Posts Tagged ‘sci-fi’


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.

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, and this time they’re unboxing, reviewing and discussing the new Guardians of the Galaxy set for Heroclix. 

For the full, uncut play test footage: 

Doom

Posted: January 31, 2017 in Fantasy & Sci-Fi, Gaming
Tags: , , ,

I’ve always been a massive fan of the Doom franchise (barring the questionable movie tie-in) and I’ve enjoyed all of the games including FFG’s original Doom board game, which was based on Doom 3. So it is with great joy I see that hot on the heels of the 2016 Doom reboot (that is arguably one of the best videogames released last year), FFG have released a new board game to tie in with it.

My initial worries when first unboxing the game that this was just going to be rehash of the original Doom board game were quickly assuaged when I saw that the game mechanics had been altered, with more emphasis on action and speed than the original’s slow paced, scraping desperately for ammo feel. If the original game was made to feel like Doom 3, then the new game feels like the Doom reboot. It is also worth saying that as usual FFG have put some decent production values into the map tiles, tokens and especially the minis. The monsters all look brilliant and match their iconic looks from the most recent game, they are also correctly scaled so a Baron of Hell looms menacingly over a marine and the Cyber Demon looks truly terrifying to behold.


The game plays similarly to the likes of Imperial Assault but with some slight differences. Initiative and turn order in the game is drawn randomly from a deck so you don’t quite know who will action first, which adds a bit of chaos to the proceedings, as it can lead to you having to react on the fly when your initial strategy goes up in smoke. Actions and defence are also played out by the Marine action deck or Invader event deck, rather than having set moves and skills that you can play every turn. I liked this as it still provided strategy – as you had a selection of different moves that you could play to certain situation – but also adds a risk/reward feel to the game. You could have a bad hand that could make you take a gamble, which could then backfire as the Invader player draws a dodge card that would negate any damage you did.

Added features such as staggering and glory killing demons also add a risk and reward element to the proceedings; a Marine needs to place him or herself next to a demon to kill it outright when it is in low health which could place the Marine in a risky area, but is rewarded with bonus health and a random power through glory kill cards. Chuck in two campaigns with six missions each and custom variants for more experienced players and you have a game that gives good value for money and allows people to come up with their own scenarios if they wish.


Sadly, my playtime with the game did still feel like the Marines were the stronger team and therefore gameplay felt biased towards them, which is a shame as the game feels more competitive than typical dungeon crawl style games where the GM style player is normally weaker than the stronger hero characters. However, there are more abilities and strategies available to the Invader player that – once you get to grips with the role – can come up with some good kills and swarm the marine players.

This mild grumble aside, this game nails the feel of the videogame with fast and furious run and gun style action. Highly recommended if you are a fan of the franchise like myself, but still an enjoyable 4v1 action boardgame if you are not.

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

inbalance

 WorldWar: In the Balance
By Harry Turtledove
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World War II seethes across the planet. Hostilities spread in ever-widening circles of destruction: Nazi Germany, Soviet Russia, Britain, France, Japan, Italy, Africa – the fate of the world hung in the balance. Then the real enemy arrives. Out of the skies comes an invasion force the like of which Earth has never known – and worldwar is truly joined. The invaders are inhuman and they are unstoppable. Their weaponry is overwhelming and their goal is simple: Fleetlord Atvar has arrived to claim Earth for the Empire…

An interesting title with which to kick off the first post on Suppressing Fire, yet certainly one that I hope will set the tone of military history, action, excitement and the occasional out-there, whacked-out bullshit that we’ve all come to know and love. In this 1994 action novel, Harry Turtledove moved from the old-and-tried questions of alternate history (“What is the South had won the American Civil War?”, “What if the Roman Empire was still standing today?”) and moves into stuff that no-one in their right mind has ever wondered before “What if aliens invaded during World War II?”.

In the Balance (the first in an eight part series) sets the scene for the war that follows, and introduces us to several key characters such as the sci-fi loving baseball player turned infantryman Sam Yeager, the Russian pilot Ludmila Gorbunova, and the disturbingly likable Panzer Commander Heinrich Jäger. Like all good military/historical fiction, this is a story about the people involved in the conflict, rather than the war itself.
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 The Race – the lizard-like invading aliens – are cold, calculating and wonderfully rounded. They are not the faceless destructotrons of H.G. Well’s The War of the Worlds, but they have their own personalities, political aspirations, and shortcomings. They frequently underestimate the humans they are fighting, often at great cost. This leaves In the Balance feeling not like an apocalypse for mankind, but rather a conflict that may prove to be drawn out and costly, but it undeniably still winnable.

 The “cameos” from historical figures sometimes really work…sometimes don’t add a lot. General Patton comes off as the gung-ho enthusiastic lunatic we all know him to be, and Mordechai Anielewicz, one of the leaders during the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising is a pivotal major character. However, the appearances by Churchill and Hitler feel a little tacked on. Of course, not having them appear could also be construed as an oversight, so there’s no way of winning there.

All in all, I love the action scenes, and I love all the characters. I’m definitely on board for the next book, and – hopefully – the whole series.