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


When comes to Star Wars: Armada, the massive dreadnoughts may be both the eye candy and the focus of play, but – much like the battles in the movies themselves, it’s the smaller, single-man fighters that can make the difference between victory and defeat. We’ve had all the usual suspects released in previous waves, so are these two new packs capable of offering something more, or is it time to get the barrel scrapers out?

The Rebel Fighter pack is led by the star of Star Wars: Rebels…the Ghost. Hera is the named pilot you get included, and she packs some pretty heavy guns, as well as a couple of extremely versatile abilities. Firstly, she has Rogue which allows the Ghost to move and attack during the squadron phase; but the Grit ability also allows the Ghost to move if it’s only engaged by a single squadron. The Ghost is built for big, heroic plays, which is exactly what you want to be ding with it. The cheaper version – the VCX-100 Freighter lacks the decent firepower of the Ghost, but it does have some nice…if more strategic and less combative abilities. 


Another vessel featured in Star Wars: Rebels is Ketsu Onyo in the Shadow Caster. Lacking the firepower of the Ghost, but featuring a few extra abilities, including the aforementioned Grit and Rogue, as well a being a Bomber. The cheaper version – the Lancer-Class Pursuit Craft is nice enough, but is just a Tesco Value Shadow Caster

The last ships included are the Z-95 Headhunters. Some people love Z-95s, but to me they’re just a cheaper, shoddier version of the X-Wing, and their debut in Star Wars: Armada has done little to change that opinion. At 7 points a squadron, you could use them to burn up some leftover points during squad building, but that’s about it. The only point of interest is that they possess the Swarm ability, which was previously only used by TIE Fighters and their ilk. How useful this ability will be to you depends on your playing style, but it could come in handy. 


The Imperial set similarly brings three new types of vehicle to Star Wars: Armada. The TIE Phantom originally appeared in the video game Star Wars: Rebel Assault II (nope, me neither) but has since develed a following among players of Fantasy Flight’s Star Wars: X-Wing. These possess the Cloak ability, which allows them to get in a bonus move at the end of the squadron phase, even if engaged. They also carry a decent amount of firepower; both anti-ship and anti-squadron. 

Another X-Wing favourite, the Lambda shuttle, is also now available. While far from a combative vessel, its use as an ECM plane role – which never really works in the scale X-Wing operates at, is considerably better handled here, allowing orders from ships to squadrons to be sent further and more efficiently than previously. 

Last but not least, and another X-Wing bad boy, the VT-49 Decimator has arrived, and it brings a serious shotgun blast of close range damage to the table. With the a heavy weapons at its disposal and the Rogue ability, this has the potential to be a serious Squadron destroyer – especially if they’re full of cheap and nasty Z-95s. 

While both of these sets are not as strong as the squadron releases we’ve seen in previous waves, they’re still definitely worth picking up. The Ghost and the Decimator are great fighters for more aggressive players, and the others definitely add flavour, if nothing else. Armada just keeps getting better and better. 

The Rebel Flighter Squardons II and Imperial Fighter Squadrons II packs are available now. A base set of Star Wars: Armada is required to use the contents. 

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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


I guess this review comes a bit late for the majority of X-Wing fans. The Imperial Veterans have been out for a while, and most of us have taken them out for a spin, or been shot at by them. “Countess Ryad” has become a known name thanks to her ability, and I’m personally terrified every time my opponent says “I’ve got three TIE Defenders with the TIE/x7 title.”. 

With that said, a standard review would be a tad pointless, as you can read that just about anywhere by now, so I’m going to go for a slightly different approach on this one. I’ll summarise what’s in the box, without describing every component, but I’ll also describe some of my interactions as an almost purely Rebel player, having mostly been on the other side of the table to these beasts.


So, what do you get for your money? Primarily, two ships, a TIE Bomber and a TIE Defender. Both of them come with lovely alternate paint schemes compared to the originals releases, the Bomber has white markings and the Defender is a beautiful crimson red, matching the TIE Interceptor from the previous Imperial Aces box set.
As well as the “plastic crack”, it’s chock-full of new pilots and upgrade cards, and this is where the fun really begins.


