Thursday, 26 May 2011

Things that I play (well collect) Hell Dorado

Website ( Cipher Studios )

The second of the two Cipher Studio games that I'm collecting, it's probably fair to say has had somewhat of a turbulent life in its brief existence. Initially released by Asomodee in 2008 (I think, although I'm sure if I'm wrong an angry Frenchman will correct me), it never quite made it to the English speaking world, as no official English rulebook was released, although Asmodee and others did publish some OK translations. It was a real shame an English version didn't make it out of the doors as it had a wonderfully dark (read at times perverted) and rich background and an even better set of miniatures. The game system started to hit trouble probably due in no small part to the fact that without an English rulebook it was missing a fairly large chunk of potential sales from the huge gaming markets of the States and the UK, not to mention the Aussies and Kiwi's. Sadly I think it became quite clear that under Asmodee the game was doomed.

So it was that Cipher Studios picked the game up after Asmodee decided to cut their ties with Hell Dorado. I think its fair to say that Cipher would probably have wanted things to have gone a little smoother, as they initially planned to have the English rulebook shipped by the end of 2010... we still haven't seen it (26/05/2011) although it is apparently at the printers now ( Cipher press release ) so perhaps there is  light at the end of the very dank, dark demon infested tunnel. They've started to release some new miniatures for the game as well ( Husaym al Din preview ) which I think is pretty cool!!! Its fair to say though that I've hardly played the game and its been difficult to keep people interested in whats going on with it. Since the rulebook just isn't out yet and rulebooks are the first thing would be gamers want to see. Its a shame because it really is a clever and fun little game system and given the professional job Cipher have done with Anima Tactics I have plenty of faith in them to do a good job with Hell Dorado. 

You see Hell Dorado has all the required elements to be a highly successful product, the miniatures really are something else and are a delight to work with as Thomas David and Jacques-Alexandre Gillois did amazing jobs with the sculpts. The background is rich vibrant and truly dark and quite unique in its own quirky way. The game system is quick, fun, intuitive and fluid. Yet still for some unknown reason Hell Dorado just hasn't had lift off yet. Don't get me wrong I love Malifaux, but when I look at the miniatures for both games side by side its hard to argue that Hell Dorado doesn't have the better sculpts. Yes sure they're totally different styles and if the Wyrd and whacky steam punk thing is more to your tastes then Malifaux will appeal more, but when you see the success of that game it comes down to marketing and pushing it right... and that's where so far Asmodee and Cipher have struggled and allowed, in many respects, inferior products to get a head start on them in the marketplace.

So its not widely played at all here in the UK, if at all. It did however used to have a very devout following both here and in mainland Europe, whether that still is the case is anybodies guess. I'm really not sure what is happening with the game because the guys over at Cipher aren't exactly updating their website on a regular basis and as a small little company it must be hard trying to keep two game systems going. I'm rooting for Kai and David I really am but I'm fearful for this game right now and Anima Tactics. You see although me and my friends have all got ourselves starter sets and in some cases some of the older Asmodee models, we're not exactly jumping at the chance to get games in. So with this in mind I'm sure there are others in the exact same boat I think its pretty fair to say the games future is still somewhat uncertain. This is a shame because the initial cost of getting into Hell Dorado is really quite cheap, you can pick up a good starter set for around £20 and that includes the starter rules and miniature cards to get you going. If you can rustle up a few more friends to perhaps pick up some starters, you might have some fun gaming sessions with it, but until the rulebook is released and the miniatures start rolling off of the production line a little more regularly its hard for me to advise other gamers to take the plunge. This makes me a sad panda. Peace out!

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