Exodus Wars: Fractured Empire

So I’ve stumbled across a noble undertaking by an Australian developer called Membraine Studios who are in the process of developing a turn based strategy game for PC & Mac based on Exodus Wars by Steel Crown Productions.

The jist is this: There are no shortage of RTS games. There are also no shortage of turn based hex/tile strategy games. What there isn’t is a, for want of a better term, a virtual table top wargame.

What’s the point? you may ask, and you’d be forgiven for doing so as the fun of table top gaming is building and painting your toys and then sicking them on your opponent across a hand-made board. However, as Mark Sheppard pointed out in a guest blog post over on Gamasutra, in a modern world we all have a hell of a lot less free time than we use to do anything let alone build, paint and play toy soldiers.

I can certainly vouch for this. I still haven’t built the Contemptor Dreadnoughts I bought at Salute in April. I’m also lucky to game once a month because of the time and faff it can often involve just getting the right people in the room at the same time.  It’s a valid argument but I think there’s a fundamental point that isn’t being acknowledged – which is the same reason why any video game of a wargaming IP gets our community all of a flutter – which is seeing the units that we shuffle around the board tearing the living shit out of each other in beautiful computer animation. THQ’s Space Marine is a prime example. The plot was flimsy, some of the artistic licence was a joke but nothing could distract you from the fun of manging the living shit out of Orks.

There’s also the added benefit of not only playing people you know, but, presumably, other wargamers from local communities or further afield without contending with the ‘wanky gamers’ and the teenage body odour that so often is found in wargaming clubs.

And that’s the point of Exodus Wars. It’s all the hard-core strategy of a turn based, tabletop, wargame with all the shiny animations but without that sense that a unit is just moving from one square to another ala the Civ games or the long forgotten Warhammer 40,000: Rites of War. Which was broken. And shit.

Plus there’s the added bonus of fielding massive armies, without having to worry about the cost, on beautifully presented battlescapes without having to go to the trouble of building them. Granted, for many, that is all part of the fun but few can deny the appeal of having the freedom to create and customise a, theoretically, limitless army and fling it at your opponent. Of course the important thing for Membraine to remember is keeping forces balanced. It’s all well and good having tank divisions at your disposal or titan-esque constructs stomping about the place, but it renders infantry moot – which was a problem that the Command & Conquer games never got the handle of (who can say tank-rush?). Wars are fought and won by the might of combined arms and there in lies the challenge for all game writers – lots of variety but none of it gaming winning on their own.

The point is that Exodus Wars Fractured Empire is the truest recreation of a turn based tabletop wargame that has ever been attempted. All the best bits of a night with The Chaps playing toys but with all the fun of getting to see stuff getting blowed up in real-time. It’s a big challenge especially as the temptation would be to recreate gaming boards as you or I would have them due to budget, our ability to build terrain or allowing for the limitations of the model. Regular players of Warhammer 40,000 will know all about that, especially – ironically – when using GW’s multi part plastic kits.

As well as nice looking – customisable – units it’s really important for games of this nature to take the best from the medium it’s using in the form of convincing, interactive, environments. Especially as it’ll give the game a crucial tactical edge that’s actually very difficult to represent in table top games without lots of mucky rules. And considering the big bastards the game is offering, shown below, something to hide behind is definitely useful.

So it’s all rather splendid then. Yes and no. Yes in that it looks awesome and you can see the boys of Membraine are heading in the right direction. But no in that a super niche product doesn’t have publishers beating at Membraine’s door, – although I might so I can blag a job – so they have come to our extraordinary little community for assistance in making Exodus Wars: Fractured Empire a reality.

There’s no shortage of companies doing Kickstarter or Indiegogo campaigns but I think this is genuinely worth a look and a few quid if you can spare it. Take a look at the videos below and if you think it deserves a shot you can review Membraine’s campaign information here. Just bear in mind it’s far from finished but you’ll get the idea of the potential the game has at this early stage.