The TIE Bomber has long been irrelevant in X-Wing. I don’t remember the last one I saw at a tournament, and even in casual play it rarely hits the table. There’s a good amount of stuff in this box that is clearly an attempt to bring it back to the fore. It hasn’t really worked, but it’s certainly interesting. Mainly, the TIE Shuttle title, which makes you lose the ability to take secondary weapons, but gives you the ability to take up to two crew members, as long as they are under 3 squad points in cost. Whilst this blocks the use of Emperor Palpatine, it certainly opens up some other fun combos (It really makes me happy as a Star Wars nerd too, as the Bomber was originally designed as a shuttle for The Empire Strikes Back, but was dropped.).

The TIE Defender’s selection of upgrades, however, is where this pack’s bang-for-your-buck comes from. TIE Defender’s are lethal “jousting” ships, and this just makes them HORRIBLE to play against, on multiple levels. Firstly, the aforementioned Countess Ryad – her unique ability is that she can treat any straight manoeuvre as a K-turn, meaning that at any second, she is facing the opposite direction, with absolutely no penalty in terms of stress. Couple this with either the TIE/D or TIE/x7 titles and she is LETHAL. TIE/D allows the ship to fire twice, once with an equipped cannon, and once with its primary weapon.


The TIE/x7 may be worse. Like the TIE Shuttle title, you lose your secondary weapons, but after completing most of the manoeuvres that the ship is able to, it receives a free evade token, meaning that even if you do get the flippy little bastards into your firing arc, it’s ignoring one of your shots anyway.

So, my experience with the ships? The scenario I mentioned above, about-facing an opponent with three TIE/x7 Defenders came in a recent tournament. I was flying the combo of heavy hitter Dash Rendar and notorious damage dodger Poe Dameron. Dash attacks with a huge four dice every time. Poe is pretty lethal too. I ended the game having caused a total of four damage to his entire squadron, killing absolutely nobody, whilst he slowly whittled my team out of existence.

On the other hand, when I took the ships out for a test match, I instantly loved both of them, and the new abilities they bring. Not quite enough to tempt me away from my beloved Rebellion though. Viva la resistance!

Simply put, if you are an Imperial player, you owe it to yourself to buy this set. For the other two factions, Rebel and Scum & Villainy, there’s not a whole lot of stuff in here that’ll help you, which is unusual. Normally, when you buy an X-Wing, there’s cards in that will help a TIE Fighter, and so on, but this box seems very well set up for Imperial players, especially those who enjoy tournaments over casual play. Not to say that the living room gamer won’t enjoy these, but they’re definitely aimed at competitive games. Countess Ryad is nobody’s friend.

I’m not big on scores out of ten for X-Wing, as every ship has its place to the right player, but I would definitely give this release a
Please stop shooting me you big meanie/10

Ömer Ibrahim is a regular contributor to Suppressing Fire and you can check out his modelling work at Can’t Sleep, Must Paint

So, here’s the very last part of Armada week (at least until Wave 5), and we’ve saved the big bad for last, the Interdictor-class Star Destroyer. Originally from the Legends universe, the Interdictor is capable of generating an artificial gravity well, which means that any passing Rebel ships travelling through hyperspace can find themselves suddenly and sharply ripped back out again…right into an Imperial trap. And now you can play out that very scenario!


The Interdictor is a good size model, although not technically considered “large”, being roughly the size of a Victory-class Star Destroyer,  the detail and all the shading is very nice, which makes the model come alive on the table.  The engine flare is simple but effective.  It looks sleek and dangerous, like most of the Empire’s secret weapons.


You do, of course, get all the gubbins (above) to merge your new Interdictor in with your base set, making sure you’ve got everything you need, even if this is your very first purchase. You also get these two brand new tokens, exclusive to the Interdictor:


Which can be placed onto the playing area to mark out those lovely gravity wells that the Interdictor can generate to really mess up a Rebel fleet.

You have a choice of two base loadouts for the Interdictor:

The more expensive Combat Refit has the harder hitting weapons, but the cheaper Suppression Refit actually has more slots for enhancements that the heavier hitting ship. With only three points difference between the two, you’ll have plenty of chance to use both from game to game. This is a very welcome way of doing things, as the “cheaper ship is slightly inferior” was starting to get a little repetitive…and was always a little basic, to be honest.

