7TV Fantasy and Krull Slayers!

I’ve just received my copy of the recently released 7TV Fantasy boxed set and what a corker it is. I’ve not had a full look through it all yet, but as a big fan of the game system I cannot wait to get playing. The sheer volume of content (including literally hundreds of profiles) and the absolutely lovely old school fantasy gaming aesthetic and graphic design have really got me thinking about fantasy as a genre again.

The contents of the 7TV Fantasy boxed set from Crooked Dice Game Design Studio

Fantasy was my first love in gaming, though over the past few years it has fallen into the background for me in both terms of playing games and also hobby. This is just the kickstart I need, and there are a number of ideas starting to perculate. I have a whole load of CMON Song of Ice and Fire plastic Lannister miniatures to paint up and no shortage of STL files to print out.

Being a 7TV game of course, the focus is never too far from popular culture and as per the spy-fi, apocalypse and pulp editions there is the added meta in the game of playing the role of producer of a film or TV series.

VHS (remember that teenagers?) cover – for me this was best viewed on a Sunday afternoon on Channel 4 however

One of my favourite fantasy films of all time is Krull. That strange early 80s mix of sword and sorcery with a few lasers thrown in. That is not to mention of course a stellar cast including early appearences from Liam Neeson and Robbie Coltrane as well as a post Grange Hill, pre-Eastenders Todd Carty and Carry On legend Bernard Bresslaw as the Cyclops.

The iconic baddies of the movie and minions of the evil ‘Beast’ are the really quite weird Slayers. These ‘imperial stormtrooper’ proxies have a strange almost sci-fi look and feel, enhanced by their laser beam shooting spears and their very odd death throes. Yup when these boys get killed they let out a strange scream and a little wiggly creature bursts out of their cracked open heads. Ironically this film came out the year after the villainous Khan had inserted something similar into Commander Chekov’s ear in Star Trek II.

Slayers!

I mentioned earlier the massive number of profiles (all represented by cards) in the boxed set and it just so happens there is one that very tips a very big nod to the Slayers of Krull. There also happens to be a very iconic looking ‘throwing star’ included as a maguffin card in the set and a scenario that involves a teleporting citadel manned by familiar looking ‘Sorcerous Sentinels’.

Sorcerous Sentinel and the Galive Maguffin card

From a miniatures point of view, well you wait thirty years and three different sets come along at once. First up Crooked Dice themselves are releasing a set to support the 7TV Fantasy release and these are due out soon. Wayne at Tangent Miniatures (for whom I produce 3D printed masters) also has plans for the Beast’s hordes.

Sorcerous Sentinels – coming soon from Crooked Dice
Also coming soon from Tangent Miniatures

However in terms of what is available right now, I was able to purchase a set of STL files from the excellent Mike Tong (aka BigMrTong) via his CG Trader store front. There are ten different poses available and I initially printed out twenty (two of each pose) in Elegoo standard grey resin on my Elegoo Mars Pro 2.

Unlike a lot of 3D printed files these came with a traditional slotta base tab modelled onto the miniature. This enabledme to easily base these on some existing plastic bases I had available. Rather than go with the usual round bases I opted in this case to keep the old school gaming vibe by going with hex bases. Those who are old enough may remember back in the day that Citadel Miniatures in particular released certain (usually non-Warhammer ranges such as their Elric line) on these. I didn’t have to do any rescaling on these figures, they are pretty much standard 28mm scale and fit in very nicely for example with Crooked Dice’s miniatures.

Printed miniatures about to be undercoated in a white primer.

Using some source photos from the film I decided to go with a very dark brown (rather than grey or black) scheme for the majority of the Slayers. It’s pretty difficult to work out the exact colours, but I liked the deep brown that the Citadel Wyldewood contrast paint gives. So basically a couple of thin coats of this followed by a brown wash for further definition meant I could power through these quite quickly.

Grey or black? I couldn’t decide so went brown instead!

I seemed to recall in the film (it is a while since I have seen it), that there were some white coloured Slayers in the climax of the film which takes place in the Beast’s teleporting Black Fortress. As I was working from a white undercoat for all these figures I put about half a dozen aside to paint up as these ‘Fortress Guard’. Again Citadel Contrast paints to the rescue with a thin coat of Apothecary White.

Fortress guard

For both sets I painted the heads grey and the weapons black and silver. Basing was completed using textured Valejo basing paste (of which I have a couple of big pots which have lasted me years). Black base coated and then drybrushed up in grey these were then finished with various flock, static grass and tufts (keeping the look as swamp like as possible to mirror one of the major set pieces of the film).

All in all I am pretty happy with these. Twenty miniatures printed and then painted up in a pretty short time period to a decent tabletop standard.

There are far too many here to use in 7TV Fantasy but at least I have options when it comes to posing and colours.

I’ll most likely pickup both the designs from Crooked Dice and Tangent in the future, but for the time being I’d highly recommend anyone with a 3D printer checks out these files.

Oh and also buy 7TV Fantasy – as we said back in the day – “it is skill and also decent”.

