Archive for July, 2017

The first expansion set for All Out War feels like a bit of a backward step. It is a little unusual in that you don’t need a copy of the main box in order to play it, but the rulebook included is almost a carbon copy of the “Read this first” quick start rules that come with the core set. Looks like a cash-in at first, as this is the only way to get a “Governer” character for the game, but in the context of the comics theme that Mantic have implemented so well it makes perfect sense! What I hadn’t realised until recently was that the release schedule for AOW is based around graphic novel order, which makes this set a prequel of sorts, being as it is based around the two prequel novels, “The Road to Woodbury” and “Rise of the Governer”.


The solo rule set takes the form of a step-by-step introduction to playing AOW. Over the course of three scenarios, rules are gradually added in to ease a beginner into the game, starting with no guns and limited actions and leading up to nearly the full rule system. The box includes full sets of event, equipment and supply cards (themed for a solo game), dice, templates, scenery and range ruler, counters, 5 walkers and reference card, and a Brian Blake model and survivor card.


“Hang on,” I hear you cry, “But surely the Governer’s name is Philip Blake…?” 

This is true. And also not true. If you haven’t read the novels, I suggest you start there, as the scenarios are based on the pre-Governer days of Brian Blake contained within these very accessible tomes. (The stories are actually quite good, even if the concept of the walkers in the books leaves a little to be desired) The game doesn’t give away any spoilers, and doesn’t require you to read the books, but it adds to the flavour if you have. 


The first scenario starts with a very basic setup, a defined 10″ square (I used some of my Battle Systems clip-together card terrain for this), three walkers, three supply counters and Brian. The event deck is slightly limited, as is the supply deck (guns are removed) by the presence of a walker symbol in the top right corner, exactly like the quick start rules in the core box. In fact this is the same scenario as the first one in that book, but with one character instead of two. The rules introduce us to the basic turn sequence and key concepts (NOISE, threat, and walker movement), as well as the melee combat system, and basic actions.It’s a pretty straight forward gear-grab, with pretty limited options, and barring some horrendous dice rolls you should breeze through this one. You start with no equipment, so your first face-off with a walker is pretty daunting, but once you pick up a weapon from the supply deck you begin to feel a little safer. My first pick up was a tire iron (one extra white dice in combat – nice!) and it was pretty easy going from there. If you’re careful you can reach a supply counter without getting grabbed by one of the dead, but some of the event cards force them towards you so it’s unlikely. With a low threat level and small playing area, this scenario is over pretty quickly. So it’s on to part two.


Scenario 2 widens the play area to 15″ square (time to re-clip that terrain…), and adds scenery, the rest of the supply cards (the gun and ammo), and rules for shooting, MAYHEM and the “Hold Nerve” action. Once again, it’s a grab the supplies and run game, but this time you start with a weapon and there are five supply counters to collect. I was expecting to breeze through this one too, but a couple of dodgy dice rolls (where the hell are the head shots when you need them!?) left me constantly trying to get away from walkers, which dragged the game out over a few extra turns until the threat maxed out. You lose!!!! Tougher than it looked, the relentless rise of the threat level is a killer mechanic. It goes up when MAYHEM is caused, usually through gunfire, when there are models engaged in melee at the start of the melee phase, and via the event cards. The only way to bring it down is to Hold Nerve, which takes an action and reduces threat by one on a 50-50 dice roll! Certainly puts the player up against it! So let’s see how part three goes.


Scenario Three uses the same play area size and game components, and adds rules for equipment slots, the make NOISE action, and being bitten! But at least this time you get to go tooled up with a full set of equipment: Gun, knife, leather jacket and bandages. During this game Brian has to capture four walkers and bundle them onto his truck, rules for which are supplied as scenario-specific. After set-up and a couple of turns, during which I had captured two walkers and unceremoniously dumped them into the waiting vehicle, I began to think this one would be a push-over. 

Oh no. 

