Barbarian action in 7TV Fantasy
Crooked Dice have released “Orsa the Fearless”, the first feature pack for their tabletop system 7TV Fantasy. As a fan of fantasy movies and especially as a fan of Conan the Barbarian, I just had to buy it. What you can expect, I summarize in this review.
What is a Feature Pack for 7TV Fantasy?
The whole 7TV game system is meta through and through. As described in my reviews of 7TV Spy-Fi and 7TV Fantasy, you don’t just play a conflict between two parties, you play the filming of a TV episode in which such a scene is shot. While this sounds very round the corner at first, it works insanely well and fluidly, and most importantly, it’s a lot of fun. It’s probably more fun if you have a passion for film and television, but it’s also relatively easy to ignore the meta-level around it and just focus on the conflict.
In principle, the Starter Box covers everything you need to play. Occasionally, however, Crooked Dice focuses on specific topics and publishes so-called program guides to introduce special characters, special rules and small campaigns. In fact, they are most comparable to classic campaign books. After the initial publication format of a printed Program Guide and separately available but related game cards, they have moved to the nice Feature Pack format.
All feature packs are distributed in VHS cases and have received cover inlays that look like B-movie movie posters. Not much more is included than the program guide, which is now much smaller in format, the required cards and possibly stencils or markers. Miniatures are not included, but matching figures are always released as part of the release to complement the assortment and match the new playing cards.
As a fan of the system, you can’t get excited enough about how lovingly and absolutely nerdily these feature packs are made. We’re talking about a nerdy game within a nerdy hobby at 7TV anyway. Now expansions are also visually distributed as VHS tapes and strictly follow the meta-narrative in terms of content.
“Orsa the Fearless” – finally it gets barbaric!
“Orsa the Fearless” is the first feature pack for 7TV Fantasy. It focuses on the trashy barbarian movie and takes its clear cues from Conan, Xena and the like. Of course, with the basic ruleset for 7TV Fantasy, you can play with barbarian miniatures and wouldn’t need the feature pack. The appeal of this, however, lies in the fact that the level of violence is raised in accordance with the theme. In the game, this is wonderfully shown in possible wounds of the heroes, where gradually more and more bodily functions are impaired. Whereas normally characters in the game are simply knocked out and taken off the field, now they might drag themselves on with a gaping wound in their leg to shred their way through the next horde of enemies and maybe pick up another wound. The wounds, of course, affect the game depending on which body function is affected. You can move less far, you have a malus on your combat power, etc.
Do you need it the feature pack? No, you don’t need it. But the whole design of the expansion is tailored to fans of the genre anyway. Personally, I think it’s great. With my Conan the Barbarian miniatures, I can now re-enact cinematic scenes in a completely different way.
The heart of the pack is the small-format Program Guide. It contains the rule extensions, background story and a small campaign about the background. The background story is nice to have, but I don’t need it. In 7TV Fantasy we pretend that the fictional film production studio “Minerva Avventure” by successful producer and director Donatella de Lorenzo exists. Everything that happens in the game is basically produced by her, every game you play is a movie or a TV episode within her productions. The Program Guide now includes a multi-page synopsis of the movie “Orsa the Fearless” as well as a fictional movie review with in-depth criticism and analysis. Honestly, I think it’s funny to read this once, but after that I wouldn’t need it anymore. It’s more likely that I’ll use the rules to play completely different movies anyway.
Campaign, free play and the power of cards
The campaign contains three scenarios, about which I am divided. The scenarios are quite specific as far as the terrain is concerned. They specify certain buildings and certain terrain. One scenario takes place in the far north on ice sheets – hardly a casual gamer would have prepared that just like that. Of course, there is also a storyline to the scenarios, which specifies certain characters or miniatures. You actually play movie scenes. Personally, I could not play a single scenario with my existing collection.
Is that a point of criticism? I don’t think so, because I see these scenarios as inspirations. The whole game lives from being creative and doing your own thing. So I would say the campaign is an example. If you want, you can play it that way. But it is certainly more fun if you write your own movie and design your own scenarios based on your own collection of miniatures and terrain. The campaign in the Program Guide serves as inspiration. That’s how I’m going to do it, anyway.
Last but not least, the action cards remain: they expand the pool of game cards with some fine elements of the barbarian film and, in addition to the injury rules, anchor the genre noticeably in the game.
The character cards are personalized this time in the sense that, for example, not a general barbarian is designated, but specifically Orsa. But of course you can play the card as Red Sonja, Xena or any other person without any problems.
Orsa the fearless miniature
As already mentioned, the feature pack also comes with a slew of new miniatures. Many miniatures appear to match the campaign, some characters are inventions of this expansion. The title heroine Orsa got a great figure, as well as her ally Wulf, the witch Skadi (who is perfectly modeled after Queen Bavmorda from Willow) or the Gullveig the hag. Basically, I also like Crooked Dice’s Fantasy Range insanely. To start with, I only bought Orsa itself, because I still have a bunch of Lord of the Rings and Conan miniatures, which I can and will use for 7TV.
I think Orsa’s miniature is just great. It is sculpted by Ernst Veingart, who currently does most of the Crooked Dice range. The casting is clean and sharp, as I’ve come to expect from the manufacturer. Almost no cleaning was necessary. The figure consists of the nearly complete body and sword with arms. The arms are glued to the shoulders where the shoulder armor begins. The fit is great, Green Stuff was not necessary on mine.
I like the whole design very much. We have here a great female figure, which you can immediately see the warlike. The pose shows body tension, she makes a muscular, broad-shouldered and battle-experienced impression. The face betrays determination, the sword is raised for battle. Since, unfortunately, you don’t see too often female miniatures that look defensible and are not body-emphasized or even sexualized, I find this example really commendable.
The bottom line is that I like the “Orsa the Fearless” feature pack because it adds a genre to 7TV Fantasy that I like and embeds it into the game in a meaningful way. The game is not fundamentally changed, it’s just a matter of a few adjusting screws that create the right atmosphere. If you don’t like the genre (I’ll mention Conan or Xena again as two of the best-known representatives), you certainly don’t need this feature pack. Nevertheless, I find the wounding rules a nice idea, which can of course also be used outside the genre. Also Boromir could fight on injured in a Lord of the Rings game or Geralt “The Witcher” von Riva also always takes a lot in his fights.
The nice thing about the 7TV system is that you can add what you like and leave out what you don’t need. If you want to add more depth and atmosphere to your games because you like a certain genre so much, then that is now possible. So, now I have more barbarians to paint!