Gen Con Sale – 20% Off Everything!

Hello citizens of Shattered Earth!

Massive Awesome are not able to attend Gen Con in person this year (maybe next year..?) but to celebrate the general awesomeness of the event’s 50th anniversary we’re running a sale for its entire duration.

Using the code GENCON50 when shopping on our official webstore will enable you to enjoy 20% off any orders from midnight EST on the 17th through the 20th inclusive, whether bolstering your armies with additional units, buying a new faction, or just picking up a rulebook.

We will also have some exciting news about the next step in the Shattered Earth journey coming very soon so keep your eyes peeled for that!

Thanks for your continued support,

John and Si

Webstore Now Open!

The Massive Awesome online store is now open! You can buy everything that was available as part of the Shattered Earth Kickstarter campaign, including the awesome Shattered Earth: Emergence rulebook.

To celebrate we are giving you 10% off all orders until midnight BST on 11th June. Simply enter the code LAUNCH10 at checkout to claim.

And That’s a Wrap!

Ladies, gentlemen, fellow hobby enthusiasts, it brings us great pleasure to announce that we have now completed fulfilment for Shattered Earth! This means that every parcel has shipped out and should arrive with you in the next few weeks. If you have any queries regarding your order, then please email us at [email protected].

So what happens next? Well, first we need to set up our webstore which will be going live very soon, and after that we have a few articles in progress that we will be sharing online. We also want to know the best way we can help you in your communities so please either email us or message us on Facebook and let us know what you’re up to!

We’ve had great feedback across a number of websites, forums and Facebook, and as we are now moving away from Kickstarter we need a new home for all of our fans to get together. As Facebook has been by far the most active site, we’d like to invite you all to continue the discussion on our Facebook page.

We’ll be posting a number of topics over the coming weeks, and this will be the main source of news regarding Shattered Earth. For those of you that do not use Facebook and would instead prefer to continue posting on your favourite forums, please let us know where you post so that we can keep engaged.

Thank you all once again for your help and support, and we look forward to seeing your progress and hearing about your adventures in the world of Shattered Earth!

March Kickstarter Update

No fancy pictures this month – just cold, hard facts!

We’ve sent the profile cards off to the printers and are expecting them back sometime next week. They look fantastic and Iwo has done a great job with layouts. We’ve opted for a horizontal format similar to games like Dark Age which makes the cards easily readable.

The rulebook is also in production and should arrive in the next couple of weeks as well. John has taken the time to make a few final tweaks to the fiction pieces and we’re sure you’re really like what he’s put together.

We’re still waiting on the second batch of miniatures coming through and they should be arriving around the same time as the rulebook. This has been the one aspect of the Kickstarter that has taken us by surprise: casting the highest quality hand pulled resin miniatures takes a very long time indeed!

There are loads of other things as well like the dice, boxes, foam inserts, baggies, and so on – they’re all stacked up at Simon’s parents house at the moment! We’ve already started filling some of the orders so we can get a headstart on fulfilment once the rest of the items arrive over the next couple of weeks.

Thanks again for your patience and support – we are literally weeks away people!

September Kickstarter Update

It’s been a few weeks since our last update, so we thought we’d check in with you and let you know where we are up to with Shattered Earth.

Miniature production is well underway and we should be receiving the first masters for review in the next couple of weeks. The process has slowed down a bit recently due in part to the complexity of the sculpts, and also how busy our printing and casting partners have been. Unfortunately this means that, right now, it is looking very unlikely that we will receive the full complement of miniatures before the end of October. We realise that this is disappointing news, but the nature of pushing the envelope for miniature detail has necessitated some re-work in order to get the casting spot-on. Massive Awesome have and always will be focused on quality first, so we hope you can accept a small delay in order to ensure that the end product is as good as we can make it.

In other news, the rulebook design has been finalised, and we’re now just putting the finishing touches to the text and layout. We will post up a release candidate for download in the next couple of weeks so that you can take a look at it and provide any feedback before it goes to print. Likewise the card design is also mostly done, and we will take the extra time afforded by the longer production phase to do some further playtesting on the profiles; as previously noted we’re going to hold off printing the book and cards until the very last minute to ensure that they have had as much testing as possible.

That’s it for now; we’ll follow up with some photographs of the masters as soon as possible so you can see what the miniatures you’ll be getting actually look like. We can’t wait to see them ourselves – there’s nothing quite like high-quality resin to bring out the detail in a sculpt!

