Sunday 29 November 2015

Assembling the Avengers

With the successful completion of a cell of Hydra terrorists, some heroes were desperately needed to prevent their nefarious schemes for world domination. So, like a one-eyed super-spy, I set about assembling the Avengers!

Enter Iron Man, Hawkeye, Black Widow, She-Hulk, Spider-Woman and...erm...Speed. Admittedly, it's not exactly the line-up from the movies, but my Avengers do all have pedigree as part of the team (or in one case, the Young Avengers).

My Spider-Woman is made from a Reaper Miniature from their Chronoscope line. The model makes for a good unofficial Spider-Woman model, although she shouldn't have her mouth covered, and probably has too much hair, but I like it. I'm quite pleased with the black and yellow detailing I've done on the suit. There's also plenty of gaming potential with this model as Spider-Woman has actually been a SHIELD-HYDRA triple agent, whilst at the same time being a Skrull infiltrator.

She-Hulk is another Reaper Chronoscope miniature, made from the appropriately named 'Incredible Woman'. Her costume is not exactly right, but I didn't want to use too much white on the model, so I kept it to her collar and cuffs...ahem...

On a separate note, this model stands significantly taller than most 28mm miniatures, and so would scale well with KM's 35mm miniatures and would be usable as a who range of female heroes and villans for whole their aren't currently models in BMG or SMG.

Black Widow, is my third Reaper figure. This one is Natalia, female secret agent - you'd be forgiven for thinking that Reaper have deliberately based this miniature on Black Widow, whose real name is Natasha. In my opinion this is a better, more dynamic pose than the official KM Black Widow miniature, and on that subject, I can highly recommend Reaper Miniatures. The castings and sculpting is excellent. What's more, the miniatures are all single piece. I just wish Reaper was more available in the UK.

Hawkeye, Iron Man and Speed have featured on the blog before and have been re-based. Hawkeye and Iron Man are from Crossover Miniatures, and although I've previously been very happy with them, these two are a bit clunky, and Iron Man is a bit small. There's a Reaper model that will make fore a better Iron Man that I might get, and I may have a go at putting together a more modern looking Hawkeye from my Wargames Factory survivors.

Speed is a Heroclix model. Technically, the model is Kid Flash, a DC character, but you'd be surprised at how similar DC and Marvel characters are sometimes.

I have a few other heroes to add to my Avengers, before I move on to other super teams that I've collected models for.

Sunday 22 November 2015

Keep Calm and Hail Hydra

Just when you thought I'd gone for good, I return stronger than before!
Apologies for the hiatus. We've been having our kitchen and dining room knocked through and done up, so the house has been a bit of a mess and I've not really had the space or time to get any painting done.
Anyway, remember some time ago, I began to work on a Marvel project using miniatures from a range of manufacturers? Well, Batman happened. Along with Operation Unthinkable, and a range of other projects I've just not had the motivation to get anything done.
Until now.
Knight Models have announce that they are releasing a Spider-Man Miniatures Game using the same mechanics as BMG, and the intial four factions will be: Spider-Man (and his Amazing Friends...that's not the official faction title, but in my head it is), Goblin Cult, S.H.I.E.L.D. and HYDRA.
Guess who's got a Hydra gang all ready and waiting to go?
So, this week, I set about rebasing the models I'd already done, and painting up my four remaining Hydra goons. Apologies, once again for the quality of the photos; I'm still having trouble fnding a way to get decent pictures from my phone.
I've not done anything special with them as I like to keep block colours on my comic book stuff as I like the fact that (to me at least) it captures the four colour feel of the genre. I've switched the bases from 20mm flat bases to 30mm bevelled bases. Primarily this is to make them compatible with the SMG (I like that abbreviation), however, I've grown to prefer the bevelled bases for skirmish games. You'll also notice that I've gone for static grass on the bases. This is mainly to mask the raised bases on some of the miniatures and although it doesn't really match the urban environments many of them will be used in, the separation of the bevelled bases tends to make this not really matter.

