Saturday 28 December 2013

"To boldly go where no campaign has gone before..."

I mentioned recently that we'd been playing a bit of Star Trek: Attack Wing, a Wizkids game based on the same design mechanics of the excellent X-Wing from Fantasy Flight. Although broadly similar there are a few significant differences between the games which makes for a significantly different game experience:

  • Instead of being dogfights between individual fighters, this game focuses on battleships and so tends to have less maneuverability but more firepower.
  • Captains (instead of pilots), crew and upgrades are interchangeable between the ships and even the different factions leading to more fleet tailoring (mixing factions is not something we're that keen on, but it is possible).
  • Being Star Trek, there are more factions available than just Rebel/Empire, so currently you can get Federation, Klingon, Romulan and Dominion ships, and Bajoran and Independent crew. The planned releases include the Borg, Kazon, Species 8472 and Vulcans,
  • The games makes more use of scenarios, drawing on the films and TV series' for inspiration, and each ship comes with a new scenario.
  • The miniatures are not in scale with each other and aren't as nicely painted as the X-Wing miniatures (this is probably the major negative of the game).
As this is a Wizkids game there is a heavy emphasis on tournaments with a well supported organised play schedule with limited edition resources, terrain and ships as prizes. This is great for those who like the cut and thrust of tournaments and finely tailored fleets, however for those of us who don't have the time, temperament or money required for preparing for these kind of events it leaves you needing to find a different form of motivation to prevent this game becoming a bit repetitive (which is the only downside of X-Wing).

Hence the campaign...

Pete, Wes and Matt have all acquired the starter set and have swapped between them to begin fleets for the Romulans, Klingons and Federation respectively. Which left me playing catch up and buying ships from the Dominion faction which features a mismatched collection of Cardassian, Jem'hadar and Breen ships. I have to confess that many years ago I stopped watching Deep Space Nine before the Dominion War stuff happened, so I'm not entirely clear on who these people are. I was also a touch disappointed when beginning to search the internet about Dominion tactics to discover that the general consensus was something along the lines of: "the Dominion SUCK!!!"

The Dominion Logo - Interplanetary Branding
This campaign might hurt...

Using the map from Star Trek online, I've used a variation of the Flames of War Firestorm rules for the campaign. Broadly speaking, games are played as and when, with a dice roll to determine who is attacking to capture the enemy territory. The defender has the option of choosing a scenario for the game and if the territory being attacked contains a space station, the scenario is 'Destroy the Space Station' from one of the Klingon ship packs.

Fleets can be created by using any available cards for your own faction (we've ruled that the Bajorans are part of the Federation in case Matt manages to get his hands on the Defiant and Kira Nerys), but once unique cards are used they are committed to a fleet in a particular territory until you specifically withdraw them the next time you use that fleet.

After a battle, if the attacker wins, the capture the attacked territory and the defender must retreat to a neighboring territory. If the defender wins, the attacker goes back to where they came from. If the retreating side cannot move to an adjacent territory, the entire fleet counts as destroyed. Any unique ships, captains or crew destroyed in the game  must roll an attack dice, on a damage result they are injured and cannot be used in the fleet's next engagement, on a critical result, they are gone from the campaign.

And that's pretty much it...

Each faction has a different goal:
  • The Federation, must control all of Federation space and all other space station territories.
  • The Dominion, must control more territory than any two other factions.
  • The Romulans, must control more territory than any two other factions.
  • The Klingons, must deliver the killing blow to an enemy faction.

Yesterday, we played our first games:

Game 1 - Dominon vs Romulan
The Dominion attacked the Romulan home world (you can attack via Nebula or Star Clusters, but count as cut off if you lose) and despite initially out flying the cloaked War Birds, an ill judged suicide attack by a Jem'hadar Attack Ship achieved nothing and left the Dominion severely out-gunned. The Romulans finally got their act together and blew the Dominion ships back to Cardassian space. To add injury to insult, Gul Danar, one of the Cardassian captains was killed.

Imagine this with miniatures...
Game 2 - Federation vs Klingon
With their eyes on the prize the Federation went after space stations in the Alderbaran Sector. Although able to to avoid the guns of the space station, the Federation's flagship was funneled into the powerful phasers of the Chang's Klingon fleet. Jean-Luc Picard was injured in the engagement, but the Enterprise made it to safety.

