Due to a new real world job and lots of work on the 3D printing side of the hobby, it’s been a while since the last article on the blog.
I’m therefore picking things up again with a post about some recent (and not so recent) games and events I have attended, primarily focussed on 7TV.
First up back in January I attended the 7TV Fantasy ‘Voyage to the West Midlands’ event at Board in Brum in Walsall. About a dozen players were in attendance and it was my first time trying out the Fantasy version of the ruleset from Crooked Dice Game Design Studio.
My ‘cast’ was based around the 1980s Dungeons and Dragons cartoon. Entirely 3D printed the majority were from Monstrous Encounters, with my ‘Dungeon Master’ Gnome wizard being a freebie I found on Thingiverse.
Three entertaining games were played and I got utterly hammered in each (so no change there then). However it was (as it always is with 7TV) immensely fun.
The fantasy version of the rules add some interesting new mechanics including a suitably cinematic magic system and a focus on more melee based combat.
There follows a pictoral representation of some of the action on the day.
Game 1 – versus the Undead hordes of Mike Wilkins!
Game 2 – the Saturday morning crossover we all wanted to see (perhaps) – Masters of the Universe take on the D&D kids!
Game 3 – versus the Barbarian hordes!
Some of the other casts and tables
A few weeks later I was at the monthly meeting of the Dales Wargames Club at our new venue in South Darley near Matlock.
With no game planned I threw a load of minis in the back of the car with my fullset of 7TV cards and rules just in case. Well, the ‘just in case’ happened and a very impromptu and entertaining game was quickly setup with the limited amount of club scenery there was available on the day.
We went with a ‘V’ inspired game – alien invaders versus resistance!
Which is a smooth segway into a big shoutout I want to give to Tangent’s first Kickstarter which is currently live with funding for a new post-apocalyptic cyberpunk set of rules called ‘Dystopia City’. There are also some excellent miniatures available via the campaign (I know because I have been printing the masters for some of these and they are lovely). You can check the Kickstarter out here.
On Sunday 17th November 2019 I had the pleasure alongside the rest of the Dales Wargames Club of hosting our latest 7TV event.
Titled the 7TV Open University, this event was a follow up to the games day we held earlier in the year and was again held at the Whitworth Centre in Darley Dale near Matlock in Derbyshire. The focus was once more on narrative play rather than competition, with an additional aim of getting new players into the game.
I wanted to make the event beginner friendly in order to spread the joy of 7TV as far and wide as possible. For the first event earlier in the year we really didn’t have any overarching theme and I was keen to address this for our second outing. Therefore I came up with a theme of the ‘7TV Open University’ which would encompass both the scenarios we’d play through on the day in addition to the focus on new players.
To get new players into the action as quickly and easily as possible I created a number of pre-built casts for new players to pick from. Cast size was set at 40 ratings for the event and for what I referred to as the ‘pick and play’ casts on the day I stuck to profiles from the core 7TV 2nd Edition ‘Inch High Spy Fi’ set. These also happen to be the same profiles that can be obtained from Crooked Dice as a free download and are also available within the casting agency application. This was a concious decision to demonstrate to new players how much fun can be had ‘out of the box’ with 7TV.
Eight ‘pick and play’ casts were created and I’ll be writing about each of these in future articles. Basically it was a case of matching what painted miniatures I had in my collection against the core profiles and using a bit of imagination. And it was a lot of fun. Heres the list of casts:
Department XS (‘Excess’)
The Guru and the Spacemen
Knight Industries 3000
The Tuetonic Order of Luna
United Nations Alien Countermeasures Force
The Cult of Fu Manchu
After a sudden surge of interest in the few days leading up to the event, I had my fingers crossed that I had casts for budding new players. That also meant we had to get at least seven tables setup on the day. I was able to dip into the clubs scenery collection as well as my own and we ended up with an eclectic mix of setups including a V2 launch site, a woodland area with mysterious stone circle, a dockside loading area, a cobbled townscape and a couple of post apocalypse wastelands.
A couple of attendees also brought along tables, including Simon Quinton and his excellent PA diner and highway. Thankfully as well, there were enough sets of cards and templates and tokens to go around.
So, what about the scenarios (or more correctly in 7TV parlance, the episodes)? To tie in with the university theme I came up with a narrative that had the studio obtaining a government grant for educational programming. This was then immediately diverted into their adventure series and as bonuses for their top stars with the producers then having to work the system to avoid getting closed down by the government regulators.