Those Who Speak C - Concept Art

Those Who Speak

“You need not words; you convey through your actions, you declare through your devotion”

Those Who Speak C - Concept Art

Sister Lucia held out her hand to Brother Sunil as he clambered down the stone bluff behind her. He was limping heavily from a wound that raked the length of his left shin, preventing him from putting his full weight down on that side. Although he had not complained of the pain or even mentioned it at all, the brothers and sisters known as Those who Speak were acutely aware of each others’ needs. As Sister Lucia provided support on one side, Brother Yusef walked alongside on the right carrying both his own pair of Censers and Brother Sunil’s pair.

The three of them walked in silence for the hour it took to return to their barracks, each ruminating on the victory they had achieved in the name of the Prophet over the faithless blasphemers of the Humanist Rebellion. As they filed through the tall, intricately-decorated doorway with the rest of the returning soldiers, they were directed by the Faithful orderly towards the smaller of the two buildings of worship. A successful battle required a service of celebration but when there were injured to tend to and dead to bury, time was of the essence. The gathered warriors recited their prayers of veneration and gave thanks for their return and the gift of being able to fight another day to defend the honor of the Prophet.

Those Who Speak A - Concept Art

As Brother Sunil departed for the infirmary, Lucia and Yusef made their way to the armoury with their and Sunil’s Censers and began the ritual of repair and cleansing. First they washed the blood of their enemies from their weapons and, in Lucia’s case, from her brass face plate. Then they each took their own set of blessed tools and worked slowly and carefully to flatten any dents and re-sharpen the edges so that the next time they swung the holy weapon into the face of an enemy, it would look as perfect as the day it was forged.

Throughout the many hours of quietly diligent work that the process required they were lit by torchlight and could hear the sounds of the hymns to the Prophet drifting in from the nearby hall of worship. This gave the the armoury an air of sacred ritual and enabled the Faithful to complete their work in a state of near-meditation. After three hours, they were joined by Brother Sunil who continued the work on his own weapon from where his Brothers and Sisters had left off. As the night drew in and they withdrew to their dormitory, they each nodded quietly to each other, in recognition of a good day.

Miniature Myth Busting

As you may know we are currently writing an article series for Beasts of War detailing the steps we’re taking as we approach the launch of the Shattered Earth Kickstarter on February 10th. A comment on our latest entry got me thinking about the ‘black box’ that is miniature production, and the reply I started writing quickly got out of hand, hence this (enormous) blog post.

Firstly, a disclaimer: this in no way constitutes professional advice – it’s just what I’ve learned over the last year or so of trying to do this for a living. Also, the numbers quoted are merely examples and represent the range of prices you might be expected to pay rather than quotes from specific manufacturers. Lastly, Massive Awesome are a UK-based company so all prices are in pounds sterling.

(Note: this is a very long post – you have been warned!)

Art and Design

The best way for me to debunk some of the myths around miniature production is to run through the entire production process with a couple of imaginary miniatures; let’s call them Bob and Kate. Bob is a standard 28mm human soldier whereas Kate is an intricately-detailed 54mm collectors’ piece.

Let’s start with Bob. Bob’s concept art was pretty straightforward to design and cost about £100. The sculpting was done digitally and again was a straightforward job – let’s call it £250. Bob was sent to the printers to have the master produced which cost another £100. Bob is now ready for casting; total investment so far: £450.

Kate on the other hand took some time to get right. Her concept art needed several iterations and ran to £350. The sculpting also took some time to get all the details right, and she’s a complicated miniature, so that ended up costing £1,000. Due to her size and the amount of different pieces required, the 3D print was also a lot more complex and cost £350. Total investment for Kate so far: £1,700.

The Casting Process

There are three main materials that miniatures are cast in: metal (normally tin), resin and plastic (specifically high impact polystyrene, often referred to as HIPS). Some miniature ranges and a lot of boardgames produce their miniatures in a different type of plastic called polyvinyl chloride, more commonly known as PVC. I have zero experience casting in this material so I won’t be covering that in this article. If anybody has experience of casting PVC miniatures please share your thoughts in the comments!

Right, let’s talk about metal. Metal is normally spin cast, which means you make a circular mould out of rubber or silicone and spin it at high speed to distribute the metal. You can use a 9″ mould for Bob and you can fit five of him in each mould. Each mould will set you back about £50, and let’s call it £3 for the metal (you pay by weight) and another £3 per spin. Assuming you get 50 casts out of each mould, your cost per miniature for Bob is £1.40 (=(3+3+(50/50))/5). Kate on the other hand needs an 11″ mould (£80) and you’ll only fit three of her in each one. She costs £5 in metal and £5 to spin, so her cost per miniature is £3.87 (=(5+5+(80/50))/3).

