XIII follows XII.

Happy new year to you all. I hope 2013 brings you everything that you could wish for. Before we completely consign 2012 to history, I wanted to run a quick appraisal of a part of the last year that caught my attention. Rather than write a complete review of last year, which was - in terms of the Isstvan blog - quite a remarkable one, I feel I've recapped quite recently on the events that made it quite so extraordinary very recently and wanted to talk about something else. 

As you may well be aware, in November, Kingdom Death launched a Kickstarter campaign for their forthcoming Monster game, hoping to attract funding of US$35,000 to move the prototype into production. With six days left, the amount pledged by independent backers is just shy of the $1m mark. This is extraordinary for a number of reasons, not least the difference in the initial goal and the amount pledged, but, for me, more due to the popularity of the unique imagery that Kingdom Death have developed in their quest to capture their vision of a true 'nightmare horror'. 

On their website, the company state that, "We want to create a board game experience that underscores the brutal physical and mental torment of surviving in a world where people are the struggling bottom of a monstrous ecology." Rather than achieve this through allusion or innuendo as so many other mainstream gaming companies are forced to due to their demographic make-up, Kingdom Death have been absolutely uncompromising, and uncompromisingly adult, in their choice of themes: body horror, abjection, psychological terror (there aren't many gaming companies who would choose to utilise some of the psychological horror of pregnancy as an in-game trope, for example). These themes could so easily be terribly realised but Kingdom Death have enlisted the finest of the finest sculpters in bringing their vision to life (Jacques-Allexandre Gillois's Scribe and Phoenix, and Allan Carrasco's Forge God easily being amongst my miniatures of the year). To have these uncompromising themes so welcomed and embraced by gamers marks an interesting development in the continued emergence of a true gothic gaming scene.

The development of the Kingdom Death vision over the past few years has been a delight to witness, even if I don't necessarily like everything that they've produced, and have some criticism of some of their miniatures; however, I think they're quite possibly the closest example of a company working within that 'golden age' idea that I tentatively sketched out on the Isstvan side-bar so long ago now. There's a marked singularity of vision and purpose to the project and I think it's testament to that vision that they've far exceeded their initial financial goal. Given that the company has also name-checked Warhammer Quest as one of the games that they cut their gaming teeth on, and hope in some small way to emulate in Monster, I'm really genuinely excited about the release of the game and to continue watching the developments that this singularity of vision has given. 

In entirely unrelated news, I compiled a list of my top ten albums of 2012 - this seems like a peculiar thing to stick into a blog on miniature gaming, although I've learnt this year that there seems to be a bit of cross-over in the tastes of the people who read these witterings so I thought I'd share (maybe it's a similarly gloomy outlook; Spiky Rats and FPOA at least should like much of this), in no particular order:

Actress - R.I.P;
Carter Tutti Void - Transverse;
Dead Rat Orchestra - Guga Hunters of Ness;
Godspeed you! Black Emperor - Allelujah! Don't bend! Ascend!;
Haxan Cloak - The Men Parted the Sea to Devour the Water;
Liars - WIXIW;
Radoslaw Kurzeja - Lake or Sad War;
Rainforest Spiritual Enslavement - Black Magic Cannot Cross Water;
Silent Servant - Negative Fascination;
Swans - The Seer;


Next up for me is a trip back to Nottingham in February to continue with the Yggdrassilium games, so expect some more details on my clan of devolved Navigators over the next few weeks, as well as my continued ruminations of the machinations of (playing) Inquisitor Thaddeus Velk.

Happy new year!


  1. Kingdom Death's portrayal of women is a bit much, don't you think? Jeez. Some of those monster sculpts are just silly amounts of awesome though. The Lion God is great, even with its weird dick-tail. And I shall enjoy myself discovering this music too...

  2. I love their pinup figs. Women sculpted in obvious and delightful womanly-forms. Pinups to tantalise - and to ignire should a Kickstarter pledger not choose to want for them. (Personally I want ALL of them.)

    That aside, I am also a firm fan of almost everything Kingdom Death have released to date. Their vision of a dark and twisted non-reality is the kind of warped storytelling my roleplay GM'ing tends to be like. Though I'm not sure that's such a positive thing.

    Can't wait, seriously, to read and see, more on Velk. Get to it sirrah!

  3. I have to agree with phiq. The women are a bit too voluptuous for my liking too, but I guess the idea is to hit the mainstream markets in a way. I've seen these kind of minis are always sold out in CMON shop, so thereis a serious demand for this line of style.

    Another thing that bothers me is the anime-ish style of the art, especially in the case of pin-ups. Don't get me wrong, the standard is very pro, but somehow it feels like off-place. Maybe it's the lack of blood and guts ;) I remember the time I was interested in Anime/Manga, but when it started to influence too much for my style, I decided to abandon it. Still enjoy reading some of the violent and gory Mangas though...

    Other than that, the concept looks great - and extraordinarely mature. I'll be tracking for where this will be going. Thanks for the hint, Fulgrim!

