Tuesday, 9 February 2016

7TV 2nd Edition

For a long time now I have thought about buying the 7TV skirmish war-gaming rules produced by Crooked Dice Games (CDG). I have bought quite a lot of figures from CDG over the past few years and I really like them but I kept putting off buying the rules. Things changed earlier this year when 7TV 2nd Edition (7TV2e) was released. Spurred on by excellent reviews by bloggers like Blaxkleric and Brummie (aka the two Simons), I finally relented and sent away for the starter boxed set last week. Two days later it arrived!
The front cover of the new boxed set.
Department X boxed set. Not painted by me.
I also ordered the Department X boxed set of 12 figures at the same time. In hindsight I should have ordered an extra set of counters and tokens but I'll add them to my next order. The Department X set consists of Dr. Hugo Solomon (who is instantly recognisable as Jon Pertwee in his role as the third Doctor Who), Pandora King (aka Emma Peel from the Avengers (UK series, not the Marvel superheroes)) and 10 Department X Commandos including a heavy weapons team. I mainly wanted this set for the figure of Pandora King, who I've converted into April O'Neil, the reporter friend of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. So why didn't I just buy her separately? Well, she is currently out of stock as a single figure option. Not that I minded because the other figures are very useful.
So, for those not in the know, what is 7TV2e all about? This is a simple skirmish game designed to recreate classic spy and sci-fi films and TV series from the 1960's and 1970's, or you can come up with your own ideas of appropriate genre TV shows or films. Films like Austin Powers, Ghostbusters, and James Bond, and TV series such as Captain Scarlet, Department S, Doctor Who, Scooby Doo, Space 1999, The Avengers, The Man From U.N.C.L.E. and The Sweeney heavily influence the game. Fans of any of these classic shows will recognise many of the figures that CDG use for 7TV2e. To avoid copyright problems, CDG created their own fictional studio, 7TV, which made such cult TV series as AKA, A.R.C., Department X, The Beat, The Daredevils and The Man From 2000.
Film and TV terms abound in the game. The player characters and non-player characters (heroes and villains) are defined as Stars, Co-Stars or Extras. Combined, these make up your Cast. A single game is an Episode, split into three parts - Act 1, Act 2 and Finale. A campaign would be a Series.
The game length is determined by a deck of Countdown cards split up into the three Acts of the Episode. Players draw 1 or 2 cards per turn until the deck runs out, indicating the end of that Episode. Episodes can also end if one side is wiped out or loses more than half its cast. The Countdown cards vary from Act to Act. In Act 1 they mainly focus on movement, whilst in Act 2 the focus shifts to attacking the opposition. In the finale, anything can happen! Games are best played on an area 4 feet square but this can vary up or down.
Cast members are either heroes, villains or neutral and all come with their own Profile cards. Each cast member costs a number of Ratings Value points, which are usually 9 or 10 for Stars, 5 or 6 for Co-Stars and under 5 for Extras. The stats of Stars and Co-Stars can be changed if you want to alter any to come up with how you feel that cast member should appear. Changes will invariably alter the Ratings Value.
Game play is simple and the rules themselves are easy to learn. Obviously, the more figures you use in an Episode, the longer it will take to complete. But there is no limit to the size of your cast providing heroes and villains share the same overall Ratings Value. A starter cast might be 20 Ratings, a small cast 30 Ratings, a standard cast 50 Ratings and an epic cast might be 100 Ratings.
Activated characters can take any two of the following actions per turn - Move, Strike, Special or Free. Move is obviously movement, which also includes changing facing; Strike can be a Melee action or a Shoot action; Special includes anything not covered by Move or Strike, such as administering first aid or picking up an objective. Free actions do not count towards your limit of two actions per turn. They cover things like making a statistic test, using a star quality or a gadget.
Both sides acquire Plot Points at the start of every turn, which can be used to activate a character or group of characters, enhance combat rolls, use some of their special effects or gadgets, or to recover from a debilitating status. Unused Plot Points can be carried over from turn to turn.
At the end of a game, both sides add up their Victory Points total and the side with the highest score wins.
I am very much looking forward to playing 7TV2e and already I am thinking up scenario ideas and Casts I want to use. Seeing as my blog is primarily dedicated to the undead, is there an option for including undead creatures in 7TV2e? Yes, there is, although not in the basic set. To date, there are three supplements available for 7TV2e, all of which are downloadable PDF files. These are guides for using characters from Ghostbusters, Scooby Doo and Star Wars. The Ghostbusters guide costs £3, but the other two are free. Ghostbusters includes stats for zombies. Hopefully, further undead types will be covered in future supplements.

