Monday, July 16, 2018

Review: Outremer: Faith and Blood- Osprey Games

The Crusades seem to have been gaining in popularity in the wargaming circuit in the last half decade.  Games like Dues Vult, Soldiers of God, Saga: Crescent and Cross, and LionRampant have fueled this surge of interest with gamers.  In addition, a number of interesting model lines have also been released.  Plus, the Crusades themselves have a pretty intriguing and interesting history of their own to draw in players. 

Outremer: Faith and Blood is set during the Crusades.  It is the most recent addition to the Osprey Games blue covered Wargame Series.  Unlike some of the other Crusade-era games, Outremer is designed for small scale, model vs. model skirmish action.  Each side is between 3 and 12 models.  In addition to be a small scale skirmish, the focus of the game is campaign play.  This type of game is right up my alley and I look forward to digging in closer to the rules. 

Dues Vult!

Things I Liked
This is an Osprey Wargame Series book that takes the campaign element of their game very seriously.  Most have it as a few page add-on at the end, but this book uses over half the length of the book on it!  Each warrior in your warband has an experience progression path to become a unique warrior and part of your Crusading force.  They can gain experience, special skills, buy equipment, gain injuries, die, be captured, ransomed back, or sold into slavery!  To me, a strong campaign element is essential to a good model vs. model skirmish game and this game delivers.  It uses the familiar Necromunda/Mordheim standard set by Games Workshop back in the day.  This is the biggest draw of these rules in my eyes.      

Before a model can engage in hand-to-hand, they must pass a Faith test.  If successful, they can move in to engage.  However, if failed, the model dithers and can not act.  Close-combat is a scary and terrify place to be so I like this way to simulate a warrior’s hesitation in getting into harm’s way.   Plus, it is an easy way to differentiate a more war-like model such as a Knight of a Militant Order from a lowly peasant.

A simple and obvious touch, but heavier and more armor makes your model very slow.  Therefore, a heavily armed and armored knight will move 3 inches or so, while a lighter armed Saracen can move 6.  This mobility makes you carefully think about how you arm and equip your Crusaders.  It is a simple mechanic with big gameplay impacts, and is a great example of using simple rules to add tactical variation to your games.   
From the Outremer Author's Blog:

Things I Did Not Like
The game uses a card activation mechanic.  Each model is assigned a card.  The cards are then shuffled and randomly drawn.  If a model’s card is pulled, they can take two actions.  Once complete, a new card is dealt and that model can then activate.  This is a simple method to create activation uncertainty and is a tried and true methodology.  Why would I put it in this section then? 

First, I prefer to have control over who activates when as a decision point in the game with a  mechanic (like the faith test to engage in melee) that may limit my freedom of action that I need to decide how to react to.  In such a situation, I as a player still have the agency and decision making.  Cards activation (and random activation in general) remove that agency to create a randomize friction.  I prefer friction to occur AFTER I have made a decision. 

Secondly, I am not a fan of action point systems.  Two is fine, but I prefer players having to choose only a single action.  Again, as the player I have the agency to decide what I will do but it is limited to create the friction. 

The game uses a variety of dice common to those who ever bought a Dungeons and Dragons starter set.  You need a d4, d6, d8, d10, d12, and d20.  Typically, I see a variety of polyhedron dice (some that are rarely used) as a bit of a barrier for entry.  D6 are easy for most people to come by and understand the probability curves for.  I prefer to use dice pools of d6 for skirmish games.      

All of these points are clearly my personal preferences, and the rules as written are perfectly serviceable and work.       

Meh and Other Uncertainties
The game has more skilled models have bigger dice (i.e. d10 is more skilled than d6), and you typically roll against a target number of 5+.  Then, any hits are roll the damage dice of the weapon trying to get a higher number than the defenders toughness.  Toughness is modified by armor with some armor allowing a special saving throw if the Toughness test is failed.  The big innovation here is the varied dice to allow a greater range of outcomes based on the weapons being used.  The process of the mechanics will be familiar to many of us who have played many skirmish games. 

The game has 6 scenarios that are pretty vanilla.  Again, if you are familiar with Skirmish games, you have probably played the scenarios in this book many times.  The game also allows for three main warbands of Militant Orders, Crusaders, and Saracens.  I could see this easily being expanded in supplements or by the author to include Albigensians, Byzantines,   However, the starting ones presented here do the job that it says on the tin. 

