Nottingham based wargame maker Mantic Games, famous for using Kickstarter for launching many of their games, is founded by Games Workshop’s former Marketing Director Ronnie Renton. Given GW’s litigious reputation it’s no surprise Ronnie has trodden carefully around Games Workshop’s famously guarded intellectual property.
But it also shows how much pent up demand there must have been for plugging obvious gaps, because most of Mantic’s own IPs are only just skirting the edges of the Warhammer universes and filling in the obvious holes rather than doing anything truly original, as if the business plan is ‘We’ll do anything GW have said they aren’t going to do‘.
Games Workshop’s primary universes are the Tolkien-inspired Warhammer, and it’s far future spinoff Warhammer 40,000. Mantic on the other hand has their fantasy based Kings of War universe, and it’s future equivalent, the Warpath universe. Both also dabble in third party licenses – GW’s Lord of the Rings, Mantic’s Mars Attacks and the Walking Dead, while GW also has various older properties it may or may not resurrect one day such as the cyberpunk ‘Dark Future’ universe.
We’ve listed all the ways we’ve spotted Mantic filling those holes and come up with this list. How many others can you find?
- Warhammer 40,000 is set in the far future. The Warpath universe is set in the near future.
- Warhammer has Skaven ratmen, but 40K does not have ratmen in space. Mantic Games has
Space Skavensorry, Veer-Myn
- Warhammer 40,000 has the always awesome Space Hulk. The Veer-Myn were introduced in boxed board game Project Pandora, featuring space ship corridors populated by swarms of enemies hidden in shadows
- The Veer-Myn wear a ‘space mining’ aesthetic. Genestealer Hybrids first appearing in Space Hulk add-on Genestealer also wore a kind of mining overalls, taken to a further conclusion in the recent release of all new Genestealer Hybrids by Games Workshop
- Warpath has spiky mutant Plague zombies. 40K has the forces of Chaos
- GW has HeroQuest, Mantic has Dungeon Saga
- 40K’s power armoured Space Marines are iconic and well protected by trademarks. But that doesn’t stop Mantic’s Enforcers wearing their own unique design of powered armour
- Jetbikes are famously rare and ancient in the 40K universe. So of course Mantic’s Enforcers make liberal use of jetbikes
- Warhammer has Bloodbowl, violent games of american football set in the fantasy world with liberal use of parody and 4th wall breakage. Warpath has Dreadball, violent games of american football set in the future world with liberal use of parody and 4th wall breakage
- Warhammer 40,000 famously no longer has Squats. Warpath has Forge Fathers.
- Warpath has Firefight, not dissimilar to 40K’s Kill Team rule set, as well as Deadzone a skirmish based game (that owes a lot to Infinity as well as it happens)
- 40K has Orks, green skinned, marauding, brutish creatures in spiky metal armour. Warpath has Marauders, green skinned, orcish, brutish creatures in spiky metal armour
- Warpath has not-fishpeople the Sphyr. 40K has not-fishpeople the Tau, who call each campaign to expand their empire an Expansion Sphere
Indeed, it’s pretty hard to find something Mantic have done that isn’t just ‘Warhammer’s thing, but slightly different’. Who knows whether their future lies in being acquired by Games Workshop as it moves to fill out the gaps in their IP portfolio? Games Workshop has turned its business around in the past year, bringing back great customer service, great new products, product bundles that make a big impact on bringing down the cost, and taking bold new moves in how they license their IP, and it seems to be paying off. Mantic on the other hand have struggled recently and lost a lot of key staff, with recent Deadzone Infestation and Dreadball 2 kickstarters being far more problematic than previous releases and customer service degrading.