Future fantasy sets (hero options)

  • For those of you buying fantasy sets. If a box came with 5 sprues of 6 models. Would it influence you positively or negatively if one of the bodies on the sprue, and say 1/5 of the options on the sprue were geared towards a character?

    For example. In the skeleton sprue. If working with the above numbers, if there were 5 skeletons and a 6th body that was a necromancer or a death knight... that would make only 25 skeletons and 5 of the "hero" would having that extra option but less troops be favorable or would it dilute the set too much?

    Another example. Halflings. Would having the options for 5 halflings to be wizards or captains make up for only having 25 halfling militia in a box?

    @hudson asked about single character sprues. But I wonder if having more options in one box is better as it gets you more right away... (though less overall)

    What are your thoughts?

  • I like the idea in concept but in practice the one officer on the WW1/WW2 French sprue is a bit problematic.

    For me, having a single command/character sprue (with lots of “flavor” accessories) in addition to the regular sprues in the box is a bit more useful, ie like the WW2 Italian box.

  • I agree with @Grumpy Gnome it can be a nuisance unless the "special figure" simply uses a different head and/or arms. Like with the Halflings and Skeletons.

    I also find it a nuisance with smaller-scale metal miniatures. Were command figures and regular troops are sold as one. I rather see them sold separately. It gives you more flexibility. Although I get that it might be inconvenient for plastic figures.

    But if I buy a kit of skeletons, I am after the skeletons and not hero characters. So it would probably be off-putting for me.

  • There's a distinction to be drawn between heroes/characters and the command group fantasy games allow within regiments. I like how Perry do it - a standardised sprue for your rank and file, and a command sprue to jazz up a handful of them as captain/musician/standard bearer.

  • @fodzilla warlords landsknects has a separate command sprue too. But for some reason they don't include it in the zwiehanders and missile troop boxes. I do appreciate command options. 

  • I would largely agree with Grumpy Gnome and Berggeit.  It is not ideal in the French Infantry box.  No one needs 1 Officer per 5 or 6 men.  "Never were so few, lead by so many!"

    One extra half "Command" sprue per box on the other hand would certainly increase perceived value.

    A possible exception is if the "6th" body was flexible enough to build multiple types of characters.  I.E there are enough heads, arms, capes, and chest plates to build several types of characters from that body.  In the original post "Skeleton Box" example... if the 6th body could build a liche (and/or unit champion), a necromancer, banshee, or battle standard bearer that could be useful. 

    The seperate half "Command" sprue is still probably the better way to go.

  • With fantasy, or even historical kits where leaders are essentially wearing the same armour or clothing as the troops it's better to just add some bling options and make it one sprue. A few leader heads, some arms with fancier weapons, a cloak.

    You can always make your leader stand out at the painting stage - in a lot of armies it's just going to be the quality of the gear and clothes. Paint up the king in bright silks with ornate trim, while his men are in wool and linen.

  • @Mark Dewis 

    That's a good point.

    But leader and troops looking very similar in history (at least until the the second half of the 20th century) or fantasy is RELATIVELY rare.

    Many historical leaders would have had far different/and or better armor.  There's many historical examples where they would be the only one's in armor.  Their troops in cloth or less.  

    In fantasy a Wight or Liche leading a regiment of skeletons is probably going to be heavily armored in contrast to the "nekkid" skellies he is leading.....

  • I like others agree with the @Grumpy Gnome, a Command Sprue with one or two 'hero' bodies and some different head and weapon options on it, as per the Gripping Beast Saxon and Viking sets and Warlord's Greek Hoplites, would be better than one character body per sprue of troops, because unless you're playing something like Middle-Earth Strategy Battle Game, for which the 'Warband' format is stupid anyway, no fantasy army will need more than 3-4 heroes at most, and if you need 3 or 4 you can simply get multiples of the troop boxes, because chances are you'll need more troops anyway.

  • @Caratacus 

    Well stated.  Well reasoned.

  • @William Redford Not really a deal breaker for me, but if it was like the French infantry set (35 bodies on 5 sprues with 6 normal and one officer for a total 7 bodies per sprue) would actually be a selling point for me particularly given the number heads we get in most of these sets.

