I was pretty excited by Mantic's Armada and picked up the starter as well as a few extra fleets. When I saw the Twilight Kin models, I had mixed feelings - the hulls were incredibly cool looking, but the sails were just... uninspired. To have these half organic, half wooden beasts prowling the seas of Pannithor... But powered by conventional sails that look like nearly every other navy? Seemed a real missed opportunity. Then I got my Reaper Bones V kickstarter. With lots, and lots of dragons... I'd been messing around with casting pieces for kitbashing, and I thought: now here's a project!
So off I went....
When the models came and I got a closer look at them, it was a little disappointing. It was clear that the model maker just drafted up half a ship, and then reproduced the exact same mirror half to complete the ship on the other side. I get why one might typically do this - with a normal sailing ship, I doubt I'd notice - but with the swirling amorphous hull/monster of these ships, it doesn't work as well. And it turns out it's not entirely a half-monster, half-ship - much of that amorphous mass is supposedly their "shroud" which protects them from long distance shooting. There are little faces throughout the fog, presumably evil spirits or the souls of defeated sailors, who knows? But it doesn't look *quite* as awesome as I'd imagined it would.... I wish they'd taken a little more time to make sure the port and starboard sides of the ships weren't mirror images. The models would have benefited a lot from just a little more design work.. Including different sails!
Here's what the original kits looked like (photos from Miniature Market):
After a few false starts and miscasts, I had enough dragon wings to get me going. Most are from Reaper Bones recent dragons, but the mail sail for the Assassin and the smaller second sail for the butcher is a cast of the Dragon Hybrid from the new Descent boardgame.
In general, I love how they came out. By luck, the wings were just about perfect for the ships (I had initially thought I would be sculpting and casting my own handiwork, and I am *not* a sculptor!!) so I was grateful to have the "heavy lifting" already done. But it still bums me out that Mantic are now starting to charge 'premium' model prices (for those less familiar with Mantic, they used to be known as 'the poor man's games workshop' - not really the best descriptor, but their prices tended to be much better than their competition) and their models frequently just aren't quite there. Not just the art aspect (the mirror image thing was a mistake with this fleet!), but the quality too. The resin still had the odd bubble, and a few pieces broke immediately. If I'm going to be paying >$100 (MSRP $140) for around 10 ship models (some are quite small), I want them to be very nice.
And finally, they didn't give much thought to how to package the fleets. To play Armada, you need one Main Battle ship for every support ship. But the TK
have two large (and expensive) Main Battle Ships, and one medium Main Battle ship - all the rest are support. And in this pile of resin, I only got one medium main battle ship. You should have at least 2 or 3 of these less expensive, smaller Main Battle ships to get enough 'unlocks' to have good fleetbuilding options. But right now, the only way to do that would be to buy more Starter Fleets, and get many duplicates of ships you'll never use. The main starter set comes with one Main Battle ship, and five (!) support ships. There was nothing "starter" about it.... That kind of mess up just leaves me scratching my head. Mantic will probably release individual ships eventually (they have for the other navies), but to box up the TK
at launch in a way to make them unuseable (without proxying) was also another snub. Mantic, if you reading: please give this a bit more thought in your future releases!
I'm still keeping my eye on upcoming fleets, and may yet get more, but I'm hoping that future fleets improve in terms of art style, manufacture, and helpful packaging of a "real" starter set.