Shadowsea: The Axibalan Empire

My adventures at GenCon resulted in many nifty and shiny things coming home with me. It’s hard to wander the dealer hall and not have your eye taken by shiny geegaws, to have your ear bent by enthusiastic game developers and their volunteers as they espouse the joys of their particular corner of the tabletop world. Over the next several weeks most of my hoard will make its way up here on el bloggerino, though I still need to break the seal on some of the board game. Hello, Star Trek Ascendancy, you’ll get your turn…

… Today I thought we’d take a look at the models I picked up for Shadowsea. This is a game that’s long been on my radar strictly for the aesthetic. Shadowsea, and its sister game Deepwars, takes tabletop gaming to a place it rarely ventures: Underwater. The factions of Shadowsea reside in a Hollow Earth kind of setting, as I understand it, and Deepwars in the underground oceans of the same world, meaning the two games are fully compatible (though your terrain may factor heavily into how well they can or can’t interact). I haven’t had a chance to read through the rules yet, or even to apply paint to model, but I wanted to at least have a look at the models. So… the Axibalan Empire of Shadowsea: The unboxening.

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I chose the Empire partially for its mesoamerican aesthetic, but also because the faction has anthropomorphic beastmen (the rhino guy looks tankalicious). Much like the Tharn of Warmachine, the men and women of the Empire play different roles in warfare, with the guys taking on brutal animalistic elements and the women harnessing magic zappiness.

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The Warband Starter set comes with quickstart rules, model cards, some counters to cut out and three measuring templates, as well as the four depicted models. I will note that the measuring templates are in fact longer than the packaging, so the cardboard is bent to fit. Unbends easily enough though.

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The Amatzl Temple Guardian is one of two unnamed grunts in the box. Give components, she’s pretty straightforward to assemble. I was particularly impressed at the thinness of the shield. While these models are clearly fantastic (as in, following a fantasy aesthetic), the scale exaggeration is somewhat minimized (he said, acknowledging that the haft of the spear is still way thicker than you’d see on, for example, an Arena Rex model). There’s a bunch of flash that needs trimming, especially under the arm there, but that’s a few seconds’ work with a hobby knife.

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One thing I hadn’t realized before making the purchase was that each model comes with a sculpted base insert. The Guardian’s one will actually balance the model standing in it, which was a source of some amusement. I wonder if she’ll stay upright without glue once she’s fully assembled…

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The Tlactl Bone Snapper has a name that I don’t know how to pronounce. Mine was a mispack with only one of his horns, but the other is already en route thanks to Antimatter Games’ customer service desk. I really like the detail on the model. With six components (once the missing horn arrives), he clocks in as the model requiring the most assembly.

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The cut for the head was nicely done. I couldn’t hold it flsuh with one hand, but it’s a very clean fit. The poleaxe, on the other hand, will require a little careful bending to properly line up the wrists for a clean fit. Still, nothing dramatic, and I do quite like the detail on the model.

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Amoxtli (apparently that’s an X) is a really neat pose. Perched on top of an angled monolith and drawing an arrow from her quiver, she’d make a pretty sweet ranger model for an RPG. She’s apparently like Zerkova in the fluff, hunting for ancient relics and using one or two of them herself as weapons (in this case, her bow). I’d want to pin that wrist joint, mind you.

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The base inserts are neat. For my Warmachine models I definitely prefer Dragon Forge Design bases (#SponsorPlug) but for a game where I’m only going to have a few models here or there, having their thematically aligned bases provided by the producer is handy, and allows them to make models like Amoxtli without the support feature being jarring aesthetically compared to the rest of the force (I’m looking at you, Eiryss2).

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I’ll be honest, Xuihcoatl – another name I have no idea how to pronounce – is the model that sold me on this particular starter warband. You may recall last year I grabbed some models for Wild West Exodus (which I’ve yet to do anything with) and opted for the Warrior Nation faction primarily based on a fondness of the con-exclusive Chief Raven Spirit – a shaman surrounded by an enormous ghostly spirit gribbly thing. Xuihcoatl follows along a similar vein, with her spirit ghost lizard piranha thingummy.

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Behold its fishy chompers! Also the feather headdress looks like it might be fun to paint.

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The single model is Mayahuel, who I’m thankful doesn’t have an X in her name to confuse me. At 97 pts she’s the most expensive of the named characters (and amusingly, still less points than the grunt Temple Guardian) but I think the thing that appealed to me most about her was the swirling waters. Just like Xuihcoatl’s spell effect manifesting on the model, the water tendrils provide an opportunity for funky effect painting that I’m sure to abuse and underuse. Also, it reminds me of the Unicorn Clan from L5R, who were one of my two favourites to play, so there’s that.

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I’m really going to need to up my feather game before tackling this one on the painting table.

I have no idea when I’m going to get a chance to actually paint the models, let alone play the game, but by and large Antimatter Games has produced some fun sculpts that should be interesting to tackle. With Patrick Keith handing a bunch of the sculpting chores, I look forward to seeing more nifties to add to a small collection at some point.

You can check out Antimatter Games at the following link: http://antimatter-games.com/

Take a peek, it may tickle your fancy.