Ex Illis – now simply Ex???

Well, word spread on e-mail, then Beasts of War broke the news, and finally today we have official news from the company themselves…Bastion Studios are no more, and with them, Ex Illis….

Hello everyone,

Right after the holidays, a series of event led us to the conclusion that a shutdown of operations, at least a temporary one, was needed. While sales are on the rise, communities are growing and our distribution network is improving everyday, it became apparent that we couldn’t continue with our current financial structure. The staff working at Bastion, myself included, has been let go, but it remains our collective aim to work together again once more on Ex illis with a new financial partner. Efforts are being made on that front, but as you can imagine, we are not in a position where we can freely discuss these things yet.

Despite this news, the servers will continue to stay up for the time being. This, and the fate of the Demon Horde box set, is of course intimately related to the arrival of new financial partners. While the future as a company is still uncertain, we have pledged to the player community that the servers would stay up and running and we intend to keep this promise.

This has been an emotional time for all of us at Bastion. We have been working hard over the last three years to create a game we are truly proud of, working hard in the past few months to avoid this situation, and now that it became unavoidable, we are still working hard to set it straight. You are welcome to write us at contactus@bastionstudio.com, but I apologize in advance if we do not have the time to answer to them individually.


So, what does this mean?

Well, for the moment, it means that Ex Illis is still playable, as the servers are still available – so you can still create musters, level units and allocate skills…how long for is another matter.

Without investment, there will be no new models…and once the contract on the servers runs out, there will be no more game. OK, you can ensure that you have loaded all your musters onto your software…so you could still play games, but that will be it.

At that point, Ex Illis will be no more…

…unless they can find new investment, of course.

So what went wrong? Freidrich states that sales and distribution were on the increase, which sounds healthy enough.

Honestly? We can only speculate, but I suspect that simple cashflow issues may very well be at the core of the problem. It’s a problem that causes many small businesses to fail, maybe here to?

There are other theories of course…especially given the very public issues at Wargames Factory and the fact that both WF and Bastion use the same miniatures manufacturer – Ghost Studios.

I think we may never know (and, to be honest, it’s probably none of our business)

For me, the sad thing is that we face the real prospect of losing a really good, innovative game, that was probably just about to find it’s feet.

This year was going to potentially be a big year – they finally had UK distribution, and we were planning several events to help ‘launch’ the game in the UK. These have obviously been put on hold.

Ex Illis suffered an awful lot of bad press in the gaming community on various forums. Whilst I’m not claiming for a minute that the game was perfect (what game is?), I think it suffered some very unjustified ‘rubbishing’ – much of the time from people who had never played the game, but who just didn’t like the idea. These views tended to perpetuate some inaccurate perceptions of the game. I certainly came across the same criticisms on several forums, which would be simply dispelled if the people concerned had bothered to give the game a try.

It certainly wasn’t a concept that everyone was going to find popular, or even desirable. As I have said on several occasions, I was incredibly sceptical of the whole idea – and even as a convert, I still missed rolling the dice. And of course, the simple fact that you had to have, as a bare minimum, an iPod touch, iPhone, iPad or laptop to play the game was always going to limit your potential audience…

…but Ex Illis tried something different. A game where you didn’t need to worry about learning the rules to have a good, fun experience – but a game that rewarded time spent learning how each unit, and each attribute of each unit, combined in the game. And lets face it, the software is the ultimate rules umpire, so if nothing else, Ex Illis was a near perfect Tournament game…no more rules arguments!

After Episode 70 of the Meeples & Miniatures podcast was published, I got some flak – people accused me of being a fanboy, or even of being financially motivated to give the game a good review. Well, I am a fanboy, because I REALLY like this game. OK, some of the models aren’t so great, and the software did have it’s odd glitch (and the graphics are not great in low-res) – but it’s fast, fun, and actually has great depth to it.

It seems that many people remain unconvinced.

