|If only he'd used one extra "O", maybe Comstock would have listened...|
Saturday, 24 May 2014
I have to admit I've taken a week off from the WarmaShock project, and have been indulging a bit in my love of Batman. However, the enthusiasm for the project is still very much there, so I thought I'd mention the last couple of models to join the team whilst I'm in between bouts of painting the dark knight!
For those who have just joined the article series here, WarmaShock is an ongoing project to create a BioShock army for Privateer Press' Warmachine tabletop system. So far the army has seen Booker DeWitt and Elizabeth Comstock from BioShock Infinite, and the security bots and Eleanor Lamb from Bioshock and BioShock 2 - all of which can be seen through the Article Archive tab at the top of the page.
In today's article we're going to be looking at two new additions; a Little Sister from the first two BioShock games, and Anna DeWitt from BioShock Infinite. It might seem odd to feature two completely different characters in the same article, but I'm doing this for two reasons. First, neither miniature needed much (if any) customisation, so if they had individual articles they'd be very short. And secondly, the miniatures used for both characters come from the same Malifaux box set, so it makes sense to put them both together.
Thanks, once again, to GMorts Chaotica for allowing the shameless theft of the photos from his unboxing articles!
So the box set in question was the No Shelter Here set - Pandora's crew from Malifaux's Neverborn faction. Straight away from looking at the front of the box it was obvious that I'd gone to the right place for a Little Sister!
Way back before this was a project to build an army - instead being just a plan to paint some BioShock-y miniatures - I'd actually taken a look at the Pandora box, but couldn't justify buying the entire thing just for a single model (it isn't availably individually, unfortunately). However, once it became an actual army-build and I started throwing money away faster than I could burn it, the No Shelter Box became a more viable option - after all, what's a sixth Malifaux crew when you've already bought five? Besides which, I'd undoubtedly be able to find use for some more of the miniatures.
So with the box set finally in hand, it was time to get a Little Sister onto the painting table!
Assembly was nice and straightforward - the newer plastic Malifaux minis tend to be exquisitely detailed, but the trade-off is often that they have tiny fiddly bits which make them a nightmare to assemble! Candy avoids this nicely, with just three pieces to de-flash (which is minimal) and put together. The only non-Little Sister thing about this miniature is the basket, containing candy canes and a human skull. Not exactly fitting with the Little Sister aesthetic, but it's built into the model in such a way that it was beyond my skills to remedy. I've no doubt a more skilled hobbyist could trim off the basket with a good knife and use green stuff to complete the dress (and perhaps even sculpt a Big Daddy doll into her hands), but at this point I'm not that hobbyist!
With Candy/Little Sister built, I needed a suitable base to attach her to! Normally when I do tabletop armies, I just grit and paint the bases to look like a battlefield, but seeing as that wouldn't really work for Rapture (and only in a limited capacity for Columbia), I've been going for more scenic bases with the WarmaShock project.
For the Little Sister, my basing plan came from one particular area in BioShock 2: the Little Sister Orphanage. In Rapture, Little Sisters are walking ADAM factories - the substance which allows the creation of the superpower-granting Plasmids - but they start their lives as ordinary little girls, and these girls come straight from the Little Sister Orphanage. In large parts of Rapture, the flooring consists of lavish carpets or polished marble, but the orphanage is all wooden floorboards and other such typical orphanage furnishings. Wooden floorboards are certainly easy enough to replicate, but whilst bits box-rummaging down at Titan Games I actually found a resin base which would work even nicer, as it featured a little more detail. So I nabbed this base, stuck Candy onto it, and one paint job later, I had a Little Sister to add to the army...
The head popping out of the broken flooring was actually part of the base - presumably meant to be some kind of apparition arising out of a vortex, but being Rapture I just painted the vortex to look like water (with the addition of some clear resin effect), and just made the head into a melty-faced splicer, who had presumably just met his end at the hands of the Sister's Big Daddy!
In gameplay terms, she'll be using the card of Gaston Crosse - the new Mercenary journeyman warcaster. It's a bit of an odd one, I admit, but I liked the idea of the Little Sister controlling her own Big Daddies, so in terms of gameplay it should actually be quite fitting.
Warning! This section of the article contains spoilers! If you haven't yet finished BioShock Infinite then only continue at your own risk.