    To be honest though making a "Hero/Character" out of a standard mini is pretty easy (even out of the box) and after thinking about what you and Hudsion asked its almost a "why bother?" with maybe a "when you can just add a cape  and some cool headswaps?" thrown in though perhaps all thats really needed is some cool left hand poses that are not pointy fingers.  

    I mean lets take WA's WW2 sets for example. 

    The main Italian sprue by itself can pretty much be made into a small party of “heroes” for pulp and dieselpunk gaming simply by using one of each type of hat head swap and not giving them all feathers along with using at least one of each type of gun on the sprue and then giving them different paint jobs.

    Then we have the Partisan set sprue which is simply just custom character sprues by nature of the body variation, head swaps and weapon options. That’s a half sprue and I well be honest in stating that they could have done an added crouch pose like the Afghans at the expense of some of the automatic weapons making it a 40 figure set and it would still be a custom character set and likely still sell as well if not better.

    If this works for history gaming, why wouldn’t it work for the more lucrative fantasy market particularly when we have the Northstar’s Frostgrave soldier set right there doing just that and making more money than it probably should be.

     In other words: is there a good reason to do a single character sprue or even a character body on a main sprue when a normal set of 30 to 40 figures with a single type of sprue that has a lot of head options and maybe varied body options will do the trick and sell like hot cakes in all likely hood? I vote WA just does that for the characters if we are just talking fantasy adventurers (officers, etc. for fantasy armies though I think it could be done similar to the WW1/2 French, particularly if we are talking full sprues which would be pretty easy to justify).

    Likewise after quite a bit of thought on it and observation, I think they should make it vaguely Victorian/wild west gothic themed with animal eared demihumans and vampire headswap options thrown in alongside humans, make sure none of the weapon option are too alike, maybe add a whip and stakes or something for gothic horror gaming and call it something like "Vampires and Hunters I: male fantasy adventurers and antagonists" for males, boom done with everything from frostgrave, rangers of shadow deep and D&D to silver bayonet and Dracula's America for male humaniods and if it sells well do a female set the same way except female (some skirts instead of pants, etc.) or do the female version first and release it in conjunction with the camp follower set.

  • Im not sure how I fall on it. On one hand, as I like building big units anything that reduces the troops in a box is not to my liking. On the otherhand more options are always good, and it means i am getting what would essentially be two sets in the current scheme, but right away instead of having to wait a year or more for a follow up set.

    @Brian Van De Walker I agree really with what you said. Like the conquistadors it is not hard to make a character, especially with extra bits from other sets. Though the conquistadors are almost an example of having extra bits (with the sprue and a half) but with a reduced number in the box (at 24). The only thing I would wish for in that set would be a cape, or some pistols, or a head that stood out more as a "command head".

    Edit: Thinking about it, the Frostgrave boxes are more "hero boxes" than unit boxes. You get a reduced number (20) and a fair bit of options, but you cant really make units (if you want a standardized equipment or helmet style in your unit. And even if that is not a concern for you, you get capped at unit size unless buying multiple boxes. The Oathmark boxes are different. You do get your units.. with more models and more standardized equipment, but at the expense of those frostgrave options. The beauty of course being that you can combine them and have the best of both worlds. But Wargames Atlantic does not have that yet as for the most part we dont have any cross compatible sets yet... (other than using cross genre sets like Dark age Irish or late Romans with Conquistadors). 

  • I'm torn. On the one hand, command models in a wargaming unit should be clearly members, with pretty much the same clothes/armor and weapon. And you don't need more than one of each in 15 dudes, probably less, so you could make one of the seven (for five dudes) head types have a feather in his hat and add one pointing arm (very straight, so very efficient for sprue space) per sprue. Real heroes, with elite armor and bigger weapons and heroic poses and whatnot, should come at 2-3 per army of 100-200 dudes, so having 16% of the bodies be of that superpose would not be productive.

    On the other hand, my old litany, I like humanoid warbands as strings of D&D encounters. In fifteen orc/gnoll/goblin/goatfolk/ape/barbarian/etc minis I'd probably build two casters and three different chieftains, plus very non-unified gear and poses for everybody else. So I could absolutely make use of 20%+ hero bodies.

