Saturday 31 December 2016

Rites of Passage

Christmas being the busy time that it is, I never find loads of time for painting. However, I did manage to squeeze in a few hours to complete the 7TV Occult Starter Cast.

The starter sets have been put together to provide a complete 30 ratings cast, straight out of the box, and this one includes a Sinister Mystic (Star), an Inhuman Servitor (Co-Star), a Cult Leader and 4 Cultists, and an Animated Construct.

The Cultists are delightfully simple sculpts with an old school feel to them (the Leader's knife is clearly in the style of 90's GW fat weapons). They are also nicely appropriate for a range of periods, and simply dropping the automatic weapon models allows them to back through time, from modern day, to Pulp Adventure, Victoriana, and even medieval/fantasy for some of them.

I kept the painting simple to match the models, although it was nice to finally be able to use mu blood paint for what it was intended. I'm pretty certain I will be picking up a few more to add to the cult's numbers.

The 'Inhuman Servitor' is a bit of an odd choice for the box in terms of rules, despite being aesthetically perfect for the cult, as she doesn't exaclty look 'inhuman' in any way. You might also notice that she has a passing resemblance (unintentional, surely?) to Sigourney Weaver in 'Ghostbusters', and she's more than likely to take on this role in my Paranormal Exterminators games with Pete. In fact, it was this that determined the use of dark red for the cult robes.

The Sinister Mystic is a suitably imposing model. Again, I've kept things simple, despite the fact that this is a more detailed sculpt that the rest of the cultists. I might go back to the trim on his robe and drybrush it to bring out the detail, but I'm not sure about this.

My favourite model in the cast is the Animated Construct. Really simple to paint, and posed in a way that implies that the statue is just at the point of waking up, so I was able to add a few more living details on the face. At a push, this model can also serve as sinister scenery.

Overall, I really like this cast, and I can't wait to use them in a range of games.

With the last painting of the year covered, it's time to turn our attention to the review of last year's resolutions and setting new ones for the coming year.


1. Continue to set targets each month to motivate my painting.

Well, I completely missed this one, but for a good reason. I decided to start painting what I wanted, when I wanted. Too often, the targets became a chore, and this year I've been enjoying my painting far more as I've really been doing only the stuff I've wanted to.

2. Complete three of the following projects:

  • US War of 1812 for M&T - This continues to be a big, fat nope!
  • Mid-Was US Tank Coy for FoW - Also no, although I have a playable force already.
  • German Last Levy for Bolt Action - This is a 'never' as I've sold the miniatures.
  • 6mm ACW Union Army for Black Powder - I've done some, but they're far from finished.
  • Rebase Wood Elves for KoW - Yes! Finally some success!
  • Marvel Rules, Heroes & Villains - Yes. Although the rules came courtesy of KM.
  • Get DZC Resistance to 1500 points - Almost. Just a few models to do.
  • Penguin & Two Face Crews for BMG - Almost. I'm just missing Two-Face himself.
Overall, given that I've painted loads of BMG (adding several new crews), despite not getting the Two-Face crew finished, I'm going to call this target complete.

3. Respond to all comments on the blog and comment on other blogs.

I think I've been doing quite well at this, although a bit more commenting elsewhere could be done.

4. Play in at least 3 BMG events.

This one I've definitely done, I think I've actually been to four, although I might be mistaken, and there are more already planned for early in the New Year.

5. Get a playable fleet for Dropzone Commander

This is definitely a no, although it's not my fault. The Kickstarter delivery was pushed back to the autumn and then a significant number of pledges seemed to disappear. Unfortunately, mine was amongst these. However, I've finally had my delivery notification (yesterday...they did say they'd get them out before the end of the year), and I will be collecting my toys on Tuesday.

Given that I've already painted a cruiser and four frigates, I should be good for getting on a par with, or ahead of the others because:
  • Pete and Mike are sadly still waiting for their pledge
  • Matt got his on Christmas Eve and has the fiendishly fiddly Shaltari to paint.
  • Wes has had his since October and done almost nothing yet.

