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A Beginning…

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Beginning

I’m a long-time painter/wargamer with over 25 years in the hobby. I’ve decided to start this blog to document my hobby activities, as having a young family has meant my gaming time has become pretty limited. I still manage to get some painting done most evenings so this is a way to share this progress.

My gaming interests are pretty eclectic but tend to focus on pop-culture related games, and I like converting minis to represent characters from my favourite comics/films/TV shows. My gaming interests tend to favour science fiction games, but I have recently been getting into pulp and superhero gaming more.

A small selection of games I am interested in are as follows:

Imperial Assault,
X-Wing,
7TV,
Kings of War,
Super Mission Force,
Dreadball,
Bolt Action,
Colonial Battlefleet
Warhammer 40k

…and many more. This blog will represent my eclectic interests, so hopefully there will be something for all kinds of gamers and hobbyists. I’m not sure how regularly I will be able to post, but look forward to sharing my projects with the world!

Year in Review 2017

Hi all,

It’s been a while since my last blog post. A change in personal circumstances has kept me pretty busy lately but I have managed to find some time to devote to my hobbies. I thought I would write a more reflective post to end this, my first year of the blog.

Here are all the miniatures I painted in 2017. There are 117 minis from four major projects, some of which I have blogged about before, others which may be new to readers.

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The year started with finishing my Imperial Assault Rebels. I would love to use all these minis in a full-scale wargame like Bolt Action or Beyond the Gates of Antares, so there are just enough figures to do that. I’m interested to see what comes of Star Wars Legion, but I don’t see myself buying and painting all the same figures in 35mm scale. If I can get away with using these (and the many other IA figures I already have), I will. I have also been playing a bit of the Imperial Assault campaign solo thanks to the new app which takes the role of the Imperial player. It’s given my collection a new lease on life so I highly recommend it.

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The next project I worked on was of course my Ninja Turtles for 7TV. I have blogged about these before, but I have a project I am working on at the moment which has connections with this one (more on that later).

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Following that, I got back into superhero gaming with my Heroclix repaints for Super Mission Force. I devoted a lot of time to creating stat cards for my heroes, and these are the minis I painted this year to go with my old repaints. I’ve had  few games of this system so far and really enjoy the flexibility of character creation and the dice pool mechanic.

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Finally, a project I started in March was a force for Test of Honour by Warord Games. I was seduced by its low price point but I didn’t get much further than assembling the plastics (which was quite time consuming). At the time, I also ordered some Samurai and Ninja minis from Perry Miniatures and set them aside for future use. The release of the new Ninjas of Iga set from Warlord really reignited this project for me just before Christmas, and so I spent a marathon painting session painting 2 forces for ToH – an all-Ninja force and a more traditional mix of commoners and Samurai. I need to finish off painting the Samurai for this force, but they are currently half finished on my painting table so shouldn’t be hard to do.

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The Test of Honour project has its roots in the TMNT project, as the force is based on the Foot Clan! I’m really enjoying the IDW TMNT comic series, and the Secret History of the Foot Clan mini-series gave a lot of backstory for the Foot Clan’s origins in Feudal Japan. I have taken some of the concepts and done my own take on this using what I had available and I am pretty pleased with how they have turned out. I can mix and match the commoners with the Ninja, or separate them into two forces. I have some lanterns coming from Warlord Games to finish this set off (they’re a vital component of night missions and they look great, too).

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So, all in all it has been a challenging year for me personally and professionally, but my hobbies have continued to give me a much needed creative outlet. I have been pleased with what I have been able to achieve considering how busy I have been, but now that I have so many projects done, I will be trying to shift focus onto more gaming! I’m keen to get Test of Honour on the table as soon as possible and I have a selection of Japanese terrain that I will be using. I will be sure to keep the blog updated with the results of these games.

I also wanted to take the time to acknowledge the readers of this blog, as the feedback has been really encouraging. I started this as a way to document my hobby projects, as restricted time to play meant that I couldn’t share my hobby work very easily. This blog has given me another outlet and so I’m grateful for the support and encouragement I’ve received. Thanks, everyone!

Hope you all have had a great hobby year and that you achieve everything you set out to do in the New Year!

Happy Gaming!

Super Mission Force Game Report: Find the Infinity Gems!

