Archive for the ‘Fantasy & Sci-Fi’ Category

The boys are back, to test out the new starter set!

And here’s the gameplay footage!

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If there’s one thing all tabletop games need more of, it’s Wookiees. Can you imagine Mansions of Madness, but on Kashyyyk? Berserkers of Catan anyone? Hell, even Scrabble should make it an acceptable word if you ask me.

Equally as brilliant is the fact that the “Auzituck” Wookiee Gunship has come to X-Wing, and it’s brought a mixed bag of goodies with it. Physically, the Auzituck is a nice, small-based model, brimming with guns and engines. The paintwork is as good as normal, with some really cool tribal designs over the body.

In game terms, the Auzituck has three attack dice and and only one one defence, but with six hull and three shields, it isn’t going to fall apart quickly. This is helped by its choice of actions. As well as being able to Focus, it’s the first non-Epic ship to be able to perform the Reinforce action. When a ship reinforces either the front of back of itself, when attacked from that angle, it can add an extra evade result to its dice roll. Unlike an Evade token though, it doesn’t spend the token, and can re-use it each time it is attacked.

As well as this new function, it also boasts a 180 degree auxiliary firing arc, formerly only seen on the YV-666, making this the first small-based ship to boast such a wide attack arc.


This huge attack range is useful, as the ship has no way of turning in a hurry, the dial is fine, but features no k-turns, or any other type of “flips”. In terms of upgrades, the Gunship has two Crew slots, with three of the four available pilots able to take an Elite Pilot Talent.  As I just mentioned, the Auzituck comes with four pilots, two of them Unique. From the bottom up, “Kashyyyk Defender” is a 24 point, PS1 generic pilot. “Wookiee Liberator” is the PS3, 26 point version, which also comes with an EPT slot.
Lowhhrick is the unique PS5 pilot and his ability is causing a stir: “When another friendly ship at Range 1 is defending, you may spend 1 reinforce token. If you do, the defender adds 1 evade result.”

On it’s own, it’s a handy little trick, but it’s found a home in a frustrating little squadron called “Fair Ship Rebels 2.0” (At least that’s the “proper” name, a lot of players aren’t calling it anything so polite). Consisting of Lowhhrick, Biggs Darklighter, Captain Rex and Jess Pava, the list’s ability to share and negate incoming damage is almost unparalleled, as well as doing things like taking away the opponent’s attack dice. These types of builds come and go, and I always feel that you should just play whatever you want, this included, but I’ve played against this squad twice now, and neither game was a fun time. I can’t imagine that using it is much fun either.

Wullffwarro, on the other hand, is my type of pilot. The PS7 Wookie Gladiator gets an extra attack dice if he has no shields and at least one damage card, making him a dangerous ship to leave half alive. At thirty points, he’ll definitely give you some bang for your buck, even if he goes bang.


In terms of upgrades, this expansion comes with six, three of which are new to this pack. “Selflessness” is part of the previously mentioned FSR puzzle. A 1 point EPT, you may discard the upgrade when a friendly ship at range 1 is defending. If you do, your ship may absorb all of the uncanceled hits. “Wookiee Commandos” is a 1 point crew upgrade that takes two crew slots, and allows you to re-roll any Focus results whilst attacking. “Breech Specialist” costs one point and is another crew upgrade. It’s wording is quite intricate, so I’ll include the entire text: “When you are dealt a faceup Damage card, you may spend 1 reinforce token to flip it facedown (without resolving its effect). If you do, until the end of the round, when you are dealt a faceup Damage card, flip it facedown (without resolving its effect).”

It’s like Chewbacca’s pilot ability, which is nice and thematic. 

So, the Auzituck had found itself in one meta-level squad already, and that actually may hurt it. If it gets seen as “that ship from that squad”, it may not get used as much as its quality probably warrants. That said, I’ve seen two Gunships loaded with Tactitians teamed up with Braylen Stramm in a super-stressbot team that looks quite fun. I’m pretty sure Wullffwarro could make a good “glory in death” squad member, someone just needs to find the right recipe. 
Personally I like the ship, it’s fun to play with, and it looks good on the table.

One forward and focus until I lose the will to live/10

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


Back in December, I – like so many of us – sat in the cinema watching Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, and being absolutely blown away by the way that the universe we all know and love was being presented in a totally different light.  It was dark, grounded, and (for the most part) lacking in The Force and lightsabers.  The climactic scene of the battle of Scarif had me engrossed in a way that a massive space battle hasn’t since The Battle of Endor.  Sure the Battle of Naboo and the Battle of Geonosis looked great, but they didn’t have the emotional hook that Scarif and Endor had.  

Watching the Battle of Scarif filled me with the desire to throw a game of Armada on the table.  


Now, as I’m sure some of you remember, there’s a really great moment in that battle where we see the Hammerhead Corvettes in action for the first time, crashing into a Star Destroyer, pushing it into the side of another Star Destroyer.  Now, here they are, ready to wreak their own brand of havoc on the tabletop.  So, how do they fare?  Do we have melee combat in Armada?

The models are back on form.  While they originally appeared in Star Wars: Rebels, they’ve been given an appearance closer to how they look in Rogue One.  I think this is a good creative decision, as most of the ships (except in instances where they have only appeared in Rebels or The Clone Wars) have a “movie” look to them.  The scale seems fine (with the usually leeway we give to Armada’s scale), and they look good on the tabletop.  So, what else do we get with them?


