Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Vampifan's Views 74 - Monthly Musings 49

Miss Vampirella December 2015 - Sascha Knopf
Welcome to my final post of 2015. As with all of this year's Monthly Musings I begin with a photo of one of my 12 favourite Vampirella models. This time it is Sascha Knopf, the first Vampirella model to appear on the front cover of a Harris Vampirella comic (Vampirella Strikes #1). In fact, she appeared on four different cover variants of the comic. Vampirella Strikes #1 sold well, giving Harris the confidence to use Vampirella models for other covers, but sadly not Sascha herself. However, she did feature on Scarlet Legion (the Vampirella fan club) photos and as a convention model.
Moving on from modelling, Sascha appeared in MGM’s What’s the Worst That Could Happen? as Danny DeVito’s social-climbing mistress, and in the film Shallow Hal with Gwyneth Paltrow and Jack Black. She has continued acting in a string of films to this day.
Besides being a versatile, actress who can play both leading lady and character, she also has a promising career as a professional photographer. Sascha feels her work in front of the camera has given her great insight in being behind the camera, an understanding of the need for a "connection" between the photographer and the model.
Sascha deserves her place in my top twelve. Whilst her boots are too long, I can't criticise them because they look so darned good on her! Incidentally, that's a snow globe she's holding in her hand. How very Christmassy!

This being my last post of 2015 I thought I'd look back over the year as well as telling you about what I'm doing now and what to expect next year.

2015 was once again marked by me indulging in my passion for board-games that use miniature figures. I began the year by playing Super Dungeon Explore and showcased the figures from the basic boxed set as well as the Von Drakk's Manor expansion set. These received mixed comments from my followers with most liking them but a vociferous few hating them (you know who you are!). At the end of March I received a huge parcel of goodies for the Zombicide Season 3 Kickstarter project I'd backed. This was quickly followed by a review of a board-game that I'd been after for a long time - A Touch of Evil, which was set in and around a small, spooky American town in the early 19th Century. I bought all of the expansion sets for it and thoroughly enjoyed playing it. May saw the arrival of the revamped Super Dungeon Explore rules called The Forgotten King or SDE version 2.0. This remained in its box until November when I finally tried it and fell in love with the solo rules known as Arcade Mode. I have yet to paint any of the figures for it. Hangs head in shame! In August I played my first (and to date only) game of Arkham Horror based on H.P. Lovecraft's Call of the Cthulhu mythos. I'd like to play more of it. In September I received another massive parcel for a Kickstarter project - Rum and Bones. This game of pirates was right up my street and is such great fun to play. I really must get round to painting at least some of the wonderful figures from the game. The Thunderbirds 50th Anniversary Board-game was the only board-game I bought that had nothing to do with the undead. It was purely a self-indulgent purchase because I have always loved Thunderbirds. It turned out to be a cracking good game. I did a comprehensive review of another game I'd bought, and have often played since, Castle Ravenloft. Given my love of all things undead it probably surprised no-one that I painted all of the figures from the game and loved most of them. Although there were some notable exceptions. The year ended on a high in mid-December when I received the boxed set for the Zombicide: Black Plague board-game. This was a game I instantly fell in love with and is now my all-time favourite board-game.

Moving on to the present and I'd like to tell you what I got for Christmas this year. I mentioned recently when I reviewed the High Moon rules by THW that I'd love to get into Wild West skirmish gaming. There is board-game produced by Flying Frog Productions (makers of A Touch of Evil and Last Night on Earth) called Shadows of Brimstone, which I have quite fancied buying. I checked on Amazon UK and saw they had the two starter sets for sale so I ordered them both and they arrived just before Christmas Day. Lucky me!
The two sets are sub-titled City of the Ancients and Swamps of Death. I'll review these fully in the new year. Both sets take place in an abandoned mine which can lead to alternate dimensions - the City of the Ancients or the Swamps of Death. So they play like a dungeon crawl. The heroes face supernatural creatures like zombies as well as assorted demons and other nasty surprises. As with all Flying Frog games, the production values are first rate and the miniatures are top notch.
Beatrix the Witch Queen - sadly not painted by me!
These were my two big presents from myself to myself. I also bought a few figures for SDE - Beatrix the Witch Queen (so cute and adorable), Jack Scarecrow and the Claws of the Wyrm Warband (a boxed set of 15 figures).
My good friend, Stephen Gilbert, gifted me a remarkable present - the complete set of Impact Chibi Miniatures. He had wrote a set of Chibi rules for Impact and received them as part payment. However, he soon realised he'd never be able to paint them all or use them all so he made me an offer I couldn't refuse. He'd let me have them all (bar a few he'd painted and wanted to keep) in return for a few Memoir 44 (a WW2 board-game) expansion sets he wanted. As far as I was concerned  it was a win-win situation. I bought Steve the expansion sets he wanted and he sent me his Impact Chibi collection. I now have well over 100 new figures to sort out and paint... eventually. My collection of fantasy Chibi figures is now immense, as the Impact figures are very compatible with the SDE figures! I'm happy and Steve's happy. Result!
Hobby-wise I have been playing lots of games of Zombicide: Black Plague this month, although that is now taking a short break because I've started painting the figures from it. I'm now playing more games of The Forgotten King.

