Wednesday 8 May 2024

Carronade 2024


It's the start of the show season, at least for me in Scotland.  Last weekend was the wonderful Carronade show in Falkirk - probably my favourite Scottish games show.

So, I and my younger son had risen early, planning to take the train from Helensburgh to Falkirk.  Just before leaving I checked the rail network status, only to find that there was major disruption on my local line (due to a signals failure at Partick, I believe).  This meant that at best the trains would be very unreliable and at worst they wouldn't travel at all - not good!

OK, plan B: take the car and drive.  It's a fair way to go and normally quite tiring, although on this occasion the weather was mild and the roads were relatively clear.  Not too bad after all.

We arrived just about on the show's official opening time of 10:00am, expecting to find a queue of visitors waiting to be let in.  However, there was almost nobody outside, the doors were already open and we could just walk right in.  Initially the show seemed quite empty, although I suspect this was just our imagination as there were plenty of visitors later on.

So what did we do on our day at the show?  We played some games  We met with a number of people I know, both from our home town and long-standing friends.  We did some shopping.  That's about it, really!

Game 1: Peter Pan

The first participation game we encountered was set in Neverland.  The plot was simple: Captain Hook has tied the Darling children to the mast of his ship, has imprisoned all the Lost Boys in a stockade and is making them walk the plank, one by one (boo!  hiss!).  It's up to Peter Pan and his allies (Tiger Lily and her tribe of Red Indians) to rescue them.

Captain Hook prepares to throw another Lost Boy overboard!

The Indians charge straight for the pirates, whilst Peter Pan (top, right) flies towards the stockade to rescue the Lost Boys.

The Indians make short work of the pirates, despite losing one of their number to some wild beasts which were tailing them.  Note that the crocodile is only interested in Hook; it just ignored the rest of us.

Having opened the stockade and dispatched the last pirates, Peter Pan duels with Captain Hook on the deck of the ship.  Everyone else (including the crocodile) stops to watch the fight.  Both of the protagonists are down to their last wound before Peter lands a final blow and fells the pirate chief.  Hurrah!

When we looked up the victory conditions, Peter had won a handsome victory.  However, looking at the setup and the rules for the game, such an outcome was pretty much inevitable.  Still, it was a fun little filler with a relatively unusual subject matter.

[Aside: Tinkerbell didn't appear in this game.  I believe that she could have made an appearance if the Darling children had managed to free themselves from their bonds, but would then have hounded them.  In the book, she's really not a very nice fairy, you know...]

Game 2: After Casablanca

Our second game of the day was a wonderful, star-studded, cast-of-thousands game with an extremely pulp theme.  The premise is this: after the final scene in 'Casablanca' (the movie, of course!), Rick and Louis have joined the Free French.  They've been spying on the Italians in North Africa (Libya) and must now return to the French lines.  As players, our job was to assist them to escape.

Each turn, one of the allied/French players would choose an "event" from a selection of cards.  These all had suggestive names such as "Boom Boom", "Todt" &c but we didn't know what they meant beyond that.  We did know the "difficulty level" for each event - that indicated how far Rick & Louis could move as well as (roughly!) how bad the event would be for us.

There were 5 players; each controlled a couple of heroes.  I had a Telly Savalas character with a Lewis gun (I'm not familiar with this role) and a female sidekick.  Someone else had Sid James (from the Carry On... films) and there were a number of others.

As well as the player characters, there were various forces we could command: French native troops, colonial police, Foreign Legion, Arabs &c.  Between them these gave us some numbers with which we could counter the Italian troops who were holed up in the buildings and trenches at the far end of the table.

At the beginning, everything looked quiet, so I chose to advance the French colonial troops along the open ground in the middle of the table.

Here we go - a bald American with a light machine gun and his blue-clad assistant leads local troops straight towards the Italian lines.  The Foreign Legionnaires (centre right) decided to stick to a bit more cover. 

Progress was made, but very slowly.  The French forces caused some casualties to the enemy, but mostly melted away under a hail of Italian gunfire.  Then some Nazis appeared in the nearby ruins, scaring off the local archaeologists.

