A 2016 Dark Age “State of the Union”
Greetings, fellow Samarians!
2016 has been a pretty wild and crazy ride for Dark Age. We’ve come quite a ways over this year and now stand poised to see some fantastic growth in 2017. While it hasn’t been without its hiccups, 2016 has seen us move quite a few elements forward in a very positive way. 2017 will be our year to bring it all up to speed.
Let’s jump straight into it!
Bryan Steele returns to Dark Age!
Perhaps the biggest boost for Dark Age this year was seeing Bryan Steele return to the CMON team. Bryan used to work for CMON, but had been freelancing for a few years. The opportunity to jump back in on a project he is so passionate about was one he certainly wasn’t able to pass up. His return has helped an incredibly hard-working Michael Shinall be able to look at other responsibilities and future projects for CMON. Bryan is now the Brand Manager for Dark Age, and working hard to ensure lots of processes behind the scenes are streamlined and will continue to move Dark Age forward.
We visit Beasts of War and Guerrilla Miniature Games
This year there has been quite a bit of traveling for the CMON Miniatures team. In addition to all the conventions we attended, Bryan Steele, Michael Shinall, and Dave Taylor visited the Beasts of War studios in Northern Ireland (twice), and also the media co-op of Guerrilla Miniature Games (as well as Gaming With The Cooler and Epic Duck Studios) to film battle reports and discussion videos that many of you have seen already. We’ll continue to do as much of thing kind of thing as possible throughout 2017!
To check out the Dark Age content from these places, you can check them out here:
Successful (mostly) Dragyri Release
With your help and enthusiasm, we were able to launch a successful Dragyri release… mostly. We say ‘mostly’ because it was larger than we were expecting, and so we had stock issues that are only now seeing resolution.
The response to our small quantity of “black-bagged” Shadow Caste models at GenCon was great, and we were excited to see that. There has been a lot of great feedback on both the models and the rules for the Shadow Caste, and we know that many of you are eagerly awaiting the release of the Air and Ice Caste resculpts that we’ll see over the course of the next six months. Our thanks to brothers Patrick and Thierry Masson for their wonderful sculpting work on the Dragyri range!
New Web Update format – Kukulkani and C.O.R.E.
This year was the first since moving to our “faction sourcebooks” format that we were able to try out a proper “Web Update” of a faction. With some of our smaller factions not yet warranting their own, full-blown sourcebook we were able to provide an updated set of units cards (both in print and online) for the Kukulkani, as well as introducing SIX new units and models to the range. By creating the “Kukulkani Lore” document to, we were able to bring background for the faction and each unit to people who haven’t seen it before. That was pretty exciting for us.
We’ll be doing the same thing for the C.O.R.E. by releasing the online cards and “C.O.R.E. Lore” document on our website this coming Friday (Dec 16, 2016). The printed cards and the brand new, 500 point C.O.R.E. Faction Starter Box in January 2017. The THREE new units from this update will release in February, along with the Spartan Menials that now have cool miniatures.
Given the excitement that this release format has generated, we have no doubt this will be the way we’ll try to keep things interesting along the way for various other factions, as we continue to drive the Dark Age storylines forward.
Building on our relationship with Warsenal
We were already working with Warsenal before 2016, and given their glorious terrain and token ranges, it seemed like a no-brainer to continue working with them for Dark Age. We now have two token bundles and an affordable template set available for sale through CMON, and the guys at Warsenal can hook you up with many more tokens and faction-specific objective markers and templates. The end of November also saw the launch of the first piece of MDF terrain created specifically for Dark Age – the Scrounger Outpost, also available directly from Warsenal.
Plans continue to develop, so keep an eye out for more great terrain during 2017!
Unexpected results for the Black Friday sale
This one kind of snuck up on us, to be honest. We have been so focused on the exciting plans for 2017, we weren’t paying attention to the annual CMON Black Friday Sale. While the deals were obviously pretty huge, we certainly weren’t expecting the volume of orders. It took our already incredibly busy warehouse (who are constantly shipping orders for all of CMON’s most popular board games) by surprise, and our Customer Support team stepped in to help out. Packing blisters and boxed sets, picking and packing orders, printing labels, sending notifications – it has taken the team almost three weeks to get everything shipped.
It has helped highlight a few things that we’ll be working to improve over the next 12 months. All we can say right now is thank you all for your purchases, and thank you for your patience as our warehouse and Customer Support teams rolled up their sleeves and got stuck in. And while many of the folks in those teams have packed Dark Age blisters and boxes before, there may have been some mistakes made. Our Customer Support team has pledged that, now all orders have been cleared, if you have a mispack, contact them via support.cmon.com and they will ship the missing piece(s) that day (if received early enough).