Looking forward to 2016 and once again the year will be dominated by Kickstarters... or rather, stuff from Kickstarters that I backed in 2015. I'm expecting two Kickstarter parcels in January. One will be a huge package containing the Ninja All Stars game, which is both a stand-alone game and a tie-in for Super Dungeon Explore. I've ordered the basic game and all of the extras. I'm also expecting the add-ons for the Thunderbirds game very soon. That'll be a much smaller parcel. Another Kickstarter project I backed last year was for a batch of brand new Impact Chibi Miniatures. I dunno when they're due but, hopefully, it should be sooner rather than later. Around about Easter time are two more Kickstarter parcels I should be receiving. One will contain all the add-ons and stretch goals I ordered for Zombicide: Black Plague. I'm very excited about that, as I did order a lot. The other is for a miniatures-based board-game called The Others: 7 Sins. This is set in modern times and almost the whole world has been taken over by demons who follow one of the Seven Deadly Sins from the Holy Bible. A small band of survivors still stand against them. Can they prevail? The figures look stunning. In July I'm expecting LOADS of 3D scenery from the Battle Systems Urban Terrain Kickstarter. This, more than anything, will get me back to skirmish war-gaming with miniature figures. Zombie gaming is the obvious choice for this set. Hopefully, I'll get back to playing All Things Zombie. Last but by no means least, I hope to end the year with a massive parcel from Soda Pop Miniatures - Super Dungeon Explore: Legends. This is slated for a December 2016 release. I just recently backed this Kickstarter project for $300 but in return, I'll receive over $1,000 worth of product - an absolute bargain! Legends finally introduces campaign rules to SDE. Awesome!

As you can see, I have lots to look forward to. Barring illnesses, 2016 should be a great year for me. At this time of year it is customary to make your New Year's resolutions, a tradition I generally ignore. However, I do have a number of resolutions I'd like to make, all of which I think are achievable.
  1. Play more games. This should be no problem at all. In 2015 I played at least one game per week throughout the year. I hope to double that for 2016.
  2. Cut back on my hobby spending, especially on Kickstarters. I'm now at the point where I have  enough games to last me decades of gaming. I don't need any more games. If there is a new Zombicide Kickstarter launched in 2016 I'll back it but otherwise I'll be very selective about what I buy. I have already drastically cutback on my miniature figure spending but I really need to cutback on Kickstarter projects.
  3. Drink more water. Health-wise, this is very important and easily achievable as water is just about all I do drink.
I will, of course, keep on blogging. It is such a part of my life now that I could never give it up. Expect more of the same - figures and games reviews mixed in with a few batreps and my Monthly Musings. This has been a very wordy post, so well done if you're still here. I'd just like to end by wishing everyone a very happy New Year. Peace, prosperity and good health to you all.

Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Vampifan's Views 73 - Merry Christmas

What is this? Vampifan starting a chatty post with a picture that isn't Vampirella! Who is she and who's the cute pet? They are Soda Pop Miniatures' pin-up couple, Candy and Cola. Candy is the narrator and mentor of the Super Dungeon Explore rulebooks. Cola is her pet and best friend. He/she may look like a cat but he/she has three tails (!). Candy and Cola are represented by figures for Super Dungeon Explore (Classic mode Candy and Cola, Brave mode Candy and Never Lost Cola, Shadow-Mode Candy (her evil twin), Ninja All Stars (Kunoichi Candy and Koga Kola) and Relic Knights. I have all of these figures except the Relic Knights versions.

