We find out why Kings of War: Armada from Mantic Games is making waves ahead of its launch this November.
Mantic Games – the publisher behind games like Hellboy: The Board Game, The Walking Dead: All Out War and Dungeon Saga – recently made a big splash after announcing Kings of War: Armada. This is a new fantasy naval game in which two or more players command a fleet of detailed resin ships and battle it out across 10 different scenarios.
Keen to find out more about Armada, we spoke to Mantic’s studio manager, Matt Gilbert about what retailers can expect from the launch in November.
WHAT IS ARMADA?
Armada is a naval wargame set in the same world as Kings of War. Since we launched Kings of War, we’ve had numerous requests from players that wanted to see two types of fantasy games. The first was a skirmish game, so we scratched that itch with Vanguard, and the second was a ship-based game. We often work quite closely with Warlord Games, another Nottingham-based miniatures company, and they had recently released Black Seas, which went on to be an immediate best-seller. So, rather than trying to write our own naval game from scratch, we teamed up with Warlord to base Armada on the core rules of Black Seas. Without the need to write an entire game from scratch, it meant we could spend time playtesting to get the factions nicely balanced and also work on creating 10 scenarios for people to play through.
The finished product is a game that will feel familiar to Black Seas player, but we’ve streamlined the rules slightly, and added in some typical fantasy elements, like magic, and big sea monsters! Games typically feature between six to nine ships and last under two hours.
WHAT ARE THE MAIN DIFFERENCES BETWEEN BLACK SEAS AND ARMADA?
Some terminology has changed, either as part of the general write-up of the rules or in-line with other changes and alignment to existing games. The modifiers and scores required to hit (shooting and combat) are reversed from Black Seas to match Mantic’s other games. This meant that the damage is tracked is also reversed (you accumulate damage up, rather than marking it down). We wanted to make sure that Mantic fans felt like they were playing a Mantic product.
Black Seas had potentially quite complicated wind rules, so we’ve made them optional, rather than a key part of the game. Instead, the full wind rules are presented after the main rules, so that people can learn the other game mechanics and then introduce the fickle element of wind later, if they wish.
They way fleets are constructed is different to Black Seas, and there are magical upgrades available too. Each fleet also gets some unique rues, upgrades and named captains – again, we wanted this to feel more like our other games, particularly Vanguard or Kings of War.
WHAT FACTIONS WILL BE AVAILABLE AT LAUNCH?
During the launch period we’ll have four factions – Basileans, orcs, dwarfs and Empire of Dust. In November we’re focusing on two factions and the two-player set features the pious Basileans and marauding orcs. Then we’ll be quickly following it up with the stoic dwarfs and undead Empire of Dust. We’ve worked really hard with our sculptor Luigi on making sure each of the armies feels totally unique – not just in how they play, but also in how they look. For example, the Basileans are the wealthiest human nation in Pannithor so their ships are grand affairs with incredible sculptures at the prow and even cathedrals on some of the larger boats. Meanwhile, the orcs aren’t natural ship builders, so they have to rely on the erratic but inventive goblins to make their boats for them. This means they’ve given them fairly ludicrous weapons, like huge drills and grabbing claws. In fact, they look a little more like floating rubbish heaps!
We’ll be making the boats in resin using our in-house resin team, so that means we’re able to push the detail to a really high level. Even if you never plan to play the game, we’re sure hobbyists will enjoy painting these amazing ships.
HAVE YOU GOT PLANS FOR MORE FLEETS IN THE FUTURE?
Absolutely! We’ll be boosting the initial factions with extra-large ships early in the new year, but we’ve got more factions in development already. It’s been a great experience to look at the existing Kings of War factions and think what their fleet might look like.
OBVIOUSLY MEETING FACE TO FACE FOR GAMING HAS BEEN IMPACT BY COVID, HAS IT BEEN HARD FOR PLAYTESTING A NEW GAME?
Of course, it has been much harder to meet face to face in order to play, but we created a special Vassal module so that our playtesters could play online. In some ways, this was a great way to test, as it meant that people from all the world could play together and we got a real mix of play styles. Even once we can return to face-to-face gaming, I think we’ll continue to use online simulators to help with testing.
FINALLY, WHY SHOULD SOMEONE PLAY ARMADA?
Well, who hasn’t wanted to ram a giant mechanic drill into the side of a ship with a cathedral on it, while simultaneously casting magic spells and trying to capture a giant sea monster that’s the size of a house?!