Sunday, 31 May 2015

Vampifan's Views 64 - Monthly Musings 42

Miss Vampirella May 2015 - Julie Strain
This month's Vampirella model is Julie Strain, model, actress and just about anything else you can think of. Julie Strain is a one woman industry! From the age of 28 she has been merchandised on everything from a Zippo lighter to an interactive CD-ROM. Carefully orchestrated and planned, originally by Julie, but now by Julie in tandem with her husband, publisher, producer and co-creator of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Kevin Eastman. Together, they have made Julie the "Queen of All Media".
As a genuine cult heroine, her series of action/adventure and fantasy films have earned her a huge fan base. Julie has been featured on television, in music videos and she is found on calendars, posters, greeting cards, coffee mugs, dolls, watches and countless trading cards.
Her various skills include baseball, basketball, bodybuilding, cycling, horsemanship, jet skiing,  martial arts, modern dance, motorcycling, racing cars, roller skating, singing, track and field events, volleyball, water skiing and weaponry. All in all, an impressive career for a woman who had to sleep in her truck when she first arrived in Hollywood and who admits to being a "painfully thin, ugly duckling" in high school. It is a wonder that she has time to fit everything in!
One thing she did fit in, though, were quite a few covers for the Vampirella Monthly series.
Harris Publishing knew they were on to a hot item with Julie, and they even gave her her own Julie Strain Special comic book, featured her heavily on the Vampirella website and modeled a Vampirella Action Figure on her! And, yes, I do have that action figure in my collection of Vampirella memorabilia.
She is wearing the same costume that Arban Ornelas (Miss February) wore, so my criticisms of it still apply. The waistband is far too high on her hips, which means the gold bat logo is too high. It should be at crotch level. I must admit, I do admire her pluck for wearing such a revealing costume.

The big hobby news for me this month was the arrival of The Forgotten King expansion set for Super Dungeon Explore. YAY! It seems like I have been waiting ages for this but that's not true. It was delivered a couple of days ago so I haven't had time to fully assess it but first impressions are highly favourable. The first thing I noticed was that the box is smaller than the Super Dungeon Explore box and it opens normally with a lid, unlike SDE, which had a hinged opening. However, upon opening the box I discovered that it contains a lot more than the basic set did. Whoopee!
Unlike SDE, which came with one rulebook, TFK comes with five books. In the top row from left to right is a 4 page catalogue of Soda Pop games, with Ninja All Stars featuring prominently on the front cover. In the centre is the Explorer's Handbook, a 24 page book of background info on the world of Crystalia. I can't wait to read this book as I love background fluff. At the far right is a set of Quick Start Rules, designed to teach newcomers the basic rules of the game.
In the bottom row are the two main rulebooks. SDE can now be played two ways - in Arcade Mode or in Classic Mode. Arcade Mode is something new and this 44 page rulebook allows players to play the game solo or collectively against the Consul whose actions are determined by cards. Heroes still use their Classic Mode stat cards but all monsters have different stat cards to their Classic Mode counterparts. Effectively they have fewer stats and they do not roll dice. Their stats are a fixed value to make game-play run smoother.
The Classic Mode rulebook runs to 36 pages and will be most familiar to those of you who have already played SDE with the first edition rules. New rules have been added and a few things have changed but if you are at all familiar with old-style SDE then you should find Classic Mode very easy to grasp.
Here are the various decks of cards included in the game and a set of 16 dice. The dice have not changed from first edition. Red dice are better than blue dice and green dice are the best of all.
Two sheets of counters printed on thick card come with the game. Most are spell effects and not that many will be used in a typical game.
The game comes with six double-sided gaming tiles. On the side shown in the photo above are the tiles for the Fae Woods, which are the realm of the Forgotten King. The thick black lines are walls that block movement and line of sight.
On the reverse of the Fae Woods tiles are the tiles for an Overgrown Castle. TFK tiles are slightly smaller than the old SDE tiles but they still measure 12 squares by 12 but have less of a border. They also have more features on them. Note that the Adventure Tracker from the basic SDE set has now been relegated to the dustbin.
And finally, here are the set's 58 miniatures, with the heroes, pets and treasure chests moulded in grey plastic and the monsters, creeps and spawn points in green plastic. Incidentally, the Forgotten King himself is the third figure from the left in the back row. The figures do come pre-assembled and the level of detail and sculpting has improved over the earlier SDE figures.
I'll be spending a lot of time reading and re-reading the new rulebooks and playing some practice games to familiarise myself with the new rules and rule changes. However, much as I want to get the figures painted as soon as possible, they will be taking a back seat because I want to concentrate on reducing my mountain of unpainted Zombicide figures. It may be quite a while before I review any TFK figures.