I’ve had a bit of time away from the gaming table so it was good to get a game in with my friend Iain. We decided to play the Seek and Find mission, and we were on the hunt for Infinity Gems, which had been scattered throughout the area. There are 7 structures on the board which potentially contain one of 5 gems. The team which recovers and carries the most gems off the board will be the winner. It was a fun game with a lot of back and forth in spite of finding the gems pretty early.

Iain took his trusty Guardians of the Galaxy, with a couple of changes. Mantis made her first appearance, and Iron Man joined forces to give the team a bit more mobility. Iain dubbed the team ‘Date Night’.

Meanwhile, I fielded a team of X-Men to try some characters I hadn’t fielded yet. Deadpool is actually a figure from the Infinity range named Señor Massacre I had painted a while ago. Banshee is a conversion of the original Heroclix figure minus the disco collar and with a new screaming head to represent the Jim Lee era blue and gold Banshee (which was when I first encountered the character).

Here are some of the game’s highlights!

The X-Men examine their first structure and Banshee finds a gem thanks to his Enhanced Senses.

Iron Man finds a gem of his own and starts exchanging fire with Deadpool, who has set up in the opposing building.

Star Lord (legendary outlaw) searches for a gem, but the malignant influence of the artefact results in some nasty psychic backlash.

Gamora and Mantis advance on the X-Men. Mantis’ mind control powers will prove extremely useful in this scenario.

Beast locates a gem, but Iron Man swoops in and starts firing on him.

Star Lord uses his jump boots to investigate Deadpool’s building, and manages to secure a gem at last.

Banshee throws caution to the wind in an attempt to Sonic Blast the already injured Star Lord, but the outlaw proves too resilient.

The ladies close in on the enemy and Mantis starts using mind control to move Beast closer to their clutches.Beast is eliminated by Iron Man, dropping two gems, which Tony scoops up as he makes a run for it with three gems in hand.

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Iron Man pulls a classic Tony Stark move and runs for the board edge, abandoning his team.

In a stunning turn of events, Deadpool makes a massive Teleport roll, catching up with the fleeing Iron Man, and unleashes a blaze of fire which takes the billionaire genius philanthropist playboy down!

Star Lord proves that two can play at that game and leaps over to Deadpool, scooping up the three dropped gems before scampering off the board to go shopping for an Infinity Gauntlet!

So all in all, it was a really fun game with lots more back and forth than we would have expected given how the early game played out. Teleport and Leaping are both very useful abilities to cross large distances, which gave each side a chance to reverse their fortunes at various points. Mind Control was again a very decisive ability (I think I will be bringing Jean Grey along next time!) and the objective really added a lot of interest and balance to the game.

Until next time: Truth, Justice and Gaming!

Super Mission Force Game Report

Time for another game report, this time at my local club T.C.O.W (That Club Out West), here in Auckland. This was a demo game for a friend of mine, so we kept things simple again with a basic slugfest to see who would come out on top. My opponent took control of the X-Men (and was clearly a fan of the 90s incarnation of the team) and I took Invincible and friends out for a spin (easily my favourite comic series of the last 10 years). The stat cards for all the relevant characters can be found in this post.

I was pleased to get a chance to put my urban setup on the table, as well. I have been working on elements of this for over a year and it features buildings from Worldworks Games’ Swift Scenics range.

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The teams:

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Dupli-Kate (Street Level), Invincible (Super Brick), Atom Eve (Blaster) and Rex Splode (Wild Card).
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Storm (Wild Card), Wolverine (Scrapper), Cyclops (Blaster) and Jean Grey (Mentalist)

And here are some of the highlights of the game.