So, I’m gutted with the news of the demise of Bastion. I am desperately hoping that some other investor can be found to not only support Ex Illis, but to continue what Bastion started and expand the game based on the fantastic background that has been created.

However, there is a part of me that looks back to what happened last year – to the demise of Rackham – and thinks that all my hopes are in vain, and Ex Illis will die a quiet death once the servers are turned off…

…and that makes me very sad indeed.

18 Comments on Ex Illis – now simply Ex???

  1. Sorry Neil. I was considering picking this one up too but no one in my gaming group had any desire whatsoever!

    Maybe that was the problem, too many gamers stuck in the muck and mire of old not willing to try a new path?

    I hope for you and other supporters of the game that they do find a new backer!


  2. andrew p brown // January 19, 2011 at 00:42 // Reply

    er hello hay look i was the who made a fanboy comment, im realy sorry if you feel it was hurtful in anyway i meant it as a joke, im as bigger fanboy as the next, hell i helped run scifi conventions still wound be if i had more time (running demo’s of fullthrust when i can eg hammerhead )have silly amounts of gzg mini’s and monsterpocalypse stuff . so again sorry for any offence . andy

    • Andy

      I didn’t find the ‘fanboy’ comment particularly offensive – I suppose it struck a nerve because I knew that I was very enthusiastic about the game, and that made for poor objectivity…but hey, you either like a game or you don’t, and that’s going to colour your opinion (Don’t ask me about Flames of War, BTW)

      But the term is usually used in a non-complimentary way, which is why I probably took something of an exception to it at the time.

      Serves me right for perhaps taking myself slighty too seriously…

  3. H i Neil id just like to say your review of Ex Illis was fine by me .personally i cant see it taking off at our club .but then as i think i said before ,we meet once a month from 10ish am until 5ish pm with a brake for a bite to eat.so we have the luxary of being able to play larger-longer games (bicker over rules ) all be it only once a month.

    I think we all know you have limited time at your club due to many things, trying to find the time to produce a podcast and video reviews eats into that as well.so i can see the addvantage of a game like Ex Illis for somebody like ourself .get down the club get a game or two in and jobs a good`n .

    I can also see why many gamers may not take to it,i myself being one of them .but i do feel you alway`s give game`s a fair shake of the stick as it were good or bad.so maybe some gamer`s out there are simply projecting their ardant dislike of the game onto your good self .which is a bit pointless and childish at the end of the day .

    Pick a 100 gamers and ask them to list their top five games.and you`l get a 100 different answers.even the ones that agree on a game will bicker over rules and weather one blokes home brew changes are better than the next blokes.way i see it if your having fun playing a game then whats the problem lol its not like your going to be at my door baseball bat in hand making me buy a copy of Ex Illis.or at least i hope not 😉

  4. andrew p brown // January 19, 2011 at 00:49 // Reply

    hello im sorry if you where offended by the fanboy comment i meant it as a joke . since i am one .ive helped run scifi conventions demo’ed full thrust warmachine , monsterpocalypse and have silly amounts of figaures for all of the above .again sorry for any offence andrew

  5. Not surprised. Hoisted by its own petard. You can’t revolutionise the hobby without something truly revolutionary – copying various successful styles of games and combining them into one clunky ‘uber-game of the future’ just makes the grognards frown and Gen Z snort. ie They know better.

    • You just didn’t like the ‘Wargaming 2.0’ tagline, did you? 🙂

      I must admit, that did make me wince a bit (and I know it wound an awful lot of people up.)

  6. Just found this comment on TTGN

    “I agree. There is definitely a lack of serious market research. Depsite the effort by the team, the project is doomed in the beginning as predicted. While the idea is nice, it is simply not practical. If one decides to use computer programs, use the iphone or ipad, not the standard window laptops.”

    This is what drives me mad about this game. So many gamers were so quick to critise without actually knowing what they are talking about – in this case, the fact that the Ex Illis software is actually an iPhone app which was ported to a windows version.

