When Armada was first announced, I’ll have to be honest and say I was always a little sceptical and curious as to what ships FFG could release as follow ups/expansions.  However, I’m pleasantly surprised by Wave 3; introducing as it does two smaller vessels, after the arrivals of the mammoth Imperial Class Star Destroyer and the Home One.  First, let’s take a look at the Rebel Transports.  Inside the blister kit, you get two GR-75 Transports which click onto a single base, so that you end up with something that looks like this:


The miniatures are simple, but this is no bad thing. They’re support vessels, and you don’t want them taking all the attention from your Home One or Mark 2 Assault Frigate.  There’s a nice ink-wash been applied to them to bring out some of the detail, which looks great.

Also included, you get the standard markers to make sure that you don’t run out of any that came with your base set…of course, if you buy everything, much like X-Wing, you’re going to end up with an absolute glut of the bloody things.


And, of course, your speed and command dials for navigating your GR-75s across the battlefield.


The GR-75 can be calibrated one of two ways, you can cast it in a more traditional transport role, or if you’re feeling a little more confrontational, you can fly it as a combat retrofit.


The transport option is the cheaper of the two, with no offensive capabilities, although it has a fairly decent anti-squadron attack. The combat retrofit ups the anti-ship capabilities, at the cost of reducing the power of the anti-squadron weapons. Neither are especially powerful on paper, but they could be a good use of spare points,  with the most expensive clocking in at just 24pts.


What you also get in the pack, of course, is a nice little bunch of enhancements,  including the Legends universe’s General Cracken as an Admiral, who provides a pretty meaty defensive bonus.  Echo Base’s Toryn Farr grants a good re-roll bonus, which could be a good use of a GR-75’s reasonable speed and manoeuvrability.  Also included are a couple of title cards, and what appears to be some abilities that are unique to the Rebel Transports (although I’m expecting some dedicated Armada player to correct me in the comments), offering support to bombers, enhanced communications, and a buff to your repair orders.

The contents of this kit aren’t earth-shattering, but they’re not really supposed to be.  If, on the other hand, you’re looking for some flavour and enhancements to round out your Rebel fleet, then these will definitely have a place in your collection.

Ömer Ibrahim – Suppressing Fire’s painter and modeller extraordinaire- has tasked himself with a new project: fitting a full lighting rig to Fantasy Flight Games’ Outrider model for their astonishingly popular wargame, X-Wing. Let’s see how he gets on:

You can follow Ömer on Twitter at @TheIronTurkOmer and follow his painting/modelling blog at: https://www.facebook.com/CantSleepMustPaint/ 

Fifty Great War Films

Posted: July 27, 2016 in Uncategorized

From The Battle of the Somme through to American Sniper, war and conflict has been a staple source of inspiration for the film industry since the turn of the 20th century. Today, this genre and its continued popularity, which has covered some of the most important conflicts in recent history, has become a means of educating the young and remembering the fallen. They are the war memorials of a modern society.
This new study, which includes classics such as Sergeant York and The Great Escape, and modern Hollywood epics such as Black Hawk Down and The Hurt Locker, details fifty of the greatest war films of the last hundred years.

Tim Newark’s Fifty Great War Films, is a nicely paced, and relatively light, read. Newark clearly demonstrates his knowledge of the subject, frequently touching on the cultural significance of war movies, which is very important. Although, while the cultural significance of war films in general is covered, there’s only passing mention paid to the impact of specific films.

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While it’s nice that all the films in the book receive an equal amount of coverage, the fact is that some films are more equal than others. After all, books could be (and have been) written on Apocalypse Now…yet here it receives the same about of coverage as Three Kings and The Thin Red Line. Sometimes the amount each movie receives is spot on, but you’re frequently left wanting more. With that said, Oh! What a Lovely War, and MASH receive superb write-ups.

The production quality throughout the book is very good. The layout is solid and pleasing to look at (very important in this sort of book), and the photographs are all of high quality.

Ultimately, these sort of books are designed to promote discussion and debate amongst friends, and if you have this on your coffee table, you can certainly be sure of a few good discussions. There’s plenty of old friends that will make you smile, glad that they’re included…and more than a few omitted that will make you a little angry. No Full Metal Jacket? No Zulu?

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Unfortunately, too many “missed” titles and not enough depth on each that is included stop this from being an essential purchase, but as a “conversation starter” coffee table book, it works very well indeed.


Fifty Great War Films by Tim Newark is available now from Osprey Publishing.  Review by Brad Harmer-Barnes.