As soon as we saw the massive amount of orders, we decided to push back the December releases into January. Adding the new release blister and box packing requirements onto the team as well would have caused further delays to the Black Friday orders, something we did not want to do.
To make sure you all still have some holiday goodness, we’ll still release the web-based component of the C.O.R.E. Web Update this Friday (Dec 16, 2016).
Changes to conventions etc. and increased community involvement
We’ve been going to conventions around the country for quite a while now, and we’ve run some great tournaments and feature games along the way (not to mention the always popular Build & Plays). In recent times our staff have been stretched pretty thin, wearing a lot of hats, and not always able to focus on what needs to be done.
In 2017, in order to ensure that the Dark Age events are of maximum quality, we’ve invited community leaders to champion Dark Age at various events. People like Owen Rehrauer and Wade Viera for CaptainCon in February, John Sawicki and his team for AdeptiCon in March, and Daria Winter and her team for NOVA Open in September, will all be creating some exciting and fun events for you to enjoy. We’re very excited to see this succeed!
Additonally we’ve seen some wonderful community activity around the globe. Shout outs to folks like Marcus Anderson in Australia, Igor Ivanov in Russia, Rich Blondel in France, Gareth Anderson in the UK, Nestor Medina in the US. There really are too many to list you all, but know that the CMON Miniatures team is incredibly excited by your involvement in bringing Dark Age to your local communities in a much more effective way than we ever could.
I’ll also take a moment to point out that we launched two Organized Play (OP) Kits for Dark Age this year that include the much coveted Bludgelt ‘challenge coin’. To take a look at the kits and the Bludgelt, check out these articles here and here.
In 2017 we are hoping to introduce a new member to the CMON Miniatures team, a Community Development Manager. Watch this space for more on this.
Changes to production
And now we really start to move into the wonderful things that 2017 will bring for us. Previously we relied on a number of different casting services to cast up our miniatures in both metal and resin. This led to various issues with co-ordinating restocking and so on. Now, we will be primarily supplied by the wonderful folks at Big Child Creatives. They not only co-ordinate the sculpting and painting of the Dark Age miniature range, now they’ll be the people casting it up. We expect this will help us improve overall quality, reduce restock times, and hopefully drastically reduce shipping times/import costs for the UK/European markets (Big Child are based in Spain).
Path To Glory, the Master Rulebook, and the move to Unit boxes.
2017 will also see the three biggest things we’ve done to improve Dark Age in some time.
In the second quarter of the year we are planning to release our long discussed two-player starter set, titled “Path To Glory”. This set includes a set of Quick Start Rules, dice, templates, punch-card terrain, and TWO all-plastic, 450 point forces. The robots of Saint Isaac will clash with the massive Dragyri of the Ice Caste, and they are both factions that emphasize the sci-fi nature of Dark Age. Having this in retail stores around the world will help everyone by giving a great focal point/first purchase for entering the world of Dark Age. Oh, and it’ll only be USD$70!
Following hot on the heels of Path To Glory will be the new Master Rulebook. While the game/core rules won’t change too much, this book will help clean up all the errata and FAQs we’ve received over the last four years, as well as tweaking a few things here and there, focused on maintaining a really tight set of rules. These rules, will also continue to be available online for free download, it’s the Dark Age way.
And finally, perhaps the biggest change will be the way we present the Dark Age range through retail. Over the years Dark Age has grown to be a range of more than 250 blister packs and close to 30 box sets. That takes up quite a lot of space on a wall in a retail store, sometimes it’s just too much for a store to be able to handle particularly if it doesn’t have that much racking for all the blisters. Following on from the new Faction Starter Box format, we’ll be bringing previously blistered models together into what we are calling our Dark Age Unit Boxes range. The aim will be to provide the entire range in a smaller, more manageable format for retailers. We are projecting closer to 150 small-format box sets, which are infinitely easier to stock for everyone. Obviously, if more retailers carry Dark Age it makes it easier for you to get your miniatures locally, and also easier for you to introduce new gamers to Dark Age and build your local communities.
The content of these boxes is being selected to follow the manner in which players typically buy their Dark Age collections, and we’ll be able to show off the contents of the boxes for the Forsaken and Outcast factions in January, and other factions in the following months, so that there are no surprises for you all.
So, we know we haven’t even scratched the surface of all the exciting things that happened in 2016, or that will happen in 2017, but we are confident that with your continuing enthusiasm and support we can make 2017 the Best. Year. Ever!
Thank you all
The CMON Miniatures team.
- The Game
- The Factions