Cost Per Miniature (Metal)

Resin production is very similar to metal production, although the miniatures are normally vacuum cast rather than spin cast. Some companies (particularly in the US) still make spin cast resin; it’s often a little cheaper than vacuum cast, but the miniatures are more likely to get air bubbles. Vacuum cast resin miniatures are probably the highest-detail you will achieve, but that detail has an effect on your mould yield. Mould costs per miniature are also more difficult to ascertain as it depends on how each miniature is cut.

For our example we will assume Bob’s mould cost is £35 and Kate’s is £50, and you get 20 pulls from each one. Bob costs £2 in resin, therefore the cost per miniature for Bob is £3.75 (=2+(35/20)). Kate costs £8 in resin, so her cost per miniature is £10.50 (=8+(50/20)).

Cost Per Miniature (Resin)

Lastly we’ll look at plastic injection moulding. This form of production uses metal ‘tools’ to produce sprues, usually 6″ by 8″. Each sprue can hold multiple miniatures and, whilst the tools themselves can be very expensive, the cost of plastic is cheap. You also don’t need to worry about yield with injection moulding as each tool will last for tens of millions of casts. Working out a cost per miniature with injection moulding is quite difficult due to the large upfront cost, and the fact that you don’t need to replace the tool. The easiest way to reconcile this is to add the cost of the tool to your initial design outlay instead of factoring it into each miniature’s individual cost.

We can create a sprue for Bob and, because he is quite a simple miniature, we can fit ten of him on each sprue. The cost of the tool is £8,000 and each shot of plastic is £1; the cost per miniature for Bob is therefore £0.10 (=1/10) because we aren’t including the cost of the tool. Kate is much more complicated and takes up an entire sprue on her own. She’s also got some pieces with quite a bit of depth to them, so the tool itself is more expensive at £12,000. We’re still paying £1 per shot, which is how much it will cost us to produce one Kate in plastic.

Cost Per Miniature

(If you’re going to use plastic injection moulding, you’ll need to cut the miniatures differently than for metal and resin. This will obviously incur an additional cost which is not covered in this example.)

Making Money

Now you have a production-ready miniature to sell you need to set your RRP/MSRP. Production costs should normally run somewhere between 15% and 20%, so you can easily calculate your RRP/MSRP by multiplying the cost per miniature by 5 or 6 (note: this is where you need to decide who you’re aiming at; high-end boutique miniatures will obviously have higher production costs, whereas simpler 28mm humans will run closer to 15%). This will often produce a higher RRP/MSRP than you would like, so you’ll need to normalise that cost using other similar miniatures as reference, without undervaluing them.

For metal, at around 15% production costs, we’ll price Bob at £7.99 and Kate at £24.99. For resin our production costs are higher at 20%, so Bob is priced at £12.99 and Kate at £39.99. For plastic it gets a bit more complicated as you’re unlikely to be selling ten Bobs in one retail box, but for our example let’s assume that the sprue can be cut into individual miniatures. Our (ongoing) manufacturing costs are low, so we’ll price Bob and Kate at the same as metal: £7.99 and £24.99 respectively.

RRP / MSRP

(You might think that the resin price for Kate is especially high; wait until you see what happens to that price when we get to distribution.)

Now, this is where things get more complicated. Depending on where in the world your business is based, you will need to account for all appropriate sales taxes. As we are based in the UK we need to take off 20% to cover VAT. You will of course need to charge this to any applicable customers, but you have to pay it back so it works out as a zero sum. If you’re selling your miniatures direct (e.g. from your own web store) you can easily work out your income per miniature by taking the production costs off the net price.

Net Income (Direct Sales)

Selling direct looks good for your bottom line, but your product is only being advertised in one shop window, so your sales potential is limited. If you want to increase your reach you’ll need to start selling into retailers, who will obviously want to make their own cut on the sales. Let’s assume that every retailer buys from you at the same discount (note: normally you’d negotiate deals with each retailer separately and offer tiered discounts depending on how much stock they buy) which we’ll say is 70% of RRP/MSRP.

