Review: ASOIAF Deluxe Hardcover Rulebook

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I am hard on softcover rulebooks – really hard. When I heard CMON had released a hardcover, deluxe rulebook for the ASOIAF Miniatures Game, I jumped at the chance to pick it up. Priced at ~$25 CAD, it was affordable. My thoughts below …

1.
Expectedly, gorgeous commissioned art and thematic lore make up large portions of the rulebook; unexpectedly, however, painted miniatures (or just about any photos of gaming models) and references to the miniatures game beyond the core rules are completely absent from it. There are a grand total of two pages with painted models on them. Eight unlabelled photos, left out of the book’s table of contents, unceremoniously make up these two final pages of the rulebook. To clarify: that is 2 out of 139 pages devoted to anything resembling painted miniatures and it will take readers 137 pages to even see a glimpse of a painted unit. Why?

 

2.
CMON seems to have mismanaged consumer expectations with the release of their “deluxe rulebook.” Excessively more page space is devoted to pre-production sketches for the rulebook’s own illustrations and concept art than there are to either painted miniatures or gaming tables. If this product was marketed as an art book (akin to what CMON released for their board game Blood Rage), their lavish attention to art and artistic process would be both expected and welcomed. Yet, when I am confronted with a “deluxe” rulebook lacking anything remotely game-related beyond the core rules and two anonymous pages of painted miniatures, it is hard to fully appreciate the art.

 

For a game straddling board game and miniature markets, CMON’s failure to capitalize on showcasing the game’s launch product-line is nothing short of a missed opportunity. For board gamers encountering tabletop miniature gaming for the first time, any introduction to the “hobby” aspect of painting and terrain is unceremoniously swept aside in favour of flashy art. This may ease the transition into miniatures gaming, but the wholesale omission of anything hobby-related comes at the expense of these same new players. Painting guides would help these same new players. Detailed breakdowns of heraldry, etc. as they relate to painting would do the same. For miniature gamers arriving from other systems, even a cursory glance at CMON’s Kickstarter campaign page more effectively contextualizes the game’s launch product-line within its overall gaming system.

 

3.
Whether or not the rulebook’s absence of painted models is a by-product of the Kickstarter funding process, I don’t know. It could very well be that the deluxe rulebook was produced and sent for printing in the midst of pre-production and prior to finalized sculpts.  Nevertheless, Games Workshop’s output of similarly hardcover codices and rulebooks mark a convenient point of comparison. Hallmarks of these texts are images of dioramic gaming tables, painted army shots, and galleries of painted models – in other words, images showcasing the product range in terms of both instruments of gaming and an aspirational aesthetic. At two or three times the price of the ASOIAF deluxe rulebook, this kind of production value is, perhaps, to be expected from GW. More so, GW has a fiscal incentive to foreground these wider aspects of the tabletop gaming hobby as each image naturally coaxes consumers towards an ancillary range of licensed hobby products (paint, brushes, etc.).

Unlike GW, CMON fails miserably in producing any such aspirational aesthetic alongside their product-line. In fact, the rulebook fails to outline any product-line at all. “House Stark,” “House Lannister,” “Neutral,” and “Night’s Watch & Free Folk” are all listed in the rulebook’s table of contents; however, each section is comprised entirely of lore and concept art. No clear link is made between this art and the game itself. Why, for instance, are unit stats not included here? Again, I am led to suspect the deluxe rulebook was sent for printing before units stats and/or miniature sculpts were finalized.

4.

Why is there no narrative campaign established in the rulebook? Even a small mini-campaign would greatly enhance both the playing experience and reinforce the rulebook as an actual gaming supplement. The game’s thematic basis in the ASOIAF universe begs for narrative campaign play; however, beyond the rulebook’s five “game modes,” any kind of meaningful narrative campaign is left entirely absent. Released to CMON’s website in late-October, “The Battle of the Whispering Wood” remains (to my knowledge) the sole narrative scenario produced for the game. Two words: missed opportunity.

Conclusion:
All in all, the Deluxe Rulebook for the ASOIAF Miniatures Game adequately fulfills the task of a durable rulebook for gaming purposes. The lore and concept art is effective and straightforward. Beyond the few pages devoted to rules, it is however, nothing at all distinguishes the “rulebook” as relating to a miniatures game. More attention needs to have been made to both incorporating the anticipated product-line into the rulebook and to introducing players to the game’s potential for narrative campaigns.

It takes more than a respected IP to legitimize a gaming system. What should have been an opportunity to incorporate ASOIAF’s lore into a coherent product-line and gaming system becomes the inverse: a generic overview of art and lore relating to ASOIAF but with little effect on solidifying the gaming system as a focus.

 

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Review: A Song of Ice and Fire: The Miniatures Game

Been excited A Song of Ice and Fire: The Miniatures Game for a long time. recently picked up the Stark Vs. Lannister starter set. Very impressed so far!

And reinforcements have arrived!
(Tully Sworn Shields, Lannister Crossbowmen, Stark Heroes 1,
Neutral Heroes 1, and Lannister Heroes 1)

 

Following this helpful YouTube video, I had a chance to magnetize everything.
5/16 Fender Washers from Home Depot and 10x2mm magnets from Amazon.42969333_483109972176871_2265644099598024704_n

Review: “Orion Tide – Hangar 07 Bases” by Top Down Terrain

I recently ordered a set of 29 “Orion Tide – Hangar 07 Bases” from Top Down Terrain. The base set is MDF and include 2x5mm, 5x40mm, and 22x25mm (along with four clear circular pieces are included for those different model poses). Total price came to 24.99$USD after tracked shipping to Canada and arrived in about two weeks.
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Bought for use with Infinity, but I can see them aesthetically complimenting a number of different gaming systems.The etched detailing looks crisp and is begging for paint. The bases might be a little too clean for games requiring a more grimdark aesthetic, such as Necromunda Underhive.

One cool feature is that Top Down Terrain makes a matching “Orion Tide – Hangar 07 Display Stage w/ Tournament Drawer” if you ever want to make your army into a display diorama in between games. It seems a little pricey, but this luxury product sure does look fantastic if and when you have the extra cash to spend on making your army look its best.

Overall impression:

Quite impressed. Custom bases are never a necessary purchase to play; however, it’s always nice when you can make your army basing look great relatively affordably. It’s nice to have the added benefit of your army basing being diorama compatible down the road if you ever wish to invest more.

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