Speaking of Zombicide, I have finished painting my second batch of 20 Toxic Zombies. I am well on the way to finishing another 14 Toxic Zombies as well as 6 Season 3 Survivors and Zombivors (three of each). Next month sees the launch of the Zombicide: Black Plague project. This project has me drooling at the mouth in anticipation. I'll be backing it big time. It takes Zombicide back to medieval times where magic exists and brave heroes do battle against evil necromancers, zombies (of course) and an assortment of fantasy creatures and monsters. There is already an expansion set in the works called Wulfsburg. This set introduces, werewolves, wolves and zombie wolves to the game. Oh, yes! Bring it on!
Whilst on the subject of Zombicide, let me tell you that I'll be devoting all of June to it on my blog. Expect to see more reviews of my Toxic Zombies as well as the biggest batrep I have ever published, as I go back to the very start of the zombie apocalypse and discover how the original six Zombicide Survivors from Season 1 meet for the first time. It is truly epic. It took me 16 hours to play over a period of three days and I took over 360 photos of the action. What fun it was. Zombicide rocks!


  1. Loving Miss May Bryan, the costume leaves little to the imagination!
    Whatever people think of SDE, you have to admit that is an impressive boxful. I'm sure your champing at the bit to get at it Dude.
    Great to hear your having a Zombicide June, I certainly can't wait to see your Toxic Zombies in all their gory glory. Black Plague sounds very nice but I'm still undecided, fantasy isn't a direction I want to go in, so I'll have to have a long hard think about it.
    Really looking forward to your mega batrep too.

    1. At first I was undecided about backing Zombicide: Black Plague. I prefer my zombie games set in contemporary times. But, the more I read about Black Plague the more excited I became. There are big changes afoot with Zombicide. I fully understand your feelings, Bob. Black Plague might not be to everyone's tastes but I'm in and I have no doubt at all that it will be a huge success.

      The batrep begins next week.

  2. Absolutely delighted to see your new "SDE" has arrived Bryan. A very impressive collection of figures, boards and tokens. You must be delighted with it. Like Bob I'm looking forward to June on your blog enormously, what with Toxic Zombies, BatReps and doubtless a few musings on Medieval Zombicide as the KS progresses. Fantastically exciting stuff :-)

    1. Thanks, Simon. Yes, I'm delighted to finally have TFK in my hands. If it wasn't for Zombicide I'd be painting the new figures right now. But I want to stay focused on Zombicide. I am fully in the zone for painting zombies and whilst my enthusiasm remains this high I'll carry on painting them for the foreseeable future.

  3. A very gorgeous looking lady indeed! Nice to see the next instalment has a arrived for SDE it looks a corker of a set. Looking forward to seeing more zombicide figures tackled as well.

    1. Julie is certainly a stunner! The new SDE expansion set is indeed, a corker, Simon. There'll be wall to wall Zombicide articles on my blog next month.

  4. That's one of the most useful and interesting articles I`ve read. I will be keeping a close eye on TFK, and especially your finding and opinions of the game once you find time to get into it

    1. Many thanks, Steve. One of the things we both disliked about SDE was the lack of background material. Let me tell you, that "problem" has been well and truly addressed with the Explorer's Handbook, which does a grand job of bringing the history, lands, people and races of Crystalia to life. My only criticism is that having read the book I want more! Lots more! This is a setting just ripe for storytelling and adventures. I'll keep you up to date on my findings of the game but so far, so good.

  5. Aargh! More SDE and Zombicide stuff - I want it all, but I just can't afford the time :-( . You're not helping me here, Bryan :-) !

