Sunday 30 July 2017

"I'm known to be quite vexing..."

I mentioned in my previous post that I've been experiencing a bit of a painting block. In terms of the Batman Miniatures Game, this painting block has been even longer than with other projects, and I think that the reason has been these three models...

Harley Quinn, Deadshot and Katana, the remaning members of my Suicide Squad set. Each one individually had it's own reasons making me reticent to approach painting them, and the combination of all three, along with less troublesome models being available, has meant that it's been a long time since I last painted models for BMG.

The issues with Harley Quinn were a combination of the fact that there are LOTS of fiddly details in her costume, such as lettering, cuffs and tattoos, which are easy to get wrong, along with the fact that she is wearing tights that I didn't know how to do effectively.

When it came to it, I decided to simply leave out some of the details, such as her tattoos (as they's be too small to see properly) and the 'Daddy's Lil Monster' logo on her shirt, which would never have been good enough and would have been a focal point on the model. An added bonus of this approach has been that areas I really happy with (the make up and the white on the shirt), come more to the fore.

For the tights, I went for simplicity, and simply did a black wash over the the flesh on her legs. As ever, the photo makes things look worse than they appear to my eyes, and despite some of the smears on the photo, I'm happy with how the model looks in real life. In fact, I think I'm as happy as I could be with what I though was going to be a very tricky model to paint.

Deadshot (or Willshot, as he's known in game) was causing me different issues in that I couldn't decide on how to approach it, as I couldn't find a clear image of his costume in the movie - it's all that darkness. In the end I just went for a simply approach of painting the whole model (except the head) dark grey, picking out the red and silver bits and throwing a black wash over the whole thing. A few highlights later, and I was happy with the result. So much so that painting Deadshot so simply and quickly is what broke me out of my rut.

As a quick point, I decided to go with the masked head on the basis that much like Judge Dredd, Deadshot always wears a mask when he works. I appreciate that when you've paid excessively for Will Smith (or Sylvester Stallone for that matter) to appear in your movie, you want people to actually see him, but in my games, Mr Smith can put his mask back on. However, this will not stop me singing "Boom! Shake the room!" whenever I use him.

Katana, is the single most, mind-bogglingly, fucking irritating piece of shit-twatty model I've ever has the misfortune to assemble.

Apologies for the bad language, but it was that bad. Really.

Basically, this one model comes in five (count 'em, five!) pieces. The main body, the ribbon, the scabbards, the right arm (minus hand) and the left arm and eponymous katana (with both hands attached). The major issue stemmed from the fact that some bright spark decided to sculpt a tiny gap between the two hands on the hilt of the sword (leaving a really weak point), and then decided to have that piece join the metal sprue in two places. This meant that as soon as you try to remove the sword arm from the sprue, the hilt snaps and you're left with trying to simultaneously attach the two arms to the body, and to each other, and position the hand in contact with both arms, all the while tying to achieve a pose which looks vaguely possible for human anatomy to achieve.

This is tricky.

To say the least.

It should be pointed out that there are some who say that there is no problem with the design of the model, and that the fault lies in those who foolishly choose to use clippers rather than side cutters.

Nevertheless, I'd suggest that the fact that pretty much everybody who has assembled this model has complained about it, and I've yet to see anybody who doesn't have a vested interest in promoting Knight Models speak positively of the experience of assembling it, indicates that there might possibly be a problem.

At the very least, a model which needs a very specific (and not particularly common) tool to assemble without breaking being placed in a BLOODY STARTER SET, might not be the cleverest or well thought through idea in the world!

...and breathe...

In short, it took me about six months to calm down about this model before I could paint her. As it happens, I think the model looks really good and I really enjoyed painting it.

In game terms, Deadshot is likely to see most use, as his rules are, quite frankly, filth. Katana offers me options for assembling a Birds of Prey team, which might see them used again soon. Harley, is less likely to appear as there is lots of competition for space in my Joker crews, and I am quite attached to AC Harley. However, it is fairly certain that I'll be giving the Suicide Squad a run out at a forthcoming event.

Anyway, the logjam has been cleared and there's a whole host of models that I've built up in my backlog over the last eight months that are now ready to be painted.

Friday 28 July 2017

U.N.I.T Unit

I've been struggling with a bit of a painting block recently, which is evidenced through the relative lack of painting posts in recent weeks. I'm not sure why, but it may just have been tiredness as the end of term approached. Anyway, the holidays are here, I've had a chance to rest for a bit and now I'm back with a vengeance.

And so, I present my U.N.I.T. unit...

