Wednesday 27 November 2013

Doctor Who and the Prehistoric Swamp!


Normally towards the end of the week I would post a battle report that describes the game I ran on Tuesday at the Helensburgh Games Club.  In honour of the recent 50th anniversary of Doctor Who, we would be playing the Doctor Who Miniatures Game (DWMG).  However, this week I did something I've never done before - I forgot to take a camera along with me to the club.  Consequently, I won't be able to bring you the usual description of the game (no!).  Instead, I can describe the scenario I created and give a brief synopsis of the way it played out (hurrah?).

The Scenario

Sea Devils, along with their pet myrka

The Doctor and his companions are in the Tardis, chasing a stolen spaceship piloted by the Master through time and space.  They've travelled some 65 million years into the past and are approaching a primitive Earth covered with swamps and jungles, when both craft are fired upon.  It appears that they have stumbled into the middle of an unsuspected high-tech war!

The Master's spacecraft crash-lands and breaks up into several large (but scattered) chunks.  The Tardis is also forced down nearby, damaged and in need of repair.  Squads from the 2 warring factions are nearby, shooting at anything which moves!

Can the Doctor repair the Tardis and escape?  Can the Master steal the Tardis and escape?  Is either set of warriors interested in the Doctor or the Master, or would they rather just attack their hated enemies?


The table should be liberally covered with a mixture of jungle and/or swamp, possibly with a river or two as well.  Somewhere between 6 and 8 pieces of crashed spaceship need to be added, preferably at least 1 move apart from each other.


  • The Doctor: Any generation of Doctor, plus 2 companions.  We used a screamer (Sarah Jane Smith) and K-9, the robot dog.  The Tardis and all other models on this side start at a random position on the table, but at least 12" away from either end.
  • The Master: as well as the Master, we gave this side a strong-arm companion.  Possibly he should have had 2 companions - a scientist would seem appropriate as an extra follower.  The Master's group starts at a random position on the table, but at least 12" away from either end and from the Tardis.
  • Sea Devils: the "defending" force on the planet comprised 2 Sea Devil leaders (in heavy armour), 7 Sea Devil warriors and 1 Myrka.  This force enters the table from one end.
  • Cybermen: the notional attackers had 2 cybermen lieutenants and 10 regular cybermen.  These used the "Welcome to Torchwood" stats, though in hindsight this was too powerful.  Either we should have used half the number of cybermen or a less potent model!  This force enters the table from the opposite end to the Sea Devils.

Victory Conditions

  • Either the Doctor or the Master can win by repairing the Tardis and flying away with it.  To fix the Tardis requires 2 new parts to be fashioned; each of these can be made from the fragments of the Master's spacecraft with a successful repair roll.  Note that each piece of wreckage can only be tested once, so if the roll is failed then that piece of wreckage is unusable junk!
    Note that anyone with the invent skill is free to use the wreckage as a source of inventions instead of repairs, if desired!
  • The Cybermen and the Sea Devils gain 1 victory point for each member of the enemy force who is killed (no matter who kills it!).  They don't score anything for killing the Doctor's or the Master's forces, but gain 1VP per member that is captured and taken off the table via their "home" edge.

Our Game

Initially, the Master attacked the Doctor and tried to persuade the Cybermen to do the same.  However, the metal men just stomped forward, capturing the Master's bodyguard (who was later shot whilst trying to escape) and wounding all the characters in the area.  The Sea Devils lined up in the open to try to return fire, but were cut down mercilessly without even scratching the polish of their attackers.
By the time the Sea Devils had been reduced to 3 models, K-9 and the Doctor had found the new parts they needed.  The Master persuaded Sarah Jane to let him enter the Tardis and he was sitting there drinking tea when the Doctor returned.  There were some discussions: the Master suggested that they attack the cybermen from inside the blue box, whereas the Doctor was planning how to save the last few Sea Devils.
Withering and deadly accurate cybermen fire killed off the last of the Sea Devils, at which point the Doctor activated the Tardis and flew away with the Master, leaving the field to the victorious cybermen.

Result: Cybermen complete victory (only a single model was stunned; apart from that they took no losses)!  Both the Doctor and the Master were wounded, as was Sarah Jane.  The Master's bodyguard was missing, presumed dead.  I'd give these guys a partial victory, as they did all escape.  The poor sea devils were exterminated completely and therefore have to be classed as a total loss!

Sunday 24 November 2013

The Crossing Patrol Man (28mm)


As many of my regular readers will know, I tend to prefer regular civilians over heavily-armed rednecks for my games of All Thing Zombie.  I also draw a certain amount of inspiration from the scenes I see when just walking about my local town (though I will stress that any resemblance between my models and anyone I know is entirely accidental and unintentional).