The other model in the No Shelter Here box I was planning to use was Baby Kade, the baby with the knife in his hand and demonic look in his eyes. I wasn't sure what to do with him, apart from make him another resident of the Little Sister Orphanage - obviously the Sisters we always see in the game are probably around 6-7 years old, but one would assume the orphanage takes them in at a younger age. This would also work with my plan to use him as Reinholdt, as he could then toddle along with the Little Sister and lend her a hand!
However, before I could get started on him, a good friend and fellow Titan Games regular suggested that he could be used to make Anna DeWitt - Booker's missing daughter from BioShock Infinite. Always susceptible to suggestion, I immediately seized this idea and ran with it, and that very evening I started working on ideas of how to turn Baby Kade into Anna DeWitt.
The main problem with a baby in this scale is that there isn't much to work with in terms of conversion options, which meant that I'd have to get creative with the base to ensure that this ended up clearly being Anna DeWitt, and not just some random baby I'd thrown into the army for no discernible reason!
*FINAL SPOILER WARNING*
In BioShock Infinite, the protagonist, Booker DeWitt, is a man with a fair degree of inner turmoil, having sold his daughter to pay off a gambling debt (as you do). Many years later he is sent on a job to capture/rescue Elizabeth Comstock from Columbia, and on this job discovers that she has the unique (and often helpful) ability to open up tears between parallel worlds. Well, in a dramatic twist of events at the end of the game, it's discovered that Elizabeth Comstock is, in fact, Anna DeWitt, after Booker sold her to the game's main antagonist Father Comstock. In a further twist, Comstock is, in fact, a parallel world Booker, and Booker-prime's attempt to back out of the deal as Anna was being passed through an inter-dimensional portal resulted in the loss of Anna's little finger, and Elizabeth's subsequent abilities years down the line! Phew!
To make the model embody Anna, I decided to try and capture the essence of that moment in the base, so with a rough plan in my head, it was time to get started!
First of all I assembled Kade, which was again nice and simple. The teddy stayed on the sprue, as it had no place in this scene, and the knife was clipped out of his hand, but aside from that he was simply assembled as normal.
Then it was time to start the all-important base! I started with a resin street-base which I had on-hand - one of many I'd bought for my Batman miniatures. It was important that the base had a kerb, for reasons we'll come to in a moment...
Next I needed a wall. It would be very difficult for Anna to be passed through a portal in the wall if there wasn't actually a wall, otherwise the portal would just be in thin air. Actually, that would have been just as feasible, but from a modelling point of view it would have been a nightmare, so I was very grateful for the wall.
I simply used a piece of plasticard for the wall. It was a little bit smooth for brickwork though, so I scored some lines on it to represent bricks, and then gave it a light sanding to try and give it a rougher finish. The other side of the wall I left smooth, as this was going to be the interior of a room, and so was going to be wallpapered. Then I just needed to create the portal itself, which I did by simply drilling a hole in the plasticard and gradually working it wider with a knife.
Then I just glued the wall onto the base, flush against the kerb, and used some wooden coffee stirrers to make some floorboards for the other side of the wall. This is where the kerb was important, as that raised level meant that once I'd added the floorboards, both sides of the base were even with eachother, and it also sandwiched the wall in place, preventing it from being knocked off in an inevitable bout of clumsiness later!
With the base and the miniature both assembled, all that was left was to combine the two and paint them! Again, the paint job did help to bring the scene together a little bit...
As Anna lost her left little finger in the incident, I wanted to add this to the grizzly scene, so I added a small pool of blood around her left hand, along with a streak of blood running down from the postal. Now you could nit-pick at this point, as she wouldn't have lost that finger while the portal was open, but I'm playing the artistic license card here, as it captures the overall scene a little better. On the pavement side of the scene, there is a small patch of blood on the ground, and I even added a dot of flesh for the severed finger. Again, I used artistic license and scrawled the words "Bring us the girl, wipe away the debt" on the wall - these words weren't present in this scene, but they are the words that prompted Booker's sale of Anna, as well as his eventual rescue of Elizabeth, so I felt that including them added to the scene as a whole.
So that's the latest two miniatures for the army! The splicers are almost done, so they will probably be the next article, but in the meantime thank you for reading, and I hope you enjoyed this!
