September 30, 2015

VS 2PCG Starter Box - Initial Thoughts

When Upper Deck announced that they would be reviving my beloved VS System I was very excited. It was my first and only true love when it came to collectable card games, and I had run a local scene in my city for over five years, including keeping it alive for almost two years after the game had been cancelled.

So when a friend brought the new VS 2PCG core set out for us to try the other day I was cautiously optimistic. As there were four of us we tried a 2v2 game. It didn't take long to get sorted out and look over the cards. Superficially they look almost identical to the old cards, but in terms of game play this is a very different game.

I admit that it was only a single play, but I really disliked the change to resources. It felt so similar to Magic the Gathering to me in that the colours for resource felt like basic lands. That in itself is not a bad thing, but it soured me on the game almost immediately, as I truly dislike having to include cards that are basically dead in order to run my deck. Especially since unlike Magic where I can use those basic lands every turn, here I'm restricted to using that card once per game. Certainly I could build around that requirement and use characters with powers that are always active...but that's not really the point.

The focus on having a main character rather than an endurance total is a change that works with the new game, and I am willing to try it again a few times. Unfortunately the lack of any DC material is a killer for me as I prefer their characters over Marvel. Rumours abound that Aliens and Firefly might be forthcoming in expansions but that likely isn't going draw me in.

Naming the game "VS" does it and the old game a bit of a disservice. Sadly I don't think the new version of VS was made for me, which is perfectly fine. I likely wasn't the audience Upper Deck was aiming at capturing, and I'm lucky enough to have thousands of old cards and opponents to play that game with.

VS System is dead, but she lives on in my heart. RIP.

September 24, 2015

Test Game of Pulp City: Supreme Edition

A little history

Long ago I acquired most of a Pulp City collection from someone over on the Lead Adventure forums. Despite getting screwed out of several figures it was still a pretty good deal. I painted some figures and gave the original rules a spin on my own to get a feel for the game. A few of my friends were mildly interested in the game, but I never got it off the ground.

Last year Pulp Monsters ran a Kickstarter campaign to get their new Supreme Edition of the game printed and out to customers. After looking at the costs to add the models I was missing, I instead chose to go with the Collector's Pledge level as it ended up being almost the same price, but with twice the models.

When it arrived a few months back I was very excited to see it arrive. Dampening my excitement was the sheer amount of time it took to sort through the bags of unlabelled figures, only to find that several things were missing. Both sets of my add-on dice, an entire set of cards, the resin monster kit, lots of figures and lots of cards, all missing. The folks at Pulp Monsters have been helpful in trying to move things along, but I'm several months into waiting for these missing items to be provided with no deliver timeframe confirmed as of yet.

With rumblings of them starting up another Kickstarter (much smaller in scope this time), I want to support it, but I would also like the outstanding issues I have with the first one resolved first. The amount of money I put in really should get me some decent service I feel.

On to the test drive!

Not wanting that huge box of figures to sit idle, I decided to dig through the cards and see what kind of teams I could put together with the figures I did have painted. One of my painted figures was among those missing a supreme edition card, but the rest of them were all in the box. I could field heroes vs villains up to a level 11 battle, which I thought would be way too hard to play, so I elected for a level 5 encounter with three models per side.

Heroes: Ace of Wraiths, Crimson Oni and Red Riding Hoodoo w/ zombie wolf
Villains: Night Fright, Doom Train and Gentleman

I wanted to see if the quick-start pamphlet that came with the hero starter box (I got the box and cards but no minis for the villain starter) would be sufficient for learning the game basics with. I had to flip that sheet over a LOT of times, but other than a definition for "stealth" taking a long time to find, it actually provided all the info I needed. I ignored agendas, master plans and all the rest, knowing a basic slug fest would be difficult enough.

One of the things I wanted to investigate was what kind of bits and bobs I'd need to play the game. How many dice, tokens, markers and the like was I going to need? The short answer is, you'll need lots of stuff to make the game quick and easy to play:

- plenty of dice: 12 or more, preferably split up in two different colours (regular dice and power dice).
- markers: at a minimum you'll need fatigue tokens and action tokens, ~2 of each per model.
- clear card sleeves and a dry erase marker: unless you want to use MORE tokens to track wounds, this will be a necessity.
- a way to track effects: in my test game I only came across spectral and suppressed, but I'm sure there are more as you add different supremes to your games. I wrote them on the cards, but erasing them every turn without accidentally erasing the damage track was challenging.