One of my son's heroes had a satchel of dynamite.  He managed to sprint along the dried-up stream bed and tossed one stick into the Italian armoured car, destroying it.  Too bad for him that he dropped another stick at his feet.  This didn't kill him (just wounded), but a rescue was going to be tricky so close to the enemy lines.

Another of our heroes made a potentially game-saving dash (under fire from the Nazis) to negotiate with the local Bedouin.  Although he was gasping for breath and could only stutter a few words, they were wildly impressed with his bravery and joined our side immediately.  Between them, the Foreign Legion's automatic weapons and a handily-placed rifle grenade, the Nazis were exterminated.

At the end of the game, Rick and Louis made it back to safety, although they did have a few near misses on the way (losing the tip of a cigar, a tumbler of brandy and something else, I think)  So we won, even though there weren't many French troops on the table at the end of the game!

I haven't mentioned several other events which took place, mainly because I wasn't directly involved and don't have pictures:

  • We gained an ancient, Austro-Hungarian armoured car, which was promptly crewed by several of our heroes.  After one round exchanging shots with one of the Italian's heavier weapons it couldn't move - so it spent most of the game sitting in place and shooting up the Italian lines.
  • A French cavalry officer appeared behind enemy lines, riding a dinosaur (and with another one in tow)!  This caused mayhem to the nearest Italian troops - it seems that the feathers in their helmets didn't make them elite enough to counter such a creature.
  • The Italians gained some reinforcements in the shape of a tankette (I think it was equipped with a flamethrower).  I can't remember if this was immobilised early on, but it didn't seem to do much.

I am hard pressed to think of a game I've played at a show that I enjoyed more than this one.  The (lone) games master had put on a wonderfully exotic and adventurous event and the players all were thoroughly caught in the spirit of it.  Extremely enjoyable - bravo!

Game 3: What a Tanker

What a Tanker seems to be popular at shows these days.  This hardly surprising as the rules could almost have been made with public participation games in mind.  This isn't the first time I've played WaT, but I think it was for my friend Steve.  Anyway...

Two British tanks in the foreground (a Cromwell and a Sherman) vs a couple of Germans somewhere in the distance (both Mk IVs, I think).

One of the Germans tried to flank us.  Both British tanks took minor suspension damage and things didn't look particularly good.

...but then my Sherman got a lucky hit on the Mk IV's side armour and blew it to bits!

The other German then charged over the hill which separated us.  Although he got the first shot, it was a lousy one and missed.  My return shot was a critical; another German tank destroyed!  Go me!


Finally, the traditional picture of my acquisitions for the day

So, in no particular order:

  • The final expansion for the Firefly game: Kalidasa!  I've been wanting this for quite a while and a copy was available at the Bring-and-buy, barely used.  Mind you, it was my son that noticed it; I would have passed by that seller without spotting anything if it wasn't for him.
  • A selection of Army Painter paints, slightly cheaper than normal.  I wasn't in particular need of anything; I just felt that these were interesting colours (and cheap).
  • Bases: round, square, clear.
  • Some 28mm figures: Japanese cart drivers and English Civil War civilians.  Just a measure of my eclectic tastes!
  • Another Japanese village house from Sarissa Precision.
  • The Gangs of Rome rulebook.  I've already read through it and it has some really good ideas.  Also lots of pretty pictures, excellent background information, model-making tips and lots more.
  • Our MDF "tickets" for the show, which can be repurposed as bases.  An excellent idea that is always done at Carronade, though I've not heard of anywhere else taking it up.


Carronade is definitely one of my favourite shows.  It's relatively easy to get to from my part of Scotland, has a good number and variety of traders and a decent quantity of games.  I recommend it most highly!

Sunday 29 October 2023

Zomtober 2023, Week 5

<== Go here for Week 4


It's the last week of Zomtober, at least for 2023.  As is required by the rules of that competition, I've completed another model - or rather two models.  My self-imposed extra goal is to finish figures for both a zombie and a survivor, then present the pair as a "duel".  The idea is that readers can then speculate on the likely outcome 😁.