Wednesday, 7 May 2014
The ongoing WarmaShock project has been progressing nicely! It's been a couple of weeks since the last update, but that's because I've been working on the unit of splicers and the Big Daddies - I've got some fantastic miniatures finished for both, but I'm waiting until all splicers/BD's are finished in order to upload them as a whole. In between splicers, however, I have been working on a few other bits and pieces here and there, so that I don't become bored or resentful towards the unit and stop giving it my best, and that leads me onto this update.
So far, this army has seen Booker DeWitt and Elizabeth Comstock from BioShock Infinite, and Eleanor Lamb from BioShock 2, so I thought it was time to revisit Rapture and add something quick and easy to the list. Characters are incredibly satisfying to piece together - especially when you feel very passionately about them - but they don't often embody the world around them. That's what I wanted to start doing; converting miniatures which felt like they held the very life and soul of Rapture and Columbia. With the Big Daddies still being worked on there was one other thing which I felt was integral to feel of the first two BioShock games: security bots!
I've always had a soft spot for these guys (or at least since the first time I was able to get them to fight on my side). In the first two games it felt like you could barely turn a corner in Rapture without walking past a security camera and sending a pair of security bots buzzing after you, so I really wanted to have a couple featuring in my army.
The main problem with the bots is that they are a unique shape. While working on Elizabeth did give me some practice with green stuff, I still wasn't in a position where I would confidently and competently start sculpting something along these lines. So when I started on these bots, I decided that I'd be happy to settle for a miniature which captured the overall feel of them, rather than a perfect, authentic replica.
The first thing I had to do was to find a model to use at its core. Seeing as the security bot is basically just a machine gun and a camera attached to some rotor blades, the logical place was to start scouring my bits boxes for discarded weapons to work around. Sometimes, though, logic gives way to good fortune, and a trip to my FLGS prevented me from having to start digging!
My local store, Titan Games, has struck up a good working relationship with Prodos Games - the company behind the tabletop system Mutant Chronicles: Warzone Resurrection. On the day I popped into the store they were showcasing some of the miniatures from their up and coming Alien vs Predator game, and that's when I spotted something pretty cool amongst the range...
...the colonial marines sentry turrets from Aliens! They may be the wrong shape for the security bots, but as far as capturing the overall feel goes, they seemed like as good a candidate as I was going to get. And to make things even better, it turned out they were giving out free samples of the sentry turrets and alien facehuggers, so I ended up getting a pair of turrets at no charge and before the release date! It certainly felt like a day of hobby win.
So with the miniatures in hand it was time to go home and start converting...
The turret miniatures themselves are of fantastic quality. Now I have to say that I'm not the biggest fan of Prodos (to put it mildly) for reasons I won't bother going into here, but the entire AvP range is absolutely stunning. Seeing as I was building bots and not turrets the majority of the stand would be discarded, but there were some parts on it that proved useful. The turret itself has a very nice overall aesthetic so I kept it in one piece, but it did need a couple of additions.
First of all I wanted to bulk the turrets out a little bit, as they are quite slim. The stand does include a large box which I assume is supposed to be the power unit for the turret, so I clipped this off the stand, filed down the excess, and attached it to the side of the gun.
Now the eagle-eyed amongst you may have noticed that the turret is upside-down in this photo, and that's the way it's going to stay for the rest of the build. First of all the indentation for attaching it to the stand is perfect for the rotor assembly, and secondly the light which was previously on top of the turret looks great hanging beneath the barrel of the bot.
Next it was time for the rotor blades. I have to admit I have no idea what these riveted strips are from, but I picked them up whilst rummaging through Titan's bits box a few days beforehand. I didn't know at the time what I'd be using them for, but they felt like they'd come in handy on the WarmaShock build as a whole! Take this as a lesson, kids, buying online might seem great, but never underestimate the benefits of having a good relationship with your FLGS!
The sprue contained 8 of these strips, so I simply removed one, clipped it in half, and assembled it criss-crossed to make the rotors. Using a clipped-down sewing pin I attached them to the turret, and the security bot had its wings...
If I was feeling impatient I could have left it there, but something about the bot didn't feel quite right. I soon realised that it wasn't quite tall enough, as the Rapture security bots do seem to have quite a bit of height to them as they come hovering towards you in the game, so I needed to find some way to extend it downwards slightly.