1. Paint my Dropfleet Commander force

Given how long I've waited for this, I want to get it done. I'm hoping that the contents of my pledge and the swap I'm doing with my UCM ships for more Scourge ships, should mean that I don't have to spend very much on this game in the short term. At least, I'll probably pick up a battleship later in the year. So expect to see a slew of silvery-squiddy-looking spaceships that all look sort of similar over the coming months.

2. Complete a battle report for 7TV at least once a month

You may have noticed the steady increase in 7TV content over the last couple of months. This is because I signed up to be part of the 7TV Directors programme, which involves playing games and providing Crooked Dice with pictures and reports. That's right up my street.

I've got a bunch of stuff to paint for this and plan to be doing games focusing on TMNT, Pulp Adventure, Lovecraftian Horror, Mars Attacks, Doctor Who, Ghostbusters, Scooby Doo, and whatever else springs to mind.

3. Play more big games

By this, I mean games which require a 6'x4" table. Not having access to one of these myself, and the emphasis on boardgames and skirmish games in our group this year has meant that we've not played many big games like Kings of War, Flames of War, Bolt Action, Dropzone Commander or Black Powder. Doing this will require putting more effort in to arrange these games, as they will probably need to happen in addition to regular gaming, but I'm hoping that the success of our recent game of Kings of War and the arrival of Dropfleet Commander will help in this regard.

4. Paint what I want to paint

My output has probably dropped this year, but my enjoyment of painting has increase. I've allowed myself to follow my whims and impulses, which has meant that I've not really felt that painting has been a chore. I want to continue to do this, as I think the quality of my painting has improved because I'm paying more attention, and not just trying to slog through it.

5. Run a campaign of something...anything!

I like campaigns. I like organising campaigns. I like running campaigns. Ideas for them build up like a traffic jam in my head, and I want to loosen the congestion a bit. I curently have plans for an ACW campaign focusing on Vicksburg, a BMG narrative campaign between Batman and the League of Shadows, rules for a Marvel campaign, a Pulp adventure seeking lost relics, and several ideas of how to integrate DZC and DFC. That's not to mention the solo campaigns I started for ZTV and 7th Voyage.

One of these will get played.

So, that's it for this year. Thanks for sticking with my inane ramblings and hopefully I can continue to provide content that is a suitable distraction from the coming Trump-fuelled apocalypse. Here's to surviving until 2018!

Happy New Year!

Thursday 29 December 2016

The Battle of Four Armies

It's Christmas, and that means one thing in our little world of wargaming...Christmas Wargaming Fun Day! It's one of the few times in the year that we get to do big games, and this year was no exception.

Originally, we were going to use the day for learning about Dropfleet Commander, which we all backed as part of a Kickstarter campaign over a year ago. Wes received his PHR fleet back in October in the first wave of posting, however Matt finally got his Shaltari on Christmas Eve, and both Pete and I are still waiting.

Therefore, we needed something else, and into the breach stepped Kings of War. I broke out the Wood Elves I re-based earlier in the year, Pete supplied his Dwarfs, and Matt brought both Bretonnians and Empire, as Wes has never been a WFB player, and so doesn't have an army.

We arranged the game at 3000 points per side (we could/should have gone higher, but I underestimated how many points I could do with my Elves), with the Elves and Bretonnians fighting some kind of border skirmish with the Empire and Dwarfs somewhere at the foot of the Grey Mountains. (No, we haven't abandoned the WFB background - screw you GW!)

The initial deployment saw the Elves face off against the Dwarfs, and the Bretonnians line up against the Empire. One of the downsides of KoW, is that the allies rules really discourage intermingling armies, as you can only gain inspiring re-rolls from your own sides. However, Wes and I did concentrate our archers at the far end beyond the castle, because everything else in our armies was built to charge.

Matt's Empire force was built using the very versatile Kingdoms of Men list, and featured two hordes of infantry, two cannons, a steam tank (beast of war with ballista), a griffon riding general and sundry smaller units.