The basic boxed set costs £50 and contains the following items -
The Director's Guide (the core rules of the game)
The Producer's Guide (rules for building a cast, customising Stars and Co-Stars as well as 6 scenarios)
2 decks of Profile cards (heroes and villains)
45 Countdown cards
20 Gadget cards
20 Plot Point tokens
27 Status and Objective counters
A Blast and Flame-thrower template
A pewter 28mm scale Maguffin figure (it's a TV set used as a vital objective)
6 six-sided dice
I know nothing about the rules for the first edition of 7TV, which I've been told is a good thing as I don't have to unlearn them to play 7TV2e. This is a game that looks like a lot of fun to play and if you want to check it out further take a look at Blaxkleric's first 7TV2e batrep here.

Saturday, 6 February 2016

Zombicide Zombies - Season 2 Berserker Runners 02

Looking at the four photos I'm showing here, you could be forgiven in thinking that they are the same as the four photos I showed in my previous post. But look closely and you'll see the differences. This is the second half of my 2 part review of the Berserker Zombie Runners from the Zombicide: Prison Outbreak supplement.
All eight Berserker Zombie Runners shown here have been converted by swapping their upper bodies and lower bodies around. For most, this was good enough for me to make them look (slightly) different to the eight I showed last time.
A select few had additional conversions done to them, like the one second from the left has had a couple of holes drilled through his left shoulder and upper chest to indicate gunshot wounds.
Also, when I glued the two body halves together (I made my cuts at the waist) I slightly altered how the two halves met. This is a subtle change, but it helps make each zombie unique.
For the Runner second from the left, I converted his bandana into a head band made of Milliput. The Runner who is second from the right has been shot twice in the torso by a higher calibre bullet to the similarly shot zombie shown previously. I simply used a wider drill bit on him. Giving them all different hair colours, as well as making a couple of them bald, also helps to further differentiate them.

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Zombicide Zombies - Season 2 Berserker Runners 01

I'll continue my review of the Berserker Zombies from the Zombicide: Prison Outbreak expansion set with part 1 of a 2 part look at the Runners. These were all former prison inmates, hence their orange jumpsuits.
Berserker Zombie Runners are every bit as nasty as other types of Zombie Runners in that they get two Actions per Turn, but they have an advantage in that they can only be killed by melee weapons or ranged weapons that affect all figures in a Zone (like Molotov Cocktails of Flame-throwers). This makes them especially dangerous.
Three of the four Berserker Runners shown above have not been converted. Their main differences is that they have different coloured bandanas. The Runner third from the left has suffered three gunshot wounds to his chest and back. I simply drilled three holes through his body to represent the wounds - a very simple but effective conversion.
The first two Berserker Runners in the photo above are straight from the box and unconverted. I gave them different hair colours.
The two Berserker Runners to the right are conversions. The second from right Zombie has been badly wounded in the stomach, causing his intestines to start spilling out. They were made from rolled up strips of Milliput. The Runner at the far right had his left arm hacked off. These are all simple conversions and help to individualise the group by making them not be clones of one another. I like my Zombies to look unique.

Saturday, 30 January 2016

Vampifan's Views 75 - Monthly Musings 50

It's my first Monthly Musings post of 2016 and as always I start with a picture of my favourite comic book super-heroine, Vampirella. Last year I had a theme which was to show my 12 favourite real life Vampirella models and cosplayers. This year, I also have a theme and it is to showcase 12 paintings by my all-time favourite Vampirella artist and friend, Joe Jusko. A Google search of Vampirella artwork by Joe netted me more than enough paintings to show one a month. Enjoy!

