Monday, 26 July 2021

Loot Crate

I fancied a change of pace and so turned my attention to the remains of the Battlefield Objectives Terrain Crate from Mantic Games.

I did the larger pieces (the standing stones and warning beacon) a couple of months ago, and so set about finishing off the smaller objectives.

This was a really fun and eclectic set to paint up, without any of the long thin elements that are prone to warping, making this by far my favourite of the Terrain Crates I've painted.

I didn't do anything too clever with painting as the soft plastic doesn't hold smaller details amazingly well.

The weapon crate and chest off gold will go well in a dragon's horde, a monster ridden dungeon or a throne room.

They will fit in with the Treasury pieces I did a couple of years ago and like with them, I've made the shields match with my Bretonnian army, which is finding use in games of 7TV Fantasy.

These three pieces have more of a black powder feel to them, and so are more likely to feature in Napoleonic games (should I ever finish my War of 1812 army) or ganes set in the Warhammer Old World.

The supplies chest is more generic, and so is likely to shown up in villages and farms from WW2 to the middle ages or Middle Earth.

The largest piece of the eight is a representation in plastic of what happens if you shoot the messenger.

I've gone with a green cloak on the rider to allow this to fit (to an extent) on Rohan themed tables in MESBG.

The final two pieces make for a really fun little diorama of a damsel in distress having been placed as a ready made kebab for a hatchling dragon.

I'm not sure why she's been sacrificed, although it might be something to do with the fact that she doesn't appear to have a nose, and looks a little bit like a zombie (as I said, the plastic doesntvreally hold small details). I think I've made it look okay with shading, but don't go too close.

The dragon egg just makes me want to paint a dragon to go with it.

I really like doing odd bits like this, as they certainly make a change from my usual faire and I never truly know when I'm going to get use out of them, but they certainly have possibilities for Lord of the Rings, or as Macguffins in 7TV.

Acquired: 109
Painted: 122

Sunday, 25 July 2021

Three Is Company

After time spent time raiding Farmer Maggot's crop of mushrooms, the Quest of the Ringbearer now begins in earnest, with Frodo, Sam and Pippin trying to cross the Shire whilst being hunted by Black Riders.

Short Cuts Make Long Delays is the second scenario in the campaign and is based on two early chapters from The Fellowship of the Ring novel, rather than the movie.

The hobbits, having left Bag End not a moment too soon, need to make their way across the table before the three Ringwraiths can track them down and kill Frodo.

Fortunately, the Ringwraiths act as sentries (with some randomised movement) until the alarm is raised, but until that time, there is a chance that the hobbits will panic and go the wrong way if they fail a courage check at the start of their move.

The hobbits will be aided in their escape by Gildor Inglorion, who I bought and painted specifically for this scenario. I kept the colours simple for the sake of speed and because the movie elves don't really go in for lots of colour.

Knowledgeable readers may at this point observe that the model I have painted is actually not Gildor, but Glorfindel. I know this, but Glorfindel was significantly cheaper on eBay.

The hobbits started with the hedge line to their back - it should be pointed out that as the hobbits, who were the 'evil' side, won the last scenario, they should have started on the other side of the fence.

It's a minor point that I don't think would have had an effect on what followed. Matt, who was playing as the Ringwraiths, says I'm a dirty cheat.

Ringwraiths lurked in the countryside behind the hobbits and on either side of them, snuffling about in the undergrowth and drawn to the power of the Ring.

Sensing an evil presence abroad, Gildor Inglorion made his way swiftly (8" movement is somewhat nippy on a 4'x4' board) to where he believed the hobbits to be.

That fool of a Took, Pippin, failed his first courage test and wandered away from Frodo and Sam, but was fortunate that no Ringwraiths were close enough to spot him.

Gildo was still a turn or two away and following a natural 6 for the Ringwraith (allowing it to take its full move), a single failed courage check from the hobbits would raise the alarm.