From the Outremer Author's Blog:

Baltic Crusaders, etc. to move beyond the Crusades proper and into other medieval periods and types of crusades.

There is a “Catch-up” method built into the rules.  If your warband fights other groups with superior Reputation, they can earn bonus cash and experience to help them catch-up.  The greater the mismatch between forces the greater the reward is for playing as the underdog.  This is a must have element for any campaign heavy game.    

Of course, the book pulls from Osprey's delicious library of artwork and all of the artwork present in the book is great!  The model and terrain pictures are solid as well.  

Final Thoughts
The core rules for Outremer: Faith and Blood are solid and will be familiar with most wargamers.  They do not break new ground, but add some variation with different dice styles and a card activation system.  This differentiates it from some of its competition in the marketplace.  Like many skirmish games, the tactical play is not as developed for things such as flanking, vision arcs, etc. as the emphasis is instead quick play with a focus on campaigns. 

The strong point of these rules is each model as an individual unique character.  They have various abilities and skills that you must use together to achieve victory.  I can think of few rules where a model can become a merchant, craftsman, or scholar and have them be full tables of abilities themselves.  As the campaign progresses, each model will have a key role to play in the warband and their loss to capture or death will be keenly felt.  This book will become a go-to source for me as I develop and build my own campaign based games. 

If you like skirmish campaign games, I would recommend checking it out.  This is the best “Campaign” of any in the “Blue Book” Osprey Wargame Series.  
From the Outremer Author's Blog:

Monday, July 9, 2018

Random: Mid-way Through 2018 and Look What You Have Done!

Look at the time!  July all ready!  It is hard to believe that 2018 is half over with.  So much still to do, so much completed, and yet even more to come.  It was the best of times…. It was the worst of times…. But it seems like a time to review my progress according to my 2018 goals and see where I am at.

Typically, I break them up into the following categories for ease:

·         Purchasing
·         Playing
·         Rules Writing
·         Miscellany

I normally do not get all my goals done by the end of the year, and these are more guidelines than anything else.  Nothing holds me to this list to complete it or even do the stuff on it.  However, I find it helps me from jumping to project to project without making any progress.

So, let’s look at what is done.

Typically things I will spend money on are in this section:

-          Purchase all new Osprey Wargame Series of Books- I look to be on track with this one.  The latest two were Kobolds and Cobblestones and Outremer: Faith and Blood.  I have them both in my collection, but have only reviewed Kobolds and Cobblestones so far.  Outremer: Faith and Blood should be following soon.

-          Pick-up 6mm Successor Armies from Baccus- I took a look at the range and priced them out.  I am scratching together the cash as I want to get enough minis for two armies to play Heirs to Empire with.  This one might not happen his year at the rate I am going.

-          New Professional Terrain- I have purchased a swanky new terrain cloth that looks great!  In addition, I picked up some cool Greek temple ruins from Terrafin too.  I still would like a nice river, some rocks, and maybe a forest or two.  I will call this partially complete.

-          Purchase Blucher- Looks around shifty-eyed and embarrassed.  I got as far as putting it into an online shopping cart once…. Never finished the transaction though.  Someday…. I mean it!

Painting and Modelling
Items I am making a bold effort to get painted or modelled for the tabletop go here.  I was very conservative this year in my painting goals.  This category usually trips me up the most. 

-          Paint Mobile Artillery for All Quiet on the Martian Front- After two years they are complete! 

-          Paint D.A. Thompson from Pulp Alley- Complete after….. I do not know how long?  But he is done!

Here I list the games I want to play for the year!

-          Play 8th Edition 40K- Complete! There was a lot of positive buzz about the new edition, so I figured I would check it out.  I mean, I have been playing since Rogue Trader days so I have plenty of models. 

-          Finish theBalkan Uprising Campaign- I did manage to play another game for the Campaign using Castles in the Sky but the Ottoman League needed a decisive win to wrap up the campaign.  Let’s just say, the campaign is not over yet.  I have the next game arranged and ready to play but I haven’t had time to play it yet.  Partially complete I guess.    

-          Play OneGame I have Not Played Before- Complete!  I played Super System 4thEdition.  It was a good time between the Union of Semi-Professional Heroes and the Blackhearts.  I all ready have two more Nano metal figs set aside and statted out to expand my teams and set-up for the next issue.

Rules Writing
On this part of the list, I put my goals for actually producing games.  I am typically very productive in this category as all I need is some research, computer, and time to do it.  That is a lot less of a lift than the other categories. 