The leaders. Red Skull is from 'What The?' Miniatures, a really small scale miniature company, with a tiny range of Weird War II sculpts. They used to have a not-Captain America and Bucky available, but they clearly had some form of C&D from Marvel about it as he's no longer available. Fortunately, the unpainted 'Herr Totenkopf' looks like any number of skull-headed villains in popular culture and is still present in the store. Madame Hydra/Viper has been made using the Wargames Factory Female Apocalypse Survivors plastic kit. I may end up replacing her with a better model, but she'll do for now. Finally, Wrecker has been converted from 'Ram Jam' from Crossover Miniatures. Even though Crossover provide alternate heads for their models, I needed to file off the horns from one of the options and drill a hole in the hand for his crowbar. I'm aware that Wrecker isn't actually part of Hydra, but my thinking is that he's exactly the sort of hired muscle they'd make use of.

The Hydra Goons are Paramilitary Goons from Crossover Miniatures too. They are clearly sculpted to emulate the classic Hydra costumes, but are generic enough to be argued as any type of minion. Crossover also do heavy weapons goons, a goon officer, a female goon and a surrendering goon (which might possibly be a nod to Bob, Deadpool's sidekick), which all might find themselves added to my cell in time.
So now I have a fully painted and based Hydra crew for SMG. I know that not only are there no rules for any Hydra forces yet, and it's entirely likely that the Hydra henchmen in the game will have more varied weaponary. What's more, I've no idea whether Red Skull or Viper will make an appearance, but they're both likely. However, even if I can't use these models for SMG, I've also worked out that they make a handy 30 ratings cast for 7TV, so they are destined to hit the table at some point.
All I need now are some heroes to stop Hydra's nefarious plans. I'd better get assembling...

Sunday 1 November 2015

The Long Halloween - Event Report

Yesterday I attended the Long Halloween Batman Miniatures event at Holmfirth Gaming Centre. Organised by Animosity Wargaming, this was organised differently from the usual tournament format, and was instead a narrative campaign in which two teams battled for control of Gotham.

The teams were organised as follows:

Law & Order
Batman Crew
Law Crew led by Batgirl
Law Crew led by Commissioner Gordon
Green Arrow Crew
Green Arrow Crew led by Speedy

Rogues' Gallery
Two Face Crew
Black Mask Crew
Poison Ivy Crew
Bane Crew
Evil Arrow Crew

One of the best things about the event was that it was another chance to play on some of the amazing boards that I saw at the Worldwide Tournament in Nottingham. Each board represented a specific location, and winning granted a bonus to your team in the next game based on the board; for example, winning in the Bat Cave granted a single model the Bat-Claw rule.

The Bat Cave
Gotham Rogues' Stadium
The Shipyards
Gotham Zoo
Crime Alley
A.C.E. Chemicals
Wayne Tower
G.C.P.D. Headquarters
Rather than give a detailed report of each game I played, I'm just going to give edited highlights. In addition to regular rules, there were bonus Long Halloween objectives which were worth 2VP per round positioned in the centre of each board.

Game 1 - Poison Ivy vs Green Arrow (Andy)

Reputation: 200
Scenario: Chance Encounter
Board: A.C.E. Chemicals

Poison Ivy Crew
Poison Ivy (Comics)
Mr Freeze
Prisoner 1 (Tube)
Pavilion A Lunatic
Spore Plant

Green Arrow Crew
Arrow (TV)
Male Cop x2
Female Cop

Random deployment saw an early rush for objectives.
Most of the police arrive together, away from my big hitters.
Arrow turns up an shoots Ivy, who fails to dodge.
Spore plant pops up an rains fire down on cops who were trying to solve riddles. 
Ivy and Freeze went after Arrow, hurting him.
He fled, and shot Ivy again!
The police grab ammo and rack up points, whilst a Lunatic heads to the sewers.
Arrow heads for the Long Halloween objective and is almost killed by a plant!
Arrow faces foliage, Tube Prisoner scores Titan, Freeze looks for someone to kill. 
Already injured, Ivy gets ambushed by cops and manages to get herself arrested.
Freeze finds someone to kill...but fails...
The Lunatic uses the sewers to contest the Long Halloween objective.
An ineffectual shoving match sees nobody pushed into the vat below.
Freeze settles for denying the enemy VPs.
The final score was 34-21 to Andy, with the key difference being the arrest of Ivy. I was perhaps a little unfortunate in where my crew turned up in relation to both the scoring objectives and the Cops, who I would have been able to hurt more effectively than Arrow, however Andy did pretty much exactly the right things in how he went about the game and used his Cops to score points. If there was an error in my game it was sending an injured Ivy to deal with the police on her own. Had I sent Freeze in her place, or with her, the score might have ended up being draw. However, I didn't, so I lost.

