Category Archives: Super Heroes

MH-2 Time Trap: a Super Mission Force Campaign

It’s been a while since I’ve posted an After Action Report, and Forgotten Heroes has given me a hankerin’ for some supers gaming. I’ve decided to convert another old TSR Marvel Super Heroes RPG module to Super Mission Force. This time around: MH-2: Time Trap, featuring the Mighty Avengers!

The antagonist of this adventure is none other than Kang the Conqueror, who is generally aggravated that—despite being a master of time travel—he keeps losing to the Avengers every time he tries to take over the world. The Avengers annoy Kang, so Kang comes up with a surprisingly good plan to deal with them: make sure they never exist. Disguising himself as Immortus (his future, somewhat good-aligned incarnation), Kang invents a story about how a huge solar flare will destroy Earth in a few days unless the Avengers can stop it. In order to do so, they must travel back in time to stop several key events from happening, thus ensuring the solar flare is never triggered.

In reality, Kang is sending the heroes back in time to undo their own existence. He figures that if the Avengers never form as a super team, he will have a much easier time conquering Earth. The Avengers must discover Kang’s plot and turn the tables on him lest they be trapped in time forever and lest Earth fall prey to Kang’s tyranny.

The Avengers team roster for this adventure consists of (L-R) Wasp, Vision, Scarlet Witch, Captain America, Starfox and Captain Marvel (and a cola machine). Not exactly the powerhouse team from the movies, but a solid slice of 1980’s, Bronze Age comic history, when Scarlet Witch was nowhere near as powerful as she is now and someone thought it would be cool to put Starfox in the Avengers.

Starfox = huge douche. Just my opinion.

As with any TSR Marvel adventure, adapting it to a miniatures game like Super Mission Force will require some tinkering. The general trend in TSR Marvel adventures is one encounter/battle per chapter. Often the villains battled are lame, and the super team can deal with them without too much trouble. This works better in a roleplaying game than on the miniatures table. For example, in my last Super Mission Force campaign, based on the adventure The Breeder Bombs, there was a chapter where the X-Men fought the Soviet Super Soldiers. As originally written, the X-Men travel to the USSR and fight the Crimson Dynamo and a bunch of Soviet Super Troopers (basically armored henchmen). To draw a clear picture, that’s Cyclops, Storm, Kitty Pryde, Rogue, Colossus, Nightcrawler and Wolverine vs. the Crimson Dynamo and a bunch of scrubs. That may be fun in a roleplaying game, but in SMF, the Russians are going to get their asses kicked pretty damn quick. Henchmen are rarely much of a problem for most heroes, and a team as powerful as the X-Men would wade through henchmen groups in no time. So I changed the opposition to the entire Soviet Super Soldiers team, and it was much more of a challenge. I will have to do similar altering of the original module for this campaign as well.

Here are my Super Mission Force builds for the Avengers:

Captain America (Powerhouse) Major: Scrapper, Enhance Minor: Clever, Melee Specialist, Shield, Super-Agility

Captain Marvel (Super) Major: Speed Minor: Density Decrease, Invisibility, Flight, Power Blasts

NOTE: In order for Captain Marvel to use her Speed or Flight powers, she MUST use and/or maintain Density Decrease first.

Vision (Super) Major: Super Strength Minor: Construct, Density Increase/Decrease, Power Blasts, Flight

Scarlet Witch (Blaster) Major: Power Blasts Minor: Fortune, Jinx

Starfox (Wild Card) Minor: Flight, Stun, Super Strength, Tough

Wasp (Blaster) Major: Power Blasts, Minor: Flight, Shrinking

Looking the team over as a whole, it’s pretty powerful by SMF standards, with one Powerhouse and two Supers. As usual, I ignored the SMF rules on team composition, opting instead to be true to the established characters. I think it’s pretty tough to imagine these heroes without the powers listed, even if that makes them more powerful than a typical SMF team would be. They’re the Avengers, dude! Don’t sweat the small stuff!

Up next, Scenario One:  The Menace of The Mimic!

Forgotten Heroes 2018 Bonus: Vigilante!

Perhaps it’s a bit self-aggrandizing (sorry, couldn’t help it), but I managed to complete yet another submission for Forgotten Heroes this month. It just came together on its own, as I had no plans to do another conversion.

Vigilante is a DC character who has undergone several incarnations, and is not to be confused with the Justice League cowboy version. This Vigilante is from the mid-80’s, when America’s fascination with action films was arguably at its peak, and Stallone and Schwarzenegger were in their heyday. Seems like every big movie of the time was about some badass taking the law into his own hands or getting revenge by killing lots of people, usually by shooting them a lot.

Enter Vigilante, a product of the 1980’s if ever there was one. Judge Adrian Chase got fed up with having to release career criminals on technicalities or mistrials, so he donned a black ski suit and strapped on a hand cannon. Then he went after them and shot them. That’s pretty much the plot of the Vigilante series, which ran for 50 issues and wasn’t great. Basically, it’s 50 issues chronicling Adrian Chase’s spiral into madness before he ultimately eats his own gun. For a while, he stops being Vigilante and some other guy whose name I don’t care enough about to look up takes over.

It wasn’t ALL bad, though. My personal favorite issue is this one, Vigilante #19, which is basically just one long fight scene as Vigilante tries to bring in a gang member who is a kung-fu expert. It’s penciled by one of my favorite comic artists of all time, Denys Cowan. In my opinion, no one draws fight scenes like Cowan, a talent he would prove time and time again when he took over penciling The Question. I used to dream of the day when Denys Cowan would draw Shang-Chi or Iron Fist, but to my knowledge, that never happened.

