Posts Tagged ‘book’

Time to put on that lucky hat, grab something sharp or shooty, and make for the RV as we take a delve into Wave Two of Mantic’s The Walking Dead comics tie-in! Taking the same shape as the last set of releases, Wave Two consists of the Miles Behind Us expansion box and a selection of booster boxes. I’ll also be giving you a run down of the additional extras available to support the main products in this range.

The expansion box contains the usual mix of game components: map, scenery counters, lovely hard plastic miniatures, various cards, and marker tokens. The map once again comes with a check sheet on the reverse to tick off your collection as you buy it, although there’s a “Scott” mini on there that doesn’t seem to be available anywhere…?

As we’re keeping in graphic novel order, we’ve reached Hershel’s farm in the story continuity. Characters in the box are Hershel, Billy, Otis and Patricia (plus two new walkers), all names and faces that should be familiar to readers of the comics. The play mat and scenery are all themed to support the scenario, giving you hay bales, fences, a tractor and the barn. Oh yes, THE barn. 

There are lots of interesting cards in this box too. The farm theme seems to suit this game! Event cards include “Escaped Livestock”, as unseen cattle panic and create NOISE, drawing walkers away, and the very excellent “Grim Recognition” card, where a survivor spots a loved one amongst the hordes of the dead, causing them to panic in their next activation! If you can get that one in against an opponent with a high nerve value (and therefore will not usually panic), it could give you a huge boost. Equally, supply and equipment cards provide farming-themed fun: Horse Pills, Tranquiliser Gun, Cattle Prod, a lasso. a scythe, and animal catcher poles like the ones used in Day of the Dead… I love it when they sneak in a nod to the Romero movies!

So what’s in the rulebook this time around? The only new rules are for fires and “Burning” tokens, which if you already have “Days Gone By” you will already own! New scenery pieces are covered for the Advanced Scenery rules, and there are new keywords/rules for “Collapse” and “Smoking”, adding more options for table tactics. 

Another narrative campaign makes up the bulk of the book, this time taking the story from the escape from the Atlanta camp site to Hershel’s farm and beyond. On the way we meet Tyreese and his family, leave Wiltshire Estates (ALL DEAD DO NOT ENTER), find the farm, encounter the barn (comic and TV fans alike will know where that one is going!), and head out for supplies. A nice touch is advice in the first scenario on how to link your game from the previous expansion to create an ongoing campaign. Even if you’re not playing the campaign it’s still worth looking through the individual chapters, as there are a number of scenario-specific rules which could easily be transplanted into your own games


The end of the book contains rules for running a campaign in the AOW world. This takes the form of an extended tournament, with multiple players choosing a group and pitting them against each other, keeping the same roster each time, with adjustments for injured and dying survivors, experience points and supplies. There’s even an underdog system to equalise a large difference in points. Previously I would have said that the survivor card based system couldn’t support upgrades and campaigns, but I’m pleased to say it looks very much like this will work! XP and the underdog rules rely on adding red dice to characters and trading in two dice for a single higher value one. (red-white-blue) You can also increase nerve via dice trades, and supplies are converted to points between games to buy new survivors and equipment. All this is recorded on roster cards, available as a free download.

This wave of booster boxes is a bit of an odd bunch. Four of them contain characters from this part of the story, and characters we’ve been wating for: Glenn, Tyreese, Julie and Chris, and the rest of the Greene family, Maggie, Arnold and Lacey. The other two contain Ezekiel and Shiva, and Negan… Now I’m as pleased as the next man to have a really challenging bad guy enter the game (and believe me, Negan is a beast!), but this does slightly spoil the continuity of the series that has worked so well so far. Obviously, it pays to include a really popular character from the TV series while he’s making the headlines, but as far as the comics go Negan was the 100th issue shocker, which makes it around graphic novel seventeen… Ezekiel turned up a little while after. All the models are great though, a good mix of dynamic poses, all beautifully sculpted. I shouldn’t complain too hard! Also available in a “show exclusive” booster are Lee and Clementine, who (if like me you had no idea) are the lead characters from the Walking Dead computer game. These have been sold at gaming shows and conventions all round the country, and seem to be proving popular. It certainly makes sense for the “non-TV” remit to include other canon characters, and could be interesting for the future of the game.