"Run away!"

Game 3 - Romulan vs Federation
Brimming with confidence the Romulans took advantage of the Federations reversal against the Klingons, crossed the Neutral Zone and attacked the Argelius Sector. A scratched together fleet of little known Galaxy class ships flown by captains of little repute managed to swamp the Romulan fleet and crippled their ships, killing Captain Tomalak in the process.

"You called for reinforcements?"
Game 4 - Klingon vs Dominion
Feeling the call of battle in his blood, Chang took his fleet deep into Breen space and caught the Dominion by surprise. Blasting clean through the hastily assembled fleet they pushed the Dominion forces back into Cardassian space without suffering any losses.

"Cry Havok! And let slip the dogs of war!"
After those games, the situation looks like this:

Klingon Fleet 1 - I.K.S. Kronos One, Chang ("Once more unto the breech"), Kerla
Federation Fleet 1 - U.S.S. Enterprise D, Jean-Luc Picard (injured), Clark Terrell
Federation Fleet 2 - Nobody of Any Importance
Romulan Fleet 1 - Donatra
Romulan Fleet 2 - Mirok, N'Vek
Dominion Fleet 1 - Kraxon, Gul Ranor
Dominion Fleet 2 - Glinn Telle

Overall, it's been a fun start to the campaign. I've discovered that I have to find some way of dealing with cloaked ships if I'm not to be utterly destroyed. Matt's discovered that bog standard ships with unnamed captains can be effective as a swarm. Pete's learned that not going to cloak early can cost him. Wes has discovered that Klingons are filth!

"I'll get you next time you pasty-headed and pointy-eared,
cowardly-cloaking, more uniformly appearing fleets!"

Tuesday 24 December 2013

Happy Christmas!

I won't get a chance to post this tomorrow, so I'd like to wish everybody out on 'tinterwebz' a happy Christmas (insert other seasonal greeting appropriate to your language, culture or religion as you see fit).

And for those of you opening presents tomorrow with relatives who query why you're still getting toys for Christmas, I'll leave you with one of my favourite quotes from C.S. Lewis as a suitable retort:

"When I became a man, I put away childish things, including the desire to be very grown up."

Have a good one!

Sunday 22 December 2013

Firestorm: Lorraine - No Plan Survives Contact With The Enemy

The last couple of weeks have been busy at work and home, leaving me little time for painting and most of my playing time has been taken up with a few games of Star Trek: Attack Wing (more on that in the coming weeks). With one thing and another, I've only just got round to sorting out the campaign map since our last game of Flames of War.

In brief, I was the Germans fighting Matt's Americans, who for once managed to actually gain the initiative and decided to attack Arrancourt across the Moselle. I decided to surprise him by taking an almost totally infantry force as a counter to his laser tanks. I wanted to give my Nebelwerfers a run out for the first time, and backed up by my PaK40's a borrowed Flak 88 and a shedload of Panzerfaust-toting infantry, my plan was to dig in and blow up the American Armour as it rumbled into view.

Matt dutifully picked an armoured list and all would have been well had we not rolled up the Counter Attack mission. Suddenly, I found my swarms of infantry penned into one quarter of the table needing to get out of their foxholes and engage in a footrace with Stuart tanks in an attempt to secure the undefended objective on my flank. What's more, I had no units suitable for being in reserve behind Matt's positions.

All in all I made a fairly good fist of a bad situation. I managed to repel an assault on my defended flank by two platoons of Shermans and a unit of infantry, and in the process, got myself into a position where just one more platoons destroyed would cause Matt to have t make tests. However, despite sending three platoons of infantry out to secure the other objective, only one and a half made it there. I did manage to secure the objective and kill a few tanks, but time was on Matt's side and a combined assault from Matt's armour finally broke my pioneers and won the game for him.

It was closer than I thought it would be, but I think I was always on to a loser. Matt, didn't rush or make any silly mistakes with vulnerable platoons and so didn't really ever give me a chance to destroy that final platoon, and by the end I was relying on either a very lucky artillery strike or a really unfortunate assault from Matt.

As you can see, this result saw the American open another hole in the German lines and push towards Strasbourg. There is now a gap in the US lines which a German general could exploit to cut off the US spearhead, however, the campaign appears to be tipping in the Americans favour.