Osprey Games’ Frostgrave has progressed greatly since its launch a few years ago. And it’s something that makes me extremely optimistic for its continued success. 

For those not in the know already, Frostgrave is a miniatures game by Joseph A. McCullough, set in an ancient frozen city, and concerns warbands led by wizards who delve into the city to plunder its vast riches, and occult artefacts. It’s part wargame, part dungeon crawler, part equipment management sim. It’s successful on many levels, but my favorite element has to be the art style which is the guiding hand for the entire experience, be it in the style of the miniatures released alongside the rulebooks, to the books themselves, which contain beautiful selection of art by Dmitry Burmak (If you’re reading, Joe, I’d love to see some form of collected artbook in the future). 
So, in talking about Frostgrave’s success, it’s prevalent to talk about the expansion books which have released steadily over the last two years. July 28th sees the latest of Frostgrave’s releases Frostgrave: Into the Breeding Pits. Firstly, it must be said that the trend in stellar artwork is continued in this release, and put simply, it’s a joy to simply thumb through this book and take it in. 
Content wise, the notion that the overarching story of Frostgrave is progressing is tantalising, as I believe the team have created a compelling universe in which players can tell their own tales, as well as be part of the main narrative set forth by the creators. And as with the last release Frostgrave: Thaw of the Lich Lord, the setting and story seems to be evolving in a really satisfying direction, as they continue to add new forms of Wizard, Spells and monsters, And “Into the Breeding Pits” is no exception, adding spells such as “Beastcrafter” (falling under its own spell school) which allow you to add bestial features to your Wizard, depending on his or her level, as well as a handful of extra spells for the pre existing classes of wizards. 

Included in this release is the lighting modifier, which limits your field of view to 20”, Monsters with the burrowing ability and the new trap mechanic, which all goes to say that this expansion ups the difficulty in compelling new ways, and thematically, works to put the player on constant guard as they strive to find treasure in the dark. There are also the expected addition of new items and additions to the bestiary which adds yet more things to worry about. There’s a particularly nasty sounding fiend in the form of the Devourer, and even Hydras, which all adds to the already massive variety the game possesses. The main addition that I am excited about however, is the Gnolls. 

Rounding the book off are five scenarios that seem to follow the tenets set out by the Lich Lord release and maintain a nice sense of progression for your warband, though they can be triggered in a random order via the use of the dice roll chart at the start of the scenario section. 

To cap it off then, I must say that I heartily recommend this book. It continues what I initially loved about the game, and adds mechanics and other features that I had wanted included for a long time. Frostgrave players will already be eyeing this up to add yet more diversity to their game, and they should too! I’ll be getting my Cultist Warband ready to dive into the Breeding pits, just as soon as I’ve dealt with that pesky Lich Lord. 

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Words by Joe Crouch. You can follow Joe on Twitter.

Joe Crouch, Ian Harmer and Brad Harmer-Barnes present another episode of Suppressing-Fire.Com’s hit show “Brick Fury”. This time they’re taking a look at the new “All New X-Men – Fast Forces” set from Wizkids.

Keep your eye on Suppressing-Fire.Com for Heroclix and other Pulp/VHS Gaming related news.

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Images of War: Fighting in Ukraine – A Photographer at War – published by Pen and Sword – centers on the photographs of Walter Grimm, a professional photographer and conscript in the German army. The book is a chronicling of events in Ukraine between the years 1941 to 1943, but more specifically, an account of the ‘simple soldier’, through their training and eventual service in Ukraine.

To start with then, it is interesting to note the humanising effect the images herein promote. It is perhaps harrowing in a sense, to see the people in these photographs as people; as in some ways it goes against a heavily entrenched worldview that these people had to be inherently evil to be a Nazi. I’m actually very pleased that this is the effect it has had on me, and certainly the largest thing I will take away from the experience.

The book charts the difficulty presented in operating within Ukraine, where it is mentioned that the roads played havoc with the German equipment, and the railways all had to be converted in order for German supply routes to be established. We get the overwhelming sense that such a costly endeavour taxed the men featured in the photographs, and they struggled with the uncertainty of their vehicles, equipment and orders.

There are some absolutely stunning vistas featured in the book, and that is a testament to Walter’s skill with the camera, as he wonderfully juxtaposes machine against nature, which of course, seems to be these Landser’s main foe. As natural as it seems in a chronicle, the collection does feature images of the occupation and aftermath stages of battle. Succinct as it is, for a book to have such a definite start, middle and end, it is in this, that this collection of photographs becomes a poignant example of men at work.