My biggest hobby news of January was the arrival of my Ninja All-Stars Kickstarter package. I was immediately smitten with this game and I'm looking forward to getting some Clan teams painted up. That will most likely happen later rather than sooner as I'm currently concentrating on painting zombies for Zombicide: Black Plague. I have already painted the 6 heroes, Necromancer and one each of the 10 different zombie sculpts. Expect reviews of them soon. Also on my painting table are some new figures that I bought earlier this month. I ordered a set of 6 Weird West figures from Ainsty Miniatures (3 heroes and 3 supernatural bad guys), 4 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles by My Way Miniatures (thanks for the heads up, Andy!) and to go with them, a Crooked Dice figure of Pandora King, who I've converted into reporter April O'Neill (friend of the Turtles) and a Mantic Dreadball Veer-myn coach to use as Splinter (mentor of the Turtles).

In a reply to a comment made to me in my first Ninja All-Stars review by my good friend Stephen Gilbert I listed my favourite board-games. Knowing that some of you will have missed our conversation I'm going to update my list to include ALL of my favourite games that I play and want to play.
  1. Zombicide: Black Plague (this fantasy version takes Zombicide to even greater heights - just perfect!)
  2. Zombicide (set in contemporary times, I didn't think it could be bettered. I was wrong! Until Black Plague came along this was my favourite board-game.)
  3. All Things Zombie: Final Fade Out (soon to be upgraded to Fade To Black, this was the game that began my love affair with zombie gaming. I'll be starting a new campaign later this year, combining rules from both versions.)
  4. Super Dungeon Explore (the game that re-sparked my long dormant interest in fantasy gaming. I immediately fell in love with the Chibi miniatures.)
  5. Rum and Bones (at last, after much searching, I found a pirate-themed game that I love.)
  6. Ninja All-Stars (more Chibi goodness that is both a stand alone game and a tie in with SDE.)
  7. Last Night on Earth (a zombie game with a real B-movie vibe about it, giving it a unique feel.)
  8. A Touch of Evil (supernatural horror set at the start of the 19th century in rural America.)
  9. Thunderbirds (superb 50th anniversary celebration of a classic TV series.)
  10. Judge Dredd Miniatures Game (a sci-fi skirmish game set in the world of 2000AD comic's most iconic hero, Judge Dredd. I'll be playing a lot more of this later this year.)
  11. Shadows of Brimstone (a Weird Wild West game. Unplayed at present but I just know I'm going to love it.)
  12. Arkham Horror (incredibly detailed and atmospheric board-game based on H.P. Lovecraft's Call of the Cthulhu stories.)
  13. Castle Ravenloft (the undead abound in this 4th edition Dungeons and Dragons game.)
There are a few other games that I must mention, none of which I've played. First up is Mars Attacks. I bought this game primarily for the human soldiers, survivors and scenery items to use with ATZ. The Martians don't really interest me. I'm unsure if I'll ever play it but I don't regret buying it. Second is another Kickstarter game, The Others: 7 Sins. I'm still waiting for this to arrive so can't comment on its game play but the figures do look quite stunning. Finally, is a new game that I plan on buying within the next week, 7TV 2nd edition. I've read nothing but good reviews of it and it does intrigue me. Most likely I'll add The Others and 7TV to my list in the near future.
Finally, I'm in two minds about buying Imperial Assault, the Star Wars game. It looks good and the figures are more detailed than those found in the Wizards of the Coast Star Wars Collectible Minis game. However, it is expensive, especially if you want to replace the card counters with 3D figures (which I would). Plus, the figures for Imperial Assault come unpainted, whereas the WotC figures are all pre-painted. It was suggested (by Brummie Simon) that I buy 7TV instead and use the Star Wars rules for that game along with my WotC figures. Seeing as I plan on buying 7TV anyway, that might be the most sensible option. But seeing Blaxkleric posting lots of pics of his superbly painted Imperial Assault figures is weakening my resolve to resist the game's allure. Ah, choices, choices!