Net Income (Retail Sales)

Okay, so you’re in 30 or so retailers in the UK and sales are looking good, but you want to break into Europe and the US. You can of course start talking to retailers in those countries directly, but it’s far better (and less stressful) to have a distributor do it for you. Now, obviously, adding another link in the chain is going to impact your bottom line as the distributor will want to take their cut before the miniatures go to retailers, so we’ll say they all buy from you at 50% of RRP/MSRP.

Net Income (Distribution Sales)

Now you know why the RRP/MSRP for a resin Kate is so high! Selling into distributors looks super-painful on paper, but they can exponentially increase your sales potential. You have to ask yourself if you want 80% of a small number, or 50% of a massive number. Of course, you need to have a commercially-viable product to begin with, but that should be your goal from day one even if you only plan to sell small numbers from your own web store.

The Final Reckoning

Let’s remind ourselves of our initial design costs – this is how much we need to clear to make any profit. As noted previously, we’ve included the tool cost in the outlay for our plastic miniatures.

Initial Outlay (Design Costs)

In order to break even we have to sell enough miniatures to clear our investment. We obviously make the most money selling directly, but our customer base is limited. If we sell into distributors we don’t make anywhere near as much money, but we could increase our customer base exponentially. Ultimately you need to decide where your game sits in the market, and plan your production accordingly.

Break Even (No. Miniatures Sold)

Phew! I think we all need a sit down and a nice cup of tea after that.

Now, none of the above covers things like warehouse space, staff salaries for picking and packing, stock insurance, etc. but it should give you an idea of where the money goes, and what the different production processes are like. If this has triggered any further questions in your mind, please post them in the comments below. And, if you have your own experiences to share, we’d especially love to hear that.

Kodiak THF

“When subtlety is uncalled for and stealth unnecessary, hit first and hit hard.”

Shattered Earth - Kodiak THF (Travel Mode) - Concept ArtConcept art by Shen Fei

Corporal Vasilov moved his hand over the control surface and twisted his wrist slightly. The massive metal frame he was commanding deftly stepped over the fallen soldiers in front of it and bounded forwards. He wanted to push his advantage and pursued the remaining Children of the One True God soldiers with a grim determination.

His HUD warned him that his own Coyote Assault Troopers were approaching from the right and so the unit of fleeing Speakers would be forced to pause their retreat in order to engage them. The Speakers had not yet spotted the Coyotes and so felt a moment of relief when they saw the hulking frame of the Kodiak slow to a halt and drop to its knees.

A second later though they saw the Coyotes pause their own pursuit and take cover behind the rubble. The lead Speaker, a battle-hardened veteran named Liebowitz, realised that something terrible was about to happen, and looked over his shoulder just in time to see the stabilised Kodiak spin up its terrifying minigun and slowly strafe his entire unit. As the red mist that was once his fellow soldiers approached his position, Liebowitz barely had time to whisper a prayer to the Prophet before diving into the rubble to avoid being torn apart by the Kodiak’s fearsome weaponry.

At last Vasilov powered down the minigun but remained motionless for a few seconds, surveying the scene to ensure there was no movement. Satisfied, he engaged the control surface again, raising the Kodiak up from its static firing position, and began walking back towards the main battle. Behind it, Liebowitz looked in horror at the patch of red ground where his brothers and sisters once stood mere moments earlier. He turned to regard the departing Kodiak, and thought that perhaps he had seen the devil himself.

Shattered Earth - Kodiak THF (Firing Mode) - Concept ArtConcept art by Shen Fei

The Kodiak Tactical Heavy Frame (THF) is a mobile artillery platform, and the largest frame currently in production. The predominantly-Russian made unit represents the pinnacle of UNM engineering, providing mid-range fire support for UNM soldiers on the front lines, and packing heavy armour and high-impact weaponry for use against multiple different threats.

The Kodiak is physically imposing at almost 12’ high, carrying more than a passing resemblance to the bear it shares a name with. It is often described as a ‘walking tank’, and occupies much the same role on the battlefield. Whilst tracked vehicles are still in use in some operational zones, the rugged terrain of 30 A.E. ensures that heavy frames like the Kodiak are in much more widespread use.

Like most frames the Kodiak is bipedal; however, being a heavy frame, the pilot inside sits within an enclosed cockpit rather than providing direct limb control as with light and medium frames. The cockpit itself is housed within the enlarged chest cavity, with a series of external cameras providing a 360 degree viewport for the pilot.