A Billions Suns – First Play and Fleet Building

After nearly fourteen months out of action due to the pandemic, my local club recently was able to start having meetings again. So it was a couple of weeks back that myself and my good buddy Dorian ventured over to Darley Dale from Chesterfield to actually roll some dice in person.

We chose to give ‘A Billion Suns’ by Mike Hutchinson from Osprey Games a go. I picked the rule book up a couple of months ago because I had heard good things about it. I particularly liked the idea of there being no before-game force building (with ships requisitioned as required), and the concept of playing across multiple tables. Being part of the Osprey Wargames ‘blue book’ series the rules are concise and the author has good pedigree with Gaslands (a game I have not played, but have heard very good things about, particularly from the point of view of being an easy to ‘pick up and play’ game).

As a spaceship combat system I of course needed to source some ships. Having had a previous daliance with Gunpla I was aware of a range of Bandai kits based on the Japanese anime series ‘Space Battleship Yamato’ (known in the US as Starblazers). These inexpensive plastic kits (even taking into account the postage from the far east) have a really cool ‘warships in space’ vibe, so I picked up a few from Hobby Link Japan. (This was of course dangerous as I got distracted by Gundam models, but that is another story.)

The other advantage of these kits apart from the cost is the ease of assembly. As with most modern Bandai kits these are hugely well engineered and push fit (no glue required). Although not designed as gaming pieces, each comes complete with a flight stand which is useful for the game, and most are pre-coloured in mutliple shades (with the aim being of getting them on the table quickly, a quick wash / panel lining would make them look presentable).

While these kits gave me some really interesting and unique models for the game I also wanted to bulk out my available fleets with some more utilitarian designs. It is here that I remembered that Plastic Soldier Company (PSC) often released ‘grab bags’ of plastic ships from their space based version of Commands and Colours called Red Alert. I duly picked up a huge number of ships and stands from them for around £10 to £20 in total.

The club meeting soon came round and in the spirit of our club (where play is the most important thing), Dorian and I played our first game with a completely unpainted set of models!

We managed to get two games in during the day and I have to say it was a lot of fun. The rules were easy to digest and navigate round. I had the night before spent some time downloading and laminating tokens, cards and other game aids from the A Billion Suns website and this certainly helped keep the game flowing.

P

I am not going to fully review the rules here, other than to alude to the fact that being a game where the outcome is based on earning credits from contracts (with the cost of your ships coming out of your total budget), it was an interesting variation on other much more crunchy games I have played in the past (I am looking at you Star Wars Armada!). Both games we played during the day were quite different (and this was due to the generation of the contracts you play for at the beginning of the game). This also resulted in a situation where in game one we were playing over three tables, while in game two it was entirely focussed on a single table.

I made the mistake of jumping in a massive battleship in game one, which while it looked cool (my primary reason for doing it), did mean I was in financial defecit from the get go and didn’t really figure out how I was going to earn this back. One of the things that became apparent during the game from a modelling perspective was that while we had lots of bigger ships we were lacking a bit when it came to the smaller stuff like fighters.

So with the aim of playing again at the next meeting (and doing a three player game next time – the rules seem to support multiple players very well and I can see that being a lot of fun), I have gone back to the modelling and painting.

This has primarily involved painting up the Red Alert ships, but also sourcing some additional ‘smaller mass’ ships to act as the recon, fighter and bomber wings the rules dictate.

For these I remembered that EM4 Miniatures (who I used to stock when running the store) did inexpensive plastic sprues of spaceships that would fit the bill. I picked a couple of these up and set about basing them on the spare stands I had picked up from PSC. (Interesting it has been pointed out to me that these designs actually hark back to a very old game by I.C.E. called Silent Death).

From a painting perspective both these and the Red Alerts ships were given a variety of base coats with a view to using both drybrushing and contrast paints to quickly get them done. I like the idea of replicating in part that 1970s sci-fi paperback cover style of spaceship, art by the likes of Chris Foss or similar to the old Terran Trade Federation books, so I have gone for quite a colourful palette.

To make them pop a bit more I did some selective highlighting with spot colours to represent lighting and variation in panel colours. I then touched up the bases painting them completely black (to match the tables).

One other idea picked up after playing the first game that I am going to do is to mark on the bases the in-game mass of the ships. This should make it a lot quicker and easier to requisition ships of different sizes during a game.

Next up will be to do some more work on the Bandai ships. Many of these come with decals or stickers, which once they are applied will be followed by a top coat and them some subtle shading and panel lining.

Of course I would be remiss not to mention 3D printing here, and I have added to my fleets with some resin 3D prints, most of which I sourced from Thingiverse and printed on my Elegoo Mars Pro 2. I picked the designs based on one of my favourite animes from back in the day (based more on my experiences of playing the role-playing game rather than watching the series) – Robotech. These will be painted in a similar way to the PSC and EM4 models.

From a hobby perspective I really like the flexibility the game gives you with fleet modelling (and this is mainly due to the fact as previously mentioned ships are requisition during play rather built into lists beforehand).

I’m looking forward to many more games to come.