Saturday, 18 April 2015

Reaper Survivors 01

I have no doubt that this post will please many of you as I return to reviewing 28mm scale contemporary survivors and zombies. Sadly, there are no zombies to review today (unless you count a zombie hand!) but don't worry, they'll be appearing soon. Although I have reviewed many Reaper figures in the past (civilians and zombies) I was surprised to discover that I had never reviewed any of their survivor figures. It is time to put that oversight right with a look at five of their Chronoscope range of figures.
At the far left is Bonnie, who is described as a Futuristic Heroine. I don't understand why she's described as "Futuristic" when she is clearly a Contemporary Heroine. She is very well armed with a pair of Sub-Machine Guns in her hands, a pair of Big Ass Pistols in shoulder holsters and two Sawed-Off Shotguns slung over her back. She's a seriously hard ass, ambidextrous killer who would excel at killing zombies. I love her pose, which is very animated. She is one of my all-time favourite survivor figures.
Next up is Beverley, who is correctly described as a Zombie Survivor. She is armed with a Chainsaw. She also has a big Dagger strapped to her right thigh and a Sawn-Off Pump Action Shotgun slung across her back. One little detail on this figure that is so easy to overlook is the severed zombie hand clutching the ankle of her right leg. This is another great figure made all the better by that zombie hand.
In the centre of the group is Denver, another Zombie Survivor. This young man is carrying a Double-Barreled Shotgun and dragging along a suitcase on wheels. He reminds me of Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg) from the film, Zombieland, but seeing as I have a much better version of Columbus (by Studio Miniatures) I'll use him as just another Survivor. He only just fitted on a 25mm diameter slottabase. The fact that half his foot hangs over the edge doesn't bother me.

The last two figures in line were part of the original Reaper Bones Kickstarter collection and these are made of plastic instead of metal. The detail on them is not quite as sharp as on the metal versions but you'd hardly notice without close scrutiny. Some folk have complained that they have had difficulties in painting the plastic Bones figures, but I can honestly say, I painted them just as I did with my metal figures with no problem at all. I primed them with Foundry Black acrylic paint, which went on perfectly. Note that the plastic versions of these figures come with integral sculpted bases - wooden floorboards for the deputy and flagstones for Horace. The metal versions come with slottatabs and slottabases. I stuck them on flat plastic 25mm diameter bases and covered them with sand and cat litter so that they blend in with the rest of my collection.
Deputy Wayne Tisdale is shown standing in a relaxed pose with his hands on his hips. He is an unremarkable figure and I have no strong feelings about him. I painted his shirt in Foundry Sand 10 but it looks a bit too bright for me. I don't like it so I'll repaint it in Foundry Drab 12.
Last in line is Horace "Action" Jackson. He's a larger-than-life hero and so required a paint scheme that made him stand out from the crowd, hence his gold shirt (unbuttoned, of course) and purple flaired trousers. With his huge Afro hair-do, it's like he has just stepped out of a 1970's "blaxploitation" movie! He is firing a Six-Shot Snub-Nosed Revolver. I like this figure as he is one cool dude!
50005 Horace "Action" Jackson, 50153 Berkeley the Zombie Survivor, 50199 Denver the Zombie Survivor, 50210 Bonnie the Futuristic Heroine cost £5.22 each and 50267 Deputy Wayne Tisdale costs £5.10. These prices are taken from the Miniature Heroes website. I like to order my Reaper figures from this UK-based company as it saves me ordering from the USA and possibly incurring customs charges.

