Archive for June, 2017

Brad, Joe and Ian unbox, discuss, test and review the latest Fast Forces for Heroclix, the Marvel Knights set. Daredevil, Luke Cage, Iron Fist and Jessica Jones are joined by Elektra and The Punisher!

Plus, full, uncut gameplay!

Joe, Ian and Brad are back to discuss, unbox, test and review the Deadpool and the Mercs for Money Fast Forces set for Heroclix! Check out the review above, and check below for the uncut playtest footage: 

I would like to be upfront from the start: I am not the biggest fan of Mantic games. Their multi-part plastic miniatures are durable, but fairly basic, and playing Kings of War felt like a more simplistic Warhammer. So far not good, and as first impressions last, I have not had any call to go back to check out any of their other products. So, then, they go and get the I.P. for the comics version of The Walking Dead. One of the best comic series of all time, loved by millions, it takes a brave move to attempt to bring it to the tabletop. Can they put out a decent game, as well as keping fans on side?

The short answer is: Abso-bloody-lutely!

Mantic have kept the rules simple, a basic skirmish level game with the now-obligatory custom dice, card events, and A.I. walkers to enable both solo and multi-player games. The starter box comes with everything you need to get going. A 20″ square coated paper gaming mat, eighteen miniatures, eleven dice, over forty cards, ten flat card scenery counters, a custom range ruler, thirty counters/tokens, kill zone marker and threat tracker. The miniatures are all single piece, so the only assembly required is the pointer in the threat tracker. Box to table time is about five minutes!


Once you’re there, what joys await you? There are actually two rulebooks in the set, the main book and the “Read Me First” quick-start rules. These start with a basic version of the game, and over two scenarios add new concepts and rules to bring beginners up to speed: perfect for the comics fan making his first foray into the tabletop world. Your hardened gamer will want to head straight for the main book, however. You will find four clearly defined phases (Action, Event, Melee, End), underpinned by two key concepts: Noise, and Threat. It is well worth taking the time to get your head round these, as they will colour everything you do in the game. 

In a similar way to Zombicide, noise is what drives the walking dead to move around the table and attack the living. There are two levels, NOISE, and MAYHEM. NOISE is caused by running, the “Make NOISE” action, or the “Scream!” action on the panic dice (more on this later), and will attract the nearest walker within 10″. MAYHEM is usually caused by gunfire, and will attract ALL walkers within 10″! There are ways to avoid the noise, by sneaking for example, but in a deviously simple twist of the rules, walkers start with their bases touching the scattered supply counters (your basic objectives), which prevents you from picking them up! Therefore choosing when and where to make noise becomes critical, requiring a balance between getting the supplies before your opponent and not getting swamped by the living dead.


Threat represents the mounting tension and danger as the game progresses, and works as a game mechanic driver and a timer. The threat tracker is numbered from 1 to 18, and divided up into four sections: All Quiet (1-3); Low(4-8);Medium (9-13); and High (14-18). As the game goes on, the threat level will rise quickly (sometimes alarmingly so!), and if it reaches 18, the game ends. In the meantime, if the level goes above one of your Survivor’s “Nerve” score, they panic, and can only be activated via the use of the Panic Dice. This is a six-sider with 5 available results, from a straight run away or quiet action only, to screaming like a schoolboy or going bananas and attacking the nearest walker with the strength of a madman! Threat level can go down as well as up, but this is pretty rare, and only brought about by a concious decision to calm everything down.

Setup is very straight forward and scenario based. There is only one scenario in the main book:-choose survivors, place scenery, place supplies, place walkers, go! Choosing survivors proves to be the only slightly confusing part of the process. Each character card has slots surrounding it to represent the amount of equipment they can carry and where, but the starter set is fairly limited and the only instruction is to play to a points value. The points values only seem to even out in one particular configuration with the cards available, and with only one of each weapon in the box this could seriously limit replay value. However, this is a starter set, so until you have some expansions just try not to get into an argument over who gets what! The number of walkers on the board at the start of the game is based on the points value of the survivor teams, so this can easily scale up or down as required.


The turn sequence feels slightly jarring at first to a seasoned tabletop skirmish player. The Action phase handles survivor movement and shooting, as well as hiding, searching, trading items, or making game specific actions (Make NOISE, Hold Your Nerve, Special Action). but not hand-to-hand combat. The separate Melee phase handles this, and after a couple of turns it becomes obvious that this is a big part of the mechanic that drives the game. Once the survivors have had their turn (two actions each, but must be two different actions), the Event phase determines if you have been unfortunate enough to get too close to the dead. A handy Kill Zone template is placed over each walker in turn, and if a survivor is within the template radius it will lunge into close combat. This phase ends with the drawing of an event card which may have different results depending on the current threat level. Once this has been dealt with, it’s on to Melee. This is probably the most complicated part of the system, but again, after a couple of turns it seems to work itself out. The melee itself is easy, but working out who fights who, whether to attack or defend, and the order of combat is a bit fiddly at first. 