Back to the stand! The tripod had lost one of its legs when I removed it for the power pack. The remaining skinny leg looked like it might work to add a bit of volume to the bot, so I clipped it off, tried a dry-fit to the model, and it actually did the job pretty well. One dab of superglue later, and the first security bot was built!
Once the model was painted I attached a length of clear acrylic rod to the back of the model to suspend it above the base, and then all that was left was the base itself. Seeing as these are specifically Rapture bots (Columbia does have its own fliers, but of a very different design) I wanted the bases to be fitting. The Little Sisters are going to be built with wooden floorboard bases to emulate the flooring of the Little Sister Orphanage in BioShock 2, so I decided to do the same with the bases of the bots. Titan luckily had some Malifaux Orphanage Base inserts in stock, so I bought these, painted them up, attached the bots, and hey presto! The WarmaShock army had grown...
You might have noticed that I've put these on 40mm bases, instead of 30mm. It might seem odd, but if you'll bear with me there's method to the madness! I wanted the miniatures to have the feel of the BioShock security bots, so trawled through the Warmachine Mercenary units to see where they would fit in the best, and as daft as it sounds the Ogrun Bokur was the best!
Granted he has no ranged weapons, but the Bokur acts as a bodyguard to a warcaster or solo in the army, so this allowed me to have one bot guarding the main warcaster, whilst the other protects the journeyman warcaster. They're solos, so they can happily whizz around the battlefield doing their own thing. And finally - and I found this a nice touch - they're FA2, meaning that the army can only contain two of them. If you've played BioShock 1 or 2 you'll know that your character can never control more than two security bots at once, so even this is fitting.
So that's the latest addition to the army! As I said earlier, the Big Daddies are under construction (2 completed, 3 to go), as are the splicers (4 down, 6 to go), and the first Little Sister is also done, so hopefully the next update should be fairly soon!
As always, I hope you enjoyed this article, and I hope to see you again for the next addition to the force!
Monday, 5 May 2014
This review is for a project still at the Kickstarter stage. As such, final game contents may vary from those shown here.
As Games & Tea heads towards its first birthday (we're expecting cake - please don't let us down), it's delighted us just how much we're making in-roads in the gaming scene. Sure, we're probably at least a couple of weeks away from being mobbed by adoring fans in the street, but over the last couple of months we've had the nice experience of games developers approaching us to review their up and coming games. It's our pleasure to bring you another one of these now, in the form of Good Cop Bad Cop from Overworld Games: a semi-cooperative card game of hidden identities, deception, and occasionally shooting someone just out of spite/to be on the safe side.
Good Cop Bad Cop is for 4-8 players, and each player (as the name implies) takes on the role of a police officer (or "cop", as we understand the cool kids call them these days). Some of these cops will be the very embodiment of honesty, whilst some of them will be a crooked as a politician, and it's the aim of the game for each team to eliminate the leader of their opponents. Unfortunately this isn't quite as easy as you might first think, as the crooked cops have done a fine job of covering their tracks, so nobody at the start of the game knows which players are crooked and which are honest (aside from themselves, obviously). As such, the game starts out with an investigatory feel until players know just whom they can trust, after which it can descend into all-out interdepartmental war!
Well that's the rough outline of the game, so let's take a look at the components and then break down just how it all works!
There are three main types of cards in Good Cop Bad Cop: Integrity, Equipment, and Guns.
The Integrity cards determine whether a player is honest or crooked. At the beginning of each game, each player is dealt three Integrity cards which they must look at and then place face-down in front of themselves. If the majority of the cards are honest then the player is honest, and vice-versa. One player will find the Agent card amongst their Integrity cards and one player the Kingpin, which will mark them out as the leaders of the honest and crooked cops respectively, regardless of their other Integrity cards.
Once these cards are placed face-down they have to remain in the same order, which will come into play as one of the game's major mechanics shortly...
The Equipment cards are the next to be dealt out, as each player is dealt one at random, which they keep hidden from everyone else. The majority of these can be used at any point in the game, and have effects ranging from the revival of an eliminated player, to switching another player's allegiance for the remainder of the game. Each player can only carry up to one item of Equipment at a time, so having the right gear on-hand can be a game-changer at critical points!
