7TV review

Another review for you today. This time the spin-the-bottle lands upon 7TV

Produced by Crooked Dice and uses their action:engine system which is used by this and the Dr. Who game they also have (this one is free). So what does 7TV bring to the world of wargaming? Well its main unique selling point is the players are the directors/producers of a hit 60s/70s show be it super spy, a rough N tough police unit or aliens; but more on that later

Like my other reviews I hope to do I will look at the following Fluff; Miniatures; Rulebook; Rules/Mechanics; what you get for your money and a Summary. Or FMRRMWYGFYMS for short.

Fluff

“7TV studios was the brainchild of the late maverick millionaire Sidney Barron, and produced a number of television shows in the 1960s and 70s – all contemporary action adventure serials. Most believed these shows were lost to the archives, but Crooked Dice have uncovered several boxes of cans of film. Now they can reveal some of 7TV’s short-lived series and abandoned pilots.”

Helena Rodings, Cult Zone Magazine, April 2010

I think that nicely sums up the idea of the game. What I do like about this is you can create your own show and therefore your own fluff to hit that cult 70s show you always wanted to recreate.

Just remember the sidekicks need to sassy and the bad guys need to manic…

There is 4 different TV programs within the rules that can be used in pick up games so don’t worry if you don’t fancy creating your own as you get started.

Although a campaign spread over several missions to correspond to episodes in a series is very easy to achieve and highly recommended.

Miniatures

This is a nice easy one to cover. The people at Crooked dice do hold a small number of miniatures that are suitable for 7TV. But they are also nice enough to suggest some alternative suppliers to cover all your needs. (Who knows maybe I will do a review of the some miniatures soon ;)) .

You will not need many 28mm miniatures for a smallish game (skirmish size), although I will let people know the good guys have lots of individual characters but are generally low in number while the bad guys get lots of faceless drones as should be expected really!

Rulebook

Alas I could not get hold of a nicely printed copy of the book all shiny and sexy. So I will have to make do with the pdf and boring black N white print 😉

As we delve into the rulebook what do we find? Well a pretty standard layout really. Bit of general info to start with, then the rules with lots of pictures/art work of miniatures and tit-bits of fluff (episode guides from the newspapers, these are a very nice touch) with clear examples when needed. Then we have a huge section on creating your cast/characters and there is plenty to keep you busy to help create the best spy or the worse double agent.

If you do not want to create your own, as I have mentioned you can pick up and play one of four different programs that cover all your favourite cult ideas.

It then finishes with a healthy appendix with everything you need to keep you going.

In all a very nice book that I would recommend to anyone.

The only thing I would say which is more a personal thing is I would like a print friendly (low res) copy of the pdf to put on my Kindle for easy of browsing but that is a limitation I have found of many pdf rulebooks, so I will say no more on that.

Rules/Mechanics

Next I will look at the mechanisms and actual rules for 7TV.

action:engine system

As I had mentioned in the little introduction the Crooked dice guys follow the action:engine system. This uses the old reliable a D6 to generate all your results no fancy D10 or D219 here oh no!!

The action:engine is simply everything is done on a D6. With each weapon having a to-hit number that can be modified +/- in the usual ways (range of target etc.).

While the damage table is simply defence vs strength and which is higher and by how much (draw is 4+ for example), again there can be modifiers to change this (attacking from behind for example).

There is also the possibility of opposed tests and it’s simply D6 plus characteristics winner is highest total.

What will not surprise anyone is that a 1 is always a fail regardless of the roll you are making, regardless of the modifiers you have.

Something else I should mention here is the fact you are given a choice as to whether pre-measuring is allowed with the default being yes. This can be good or bad thing but that is a whole different topic..

Character characteristics…

You have 3 types of characters within the game.

Stars – literally the stars of the show although as you would expect they may not be the ‘leader’ of the faction.

Co-Stars – All the other minor characters that will feature a lot.

Extras – the faceless extras that tend to die horribly usually the guy who goes on the boarding party and is not a star 😉

Special Guests – The game allows for one-off characters to appear which will help keep campaigns fresh and is easily explained.