These are Crooked Dice miniatures, and as ever they are simple sculpts that are packed full of character. If I'm honest, Crooked Dice are probably my favourite manufacturer. This is not just because I got loads of free stuff at the recent 7TV day (although that helps), it's the combination of well sculpted, characterful miniatures which also lack all the superfluous extraneous details that seem to be the fashion with sculptors these days - you know, all the chains, ribbons, ammo packs, and random fiddly stitching that litter models and then require you to borrow the Hubble telescope to see properly whilst you paint them.

These guys are from one of four 7TV starter sets I purchased just before Christmas last year and I had a specific purpose in mind for each of them. The Mad Science cast were mainly to be used in games of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles as mutagen inspired monstrosities; the Police cast were destined to be used as the cast of Juliet Bravo in another vain attempt to get Mrs Cheaphammer playing wargames; the Occult cast were originally intended for use in pulp games but have ended up as villains in Ghostbusters, Juliet Bravo and, soon, Scooby Doo.

The Army cast had a clear goal. There were going to provide the firepower required to support the Doctor as he took on Daleks and...well...just Daleks really, as I don't have any other villains, although some Autons are now on the horizon, possibly led by the Master.

Doctor Who purists may realise that these uniforms aren't exactly correct for either the classic era (green uniforms, green berets), or the modern stuff (black uniforms, red berets), but are instead an amalgam of the two. There are two reasons for this, firstly I wanted something on the models to 'pop' and make them more visually interesting, and secondly Simon (Brummie) and Leon (Pulp Citizen) have been bending my ear about Action Force/G.I. Joe for a while now and I was reminded of one of the few Action Force (none of the American 'G.I. Joe' nonsense for me, thank you very much) action figures I owned (I was a Star Wars boy, with a healthy dollop of He-Man thrown in) was a Z-Force captain who wore green fatigues and a red beret (he ended up serving in the Endor Commando Team, if you want to know).

In terms of painting, they were done very simply with my usual, paint then wash and don't worry about highlighting 'technique', although I must admit to a little bit of highlighting of the faces and berets, and I'm really happy with how they've come out. Another of the reasons I really like Crooked Dice models is that the details are so well defined that washes pick them out well, which is great news for lazy painters like me.

The Marksman is actually from the Police starter cast set, but I figured that given the rest of them were destined to be recreating Juliet Bravo, a sniper was more suited to a military force confronting alien invasions than taking out drunk farmers in Lancashire.

In terms of 7TV, these guys will work as a unit in game (although with the Bazooka team or the Marksman won't actually receive the benefit due to numbers), allowing them to activate for half the usual number of plot points. Technically, I don't actually have Corporal to lead them yet, although the private with the moustache (who was in danger of looking like Hitler at one point) will receive a field promotion until reinforcements arrive.

These aren't the only allies I have for the Doctor (and Amy Pond), and I have a couple more co-stars and a 'vehicle' to join him before I begin to work on the forces of extermination.

Monday 24 July 2017

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

Yesterday I was able to attend another Animosity Batman Miniature Game event at Holmfirth Gaming Centre. Again it was a themed campaign day rather than a straight tournament, and unsually there weren't as many people as at previous events (presumably due to the school holidays starting and folks being away).

The theme for the day was based around a story-line that appears in the Batman: Rebirth comics in which there is some sort of crossover between the DC universe and that of the Watchmen. Broadly, the Watchmen have appeared in Gotham and are searching for Dr Manhattan to take them home, and Batman was investigating their activities. Meanwhile, the League of Shadows was also trying to secure the power of Dr Manhattan, but also track down Harley Quinn, who had stolen a truckload of merchandise related to their plot in an attempt to use Dr Manhattan to bring the Joker back from whatever plane of hell he was banished to during the last event.

Into all this enters my Wonderland Gang...

Jervis Tetch, aka the Mad Hatter, was not bothered about securing cosmic power, he has his own agenda and obsessions to address, namely broadening his collection of hats and finding Alice.

My crew was as follows:

The Mad Hatter - Leader
White Rabbit - Free Agent
Killer Croc - Free Agent
Tweedledum - Henchman (Bulletproof Vest)
Tweedledee - Henchman (Bulletproof Vest)
Little Spark - Henchman (White Rabbit Mask, Cup of Special Tea)
Prisoner 02

My broad plan in most scenarios was to use Killer Croc, White Rabbit and Little Spark would use their speed (or the sewers) to get across the board to objectives whilst Hatter and the Tweedles (who are significantly slower) would use their formidable firepower to hold off and pin down the enemy. The Prisoner would do whatever seemed best at the time.

