Thursday, 17 August 2017

Massive Darkness - What I Got

I mentioned in my last post about my "Happy Thursday" where I received a load of parcels on that joyous day. I showed my Dracula's America Kickstarter package that I got last time. Now, it is time to show you what I got in the biggest parcel of all - my Massive Darkness Kickstarter package, which contains one of everything.
Massive Darkness is a dungeon crawl boardgame with 30mm scale miniatures created by Cool Mini Or Not that can be played with 1 to 6 players. No dungeon master is required as the enemy forces are controlled by an artificial intelligence in a similar manner to the zombie hordes in Zombicide. In this post I'll just show you all that I received for my Kickstarter pledge. I'll review the game itself in a later post. The picture above shows everything that came in a huge brown box. That is quite a hefty amount!
At the back here is the basic game box (it's big, heavy and packed to the gills) and the Lightbringer supplement, which adds crystal caverns and lava flows to the dungeon, plus loads more monsters. The other six boxes were optional buys containing more monsters and heroes. In the middle row from left to right are the Elementals set (contains 4 large elementals - air, earth, fire and water), the Ratlings set (contains 22 assorted Ratlings) and the Troglodytes set (contains 21 assorted Troglodytes and a large Minotaur). In the front row from left to right are the Reptisaurians set (contains 22 assorted Reptisaurians), the Bloodmoon Assassins vs the Hellephant set (contains 3 heroes and a large Hellephant monster) and the Warrior Priests vs the Spearmaiden Cyclops (contains 3 heroes and a huge Cyclops monster).
Two slightly smaller boxed sets feature the Noble Warriors vs the Cockatrice (contains 3 more heroes and a Cockatrice monster) and the Sorcerers vs Lord Tusk set (contains another 3 heroes and an Ogre Lord monster). To the left are three packs of crossover cards for using Zombicide: Black Plague heroes and zombies in Massive Darkness and for using the Massive Darkness heroes in Zombicide: Black Plague. I really love this so much. Kudos to Cool Mini Or Not for offering these cards! Finally are two boxed sets containing 3D plastic chests and pillars and doors and bridges to replace their card counters.
Here's a peak inside the basic game box. As with Zombicide: Black Plague, the heroes have a plastic dashboard to record their equipment, wounds and experience points on. I really like these a lot. The heroes are made of brown plastic and the monsters on grey plastic. The attention to detail of the sculpts is truly amazing and elevates the figures to miniature works of art. Beneath the big tray of monsters in the box are the tiles, dice, counters and cards.
Finally, here's a look inside the Lightbringer supplement, which contains three new heroes, a load more monsters, the crystal and lava tiles and a book of six new quests that makes use of the new tiles.
My mountain of unpainted figures goes up by another couple of hundred (sigh!) but do you know what? I don't care. I'm very happy with this purchase and the crossover potential with Zombicide: Black Plague was the icing on the cake and for me, made this a must have item. Plus, having read the rulebook, I can see that this is a great game in its own right. I very much look forward to playing it.