    1. It's all happening at once here at Chez Vampifan, Hugh. TFK arriving at the same time as the launch of Black Plague was announced was good news for me. I fully sympathise with your feelings. West Wind are launching Secrets of the Third Reich 2 on Kickstarter next month and much as I'd love to back it I simply can't afford to back it and Zombicide: Black Plague. We can only buy what we can afford and usually that means hard choices must be made.

  6. Damn mate, you are a busy bee at the moment!

  7. I said earlier in this thread, that I found this particular article very interesting, and indeed I do.

    Having decided not to purchase The Forgotten King (for more reasons than I shall properly go into here, suffice to say cost, and a growing worry that the original SDE I love and know, simply undergoes too many changes for me happily to deal with in TFK),

    ... but I found myself mildly interested in Black Plague.

    Writing privately about it all... back and forward with Bryan, in Hotmail for a while, I was still not totally convinced about this new variation to the Zombicide franchise. But Bryan is, like me, a persistent bugger, and he kept talking about the new kickstarter and how interesting it looked.. slipping in cool links to the game, and various incentive filled snippets of detail as more and more about the up and coming new boxed game(s) was released.

    At first I was mildly interested, and raised an eyebrow and though to myself "yeah, can see how some people might like that."

    But Bryan was patient, and kept showing me more. After a while I found myself thinking: "Yeah, can see why a load of people would want to pledge to this kickstarter."

    And then the kickstarter was suddenly upon us, and a whole host of details started to filter out, including a complete run through of the game, from the game designers themselves, on You Tube. And suddenly I found myself saying: "Yeah, I admit it, I`m hooked. Okay, sign me up... I`m in"

    The game just looks so amazing, and personally, as a huge sword & sorcery buff, ex fantasy wargamer and (very current) fantasy role player, I eventually found myself rather drawn to this beauty of a game.

    Now, going back many, many years... probably about the same decade and era Bryan was into it as well, I was massively into that rather cool and deeply immersive Warhammer Fantasy Role Playing world. This was way back when Games Workshop were still cool, gave GREAT value for money, and their `Old World` has a maturity and depth, sadly now long lost since they `dummied everything down` to catch a much younger age group of potential customers.

    I don`t know exactly why, but it does (and I`d be interested to see if you see it too, Bryan), but Black Plague really REALLY reminds me (in atmosphere, genre, and style) of that early Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay Campaign "The Enemy Within".

    Something about it grabbed me, and wouldn`t let go. It appealed to my sense of nostalgia, and a deep desire to re-live something I though long lost.

    It is with great pleasure and excitement, that I have just pledged to get this new game, its first expansion, and all the lovely extra goodies this kickstarter is offering.

    Go me (happy dance) I`m happy chappie.

    Steve :)

    1. My initial reaction to Black Plague was one of mild curiosity but not great excitement. I still think there is more that can be done for the original game. Fantasy gaming does not grab me as much as contemporary or sci-fi gaming... although that wasn't always the case. But the more I read about Black Plague the more I came to realise that this was an exciting product and I was hooked on it. It has many similarities with Zombicide but more than enough differences to make it feel fresh and new.

      Steve, I knew that you loved Zombicide almost as much as me and that your interest in fantasy gaming way surpassed my own. So, I began dropping unsubtle hints on how cool Black Plague was. And it worked!

      I do remember WFRP but I never played it. Neither me nor any of my regular gamers bought it so it is little more than a dim memory of something I missed out on.

      I am delighted that you have backed Black Plague. Your enthusiasm for it is so infectious. I'd like to think that my own enthusiasm comes across just as strongly. I can't wait for the game to be released.

  8. {{I am delighted that you have backed Black Plague. Your enthusiasm for it is so infectious. I'd like to think that my own enthusiasm comes across just as strongly.}}

    Oh, but it does. Slightly differently I imagine, but ultimately we arrive at the same place and same conclusion... from different angles.

