Friday 31 October 2014

Nothing to fear, except fear itself...

In honour of it being Halloween, I've been working on an appropriate miniature for the Batman game. None other than the Master of Fear, Professor Jonathan Crane, a.k.a. the Scarecrow!

This is the incarnation of the character based on the Nolanverse Scarecrow, played by Cillian Murphy, who was a significant member of the League of Shadows in 'Batman Begins' and then a recurring bit player in 'The Dark Knight' and 'The Dark Knight Rises'.

It's not my favourite model, but painting him was straight-forward and I didn't pay full price, so he's a decent addition to my collection. In the game this version of the Scarecrow is a Free Agent who only works for the League of Shadows and so joins Talia Al Ghul and Bane (along with my Blackgate Prisoners) in what passes for my League gang...I really need some Ninjas.

Also for Halloween, I've spruced up the base of my original Scarecrow with a jack-o-lantern from a small company called Rapier Miniatures. It adds a bit of colour to what is otherwise a bit of a dull model, so I like it.

I've said before that I don't like the Arkham City version of Scarecrow, so this traditional comic book figure is the one I'll be using as my regular Scarecrow who'll work for anybody, as long as he gets to terrorise folk.

Tomorrow, as it's Halloween weekend (which is a 'thing' Matt), we're having a Zombie game. This will be the first time my Zomtober stuff from the last two years has hit the table, so I'm looking forward to it and there'll likely be pictures and a report.

Thursday 30 October 2014

Arkham Escape...Again!

Having successfully lured both Matt and Wes into not only playing the Batman Miniatures Game, but also building gangs (Matt has a proxied GCPD force and Wes has built a TV themed Arrow gang), my crosshairs fell on my final target of Pete and we arranged to play a game.

Pete has made mutterings of being interested in painting the Watchmen, so I put together a Batman gang for him to use that would play in a vaguely similar way:
Batman (Frank Miller)
Robin (Damian Wayne)

Although full of powerful mobile characters, this gang is short on numbers and without Arrest it lacks the ability to really cause casualties. The Watchmen are less mobile but better at taking folk out of the game.

Against this I put a slightly odd Joker crew, without the Joker:
Harley Quinn (Arkham City)
Mr Freeze
Killer Croc
Ringmaster (Clown Painting)
Contra-Auguste (Clown Painting)
Clown with Shield (Flare)

The reason I used this crew is I'm probably/possibly going to a tournament in Lichfield in December, and rather than force the awkward issue of proxies I'm looking at how good a crew made of just official models could be. My Joker is Clix, so he was out.

We rolled up a Patrol scenario with my crew breaking out of the grounds of Arkham and trying to disappear into dark alleys of Gotham, and vice versa. I picked   Riddle, Loot and Ammo as my objectives, Pete went for Titan Container, Riddle and Loot. I'm still not playing with strategies as I've not yet done cards for them.

Turns 1 & 2

Alerted to the blaring sirens from Arkham, the Bat-family take to the streets and rooftops.

Harley's crew and Freeze spread out in the Arkham grounds, Contra-Auguste grabs himself a Titan Dose whilst Harley heads for the man with money she was being paid to spring Freeze and Croc (who's nowhere to be seen...).

Turn 3

Seeing that Nightwing is out in the street (getting ready to solve a riddle), Freeze ices him with a blast from his freeze gun.

However a dark shape descends from the night sky. The Batman lands imposingly on a car next to Freeze, but his blows fail to connect.

To add to Batman's worries, Killer Croc bursts out of the sewers with roar, perilously close to the frozen Nightwing.

Realising the danger, Robin attempts to slow the beast down with a well thrown batarang.

Meanwhile, Harley Quinn makes contact with the agent an collects the cash. After a shouted warning that Catwoman had been seen entering the sewers, she wedges the grate closest to her shut. (Whilst all this was happening, the Ringmaster had solved a riddle for 1vp - the current score is Harley 2, Batman)

Turn 4

A bellowing Croc launches itself at Nightwing, who is able to defend himself at least a little as he'd managed to free himself from his ice prison, but is still severely injured. In return, he unleashes a storm of blows that almost fells the beast. Even the arrival of aid, in the form of Robin, can't quite bring down Croc.

Batman again fails to do significant damage to Freeze and swings away to safety from the cold-hearted scientist's nefarious weaponry. He surveys the scene, realising that the heroes were in danger of being swamped whilst Catwoman remained trapped in the sewers.