By the way, if any one else wants to make a list of their favourite games, I'd love to see them, either as a comment on here or as a separate blog post of your own, if you run a blog.

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Ninja All-Stars Review part 2

Last time I posted a very comprehensive review of the Ninja All-Stars board-game. This time I want to show you all the add-ons that came with the Kickstarter package.
This is my box, which is full of miniatures. How many miniatures are in there? That'd be 186, not including my two trophies. How long will it take to paint this lot? God only knows. My plans for painting them are as follows - paint the 6 Clan teams first, (most likely starting with Clan Tora), paint the lanterns, shines and samurai sentries (in that order), then the Ronin and finally, the 6 Shrine teams because they're the least likeliest to get used. Of course, things may change but at least I have a plan.
Last time I showed you the six Shrine teams. Now I'd like to show you the six Clan teams, who are of a vastly superior quality. I have listed them alphabetically.
Clan Ijin have affinity with the Void element and they are the most demonic looking of the clans. Their tribal totem is a horned demon and all of these figures have a pair of horns. The Ijin value strength above all else. Their clan is founded on the belief that might makes right. In the front row, from left to right, are the Chunin (clan leader), 2 Heroes (Bomechan and Yobuko (Clan Heroes are very powerful allies but they can never gain experience points, meaning their stats and abilities remain fixed) and 3 Kaiken (foot soldiers). In the middle row, from left to right, are 2 Yajiri (archers), 3 Kunoichi (female scouts and my favourite figure from this clan because she so reminds me of Lady Demon, the evil alter ego of Lady Death) and 2 Madoushi (mystics). Right at the back are a pair of fearsome Oni (demons). It is suggested that players start with 100 Koban (KB - the monetary unit of the game) to build their teams. Note that Clan team members come with 4 stats, Movement, Attack, Defence and Koban cost. The two Heroes come with separate stat cards (not shown). When designing a Clan Ijin team, the player must choose 1 Chunin, 1 Kaiken and 1 Kunoichi, totalling 41 Koban.
Clan Ika have affinity with the Water element and their tribal totem is the octopus. In a land where paranoia and insularism are a way of life, the Ika are famous for being even more secretive, cryptic and distrustful of outsiders than usual. In the front row from left to right, are the Chunin, 2 Heroes (Akkorokamui (my favourite figure of this clan) and Mizuchi), 2 Kunoichi and 2 Madoushi. In the centre row, from left to right are 4 Kaiken and 2 Yajiri. Standing at the back are a pair of Oni, looking like avatars of the great god, Cthulhu! When designing a Clan Ijin team a player must choose 1 Chunin and 2 Kaiken, totalling 39 Koban.
Clan Kitsune have affinity with the Spirit element and their tribal totem is the fox. All possess big bushy tails and either have fox-like faces or wear fox-like masks. For many on Kagejima, the difference between the Kitsune and the kami inhabitants of the dark forest is non-existent. In the front row, from left to right are the Chunin, 2 Heroes (Uzumaki and Tamamo No Mae) and 3 Kaiken. In the centre row, from left to right, are 2 Kunoichi, 3 Yajiri (armed with blowpipes) and 2 Madoushi. In the back row are 2 Oni (giant foxes and my favourite figure from this clan). When designing a Clan Kitsune team a player must choose 1 Chunin, 1 Kaiken and 1 Yajiri, totalling 41 Koban.
