Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Warpath's 3rd Army Is Revealed

by SandWyrm

A few days ago Mantic gave us some sketches of their 3rd release army for Warpath via Beasts of War. The human "Corporation" troopers.

In their fluff, the Corporation is a Sci-Fi version of the British East India Company. Which famously ran roughshod over India and a large part of the world for some 250 years. The modern, less centralized equivalent to it would probably be the CIA or the international Oil and Mining companies that run roughshod over Africa and South America. Who often use mercenaries (like Blackwater, above) or use their political connections with nations like the US to send in regular ground forces (as in Somalia).

Basically, the company has the task of handling all the messy details of expanding the unnamed human empire into areas controlled by other, less technologically advanced, species. It comes in, gets them hooked on glass beads and mirrors (so to speak), and worms it's way into their governments. Until one day they're dropping nukes from orbit onto your cities if you don't go along with the company's dictates. Unless you're the Forge Fathers (Squats) who have enough military power to maintain their independence.

It's an interesting concept. Much more modern and relevant than the WWI-In-Space roots of 40K. The company created the Orks Orxs by modifying a savage race to serve as shock troops. But the Orxs were harder to tame than the company thought. The company also let an experiment out on the frontier get loose and create the "Plague", or sci-fi undead/zombie mutants. Shades of Firefly's Reavers anyone?

Ronnie and Alessio also said that they want to evoke the feeling of British Troops in modern day Afganistan. Let's see how the sketches hold up:

Eh... sort of meh. It's nothing we haven't seen before (looks-wise) from many, many, many, other sci-fi games. Where's the character that will set these guys apart from the pack?

If the corporation is hiring it's own mercenary troops, then I would expect something like the Blackwater boys at the top of this article. Ball caps, jewelry, non-standard (and more comfortable) clothing worn under 1-2 common issues of combat gear. Probably individually chosen weapons too. You get a lot more choice about things when you're a hired gun that's being paid 4x what an army trooper is and get to sleep and shower in hotels.

Here's some "contractor" characters from The Hurt Locker (very good movie BTW):

Older faces, longer hair, goatees, designer sunglasses, expensive gear, and ATTITUDE. These guys operate outside of any law or oversight. They are the law. It's not shoulder pads and cool guns that will convey this. It's the poses and the faces. The cleanliness. They run around in up-armored Range Rovers, not Humvees. They're hired from all over the world, so you also get Germans mixed with Americans, Russians, Swedes, whatever. It's multi-national.

They don't carry 70 lbs of gear around on their backs because it's stupid and there's no bureaucracy telling them that they have to. That's a regular army thing.

Here's some regular British troops for comparison:

Some of them are just skinny kids.

They look more tired than the contractors. So would you if you had to huff all that gear around. Stuff might be lighter in the future, but that just means that the army can add more crap to the standard kit.

Lots of firepower though. These are the guys you want around in a real fight and not just a quick 5-man raid.

What does a confident regular army vet look like? This guy (also from THL):

Less gear, but still dirty and more burdened with stuff than the contractors. There's confidence, but not cockiness. 

And if you really are trying to re-create the Redcoats of yore...

How about some crossed ammo belts or distinctive hats? If your thing is scaring the hell out of backward aliens, maybe your troops should be more striking and intimidating to look at. Imagine what these guys were like marching into a primitive village in India.

And what about combat drones? Robots are all over modern day warzones. Where's the combat robots? The automated squad heavy weapons and pack bots? There's A LOT of cool stuff out there in real life that we haven't seen in ANY Sci-Fi game yet. Such as:

Anyhow, I like the concept a lot. But the execution shown in these sketches leaves a lot to be desired.


  1. Having met a lot of the Blackwater guys, it's not cool to call retired military going back into warzones to perform activities like diplomatic protectino "Mercenaries." Most of them are pretty patriotic Americans.

    Actually appreciate the article in general, just ... you know ... I work in a related industry and live in DC, so I hear a lot of the "OMG BLACKWATER AND THOSE OTHER COMPANIES IZ MONEY GRUBBIN' MERCS!!11" talk. It's highly inaccurate, and more than a little emotionally damaging to a group of highly trained individuals who almost exclusively do what they do as a service to their country - legitimately. Hate on the tiny handful of bad apples only please.

    <3 (not trying to rabble rouse at all)

  2. To build a little bit on what Mike Brandt said, Hurt Locker is a very inaccurate movie in all aspects, from portrayal of contractors to regular Army to EOD. It doesn't make any reliable comparison to reality of how they actually operate over here.