The purpose of this post is simply to wish all my followers a joyous and peaceful Christmas, whatever your religion. Take care everyone, be happy and stay healthy.

I may or may not post again on Sunday. If not, you'll certainly be hearing from me next Wednesday, when I'll post my final Monthly Musings of 2015 with a look back at the year as well as looking forward to 2016.

Very best wishes from Bryan aka Vampifan.

Saturday, 19 December 2015

Zombicide: Black Plague - An Introduction

Christmas has come slightly early for me. A few days ago I received my copy of Zombicide: Black Plague and I was so incredibly overjoyed. When I backed this Kickstarter project in June of this year, Cool Mini Or Not and Guillotine Games announced that the game would ship in time for Christmas 2015. I doubted it would happen... but I was wrong - it has! Okay, so it's ONLY the basic boxed set. All the add-ons and stretch goals will ship in early 2016, but even so, what a fantastic Christmas present. To the left of here is the game box sitting on my dining room table, just waiting to be opened. Let's take a look inside.
The first thing you see is the rulebook, which runs to 60 pages in full colour. It looks gorgeous! I have read it from cover to cover and I'm mightily impressed with it. I can't find a single fault with it. Next comes a big box featuring a stunning piece of artwork showing the six heroes of the game - Ann the Warrior Nun, Baldric the Wizard, Clovis the Fighter, Nelly the Serving Girl, Samson the Dwarf and Silas the Elf.
Inside this box are two  plastic trays of figures and other items. The top tray holds the six 32mm scale Hero figures as well as the Abomination Zombie, the Necromancer and nine assorted Zombies (2 Fatties, 2 Runners and 5 Walkers). To the left are spaces for storing the dice, coloured bases and pegs (not shown) and the game cards. The Zombie Encounter deck is shown in my photo. Finally, is something new that Guillotine Games have designed - the Hero's Dashboard. This is a HUGE improvement on the old character ID cards from previous Zombicide games. I love them. They are one of my favourite parts of the game. I'll show one in use a little later.
The bottom tray is filled with Zombie figures - 54 in total. From left to right are a female Walker, a male Runner, a male Walker, a male Fatty, a second female Walker, a second male Runner, two more male Walkers and a second male Fatty. Coupled with the nine Zombie  figures from the top tray that is seven of each sculpt. I can see me converting more than half of these. The sculpting of all of the figures is just superb. These are going to be a labour of love to paint.

As promised, here is a closer look at the Dashboard, set up for the start of play. Your Hero card sits in the middle of the board. In this case I have chosen Ann the Warrior Nun. Her skills are listed at the bottom of her card and next to each skill is a slot in the dashboard to fit a coloured peg to show which skills she has chosen as the game progresses. There is space at the top right of the ID card to place a weapon or item mentioned on the card (an extra Dagger for Ann) or one of the pieces of Armour. In the top left corner of the Dashboard are four slots to show how many wounds a Hero has, ranging from 0 to 3. In Zombicide: Black Plague, Heroes now have three wounds, making them more durable than their contemporary counterparts. To the left and right of the Dashboard are trays to show which item or weapon the Hero is holding in their hands. Here, I have placed the Short Sword (one of the six starting weapons) in Ann's right hand. Further items and weapons can be stowed away in any of the five slots found in the top right corner of the Dashboard. These represent the hero's Back Pack and the cards stand upright. Finally, along the bottom of the Dashboard is your Experience Tracker, which slides from left to right as the Hero earns more experience. I have also shown the deck of additional Hero ID Cards, the Items deck and the figure of Ann with her coloured base corresponding to the colour of her pegs, which in this case is yellow.
Shown above are the two sheets of counters printed on very thick card. The two large tiles in the centre of each sheet are the Vaults. Vaults contain powerful artefacts (much like the Pimp-mobiles from the original game) and are also a handy way to take short cuts across the game board.
Last but by no means least are the nine game tiles. These are all double-sided, giving you endless gaming set-up possibilities. They are printed on the same thick card as the counters, so will stand up to a lot of wear and tear.