So, on to those lovely enhancements…


It’s a real buffet of abilities this time, with Admiral Konstantine, whose ability allows you further adjust the speed of enemy ships. The gravity wells themselves are in these enhancement cards, and allow you to seriously impede the speed and position of the enemy fleet during set up…just about time for you to send those TIE fighters streaming in to capitalise on the disarray.

The Interdictor is a lovely piece of theme driven game design built around a ship that has been much loved in the Legends/Expanded Universe line for years now, as well as in the Rebels TV series. An essential purchase for the sneaker type of Imperial player.

Well, that’s it for Armada for now. We’re aiming to get some battle reports online for you soon, so there’s that to look forward to. If you have anything else Star Wars, Armada or pulp-gaming related you’d like to see, please let us know in the comments, or at Facebook.com/suppressingfireofficial

Star Wars: Armada Week continues here at Suppressing Fire, as we leap headlong into Wave Four, and the good guys get some big guns courtesy of Mon Calamari with the Liberty.  The Liberty is a large ship, so larger than anything in the base set; more the same league as the Home One and the Imperial-class Star Destroyer. Here she is.


As usual, you get all the chits, dials and gubbins, so that you’re not short of anything if you want to play with EVERYTHING YOU OWN ALL AT THE SAME TIME.


You’d have to be nuts, but you could, and it’s nice to have the opportunity, rather than having to double up on everything.

As usual, you have two base ship types to choose from…


…the lighter armed but still punchy Star Cruiser, and the shovel headed kill machine of the MC80 Battle Cruiser, which has a staggering five shields in its fore, and a seven dice attack out the front, plus a lot of space for enhancements, and some nice anti-squadron weaponry/defences.  

Then, of course, you get all the enhancements…and there are a fair amount of them here:


It’s always nice to have a movie character show up in X-Wing or Armada, and there’s General Crix Madine, from Return of the Jedi. He gives a very tasty bonus to your navigation orders, allowing you an extra click of yaw and/or speed change on top of what the navigation order will already give you. If you want to give your ship the name of Liberty, then you’ll get a very powerful bonus to your squadron control. Quad laser cannons can make your red dice especially bitey, and the Skilled First Officer can really help with your command disc control!

All in all, this is a truly great package. The ship itself is amazing, capable of acting as either a flagship, or a support vessel with ease. The enhancements, too, are very good in this pack; not a duff one there.

Outstanding. Buy it with your hands.

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?

New on DVD

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 an unboxing for the latest Heroclix series “DC: World’s Finest”, with Superman, Batman, The Metal Men and some cats popping up along the way.

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I’ve been a fan of Gerry Anderson generally, and Thunderbirds specifically, my whole life, ever since I used to read my Dad’s old TV Century 21 annuals when visiting my Grandparents, and obsessively re-watched my VHS copies of the original Thunderbirds are Go and Thunderbird 6 movies. Something about the alchemical combination of future heroism, totally OTT miniature pyrotechnics and freakish, shambling puppets really spoke to me (not forgetting the endless extreme close-ups of real hands). To this day, any remotely exciting or tense event in my life is given a Barry Grey soundtrack by my brain (most often the excellent Sun Probe Collision Theme).

So naturally I was delighted at the emergence of this new cooperative board game from Modiphus Entertainment, themed around the classic 60’s TV show. In fact my inner eight year old may still be doing cartwheels of delight.

In this game players each take the role of one of the members of International Rescue and work together to thwart the schemes of the dastardly Hood, as well as their day job, performing daring and time-critical rescues around the world. All of the Tracy brothers are available as player characters, along with their titular craft, as well as Lady Penelope in FAB1.

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Unboxing this game is something of a treat first time around, as in the same vein as the much-loved 60’s TV show, this board game is as camp as fifty rows of tents, with bright primary colours and retro-futurism practically dripping from every card and component, mainly thanks to the gorgeous game pieces. Of particular delight to me is that Thunderbird 2 has a pod that really opens up, enabling players to actually load the ship with The Mole or The Firefly or any of the other pod vehicles! I got similar levels of excitement from discovering that the numbers on the dice are lifted from the Thunderbirds themselves (naturally the dice only go up to five, the sixth face is the hood, and rolling that is not good), and most of all, from my own International Rescue ID card. The attention to detail in these design flourishes betrays a real affection for, and knowledge of the source material, which thankfully kept me on side when I discovered my Thunderbird 3 was really rather bent.