Logan vs Old Man Zombie (OMZ)

This week sees Logan facing off against "Old Man" zombie (OMZ for short).  Logan is a fairly average-looking man, wearing an (army surplus?) sweater and a woolen hat.  He's wielding a very big tyre iron, so maybe he's a driver for some large vehicle (truck?  tractor?  excavator?).  Or perhaps it's a piece of plumbing instead - a bent pipe with a connector on the end of it?  Either way, it looks solid and heavy - as long as Logan keeps his grip then it ought to do some real damage when wielded.

The model of Logan comes from Offensive Miniatures "modern rioters" range; the traffic cone on his base is from the same pack.

OMZ is a straight build of a Studio Miniatures plastic zombie.  As such, he's not especially animated; swaying or shambling rather than anything else.  In fact, he's the epitome of the "crowd filler", back-rank zombie - there's nothing much to distinguish him from the rest of the horde.

I'm going to be blunt: I think that this week's models are some of the most generic, bland figures I've painted in a while.  Neither of them is especially exciting, though I have tried to add a bit of interest by placing the traffic cone on Logan's base and by painting a slightly more complex jacket on OMZ.  Still, neither model is especially memorable.


The eternal question is this: what happens next?

In my opinion, Logan is healthy, alert and armed, while OMZ doesn't look especially threatening.  I'd say that Logan is probably about to pulp the zombie's skull and carry on with the rest of his day as if the encounter had never happened?

On the other hand, what about that traffic cone?  Was Logan carrying it - and forced to drop it in order to defend himself?  If so then for what purpose?  Either way, Logan had better be careful not to step backwards as he makes his swing.  Tripping over such an obstacle would put him at a considerable disadvantage and could give OMZ the opening needed for the zombie to bite the man.

Saturday 21 October 2023

Zomtober 2023, Week 4

<== Week 3 is this way


Right, so Zomtober 2023 is in progress and my self-appointed goal for this event is to finish off one survivor and one zombie model each week, presenting them as a 'duel' on the Sunday.  This week it's going to be a day early because I'll be busy all day on Sunday - so here's a Saturday duel instead!

Alicia vs. "Shirley Temple" Zombie (STZ)


My pairing this week sees "Alicia" facing off against "Shirley Temple" zombie?  I've given the zombie this name because of her flowing golden locks and short stature - she has a (slight!) resemblance to the famous child actress.  STZ has lost one hand and at least part of her clothing, though her tartan miniskirt seems to have survived.  She's also carrying some shopping bags; I imagine that these are an indicator of the last thing she was doing before becoming infected.

Alicia looks like a fit, healthy woman, perhaps in her 30s or 40s.  She's dressed in decent, comfortable clothes and seems completely at ease with the situation - or perhaps she is day-dreaming and hasn't noticed the zombie approaching?  Alicia also has a pistol, though she hasn't raised it yet.

This picture from behind shows just how ragged is STZ's top.  It (and the missing right hand) suggest a significant trauma in her recent past.  Is that - and her waif-like frame - a significant disadvantage if it comes to a physical struggle?

Both models are straight builds from old, Wargames Factory sets - the Female Survivors and Zombie Vixens (sic!) kits.  Although that company is long gone, I believe Warlord Games own the moulds now and still produce the sprues.


What happens next?   Is Alicia just sizing up the situation, ready to shoot or run as appropriate?  Or has she been caught unawares, in the middle of an unrelated train of thought?  Will the lack of a right hand (and the use of her left hand to hold shopping bags) hinder STZ's attack?  Indeed, will STZ even attack Alicia - the zombie seems to be heading in slightly the wrong direction?  If Alicia freezes on the spot, will STZ fail to notice her and just carry on down the street?

As always, I'd be delighted to hear your thoughts on the matter!

Follow this for week 5 ==>

Sunday 15 October 2023

Zomtober 2023, Week 3

<== Go back to last week's duel


Another week, another duel!  At least, that's how I'm marking Zomtober - by finishing some survivor and zombie models.  It's customary for me to present a pair of such models and ask my readers: what happens next?  Here you go...