Piloting a Kodiak is a complex operation, akin to the jet fighters of the previous age. An in-built Static Intelligence (SI) controls most of the more complicated functions of the frame’s multiple systems, with the pilot free to directly control the movement and weaponry. Targeting systems provide all-around coverage, and are able to track high-velocity targets. The frame itself is surprisingly agile, with a rotational mount at the waist allowing the torso to spin through nearly 270 degrees when the legs are planted.

Weaponry varies as the Kodiak can be modified to suit the engagement, with hard-points built into the shoulders and along the length of the arms. Most are equipped with arm-mounted miniguns for mid-range anti-infantry, and top-mounted micro-missile launchers (called MIRVs) for anti-armour and long-range threat elimination.

The thick armour of the Kodiak can withstand almost all projectile weapons, and is insulated against extremes of heat and cold. The outer casing also provides some protection against EMP attacks, although the SI is still susceptible to enemy hacking. To combat this, the SI is protected by a high-level firewall and low-level intrusion counter electronics (ICE).

Echoes

“If real human lives are precious, the simple answer is to create artificial ones to take their place.”

General Martinez looked at Professor Alison Watkins with suspicion. The military commander was aware that she was the most gifted scientist the Advanced Weaponry and Tactics unit had ever produced, but there was something about her that made him uneasy. She had pioneered the research that had created the Echoes, the almost-human front line troops used by the Humanist Rebellion and, for this, the General had the greatest respect for her. However, the more time he spent in her company, discussing the efficacy of the units in combat field tests and suggesting small iterations to improve their performance, the more he thought that the enigmatic scientist may be as coldly indifferent as her creations.

A veteran of countless battles over the last two decades, Martinez had witnessed carnage of the worst kind and was rarely moved by such sights, but there was something about the Echoes that got under his skin. Witnessing one calmly walking up to a fallen enemy and executing it without the faintest glimmer of emotion still jarred. The General had for many years been a front line troop himself and had killed countless foes, but even he felt a tightening of his face and chest when taking a life at close range. Not so the Echoes; they did not kill through a shared responsibility to further the cause of the Humanist Rebellion, or through a sense of duty or drilled-in obedience to the chain of command. No – they were simply programmed to kill.

Initially the first few prototype units were nothing more than metal skeletons, but the human soldiers that took part in the first few field tests found them to be unnerving, and several experienced psychological episodes as a result. In response, Professor Watkins and her team produced a flesh-like gel coating covered in artificial skin to sit on top of this skeleton, helping her creations to look more human and better integrate with the Rebellion’s regular soldiers. Even so, they had found it difficult fighting alongside the Echoes when they looked physically identical to them but could not share in the same camaraderie post-combat.

Martinez reported back to Watkins that a few subtle changes would be needed; something that made the Echoes look slightly less human. Professor Watkins pressed her lips into a thin frown, and began to sketch some adjustments on her tablet. Less variation, each unit’s bar code made more visible to help identify them, more angular features (Watkins remarked that this would save time spent ‘smoothing’ the Echoes’ appearance). Finally she showed the design to Martinez, and the General nodded in agreement; perhaps this would help his men treat them more like weapons rather than fellow soldiers. As he returned to the barracks, he couldn’t help but wonder what terrible consequences might be brought about in the name of protecting human life.

Shattered Earth - Echo - Concept ArtConcept art by Klaus Wittmann

Echoes are currently mankind’s greatest advancement in Artificial Intelligence (AI), made possible through the twin technologies of cybernetics and Whole Brain Emulation (WBE). They are mostly human in outward appearance but have been engineered in a number of key ways. They have not been built to approximate humans perfectly, more they have been built to approximate the perfect human soldier. Many people regard Echoes with suspicion, especially those within the Children of the One True God, who consider Echoes to be inhuman avatars of godlessness, the apex of humanity’s arrogance.

Echoes have a skeleton built of a lightweight and super-strong lattice polymer covered in a bio-farmed skin material that is much tougher than the human equivalent, effectively enabling them to use their bodies as weapons. They have the ability to heal themselves of serious injuries and, in certain circumstances, can shut down extraneous functions in order to fire off an extra shot or two.

Echoes are fully autonomous and have had their brains programmed specifically to be as efficient as possible in combat situations. They lack the capacity to ‘learn’ beyond battle tactics and they neither feel nor exhibit emotion, a ‘good kill’ simply being their prime objective. They carry pulse rifles – more advanced versions of the UNM Modular Assault Rifle – for long range combat. In close combat, they have no need for weapons, as their speed, lack of fear and increased physical toughness enables them to perform martial art attacks directly on their enemies.