Readers of my blog will probably know by now that Zombicide is my all time favourite board-game, so it seems obvious that this review of Zombicide: Black Plague will be biased. That can't be helped and I make no apologies for it. The bottom line is that I like this fantasy based expansion set more than the modern day sets. The rules will be very familiar to anyone who has played any of the contemporary sets. But what makes them better are the changes, all of which I approve of. I have already mentioned the new Dashboard. This is such a massive improvement on the old-style Character ID cards that I hope Guillotine Games will produce them for the contemporary sets. It's unlikely to happen but I can dream, can't I?
Fatties now spawn on their own, without their pair of Walkers accompanying them. The extra Wound and the introduction of armour makes Survivors have a much better chance of surviving without making them too powerful. But best of all, are the new Friendly Fire rules. Probably the most controversial and least popular rule in previous Zombicide sets was the Target Priority rule used in Ranged Combat. This rule made fellow Survivors the first targets to be hit by ranged fire. I know many people hated this rule or couldn't understand why this had to be. Some gamers ignored it completely. I accepted it as part of the game but used canny tactics to ensure such a situation never arose. In Zombicide: Black Plague, Friendly Fire only occurs if you fail to hit your target. The player(s) then choose which Survivor in that Zone is hit. But this is not automatic as the wound(s) can be avoided by making a successful Armour roll for the Hero chosen. This seems far more logical to me and is a rule that should be used in ALL games of Zombicide.
I have played the tutorial scenario twice and the first two scenarios once each, winning in every case. Bear in mind, these are all described as being easy scenarios. But even so, I took to the new rules straight away and thoroughly enjoyed playing them all. This is one game that will get played a LOT in the coming months.
Only those people who made a pledge for the game on Kickstarter will be receiving this boxed set so early. Everyone else will have to wait until early 2016 before they can buy it. Consequently, I'm not giving out price details. My final verdict is that Zombicide: Black Plague is the best zombie board-game ever! It surpasses the original Zombicide game in so many ways and I can only give it my very highest recommendation. As it stands it is damned near perfect but once the add-ons and stretch goals are released it will be just awesome! When I first learned that Guillotine Games were going to produce a fantasy version of Zombicide, I was a tad sceptical about it. But that passed within seconds when I realised the potential of the game. Every Zombicide set produced so far has improved on the previous ones. Guillotine Games have a proven track record of striking gold with their games. So surely Zombicide: Black Plague HAD to be something special? I'm telling you, folks, IT IS!

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

All Things Zombie: Reloaded Board-game

Tonya the Rep:5 Star in the thick of the action. Go girl!
This is a game I have been waiting for for a long time - All Things Zombie: Reloaded (or as I shall call it, ATZ:Reloaded). Let's make one thing clear from the start - this is NOT a replacement for ATZ - Final Fade Out. If you want to game with miniatures and 3D scenery then stick with ATZ-FFO*. ATZ:Reloaded is a stand alone board-game played with card counters on a hex map. The game was written and designed by Ed Teixeira as an improved version of the old ATZ board-game, which is now out of print. Gone are the character specific scenarios to be replaced by generic encounters. The rules are more in keeping with those found in ATZ-FFO. Indeed, ATZ:Reloaded would work as a perfect primer for those wanting to get into ATZ-FFO, as it is much more streamlined and less detailed. Also, if you are limited for space, or lack sufficient figures and/or 3D scenery, then this is a worthy substitute.

Inside you'll find:
  • A full set of colour counters including Survivors, Gangers, and Militia characters, as well as a wide range of weapons and loot that you can find during your games.
  • A set of Event Cards that provide all the info you need at a glance, from friends, enemies, zombies, loot and more.
  • Newly designed Player Aid Cards to help you keep track of your characters and their “stuff”.
  • An easy to use campaign system that ties all your games together where the results of one affects the results of the next.
  • Six 11” x 17” maps that can be laid out in over 50 different ways, making each game unique.
  • Specific objectives that provide ways for your characters to increase in skill and ability when they succeed.
  • All this and more.
ATZ:Reloaded can be played solitaire, cooperatively with everyone on the same side, or competitively with everyone against one another. It can also be played as a “one off game” or part of an ongoing campaign.
Components consist of:
  • 25 Event Cards
  • 6 - 11" x 17" Maps (2 Rural, 2 Suburban and 2 Urban)
  • 20 Character Cards (11 named and 9 generic)
  • 88 Counters
  • 3 Rules Reference Sheets (printed double-sided)
I have played this game quite a lot these past couple of weeks and I have mixed views on it. Let's start with the good points. First impressions were highly favourable. Production values are high. The rulebook is in full colour with lots of examples of how the rules work. The Event Cards, Character Cards and Maps are well designed. The Counters are printed on thick card and are very durable. It might be that I am extremely familiar with the ATZ rules but I found the rulebook very easy to understand. Game play is more akin to the tabletop skirmish version than the older board-game version. I'm a huge fan of the whole All Things Zombie franchise and followed the progress of this board-game throughout its production with keen interest. Overall, the game is fine but it is not without its faults.