Following the first game, it was revealed that the player who held the Long Halloween objective at the end of the game would get to 'be the Batman' and have a whack at a pumpkin piñata with a baseball bat whilst blindfolded - there might have been some health and safety infringements here.

As Andy and I had contested the objective, we got to bob for apples instead. I actually managed to get an apple, but it wasn't a prize winning one.

Game 2 - Poison Ivy vs Batman (Chris)

Reputation: 250
Scenario: Patrol
Board: Crime Alley

Poison Ivy Crew
Poison Ivy (Comics)
Mr Freeze
Prisoner 1 (Tube)
Prisoner 2 (Big Stikka)
Prisoner 4 (Bodyguard)
Pavilion A Lunatic
Spore Plant

Batman Crew
Batman (Arkham City)

The crews face each other down a looong street.
Ivy and her crew begin the long walk towards the objectives.
Batman watches, waits and begins to snipe with remote batarangs.
Spore plant pops up to return fire...and misses...every time...
The fight begins around the central objective.
Bravo gets mind controlled.
Batman and Nightwing arrive in the fight...Ivy leaves.
Freeze and Big Stikka make a break for the end zone.
Perps and plants are no match for vigilantes.
Out of ammo, Spore Plant gets pruned.
Deadsho...erm, Batman snipes Big Stikka in one shot.
Freeze gets to the deployment zone, but Batman stops him grabbing ammo.
This game was like a nightmare re-run of my second game at Nottingham, only this time I was Ivy and Batman wasn't fluffing his attacks. I realised much later that I'd played hypnotise wrongly and should have got a shot at Batman or Nightwing, which might have had an effect. Again, I could/should have sent Ivy with Freeze and Big Stikka, but this might have put her in more danger and cost me 7VPs again. This was another tight game, in which my opponent played well and countered my numbers effectively. I'm not sure I did anything massively wrong and a dice roll here ore there (for example Batman failing to make contact with Freeze on the last turn) would have granted me the two VPs I needed to make it a draw. The final score was 21-14.

Despite losing two games, I hadn't felt like I'd been badly mauled (although Batman had taken out most of my crew) in terms of the VP totals, but I'd not actually taken down an enemy model. Looking back I think that this might be because Ivy herself is best against low WP mooks with her mind control turning them against themselves. In both the first games, I hadn't really managed to get her into combat with henchmen and she's actually quite vulnerable against enemy big hitters like Arrow (if she fails to Dodge), Batman and Nightwing. Personally I think Ivy needs some help to cope with the beatsticks - even Harley Quinn might be useful in this capacity.

Anyway, I'd already planned to switch Ivys (this was allowed) for the next two games, so it was time to see what Arkham Ivy could do...

In other news, the piñata was successfully knocked down and we all got sweets!

Game 3 - Poison Ivy vs Law (Reuben)

Reputation: 300
Scenario: Plunder
Board: Gotham Rogues Stadium

Poison Ivy Crew
Poison Ivy (Arkham)
Mr Freeze
Prisoner 1 (Tube)
Prisoner 2 (Big Stikka)
Prisoner 3 (Axe)
Prisoner 4 (Bodyguard)
Pavilion A Lunatic
Spore Plant
Creeper Plant

Law Crew
Commissioner Gordon
GCPD Detective
Agent Ron
Agent O'Connell
Male Cop
Female Cop

The Detective and Spore Plant eye up the objectives.
Ivy considers the landscaping project ahead of her.
The Detective breaks from cover to try to get to Freeze's primary target loot.
He gets clobbered by the Creeper plant on the way.
Ivy grabs her ammo for early VPs
She uses a Plant to prevent the Cops scoring from Titan.
Catwoman and Freeze make for their target loot tokens.
Prisoners dose up on Titan and wait for the Cops.
Ivy uses her spray attack and mind control to mess with the Cops.
Freeze takes the Detective down again.
More poison and hypnosis. Agent Ron shoots Female Cop.
Catwoman goes after the Spore Plant on the roof of the stadium.
O'Connell and Gordon make short work of the Prisoners.
With so many miniatures on the table, we only actually made it to turn three (there was a lot of setting up to do), but the broad strokes of where the game was headed were clear. Behind the stadium, Gordon and O'Connell had secured their ammo objective and would eventually have got rid of the Tube Prisoner holding my Titan. In the pit, Ivy was making a mess of the Police and the Lunatic holding the ammo was racking up points. In the centre, both Freeze and Catwoman had grabbed their loot, but Freeze had control of the Long Halloween pumpkins, and would have scored more VPs eventually.