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Invincible and friends’ set up.
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The X-Men set up behind a bus for cover, with Storm taking up an overwatch position as she summons fog to obscure the team.
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Wolverine goes for a stroll through the park, trying to sniff out some prey.
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Wolverine closes in on the enemy, but he’s not going to be alone for long…
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Rex Splode and Atom Eve face off against Storm. Rex’s Super Agility came into play in this game, giving him a lot of mobility moving from building to building.
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Dupli-Kate starts creating copies of herself and starts moving in on Wolverine’s position.
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Jean Grey takes up position and starts threatening Invincible with mental attacks and mind control.
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Invincible gets the jump on Wolverine thanks to his speed, but Wolverine’s healing factor is a tough nut to crack. This will prove to be the deciding showdown of the game as the two brawlers slug it out.
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Rex Splode skirts around Storm to get a bead on Jean Grey in the park below.
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Rex Splode starts raining attacks on Jean Grey, as she is the one most likely to be able to take out Invincible.
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Invincible breaks away from combat with Wolverine to deal with the psychic threat, but takes some damage from Wolverine’s attack of opportunity on the way out. Meanwhile, Cyclops tries to get a bead on Rex Splode and Atom Eve, who are still camped on the rooftops.
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Dupli-Kate(s) attempt to charge into Wolverine and try to take him out, but the first duplicate is taken out in short order thanks to the scrapper’s damage reflection ability in melee.
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Invincible manages to take out Jean Grey, but Wolverine is there to avenge her!
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Cyclops runs out to get a line of fire on Rex Splode, but the cover is too much for his optic blasts to overcome. Rex Splode returns fire in spectacular fashion, taking Cyclops out in one shot!
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Atom Eve gets a clear shot on Storm and takes her out with a vicious Power Blast.
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Wolverine is the last mutant standing but he won’t go down without a fight. The weight of attacks from Invincible and the Dupli-Kates finally inflict damage that Wolverine just couldn’t regenerate fast enough.

So all in all, it was a fairly one-sided affair, with Team Invincible managing to focus their energies on Jean Grey once the effects of her powers became apparent. Mind Control was a scary prospect, and Invincible was a prime target for this, but my opponent had a bit of bad luck that he couldn’t take full advantage of this ability. Jean’s Telekinesis also proved useful in moving Wolverine closer to the action, and her Mental attacks were the most reliable way to get through Invincible’s tough defenses. I did get pretty lucky with some amazing ranged attacks from Atom Eve and Rex Splode taking out Storm and Cyclops in a single turn.

Lessons learned from this game:

  • As mentioned, Mentalists are a good hard counter against super-tough bricks, but once the brick is ensconced in combat, it becomes tricky to target them with Mental attacks. Mind Control, however, was a viable option in this case and it could really have ruined my day if Jean was allowed to act with impunity.
  • I had previously been playing Enhance wrong. I had assumed extra re-rolls granted went away each turn, but in fact they form a Re-Roll pool of up to 6 dice, which last until used. This made Cyclops a real team player and my opponent took full advantage of that, even after Cyclops had been taken out!
  • Duplicate is a fun power, but it is much better to swarm a target in combat all at once than to attack piecemeal. I learned this after a failed charge meant only one copy made it into combat with Wolverine and was cut down instantly. I didn’t make the same mistake later, and the third attacker became quite formidable thanks to the ganging up bonuses.

It was a fun game and good to get a chance to see some different powers in action. I’m keen to play a scenario next time, as I think having an objective will change how the game plays dramatically. I do worry about the impact of flyers and teleporters in objective grab missions, though, so it will be interesting to see how that plays out.

Until next time, happy gaming!

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

I’m taking a break from Super Mission Force this week to share another project I’ve been working on recently. I am a recent convert to 7TV and really like how well it captures the feel of pulp TV shows and how customisable the characters are. A while back, Crooked Dice Studios (the producers of 7TV) released a free PDF guide with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles characters!

7TV TMNT Programme Guide

Being a child of the 80s, I have a special place in my heart for the Ninja Turtles, and the most recent comic series by IDW is, to my mind, the definitive interpretation of the story (it’s an amazing series, you should check it out). I have always wanted to have miniatures for the Ninja Turtles and even tried to convert some for myself about 15 years ago using GW Kroot. Needless to say, they didn’t turn out as well as I had hoped, so the project was shelved for quite some time.

But then along came Wizkids, who decided to release some TMNT Heroclix figures. It took me a while to get around to purchasing any models, but I got the 4 Turtles a while ago and set about repainting them. After cleaning off mould lines and starting from a black undercoat, these were the results.

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I wanted to capture the different shades of green for each turtle so experimented a little with the colours until I was happy with the results. These are the colour recipes I used. All of them were basecoated in the appropriate colour before a mixed wash of Army Painter Dark Tone and Green Tone before highlighting with the base colours again.

Donnie- Vallejo US Dark Green
Leo – Citadel Goblin Green + a little Vallejo German Field Grey
Raph – Citadel Goblin Green + Citadel Dark Angels Green
Mikey – Vallejo Foul Green + Citadel Dark Angels Green
Shells: Vallejo Green Brown

After repainting the heroes, I thought they might need some backup, so I added Casey Jones, April, Metalhead and of course, Master Splinter.