Turn 5

Croc smashes into Nightwing again, knocking him out and baring his teeth as if ready to devour the crimefighter. Robin again unleashes a flurry of blows, and realising that he his overmatched, swings away to safety, leaving 'Grayson' to his fate.

Meanwhile, Batman swings down at Freeze again, knocking him down, and is then set upon by a Harley's clowns.

Harley herself, gets over-excited by the prospect of bringing the Bat back to Mr J and abandons both her post by the sewer and the loot she was carrying, allowing Catwoman to pop up and grab her prize. (I owned up to not paying the SC for moving with loot, so I suggested that Harley had dropped it rather than trying to take my move back)

With the heroes all otherwise occupied, Freeze picks himself up and heads with a Clown towards a warehouse to  'loot' it.

Turn 6

With the Clown able to secure the loot, Freeze takes a pot shot at Nightwing, taking him completely out of the fight whilst Croc makes a break for the alleys of Gotham.

Batman returns to the rooftops and surveys the scene. Nightwing is down, the clowns are roaming the streets, Freeze and Croc are loose. Not a good night's work. At least Catwoman had made it to Arkham to prevent any more escapees getting out.

Overall this was a minor victory to the bad guys (me), by 10 vp's to 7. I think I might have got the turns wrong in the report, because I'm pretty sure Freeze was knocked out, not just knocked down. Pete picked up the game well, and could really have done with the ability to arrest my characters.

For me, I quite like this crew as it's quite direct. They do lack ranged ability but I will be taking them to the tournament; and the good news is that the rules have be changed to make it a 350 rep crew. Which means I can add Sniggering and his assault rifle. Heh heh...

Pete enjoyed the game and it looks like the Watchmen may be arriving in Gotham soon.

Tuesday 28 October 2014

The Purr-fect Sculpt?

You may remember some time ago that I painted a Heroclix Catwoman model, even though I wasn't overly impressed with the sculpt?

At the time, I said that the Knight Models sculpt wasn't ideal either so I went with what cost less...

...well, I changed my mind.

This is probably one of the most straightforward paint jobs that I've done. Rather than struggle with highlighting her PVC/leather 'catsuit' and probably fail, I decided to use black ink to give a shine to the model and allow natural light to do the job that my painting often fails to. I'm also pretty happy with the face, which to my mind is a key feature of Catwoman, she certainly can't look mushed up.

A quick comparison with the Heroclix model confirms that I made the right decision, and that although I continue to keep to my cheaphammer roots, it's a philosophy that has its limits. I can accept models that are not as good as the official versions, my Riddler isn't as good as the one from Knight models, but it is a decent model all the same. However, when the cheaper model is actually dissatisfying to my own eyes, then cheaphammering needs to take a back seat.

I've given the Clix Catwoman to Wes to add to his burgeoning collection, so it's not gone to waste.

Sunday 26 October 2014

Zomtober 4 - Total Shambles

I'm going to have admit it. I've struggled with this year's Zomtober.

It's been a combination of having a lot on in terms of work (lots of marking and meetings) and home (redecorating the living room...not that I actually did the work), not really being fired up by Zombies (I'm in a Bat-fad at the moment) and having done a lot last year I don't feel the pressure to do lots more.

However, I signed up, and I will damn well complete the month!

So here's my offering:

This picture is terrible. It isn't that bad on my phone. Does anybody know why it's gone all blurry when I uploaded it?

This is a plastic Studio Miniatures Z-Clipz zombie. It's not the most exciting figure in the world - a flaw that's exacerbated by the lack of variety in Studio's plastic zombies - but it's a damn sight better than the molten lumps that are the Wargames Factory male zombies I did last year. Also, the head holds more detail than I initially gave it credit for.

To suit the mundanity of the model, I've painted him simply as an office drone. For the other Studio zombies I've got (about half a dozen), I'm going to have to be creative with painting and maybe converting to make them a bit more interesting.

Anyway, I think that's it for Zomtober this year. It's been good to clear some stuff that has been gathering dust, and I now have a proper batch of survivors, so some actual games could be on the cards...

Tuesday 21 October 2014

Send in the Clowns

I managed to get another game of Batman Miniatures at the weekend. Wes was my opponent for the third time in the space of a few weeks. However, rather than repeating the Batman vs League of Shadows tussles we've been having, we both ran with different gangs.