Anyway, why did I convert Vigilante at the 11th hour? Because I could. Remember that Intergang Medic I used when I made my Plant Man conversion? Well, it was just sitting there staring at me from the side of my workspace. Perhaps staring is the wrong word, considering it’s difficult to stare without eyes or a head to stare with. I thought his pose, while nothing exciting, certainly had potential.

First, he needed a head, since I used his for Plant Man. I glued a head from a Crossover Miniature (they thoughtfully provide you with head options on most of their miniatures) and sculpted the visor from green stuff. I removed the Intergang backpack and filled the resulting gap with more green stuff. Then I glued him to a Micro Arts Studio urban base.

The gun was a small issue. The one that the medic was holding looked like some kind of laser blaster (I’m not familiar with Intergang, so I don’t know what they use for guns). That simply wouldn’t do, as Vigilante uses a .357 Magnum. So I clipped one from a Heroclix Henchman and made the swap. (I know he’s holding an automatic in the picture above, but just trust me. It was usually a .357 revolver.)

Vigilante also uses a pair of nunchaku for when he gets up close and personal with scumbags who need to be put down hard. I just used some brass rod, cut to size.

Technically, Adrian Chase was a lefty, so his holster should be on the other side, but I can live with this relatively minor inaccuracy without hurling the miniature across the room.

And that officially brings me to the end of Forgotten Heroes this year. I’m looking forward to seeing what everyone else does!

Forgotten Heroes 2018 Submission 3: The Aquarian!

As Ringo would say, “Peace and Love, Peace and Love…”

As Forgotten Heroes draws to an end this year, I have saved the truly worst for last. I present to you: The Aquarian!

Sigh. Where to begin?

The Aquarian’s name is Wundarr, and he was born on planet Dakkam. When he was an infant, his father put him in a rocket and launched Wundarr into space because—wait for it—he thought Dakkam was about to blow up. Turns out he was wrong. Oops.

Wundarr drifted through space in suspended animation until he arrived at Earth, where he was bombarded by cosmic rays in the outer atmosphere and got superpowers. (This somewhat plagiaristic origin story may sound familiar to you. Perhaps he should have been named “Suparr” instead. I have to assume it was meant as a parody; either that or DC found the Aquarian so ridiculous they didn’t want to draw attention to the similarities and forever associate their own character with this ball-bag.)

Wundarr grew to maturity in the spaceship, but he still had the mind of an infant when he crashed on Earth. The Thing took him under his wing for a while, then Namorita kind of adopted him before Project: Pegasus grabbed him up and used him to study the Cosmic Cube. Nothing good ever really comes of that, but Wundarr got wicked smart (I’m from Massachusetts) and his powers were increased. He called himself the Aquarian and made it his mission to bring peace and enlightenment to the world. When not doing these things, he tours the country playing the title role in Jesus Christ Superstar.

OK, I made that last part up. (Or did I?)

The Aquarian missed out on being faster than a speeding bullet, but the cosmic rays made him more powerful than a locomotive and able to leap tall buildings in a single bound. This is because he absorbs all kinds of energy and converts it to kinetic force, which he must discharge periodically by doing something physical, lest he explode. This won’t harm him, but the same can’t be said for anyone around him when he goes boom, so he jumps around a lot. He also has a force field that nullifies most superpowers and makes him pretty much invulnerable to anything kinetically powered, like a bullet or a punch. Presumably, you can still give him a hug. He would probably like that.

I first discovered the Aquarian in the unreadable Captain America Annual #7. I have tried to get through this particular issue about ten times in my life, and I don’t think I’ve made it very far. It’s torture.

To make this conversion, I used two miniatures, the head of an old Aquaman miniature and the headless body of the Weather Wizard I used making Water Wizard earlier this month.

I needed to do a fair bit of sculpting to make the Aquarian’s ridiculous sleeves. As anyone who visits this blog regularly knows, green stuff is not my friend. I decided to try this Magic Sculpt, which is similar in function in that it is a two-part sculpting medium, but it behaves quite differently than green stuff. It’s not as sticky, and it takes a little longer to cure completely. When wet, it gets really soft, which makes holding its shape difficult. It’s also a hell of a lot cheaper. This 1 lb. set cost me less than $20. An 8″ ribbon of green stuff costs $15!

I think my concept was solid, and the miniatures used were pretty good choices, but…

the actual execution is somewhat lacking. Here is the finished model. I’m not thrilled with how he came out. I would have liked to add more texture to the cloth sleeves, but I got annoyed with the Magic Sculpt and decided the hell with it. Hopefully by the time Forgotten Heroes rolls around next year I will be more adept at sculpting.

Nevertheless, I now have a perfectly serviceable Aquarian miniature for supers gaming, should I ever want to use him in a game, which I can’t imagine I would. Ever.

Wait…now I have to, don’t I?

 

Forgotten Heroes 2018 Submission 2: The Plant Man!

I’m trying to get three submissions in for the Forgotten Heroes challenge this month, and here is number two. If you found Water Wizard to be a bit of a tool, well, congratulations. You’re a great judge of character. But Water Wizard lives life like a boss compared to this guy:

Behold! The Plant Man!

Samuel Smithers was a gardener who wanted to invent a way to talk to plants, so naturally he built himself a ray gun. It didn’t work until one day it was struck by lightning, which somehow charged it with the ability to control and animate plants (I’m not making this up). His boss fired him for working on his ray gun instead of pruning the bushes (which was his job), so Smithers put on a costume, called himself the Plant Man, and vowed revenge. Unfortunately, he met the Human Torch, who quickly put an end to Plant Man’s scheme and destroyed his ray gun.