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

A Touch Of Evil Heroes 02

Here are the remaining 12 heroes from the A Touch Of Evil game, starting with the four Heroes from the Something Wicked expansion set, then the four Heroes from The Coast expansion set and finishing with the four Heroes from Hero Pack Two.
At the far left of the photos above and below is Captain Meriwether Hawkins. A lifelong military man, Captain Hawkins saw much action in the Revolution and various civil uprisings since. A decorated Captain in the Continental Army, he is a man of reason and strategy  and has much experience with command. Having heard of this supposed supernatural "creature" terrorising the locals he has travelled to Shadowbrook to put an end to this nonsense and bring the community under some semblance of control... by force, if necessary.
Captain Hawkins has two Special Abilities -  Call To Arms (as an Action, he may pay 2 Investigation to place a Militia in any space on the board (limit of one per space). This may only be used if there are currently 4 or fewer Militia markers on the board. Limit of once per Turn) and Field Command (during his Move phase, he may pay 1 Investigation to move a Militia marker to any other space on the board. If there is a Minion there, he may discard the Militia and roll 1d6. On the roll of 3+ discard the Minion as well and gain the Minion's victory reward as though it was defeated in a fight.
Captain Hawkins has stats of 4 Honour, 3 Combat, 3 Cunning, 3 Wounds and 2 Spirit. His abilities to field and move Militia are very useful and once the Villain's lair has been revealed he should place a Militia there to aid the Heroes in the Showdown.
Standing next to Captain Hawkins is Brother Marcus Faugno. Journeying the countryside, Brother Marcus is far from home. His long pilgrimage has taken him on many adventures around the world but none quite so deadly as that which he faces now. Armed only with his faith and fortitude, Brother Marcus has at last found the destiny he has long been searching.
Bother Marcus has three Special Abilities - Faithful (he may not use Gun Items. He may use Spirit instead of Combat in a Fight), Mission (he starts the game at the Crossroads) and Strength of Spirit (he may pay 2 Investigation to cancel any Mystery card or Event (including an Event result on the Villain's Minion Chart) on the 1d6 roll of 4+. Limit once per Turn).
Brother Marcus's stats are a mixed bag with 4 Spirit, 4 Wounds, 3 Honour, 1 Combat and 1 Cunning. In the one game that I used him I sent him to the Monastery, where he stocked up on religious Items that made him extremely powerful in the Showdown. Try and boost his Spirit stat even higher. I got it up to 6, making him the best fighter in my party.
Moving on, we come to the first of the two females from this set, Eliza Spain the Witch Hunter. Recently dispatched to Shadowbrook from the Sanctum of the Moebius Malem, Eliza has come with a single purpose - to eliminate any and all supernatural activity with extreme prejudice. As per the guidelines of her Order, she has been granted full inquisitorial authority and has been decreed to use whatever means necessary to accomplish her mission. Any who might stand in her way are to be considered... acceptable losses.
Eliza has three Special Abilities - Zealot (she may take a wound to gain +2 Spirit, Cunning, Honour or Combat for a single test. Limit of once per test. This wound may be assigned to Militia), Inquisition (any time she reveals a Town Elder's Secret, she gains 4 Investigation for every Little Secret or Evil card revealed. Limit once per Turn), and Hunter (has +2 Fight Dice against any Demon, Ghost or Magik enemy).
Eliza stats are 4 Wounds, 3 Cunning, 3 Spirit, 2 Combat and 2 Honour. Having 4 Wounds means she can easily use her Zealot ability to boost her Combat in a fight. As is, she's okay but if you can equip her with weapons she becomes much stronger. I've only used her once but I managed to arm her with a dagger, a musket and a pistol for +4 Combat and she was unstoppable.
Last in line is Valeria the Eternal. Beautiful but deadly, Valeria has walked this Earth for millennia; one of the few remaining vampires of the ancient world. Once a noble princess of the legendary Kingdom of Pharoz, she now travels the world in secret, the last of a long dead civilisation. With the memory of a hundred lifetimes, Valeria is not interested in fame or fortune, only the fleeting joy found in hunting the most dangerous of prey.
Valeria has three Special Abilities - Vampire (automatically heals 1d3 Wounds at the end of a Fight Round in which she defeated an enemy (this may prevent her from being KO'd). Immune to Curses), Strength of Darkness (gains 1 Investigation each time the Shadow Track moves a step closer to Darkness) and Undead (may not use Gun Items and may not use or carry any items that are Holy or that gain a bonus against Vampires, including Town Elders).
Valeria's stats are surprisingly average with 3 for Combat, Cunning, Honour and Wounds and 2 Spirit. Will it surprise anyone to learn that Valeria is my favourite Hero? I thought not! Note how her name is a partial anagram of Vampirella. I have only used her once so far in a team up with two other females against the Vampire. I reasoned it would take a vampire to defeat a vampire and she did - she wiped the floor with him!
The first of the Heroes from The Coast is Doctor Jeremy Edwards. A physician from the neighboring city, Doctor Edwards has come to Shadowbrook on the behest of his good friend, Jonathan Cooke. "Come at once!" the letter had said. "Urgent need of your skills and wisdom for matters... supernatural." With haste he had set out in a coach at once, not fully understanding what dark and dangerous trouble lay before him. He owed the inspector a great deal for saving his life on their last adventure in Boston, and tonight he was not about to let his friend down.
Doctor Edwards has two Special Abilities - Field Medicine (he may heal Wounds from himself or any other Hero in his space for 1 Investigation each. This may be used at any time except during a Fight Round) and Autopsy (while in any Town space he may remove a dead Town Elder from the game to gain 1d6 Investigation).
Doctor Edwards has 5 Honour, 3 Cunning, 3 Wounds, 2 Combat and 2 Spirit. He is just crying out to be used alongside Inspector Cooke for the original game. His most useful ability is Field Medicine, which will be of great value to any party.
Next up is Argot Blackwell the Master Hunter. A masterful soldier, scholar of dark knowledge and hunter of all things evil, Argot Blackwell has only ever known the cold realities of a supernatural world. As a young boy in distant Europe, his family was massacred by werewolves. Only he was saved by the intervention of a valiant hunter, a drifter tracking the beasts through the mountains and dispatching the entire pack single-handed. Swearing his life to vengeance upon all foul creatures of the night, Argot honed his skills over 40 years, learning everything about the dark monsters... and how to kill them.