Well, just for starters there’s the option to have Princess Leia leading your fleet!  We’ve seen her before as a supporting officer, but this is her first appearance as a commander, a role she’s undeniable suited to.  For fans of Rebels and The Clone Wars, there’s also not the option to throw Honda in on the side of the Rebellion.  Hondo’s ability is based around buffing your own orders, and bamboozling the enemy’s chain of command.  A nice thematic ability for the pirate king.

Another of my favourite cards included has to be the boarding engineers.  I love boarding actions in any game, and basically the way these guys work is that if you can get up close to another ship, they leap aboard and let you flip facedown damage to face up.  A simple, yet suitably thematic way of replicating a devastating boarding action on the tabletop, without getting bogged down in minutiae and dice rolls.  

Similarly, the external racks are a wonderful addition.  The Rebellion has gradually acquired some big guns as the game has gone along, but nothing to compare with the Imperial Class Star Destroyer.  The external racks tweak that slightly, allowing you a one-shot additional two black dice attack.  Pretty punchy for a small ship.


Brad, this is all very interesting.  I can hear you cry.  But we wanna do the ramming thing.  Tell us how the ramming thing works.  

Okay, the ramming thing.  Sorry to break it to you, but you can’t just go ramming these boys into the enemy like it’s Thunder Road.  The ramming ability is unique to a ship name (“Garel’s Honour”), and basically it means that when you overlap an enemy ship, they take face up rather than facedown damage.  Yep, that’s it.  

I’m in two minds as to whether I like that or not.  I mean, the attack tactics they used at the Battle of Scarif were built on desperation and a spur of the moment attack.  It wasn’t something that the ships were actually built to the able to do, so why should every Hammerhead in the Star Wars universe decide to do it.  On the other…to get gamey…every player fielding these is going to want to do it.

I guess just go in knowing that’s not what they’re built to do.  For me, this pack is totally worth it just for the Princess Leia and boarding engineer cards.  The Boarding Engineers are just so much fun, and Princess Leia may not be the most powerful commander in the game, but, well, to me, she is royalty.  


Alien and Predator are two universes that have been aching for a decent tabletop game for so long. The Leading Edge Aliens game from the eighties is easily one of my favourite games ever, and I absolutely love the Legendary Encounters versions for both monsters.  Prodos’ AVP: The Hunt Begins (in its first edition, at least) is a game I had a love hate relationship with from the start.  

Okay, so for this review, I’m not going to talk about Prodos Games, how they completely messed up their Kickstarter for the game leaving several backers without their base sets nearly two years after the game first hit shop shelves (some backers still don’t have them), the debacle with the supposedly faithful first version of the dropship, the complaints people had with the poorly mixed resin in the first batch of figures, or any of the other myriad problems people have with them, and instead look at the game itself.


So, let’s assume Prodos are a bunch of okay dudes, and that you’ve just seen this game on the shelf, you’re a fan of Alien, Predator and or AVP, and you want to know whether or not the game is worth buying.  The answer is, a little annoyingly, yes, it absolutely is.  

All the complaints I had about the first edition of this game have been completely resolved by this second version.  The holes in the combat system that previously you could drive a Colonial Marines APC through have been completely patched, leaving a combat system that is – while perhaps a little over complex by modern standards – perfectly good at reflecting corridor fighting between the three factions.  It’s also completely rectified the stupid errors that snuck in (like the Aliens being susceptible to their own acid blood splatter; seriously, what was that about?). 

The points build system now actually makes sense, as a quick glance at the first edition rule book would show you that the forces contained in the starter set were, in fact, completely unbalanced.  Lastly, the Predator Smart-Disc has been given a proper Nerfing, which is great, because that thing was ridiculously overpowered.  


So, the game is set about the USS Theseus, a ship that is being used by the Predators as a spawning ground for Aliens for them to hunt, and then some Colonial Marines show up, and the shit hits the fan.  It’s a contrived set-up, but no-one really cares about the story for a frag-fest, and you can always come up with your own background if you want.  It doesn’t change anything on the tabletop.  

In terms of components, the rule book – while still far from perfect – is light years ahead of the first edition, so I can’t not be satisfied with it.  Errors are corrected, stats are fixed, and you can (usually) find what you’re looking for while you’re playing.  Some goofs and ambiguities exist, but nothing that you can’t house rule, or find an answer to on the superb online fandom the game has, especially on Facebook.  


The board sections I’m not so sold on. The original were grim and dark, much lie the colony in Aliens. These are a lot brighter, which is partly a good thing, as the originals were sometimes a little too dark, but the upshot is that they look a little more comic book like by comparison.  
The minis are bloody superb. All single cast, so there’s no assembly required, and super easy to paint. As a bonus, the scenic bases they’re mounted on are simply excellent.


Players use the starting forces, or points build a force of either Aliens, Predators or Marines, set the map up, find out what their missions are, and then set to it.  The game, once you get it underway, is very fast paced, with players taking it turns to activate one model and acting with them, before passing onto the the next player.  In terms of action and pacing, it’s much like something like Heroclix, and fans of that game would be likely to enjoy this one, too.  

AVP: The Hunt Begins is a weird one, because in terms of complexity, it’s easily up there with a proper wargame, such as Warhammer 40,000.  The options available to you are just as varied, for sure, and it’s a game you can really sink your teeth into it.  Want to build a campaign?  You can.  Want a one off rumble with some Predators against an AI Alien force.  You can do that.  You can make this an RPG or a frag-fest.  The extra minis available are superb, too, and who isn’t going to want to bolster their force with an Alien Queen or a Power Loader?

Ultimately, if you been holding off until now, or want to upgrade your first edition set to its full potential, this is the game you want.

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

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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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.