After a busy couple of weeks moving the office, we are now up and running again – thanks for your patience. So it’s time to welcome your glamourous new post lady – Anna! She has worked through the last two weeks orders so they will all be posted out today Anna will be dealing with all orders from now on – so play nice or she’ll break you like a twig!
Lumbering from the bottom of your garden and into the webstore is this monstrous vegetable titan! Sculpted by gribbly genius George Fairlamb, this carnivorous plant stands 90mm tall. We’ve a limited stock available (but more on the way), so grab it while you can!
Graeme has posted the last of the orders, and with the help of Crooked Minion #1, has started to pack up the contents of the office. The actual move South will take place on Thursday 13th, and we should be open again for business on Saturday 15th (limited service) and fully back to speed by Monday 17th. All orders from mid-day on 6th will get processed on/after 15th-17th. This move will allow Graeme to focus on writing, so should allow our written output to rise somewhat.
“All the table’s a stage”
In this write up, I’m going to explain the background to, and reasons behind, our 7TV game. This applies both to the first and second editions of the game, but the second edition is also mentioned specifically at points. If you ever wanted to know just what 7TV is (and isn’t), or indeed what 7TV stands for, read on…
It’s a Wargame
You’ll need an opponent, miniatures, dice, rules and somewhere to play on. You choose your cast and set up your miniatures, your opponent will do the same. While games can have strong narrative thread, it’s not a roleplaying game. In the second edition you don’t have to choose options for your models weapons or abilities like you have to do in a role playing game. There’s no gamesmaster or referee. You pick your models and grab the cards you need and get playing. It’s quick and simple and a lot of fun.
It’s a Metagame
7TV is a game about making a TV programme or a film. Your models are your cast, you have a ratings number to allow you to choose your models. Who are all either stars, co-stars or extras. The games you play are called episodes, your cast doesn’t get killed if you lose, they get axed. There’s a countdown until the credits roll and all the random events are TV themed. Special effects, star qualities. We could go on.
Does this make a great difference? No and yes. No because you can just play the game like any other wargame – choose your models and fight battles. Yes, because it’s quite tongue-in-cheek and doesn’t take itself too seriously. The fact the game is buried inside a TV show gives it a whole different feel, and we love it, it plays right into the genre we’re recreating. If this bothers you ignore it, or play something dark involving space empires and lots of skulls.
It’s a love of Cult TV
At Crooked Dice we love Cult TV – the shows you sometimes see on BBC2, or Dave during the day. Shows like The Prisoner, Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased), The Avengers, Adam Adamant, The Saint, The Champions, and there were a lot more. Add to this various Anderson productions including Captain Scarlet, U.F.O., Space: 1999 and we’re getting there. We can add to this famous TV like Doctor Who and recent Cult TV like Archer and Danger 5. It’s a heady mix.
Budgets were often low, and props and actors kept reappearing across various shows if you take the time to look. Despite their meager production values, these shows have a look and a feel all to their own, and manage to show us what looked like a simpler, more dashing time to live in. Nostalgia? Oh yes.
What is Spy-Fi? It’s a mixture of the spy genres and science fiction, it’s typically far more glamourous and over the top than John Le Carre, or spying in the real world would have been (or still is). Spy-Fi is encapsulated by The Man From U.N.C.L.E. and most especially James Bond and Austin Powers, and that’s only a fraction of the Spy-Fi out there. Spy-Fi brings us undersea and volcanic villainous bases, outrageous ransom demands and evil plans and lots of gadgets and seduction of enemy agents. All of which were too good not to include in 7TV.
But what is 7TV?
To tie all these elements together we needed a single unifying point, so we created a fictional TV studio, now defunct, who brought the world an epic list of Cult TV in the 1960s and 1970s – 7TV Studios. The background to 7TV Studios is given at length in the game rulebooks, but is summarised here for convenience:
Sidney Barron grew from managing wartime acts on the then fledgling TV service in Britain. He became an independent TV producer in the 1950s and by the 60s had formed his own production company, 7TV Studios. His early shows such as The Village Doctor were fairly pedestrian, but before long he had hit on a formula to both shock and entertain at the same time.
Although never terribly well known, his shows such as The Man From 2000, Department X, The Beat and The Daredevils were classics of their time. Episodic 45 minutes of action, adventure and suspense they kept a whole generation on the edge of their seats. The shows belied their tiny budgets to give us time travel, incredible science and a whole host of alien and robot monsters. This was gripping stuff.
Tragically Barron mysteriously disappeared from his Monaco yacht when his studios fell on harder times, and much of his television (and indeed film) was forgotten. Luckily, here at Crooked Dice, we have “rediscovered” much of 7TV Studios output, and have used it as the background to our game.
7TV 2nd Edition
The 7TV 2nd Edition rules allow you to create casts from almost any kind of TV show you can imagine – what’s in your head is the only limit. The core rules have a multitude of generic star, co-star and extra options to choose from, so if you’ve seen it on TV or have woken up at 4am with a brilliant idea, you can do it. From alien invaders or a hospital full of crazies, to secret ninja commandos or psychic spy children, you can do it.