The (preliminary) Verdict

Pulp City is a game I want to like, and I do, but it's not without its learning curve. There are a lot of abbreviations and symbols you need to learn. Dice bonuses that stack or don't, and different kind of tests can occur. The game has got lots of cool archetypal characters, a broad and colourful setting and a huge array of options when it comes to building teams to play your games with...and of course the models are quite lovely.

The game play felt fluid and relatively quick once I started to understand how to activate models. Some confusions arose due to the difference between activating supremes and minions which aren't clear on the quick start pamphlet. I like that you can move and perform multiple things with a single model each round. There's a lot to like here.

Now if only the rest of my stuff would arrive...and I could find other people who cared to play...


September 21, 2015

Superfigs Invasion!

Years back I bought a good number of SuperFigs from one of my local shops. They're a little bit dated looking, but I have to say that every time I paint one of them I enjoy the experience. The detail on them is nicely exaggerated; they really do evoke a comic book feel. I'll likely be picking up some more soon if I can find them.

One downside to working with SuperFigs is that they are all cast with very large integrated metal bases. Every one I've bought has been too big to fit on a standard 30mm base. If base size is important to you, clipping and cleanup will have to be done in order to integrate them into your collection. It's worth the effort in my opinion.

My favourite figure from the line is still Krieghunde, which I painted long ago and have used in several games with different rule sets. According to the SuperSystem rules available for the figures, he is a member of a team called the "Larcenous Legion." I picked up a few other figures who are also part of that team.

First up is "The Wisp"; it's not a very inspired character name, but the pose is decent, despite the blocky hands and a rather mannish face. The paint work on the legs turning to mist looks better than I'd expected, despite it being some simple washes and dry brushing.

Another on-the-nose named character: Elasti-Woman. Essentially a female version of the Joker with elasticity / stretching powers. The studio paint scheme I found for her really didn't work in my opinion. Knowing that I have a huge crew of Joker miniatures to paint for the Batman Miniature Game in the near future, she was a great experiment. Despite the figure being only so-so, I think the paint work I did really makes her interesting to look at.

Beware the Larcenous Legion!

Emerald Alien didn't actually end up being painted green. Back when I was working on the last set of objectives for BMG I mixed up a really nice pearlescent colour. This figure was on the workbench next to me and I had enough paint to use on him. Extremely simple to add the green eyes and call him finished.

Perun is an absolute GIANT of a figure, quite literally. When I bought him I wasn't terribly impressed with the sculpt. When I dug through my bases to find something for him and got him mounted, it really started to come together. The shading and colours I picked are really pleasing to me and I'd be proud to put this guy on anyone's table for a game.

This shiny paint scheme was actually an experiment. I recently played and finished Arkham Knight on PS4. One of the selectable skins is a Batman 3000 red and black outfit. I think it looks really striking and plan on doing something like it with my Arkham Origins Batman figure. Kragg seemed like a good choice to try it out on, and I'm very happy with it.

"Uhh...let's go that way?"

All these figures make me want to play a game, so I'm going to dig up my SuperSystem 3rd edition and get a bunch of these on the table really soon!

September 18, 2015

Original Alpha Flight Complete w/ Vindicator!

It surprised me when I looked back at the dates of my earliest Alpha Flight conversion posts. This has taken me nearly two years to complete, but with the addition of Vindicator I'm finally finished.

Truthfully this figure has actually been fully painted for the past three months. Like the Bones strumpet figure she was simply waiting for a large enough batch of figures to be completed for a round of basing to take place.

Like most Heroclix, the sculpt of the figure was relatively decent. Her hands and feet are a little too big but otherwise the pose is good, if covered with way too much paint. I stripped it off in some acetone, and shortly thereafter dropped the figure on the floor and busted off her head. A quick spot of glue made that problem easily forgotten

Unlike my previous Guardian repaint, I shaded the white part of her suit with a grey wash which enhances the shadows. It's quite obvious when they're next to each other, but separately they both look good. In fact, I think I actually prefer the unshaded Guardian in this particular project.

I still don't really like the 'wonder twins' version of Aurora and Northstar. Perhaps I'll find another old clix figure and see if I can't make that work this time. The early Aurora figure is way better too...

However, my Alpha Flight project is done. For now...

September 17, 2015

Reaper Bones: Gunfighters & Temptress

All of these figures are from the first Bones Kickstarter campaign from Reaper Miniatures. First up is one of the fantasy civilians. I've actually had this one painted for a few months, but she languished on the prep table awaiting enough other completed figures for me to do a batch of basing and static grass.

More recently, after having done two batches of police I wanted to paint some single figures. So I decided to add some more folks to my western gaming collection. One of the two western figures from the campaign looked a lot like Zoe from Firefly, so that's how I painted her. I tried using more natural colours and think she turned out great.