Clan Tanchyo have affinity with the Air element and their tribal totem is the crane. They are renowned for their archery skills and possess more archers than any other clan. The Tanchyo have close ties to the many spirits of the air and earth that they share the great forests with. In the front row, from left to right are the Chunin (so close to being my favourite figure from this clan) 2 Heroes (Karura and Zenyo Ryu (my favourite figure from this clan. Look, she's firing 3 arrows at once!)), 2 Kunoichi and 2 Madoushi. In the centre row, from left to right are 2 Kaiken and 4 Yajiri. The 2 Oni at the back are hybrid crane-like creatures. When designing a Clan Tanchyo team a player must choose 1 Chunin and 2 Yajiri, totalling 37 Koban.
Clan Tora have affinity with the Fire element and their tribal totem is the tiger. The Tora are much like their tiger totem, a proud and haughty people, always ready to pounce, taking the initiative or advantage. I must admit to liking this clan the most. When I ran my Bushido RPG campaign in the 1980's, my players were all members of Clan Tora. A pure coincidence as they were all samurai. In the front row, from left to right are the Chunin, 2 Heroes (Byakko (who bears a striking resemblance to Wolverine of Marvel Comics fame. Not surprising he's my favourite Clan Tora figure!) and Ryu), 2 Kunoichi and 2 Madoushi. In the centre row, from left to right are 4 Kaiken and 2 Yajiri (armed with flintlock rifles). In the back row are 2 Oni, looking like a really cool pair of Samurai Warriors. When designing a Clan Tora team a player must choose 1 Chunin and 2 Kaiken, totalling 40 Koban.
Clan Yamazaru have affinity with the Earth element and their tribal totem is a mountain. The Yamazaru are hardy, fierce, spiritual and good natured people, capable of feats of toughness unmatched by other clans. In the front row, from left to right, are the Chunin (my favourite figure in this clan), 2 Heroes (Mizaru and Son Goku), 2 Kunoichi and 2 Madoushi (who are excellent healers). In the centre row, from left to right, are 4 Kaiken and 2 Yajiri. Finally, are two Oni, who appear almost ogre-like with tails that prevent back strikes against them. When designing a Clan Yamazaru team, a player must choose 1 Chunin and 2 Kaiken, totalling 44 Koban.
Players may also hire Ronin (clanless mercenaries) to their teams. Just like Heroes, Ronin cannot earn experience points and their stats remain fixed throughout a campaign. Ronin have a Koban cost to hire, but if a player wishes to retain them on his team, he must pay an upkeep cost per game after the first. The upkeep cost is roughly 25 to 35% of the initial purchase cost. A Ronin may be retired at any time. There are currently 26 Ronin to choose from and I have them all. I'm listing them alphabetically apart from Candy and Cola, who deserve special mention. 18 Ronin are listed in the rulebook but all have their own stat cards.
In the front row above, moving from left to right, are Arashikage (MV6, AT5, DF2, KB23/6, Fire and Water Affinity), Bakusho Mondai (MV6, AT3, DF3, KB19/5, Fire and Spirit Affinity), Benkei (MV3, AT3, DF4, KB16/5, Earth Affinity) and Blind Swordsman (MV5, AT3, DF2, KB16/5, Air and Spirit Affinity).
Behind them, from left to right, are Dark Kitsune (MV7, AT2, DF2, KB15/5, Spirit and Void Affinity), Goemon (MV6, AT4, DF3, KB23/7, Earth and Water Affinity), Hanzo (MV5, AT4, DF4, KB25/7, Air and Fire Affinity) and Howl and Yip (who are based on the Manga heroes, Lone Wolf and Cub, MV5, AT3, DF4, KB23/5, Earth and Fire Affinity).
In the front row above, going from left to right, are Inu Clan Kaiken (MV6, AT2, DF2, KB13/3, Earth Affinity), the giant spider demon, Jorogumo (MV5, AT2, DF2, KB16/5, Void and Water Affinity), Kappa (MV4, AT2, DF4, KB20/5, Earth, Void and Water Affinity) and Komuso (MV5, AT1, DF2, KB13/5, Earth and Spirit Affinity).
In the back row, from left to right, are a real life Japanese hero, Miyamoto Musashi (born in 1580 and possibly the greatest swordsman to have ever lived. He was also author of the famous Book of Five Rings. MV5, AT4, DF3, KB20/6. Fire Affinity), Mochizuki (MV6, AT2, DF2, KB18/6, Air, Fire and Water Affinity), Momotaro (MV5, AT5, DF4, KB21/6, Earth and Fire Affinity) and Moon Princess (MV7, AT2, DF2, KB18/6, All 6 Affinities!). Moon Princess is the current ruler of Kagejima, the Land of the Moon, which is the setting of Ninja All-Stars. It was she who organised the various challenges between the six main clans that take place at the Moon Castle once a year during midsummer. The Moonlight Tournament lasts from one full moon to the next.
