The word is just out—Paizo and WizKids aren’t just doing non-randomized sets of the iconics; they’re moving on towards a full line of prepainted miniatures: monsters, characters, iconics, the whole works. The new line will be called Pathfinder Battles.
While Pathfinder Battles doesn’t look to be dual-purpose for both roleplaying and a Clix game (curses!), it’ll be marketed as Clix games have been in the past: by randomized boosters. Those of us who remember the plasticrack days of Dungeons & Dragons Minis will be familiar with this method, only the pack contents will be a lot closer to the old Clix offerings.
Actually, less: each “pack” will contain a single medium fig, or two small figs, unless you’re buying a pack which will have a large figure. The print runs will be on the smaller and balanced size; each “brick” of 16 small/medium boosters and 3 large boosters will contain only a minimum of repeats. Buy four bricks (a case) and you’ve got pretty much the entire run. If this sounds familiar to you… you’ve probably bought HeroClix or ActionClix. I’m hoping they keep the same rarity fix as HeroClix, too, where you got a 199-point Emperor Joker in the same common slot as a 50-point Bouncing Boy.
The first set, the 40-piece Heroes & Monsters, is coming December 2011; from the previews its looking like a lot of the iconic monsters and basic hero combinations. The second set will be Rise of the Runelords in June 2012. From that, I’m assuming each set will be tied to a specific adventure path or part of the setting. (I’m finished with Legacy of Fire, but sign me up right now. Same for Carrion Crown if it includes the Lovecraftian Bestiary monsters.) Runelords will also have 60 figures, which will sell in “encounter packs” of six figures—finally bringing Pathfinder Battles to the say format as HeroClix boosters.
While some people might complain about the six-month delay in sets, I’m going to refute that; my biggest problem with DDM was that some sets were released on top of each other, making them a pain in the ass to collect. (Archfiends/Giants of Legend was the worst combo, since they both had a bunch of rad figures.) Three sets a year was the big part of DDM that I didn’t like… that and the price increases, from $10 to $12 to $15. Stupid cost of oil-based plastics.
I do have to question the price, which isn’t listed on the press release. The HeroClix and ActionClix “boosters” usually had four or five minis, and the “packs” with less sold for $5 or less. Even if the paint quality is as high as the Beginner Box Heroes pack, I can’t see many players eager to drop full price on a pack netting them one or two figures. If they are kept cheap—in the $3-5 range—it means that buying by the brick, or even by the case, won’t be prohibitively expensive. I expect the “encounter pack” 6-figure boosters will be closer to the traditional Clix cost of $15 a pack, which is comparable to DDM and the Clix, but is still a fair chunk of money.
And like with all sets, I’m wondering about variety. Personally, I wouldn’t mind if the Runelords set had a half-dozen different goblins, provided they were in different poses with different weapons: goblin with horsechopper, goblin with dogslicer, goblin shaman, goblin firebug, goblin bomb-chucker, goblin on goblin dog, etc. And most people who want prepainted minis want non-random sets of similar figs, so getting a pair of goblins every few Runelords pack won’t bother them. Other players might not be as welcoming of this variety, especially for foes that aren’t used as often (either low-level like goblins, or high-level like outsiders). No matter what happens, everyone will never be pleased by the layout of a prepainted, randomized miniatures set. (Unless it’s Wolf Strike. Or Hammer of Thor, which apparently I should have bought before it vanished.)
Three things I don’t want to see. One: horses and mounts. DDM did these, and they were flipping useless, both in the miniatures game and for roleplaying. Two: random size discrepancies between figures. (Why is the dwarven badonkadonk six times larger than other figures in the same set?) Three: a whole lot of figures I’ll never end up using. DDM had a poor variety of non-fighter PCs, and tended to do really weird stuff instead of sticking to heroes, summonable creatures, and basic adversaries. Yeah, some variety would be nice, and I’d like a good assortment of monsters I can use for higher-level adventures, but try to weed out are the really fringe stuff. Putting similiar things in the same set would help; I’d rather buy some The Great Beyond knowing I’d get a lot of outsiders than pick up a bajillion boxes of Second Darkness hoping to get the one succubi or barbed devil. Of course, that goes against the “good marketing” part of randomized minis: having the customers buy a ton of them to get the figures they think they need.
Depending on the quality of figures, price, and availability, I could see heading out to my FLGS or local Borders to pick up some of these as an impulse buy. At the very least, I can die happy knowing the growing void in my life (err, pocketbook)—prepainted d20 miniatures—is returning. “If only I could afford it” is becoming my worst complaint about Paizo products.