So I'm going to show it to you.
Full disclaimer before proceeding: I was one of the playtesters for this game and my name is actually in it. In fact, if you looked at other posts on this blog you could possibly accuse me of being a fully brainwashed Crooked Dice cultist.
Biased review incoming!
The boxes of the 7TV games are always good, but they are getting better. In fact the production value of all of the components are on a steady rise. Although there's nothing wrong with the original Spy-Fi game, you can see with each release how much attention to detail is being poured in.
As you'd expect, the box is packed with stuff and a bit of a heavy beast. At first glance you'll see that the contents are largely a variation on a theme, with fantasy versions of all the elements you've come to expect from a 7TV core set.
The three main guides set out how to play the game. The Director's Guide covers the core rules - new features include mounted characters, new statuses and magic.
The Producer's Guide goes through setting up a game with scenarios and victory points; there are also some pitches of ideas for games you might like to play that reference classic fantasy movies.
The Casting Guide includes brief bios for each of the profile cards, along with rules for designing your own stars and co-stars.
It feels like there's more background and fluff than in previous sets (with the possible exception of 7TV Pulp), and this is probably due to the tie up with Edge Hill University creative writing students. There is a lot to spark the imagination and I really appreciate the range of sneaky intertextual references - my favourite is the one line nod to the 108 outlaws of The Water Margin.
A new element is the Encounter Guide, which provides locations for the basic scenarios to take place in, offering different scenic hazards and rules for objective placement, adding variety and theme.
They function much like the Perils deck from 7TV Pulp, but with more space for clarity and detail. Which, in my opinion, is an improvement.
For example, in the Adventurer's Camp you will encounter random events each time a model enters an area in the middle of the table.
When playtesting this, we found it fun to ensure that we placed an objective (or even better, a macguffin) in the middle of the table to ensure that the random events happened and madness ensued.
The other cool element of the Encounter Guide is that it encourages you to build some terrain pieces, rather than just have 'areas' marked out.
For example, above is the Adventurer's Camp I made when we were playtesting last autumn.
The templates and tokens are in coloured MDF, which is a really nice touch. Although I do admit that the cardboard playtest versions had the full retro feel of early editions of Warhammer Fantasy Battle.
As ever, there are somewhere close to a billion profile cards to populate your games. As 7TV is miniature agnostic (although Crooked Dice do have an excellent, and ever growing, range of miniatures available) you can make your existing collection fit the profiles as you wish.
Unlike previous editions, there are far more villainous profiles (middle row) than heroic (bottom row), with the most space given to neutral profiles. This seems genre appropriate.
On the subject of genre, as with other sets, there are new genre icons to help you build your cast. These include Epic Fantasy (think Lord of the Rings), Mythic Fantasy (think Jason and the Argonoauts), Sword & Sorcery (think Conan the Barbarian) and my favourite: Pen & Paper Fantasy (think psychotic munchkin murder-hobos).
A new element in the game which you might notice if you zoom in are presence attacks, which were developed as a way of bringing ranged attacks into a genre known more for it's melee combat.
Presence attacks tend to be non-lethal, so you still need to close in, but they often add a status to your enemy, severely hindering them. However, it is now possible to give some attacking k'niggets a viscious taunting, or, as happened in one of our games, have a Swashbuckler laugh someone to death.
The major new element in 7TV Fantasy is magic, and this is achieved with the Magic User special effect allowing you to select a number of spells before the game from a range of spell books, a process that has a real D&D vibe.
Magic Users can then cast these in game, and although these spells are powerful, there is a cost. Miscasting has negative effects which include setting yourself on fire...something which happened with alarming frequency in our games. Do not meddle in the affairs of wizards...
The other usual card decks are present with a fantasy twist. Countdown Cards become Trilogy Cards, Gadgets become Artefacts and there is a huge range of recognisable Macguffins.
Yes, that is the Glaive from Krull. I'm now on the hunt for a 28mm Lisette Anthony.
There are dice and plot point tokens too. This time in snazzy purple and green.
So, there you have it. Another excellent product from Crooked Dice, packed with references to classic fantasy movies. As films like Clash of the Titans and Hawk the Slayer were on a constant VHS loop throughout my youth, this is right up my street, and possibly my favourite iteration of the game so far (although I'm still waiting for 7TV Chorlton and the Wheelies).
If you like 7TV already, you'll love this. If you don't, you probably won't. If you haven't tried it, this is a brilliant place to start. Almost every gamer has at least a handful of Orcs or Skeletons knocking around, and historical gamers of any pre-gunpowder era can put together a cast of knights, barbarians or hoplites.
Your quest begins here...