And then we have the Gun cards. These are used to eliminate other players, including the all-important Agent/Kingpin. There aren't enough Guns in the game for each player to carry one at the same time, so knowing when to sit back and investigate or when to arm yourself for the coming storm can be the key to victory.
Once everyone has their trio of Integrity cards and their item of Equipment, the game beings, starting with the player who most recently told a lie - of course getting said player to admit this can be troublesome, as their credibility has already been brought into question.
During each players turn they may only take one action out of four possible options. They can Investigate another player, which involves taking a look at one of their Integrity cards and returning it to its face-down position. This is where maintaining card order becomes important, as investigating would obviously become impossible if players could shuffle their Integrity cards between each turn.
The second action option is Equip, in which a player may draw a card off the top of the Equipment deck.
Thirdly we have the Arm action, where a player takes one of the Gun cards from the centre of the table and aims it at another player. Whilst having a Gun obviously gives players the power of life and death/grievous wounding over the others, the act of taking one does require the player to turn one of their Integrity cards face-up, and so can bring the wrath of the opposing team bearing down upon them! This makes Gun-grabbing a tactical risk, rather than something to just be done casually.
If you've got a Gun you might as well use it! The final action is to Shoot, where the player pulls the trigger on their unfortunate target. The target of the attack must flip all of their Integrity cards face-up, and if they are the Agent or the Kingpin they take a wound. If they are hit a second time, they are out of the game, and their team is defeated. If the shot player is just a regular honest/crooked cop then a single shot is enough to eliminate them from the game.
|"That gunshot wound looks pretty nasty, boss. I think you're gonna need two plasters for that."|
After the action phase, if the player is holding a Gun they can choose to re-aim it at another target, and then play passes to the next player along. Play continues this way until either the Agent or Kingpin are eliminated, or until one player takes control of both the Agent and Kingpin cards, which results in victory for the crooked team.
So that's the basics of the gameplay. But how well does it work?
The first hidden identity game which we played was The Resistance, which, whilst a lot of fun, did have its share of shortcomings - one of which was that accusations of loyalty and treason started getting regularly thrown around at the very start of each game. Good Cop Bad Cop has avoided this pitfall first of all by leaving all players in the dark about one another, and secondly by giving players the power to eliminate eachother. Shouting up your suspicions about a crooked cop in the game's early stages may seem like a bold move, but in all likelihood it will just end up putting you on the wrong end of a crooked gun! The option is certainly there to voice your suspicions, or share the findings of your investigations, but we found that most players erred on the side of caution and kept their opinions to themselves for as long as possible.
This makes the investigation part of the game highly crucial, as players are forced seek out just who they can trust and who is a threat. After several games with a variety of different players, we have to admit that this does start the game off at quite a slow pace, however once players start to get an idea of who is on their side (even if it's just one other player) things start to pick up, and the game quickly becomes quite cutthroat and frantic!
|Looks like we've got ourselves a Mexican stand-off...|
One of the mechanics to which we all gave a wholehearted thumbs-up was the aiming of the Guns - specifically down to the fact that it must be done at the end of the player's turn. This prevents players from simply aiming and pulling the trigger, as the round of play in between can completely change their plans on who to eliminate. This comes into play all the more so in larger games, adding a whole new level of depths as affiliations may be revealed and new suspicions raised in their place. One more than one occasion we've witnessed players picking up a Gun card and then changing their target three or four times before finally taking the shot! On top of the aiming we also liked the fact that taking a Gun in the first place reveals one of your Integrity cards, giving other players hint at your affiliation, or giving you a chance at a devious bluff.
And finally we have to give credit to the Equipment cards, which can literally change the course of the game at the drop of a hat. There are some cards which appear much more potent than others, such as Taser, which allows a player to steal someone else's Gun, or Blanks, which prevents Guns from being fired during a particular turn. However, some of the less-potent looking cards can be used to devastating effect at the right time. The Bribe card is a great example, as it allows a player to switch one of their Integrity cards with that of another player. This may not sound amazing at first glance, but if you're an honest cop and your Agent's already taken a wound and has weapons aimed at him by the crooked cops, it can allow you to take the Agent card for yourself, giving your team the drop on those dirty crooked officers! Each Equipment card is completely unique, and with a hand limit of just one, it's unlikely that the entire deck will be cycled through during a single game, so repeats of the same effect will be avoided. This is a bit of a double-edged sword, however, as players will soon learn the effects of each of the Equipment cards - if the only card that can foil their plan has already been played, they know that they can go ahead without any danger. We couldn't help but think that if the Equipment deck was doubled in size to two of each card, this could be resolved, adding a little more tension as the game progresses.