Argot has four Special Abilities - Gruff Outsider (he does not draw an Event card for encountering a Town space), On the Hunt for Evil (he may draw an Event card any time he defeats a Minion or does a Hit to the Villain outside of Shadowbrook), Know Thine Enemy (he may discard an Event card to gain +2 Fight Dice for one attack or to prevent a Wound to himself) and Hunter (gains +2 Fight Dice against any Ancient, Beast or Vampire enemy).
His stats are 4 Combat, 3 Cunning, 3 Wounds, 2 Honour and 2 Spirit. Argot is good at one thing and that is killing monsters. If the Villain is an Ancient, a Beast or a Vampire he's your go to Hero. I like this guy!
The first of the two females from this set is Liliana Bagget the Lost Soul. Though youthful, Liliana is an old soul who was changed forever when her entire village was wiped out by a vicious creature. Swearing an oath of vengeance, she now travels the countryside hunting that very villain that savaged everything she once held dear. Her singular focus on revenge has given her strength over the years to press on, many times closing in on the beast, only to have it slip through her grasp. At last she has tracked it down once more to the small town of Shadowbrook. No more shall die by its hands.
Liliana has three Special Abilities - Shadow of the Past (she may roll an extra Fight Dice for each Hit she does in a Fight Round), Spirited (she always uses Spirit in a fight) and Loss of Faith (she may not exchange Items or Allies with other Heroes. Training Spirit at the Church requires an Honour 6+ test for her).
Her stats are varied with 4 Honour, 3 Spirit, 3 Wounds, 2 Cunning and 1 Combat. It will certainly pay you to try and increase her Spirit stat. In this set's FAQ someone asked, "does Liliana's Shadow of the Past ability stack?" Yes, it does. Any extra Fight Dice that roll Hits cause additional extra Fight Dice to be rolled until no more Hits are rolled. This really is an awesome ability!
Finally is Maria De La Rosa the Smuggler. Maria Montoya Valencia De La Rosa was born at sea. From a long family line of noble blood and a heritage of piracy and adventure, Maria became a smuggler at the age of nine during the American Revolution, helping the colonies in their desperate struggle. Now a woman of renown, she lives a life of smuggling and treasure hunting, seeking only the thrill of the chase and the beauty of ancient relics. Her latest exploits have brought her to the rocky shores of Tidewater, the haunted coast, in search of a family heirloom lost to the ages.
Maria has only two Special Abilities - Barter (Town Items cost her 1 less Investigation to purchase (minimum of 1)) and Secret Routes (she may use any Secret Passage printed on the board for free, during her move rather than in place of her move).
Her stats are an above average 4 for Wounds, an average 3 for Combat, Cunning and Honour and a below average 2 for Spirit. If you plan on buying lots of Items then it will definitely pay you to have Maria in your party.
And so we come to Hero Pack Two, starting with Frederic Leon the Foreign Diplomat. As part of a diplomatic envoy of nobility from France, Frederic Leon has become trapped in the colonies due to the revolution in his own homeland. Back in France, to be a noble is to risk losing one's head to the guillotine. It is a safer bet to continue on in his diplomatic duties abroad, in name at least, if not in action. With his funds dwindling and his personal guard growing restless, he has arrived  in Shadowbrook only to find that this new town is even more deadly than the revolutionaries who want his head.
Frederic has three Special Abilities - Escort (while in any Town space, he may pay 2 Investigation as an Action to take a Militia marker. This Militia travels with him and may only be used by him (limit of 1). There may also be up to one Militia in the space as normal), Intrigue (he may pay 2 Investigation at any time to draw an Event card) and Diplomacy (when paying to look at a Town Elder's Secrets, he never needs to reveal them).
Frederic has 4 Cunning, 3 Honour, 3 Wounds, 2 Combat and 2 Spirit. I'm afraid that Frederic is one of the weakest Heroes in the game. His stats are below average and his abilities are not that special either.
Next up is Jack Fellows the Privateer. A sailor and a privateer by trade, Jack is a free man forging his own way in the world and fighting for what he believes in. Having spent most of his life at sea, he is no stranger to the tall tales his shipmates spin on cold and foggy nights. Of ghost ships and sea monsters, they are tales told to scare younger crewmen. But in his heart, he knows there is real fear behind these tales, and real evil beneath the briny waves of the deep.
Jack has only one Special Ability - Duelist (once per Fight Round he may re-roll all of his missed To Hit rolls).
Jack has 4 Honour and 3 for Combat, Cunning, Spirit and Wounds. Jack is a one trick pony - he excels at fighting and his one Special Ability is very useful.
Third in line is Abigail Sturn the Student of the Occult. Well read in the ancient texts and tomes of occult knowledge, Abigail's studies have led her to Shadowbrook in hopes of learning more about the supernatural, first hand. Staying at a roadside Inn near Echo Lake, she spends her days exploring the surroundings while staying up late into the night to pour over her books and new found artifacts. She will stop at nothing to unlock the secrets of the occult and will open any door, no matter where it leads.
Abigail has two Special Abilities - Occult Knowledge (she may use Cunning instead of Combat in a Fight) and Student (she gains +1 Cunning for every Book she has. She also gains an extra Wound for every Occult Item she has).
Her stats are well below average with 3 Cunning, 3 Wounds, 2 Combat, 2 Honour and 2 Spirit. However, do not dismiss her for being weak. It is well worth spending time and Investigation in buying Books and Occult Items for her. A question about her that cropped up in the FAQ asked "if Abigail has a Book that is also Keyword: Occult, does she get +1 Cunning and an extra Wound?" The answer is yes, she does. Used wisely she can end up being a real powerhouse.
And last but by no means least we come to Sara Essex the Bright Witch. Adept in the ways of Bright Magic, Sara has spent her lifetime learning to control the white auras and shimmering lights of the Tarro Wind. A student of nature, she has grown up in the rural countryside and has committed herself to preserving life and protecting the world from darkness. Sensing the evil that has crept its way into Shadowbrook, Sara has set out on a mission to save the beleaguered town and its people from a gruesome fate. But this is a challenge greater than any she has ever faced.
Sara has three Special Abilities - Strength of Light (she gains 2 investigation at the start of each of her Hero Turns (or Showdown Fight rounds). She loses 1 Investigation each time the Shadow Track moves a step closer to Darkness), Aura of Protection (she may pay 2 Investigation at any time to prevent a Wound to any Town Elder or Hero (including herself) on the 1d6 roll of 3+ (limit once per Wound)) and Witch (she may not use Guns. She gains +2 Fight Dice against Magik, Demon or Construct enemy).
Sara has 4 Honour, 4 Spirit, 3 Combat, 3 Wounds and 2 Cunning. Sara is a worthy Hero. She can stack up her Investigation tokens very quickly and use them to protect others from being wounded. She is a good all-rounder.

