Friday, 29 March 2019

7TV: Pulp Kickstarter

A quick plug for a short Kickstarter being run by Crooked Dice for a small range of miniatures to accompany their forthcoming release of 7TV: Pulp at the UK Games Expo.

There are only twelve miniatures in the Kickstarter and it’s a very simple set up with an all in pledge for all twelve, and then a pledge for just the heroes or just the villains.

All the miniatures have been sculpted by Ernst Veingart and are wonderfully characterful.

The heroes include the Crusading Crimefighter, Renegade Royal, Cynical Gumshoe, Occult Investigator, Intrepid Adventurer and Jungle Paragon.

Several of these are somewhat familiar from texts based in the genre, and my favourite is the Rebegade Royal, reminding me heavily of Princess Aura from Flash Gordon

The villains feature the Ancient Evil, Unholy Cardinal, Degenerate Monarch, Femme Fatale, Kingpin of Crime and Hulking Henchman.

This is the pledge I’ve gone for as the mummy and the priest will work with my Cultist cast (although I am tempted to build a pyramid), and the three on the right form the basis of a gangster cast. I’m not sure what to do with the bird lady, but ‘She’ will certainly find a home in one of my projects - if I didn’t already have one, she’d potentially work as the Sorceress from He-Man.

The Kickstarter only runs until Monday, so you need to move quickly to take advantage. There are, at the time of publishing, already two stretch goals that have been met, which add interesting objective tokens to your pledge.

Go here to find out more.

I’ve backed two Crooked Dice in the last year. Both have been delivered on time and with ta minimum of fuss. I highly recommend this.

Tuesday, 26 March 2019

New Figs & Chill(con)

Last Saturday saw me heading to the Chillcon show in Sheffield...which was not an arduous trek as that’s where I live.

Unusually, I went to the show alone as my usual band of misfits and miscreants has provided a series of increasingly unlikely excuses: ‘bad back,’ ‘child’s birthday,’ and least plausible of all ‘social life.’

This meant that I was denied the usual show activity of trying to goad other people into spending money. Therefore I endeavoured to goad myself, which was actually tougher than it sounds as I’m in one of those funny phases where there’s not much I actually want that isn’t already waiting to be painted.

Spending money was also made trickier by the fact that some traders who I’d expected to be there (e.g. Crooked Dice) due to their attendance in previous years weren’t. Also others (e.g. Mantic) seemed to have a smaller presence than previously.

I suspect that this is due to the show being quite small and so close to Salute, which I imagine takes a lot of work to prepare for.

There were however a range of other  companies there, including War Banner, who seemed to be sponsoring the show and were demoing Gangs of Rome, and their new Greek game Mortal Gods. In fact the show miniature that I got with my pre-bought ticket is an Ancient Greek. (Top Tip: if you’re going to Chillcon, pre-buy your ticket as it’s cheaper, quicker to get in, and you get free stuff.)

One of the things I like about Chillcon is that there are some small traders that you don really see elsewhere, and the show also acknowledges the fact that role players (and even Larpers!) exist. There is also an awareness that gamers have children and sometimes bring them along.

If I have a gripe about this show, it’s the fact that some features (e.g. the sticker card which you complete with several purchases of £10 or more for free entry to a raffle), although fairly interesting, require you to stay for most of the day to take advantage. To be frank, unless you play every demo game, the show really isn’t big enough to spend several hours at, which means that the spending incentive doesn’t really work.

Having said that, I managed to amuse myself for just over an hour (3 laps) and goaded myself into buying a few things that I’ve pondered for a while:

Kings of War Historical was available at the clearance price of £10, which delighted me as I’d talked myself out of buying it online due to Mantic’s flat £5 shipping.

Campaign: Gigant is the sequel to the Operation Sealion book for Bolt Action, and I complemented this with some Crusader Fallschirmjager from Ainsty Castings.

I also picked up some sabot bases from Warbases for my Sharp Practice force.

Sadly, the free miniature is destined for eBay as I already have a full hoplite army, however, I will add it to some plastics I’m intending to sell.

I also got this chap...

I’ve been hoping to pick one of these up for a while. It’s a pre-undercoated plastic miniature from Wizkids. The detail and casting is excellent, although as you might expect, the gap for that tail will take some filling. It’s also an absolute bargain price given the size of the miniature - drastically cheaper than the same thing would be in resin or metal.