  7. andrew p brown // January 19, 2011 at 03:19 // Reply

    opps sorry for the 2 posts did’nt think the 1st had gone in . has for fow yep funny i just think somthings off about that game.

  8. Hi Neil

    like yourself I am a saddened by the demise of Bastion, not because I played the game but because of what they were trying to do.

    The amalgamation of a traditional wargame and a computer game was for me a genius idea as I do see it as a next logical step in our hobby and possibly it is one way our hobby will survive into the next generation or generations. After all the kids out there are of the console generation and even though GW do their best to drag them into the world of wargaming they tend to try it and then head back to the x-box

    Maybe they tried to do too much too soon, maybe going for plastics was the problem as the investment to produce a range of figures in plastic is enormous, but you have to applaud them for at least having the vision to give it a go.

    Unlike some people I feel the tagline “wargames 2.0” was apt and really described what they wanted to achieve, but then again I work in software design so I hear the 2.0 moniker all the time.

    So what about the future?

    Well from reading the various posts it looks like Bastion still hold control of the Ex-Illis brand (unlike WF who have been taken over) so if new funding could be obtained it could still rise again. Or maybe they could approach one of the major gaming producers and offer to develop the software against an existing wargame and see if that idea could pick up.

    Either way I think one of the problems with the idea was down to it being too radical, I think if they started with a traditional wargame that used the figures and the background they would have built up a following in a similar way to Mantic. Then they could have introduced the software as firstly a way to run a campaign then slowly introduced the whole computer GM system. That way traditional wargamers would have been able to play it as a standalone game, or those who wanted to could play the same game using the software. But then again I could be completely wrong I usually am

    Either way all that has happened is we have lost an innovative idea and what many feel was a good game, but who knows maybe in 20 years people will look back on Ex-Illis as the games that broke the mould and spawned the next generation of wargames and it is given the credit I feel it’s due

  9. More importantly, when’s the next Veranda coming out??


  10. Having invested in 5 armies for AT-43 and then buying a faction for the Alkemy skirmish game, I feel your pain. French miniatures companies going under has been an unpleasant trend lately. 😦 Hopefully a solution to keep the servers running will be worked out, and possibly the game can rise from the grave ala Wizkids Heroclix.

  11. Stephen Finlay // January 22, 2011 at 07:48 // Reply

    Is the game even playable once the servers go off line?
    I say this as the person who just bought the starter set and a couple of expansion boxes today at a convention 😦
    Should I make an effort to create a couple if armies online with what I’ve got? Will the game then be playable after the servers go offline?

    • Stephen

      The game will be playable when the servers go if you have created and downloaded musters into the software.
      However, from the comments on the forums since the announcement, there is a determination amongst the community to keep the game ‘live’ with several people offering server space etc…

      …So the game may not be as dead as it would first appear…

      • Stephen Finlay // January 22, 2011 at 21:33 //

        Thanks for the reply. Think I’ll pick up a couple more of the expansion boxes today at the convention. They are selling for AU$15!
        I was just listening to your podcast on Ex Illis last week and like yourself I was skeptical of the game.
        So I blame you for my purchases 🙂 – just kidding.

  12. Ex Illis was not my cup of tea because I like to manually throw dice around the table, but I hate seeing Miniature Gaming companies go under. Very sad. It may be a case of an advanced idea requiring a lot of cash to keep it going. Not enough gamers yet to support the idea with funds.

  13. I dont think there is anyone who likes “manually throwing dice around” more than Neil himself… I should know I see his bad rolling enough… I know many gamers are realy put off by the no dice…. but what this game brings to the party is very up lifting… no problems with rules… no playing the rules rather than to the spirit of the game… great for tourneys… great for newbie wargames games (aka my wife)… no constant looking up rules…. which in turn frees you up to think tactics…. Neil and I were both not sure about this game when it came out…. but one game and we were hooked. On the up side Neil, I took over from you this week…. I couldnt get more than 7 with 3 dice all night

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