Months later, he built a better ray gun, which was also presumably struck by lightning and imbued with (better) plant-controlling power. He tried to kill the Human Torch, but failed and went to the slammer, where he was recruited by Count Nefaria; along with the Porcupine, the Eel, and the Scarecrow. (This Scarecrow is not to be confused with the cool Batman villain with the fear gas, and certainly not to be confused with the coolest crow of them all… Carrion Crow.  This is Marvel’s Scarecrow. A significantly less-cool crow.)

Any one of these jokers would be prime fodder for Forgotten Heroes, as they’re all remarkably bad at their chosen criminal profession. But I digress.

Plant Man eventually ran afoul of the Avengers and SHIELD, after he took over a SHIELD base with a 100′ tall plant monster and a bunch of plant copies of himself. That’s about where I lost track of him.

To make this conversion, I used two Heroclix figures: Jack O’Lantern and an Intergang Medic. I needed the Medic’s head on Jack’s body. I also removed Jack from his hover disk and rebased him on some plain old MDF.

Then I set about adding the green stuff. I said it before and I’ll admit it again, sculpting is not my strong suit. Many thanks to Roger, a.k.a. Dick Garrison, for taking the time to give me some advice on how to work with this hellish substance.

Lucky for me, all I really needed to do was sculpt Plant Man’s ridiculous headdress and some plant fringes around his collar, shoulders and legs. (I forgot his gloves, but whatever.) Since Plant Man’s powers all come from his ray gun, I attached a Rogue Trader-era bolt pistol (minus clip) to his thigh.

I posed him next to some killer plants, last seen in my Poison Ivy post.

Tremble in fear, for the Plant Man cometh!

I must confess I have an ulterior motive for converting Plant Man. He actually appears as a villain in an old TSR Marvel Super Heroes module, The Last Resort, which I plan on tinkering with for Super Mission Force. Originally, I was just going to replace him with another sucky bad guy, but Forgotten Heroes has given me the excuse to put some effort into making an actual Plant Man miniature!

Hopefully I can get my third submission in by the end of the month, but it will require more precise sculpting with the dreaded green stuff. I’ll do my best!

Forgotten Heroes 2018, Submission 1: The Water Wizard!

It’s June, which means it’s time for Forgotten Heroes!

Last year my fellow miniatures enthusiast Carrion Crow invited me to take part in the Forgotten Heroes challenge. I played hard to get at first, but then when I saw how much fun it was going to be, I begged him to let me take part. He graciously agreed. I converted and/or repainted the entire Liberty Legion, along with special guests Spirit of ’76, Patriot, Union Jack and Bucky! This year, I’m hoping to submit three Forgotten Heroes, not a whole team. So, without further ado, here’s the first:

 

The Water Wizard is a really lame Marvel villain with water powers. In fact, it turns out he can control almost any liquid, not just water. You would think this would make him pretty powerful, but Water Wizard is an idiot. In 1977, he made his debut in the Ghost Rider comic book and promptly got his clock cleaned by Ghost Rider, both in his initial appearance and pretty much every time they met after that.

He actually fought some other Marvel good guys, like Captain America, with predictable results (he lost). He was recruited by criminal financier and Hugh Hefner lookalike, Justin Hammer, but ran away when he had to fight Iron Man.

After a while, Water Wizard changed his name to Aqueduct, which is an even dumber name than Water Wizard, and tried to continue his criminal ambitions. Instead he joined the Thunderbolts and that’s about when I lost track of him.

To make this conversion, I used three figures. Because I never throw anything out, I had a headless Quicksilver left over from when I made Jack Frost in my first Forgotten Heroes challenge last year. . He’s been grotesquely hanging around in a corner of my hobby space since then. I thought that the head of the Weather Wizard (similar name, different publisher, equally lame bad guy) would look pretty good on the body. His  hair is already blowing around, so it would match pretty well with the running pose. For added effect, I thought I would use this water spume on the Aquaman figure for something…

An idea took shape. I re-headed and rebased the miniature, and sculpted his fashionable hip waders out of green stuff. (A side note: I suck at sculpting anything. This is problematic, as my next Forgotten Heroes submissions will require much more sculpting. Thus I have sought the aid and advice of a sculptor extraordinaire to guide my efforts henceforth…)

I removed the cumbersome Aquaman model from the water spout and attached it to a base of green stuff sculpted to look like water (I can handle that much). Now it looks like the water is moving with him. Then I painted the model to resemble Water Wizard.

Hi running pose actually looks pretty accurate. I only have to face him away from any hero model since Water Wizard often flees. I don’t have a Daredevil-like sense of touch, so I couldn’t tell if the diagonal slash on Quicksilver’s costume was raised or if it was just a painted on until I painted over it. Turns out it’s actually part of the sculpt, which is unfortunate, as you can still barely see it through my paint. Also, I now have a headless Weather Wizard where my headless Quicksilver used to be.

Forgotten Heroes 2018 submission 1: complete!

 

 

Poison Ivy

Poison Ivy has become one of my favorite Batman villains, although it wasn’t always so. (Take the movie Batman and Robin, for example; like Arnold Shwarzenegger’s Mister Freeze, the less said about Uma Thurman’s portrayal of Ivy, the better.) I didn’t really start to like her until the Batman: The Animated Series episode “Harley and Ivy”, in which the two ladies team up to take over Gotham’s crime scene, at least until Batman and the Joker find out about it.

Ivy appears in all but one of the Rocksteady Batman: Arkham series of video games, of which I am a huge, obsessed fanboy. And now, with a particularly cold-blooded version of Poison Ivy running amok on the current season of TV’s Gotham, I thought it was a good time to feature her here.