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Now, you can’t have Ninja Turtles without a suitable foe for them to face off against, so I started putting together some villains. I started with the Foot Ninja, using the Foot Tech Ninja models from Heroclix. They do a small number of variants of these, but the best part was that they were cast in clear plastic, which made repainting much simpler than normal! I added Bebop and Rocksteady (who got a gun upgrade from a spare Eisenkern Stormtrooper mini made by Dreamforge Games). The leaders of the Foot Clan (Shredder, Karai and a Foot Lieutenant) came next, and these were taken from Crooked Dice’s Shiva range. I did find that the standard Foot Ninja were quite tall, so decided to put Shredder on some terrain to make him taller and stand out more. The crate was taken from Mantic’s Mars Attacks scenery and I simply hand-painted the Foot clan symbol.

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Hope you enjoy the project. I plan to add a Turtle Wagon at some point but as it stands, I have enough for a large game of 7TV (50 Ratings per side) and they will look great on my urban board, which I have also been working on. I have been putting together some balconies to add to the buildings and I have a couple of Japanese style buildings I can add in as a Foot Clan Dojo to spice things up a bit.

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Thanks for reading, happy gaming!

Super Mission Force Game Report

I managed to get a chance to play a game of SMF in the nerdcave (aka my garage) with an old mate. Apologies for the picture quality, I only had a cellphone on hand, will try to get better quality images next time.

As this was our first game using the rules, we opted to play a standard slugfest. My opponent took a bunch of A-Holes out for a spin (Guardians of the Galaxy), and I took a few X-Men.

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Gamora, Star-Lord, Drax and Rocket & Baby Groot.
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Cyclops, Wolverine, Cable and Colossus.

As the Guardians were involved, I chose to set up a sci-fi board using a new gaming mat I got recently using a design from Dave Graffam Models. For those interested, I used the image from Dave Graffam and sent it to a supplier on Alibaba and got the mat made and shipped at a fraction of the cost of other gaming mats.

Here’s a run-down of some of the highlights of the game.

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The board in all its glory.
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Wolverine and Colossus set up to take the fight to the enemy.
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Cable and Cyclops survey the battlefield (cue ‘Father and Son’ by Cat Stevens).
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Star-Lord scouts some targets while Drax, Rocket and Gamora (not pictured) take the low ground.
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Star-Lord activates his jump boots to get a shot on Wolverine on the level below. Unfortunately, this leaves him open to a counter-charge.
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Rocket and Baby Groot advance on the X-Men, blasting as they go.
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Star-Lord breaks away from combat, leaping to relative safety, but Wolverine isn’t ready to give up his quarry.
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Drax steps in, saving his teammates from Wolverine’s predations.
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Star-Lord takes aim at Cyclops at point-blank range, injuring him but not quite finishing him off.
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Cable spends most of the game teleporting around the board to get a clear shot on his targets. Teleport is a very useful ability!
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Star-Lord is eliminated by Cable, leaving Drax and Rocket/Groot to deal with the X-Men’s close combat experts.
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On his last legs, Drax is determined to draw blood and manages to take out Colossus in a spectacular melee, but Wolverine is another story…
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Rocket is taken out and Drax finally falls to Wolverine’s berserker rage.

It was a fun game and we got to grips with the system pretty quickly. I am a big fan of dice pool games as it seems to mitigate the effect of swingy luck when you are rolling multiple dice with each action. I’m a big fan of Dreadball for this reason and prefer it over games like Blood Bowl as a single bad dice roll can have a huge impact. Having said that, rolling 6s has a big impact (they count as 2 successes), and adding re-rolls really shifts the odds in your favour.

Lessons learned:

The X-Men had a few advantages in this game in terms of mobility thanks to Cable’s Teleport power, but Colossus was very slow and didn’t make much of an impact until the end. In hindsight, I should have taken more advantage of the ability to Teleport with a teammate and dropped Colossus into the thick of the action earlier.

Wolverine’s Regeneration power is extremely strong, and we decided halfway through the game to house rule this power. Normally, a Chance roll is made (2 dice) and the number of successes +1 = Body damage healed. We found that this was a bit excessive and tweaked it somewhat, dropping the +1 from the total, but saying the ability had a minimum of 1 Body Damage healed (so between 1 and 4 Body damage healed rather than 1-5). It’s a small change, but we felt that unless the entire opposing team was able to pile onto Wolverine, and minor damage was healed pretty quickly.