Marion vs Emaciated Female Zombie (EFZ)

This week's survivor is called Marion.  She's a sporty-looking woman with a modern compound bow, but it seems that she has very little other equipment: only a single arrow and no knife or other reserve weapon.  She is also lacking a bracer or even thick clothes to protect her arm, so I imagine she'll end up with a bad burn from the bowstring when she does release the arrow.

It seems slightly unfair to call this zombie "emaciated", but I chose that title on account of her upraised arm.  At the very least, this looks quite thin, even to the point of being withered.  Does EFZ have any strength in that hand, or is it too weak to be useful?  The rest of her appears to be fairly sturdy, if now somewhat damaged.

Like Marion, EFZ appears to be dressed for some athletic activity, or partly so.  Maybe she was changing before or after exercise when she was turned into a zombie?

So, what's the scene?  Were these two both at the same sports club when the plague struck?  Or are they total strangers; just a chance encounter in the street?

Both Marion and EMZ are straight builds of old Wargames Factory models - respectively from the Female Survivors and Zombie Vixens kits.  I'm quite pleased with how they both look.  They're nothing very complex; just nice, simple figures.

The only minor quibble I'd have is that the female zombies kit from Wargames Factory had far too many very thin arms.  This is especially irritating when the bodies from that kit are reasonably well-proportioned (for healthy, good-looking young women, at least.  Not much diversity of body shapes here!)


What happens next?

On the one hand:

  • Marion has a weapon which is probably very effective
  • She seems to be able to wield it
  • She hasn't been taken by surprise.

On the other hand:

  • It looks as if she's aiming high (perhaps going for a riskier head shot?)
  • I do wonder if she really knows how to use the bow properly (lack of a bracer, spare arrows and not drawing quite to the chin - as is modern practice in Western archery).

If Marion hits her target then it should finish the zombie off, no question.  But if she misses then does EFZ have enough strength in her outstretched arm to grapple with the survivor?  Or is this relevant - does the zombie need anything other than teeth?

Forward to Week 4! ==>

Sunday 8 October 2023

Zomtober 2023, Week 2

<== Go here for the previous Zomtober article


It's been a while since I last did a Zomtober post - I missed the whole of 2022 as well as the first week of 2023.  But here we are again!

As before, I'm presenting the initial stage of a duel or encounter between a zombie and a survivor.  The important question is "what happens next"?  There's no "right" answer, just use your imagination (but try to stay within the bounds of possibility 😀).

Harvey vs Dead Average Zombie

This week's survivor is called "Harvey".  He's well-armed, with twin automatic pistols - though he appears to be waving these in the air as if trying to scare off the zombie rather than destroying it.  Maybe Harvey has been taken by surprise - he is twisting his body in a manner that might suggest being off balance?

I've designated this week's zombie as "Dead Average Zombie" ("DAZ" for short).  DAZ is really quite unremarkable.  He's not particularly animated or rotten, though he does seem to have lost most of his shirt somehow.

Harvey is a straight build from the old Wargames Factory "Apocalypse Survivors" kit.  I'm not completely happy with my choice of parts for him, though.  In particular, the baseball cap doesn't really go with the shirt-and-tie body.  Hmm, maybe I should have given him a cowboy hat?

DAZ is a simple build from the Studio Miniatures zombie sprue.  As such, he's not particularly animated, but would be good filler for a crowd scene.


So, what happens next?  Is Harvey merely readying his weapons to blow the zombie away?  Or is he firing into the air as an intimidation tactic (which probably wouldn't work)?  If the latter, will he realise his mistake in time to take another, more fruitful course of action?  After all, DAZ doesn't look particularly fast-moving or tricky to deal with.

Look ahead to next week's entry ==>

Wednesday 30 August 2023

Away Team Red: Romulans


Those who know me well will know that I have something of a fondness for Star Trek.  I've published a number of articles previously about my "not Trek" starships and the games of Full Thrust in which they have been used.  There are reasonably good sources of such models from a wide variety of sources.