-          Complete 2 New Rulesets for the Blog- Complete!  I think I have completed three or four for the Work-in-Progress section?  RampantGalaxies, Fog of War, Conquest! Rome in Italy, and Rampant Sun.  I took Conquest! back down as I work on some other aspects of it.  However, the others are still up and I am looking for play tester feedback on them.  However, I have made no progress on Mageloque, which has been on my to-do list for about 5 years now. 

-          Get Photos for Men of Bronze completed- Complete!  I have shared some on this very blog!  In addition, Osprey sent me some cover art drafts for the book!  Exciting times!

This section is filled with random stuff that is related to Blood and Spectacles but does not really belong any place else. 

-          Blog Once Every 2 Weeks- This year, I have managed to keep my blogging pace up to weekly.  However, it has been a stretch.  I do not expect this trend to continue as the year progresses.

-          Clean-up a Game for Wargames Vault- I managed to get Green Army Men: Plastic Men, Steel Resolve completed and placed on the Wargame Vault this year.  If I am really lucky, I might get a second up by the end of the year. 


Wow, so far I have done pretty good!  8 out of 13 complete, with another 2 partially complete.  This might be my best year yet!  However, I did scale back my goals a bit from 2017.  

Besides the stuff listed here, I also invested more into Blood Bowl and got the Dwarf, Chaos, and Skaven team.  My family has played a few games, but I have not been able to document them enough for the Blog.  I didn;t think Games Workshop would get me to spend money with them again, but the Blood Bowl play worked on me! I will probably get one more team and the Ogre too. I have played a good deal of Men of Bronze and binged on Green Army Men: Plastic Men, Steel Resolve on a few days.  In addition, I have tried a few boardgames and card games as well.  However, it was not enough for me to really document.  Overall, fairly productive.  

I might not be as prolific in the second half of the year due to work and “Real Life” getting in my way.  However, so far a good start and I look forward to finishing 2018 strong!  How about you?  How is your 2018 going so far? 

Monday, July 2, 2018

Review: Kobolds and Cobblestones- Osprey Wargame Series

The Osprey Wargame series has been one of my favorite sources of rules systems. They are typically a quick read and bring interesting mechanics and ideas to the table. The price point and length of the rules have introduced me to all sorts of interesting games. This in turn has spurred my own creativity and game design.

Today, we are going to take a look at Kobolds and Cobblestones. This is a game of Fantasy gang combat for control of the underworld of a cosmopolitan fantasy city. As I was thinking about the game, I was surprised to read their take that Kobolds are a form of lizard man style creature. I have been forever stained by the old Ad&D Monster Manual that had art showing them looking like little dog men. The idea of them being lizard-like frightened and confused me! However, I got over it.  It turns out I was the one completely out of the loop!  

This game does not have an design notes. However, I did read in the acknowledgments that the game was built by “making it up” as he went along with some of his gaming buddies. I like the spirit of this approach. Now let's take a closer look and see how it all hangs together.

Things I Liked
This game was very innovative when it came to its core mechanics. It did not go with the old movement stand-bys and instead did something very different. The main tool for movement in the game is a standard Poker card, using either the width or length to measure distance. This game uses no special equipment.

The game does not stop there. It then decided to fore go normal gaming conventions and use those same standard poker cards as the way to resolve opposed actions. I was expecting a draw mechanic like Malifaux. Instead, they went a different rout where you use cards in your hand to create opposed Poker hands, play blackjack, or do a simple card flip to determine the outcomes for melee, missiles, and magic. It was very creative solutions and a fresh approach. I would have preferred if it stuck to one approach instead of three, but there is no denying the creativity of the mechanics.

The game also has a clever Critical Hit mechanic, where the number of cards from an 'aligned” card color used in your combat hand can trigger an escalating series of events and special interactions. The critical hit mechanic flowed in easily and elegantly with the combat/magic rules.

Unlike other games, no gang is expected to be made-up of only the same race. Instead, race mixing is encouraged. I like that idea and allows you to use a selection of miniatures that you have on hand.

Things I Did Not Like
The game is very innovative with mechanic resolution. However, the core game play relies too much on existing card games for my taste. It is essentially playing no draw poker with minis. Once you get beyond the card interactions, the game has very little nuance beyond hand management and usage. For example, there is little benefit for tactical maneuver, morale, or command and control in the game. Thankfully, the Campaign rules force you to think of the meta a little to act as a Morale limitation.