It’s destined for my pulp games, and also a scenario from my supers campaign that I need to get back to.

These purchases, although restrained in the miniatures department, have left the tallies in an even more sorry state. I’m starting to reach the point where I can’t blame Prodos Games for my plight anymore:

Acquired: 97
Painted: 38

All in all it was a good morning out, but I’d hoped that Chillcon would have grown a little in its first three years. I hope it can stay afloat as I like having a local show, and I like shows that are brave enough to try to do things a little differently.

Sunday, 24 March 2019

Pimp My Ride

This week I finally started on some of the miniatures that came with the 7TV: Apocalypse Kickstarter.

Starting with the vehicles...

When it came to choosing starter sets to go with my pledge, I opted for the Interceptor kit for a couple of reasons. Firstly, the main difference between 7TV: Apocalypse and the core set is the vehicle rules, and I wanted to take advantage of this. Secondly, the Interceptor came with a bunch of conversion bits that would allow me to tailor it, and possibly other vehicles. Thirdly, and arguably most importantly, it would only add one model to my lead/plastic/resin pile.

In terms of choosing how to set up my Interceptor, my hand was really forced by the first bonus miniature of the Kickstarter looking not unlike the film poster image, along with having seen a replica whilst in Melbourne.

Therefore, I set about using the conversion bits to create something not a million miles away from the last of the V8 Interceptors. This had the added advantage of meaning that there wasn’t that much to do in terms of painting.

The option I went with at rear of the car places my version firmly in Mad Max 2 territory. In terms of painting, I settled with dry brushing as it gave the car a bit of a battered look.

I also picked up a Humvee during the pledge manager stage, with the aim of giving my Resistance a bit of armour. I didn’t worry too much about adding weapons, as conceivably the roof hatch allows for anything to pop out of there.

I did however add a row of lights from the Interceptor kit as the future battles in Terminator (apart from in Salvation) all seem to take place in the dark. Painting wise, this was also extremely simple stuff. 

Although intended for games of Terminator: Genysis, there’s nothing stopping this vehicle turning up in 7TV. In fact the ‘Killbot’ profiles allow for battles between Skynet and humanity in 7TV.

Finally, I also added some guns from the Interceptor set to my alien fuel transport, as I can’t see myself giving the Visitors a Skyfighter any time soon. They are fixed guns which will actually count as hood-mounted in the rules.

So that’s another two added to the painted tally. Sadly, Wargames Illustrated arrived with four Zulus on the cover. However, I can see these getting used in 7TV: Pulp.

Acquired: 78
Painted: 38

I also went to Chillcon at the weekend, but I’ll leave the damage that did to the tallies for another post.

Monday, 18 March 2019

Unwelcome Visitors?

Unwelcome? Quite the opposite. This is the 7TV cast I always wanted but didn't realise until they became available.

The Visitors from ‘V’.

One of the abiding memories of my childhood was in the summer of 1984 or 85 (whichever year it made it to British TV) and the Cheaphammer clan were due to head off on holiday, starting with a long drive to Portsmouth to catch the ferry to Normandy. 

However, we delayed setting off (later forcing a frankly dangerous level of speed from my dad) as we were completely hooked on ‘V’, and the final two hour episode was being broadcast that night.

Such luxuries as Sky+ or catchup were not even imagined, and nobody in the early 80s ever trusted their VHS recorder to do anything other that miss the programme and record Ceefax instead.

A bleary eyed little me watch with mounting joy as the heroic resistance pulled off a classic bait and switch to successfully drive the reptilian aliens off the face of the Earth once and for all...well, at least until the TV series began.

7TV thrives on this sort of nostalgia, and so when these aliens were revealed as a stretch goal in the 7TV: Apocalypse Kickstarter I got very excited. Even though they weren’t unlocked in the campaign, they were put into production anyway and I was able to pick them up at Vapnartak.

Let’s begin with two regular Visitor troopers. I stole an idea from someone else on the 7TV Facebook group to put them in the black armoured vests rather than the plain orange. 

This is partly because it gives more uniformity, but also because the female Visitor reminds me very much of resistance leader Julie Parish when she’s disguised during the recon of the water pumping plant, and I wanted to break that mental link for myself and have this model just be a regular Visitor.