Most of the bad points about the game are relatively minor. What always annoys me about any book is sloppy proofreading. This rulebook has not been properly proofread. For starters, the right hand column of text on page 6 is repeated on the left hand column of page 7. On page 11 under the heading TURN SEQUENCE it says "if the die scores are the same (doubles) neither side will activate." However, in the glossary under DOUBLES it says "when 2d6 are rolled for Activation and the results are the same both sides activate." I believe the text on  page 11 to be correct. This is how it works in ATZ-FFO.
The Damage Table for Ranged Fire on one of the Reference Sheets is badly worded. It says to roll 1d6 vs Rep and apply the result. Usually when it says this you roll against the Rep of the person making the roll, which in this case should be the Shooter. But this wrong. What it should specify is that you roll against the Rep of the Target! And that makes a HUGE difference! It is explained in one of the combat examples in the Zombie rules section but you could easily miss that. I know I did first time I played the game. This rule really should have been made much clearer, because as written, it is just confusing.
I have a few very minor quibbles regarding the Counters. Quite simply, I'd like to have seen more. You get counters for 3 generic Gangers, 3 generic Militia and 3 generic Survivors. These should have been doubled at the very least. Three of each is just not enough. Your choice of ranged weapons is fine and ditto for equipment. However, your choice of melee weapons is pitiful - a baseball bat or a frying pan. Really?! Is that all? Where are the axes, knives, machetes, swords and most iconic of all, the chainsaw?

I really want to recommend this game to you because Ed is a great bloke and this is a good game he's designed. But, and this important, it could have been a great game if a bit more care had been taken. It felt like it had been rushed into production, which I know was not the case. I did enjoy the games I played of it but it isn't a game I'll be rushing back to. Sadly, there is one more negative comment I have to make.

ATZ:Reloaded costs $59.99 from the Lock n Load webstore. What they fail to mention is that there is a $35.00 international delivery charge on top of that. As if that wasn't bad enough, I had an extra £15.00 customs charge to pay for it. As you can imagine I was well pissed off! Good value for money? No way! If you can find a UK supplier I strongly advise you to buy from them.

ATZ-FFO* Please note that Ed is working on a new version of the ATZ tabletop skirmish rules called All Things Zombie: Fade To Black. This rulebook will also be published by Lock n Load and they will replace ATZ-FFO. RRP is $29.99 but you can pre-order it for $24.99 from the Lock n Load website. Having been stung once I won't be ordering from Lock n Load again. One major change is that the book will be printed in full colour throughout. A big thumbs up for that! I have no idea when this book will be released but I'll let you know as soon as I'm able. I'd expect it to hit the shelves sometime in 2016.

Sunday, 13 December 2015

THW - High Moon Rulebook

It seems like a very long time since I last reviewed anything by Two Hour Wargames (THW). That's simply because I haven't bought anything new from them... until recently. One supplement in particular, High Moon: Dead Reckoning had me very excited for a number of reasons. First up, it was both a supplement to the excellent Six Gun Sound Wild West rulebook as well as a stand alone rulebook in itself. Secondly, it introduces Weird West elements to the genre with rules for Vampires, Werewolves, Witches, Warlocks and Zombies, either as heroes or villains. Cool!

