Sunday, 27 October 2019

Zomtober 2019, Week 4

<==  Week 3 is this way

Introduction

I'm full of cold and not feeling very good today, so if there's anything in this post that is rambling or incoherent then it's because I'm very tired and have a bad headache.

So, it's week 4 of Zomtober 2019; the final part of the event (whew!).  As always, I'm going to show a zombie miniature and a survivor, presented as a "duel".  This time there's a slight twist: the survivor comes in two variants and it will be your job to determine which one is more likely.  Read on...

Mick/Mickey vs Stripper Zombie

Here we have a young man facing off against a zombie stripper.

On the left is one version of this week's human.  He's well armed with a machete & club and is wearing a facemask and padded jacket which should give at least some protection against zombie bites.  This is clearly how Mick wishes to see himself: capable and in control of the situation.

On the right the other version of our "hero".  He's the same guy, really - but instead of weapons he is waving a bottle of beer.  I suspect that this isn't the first drink he's had recently either.  Perhaps "Mickey" is a more likely representation of this person?


From another angle, it's fairly obvious that the zombie stripper is charging at the human.  Mick looks as if he's prepared to fight, though Mickey seems to be swaying a bit as if drunk.  Or is that just my imagination?


The "Mick" and "Mickey" models are from Offensive Miniatures.  I had thought that all of the figures in their packs were quite unique; it was quite a surprise to find that these two were so similar.  Hower, rather than being put off by that, it gave me the inspiration to paint them as 2 different versions of the same person.

The stripper zombie is from Studio Miniatures, specifically from the "Zombie Characters VI" pack.

Both/all these models were relatively easy to paint.  The stripper zombie in particular is mostly just flesh; there's little in the way of clothing or equipment that needs detailing!



The bases are press moulded in green stuff from a Basius II pad.  For Mick/Mickey, I was careful to try to use exactly the same area of the pad, so as to create the same result.

As an extra, the poster under Mick/Mickey's feet is an advert for some low-budget zombie film, printed on paper and then stuck to the base.  It's just about possible to read the film title when I have the models in front of me, though I don't think any of the photos are clear enough for it to be understood.



Last shot; the detail on Mickeys's bottle can be seen more clearly here.


Conclusion



So who will win - the zombie or the human?  I think it hinges very much on who the person is: Mick the survivor or Mickey the civilian?  If he's feeling like "Mick" today then a blow from the machete will fell the zombie.  But if our lad is really "Mickey" then I think he's in big trouble.

As always, your thoughts are much appreciated...


Sunday, 20 October 2019

Zomtober 2019, Week 3

<==  Follow me for the previous week's tale

Introduction

It's now the third week of Zomtober 2019 and (as always) I'll be presenting a "duel" between a survivor and a zombie.  This time there will be a slight twist, however: I'll give alternate versions of the encounter and let you decide which is more likely!

Lou vs. Old Woman Zombie (OWZ), Version 1


Lou was an exterminator by profession.  His usual work was pest control: trapping, poisoning or shooting rodents, pigeons, seagulls and the like.

His last job had been for the council, at the local community centre.  After disposing of a nasty wasps nest, he had gone to take a shower in the attached fitness centre.  On leaving this, he discovered that some hoodlum had taken all his clothes.  All he could find to wear was his black vest and a discarded costume from a recent children's ballet class.



The centre seemed strangely deserted; Lou made his way out to his van without spotting another person.  As he opened the vehicle up, he saw an old woman in a nightdress and gown approaching him, moaning and dribbling.  Was the whole world going crazy?  What else could go wrong today?

Quickly, he retrieved his shotgun from the back of the van and turned to face the crone.

Lou vs. Old Woman Zombie (OWZ), Version 2


Lou was a bitter, twisted and sadistic little psychopath.  On hearing over the radio that law and order was breaking down, he decided that he was going to get even with his hated landlady, Mrs Doyle.