Matt had created both human lists before he flipped a coin to decide which side he'd be on, to keep things fair. He'd given Wes a very aggressive force, using the Brotherhood list in Uncharted Empires, featuring four blocks of knights, Pegasus knights and a few peasants. The tactical advice we gave Wes was, "get stuck in!"

Pete's stalwart Dwarfs added a flame cannon, a cannon, an organ gun and a block of crossbows, backed up by several blocks (including one horde) of Dwarf warriors and a couple of berserker characters on giant badgers (he was suitably chided by Matt and I for including stuff that wasn't 'warhammery' enough for our tastes).

My friendly and fluffy Elf list had managed to squeeze in a Dragon, a Treeman, a unit of Eagles (Drakon Riders), a unit of cavalry and a couple of fast moving forest spirit units. It wasn't exactly subtle.

And so the stage was set for Wes and I to charge hell for leather across the board, hoping to weather the storm of lead enough to deliver a hammer blow. Techincally, the scenario was loot and kill (I think), but we all knew that this was going to be about who smashed whose face most effectively.

The first two turns went rather predictably, with Wes and I advancing, whilst Pete and Matt braced for impact. I managed to get both of my forest spirit units killed, one with a failed surge into the Dwarf general, and the other by standing in front of the massed firepower of a Flame Cannon, Cannon, and Organ Gun that had been combined in the centre of the enemy line.

In return, we managed to silence the Dwarf Cannon with arrow fire, and one of the Empire Cannons with peasant cavalry.

Turn three was when the inevitable impact came. My Elves smashed into the Dwarf line, with my cavalry ans Eagles breaking the Dwarf horde, but the Dragon and Treeman faltering on their respective targets. It looked like the Elves would get caught in an evelopment as the Dwarfs proved difficult to budge.

Matt did his best to disrupt Wes' charging knights, and the Bretonnians initially failed to shift the hordes of infanty, despite the support offered by flank charging knights. The Empire Handgunners were negated, but with their charge spent, the battery in the centre still dishing out horrendous damage and the Steam Tank and Griffon poised to charge, the Bretonnian position also looked precarious.

However, Pete also struggled with nerve rolls when he piled damage on my expensive units and although the cavalry were eventually broken, the Eagles, Dragon and Treeman held on against the odds, managing to take out the crossbows and Dwarf General, despite taking massive amounts of damage.

Meanwhile, Wes lost all but one of his Knight blocks to Matt's combined artillery, and fierce charging Griffon and Steam Tank. However, the Grail Knights held out long enough to delay the Empire forces, allowing his Knights Errant to win the shoving match with one of the infantry hordes, and turn the flank, eventually finishing by charging all but one of his remaining units into the Empire General.

At the end of the game, Wes and I were delighted that we didn't gain an additional turn, as even a single point of damage would likely have seen the Dragon, Treeman, Eagles, and Knights all run delivering defeat.

As it was, we managed to win by a fair margin due to the hordes and characters we'd killed being worth a significant amount of points, and gaining the additional bonus of securing a couple of objectives to add to our tally.

Pete and Matt pointed out that winning isn't everything and that these games are meant to be for fun anyway, however, we have decided that Pete shall hereafter be known as 'Snake Eyes' and Wes and I have bragging rights for the next twelve months, due to the fact that winning a game of toy soldiers confirms us as all round superior human beings...

Monday 26 December 2016

Unleash the Dragons!

As it's Boxing Day, officially the laziest day of the year, I've got a little time to post something I did last week:

I've revamped my old Necromunda Gang, which have sat unused for at least a decade. I didn't do anything complicated, just a simple rebase (using the growing mound of Knight Models knobbly bases I've amassed), throw a wash over them and change the colour of their gang colours. Overall, I'm happy with how they've turned out with a minimal amount of work.

The gang used to have green bandannas and loincloths, but the colour change has been prompted by, of all things, my Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles for 7TV. I do have some plans for villains such as Baxter Stockman, Bebop and Rocksteady, the Krang and, of course, the Shredder, but in the short term, I wanted to put together some suitable opponents for them.