Now on to the characteristics of the characters as you would expect all things are covered well;

  • Movement – all inches with a 0 being no movement at all
  • Defence – a composite of armour and dodging ability with 0 being you can’t be harmed by physical attacks.
  • Hits – Basically wounds.
  • Strength – pretty straight forward with a 0 being something without physical form.
  • Agility – Links into manoeuvrability/dexterity so helps if the character falls for instance
  •  Intelligence – Again something straight forward with 0 being complete mindless automaton.
  • Morale – another straight forward one with a 0 not needing to take any such tests.
  • Special effects & Star qualities – Individual special rules.

All pretty straight forward I think you would agree, an interesting touch is characters can be immune to various effects within the game. This could lead to some interesting creations mindless ghosts that can only be killed by eating Marmite anyone?

Next the weapons are again pretty straight forward.

  • Range – Self explanatory.
  • Hit – The number you need to get to hit
  • Strength – Self explanatory.
  • Notes – Special rules and the like.

Turn phases

How does a turn go down? Well it is all very familiar, we have Initiative phase, action phase and end phase; nothing out of the ordinary here.

Initiative phase – Simple dice off and winner goes first. Then this is where things start to get interesting and the rules start to push the idea of a TV program.

Every turn there is some Audience Appreciation (live audiences remember) which is the difference between the rolls.

The initiative winner then gets half (rounded up) of this amount as their AA while the loser gets the rest. But what does this have to do with the game I hear you ask well during the turn you can spend the AA points in one of 2 ways;

  • 2 AA points lets you re-activate a character very handy and also I like that anything can be re-activated not just certain über ones.
  • 1 AA point lets you +/-1 to the roll you just made to achieve something more to your liking. Again I like this and adds to the cinematic idea of the whole system. Who wants to see Bond slip and fall into the vat of boiling fat??

Action phase – The initiative winner activates first and can do various actions with his available characters then the opponent does like-wise.

The next twist in the system is that you only get to activate half (rounded up) of your available characters (those indisposed for various reasons don’t count). This is explained by the fact the cameras are only ever in one place at one time. Another nice twist that means you have to think very hard about which characters to use and in which order.

This may at first seem very hard on the good guys with their lower numbers as mentioned earlier but there is a way round this. The Leadership ability which lets a character hand out free activations to inactive characters, which as you can probably gather is VERY useful.

All characters get 2 actions during their turn which is the usually mix of moving, fighting, shooting and diffusing bombs etc. Most things can be done in multiples however you cannot shoot or aim twice in one action.

End phase – A standard end phase really, has anyone achieved the mission objective anyone running away etc.

Morale

Now you may ask why does morale get its own bit, well its simple there are several states which will result in a Morale test and I thought it best to point these out 🙂

  • Fear – Straight forward this one, you fail when near something Fearsome you run away.
  • Alone – This is only for extras (non-unique) if they are near 3+ enemy models and have no friendlies within the same distance they have to check.
  • Invulnerable – If a model activates near an enemy it cannot harm then it must also test.
  • Shaken – When a side has lost 50% of its starting models then a test must be taken with a minus modifier. ‘Lost’ not only includes dead characters but also those that have been captured more on that in a minute.
  • Wiped out – Is similar to Shaken but it is when 75% losses has occurred and on a greater minus modifier.

All add to the game and help you play in a certain way; a lone goon would never try to fight an entire commando unit, he would run 😉

Statuses

Like Morale deserves its own little area. It is basically effects that can occur to your characters during the game that will result in them being counted as ‘lost’ until such time they can be reversed. Done by rolling number D6 equal to current hits (wounds) left and removing the statuses for each 6 rolled.