The hobbits kept their nerve (although it cost Frodo a point of Might) and narrowly scurried away from the Ringwraith just in time as Gildor arrived on the scene.

Deciding against leaping in to attack and raising the alarm, Gildor opted to shepherd the hobbits instead. Guarding them as they made their way slowly through the landscape.

Gildor gave them a little bit of impetus by calling a Heroic March to get the little legs of the hobbits moving and increase the gap between the party and their pursuers.

Progress was steady as not only did the hobbits keep passing their courage checks (although Frodo again needed to use his final point of Might), but none of the Ringwaiths could string together a series of positive sentry rolls to get close enough to the party to spot them.

It soon became apparent that barring a really unlikely series of rolls, the Ringwraiths were running out of chances to stop the hobbits as even their Harbinger of Evil rule (reducing the courage of enemies within 12") stopped having an effect.

The Ringwraiths continued to stumble around aimlessly and the will of their Dark Lord (Matt) was frustrated.

Gildor had successfully shepherded the hobbits to safety without a sword being swung in anger.

Even Pippin failing a courage test and wandering off to have a closer look at the robed figure on the horizon could not prevent Frodo from escaping with the Ring.

This was a bit of an odd scenario. For my part it was quite tense, but Matt said he felt he had very little agency in the game, which I understand. The dice never really fell for him and barring a couple of moments early on, he was never really in with a chance of spotting the hobbits.

As with last time, we played a second game and the hobbits were spotted early on (Matt rolled sixes at the right time) and we had a much more dramatic game with the Ringwraiths eventually driven off after wounding Frodo and the good guys' store of Might, Will and Fate was pretty much exhausted.

I do think this scenario is skewed towards the good side with the bad guys reliant on lucky rolls to really have a chance of stopping them.

In campaign terms we decided that Gildor was the 'bravest companion' as he called a Heroic March at a crucial time, Frodo managed to get his two Might points back, and Pippin was, appropriately, the 'Fool of a Took' for failing two courage tests. Ultimately, the hobbits will head into the next scenario, Buckleberry Ferry, in good shape.

I do actually have to build a small ferry (probably out of coffee stirrers, we're not talking P&O here) for that scenario, but one of the reasons I'm playing through a campaign is to prompt and motivate my painting, as it has done with Gildor/Glorfindel.

Acquired: 109
Painted: 114

Saturday, 24 July 2021

She'll Put A Spell On You

One of the things that you need to accept about searching for proxy miniatures, is that the model you eventually use will never be perfect.

This is something that can be more pronounced if your subject is somewhat niche in wargaming (e.g. Superheroes), female (as there just isn't the same range to explore as males), or has features which are fairly period specific (e.g. haircuts, outfits, etc.).

All of which apply to the fifties/sixties themed Freedom Force superheroine, Alche-miss.

The main part of this model is Striga, from Kitbash games (whose range of superheroes draw on a lots of sources for inspiration), whilst the head is from the old Wargames Factory female survivors.

I think the head is a little large, but I just about get away with it. However, this is not the only element that is 'not quite right, as you can see from the game art.

The hair, the neckline, the skirt, the mask and the boots are all compromises, but I feel the miniature is close enough for her to pass muster as Alche-miss.

I might possibly change her head if a suitable alternative presents itself, but matching women's hair is one of the trickiest aspects of proxying, with the additional issue matching scale. I'm certainly unlikely to buy a miniature just for the head on the off chance it fits her.

I am happy with how I've painted her, although the symbol on the cape might be a bit small. I think I'm getting better at highlighting and shading, but I do find resin harder to work with as the rougher surface of the miniature tends to expose some of my brush control.

Like Sea-Urchin, Alche-miss is a character I might return to if the differences annoy me enough and a better option presents itself.

The tallies both edge up by one as, following the last game, I bought a miniature midweek to allow me to play the next Quest of the Ringbearer scenario. However, progress is progress, and my Freedom Force project is really taking shape and I probably need to play a game sometime soon.

Acquired: 109
Painted: 113

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