Using the basic scenarios from the 7TV Spy-fi set I added some extra narrative tweaks. This introduced events that included shoehorning famous scientists into the episode (guest starring as themselves) or potentially having to deliver public services messages at the expense of action sequences.
In future articles I’ll go into a bit more detail around how the episodes were setup and how they worked, as well as making them available for others who might want to try them out.
While not a tournament in any way, the kind offer of prizes from Karl at Crooked Dice and Wayne at Wargames Illustrated meant that we did need to find a couple of ways of measuring some degree of success on the day. In addition to the usual ‘most sporting player’ (aka ‘best director’), we also had on offer a prize for most victory points accumalted and a wooden spoon for biggest margin of defeat.
I was busy moving between tables and didn’t get to see much of the action over and above helping out with rules and scenario queries (and taking lots of photos). However a few of the attendees have kindly written up reports of the action on the day and you can find these here:
The day itself went really well. It was extremely tiring but very satisfying experience and I’d like to take the opportunity to thank everyone who turned up and especially the veterans who helped guide the new players through their first games. All in all there were a lot laughs had, which is really what it is all about isn’t it?
We are going to do it all again in 2020 with a 7TV Apocalypse day scheduled for Sunday 5th April with the working title of ‘White Line Nightmares!”. In the meantime the club have agreed to run a couple of participation games at upcoming shows (more on that soon), but I’m also really looking forward to actually getting a game or two in myself. First up in January is another event at Board in Brum in Walsall which promises to be great, with the now annual Wargames Illustrated event scheduled for the summer.
I’m delighted to announce after the success of our first event, Dales Wargames are holding a follow up 7TV games day on Sunday 17th November. We still have plenty of spaces left, so if anyone is reading this and is interested please see the full details here.
Three full games at 40 ratings, any casts from across any 7TV sets (although for balance, no Apocalypse vehicles), custom casts welcome.
We are keen to spread the 7TV love, so if you’ve never played before or are just curious there will be pre-built casts available to borrow on the day and support available to learn the game. It is 7TV University after all. (Kipper ties are mandatory!)
Cost is £7.50, paid either in advance or on the day (just let us know you are coming). It’s also a normal meeting date for the Dales Wargames club, so if for some (crazy) reason you don’t want to play 7TV ago come along anyway, there’s bound to be something of interest (including cake).
Now as I may have mentioned before I am rubbish at writing up battle reports. I simply cannot remember all the details of what happens in a game to a level at which I could write up something interesting. Therefore this little narrative is more about my experience of the day as both a participant and the chief organiser.
The event was put together at pretty short notice, but following the mantra of ‘if you build it, they will come’ we got a good number of players expressing interest, primarily through the highly recommended and super friendly 7TV Productions Facebook group. In the end we got about ten ‘producers’on the day, with the furthest distance being traveled from Cambridge!
The theme of the day was ‘Invasion Earth’, and there were some interesting casts fielded both in the defence of and plotting against our blue planet. So Skeletor and his evil minions rubbed shoulders with the likes of Diana’s ‘Visitors’, some ‘ack, ack’ Mars Attacks aliens and robotic centurions from the 12 colonies. Meanwhile our stalwart defenders included the SG-1 team, some special forces troops, Murtaugh and Riggs with uniformed support and of course (because it is 7TV) some East End gangsters. Of course the Guru and Shiva also chanced their arm by trying to cash in on the chaos, as did the slippery Cobra Commander and his Cobra hordes.
Following the example of other events I have attended this was very much about having fun and telling a story, rather than being in any way competitive. As a number of the Dales club members were also very new to the game I was keen to keep it as beginner friendly as possible. We worked on the basis of 30 ratings casts drawn from either the Spy-Fi or Apocalypse versions of the game (but without the use of the Apocalypse vehicle combat rules). I provided a few sample casts for folk to use who might not have access to figures and made sure we had access to quick reference sheets as well as trying to pair folk off together so veterans could play against novices.
Running at 30 ratings meant we could get at least 3 games in, and we sized most of the tables and terrain layouts to support the smaller sized games. As well as using some of my personal terrain and scenery we also lent on the extensive collection at the club. In addition we also asked for attendees to bring along a board if they could. Special mention to Carl for his airbase setup (complete with cargo transporter) which took away the prize for best ‘set designer’.
