Bob Naismith: At this point you need to realise that this is a game based in a world that doesn’t exist. If folks want to make connections to our real-world that’s up to them but personally I’m happy to put in whatever is needed. Regarding gore, though, you get to a point when a model ceases to be recognisable as whatever it was and just becomes a mess which seems counter productive to me! Again I’d say that minis on a wargames table have to serve a function as well as rewarding the eye – if you cant ‘get’ the figure at a glance you may have missed the point…
How do you set about creating character in such models?
Bob Naismith: For the Undead that’s easy – in the past they weren’t undead! So all you need to do is recall maybe how they were before – leaders, brave, etc or cowardly. They may also have just been insane though and that’s ok too! Some of the feral Undead are the best fun – you don’t need to understand them – just run away!
Style-wise, many of the Kings of War models seem to reflect an appreciation of the ‘old school’/ Oldhammer genre. Abyssal Dwarfs bring to mind the bearded Chaos Dwarfs of old (as does their slaver-driven background story), while their stoic Dwarfs cousins are of a classic fantasy style that thankfully, in my opinion, avoids the steampunk aesthetic some model companies push (with the Dwarf Steel Behemoth and Steel Juggernaut being the only exceptions). Mantic’s Kings of War Elven range will prompt many to think of the High Elves and Wood Elves of Warhammer, whilst the Forces of Nature models combine earth, water and fire elements with centaurs, Treemen and a handful of Lizardmen.
Typical of many fantasy settings/ wargames, the Undead forces within Kings of War are divided into two categories; the ‘dry’ Ancient Egyptian themed Empire of Dust and the ‘wet’ Vampire/ Necromancer led Undead. Forces of the Abyss are wicked looking demons with a penchant for fire. The Goblins, Orcs and Ogres within Kings of War are of a standard fantasy style, Nightstalkers are a mix of horror and the ethereal, and the Northern Alliance models are a nod to embellished Norse mythology. Centred around all things aquatic and amphibious, the Trident Realm of Neritica models have shades of Cthulhu (something which I think should be expanded further; the Thuul models are especially superb). Though well designed and nicely detailed, the human Basilean models are perhaps my least favourite models in Kings of War, their pious aesthetic reminding me too much of the Stormcast Eternals in Age of Sigmar (though, each to their own).
With a background in graphic design, illustration, and working as a 3D artist for advertising agencies, Luigi Terzi initially began sculpting miniatures as a hobby. Such was his proficiency in sculpting and designing figures, following a good word from Alessio Cavatore, Luigi soon found his services in demand from Mantic.
Luigi Terzi: I jumped into sculpting after more than ten years spent as a graphic designer, illustrator, and 3D artist for advertising companies. Sculpting at the time was merely a hobby, I also used to paint minis for fun and sometimes for my friends, I’m more a collector than a player. One day I was having a chat with Alessio Cavatore, we live in the same town and have a common friend, asking him if he knew some company I could freelance for, and he gave me Ronnie’s email. That happened eight years ago; I started doing some small illustration for Deadzone, then I did the covers for Mars Attacks and Deadzone, but my dream was sculpting miniatures though, so when the opportunity to do some backup figures for Mars Attacks came along, I took the chance and I progressively moved into sculpting.
I have been working on all the KoW factions, the list is quite long, the project I’ve enjoyed most are the new sprues, like Dwarf Blacksouls and Northern Alliance, the Giant, the Orc Krudger, just to mention those who come to mind initially. I may say that all the production done in the past three years, if not sculpted by me, has been checked and aligned to Mantic standards by me in strict collaboration with the design team and the Studio manager.
Working exclusively in digital sculpting (with Zbrush and Blender), Luigi explained how he finds inspiration for his models, also how he feels his Kings of War figures compare to other fantasy miniatures on the market and what sets them apart.
Luigi Terzi: I studied medieval archaeology at University, so part of the inspiration comes from there. I usually refer to Artstation and Pinterest to enrich my visual archive, I watch tons of cartoons, anime, TV series. Sometimes I stare at people on the bus studying some particular face likeness, but that is weird I know!
I sculpt keeping the player in mind, I spend some time after every new release reading customer feedbacks. What I like in miniatures is the good balance between details and clean parts: if figures are too messy, they may look quite bad on the table. Another thing that is important to me is that they must be easy to paint, if you build an army you need something fun to paint and that doesn’t require mad skills to have it done decently. So, what makes Mantic minis special for me is a good mix of cool design, articulated but clean, and fun to paint and assemble.
Mantic are a company that take pride in being community focussed and there are annual Kings of War tournaments, the first of which took place in 2011. Whilst the current global pandemic has caused the cancellation of the 2020 tournament, arrangements are already in place for next year’s Clash of Kings. A review of the 2018 Clash of Kings can be found HERE.
“Get ready for the biggest Clash of Kings tournament ever! Using the all-new Kings of War: Third Edition rules, this is your chance to be the first Clash of Kings: Third Edition winner in the UK!
To ensure we can cope with demand, we’re heading to Firestorm Games in Cardiff on the weekend of October 9th-10th, 2021. This is must-attend tournament for all fans of Kings of War, with more chances to win great prizes. Ticket entitles one person entry to the Tournament” Mantic.
Highlights at the 2021 event include:
- Six challenging games of Kings of War throughout the weekend
- Awards for 1st, 2nd and 3rd place
- Team Prize
- Brush with Death Painting Competition (Single figure, Unit and Army)
- Best in Faction awards (Basileans, Dwarfs, Elves, Northern Alliance, Forces of Nature, Ogres, Trident Realm of Neritica, Abyssal Dwarfs, Empire of Dust, Forces of the Abyss, Goblins, Nightstalkers, Orcs and Undead)
- Goody bag for all attendees
- Mantic Night Shenanigans – prize quiz, Kings of War keynote, open gaming
- Lunch both days
- Free on-site parking
Each player must bring a fully painted Kings of War army. Further information can be found in the rules pack, which will be available ahead of the event.
Clash of Kings Tournament 2021 tickets HERE.
Mantic official website HERE.
Official Mantic Facebook page HERE.
See also Product Review: Mantic’s Kings of War (Third Edition) HERE.