UK Games Expo 2013 - Miniatures Games

UK Games Expo 2013 miniature war games

It’s true to say that the UK Games Expo is a very board game led event. The majority of publisher, game designers and traders were concentrated on board games but that’s not to say the miniature war games weren’t also well represented. Several big names in the UK miniature games market where present and a handful of retailers where selling products, mostly second hand and bits box affairs, as well as our local miniature handling solution; KR Multicases. Not only where the latest moulded resins available but you were never far away from the smell of burnt MDF as there where a surprising number of companies selling laser cut buildings, the standout company for me at the expo was Warmill. Of course, laser cutting suggests sci-fi but there where also many fantasy dungeons and caverns on display which were mainly intended for roleplaying games but where very handsome set ups. Several tournaments where taking place and Saturday afternoon was dominated by the Warmachine and Hordes tournament. Half of the wargames room was taken up by Privateer Press’s steampunk wargame showing that Warmachine has a huge following in this country.

Hawk Wargames - Dropzone Commander

Hawk Wargames Dropzone Commander demo game
Tail-backs on 4th Street appear to be caused by a giant dice blocking the road, dropships are attempting to clear the incident.

Kicking off the UK Miniature presence was Hawk Wargames with Dropzone Commander. Out of the three companies I’m going to talk about Hawk Wargames had the most professional looking stand, with a huge banner, backlit miniatures cabinets and an impressive demo table. Dropzone Commander demos where running constantly and although I didn’t manage to get a game in I was able to spectate quite a lot. The scenario I watched involved a player gaining victory points for getting troops off the board, a concept quite opposed to the games I’m normally used to.

Hawk Wargames Dropzone Commander miniatures

Not only where Hawk selling lots of Dropzone Minis the new Dropzone scenery was available and was selling like hotcakes. The latest miniature prototypes where on display as well as their beautifully painted current models.

Hawk Wargames Dropzone Commander miniatures 2

GCT Studios – Bushido

Unfortunately, I didn’t manage to play a game of GCT Studios’ Bushido either but their stand got me very interested in the game. Bushido is a skirmish game played with a handful of miniatures over a very small area. The game takes its influence from Oriental myths, eastern mysticism and dodgy kung-fu flicks with factions of demons, monks, mystics and some very original takes on the undead. The miniatures on display at the expo where absolutely stunning, some of my favourites being the tortoise riding mystic and the little girl puppet master. With such a small company these miniatures didn’t come cheap but being a skirmish game you don’t need many to play a full game. Not only where the minis beautiful but the demo board was amazing, one of the GCT staff went through how each part was made in excruciating detail and it’s inspiring me to think about my own gaming table.

GCT Studios Bushido Table
This looks even better in real life.
GCT Studios Bushido Bamboo Table
The amount of work that went into just the bamboo walkway is astounding.
GCT Studios Bushido Miniatures
Bushido's undead-esque faction.
GCT Studios Bushido Miniatures faction
Bring out your dead!

Although plenty of minis where available the rules aren’t currently in print, but can be downloaded for free from the Bushido website. This was a shame as I felt GCT could have made a bigger splash if the entire product was available to purchase. The rules release is just around the corner and with a new faction coming soon Bushido is worth keeping an eye on.

Mantic Studios - Deadzone

As I write this Deadzone has just finished its Kickstarter with a massive $1.2million as its final tally. I was lucky to playtest a demo game in a special room set up by As you can imagine the game was in a ’rough & ready’ state with some imagination used to substitute models. The game is advertised as a hybrid of board and miniature games. I would actually say it’s a minis game with all the annoyances usually found in the genre taken out, most notably the tape measure! Movement works by placing your miniature in grids on the board but these grid spaces are rather large, so the game gives plenty of freedom to position your troops how you want without having to worry about exact distances.

Mantic Games Deadzone miniatures
Who's a pretty boy?

Combat is based on a dice pool mechanic with all manner of effects, like lack of cover, elevation and other specific bonuses, adding or removing dice from your pool. When attacking each player rolls a pool of dice, the attacker and defender compare success and for each success the attacker scored more than the defender a wound is caused. Keeping track of the modifiers is confusing at first but I can see how it will become second nature after a couple of games and it makes the entire game flow really well. In addition there are a series of “take that” cards that can be used to apply bonuses, use special equipment or give special powers. Each card has two effects giving you plenty of choice. In the short game I played I wasn’t convinced about the cards, I was struggling to find places I could use them or to see their advantages. However, a well-placed booby trap took out two of the opposition’s troops and when he only started with six that was quite a result.

Mantic Games Deadzone demo game
A little unconventional, but most of it's fresh.

Also on display at the Mantic Games stand were the prototype miniatures and scenery. If the final scenery products look half as good as the demo pieces and you’re a sci-fi mini gamer then it will be worth purchasing Deadzone for the buildings alone. The miniatures also look very good at this point but this should be taken with a pinch of salt as the difference between prototypes and mass produced pieces could be different.

Check out the rest of the coverage from the UK Games Expo.

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