Sunday 24 November 2013

Batvember 5: The Mighty Quinn

My final entry for Batvember is, as promised, Harley Quinn (aka the ridiculously named Harleen, I don't know what they were thinking either), the Joker's right hand girl, main squeeze and one third of the Gotham City Sirens.

I have to admit that had I not seen the second hand lot on eBay, I would never have bought this model as if already painted a Heroclix Harley. However, I'm glad I have her as the model has bags of character and was thoroughly enjoyable to paint. However, seeing the picture above I've realised that I haven't painted the diamond on her legs, so she's not quite finished.

So that's it for Batvember, it's been pretty productive and has seen not only the arrival of new models, but a full game table and the arrival of a third faction for the game.

To celebrate the end of the month I've been playing with Comic Life (which has an iPhone app I hadn't heard if until today) and produced a comic strip of the game I played earlier in the month as an experiment.

I suspect that more of my battle reports will be using Comic Life in future.


Saturday 16 November 2013

Batvember 4: She's Out Of My League

As promised, the next of my little windfall of purchases: Talia Al Ghul. I was pleased to be able to pick her up cheap as I was never intending to pay full price for her as 'leather-clad chick with sword' is actually really easy to find alternatives for and the scale issues are not so important with female characters as women tend to be shorter than men.

Once again, my photos seem to let down what is, for me, a pretty satisfactory paint job.

This is actually a better model than the image on the Knight Models website let on. However, the is a lot of very fine detail which meant that I really had to work hard on getting the face right first time because several layers of paint would begin to obscure detail. It's not as bad as Mr Freeze's face, but it was still a bit nerve-wracking.

As well as being able to join Batman, Talia represents the official arrival of a third faction in my games, the League of Shadows (or Assassins, depending on your preferred source material). She can lead the three Blackgate Prisoners against Joker, Harley and the two clowns or my massive Police Force. She adds flexibility and variation to my games, which is good.

Finally, I've done a small piece of terrain (I've been busy alright). A couple of oil drums cut from the display stand that my Batmobile came on. Nothing fancy, although I'll probably add some labels when I get round to getting the printer out.

Next week is even busier for me so I'm not expecting to produce that much, however, the plan is to get my official Harley Quinn done and to add a couple mor small pieces of scenery. We'll have to see ho that goes.

Sunday 10 November 2013

Batvember 3: Who are these clowns?

So, I've had a bit of luck.

I was perusing eBay the other day and came across something that you don't see very often; second hand Batman miniatures which aren't 'pro-painted'. The lot included Talia Al Ghul, Harley Quinn and two of the Joker Crew.

Now here's the rub. The models were assembled, undercoated and without bases and cards, none of which are obstacles to sale. However, the Joker henchmen were from the box with Clown Prince which meant that a) anybody who had bought or was going to buy the Joker (in other words everybody) wouldn't really want them, and b) they were of particular use to me as I already have a Joker that I like and would struggle to justify buying another one to get the henchmen.

As you've probably guessed, I leapt at the lot and won it for roughly two thirds of the cost (including postage) if two characters and a pair if henchmen.

So, to cut a long story short, here's two if the four as this week's offering for Batvember.

Yes, there are three of them. We'll come to 'Chuck' in a bit.

First up, the Ringmaster. This is a chunky model and very sturdy compared to most of the Knight Model sculpts I've seen. I'm very happy with the colour I've got for the hat and epaulettes, but the mask probably needs a bit of highlighting work.

Secondly 'Auguste' (or Contra Auguste, I can't remember). This guys positively simplistic compared to the Ringmaster. I chickened out of putting the Arkham logo on his top, but I am very happy with his mask.

Finally, Chuck. This model has been bodged together with parts from several models: legs from a Clix henchman; upper body from a Clix Ra's Al Ghul; hands from the Bolt Action Russian sprue; blades from 40k; and the head of an Ancient German. He'll be used as the High Security prisoner from the Blackgate box, and I call him Chuck because he looks a bit like Chuck Norris (to my eyes anyway). Frankly, if Chuck Norris was in prison, he would be HIGH security...

So that's it for this week. It looks like next Sunday will be ladies night with one or both of Harley and Talia making an appearance.