This repainted Heroclix Ivy is from the DC Cosmic Justice set. It’s the classic, early version of Ivy, before she got chlorophyll for blood and became more plant than human. I based her on a small piece of Spanish moss. Behind her are some of her pets: the big monster plants are Dragon Plants, new from Reaper’s Bones collection. The pod plants are also from Reaper Bones; they’re Death Star Lilies.  The big Man-eating Plant in the middle is from Armorcast.

 

The little plant people are Vardu Sprouts, from Hydra Miniatures’ Primal Dawn range. When I ordered them I thought they would be bigger than they are, but they’re sprouts, after all. I just based them two to a base. I plan on having the pod plants spit them out as a renewable source of plant henchmen.

Lastly, the big guy is an old version of Reaper’s Swamp Shambler. I painted him years ago, and he looks a lot like a certain…bayou-dwelling…Plant Elemental…known for…punctuating…his speech…with lots…of…elipses…but in this context he’s Ivy’s bodyguard, should Batman ever get too close. He’s better than that horrible version of Bane in Batman & Robin, anyway.

Man, was ANYTHING in that movie any good? No. Not a thing.

Anyway, here is my Super Mission Force build for Poison Ivy:

Poison Ivy (Wild Card) Minor: Barrier, Entangle, Summoning, Telekinesis

I can hear some of you already: “Now hold on a second, Angry Piper! Barrier and Entangle, I can see. But since when does Poison Ivy have Summoning and Telekinesis?”

To that, my friends, I would say you must think outside the box a bit. What is Poison Ivy’s main power? Plant control. Unfortunately, there is no plant control power in SMF. Ivy can get plants to do a lot of stuff, like entangle enemies or form barriers…or grapple enemies at range with super strength, bear herself aloft to higher elevations (a’ la Jack and the Beanstalk), or manipulate objects at a distance using plant-y tendrils. (In other words: Telekinesis, only using the plants instead of her mind.) She can will plants to fight for her and pretty much instantly mutate normal plants into killing machines. Kind of sounds like Summoning, no?

Of course, if you don’t like my version of Poison Ivy, you could substitute some or all of these powers with others you may find more thematically appropriate, like Armor, Damage Field, or Enhanced Senses, to name a few. When using Ivy in a scenario, I would let her have a few plant guardians and/or henchmen in place at the start of the game. She’s really not that tough, otherwise; and she would likely be defeated before she could use her powers to summon reinforcements. Just my 2 pesos.

 

 

Juggernaut and Black Tom

Juggernaut is a classic X-Men villain, a physical titan who is counterpoint to his brother Charles Xavier’s mental mastery. Unfortunately, he often hangs out with Black Tom Cassidy.

Black Tom is the cousin of Sean Cassidy (not to be confused with Shaun Cassidy, the Hardy Boy), better known as the X-Men’s Banshee. Black Tom was created by veteran X-Men scribe Chris Claremont, a man responsible for many great X-Men storylines and characters. Unfortunately, he’s also responsible for many horrible X-Men characters (like Black Tom Cassidy), as well as the nightmare “alternate-reality/timeline” clusterfuck that characterizes the X-books to this day.

I have mixed feelings about Mr. Claremont. On the one hand, his X-Men work with John Byrne in the late 70’s/early 80’s is iconic. But then, in the 90’s, he created Gambit.

No matter how conflicted I feel about Mr. Claremont, my feelings about Black Tom are crystal clear. Like many of Claremont’s characters (Moira Mac Taggart, for example), Black Tom suffers from ridiculous ethnic stereotyping. He’s all “begorrahs” and “boyos” and “blimeys”.  I get that he’s a comic book villain, but fer Chrissakes, man. Black Tom also channels his powers through a shillelagh, because of course he fucking does. 

In case you can’t glean as much from the tone of this post, I actually hate Black Tom Cassidy more than I hate Gambit (I didn’t know that was possible). Nevertheless, he hangs out with Juggernaut, so….

Here are my Heroclix repaints of Juggernaut and Black Tom. I look at these and while I’m happy with the repaints, I have a slight problem…Juggernaut is way too small. According to the Marvel wiki, Juggernaut is 9’5″. The fact that he’s hunched over (no doubt plodding forward) doesn’t help, but I feel like Juggernaut should be HUGE. Take this screen shot from the Marvel Super Heroes video game:

Yeah. That’s Juggernaut. Not someone slightly larger than Black Tom Cassidy. He can fit his whole hand around Iron Man’s waist! (In the video game, he’s actually bigger than the Hulk.)

There are other Heroclix versions of Juggernaut, but, IMO, this one is the best sculpt. I wish it was bigger, but I’ll live with it.

As far as Black Tom goes, his sculpt is fine, although the flame coming out of his shillelagh (why does that sound dirty?) is made out of that translucent ‘Clix plastic I hate so much. I painted flames over it, for better or worse.

Here are my Super Mission Force builds for Juggernaut and the reviled Black Tom Cassidy:

Juggernaut: (Super) Major: Super Strength, Minor: Armor, Density Increase, Resistance, Tough

Special Rules: Unstoppable: Juggernaut’s Density Increase power is ALWAYS on. He doesn’t have to activate it, nor can he choose to deactivate it. This makes him immune to knockback at all times. It also means he can’t charge, only move at his normal rate. Juggernaut can be Entangled, but only until his next activation. He automatically wins any opposed roll to escape an Entangle. He just plods forward. Juggernaut can be grappled normally. (If you want try grappling Juggernaut, good luck.)

Black Tom Cassidy: (Blaster) Major: Power Blasts, Minor: Clever, Rapport (Juggernaut)

Note: this is the old version of Black Tom, the one I know and hate from a few decades ago. Apparently, Black Tom is now part wood, and can control wood. If you prefer, I guess you could give him Armor and Melee Specialist instead of the minor powers I gave him to reflect his current version. He’ll still suck, though, because he’s still Black Tom Cassidy.