Future releases will expand massively on the previous Programme Guides to give you full options to recreate classic 7TV casts such as Department X, S.H.I.V.A, The Argonauts and Children of the Fields. If you already have any Programme Guides from the first edition we’ll give you updated second edition cards free for all the profiles on those books. 5 years of time has passed for these casts, just like it has in the real world. So expect some characters to have moved on, got promoted, or have been changed by their experiences since we last passed their way.
And that… is 7TV. We’re massively excited to have the second edition available as a free beta test edition, for comments and feedback. Grab some models, download the rules, put on your best velvet trousers and get playing!
We are moving the entire Crooked Office down to Karl’s in Lincolnshire. This will let Graeme spend all his time writing new 7TV material and working on new games. We are taking on Anna as our new postage and orders
slave Minion, and Karl will oversee this work from his dictator balcony and drink lots of Tea. This is a big rethink, and should allow us maximum productivity going forwards. Should.
This is preceded by another holiday for Graeme, who is off to Summerisle to look for a missing girl. As a result, the last orders north of the border will be processed on THU 6th August. Service will hopefully resume on MON 17th August in the Fens after Anna has been trained up a bit . All orders received in between will go in a huge pile, skewered on a boar tusk.
We have been busy and finally we can give you July’s crop of releases. Going left to right we have: Ms Lovely Day, future survivor, 2 Spawn, Janey, Paranormal Exterminator and lastly the MkII Argonaut Commander. We’ll have painted versions along shortly.
Coming home from my holiday, literally stuck on a service station on the M6, I got a phone call to sat the torrential rain had brought the office roof in, along with a huge amount of watery goodness. I’ve been clearing up and moving the saveable stock and stuff to another office. This will add to the delay in getting back onto the orders after my holiday, should be back on track by the end of the week, though. There might be a few snags (we’ll have to reprint lots of starter set cover inserts and there’ll be less book stock than before, water damage) but we’ll do our best.
Your cast has been hand picked, they have learned their lines, and know where and when they should be centre stage. The other cast is across the studio, looking just as ready to get going. The stage crew and cameramen are all ready to go. And… “Action!”
In 7TV your cast faces off against another in a hopefully nail-biting episode of action, drama and daring deeds. The measure of how well you’re doing is the amount of Plot Points you have to spend. Plot points are gained for cast members and for managing dramtic deeds during play. They are spent to make models perform, and perfom better, or to use exciting special effects and their star qualities. How you manage your plot points during an episode may determine who comes out on top.
Plot points in 2nd Edition are an amalgamation of the old 1st edition’s activation tokens and audience appreciation points. As part of the ethos of writing the new edition, I wanted to combine mechanics where possible so players didn’t have to keep track of as many things. Plot points can be represented in the game by just about anything small and generic – glass beads, pennies, teeth.
Plot points are carried forwards from turn to turn. If you don’t spend them all in your turn, you have a chance to spend them during your opponent’s turn. If you still haven’t spent them all, what you have left gets carried forwards to your next turn to add to what you’ll gain in that turn. And so on.
Gaining Plot Points
In order to spend you have to first receive. Players gain plot points in the following ways:
- Losing the initiative roll at the start of the episode
- A player advances the countdown by 2 cards instead of 1
- Countdown cards might win you plot points
- Models in your cast, more for Stars, less for Co-Stars, and less again for Extras
- Removing opposing Stars and Co-Stars from the game
- Using your Stars and Co-Stars to grab objective tokens and the maguffin
If you don’t win the initiative roll you get some plot points so you’re not helpless while your opponent takes his first turn. Advancing the countdown gives you less turns to play out your episode, but both sides gain plot points. Useful if you’re in a pinch, but remember the other side is also gaining out of it. Some countdown cards also may allow you to gain plot points.
Casts with lots of Extras gain lots of plot points, but the ratio gained by Stars and Co-Stars is better. Most likely your cast will have a mix of Stars, Co-Stars and Extras, but the plot point gain for each type of model has been carefully tuned so that a cast of all Stars can match up against a cast of mostly less capable but more numerous Extras.
Removing Stars and Co-Stars from play and grabbing objective tokens and the maguffin may gain you victory points at the end, which is handy to determine if you win. But in a lot of cases you’ll get an immediate gain of plot points as well. Which is handy as then you can be more effective during the actual episode.
Spending Plot Points
You can spend plot points to do all kinds of things. The trick here is to manage your limited amount carefully and make the right decisions. You can spend your plot points to:
- Activate a model or a unit of models
- Make a more effective fight or shoot attack, or statistic roll
- Use a model’s star quality or unexplained special effect
- Play a gadget card
- Attempt a better defence roll during your opponent’s turn
Models almost always require plot points to activate, otherwise it’s assumed the cameramen are away shooting someone else hogging all the screen time. Units require more plot points to activate, but in the end you get to activate more models per point, at a cost of tactical flexibility – the unit has to stick together on the table.