    1. Hey Ize, I think we posted simultaneously earlier: see below with regard my opinion on the female sculpts. As for the art-work, I've been thinking about this today, and in some ways I agree, although I'd become a bit blind to it, taking it instead as the default illustrative style for most new gaming companies.

      I've been thinking (and talking to various people) about this for a while and had simply put it down to the fact that major art schools in the UK (and as far as I'm aware the US) no longer teach anatomy, life-drawing, illustration techniques or even, really, any basic skills. The void left by this move seems to have been filled by people self-teaching using how-to-draw comic and anime style books, which is why this style seems to be so ubiquitous.

      I admit, this style doesn't really distract me too much with Kingdom Death: I think largely as most of the art-work I've seen thus far has been of single characters on white backgrounds. I wonder if 'in world' imagery in this style would start to grate. An example of where this has really niggled is within all the Infinity books: I think Infinity is one of the best games I've ever played - it's sophisticated, responsive, creative and so well realised, naturally this is aided by the beautiful miniatures, but I absolutely loathe the art-work in the books, it really sours the game setting for me and sits at odds with the sophistication of the game and the miniatures, to the point where I've never sat down and managed to read a book from cover to cover without getting disheartened or distracted.

  4. Funnily enough, you've both picked up on the only things that I dislike in the Kingdom Death output, in slightly different ways. Personally, I don't like the Pin-Up miniatures, and in general I'm not that keen on that kind of pin-up aesthetic being used by miniatures companies. That said, though, Mr. Poots seems to be a pragmatist, knows that this kind of imagery is still massively popular and has decided to produce a range of (separate, collectible) miniatures in order to further fund his company's output. It seems like a sensible business decision, all in all, even if I don't personally like them.

    What I do like, though, is that the pin-up range are explicitly separate, and really only for those who like that kind of miniature. Far too many miniatures companies still use that pin-up aesthetic for their female characters, and offer no alternative. At least KD have chosen to keen those miniatures as a sideline.

    That said, though, that brings me on to my other problem: I think some of the anatomy of their standard female miniatures is still a bit skewed. It's good to see that their female miniatures have clearly been sculpted on a completely different armature (rather than being thin males with breasts), but some of the proportions are still well off: the hips, breasts and buttocks are a bit silly, which I think is a shame given the level of radical departure their other output shows from the norm.

  5. Hey Fulgrim , I only recently took notice of the Kingdom death game , the excellent miniature sculpts and disturbing Gothic horridness beeped onto my radar. I think you sum up the positive and negative very well , the pinups although sculpted very well do not fit within the style that it has developed. or are rather not to my personal taste. It is refreshing to see this idea doing well as you say as it shows that the community is more than ready for a more mature orientated hobby experience. I also notice this aspect with the dark age miniatures or mierce miniatures as they are now known.

    If the game itself is half as good as the boutique models it will be something to behold , although pleasing folks with models is easier than pleasing folks with rules I think. I look forward to seeing more imagery / stories regarding its world.


    1. Hey Neil, happy new year.

      Good point on the Dark Age miniatures. They can be hit and miss, but they've a definite adult demographic in mind. I used them to build my Necromunda Scavvy gang due to their excellent selection of raggedy malcontents (including an excellent selection of female miniatures in that style). I hadn't realised they'd changed their name, I wonder if they'd gone for a relaunch again?

    2. yes as far as I can tell a new relaunch set for this year Dark lands


      incorporating all there existsing minis in a holistic environment dark age britain and the norse. i picked up a Eric longaxe for Crimbo ;-)

    3. oops my bad i am mixing up dark age minis with Darkland ;-)

      although i do still like the Brom inspired dark age minis ..

    4. Oooooh, o-kay - yes, I know the miniatures that you mean now that I've had a look again. Yes, definitely a selection of more adult-themed miniatures in there, although many of them I don't like so much. I've always felt like that company skirted a bit too close to GW's IP there, too, almost making alternatives to GWs output - I don't believe that they're breaching IP per se, but they have at least a couple of toes over that fine line between fantasy archetype into GW archetype.

    5. I agree close to bone regarding ideas .. although beast men are hardly Gw ip.. wikipedia states " The concept originated with the Broo of Glorantha in the 1978 first edition of Runequest"

      But that is not the whole story either I have seen many forms of the beastman ideology that goes way back .. like the Christian baphomet the results of misspelled Mohamed and even greek and celtic mythology. have half mangoats/ox But its clearly been used as a rival to GW in this context. I guess I like the fact they have chosen to concentrate on the elements of the old world that GW do not bother too much with , Albion and Norse ideas and some greek stuff.. which of course are just europe in the dark ages. All though the miniatures are hit and miss with regards to style or uniformity.If not all beautifully sculpted. I do like the idea of the cymru though very clever.

  6. although the ratlike skaven is pretty much a clear infringement and even the balor sculpts look like a cross between dark elves and vampires of the oldworld.

    1. It's the Queen of Ker-Ys that bothers me.