Monday, 30 May 2016

Vampifan's Views 79 - Monthly Musings 54

Haven't I seen her before?
Another month and another Joe Jusko painting of Vampirella to start my Monthly Musings post. Those of you with good memories may recognise this painting. This is the image used on my life-sized cardboard cut-out of Vampirella that I showed last year. See here.
Of course, with this painting you get to see the complete picture. This is one of my favourite Joe Jusko paintings. It also appears on my 2016 Vampirella calendar that I have hanging next to my computer.

In my hobby news I have got back into Heroclix and Horrorclix in a big way. I played these games a hell of a lot in the early 2000's when they first came out and I collected hundreds of figures for them. When my gaming group broke up, I put them all back on the shelves and pretty much forgot about them. Earlier this month, Steve and Hil, my fellow editors of the All Things Dungeon Crawl blog asked if I had any spare Heroclix or Horrorclix figures lying around as they fancied getting back into both games - Steve with Heroclix and Hil with Horrorclix? Imagine their surprise when I told them that I had loads of figures spare and they could have them all. Hell, they were no good to me; they were just gathering dust. They wanted them, so they got them and now they have a very impressive collection of clix figures for both games. As a result of their enthusiasm I have rediscovered my own love of both games, Now I'm playing solo games and actively looking for new figures. I bought a few new starter sets this month - Captain America: Civil War, Fantastic Four and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, partly for the new figures but also for the rules, as I wanted to know how much the 2016 rules had changed from the original 2002 rules that I was so familiar with. The answer to my surprise, was surprisingly little. A few tweaks here and a few additions there but essentially, they were exactly the same. This was good. The game was just as I remembered, so I had no problem in getting back into it.

When it comes to collecting Heroclix figures or any other kind of clix figures there are basically two schools of thought - keep the figures intact on their bases or remove the figures from their bases to rebase and use in other games. What kind of collector am I? The answer is both. I do cut figures from their clix bases but only if the figure is a swap. Any clix figure that I only have one of, remains a clix figure. This means that I have very few rare, unique and limited edition figures that are rebased because they are much harder to come by. As far as the clix games go I have a massive collection of Marvel, DC and Indy superheroes and villains and almost as many figures for Horrorclix and its three expansion sets. I may do some figure reviews of figures from my collection in the future but I'll leave any other Heroclix/Horrorclix articles or batreps to Steve and Hil to publish on the ATDC blog. You can see the first of their Heroclix/Horrorclix posts here -
Note the new address!

Other than those three Heroclix sets I mentioned I haven't bought anything else hobby-related this month. On my painting table at the moment are a batch of Zombicide: Black Plague zombies. I only have a few left to paint to finish them all. I am hoping I can get them all finished before I receive my huge parcel of Black Plague expansion sets, which are due very soon. You can expect a lot of Black Plague posts appearing on my blog over the next few months.

My other hobby news is that I am just starting work on Jez/Carrion Crow's Forgotten Heroes project, which is due to launch in June. I'll have a few figures to show for that, so keep an eye open for my entries next month. As for what's coming next on the Vampifan blog, fans of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles should rejoice. I have my TMNT allies and villains to review.

Friday, 27 May 2016

7TV2e Batrep 01 - Burger Bar Bust-Up

I have been promising this batrep for quite a while and at last, here it is. Using the 7TV2e tabletop skirmish rules, this scenario is set in the early 1980's starring the main cast from the BBC TV series, Ashes to Ashes. 
The Cast - Heroes.
VEHICLE. Flash Motor (used to transport the four detectives). Rating = 4
STAR. DCI Gene Hunt (Tough Detective). No changes to stats. Rating = 10
CO-STAR. DI Alex Drake (Investigative Academic). Adjust Mind from 4 to 5, Replace Torch Dazzle +9 with Pistol +8. Rating = 6
CO-STAR. DS Ray Carling (Strongarm). Lose Lucky effect. Add Pistol +6. Rating = 5
CO-STAR. DC Chris Skelton (Plucky Assistant). Lose Screamer effect. Rating = 4 
VEHICLE. Police Car (used to transport the four policemen). Rating = 3
EXTRA. Sgt. Tony Sykes (Police Sergeant). No changes to stats. Rating = 3
3 x EXTRAS. PCs Anderson, Barnes and Campbell (Police Constables). No changes to stats. Rating - 3 models for 5
Total Rating of Heroes = 40