It has to be said that Mantic are really supporting this game well. Apart from the main releases there are a raft of extras and deluxe components to choose from to enhance your Walking Dead experience. We’ve already talked about the quality of the scenery booster, and there are a number of additional pieces to buy now, including the farm terrain from Wave 2, and an MDF RV! For those wanting a higher quality of components there are plastic templates and markers, and neoprene gaming maps to replace all of the currrent paper ones. If you are a newcomer to the game (where have you been!?!?), there are now deluxe and collectors editions of the main box with loads of extras, including exclusive minis! With spare dice, cards and walkers, plus a paint set available, this game can get as big as you want.

This is another set of high quality releases added to the already impressive All Out War catalogue. With each new rulebook, small steps are taken to ensuring this is the only undead survival game you will ever need. Just as the genre appeared to have gasped its last foetid breath! It seems to be a scale-able game, you can create your own characters, give them experience points, and play a campaign. It works in multiple settings, and you can tweak the difficulty by drafting cards in and out. As I write this, Wave 3 is hitting the shops, and covers the discovery of the prison. It will be interesting to see where the game goes from there, as Book 4 doesn’t really add any new characters (except Michonne, who is in Wave 3), and takes place mostly in the prison. Maybe skipping to Book 5 and Woodbury would be better? We’ll see. Personally I would like to see Mantic’s scenery department have a go at producing trees and foliage cheaply, as there is nowhere currently doing so. Also, I can see a comprehensive rulebook, possibly a hard back, being a good idea in the near future. As long as they keep the standard high, I’ll be happy!


I’m off to start my AOW painting project, see you at Wave 3!

David Mustill

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Days Gone Bye is the first expansion proper for AOW, adding new rules and characters to the main game as well as widening the scope of both the gameplay and the theme.

The box contents follow a similar pattern to the Prelude to Woodbury set, including new minis, cards and terrain, but this time features a new 2′ x 2′ playmat and a small book of brand new rules.

The miniatures included are all characters taken from the first graphic novel (of the same name), and unsurprisingly, considering the expansion is subtitled “Atlanta Expansion”, are all characters found at the Atlanta camp at the start of the story. Dale, Allen, Donna and Jim are welcome additions to the AOW family, and once again are high quality single piece miniatures in hard plastic, with no cleaning or modelling required. Each comes with a survivor card, giving their stats and game rules. Also included are alternate stat cards for Sandra and Patrick from the core set, quite a pleasant surprise for what would otherwise be quite a throwaway part of the game. These turn the characters into hardened veterans, a much tougher proposal to face across a game board! As it turns out, this is to be a regular feature… More later!

 Other cards in this set include event cards for traps, unexpected fires, forest walkers (allowing previously unseen walkers to shamble out of the new forest scenery pieces) and a thunderstorm, which washes off the effects of the “Gory Clothes” equipment card and limits gun ranges. New supply cards are largely fire themed, both for starting them (molotovs) and putting them out (extinguishers) to tie in with the new rules introduced in this box. Terrain and markers include tents, woods, a campfire, and a special objective token in the shape of a bag of guns.

 The playmat is single sided once again, but matches up perfectly with the original to give you both an alternative and a larger playing area. However, rather than wasting the back of the map, this time it comes with a checklist for all the wave one minis, including walkers and “Mantic Point” exclusives (Which include bag of guns and Sheriffs badge tokens in hard plastic)! This is a nice touch but I’m not sure how useful it is; this is hardly a collect-and-swap-with-your-friends type game! Call me cynical, but it looks largely to be an advertising gimmick…

The rulebook is split into three parts. The opening section covers new rules for Repair and Smash! actions, handy for adding a bit more depth to scenarios if you get sick of basic supply hunting, and the “Flaming” keyword as well as “Burning” tokens. The latter represent the possibility of terrain and walkers catching fire, with fairly disastrous consequences for all cocerned. Burning undead can blunder around spreading their flames to nearby terrain, and cause extra damage in combat until doused. The only up-side is the possibility each round of a fiery walker falling prone, which puts out the flames, but leaves it vulnerable for a time. Best to keep your distance til then! The rest of this part covers terrain rules for the new tents and woods markers included, plus adding the RV (from the main box) into games using the scenery points rules. As Mantic are now producing a rather nice looking mdf RV, this will come in handy!

