Are Mantic Kickstaters Hurting Their Games?
So, is Mantic hurting their game quality by focusing on Kickstarters. Straight off the bat I have to say that I don’t have a solid answer. Like most opinion pieces with question mark headlines the answer is rarely “yes.” Also, I like Mantic and I want them to succeed. I’m also feeling negative towards Kickstarter lately. So, that’s my bias out of the way, lets begin.
If Mantic Makes a Game, They Kickstart It
Mantic has taken up a pattern of Kickstarting every game they make. It has a whole slew of advantages such as building a community for a game, helping finance a full product line and making sure that Mantic isn’t taking too big a risk when they introduce a game to market. It’s great and it’s obvious they love it. It is good for fans as well, based on the one Kickstarter I’ve backed with them, Dungeon Saga, backers receive a tremendous value for money.
After the Kickstarter is complete, however, it’s time for the next one. Mantic is always preparing their next campaign and fulfilling their last simultaneously. Their latest campaign, Star Saga, is about to launch and The Walking Dead: All Out War has set a final change of address deadline of Monday, October 3rd 2016. This indicates that they are close to shipping. Actually, there’s another Kickstarter outstanding, Dreadball 2nd Edition which was backed in August 2016, which means that they have two Kickstarters on the go and are starting a third. Oops, I forgot, Deadzone: Infestation completed shipping in August 2016.
Why is Kickstarter a Problem?
For Mantic and its fans this cycle of Kickstarter projects means a constant flow of production that would normally not be possible. Surely this is a good thing. As I said I backed Dungeon Saga and also played Deadzone, two of Mantic’s more successful Kickstarter campaigns. Deadzone was fun, and I wish I had a chance to play it more, but has already had a second edition. Granted three years is not an obscenely short time for a new edition. There was only two years between Warhammer 40,000 sixth and seventh editions and an average of 4.5 years between editions. It’s exactly in line with the jump from Dungeons and Dragons 3rd Edition to 3.5 and it’s not like people complained about that, right? Well, even if they did at least you could use your 3rd Edition books as long as you don’t mind incorporating errata.
At least Deadzone received a second edition. Dungeon Saga is not so lucky. I had high hopes for the game to replace my happy, though all too few, memories of playing Warhammer Quest. This was a game not meant to be taken seriously and because of that was great fun. Dungeon Saga, I had hoped, would be the new Warhammer Quest. It really looked like it was and the basic game was great. The miniatures were sharply cast and fun to paint, the dungeon furniture made everything look great. The advanced game, sadly, was not a success. I haven’t been able to find a group to play it and haven’t pushed too hard. Those who had reported that the campaign rules didn’t have enough meat. Even Mantic has admitted that the game wasn’t as good as they wanted it to be. Their response: Send it to Space!
Another Day, Another Kickstarter
So, instead of trying to fix the issues with Dungeon Saga Mantic is going to make a new, completely separate version of the game. Why, because whatever time they put into fixing Dungeon Saga is wasted on a game they’ve already made their money on. It’s out, we’ve all bought it, many in quantities which must be maddening for those who have found the game not worth their while, meanwhile they have every expansion that will ever come out for the game.
To be fair I don’t think Dungeon Saga is “fixable.” It’s too soon for a new edition if my point about Deadzone’s new edition had any merit. The parts they would need to fix includes decks of cards. The problem with Dungeon Saga is the risk that all Kickstarter backers face. We are backing the idea of a game, one that has had little to no advanced development and even if successful may not be the game we want to play.
There May Yet Be Hope
As if they read my mind Mantic has announced the formation of a Dungeon Saga Rules Committee. This is a practice of Mantic Games which I had not encountered before. It is both an encouraging sign and one which shows Mantic is aware that Dungeon Saga isn’t where it needs to be as a game. Who knows if they can fix the issues with the game, or if doing so would require the production of new AI and random dungeon decks.
You forgot to mention their Warpath Kickstarter, which hasn’t been delivered yet.
I’m in a similar position to yours, a little discontent with Kickstarter. I like Mantic’s games, and their sci-fi background and aesthetics are appealing.
Their heavy focus on Kickstarters it’s really giving the impression that they don’t care about supporting their games. Which makes people reluctant to try their games.
The only game that has a small following is KoW (and it has more to do with the end of Warhammer than anything else).
I hope that perception changes, but I can’t say it’s not their fault.
I really wish it wasn’t the case. Especially with the introduction of historical army rules for use with KoW fantasy armies. If there was a community I’d be jumping in with my Republican Romans, or Greek Hoplites, or any of the amazing hard plastic historical kits I wish I could make use of.
Up to now I’ve been largely positive about Mantic’s games and have backed several. There’s no dispute here you get a lot of bang for your buck, BUT…
I’ve felt the quality of the games themselves has declined and I’ve struggled to find the same degree of innovation and polish in Deadzone and recently Dungeon Saga that I did with Dreadball. Is that down to being jaded as a result of each kickstarter rapidly following it’s predecessor or genuinely because they have been rushed?
Answer: I don’t know, but I do know I haven’t backed Star Saga because it feels to me they have moved on already and have little intention to further develop Dungeon Saga. That might be completely wrong but it’s how Mantic now come across to me.