Sunday, 18 July 2021

A Shortcut To Mushrooms

All was quiet in the Marish. Farmer Maggot was sat by the fire, tucking into a steaming bowl of broth after a long day's work. Outside, the dogs: Grip, Fang and Wolf, sat calmly after a filling dinner.

Suddenly Grip's each twitched and his head jerked up. Something was moving across the fields...

Matt and I decided to play the first scenario from The Quest of the Ringbearer book for MESBG as it saved Matt the fuss of sorting out an army for something else and would be a good reintroduction to the game as it was only four models a side.

In the game, Frodo, Sam, Merry on Pippin (the 'Evil' side) in this scenario, have to sneak in and out of Famer Maggot's 'mushroom field' (yeah, that concept seemed odd to us too) to steal five lots of mushrooms and return them to their stash. Meanwhile, the dogs would be out to get them, and Farmer Maggot would be roused if one if his dogs was hurt. 

The Hobbits set off with no Might, Will or Fate, but had 3 Wounds each (presumably to make the objective achievable), and a deep seated terror of Farmer Maggot and his dogs.

Very soon, the hobbits had reached the field, but the dogs arrived with a cacophony of yowling and yelping (Matt was making dog noises at this point) and set about Sam, preventing him from grabbing any mushrooms.

However, Merry and Pippin had snuck in the other way and grabbed an armful of mushrooms each meaning that the dogs, having failed to bring down Sam, had to split up to slow down the hobbits' progress.

Frodo gave one of the dogs a heavy kick, sending it scurrying back to the kennels with its tail between its legs, allowing Merry and Pippin to scurry back towards the stash.

But the noise had roused Farmer Maggot, who emerged from his house with a bellowing, "Get off moi laaaaand!" (Matt was very much in character.)

Also, before I receive complaints, no that isn't a Hobbit hole. However, the Hobbits of the Marish, which is flat, marshy land, close to the Brandywine River, are known to live in houses (look it up). Admittedly, the door is the wrong shape, but you can't have everything.

Meanwhile, back in the field, Frodo and Sam managed to battle their way into the field, sending both dogs back to the kennels.

However, Farmer Maggot was able to calm the dogs and send them back into the fray.

But by this point, both Merry and Pippin had got their mushrooms back to the stash, and Frodo and Sam were on the return journey.

It looked like they'd be no hungry hobbits tonight.

It wasn't long before the dogs were once again bounding through the field towards the hobbits, but Frodo and Sam were far enough away to get their mushrooms to the stash.

The dogs now moved as a pack and aimed at targeting one hobbit at a time, whilst Farmer Maggot came up from the rear.

It was at this point that Matt started to use the trapping rule to double his attacks if his dogs won the Fight roll, sending Pippin fleeing from the farm.

However, shortly afterwards, Sam sent one of the dogs back to the kennels again, taking this tactic off the table as Maggot was too far away to release it.

Meanwhile, Merry was backing away from the scythe-wielding Maggot, his pockets stuffed with illicit mushrooms (no, not that sort...I think...Hobbits do go on about 'the best weed in the Southfarthing' so maybe the mushroom fetish isn't about adding them to their second breakfasts).

Frodo and Sam ran interference on the dogs, trying to keep the away from Merry, whilst the Farmer ineffectually threw stones at the retreating Hobbits.

However, Fang and Wolf were too fast and targeted Merry due to the aroma of mushrooms. Frodo finally lost his nerve, but not before a hefty thwack with a stick sent Fang back to the kennels.

Maggot and Wolf rushed towards Sam and Merry, trying desperately to stop the thieves from getting away.

However, Merry won his tussel with the dog and the Hobbits made a break for it with their ill gotten gains whilst Maggot screamed into the night, "Thieves! We hates the nasty little hobbitses! We hates them FOREVER!"

A fun game, and a really good scenario for relearning the rules. It didn't take too long and so we had another go and Matt employed different tactics of keeping Maggot near the kennel to release the dogs if they got hurt and using the dogs as a pack to remove hobbits more quickly. It was a significantly more effective approach and he won that game with the hobbits only having grabbed three lots of mushrooms.

Sadly, there are no pictures of that game and everyone will have stopped reading once the discovered the result of the first game.

My plan is to play through the Quest of the Ringbearer, using a range of opponents for different scenarios, and not even having me always playing the same side, as I'd like to just tell the story than be trying to win, so Frodo, Sam and Pippin will be making their way across the Shire soon.

Saturday, 17 July 2021

You have the right to remain silent.

This week I've returned to painting up my Lurkers of the Deep Kickstarter pledge in the form of the police who will be raiding Dr Fiske's facility in Marshport in the first scenario.

According to the scenario instructions, the heroic cast for this episode includes:
  • Detective Maguire,
  • Detective Grant,
  • Police Sergeant,
  • 5 Beat Cops.
By my reckoning I'm now two cops short, so I might see if I can swap out some profiles for something equally suitable or draft in some of the GCPD from my Batman collection.

The four Government Agents were part of my Kickstarter pledge and can play multiple roles in my games: police, FBI, spies, gangsters, which was one of the reasons I went for this pledge.