This brings to a close my reviews of A Touch Of Evil, a game that I have grown to love the more I play it. I do like the figures that come with the game. They are very different to what I usually use in a game but variety is never a bad thing. I know that this is one game that I will be playing for many years to come and so I consider it a very worthwhile investment.

Saturday, 11 April 2015

A Touch of Evil Expansion Sets

There are currently four expansion sets for Flying Frog Productions' boardgame, A Touch Of Evil, and I'm going to take a brief look at them here.
Something Wicked is the first of the two big expansion sets and it contains quite a lot - 1 Full Colour Rulebook, 1 Expansion Game Board, 4 Unique 28mm Scale Hero Figures, 20 Card Monastery Deck, 20 Card Forgotten Island Deck, 20 Card The Inn Deck, 12 Monastery Item Cards, 4 Abandoned Keep Cards, 4 Manor Cards, 4 Olde Woods Cards, 4 Windmill Cards, 9 Lair Cards, 8 Event Cards, 12 Mystery Cards, 1 Town Item Card, 4 Curse of Stone Cards, 2 Possessed/ Crimson Hand Cards, 4 Large Hero Character Record Sheets, 4 Large Villain Record Sheets, 4 Extra Large Villain Minion Chart Cards, 1 Large Reference Card for Terrain Effects and 3 Full Colour Sheets of Die-Cut Counters. This expansion set adds the Echo Lake game board, which can be added to the right of the Shadowbrook board, doubling the size of the total game board. Echo Lake adds three new Corner Locations (Forgotten Island, The Inn and The Monastery), as well as new Dangerous Locations and paths that may be travelled.

I'll describe the four new Heroes in greater detail next time, along with photos of them. The four new Villains are the Banshee, the Gargoyle, the Bog Fiend and the Unspeakable Horror (a Cthulhu-type monster). There are a few new rules added to the game, most of which are optional. However, some of these optional rules are highly recommended, e.g.  Too Many Secrets,  Exchanging Items and Allies in the Competitive Game and using the Advanced Cooperative Mystery Phase Chart (for this you roll 2d6 and consult the chart instead of rolling 1d6 and having fewer options on the original chart). For me, the best new rules of all were the solo play rules. These are split into using a single Hero or a team of Heroes (2 to 3 being the recommended number). As a solo player, these new rules made this expansion set a must have purchase. If you're a solo player you'll need this set.

The Coast is the second big expansion set and it contains the following - 1 Full Colour Rulebook, 1 Expansion Game Board, 4 Unique 28mm Scale Hero Figures, 20 Card Lighthouse Deck, 20 Card Shipwreck Deck, 20 Card Smuggler's Cove Deck, 12 Coastal Town Items, 12 Tidewater Village Encounter Cards, 7 Hauntings Cards, 8 Secrets Cards, 3 Tidewater Town Elders Cards, 4 Abandoned Keep Cards, 4 Manor Cards, 4 Olde Woods Cards, 4 Windmill Cards, 12 Lair Cards, 12 Event Cards, 22 Mystery Cards, 1 Town Item Card, 1 Drowned Dead Card, 4 Large Hero Character Record Sheets, 4 Large Villain Record Sheets, 4 Extra Large Villain Minion Charts, 1 Large Reference Card of Kraken/Haunted, 1 Extra Large Reference Card for Lost Ship and 2 Full Colour Sheets of Die-Cut Counters. This expansion features a coastline to explore. It may be added to the Shadowbrook board and sits neatly to the right of it, doubling the size of the total game board. If you also have the Echo Lake board from the Something Wicked expansion, the three boards may be used together, lining up the roads from Shadowbrook, through Echo Lake to the Coast. The Coast board adds three new Corner Locations (the Lighthouse, the Shipwreck and the Smuggler's Cove) as well as the town of Tidewater, new Dangerous Locations and a few new paths that may be travelled.

Once again, I'll describe the four new Heroes in greater detail next time, along with photos of them. The four new Villains are the Dreamweaver, the Ghost Ship, the Siren and the Sunken Seven Ghostly Horde. More new rules are introduced, all of which add to the flavour of the game. One notable feature of Tidewater is that it has its own group of Town Elders, albeit fewer in number than in Shadowbrook - three instead of six. Just like their counterparts from inland these three characters have their own Secrets and they may help or hinder the Heroes in their quest to vanquish evil. I have yet to play this expansion set but I am immensely looking forward to trying it out as I have read nothing but good reviews of it. Indeed, I have heard some say it is the best expansion set for the game. With the inclusion of ghosts and undead pirates I say, what's not to like about it? I'll play a few games using The Coast with the original set and omit the Something Wicked board but what I'm really looking forward to is playing some truly epic games using all three sets.

Hero Pack One is a much smaller expansion set and it contains the following - 1 Full Colour Rules Booklet, 4 Unique 28mm Scale Hero Figures, 4 Large Hero Character Record Sheets, 6 Event Cards, 1 Abandoned Keep Card, 1 Manor Card, 1 Olde Woods Card, 1 Windmill Card and 1 Large Villain Record Sheet. Note that the new Necromancer Villain uses the Vampire Minion Chart from the A Touch Of Evil base game.
The Hero Pack One expansion introduces four new monster hunting Heroes - Adrianna Quetado the Foreign Traveller, Harlow Morgan the Inventor, Lucy Hanbrook and the Scarlet Shadow. I reviewed these figures last time. Also included are 10 powerful Event and Location Cards, which are meant to be shuffled into their respective decks.
The new villain is the Necromancer. With total control of the Walking Dead, the Necromancer strangles the streets of Shadowbrook with an endless horde of zombie  minions and an unquenchable thirst for destruction.