The main part of the book is taken up with a narrative campaign comprising of six scenarios, recreating the graphic novel story of Rick Grimes’ fight for survival, from the search for the bag of guns with Morgan to the undead “herd” attacking the Atlanta camp site. Each scenario gives a list of participants, special rules and victory conditions, plus a “Story Mode” section wirth details on how the games link together. The first five missions are solo games, but most can easily be played co-operatively, while the last is a two player duke-out between two main characters… The participants list for each includes the characters present at this point in the comic continuity, but also gives an alternate play version with notes on the points value available and the min/max number of survivors. All of the listed survivors not contained in this or the core set are taken from the booster boxes, available separately.

The final pages contain advanced rules, this time for custom survivors! Using download-and-print-able blank character cards you can now add your favourite miniatures, “missing” characters from the TV adaptation (who says you can’t have Daryl Dixon in this game…), or even yourself to the survival horror madness! Step-by-step instructions are included to guide you through the character creation system, with costings provided, along with plenty of explanation.


The rest of the Wave 1 releases consist of booster packs, basically character add-ons, all containing characters from the Days Gone Bye graphic novel: Shane, Morgan, Lori, Carol, Andrea, and “Rick on Horse”, all priced around £13 each. At first glance this appears a little steep, but on closer inspection the value becomes clearer. Most come with three miniatures: the named character on the box, a second survivor (either a support or opponent character), and a walker. The “Rick on horse” box just has the mini on horseback plus a walker, and there’s a walkers booster which just contains six extra minis to swell the hordes of the undead! All come with the relevant character cards and new equipment cards themed to the box, except the walkers, which get some useful equipment and additional event cards to make your games that much harder. As a nice added touch, some of the boxes also contain extra character cards with alternate versions of existing survivors on them, for instance Lori Grimes comes with a Carl “Trainee Sharpshooter” card to represent Carls progress as the story goes on.

It’s clear that Mantic are looking after their IP. The consistently high quality miniatures are well sculpted, and all of the characters from the comics are easily recognisable. I love that all the walkers are individual sculpts (except fot the booster box), and show no sign of doubling up, which gives the game a tabletop edge rather than a boardgame style generic monster feel. There are a few walker-versions of characters popping up too, handy for when a survivor dies and is re-animated:- More please!

The box feels like a real add-on this time. The whole rulebook is new, and the extra rules add plenty to your All Out War games, and although the campaign is mostly filled with solo games there are enough ideas to branch out into designing your own. The best part for me is the character creation rules: Allowing you to put additional characters into the game throws up a raft of opportunities! As long as Mantic stay relaxed about it (no cease-and-desist orders please!) you can adapt this easy to use and fun to play system to play out scenes from loads of your favourite films… So if the next set of equipment or supplies cards could include a crossbow, a chainsaw, a cricket bat and Winchester rifle, I would be extremely grateful! My first attempt at new characters seems to have worked out ok (with one minor mistake), look forward to using these in a game soon.

There are a few minor niggles. Glenn is listed in the campaign missions, but is actually a Wave 2 release. Not a big problem, seeing as Wave 2 is now out, but feels a bit of a mick-take. Hope it doesn’t happen in future releases… The “support” character type can be a bit of a pain. The actual effect of a support character appears on a different survivors card, meaning you might not get any bonus from the character until you buy another booster or box. There still doesn’t seem to be anyone for Liam (from the starter set) to support! On the other hand it can be quite clever when a single mini provides support to multiple other survivors. Also, you can make the powers up as you go along to suit your character creation if you like. Just remember to write it on the other card (my oops!)

All in all, a great set of releases, keeping the story theme and improving on an already strong system! Looking forward to future releases. 

Bring on Wave 2!

David Mustill

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!

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The Vietnam War Experience is a dramatic guide to the suffering, sacrifice and heroism of the Vietnam War. It sees the highs and lows of the world’s first television war through the eyes of those who fought in it – both the generals commanding the war and the ordinary soldiers on the ground and in the air.

Setting it apart from other current books about The Vietnam War, it is made unique through the inclusion of facsimiles of paraphernalia such as posters, official documents and Airborne Death Cards.