Coupled with this, text elements helpfully indulge the history enthusiast as they contain a large amount of detail, from rifle make, to tractor. Anyone relishing in the minutiae of these details won’t be disappointed.

On a more technical side of things, I do have a few issues in terms of presentation, and these are wholly of my own preference. I do feel that, given the nature of the subject, the photographs could have benefitted from having their contrast bumped up a bit, so as to marry the aesthetics with the topic; but I understand that the want might have been there to feature these photos completely undoctored, so as to remain an authentic account of Walter Grimm.  I do personally think that to transcend this material into a true artefact of wartime, more attention could have been spent on making the text elements work in a far simpler way, as I found it difficult to determine if two text elements became a paragraph, or were separate entities, at times.

Having said that, I can heartily recommend  Images of War: Fighting in Ukraine – A Photographer at War to anybody with even the most cursory interest in WWII, as this book makes the absolute best of its parts, mixing hard information, with the emotion captured in a picture.


Words by Joe Crouch.  You can follow Joe on Twitter.

Star Trek: Attack Wing fans rejoice, we’re back with a look at Wave 23 of Wizkid’s take on the flight path system.

This wave is part of the “Classic Movies Storyline” organised play event and features the Romulan bird of prey “I.R.W. Jazkal”, the Klingon K’t’inga battle class cruiser “I.K.S. Amar” and the Federation starship “U.S.S. Montgolfier” – replete with another Wesley Crusher.

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Each ship is standard fare here in terms of what’s included inside, i.e. your movement card, captain, weapons, crew and scenario cards. The Montgolfier of course, comes with Photon Torpedoes, but also comes packed with a “Heavy Graviton Beam” which – when targeting Borgs specifically – grants an additional +3 attack dice on top of the generous 3 it bestows as standard.

The Wesley crew card provides you with means to perform either an action whilst having an auxiliary power token, or giving you a free action listed on your upgrade cards. Adding to the Mongolfier’s ability to get out of tight spots. And further reinforcing this is the Orfil Quinteros Captain card, which allows you some form of regenerative capabilities to the Montgolfier’s hull. As for the ship card itself, the named variant allows switching the focus of target locks as a free action provided the opposing ships are at 1-3 range.

The bundled scenario card concerns Federation forces dealing with the remnants of Dominion forces, and looks to be a standard battle between the two sides, focusing on an orbital weapons platform that the Federation must destroy in order to achieve total victory.

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The second ship, The I.R.W. Jazkal, comprises that which you’d expect of a Romulan ship – a high degree of maneuverability, coupled with some excellent defensive abilities make the Jazkal one tough cookie. To start, the named ship card bestows a rather brilliant defense against captain upgrade cards, so long as a scan token is next to your ship, for in that circumstance, you cannot be targeted, but also, cannot be targeted by any torpedo attacks. The captain upgrade card “Vrax” allows the deployment of the “Reman Bodyguards” card even if you are exceeding your ships restrictions, they themselves affording you an extra +1 to attack and a -1 to enemy ships defense at range 1.

There is also a cloaking device, which is about as predictable as photons on a Federation ship, though this one appears to let you cloak with the absence of any shields, and there are also “Disruptor banks” that serve as this vessels torpedo attack. Also coupled with this expansion is the “Nigil” crew card, which allows you to equip an additional upgrade that has a -1 cost to is SP – with a minimum of 1. All together this makes for a powerful ship, that only gets worse when played with “Destabilized Relations”, that forces a defending ship at range 3 to roll -2 defense dice against your attack, provided there is a ship at range 1-2 of your target ship. Useful for bigger battles, were taking out a larger threat is imperative.

The scenario card “Escape the Minefield”, is a 2 player scenario, that sees a Federation ship, lost in a minefield of cloaked mines, at the mercy of 2 Romulan ships, the Federation ship must escape enemy ships and the minefield to win, and the Romulans must destroy the Federation ship before it can warp to safety. Tense stuff, that combines the elements I enjoyed from the Bajoran lightships scenario card from previous waves, with combat elements. Almost like a submarine battle in space.

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The Klingon ship, I.K.S. Amar is perhaps the most interesting of the ships, namely because it features in “Star Trek: The motion picture”. Albeit a short appearance, as the rogue satellite V’ger reconstitutes the ship into pure information after its volley of a few photon torpedoes. Speaking of Photons, they’re here, and they come with “Stand by torpedoes” which – when disabled – saves your target lock for another attack round of torpedoes, couple this with the Barak captain card, which allows the addition of +1 attack dice when the photon card is discarded. So there’s some nice, punchy abilities that buff an already powerful attack.