Tuesday 5 November 2013

Batvember 2: Street Skirmish

As I've finally got enough terrain to fill a table, I decided to have another go at grappling with the rules of the Batman Miniatures Game from Knight Models.

I decided to keep it simple and have a Rep of 130 for the game pitting Batman against Killer Croc and two Blackgate escapees.

The scenario was a Skirmish, which is pretty much a pitched battle in other rule sets. I didn't bother with enigmas or objectives, but I did use lamp posts and sewers. Admittedly I forgot all about the effects of light, but in the end, the fact that Batman can see in the dark and the bad guys had no weapons which could shoot beyond their vision range meant that the light sources were irrelevant.

This was a solo game to learn the rules so don't expect anything too tactical.

Here's the board. Batman began Behind the building on the right near to the Batmobile. The convicts were in the warehouse, probably looting it, whilst Croc began in the sewers. I hadn't put the sewer grates on at this point so if you see any two pence pieces later, that's what they are.

Alerted to a break in at a warehouse, the Dark Knight uses his Batclaw to take to the rooftops to survey the scene.

Unaware that they are being watched, the two crooks make for the exit with their stolen goods.

Suddenly a caped figure swings down into the street and hurls something at the villain with the gun, striking him on the head.

With a bellowing roar, a huge shape erupts from the sewers. It seems that the Caped Crusader has swung right into a trap.

Shots are fired as the villains charge. Batman is hurt but manages to knock down on of his assailants with a swift sweep of his legs.

Realising he is outnumbered, Batman swing back up to the rooftops, hurling a Batarang as he flees, further injuring one of the gang.

Having assessed the situation, Batman attacks again: fists, claws and weapons fly in a flurry of attacks, blocks and counter attacks.

Batman hands out a beating to Croc's gang, knocking one of them out. Seeing that they are overmatched, Croc and his companion flee for the safety of the sewers.

Batman won, mainly because his high defense value and counter attack ability make him damn near impossible to hurt. I  also threw him into combat to test the rules, but it's clear that his ability to see and shoot round corners in the dark means that he could just snipe his way to a small win.

I liked Croc as a character, he's pretty straight forward, but starting in the sewers and able to pop up anywhere is a nice touch. The mooks were mooks, meh.

The game works and I like a lot of it, but there are a lot of fiddly rules which need to be repeatedly referenced I'm not sure are necessary. I'm not entirely sure that beyond the alternating activations, this game delivers anything that can't be easily replicated by something like  Necromunda.

I'll continue to give the game a go as it has some charm and the work on building the characters has been done for me. I've also got a few people interested in a game. I can easily do gangs of 300 points, so that's the next game I'm likely to play, and I'll try to bring in other rules like enigmas.

Sunday 3 November 2013

Batvember 1: Gotham by Gaslight

First week down and to go along with Scarecrow and the Blackgate Prisoners I showed you earlier in the week I've completed 5 lamp posts and a big ass building.

I'm getting perilously close to a full game board of terrain and so rather than discuss how I superglued and sprayed grey paint, I thought I'd do a few 'action shots' if my progress on the project so far.

The Dynamic Duo On Patrol

The building is from Dust Tactics and I picked it up as an impulse buy some months ago. At the moment it's simply sprayed grey on the outside and black on the inside. I'll probably highlight it later.

It's a decent building to look out but with hindsight I'd have spent my money on one of Sarissa Precision's City Block buildings as this one doesn't have floors, doors or even a roof as it comes in the box. It's modular design does offer some flexibility of construction, but not really without buying several sets.

Robin Spots Crooks Down Below

This shot allows you to see my roof. Plastic sheet cut to shape (tricky to achieve as the building isn't all right angles) and sprayed with textured paint then trimmed with thin balsa rods I had knocking about. I'm really happy with how it's turned out.

But Wait...Who's That Inside?

Here's a close up of one of the lamp posts. They're from Westwind and although a bit rough on the casting in places, the price was good enough for me to overlook the obviously lower quality than the official Knight Models ones.

I've not given up on the Batman Miniatures Game and three lamp posts are used in each game, their light making shots easier to make on the dark streets if Gotham.

Villains Plot Nefarious Deeds...