Sunday, 13 August 2017

Dracula's America: Shadows of the West

Have you ever had one of those days when everything went right for you? They are rare but when they do happen it is such a wonderful feeling. Last Thursday was such a day for me. I received so many parcels that morning you'd think it was Christmas and my birthday rolled into one. From Amazon, I receive two plastic storage boxes that I keep figures and boardgame counters in. I received 12 miniature merchant starships from Brigade Models as well as five 28mm scale sci-fi figures from Space Vixens from Mars, and two big Kickstarter parcels. The first was everything produced for Dracula's America and the second, which came in a huge box, was everything that was produced for Massive Darkness, the new dungeon crawl game from Cool Mini Or Not. To top it all I had two hospital appointments that afternoon for check ups and both went amazingly well with the two consultants being delighted at my progress since my major operation in 2013. It was just a great day. Anyway, in this post I want to take a closer look at Dracula's America.
To give it its full name, Dracula's America: Shadows of the West is a skirmish wargame set in an alternate world Wild West where Count Dracula kills Abraham Lincoln in 1869 and becomes President for Life of the United States of America. Naturally, this intrigued me greatly and I quickly supported the North Star Nickstarter for this project by ordering one of everything that was on offer - rulebook, figures and dice.
I was very impressed by the quality of the products when I received them. the rulebook (shown to the left) is hard-backed, in full colour and runs to 140 pages. It is very easy to read and the rules are simple and easy to learn. The basic rule is if you roll a 5+ you have scored a success. On a roll of 1-4 you have failed. Characters come in three classes - novices, who roll d6s, veterans who roll d8s and heroes who roll d10s, so you can see, the more experienced your character is, the greater the chance he has of scoring a success. Some tests require one die being rolled, whilst others require three dice being rolled. Modifiers add or subtract the number of dice you roll but you can never roll less than one die. The more successes you roll, the greater the degree of your success is. That is the basic rules in a nutshell. Very simple.
The rulebook is split into three sections. Part 1 is The Rules, which cover the core rules, advanced rules, building your posse and 7 simple scenarios. Part 2 is Campaigns, which goes beyond one-off games into linked games that form a campaign. Part 3 is Dracula's America, which introduces the supernatural elements to the game. In here you will also find details of the six main factions of the game. The Twilight Order are the forces of good and light who have access to blessed weapons and ammo. The Red Hand Coven are the thralls of Dracula and his Shadow Union. The Skin Walker Tribes are native Americans who become shape-shifting guardians of nature. The Crossroads Cult are demon worshippers. The Congregation are sworn to stop the Dark Confederacy and to protect the remnants of the Free South with the power of Voodoo. The Dark Confederacy are made up of necromancers who raise the dead so that the Southern states may rise again in power.
I should point out that it is entirely possible to play this game as a straightforward Wild West skirmish game without using any of the supernatural elements... but where's the fun in that? This game is called Dracula's America and that is the setting I want to play in. I can't wait to get started. I can see crossover potential with THW's High Moon rules and maybe with Shadows of Brimstone, but that would require more work.
Here's a photo showing all that I received in my parcel. The rulebook, six of each type of dice used in the game and 42 beautifully sculpted 28mm scale figures. By ordering one of everything I earned a nice discount on the recommended retail price.
Here's a closer look at the figures. I based them all on the green plastic bases that came with them. Some of them, which I've glued to MDF bases, should have been glued to 40mm diameter plastic bases, but I thought they were far too big for the figures so I glued them on smaller sized bases. Only the summoned Temple Snake has been glued to a 40mm diameter base (see far left of the back row).
In the back row are the summoned creatures. In the fourth row from the front are The Congregation. In front of them in the middle are the Dark Confederacy. In the second row are from left to right, two Crossroads cult members, four Red Hand Coven vampires and two free exclusive figures I got for backing the Nickstarter, a Chupacabra and a Jackalope. In the front row are the forces of good - the Twilight Order and a single Skin Walker at the far right.
If you'd like a closer look at the figures, I've included this photo taken from the Nickstarter campaign which shows all of the figures except the Chupacabra and the Jackalope. The painted figures were painted by the highly talented Kevin Dallimore, a man whose work I greatly admire.
I'm a big fan of the Weird Wild West genre and I'm building up quite a collection of figures for this genre. I'm also slowly building up my collection of Wild West buildings and scenery. I think you can expect to see a lot of Weird West posts on this blog in 2018, by which time I should have enough painted figures and buildings to do it justice. I have to say that I am very impressed with the Dracula's America rulebook and setting. I see no reason to convert it to one of my other systems but to play it as written. But what has really impressed me is the quality and sculpting of the figures. Indeed, some of them are so good, they have jumped to the front of my painting queue. My favourite figure out of this range may well surprise you but I shan't say who it is until I have painted him or her. Yes, I am a tease!
The rulebook, dice and figures are all available from North Star. See here - http://www.northstarfigures.com/list.php?man=248&page=1
Highly recommended if you are at all interested in the Weird Wild West.

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Warlord Games Manta Prowl Tank