Of the few crew cards included with this expansion, comes the “Klingon Helmsman”, which allows extra maneuverability, the “Klingon Navigator” which allows for the player to ignore their chosen maneuver dial and perform any maneuver on the maneuver dial with a speed of 3 or less. We also have, “Klingon Tactical Officer”, which allows the expenditure of evade tokens to convert a normal damage into a critical hit, which becomes really nasty if playing as the named variant of the Amar, which allows for evade tokens to be placed beside your ship if you miss an attack. To cap it off the scenario card entitled “Investigate the Unknown” sees a solo player investigating an entity in the form of an enormous cloud, naturally, being Klingon you want to fire some Photons in there…to investigate them? Yes, that’s exactly what the card states, and it sounds goofy and fun and completely reminiscent of the movie. Solo scenarios like this keep the game fresh for players who can’t always attend regular gaming sessions.

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To summarise, I think there’s definite worth in Wave 23, especially for Klingon players, as the Amar really does afford you some quite nasty abilities, coupled with some improved maneuverability. It’s one that – if fully equipped – I’d be wary of approaching. The Montgolfier is a solid ship, with both the maneuverability and strength I commonly associate with Federation ships, if played conservatively, it could be quite a hard feat to take down, especially with the Captain’s regenerative abilities. And finally, the Jazkal, a little above the standard bird of prey, with high maneuverability and defensive capabilities, this ship has the potential to be the thorn in any player’s side, especially with its ability to ignore any captain upgrades

Once again, Wizkids have made a compelling wave of ships that are essential to the Star Trek: Attack Wing player, especially if they want to have the edge in their respective faction.

Top stuff.

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Words by Joe Crouch, pictures courtesy of StarTrek.Com.  Star Trek: Attack Wing and its many expanions are available now from Wizkids Games; and you can follow Joe on Twitter.

Tak, Tested

Posted: May 16, 2016 in Ancient, Books, Fantasy & Sci-Fi, Gaming

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Tak was, until recently, a fictional, abstract strategy game depicted in The Wise Man’s Fear, the second book of Patrick Rothfuss’ Kingkiller Chronicle, the other series that fantasy fans are desperately willing the author to finish, someday…please.

Well now, while you wait for The Doors Of Stone you can sit down in a tavern with your friends and get to grips with a real world version with Tak, A Beautiful Game, produced by the author in collaboration with Cheapass Games. While the game was described loosely in the book, Rothfuss initially refused an offer to develop the game, believing that it wouldn’t be possible to recreate what was in his head, and also be actually fun to play. However, his mind was changed on being presented with the prototype of the game, which impressed him with it’s elegance and simplicity while still maintaining strategic depth.

Physical versions of the game (there are multiple variations, from a basic set of pieces up to a super fancy board and game box made of bloodwood,) are available from the Kickstarter, which is still open at time of writing, but an early version of the rules is available to download..

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My improvised Tak set: LEGO bricks for the regular pieces and Gandalf and The Balrog from a The Lord of the Rings boardgame as capstones.

Tak is the Kingkiller Chronicle equivalent of Chess, or Go, and has been developed with the intent to convey the same sense of history of being a traditional game, with optional and variant rules, and a distinct flavour to games, depending on who is playing (the decorum of court players vs the cut and thrust of tavern Tak). The fact that the rules are already freely available is a smart move by the designers, as they are now effectively common property, with many players crafting their own Tak sets, which has very quickly given the game some borrowed legitimacy, allowing it to stand alongside truly ancient games as if it really were just as old.

The game itself helps with that, too. The rules are simple, you’re placing or moving pieces (called stones) to try and make a road across the board, while blocking the other guy,a bit like noughts and crosses, though I prefer to compare it to Blockbusters.

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Bob Holness is my Spirit Animal.

But things start to really hot up the first time someone stacks his stone on top of another, as these stacks can then be moved, depositing stones across the board as they go in a move similar to one of those brilliant moments in draughts where somebody skips over multiple pieces. The addition of placing blocking pieces called walls, or the single, all-powerful capstone, makes for a game that is easy to learn, yet is possessed of massive depth.

This would be a great game to play with friends at a party, or take with you to a bar, particularly if you have to teach them all the rules, as when learning, games seem to go very quickly. Though as players become more experienced and confident they can hold each other in a tense deadlock for much longer periods.