Another few turns in, with walkers piling into the game via the event cards, the threat level rocketing, and dragging a struggling walker halfway round the playing area to avoid the shambling onslaught, I was bitten! I got a third walker in the truck, but time, walkers and infection overcame me, and the threat maxed out again. Game over.


Overall it was a reasonable experience. The third scenario was interesting with it’s capture not kill idea, and it’s good to get “The Governor” as a character, even if he is a shadow of the madman to come. And the five walkers included are all original, so no doubles yet! But there are plenty of niggles. While the rules build up over time, they never get to the complete rule set found in the core set, and even at the end still feel like a beginner set. I had to refer to the main rules for a clarification at one point, something I wouldn’t expect to do with a stand alone box. Where there is a standard set of dice added you are supplied with a panic dice which there are no rules for here. The “Solo” event deck is mainly a re-worded pack with one different card. The supply deck is a half size pack with one different weapon, and has “keywords” included, which again have no rules in this box. For me, it really needed to include a few more differences.

 So would I recommend it? For an absolute beginner the gradual building of the rules works well. As in the main rule book it is well laid out, with plenty of tutorial side bars to explain what’s going on. But once you work through it you will want to get the main box anyway to play with the complete rules. If you already own the core set it will feel like a step back, rather than a separate entity, as you will have a near carbon copy of the rules. It might be best to look at it as a large booster pack with the extra accessories to keep as spares as well as the miniatures. But it’s going to feel a little pricey on that front.

As an aside, I’d like to say R.I.P. George A. Romero, without whom (despite his opinion of The Walking Dead!) none of this would have existed.

Officially in mourning. 

David Mustill

Brad, Ian and Joe unbox, discuss and review the new What If? series for Heroclix!

It’s big, it’s ugly, it’s influential, and it needs a special base, Jabba the Hutt has arrived in X-Wing , and he brought his C-ROC Cruiser with him!

untitled

At long last the Scum and Villainy faction get an Epic ship, and it comes absolutely packed with content. So packed, in fact, I don’t think I could cover everything in the release in one reasonably sized review, so forgive me if I miss something, or don’t give it enough attention.

The expansion is, really, two fold. The obvious component is the C-ROC Cruiser itself, but it is also flanked by an M3-A Interceptor. The M3-A is the same as it’s previous release, with a cool new paint job, representing the new pilot Quinn Jast. The C-ROC on the other hand is obviously a brand new model. Reminiscent of Jabba’s Sail Barge, and with all of its battle damage and weathering, it’s a great model, and it feels like it belongs in the Star Wars universe. The guns turn, too. Bonus points.

In gameplay, the C-ROC is a single-section epic ship, like the Rebel Transport, though a bit more focused on firepower. With ten hull and four shields, it actually has fewer hit points than something like the Imperial Decimator, but it also has the Recover action, as well as the Reinforce, Target Lock and Jam actions. In terms of upgrades, it can take two Crew, one Hardpoint, one Team and three Cargo. The C-ROC can become one of three ships, depending on what title you equip to it. The Broken Horn allows the ship to deflect more damage, the Insatiable Worrt helps the ship keep generating energy as it regenerates shields, and Merchant One gains the vessel an extra Crew and Team upgrade slot, at the cost of one Cargo slot.

Swx58_spread.png

In terms of upgrades that can only be used in Huge ships, there’s six different cards, one of which can only be used on the C-ROC Cruiser itself. The Heavy Laser Turret is similar to the Heavy Laser Cannon in standard play, throwing four dice at an enemy, and Quick-Release Cargo Locks are also useable by the GR-75 Rebel Transport, allowing you to change up the layout of the battlefield by dumping some debris is everyone’s way.

Every huge expansion before this one seems to have brought along something important for standard play, and the C-ROC is no exception. The Rebels got the Stressbot, R3-A2 and damage avoider C-3PO, the Empire has Agent Kallus and the Meta-shaking Emperor Palpatine, and if Scum and Villainy needed any boosts, they just recruited Cikatro Vizago and Jabba the Hutt.