The Cast - Villains
VEHICLE. Van (used to transport seven villains. I know the stat card says it has a capacity of 6 but mine has a capacity of 8.) Rating = 4
STAR. Charlie Slater (Underworld Boss). No changes to stats. Rating = 10
CO-STAR. Micky Neville (Faithful Lackey). Swap SMG  +7 for Sawn-Off Shotgun +8. Rating = 6
EXTRA. George Houseman (Thug Bruiser). No changes to stats. Rating = 4
EXTRA. Tom Kilgour (Thug Bruiser). Swap Pistol +7 for Sawn-Off Shotgun +8. Rating = 4
EXTRA. Dougie Wetherall (Thug Bruiser). Swap Pistol +7 for Sawn-Off Shotgun +8. Rating = 4
EXTRA. Colin Briggs (Thug Bruiser). Swap Brawl +8 for Club +9. Rating = 4
EXTRA. Paddy McDee (Thug Bruiser), Swap Pistol +7 for Shotgun +8. Rating = 4
Total Rating of Villains = 40

The Cast - Neutrals
EXTRA. Mr. S. M. Quinton (Administrator). No changes to stats. Rating = 2
3 x EXTRAS. Gerald, Beryl and Jimmy (Bystanders). No changes to stats. Rating - 3 models for 2
Total Rating of Neutrals = 4