Some models can make quite capable attacks, Co-Stars and Stars even more so. All models can sometime benefit from more effort, so if you put plot points into a strike roll the chance of success goes up. Luckily the attacker always gets to see what the opponent has rolled in their defence first before commiting whether to spend any plot points or not on their strike rolls. If you need to make an important statistic roll (like to keep your cast together if they get axed!) you might want to bolster this with plot points as well.
Some models get Star Qualities, potent effects they can use once per turn, and some get unexplained special effects like Invulnerable or Ghost. Both of these require plot points to work, as they are significantly more powerful than the rest of the special effects. An Invulnerable model could theoretically shrug off a huge amount of incoming shots, but the cost in plot points will be high.
Gadget cards have a listed plot point cost, in some cases this will be 0 for minor gadgets, but more powerful ones will require plot points to be expended before they can be used. Gadget cards don’t count against the other actions a model can take in one turn, so they can be quite useful in the right situation.
You will probably need to keep some plot points for use in your opponent’s turn to use to add to your defence rolls. If you have run out, you’ll just have to rely on luck to a large degree to avoid losses. If you have loads remaining you might be lucky and get through their turn mostly unscathed.
Balancing Use of Plot Points
Plot points really are the single mechanic which ties the whole game together. Yes, you probably can get to use every model in your cast every single turn, but will they be able to do anything effectively? Would you be better concentrating your efforts on one side of the table, and using the spare plot points to get more accurate strike rolls and better defence rolls?
Can you ‘under spend’ compared to your opponent? Using a Star to take shots at important Extras might force your opponent to use their plot points at a faster rate than you. Or will your opponent choose to sacrifice “Unlucky” Bob the Minion to allow them to get more action in during their own next turn?
If your cast relies heavily on their unexplained or special effects or star qualities are you going to have enough plot points to activate who you need to and still be able tho use those special effects? If you decide to hang back and not take the fight to your opponent be aware that they might be collecting plot points for grabbing objectives, and gaining potential episode-winning victory points as well.
Plot points force tough choices, which is exactly what a wargame should be all about. The choice you have right now is to download the free beta test rules and who to play some games with…
Graeme is on holiday from Thursday 9th to Friday 17th July, in the hopefully delightful Forest of Dean. We have booked a gingerbread cottage with a liquorice roof. Yum yum. Last orders for posting out before he goes will be end of TUE 7th. Normal service will resume MON 20th. If you order inside those dates it’ll sit until he gets back. Karl will be in charge of everything else, which should still run as normal.
I’m going to post some news on a regular basis about the 2nd Edition – info on the changes, rules, contents as well as new rules and PDFs to let you use EVEN MORE models in the game. Phew. Today it’s the profile cards…
One of the most obvious things we’ve done in 2nd Edition is to put the model profiles onto cards for ease of reference during play. There’s over 120 different cards for the models, vehicles and units in the core rules. All are available in the free 2nd Edition PDF (45 pages of the 90 page PDF are pages of profile, gadget and countdown cards!), but later on you’ll also be able to buy the cards as a fully printed deck if the thought of a lot of cutting out is a bit much.
Each card has all the info on affiliation (hero/villain or neutral), genre, ratings, stats, attacks and special rules for one model type. So what does this amazing card look like?
The back (not shown) lists each special effect and star quality, along with their rules.
So… why did we go for cards?
Well, it’s incredibly handy to have all the rules you need right there. The old roster sheet is fine (and the new rules also have one you can use of you prefer), but notably don’t have the room to list the rules for each special effect. We’ve cut down the numbers of special effects each model has, but if you’re playing with a lot of diverse models, it’s still a lot of info. With the cards, the info is right there.
The cards don’t need sleeved, but if you print them on paper you might want to for durability. If you sleeve them you can record hits taken on the Health circles bottom middle of the card, or you can note these with tokens as in the 1st edition. The cards come 4 to an A4 page, so you can even just print out the ones you need for any game.
The vehicle cards have a simpler format, as they have less stats and no weapons to keep track of. Units also have cards, each one details the models you can include in any one unit.
Going the cards route does throw up a few issues regarding modifying profiles. There are experimental rules on tweaking the Stars and Co-Stars, change x for y ratings etc. Since the Stars and Co-Stars are fixed profiles on the cards you’ll have to detail these creations on either a blank card (we’ll give you these) or write them down on a roster sheet.
The Extras come as fixed profiles for fixed points. Some (e.g. Minions, Cultists) might have weapon options (Pistol, Rifle, SMG) but now the ranges and effects of these weapons have been adjusted so one shouldn’t be more powerful than the other, they’re just good at different things.
So for example, Minions are 2 ratings each (or 3 for 5 ratings), and come with a cosh and either a pistol, rifle or SMG. No options for grenades, and if you want a Dog Handler or Commander then that’s a different card.
And that’s the cards!
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