Thursday, 18 August 2011

King Not Included

Mantic Games has a reputation in these parts for sticking one finger up at Games Workshop whenever the opportunity arises. Their main product line at the moment is the Warhammer-baiting tabletop wargame Kings of War, but they also have a boxed board game called Dwarf King's Hold, which is not at all like a fantasy version of Space Hulk.

Oh. Okay.

I had some spare cash lying about, so I decided to get the dwarves-versus-undead version of the game -- there's another with orcs against elves -- figuring that even if the game was rubbish I'd still get a box of decent miniatures.

The undead miniatures are very good indeed. They have lots of detail and despite being multi-part kits it is not at all difficult to assemble them, although I could imagine putting an entire army together would soon become tiresome. The dwarves are simple two-part kits but they are, by ironic contrast, a right pain in the oubliette. They look like they should clip together just like the Space Marines and Orcs in the first boxed edition of Warhammer 40,000, but the pieces don't line up together well at all, with quite a bit of chopping and filing required. Even then the resulting model will have lots of gaps, although they tend to be on the underside of the figure or behind detail, so it could be worse. It's also something of a shame that Mantic didn't include proper bases for the figures as while they are quite stable in most cases, there are a couple with unbalanced poses.

The dungeon tiles are nice and thick -- although not as chunky as the current Space Hulk board pieces -- and the art is good. It would be nice if there was a way to lock the pieces together, but untethered tiles allow for more flexible dungeon layouts and they don't move around too much in play.

The game itself is good fun, playing a little like Space Hulk. It plays quite fast, and we ran through the first two missions, swapping sides each time, in a couple of hours. The rules are simple but have plenty of room for tactical options, and the game as a whole seems much more balanced than Space Hulk ever was. My only criticism at this early stage is that the game only supports two players, although I suppose you could split the models amongst multiple people.

Even if Dwarf King's Hold: Dead Rising were no good, at least it would still be a box of qood quality dungeon tiles and miniatures that my group could use in other games. As it happens, it's a fun, lightweight game that just so happens to also be a box of useful stuff; I don't think I'll ever delve into Mantic's wargames, but if they continue to produce small, self-contained games like this, then I'll be interested.


  1. One of GW's best games was Warhammer Quest, which never saw a second printing, I imagine this is a nod to that as well as Space Hulk. I'd be very interested in hearing more about your games with this, it looks pretty cool.

  2. It's not as complex as something like HeroQuest, let alone Warhammer Quest. The individual missions add some wrinkles in terms of different victory conditions and the odd new dungeon feature -- to win the first mission, the dwarves have to spend a turn searching a tomb, but there's no mechanic involved, other than missing a turn -- but otherwise it's kept pretty simple, which makes it fast in play.

    The designer also did Lost Patrol for -- surprise! -- Games Workshop, and it's that kind of complexity; were it not for the price and the quality of the components, you'd probably call Dwarf King's Hold a minigame.

    I will update as I play more of the missions, and if I can get my head around the balance, I might design some missions of my own.

  3. Oh, and in terms of bases, you can see the, er, basic ones in the dwarf picture; they're part of the mould, and the proper bases then have a circular depression into which to drop them. The skeletons have the same arrangement, but for some reason Mantic have Photoshopped the bases out of the gameplay picture towards the top of the post.

  4. Mantic bases can be got here, £1 for 10, cheaper in bulk.

    I didn't realise this was Space Hulkesque, I'd assumed it was closer to Heroquest. That actually makes me more likely to pick it up especially as we played SH last Friday for the first time in absolutely ages and throughly enjoyed it. (True comment from the eight year old nephew - Can we play Space Hulk more than just twice a year?)

  5. If I had to pick a game that it most resembled, Space Hulk would be it.

  6. Well, now you've said Space Hulk...

    I've just splurged £70 on a hunch that I'll like a cartoon fantasy pirate game, but it was a close run thing with Dwarf Kings Hold.

    But now you've said Space Hulk...


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