Until recently, there has been a scarcity of figure models, suitable for use in games set on board a ship or as part of an away team on a planet's surface.  There have been some that would proxy for Federation crew, but very little for other races.

Well, not any more!  There's a range of 3D-printable designs called "Away Team Red" that I've only discovered in the last 6 months or so, even if they have been around for a bit longer than this.  Physical specimens are available from a number of suppliers on hosts such as .

The Away Team Red collection is obviously designed by someone who loves and respects Star Trek, especially the original series.  If I've understood correctly, the sculptor goes by the handle of Lost Heresy Miniatures.

The range includes several alien races (including a "not Gorn" set - something of a holy grail for me!) as well as a considerable number of "not Federation" crew and a few monsters.  Excellent!

After that long preamble, here are some Romulans!


  • Firstly, they're not "Romulans" - the designer calls them "Aquilons".  Well, well.
  • There are two variants of the 10-model Aquilon set: one with helmets and one without.  I have the bare-headed figures.
  • The 10 models in the set include an obvious leader, but many of the rest are equipped with long guns.  Ideally I would have preferred a more diverse group, with some figures using equipment (scanners, comms...) rather than brandishing weapons.  But you get what you get.
  • I've converted several of the crew in small ways, though this was not easy.  They're printed in a very hard, very brittle resin and the only way to cut this was with a razor saw.  Of necessity, my conversions have been limited to swapping the occasional hand (plus what it's holding) or shortening the weapons to make them pistols rather than rifles.
  • These models are slightly larger than 28mm - maybe 30mm?  They're close enough for me to mix and match with other manufacturers, especially for other races.

The Crew

I painted the first four figures with coloured sashes; I suppose I'm thinking of these as officers or specialists.

Tomeet is obviously the captain and I imagine that Rukan is his second-in-command (since he's got the same colour of sash, albeit a lesser form).  The other two could be science, engineering, comms, medical or any other specialties I desire.

The next pair are in the "rank and file" uniform, with standard black sashes.  However, they're carrying pistols.  Perhaps they are ensigns - does the Romulan empire have such things?

Am I alone in thinking that the 3rd model's face looks like Leonard Nimoy/Spock?

Finally, we have the goon squad, security, mooks or whatever else you wish to call them.  I'm thinking that these are the equivalent of the Federation's "red shirts" - un-named characters whose chance of surviving an episode is low.

...except that I did give them names.  Does that create a paradox and break the universe?

Finally, here is the entire bunch all together.  Romulans aren't inherently evil; they're just very secretive and have their own honour code.  That should be plenty to bring them into conflict with my other Trek-like forces!


These are excellent models!  They're on the chunky side, but that gives them a lot of strength and they should resist handling damage well.  The hard resin does make it difficult to convert them, but that's too bad.

These aren't the first "Away Team Red" models I have bought - and I don't think they'll be the last, either.

Friday 25 August 2023

Mortal Gods: Who's in the House?


I've had a copy of the Mortal Gods rules as well as the Mythic expansion for quite a long time now, but have not done much with them.  Until now, that is: recently I dug out these rules and my Ancient Greek models and played a game at my local club (Helensburgh Alternative Hobby Association, or HAHA for short).

I enjoyed that game so much that I decided to buy some more models, group bases &c. and to host another game at the club.  This time I recorded some of the action, so you can read about it as well.


I pitted forces of Hades (on the left, mostly skeletons and necromancers, but with a phalanx of temple guard) against Heroes (on the right, led by Jason and Heracles, with a few minor names heroes and an odd assortment of warriors).  Each side came to about 660 points and was split into two allied contingents, so that we could accommodate two players per side.

The scenario was simple: there are 5 objective markers around the table.  Each of these is controlled by whichever side has the largest number of models within 3"; whichever force controls most objectives at the end of the game wins.

I did add one twist: a Cyclops inhabits one of the three central terrain features and would appear at the end of turn 1.  It would be controlled by a 5th player.  What I didn't tell the others at the start was that should this be slain then another cyclops would appear; once again it would appear randomly from one of the three central features.