Talking of prize support, a very special thanks must go out to Karl at Crooked Dice for donating a 7TV boxed set as the top prize and Wayne from Wargames Illustrated (who attended with his Cyclons) for additional prizes of annual subscriptions to the magazine. Also massive thanks to Wayne for also donating a significant number of miniatures and models which we were able to offer to attendees for a donation to the club coffers.
So how did my games go? OK I think is the answer. I was fielding my ‘V’ cast which is pretty much exclusively based on 7TV core profiles (with some minor tweaks) using a mix of the excellent recent models from Crooked Dice as well as some older miniatures from Nexus/YFT Design Studio.
My first game was against a new club member Nigel who had turned up on the day just wanting to watch some games and was immediately drafted into the event. Fair to say I think we got another convert there. We played pretty much a ‘learning game’ on the airbase setup where the Visitors took on Hugo Solomon and Department X. Let’s just say it didn’t end up well for the lizards from Sirius.
My second game was against fellow club member and recent 7TV evangelist Robin on our ‘Weird World War’ table. This time Diana and her orange glad goons were up against the sinister Guru and his Shiva organisation. Another fun game on one of the larger boards on the day. For the life of me I cannot remember the outcome of this (I think it was a tie). The highlight had to be the draw of that classic countdown event card (‘script editing’ I think) that resulted in our stars swapping places, with hilarious consequences (not many of which were good for either of us).
Finally I was up against Kieron and his excellent ‘Masters of the Universe’ cast. Comprising of Skeletor, Beastman, Trap Jaw and other undesirables from Eternia, they just happened to find themselves in the cargo area of a typical industrial sea port. I do remember the details of this one pretty well, because due to a combination of excellent dice rolling on the one hand, terrible dice rolling on the other and really effective use of tactics I conspired to lose this game about four turns in. For the uninitiated a typical game of 7TV can last anything up to twenty or more turns! Now as we know it’s all about the narrative with a game like this, but I take some pride in being able to say I lost eleven victory points to nil in such record time.
Needless to say we had time for another game, but consigning Diana and co to the long list of failed invaders of Earth I swapped out for a small G.I.Joe Cobra cast I had put together. A much more even (and indeed longer) game was had. Again a lot of laughs and a very tight finish.
All in all an excellent day. Our club venue worked well as did the format. I think one lesson learned for future events is not to hold these on a bank holiday weekend, we had quite a list of people who were unable to attend because of this.
As I’ve already mentioned Carl won a years subscription to Wargames Illustrated for best table. Kieron won best Director (players favourite cast) with Skeletor and friends, and Colin won the overall prize for best Producer for most sporting player and favourite opponent. All awards were voted for by the participants.
The cost is a mere £7.50 and will include refreshments (and quite possibly cake). More details can be found on the event Facebook page. We’ve taken inspiration from the amazing Board in Brum days and indeed have the backing of some of the big minds behind those great events.
In the true spirit of 7TV this won’t be a competitive event, but a chance for like minded ‘directors’ and ‘producers’ to get together to enjoy some fun narrative gaming and have a jolly good time. There will however be spot prizes for best painted cast, most sporting player and best terrain/table build (we are encouraging people to bring along a layout if they can).
The format for the day will be three games based around the theme of ‘Invasion Earth’. Casts can be based on any of the archetypes from the Spy-Fi or Apocalypse lists and be around 30 ratings. In order to accommodate the widest possible variety of casts, the games will not however include vehicle combat from the Apocalypse rules.
We are really keen to encourage new players and share this wonderful game with them, so even if you have never played before and/or don’t have any figures please do sign up and we can sort you out with a cast and some guidance on the day.
In addition to the standard games I’ve also volunteered to run a drop-in game of 7TV Apocalypse using the vehicle rules and destruction derby scenario, so players can jump into a buggy or war rig for a bit of distraction if games finish early.
I’ve not yet decided what cast to field myself yet, but I did find myself digging these guys out to finish the other day (after all they fit the theme)!
I had the opportunity this last weekend to introduce a number of new players to the wonderful world of 7TV while attending the regular monthly meeting Dales Wargames Club at Darley Dale near Matlock.
Teaming up with Mike Wilkins from the 7TV Production Facebook group, whom I had previously met at other events last year (and unbeknown to me also happened to be friends with some of the other members at Dales), we set about taking four new players through some introductory games.