The game could end up with a lot of table clutter, or off-board book keeping. Many models have multiple wounds. In addition, there are various effects from the critical hits that will impact models throughout the turn. Tracking the number of effects could be a turn-off for some players.

In addition, the game has certain “leaders” that you must use one of. I am not a fan of such “named Character” approaches to games and prefer to build my own characters that grow and build as a campaign progresses.

Meh and Other Uncertainties
The game uses three decks of Poker cards. One for each player's combat hands, and a third for an Event deck to help resolve non-combat event such as initiative, set-up, some magical effects, etc. In addition, you will want the Jokers as measuring tools, but not in the deck. This system uses alternating activation, and I think could scale well for more than one player at a time.

Gangs can choose not to spend all of their starting cash on members, and instead use them in game to bribe models, heal, siphon off magical energies and other little tricks and treats. Any many games, such excess cash at gang creation is simply lost or of no use in-game. This was a clever way to make use of it and force some more choice during list building.

As mentioned, the game comes with a campaign system which is a huge plus in my book! It covers the basics such as model death, recruiting new members, etc. Do not get to attached to your runts and thugs as they will die pretty fast. However, as you gain Notoriety, you use this as cash to “buy” new figures for the gang. Unlike a game like Necromunda or Mordheim, most of these gang members will be pretty disposable. This fits more of the Frostgrave model.

The game also comes with 8 scenarios. They also include optional objectives to increase the re-playability even further. These follow some standard tropes, but are well executed designs.  Plus, using the 2x2 board and the ability to Move/Dash you will get to the action quickly with these scenarios.

A note on the artwork. The book uses stand-alone character art similar to the Rogue Stars book. I like the style of the artwork as the gangs have a more Edwardian/Elizabethan vibe to them instead of a standard Medieval Fantasy style. I liked it. However, the way this artwork was used was unsatisfying to me due to the white space. In addition, the miniature pictures in the book were uninspiring to me as the palette did not pop enough. These are minor quibbles, as they are painted nicely and the city terrain is very cool. However, it just did not grab me.

Final Thoughts....
I was pleasantly surprised by the cleverness of the core mechanics, but I felt they were still just a bit wanting and a bit too light. Like many of the Osprey Wargame Series games, this would be a great short series of games for a club, or even a stand-alone Convention game for relatively new wargamers. I do not think it has the depth for longer campaigns or heavy rotation. However, I still found myself impressed with the rules and re-thinking the use of cards in my own designs again. To me, it was worth the read just for that and I can see myself giving it a go with my family.

Monday, June 25, 2018

Random: Men of Bronze Pictures

I didn't have a lot of time to come up with an interesting and innovative post about wargame designs, rnew reviews, or even play a game.  Therefore, I have decided to do a photo dump of images I took for the Men of Bronze rulebook.

Enjoy the ancient Greek eye-candy!   

Monday, June 18, 2018

Battle Report: Super Systems 4th Edition- Showdown in the Sands

The Black Hearts had completed the job easily.  The museum had a state of the art security system to protect the artifacts they had collected over the years.  However, those security precautions were no match for villains with the capabilities of the Black Hearts.  Guards, alarms, vaults…. All of it was for nothing when the Black Hearts came to collect.

What exactly they collected was unclear from the video The Union of Semi-Professional Heroes had been provided.  The Black Hearts had easily penetrated the security and made their way to the Hall of Ancient History and moved into the South-East Asia wing.  There they grabbed a variety of artifacts and made their way out. 

“What are these miscreants up to?” Mr. Amazing turned to the Riverine.  He knew that his companion had a long history with that region of the world, not all of it good. 

“I can’t be sure….but that was the region where I received my powers.  There might be a link,” Riverine responded. 

There was a quick blast of red light, and then Red Streak was there with Mr. Amazing and Riverine, “Those goons were spotted out in the desert by a park ranger.  He called it in, and the local police have asked for our help.” 

Mr. Amazing nodded, “Well Riverine, let’s go ask them what they are up to!”  With that, the three heroes rushed out of their lair to intercept the Black Hearts out in the desert. 


The Super System 4th Edition book has a few Archetypes to help you get some quick heroes together.  I used them to come up with my two sides.  The Black Hearts are the “villains” while The Union are the “heroes”. 

