Kickstarter: Lords of the Motleyverse

So 2018 is starting off with a kickstarter for a miniatures game that I have sort of kept an eye on.

What really drew me in was this very retro feel of barbarians, skeletons, machines, ninjas, and all that jazz fighting in these perilous dungeons. Reminding me simultaneously of Mortal Kombat and the now sadly discontinued Outlandish Miniature Figure Guys and ofcourse the 80's M.U.S.C.L.E. toys that inspired them.

So with outselves properly riled up, lets go over some impressions of the campaign, starting with the obvious comparison. The sculpts. Out of the gate, I am happy to see another game doing a He-Man tribute, and this over the top and caricaturesque physique of the models really suit it.

Mega Dude in Mega Armour

Lord Dreadcore

 A Robox Warrior
However, while I do enjoy these lads,  I am not too fond of some of the female sculpts. Which give me mixed emotions, for while I am all for better representation in wargames both among gender expression and different physiques these ladies just fall a tad short. Sadly I am not entirely unable to put my finger on what rubs me the wrong way. So I cant really leave any constructive critism.

However a real show-stealer for me is their terrain selection. Featuring circular saws creeping along the floor, spiked revolving columns and grimacing skull faces, surely breathing fire of toxic gas into the fighting pit. They would be welcome additions to any of my dungeon crawls as a hazards and terrain features.

Featuring a double-sided tile, so you can choose just how intimate you want that fight to be. 

A last point to make here is that the miniatures are of a roughly 35mm scale, meaning they are gonna dwarf some of the 28mm people, or at the very least appear as half-god giants among men.

Privateer Press model on the left, Zombicide model in the middle, and a Wasteman figure on the right.

So we have a bunch of big muscly people duking it out in this arena of their choosing. So how does this all play out?

Robot World Toys that are the team behind the game have made various how to play videos available on their youtube channel, however I wont spare you my words if you'd rather read a summary by an eccentric outsider.

Models fight by rolling a pool of coloured dice, differernt colours of dice have different odds of rolling certain results. So for instance their black dice features way more chances to roll crits than their others, while the yellow features the most punches. 

So your fighter rolls either punches, kicks, crits or misses.  Every landed hit will subtract one health from your enemy, but the types of hits also determine how you make your opponent stagger. Punches knock them backwards, kicks topple them sideways and crits do whatever you'd like. 

So you roll out this attack combo, and then lay down the die in the order you'd prefer hits to land (for maximum pushing into scenery and pain). Your opponent then get a few chances to roll off, trying to tie up your dice by rolling the same maneuvers as you got in the exact same order. Any tied dice count as blocked and don't add to the combo.

Which die are in your starting pool depends on the characters themselves, such as Mega Dude here:

Quite interesting too, is that once a fighter starts getting wounded they can get to substitute dice in their pool with the options listed. So once he has taken 3 damage he can choose to throw out a blue die to get another white one. In this case lowering the odds of missing, and improving the odds of getting a critical hit.

The arm-chair graphic designer in me feels that card itself is perhaps a bit superfluous, with a lot of space taking up non game-relevant info, but having had time to review their gameplay videos, I am happy to see that this is merely the front side, as the other side feature a full list of special abilities and combos the character in question can perform.

Shamelessly screenshotted from the 1v1 demo video.

So I am happy to see that there indeed is a deeper layer of strategy on top of planing out combos to knock your opponents into the most terrain. So with models, terrain and rules covered, there is one other small matter I feel nagging at the back of my head. Namely the die.

I am not very happy with them to be honest. To me they are hard to read at a glance, the explosion that both servers as the crit icon and the background for punches and kick make the icons themselves hard to distinguish between, which has been attempted to remedy with white, yellow and red backgrounds, serving as more clutter. I'd honestly be much more inclined to back the project if the dice were nicer, since I know its something that is gonna be nagging me forever. Were it up to me I'd work up 4 facing symbols that each have unique silhouettes, and have them be white or black depending on dice colour. Something akin to what Imperial Assault has done.

So to summarize my thoughts. This is a project I'd really love to back, it has that old-school toy and video game feel with some very evocative tiles and terrain pieces, but certain components like a few of the minis and the design of the die rubs me the wrong way. It also helps polarize pledging when your only real option is all or nothing. I would've liked the option to dip my toes with like 3 guys and a few terrain pieces in the small arena with new supplement fighters you could cash out for (like the DLC in fighting games). But that aside, this whole thing shows promise and having glanced at some of the facebook feed, we can very likely expect dinosaurs, cyborgs and insect-men and ninjas joining the fight too.

And in the end, I have converted various miniatures and remade components for other games anyway. And for a first foray in the market this is a creative vision I wanna endorse and support, in the hopes that we can get to see just how far we can delve into the world of the Motleyverse.