Next up are two Visitor shocktroopers, the armoured fist of the invasion. I’ve always liked the design of these uniforms and I’m likely to buy a few more. The only slight hiccup is that the Alien Spearhead unit card inly allows for one shocktrooper per unit.

As ever, the camera on my phone proves much better than my own eyes and has shown up parts of the helmet that need touching up as the red undercoat (more on that in a bit) I used is showing through.

I’d assumed that this model was based on either Pamela from V: The Final Battle, or Lydia from V: The Series. Both were domineering, power hungry women who tanged with the main antagonist, Diana. Despite the links to these two, this model lacks the command insignia and so I’ve kept the model in the plain orange (rather than trooper black) to keep my options open.

On the subject of the uniforms, there is some debate about whether to paint them red or orange. I’ve decided to go with orange in the grounds that the uniforms were actually orange. :)

In my quest to get the right colour I took the unusual step of starting with a red undercoat, then did the orange basecoat and gave it a Agrax Earthshade (liquid talent) wash. After picking out the black elements I gave the whole model a very light drybrush of pale grey. This was finished off with a yellow wash which turned the grey from dusty looking to highlights and gave the dulled down orange a bit more strength. I’m really quit happy with how the colour has come out.

John, the Supreme Commander is an excellent sculpt, with a jowly face perfectly capturing the original character. I copped out a bit with the rank insignia with relying on highlighting black rather than doing actual stripes.

Similarly, I’ve bottled doing the Visitor logo on the troopers’ hats and chests. My eyesight is not great and I don’t want to worry to much about messing up freehanding.

On the subject of my eyesight, I need to revisit a couple of bits on John’s belt and brighten up the orange in places. He’s probably the model I’m least happy with.

This one makes me smile because it’s clearly based on Marc Singer, the ‘actor’ who played Mike Donovan, the star of the show. It makes me smile because the sculpt is so good that there’s no hiding who it’s meant to be.

Whenever I use it I’ll always think that he’s about to turn on them (at least the Questionable Ally trait makes sense) and I’ll always be reminded of his completely hammy acting.

Finally is the model I’m most proud of, Diana, the villainous mastermind of the invasion as she appears at the end of the original miniseries when the attack on the resistance camp is drive off, complete with torn face.

This is a great sculpt and I’m really proud of how she’s come out and she’s a fitting star for my cast (even though John was in charge, Diana was the star). Although these models were released with 7TV: Apocalypse, ‘V’ seems to fit with the core box better and I’ve already identified the Otherworldly Invader profile for her as the Alien Duplicate special effect handily reflects the conversion process she uses to create spies.

 I’ll finish this tour of the cast with a gratuitous shot of Jane Badler’s bum - something that’s totally in keeping with the show.

This also allows me to focus on the basing, which was simply done with some asphalt flock I had knocking about. I went for this partly because the Visitors always seemed to spend time in car parks, but also because it was much easier than going for spaceship interiors.

I’ve also painted up a Sloth Fuel Crawler from Ainsty Castings that I won as a prize at the first Wargames Illustrated 7TV day I went to. In all honesty I’ve messed this up a couple of times with overdoing the spray paint, and the sculpt itself is a bit rough and ready (I sense it was donated as a prize because of this) so I’ve been very simplistic in how I’ve painted just to get it out if the queue as it’s begun to annoy me.

I’ll mainly use this as terrain in sci-fi games like Necromunda, but I can easily see it as a transport for the mysterious chemical the Visitors manufacture as a cover for their real reason for coming to Earth.

We’re moving in the right direction again with my tallies, but worryingly I’m going to Chillcon next weekend...

Acquired: 74
Painted: 36

Friday, 8 March 2019

Apocalypse Post

The end times have come!

Well, they at least come to my wargaming table with the arrival of the 7TV: Apocalypse Kickstarter I backed last year.

Yes, I’m aware that the whole ‘no new games’ thing isn’t exactly going swimmingly (yes, I am aware that A Song of Drums and Shakos in last week’s post is also a new game), and this also arrived with some more new miniatures, pushing my painting tallies even further back, but at least this was bought before I’d made those pledges.

Anyway, 7TV: Apocalypse is the new iteration of Crooked Dice’s 7TV game, but this time, instead of being set in the world of cult spy-fi, this is set in, you guessed it, a post-apocalyptic world.