The Black Hearts
Metalhead- Brick- Immovable Object
Nihilist- Mentalist- The Empath
Troll- Blaster- Blaster- Fates Gunner

The Union (of Semi-Professional Heroes)
Mr. Amazing- Brick- Mr. Stupendous
Red Streak- Speedster- Speed Demon
Riverine- Brawler- The Shield Slinger

I took those archetypes and made a couple of character sheets with notes to refer to during playing.  You can find out more about these heroes and villains in a previous post.   

This game will be played on a 4x4 desert board.  I am using my classic wasteland table cover.  I then scattered some rocks around.  I also placed a dirt road across the center of the board.

The Black Hearts are placed within three inches of each other in the center of the board.  They are in a triangle within 3 inches of each other.  The Union can be placed on any table edge.  Mr. Amazing and the Riverine are blocking each table edge at the end of the road.  Red Streak is supporting the Riverine. 

One of the Black Hearts is carrying the “Loot”.  It is being carried by Troll.  The Black Hearts are trying to get the “loot” off the board.  The Union is trying to recapture the “loot”.  As a secondary objective, they will want to apprehend one of the Black Hearts for interrogation.    

At the edge of the board waits a Black Hearts burrowing machine.  If they can get there with the artifact, they can escape. 

Mr. Amazing slowly lowered himself to hover a few feet from the ground.  He smiled his pearly white teeth, “Going somewhere?”

Nihilist snarled behind her mask, “We need to get to the burrower, we can go around or through them.”

“Through!” Metal Head shouted and charged forward.

Turn 1:
The Black Hearts under Nihilist win the initiative easily.  They go first. 

Metalhead sees Mr. Amazing hovering and blocking their path and rushes forward his full AP the engage.  The Riverine runs up towards the fleeing villains to get in close enough to fight them. 

The Nihilist Mind Flares the Riverine, but he manages to resist its effects.  Then, she hastily follows Metalhead.  Meanwhile, Mr. Amazing moves closer to engage the fleeing Black Hearts next turn and get the angle on The Nihilist as she has the loot.

Troll turns and tosses a Flame bomb at the Riverine who fails to dodge.  He is hit for 4 Vitality loss!  The Riverine is knocked back 4 inches and flips back to his feet and shakes it off. 

Red Streak races ahead and catches up to the Black Hearts, but does not have enough AP left to engage them. 

Turn 2:
The Nihilist helps the Black hearts win Initiative again. 

She flares Red Streak, but he shakes off the mind attack.  Then moves away.  The Red Steak then  buzzes around Metalhead to get in close with the Nihilist and launch an attack.  However, Metal Head uses his Bodyguard ability to get in the way.  The Red Streak’s punch just makes Metalhead laugh.

Metalhead then triggers his Density Increase and haymakers Red Streak, which he barely manages to dodge with his speed.

The Riverine runs forward and gets behind cover as he approaches, wary of Troll’s flame bombs.

This time, Troll launches at Mr. Amazing who is hovering in the way.  He tags the flying man, and reduces him 6 Vitality with a blast to the face.  This knocks him tumbling back 6 inches.  Mr. Amazing steadies himself, but can only fly closer to the fight and can not engage this turn.

Turn 3:
This time The Riverine manages to outlead the Nihilist.   The Union will go first.   

Mr. Amazing charges at the Nihilist, but Metal Head is there with his Bodyguard ability to get in the way.  Mr. Amazing charges forward, but Metal Head snatches his from the air and holds him up and away from Nihilist.  He then grabs Mr. Amazing and holds on. 

The Riverine comes up behind Troll, and throws his Trident at him.  Fate intervenes and Troll manages to dodge out of the way of the attack. 

In return he runs past and tosses a Flame bomb into the melee of Metal Head, Nihilist, Red Streak, and Mr. Amazing looking to hit Red Streak.  The Red Streak easily avoids the blast, but the Nihilist is singed in the attack. 

“What are you doing idiot!” she yells.  In response, the Troll just shrugs, “It is what I do!” 

Despite the blast, she manages to Mind Flare The Red Streak.  This leaves him “Stunned”.  She is then able to move past and away from him towards safety.  The mind flare causes The Red Streak to stumble after Nihilist, but he can not catch up to her yet.   

Turn 4:
The Nihilist shouts at Troll, “Get The Red Streak now, while he is disoriented!” 

Troll smiles wickedly and tosses his bomb with great accuracy.  It easily hits the disoriented speedster and blasts him back 5 inches and leaves him with 1 Vitality left. 

