Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Shatterlands - New Fantasy Skirmish Game from Stonegate Forge

I recently had the pleasure of painting up some miniatures for Stonegate Forge's upcoming skirmish game Shatterlands. The figures were sculpted digitally by the clearly very talented Bobby Jackson, and produced by Iron Wind Metals. I was extremely impressed by the level of detail, the very attractive proportions, and the excellent casting. Stonegate Forge is a small family run company (though with a lot of experience in the industry - Mark Rubin's credentials go way back to his Ral Partha days) and they clearly prioritized quality in the production of the figures.

The setting of the game is the fantasy world of Atelon, in which two peoples with radically different cultures and ways of life have clashed for generations. One is a technologically sophisticated people, the other a more fanatical society of magic-using forest dwellers. However in the territory between their homelands where they clash - the "Shatterlands" - neither the most sophisticated technology of the one nor the magic of the other functions as they are accustomed to. The result is a "black powder" fantasy world where the struggle takes on the dimensions of a French and Indian War skirmish game.

The really distinctive aspect of game play is in the character cards that represent each figure. Each character's ability in any given task is represented by a color-coded die of few or many sides.  As you are generally trying to roll low in the game, a more capable character will use fewer-sided dice, making it easier for him to accomplish a task. As the character takes wounds or stress or becomes exhausted, he is penalized by having to use more or bigger dice. Wounds are attributed to specific areas of the body, and have specific effects on abilities. He took a major wound to the leg? He's not running anywhere for the remainder of the scenario, and may not even be on his feet any more, though he may still have a role to play.

The designers had the very interesting idea of using pre-printed cards with scratch off elements that allow most of the in-game wounds to be temporary matters that heal when the scenario is done, while letting more serious injuries become permanent changes to the character card. Experience-based improvements are also permanent. So the implications for campaign play are pretty powerful. If you take good care of your characters they will improve with experience. Bad luck or bloody-minded decision making will take a heavy toll on them.

The game is currently being kickstarted (it was demoed at the Fall In convention in Lancaster PA this past weekend) and you can learn more about it here:


  1. Wonderful minis, details are the poses of the archers, so dynamic!

    1. Thanks very much Phil. Yes they are really great sculpts, and very fun to paint. I had never seen digitally sculpted miniatures up close before, and I am blown away by the technology, as well as the artistry.