 

Cowabunga, Dude!

I first discovered Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles when I was a freshman in high school. It was 1986, a pretty amazing year for comics as a whole. That year would see the publication of Batman: The Dark Knight Returns and Watchmen, two pivotal and iconic stories that would rock the foundations of the comics industry and change comic books forever.

Up until then I only collected Marvel titles, and all of those were in color. Black and white comics, i.e. small press titles,  were unknown to me. Then my friend introduced me to TMNT #7, and I was immediately hooked. I hunted down as many back issues as I could find. They were surprisingly scarce and first printings of the first 3 issues were well above anything I could afford even if I could find copies. I managed to get everything from issue 4 and up, but even to this day I do not own copies of the first three issues. Instead I had to content myself with the First Comics graphic novel, which reprinted all three issues in color. (Prior to this reprint, the only TMNT color material was in a Munden’s Bar story in Grimjack #26. I bought that for the turtles, and ended up becoming a much bigger fan of Grimjack than of TMNT!)

The original turtles, by which I mean the version as presented in the comics prior to the first (1987) animated television series and the (1990) live-action movie (featuring the great Corey Feldman as Donatello), were a bit different than what we know today. The comic, although a parody of Daredevil (among others), was kind of dark. It managed to take itself somewhat seriously even in the midst of its absurd premise. For example: the turtles killed people. Lots of people. Ninja henchmen, mostly, but still people (I guess). When Leonardo slashed with his swords, someone bled. Obviously, this kind of thing didn’t make it into the cartoon, which was unsurprisingly targeted towards children. Also (as we knew from their early colorized appearances) the original turtles all wore red bandannas. The only way to visually distinguish which turtle was which was by the weapons they carried. Among other changes, the cartoon toned the turtles down, outfitted them in different colors, created a catchphrase (“Cowabunga!”) and inexplicably made them go crazy for pizza.

TMNT’s success spawned many imitators and started a “funny animal” comic craze, giving rise to the likes of such mercifully-forgotten titles as Pre-Teen Dirty-Gene Kung-Fu Kangaroos, Geriatric Gangrene Jiu-Jitsu Gerbils, and the Adolescent Radioactive Black Belt Hamsters.  None of these were any good. All of them were pretty blatant ripoffs. Nonetheless, the Hamsters seemed to enjoy the most success as a poor-man’s Band-Aid in between the irregular TMNT publishing schedule.

My friends and I got so hooked on TMNT that we played many hours of the Palladium RPG: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Other Strangeness (see above). This, in turn led us to Heroes Unlimited and later, briefly, RIFTS, before we abandoned the Palladium system altogether in favor of other games.

Before we did this, though, I managed to get my hands on these TMNT miniatures, released in very limited numbers from Dark Horse (yes, THAT Dark Horse). These figures go for a pretty penny nowadays, especially the other releases in the line (like the Mousers). I remember I bought this pack on Martha’s Vineyard on a day trip. Retail space isn’t cheap on the Vineyard, so who would have thought that Martha’s Vineyard would have had a comic shop, never mind one that sold miniatures, too? (Aside: even though I live on the South Coast of Massachusetts, I haven’t been back to the Vineyard since I bought these, mainly because I hate boats.) They’re supposedly 25mm scale, but they’re more like 15mm. Between my awful paint job, Donatello’s miscast staff, and Leonardo’s broken sword, they’ve seen better days…

And so, when I heard Wizkids got the license for TMNT Heroclix, I was happy. When I saw this set marked half off at the FLGS, I didn’t hesitate. Here’s what they looked like out of the box:

It appears I’m unlucky with turtle miniatures. Brand spankin’ new, both Leonardo and Donatello suffered from bent weapons that can’t be fixed. Bummer. They’re also all a  bit too bright and cartoony for me. I knew I wanted to repaint them as the original badass turtles of my youth.

Here is the result:

To continue my run of bad luck, somewhere in the painting process I appear to have broken one of Raphael’s sai. Drat! I based them on Armorcast sewer bases that I purchased specifically for this project. I don’t know if I will ever use them in a scenario, or what system I would use if I did; but, since Super Mission Force is my current favorite gaming system, here are my SMF builds for the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles:

Aside from the weapons they favor, the turtles aren’t much different. The easy way to build them for SMF is to make them all the same.

All Turtles: (Brawler) Major: Scrapper;  Minor: Armor, Super Agility

Of course, that’s not much fun. The other way I would do it is to make them all Wild Cards. Yes, I know that is against the “two wild cards per team” rule, but who really gives a shit? In this case the turtles would lose the Scrapper power (which is one of the best major powers in the game, IMHO), but would gain powers that would represent their personalities; in other words, make them different from each other in tangible ways. All of them are turtles who can kick ass, but they fill certain roles within the group: Leonardo is the leader, Donatello is the brain, Michelangelo is the clown, and Raphael is the hothead.

Leonardo: (Wild Card) Minor: Armor, Melee Specialist, Super Agility, Enhance

Donatello: (Wild Card) Minor: Armor, Melee Specialist, Super Agility, Savant

Michelangelo: (Wild Card) Minor: Armor, Melee Specialist, Super Agility, Clever

Raphael:  (Wild Card) Minor: Armor, Melee Specialist, Super Agility, Rage

(I couldn’t really think of a fourth minor power that would “define” Michelangelo, so I chose the “Clever” Boost purely for the team initiative bonus, since the turtles are rarely caught flat-footed). Mike has a tendency to ride around on a skateboard, so I guess you could substitute the “Fast” Boost instead, which would increase his movement by 4″.)

This little rush of nostalgia was so much fun I reread the first three issues of TMNT last night. And….well…let’s just say some things are better left in the past.