    Now here's the thing: Reaper offers the building blocks for that kind of ragtag warband. Probably because there is demand for it amongst DMs. But they do it in 2-4 minis per blister, with the expected prices (like 2-4 monies per mini) and no control for the customer over the actual gear and poses. HIPS kits just strike me as a much better solution for this.

    Maybe... maybe a five-folio bundle at the price of a regular box, with customized contents? Like, maybe somebody wants four sprues of goblins and one of Irish. Or three sprue-pairs of skeletons, one trooper sprue of conquistators and one pair of conquistator half-sprues. That'd be dreamy, except for the logistics nightmare and the price per folio already being not 100% consistent. But if dreaming isn't allowed, then what is?

  • @William Redford Nah, you can use the Frostgrave soldiers for unit building, its just that it would likely either be all "swordsmen" without sheilds (ie single hand weapon users) or as miltia if you are just using one box. In fact if Northstar had added one more sprue to the box they could be fielded as bowmen or crossbowmen for KOW out of the box and I know Warlord was selling them along with the other Frostgrave kits as "force builders" for thier own fantasy wargame.

    Yes it wouldn't be standardized but thats actually very realistic and common for most sword and bow armies and settings even in fantasy since long marchs, lots of looting, heavy use of mercs,etc. I mean how the heck could they possibly look like a uniform standardized force with all that going on🤣. (The old 48 figure Fireforge Men at Arms kit is what inspired the Frostgrave soldiers set and that’s not uniform either even though it was meant for army building😉).

    That said if we focus on keeping with uniformity cause "our fantasy setting has mid-19th+ century logistics due to warp portals and flying ships" or whatever, in those cases all you really need is probably the right head and weapon swap for characters in most cases and even if  WA threw in a slightly alternately clothed body it could be used for elite squads .

    For example let us say that we have a set of fantasy Zulu wars redcoats themed men at arms whose main builds are guys in sun helmets with halberds, swords, rifles, maybe some crossbows. Well in this case all you really need to make a spell caster is the right sort of arm options (well posed unarmed hands would work, a onehanded staff would work, maybe a hand with a fireball in it) and a mystical looking hat headswap, similar deal with an officer except all you need there is a pistol (you already have swords), for a musician all you need is a bugle/horn arm. If you make some of these alternative arm options for left hands its even useful.  

    Theoretically one could do that as 4 to 5 body half sprue likely by limiting each weapon option to at most 2 poses, but let’s say this is a single full sprue set and in addition to mention above we want to add a knight/paladin/hero. Well that’s simple, you take one redcoat put an armored plate cuirasses on him and maybe add a cape/cloak to the sprue and an enclosed armored helmet or 2 alongside the mage, officer and bugler, perhaps some armored arms.

    Now you may say “but now its no longer uniform is it? and what will you do with the extra bodies?”,  actually no it is still uniform with the rest since all you have done is added armor cuirasses over a standard soldier so he is just equipped a little differently from the standard line trooper. You can still outfit him with all the head and weapon options on the sprue, including the other command options (so armored mage and commander +2 bodyguards) and you can also just use the body to make upgraded standard soldiers for squad leaders.

    The point is if you’re going for uniformity in your army or war band you want differences between your heroes and your common foot troops to be subtle (ie they need to look like the same army), and that can be achieved best with headswaps and other add on bits to a normal in set soldier body most of the time, and you don’t want to think of special bodies as just hero bodies you need to think of them as regular soldier bodies with new specialist equipment such as armor attached to them in this case.


  • Yeah. Fireforge's northmen. I really lik ethe command sprue. It adds to making a hero that while looks like he belongs in the unit, still looks higher rank or more "special". The command sprue has 2 up armored torsos (and really not that much additional armor) 2 cloaks and some arms with shoulder pads. 