The Riverine rushed up and grabbed his trident and launched an attack on Metal Head.  The Trident slammed across the back of the brick’s head, and the shock of contact bounced it from the Riverine’s hands.  Metal Head slowly cracked a smile. 

Metal Head squeezes Mr. Amazing, but fails to damage the hero.  However, he is also unable to free himself from the thugs grip. 

The Nihilist makes it to the burrowing machine at the end of the road and jumps in with the stolen artifacts from the museum. 

The Nihilist jumped into the open hatch of the waiting burrower.  She turned and the rest of her team got the hint, get in or get left behind.  Troll scampered after her with his shambling ape-like gait.  Meanwhile, Metal Head tossed Mr. Amazing aside and ran for it. 

Riverine dashed to his friends aid and crouched beside him to make sure he was okay.  AS he did so, the engine of the burrower rumbled to life, and the great machine tore into the ground with a rumbling screech.  The red Streak covered his ears as the machine descended into the ground.  
“Looks like they got away,” Mr. Amazing said.  He clutched the side of his head in pain. 

“This time,” the Riverine responded.    

Well, I am sure I messed up a lot of rules in my first play through in a long time.  Using the archetypes in the book was much easier than trying to design my own characters.  They came out pretty well balanced.  When I designed characters on my own before the results did not work as well as the arch-types. 

The villain of the match was definitely Troll.  He caused havoc with his Fortune powers.  He was tagging people left and right and easily did the most damage.  However, Metal Heads bodyguard ability combined with Density Increase was really helpful as well.  He was right there to keep anything from happening to his boss.  Nihilist’s mind flare worked when I needed it to and allowed her to escape at the end. 

The Heroes turned out to be underwhelming in this game.  Part of that was the fact that they were poorly matched up.  Red Streak ended up fighting Metal Head, a fight he could not win.  Mr. Amazing was a much better match for him, but by the time he got involved it was too late.  Riverine also ended up being too far away to be much help in this mission.  Oh well, I can see where the Heroes powers could be really tough to beat, but today the combos did not work.  Perhaps because of their needs for haste early it left them a bit unorganized when the fighting happened.

I really like the opposed GOAL roll system, even if sometimes it felt a bit dice heavy.  It is also pretty tough to take someone out of action leading to drawn out combats.  This fits with the ethos of Super Hero fighting, but would not work with all genres.  I also like the “tool box” nature of the rules as they give you plenty of things you can add and use as you progress in skill with the game such as special attacks, powers, vehicles, Henchmen, etc.  Anyway, you can read a full review of the rules here if you want.        

I look forward to playing more of this game and these characters.  I mean, who do the Black Hearts work for?  Why did they steal artificats from South-East Asia, where the Riverine found his Trident?  Who will The Union call in to help them track down the Blakc Hearts? I am excited to look over the Nano Metal guys I have left and start assigning them some powers and having them join the conflict.   

Monday, June 11, 2018

Wargaming on a Budget: Toys for the Superhero Genre

Recently, I posted about using toys for gaming purposes.  I think there are three major genres that lend themselves well to toys as game aids.  The first is dexterity based games, the second is car combat, and the third is SuperHero games.  Typically, there are plenty of toys out there that can be used in these genres.  A case could probably be made for other genres such as Mecha/Giant Monsters or Sci-Fi spaceships too. 

To prove that I wasn’t all hat and no cattle, I decided to put my money where my mouth was and show some examples of how this could be done.  I have had the Super System 4th Edition rules for some time now, but have only run through a partial game using statted up Skylander toys.  That was the original reason I picked up the rules, so that I could use all those silly Skylander models on the tabletop instead of just for the game.  I will probably still do this, but I feel like my window for relevance on Skylanders as a wargame has closed. 

Anyway, I was at the local discount retail chain store (Target) and saw something called Nano Metal Super Hero figs in packs of 5.  I looked them over and bought 3 for about $15 or a dollar a figure.  I have also seen people take cheap Heroclix models and repaint them for Super Systems too.

The first thing I did was use the rules to set-up some basic teams.  Thankfully, the rules have some “arch-type” pre-made characters that I applied to my teams.  They were:

The Union (of semi-professional Heroes)
The Union represents a body of “amateur” heroes that have banded together for mutual support and aid in their fight against crime and evil villains.  They are not technically part of any government, military, or police force and are free-lancers doing their own hero work when they can get time away from their normal lives.  Generally, they are the good guys and have some basic ethical and moral guidelines in order to join.  However, the key part is the collection of the dues in order to fund their retirement and benefits package.  In addition, there is some mentoring and support from other more experienced heroes.  That is the main perk of being part of The Union.
Here is a group shot of our current Union heroes: Mr. Amazing, The Red Streak, and The Riverine.