I found it slightly misleading that the back cover of the game box prominently features a picture of Valeria the Eternal, a Hero from Something Wicked. For sure, you can mix and match the Heroes from all the sets but if you bought this set before Something Wicked, there is a good chance you might ask, who is that woman in the red dress and why isn't she in this set? Yes, it is only a minor criticism but it did make me wonder.
This is not a bad expansion set but it is not quite as essential as the two big expansion sets described above. Still, it does offer four more Heroes and a new villain to conquer, thus giving you more options and variety.







Hero Pack Two is very similar to Hero Pack One and contains the following - 1 Full Colour Rules Booklet, 4 Unique 28mm Scale Hero Figures, 4 Large Hero Character Record Sheets, 3 Event Cards, 3 Mystery Cards, 1 Abandoned Keep Card, 1 Manor Card, 1 Olde Woods Card, 1 Windmill Card, 1 Large Villain Record Sheet and 1 Extra Large Villain Minion Chart.
Hero Pack Two introduces four exciting new Heroes - Frederic Leon the Foreign Diplomat, Jack Fellows the Privateer, Abigail Sturn the Student of the Occult and Sara Essex the Bright Witch. I'll review these and the new Heroes from Something Wicked and The Coast in my next post. The 10 new cards should be shuffled into their respective decks.
The new Villain is the Reaper, a master of death and decay who brings withering despair to all that it touches. Casting its Dark Mark on the next unlucky victim, the Reaper harvests souls to feed its fetid hunger.

I don't have a lot to say about this expansion set. As with Hero Pack One, it comes with four new Heroes, a new Villain and an extra 10 cards. If you're a completist like me, you'll want this set but I can hardly describe either of these two small expansion sets as essential purchases. They are useful to have but if it comes down to affordability I'd recommend giving them a miss and buy either or both of the big expansion sets if you don't already have them.

Amazon UK currently has the two big expansion sets in stock. Something Wicked retails for £28.30. The Coast is slightly cheaper at £27.75. Hero Pack One and Hero Pack Two cost me about £15.00 each when I ordered them from Amazon. They are currently out of stock but I've just checked to see if they are available on eBay and they are, with both being offered for a tad over £20.00 each.

Finally, please note that all four expansion sets require that you own the original base set.