The other one looks quite obviously looks like Lee van Cleef. He was a really easy paint job and looks exactly as I'd planned. Unfortunately it wasn't until I'd primed him that I noticed the one pistol being bent. I tried the hot water trick after I finished painting, but it seems that the paint adds just enough rigidity that I can't reposition it. In the long run I don't really care.

The do look great together don't they? I have to confess that I find the Bones figures to be very easy to paint. I imagine that's more due to the quality of the sculpting than the material. Doing these in metal would have been just as simple I'd wager. I'll be writing up some profiles for them so I can use them in Blackwater Gulch or Legends of the Old West.

September 15, 2015

Loads of New Kickstarter Arrivals

A bevy of new stuff has arrived at my door since the month started. In my excitement I didn't take much in the way of photos, but here's a quick recap.

Mantic Games sent a combined package with the final pieces from the Dreadball Xtreme Kickstarter campaign. It included the season 5 and 6 books, loads of new teams, a campaign set, a lovely mouse-mat style Dreadball original board and all the stuff for building new teams and playing multiplayer in Dreadball Xtreme. The amount of stuff I have for these two games is embarrassing, and a little sad, since I've not played Xtreme yet despite having it in my possession since last December.

That same package also included a few bits and bobs from the more recent Kings of War second edition campaign. No army sets yet, but some tokens and templates, the KS-exclusive Blaine and Ronaldino the Bard all showed up. Additionally I received both the hardcover and the gamer's edition of the rule books. I have an older starter set which isn't built, and plenty of figures from all of the Dwarf King's Hold series, which are built. I might put together a few rough movement trays and give the rules a look through with those while I wait.

Last weekend I had the opportunity to meet up with Uncle Mike and pick up my materials for Strange Aeons. I know that some folks are disappointed that us locals were able to do that, but trust me you'll be happy once things arrive. The new book looks tops, and the casting quality this time around is truly quality stuff.

If I were to level one gripe it would be over the mini-books for the Threshold and Lurkers. The page orientation doesn't really make sense and is an oversight that will make a lovely accessory a little more difficult to use than I'd like. Basically when you flip the pages, the upper page is upside down, which means you'll be turning this book around a lot.

Finally comes Rise of the Kage, from the same folks that make Bushido. This is happily a single shipment and the contents are really well done. The expansion box is far larger than it needs to be, but it'll provide lots of room to store all the figures that came with the package. Said figures are quite variable in how much bending and warping they display, but I'm positive they'll shape up with a dip in some warm water.

I also purchased the Bushido card pack to allow me to play with several of these figures in that game, and am greatly looking forward to putting together a game of ninja versus pirates!

September 02, 2015

August 2015 Progress Report

August was a really productive month. Between my other half away visiting family and me sleeping even less than my usual there was a lot accomplished.

Modeling / Painting

- I primed the remainder of the figures I'd built for Batman Miniature Game (18 in total)
- Finished painting the original hero miniatures for Guardians Chronicles
- Painted my first figures for Batman Miniature Game: uniformed cops (5 figures)
- Repainted two Heroclix: Barbara Gordon and Batman Beyond. There's a custom profile card created by me on the blog, but I didn't feature Barbara. Can you spot her in last month's posts?
- Completed my entire batch of Law Forces for Batman Miniature Game with four SWAT troopers and three officers (7 figures)
- Added a full set of extra walls/fences to my Garden of Morr set and got it all painted up.

Construction / Terrain

- I touched up a western wagon toy given me by a friend. It looks pretty good, but I'm not sure when it'll make an appearance on the blog.
- After finishing the Garden of Morr I remembered I had a "Deathknell Watch" kit hiding in a drawer somewhere. I put that together over a Sunday evening.
- Laid out the majority of my custom Arkham Asylum build, waiting on one more set of parts to complete

On Monday another package arrived from Mantic Games with more stuff from a few of their Kickstarter campaigns to sort through, and I've got some Eaglemoss Batmobile models to look over for scenery on my gaming table. After I do that I'll be settling in to decide on what my next hobby project will be!

Here are a few ideas I have in my considerable hobby-backlog (in no particular order):

- Stargate SG-1 team, Jaffa army, and stargate
- Destro, Baroness and Iron Grenadier troopers
- ONI Korps figures and painting for AT-43
- Green Hornet / Batman '66 crossover
- Arkham Asylum custom build
- paint more Batman Miniature Game figures
- Guild Ball team prep and paint
- GCPD headquarters custom build
- Dreadball Xtreme core game
- Terminator Geni-sys core game painting completion

Feel free to chime in with your vote on the next project you want to see me tackle!