I decided to not go for a uniform 'men in black' look because I wanted them to be identifiable as Stars and Co-Stars, or as heroes and villains.

My favourite of the four is this guy, who is likely to be cast as Detective Maguire in the scenario. He has the dapper charm of a film star pretending to be a cop.

He ended up with a moustache because I got far too much paint on his face and buggered up his mouth.

This shifty looking chap has something a touch villainous about him and so has the potential to be cast as a spy, so much so that I've painted him up as Soviet agent O'Connor from Freedom Force.

O'Connor was a mole on the Manhattan Project, and was responsible for the creation of the central hero, Minuteman. As such he is the tutorial villain and makes a suitable first minion for Nuclear Winter, who he was working for in the game.

I took some fairly obvious inspiration from The Blues Brothers for this guy. I can see him doubling up as a gangster quite easily.

The final Agent reflects Crooked Dice's continued commitment to include more female miniatures in their range. Admittedly, there would have been no female agents in the thirties, but there were also no fishmen lurking in the shallows of the New England coastline, so I think our imaginations can cope.

The Beat Cops are from Westwind Games and I've had them for quite a few years. I took the opportunity to rebase then to match my 7TV collection, but didn't worry about any repainting beyond fixing some areas where paint had chipped.

I know the uniforms aren't right for the time period, but I refer you to my earlier point about female agents and fishmen.

These four will also see service in superhero games of all flavours.

I'm not going to count the cops on my tally, as I only did the bases, and I also received three new miniatures from Kitbash Games which means that progress on the leadpile is somewhat limited.

Acquired: 108
Painted: 112

Saturday, 10 July 2021

I found what I was Sea Urchin for...

I said when I posted about Eve that I wanted to have four members of Freedom Force before they hit the streets of Patriot City, because that was how big the team was when you played the game.

Well, mission accomplished...

The newest member of the team is Sea Urchin, the 10 year old sidekick of the nautical hero, Man-O-War.

I wasn't actually planning on doing this character for a long while, but I was looking through a bag of old Heroclix miniatures for a suitable body to base another character on when I stumbled on a Skrull Assassin which was close enough.

Admittedly, she looks a little older than 10 and the costume is not quite right, but it's close enough, especially in terms of the head for me to imagine that this is Sea Urchin a couple of years later than the events in the games. I also need to find a suitable gun to add to her hand.

Heroclix sculpts are always a bit hit and miss, and so I went to the effort of trying to use acetone based nail polish remove to strip some of the paint to sharpen the details, but despite the tedious process, this is still not a great miniature.

I feel I've done a decent job, but I am half tempted to replace her when I can get my hands on one of two Hydra Miniatures models (my local supplier has an issue with stick stuck in customs at the moment).

The first replacement candidate is this Galactic Ace from Solar Studios. Although the hair isn't right, the rest of the outfit is very close to accurate. These are a fairly small range so I'm confident that she'll look more like a young girl than my current model.

The second choice is Princess Alluria from Hydra's Retro Raygun line. I've previously used this model for Glimmer in my She-Ra project, and she would definitely be a more 'mature' version of Sea Urchin...perhaps the equivalent of when teen pop idol Christina Aguilera released Dirty.

One more model painted and I now feel able to set up a proper game. I've been playing with the 7TV Casting Agency software to create game cards, so I just need to put together some villain profile and the cleaning up of Patriot City's streets can begin.

Just one model painted, but four acquired. I made the error of picking up Warhames Illustrated with one of their accursed free sprues.

Acquired: 105
Painted: 108

Friday, 9 July 2021

A Bridge Not Near Enough - Part 2

Life got in the way for a couple of weeks and so we were finally able to finish off our big Halloween Christmas Easter Summer game, based on the Market Garden campaign.

We left things with Pete's Irish Guards pushing towards the bridge, whilst his Para's assaulted the town from the rear and Wes's US Glider troops continued their push to secure the road.

My Fallschirmjäger had been largely decimated by the Irish Guards, but had managed to destroy a Churchill and gold up the column.

Matt's Grenadiers were hard pressed in the town, but still held the bridge with the support of some heavy armour.

Turn 5 began with a largely ineffective US air strikes and the British tanks pushing further towards the bridge; we had a house rule allowing wrecked tanks to be pushed out if the way by a tank given an Advance order.

However, the lead Cromwell exposed its flank to the Fallschirmjäger light howitzer, which managed to score a direct hit, taking the tank commander out of commission.

The news was less good for the Germans beyond the town as the Flammpanzer that had been running riot was finally brought to a halt.

With the vulnerability of tanks being highlighted, the Tiger edged away from the advancing Paras and took up position at the end of the bridge, waiting for the British column to appear.

It was supported by a smattering of fire from surrounding buildings trying to keep the Allied infantry away, along with a squad of Grenadiers which launched a doomed assault against the Paras' jeep and were ultimately mowed down by its twin machine guns.

More Grenadiers moved across the bridge to support the remnants of the Fallschirmjäger, which were trying to hold the encroaching Americans at bay.