The other real downside of Good Cop Bad Cop is purely statistical, and comes into play during smaller games. It's entirely possible after the Integrity cards have been dealt out, that the Agent or Kingpin can be the only player on their team. Within our first few test games we saw both sides of this, with the Agent left alone in one game, and the Kingpin left flying the crooked flag solo in the next. This meant that once the single player shot their opposite number for the first time, every other player in the swiftly picked up a weapon and gunned them down before they could pick up another Gun and finish the job. In both cases the imbalance wasn't noticed until the shooting began, but it was a bit demoralising for the single player to find out that they never stood much of a chance to begin with. As we say though, this is entirely a statistical issue, and doesn't effect larger games.
Stepping away from the mechanics, it's physically a nice game to play. Being purely a pack of cards, Good Cop Bad Cop is very easy to transport. Things like the active player or wound markers could have been done as punch-out tokens, but by keeping them as cards the entire game fits very neatly into a box no larger than a poker deck.
As each player will never need more than 5 cards in front of them at once (three Integrity, one Gun, one Wound), it doesn't require a great deal of playing space. In fact when out FLGS was packed to the rafters, our first games of Good Cop Bad Cop were played in a pub garden with five of us around a relatively small table!
And in terms of the cards themselves, they're pretty darn nice to look at. You won't find any lavish artwork in Good Cop Bad Cop, but the simplified silhouettes on the cards fit the feel of the game perfectly, and make it aesthetically very pleasing.
Overall our experience of Good Cop Bad Cop has been a positive one, and if you wish to support it at the Kickstarter level then you have until May 20th to get on board here.
The Good Points
- Good Cop Bad Cop is an easy to learn game and quick to play.
- Set up space is small, and it's a game which can literally fit in your pocket.
- Unlike some hidden identity games, players are not rewarded for throwing blind accusations around.
- The wide variety of Equipment cards can shake the game up in various ways when players least expect it.
- It's a great game for large groups, accommodating up to 8 players.
The Bad Points
- Team-balancing becomes an issue in smaller games
- Experienced players can learn to wait until certain Equipment cards have been played, removing other players' chances to foil them.
Recommended Number of Players: 6+
The team-balance issue is most frequent in 4 player games, and occasionally crops up with 5 players. With 6 or more it seems to have been pretty much eliminated, but Good Cop Bad Cop is definitely a game which gets better with larger crowds. If you can pull together a full lineup of 8 players then we'd highly recommend it!
Average Game Time: 15-30 minutes
Depending on player numbers, Good Cop Bad Cop will take 15-30 minutes to play - obviously with higher player numbers there has to be more investigation before players start shooting wildly! Being quick and fun to play though, the entire group was happy to play a few games back to back.
Replay Value: Medium/High
Whilst Good Cop Bad Cop doesn't have much by way of additional mechanics to make each playthrough different, hidden identity games by their very nature owe their replayability to the group. They are the specialist gaming scene's equivalent of poker, and as long as you have a group who can stonewall eachother and keep their affiliations under wraps until the last possible moment, games like this can be brought back out again and again.
The Future: Under Investigation...
Good Cop Bad Cop is still at the Kickstarter stage, so right now all attention is on making this game see the light of day. Once it reaches general release, the option of additional cards may be addressed. With simple games such as this, too many additional mechanics can rob it of its character, but simple additions such as new Equipment cards - or even a third character card such as Internal Affairs for larger games - could be used to help it go the extra mile. At this point this is purely our whimsical speculation, but it's worth keeping an eye on!
Being a Kickstarter project, it's up to each backer how much they'd like to pledge to Good Cop Bad Cop. A $14 pledge will secure you a copy of the game upon its release including postage within the US, so with the additional cost of postage to the UK, this works out around the £15 mark.
OVERALL SCORE: 8.5/10
Tea consumed during this review: Typhoo, milk and 2 sweeteners. Brew rating: 9/10
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