The second round of voting is over and it is time to announce the winners of the 2010 Tabletop Gaming news Editor’s Choice Awards.
Over the last few weeks the members of the Award Jury have been submitting their votes for their top ten and then their top three entrants. Last week our “long list” was narrowed to a top ten in each category. And now it is time to announce the winner and runner-up in each of the seven categories.
This year’s awards were probably the most difficult to do. Not only was the nomination list the longest it has even been but the general level of sculpting, design and general professionalism in the hobby went up a notch this year making it quite difficult to pick the winners in this year’s Editor’s Choice Awards.
Alien hunter Lt. Kara Black was the clear winner in this category getting first place votes from almost all of the judges. It is easy to praise this figure but there are some important reasons why this is easily the best sci-fi mini released this year. The main reason is the exquisite sculpting by Kev White. The pose and anatomy are indicative of one of the few sculptors in the business to consistently model the human form in realistic poses. The material used to cast this model also shows off the detail in the sculpt and has allowed him to really raise the bar in terms of the intricacy of the sculpt. The other reason to love this mini is that it is a female character that doesn’t rely on T and A to appeal to gamers. She is realistically dressed and clearly in charge of her environment. Strong female sculpts are more rare than they should be in this hobby and its great to see one done so well.
Ikazuchi No Tora is part of Kabuki Miniature’s Dark Messiah range of sci-fi miniatures and is an interesting take on the Samurai themed sci-fi miniature. The traditional look of the armour and sword is offset by the more gothic embellishments such as shoulder pads and armour skirting. The model comes with two heads and the helmeted version accentuates the Samurai theme while the bare head helps to divorce the model from that historical look and give it a more villainous sci-fi look.
What is better than wining one category? How about winning a second? 2010 Reader’s Choice winner Y’Sala and Darkness only managed to place a distant second to Studio McVey’s Ar-Fienel figure. Both are great fantasy miniatures that contain an otherworldly feel to them but there is an air of elegant grace to the Ar-Fienel sculpt and a delicacy to the sculpting of the clothes and limbs that make Ar-Fienel stand out. Both miniatures were sculpted by Yannick Hennebo who also did the concept art. The execution of both figures is almost flawless and while Y’Sala and Darkness might have been technically ore difficult to sculpt, Yannick appears to have breathed life into Ar-Fienel.
Alternative Adventure Miniature
How about a threepeat? Studio McVey also takes first place in the Alternative Adventure category with their delightful Isabella figure. This category was one of the most contentious and Isabella and Uncle Meat were separated by a single vote in the first round and tied in the second. The votes from the first round were used as a tie-breaker and so Isabella squeaked through to a victory. It is slightly ironic that the coquettish Isabella wins in this round after my comments in regard to Lt. Kara Black but despite her obvious charms Isabella isn’t quite as over-the-top as some of the figures that the hobby produces. She also seems like a more Pulp/Noir influenced version of Lara Croft. The tight and revealing clothing offset by her jacket and monkey companion.
Uncle Meat is a miniature that lacks subtlety in almost all respects. The comic-book musculature of the figure owes more to influences such as RanXerox or Richard Corben than any realistic version of the human form and the menacing look of the figure is only matched by the impressive portable meat saw he is carrying. Uncle Meat is a beefy, hulk of a man who is pissed off and ready to dish out trouble. He is also a wonderfully conceived and executed miniature and it is a testament to the Jacques-Alexandre Gillois’s skill that can make such an exaggerated monster of a figure look realistic and human.
Perry Miniatures always create detailed and accurate historical figures and this year is no exception. The plastic 28mm War of the Roses infantry boxed set was the clear favourite of the judges. The 40 figure boxed set has parts to create archers and billmen as well as more heavily armoured command figures. The set comes with additional parts for customization as well as 56 different heads. All sculpted to the usual Perry standards.
The Warlord GamesWWII German Early Production Tiger I is one of the first vehicles produced by Warlord for their Bolt Action WWII range. The resin and metal kit is a very well sculpted vehicle and can’t hide behind the “protection” of zimmerit or stowage. The lines in this model have to be crisp and they are.
I think it doesn’t need to be said that the Tabletop World Guard Tower destroyed the competition in this category. The level of detail and craftsmanship in the terrain piece puts it into a class of its own when it comes to commercially available wargaming terrain. It looks less like a cast piece of resin terrain and more like an manually constructed building. This probably has to do with the method in which Tabletop World create their terrain. The price is certainly higher than most mass produced terrain pieces but this is really a stunning piece of work and another in a long line of amazing work created by them.
One of opposite end of the spectrum is the runner-up in the category the GW Dreadstone Blight tower. Being a GW product is it mass-produced and plastic but still has a great amount of detail. Being plastic it also means that it will be easy to customize or modify. Despite being produced by Games Workshop it really doesn’t suffer from the overenthusiastic misuse of gothic architectural flourishes that have plagued a lot of the terrain that GW has created. The multi-story terrain piece also had the advantage of being able to be used for mass-combat or skirmish games and the internal detail and finishes make it great to look at and allows terrain painters to add detail or paint additional detail to really make the piece shine.
This is the first year that accessories have been spun off into their own category and the nominees and the category have already proven to be contentious. The category was split from terrain based on feedback from readers as well as our general experience with the awards these past few years. Typically terrain tends to win out over tokens and bases. This year though we sought to solve this by adding a category for accessories and we also inadvertently created a slight tempest with the nomination of the Superior POD Print on Demand Gaming Card Decks. Whatever the argument against them the Jury thought that the Print on Demand Gaming Card Decks were a valuable tool not only for homebrew gamers but also for anyone wanting to create professional looking cards for whatever games they play. While services like this have existed for a few years this is the first time that a company has marketed this service to gamers. Not only did the Jury think the nomination was merited, the Jury also awarded it first place in the Accessory category.
The runner-up in this category are the wonderfully baroque Bio Tech Bases from Micro Art Studios. Micro Art is known for the intricacy of their bases and the oftentimes improbable nature of some of their ranges, like the Forest range, in which it seems almost impossible to use the bases for their intended purpose. The Bio Tech Bases skirt that fine line between base and terrain piece and provide a wonderfully detailed base that you can still manage to attach a figure to. The 40mm bases are particularly great examples with each base providing a wonderful amount of sculpted detail that still manages to provide a flat surface to attach your miniature.
Rules or Expansion
Rules are the engines that drive our gaming and it is often this category that generates the most votes and most interest each year. The most popular nominees this year were either reworked versions of rules or expansions to existing games.
Corvus Belli released the Human Sphere expansion for their Infinity sci-fi skirmish game and it added new factions, new units and new sci-fi gadgets and weapons. The rules are available in print but also available as a free PDF download. The combination of hard sci-fi and anime was a popular one with judges who awarded it first place. If you like Infinity, and a lot of people do, then Human Sphere gives you more of what makes Infinity a unique sci-fi game.
The Pulp City Guide is the print version of an expanded set of Superhero combat rules based on the free PDF rules that Pulp Monsters posted in 2008. It is difficult to determine if this is a new ruleset, due to the modifications to the rules, or an expansion due to the additional heroes and villains included. The Pulp City Guide expanded the background for the various factions in the game and introduces several new ones. It cleans up some of the action and movement rules and gives gamers a Minion construction system to build your own Minions based on your own figures.