Friday, 24 April 2015

The Maelstrom is coming...

It has been a while since I last looked at my old blogging haunt,, but with the recent AdMech releases for 40k, I've been going back and catching up with some old friends. Poking into the news section is, at the best of times, tempting with all it's new shiny releases to paw over, but last week came with a nice new addition to the gaming circuit.

The owners of Dakka announced that they are just about to step into the gaming market themselves, having spent years running what is arguably one of the biggest gaming sites around. One of the owners has spent a long time producing the INAT tournament rules for 40K, which are apparently highly praised by all who play them... so clearly written rules is going to be a big plus.

They have spent about 5 years working on this behind the scenes with writers, artists, sculptors and painters to produce a complete universe full of plots and warfare with a reason, rather than "because". Here's the official blurb

Maelstrom's Edge is a far future science fiction setting where a golden age of exploration and innovation has been ripped apart and humanity is on the very edge of annihilation. The Maelstrom, a gigantic apocalyptic explosion of dark energy, is rapidly expanding out from the heart of the galaxy, destroying everything it touches. As worlds and stars are obliterated from existence, those who have the means flee towards deep space, while those left behind fight for the chance to escape.

For millennia before this catastrophe, humanity spread across the galaxy at sub-light speed, painstakingly eking out an existence in space and on barely habitable worlds. Then the cybel network was discovered. A gossamer web of dark energy threads stretching between every star, the cybel network allowed humanity to colonise thousands of worlds across the galaxy's spiral arm. All the progress that the cybel network brought, the Maelstrom took away. The Maelstrom erupted from the centre of humanity's worlds a millennium ago, racing down the cybel tunnels, splitting them apart and spilling their destructive energy out into real space.

The Edge is a stormfront, light years wide, where real space meets the Maelstrom’s tide of roiling, coruscating energy. The apocalypse is coming inexorably to every planet on the Edge. In the decades leading up the Maelstrom's arrival, every person is forced to make a choice about how they want to live the remainder of their existence. Unite or divide, give or take, love or hate. Those living on the edge are not bulletproof or elite. They are ordinary people caught up in a bewildering cataclysm, their only goal to survive as best they can.

The destruction wrought by the Maelstrom has led to conflict between many of the remaining organisations and governments. The competing corporations of the Epirian Foundation made their fortunes using advanced robotics and geo-engineering to alter worlds for colonisation. Now as the Maelstrom approaches, the Epirians are forced to abandon these worlds, using their enlisted soldiers and retrofitted robots to defend their interests.

Diametrically opposed to the Epirian Foundation’s interest is the Karist Enclave, a secretive group of religious extremists. They believe that if you are mentally and physically prepared, the Maelstrom will not destroy you, but instead you will ascend to a higher plane of existence. The Karists use vials of altered cybel energy to 'commune' with the Maelstrom, achieving a trance-like state they associate with ascension.

The refugees, revolutionaries, pirates and mercenaries that are left behind on abandoned worlds are collectively known as the Broken. Poor humans team up with abandoned aliens, desperately swarming worlds near the edge as they try to survive as long as they can. Against the implacable onslaught of the Maelstrom, every dockworker, farmer, CEO and mercenary is faced with the same dilemma: what will you do to survive?

 Any painted models you see for this game are actual final production models. They want to try and avoid going down the route of having sketches or renders to sell models. With that in mind, these are two of the publicly shown models so far, with plenty more to come by the end of the month as they ramp up to a kickstarter.

So what size is it? Here's Lego to tell you more

Maelstrom's Edge is a squad-based skirmish scale game in which small units of 3-5 models are used alongside individual models. The turn mechanism features alternate activation (with a twist) so there is no waiting around for someone to move their entire force. The game features a great suppression mechanism through cinematic blast markers. Subtle front and rear firing arc markers are moulded in to the bases of the models making measurements simple. Most importantly, every unit is completely distinct in form and function, so there is no min-maxing as every unit has distinct strengths and weaknesses that complement and counter each other. At the same time, we guarantee that there will be no obsolescence of units and models, so when you invest the time and money in building a force, you'll know that it will be playable in some form forever.

We started this project before Kickstarter took off in the wargaming world and based on the strength of the team alone we were able to secure enough funding to create an entire starter box set in real plastic. As we saw kickstarter deliver huge audiences and secured funding to other wargaming companies out there, we adjusted our release plan to start work on additional plastic models beyond the initial box set contents with a view to running a Kickstarter to raise the funds for the physical production, shipping and marketing elements of the plan. It is safe to say that this will be an incredibly low risk Kickstarter for anyone who wants to get first dibs on the game as the project is about 90% complete at the moment and should ship well before the end of the year. Our only major projected delay will be the printing of the rulebook and related shipping. The models are already 80% complete and have very little work left to be retail ready, with production moving at a great and stable pace.

To show things off in the flesh, we'll be attending Salute 2015 in London's Excel centre on April 26th, so make sure you get tickets and come by our booth located at TE05 - Spiral Arm Studios (our UK spinoff company) to see the models, have a chat with us and see more of the Maelstrom's Edge universe ahead of its in depth release over the course of this year.
 You can follow them on Facebook, Twitter, Dakka Dakka or their website to get more news and pictures.

In the mean time, they have also released two novels on Amazon to get you into the universe. I've finished both this week, which is a record. The writing is pretty good and the characters are likable and conflicted, which works really well for the universe as there is no "Good" and "Evil", it is all somewhere in between

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