But it’s not any old post-apocalyptic world, it’s EVERY post-apocalyptic world. Zombies, carnivorous plants, aliens, mutants, simians, robots, demons, irradiated insects...basically, if it could bring about or thrive in an apocalyptic wasteland, it’s in this game.

And to combat these threats, survivors, road agents, scavengers, and savages grab their ad hoc weaponary and climb aboard their suped-up vehicles to do battle for limited resources.

Essentially, if it’s an apocalypse you’ve seen in a film or on TV, you can probably play it with this game.

The game comes with three rulebooks, the director’s guide and the producer’s guide are similar to those in the core game, just with more thematic background, eye candy and artwork. The stuntman’s guide, as well as having my name in it twice (yes, twice!) brings in new vehicle rules to the game. 

These are actually different rules to those I tried out at the Wargames Illustrated 7TV day last year, and even different to those I playtested (which begs the question as to why my name is in the book, but I’m not complaining).

The game also comes with about a billion profile cards and I really defy anybody to not be able to find a profile that fits their vision of a post-apocalyptic character, be they vampire hunter, murderous cyborg or giant burrowing worm that causes ‘tremors’ as it moves.

I think that these profiles are probably compatible with the core game and programme guide with only a little bit of fudging the wording of different-but-similar rules. It’s something I intend to try.

The vehicle rules require the use of vehicle cards for a variety of sizes of vehicles, from bikes to big rigs, which you can add mods like cattle bars, roof machine guns and extra armour to in order to customise them to your heart’s content.

Yes, it’s very Mad Max. That’s the point.

The game is further customised with gear cards and the new mutation cards that can be used at crucial moments to annoy your opponent.

The box also includes countdown cards, which keep the game interesting, throwing out random event that help and hinder you in equal measure.

Finally he game includes all kinds of status tokens (road sign themed) and a template for blasts and vehicle turning.  Regular D6 and plot point counters add to my stash of both, and the crash and skid dice are key to the new vehicle rules and I’m intrigued to see how they work.

Just like the core set, this box includes a maguffin token. However, this one will actually work as a generic piece of scatter terrain in many games. I still haven’t painted the maguffin from the core set as it’s quite sixties and hasn’t really suited any of my projects so far. I predict this new version will get painted sooner.

One of the big advantages of 7TV is that Crooked Dice don’t require you to buy their models to play. They take an approach that I wish more companies would take in that they don’t use tournament rules, power creep or unique character rules to sell miniatures, they just make their miniatures bloody good, so you want them anyway.

The Kickstarter pledge level I chose allowed me to pick up two starter sets of to accompany  the core game and the first I chose was the Interceptor. This comes with all sorts of variant bits that will allow me to not only customise this car, but also other upcast vehicles.

It’s going to be a test of will to not turn this into the last of the V8 Interceptors from Mad Max, especially after I saw a replica whilst I was in Melbourne.

The other starter set I picked was the Atomic Horrors.

This set includes a number of giant ants, obviously mutated by radiation along with a massive queen ant reminiscent of ‘Them’.

I picked this set partly because they’d be quick to paint, but also because I can see giant ants popping up in a range of my different projects. They are great models that I can foresee me adding to when they go on general release.

I also received the four stretch goal miniatures, of which three of them have a very Mad Max vibe. The cop with a shotgun is not going to help me resist making a V8 Interceptor. I’ve no idea what I’ll do with some of these, but the child might find it’s way into a pulp cast due to the pith helmet.

Finally, I upped my pledge towards the end of the campaign. I bought a Humvee to use in my Terminator: Genysis games, some ammo crates because I’d added things up incorrectly (they were only a quid), and a giant scorpion because it’s a GIANT FREAKING SCORPION!

And that’s it.

I’m really looking forward to trying out the new profiles and rules, and I think my purchases were quite sensible as I can see myself getting most of them painted fairly quickly, so they won’t stay in the paint queue long.

Having said that, the tallies have taken another hit and I’m going to have to make some serious headway soon as my birthday is coming up and that’s never a healthy time for the lead pile:

Acquired - 74
Painted - 27

Sunday, 3 March 2019

New York State Militia

Yes, I’m as surprised by the appearance of Napoleonic troops on my blog as you are. I blame Wargames Illustrated.