All combat, ranged and close, is handled with the custom dice, with different colours having differing strengths. Character and equipment cards will give you your dice pool, with the same colours being used for attack or defence, with a straight roll-off to determine the winner. The difference in the number of successes gives the amount of damage taken by survivors, but walkers only have one point of damage and are immediately knocked down… only to get back up again in subsequent turns! This can only be stopped by head shots. Some of the dice faces have an exclamation mark on them to denote headshots. One of these lets you take out a walker, as long as you cause damage. Against survivors, they do extra damage, and if you kill a chartacter with one they won’t be re-animating any time soon. Oh yes, if a survivor is killed but not “dealt with”, they will be returning as a fresh walking corpse to attack the living! If a walker scores a headshot the character has been bitten, and the resulting infection speeds him or her to their early (but temporary) grave. 


As mentioned before, all walker movement is reactionary. The rules are fairly simple on this, it all comes down to “eligible” walkers, those not prone or touching a character’s base at the point when they are activated. The dead will only respond to action on the table or cards in the event phase, but this means they can actually move at any time, not just in the action phase. Too much noise in the melee phase therefore can lead to more and more walkers swamping your characters, which can be very bad news when you can only declare one attack per phase (all other combats will be defensive), and walker dice ramp up exponentially for each additional corpse in the fray! 

Most of the other happenings in the game are determined by a throw of the black Action Dice. 3 blank faces and 3 badge icons give you a 50-50 chance (effectively a D2 or coin-flip) on anything you want to do that’s not covered by the rules, plus a few of the basic actions. While it does feel a bit simplistic, there’s no denying it makes decision making easier, and keeps the game moving on at a rapid rate.


Overall, this game wins for me on both fronts. The very basic gameplay keeps it fun, but the rapidly rising threat and brilliantly simple walker mechanic keep the tension high at all times. No character is too powerful, even the important ones. In my first game, Rick Grimes died in turn three, only to re-animate and proceed to chase Carl around the map until the last turn ticked over. Thus ruining The Walking Dead continuity forever… What appears at first to be a simplistic turn sequence is actually quite cleverly designed to create the feel of the Walking Dead comics, with a lingering threat hanging over everything, and a corpse ready to reach out and bite you at any time. The comic art is used throughout, unsurprisingly, with everything from cards to miniatures adding to the theme, and for me the figures are one of the biggest selling points. Single piece, hard styrene, excellent sculpts, with hardly any flash marks or cleaning up required. These are some of the best tabletop miniatures I’ve ever seen in a game, better than (yes, I’m saying it) Imperial Assault, my previous benchmark. The sculpts have been bulked up a little to allow for extra detail, but this just adds to the comic style, and (I’m hoping) their paintablility!


The first expansion set is the scenery booster which basically gives you hard plastic replacements for all of the card scenery and supply counters in the box. I would happily use these in any post apocalypse/modern game settings, and for twenty quid I would recommend that anyone who plays in these settings gets a set. They are an absolute bargain that will enhance any battlefield, with the same crisp lines and hard-shell construction that make the miniatures stand out. 


There are a couple of niggles. The dice do look a bit shabby, not quite cheap-and-nasty, but enough to detract from the overall quality of the game. It could be a deliberate attempt to get that overall world-falling-apart feel, but I doubt it. Disappointing given the overall high standard of the rest of the box, and ends up looking like corner-cutting. Similarly, the paper map is a bit basic. Nice print, but would it kill you to make it double sided for a bit of variety? Ultimately this is a tabletop game, so you can create your own battlefield, and scale it up as large as you like, but for beginners I would want a little more. Maybe you can just pull out that old Mars Attacks! map for a bit of size/visual variation…


This is a core set, and expansions are heading out thick and fast. For fans of The Walking Dead Comics, or even the TV show (spoiler alert: Daryl Dixon does not exist in the comic world…) this is a great bit of kit, well worth a little investment, and for gamers who are not yet quite sick of all the living dead games on the market this has simple and interesting mechanics, and enough replayability to nudge onto your table on a semi-regular basis. But you will want to pick up some expansions to keep it that way, and to collect all your favourite characters. But make sure you save those Mantic points up.

Seriously, Michonne and Abraham only available as collect-and-exchange bonus packs? A bit naughty if you ask me!