The Game

So, how did it go?  Turn one was spent mostly with each player moving their forces forwards.

At the end of turn one, the cyclops appeared from the house, right in front of three Greek heroes.

The monster reacted before any of the humans: it tossed a large boulder at Jason.  The missile overshot the hero, but landed right in the middle of a group of approaching peltasts, flattening most of them!

Atalanta shot the cyclops full of arrows, before Herakles and the other heroes finished if off.  Almost immediately, another cyclops appeared at exactly the same position

After this, the heroic side became a bit fixated on monster hunting!  Most of their forces converged on the second cyclops, leaving very little to face off against the onrushing skeletons.

Again, Atalanta wounded the creature, but not enough to knock it out.  With a bellow of rage, the cyclops charged, injuring her and a nearby unarmoured hoplite, before Meleagros stabbed it from behind and felled the brute.

Whilst this side-show was happening, Hylas was the only Greek hero left to stem the undead tide.  He held his own to start with and even destroyed some skeletons, but eventually he was overcome and killed.

The heroes then caught an incredibly lucky break: At the start of a turn Hades drew one of the worst possible omen cards for the undead side.  Why was this so bad?  Well, all the skeleton groups have just a single die for Courage rolls, thus giving each one only a 50:50 chance of moving in the intended direction.

Predictably, much of the turn was spent with the skeletons milling about, whilst the heroes tried to reposition to a slightly better location.

Then, something unexpected happened.  Meleagros attacked a skeleton group, wiped them out and scored a critical hit in doing so.  This is extremely easy against skeletons with a base Resistance of 1; the hero rolled 5 or 6 attack dice and only needed to inflict 2 damage on the unarmoured group to score a crit - and that would then entitle him to another action (which could be used to make another attack).  Rinse and repeat...

By the time that Meleagros had run out of skeletons near enough to attack, he had destroyed two entire groups of them and badly injured a dark temple guard in (if I remember right) 3 follow-on attacks.

The same thing then happened in the centre of the table.  Herakles, driven to grief by the loss of Hylas, went on the rampage and destroyed everything within reach.  Badly wounded, he was only stopped by failing a Fear test to charge a Neukadaimon (sp?), else the damage would have been much greater.

At this point, the forces of Hades were considerably shaken and thought they had lost the game.  However, in a quick reversal their priests then summoned more groups of skeletons - and dropped these right beside three of the objectives!  The game ended before the heroes could respond to that (presumably by rampaging through these new groups as well).

At the conclusion of play, the heroes controlled 2 of the objectives (one isn't visible in this picture).  However, the last-minute summoning of more skeletons meant that Hades now controlled 3 objectives, thus making them the winner, by the narrowest of margins!


Well, that was fun!  The heroes became a bit distracted by the cyclops (both of them) and devoted the efforts of four named heroes to fighting the creatures.  They killed the creatures with relative ease, but this concentration of force left them short-handed elsewhere and I think they would have been overrun by the dark forces if it had not been for two things:

  1. The very unfortunate Siren Song omen; it affected the skeletons far more than it would have affected pretty much any other force.
  2. The rules for critical hits.  Once we realised that even a mid-level hero (like Meleagros) could run amok through multiple bases of skeletons in a single action, we were scouring the rules to see if we had made a mistake.  But (a) critical damage occurs on double the base resistance [so, 2 points of damage], (b) a critical entitles the model to another action, (c) that bonus action may be an attack and (d) there's no limit on how many times this can be repeated.  Am I wrong about this?

As it was, the late game saw the skeletons decimated, but a last minute summoning after the heroes had used all their actions for the turn and couldn't respond saw fresh skeletons swarm over the objectives and win the game.  Truly a lot of emotional swings!

Man of the Match: probably Meleagros, in my opinion.  He struck the killing blow against the second cyclops (after Atalanta had weakened it) and then went berserk against skeletons, destroying a considerable number.  For a not-quite-top-rank hero, that's impressive!

Most Useless: I think the phalanx of dark temple guard was very disappointing.  It looked impressive, but hardly moved during the game, never fought anything and never contested any objectives.  A waste!