Part-painted model in greatcoat (?), built entirely "out of the box"
When I examined the sprues from Wargames Factory's "Apocalypse Survivors: The Men" set, I discovered that there were 3 identical bodies in long trench-coats or greatcoats.  These are great for making models of tough guys from popular TV shows or movies, but aren't the sort of thing that ordinary people wear much.

Same model from rear, showing high collar and short cape
I'd already built one of these figures straight from the parts in the kit, so what could I do with the next one to make it a bit different?  Let's think...

The Crossing Patrol

At around 9am and again at 3pm near any primary school in the UK, crossing patrols are a common sight.  These are volunteers, often middle-aged, who halt the traffic and thus assist the children to cross roads.  They are often referred to as "lollipop men", though near us they are mostly women.

Right, then: this model uses the basic "greatcoat" body and legs from the "Men" kit.  Some modifications were necessary to the upper torso: I've removed the high collar and carved away the cape.  To replace this, I've added a hood made from green stuff.

For this figure, I've used the head with the peaked hat, straight from the box.  The left arm is from the "Men" kit as well, though I've rotated the hand by 90 degrees.

The right arm is from Gripping Beast's "Dark Age Warriors" kit (!); it originally held a spear.  I cut the spear away, drilled the hand out and added a sign made from brass rod tipped with a circle of plasticard.

Painted Up

Lollipop men and women wear a reflective coat and a hat or cap over regular (civilian) clothes.  I've given my guy dark trousers, a sweater with a patterned band around the chest and green wellies (very common in Helensburgh at this time of year).

The dayglo coat was painted in my normal mixture of yellow and silver (1:1); the darker reflective strips are steel.  A thin, dark-coloured wash brings out some of the detail.

To finish, I printed off a couple of images for the "stop" sign and fixed these onto the model.  Once the glue was dry, I touched up the edge with some red paint, gave him a name ("Sid") and sealed the model.  Done!

Wednesday 20 November 2013

ATZ (B Team-2): Running the Gauntlet


The last time we saw the B-team in action (here) they were trying to find lunch, unaware that the zombie apocalypse had started without them.  Since then, the authorities have reacted swiftly to seal off the troubled area of the city, leaving our heroes stranded and unable to get home in the evening.

 Sam (REP 4 dumbass), Bob (REP 3, dumbass) and Bert (REP 2) have been wandering the streets near work since lunch time.  Ernie, the 4th member of their group, left earlier to take the bus home.  The remaining trio are confused and down heartened; everywhere they go there are people panicking and multiple rumours are being repeated and embellished.  It's now growing dark and the group have finally decided to move to a safer area.  However, just up the road, the police are turning everyone back!

The Scenario

This will be a fairly standard "Quarantine" game from the ATZ: Haven scenario book.  As written, a group of police need to hold a barricade line until the end of their shift against whatever approaches.

My variations on this scenario are as follows:
  • The B-team may enter from the south on any of their activations.  They must try to escape off the north edge without being arrested.
  • The game will continue as long as the B-team have a chance of escaping, or until we run out of playing time (i.e. the normal scenario's 16-activation limit is suspended).
Police forces consist of:
  • Sergeant Clouseau (REP 4)
  • Officer Callahan (REP 4)
  • Officer Dalgliesh (REP 4)
  • Rookie Columbo (REP 3)
  • Rookie Cagney (REP 3)
  • Bloodhound Jupiter (REP 3 - he's a big softy, really)

Cagney, Clouseau, Jupiter and Callahan

Dalgliesh and Columbo

How the game played...

The first part of the shift was peaceful, but after half an hour or so, Cagney noticed smoke coming from the top of the tall, red brick building just opposite the police line.  Sergeant Clouseau radioed for help and was told that the fire department would be notified immediately.  However no assistance came because after the conversation with the dispatcher, a lot of things happened in a rush...

Firstly, rookie Cagney claimed that she had been targeted by a sniper; she ducked back behind the nearest patrol car.  Sergeant Clouseau told her not to be an idiot as the noise was just a car backfiring, or maybe something popping in the burning building.

Immediately after that, a couple of civilians left the book store to the right (Suzanne and Gordon, both REP 4).

The newcomers tried to pass the police line, ignoring all instructions to halt.  Dalgliesh and Columbo ended up wrestling with the couple in an attempt to arrest them.

Callahan and Jupiter ran over to assist their colleagues, who were failing to subdue the boisterous citizens.  As they did so, a blue car came screeching along the road, aiming straight for the barricade.