Game 1 - It's Going To Be A Long Night vs Harley Quinn (Rob)

Harley Quinn had taken her truckload of goods stolen from the League of Shadows to her hideout in China Town. However, the Mad Hatter had become convinced that Alice was in Harley's hideout, and the single goal of the game (after all my planning) was for the Mad Hatter to get to the doorway of the red building. Harley Quinn had to stop him. There was also the small issue of an added scenario rule involving a biker gang, who may, or may not be involved.

Rob's Harley Quinn Crew:

Harley Quinn, Arkham Knight - Leader
Mr Hammer - Sidekick
Killer Frost - Free Agent
Copperhead - Free Agent
Punker - Henchman
Bragg - Henchman
Harley Thug 04 - Henchman

Hatter leads the way cautiously.
Harley's crew head off to defend their territory.
Both crews edge up cautiously.
Meanwhile Harley gets curious.
Who are these clowns?
Harley and Hammer pick a fight with the bikers.
Things go really badly for Harley's gang.

Killer Frost temporarily switches sides.
Punker tries to goad Hatter away from the door.
Hatter makes it to his goal.
Things went badly for Rob on turn four, when Croc popped up and ate the Thug with the shotgun, Mr Hammer was beaten up by some bikers, Killer Frost was mind controlled into stopping Copperhead from attacking leaving both in the line of fire from the Tweedles. At the end of the game, Rob just didn't have enough people available to prevent Hatter reaching his goal, despite cunning use of the Goad trait on the previous turn, and ultimately, White Rabbit kicked Punker away from Hatter to win the game.

Unfortunately, 'Alice' turned out to be the truck driver, called Dave, who had long blond hair. Things never go right for Jervis Tetch.

Final Score: 15-1 to the Wonderland Gang.

Game 2 - Streetfight vs Batman (Matthew)

After driving Harley Quinn out of China Town the Mad Hatter spots a familiar silhouette outlined on the rooftops. The Bat was here, clearly responding to the disturbance. Even though he hadn't found Alice, he could at least add a new hat to his collection. Thus began: 'The Battle For The Cowl'.

Matt's Batman crew:

Batman (Batfleck) - Leader
Nightwing, Arkham Knight - Sidekick
Azrael - Free Agent
Robin, Damian Wayne - Free Agent

Hatter and the Tweedles advance.
Aerial view from the Bat-Copter.
Heroes swoop in on the Wonderland Gang.
Tweedle Dum is KO'd by wingdings (that's a thing in BMG).
Azrael tries to deal with Croc
Things get ugly up close and personal.
With corner deployments and facing such a fast and aggressive (but small) crew, I put my initial plan into action. Little Spark and White Rabbit set of at a run, but both had to change direction faced with fast approaching vigilantes, White Rabbit turned back and Little Spark took a longer route. Croc popped up and drew Azrael back to him to prevent him scoring, however, Croc got the better of their confrontation and Azrael sought out an easier target in Little Spark.

Meanwhile, Hatter and the Tweedles, with the help of White Rabbit, were on defensive duty, managing fire enough shots to take down Nightwing (but not before he'd clobbered Tweedledee), and Hatter mind controlled Robin into helping and then going away. Batman managed to turn on the bat-signal but couldn't turn round the result.

The final result was 21-6, but I owe Matthew an apology as I used the Fake Objective strategy on the Bat-Signal, but shouldn't have done as you can't affect it with strategies, and so he should have had a couple of extra victory points. As a special mission reward, I was given a Batman mask to wear.

Game 3 - Tonight Ends With Gotham's Fall vs the Watchmen (Chris)

In his continuing search, Jervis Tetch spots a PVC clad woman investigating a glowing blue apparition in Gotham Zoo and thinks it might be Alice. His gang captures the Silk Spectre and the unresponsive form of Dr Manhattan, but the Watchmen were about to bear down on them.  

Chris's Watchmen crew:

Ozymandias - Free Agent
Rorschach - Free Agent
Comedian - Free Agent
Night Owl - Free Agent
Silk Spectre II - Free Agent

Dr Manhattan is an objective marker Chris made using a miniature from Hasslefree Miniatures, and in this game would be used as a bat-signal.

The Wonderland Gang guard their 'prisoners'.
"Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair..."
The Watchmen get stuck in quickly.
Silk Spectre floors Spark after he clobbers Night Owl.
Croc pops up and gets high on Titan.
White Rabbit evades Comedian.
Hatter somehow survives numerous beatings.
The scenario didn't help Chris as he began without Silk Spectre, and this was compounded when Tweedledee and Hatter managed to kill Rorschach quickly. However, Night Owl released Silk Spectre and Ozymandias got across the board ridiculously quickly and the Watchmen began kicking the hell out of Hatter and the Tweedles.