Rules Changes. No Gadgets were used. No Maguffin was used. Both teams set up within 8" of the two longest sides of the board. The Neutrals would always act last and so never rolled for initiative, nor did they use any cards from the Countdown Deck. The Heroes were the attackers and so automatically won initiative. Due to the restrictions of this particular scenario the defenders could not use Leader or Unit Leader special effects during their first turn. Because of the small size of my board (2' by 2.5') I ignored the rules for the placement of the five objective tokens and simply dotted them around the restaurant interior as I saw fit. The small board size also meant I would be using the smallest Countdown Deck size, i.e. five each of Act One, Act Two and Finale cards for 15 in total.
The Synopsis. DCI Gene Hunt of the London Metropolitan Police has received a tip-off that the notorious Slater Gang, led by the vicious Charlie Slater, were planning a robbery at a newly opened fast food restaurant, Brummie's Burgers, when the owner, Mr. S. Quinton, arrived to collect the week's takings. Hunt led a team of plain clothes detectives and uniformed policemen as they lay in wait to ambush the villains. This scenario is based on The Ambush feature found on p.24 of the 7TV2e Producer's Guide.
Set Up. The Heroes set up at the left (west) side of the board with Gene, Ray and Chris just inside the restaurant making use of the tables and chairs for hard cover. Alex, who has the Spy effect, set up last after everyone else and she stood guard outside the storeroom, where the four staff members were hiding (out of sight in this photo). The four policeman stayed in the police car. They were needed elsewhere once the action kicked off. Six of the villains were placed just inside the restaurant at the right (east) side of the board. One (McDee) remained outside, keeping an eye on their van. He was their designated getaway driver.
Advance the Countdown. I drew the Hogging the Limelight card for the Heroes. This allowed one model to make an additional fight or shoot action this turn. I simply had to give this to Gene Hunt. Because a pistol can fire twice per shoot action, this meant that he could fire four times this turn.
Gain Plot Points. The Heroes gained 12 Plot Points. They got 2 for having a Star, 3 for having 3 Co-Stars, 2 for having 4 Extras and 5 for the use of Gene's Homework effect. This effect allowed him to roll 2d6 before the first initiative roll, gaining Plot Points equal to the highest single die roll. I rolled a 5 and a 2, so the Heroes gained an extra 5 Plot Points. Cool!
DCI Gene Hunt. "Drop your weapons or suffer the consequences!" Gene shouted menacingly. He spent 1 Plot Point to activate (11 left). His first Action was to shoot twice, using 1 Plot Point for each shot (9 left). His targets were George Houseman and Colin Briggs, both with Defence 9 and behind hard cover for a total Defence of 11 each. Gene had a Pistol Strike score of 8. He rolled a 6 and a 1 for his first shot (the 1 was ignored) to give him a total Attack of 14. Houseman dropped down, severely wounded. For Gene's second shot he rolled a 5 and a 3 for a total of 13. (The 3 was once again ignored). Briggs took a bullet to his right shoulder and was also out of the fight.
Gene used his free shoot action for Hogging the Limelight to fire at two more targets - Dougie Wetherall and Tom Kilgour. They also had Defence totals of 11 each. Gene was determined to put these scum down and so spent two more Plot Points, one on each of them (7 left). Against Wetherall he rolled 4 and 3 for an Attack total of 12. Wetherall was hit in the centre chest, requiring urgent medical attention. Three down, one more to go. Could Gene score four out four? You bet he could! He rolled a double 5 which gave him an Attack total of 14 (5 for the first roll and +1 for the second roll, because it was a 4 or higher). Kilgour crumpled to the ground screaming that his ear has been shot off!
"I thought I said drop the weapons, you morons!" Gene said angrily. "Are you bloody deaf as well as stupid?" For his final action he moved 4" forward to take cover behind a waste disposal unit.
DI Alex Drake. Alex spent 1 Plot Point to activate (6 left). For her first Action, she moved into the kitchen to stand next to the objective token. Next, she used a Special Action to take the objective token. That would come in handy at the end of the game. Note that you can just see the owner, Mr. Quinton, in the top right corner of this photo.
DS Ray Carling. Ray made use of Gene's Leader 1 effect to activate for free. He moved 4" to take cover behind a table next to Micky Neville. For his second action he shot twice at Neville and used 1 Plot Point on each shot (4 left). Neville had a defence of 9 which was increased to 11 for being behind hard cover. Ray only had a Pistol Strike score of 6, which was not so good. However, he rolled very well with a 5 and a 3 for his first shot, giving him an Attack total of 11. Tied results always go in favour of the attacker. Neville had two wounds, so he lost one. For Ray's second shot he rolled a 5 and a 4 for an Attack total of 12. The 4 added a +1 to the 5. No problem! Neville took another wound and was incapacitated.
"Bloody scum!" Ray scowled, feeling no sympathy for the man he'd just shot.
DC Chris Skelton. "Slater! Don't move! You're under arrest!" the young detective shouted as he moved a full 6" forward after spending 1 Plot Point to activate (3 left). Slater snarled back at him derisively, and said, "Come on, copper. Do you really think you can take me?"
Chris used his second action to charge at Slater, thus giving him a free fight attack. Slater had a Defence of 10. Chris had a Brawl Strike of 6. He didn't fancy his odds so he spent 2 Plot Points to boost his chances of hitting (1 left). He rolled 3d6 scoring 5, 4 and 1, to give him an Attack total of 12 (the 1 was ignored and the 4 added +1 to the 5 he rolled). The punch did no damage but it did give Slater the Weakened status (he may only take one action when activated instead of two).
Sgt. Tony Sykes. He spent the Heroes' final Plot Point to activate and used two move actions to drive the police car in front of the villains' van to block their escape. The other three policemen remained in the police car and did not activate.
None of their cast were axed, no one was on fire and they couldn't steal the scene so this concluded the first Turn for the Heroes. 
Advance the Countdown. I drew the Out of Frame card for the Villains. This allowed them to move up to three models up to 3" each if these moves ended with them in base contact with hard or soft cover or an obstacle. So, Paddy McDee moved indoors to take cover behind a table and chairs just inside the restaurant near to where Charlie Slater was standing.
Gain Plot Points. The Slater Gang gained a measly 3 Plot Points. That was 2 for having one Star, and a half, rounded up to one, for having one Extra. Oh dear!
Charlie Slater. He spent 1 Plot Point to activate and another Plot Point to remove his Weakened status (1 left). He could have used his first action to fight back against Chris but being a vicious bastard he decided to shoot him twice instead. Chris had a Defence score of 9. Slater had a Pistol Strike of 7. He rolled a 4 and then a 3, giving him two hits with results of 11 and 10 respectively. Being a Co-Star, Chris had two wounds but that was not enough to save him. He fell to the ground, very badly wounded and clearly out of the fight.
Slater used his second action to beat a hasty retreat out of the restaurant. He knew he had lost this fight and the only sensible option left was to retreat.
Paddy McDee. He used the last of the Villains' Plot Points to activate. He fired his Shotgun at Gene Hunt but totally missed thanks to Gene having the Hide special effect. This states that if this model is in hard or soft cover or behind an obstacle, any model making a shoot attack against them automatically misses if the distance to the target is more than half the attack's range. A Shotgun has a range of 8" and Gene was 5" away from McDee. This was good news for Gene but bad news for McDee! McDee used his second action to follow his boss out of the restaurant.
Axed Cast. If a cast is reduced to less than half their starting total they are considered to be axed. The Slater Gang had lost 5 of its 7 cast in this Turn so were clearly axed. In game terms this meant that any remaining Star or Co-Star had to make a successful Spirit test for his side to carry on. Failure would result in the remaining cast losing 1d6 more models immediately. Charlie Slater had a Spirit score of 4, which meant he had to roll 4+ on 1d6 to succeed. Sadly for him, he rolled a 3 and it was game over as he was forced to roll 1d6 to see how many more men he lost. He rolled a 4 which was more than the 2 he had left. It was defeat for the Villains. They were all arrested.
Brummie's Burgers Staff. They had 2 Plot Points to spend but decided to play it safe by remaining hidden in the storeroom. After all, why risk their lives unnecessarily? Being unable to see outside of their little room, they had no idea how the conflict had gone and had no inclination to find out until the police told them it was safe to come out.
It was quite obvious that the Heroes had won but how decisive was their victory?
The Heroes gained the following Victory Points.
If the enemy has no models in play. +2
For each objective token held. +1
For each enemy Star or Co-Star removed (per Health of model). +5
Total = 8
The Villains gained the following Victory Points.
For each enemy Star or Co-Star removed (per Health of model). +2
Total = 2
So the Heroes won by 8 to 2. A 6 point margin resulted in a Crushing Victory.
First up, I thoroughly enjoyed playing this scenario. I thought the rules worked well and certainly captured the cinematic feel of the genre. Be assured, more games will certainly follow. In any ambush type scenario the advantage always lies with the ambushers, so it was no surprise that the Heroes won. What was surprising was just how easy it was for them. The game was effectively won and lost on the draw of the first Countdown card. With Gene Hunt Hogging the Limelight, getting to shoot four times in a Turn and hitting with every shot, the Villains never stood a chance. The Heroes also had another ace up their sleeve. Gene's Homework effect allowed the Heroes to rack up a huge amount of Plot Points, which they used very effectively. It was great fun to play but it most definitely did not go the way I thought it would. It was all over before the first advert break! I'm sure if I was to replay it things would go a lot differently. Anyway, I hope you enjoyed reading about it as much as I enjoyed playing it.