    The cannon fodder body sprue... its smaller than the "half sprue". Was that part of a larger sprue and just cut? or are sprue sizes that size an option? If they can make sprues that size for other things. A small command body sprue might be interesting. Since its a whole body they could add all kinds of strange options that dont necessarily fit the standard concept of the box. Much like adding the Death Fields options to fantasy sets, or adding character options, or even female options). The sprue could just be 5 alternate bodies... or it could be 3 alternate bodies and some wierd heard options... (again... sci fi, animal, command, female, etc...) I have no Idea what the extra cost would be, but It doesnt even necessarily have to be sold in the box. It could be like the accesory sprue that they have. Or... they could include one in the boxes and up the price a slight bit to reflect the cost. 

    Just spitballing. I still not sure what my own preference would be on this. 

  • I prefer for a variety of body/armor types on the sprue, such as with the DA Irish and the Persians.  The Late Romans are a good kit, but head and arm swaps can only take it so far.  With at least one elite body per sprue, leaders and specialists are much easier to convert to satisfaction with head and arm swaps.


    for example, I really hope the Egyptian sprue has at least one of their "heavily" armored bodies that can make royal guards, Sherden mercenaries, or heavy marines (depending on period) with just some head and weapon choices.

  • @William Redford

    I was referring to Fireforge's older Deus Vault men at arms set which is probably the better set to use as model for fantasy sets (northmen didn't come around till will after Northstar had several sets out, in fact their oathmark men at arms kind of caused problems for Fireforge's Northmen KS).

    My main point is you really don't need another sprue for command or special options unless you really want everything on half sprues which frankly is kind of a bad design when one full sprue could just cover everything infantry wise for most fantasy subjects normally, this includes heroes and command options.  Unless you really want a full marching band alongside a flagbearer that isn’t a converted spear man there just isn't a good reason to make 2 sprues normally (I mean both WA's and Northstar's  goblin sets are done complete with command options on one sprue).


  • Fireforge stuff is good. I have a biggish Northman army. (4 units of 30 Infantry. 30 Spear and Shield, 30 Halbred, 30 sword and shield and 30 2 handed spear. 18 cavalry (3 units of 6) and various non Fireforge hero elements, Including a GW knight (with female head and other bits) generalk and her 4 WA Irish wolf hounds. Leaving a Box of Rangers a Box of Cavalry And probably 3 boxes of Folk Rabble still in the basement. Other than the northmen, the only Fireforge I have is a box of the mongols (who I liked everything except the faces) and a box of the Byzantine medium cavalry guys Kous... Kousores? I always get that wrong. The KousKous guys are pretty great. I have only assembled one, I bought them to convert some Amazons from the Scythian and Amazons kickstarter in to heavier female cavalry... But of course the project is waiting on the kickstarter to deliver. I will likely back the Fireforge Samurai KS... and have a small fantasy Samurai army.

  • It sounds nice, especially if the models could work as elite units or standard units with different parts.

  • For me the best option is a command/support sprue, expecially in ancient/fantasy armies the leaderships were generally better dressed/equipped than the rank & file, look to Gauls' armies, only the nobles and the more expert/successful warriors could afford armours , all the others were lucky to have a bronze helmet.

    Also in more modern sets, too many times we see precious space occupied by figures that aren't needed in great number, look how in plastic 1/72 soldiers' boxes, there are too many officers/std bearers and drummers, only Strelets make command boxes.

  • I think a fantasy version of the "Command & Heavy Support" kit, something like "Command & Magic Support." It would probably sell well with Skirmish and RPG players.

  • It would be fun to augment some of the blood oath and decline and fall stuff with fantasy/near fantasy offerings - an Arthurian themed set with some options for armored up late roman champions, as well some wizardy options for Merlin or a nice old crypto-druid, and some lady bits (har har) for a Morgan le Fay, Guinevere, or random queen/princess type would be pretty great, and work well with the ranges - even if that's the kind of thing that the STL stuff seems more geared for.

  • In a world where special hero characters can be 3D-printed easily enough by anyone with the hardware, I almost think I'd rather dedicate the resources to more weapon/gear options to dress up the rank-and-file troops with, and then sell heroes separately via Atalantic Digital STLs or Only Games printed sets.

    And with a wealth of D&D fantasy minis out there, plus offerings from the likes of Frostgrave (Wizards, Knights, etc.), it's extremely easy to find wizards and such to complete a fantasy army with, if you're willing to go third-party.  Reaper's got tons of Bones plastic wizards and warchiefs of every description, for example, and really those RPG adventurers are the very stuff of hero characters, no?

