Nottingham, late 70s
The cold war is in full swing, we're all going to fry the world over in a big mushroom cloud, it rains all the time in England. It's the time of D&D and there are no BBS yet (hands up if you ever posted to one of those....ugh!)
A little known group of mates earns the rights to TSR's D&D behemoth in Europe. The found a cottage industry miniature design company, Citadel Miniatures, to produce miniatures for roleplaying games.
Fast forward to the late 80s (it still rains a lot, in England) and we have a wealth of licenses at GW's fingertips. Gary Gyrax reckons the two should merge but the GW stable know they're on a winner. Warhammer is cool. It's dark, it's gothic, yet it's tongue in cheek, it's highly imaginative. Rogue Traders span the galaxy, Marines are reminiscent of Vietnam US soldiers smoking weed and killing Orks. It's all very cool and innocent fun.
A few names pop into the the fold over the years - Ian Livingstone, Steve Jackson, John Peake (they were there from the start though, so that's kind of cheating)....Mike McVey, Rick Priestley, Andy Chambers, Jervis Johnson, Gavin Thorpe, Alessio Cavatore, Jake Thornton. And many others
To those who don't know them, these are the guys who, in various roles, designed WHFB (and its various derivative games) and WH40k (in its many, many incarnations, too) from the GROUND UP. Miniatures and all.
They came up with the idea of having a magazine (first Owl and Weasel, then White Dwarf) and back then there was no internet (there were BBSs by this stage, though...oh and ICQ!)
Their mail order service, known as the Mail Order Trolls, was helpful, knowledgeable and impeccable - as impeccable as Trolls can be, anyway!
Fast forward again to 1991 and the mood changes. An MBO (Management Buy Out) sees a focus away from creativity into running the company as a business. Good or bad, with the tension caused by having thousands of people on the payroll the world over and the falling profits due to videogames (yup, we've got the first internet by this stage!) and trading card games, the slow death of roleplaying games and the opening of Eastern economies, the whole demeanor of GW changes. They're in the worm hole that is capitalist doctrine now - not necessarily a bad thing per se, after all the Cold War is now over and YUP, the West (that's us!) won it. But the names you read before? They all get ousted or leave little by little to be replaced by a new brand of game designer, of retailer, of Mail Order Troll.
Cue 2010 MANTIC GAMES is on the scene. We're still in Nottingham - fancy that!
They've got a mag, they've got miniatures, they've got a mail order service. They've got a few of those names from above, indeed...- Mike McVey, Gavin Thorpe, Alessio Cavatore, Jake Thornton. And many others.
So I ponder, now, after this little history lesson of sorts - is Mantic worth checking out. Are we on the bottom rung of a NEW miniatures range and gaming system birth?
If these are SOME of the blokes who made GW what it is - ie designed its setting, its rules, its factions, everything you think you know and love about your favorite world was made by these guys - then shouldn't their new company be bound to produce quality?
I'd like to know what others think of this, too.
Me, I've just bought the two Dwarf King's Hold board games as I'd like to sample the miniatures and see how the system holds up. Has anyone else thought about if this could be the new GW rising like a phoenix from the ashes of a capitalist takeover where the "fun" has left and the rain continues, that won't change, across the grey skies of Nottingham?