  • Captured – Opponent can capture an opponent instead of wounding them so imagine they have been hog-tied or the side-kick has done it again.
  • Confused – As you may have guessed they not to good on their feet so will have to roll every time to see how they move as well as it being harder for them to hit but easier to be hit.
  • Disabled – They cannot be activated until the status has been removed friendlies with repair skill can also remove this.
  • Dominated – The opposition gain control of this model until the status is removed.
  • Stunned – Generally they are not conscious and in need of a whiskey of some description.
  • Uncontrolled – Lost contact with the mother-ship, the models info will let players know what exactly happens when they become uncontrolled.

Some nice extras that can be ignored when you are starting out but are very fluffy to have about as they add something extra to the game. They also allow for some easy scenarios to write.

That covers most of the basics of the game and like so many it is a simple affair which is easy to pick up. What I do like is some of the little rules that allow for a cinematic (TV) feeling that also create a tactical option within the game.

Other stuff

 Time to look at some of the other rules in the 7TV system. I will not go into too much detail you will be glad to know as I think I could talk for another week. So I will just pick out the juicy bits and leave you to discover the rest.

Heroic actions – Each action phase one of your Stars (or Co-stars) can use a Heroic action this adds a +2 to the roll for one of their actions. Which include to-hit, to-wound or other stat test unfortunately not for Morale tests.

This is a another nice touch that further extends the idea of the main characters pulling the proverbial rabbit out of the hat.

Vehicles – A brief mention on vehicles they add another dimension to games especially since anyone can in theory use said vehicle. But I do think less is more as it is my understanding they would be part of a scenario rather than used all the time and I am more than happy with that.

Buildings – The building rules are relatively simple and are nice and clear which is always a positive.

Fire – Again like the vehicle rules you will not come across the fire rules that often but they are there when needed. Or when you don’t if you are stuck in a corner of a burning building..

Creating characters – WOW!!! This is one huge section of the book, which means you can really create your very own set of characters. Bit overwhelming when you first look at them but once you have grasped them then you will be making entire casts just for fun. I know I did 😉

As mentioned there are also 4 different example programs to get you started if you don’t want to dive into creating your own.

Event cards – These are extra little changes to a game that can add unexpected differences which can occur both during and before the game, for instance random number of models moved a random distance or removal of terrain.

Gadgets – These are special items you can give your stars/co-stars, which is very very varied I am a fan of the Rocket Cigarette..

Missions/scenarios – There are 6 pick up and play missions as well as an example 4-game mini campaign with the rules. As well as a section for types of locations to play. There is plenty to get you started and keep you busy.

 What you get for your money

The cost of the rules is reasonably priced for what you get. At nearly 200 pages that is a lot of paper so in my personal opinion there is no issue with cost.

What is a nice touch is that if you just purchase the pdf and then wish to go for the whole paper copy a small fee gets you what you desire 🙂

As well as this you can pick up (for a limited time) all the counters and event cards you will need as well as a rather fetching poster.

Summary

Final thoughts on 7TV then;

Pros – The game is very well thought out with the time/effort/quality shining through in the rules and the book itself. It is great fun and I think helps capture the idea of a cult TV show game extremely well.

That is its unique selling point and I do believe you will not get the best out of this game until you have created your own ‘show’ to play out.

This is defiantly a campaign type of system, yes you can play one-offs but you need to have a connection with the characters for it to really be amazing.

The book is reasonably priced and is very well structured with a very generous appendix for you to use.

Cons – Due to the huge scope of background you could go into, it can be overwhelming especially if you do not like any of the example programs to start with and I would recommend using them, to get to grips with the system.

Also since it comes away from the popular fantasy/sci-fi/historical gaming systems you may find it hard to convince people to give it a go. Especially those too young or don’t appreciate a good cult show.

Effort, as you may have noticed this game rewards the effort you put into it prior to playing an actual game. This can be both the pros and cons side of an argument and when it comes down to it I will leave it with you to decide which side it should go!!

Overall – A stunning ruleset that captures the cult TV show idea amazing well. However it is a system that rewards prior effort to really make it work for an individual and I believe this could also be its downfall with some gamers.

However if you are willing to put the effort in what you will find is a great system that will have you playing showing more and more new episodes and re-runs on Dave for a long time into the future.

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