Monday, November 15, 2010

Figure Flats for Untold: Game Accessories for the Dark Future

Not so long ago I announced the release of Untold to the general public. I have also posted the character backgrounds and ecologies I have created for Wandering Men Studios’ post-apocalyptic fantasy. The company has big plans for expansion beyond releasing decks for the game. One such release is figure flats for Untold. Figure flats are not a new concept, many board games actually utilize the card board cut outs to represent the player’s pieces on the board, and Steve Jackson Games released numerous versions for their myriad worlds of GURPS. These character representations have also been referred to as penny men, because the base can be weighted with pennies pasted to the base to make them stand better.

Wandering Men Studios released these flats a couple weeks ago as a PDF download. I decide to see what they had and give them a try in my own pick up game I run for my nephew.

Armies Assembled
The download is pretty standard for such things that are purchased through places like RPGNow, etc. The basic sheets total twenty-five pages, including the cover page. The images are recycled art from the actual cards in circulation , using various minions, iconic characters, and creatures from Toa, the Apoc-Churl, to klik, to Vrr, a wide smattering of images to use in your game. The images are crisp, allowing for high resolution if one so desires. There is the ability in character building in Untold to allow for a Large character, and the images are offered in this scale. (My nephew encountered several Vrr with such an advantage.) The images are offered both in color and in gray scale for those who want to save precious ink.

Assembly was easier than Tab A to Slot B, simply cut and tape the base. I attempted to use thin card board backing to stiffen the figures, but the card board as still too thick when bent and the glue of course adds a layer of mess I don’t want to deal with. So I kept it simple with just the paper. I found with the Large images that the base was not wide enough for the height if the tabs were over lapped, no big issues as I simply joined them at the edges. (Who would have thought the whole height/base ratio we learned in school would have practical gaming application?) I did not bother weighting the bottoms as it was for a quick pick up game and the only issue I had with that were any air gusts that came up. No issues there during the session I ran with them.

The benefits of these flats versus minis are cost, weight, and space. At $3.50 and the ability to print off vast armies over and over again, these simple cut outs are more cost effective than miniatures which can cost as much for one mini. This price point seems to be in line with other PDF products out there. Weight is of course nonexistent with just paper minis, and they take up a fraction of the space that solid plastic miniatures use. These are perfect for travel and convention play.

There is also a versatility factor, with Untold, and the Splintered Serenity the default setting, having a multi-genre feel, the flats can be used for numerous games. On the whole, the post-apocalyptic Gamma World or even Twilight 2000 come to mind, but the high-bred flats could be easily co-opted for a special ops game, or the churls used in any fantasy setting. How about introducing your dungeon crawling adventures to a Vrr? Of course the L’na and kilk offer endless possibilities as well.

The only draw back is aesthetic, because these are recycled two dimensional images; there are back images, only shadow outlines to represent the back of the character.

Much of the art can be seen on the Untold website so the buyer already knows the great quality of art they are receiving. The versatility is there to make this a worthwhile investment for gamers of different systems and settings. It paid off for me, as the images helped bring the world and adventure I created for my nephew to life. It was actually the imagery of the klik roller that prompted him to play that character when I ran the game. When I put the Large Vrr out there with his smaller brethren, my nephew knew pain was coming…… so worth it!

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