Therefore, in the spirit of saving money, my Orlocks have been transformed into a heavily armed version of the Purple Dragons, a street gang which the Turtles (in almost all of their incarnations) tangle with very early in their crime-fighting careers - which seems appropriate.

I'm not sure I'm going to use all of the heavy weapons in a TMNT game, but certainly the flamethrower might make an appearance. I'm planning to use the Minion profiles for the gang and have them led by either Baxter Stockman, or Chris Bradford (using the Bolo profile from the SHIVA PDF).

I might, of course, also use them for Necromunda...

Thursday 22 December 2016

Star Wars Holiday Special

It's Christmas, and that means two things these days: time with my daughter and a new Star Wars movie. So, in honour of both these, we decided to introduce my daughter to 7TV, using the Star Wars PDF and the contents of the last few years of Lego advent calendars.

I created two 30 ratings forces to go toe to toe in a Christmas themed game.

Luke Skywalker (Star)
R2-D2 (Co-Star)
C-3PO (Co-Star)
2 Rebel Troopers (Extras)
Tower Laser Gun (Extra)
Medical Droid (Extra)

Darth Vader (Star)
Imperial Officer (Extra)
IG-88 (Extra)
Stormtrooper Heavy Weapon (Extra)
2 Snowtroopers (Extras)
E-Web Gunner (Extra)

After IMPERIAL PROBE DROIDS had brought news of a strange hermit, strong in the Force, who knew whether children had been bad or good, the evil DARTH VADER had devised a plan to replace him, and to visit all the children in the galaxy who might have the potential to become JEDI KNIGHTS, and to end that hope.

Aware of the approach of the DARK LORD OF THE SITH, the hermit, SAN-TAK LORRS has gone into hiding, however he was in such a hurry, he has left his key equipment: his LIST, BEARD, HAT, SACK and ASTROMECH DROID lying around, enabling the Empire to enact their foul plan.

LUKE SKYWALKER, aware of the significance of SAN-TAK LORRS, has realised that his loss would diminish hope in the galaxy, and prepared a strike team who would try to foil the GALACTIC EMPIRE and replace the hermit with a suitable alternative...

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away...

Lord Vader's forces spread out to search.

They are joined by the bounty hunter, IG-88. Apparently, they do need that kind of scum.

Luke and his strike team eye their first objective.

As do his faithful droids, Artoo and Threepio.

The E-Web gunner slips down the icy slope.

Luke uses his Jedi reflex to retrieve the list, whilst one of the troopers grabs the hat.

Artoo grabs the sack, but parts company with Threepio.
"I'm going this way. That way looks much too difficult."

I have a bad feeling about this.

Only Imperial Stormtroopers are so Luke doesn't get a scratch.

IG-88 is blown to smithereens by the Tower Laser.

Whilst Artoo and Luke pass the sack and list to Threepio for safe keeping.

The Rebels take cover.

Darth Vader, beard in hand, advances into the open. However, his jolly red disguise protects him...for now.

"This is the droid we're looking for."

One for the blooper reel?
"I wonder if slipping over will make me as famous at that Stormtrooper that banged his head?"

Artoo's heroic antlers serve as a distraction as Luke rushes in.

C-3PO pulls a Mandalorian Jet Pack out of the sack and zooms to safety.

"I've lost Artoo! Again!"

Dum-Dum-Dum, Dum-De-Dum, Dum-De-Dum...

"I have you now...DAMN! Why can't I hit anything with this gun?"

"And THAT, is for Artoo!"

The long march seems to weaken the Dark Lord of the Sith.

"All too easy..."

...until Threepio pulls out a Carbon Freeze, holding Vader in place and allowing the troopers to blast his icy ass.

Luke continues to 'kill the baddies'.

 Imperial vengeance kills the two Rebel troopers before the Imperials are forced to retreat.

The Rebels are victorious and Luke's plan to replace San-Tak Lorss and bring hope to the galaxy works.

"But Master Luke, impersonating a mythological figure is against my programming."

7TV handles Star Wars very well, and if you have a set of Imperial Assault, I'd suggest getting the 7TV Star Wars PDF to double your gaming options. Best's free!