Monday, 23 May 2016

Black Scorpion Old West Terrors 01

This is a filler post whilst I work on my 7TV2e batrep, which should be ready for this Friday. For today, I am returning to the Wild West or more specifically, the Weird West. These four 30mm scale resin cast figures from Black Scorpion can be found in their Tombstone range as Old West Terrors.
At the far left is a mutated Mexican bandito, who would fit in perfectly in a game of Shadows of Brimstone. The mines surrounding the town of Brimstone are filled with shiny black rocks known as Dark Stone. Dark Stone has strange mystical qualities that can cause mutations to those who handle it too much. This unfortunate character has been very badly affected and his mutations are clearly visible. He has tentacles coming out of his mouth and belly and a long tentacle replacing his right arm. I think he is a tremendous figure and to date is my only Weird West Mutant. I know that Flying Frog Productions are working on making their own range of Mutants for Shadows of Brimstone, and I'll be after them as soon as they go on sale. The rules in Shadows of Brimstone list 36 possible mutations a character may acquire and it is possible to have more than mutation.
Next up is someone I'd describe as a Revenant - an undead gunfighter who seeks vengeance for his death.  He could be used as a zombie, perhaps even a smart zombie who can use a gun, but I see him as something far more deadly than that - part ghost, part avenging Angel of Death. There are no stats for Revenants in either Shadows of Brimstone or THW's High Moon but I'm sure I could come up with something appropriate. The swirling mist effect on him is beautifully done. Note the faces in the mist. He is my favourite figure out of this group.
The next two figures in line are both zombies. Not many companies make Wild West zombies and of those who do, even fewer make female zombies. So for Black Scorpion to produce a female zombie is great news for me, more so because she is so well sculpted. The male zombie is not a bad figure, it is just that I think he's the weakest out of this group as the others are all exceptional whilst he's only very good. Stats for male and female zombies can be found in both High Moon and Shadows of Brimstone.
These four figures are superbly well sculpted. I know that some of you have reservations about resin cast figures but I can not fault these at all. The level of detail on them is stunning and they paint up really well. Note that I cut their slottatabs off them and glued them to 25mm diameter wooden MDF bases. The Old West Terrors set costs £8.00 from the Black Scorpion webstore. I recommend them very highly.