Wild West gaming in 28mm scale is something I'd love to get into if only I could find the time. I already own a large collection of 28mm scale Wild West figures (most need re-basing and repainting, however) and a load of card model buildings I could use (sadly, all unmade). I had already decided that if I ever succumbed to the urge to take up Wild West gaming seriously then Six Gun Sound would be my "go to" rules. They really are superb and far more detailed than most THW rulebooks. Taking on this challenge, assuming I decide to, will require a large investment in time but fortunately, not in money. Although, having said that, I'm sure I could find plenty of new figures I'd want to buy. That's always the way, isn't it?

High Moon adds a whole new dimension to the Wild West genre and that is, of course, the supernatural. You could use High Moon without referencing the supernatural elements. It is basically a streamlined and simpler version of Six Gun Sound. But that surely misses the point. What makes High Moon stand out are its detailed rules for the creatures of the night. Let's take a closer look at them.

Vampires are fast and very hard to kill. This manifests itself in a number of ways. When rolling for Activation, a Vampire may roll twice if desired and choose the highest result. This Attribute is called Precognition. A Special Ability called Blinding Speed works whenever a Vampire is fired upon by a ranged weapon. The Vampire rolls 1d6 vs. its Rep.  If it passes 1d6, the hit becomes a miss. If it passes 0d6 or rolls a 6, the hit remains. Another Attribute they have is Dread, meaning all Vampires cause Terror, which can affect opponents in a variety of negative ways. As with traditional Vampires they have one special disability - an aversion to sunlight. Prolonged exposure to sunlight will kill them. All damage from normal weapons is reduced in severity against Vampires. Silver bullets or silver tipped weapons may cause normal damage but not always!
If you feel up to a challenge, you can play a Vampire Hunter, a special breed of human, trained to hunt and kill Vampires. They are more attuned to vampire lore than normal humans.

Werewolves (or Were-creatures as you can also encounter Werebears or Werecoyotes) are more pack-oriented creatures than most supernatural beings. A Werewolf's Special Attributes are Causes Terror (as Vampires do) and Leap, which allows the Werewolf to leap onto the roof of a single storey building or move 8" across the ground. They have a Special Attribute called Fast Mover, which allows them to take the Fast Move test with 3d6 instead of 2d6 and counting all results. A Were-creature can transform from human to animal or back again in one complete Turn. As with Vampires, silver bullets or silver-tipped weapons may harm a Werewolf. If hit by a normal bullet when in human form, the Werewolf will transform on the next turn it is active.

Witches (male Witches are called Warlocks) are very rare, secretive and tend to be loners but they are powerful spell casters. A Witch has two Special Attributes. First is Blink which is used if the Witch wins a Draw! or In Sight test. The Witch rolls 1d6 vs her Rep. If successful, the Witch disappears and reappears 6 + 1d6" behind the opponent. Secondly, all Witches possess Casting, the ability to use Magic Spells. Spells take the form of Damage (offensive), Dazzle (distraction) or Defend (protection). The specifics are left up to you to decide. Some Witches may know Speciality Magic which takes two forms - Potions and Challenge Spells (these are spells not covered by the three main categories). Note that if a Witch is carrying any weapon except for a knife, she can not cast spells.

Zombies come in two types - normal mindless flesh-eating Zombies or Smart Zombies, who retain some intelligence and can still use guns. A Zombie's only Attribute is Sanity Check, taken by anyone who sees a Zombie Feast for the first time. Unlike in other settings, Zombies in the Wild West have three interesting quirks. First is called Fear of God. If within 6" and Line of Sight of a Preacher, Zombies stop and take the Charge Into Melee test. If the Preacher wins and remains stationary, the zombie will not approach him. Second is called It's a Lady! Female humans and Witches can have a distracting effect on male Zombies. If within 6" and Line of Sight of a female for the first time, a Zombie will stop in place and forfeit a Turn of Activation. On its next Turn the Zombie sees the female as a meal instead of a Lady. Finally, is Cat Fight! Female Zombies have an uncontrollable dislike of female humans and Witches. If within 6" and Line of Sight to a female, the female Zombie will immediately Charge Into Melee. Male Zombies within 6" and Line of Sight will stop and not move until the fight has been resolved.

Having read this supplement I am very keen to try it out. I like the detailed rules of Six Gun Sound, but I know some folk will be looking for something simpler and quicker to play. High Moon would seem to be the solution. Most of the basic rules have been tweaked to simplify game-play. One major change is that there are now only two Reaction tables to learn - Being Shot At and Man Down, which will please a lot of people. Anyone familiar with any of the THW rulebooks should have no problem in using High Moon.