Happy Life Day!

Sunday 11 December 2016

The Spoils of 'Victory'

I've not done much for the Batman Miniatures Game recently, mainly because I've not bought anything for a while. I'm still in a position of having quite a few models (and two whole crews) I've not actually used in a game yet, and this naturally creates a reluctance to extend the queue. Therefore, I've not bought anything for a while.

However, back in the summer I had the good fortune to finish third in a tournament at Titan Games in Lichfield. Unfortunately, the prize pack was late arriving and so summer was over and I was back at work before I got my hands on my prizes. Due to the fact that there were only six people in the tournament, the haul for finishing third was better than usual (as I mentioned, 'good fortune') and I ended up with a couple of exclusive character cards and two packs of henchmen.

And so these are what I've been painting...

First up, for the Joker crew (unsurprisingly), are the Elite Clowns: Borgon and Asker. Both of these guys are tougher than Joker's usual mooks, but still benefit from the Trickster trait Joker grants them. They add a bit more backbone to the crew, without having to rely on Blackgate Prisoners or Free Agents.

Borgon, as you might guess, is a chunk of muscle who as well as having high Attack and Endurance values (for a henchman), adds to these with Sturdy (which means he doesn't lose action counters as quickly when wounded) and Brutal (increasing the likelihood of a Critical Hit or a Knockdown), along with a damage dealing hammer. He won't last too long against a big hitter like Batman, but he's more than a match for most henchmen in the game.

I've ignored the 'official' paint scheme (which has him in red and blue with a stripy hammer) in favour of having him fit in with the rest of the orange clad crew. I like the idea that he's a biker who's fallen in with the Joker's men whilst inside.

Painting his makeup was a bit of a chore. I've found this with all the Joker crew that have makeup rather than masks. The clown designs I've tried end up (as they do in real life) stopping their faces looking like real faces. Each time I mucked it up, I added more paint and I was in danger of losing detail. I'm not overly happy with how it's ended up, but it's fine for arm's length on the tabletop (don't look too close).

Asker is a bit more versatile, being armed with both a pistol and a meat cleaver. Although dangerous and effective, he suffers from the same 'jack of all trades, master of none' concern that many versatile characters do. Fast, Bloodthirsty, Psycho and his meat cleaver seem to imply that he should run as fast as he can towards the enemy and wade in. However, Defence 3 and Endurance 6 point to this being a less than successful strategy, along with it negating the effectiveness of his pistol, which always seems best used to lie in wait for the enemy. He'll take some planning to get the best out of.

Again, I've brought in the orange of prison issue fatigues, but generally kept to broadly the same colours as the official colours (without the swirly green pattern on the cloak). The purple on the cloak ties in to both Titan Clown and Joker himself. I see Asker as Joker's body double, allowing him to mislead and confuse the Dark Knight as to his true location.

Like Borgon, the makeup was a bit of a pain. Not perfect, but good enough.

The other pack of henchmen were for the Two Face gang, which I haven't painted anything for in a long time. Perhaps the hardest thing about painting these two was matching the scheme from some time ago, however, I think I've got it about right.

Bob is the oddly posed chap with the pistol and I've avoided adding any highlight to his hair to hide a fairly chunky mould line down the side of his head. For once, I was glad that KM had done a separate head for a model because otherwise the line would have been right down the centre of his face (although in a Two Face gang, that may not have been a massive problem).

Tot is armed with a petrol bomb and a shield and is wearing a latex mask, which nicely has a gap at the back his head to indicate this. He will probably be employed in the same way I use my Clown with a shield, as an objective grabber. The petrol bomb, with only a single shot, seems situational at best, although it does give him something to chuck at passing shambling mounds of vegetation.

Like almost all of Two Face's henchmen, Tot and Bob are low points with no particular talents. They are meant to be used en masse as a true swarm.

Through different circumstances, I now have four Two Face henchmen, but no Harvey Dent (apart from a Clix version). I suppose I'm going to have to buy him...or ask Santa...