Monday, April 14, 2008

Alkemy in Review

What's this? Two posts in two days? Heresy!

Well, I'm getting better at being regular (gross!), and I hope to have this bizarre trend continue. Today I talk about a new miniatures game made by a French gaming company called Kraken Editions. The game is called Alkemy, and it's pretty cool.

I first found out about this game not even a week ago. A friend brought some into the game shop I work at and offered to sell me a starter box for the Kingdom of Avalon. I bought it, and I just assembled the models today. Here's some pictures.

This is one of the two Avalonian Recruits you get in the box.

Here's another one

The Legate-Knight Garlan de Brall

One of the Avalonian Recruits finished

The second Avalonian Recruit finished

An Avalonain Crossbowman

A Countryside Priest

And the whole lot of 'em together.

Note, all the models have Dark Age-style bases on them. They did not come with the models, I chose to put them on because the models looked really cool, and I think Dark Age-style bases make models look better. The bases that the models came with were slotta bases like the ones GW uses but with a smoother, shinier, rim.

As you can see the models aren't metal; they're plastic. What plastic? I don't know. I used superglue at first because I wasn't sure if my Citadel Modelling plastic glue would work because it's a polystyrene cement, and only works with certain types of plastic. I eventually decided to test it out and used the plastic glue to do half of the models. I'll test them when they're dry to see if it worked; but I imagine this will be difficult to determine because the models are snap-together.

That's right, snap together. All the different fit snugly into each other like you'd witness amongst the higher-end prepainted plastic models (By which I pretty much just mean AT-43 and Confrontation). Indeed these plastics aren't like the kind you'll see with Citadel plastics, these ones aren't on a spure. In fact, they're cast just like metal models, but in plastic. I don't know much (read: anything) about casting models, but this is pretty neat to think about, because people like plastic for it's convertability, and if the models are cast a similar way to metal models, the pieces might not be constrained to the 'sprue-barrier'.

The models look awesome too (as you may be able to tell, with better photography, here). I was initially attracted to the Medieval, French, look to the soldiers, and the miniatures didn't disappoint. All the detail looks really fine, not as fine as lead Rackham models look, but about as fine as a plastic Citadel Miniature looks today. I was also impressed that I could build a large part of the models and not have to worry about covering up detail. All the shields are held out from the body, which not only allow some deft brush movements, but look dynamic as well. As for those parts where I couldn't help but cover up detail? Who cares? They're snap in! I'll paint it then glue it, and not have to worry about losing any pieces.

There are still a couple of problems with the models, though. For one, some of the pieces were bent. They weren't just bent like some banners, or swords from a blister pack containing a metal model are, they were bent in a style that's reminiscent of some of the prepaints. That annoying bend that wont straighten no matter what you do. How many times have you bought a D&D Miniatures booster pack only to have a model leaning over his base as though he were toppling over? While this only happened with a couple of the weapons, it's still annoying, and I've never had another plastic model with bent components right out of the box. Also, I noticed some pitting on the inside thigh of one of the Avalonian Recruits. I'm hoping primer will cover this up. In the back of my mind I know I should try and putty this, but you have to twist my arm to get me to putty anything.

Overall, I can't wait to paint these.

The game looks cool. I've read the rulebook in English (and German) that's availiable from their site (German), and I have a hard-copy of the rulebook in French that came with the box. In fact, everything's in French... Which is funny only because I'm wei about it. I know that it's a French game, and that it shouldn't be weird, and that they'll get around to doing an English book eventually, I just find it funny that I look at these cards and rules and have no clue what any of it means. For those of you who are wondering I missed the 'exclusively French' phase of Rackham. In fact, I came into Rackham's games around the time that they were making some serious headway in English-speaking markets , North America especially.

Anyways, the rules are neat. Combat is done using a card system, where you choose your action in secret, and show it to you opponent who has also chosen a combat action. You then resolve the combat actions depending on what both of you played. I've been toying with a card-based action combat system for a while, but couldn't make it work. For those of you who remember the Warhammer Warriors books that Black Library did in the very late '90s you'll know the sort of system I was working on.

As for the die-rolling, you only roll one set of dice for hitting and damaging. The dice look like something out of Doom: The Boardgame, or Descent. There's six dice colored white, yellow, and red; and they all have numbers and weapon symbols on them. The colors depend on how heavily wounded you are: unharmed being white, damaged being yellow, and heavily wounded being red. Not only do the dice tell you if you hit or not with the numbers, but the weapon symbols correspond to a chart on your unit's card which will tell you how much damage you do to your target depending on what combination of symbols come up.

The game itself is a skirmish game along the lines of Confrontation 1, 2, or 3 (3.5... Whatever...), with alternate activation and action points. For those of you who played the VOR family of games (VOR, Warzone, Chronopia, Dark Age, and (to a lesser extent) VOID/Metropolis/Urban War) spending an action point to move, another to shoot, and a third to move again before handing off initiative to your opponent will seem familiar. I have yet to play a game; but once they're painted I will, and I'll let you all know how it went, along with my firsthand impressions.

I haven't had much time to digest the background of Alkemy because I've been too busy digesting the background of HORDES and Dark Age; but it looks pretty cool. Except for the cat-people, that is. I don't even care if I offend a reader of this blog, cat-people, are bad, bad people. Beast-people, are perfectly fine, and dog-people are pushing it, but cat-people? *shudder*

Anyways, don't be fooled by the ninjas, or French Knights, it is a fantasy game populated by four races/factions: The Kingdom of Avalon, The Jade Triad, The Khaliman Republic(ugh!), and the Aurlok Nation. Like I said, I don't know much about the world, but from what I do know is that the Kingdom of Avalon worship an evil Tree-Daemon that they don't know is evil. It's also infecting them, turning them into mutant dryad-people. This I like; this I dig. I can get behind this game.

Overall, I'm pretty pumped to start painting, and playing this game. I'm sure that the low amount of models needed to play this game wont distract me from the 'Big Five' that take over my gaming life (Epic, Warhammer, WARMACHINE/HORDES, Dark Age, and 40K), but will still provide something new to keep me invigorated in the hobby. I'll post pictures as I paint them, and let you know of any gaming impressions.


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