Friday, 20 May 2016

Killer B Games Civilians 02

As promised here is part 2 of my posts reviewing some of the 1970's style civilians from Killer B Games. This time I'm looking at three young males and three females, only one of whom has been named.
First in line is KB038 Geezer in Bobble Hat. You don't see many bobble hats these days, do you? If you wanted a more contemporary version of him, simply cut the bobble off and you have a beanie hat. Simple! He is a very average looking young male, useful for filling in a crowd. On a more sinister level he'd make a useful lookout for a criminal gang.
In the centre of this trio of males is KB035 Young Geezer, either a teenager or someone in his early twenties. I used this figure to convert into an alternative version of DC Chris Skelton from Life on Mars (see here ). Once again, I don't have much to say about this rather plain looking figure.
Moving down in age, I come to KB055 Schoolboy with Catapult. Do school kids today still use catapults? I thought they were more into knives. Anyway, this lad is from the 1970's, so a very different world to today. You can tell he's a troublemaker with his long hair and shirt not tucked in and tie undone. Plus, of course, the catapult. He is certainly the most characterful figure of the three.
Far more interesting, however, are these three adult females. At the far left is KB064 Sporty Bird. Note that women are called "birds" and men are called "geezers." On the Killer B Games website she was painted with dark brown hair but I changed her to a blonde. She is dressed in her football strip, hence the "sporty" connection. She has beautiful eyes and a very pretty face. She is definitely one of my better paint jobs.
Next up is KB056 Lively Bird, possibly a resident of Carnaby Street, London or at least a fashion shopper there. I think it's a safe bet to say she'll be a keen dancer at her local discotheque. I'd like her a lot more if she ditched that ridiculous hat, although it is very 1970's.
I bring to an end my review with the only named character from this batch, KB059 Brenda Bristols. No, that is not the name I gave her. It is the name given to her by Killer B Games. To me, she sounds like a character from a Carry On film. She is very striking with her good looks, spectacular cleavage, long legs, micro-skirt and turquoise jewellery. Once again, I do like her eyes. I'd guess her most likely profession to be a barmaid.
All of these figures fit the bill as Neutral Bystander Extras if used in 7TV2e or as ordinary civilians in other games. In my opinion, they are amongst the better sculpted civilians on the market. Each one costs a lowly £2.00 from the Killer B Games webstore. As I always say, civilians are like zombies - you can never have too many of them!

Monday, 16 May 2016

Killer B Games Civilians 01

This is the first of two posts looking at most of the civilian figures produced by Killer B Games, which I plan on using in my games of 7TV2e. In this post I'm reviewing four adult male civilians. In my next post I'll be taking a look at three young males and three adult females. Once again, I have not got round to naming any of these 28mm scale figures.
The gentleman at the far left is rather cheekily referred to as KB034 Bearded Git on the Killer B Games website. He does look like a shifty-looking, untrustworthy character. He will be making an appearance in my first 7TV2e batrep as a Neutral Bystander Extra.
The Elvis Presley fan smoking a cigarette is KB057 Pub Landlord. Killer B Games had him painted with blond hair on their website but I decided to give him black hair as he reminded me of Elvis. Although described as a pub landlord you could use him in a number of roles. I see him as some sort of Derek Trotter "wide-boy".
The guy who is second from the right is KB054 Slob Scratching his 'Arris. He could well be Rab C. Nesbitt's twin brother with his string vest, surly expression and rolled up newspaper. The fact that he is scratching his backside adds loads of character to him, although probably not in a complimentary manner!
Finally, is KB039 Clever Geezer with Bag. He does look like a scholarly type, possible a university lecturer or a headmaster or perhaps a corporate manager. He will also be making an appearance in my upcoming 7TV2e batrep as the wealthy owner of a chain of fast food restaurants and hence, the target of a vicious gang of criminals. He'll be a Neutral Administrator Extra.
Each one of these civilian characters cost £2.00 from the Killer B Games webstore. I like them a lot!