300th Post – The #warmongers

So this is quite a landmark. 300 posts. When I started this blog at the end of July last year I had intended it to be little more than articles about my hobby to actually make me do the hobby, the odd painting tutorial and a few rants about whatever was going on in the hobby at the time. I never dreamt that The Shell Case would have the readers it does or I’d find myself amongst such a thriving community as the #warmongers.

Ultimately the reason why I’ve been able to write about all that I have, and review all that I have over the last 299 posts is entirely because of the #warmongers supporting The Shell Case and me. So this post if for the greatest community for the greatest hobby in the world.

So it is with great pride I give you the #warmongers (in no particular order and sorry if I’ve missed you out, I tried my best):

Charging Carnifex ‏ @CharginCarnifex

Matt Gilbert ‏ @Hittin_On_3s

Wargame Website ‏ @WargameWebsite

Dan Cox ‏ @gjinari

Workbench Warriors ‏ @wrkbnchwarriors

Be a #HobbyEnabler

I was reminded of something that Erin (@sixeleven) said to me when I agreed to buy his Warhammer Fantasy rulebook off him, whilst I drove to collect it from the sorting office. He called me his ‘hobby enabler’. Presumably because the coins I parted with were going on something new and shiny that didn’t require the Warhammer Fantasy rule book. If it did then Erin’s a numpty. 😉

This got me thinking about the #warmongers community and how we’re always working on projects and, as a result, quite often looking to sell toys we no longer want, or can suffer to part with, to fund those projects. Because there’s a finite number of games and a finite number of factions within those games it occurs to me that amongst a community as big as ours we could save each other a lot of time and effort by being one another’s #HobbyEnabler.

The principle is simple; if you have some toys to sell pop the information up on the ‘For Sale’ part of The Shell Case forums, or even a blog post if you wanted to, and then post the link on Twitter with the hashtag #HobbyEnabler with a brief description of what it is you’re trying to punt. Folk can then get in touch and you can work out a deal.

The beauty of this idea is that the community is supporting itself by helping one another get new toys – either by buying or funding – which is a win. There could also be instances of a straight swap. Equally there’s no reason why #warmongers couldn’t put a ‘wanted’ post allowing buyers and sellers to find each other more efficiently.

I think it’s an idea that could work so hopefully you’ll all give it a go.

The Noblest of Undertakings

One of our number is doing something a bit special and I urge you all to read the below and then make contact because you get two things out of it. 1. You help save lives and 2. You get some models painted to a bloody good standard.

Leigh Buckett, aka @BigBoyBucky is offering us the opportunity to get some commission models painted and all the proceeds are going to Cancer Research UK. Without laying it on too thick, every one of us knows someone who has either lost the fight or continues to wage war against cancer and it isn’t becoming of a community like ours to not support one of our own who has lost someone dear to them. And, you know, shiny painted toys!

Leigh has got mad skills with a paint brush so sponsor the old boy a tenner and get a character painted up. Simples.

You can check out some examples of his work here – BoyBucky and below is a little fluff from him as to why he’s doing it.

In July 2011 I lost someone to cancer who I loved very dearly and in conjunction with my employer (TK Maxx); I’m on a mission to raise some much deserved money for Cancer Research UK!

My plan is to use the 20+ years of painting toy soldiers for something useful and as such I shall be offering commission painting services between now and April with 100% of all proceeds going to CRUK. Obviously because this is a mission to raise as much money as possible I’d like to stick with single models (characters, monsters, warjacks etc) and as a rule of thumb will be painting them to a “display” standard, i.e. I want to offer the opportunity for people to get a really nice looking model whilst making sure CRUK get some money out of it.

If this interests you and you’d like something painted, please contact me at Locano@hotmail.co.uk for details or find me on Twitter @Bigboybucky. All payments will be done through this site to avoid complications and keep things nice and transparent. I’m happy to foot the bill for the first 10 commissions or up to £250 worth for postage (recorded) back to you, but I’ll obviously expect people to either post to me or if possible; to meet me at Maelstrom Games / Warhammer World if applicable.

You can view his JustGiving page here.