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

A Touch Of Evil Heroes 01

As promised last time I'm going to review the eight 28mm scale Hero figures that come with Flying Frog Productions' boardgame, A Touch Of Evil and a bonus of the four Hero figures that come with the expansion set, Hero Pack One. I'll describe the background of each Hero along with their Special Abilities and stats and end with a few personal notes. Note that in a few cases I have added my own Christian names or surnames.
At the far left is Heinrich Cartwright, the Drifter. Always in the wrong place at the wrong time, Heinrich Cartwright arrived in Shadowbrook this afternoon. Drifting from town to town, he is a stranger to all. With a scruffy beard and well worn clothes, he has learned to be resourceful, making do with what is on hand. In his long life, Heinrich Cartwright has seen more than his share of death and the unspeakable horrors that haunt the world. Seen them... and defeated them!
His Special Abilities are Resourceful (when drawing an Event card he may draw two and choose which one to keep. The other is discarded) and Outsider (he starts the game at the Crossroads. He may not use his Resourceful ability at the Town Hall).
With 4 Wounds, 4 Honour and 4 Spirit he is quite a tough character but his 2 Cunning and 2 Combat do let him down.
Next to Heinrich is Inspector Jonathan Cooke. From the neighbouring "big city", Police Inspector Jonathan Cooke has come to Shadowbrook to hunt down and apprehend the men responsible for terrorising this small community. Rooted in science and fact, he believes that there is nothing that cannot be explained through investigation and logic. To him,  fear and superstition are the greatest enemies of reason.
He has only one Special Ability - Detective, which allows him to collect 1 extra Investigation token from the same source (either from the board or Pool of Investigation) except from a Fight.
Inspector Cooke has 4 Cunning and 4 Honour, 3 Wounds, 2 Combat and 1 Spirit. He is very much ATOE's version of Ichabod Crane from Sleepy Hollow. He is weak in combat but very good at collecting Investigation Tokens.
Standing second from the right is Thomas Lowrance the Courier. Since a young age, Thomas has been a traveller. A loner and a scout, he makes a living as a courier, forever on the move. With a scarred face and dead eye, Thomas has always looked out for himself above all else. Riding into town with a special delivery for one of the Elders of Shadowbrook, he finds himself wrapped up in the mysterious and deadly events that begin to unfold around him.
Thomas has two Special Abilities - Traveller (adds +2 to Movement) and Delivery (at the start of the game he may peek at the secrets of one Town Elder without revealing them).
Thomas has average stats with 3 Combat, 3 Spirit, 3 Wounds, 2 Cunning and 2 Honour. His Traveller Ability allows him to dash around the board far faster than anyone else. This can be quite advantageous. Buy him a Horse and he really move!
At the far left is Karl Meehan the Soldier. A veteran of the Revolution, Karl has witnessed horrors of war first hand. During his time in the continental army he also saw things that were beyond belief... supernatural things. With his hardened combat experience and research of the occult, Karl has become a hunter, tracking down and vanquishing the creatures of the night.
Karl has one Special Ability - Veteran (he may ignore the first Hit taken during each Fight Round (no additional benefit with Lady Hanbrook)).
Karl's stats of 5 Honour, 4 Combat, 3 Wounds, 2 Cunning and 2 Spirit make him very good in a fight. Because the figure is holding a musket I try to buy it for him from the Blacksmith's as soon as he can afford it. It adds +2 to his Combat score.
At the far left of my next set of photos is Victor Danforth the Playwright. A boastful braggart and a master thespian, the world renowned Victor Danforth expounds endlessly on his life of adventure and romantic exploits. He has learned every trick of the trade to keep up appearances while hiding the fact that he is, at heart, a cowardly soul who is afraid of his own shadow.
Victor has two Special Abilities - Creative Thinking (when rolling for Movement draw an Event card on a roll of 1 or 2 instead of just 1) and Flair for the Dramatic (as an Action, he may pay 4 Investigation to take any card with quote marks in the title from the Event discard pile (limit once per Turn)).
Victor is the least adept Hero at fighting with 1 Combat but his other stats make up for this deficiency - 4 Cunning, 4 Spirit, 3 Honour and 3 Wounds. That said, I have used him successfully on two occasions and he's never let me down yet.
Moving on to the females, first up is Anne Marie Henderson the School Teacher. Having recently arrived in Shadowbrook, Anne Marie has come to replace the last school master who disappeared quite suddenly, under mysterious circumstances. With a firm hand and compassionate spirit, she believes that only knowledge can bring the power to make the world a better place.
She has two Special Abilities - Lightweight (may not use Gun Items except the Pistol) and Knowledge is Power (gains +2 Combat for each Book Item she has).
Her stats are average with 4 Spirit, 3 Cunning, 3 Honour, 3 Wounds and 2 Combat. She performed heroically for me in one game when I teamed her up with Inspector Cooke against the Spectral Horseman in my remake of Sleepy Hollow. Thanks to an unfortunate Mystery Phase result the Showdown occurred far too early for my liking. Inspector Cooke got knocked out in Round One but Anne Marie survived and in Round Two defeated the villain thanks to her good foresight in buying two books very early in the game. They gave her +4 Combat which was enough to swing the tide in her favour.
Second from the right is Isabella Von Took the Noble Woman. Wife to one of the wealthiest statesmen in the former colonies, Isabella Von Took has led a pampered but secluded life. Used to playing politics and getting what she wants, Isabella is not above treachery and deceit when it suits her. Recently widowed, she has set out with an entourage of servants and a coach full of luggage to find her own adventure in the world.