In the front row of the photo above, going from left to right, are Ondori Clan Kaiken (MV6, AT3, DF2, KB14/3, Air Affinity), Onibaba (MV5, AT2, DF2, KB14/5, Void Affinity), Onryo, (MV6, AT2, DF2, KB16/4, Air and Void Affinity) and Shojo (MV6, AT2, DF2, KB16/6, Earth and Water Affinity).
Bringing up the rear, from left to right, are Sun Empire Wandering Samurai (if Kagejima represents a fantasy version of Japan then the Sun Empire represents China. Eleven Sun Empire armies who tried to invade Kagejima have been repulsed so far with none succeeding in taking the Land of the Moon. Nowadays peace reigns between the two nations, thanks to the machinations of the Moon Princess. MV4, AT4, DF4, KB22/6, Earth and Fire Affinity), Tengu (MV8, AT2, DF2, KB14/5, Air and Fire Affinity), Yagyu Jubei (MV5, AT5, DF4, KB24/6, Air and Earth Affinity) and Sumo Wrestler, Yokozuma (MV4, AT5, DF4, KB24/6, Earth and Water Affinity).
The last two Ronin are Soda Pop Miniatures' mascot pair, Candy and Cola. I love Candy and Cola and so I was delighted to see them making an appearance in Ninja All-Stars. Kunoichi Candy has stats of MV8, AT3, DF2, KB18/4 and Spirit and Water Affinity. Her best friend/pet familiar, Stealth Cola, has stats of MV7, AT2, DF3, KB16/4 and Earth and Void Affinity. Stat cards for using them in Super Dungeon Explore are included. Interestingly enough, Stealth Cola is considered by many to be the most powerful Hero in SDE. I've never used this version of him yet, so can't comment, but others present a compelling argument for why this should be.
These are lanterns (front row) and shrines (back row), which were a stretch goal to replace the card counters. Lanterns are obscuring terrain that cannot be moved across. If a model in Stealth moves within one space of a lantern, it loses Stealth due to the lantern's light. Shrines are also obscuring terrain that cannot be moved across. When a shrine is placed on the board, the player chooses one of the status effects that the shrine radiates: Haste, Lucky or Protect (all beneficial) or Curse, Poison or Slow (all detrimental). When a model moves within one space of a shrine with a detrimental effect it must make an Affinity test. If it fails it receives the status effect shown by the shrine. When a model moves within one space of a shrine with a beneficial effect it may spend one action to make an Affinity test. If it succeeds it it gains the status effect shown by the shrine. A maximum of 6 lanterns and 4 shrines may be placed on the board before play begins and a minimum of 4 of either type must be placed.
And finally are a pair of Ninja All-Stars large trophies. They measure 11cm tall and their bases are 5cm square. These play no part in the game but can be awarded at the end of a campaign to the winning team. So, why do I have two of them? Well, they were a free stretch goal, but it appears that everyone who backed the game on Kickstarter received two trophies per box they ordered. Cool! I may leave one gold and paint the other as a Giant Ninja to use in a unique challenge.
There are so many fantastically sculpted figures amongst the ones I've shown in my two posts. I've mentioned a few of my favourite figures but do I have one figure that I like the most? Yes, I do. It is the Clan Tanchyo Hero, Zenyo Ryu. She's cute and deadly and anyone who can fire three arrows at once earns my respect. I leave you with this picture of her, expertly painted by Minx Studios so you can really appreciate the quality of this superb figure. I think she's the coolest Chibi miniature I've ever seen!