Terror of the Toyman! Conclusion

Quick synopsis: The Toyman is attempting to detonate a bomb during the Christmas celebration in the town square. Superman is attempting to thwart his nefarious scheme and protect the civilians that have been drawn to the square by the big stacks of presents Toyman dropped to lure them there. For more detailed scenario information and special rules, please refer to my last post.

At the start of the game, here is the board setup:

There are 7 possible locations for the bomb.  Clockwise from the top right corner, they are: stack of presents 1, the fountain/Christmas tree, stack 2, the house, stack 3, stack 4, and the church.

Superman sets up in the middle of the board, while 6 civilians are scattered around the board.

ROUND 1

Toyman won’t arrive until the end of round 3, so no initiative roll is necessary. Superman has a few rounds to get a jump on finding the bomb’s location. First, though, the civilians randomly meander around.  Then, I draw from the location and hazard decks. I get stack of presents #3 as the location, but draw a “nothing happens” as an event. An early lucky break for the Man of Steel!

Superman moves to the closest possible location, which is the fountain and Christmas tree. He takes a Special Action to scan for the bomb. The secret counter underneath the tree reveals there is no bomb here (good thing, or this would have been a short game indeed). Superman uses the remainder of his Move action to fly to stack #1. Although he can easily reach it, he can’t take any further actions this turn, so the round ends!

Score: 0-0

ROUND 2

Once again, the civilians move around randomly. My deck draws indicate that the Santa Bot appears at stack #1, which just so happens to be where Superman is at the moment. And it’s a good thing, too, considering that 2 civilians are within range of the Santa Bot’s machine gun (Power Blasts) and would have certainly been easy targets if the Man of Steel wasn’t around to draw the Bot’s fire.

Since Toyman isn’t around to direct his toys yet, Superman automatically has initiative. Superman now has to decide whether to fight the robot or scan the stack of presents for the bomb; he can’t take both a Special Action and a Combat Action in the same turn! Being Superman, he decides the most immediate threat to the civilians is the Santa Bot, so he charges the Bot and attacks! He does a measly one net goal’s worth of damage, not enough to drop the Santa Bot. The Bot fights back, but fails to hurt Superman at all. The round ends!

Score: 0-0

ROUND 3

“Great Caesar’s Ghost!”

Once again, the civilians wander without purpose. My deck draws indicate that at stack #2, Teddy appears! Teddy is a big robotic teddy bear that isn’t very friendly. Unfortunately there is a civilian who looks an awful lot like Daily Planet editor Perry White standing right next to present stack #2. Perry White threatens the bear with a rolled-up copy of the Planet, but Teddy doesn’t seem too impressed.

Now Superman has a real dilemma: protect the civilians nearest him, protect Perry White on the other side of the board, or scan for the bomb??

Superman attacks the Santa Bot with a haymaker, flooring the robot with a net 7 goals of damage! That takes care of the civilians nearest to him, but should he scan stack #1 for the bomb next turn, or leave to protect Perry White from Teddy?

It’s no choice at all. Superman uses his Move action to fly across the board into base contact with Teddy, thus ensuring the big robotic bear has his full attention.  Teddy attacks Superman (leaving Perry White alone for now), but fails to do any damage.

At the end of round 3, the Toyman arrives in spectacular fashion by parachuting onto the middle of the square inside a huge Christmas present!

Score: 0-0

ROUND 4

The civilians move randomly, as usual. One of them takes the opportunity to get the hell out of the square and moves off the board, thus ensuring he lives to celebrate Christmas at all! Perry White’s random movement actually moves him closer to Teddy, but I decide that Mr. White is probably a lot smarter than that and move him in the opposite direction. The deck draws indicate that the house is the location for this round’s event, which is that the clockwork soldiers regenerate or that nothing happens. Since the soldiers aren’t in need of regeneration, nothing happens!

This is the first turn Toyman is on the board, and so initiative has to be determined. Toyman beats Superman’s roll. The huge present opens, and Toyman and his clockwork henchmen emerge!

Superman attacks Teddy, inflicting 2 net goals of damage and knocking Teddy back 8″.  Teddy is knocked down and can’t reach Superman to fight back on his turn.

Score: 0-1, Superman

ROUND 5

The civilians move randomly. The deck draws indicate that the 2 rock’em, sock’em robots burst out the front door of the church! Unfortunately, there are 2 civilians directly in the path of these clanking, metallic pugilists, and the Man of Steel is all the way across the board! What can he do?

Well, nothing yet, because Toyman keeps initiative this turn. He moves himself and his clockwork henchmen within firing range and open fire on Superman! They manage to inflict 2 net goals of damage. Ouch!

Superman is once again faced with a dilemma. Two civilians are in danger from the robots at the church, and Perry White is stuck between Teddy and the Toyman. Plus, there’s that pesky bomb to find…

Superman does the best he can. He flies over to Perry White and grabs him up, continuing to the nearest board edge and moving his boss to safety. Since this doesn’t count as an action, Superman returns to stack # 2 and uses his Special Action to scan it for the bomb, ignoring both Toyman and Teddy for now. Unfortunately, his gamble fails. Stack #2 doesn’t contain the bomb, either!

Teddy charges Superman, but Superman shrugs him off, and can only watch helplessly…

…as the robots move to attack the closest civilian and quickly pummel him into unconsciousness. Poor guy! Where’s Superman when you need him?

Score 1-2, Superman

ROUND 6

It’s halfway into the game, and Superman has only been able to scan 2 of the possible 7 bomb locations. That bomb could go off at any moment! He better get moving!

Of course, the civilians move randomly first. Another moves off the board to safety. The deck draws indicate that stack #4 is the location, and the event is once again that the clockwork soldiers regenerate or nothing happens. The soldiers have not been damaged, so nothing happens.