The rules and a printable board for Tak are available here [http://cheapass.com/games/tak], and a selection of lavish physical products are available on the Kickstarter. [https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/cheapassgames/tak-a-beautiful-game]


Article by Spike Direction.  You can follow Spike on Twitter @BigBeat1985.

Joe Crouch, Ian Harmer and Brad Harmer-Barnes present another episode of Suppressing-Fire.Com’s hit show “Brick Fury”.  This time they’re taking a look at the new “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mouser Mayhem” set from Wizkids.

But that’s not all!  Your favourite Heroclix YouTube hosts have even recorded a full playthrough if you want to see the mechanics in more detail!

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Osprey Publishing continue their successful run of ‘blue cover’ wargame rulebooks with En Garde! a swashbuckling skirmish game based on Renaissance-era combat, covering settings ranging from The English Civil war, through The Thirty Years War, Spanish conquests in the Americas, and pretty much anything else from the period; though the thing that excited me the most was the somewhat-historical exploits of The Three Musketeers, who perfectly encapsulate the spirit of these rules.

The nuts and bolts of this game are carried over fairly intact from an earlier release, Ronin, which focused on skirmish combat in feudal Japan a la Seven Samurai. What En Garde! does is take the basics of these rules and blow them wide open in terms of potential settings in which players could utilise them, with army lists covering the various historical eras mentioned above; a preposterously wide range of times places and characters, only made wider by appendices giving rough rules for magic and fantastical characters!

Of course though, what I tried out was the The Three (Four?) Musketeers, and those were the miniatures I assembled to playtest this, including Cardinal Richelieu, The Man In The Iron Mask, and a load of pirates I already had which would serve for canon fodder henchmen.

The game plays pretty smoothly once you’ve got the rules down. Moving and shooting are combined into one phase, followed by close combat. Shooting is dispensed with  fairly briefly; the only part that puzzled me was a need to turn your models and worry about their facing, with what appears to be no major discernible effect in game.  There’s no bonus for attacking a guy from behind or anything.  This isn’t that usual for skirmish level games I’ve played in the past, and in the end my opponent and I quietly dropped it, for expedience. If we were doing it wrong, then I hope the developer forgives me.

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Shooting is, oddly, folded into the movement phase and given fairly short shrift, decided by one roll.  If you succeed, then you hit and wound your target, and there’s nothing they can do about it. I suppose this is actually more true to life than most games, but in a different set of rules such a thing might break the game a bit. Here, guns are quite rare, and reloading is awkward, so the streamlined rules are pretty much spot on in terms of balance.

Of course the reason for this is the focus is on hand-to-hand fighting, there are loads of weapon possibilities, with different bonuses, but swords give you the most options in a duel.

There was a very satisfying moment while playtesting, where the game completely changed.  After a good deal of maneuvering and dancing around each other, The Musketeers closed in with a knot of pirates and got stuck into a great big ruck. The game requires you to more or less ‘pair off’ belligerents on opposing sides into a succession of one on one fights, to be resolved one at a time, conjuring images of old fashioned, Errol Flynn style duels. Perfect.

This continues as you actually resolve the fights, with players using their characters skills to amass counters, and assigning them to attack or defense in secret, to attempt to out-manoeuvre the opponent. Spending attack and defense tokens to allow your character to lunge, parry, riposte or feint, which either give you attack or defense bonuses, If you get past your foe’s guard, then you inflict a wound, and combat continues until both fighters have spent all their tokens. This is a great mechanic, and absolutely key to the game’s appeal for me.  It’s at this point that everything suddenly zooms in, and the player has to think tactically for each fight, rather than moving his models up to the enemy’s, and then just rolling a bunch of dice and crossing his fingers – though you will still be doing that to an extent of course.

The focus on relatively small warbands is pretty relevant to my interests, and lends itself to really investing in a small group of characters over a campaign (or simply a continuing series of games). While En Garde! does cater to this, the campaign section is a tad brief and feels like mere lip service. I’d have liked to see something with more than just rules for leveling up characters between games, such as income, and gaining new weapons and abilities, more in the vein of Frostgrave, or my old favourite skirmish level game, Legends Of The Old West. Of course, one can always do that oneself , and the stupidly broad scope and level of possibility offered by this game leave me with little room to complain.
For fans of this level of wargame, who haven’t played Ronin, En Garde! offers something a bit different, very engaging, and stuffed with potential uses, pretty whatever your historical (or fantastical) area of interest, these rules could be put to use for it.

In fact, I’ve just had an idea.

Lightsabers….


Review by Spike Direction.  En Garde! is available now from Osprey Games; and you can follow Spike on Twitter.