Since there was no-one to tell him what to do any more, he thought he'd dress for the occasion.  He had a pink tutu that he'd been saving for a special occasion after taking it from a little girl years before.



The costume didn't seem as pleasant as he had thought it would; the tights were far too small and the colour seemed to have faded during the years he had kept it under his musty bed.  Still, the decision was made and he wasn't going to go back on it now.



As he stepped into the street, he saw Mrs Doyle approaching.  She looked even more grey and shuffling than usual, but there was no pity in Lou's heart as he prepared himself to shoot her.  This was going to be the highlight of his year...


Conclusion

Well, which is it?  Is Lou an innocent workman caught up in an unlikely sequence of events, or is he just plain nuts?  Will he kill OWZ, or will he hesitate and be eaten by the zombie?  Does anyone even care what happens to him?

The zombie model comes from Studio Miniatures (specifically, she's part of Zombie Mob 2), whilst Lou is from Hasslefree (in the Legends of Golgo range).

I'm quite happy with the painting of OWZ, but there's something about Lou that just isn't right to my eyes.  Both models, as well as much of my other recent output, have a bit of "milkiness" causes by my current varnish.  I'm not at all happy about that and will need to obtain a replacement can as soon as I am able!



Sunday, 13 October 2019

Zomtober 2019, Week 2

<==  This way for Week 1

Introduction

This year, I'm well prepared for Zomtober.  As well as having week two's entries ready for show (see below), I have week three's models almost finished and have even made a start on week four.  So, I'm feeling good about this.  I just hope that everyone else who is taking part in the event is also motivated and enthusiastic.

The Duel


Once again, I'm presenting a recently-finished survivor model facing off against a similarly-recent zombie.  This week, it's the turn of Luke to duel with Hare Krishna Zombie ("HKZ" hereafter, for brevity).



Luke was a kindly, well-meaning man, though even his best friend wouldn't describe him as "wise".  His life was straightforward; he had a regular job that paid the bills, though it wasn't very exciting.  He lived for his weekends when he could indulge his passion for rock and roll, especially from the early years.  His Gibson J200 guitar was a prized possession; Luke could play well for an amateur, though even he would admit that he was nowhere near as good as his idols.

However, now the apocalypse was in full swing and all the old certainties had vanished.  Luke had ventured onto the street to seek company and was immediately faced with a moaning, swaying Hare Krishna - clearly one of the "infected".




What was Luke to do?  He was armed and technically could shoot the zombie down at any time.  But Luke wasn't sure if this would be right.  After all, this was a holy man - would killing the zombie be a sin that would damn him forever?

Also, by the look of it the Hare Krishna was a fellow musician; he had a tambourine by his side.  Luke wasn't totally sure whether a tambourine counted as a musical instrument, but could he take the chance?  Destroying one of his fellow music lovers would be a terrible thing.  Ah, what to do...?



The zombie model is from Studio Miniatures (one of their "character" zombies, if I remember correctly).  Luke comes from Hasslefree, of course.  Bases are green stuff, backed by a 25mm steel washer and then press-moulded on a Basius II pad.

Conclusion

So, what should Luke do?  If he were your everyday, run-of-the-mill street thug then I imagine that he'd raise his revolver and blow the zombie away without a second thought.  But not everyone is like that.

Perhaps there is a cure for the zombie plague and HKZ can be saved?  Perhaps Luke can run away (though he wouldn't want to drop or bash his precious guitar in the process)?  Maybe he will decide that it's OK (and necessary) to shoot the zombie?  Or maybe he'll just stand there dithering and HKZ will rip his throat out?

As always, what are your thoughts on this confrontation?

Sunday, 6 October 2019

Zomtober 2019, Week 1

Introduction

It's Zomtober again!  This is quite a lot of work for me, but I do still enjoy the event all the same.