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The board itself is a world map. with elements along the top and bottom to represent outer space, Tracy Island, Brain’s Notebook (where players build their specialised pod vehicles and rescue craft) and the progress of the Hood’s Schemes.

In gameplay terms this should be relatively straightforward for serious gamers, mainly being an exercise in what I like to think of as ‘plate-spinning’, i.e. working towards an overall goal randomly determined by the Hood’s scheme cards, while also performing rescues around the world, which when solved, provide you with bonus counters which give you re-rolls, extra dice and so on, or can be saved up and spent in order to defeat schemes. Successfully performing a rescue requires the player get to the correct location, and win a dice roll, while also coordinating with other players to get certain characters or machines into certain locations to gain bonuses against said roll. The emphasis is on cooperation and coordination of the whole team, which can actually be quite rowdy compared to a more adversarial game, or a co-op where one player is a mole or traitor, as players shout instructions at each other across the board.

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The disasters stack up, with a new one being added with every player’s next turn, and with each turn that passes, the existing disasters march relentless along their track. If one goes unrescued for eight turns, you lose, so it’s important to plan your turn in connection with your fellow players, as having the right additional character on Thunderbird on site can provide a bonus to your dice rolls.

I found my first playthrough of this game to be a lot of fun, but very easy. Years of playing Mansions of Madness, Eldritch Horror and similar with my fellow Suppressing Fire writers has conditioned me to expect co-op games to be utterly merciless to the player, but Thunderbirds come with multiple difficulty set ups, enabling you to ramp up the challenge through five levels if you wish. So after my first go round, which I had inadvertently played on intro level, I had another go, cranking right up to the hardest level. The result of this was the schemes were much harder to foil, and I was filled with dread every time I rolled dice or drew cards, in case I revealed a The Hood Advances result, giving me a little less time to get the umpteen tokens I needed.

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Thunderbirds is overall a fun game, with lots of affectionate touches in the art and design that will really please fans of the series, particularly the game pieces, cards and artefacts. The actual gameplay is fun, with adjustable difficulty for more skilled players or those seeking a lot of replay value. The game can in theory be played two player or solitaire but I recommend at least three players for a real good crack at it, especially as playing solo one can easily get deeply confused while spinning all those plates, as I can attest.

On the flipside, it might have been good to throw in a smidge more combative action into the mix, perhaps giving one of players the option to play as The Hood, rather than confining him to being an NPC. Furthermore, I think I will always be somewhat distraught about my wonky Thunderbird 3.

Good stuff. Would save imperilled marionettes again.


Review by Spike Direction.  Thunderbirds is available now from Mophidian Entertainment; and you can follow Spike on Twitter.

$_35

We are an astonishing species. Over the past millennium of plagues and exploration, revolution and scientific discovery, woman’s rights and technological advances, human society has changed beyond recognition.  Sweeping through the last thousand years of human development, Human Race: 10 Centuries of Change on Earth is a treasure chest of the lunar leaps and lightbulb moments that, for better or worse, have sent humanity swerving down a path that no one could ever have predicted.

But which of the last ten centuries saw the greatest changes in human history?  History’s greatest tour guide, Ian Mortimer, knows what answer he would give. But what’s yours?

Human Race: 10 Centuries of Change on Earth is really engaging.  The entire concept for the book itself is – as you can see – a very interesting one.  I don’t know of any another book that has tackled a side-by-side comparison of different eras before; certainly on so grand a scale.

As you would expect, the medieval era is where this book really shines; hardly surprising considering that this is Mortimer’s speciality.  The sections on the twelth and thirteenth century, in particular, are worthy of mention.

There are a few glitches along the way.  The pacing feels very off, with Mortimer very obviously playing favourites with the eras that particularly  interest him.  Understandable?  Yes, but a little off-putting.  Overall, it seems to work, though, as the pace of the book overall is a gentle and easy, but highly educational, read.

The plates/photos are okay, but are actually totally unnecessary, not really adding anything to the experience.  There are too few of them to be able to offer any real relevance, and – for my money – the book would have been just as good without them.

All in all, this is a highly enjoyable light read, that offers a very unique take on things, and presents lots of thought provoking observations and stories along the way.  Highly recommended for Mortimer’s existing fans, and worth checking out for fans of Bill Bryson and Tim Moore.