As you can see, I've kept the inside black as the inner walls don't carry any detail, and I don't want to draw attention to them. I am going to mount the building on a base and so there will be flooring eventually.

I decided not to construct a second floor as I couldn't see a way to make it work. I'm going to build and buy a range of furnishing so that this building can function as a range of grander buildings where the roof height seems appropriate: library, museum, bank, etc.

The furnishings in the picture are from Heroquest and will do for now.

Meanwhile At The Chemical Works...

This is terrain I've had knocking about for a while. The warehouse is from Warbases and I've finally done the roof (textured paint again). 

The chemical silo is a piece I built for use with 40k some years ago. It's actually a Pringles tin, a marker pen, a pipe fitting and some bits of a computer. I still thin it looks quite good.

Gordon's Team Moves In...

The warehouse was clearly designed to be a shell on the table with the doors fixed in position. However, with the clever use of magnets my doors are fully functioning!

Miscreants Lurk In The Dark

The floor of the warehouse was done with dolls house paper which would look good if it weren't for the fact that the glue bubbled. It's okay, but I may get round to replacing it.

A Dastardly Ambush!

Firefly and Killer Croc emerge from behind the tower, giving you a better view of it. The green bit at the bottom is actually a pool of sludge. The photo doesn't show it, but it's shiny (simply done with PVA rather than more expensive products).

For the sake of the game, I probably need to add some ladders to this and the  wall of the big building to allow characters without bat ropes the chance to climb them.

That's all for now. I'm quite excited for the rest of the month as I've just procured some more miniatures on eBay which should get here in time to be added to Batvember. Next week I'll have finished my third Blackgate Prisoner and possibly have begun to clean up the streets if Gotham...literally!

Thursday 31 October 2013

Welcome to BATVEMBER!!!

After the festivities of Zomtober and the much needed motivation it gave me I've decided to grab a new theme for a new month.

Given that my long stalled Gotham project had also benefited from last month in the shape of Comissioner Gordon and a SWAT team, continuing with this project was a fairly easy choice.

For those that don't know, I began this project last year before the arrival of the Batman Miniatures Game from Knight Models. Even though I have that game in mind, I'm not exclusively using either their models or the characters that they release. Most of the figures I've done have been Heroclix reprints which not only scale well with Knight's 35mm minis, but also are a damn sight cheaper given that I had them already. I am quite picky about the sculpts that I use though as some Heroclix stuff is truly horrible and I have been making some careful purchases.

The rosters so far...

Batman (Heroclix)
Nightwing (Crossover)
Robin (Crossover)
Comissioner Gordon (Heroclix)
3 SWAT Troopers (Heroclix)
2 Cops (Knight Models)
1 Detective (Heroclix)
Batmobile (Eaglemoss)

Joker (Heroclix)
Harley Quinn (Heroclix)
Riddler (Heroclix)
Killer Croc (Knight Models)
Mr Freeze (Knight Models)
Firefly (Heroclix)
2 Henchman (Heroclix)

As you can see, the villains are a bit thin on the ground and severely lacking in henchmen and transport, so much of what I'll do this month will be focused on them. I'll also be working on some terrain with the aim of having a playable board at home.

So, what are the rules?

Each week, usually a Sunday, I will complete at least one miniature or terrain piece for this project.


And as a special launch party treat I have few to begin with.

First up, Professor Jonathan Crane, aka the Scarecrow, the Master of Fear. On of Batman's more one dimensional foes, he is a psychologist who likes to scare people so he dresses up like're with me...and commits crimes using fear gas.

The model is from Heroclix and frankly isn't amazing, however, it is the best I have and I don't really like the Arkham City version that Knight have done either so he'll do until a better option presents itself.

Next up, a solution to the paucity of henchmen. Two escaped Blackgate prisoners. Again these are Heroclix, one with a head swap. These will actually duplicate the two henchmen I've done already for the Batman Miniatures Game, but this isn't a problem as the Blackgate Prisoners are useable by all villain gangs and I've got plans to alter the two I've already done.

Finally, some wheels for Mr J. This is an Ertl van I got off ebay. All I've really done is touch up some chipped paintwork, toned down the hideous yellow on the hubcaps and grill, and blacked out the windows (there's actually a Joker driving it, but he has a HUGE head). This will mainly serve as scenery, but I've got some ideas for using other rules which may see the Joker Gang pile in the back to escape from a heist.