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Dave “Not Using The Z-Word Today” Mustill


Despite being a big fan of WizKids’ other collectible franchise in Heroclix, dice games such as Elder Sign, and Deck Building games such as Legendary Encounters, it seems weird to me that I have never given Dice Masters a go. So it is great that WizKids have released a stand-alone version of the game straight out of the box but can also be compatible with previous versions should you wish to have the Turtles take on Marvel and DC as they have done with Heroclix. So, as a 90s kid who used to love the cartoon, this seems like an ideal starter set to introduce me to the system.

The game reminds me of similar deck building games such as Magic or Legendary in the sense that you start off with weak cards that generate energy which you can then use to buy characters and more powerful dice to level up as you play. However, because there are a lot of different abilities – especially with cards working with other cards, as the Turtles should – this allows for a lot more strategy as you use resource management and chaining your abilities to either increase in power or mass a large attack to seriously damage your opponent. Alternatively you can hold dice back to exchange for other powers that can be used to enhance your defence at the detriment of not being used for another attack later on.

It was this resource management that made me feel like there was more strategy and synergy in the combination of characters than in games like Legendary but there was also more chaos due to the randomness of the dice rolls which adds that little bit of luck factor that can force you to adapt your strategy on the fly if you don’t get the result you want. Some people don’t like an element of randomness in their strategy games, but I for one like the idea of things going wrong and forcing you to adapt. I also thought that despite some unlucky rolls, I never really felt truly cheated out of victory if I was unlucky as there was always a feeling that it could be turned around.

Some downsides to the game are that it feels as though it is chiefly a one on one game for two players, like a lot of collectible game engines and the inclusion for the ability to play with up to four players feels tacked on so I would mainly keep this as a two player only game personally, especially as I feel there are better four player dedicated games that can hit the table instead. Also, as the game is typically a collectible style game aside from this stand-alone version, I’m not sure how the characters and dice in this game would work if you combined it with other sets, as I would worry that these would be trounced by super rares and chase variants a la Heroclix, but without playing other versions I wouldn’t be able to confirm this, so my fears may be unfounded.

Despite this, TMNT Dice Masters seems like an ideal set to get you into the system without falling into the money pit that is hunting for gravity feeds, especially if you are a fan of TMNT in general. So check it out if you are fan of Turtles or Deck Building games.

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Blake Harmer is a regular contributor to The Crazy Train and The Gamescast at emotionally14.com. You can follow him on Twitter at @fucksakeblake, but there’s no real point in doing so.


Wings of Glory has long been one of those games that I’ve seen people play at conventions or on social media, but due their – rather unfortunate – inability to keep starter kits in print consistently, it’s taken until now for me to actually play a game.  For this review, I teamed up with Brick Fury‘s Ian Harmer, who as well as being a Heroclix nut is rather fanatical about military planes, too.  As he also had a few games of Star Wars: X-Wing under his belt, I figured that he’d be a good person to try this game out with.

The game comes packaged very nicely, in a sturdy box that not only displays the figures nicely, but the vacuum-formed insert inside actually also works very well in terms of storing your components after you’ve punched a prepped them all!  If only all game boxes could be this accommodating.


The planes themselves are absolutely superb.  The detail is great, and the paintjobs are excellent.  They feel suitably sturdy, and should endure many years of play with ease.  They have a decent weight to them, and are a joy to “fly” around the tabletop.  My only criticism would be that there’s no way to tell planes of the same type apart – some sort of marker or distinguishing feature would help a lot.

The rules are super easy to get to grips with.  We were playing with the basic game after a few minutes, and after just one game of that, we feel ready to tackle the full blown ruleset – hopefully with some extra planes added in, as well.  You also get a huge scenario book, loaded with ideas and missions that’ll keep you occupied for quite a long time.


The game itself is incredibly easy to get your head around.  Players plot their moves secretly, and once everyone has placed their selected move face down, they then have to simulanaeously move their planes around the playing area, trying to out guess their opponent and get into a good firing position.

Comparisons with its much more successful cousin, X-Wing, are inevitable and – for what it’s worth – I think I prefer Wings of Glory. I enjoy both, but Wings of Glory feels much more streamlined, and simultaneous movement and shooting goes a long way towards making the game much smoother.

I’m looking forward to what else the system can offer, but so far, this Starter Set is superb! Ian shared my views, and was browsing extra planes on eBay within minutes!

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Brad Harmer-Barnes is a games journalist and comedy writer from Kent, England, and has written for (among others) Miniature Wargames magazine, Fortress: Ameritrash, Emotionally14.com and Suppressing-Fire.Com, which he also edits. You can follow him on Instagram and Twitter @realbradhb.