I was all set to fill March with a series of apocalypse themed posts whilst wryly claiming that they were as unrelated to Brexit as the closure of a Honda factory, and then Wargames Illustrated give me some free Napoleonic cavalry. Even though I deftly palmed them off on Pete so quickly that I didn’t even count them in my tally, the seed was sown. Before long, I was flicking through Osprey books, sitting down in front of Sharpe and digging out a project I haven’t touched in over a year.

Fortunately, I had abandoned these five militia at the halfway stage, and getting them completed wasn’t as much of a pain as it could have been. However, I have been keenly reminded of the special part of hell reserved for whoever it was that designed Napoleonic uniforms.

Remember the patch on the packs?

Whose bloody idea was that? I need to freehand lettering on every single soldier!

The keen-eyed amongst you will notice that this says NY, for the New York militia, rather than US for the US army. New York was the most heavily involved state militia in the conflict (although Kentucky list more men due to several massacres by the natives they were fighting) and handily have a uniform that allows them to blend in with the US regulars.

The models are from Matchlock Miniatures and are single pose, chunky figures with a somewhat Frankenstein feel to them.

I’ve also painted this officer, which came in with a bundle of figures I bought off eBay. I’ve no idea of the manufacturer, although it’s noticeably smaller than the Matchlock sculpts, and I’ve no idea whether it is even a War of 1812 model.

However, the uniform is vaguely similar to an image I’ve found of an officer of engineers, and so he’s been co-opted as either that role or as a militia officer who’s designed his own uniform.

This leaves my rump force for Sharp Practice just two officers and a single unit away from completion, although I’d prefer to have a more suitable officer for either the Rifles or the Frontiersmen than the Engineer (I see him attached to artillery). Also, the remaining unit is cavalry, and you know how I feel about them...

My plan, should I ever actually play Sharp Practice, is to merge my infantry into one unit which in theory will look like an ad he scouting force, but will probably look more like a group of re-enactors than a realistic military unit. However, I’m trying to get by with what I have.

If Sharp Practice doesn’t materialise as gaming opportunity (I need someone to fight, after all), there is now an alternative in the form of A Song Of Drums & Shakos from Ganesha Games, which is a true skirmish game for around a dozen models per side.

This scale is handy because that is approximately how many Napoleonic British that Matt has painted, and so the opportunity arose for me to actually play a game with my Americans.

My force was as follows:
1 Infantry Officer
1 Infantry NCO
6 Line Infantrymen
3 Riflemen

Matt’s British were:
1 Infantry Officer
4 Centre Coy Infantrymen
5 Riflemen

The first game was about getting to know the rules, but after weathering a storm of rifle shots, my clump of line infantry met with Matt’s and came off better, even chasing down and killing his officer. This ultimately led to Matt’s force breaking, and so on the second game I decided to take some pictures to record my second glorious victory...

...well, that was the plan...

Taking advantage of leadership bonuses from the officer and NCO didn’t help much when I rolled double 1 and failed to active on my first turn.

I eventually got moving and the US riflemen proved how dangerous the marksman rule was by killing one of if the British line infantry.

However, not to be outdone, the 95th Rifles won the skirmish battle by killing two of their American counterparts.

With their skirmishers gone, the line infantry had to advance into the teeth of the enemy and took heavy fire.

Despite taking casualties, a presentable line was formed and lead flew in both directions, however, the Americans struggled to to more than force the British to recoil.

Although this looks fairly even, there were British riflemen sealing round both flanks.

Ultimately, the Americans were surrounded, hemmed in and forced to surrender by accurate British fire.

That’ll teach me to start taking photos.

The game is quick to learn and easy to remember, and there was very little rulebook flipping in the second game. The activation rules are cagey as you try to maximuse you chances of success. Matt’s higher quality Rifles has more freedom, but my officer and NCO giving bonuses and group orders to the line infantry was a deadly combination.

I think the game will really shine when we start playing scenarios with specific objectives, and I think the model count is accessible enough to encourage others into the period. Both Matt and I have found a bit of motivation to paint more models from the fact that even a couple of models are useable and can change the way the game plays.

I think this is something we are going to play more of.

That’s it for now, but for those who care, the tallies are as follows:

Acquired: 62
Painted: 27

It’s getting healthier, but the impending arrival of the 7TV: Apocalypse Kickstarter is not going to help at all. Looks like I need to build those cavalry.