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The Vietnam War Experience is not only a very attractive and substantial coffee table book, it is also an excellent introduction to the war for those who are newcomers to either gaming or studying the period.  In fact, as an overview and/or introduction, it’s simply superb.  The photos are excellent, covering all different theaters and aspects of the conflict, and while some detail is obviously sacrificed for the sake of space, what is included is very sufficiently explained.

What is also a nice touch is that – especially considering its status as a “coffee table book”, it is very well paced indeed, developing more of an action-packed tone as the war builds in intensity.  A slow burning introduction covers the setting of the era, The Battle of Dien Bien Phu and the gradual buildup towards US involvement.  When Rolling Thunder or Linebacker are underway, it feels almost adrenalised.  This really helps with the immersive experience that the book endeavours to produce.

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The pull out and paraphernalia sections are excellent facsimiles of documents, cards and posters, which add to the immersion and experience of the book.  The reference cards and posters provided are especially eye-catching and interesting.

All in all, this is an excellent art book for those who are already aficionados of the war, but also provides an excellent “jumping on point” for that who are interested, but don’t rightly know where to start.

“Wolf’s Head” by Steven A. McKay

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After viciously assaulting a corrupt but powerful clergyman, the young Robin Hood flees the only home he has ever known in Wakefield, Yorkshire. Becoming a member of a notorious band of outlaws, Hood and his new companions – including John Little and Will Scaflock – hide out in the great forests of Barnsdale, fighting for their very existence as the law hunts them down like animals. When they are betrayed, and their harsh lives become even more unbearable, the band of friends seeks bloody vengeance. Meanwhile, the country is in turmoil, as many of the powerful lords strive to undermine King Edward II’s rule until, inevitably, rebellion becomes a reality and the increasingly deadly yeoman outlaw from Wakefield finds his fate bound up with that of a Hospitaller Knight.

“Wolf’s Head” – the first in the “The Forest Lord” series opens up feeling like a fun, Errol Flynn-type Sunday afternoon swashbuckling adventure, but before long, one realises that this is not the story we thought we knew.  Several aspects of the tale are much darker and more violent than we have previously seen them. 

The phrase “gritty reboot” has become something of a joke these days, but it seems to apply here.  In fact, the violence sometimes seems to border on the extreme – this is certainly an 18+ novel!  It is, if you will, a story for kids who have grown up. 

The characters are all engaging and interesting, with old favourites such as Will Scarlet and Little John, meeting up with new and lesser know names and faces.

The plot is very well presented.  Whenever you think you’ve got a handle on where it’s going or what is going to happen next, it throws you a surprise, and heads off in a totally unexpected, though always credible direction.  The ending feels conclusive, but still leaves you keen to get onto the sequel.

A fun historical fiction adventure that’s well worth checking out.

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The Great War Explained

Philip Stevens

Pen and Sword Books

Available Now

Trying to write a book that explains everything about the First World War – all of its theatres, its background and the effects it had – is a large enough task in and of itself. Trying to do it at a beginner’s level – so that it will take the reader from absolute novice to well-clued-up expert is even harder – some would say even near impossible. The Great War Explained tries to accomplish this, and it makes a very good go of it.

The book is a decent sized one, and is presented in a fun, conversational style – loaded with some interesting pieces of trivia scattered throughout in box-outs. The upbeat writing style is one of the book’s strongest assets, as it gives the impression of being on a battlefield tour with a particularly knowledgeable and affable guide. The pacing is excellent, never lingering too long, never skimming over an area too quickly.

As the book progresses a large portion is dedicated to aerial and naval combat, which is very welcome; far too many “newbie” books linger on the mud and blood of the trenches without ever passing an eye across other theatres. The Great War Explained however, is wide and encompassing.

If I had any criticisms, it would be that some parts or aspects of the conflict are not quite explained in as much detail as they really need to be. A few extra paragraphs here or there when covering some of the basics would have been most welcome. A few more maps and/or photos showing how the battles and fronts tied together in the greater scheme of things would have gone a long way towards making some parts easier to follow, too.

All in all, The Great War Explained is a great reference or starter book…but not quite the “complete beginner’s guide” they were hoping for – those expecting to have their hand held every step of the way may come away a little disappointed. It is – however – a great beginner’s book – and a fun reference for those who are a little more knowledgeable.