However, the Watchmen didn't have enough bodies to cover all angles and so Killer Croc was unopposed sat on the Titan objective for five turns and White Rabbit grabbed some loot and headed for the Ammo. Comedian did his best to deny White Rabbit some points, but couldn't get to grips with the slippery bunny girl.

The final score was 29-19 to me, with 10 of those points coming from Croc, who was rapidly becoming my MVP for not doing much.

Game 3 - Streetfight vs the League of Shadows (Darren)

I'm not sure what the premise of this final game was, but basically, I was suddenly in a shipping yard facing ninjas. Fittingly, however, this was a game between the only two players who hadn't lost a game so far. Darren had won two and drawn one.

 Darren's League of Shadows crew:

Nyssa Al Ghul - Sidekick
Lady Shiva - Sidekick
Lotus - Henchman (Grapple Gun)
Ying - Henchman
Yang - Henchman
Seeker - Henchman (Night Vision Goggles, Extra Ammo)
League Agent 2 - Henchman
League Agent 3 - Henchman

With naughty ninjas about, caution is advised.
White Rabbit heads out to grab a riddle.
The gang set up a defensive perimeter.
Ninjas close in.
Ninjas make a mess of the Tweedles.
This game was a very cagey affair. I obviously didn't want to get too close to the Ninjas' katanas (when Little Spark did so, he was killed quickly), and Darren made good use of stealth and cover to stay clear of my firepower. Seeker and Nyssa failed to inflict much damage with their arrows, and ultimately it was left to Shiva and one of the League Agents to make it to their objectives. However, White Rabbit killed the Agent and Mad Hatter took control of Shiva's mind, sending her off in the wrong direction.

Ultimately, the game was decided by Killer Croc once again climbing out of a sewer onto an objective, and he was joined soon after by the Prisoner, who jumped onto the Titan. The final score was 25-7 to the Wonderland Gang.

If you've been paying attention, you'll have realised that I managed to win all four games fairly comfortably, and this meant that I ultimately won the event (which as well as the campaign, had a loose tournament structure). I realise that I had a degree of scenario help, but I felt that I used combination of strong defence (in the form of three powerful guns and mind control), and the ability to get across the board quickly really well. Killer Croc especially works well with the Wonderland Gang as with the Wierd Crew strategy, even if somebody does devote the effort to killing him, it will only get them 2 victory points as he counts as a henchman, and trying to contest the objective he is on simply gives him someone to kill.

My result netted me an armful of prizes, including a Lexcorp crew box, Professor Zoom and some other assorted goodies...I got to keep the mask.

This picture definitely says 'Winner!'

Another really good day, which turned out to be surprisingly successful.

Saturday 8 July 2017

Rise of the Machines

When I was at Salute in April, Warlord Games decided to make the starter box for their Terminator: Genysis game available for the princely sum of £10. Given that this contained rules, dice, counters, mat, and no fewer than 31 miniatures, one look at the title of this blog will inform you as to how I reacted.

Seeing as I had some unexpected time on my hands on Tuesday, I broke out the spray paint to get me some Terminators painted.

The pictures are a little dark (it's too sunny), but I'm really quite pleased with how they've come out, especially given that these are officially the easiest models I've ever painted. Spray. Wash. Eyes. Base. Done.

They are even easier that other models that I've done a spray/wash on before, and they are made of silver plastic, and so it really didn't matter if I'd slightly missed a bit. If I have any sort of gripe, it's the fact that they are fairly small compared to many ranges, however, they do look like they might actually fit inside a body unlike many skeletal figures on the market (GW, I'm looking at you). They do scale well with the Wargames Factory plastic that I have, so there is potential there for expanding at least my Resistance models, or adding a T-1000 (I just wish I hadn't given away the Police torsos from the set.

The Endoskeletons are nicely detailed models which have torsos that come separate from the legs and can be pivoted around the spine (a nice change from separate heads for a more robotic look), as well as separate arms which can be positioned at different heights to give a modicum of variety - certainly enough for mass-produced death machines.

The Crawlers are single piece castings, but as they are only brought in when an Endoskeleton is destroyed, they'll never be fielded as units, so it's no worry.

The game itself is fun (I've only played two small scenarios so far) and Matt (and Mike, or is it Wes?) had already bought in so there are games to be had. I can also see them being recruited for games of 7TV, especially as Kraang Droids to fight the Turtles.

Not sure when I'll get round to the Resistance, as by default I can see them being more fiddly to do. I do have a few ideas to make them a bit more varied and interesting, so maybe I'll get to them soon.