Friday, 13 May 2016

Assorted Security Personnel

In my recent posts for my 7TV2e campaign I have looked at 1970's and 1980's style cops and criminals. There is one more group I wish to show you before my big finale - the much anticipated batrep, and they are the civilians. These are all classed as Neutral Extras in 7TV2e. Generally useless in a fight and frequently getting in the way at the most inopportune moment. I'll start with a trio of security personnel - a night watchman and two security guards. I have not named any of them yet.
At the far left is a lowly night watchman, who used to be sold by Hasslefree Miniatures, but sadly is now out of production. He was not sculpted by Kevin White and I can't remember who sculpted him. He has something of a cartoon quality to him and would not be out of place in a Scooby Doo mystery. From his surprised expression he has clearly seen something that has alarmed him. He carries a hefty torch in one hand and a truncheon in the other hand.
The other two figures are both made by Killer B Games and are KB030 Security Guard Standing and KB029 Security Guard Walking with Cash Box. I am not sure why I have a security guard carrying two cash boxes! Did I buy two of them by mistake? I must have. The cash box in the guy's left hand has been added but it is not a conversion I remember doing. But this begs the question, what happened to the rest of the figure? Hmm, very mysterious. Bear in mind I did buy these many years ago. They are obvious targets for a gang of robbers and although they will probably fare slightly better than an ordinary civilian in a fight, I still don't rate their chances very much. They are very nice sculpts and they cost £2.00 each if ordered from the Killer B Games webstore.

Monday, 9 May 2016

Killer B Games Low Life Criminals

After a short break I return to my reviews of 1970's style figures to use with the 7TV2e tabletop skirmish game. Sticking with my recent theme of criminals I present to you a small gang of low life villains, all made by Killer B Games.
In 7TV2e terms, the figure at the far left of this group would be the Villainous Extra, Criminal Boss. The description in the rulebook sums him up perfectly. "Specialising in low level robbery and violence, the Criminal Boss menaces their manor, looking for the next big score for their motley crew of career villains". I have not given him a name yet. On the Killer B Games webstore he is KB007 Geezer in Sheepskin with Trilby.
Standing next to him is his right hand man and leg-breaking enforcer, KB036 Hard-Faced Geezer. He is handy with his fists and likes to stick the boot in to anyone who disrespects him or his boss.
Yet another bruiser is the third figure in line, KB051 Bald Geezer. He is a thug and a bully and will never amount to much. He will never rise from the gutter.
Finally, is KB025 Geezer in Shades and Sports Jacket. Note the wide-lapelled shirt and flash tie. He is the archetypal 1970's male fashion victim. He is armed with a six shot Revolver but he is probably a lousy shot.
Not all of your villains need be armed to the teeth. At times you need some low level scum and these four fit the bill perfectly. Other than the Criminal Boss, you could use the others as Villainous Extra Criminals or Thugs. As usual, all four figures cost a mere £2.00 each on the Killer B Games webstore.

Friday, 6 May 2016

Airfix Battles - A Review

I had not intended to give this game a full review due to it having nothing whatsoever to do with the World of the Undead, but it garnered sufficient interest in my last Monthly Musings post that I felt it deserved more attention. Airfix Battles is a World War 2 squad level skirmish board-game produced by Modiphius. I bought my copy because of my fascination with Airfix as a young lad. My very first war-games used Airfix WW2 toy soldiers and models. I must have bought hundreds of Airfix figures and dozens of their models. Because I didn't know any better they got painted in a mix of Humbrol matt and gloss paints. As long as the colours looked right I didn't care.
As I grew older I wanted to play with them with a set of rules. I can't remember which was my first wargaming rulebook but I bought a few and I mixed and matched the rules I liked the most. I primarily concentrated on the Allied invasion of Europe in 1944 and my largest armies were those of the American, British and German forces. Once I seriously got into WW2 wargaming (mid 1970's) I collected figures and models from Japanese companies such as Fujimi and Hasegawa (who remembers them?) and Airfix's main rival, Matchbox. So, when Modiphius announced the launch of Airfix Battles (not as a Kickstarter, surprisingly enough) I took notice as nostalgic memories of my first forays into war-gaming resurfaced. The fact that the game only cost £24.99 made it even more attractive to me.That's not a bad price for a board-game these days.
Back cover of the Airfix Battles Introductory Set