That's all for now. See you again soon, same Bat-time, same Bat-channel.

Saturday 26 October 2013

Zomtober 4: The End?

City Hall has finally confirmed what this reporter has known for several days. Police and National Guard lines have been breached and the infected are now loose in the city.

In addition to the curfew, the public are being ordered to stay in their homes until order is restored. However, given the widespread outbreaks across the country, it is not certain how long that will be.

The official advice for...wait...what's that? What's going on Phil? 


Folks, we've got to go. Stay safe. 


So we've come to the end of Zomtober. Due to work commitments I found myself with much less time for painting this week. 

However, a decent session on Thursday saw me paint five Zombies and six Civilians in one night. I was able to get them done at speed as there were no models that I wanted to really spend a lot of time on, so I cut a few corners.

First up, the Zombies. These are the last of the men that I've got from Wargames Factory and rather than continue moaning I'll say that I'm actually quite pleased with them. These five looked awful when they were just under coated. Even the fat guys seem more in proportion.

This isn't the best picture but frm left to right there's a couch potato, a businessman, a guy in pyjamas, a medic and a survivalist. The survivalist has had a head swap from the Vixens sprue as the head he had was completely shapeless.

The Civilians are more O gauge railway scenic models and have been given a very simple paint job as their job is to get in the way and die screaming. I need some civilians to run an ATZ: Day One scenario.

And that's it. Zomtober is done. I'm really pleased with how I've done and I'd like to thank my fellow Zomtober Bloggers, especially Pulp Citizen and Brummie Thug and Rob of Four Colour Super Minis (whose idea it was), for giving me the motivation I needed to start a project that's been on a back burner for too long. I've also been given lots of ideas for future purchases based on others' blogs.

Next month is looking like Sovember as I have a load of Bolt Action Russians to paint, so I'll leave Zomtober with a couple  of images of everything I've painted this month:

The Zombies

The Survivors

Sunday 20 October 2013

Zomtober 3: There's...too...many...of...them...

Reports are coming in from across the city that police lines have been breached and the infected are dispersing amongst the populace, spreading the contagion.

There are also tales, that this reporter fervently hopes aren't true, of small groups of survivors being cut off and battling for their lives against the tide of the infected...

This week got off to a slow start due to work commitments, but I've managed to get my first two genuine survivors done.

This crowbar-armed tough guy will be pulling double duty as a hard-as-nails survivor (who's done his research on the best weaponry for surviving the apocalypse) and as a henchman in my Batman project. 

He's a heroclix model with a head swap from a GW sprue (Bretonnian Men-at-Arms I think) and he's turned out well. His suitability for both projects has also convinced me to use beveled bases for all of my survivors. Not only does it allow them to walk the streets of Gotham, but it also marks them out amongst the hordes of the undead and will prevent me forgetting about them mid-game.

This one makes me chuckle. She's a repaint of a model I've owned for years (possibly from Grenadier?) and was in my Orlock Necromunda gang as a Juve.

Inspired by the pop-culture references popping up throughout Zomtober, along with the fuss about Miley Cyrus getting 'all grown up', I spotted the opportunity to paint her up as anothe child star gone off the rails. I call her Stephanie (you probably need to have kids to get the reference).

And now the zombies. I set out this week to finish off the sprue of Zombie Vixens and discovered that there aren't actually enough arms with open hands for all the models on the sprue. So things have gone a little stumpy.

The one on the left below is probably my zombie-of-the-week. As to the one on the right, I'm not sure that I'm getting zombified black skin tones right yet, as the tricks I'm using for white skin (green was over skin, dry brush bone, wash pale brown) won't work. Any suggestions welcome.

Does anybody else find themselves naming zombies as their painting them. Not all the time but occasionally I do. Below are Michelle and Claire. It appears that nobody is safe from the virus...oh, and somebody forgot to save the cheerleader...

Finally, a couple of crawlers. I'm particularly happy with the one on the left. The spilled guts are from a GW zombie sprue and add a greater level of gruesome.

So that's week three. The horde continues to grow. 17 zombies so far. I'm not starting anothe sprue of Vixens yet, but I do have a few more of the frankly depressing male zombies to finish off the month.