The dice gods were laughing now, as one thing after another distracted the poor cops.  A man (George, REP 3) called out from the red brick building to Sergeant Clouseau: "Help!  My girlfriend - she's sick and acting strangely.  The ambulance won't come, but I need help now!"  The sergeant dutifully turned and followed the man into the building, leaving rookie Cagney to look after the quarantine barriers.

Then, all the street lights went out, plunging the area into darkness...

Inside the grubby apartment, Clouseau immediately recognised that the girlfriend was not alive any more, but instead was one of the infected.  He wasted no time in putting a bullet through her head.  This didn't go down well with George, who pulled a pistol of his own and started to shout and rant at the policeman.

For a few moments, it looked as if there would be further bloodshed, but Clouseau asserted his authority calmly and George dropped the gun and collapsed on a sobbing heap.  The unfortunate citizen was swiftly handcuffed and led out of the building (the roof of which was now starting to burn a bit more fiercely now).

The Sprint!

Back at the crossroads, Cagney had run over to try to stop the speeding blue car.  However, she was too late to affect what happened next.  Jupiter was ordered to sit on the stunned Gordon, though the civilian didn't really have much fight left in him.  Suzanne, however, was fighting like a cornered wildcat, shouting "Let me through!  You pigs - you'll pay for this if you don't let me go right now!"  She had knocked Columbo to the ground and was wrestling with Dalgliesh when the vehicle charged through.

The unfortunate Columbo didn't have a chance as the car drove right over him.  It then crashed into the parked patrol car, shunting this aside and inflicting severe damage to it, before disappearing into the night.  Only a trail of sparks from its damaged suspension showed where the car had been.

This was the time that the B-team decided to act.  Sam, despite his dumbass reputation, called out to his mates "Come on, lads - run!"  Sam and Bob sprinted across the car park, though Bert was a little slower off the mark and trailed several metres behind.

As they sprinted, the different levels of fitness became apparent.  Sam had nearly made it past the deserted police roadblock, with Bob and Bert following him, when...

...officers Callahan and Cagney realised that they left their post unguarded.  They ran back just in time to challenge the B-team.  In awe of the uniforms, or possibly noting that the cops seemed very much on edge and had drawn weapons, the civilians turned around and walked back all the way they had come.

If you don't succeed at first...

Callahan and Cagney returned to the scene of the accident, where Jupiter continued to guard his opponent and Dalgliesh was still struggling with the feisty Suzanne, who just refused to give up.  However, the police reinforcements made the outcome of this fight inevitable and both she and her accomplice were taken to the ground and handcuffed.

The B-team chose this exact moment to walk up the road in another attempt to pass the quarantine barriers.  Callahan, Cagney and Jupiter were standing in the middle of the street.  "You!" spluttered the increasingly annoyed Callahan.  "I already told you to go back.  Now turn around and get out of here!  If I see you again then you'll be arrested!  Go!"

As the B-team slunk away, the cops were distracted by another vehicle.  This time, the car held a family; they were easily persuaded to turn around, away from the quarantine line.  They had switched off their engine whilst talking to the officers, though - it took several turns under the watchful eyes of the police for them to start the car up again.

Try, Try Again!

Seeing that the police were occupied, the B-team ducked behind the book store and crept through the car park on the other side of it.  It was hard to tell in the dark, but it looked as if there was nobody ahead of them, so once again they started to run.

Sadly, they were mistaken: Sergeant Clouseau had just finished putting his prisoner into car 21.  He'd also taken the opportunity to re-arm himself with the shotgun from the vehicle, just in case there were more zombies (or crazy car drivers) around.  He called out a challenge to the B-team.
"Come on!" shouted Sam, in a moment of desperation.  There's three of us and only one of him - we can take him!"

Perhaps the friends hadn't realised that the cop was armed, or maybe they thought that he wouldn't shoot them.  However, Sergeant Clouseau was not having a good evening.  He'd fired at and killed something that looked human (but wasn't), been threatened by one distraught citizen and had heard over the radio of the death of a colleague and the breaching of the roadblock.  These new troublemakers wouldn't succeed - the law would be upheld.

Clouseau's shotgun blast was unnaturally effective.  Sam collapsed after a few steps into his charge and lay bleeding and wounded on the tarmac.  As he fell, his spade whacked Bob across the jaw, knocking him down also.  Poor Bert caught the brunt of the shot, though; he was dead before he hit the ground.

The officer strolled over to the fallen group and put handcuffs on the two who were still alive.  He then radioed for an ambulance, as well as requesting more backup.  This had been a very eventful shift and the exhausted Clouseau would be extremely glad when it was over!