We had prepared a selection of 30 ratings casts with the idea that we could easily get through a couple of games in parallel on small tables and get people used to the game rules quickly through playing.
The casts in question were variations on the Department X and Shiva casts from the 7TV Programme Guide Volume 1, concentrating primarily on the Spy-Fi shenanigans of the core 2nd edition game.
Mike brought his excellent ‘desert compound’ table which I had previously seen at the Board in Brum day back in January. I setup a small 2′ by 3′ board using a neoprene mat (originally from the Terminator Genesys Miniatures Game) and various bits and pieces of scenery I sourced both from home and the clubs ample terrain collection.
I’m pretty poor at remembering exactly what happened in games (battle reports are not my strong point), but the first thing to note was the ease in which the players I was coaching through the game got both the basics of the rules and the unusual ‘meta’ concept of the game.
The latter is really helped by the mechanics of the ‘countdown deck’, and one comment that was repeated a number of time during the day was how fun it was to play. In fact one quote was ‘I’ve not laughed this much in years while wargaming’. I could rest my case here, but it was also worth noting at this point that the only thing that did distract my players was the allure of checking out on smart phones what other figures and settings could be used to play. Discworld, ‘Allo ‘Allo, Sharpe and many others were mentioned in passing….
The first game ended with the Shiva cast being axed during Act II (partly down to the Guru repeatedly mistakenly energy blasting his own co-star as he fired into a combat).
Once Mike had finished taking his newbies through their game (which lasted slightly longer than ours) and involved Fembots and a very mauve Hugo Soloman duking it out on a slightly larger table we retired for refreshments and discussion. It was at this point, Robin who had just had his first game (and was responsible for the aforementioned blue on blue incident with the Guru) started talking about placing a club order with Crooked Dice – so job done!
The afternoon was taken up with a larger four player game that both Mike and I took part in this time. Having setup a 6′ by 4′ city board we agreed on some ‘house rules’ to cover the additional players. Deployment were done simultaneously and restricted to an 8′ square in each corner of the board. Spy placement (and subsequent turn order after initiative) was determined by drawing coloured counters from a bag (well a spare coffee mug anyway). Objective counters were placed by a neutral third (or should that be fifth) party. For these we used Mike’s War Bases MDF crates with random victory point values pencilled underneath. The countdown deck was beefed up to a larger than normal number of cards for the table size due to the increased number of players.
The activation system worked really well. As mentioned above we each had a different coloured counter and we took turns drawing these to randomise the turn sequence. Once everyone had a turn, back into the mug went the full set of counters and the draw was started again. One concession we made was that if the same person who had previously taken a turn drew first again the next time round, each other player would draw up two plot points each (this actually happened at least once).
So in this game we had two different factions of Department X going up against an alien invasion of ‘visiting’ aliens and Mike’s interesting mix of Spectrum/Bond/Yakuza types!
It was during this game that we got the biggest laugh of the day when an early countdown card caused the swap in positions between two star and left General Gordon of Department X right in the middle of the lizard like invaders. Despite dispensing five rounds rapid (or at least trying to), the poor General wasn’t too long for this world. Unfortunately time got away from us and we had to call it a day before the venue closed.
By this point it was even more obvious that we had a hit on our hands as there was open talk of holding a 7TV campaign day at Dales in the near future (more on that soon).
So all in all an excellent day. 7TV continues to be my favourite game and the reaction we had from new players at the club really reinforced for me why I like it so much. No one was really bothered about who won, a lot of imagination was stoked in terms of thinking about potential figures and casts and most importantly we all had a really enjoyable day playing with toy soldiers. Which is really what it is all about isn’t it?
A quick should out for the Dales Wargames Club. We meet usually on the 3rd Sunday of each month in the wonderful setting of the Whitworth Centre in Darley Dale, just outside Matlock in Derbyshire. We play loads of different games (are always happy to try out new things) and are very welcoming to new comers. If you are interested in finding out what we are up to, or when the next meeting is please check out our Facebook group.
Earlier in the year I got really invested in Legion, the tabletop miniatures game in the Star Wars universe, published by Fantasy Flight Games. Having spent some time assembling and painting minis, I immediately got distracted (as all good hobby butterflys do) by terrain and re-utilising old toys for the tabletop. A couple of vintage Kenner / Palitory AT-ATs were purchased from eBay (and then resold as I say sense), as were some Rebel Transports, a U-Wing and various other bits and pieces.