Isabella has two Special Abilities - Manipulation (she may discard an Ally, Item or Investigation Token to prevent a Wound to herself. This may be used any number of times per Turn) and Personal Servants (she may carry one extra Item or Ally from a single Location or a one extra Town Item).
Isabella has below average stats with 3 Combat, 3 Cunning, 3 Spirit and only 2 Honour and 2 Wounds. You'd think having just 2 Wounds would make her rather fragile in Combat but her Manipulation Ability makes it very difficult to wound her, especially if she amasses a lot of Investigation Tokens.
Last in line from this group is Katarina Morgaine the Outlaw. A scoundrel and a thief, Katarina stalks the roads at night as a highway robber. Her skill with a blade and accuracy with her trusty pistol crossbow are matched only by her strong sense of honour. With a wink and a smile, she only steals from the richest of travellers who greedily horde their ill-gotten wealth.
Katarina has one excellent Special Ability - Deadly (when rolling Fight Dice, she hits on a 4, 5 or 6 instead of the normal 5 or 6).
As befits such an honourable woman she has 5 Honour. Her 4 Wounds are impressive but her 3 Cunning is average and her 2 Combat and 2 Spirit are poor. Try to equip her with a weapon or two as soon as possible and she'll serve you well in a game.
Moving on, here are the four Heroes from Hero Pack One, starting with Harlow Morgan the Inventor. A genius by all accounts, Harlow Morgan is an inventor, a craftsman and a diplomat of the highest order. On his many trips to London and Paris he has returned with not only new ideas and innovations, but legendary tales of adventure, intrigue and romance. During his last excursion to Spain, it is said that in a single night he had dinner with the royal family, was seen gallivanting with the infamous Lady Montoya, invented a new timepiece and solved the Riddle of Nardu. Not bad for a day's work.
Harlow has three Special Abilities - Genius (gains 1 Investigation at the start of each of his Hero Turns), Invention (as an Action, he may discard any two of his Items to take another Item out of the discard pile) and Quick Thinking (he may pay 2 investigation to gain +1 Fight Dice until the end of the Fight Round. This may be used multiple times per Fight).
His stats are 4 Cunning, 3 Honour, 3 Wounds and a measly 1 Combat and 1 Spirit. However, his Quick Thinking Ability can quickly rack up his Fight Dice.
The second male from this set is the Scarlet Shadow. A daring outlaw and highwayman, the Scarlet Shadow is a hero of the people and a scourge to the greedy and unjust. Stalking the roads at night, he is a wanted man in the town of Shadowbrook (as well as many other neighbouring towns no doubt). As a masked avenger, the Scarlet shadow is also a protector, hunting down the dark creatures of the night that have grown more numerous and bold of late.
The Scarlet Shadow has three Special Abilities - Secret Camp (he starts the game at any Road space. When KO'd, he is placed at the Abandoned Keep instead of the Town Hall. While at the Abandoned Keep, he may heal Wounds as an action for 1 Investigation each), Wanted (when ending his Move in a Town space, he must make a Cunning 5+ test. If failed, he must pay 1d6 Investigation. He takes 1 Wound for each investigation he cannot pay) and Shadow Move (any time he has 6 or more for Movement, he may instead move to any space).
The Scarlet Shadow is the most honourable of all the heroes with 6 Honour. 4 Combat is good, 3 Cunning and 3 Wounds are average and 2 Spirit is below average. He is a good character to play and makes a perfect partner for Katarina the Outlaw (see above).
Next in line is Adrianna Quetado the Foreign Traveller. A traveller from a distant and exotic land, Adrianna Quetado has ventured away from her home to see what the rest of the world has to offer. Journeying from town to town, she has come to Shadowbrook in its darkest hour. Though blind, her other senses are extremely heightened making her an agile and deadly fighter. Around her right eye is a birthmark in the shape of a crescent moon. Though quiet and subdued in social settings, Adrianna is clearly more than she appears.
Adrianna has three Special Abilities - Blind (she may not use Book or Map items) Fast Strike (during a Fight, roll her Fight Dice and resolve any Hits before opponents get to fight back) and Enhanced Senses (she pays 1 less Investigation to look at the Secrets of any Town Elder (minimum of 1). Also, may pay 2 Investigation during a Fight to force an opponent to re-roll one of their Fight Dice this may be used multiple times per Fight).
Adrianna has a good 4 Honour and scores of 3 for Combat, Cunning, Spirit and Wounds. Despite being blind she is very skilled in combat, both melee and ranged.
Finally, is Lucy Hanbrook. Daughter of the Town Elders, Lord and Lady Hanbrook, Lucy has led a fairly sheltered life within the rural confines of Shadowbrook. As the only child of the wealthiest family in town, she bears a heavy burden of being the only heir to her family's legacy. Though still young, Lucy has a heart for adventure and has always preferred exploring the outskirts of town to  study or learning the proper etiquette of a lady.
Lucy, like everyone else in this set, has three Special Abilities - Hanbrook (starts at The Manor. When KO'd she is placed at The Manor instead of the Town Hall. She starts with 4 Investigation instead of the normal 2), Lucky (once per Fight Round, she may force her opponent to re-roll one of its Fight Dice) and Youth (she heals 1 Wound at the start of each of her Turns or Showdown Fight Rounds).
Lucy has the lowest stat ratings of any Hero with 4 Honour, 3 Spirit, 2 Combat, 2 Cunning and 2 Wounds. However, don't underestimate her. Lucky and Youth can boost her survival chances a lot.