You can purchase High Moon from the THW webstore - at $17.00 for a PDF version or $20.00 for a printed version. I highly recommend this product to anyone interested in looking for a Weird West setting and I award this book a 9 out of 10 rating. Yes, it is that good. Although I haven't reviewed Six Gun Sound yet, if I had it would score a perfect 10 out of 10.

Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Castle Ravenloft Gravestorm the Dracolich

And so I come to the final figure in my lengthy review of all of the 28mm scale miniatures from the Castle Ravenloft board-game for 4th edition Dungeons and Dragons. In my opinion, I have kept the best till last because Gravestorm is a truly awesome figure in size, sculpting and abilities.
Gravestorm is the largest figure in this game. He stands on a 75mm diameter base and is 90mm tall by 120mm long (would be longer still if his tail was uncurled). If you were wondering how can such a large creature fit into the rooms and corridors of a castle, he has a special ability called Squeezing, which allows the figure to be placed over walls as long as the centre square that Gravestorm is on is open.
There are only two named Villains in the Castle Ravenloft board-game - Count Strahd Von Zarovich, the vampire lord and ruler of the country of Barovia, and his most prized servant, Gravestorm the Dracolich. Both are formidable opponents capable of wiping out a party of Heroes on their own. Gravestorm is a level 6 Villain and he activates at the start of each Villain phase. His stats are AC14 and he has 20HP (gulp!).
Gravestorm's tactics are -
When Gravestorm is encountered, place the Dragon's Breath token on his stat card.
If the Dragon's Breath token is on his stat card and Gravestorm is within 1 tile of two or more Heroes, remove the token and then Gravestorm attacks each Hero within 1 tile of it with a Blast of Lightning.
If Gravestorm is within 1 tile of a Hero, it attacks the closest hero with a Bite.
If Gravestorm is within 3 tiles of a Hero, it moves 1 tile toward the Hero with the most Hit Points and then attacks each Hero on the closest Hero's tile with a Burst of Lightning.
Otherwise, Gravestorm moves 1 tile toward the Hero with the most Hit Points.
A Blast of Lightning gives a +8 bonus to hit and causes 3 damage if it hits or 1 damage if it misses. 
A Bite gives a +8 bonus to hit and causes 2 damage, as well as placing the Hero 1 tile in the direction of the arrow of his or her tile's triangle.
A Burst of Lightning gives a +8 bonus to hit and causes 1 damage.
Strahd is harder to hit than Gravestorm with Armour Class 19 compared to the Dracolich's AC14 but no one in Castle Ravenloft has as many Hit Points as Gravestorm. With HP20 he can soak up a tremendous amount of damage. In all of the scenarios provided with this game, the Heroes usually have to face only 1 Villain at a time. Just imagine having to face Strahd and Gravestorm together! What a frightening thought!
When you first open the Castle Ravenloft boxed game, Gravestorm just stands out from all the other figures simply because of his size. But look closer at him and you realise what a fantastic figure he is and how amazingly well sculpted he is. This game features some genuinely well sculpted figures, like the Blazing Skeletons, Dracolich, Flesh Golem, Howling Hag and Rat Swarm, as well as a few very badly sculpted figures like Strahd/Young Vampire and the Zombies. The rest are mostly good with a few being average. Ultimately, I am very glad that I bought this set, due to its emphasis on the undead. I enjoy playing it and will continue to play it. What more could I ask for?

Finally, I have created a new page containing all of my Castle Ravenloft posts so far. Just click on the label marked "Dungeons and Dragons" at the top of the page if you want to check them out.