For any new readers, here's the deal: a loose group of hobbyists agree that each will produce at least one zombie-related model each week during October.  More information including the rules (such as they are) can be found >> here <<.  It's a way of encouraging each other to be more productive...

This is the 7th year that I've been part of Zomtober (wow, really?).  Rather than just produce one model each week, I decided right from the outset to paint both a survivor and a zombie and then pose them as a "duel".  This leads to the interesting question: "what happens next?".  Sometimes it's obvious, but on other occasions there is much discussion without commentators reaching any general agreement...

Previous Zomtobers

Just in case anyone is interested in old stuff, here's a catalogue of previous years (or at least, Week 1 from each year.  Weeks 2, 3, 4... can be reached by following the links from each year's start entry):

Ryan vs the Cheer Squad

 This year, my first Zomtober entry has not just 1 figure or even 2 figures, but 4 models in a "duel".



Ryan was a fairly average high school dropout.  He liked to dress all in black and would blame the rest of the world (especially kids of his age group) for his own inadequacies.  Never once in a million years did he think that one of the good-looking, popular girls would so much as notice him, at least not without an expression of disgust or mild amusement.



And yet, here were 3 of the cheer squad (the most athletic, well-groomed girls in school) approaching him!  Knowing his luck, this was probably not as good as it seemed.



Ryan may have rejected formal education, but he wasn't stupid.  He knew that the zombie plague was rampant and that society was falling apart.  That was why he had his home-made crossbow with him - just in case he met anyone hostile.  The weapon was small, lovingly built (machine shop was the only class in school that Ryan enjoyed) and probably deadly, though he had never actually shot anyone with it - yet.



There was just one problem.  Ryan had spent so much time and effort on the weapon itself that he hadn't made much ammunition.  He had just a single bolt - and there were 3 zombies approaching.  He hadn't even considered the need for a knife or other backup weapon.  Maybe he wasn't quite as smart as he had thought...



I thought that the cheerleader zombies came from Bombshell Miniatures, but I cannot see them on that site.  Maybe I'm remembering this incorrectly?

Whatever their provenance, I extended their costumes a bit with green stuff, as the models were showing too much lower boob for my taste.  It didn't look at all plausible to me (though arguably, anything with "zombie" in the title is somewhat implausible right away...).  They still have bare midriffs, which is quite enough and a bit more "realistic".



Ryan is one of the street kids from Offensive Miniatures.  The bases are all green-stuff press moulds generated from a Basius II pad.

Conclusion

So, what happens next?  Ryan has one shot only; even if he manages to fell a zombie with that then there will still be 2 cheerleaders left to attack him.

He could take to his heels and run - if so then let's hope that these are the slow-moving, groaning type of zombies.  Otherwise, it'll be a close run thing between 3 athletic ex-girls and one not-particularly-fit young man.

Perhaps the cheerleaders are still trying to perform a routine and can be distracted or avoided?  After all, their continued grip on their pompoms suggests that they haven't gone totally feral.

So, what you you think?

Follow this link for Week 2 ==>

Sunday, 25 August 2019

Test of Honour: The Takeda

Introduction

In January this year, I showed off my Oda Clan samurai and their followers.  Since then, I've added a few figures to them, but that's not what I'm going to talk about here.  Instead, this will showcase my Takeda, my second "Clan" force for the Test of Honour game and (in my gaming world, at least) mortal enemies of the Oda.

All my Test of Honour forces have their own base colours, so that they can be more easily identified during a game.  The Oda are all done in black and white armour & insignia, though clothing and other items will vary.  My ninjas are in black (well, it's traditional), whilst my bandits & ronin are in drab browns and greens.  As you will see, the Takeda use red and yellow as their "signature" colours.

Samurai


I now have a few mounted troops; these are being slowly painted up as Oda, Takeda and bandit warriors.  This pair are the widow Naoko, the red lady of the Takeda and Shigetsuna, her faithful castellan.