These are really beautiful figures. I had heard that they were difficult to paint because of the plastic they were made of but I encountered no problems whatsoever when I painted mine. I added sand and rubble to their bases to tie them in with my other 28mm scale figures but I can't think of how I might integrate them with the others in my collection as these are the only early 19th century figures I own. Some heroes are better at combat than others but never dismiss those who at first glance appear weak. See my yarn above about how Anne Marie the School Teacher triumphed in her encounter with the Spectral Horseman. Inevitably, they'll have something worth having. I don't think there is any one perfect character or combination of Heroes because the roll of dice or the draw of a card affects the game so much, often in ways you couldn't imagine. It is this element of uncertainty that makes the game so much fun. 
One final point before I leave - are the figures really necessary for the game? After all, the villains and their minions are represented by card counters. Usually, I'd say of course the figures are necessary. There is no question that they look cool and when painted up add a colourful dimension to the game. Arkham Horror, of which many compare this game to, exclusively uses card counters for its heroes and villains. I think that ATOE would work just as well with card counters for the Heroes. But, I am very glad it uses 3D figures instead. I like them... a lot! There has been talk of Flying Frog Productions making 28mm scale figures of the villains but if it ever happens remains to be seen.

Saturday, 4 April 2015

A Touch of Evil Boardgame Review

'Tis the dawn of the 19th century; an age of science, superstition and witchcraft. Howling fills the night as a full moon rises over the small, secluded town of Shadowbrook. Gruesome murders have become a daily occurrence and terror haunts the streets at night. An evil creature has taken up residence here and the countryside is engulfed by a tide of darkness. But all is not lost... not yet.
A small group of heroic individuals with the courage and strength to fight have arrived in town. Some just passing through while others have come with a purpose; but all will be put to the test as they race to save this cursed town from falling into darkness. It will take a cunning mind and strength of  spirit to determine who is friend and who is foe... to solve the mysteries and hunt the beast to its lair. But the  secrets of Shadowbrook run deep. Gossip and rumours run rampant and these few heroes may soon discover that they are outsiders here and this town is already so  rotten from within there is little left to save.
A Touch of Evil: The Supernatural Game was designed by Jason C. Hill and produced by Flying Frog Productions. It is a fast paced game where from 2 - 8 players take on the role of a monster hunting hero in a race against time to defeat the monster that is terrorising the town of Shadowbrook. Players can race competitively to be the first to defeat the villain or work together cooperatively to defeat a much stronger villain. There are eight heroes to choose from and four different supernatural villains to hunt - the Scarecrow, the Spectral Horseman, the Vampire or the Werewolf. Each villain comes with its own set of minions and special abilities.
Each player builds up their character with Allies, Items and Event Cards in preparation to hunt down and defeat the villain in a Showdown. In each Game Round, every player (starting with the First Player) takes their Hero Turn in order, moving clockwise around the table. Each Hero's Turn is comprised of these three phases which must be completed in order - Move (the result of 1d6, although you can stay put if you want), Fight Enemies in your space and finally, Take Actions. Actions may be taken in any order and most are optional. The only Action that is mandatory is Encounter the space. If in a corner location this means drawing a card from the appropriately named deck (Abandoned Keep, Olde Woods, The Manor or Windmill). If in a named space read the text listed for that space. You will either draw an Event Card or a Mystery Card. On a road space there are no Encounters. The other possible Actions are Collect Investigation (Investigation counters are the currency of the game and can be used in various manners such as buying Items or paying to heal Wounds), Heal a Wound (costs 3 Investigation, unless at the Doctor's where it only costs 1 Investigation per Wound), Look at a Town Elder's Secrets (costs 2 Investigation), Buy a Lair (cost listed on Shadow Track) or Start a Showdown (cost listed on your Lair card). Once each Hero has finished there is a Mystery Phase in which the Villain gets to unleash some evil on the Heroes in the form of drawing a Mystery Card and reading it aloud. At the end of the Mystery Phase, the First Player Marker is passed one player to the left and a new Game Round is played. ATOE is played in a  series of Game Rounds until the Villain is defeated or the Shadow Track moves into Darkness (it starts at 20 and certain events cause it to count down. Below 1 is considered Darkness). Below is a picture showing the game set up at the very start of the game.
The game contents comprise of 1 Full Colour 28 Page Rulebook, 1 Folding Game Board, 8 Unique 28mm scale Hero Figures, 50 Card Event Deck, 50 Card Mystery Deck, 20 Card Manor Deck, 20 Card Windmill Deck, 20 Card Olde Woods Deck, 20 Card Abandoned Keep Deck, 20 Card Lair Deck, 20 Card Secrets Deck, 16 Town Item Cards, 6 Town Elder Cards, 6 Curse of the Werewolf Cards, 6 Reference Cards, 8 Large Hero Character Sheets, 4 Large Villain Sheets, 4 Extra Large Villain Minion Chart Cards, 4 Full Colour Sheets of Die-Cut Counters, 16 Small Dice and 1 CD Soundtrack of Original Music.
I absolutely love this game. It is fast-paced, fun to play and easy to learn. The rules are well laid out and take you through basic play before moving on to advanced play. I play solo thanks to the solo play rules that appear in the game's first expansion set, Something Wicked. If you are a solo player like me I highly recommend you buy this expansion set.
What I particularly love about all Flying Frog Productions games is that the production values are just amazing. The board, done as a series of drawings on parchment paper, looks gorgeous. It is very atmospheric and evocative of the time. The cards are the thickest cards I've ever seen and are incredibly robust. The character record sheets for the heroes and Villains are printed on very thick card. All artwork is based on photos of real life props, actors and actresses and so look stunningly realistic.
Playing solo, I have played with one Hero, two Heroes and three Heroes. These are the numbers recommended you play with in the solo rules. I have won with each of them and lost with each of them. Some combinations work better than others but to be honest, a lot can depend upon the draw of a card or the roll of the dice. Advanced play is tougher than basic play but more rewarding if you win.
One element of the game that I do like is the Shadow Track. A similar device is used in Flying Frog's zombie game, Last Night on Earth. This means you only have a limited amount of time to defeat the Villain which creates tension and a sense of urgency. Note that the Shadow Track does not move down every turn and indeed certain Events can force it to move back up.
The Town Elders can help or hinder you. Each one harbours at least one secret. Heroes have the option of uncovering these secrets. This is important because once the final Showdown begins the Heroes may recruit up to two Town Elders to aid them in their fight against the Villain. Clearly, you want to know that the Town Elder you chose can be trusted. If however, a Town Elder harbours a dark secret, he or she will join forces with  the Villain in the Showdown. Again, this is a very cool game mechanic that adds another level of uncertainty to the game.
All Heroes have four Skill stats - Spirit, Cunning, Combat and Honour. The higher the Skill the better it is. All four Skills can be raised during the game either by training, attaining certain Items or Event Cards. In addition, each Hero has their own unique Ability or Abilities. Finally, Heroes have a number of Wounds (usually 3).  If ever these reach 0 then the Hero is Knocked Out. It is exceedingly rare for a Hero to die in this game but Knock Outs are a constant risk. In solo play a Knocked Out Hero recovers very quickly in the Mystery Phase. Otherwise, they must miss a Turn before returning to play.
Are there any negative points about this game? For me, no. A couple of minor points need mentioning. The cards have a tendency to stick together making it very hard to shuffle them properly but if you slot them into transparent card protector sleeves they shuffle far easier. Plus you protect your cards from wear and tear or unfortunate drinks spillage if you're daft enough to allow drinks near the game.
With just four Villains to chose from, games will inevitably feel repetitive but this can be easily countered by buying one or more of the expansion sets. There are currently four expansion sets. Hero Pack One and Hero Pack Two. These small sets offer four new Heroes and one new Villain each along with a few extra cards. Something Wicked and The Coast are much bigger expansion sets with a new game board each that can be added to the Shadowbrook board or combined to make a gaming area three boards wide if you fancy an epic game. Both also offer four more Heroes, four more Villains and a load of extra cards and counters. I have them all so my gaming options are now vast. I'll review these expansion sets later but for now I just wanted you to now what's available.
Some people have remarked that ATOE is very similar to Arkham Horror and I agree, there are similarities. But ATOE is its own game with more than enough differences to allow it to stand on its own. It is quicker to set up and plays faster than Arkham Horror. It also takes up a lot less room on your table.
For me, I am able to immerse myself into the Heroes I'm playing and each game tells a story where the ending is always in doubt. Sometimes good triumphs over evil and at other times evil wins. But even when I lose the games have still been fun and an enjoyable way to spend a couple of hours. The setting is unusual but works very well and brings to mind old Hammer Horror films and more notably, Tim Burton's Sleepy Hollow or Stephen Sommers' Van Helsing. These two films perfectly capture the flavour of ATOE and are highly recommended to get you in the mood for a game.
I have deliberately kept quiet about the figures for the simple reason that I plan to review them next time. Suffice to say, they are superb!
A Touch of Evil is currently available for £44.99 from Amazon UK.