The Red Streak, The Riverine, and Mr. Amazing

The Red Streak-  The Red Streak became a hero when a lab experiment he was part of involving a super-collider went wrong and he was exposed to trace amounts of an unknown element.  This increased his ability to move very fast, and in some cases extra-dimensionally.  The exact physics is still up for study by the scientific community.  The red Streak is a young physics Grad student.  He wants to live a mostly normal college life.  However, he looks up to the Riverine and sees him as a hero and mentor.  The Red Streak is a Speedster arch-type with the Warp ability.     

The Riverine- The Riverine was a private during the Vietnam War and spent most of his career serving on Patrol Boats.  On a mission, he was deployed off the boat with his fire team.  They promptly got lost deep in the jungle.  They were attacked by Rock Apes and his companions were killed.  He was thought to be dead, and dragged by the apes through the jungle until they came to a ruined South Asian temple.  There, the former Private found a trident.  When he dragged himself to it, he felt its power and energy course into and transform him.  From then on, he was known as the Riverine, and found his way back to civilization. 

Disgusted with the Military and government of the era, the quit and was a founding member of The Union.  The Trident seems to have slowed his aging and allowed him to live an unnaturally long and healthy life.  In addition, he gained extra strength and speed beyond a normal mans.  Over the years he has become a skilled fighter and tactician with his trident.  I used the Shield-Slinger Brawler arch-type for this character.   

Mr. Amazing- Formerly Captain Amazing, he changed his name when other heroes accused him of “Stolen Valor” as Mr. Amazing had never actually been part of the military.  Therefore, he respectfully changed his name to the more civilian friendly Mr. Amazing.  Mr. Amazing has a day job and identity that he keeps secret from his peers.  He is actually a CPA that mostly does tax returns for blue-collar folks and middle income folks.  He gained his powers when he was exposed to bizarre radiation from a meteorite that landed near his home.  Since then, he has the ability to fly, is very resistant to injury, and super-strength.  He uses the Mr. Stupendous arch-type for a Brick.   

The Black Hearts
The black hearts are a gang of mercenary, powered villains.  They will do dirty deeds for cash, cut diamonds, or other rewards.  Their code is power, wealth, and material comforts.  They are aligned as long as the pay is good enough and it keeps coming.  They are not a complicated bunch, but they know that when the Heroes show up, it is better to work together than try to go it alone…. Most of the time.
Troll, Nihilist, and Metal Head

Troll- His upbringing and childhood closely match that of the Nihilist.  His family life was in constant turmoil and struggle with incarcerations, narcotics, and foster families filling it.  He was a bitter and angry child prone to violence and sarcasm.  He became a petty gun runner and drug dealer and slowly rose through the ranks.  However, a drug lab raid went bad and left him horribly disfigured in an accidental explosion.  From there, he was recruited by an evil organization who outfitted him with armor, weaponry, and gear to match his twisted visual persona.  From there, he became an enforcer and eventual criminal mercenary.  Troll is the Fate’s Gunner Blaster Arch-type.

The Nihilist- The Nihilist developed her powers at the end of her high school career in a dramatic reveal at her graduation.  She had mostly be an outsider her whole life, and developed a malicious streak.  Most of her life she felt persecuted by the ‘Haves’ and now she strives to show them all the pointlessness of their materialistic and status chasing ways.  The Nihilist uses the Mentalist Empath arch-type. 

Metal Head- Metal Head was a blue collar worker who developed his powers when he was accidentally exposed to an irradiated mix of hazardous chemicals at the plant he worked as an electrician.  This gave him super strength and toughness and the ability to turn into a metal form.  He has a love for Heavy metal music and wants nothing more than to tour the world seeing and discovering rock bands.  However, such a lifestyle is not cheap, and the Black Hearts and their mercenary ways have allowed him to finance his nomadic lifestyle.  Metal Head is the Immovable Object Brick Arch-type.  

 All of these models were from the Nano Metal toy line.  Once I had the general idea of who each figure was, it was a simple matter of doing some easy re-paints to make these well-known characters into my own heroic or villainous creations.  Soon, we will see these Toys on the battlefield as they face-off in comic book action.