I've just realised that both of this pair are armed with naginatas.  The next pair (still on the painting table) have a bow and a spear - so I haven't modelled any of the Takeda horsemen with just a sword.  I guess it doesn't really matter; Test of Honour doesn't make a huge distinction between different melee weapons.



I now have 4 foot samurai for the Takeda, 2 armed with katana, one with spear and one with naginata.  Since a game only requires 1 hero and (typically) up to 2 lieutenants, this does give me a choice of appearance and weaponry.



The first 3 models from the left are all Warlord Games plastics, whilst Okitomo (at the right hand end) is from Footsore.

Ashigaru


All my spearmen for this clan are plastic models from Warlord Games.  As others have documented repeatedly, these are a real pain to assemble and are somewhat fragile when built.  Indeed, I can see that one of the spear tips is broken already...



My Takeda archers are - guess what?  More Warlord plastics...



At least the bowmen are a bit more robust than the spearmen, though just as fiddly to construct.  Note that I've modelled one of these as an ammunition carrier; he's useful as the "3rd man" in a Test of Honour group.



Now for something slightly different.  I have a group of 3 musketmen for the Takeda and these models come from Perry Miniatures.  They're single-piece castings, relatively cheap and absolutely gorgeous sculpts.



Anyone who examines the Perry range will know that infantry like this usually come in packs of 6 models.  In this case, the other 3 musket ashigaru have joined my Oda clan and therefore have black & white liveries.



Finally, here are some "special" ashigaru models.  There are 2 sergeants, one conch-blower/musician and one standard bearer.



Unsurprisingly, these are all Warlord Games plastics.  At least the plastic is a benefit for the very tall standard, as a metal flag would probably make the figure very top-heavy and liable to topple over all the time.


Conclusion

If I were starting over for this period then I think I'd probably stick with Perry Miniatures for the clan forces.  Indeed, I also like their Ninjas and they have many figures usable as bandits as well.  The Footsore figures are fairly good, but I've had some slight issues fitting 2-part models together.  While the plastics are cheap & versatile, the Warlord models are just too fiddly and fragile for me.

However one thing's for certain: I will still be expanding my Test of Honour forces for quite some time to come!

Wednesday, 14 August 2019

Pulp Alley: Swamp of Terror! (Perilous Island, Game 7)

<== See here for the previous installment

Introduction

Pushing further into the interior of Perilous Island, Sir Henry's party struggled through a sticky, humid swamp.  The rank, coarse growth limited visibility to just a few yards and oversized insects buzzed around annoyingly.  Larger creatures moved in the undergrowth; the safari could hear them but not see them.  This was clearly the way that the lost Darrow expedition had travelled - but the natives at the last stop had claimed the area was cursed and inhabited by terrible "vizuu", whatever they might be...

The Leagues

As usual in our campaign, we had 3 leagues for our game:

1. The Snake Cult


The cult is led by Al Masudi and his giant snake pet (not pictured, as its entry was delayed for this game).  As usual, he's accompanied by his 3 faithful lieutenants and his favourite grenadier.  Also as usual, Al Masudi has used his dominion power to control some of the more exotic local wildlife; in this case a pair of large waspquitos.  You didn't know that he was a keen student of nature, did you?

2. Tarzan's Jungle Alliance


Tarzan is followed by Koko the gorilla and a band of simians led by Caesar.  On this occasion, there was an extra ape in the troupe, though I can't remember exactly which game effect permitted this.  Probably a random event?

3. Sir Henry's Safari


Sir Henry and his friends Alan Quartermain & Captain Goode are accompanied by his niece (Lady Constance) and several heavily armed ascaris.  There's a lot of firepower here...

The Scenario


The swamp is full of menace, sticky mud and buzzing insects.  There are several patches of raised ground covered with thicker vegetation; 3 of the largest are sacred places (2 ancient statues and one skull pile).  Each sacred place can be searched for clues, though each team can only find a maximum of one clue per location per turn.

