Monday, 2 May 2016

Project Z - A Review

The contents of the Project Z skirmish game by Warlord Games.
Project Z is the brand new table-top skirmish war-game by Warlord Games, which was designed specifically to use with their range of 28mm scale plastic, multi-part zombie apocalypse miniatures. You could, of course, use any other appropriate figures from your own collections. This review is going to concentrate on the game itself, but I will also be mentioning the figures that were specifically designed for this game.
Upon opening the box, my first impressions were not favourable. You get one small 12 page Rules Manual, 1 equally small 16 page Survivors' Guide, 2 Player Reference Sheets, a sheet of thick card counters, 10 special six-sided dice (they use symbols not numbers), 3 decks of cards (8 Character cards, 36 Combat cards and 10 Survival cards), and plastic sprues to make 23 Zombies, 10 Male Survivors and 6 Bikers (including 2 on bikes). I was very underwhelmed by the size and content of the books. Upon reading them, I was even less impressed. The dice are gimmicky and ditto the Combat and Survival cards. The dice have symbols for hits (on 3 sides), for defences (on 2 sides) and for a surge (on the remaining side). The Combat cards are used to increase the number of hits or defences rolled on the dice. The Survival cards offer assorted tactics that can aid a side in the game. Players get 5 cards each if they're playing humans. The Character cards give stats for Movement (in inches), Resilience (armour class), Melee (number of dice rolled in melee combat) and Ranged (number of dice rolled in ranged combat). Some characters have Grit scores, which give dice re-rolls. Finally, all characters have certain Special Traits (something they excel in). Character cards can be for specific characters like PCs (for example, "Big Bazooka Mama") or for generic NPCs (for example, "Some Survivors x3"). NPC cards will list how many of them make up one choice, usually two or three of them. The card counters include Grit Tokens, Loot Markers, Reload Tokens, Wound Tokens and Zombie Spawn Points. The game also includes a very naff 6" ruler. I say "naff" because it is useless for measuring any distance greater than 6", which will quite often happen in a game. It just seems like a pointless inclusion to me.
So far, the only thing that has impressed me is the quality of the plastic figures. More on them later. So what is game-play like? In a word, adequate. The game is designed to be played by 1 to 3 players. A game Turn is divided into four phases as follows -
  1. Initiative phase
  2. Action phase made up of Movement, Shooting and Engage & Melee sub-phases
  3. Upkeep phase made up of Recover Shocked miniatures, Roll to Reload weapons and replenish Combat card hand.
  4. Spawn Zombies
In the Action phases, play alternates between active player first (i.e. the Initiative winner), then the next player and finally the Zombies in each of the sub-phases. Eight scenarios are provided in the Survivors' Guide.
The rules are not a total dead loss but they did not grab me like All Things Zombie or Zombicide did. Those games made me want to come back to them and play them again and again. I have played Project Z once and just felt underwhelmed by the experience. It is not a game I want to return to. Bummer! For a one off game, if you are short of time and have nothing better to do, they'll pass muster. But where they do fall down big time is in long term game-play. They have no rules whatsoever for character development or campaign play. In every game you'll choose from the same pool of characters and no matter how many Character cards Warlord Games provide that is eventually going to become an issue.
It seems to me that when Warlord Games acquired the rights to sell the zombie apocalypse figures previously made by Wargames Factory they wanted to make a game to go with them. Project Z is what they came up and I'm afraid they missed the mark with it. Zombie apocalypse games are still incredibly popular and there are many games to choose from. Too many, some would say! For a Zombie apocalypse aficionado like me, this period is gaming heaven. But I know which games are praiseworthy and which are turkeys, Sadly, Project Z fails on so many counts it must be regarded as a turkey. One to avoid, folks! The game retails at £30.00 from the Warlord Games webstore.
A Project Z game in progress. A promotional photo by Warlord Games. Note the "naff" ruler!
I did say that I'd mention the figures that Warlord Games make for this game and I have a few comments to make about them - both good and bad. First, the good news. Some of these figures were originally produced by Wargames Factory so you may well be familiar with them. Those sets were the Male Survivors and Female Survivors and the Female Zombies. Wargames Factory did make a set of plastic Male Zombies but they were of vastly inferior quality and very much lacking in surface detail. Conversion possibilities were also much reduced. Now that Warlord Games have acquired the moulds for making them they have added to the range. Their new sets include Bikers (mounted and on foot), Special Forces Troopers and brand new Male Zombies. All six of these boxed sets of figures are excellently sculpted and you can easily mix and match parts from each set, giving you maximum conversion potential. I can't recommend these sets too highly.
So, what is the bad news then? Price and quantity. Originally, these sets sold for about £25. For that, you got three sprues allowing you to make 30 or more figures. Now you get one sprue for £15. Oh, and you also get a set of Character cards and Survival cards to use in Project Z. Whoop-die-do! That works out as a price increase for less figures. I could live without the cards but some of you might appreciate them. But if you are buying multiple boxed sets then your spare cards will become surplus to requirements. Warlord Games should have included these cards in the game and added at least one more sprue to the figure sets.
Another Warlord Games Project Z promotional photo. You can't deny how great those figures are!