Gadgets is a very useful power, and Rocket/Groot and Star-Lord were able to take advantage of the re-rolls each turn. Star-Lord’s Fortune power (representing his celestial parentage) came in handy on a few occasions.

Enhance as a minor power is useful, but only if you stick close to your team. Cable had this power but as he was too busy zipping around the board on his own that it didn’t come into play. Cyclops also had this power, but as he was a blaster hanging back, his melee-focused teammates didn’t really get much benefit from it.

The board setup worked well for the theme and there was plenty of cover to hide behind. Gantries and multiple levels added a lot to the gameplay but I will be keen to see how the game plays on a more urban setup or with more flyers. Next time we will be using objectives and I have acquired some gemstones to use as objectives (Infinity Stones!).

Until next time: Truth, Justice and Gaming!

Super Mission Force Teams

I have been pretty busy painting and adding to my growing ranks of superheroes for Super Mission Force so I thought it would be a good time to post the current state of my teams. A lot of these minis were converted and/or painted quite some time ago, but I managed to find time to rebase them more consistently by cutting them off their Heroclix bases and gluing them onto clear acrylics. Of particular note is my Invincible team, which used the special collector’s edition Invincible set as a starting point. I love this comic series and wanted to represent some of the smaller characters from the series so I set about sourcing appropriate figures to convert and repaint. I have a few more besides the ones in the picture, but you get the idea.

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Left to Right: Monster Girl, Shrinking Ray, Dupli-Kate, Atom Eve, Invincible, Allen the Alien, Rex Splode, Young Omni-Man, Shapesmith

 

I will also say a quick word on how I work when it comes to repainting Heroclix. These days, the first things I do is cut them off their Heroclix base and rebase them temporarily on an old GW base. From there, I do some cleanup of the mini, filing off any mould lines. From there, I have a couple of options. I either spray the whole miniature with a light undercoat and start painting, or if there are any particularly tricky colours or patterns, I might use a spray varnish and start repainting without an undercoat (often starting with some washes for shade and definition and highlighting from there). The latter method is one I have used more recently, with Rogue and Hope Summers being good examples of this technique. It’s good to know the figures can still come out pretty well and it saves a lot of time doing it this way, so I have taken this approach for the next batch of figures I’m painting, the Guardians of the Galaxy.

I’ll keep you updated on my progress, but until then here are rest of the teams!

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The Original Five X-Men – Angel, Jean Grey, Beast, Cyclops and Iceman (who has not been repainted at all!)
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X-Men: Wolfsbane, Warpath, Rogue, Colossus, Banshee, Wolverine, Bishop, Kitty Pryde and Shatterstar.
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Hope Summers and her adoptive father, Cable.
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The Bat Family: Robin (Damien Wayne), Red Robin (Tim Drake), Batman, Nightwing and Batman Beyond (who adds a different kind of power set to the team).
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Justice League: Batman, Green Lantern (Kyle Rayner, my favourite), Superman and The Flash!

Super Mission Force Characters

I thought I’d give a brief overview of Super Mission Force character generation before discussing my recent efforts in this area.

file(1)Character design in SMF is simple. Pick an archetype (eg Brick, Blaster, Mastermind), which determines your basic stats and a major power. You’re then given a shortlist of minor powers to choose from to round out the character. Once you’ve done that, choose a couple of backgrounds (which affect pre-game events) and you’re done! I have deviated from these rules for my recent builds as I found that I wasn’t able to make characters as faithfully as I would have liked, so I removed the restrictions and chose powers from the entire list (which is pretty comprehensive). As a result, I’ve been able to make characters from all sorts of teams pretty easily, and I’ve been happy with how they’re represented on the tabletop. Before I knew it, I had stats done for dozens of characters!

Now, I’m all for making things simple in-game, so I decided to create a character card template which included stats and notes for each character. After a bit of research, I found that someone had created a Pulp City template for use in Magic Set Editor. Using this as a starting point, I put the image into Photoshop and created a mask which included the stats used in SMF. Once the fiddly details were done, I set about creating cards to go with the repainted Heroclix figures I had (or ones I plan to do soon). After a couple of weeks’ work in the evenings, I managed to create about 80 cards, with more to come in the future.

Overall, I’m pretty happy with how they’ve turned out and they should be an invaluable aid in-game.  I’ve made them available as a PDF here:

SMF Stat Cards