Meanwhile, the British tanks rumbled forwards, largely unmolested...

...whilst the British Paratroopers swarmed into the town

The sixth turn saw lots of action and very little accuracy as the Irish Guards made their final push for the bridge. Panzerfausts missed flank shots from point blank range; British guns fired in all directions to little effect; Americans and Fallschirmjäger watched on in futility as they lack the armaments to swing the battle either way.

On the other side of the bridge, the Paras finally reached the German tanks and two assaults were launched on the Tiger to no avail.

This left the Tiger free to swing its massive gun round at the start of Turb Seven and demolish the leading Cromwell as it was poised to cross the bridge.

It was at this point that we called the game as the Allies could no longer win. Unlike Arnhem, the airborne assault on the town had been a massive success, but it was the damage to the armoured column that caused the push to be abandoned.

The Allies would have to wait the enter Germany.

The game was lots of fun, and although it was a tough ask for the Allied force, there was a sense that they could have made it with a little more luck. Even something as simple as getting the first few Dice on the final turn could have put the German tanks out of commission and opened the route to victory.

It was also nice yo get lots of toys on the table for the first time in a long time, so everyone was a winner.

But the Germans were the proper winners, not consolation prize, participation certificate 'winners' like the Allies.

Wednesday, 7 July 2021

Guards! Guards!

Some time ago I was very rude about the competence of the Eternia Palace Guard given their poor track record of guarding the Palace of Eternia.

Therefore I've decided to substitute quality for quantity and paint some more of them.

They are from the same supplier as the first two Guards, although the Sky Sled came from a different, but linked, source.

The big differences are that they have separate arms and heads, making them more customisable; and two of them are metal, not the usual resin.

I think the metal castings came about when the initial resin casting was flawed, possibly because of all the small separate parts. The pair came with trident, swords, axes, shields and a variety of heads.

For these two heavy boys I went for tridents to match the previous models, also because metal tridents are less flimsy.

I was also fortunate enough to recieve two models from the flawed resin casting, although I've gone for metal heads and weapons on them.

This one has been equipped as a unit leader to free up characters like Teela and Man-At-Arms from having the shepherd the Guards around.

The Sky Sled is something I'm particularly pleased with. The resin casting is a bit rough in places, but it's ended up not being too noticeable.

I always loved the Sky Sleds and I've not actually attached the rider so that in time I can potentially convert some other characters to ride it too. The 7TV Pulp set has a Rocket Sled which will work excellently as a profile for this.

Whilst I was working on Guards, I took the opportunity to add some rocks to the original pair I painted.

For some reason I'd neglected to base these on rocks like the rest of the project, so a couple of small pieces of slate should be enough to tie the unit together.

I thought I'd finish with a celebratory picture of the Royal Household all together, but it's just  made me realise that I'm missing a Queen Marlena. I suspect she's a model I can track down a suitable proxy for, rather than waiting for a sculpt to come along.

So that's another five painted. I counted the Sky Sled separately when it arrived, so I'm counting it separately now. My game, my rules.

Acquired: 101
Painted: 107

Sunday, 4 July 2021

All About Eve

Yes, I know this is my second post of the day, but I've finished two models at the same time and there really is no thematic crossover between the King of Eternia and Freedom Force's guardian of nature: Eve.

In the Freedom Force game, Eve is an analogue for archer characters like Green Arrow and Hawkeye, whilst having the appearance and some of the powers of Poison Ivy.

Amusingly, she also represents the point at which the writers gave up as her secret origin boils down to little more than 'she walks out of the bushes dressed in nothing but her pants'.

Eve does become very significant in some of the narrative, and is central to the scenarios featuring Pan.

As well as her bow, she can manipulate leaves and vines (in a city park?) to blind and bind enemies. She also has some ability to hypnotise people with her beauty. Add this to the green bikini and you can see what I meant about Poison Ivy.

The model is from Crooked Dice and started life as a Jungle Paragon. I needed to add a bow and a quiver. This was tricky given her slight proportions, as a straight hand swap was out of the question. This meant that the bow needed to be clipped and stuck to either side of her very small left hand.

I also managed to snap her ankle whilst trying to remove the tab to base her. Fortunately, the break was clean and took superglue easily.

Technically, she shouldn't have a knife, but with all the other faffing, I didn't want to risk damaging the model further. All in all, I shall have to handle her with care, as she's likely to be a bit fragile.

In terms of painting, she was very straightforward with nothing clever, although I am pleased with how my painting of brown hair is improving. The only tricky bit was her mouth; every time I tried to add lipstick like the game version has, she ended up looking like a clown. I decided to leave it.

I've added foliage to her base, despite her being in a city, as it makes sense that she has some ability to make plants grow. It also allows me to also still use her as a Jungle Paragon (although I have two other candidates for that already painted) picking her way through the ruins of an ancient civilisation.

My Freedom Force is almost ready to clean up the streets of Patriot City. In the game you always had four characters chosen from a roster, so I'll only really feel ready to use them once I've sourced and painted another character from the team.

The search continues...

Acquired: 101
Painted: 102