We’ve told you about our (mostly internet) friends over at Macrocosm before, and it gives me great pleasure to hopefully throw some more traffic their way with this little piece. Chris Nicholls is the one-man-band behind Macrocosm, and he’s been pumping out miniatures in several lines (mostly scifi and fantasy) of his own devising for quite some time now, so you can bet on his delivering the merch when it gets right down to it.
Paraphrasing one of my good friends:
“Oi, listen here, you little shit, this game’s amazing and Chris is more’n good for it so just buy it already!” - Adam Dodge, 2017
In all seriousness, Adam is very savvy on all things Bonefields and we’ve been picking his brain for info on the whole shebang, fan-to-fan, so here’s what we’ve learned, straight from the sheep’s (he’s from Wales) mouth:
Bonefields: Ancient Grudges is being made in partnership with Needy Cat Games who are currently writing all the rules, with Macrocosm producing the models for the game along with steering the overarching design of it all.
The game is a 28mm skirmish endeavour that can be played on a 2’x2’ (60cm x 60cm) board, with just a few, small, scatter terrain items (think walls/vegetation and the like) to break up Line of Sight. The forces are made up of goblin skeletons led by a goblin vampire and dwarf skeletons led by a dwarf necromancer. This is the classic dwarves vs goblins fantasy trope, but coming at each other from beyond the grave, because as we all know too well by now, some grudges just won’t die! Just mention potatoes to an Irishman, you’ll see what I mean in a few generations.
Most small skirmish games are built around taking out your opponents (or just their miniatures, but literally tabling people is always a risk…) so that they’re no longer a threat, but the problem here is said opponents are already dead, and - you’ve guessed it - can be brought back again throughout the game even when taken out! That makes it so that objectives play a huge part in victory or defeat. This will all be designed to be played as one-off (single) matches, or through an entire campaign setting.
While random skirmishes can be fun, it’s the campaign setting where it can get really interesting, and what we feel like the biggest pull is with B:AG. Between battles you can use your hard-earned experience to upgrade not just your spell caster, but your entire warband! You can add abilities, upgrade skills, purchase better weapons and armour, and learn or improve spells. It’s almost reminiscent of another, classic skirmish game from over 20 years ago, whose name rhymes with Gordheim…
But unlike other skirmish games where, through several arduous campaign battles, you can turn your bright-eyed, optimistic youth-with-a-chipped-sword into a seasoned, well armoured, veteran killing machine only to have the fates see him die from stumbling over a pebble, in B:AG your warband is made up of freshly dead individuals, so there’s no risk of losing that one creep you spent 20 minutes thinking up a name and story for. Worst case scenario, they might lose a skill or ability that they’ll need to fight to regain over the next few battles.
Here’s hoping the Blood Bowl design squad get the memo, eh?
The game mechanisms, although still very much work in progress (as you can see in this “sausage factory” video from Needy Cat Games), are simple and straightforward. The minis operate on dice pools that generate rolls for you to pick from when bashing each other’s (literal) skulls in. Spell casters get their own magic pool that they can use not only on themselves, but also to boost their warriors each turn (be it an increase in skill, a speed boost etc). These simple rolls have layers added upon them with movement speeds, weapon and armour profiles, and a bunch of other modifiers and information usually found in such a game. You can understand where things that start off simple can lead to down the line, in the campaign system, and this evolution is something we’re eagerly awaiting to dig into.
Further than the rules themselves, there is a gigantic collection of miniatures currently available and/or unlocked via Stretch Goals, with way more to come. All of the minis will have rules in the B:AG book, so you can add additional packs at your leisure, knowing full well that you will already own the details needed to feature them in your warband.
Even if you don’t have an interest in the B:AG game, you need to check out the characterful minis on offer here. Everything is available separately as add-on packs, and there are also pledges offering deals on buying multiple packs, the contents of which is your choice, based on what’s on offer. And with them being fantasy undead models, you know they’re versatile enough to be used in and improve on plenty of games out there today…
Maybe you want to play an undead force in a different game, like 9th Age or Kings of War. I’d put money on your army being almost, if not entirely made up of human zombies and skeletons.
Of course it is, as until now it’s been incredibly hard for anyone in the hobby to build alternative undead races. But in the day and age where the flags of diversity and inclusiveness flutter high above all else, such tongue in cheek transgressions towards the undead cannot stand!
Will you be the one to throttle through myriad ranks of human, orc, dwarf, or elf only to raise human bone-constructs to your ranks? Is your necromancer prepared to be railed on, named, and shamed on worldwide bulletin boards for their racial insensitivity and preferential treatment towards part of the victims of warfare? Will you bow your head in shame when shrieked at by the Warriors of Justice (social or otherwise) or will you plant your heels and reveal your host of ethnic skeletons, complete with infantry, artillery pieces, and (more pledges allowing) even cavalry units?
Trust me, you want to do the latter, if even just to be safe...
The price point is enticing, with the gaming parcels at 50 and 65 (quid) respectively (postage charged after the campaign’s end), with the latter pledge - the Deluxe box - including not only 2 full warbands (20 total models), but also a handful of resin-cast objectives, walls, and a nice, little tomb, to boot! And with the RRP of it skirting close to the 100-quid mark, you’re in for a helluva deal if you get in sooner rather than later!
The game has been in development for quite some time as you can see from the Needy Cat development blogs (here, here, and here), and the game’s page over on the age-old Dakka Forums, where positive energies have been oozing towards the undead on offer since before it all launched, with the campaign also being picked up by the lot at Beasts of War, so you know this went all the way up to the keenest eyes in the industry.
All in all, this looks mighty fine to us, Chris’ track record of genuine customer care and more than timely and qualitative deliveries has drawn a loyal backing to every new campaign Macrocosm comes out with (and they’ve done quite a few, some of which we’ve also been a part of!), and the partnership with NCG can only mean things are looking up and expanding at the moment, so don’t miss the chance to strike the iron while it’s hot and snuggle up to some fresh bones this summer!