Superman gains initiative. A quick look at the board shows that there are only 2 civilians left to protect. One is all the way over by stack #1 and is in no immediate danger from anything, and the other is right next to the rock’em, sock’em robots. Superman leaves combat with Teddy to race across the board to the civilian near the robots. (Teddy gets a free attack on Superman as he flies away, but does no damage.) He flies the civilian off the board to safety and then lands next to the church, where he uses his Special Action to scan the church for the bomb.  Once again, there is no bomb.

Toyman marshals his henchmen and moves towards Superman. The robots move towards him, too; and Teddy moves as fast as he can in Superman’s general direction. That’s about all they can do.

Score: 1-4, Superman

ROUND 7

Civilians move. The Toyman’s deadly squadron of toy planes activates near stack #3.

Toyman gains initiative. He sends his planes over to attack Superman. They open fire, but fail to harm the Last Son of Krypton! Superman returns fire with his heat vision, destroying all but one of the planes. The robots charge into combat with Superman and mange to inflict one net goal of damage. (I probably should have moved Superman somewhere else and scanned another location, but instead I attacked the planes and forgot to move him at all! Dumb!) Toyman, his henchmen and Teddy all move towards Superman, but none of them can do anything else.

Score: 1-4, Superman

ROUND 8

The one remaining civilian on the board moves around, but she’s so far away she’s in no danger unless something activates at stack #1 this turn. Instead, nothing happens at the fountain and Christmas tree this round. That bomb is still out there, and there are not many turns left. There are still 4 possible locations that bomb could be: stack #1, stack #3, stack #4 and the house!

Superman keeps initiative and leaves combat with the robots,taking 1 goal of damage in the process. He moves to stack #4, directly in front of him, and scans the stack for the bomb. No luck! he still has plenty of movement left, so he speeds over to stack #3. He can’t do anything else on his turn, but at least he’s in position for next round…if it’s not too late!

Toyman’s group and the one remaining plane move into firing range and open fire, but Superman takes no damage. The robots and Teddy both chase after Superman, but they pose little threat to Superman at this point. There’s only one civilian left and she’s safely out of harm’s way. The main concern is the bomb!!!

Score 1-4, Superman

ROUND 9

The civilian wanders around stack #1. Holding my breath, I draw from both decks. Stack #2 is the location…and nothing happens!!!! Whew!

Superman keeps initiative. Superman immediately scans stack #3, hoping to find the bomb, but there is no bomb! There are only 3 rounds left in the game, and the bomb could go off on any one of them! Since one civilian has already fallen, if the bomb goes off, there is no way Superman can win this scenario.There are only 2 places it could be: stack #1, or the house. The house is closest…

Superman makes another calculated risk and flies across the board to stack #1., where he will scan for the bomb next turn. Even though the house is closer, he could get bogged down in combat with the Toyman’s toys, as they will all be in the same table quarter as the house by the end of this turn. It’s a gamble to be sure…

Toyman and all his toys consolidate near the house.

Score: 1-4, Superman

ROUND 10

The remaining civilian moves. Convinced I’m about to draw the Joker, I pull from both decks. The location is the church…the event is…the presents shuffle positions! Lucky for Superman, the stacks that switch positions are stack #3 and stack #4, so he doesn’t have to worry about chasing stack #1 around the board…

Superman keeps initiative. He scans stack #1, and discovers the bomb. And not a moment too soon! Victory for Superman!

Score: 1-9, Superman.

Analysis

Well, this game was the most fun I’ve had playing with myself since…well, never mind.

Despite going for 10 rounds, this game played very fast (about 30 minutes). The ending score was not as much of a runaway victory for Superman as it appears. If the bomb had gone off, there was no way Superman could have won the game, as he had already lost a point for the wounded civilian in round 5.  Even if Superman saved all the other civilians, had the bomb exploded, the final score would have been 5-6, Toyman.

The game went down to the final 3 turns. The last 3 cards were the 10, Jack and Joker; the two “present shuffle” events and the bomb going off. I really did shuffle the cards pretty well, or so I thought. In any event, despite all hazards being activated, Superman got really lucky by drawing all the “nothing happens” events during the game. This gave him the breathing room he needed to try to be everywhere at once.

Well, almost everywhere. This guy will be spending Christmas in the hospital.

I think the scenario works well. The random position of the bomb, and the randomness of the locations and hazards really makes the game difficult to predict, which is what I was going for. After all, what else can Toyman really do to Superman but keep him occupied and distracted? Superman has to do his best to balance getting the civilians to safety with finding the bomb before time runs out. The hazards work to delay him, as Superman really only has to engage them if they threaten civilians. If no civilians are threatened, he’s free to fly around the board and search for the bomb.

Ironically, the bomb was in the second location Superman visited, but he had to leave it to go protect Perry White from Teddy back in round 3! He didn’t have time to scan the location after destroying the Santa Bot, because if he did, that would have allowed Teddy to attack Perry White if the bomb wasn’t there. He never made it back to stack #1 until the very end of the game.

Here are my Super Mission Force builds for the characters:

Superman (Powerhouse) Major: Speed, Super Strength, Minor: Armor, Enhanced Senses, Flight, Power Blasts, Resistance, Tough

Toyman (Mastermind) Major: Enhance, Minor: Gadgets, Savant

Note: Toyman DID make use of his Gadgets power to gain re-rolls each round, but either he failed to do so or they were used without any real effect on the overall game.

Merry Christmas everyone!

Terror of the Toyman! Part 2

The Scenario: Just in time for Christmas, The Toyman has planted a bomb somewhere in the town square! He scattered piles of Christmas presents around, which naturally attracted the attention of the locals. The bomb will go off soon, making this a Christmas to remember…unless Superman can stop it!