I rolled out Joker and his clowns, and the gang was made up as follows:
Joker: Rep 90
Harley Quinn: Rep 61
Ringmaster (Clown Painting): Rep 32, $150
Sniggering (Magazine): Rep 25, $800
Contra-Auguste: Rep 21
Clown with Shield: Rep 16
High Security Prisoner: Rep 48

Wes has now bought into the game with the intention of building a gang based on the TV series 'Arrow'. He's using proxies where appropriate.models aren't available:
Green Arrow: Rep 117, $300
Huntress: Rep 66, $100
Canary/Catwoman: Rep 66
Det. Lance/ Agent Ron (Magazine & Flashlight): Rep 25, $600
Diggle/Policeman with Baton: Rep 16

The scenario we rolled up was Chance Encounter, which required all the objectives to be set up in the middle with both gangs starting off the field of battle.

Whilst we're on the subject of objectives, I've recently put together my own set of objectives. I still want to add some detail to the Titan Containers. I decided to use the guy with the briefcase as a loot counter as I didn't have enough sacks to make a second loot pile. They're not amazing, but they do the job.

Here's the set up of the objectives at the beginning of the game. Wes' Ammo Crate and my Titan Container are in the warehouse, whilst both Riddles and both Loot counters are out in the street.

And now onto the game itself. Rather than do a comic, I'll just do this report with pictures and a brief description because the game didn't really lend itself to any narrative other than 'there was this massive fight'.

Turn 1

All seemed quiet on the streets of Starling City as one of Frank Bertinelli's men got out of his cab to wait for his contact, who who hand over payment for the 'merchandise'.

Lying in wait for her target, Huntress was so intent on her quarry that she was attacked from behind by a giggling psycho in a clown mask.

Alerted to the sound of a fight, Officer Lance attempted to investigate, but was similarly set upon by an armoured clown. What were the Joker's men doing in Starling?

The street brawl grew as the city's vigilantes, ostensibly on the trail of the Huntress, leapt to intervene. Canary rushed to the aid of her father...

...whilst the Arrow took to the rooftops.

However, in all the commotion, nobody noticed another clown silently break into a nearby warehouse.

(It's worth noting that the Joker arrived this turn, but managed to miss Canary with his one shot gun.)

Turn 2

Still unnoticed, the sniggering assassin moved into a firing position at one of the warehouse windows (in base contact with the Ammo Crate).

Shots rang out and the Huntress was sent sprawling on the floor, bleeding from multiple wounds.

Meanwhile, another Clown successfully managed to plant a Smilex bomb in the middle of the road...potentially causing carnage in the parade the following day. (Riddle solved)

Ever the opportunist, Harley Quinn, spotted some cuddly toys on the back seat of a nearby car and decided that she 'just had to have them!' (Loot counter picked up)

Turn 3

The brawl continued apace. With Lance outnumbered and Huntress severely injured, Canary realised that the arrival of the Clown Prince of Crime would tip the balance of the fight against her, and so tried to make a tactical retreat to regroup.

However, this left the others vulnerable, and Huntress was shot again, overcome by her injuries and slumped to the floor.

With Canary fleeing the cage, the chuckling Master of Mirth took his opportunity to sidle up the prostrate form of Officer Lance and plant a blade between his ribs.

Too late to help, Diggle arrived to witness an opportunist clown collect his boss' payment from Bertinelli's goon for the chaos they were going to cause.

With all other elements of the plan going so well, Harley Quinn took her plush booty (meaning the Loot...nothing else) over to the warehouse, beyond which the Joker's van was parked.

Turn 4

Looking down from above, the Arrow saw his 'allies' in dire straits. His concern for them was clearly throwing off his aim and he would probably need to wait until the end of the series, and the city was in ruins, before he had the faintest clue what was actually going on.

Canary was set upon by yet another of the Joker's goons: a knife wielding psycho from Iron Heights.

She once again tried to retreat, but was assaulted by a whole troop of clowns and succumbed to their blows.

Not wanting to bother reading the rules about gangs breaking from combat, we decided to end the game there with a brutal victory for the Joker.

To be fair to Wes, I think he was hit by a perfect storm of circumstances that led to his defeat.
 - although were were both fighting with new gangs, the Joker's henchmen all having the Trickster rule really made them easier to adapt to
 - the good guys were outnumbered but scenario meant that they were unable to keep their distance and use their ranged superiority
 - extra men meant the Joker Gang were able to fight and grab objectives at re same time
 - Green Arrow misfiring meant that Wes was effectively fighting with a 200 rep gang
 - lack of familiarity with the Joker crew meant that Wes was not really aware of how dangerous Sniggering's assault rifle was until it was too late
 - the Joker was on fire when doing damage, twice inflicting his maximum blood total to dispatch both Lance and Canary in short order, neither of us were clear on how best to deal with him using Wes' gang

It was still a good game and adding in the objectives did make the game more interesting than a straight fight.