As well as the normal perils which might be encountered due to hostile card play, perilium zombies will drag themselves out of their shallow graves at the start of each turn.  Roughly 1-3 new zombies will appear per player, per turn; each player can choose the spawn location for the creatures he/she generates.  [Note: my collection of generic, non-20th century urban zombies is limited in numbers.  On occasion we ran out of zombie models and used giant swamp rats instead.  These rat models had exactly the same game effect as the zombies.]

The Game

The first turn was pretty much as might be expected; all leagues advanced towards their nearest sacred place.  They were all too far away to attempt any plot points or to be able to shoot at each other [this game was played 2 months ago and I have only just got around to writing it up now.  My memory isn't perfect - maybe someone had rolled the "limited visibility" random event before play began?]



Then, something extraordinary happened, though it took a while for the full ramifications to sink in.  By turn 2, we had an unprecedented three "must play immediately" cards on the table [these are rare; many games would never see a single one occur].  Now the first 2 were nice enough, but the 3rd card - "Blood and Glory" - was the real game changer.

In case you cannot read the 3rd card, here's the kicker: every time a character won a fight, their league would gain +1 Reputation.  The table was generating zombies each turn.  Zombies are relatively easy to kill.  Suddenly, the previously-obvious tactic of placing the zombies to impede your opponents wasn't the only choice; placing them close to your own characters could let you gun them down and therefore be rewarded for winning more fights.  Hmm...


Koko opened the scoring for the Jungle Alliance by dispatching one zombie.

Tarzan also felled his opponent.

For the Safari, Sir Henry was attacked by one of the undead.  He destroyed it easily enough, though.

...but another 4 zombies (and rats) leaped on him.  Although Sir Henry destroyed a second zombie and knocked down a couple more, he didn't fancy becoming engaged in a prolonged brawl.  He played a cautious Break Away card to exit the melee before he was overwhelmed.

In contrast, Al Masoudi, the cult leader, was making heavy weather of his fight with several zombies.  One of his goons ran in to help the boss, but was promptly taken out by a zombie.

Finally, Taguerjah, the giant snake arrived to assist; the monster promptly tore apart 2 of the zombies.  The reptile had been delayed by a case of Perillium poisoning contracted during our previous game, I think.  However, it now seemed determined to make up for lost time and to cement its reputation as a killing machine.
In past games, the cult's fondness for a grenade-armed auxiliary had cost the Jungle Alliance many monkeys.  This time, Tarzan attempted to shut him down with a "Jammed" card (to turn his current grenade into a dud) and a "Last Shot" card, in an (unsuccessful) attempt to prevent him from throwing any more.  That guy really bugs me 😁.

The Safari formed a firing line and advanced.  Zombies were gunned down almost as soon as they appeared, but the party made slow progress towards the tall grass that surrounded the nearest statue.

Tarzan was the first character to make it into one of the sacred areas and to then find one of the objectives.  This caused a flurry of zombies to be placed near him by the other players; even the jungle lord was hard pressed to fight them off!

By this time - about half way through the game - we had a staggering five "Play Immediately" cards on the table.  I've never seen anything like this before...

The Cult and the Safari were having some difficulty moving their main characters close to any of the sacred areas.  To try to capitalise on this, Koko and all of Tarzan's simians ran into the middle of the table.  From there, they could move in a future turn to attempt plot points in either of the unoccupied sacred areas.

Koko also saw an excellent opportunity to use his Roar! ['Shock'] ability.  He pounded his chest, jumped up and down and bawled out his challenge.  The carefully-calculated effect was to send the nearest zombies running in panic; one of them went straight into the Cult's briefly-unengaged giant snakeKoko was delighted [there's no love lost between the gorilla and the snake, I can tell you!].
Less useful: the zombie in the other direction didn't run headlong into Sir Henry.  Had it happened, that would have had the dual effect of impeding the safari and leaving the northern sacred area empty so that Caesar could search it.  Oh, well...