Then as often happens I just didn’t get to play the game. I had a learning game with my good friend and gaming compadre, Mr.Hawkins, back in the Spring and then nothing. This was partly due to the distraction of other shiny things, and partly because my best chance of getting a game was at my local club. Due to other commitments I wasn’t able to get down and I missed most of the monthly meetings over the summer.
However this last Sunday I was finally able to Legion to the tabletop for a couple of games at Matlock and Dales WRG (at the request of another member who similarly had sat on the game for quite a while without actually playing).
MDF Shield generators by TTCombat
Game was played on a 6 by 4 table
My heroes – The Rebel Fleet Troopers
Spot the recycled old toy
Snowtroopers in entirely the wrong choice of coats
Captain Antilles about to be ambushed
I’m no good at reviews, but will say this (and have said so before); it’s a good game. A very good game. Bearing striking similarities to other Star Wars games in the Fantasy Flight catalogue (lots of tokens and cards, custom dice, the ‘surge’ mechanic), it seems to have ironed out some of the inconsistencies and clunkiness of games like Armada and Imperial Assault. Adding to the mix an alternative unit activation mechanic and innovative and intuitive command and control element, this puts it above many similar games I have had experience of in the past. My opponent and I did get quite a few things wrong in the early rounds, but this wasn’t really noticed and didn’t interupt the cinematic flow of the game (I was making a lot of ‘pew pew’ sound effects in my head).
The second game of the day was played on a smaller mat with no vehicles (due to time)
Paper mat courtesy of the Doctor Who Exterminate Miniatures Game
In getting ready for the game I wanted to just share a couple of hints and tips, both on the painting and army construction side of things.
While I had got at least a basecoat down on most of my miniatures (the contents of two core boxes and a handful of expansions), there were a few I had not yet touched. It wouldn’t be realistic to get everthing done in time for the game (real life is quite hectic at the moment), but I at least wanted to be avoid playing with any completely unpainted models.
Therefore I concentrated on detailing up all the Imperial Stormtroopers I had previously undercoated white, adding in some basic detail and making them tabletop ready (with the intention of going back and finishing them off to a higher standard later). Here, the humble toothpick was my friend. Rather than rely on a brush and a steady hand to pick out the black details on helmets and armour and to minimise the chances of despoling that trademark white with any overbrushing I found toothpicks gave me the control and steadyness I needed (but maybe not the patience!). This was particularly useful when doing helmet eye lenses and something I will try out for painting eyes in general moving forward.
My next job was to paint up the only fully unpainted squad I had not yet tackled, the Rebel Fleet Troopers. These are the guys who valiantly get slaughtered by Darth Vader at the begining of the very first Star Wars film (and of course we now know this fight continued on from the end of Rogue One). As figures go, I think these are some of the nicest that have been released so far. Very characterful sculpts and true to the films. I’d picked these guys up at UK Games Expo back in June, assembled them and then, well, got distracted…
Taking a very methodical approach I blocked out each colour (having applied a grey undercoat). Following a production line approach of doing all of one colour across the squad before returning to the first and adding the next hue I was able to get these guys done in only a couple of hours. I left the dark grey undercoat showing through for the mainly black coloured vests and let Army Painter washes do the rest.
Building up basic block colours over a dark grey undercoat
Guest appearence from Princess Leia (she didn’t get finished for the game)
The squad leader is based on Captain Antilles from the film and follows a different scheme. The intention with these is that I will go back and do some proper basing and highlighting at a later date.
I have to say I’m not a huge fan of painting armies or even squads (I much prefer to do more individual character models): however the fact I was actually going to able to field these in a game was a real motivator.
Pre-wash and tidy up
Wash and basic base colouring done. Highlighting and basing to be completed at a later date
The Rebel Fleet Troopers proved to be a really solid choice in play (and are my new favourites), having almost taken down Vader in the first game. Some form of sweet revenge for their on screen performance perhaps?
I also just wanted to give a quick mention to the Tabletop Admiral online army building application for Legion. I used this to quickly knock up the forces the night before the game allowing me to sort out cards, tokens and minis quickly beforehand and enabling us to setup quickly on the day. If you are a player of Imperial Assault or Runewars this also might be of interest to you.