    I might see a possible imaginary world fitting into Hilary`s "Sofia Scotia" campaign blog (Hillers is my lovely partner and wife), or I may start looking for other 28mm plastic miniatures... especially late Medieval vignettes.... I can add to Black Plague to help turn it into a full rpg; my mind already spinning in wheels and cogitations of careening thought as to the possible future `potential` I can CHANGE the game into something suited to my needs... spending hours and hours talking with the wife to see where she plans to take this game monster:

    Where as YOU might be looking at the miniatures, deciding which ones you want to choose from the list of stretch goals, meticulously planning how you are going to paint them, which new paints you need to buy; and wondering what the changes are going to be between Zombicide and Black Plague (I`ve probably grossly over-simplified your thoughts here), but end of the day, we will open the boxes when they arrive on our door step, and go Oooo and Aaaaa at all the goodness contained within, and then probably write reams and reams, in veritable tomes of letters back and forth to one another, as imagination and delight fills our thoughts, and we share our findings.... as almost infectious spirit vitalises and inspires us to new heights of gaming euphoria.

    Yeah, this game thrills me, and I can hardly wait to get my hands on it. But I am utterly sure you feel the same way as I do about it all.

    Steve (or in Hiller`s "Sofia Scotia" blog... Stevie Blakeney)

    1. Steve, you've pretty much nailed it regarding my own thoughts. However, there is something else that intrigues me about this setting. Just like you, I will also be looking to see what extra minis I can add to the game. I backed the Reaper Bones and Reaper Bones II Kickstarter projects in a big way and as a consequence I have absolutely loads of beautifully sculpted 28mm scale fantasy figures and no game with which to use them in. They are totally unsuitable for Super Dungeon Explore because none of them are Chibi sculpts. But now, with the release of Black Plague, I can find a use for them. That's a win-win situation for me!

  9. Oh WOW Bryan, that is a truly envious position to be in. I utterly adore Reaper Bones, but near on impossible for me to get (easily) here in Ireland.... not without using eBay, and I currently have problems with my PayPalI (long story). I recently bought a Reaper Bones Fantasy Bard for my Dungeons and Dragons Adventure System Boardgame, to make a new custom heroine for my daughter Tiffany to play, and you sent me those AMAZING modern zombie fighters.... so I am totally in love with that company`s miniatures. Beautiful sculpts.

    Oh my goodness, to have some of their medieval/fantasy ones must be heavenly.... especially as Cool Minis or Not & Guillotine Games do that really cool... thing of providing blank character cards so you can add your own heroes to the mix.

    That's just so very hot. Actually, you`ve just given me my first idea direction.... Reaper Bones. I now I want to stick with plastic or/and resin, so that makes this range absolutely perfect for me. Just purchasing them is going to be my problem. Reaper Bones postage to Ireland is like WOOOHOOOOAaaagh!!!!! unreal. And Paypal has this annoying habit of not liking to work for me very much. But yeah, I`ll find a way.

    1. Steve, you know what I'm going to say, don't you? I'm always happy for you to have stuff you want sent to my house and I'll post it on to you. The offer always stands open if ever you run out of options. Oh, and I just know I have swaps of certain figures from my Reaper Bones collections so they'll probably find a way to your residence.

  10. I just KNEW you`d offer that, even as I sent it.... hahahaa.

    THANK you my friend. I may well avail myself of your never ending kindness.

    1. Please do. It is always a pleasure, as you well know.

  11. Part 1

    Just wanted to write a tiny update on my plans, my thoughts, and my actions to do with the forthcoming Zombicide Black Plague. I thought I`d share this here and see how my ideas mirror you own Bryan.

    I never heard of Zombicide until you introduced me to it Bryan. I originally came to your blog to read your ATZ material, and slowly found myself being dragged into an even BETTER game. Yeah, I`d heard about some game or other, on You Tube, that was taking the table top zombie game world in force; but I never really associated it with being Zombicide, until you started talking about it to me. I hadn`t watched or read anything about the game... as a total and conscious decision, due to my revulsion for Video Games, and in especial “Dead Island” (which everyone and their dog, knowing I have a massive interest in zombies, was trying endlessly to get me try out). Oh I`m sure as video games go, it really IS the `next gen` in gaming and all that... bla bla; but I have an aversion to video games verging on mania, and I simply don`t care how cool a PC, X Box or PS game is: I`M NOT GONNA PLAY IT. And so somehow I totally missed out on Zobmicide (blame it on the endless zombie video game hype at the time, which made me shy away from consciously even noticing Zombicide existed).