Retaliation was swift, as the Cult's grenadier finally found a bomb that wasn't a dud and used it to blow up a couple of monkeys.

Tarzan shook off the zombies that had almost surrounded him and completed another successful search.   However, he must have sustained an injury; from now on he would be impaired.

He was pursued by the one remaining zombie in the vicinity.  Tarzan easily fought off its attack, inflicting a lot of damage in return.  Imagine his dismay when the zombie saved all 4 hits, though!

Then, another 2 zombies appeared.  Suddenly, Tarzan was assailed from all sides and unable to continue his search.  Of course, these feeble creatures didn't pose any risk to such a mighty man...

A moment later, Tarzan was surrounded as more zombies emerged from the thick vegetation.

Some minor character action: the grenadier and one of the new pet waspquitos ganged up on poor Zaius.  The little simian didn't really stand a chance.

The waspquito then took off after the last of the monkeys, only to be intercepted by a bemused Koko.  He was initially curious about the insect's bright colours and unusual appearance, but then it attacked him [apparently, these bugs have quite a nasty sting.  It was a surprise to me too].  Enraged, the gorilla tore its wings off , then jumped up and down on the corpse until it was mashed into the soil!

In the penultimate turn, the situation was thus:
  • Tarzan was beset by zombies, though occasionally (and briefly!) he managed to dodge their grasp.  All of the simians he had sent into the other areas had been wiped out without achieving anything.
  • Al Masoudi had still not made it to the sacred ground.  Every time his way looked clear, another zombie would appear and engage him!  Still, the giant snake was searching for clues.
  • The Safari surrounded the northernmost statue with a ring of rifles whilst Sir Henry went in to investigate.  If anything so much as blinked in that area of vegetation, it was met with an unstoppable fusillade of bullets.
In the last turn of the game, Tarzan was almost overwhelmed.  I count 7 zombies in this picture, all trying to pin him down.  If nothing else, this removed any chance at all of Tarzan searching for any of the scenario objectives!

The cult's bomber threw one last grenade at the recovered Koko, but all this did was annoy the great ape.

The infuriated Koko then ran at the cultist, intending to find out how easy it would be to tie the man's arms into a reef knot - only to trip and land flat on his face some way short.  Embarrassing...

Conclusion

That was one of the oddest games of Pulp Alley that we've ever played!  In most games, the objectives are everything and much effort is spent trying to claim them.  However, in this game it was extremely difficult to even attempt an objective - either because your characters couldn't reach the sacred areas because they were blocked by zombies or because once they had reached these zones they were fully defensive against multiple zombies.

Mind you, I think we may have accidentally strengthened the zombies by giving them a health of "d6" rather than "d6*" as written in the scenario.  That meant they would sometimes return to their feet after being felled - it's more characterful, but not what the author intended.  Next time we must read the small print more carefully!

Tactics

  • The Jungle Alliance used Tarzan to search the nearest area, where he was quite successful until shut down by hostile zombies.  Lesser members of the league were sent to search other zones; they all died horribly without achieving anything.
  • The Safari advanced cautiously and gunned down all nearby threats (mostly zombies, but including Caesar the simian).  Their slow advance meant that they didn't interact much with the other leagues, but scored an impressive number of zombie kills.
  • The Cult of Hanesh spread out; their best characters were mostly stymied by zombie "speed bumps" and their lesser members didn't really seem to know what to do; they dithered around the edges.  At least most of them survived...

Results


I know that Tarzan scored 2 rewards, if only because I have the photographic evidence.  My memory is extremely hazy on this, but I think that both the Safari and the Cult scored at least one each - maybe two.  I'm pretty sure none of the leagues found 3 objectives.  But all sides increased their reputations considerably by killing numerous zombies 😁.

So, another great game, but where next?  Further into the interior of Perilous Island, or back to the lagoon?  We'll find out in the next exciting installment!