Friday, 29 April 2016

Vampifan's Views 78 - Monthly Musings 53

What a busy month April has been for me. I'll start, as usual, with my latest picture of the gorgeous Vampirella as painted by the supremely talented Joe Jusko. Vampire and Zombie in one picture - the perfect combination for my blog.

So what has Vampifan been up to this month? First and foremost was the launch of my new blog - All Things Dungeon Crawl, which is being run on a weekly basis collectively by myself and three very good friends, games designer Stephen Gilbert, his partner Hilary and our latest recruit, Tarot Hunt. Please do check it out. Here's a link to it - http://allthingsdungeoncrawl.blogspot.co.uk/
It has one of the liveliest comments sections of any blog I've read. Feel free to join in. This week's post features our first batrep for the Chibi World game and a link to download the complete Chibi World rules for free.

On the painting front, I'm getting lots done. As well as painting brand new 28mm scale Wild West figures from various sources, I'm also repainting and re-basing many of my old 28mm scale Wild West figures. I now have loads to show you, which is a nice situation to be in. Figures that have gone off the table are 15 Crossover Miniatures Ninjas, painted up as Foot Assassins to use as opponents for my Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I also painted a stunningly beautiful Black Scorpion Birthday Girl as a St. Trinian's sixth former. She was such a pleasure to paint - drool! Currently on my painting table are 5 North Star Wild West gunfighters and 6 civilians, 6 Greebo Games not-TMNT allies and villains, 2 Ninja All Stars Ronin and a Super Dungeon Explore Mini-Boss. Quite a mix, I'm sure you'll agree.

Despite my efforts to cut down on spending more money on Kickstarter projects I failed spectacularly this month and backed two within a week or so of each other. First up was the new sci-fi/Western game by Soda Pop Games called Rail Raiders Infinite. This just ticked so many boxes for me - sci-fi, Wild West, Chibi miniatures and simple and fast game play. You can check out my preview of it here.
The other game I backed was Rum and Bones: Second Tide, which was another no-brainer for me, seeing as I loved the first Rum and Bones game so much. Please, no one remind me that I have yet to paint any figures for this game (yes, Simon, I am thinking of you!). I know and I will get round to them... sometime.

One thing that did please me immensely was that I managed to play 3 games a total of 8 times this month. WOOT! All of them were games that arrived this month. First up, I played two games of Thunderbirds by Modiphius Games. This parcel contained the three expansion sets I had ordered when I first backed this Kickstarter project. Expansion set 1 adds three new player characters to the mix - Brains, Parker and Tin-Tin. Expansion set 2 adds 10 new non-International Rescue vehicles to aid in rescues. Expansion set 3, which I haven't played and to be honest, am not too keen on, sees the villainous Hood take a much more active part in the game as a player character in his own right. The two games I played used the first two expansion sets, individually, not together.