    .... and so I missed the initial Kickstarter. Hell I missed almost everything about the game, until Bryan got me interested in it, and it began to dawn on me what I was missing.

    Desperately I clambered to pick up what I could get for the game. Living in the wilds of Ireland means not only is there a total absence of game shops within easy reach of me (and those I do voyage to find, tend to be very badly stocked), but most people (on eBay or Amazon) won`t even ship to Southern Ireland, so on line shopping is often a big no for me as well.

    Interestingly, to digress a second, I was watching a guy on You Tube the other day, and he lives in Japan, where it’s even HARDER to get game related things than it is for me. Hearing the joy in his voice when he receives a new game is a delight to witness... plus he makes really interesting table top game play through videos.

    So, my collection of Zombicide is a bit limited. The base game, Toxic City Mall, The Two Dogs set expansions, and a couple of the personality survivor/zombie miniatures. I`m happy, certainly enough there to play games for many, many years to come. But seeing Bryan`s latest Kick-starter parcel arrive, and the sheer AMMOUNT of goodies he received all in one go, made me go “Bloody hell, oh my *7%@//XG C^%8&\!” I was totally blown away by the sheer BULK, and more so by the look of utter pleasure and excitement on his face, and by the content of his letters to me afterwards as he tried to describe the sensation of getting so many Christmases descend on him all in one go. I truly knew I was missing something big... and I wanted a big slice of it.

    1. It is not just Zombicide Season 3 that made me so deliriously happy, Steve - it is every Kickstarter parcel that I have received that makes me that happy. I got into Kickstarter projects in 2013 and I love them. The stretch goals, the add-ons coupled with your basic set makes for a really big parcel, and when it arrives, it brings out the little boy in me when I open it. It is a great feeling and part of me envies you, because when Zombicide: Black Plague is released you'll get to experience for the first time what I feel every time a Kickstarter parcel arrives. I can confidently predict that when you do receive your Black Plague parcel (hopefully just before Christmas of this year) you will be in raptures. I know I will because I know what to expect.

    2. I have learned by now Bryan, always to listen when you say stuff like this. I have no doubt what so ever you are speaking accurately... which gives me even more reason to feel very excited.

      Watching your opening of Season 3 Kickstarter was the most amazing thing to witness, even second hand on a blog, the sheer amount of things you received was astronomical to watch.

  12. Part 2

    And so I determined: with Black Plague... uh huuu!!! Wasn`t gonna make that same mistake twice. And so I kick-started my place into happiness land, and can hardly wait to experience all that fun fun fun for myself in December... when I, myself, finally receive a parcel oh so similar to Bryan`s last one.

    I`m sticking with Black Plague all the way, and will not miss any of the future `seasons` this game will be putting out.

    In preparation for making this Medieval version into a full blown campaign (and rpg) for myself, my wife, kids and friends; I am already planning my campaign with meticulous care and dedication. Set at the very end of the Medieval period (kinda a mix between The Tudors, The Thirty Years War, The Three Musketeers, and The English Civil War), I am busy creating my own Imagi-Nation World where in to place Black Plague. Actually, more accurate to say my wife and I are both working hard on pulling this altogether.

    Very excited this week as we just invested in a load of Stafford Games “Pike & Shotte” 28mm plastic miniatures... and they truly are superb (multi pose too), and really in keeping with the Black Plague minis I have seen previewed. This allows `us` to concentrate on painting them all up, and making a start on the campaign MONTHS before the official Black Plague game is released (and before the plague hits the fantasy world). All this will be revealed in the wife`s Sofia Scotia blog, throughout the coming weeks and months.

    Exciting days ahead.

    1. "Exciting days ahead," that is so true.

      The beauty of Black Plague is that you can set it anywhere and anywhen you like. I like your thinking for your campaign ideas. Yes, it has to be a campaign and not a series of one-off scenarios. I am not familiar with "Pike and Shotte" so I'll be checking their figure range out.

      From your e-mails and comments I can clearly see that you are every bit as excited and as enthusiastic about this project as I am. I can see us having many long discussions about the game.


      the link below shows the set I just purchased.

    3. Thanks for the links, Steve. I can see why you like these figures so much. Very impressive!