    That said, I think that in theory a hero characer on a sprue with four or five rank-and-file troops COULD be done well in some situations, where the hero character's body could still be used as one of the regular troops - the weapons/hand poses, heads, and other extra bits and bobs can make most of the difference, I think, in these situations.  This might especially work, if by "hero character", you mean something a little broader than a leader:  characters who might be doing or equipped for something a little different from the other troops; in more modern or sci-fi armies, this might include medics, radio-men, heavy weapons guys... and again, it's situations like that where it's the heads, arms, and add-on gear make much of the difference.  In fantasy terms, the difference between a "hero character" and other troops might simply be a little more or a little less armor, and as long as the "hero" body can double for a ham-and-egger body for a trooper who happens to have slightly heaver or lighter armor, then so be it - and yet again, heads and arms/weapons make much of the difference!  Probably not the best way to add in a charismatic warlord, wizard, cult leader, or whatever, but I suppose it can be done.

    And, I think there are situations where a special command sprue is attractive, though I almost think these sorts of sprues might almost be best filled out with some sort of equivalent to the Frostgrave Wizards or Knights kits:  a large sprue for four or five very colourful "heroes", with a huge variety of eccentric and specialized heads, arms, and other gear, and then sell these sprues not just as singles in the box, but maybe also separately on the site specifically for RPG or small warband "hero"-building purposes. At which point, you might almost be better off selling separate hero kits, depending on how the economics work....

    I also think it might be do-able for WGA to make a boxed set of generic one-size-fits-most "hero" bits that can be used to make special characters for a variety of different armies - after all, you can get a lot of mileage for avariety of fantasy human and elf (and even historical) armies (for example) with a sprue that contains, among other things, bodies in ornate armor, heads wearing crowns, bodies in elaborate robes that could work for clerics, necromancers, wizards and cult leaders, capes, pointing arms, arms holding spellbooks/holy-books, hands with standards, arms pointing swords, and so on: many ofthese sorts of things can be used for non-human armies as well (your orc warband doesn't necessarily need to be led by an orc, an evil wizard or corrupt warlord often works just as well, and a hooded-and-robed wizard/cultist/necromancer type character can pretty easily lead an army of undead, especially if some of the hooded head options are hooded skulls and the robe arm optons include skeletal hands.....  Its use beyond human and elf characters might start getting a bit unweildy, so dwarf and halfling gamers might be at a bit of a disadvantage, but maybe with a generic leader-for-(almost)-any-occasion boxed set with two or three different sprues could even make some token nods at non-human armies by including a few heads and arms or even bodies for hafling, dwarf, orc, goblin, or other non-human heroes, depending on how far the economics will go....

    All in all, though, I'm really thinking that WGA might get the most bang for their product development and manufacturing buck, and their mass wargaming customers' buck, simply by aiming at the ham-and-egger troops for boxed sets, and then designing nice hero characters for digital sales....

    Which seems to be kind of what WGA was experimenting with, in characters like this Irish Chieftain, and Vlad the Impaler, either of whom would, incidentally, make fine hero characters for fantasy armies:

    I think the main trick in this, would be accessibility for those of us who haven't dipped our toes into home printing yet!

    Still, for those of us who can't print the heroes, and where Only Games or other third-party printers cannot fill the printing gaps as middle-men, there's always the options mentioned by others:  painting a leader slightly differently, using the usual "hero bits" like standards and pointing fingers and capes to stand out, and kitbashing unique bits for them.  Or, just buying third-party RPG character minis.  Theseare not exciting solutions for all gamers, but they're always available to fall back on and easy to work with!


  • To be honest, after thinking on it, I think the Frostgrave Solder set (diffrent weapons and bodies, same gender, totally matching arms) is probably the way to do "heroes" so to speak and its very similar setup to the WW2 partisan set. Go ragtag on the bodies and weapons and add some extra mismashed gear  but make sure the arms are mostly interchangable in appreance  except maybe the 2 handed weapon poses.

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