The game had effectively divided into three separate battles and I'd was winning two out of three of them. What's more, I think I'd done a good job of using Plants to stop Reuben scoring at the same rate that I was and built up an early lead that he was unlikely to catch up, despite making mincemeat of my Prisoners. The final score was 29-13, and I think the gap would have been roughly similar at the end of the game.

With the pinata down, the next competition for those holding the Long Halloween objective was a Batman themed pumpkin carving competition. Although mine looks fairly traditional, I'd actually done Mr Zsasz scars all over it.

This was won by Andy (who I'd played in my first game), who smashed his pumpkin and put a sign on it saying 'Bane Was Here!' He won a Penguin crew for his 'efforts'.

Game 3 - Poison Ivy vs Law (Simon)

Reputation: 300
Scenario: Plunder
Board: Shipyards

Poison Ivy Crew
Poison Ivy (Arkham)
Mr Freeze
Prisoner 1 (Tube)
Prisoner 2 (Big Stikka)
Prisoner 4 (Bodyguard)
Pavilion A Lunatic
Spore Plant
Creeper Plant

Law Crew
Commissioner Gordon
Agent O'Connell
Male Cop
Female Cop

Prisoners, Cops and Batgirl make a rush for objectives.
Freeze uses a Plant as cover whilst he grabs loot.
He then hits the SWAT team with a freeze grenade, knocking Alpha down.
Ivy poison sprays the police, then hypnotises Female Cop to deny them VP's.
Meanwhile, Gordon and Batgirl fail to gain control of the pumpkins.
The Police in disarray and denied VPs whilst Freeze racks them up.
I think I played this one well. Very well in fact. Although, I think both the nature and the opposition, the scenario and some appalling shooting on Simon's part helped. Plunder suits Ivy, as the plants enable her to restrict the enemy's ability to score in the early rounds and get ahead quickly. Added to this, Ivy had almost free reign to mess with some low WP and low Endurance henchmen, poisoning and hypnotising to her heart's content. In fact, the Law crew's lack of a big hitter means that Ivy's major weakness isn't threatened - I think the Law crew is a good match up for Ivy.

The final score was an eye-watering 55-29. I would have been closer if either Batgirl or Gordon had been able to deal with the Creeper Plant and Lunatic, but poor rolling really ruined his day.

With all the games done, it was worked out that the Law and Order team had won the day, and the overall winner, with four wins was Chris and his Batman crew. He walked away with a copy of 'The Long Halloween' graphic novel, and a Two-Face crew (which was a dubious pleasure, as the leader of the bad guys had used Two Face and lost all of his games).

One of the really nice features of the Animosity events is that Scott, the organiser, tries to ensure that everybody leaves with something, so those who hadn't won a prize during the day were all given a TT Combat Terrain MDF kit. I got some rooftop scenery, which will add interest to my table.

It was an excellent, if looooong, day and I'd highly recommend taking part in Animosity events. Most of their days are narrative, rather than competitive, and they offer something different from regular tournaments that I personally think the hobby needs. Animosity currently run events in the Games Workshop games, Batman and apparently X-Wing is coming soon. Go to them!

As for my crew, here's what I learned throughout the day:
  • Poison Ivy needs to get stuck into opposing henchmen, and mess with them.
  • She needs to have help dealing with enemy beatsticks. 
  • The plants seem best used stopping you opponent from scoring VP's on their objectives, and the longer that they last in that job, the better off you are.
  • Mr Freeze was a durable as I remember, and if he can get to his loot, he's second only to Catwoman in reliable points (it seems to take him an extra turn to get to the loot), however, he doesn't seem that effective at inflicting damage, and that was something I was lacking.
  • The Prisoners were very weak, and I probably had too many of them. In a 350 rep crew, I'd make sure that I had one of the more durable Prisoners, like Little Spark or High Security Prisoner, simply as in both games against the Law crew, Agent O'Connell and his high Endurance proved an effective counter to my easy to hit chaff.
  • Overall, I like the Ivy crew as she works very differently to the other crews I have.

All in all, an excellent day. Happy Halloween!