Vizago is a crew upgrade worth zero points. Equipping him allows you to swap around Cargo or Illicit upgrades during a battle, for upgrades you didn’t actually equip during the building of your squad. I’ll admit, when this was first announced, I though that this new concept of actually bringing in components from outside the game would completely break the way things worked. The ability to just bring all the cards you have and swap them out as the game goes on just seemed ridiculous. Since then, however, I’ve had the chance to play a reasonably high-level player who was using this  upgrade, and whilst it did make some fun shenanigans happen, it didn’t ruin the game at all. Bonus points.

1445278129265.jpg

Jabba is suitably over the top and potentially game changing. He costs five points, and takes up two crew slots, like Palpatine, meaning that only one ship in standard play, The Hound’s Tooth, can equip him. When you do, you place one Illicit token on every Illicit upgrade you have across your entire squad, and any time you are instructed to discard that card, you may instead discard the token, essentially turning a one-shot Upgrade into a two-time use. Two Rigged Cargo Chutes will drastically change what a map looks like, two Burnout Slams make you incredibly predictable, and two  “Hot Shot” Blasters essentially make any ship into a little turret.

As I mentioned before, the M3-A Interceptor gets a boost in this expansion, including four new Unique Pilots.

When Genesis Red acquires a target lock, he also gets the same amount of Focus and Evade tokens as the ship he locked. Quinn Jast can turn off his weapons for a round to regenerate a spent Missile or Torpedo, meaning that in theory they become infinite. Inaldra can spend shields to re-roll any amount of dice, and if Sunny Bounder rolls any dice and all of the results match, he adds another of the same result. Costing the same as the cheapest generic pilot without a pilot skill, I can see him becoming a solid “Eh, why not?” choice.

M3AScyk-SWG

As well as new pilots, the M3-A also receives a new title in the form of the “Light Scyk” Interceptor. This upgrade reduces the cost of the M3-A by two points, making it one of three cheapest ships in the game, alongside the Z-95 Headhunter and the TIE Fighter. It also makes all of your Bank Manoeuvres into Green Manoeuvres, but at the cost of not being able to take any Modification Upgrades and the fact that all damage cards the ship receives will be dealt face up. Of course, with only one shield and two hull, it tends to blow up as soon as it is touched anyway, so it won’t be a major concern. Six copies of this upgrade are included, meaning you won’t need to buy more than one C-ROC to run a swarm of little exploding Interceptors.

Also included is a re-print of the “Heavy Scyk” Title, with its new wording. The old card is still legal, but this is a nice touch.

Also included is the ARC Caster, a dual card cannon that needs charging between shots, and can chain damage to multiple ships, including yourself if you don’t watch where you’re firing it.

Rounding out the new upgrades is the Pulsed Ray Shield, a Modification that allows you to receive an Ion token to regenerate a shield. It can be used by both the Scum and Rebel factions, but only by ships that have a shield value of one, presently meaning only the M3-A and the HWK-290, with only the HWK being available to the Rebellion.

Droids_in_Distress_43

All in all, the C-ROC is a solid release. There’s nothing in it that will blow the game wide open, other than the fact that Scum and Villainy can actually compete properly at Epic level now,   but plenty that will add new experiences and combinations to the game. The M3-A is a great little ship, but in all my tournament games I have only ever faced it once. I expect that to change with this release, which is good. Old ships should be just as present on tables as new ones. As a pretty dedicated Rebel player, I can’t say that the C-ROC is an essential purchase, neither can I imagine it is for an Imperial player. For the die-hard Scum player however, the ability to bring your faction to 300 point games cannot be overlooked, and neither can many of the contents of this expansion, particularly Vizago and Jabba. If you can afford this big ugly lump, go for it, you won’t regret it.

In Return of the Jedi, Jabba’s slimy sound was made with a bowl of melted cheese/10


Ömer Ibrahim is a regular contributor to Suppressing Fire and you can check out his modelling work on Facebook and Instagram.