Up until now I haven't looked at the vehicles of Mega City One that I'll be using in my Judge Dredd Miniatures Game campaign. That changes now as I showcase one of the most awe-inspiring vehicles used by the Justice Department. The Manta Prowl Tank is a vehicle used by the Judges to deal with serious disturbances such as riots. It can also be used in wartime. It has antigravity and a powerful armament. It is not the Justice Department's biggest tank, however, which is the more powerful Heavy Tank, which runs on caterpillar tracks and is reserved for military use, as opposed to normal law enforcement.
This resin cast model was produced by Warlord Games and I was fortunate enough to buy mine just a month before the Judge Dredd range was temporarily suspended. It measures 29cm in length, 24cm in width and is 6cm tall. I don't know what it weighs but it is solid resin and quite heavy. It came in numerous parts which I glued together with two part epoxy resin for a strong bond. It comes with a small flight stand, which I have fitted for these photos but it has not been glued to the tank. It raises the model about 2 cm off the ground. I have placed my 28mm scale Wargames Foundry figure of Judge Scott alongside it in my photos to give you some idea of just how large this model is.
In JDMG, the Manta Prowl tank is classed as a Massive Hover Vehicle, so it is not affected by difficult or impassable terrain. If a Justice Department force wished to use one in a game, it would cost them a whopping 900 Credits, making it the most expensive vehicle in the game.
It has a crew complement of 2 drivers, 4 sensor operators, 5 gunners and can carry 30 passengers, including 4 Lawmaster bikes. Its JDMG stats are Move 12". Agility -2, Ramming Dice 10D, Front Armour +10, Side Armour +8, Rear Armour +7 and it has 30 Hits.
Its weapons are a High Intensity Laser Cannon (scarily powerful!) and two Anti-Personnel Laser Cannons in its turret as well as Stumm Gas Dispensers and Riot Foam Jets. Note, when activated, the Stumm Gas Dispensers and Riot Foam Jets will attack every model (friend or foe) within 6". However, they may not be used if the Manta Prowl Tank moves in the same turn.
The following rule applies to the drivers. If only a single model uses a Move action to drive the Manta Prowl Tank, its Agility becomes -4. Both drivers must use a Move action on the tank to avoid this; with the Manta Prowl Tank being moved on the second driver's action.
The following rules applies to the sensor operators. If the Manta Prowl Tank does not have any sensor operator crew positions filled, it may not use any weapons. If one or two sensor operators are present, it suffers a -2 or -1 penalty to all shooting attacks respectively. If four sensor operators are present, it gains a +1 bonus to all shooting attacks. Sensor operators must spend two Special Actions in each phase, or they will not count as being present at their stations.
There is no question at all that the Manta Prowl Tank resin kit is a very impressive model. Despite its very high price tag (I paid £125.00 for it) I have no regrets in buying it. It may not see much use in my campaign but when it does you'll just know that the Judges mean business! However, I do have one major criticism of the model and it is this - this is NOT a 28mm scale model. It is vastly under scale. There is no way you could fit 11 crew members, 30 passengers and 4 Lawmaster bikes inside it unless they were 15mm scale. Now I can understand the problem of scale here. To make this in true 28mm scale would mean doubling it in size, making it roughly two feet square, which is just unfeasible for tabletop skirmish gaming. So I accept the scale reduction on the grounds of playability. It is still a mightily impressive model and is one that I am incredibly proud to own.

Thursday, 3 August 2017

Warlord Games Missy, Professor Yana and Chantho

I could have shown the Warlord Games figure of Missy when I reviewed my plastic Cybermen. After all, she was part of the boxed set that featured the Cybermen reinforcements. But I deliberately held back so that I could showcase her alongside Professor Yana and Chantho. These three characters do share a history as I'll explain.
At the left of these two photos are Chantho and Professor Yana. The kindly Professor Yana worked on the Utopia project at the end of the universe with his assistant, Chantho - a Malmooth whose every sentence started with "Chan" and ended with "Tho". However, Yana was actually the renegade Time Lord, the Master - his biology altered by Time Lord technology, the Chameleon Arch. When the Master discovered his true identity he fatally wounded Chantho with a live electric cable. In her final moments, Chantho managed to shoot the Master, triggering his regeneration as he stole away in the Tenth Doctor's TARDIS. The Master was once again unleashed upon time and space.
The Master makes numerous appearances in the Doctor Who TV series but it was in the 2014 episodes,  Dark Water and Death in Heaven that Missy revealed herself to be the latest regeneration of the Master or rather a female version of him, known as Missy, a shortened version of Mistress. This figure very faithfully captures the likeness of Michelle Gomez, who played Missy to such wonderful effect. Yes, I am a big fan of Missy.
Michelle Gomez maintained John Simm's (the previous Master) portrayal of the character, specifically the psychopathic behaviour and inappropriate emotional responses to certain situations, as well as the original traditions of ruthless, murderous behaviour and grandiose, Machiavellian criminal intelligence that have been consistent throughout all incarnations. However, she also displayed a much more coquettish manner, with her new female identity allowing her to fully express aspects of the Master's ambiguous bond with the Doctor (as previously explored by Simm's incarnation in The Sound of Drums). While determined to torment and corrupt the Doctor with moral temptation while inflicting pain and death to humanity, she frequently referred to him as her "boyfriend" or "friend" and appeared to ultimately desire his acquiescence and company. She is also well aware that she is even more dangerously psychopathic than before, describing herself as "Bananas" to UNIT agent Osgood right before killing her (Death in Heaven). However, when circumstances result in Missy being kept in a vault and monitored by the Doctor after an averted execution, Missy actually comes to show signs of remorse for what she had done in the past, to the point that she prepares to side with the Doctor over her own past self (The Doctor Falls).
The Master and the Doctor are shown to have similar levels of intelligence, and were classmates on Gallifrey, where the Master outperformed the Doctor. A similar connection between the two was also referenced in The End of Time in which the Master reminisces with the Tenth Doctor about his father's estates on Gallifrey and his childhood with the Doctor before saying, "look at us now". In the 2007 episode Utopia, the Tenth Doctor calls the transformed and disguised Master (Professor Yana) a genius and shows admiration for his intellect before discovering his true identity. The Tenth Doctor further expresses admiration for the Master's intellect in The End of Time by calling him "stone cold brilliant" and yet states that the Master could be more if he would just give up his desire for domination. The Twelfth Doctor states that Missy is "the one person almost as smart as me" (The Lie of the Land).