The second game that I played was Airfix Battles, which is also produced by Modiphius Games. It is a simple World War 2 boardgame played at squad levels. You do have the option to replace the card counters with your Airfix toy soldiers and model tanks if you so desire. The game is fast, fun and easy to play. In fact, I enjoyed playing it so much I played it five times in three days. The game is designed to be played by 1 to 4 players. Despite the solo play rules, I played all of my games with the rules for a two player game. Funnily enough, all five of my games resulted in resounding victories for either the Allies or the Germans. There was never a closely fought game where the outcome was in doubt. The setting is Normandy in 1944, starting just after the D-Day landings. If there is interest in the game I'll do a full review later. This was not a Kickstarter project. I bought it purely for nostalgic reasons as I used to collect hundreds of Airfix figures and models as a youngster. It costs £24.99.

The third and final game that I played (just the once) was Project Z by Warlord Games. Yes, folks, what we have here is yet another zombie apocalypse game. This was designed primarily as a game for those who collect the former Wargames Factory plastic multi-part zombie and survivor figures. Warlord Games now produce these sets and have added two new sets to the range - bikers and special forces troopers. All of these figure sets are excellent and you can mix and match the parts between the sets giving you so much variety and choices. However, whilst the figures are top notch the game failed to impress me. I will do a full review of the game next time as it is very relevant to this blog but my advice to you would be buy the figures but don't buy the game.

Monday, 25 April 2016

Killer B Games Criminals with Shotguns

I have more wonderful 1970's style 28mm scale villains made by Killer B Games to show you. This time, the one thing they all have in common is that all six are armed with Shotguns. I have given them all names to help identify them better.
So, starting at the far left is Marc Jessup, a gang leader, who could be either a Villainous Star or Co-Star in 7TV2e. He is carrying a 12 Gauge Pump-Action Shotgun and is aiming a .38 Revolver. With his sunglasses, porn-star moustache and huge sideburns he could only be a 1970's character. You'll find him on Killer B Games webstore in the "Geezers! Shut It!" range as KB023 Blagger with Shotgun and Pistol.
In the centre of this group is balding Roger Longhurst, who is armed with a Double-Barrelled Sawn-Off Shotgun. He is KB015 Bald Geezer with Sawn-Off Shotgun. Finally, is hippie criminal, Jeremy Campbell. He is definitely not all about "peace and love!" He is armed with a Sawn-Off Pump-Action Shotgun and he is KB019 Funky Geezer on the Killer B Games webstore.
At the far left of my second trio of ne'er-do-wells is "Mad Mike" Turrell, a psychopathic thug, very much in the same mould as Gang Boss, Charlie Slater. On the Killer B Games webstore he has been painted as having white hair and beard. I almost went with that paint scheme myself but in the end I decided to make him a much younger version. Not surprisingly he is known as KB017 Bearded Geezer with Pump-Action Shotgun.
In the centre of this trio is Davey Lowe, who is armed with a Double-Barrelled Sawn-Off Shotgun. He is unshaven and unkempt and a low level criminal. You'll find him on Killer B Games' webstore as KB004 Geezer with Sawn-Off Shotgun.
Last of all, is a figure that some of you may recognise - he is a dead ringer for Jack Carter (played by Michael Caine), the eponymous villain of the 1971 film, Get Carter. Forget the awful remake with Sylvester Stallone! I could have named him Jack Carter but seeing as how the film ended I decided to slightly change his name to Michael Carter, mixing up the character and actor's names. He is, rather unusually, armed with a Pump-Action Shotgun (in the film, Carter used a Double-Barrelled Shotgun. See photo below) and he wears his trademark black trench coat. He is a terrific figure and such an iconic villain. Killer B Games sell him as KB009 Hitman with Shotgun. I'd most likely use him as a Hitman Criminal Extra in 7TV2e.
As always, each of these figures costs a mere £2.00 each. Let's get tooled up!
Michael Caine as Jack Carter in an opening scene of the film, Get Carter.