Sunday, 6 December 2015

Castle Ravenloft Zombie Dragon

As I draw to a close of my reviews of the figures of the Castle Ravenloft board-game, you will notice that the Villains are getting progressively stronger and tougher. For this penultimate review I'm showcasing the Zombie Dragon.
This is a large creature on the same 50mm diameter base as the Flesh Golem that I reviewed last time. I gave a lot of thought as to how I wanted to paint this monster, as dragons can be painted in many different colour schemes. There is no right or wrong answer here - just what works best for you. With that in mind, I settled on Foundry Cadaverous Green 46 for the skin and Foundry Nipple Pink 16 for the wings. I wanted him to look necrotic, unhealthy and diseased. As with Adam, my Flesh Golem, strips of skin have peeled away to show his bones and muscles but because his heart is no longer working, no blood is being pumped out.
The Zombie Dragon is a Level 5 Villain and activates at the start of each Villain Phase. His stats are AC13 and 13HP.
The Zombie Dragon's tactics are -
If the Zombie Dragon is on a tile with a Hero, it attacks each Hero on that tile with Claws, Wings & Tail.
If the Zombie Dragon is within 1 tile of a Hero, it moves adjacent to the closest Hero and attacks with a Bite.
Otherwise, the Zombie Dragon moves 1 tile toward the closest Hero.
A Claws, Wings & Tail attack gives a +7 bonus to hit and causes 1 damage, as well as causing the Hero to be Slowed and placed 1 tile away from his or her tile.
A Bite attack gives a +7 bonus to hit and causes 2 damage.
Whilst the Zombie Dragon is larger than a 28mm tall figure it is, by dragon standards, quite small. That said, it is still a tough opponent - 13HP are a lot when most Heroes only have 5HP. As far as the sculpting goes, I really like this figure. I'm now thinking how I can use it in Zombicide: Black Plague?
Next time, the one you've all been waiting for - Gravestorm the Dracolich.

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Castle Ravenloft Flesh Golem & Howling Hag

With just four more Villains to review from the 4th edition Dungeons and Dragons board-game of Castle Ravenloft, here are two of them - the mighty Flesh Golem and the sinister Howling Hag. I wanted to show these side by side to give you a sense of scale for the Flesh Golem, who towers over the 28mm tall Hag.
Strahd's twisted experiments with death created a monster that has a shambling sense of life. The Flesh Golem is a Level 5 Villain and activates at the start of each Villain Phase. His stats are AC14 and 10HP.
The Flesh Golem's tactics are -
If the Flesh Golem is adjacent to a Hero, it attacks an adjacent Hero with a brutal Slam.
If the Flesh Golem is on a Start tile, the active Hero takes 1 damage.
Otherwise, the Flesh Golem moves 1 tile in the direction of the tile's triangle.
A Slam attack gives a +8 bonus to hit and causes 2 damage, as well as placing the Hero 1 tile deeper into the dungeon. If the attack misses it causes 1 damage. 
In the original Castle Ravenloft RPG, there was a Flesh Golem called Adam. He was the dark-lord of Lamordia. Known as Mordenheim's Monster or the Creature, he was an extremely intelligent and nimble dread Flesh Golem, based on Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. Adam was the most successful creation of Dr. Victor Mordenheim in his research into the creation of life, albeit the one that caused him grief unmeasured. Adam reduced the doctor's wife Elise to a vegetative state and apparently murdered their adopted daughter Eva. The two were inextricably bound together: Dr. Mordenheim had Adam's immortality, and in return Adam shared the doctor's anguish. Usually hidden from sight, Adam was believed to spend most of his time on the Isle of Agony, part of the archipelago known as the Finger.
Now, in this board-game, the Flesh Golem has no name and is a creation of the vampire ruler of Barovia, Count Strahd Von Zarovich. For me, however, I shall still call him Adam. 
The Howling Hag is a mortal woman corrupted by the rituals of Count Strahd Von Zarovich. The Howling Hag is a Level 5 Villain and activates at the start of each Villain Phase. Her stats are AC15 and 10HP.
The Howling Hag's tactics are -
If the Hag is within 1 tile of two or more Heroes, she attacks each Hero within 1 tile of her with a horrifying Howl.
If the Hag is on a tile with a Hero, she attacks that Hero with a teleporting Curse.
If the Hag has no path to a Hero, place her on a random Crypt Corner tile. 
Otherwise, the Hag moves 1 tile toward the closest Hero. 
A Howl attack gives a +7 bonus to hit and causes 1 damage, as well as placing the Hero 1 tile away from his or her tile. 
A Curse attack also gives a +7 bonus to hit and also causes 1 damage, as well as placing the Hero 1 tile away from his or her tile. 
Both the Flesh Golem and the Howling hag are mighty fine sculpts and are worthy of their Villain status. They were both a lot of fun to paint.