Well the end of my day off beckons and instead of painting my way through any more of my assorted bits and bobs on my workbench, I find myself ruminating on some of those rather nice games I would like to collect if I had the time, money and space.
Looking back over the last fifteen years or so, there's been an explosion of boutique gaming companies, many of which have utterly beautiful miniatures with equally fascinating backgrounds and settings. Some are well known, others not so much and some have fallen by the wayside along the way.
I thought it might be a bit of a plan to post a bit about each and why they have drawn my eye and ponder on what it is about these games that are so attractive in comparison to the classics such as 40k and Fantasy Battle.
First up, I thought I would start with Kryomek!
Released in 1991, Kryomek channelled the spirit of Aliens and pitted the forces of humanity against an acid blooded horde of xenomorphs.
This was one of the first games I explored following my departure from the GW hobby after I spotted the figures in the long gone Macs Models in Edinburgh's Royal Mile. I loved the style of the figures and the background was intriguing, being such a difference from the Grim Dark that 40k was becoming.
Kryomek Hive Chimney
Instead of a science fantasy setting with Elves, Dwarves and warrior priests, Kryomek featured a far more clean and military sort of science fiction. The background itself featured not just fiction and background on the Nexus military, but also lots of glimpses into the technology, society and law and order system.
Another thing that drew the eye was the really cracking artwork that showcased the ferocious Kryomek in all their gruesome glory!
Convict 'Cyclos' take on a pair of Kryomek Warriors
The whole game had a rather 80's version of the future with spaceships cramped and festooned with switches, keyboards and assorted tech, much like the Nostromo in Alien. Similarly, the Kryomek were physically similar to the Alien but were taken a step further, their very nature weaponised and terrifyingly intelligent.
Talos Units take on a Kryomek Warmaster
The one thing that let the game down in my experience was the rules themselves. While based on Stargrunt, I found it a bit on the complex side at the time (I'm not sure if that would still be my experience to be honest) Similarly, it really could have done with a bit more playtesting and been more clearly laid out.
Fantasy Forge did attempt to fix these issues with the release of Hivestone, a supplement which contained more background, new units and armylists. The problem was it still didn't quite all mesh together.
Why then am I pondering it at all you may ask? I think its partly nostalgia but also partly because of what it could have been if it had been backed properly and given more of a chance to succeed.
There are genuine flashes of brilliance on display throughout and the game itself went on to influence some of the big games of the late 90's and early 00's such as Warzone and Void 1.1 and that is something to be proud of. But what if Kryomek had been produced today?
I suspect it would never happen as it skirts very close to the IP of several movies but if it had, imagine some of the beautiful sculpts that could have resulted! Marines that didn't look malnourished, Kryomek which were as fierce as the artwork suggested and not the monopose sculpts that we ended up with.
Ironically, Kryomek is still available, the miniatures are in production and the rules are freely available as a PDF. I do have a few of them kicking around including a Talos unit:
My main problem is that the rest of the range is a bit of a mixed bag. As previously mentioned, The Nexus Marines look like they need a good feed. The Cyclo convicts on the other hand, are really good and the Kryomek themselves are a strange mixture of good and bad!
Another issue is the scale. The rules and background themselves seem to suggest in large scale battles with swarms of Xenos crashing into desperate lines of humans who rely on superior firepower to survive.
Instead of 28mm scale, the game would have been far more suited to 15mm which would have allowed a far more satisfactory spectacle (looking at Khurasan Miniatures Swatters range gives you a decent idea of what they could have looked like)
But what does this mean for Kryomek? Is it a worthless system? I don't think so! Check out the rather fantastic HIVESTONE INCURSION blog! Bagpuss has created some really fantastic forces:
Now I am wondering if I can do something on a more limited basis, a bit more like Aliens. Imagine a squad of Nexus Marines investigating a suddenly quiet colony or exploring a newly discovered planet...
Now here's the rub, I don't have the time or patience or money to do anything about it at present but I do wonder if at some point in the future, I might collect up a squad and some xenos to terrify them. I could even incorporate it into the alternative Imperium that I've been working on.
This is the joy of taking a peek at some of these other games, theres loads of different ideas, forces and settings that can be culled out and incorporated into whatever setting or game you might use! I am going to cover a few more over the coming week or so and who knows, I may even eventually dip into one of the games I mention!
All the best!