I quote this intro from the Modiphius website. "Whether it’s British commandos, US Marines or Germany’s Afrika Korps, Airfix’s 1/72 scale soldiers have been fighting their wars across carpets, dining tables and gardens for decades.
Airfix is a fondly remembered part of everyone's childhood and the company are famous for their line of injection-moulded plastic aircraft, tanks and soldiers.  The Airfix brand has been synonymous with model kits for years and now it’s back with a vengeance, with Airfix Battles bringing those adventures to life and its campaigns to a tabletop near you.

Playable with all your existing Airfix figures and vehicles, Airfix Battles Introductory Set comes with everything you need to play exciting World War Two battles straight out of the box with the Introductory SetThis includes die cut cardboard counters for tanks, infantry and guns in case you don't have any figures to hand. Airfix Battles also lets you plan your army using the Force Deck. Draw the cards or select the ones you need to build an exciting army to challenge your friends.
Set up the battle using step-by-step instructions in the Mission book and you're ready to play. Each player has a hand of Command Cards to move and make their forces fight, bring in air-strikes or artillery support. You'll never know what your opponent is going to do next!
The game is designed to get you playing quickly, with fast and fun rules so you can play several times in an afternoon or evening with typical missions lasting from 30-60 minutes."

Contents include -
  • 10 Six sided dice
  • 2 Double-sided A2 (420mm by 594mm) Maps
  • Over 100 cardboard counters of US & German tanks, infantry and terrain!
  • 1 x 16 page Mission Book
  • 1 x 32 page Rule Book including rules for solo play up to 4 players
  • 1 x 54 Card Command Deck
  • 1 x 54 Card Force Deck (tanks, infantry, guns, officers, specialists)
One of the game maps, measuring 5 by 7 big squares.
My verdict of this game is highly favourable. I like it because it takes so little time to complete a mission scenario. I like it because the rules are so easy to learn. The Mission Book takes you through a series of scenarios, adding new rules to each scenario so you're not overwhelmed by having to learn everything at once. I like it because it uses counters instead of figures, although the makers do encourage players to use their existing Airfix figures and models instead of the counters. I'll stick with the counters because I don't fancy painting up yet more figures, which I'd have to buy. No, thank you! I sold all of my old 1/72 scale figures and models many years ago. If only I had known back then what I know now!
My good friend and fellow blogger, Steve, bought a similar WW2 game called Memoir 44 and I might have started collecting it if Airfix Battles hadn't come along when it did. Both games share many similarities, not just in their setting but in their rules as well. I mean no disrespect to Steve or fans of Memoir 44, which is a very fine game, but I'm glad I opted for Airfix Battles. If I had succumbed to buying Memoir 44, I'd have ended up spending a fortune on collecting it and its many supplements and the sheer amount of miniature figures that come with the game would have just swamped me. I doubt if they would ever have got painted.
Much as I like Airfix Battles, I do have one minor criticism of it to make. I feel you do not get enough counters of the infantry and vehicles. For example, if you wanted to field an all infantry force you could choose four or five basic infantry squads but you only get counters to make up two squads. The same is true of the vehicles, where each counter usually has a tank on one side and a half track on the other. To make full use of the options for force generation you need more counters. I guess if you're using figures and models instead of the counters it won't be a problem but I thought it worth mentioning anyway.
Modiphius have plans for greatly expanding this game, probably in a similar manner to Memoir 44 to include other theatres of war in WW2 (North Africa, the Pacific and Russia for example). Next on their schedule is the launch of the Airfix Battles Collector’s Edition, which will introduce new rules to expand your game, as well as showing you how to move your battles from the board to war-games terrain with movement in inches or centimetres instead of squares. The book will contain fantastic photography of games in action to inspire you as well as a much bigger campaign to fight your way through. It is due out sometime this summer.
I know a lot of gamers will have cut their teeth on playing WW2 war-games, and may still do. If that is you, then I can highly recommend Airfix Battles to you. It is fast, easy to learn, easy to play, cheaply priced and a lot of fun. What more could you ask from a game?

Monday, 2 May 2016

Project Z - A Review

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