  3. I'll refrain from making similar comments about your modern day analogies and restrict myself to the main gist of your post. I wholeheartedly agree that Mantic seems to be wasting an opportunity with Warpath. Mantic needs to take advantage of the ability to move in a new direction with the game and make miniatures that stand out instead of giving us 40K counts as with a lower price tag. Instead of giving us a Starship Troopers/Imperial Guard/Colonial Marines rehash they need to give us something we haven't seen before. Unique compelling minis are just as vital to the success fo Warpath as a good ruleset.

  4. Well, Blackwater (they've changed names, right?) and the like -- private military contractors -- are mercenaries. The fact that the word has come to have such negative connotations in the modern world reflects the reputation that mercenaries have built for themselves in the modern age. Which is why they call themselves private military contractors now, and why Blackwater has changed it's name.

    While I'm sure that they are nearly all patriots doing their best in a dangerous job, it would be better for them to try to improve the reputation of mercenaries rather than object to being accurately called by that name.

  5. Private Military Contractors == Mercenaries

    I'm sure their motives differ, but the definition fits. Their pay rates are also well known and a source of ire within the uniformed military.

    I haven't been over there to experience things first hand, but from what I've heard from guys who were, The Hurt Locker nails the attitude perfectly.

    From a game standpoint, it matters less what the reality is anyway. What's important is the character that's conveyed and the appeal of the idea.

  6. I think they've really missed a trick with these guys too.

    If you compare old WW2 uniforms:

    To modern day ones:

    Modern soldiers with all their body armour, webbing, extra radios and whatnot look really "chunky".

    I think they could continue that trend and take it to an extreme for their future troops:

    It'd give them a very distinctive feel.

    They also really do need a wide range of head options. I love the idea of some arabic style headdress options, also gas mask and other cool "extreme enviornment" style options would really offer some great possibilites.

    I guess the main problem they've got is they need to stick to the IG archetypes so GW players can mix and match troops but really it does seem shortsighted.

  7. look ive seen that robotic dog before. and they keep kicking the damn thing. eventually that robot dog is gonna turn into SKYNET.

  8. Correct me if I'm wrong, but aren't there meant to be 2 human factions... the Corporation (more strict militaristic lookin' dudes) and some sort of Rebel force that doesn't like what they're doing (or at least the ways they use)?

    From a design perspective, it would seem that you want these two factions to be very aesthetically different. It also would seem that the look many people are asking for (more minimal gear, more rag-tag, etc) would suite the second faction better, on the whole.

    Of course, I could be completely backward about all of this, as I haven't done much to keep up with Mantic's news recently.

    All that said, I think the ire about models being too similar to Cadians is... in a word... wrong.

    To me the business model seems simple. Free rules and cheap minis encourage people to pick up and play the game. Making said cheaper-than-competition's models similar enough to be used in said competitor's games means they stand to make twice the profit (and makes free rules a moot point, not a loss leader).

    They can still pull out some vastly different and interesting minis for the second faction (of humans, that is), allowing for both premium cross-over potential and individuality.

    Give it some time... this may yet turn into a win-win for everybody.

  9. What's the point? "Mercenaries are cool".

    If so, I disagree.

    They could use some modern robots and vehicles instead of ugly WWII tanks. If they are supposed to be a future corporation instead of the Imperium.

  10. Heavy Weapons teams could be robot units instead. Usable in 40K as-is, or you can play Warpath and move around more.

    It doesn't have to be a straight 1:1 copy of GW.

  11. It doesn't have to be, but there's arguably some pretty safe money in doing just that.

    "It's an interesting concept. Much more modern and relevant than the WWI-In-Space roots of 40K."

    I see it as an evolution of that sort of 'reflections on real conflict' idea - post-colonial wargaming, if you like, rather than wargaming still preoccupied with the dying days of overt colonialism.

  12. Going for almost direct copies of real world troops can be problematic. Which is one reason 40k has survived. It has a lot of similarities with the real world, but nothing too close. There are no worries that there will be a discussion about Blackwater (they really don't have the best of rep by now, be it true or false), nor would I feel bad about playing a certain army because I think they look cool and function great, but once was part of the Nazi Reich.

    This, this feels tired before they've even started. It's not like PP who is doing their own thing and pouring their hearts into the background. Mantic feels more like they are trying to created a board game set of rules and an 80s computer game backstory.

    I could be wrong though, and it could take off and we could get retcons to make things more interesting. We'll have to see. That said I do agree with the post, a more engaging mercenary look would definitely be better. More special forces/foreign legion than regular troops. More heroes, anti-heroes, and villains.


out dang bot!

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