|Notable Employees||Ronnie Renton, Matt Gilbert|
|Notable Games||Kings of War, Warpath, Deadzone, Dreadball, The Walking Dead: All Out War|
Mantic Games is a (relatively) new games and miniatures publisher. They primarily produce 28mm scale wargames (like Games Workshop), although there are also some spin-off games based on their two main settings, Kings of War (fantasy) and Warpath (sci-fi). Their main shtick is that they're much, much cheaper than Games Workshop.
Mantic Games was founded by former GeeDubs executive and all-round cool guy Ronnie Rention, and along the way picked up several ex-GW people, quite possibly disgruntled folks who want to shank their former employers in the stomach and twist really hard (and good luck to them!). Their first planned games were Kings of War and Warpath, the former of which HEAVILY ripped right from
Warhammer's Tolkien's aesthetic, (Mantic models actually look slightly different if you bother to compare them to GW models because A: they're truescale, B: the Dwarfs have giant heads, and C: if they got too close they'd be sued) almost looking to completely undercut the more expensive Citadel Miniatures. This allowed people to play Warhammer with cheap non-GW models, which let Mantic sell more stuff, and start funding their own developments. Just as planned.
On top of everything else they had the balls to make a futuristic sports game called DreadBall. And this was before GW had revamped Blood Bowl, Dreadball's obvious precursor. During 2013 Mantic's work on Warpath and Kings of War slowed, more so on the Warpath front. The big push for Dreadball, thanks to Kickstarter, greatly changed the company's internal schedule, and as a result, it became an important part of the company's product market.
Eventually, they decided to make a licensed Mars Attacks Kickstarter, which was successfully funded. Later in 2015 Warpath's brand was touched upon once more via DreadBall Xtreme and Deadzone: Infestation. Eventually, these successfully funded Kickstarter initiatives lead to an official Warpath Kickstarter itself, and not surprisingly it was a success as well. Due to these successes, Mantic has said that there could possibly be an encore Kickstarter at a later date, to flesh out the factions who weren't yet ready during the initial Warpath Kickstarter. When the Mars Attacks license eventually expired, Mantic moved on to make The Walking Dead: All Out War, licensed from the comics rather than the TV show, and then two years later Hellboy: The Boardgame, also based on the comics.
If GW is the Imperium of Man in its current state then Mantic are the Tau, new & full of optimism. Or the old Tau at least, before the new writers decided to grimdark the fuck out of them too.
With a decade in the business now, Mantic Games seems to be improving constantly and becoming more audacious each year. Even though back when they were founded they looked like just a "poor man's GW", some of their models now have no direct GW equivalent, and Mantic is instead trying to support their own ideas, aesthetic, and creations with some plastic kits, that while still a little below GWs quality, are much more affordable and brimming with options.
There is also a great overlap of minis between games, so you don't need to buy a whole new miniatures gang just to play the skirmish game set alongside the bigger game for which you already have an army. Their IPs have become much more fleshed out, and while nowhere near the 30 years of novels and back story of the other place, are still serious enough to keep people engaged, and more up to date in their focus and themes. Still, I've yet to meet anyone who cares about the world of "Mantica". It's not a love it/hate it split of Age of Sigmar, it's universal apathy. Also, with 3d printing booming as a side business, the (to put it generously) quaint quality of their range is hardly gonna get better with age.
Also Mantic are quite notorious for their tendency of using Kickstarters in order to fund (expensive) moulds for hard plastic minis for many of their games, which nowadays has become quite a common practice, but in Mantics case these Kickstarters are more of a "pre-order" thing than a "help us develop a game". But on the other hand, they are also one of the most open companies with regards to their fanbases, with many of their dramatic personae dropping by at forums and Facebook pages, and all of their rules put out for wide public beta testing to make sure there's as much balance, and as little broken, as possible (though they generally don't get a game just right until the 2nd edition)
As of 2018, Mantic is sticking to a tiered system with shared minis, stories, and campaigns within their two universes, plus independent licensed games:
- Warpath SciFi universe: Warpath (big Army) and Warpath: Firefight (medium Army), Deadzone (Skirmish), Star Saga (boardgame), Dreadball (sportsballgame and no shared minis outside of 'Escort the MVP' scenarios)
ManticaPannithor fantasy universe: Kings of War (Army), Kings of War: Vanguard (Skirmish), Dungeon Saga (boardgame), League of Infamy (boardgame), Armada (boardgame)
- Licensed: The Walking Dead: All Out War, Hellboy: The Board Game, Mars Attacks (OOP)
The basic rules for Kings of War, Warpath, and Deadzone are free from their website. Some people reckon they're too simplistic and lack the depth of Games Workshop games, others like the fact they're easy to pick up and don't require a Bible-sized rulebook. Either way, there seems to be no shortage of players signing up to the annual Kings of War tournament, though it should be noted that a good chunk of them (including Mantic employers) were using GW models in said tournament, hilariously. It can be theorized that Mantic will expand their game once they reach some level of popularity, and like GW in the past renege on the liberal use of their products. Time will tell...
Why do we like them?
Mantic's list of modeling wish-fulfillment has been growing and growing, with them as a company having delivered us some of wargaming most desired miniature concepts (even if not everybody will agree on whether or not the execution of said modeling lines was cool). Overall Mantic has delivered:
- Space Dwarfs, in the form of Forge Fathers, and they are AMAZING, with their bearded tanks and tendency to have big fucking guns and tommyguns everywhere.
- Space Skaven, otherwise known as Veer-Myn. Vermin. Get it? Anyway, think of bipedal rats in space and that's what you'll get. The fact Skaven already dabble in high-tech means they could be easily proxies as Skaven models. The Veer-myn Nightmares as Rat Ogre proxies are a special case because it's legit one of the few examples of a Mantic product being vastly superior to an old-ass official GW kit.
- Abyssal Dwarfs, similar in concept to Chaos Dwarfs, and these ones actually look quite menacing while being affordable too (plus they have golems).
- They released the Triden Realms of Neiritica, composed of tritons, crab people, squid people, tritons mounted on sea drakes and amphibians. That's right, FISH PEOPLE, lets see you beat that, GW! Oh...
- Okay but the Nightstalkers fulfill a legitimate open niche in Wargaming: an entire army of Lovecraftian monstrosities. And some of these sculpts are the best things Mantic has ever produced. Teeth 'n' tentacles seem to have pushed their sculpting capability further than before.
- Meaningful worldwide campaigns with actual progression that obeys the fans desires; in 2017 they made the edge of the abyss campaign, which can be followed here, where the world was significantly changed. In 2018 they modified the basic format to run the first Deadzone global campaign, the Battle for Starfall. The end result: Plague won.
- Affordable Miniatures! Do you long for the days when you could get a box of 20 plastic miniatures for under £20? Mantic has got you covered. Depending on the faction you choose, you can get everything you need for a full sized Kings of War army for under £200.
So overall, Mantic tends to see those gaps in the market and scratch those itches that a wargammer needs. Do they always do a good job? Well nope, not always, but most of the time, and their effort is always commendable.