Superman’s goal is to find and defuse the bomb before it goes off, and to protect as many civilians as possible. The Toyman’s goal is to make sure the bomb goes off by delaying Superman long enough for it to detonate.

Game length: The game lasts a maximum of 12 rounds, or as long as it takes for the bomb to detonate or be discovered.

Setup: The play area is a 4′ x 4′ section of  a park or town square. There are several piles of Christmas presents scattered around the area, as well as a few structures, monuments and buildings. Each of these is a possible location for the bomb. Randomly place a face-down counter under each possible location. All of these counters should be blank except for one, which should represent the bomb. (Obviously, if you’re playing this game solo, as I did, make sure you don’t know the location of the bomb.)

Scatter 6 civilian models or counters around the board. Each one represents a hapless civilian who has wandered into harm’s way and who must be protected!

Superman deploys in the middle of the board. The Toyman and the clockwork soldiers don’t deploy at the start of the game. Keep them off the board for now.

Special Rules:

The Super Mission Force turn sequence is slightly altered for this scenario. It is as follows:

  1. Move civilians.
  2. Draw one card each from the location and event decks.
  3. Place hazards or resolve effects of cards.
  4. Determine initiative.
  5. Activate normally.

Civilians: Per the SMF rules, civilians move 4″ in a random direction at the start of the turn. If a civilian wanders off the table edge, he or she has made it to safety. Civilians can also be escorted off the table edge if Superman moves into base contact with them and then moves to any table edge. Civilians have a Body of 2 and are quite vulnerable to attack.

Card decks: This game uses a special card activation mechanic to randomly determine when and where hazards (usually malicious toys) appear. Using a standard deck of cards, make two separate decks (red and black). The red deck should contain as many cards as you have locations (in my case, 7). Assign each location a corresponding card (i.e. Ace = fountain, 2 = Church, etc.) The black deck needs to contain 12 cards, including a Joker. (Ace-Jack, plus the Joker). These cards represent events or hazards that will take place. Feel free to make up whatever events you want based on the Toyman’s hazards (see below). You can use hazards similar to mine or make your own.  The Joker card represents the bomb’s detonation, and you should be sure that at least 4 cards are “no event” to give Superman some breathing room.

My black deck event list looked like this:

A-3: nothing happens.

4: Teddy appears.

5: Santa bot appears.

6: Robots appear.

7: Planes appear.

8-9: Clockwork soldiers (Toyman’s henchmen) regenerate (if they are on the board and damaged), or nothing happens

10-J: Presents shuffle!  The Toyman has made use of tricky teleportation technology! Randomly swap the places of two stacks of presents, being sure to move the counters underneath with them. This may mean that Superman may have to revisit a section of the board he has already scanned. Depending on the location of the bomb, this may also mean the bomb has moved!

Joker: The bomb explodes! If this card is drawn before Turn 4, ignore the result and shuffle it back into the deck. Also, when this card is drawn, ignore the corresponding red location card. The bomb explodes wherever it is on the board.

Hazards: Hazards deploy at whatever location is drawn that round. Hazards are there to delay Superman and to cause mayhem. Hazards do not get an initiative roll of their own, which means that until Toyman arrives, Superman automatically will act before any deployed Hazards. A hazard will always attack Superman if he is within range of its attacks or within its charging distance, as appropriate. If not, it will attack any civilian it can reach instead. If neither Superman or any civilian is a viable target, the hazard will move towards Superman at the fastest speed possible. Generally speaking, hazards pose little threat to Superman other than forcing him to spend valuable time dealing with them when he should be looking for the bomb. But hazards are very dangerous to civilians!

Toyman: Toyman deploys at the end of Turn 3. He can appear wherever you want, but I deployed him via a huge present that parachuted into the center of the board. He rolls for initiative as normal starting on Turn 4. Prior to this, Superman automatically has initiative over any Hazards that may have activated.

Toyman also has some special characteristics for this scenario. First, he functions as both a character and a henchman group. When he activates, his clockwork soldier bodyguards activate with him. They move as a unit and can make use of concentrated fire. In addition, the clockwork soldiers function as a type of armor. All damaging attacks on Toyman must target the clockwork henchmen first, removing them as casualties before the Toyman loses any Body. Once all henchmen are destroyed, Toyman takes damage as normal.

Lastly, Toyman can fix any damaged toy (other than his clockwork soldiers) on a successful Chance roll if he moves into base contact with it. Return the toy to full capacity. It can activate as normal on the following round.

Superman: Until the Toyman deploys at the end of Turn 3, Superman automatically has initiative. It should be noted that with Superman’s Speed and Flight powers, he has a Move of 60″, which means he can reach any point on the board from any other point on the board in 1 round. This is good, because he’s going to need it. He has a lot of ground to cover and not much time.

Usually, Perception checks are opposed Free Actions, but not in this scenario. The Toyman has encased his bomb in lead, which means Superman can’t simply use his x-ray vision to spot it. In order to scan for the bomb, Superman must get in base contact with a possible location. Then he must use a Special Action to scan for the bomb. This is automatically successful; if Superman scans for the bomb, reveal the counter at the location. If it’s blank, the bomb is somewhere else. If it’s the bomb, Superman automatically destroys it by whatever method you feel is appropriate (heat vision, freezing it with his super-breath, hurling it into space, etc.)

Scoring: Superman gains 1 point for every civilian he rescues or who exits off the board, and get 5 points if he finds and destroys the bomb. Toyman gets 1 point for every civilian injured, and 5 points if the bomb explodes. Thus it is possible for Superman to still win the scenario if he saves all the civilians before the bomb goes off.

Next post: the After Action Report!!!