Friday, 22 April 2016

7TV2e Criminals in Balaclavas

Here is Charlie Slater's gang that I'll be using in my first game of 7TV2e (see my last post about Criminal Masterminds to see who Charlie Slater is). These figures are predominantly by Killer B Games with one addition from Ral Partha, who is a real "blast from the past." All six figures have been named by me.
At the far left of the two photos above and below is Slater's right hand man, Micky Neville. He is armed with a 12 Gauge Sawn-Off Pump-Action Shotgun and is carrying a bag of money. Like Slater, he is dressed in a British Army camouflage jacket. Both men grew up in South London and have been close friends all their lives. He'll be a Faithful Lackey Co-Star in my 7TV2e scenario. On the Killer B Games webstore he is KB042 Masked Raider with Shotgun and Sack.
Next up are two Bruiser Thugs armed with a 12 Gauge Sawn-Off Pump-Action Shotgun and a 12 Gauge Double-Barrelled Sawn-Off Shotgun. In the centre is Dougie Wetherall and at far right is Tom Kilgour. You can find these on the Killer B Games webstore as KB046 Masked Raider with Pump Action Shotgun and KB044 Masked Raider with Sawn Off Shotgun respectively.
Moving on, I have two more Bruiser Thugs made by Killer B Games. At the far left is Colin Briggs, armed with a pick-axe handle and in the centre is George Houseman, armed with a 9mm Pistol and carrying a money bag. These are KB045 Masked Raider with Pick Axe Handle and KB043 Masked Raider with Pistol and Sack.
Bringing up the rear, is Paddy MacDee who is armed with a 5.56mm Colt M16A2 Assault Rifle. He was made by Ral Partha and is a very old 25mm scale figure of mine. In those days all 1" tall figures were 25mm scale. Then scale-creep raised the average height to 28mm and we now regard that as the norm for 1" figures. Paddy is a teenager and so his lack of height is not an issue for me.
All of the Killer B Games figures cost £2.00 each. Good luck finding the Ral Partha Masked Raider with Assault Rifle as he is long out of production and I can't even remember what range he came from, although I am certain he was made by Ral Partha.

Monday, 18 April 2016

7TV2e Criminal Masterminds 01

Having concentrated on the Police figures I plan on using in my 7TV2e games these past few weeks, it is now time to look at their opposition, starting with this post concentrating on the criminal masterminds - the Villainous Stars and Co-Stars.
At the far left is Tony "King Tut" Tuttle, who bears a close resemblance to the inimitable Arthur Daley (played by George Cole) in the TV series of Minder. I might have named him Arthur Daley, but Crooked Dice Games gave him a much cooler name, in my opinion, and so I have stuck with that. In 7TV2e I see "King Tut" as either an Underworld Boss Star or as a Faithful Lackey Co-Star. He appears to be unarmed but there is a good chance he's carrying a concealed pistol. He costs £3.50 on the CDG webstore.
In the centre of the group is another CDG figure who bears a close resemblance to yet another well known villain from TV - "Genial" Harry Grout (as played by Peter Vaughan) in Porridge. "Grouty" as he was also known as, was feared by prisoners and prison guards alike. Upon his release from prison he returned to his life of crime and eventually died of a heart attack. This time, I have decided to keep the name as CDG have not named him, simply referring to him as Underworld Boss to tie in with his Villainous Star status. On the CDG webstore he has been painted with a white shirt and black tie. I decided to swap the colours round and it works very well, in my opinion. He is quite expensive, costing £4.00.
At the far right is Charlie Slater, a crime boss made by Killer B Games. He'll be making an appearance in my first 7TV2e scenario, either as an Underworld Boss Star or as a Jackbooted Sadist Co-Star. He's a vicious bastard who specialises in violent crime, notably armed robbery. On Killer B Games' webstore you'll find him listed as KB006 In Scarf with Pistol, where he costs a mere £2.00.
All three are full of character and great sculpts and each one makes for a great Mister Big. "King Tut" and Grouty (doesn't he just ooze menace?) are more sophisticated villains; both share a love of expensive cigars. Slater, on the other hand is one of the new breed of criminals, violent, hot-headed and unpredictable. I'm going to have lots of fun running these guys.