We made loads of mistakes with the rules, as we were unfamiliar with our gangs and forgot how several things worked from last time.

Now that we have a few games under our belts, I'm going to spend half term re-reading the rules and making up some crib sheets for the skills of particular gangs. Specifically, I'll make one for Wes as he's going to stick with this line up to learn their rules properly.

With that out of the way, I can now get back to Zomtober.

Sunday 19 October 2014

Zomtober 3 - Out Of Time

Not a very exciting post today as I've been somewhat busy with it being my daughter's birthday this week.

I've also been busy with some Batman bits (of which, more this week), so I've only done one survivor.

I'm not sure why, but I want to call this guy Bill. He's the first survivor model I've done which the name is not based on a tedious pop culture reference.

Bill's an ordinary guy, who had an ordinary family, an ordinary job and live an ordinary life...then everything changed.

Now he packs a shotgun he took from an abandoned police cruiser and he's out on his own. Although he's lost everything, Bill has found that he's coping quite well with his new, out-of-the-ordinary, life.

The model is actually made from a Studio  Miniatures Z-Clips body, and the head and arms from the Wargames Factory make survivors sprue.

I promise to do more this week.

Sunday 12 October 2014

Zomtober 2 - Faces From The Past

It's that time of the week and I present my offering of fresh meat on the slab of Zomtober:

To be honest, just like last week, these models weren't actually painted last week. They're all models I've had for some time that have been, to varying degrees, re-touched, re-painted and re-based. This year Zomtober is helping me to clear the decks quite effectively.

As you may remember from last year, I like to give my survivors names with cliched pop-culture references. So, without further ado, I'll introduce the team.

Daniel Bielski (to my mind he looks like Daniel Craig's character in 'Defiance') is the leader of a group of survivors. Tough and uncompromising, Danny is determined to do whatever it takes to keep his group alive. 

The model is a KGB man from Copplestone Castings' Kiss Kiss Bang Bang range.

Carlton is from a rich family and is not the most practically minded individual. Prone to panic and moaning about the life he left behind.

Another KGB man. From way back the suit with roll-neck sweater just made me think of the character in 'The Fresh Prince of Bel Air'. This picture has also made me realise that his eye has spread onto his nose and needs fixing.

Mitchell was a car-mechanic before the outbreak. Gruffly spoken and likely to solve problems with his fists, Mitchell seems to have a limited range of facial expressions.

The last KGB man from the pack. I've done his jacket in black ink so that it's a little shiny like leather, however it doesn't show up well in this photo. And yes, I do think this looks like Ross Kemp.

Ellen is a trucker who was the only survivor to escape the epicentre of the outbreak. Over time, she's learned how to protect herself and is prone to taking extreme measure to eradicate Zombies. It's the only way to be sure.

I have no idea where this model came from, but I've had it for at least twenty years. She was part of my Necromunda gang which was named after the characters from Aliens (I've never been good with names). This model was Ripley...thus she's now Ellen.

On a separate note potentially of interest to Zomtober visitors, I watched a film called 'Stake Land' this week. Although technically dealing with vampires rather than zombies, apart from a couple of moments, it could easily have been fast zombies.

What was particularly good was that it didn't focus on the outbreak but on survival in the post-apocalypse world. It also avoided many of the group dynamic cliches usually found, and generally, folk behaved in a cautious and more believable manner.

It had a quiet and measured tone, but with plenty of action thrown in. I'd definitely recommend it to my fellow Zomtoberists.

Also this week we had a game of Black Powder to introduce Wes and Pete to the rules. Realising that I had no skirmishers painted, I quickly fixed that problem to at least give my brigade some options in terms of formation.

While I was at it, I took the opportunity to paint something a little different. I did a detachment of the 1st US Sharpshooters. It gives me something a little different (not blue) and will also give me variety in the game.

The game was fun as the four of us either  got to grips with or struggled to remember the rules. Matt and I won through a combination of knowing the rules (when our opponents didn't) fortunate dice roles and having nearly twice as many units painted as our opponents.

That wasn't the point though. Pete and Wes got a hang of the rules and know that they know that Black Powder doesn't really have a points system, I suspect a full on painting arms race will ensue.

Speaking of which, where did I put that artillery?