[Update: Episode 3 of the B-Team's adventures is ==> here]

Sunday 17 November 2013

Bits and Pieces: November 2013


It's been a scrappy sort of a month so far, with several significant changes in our lives.  Since losing my job just over a week ago, we've just acquired 2 black cats from the local SSPCA rescue centre.  So far they've rubbed against my legs whenever I've been preparing food (ours, not theirs), but they haven't shown any interest in my workbench.  Let's hope it stays that way and then we can be friends, kitties!

From a model-making perspective, it's also been quite a mixture over the last 2 weeks.  A number of pieces have been finished, some new ones started and I've even ordered some bits for a few of my long-wished-for projects.  I also spent this morning designing some wound cards for The Rules With No Name - more on these when the finished deck arrives from .

Finished Recently

This is a selection of the models that I've completed in the past 2 weeks or so:

Cole is the trail boss of my new "cowboys" faction for The Rules with No Name.  At the moment he's the only member of that group, so I'll really need to have some more hands before I can use them as a separate group.  No doubt they'll be raising Cain in the saloons of some small cow-town or negotiating forcefully with the local landowners over passage rights sometime soon!  Model is from Artizan Designs.

 A while ago, I bought a set of Gripping Beast's plastic "Dark Age Warriors" so that I could add some more basic troops to my SAGA Viking warband.  However, that only used 8 out of the 40 figures in the box.  I've decided that this is a perfect opportunity to build an Anglo-Dane warband as well, so here are the first 2 levy slingers: "Aelfgar" and ""Puttoc".  Of course, I'll need to buy some armoured guys and a warlord as well...

A couple more zombies fell off the end of the painting queue.  "Wild Child" is a Studio Miniatures model (from their "Tiny Terrors" pack), while the larger zed is from Blue Moon Manufacturing.

I showed the first element for my Hordes of the Things Barbarian army here: .  Well, I've now completed 2 more elements - these are both shooters.  So, only 9 more elements to go!

This giant snake is from Reaper and has been waiting for attention for quite some time.  I've based it up to match my Tomb Guardians, so archaeologists with a fear of snakes had better watch out!

For a very long time (several years, at least) I've been intending to put on a Robin Hood game at my local games club.  Initially I'd thought of playing this with the free Swordplay rules from Two Hour Wargames, but more recently I'm leaning towards Song of Blades and Heroes instead.  No final decision has been taken, but either way I thought it was time to paint up some goons for the bad guys' force.  Here we have some men-at-arms: Dickon, Wat, Alard and Hodge.  Models are from Black Tree Designs.

Annoyingly, I only had 3 of the same shield transfers in my spares box!  I haven't decided whether to hand-paint the same design on the 4th shield, use a different transfer or just leave it blank.

Newly Arrived

Finally, here's a picture of some fencing that just arrived from Fenris Games.  Their catalogue is hard to read when using Firefox (25.0), but it does work and my order arrived promptly and in good condition.  From the description, there should have been 5 pieces of railing - but I received 6.  I don't know if this was a mistake in fulfilling the order or in writing the catalogue, but either way it's in my favour and it's really too small a discrepancy to worry about!

These lengths of railing are laser cut from plywood, so they're actually quite strong.  Obviously the taller projections at the top of the fence could be vulnerable, so I'll have to be careful with them.  3 of the lengths have a small gate in them, whilst the other 3 pieces are plain railing.  Personally, I think this is quite the bargain for £10 (plus shipping)!  Now I have no real excuse not to build that graveyard which has been at the back of my mind for a long time; I've had the Renedra gravestones since they first came out...

Wednesday 13 November 2013

5150: The Deserted Base


On the remote planet of Tantalus III, contact has been lost with a remote scientific base.  A reconnaissance aircraft that was sent to overfly the area has crashed nearby, for reasons unknown.  Finally, the Viridian Planetary Defence Force has ordered in some infantry to investigate and secure the area.  Of course, resources are tight and so the PDF are a mixture of regular grunts and unenthusiastic militia.  I'm sure that most 18+ readers can guess where this is going...


The base consists of a number of huts surrounded by a perimeter fence.  There's also a big pile of supplies near the gate.  The fence is breached in at least one location, though there is no sign of life anywhere.

The PDF have to investigate each hut for survivors or other evidence and then return the way they came in order to report their findings to higher authorities.  For some reason, there's a lot of interference with their communication equipment near the base.

On the approach road, the PDF have 1 squad of regulars (camouflage trousers, with a missile launcher) and 1 squad of militia (green trousers, with a chaingun).  They also have a Valkyrie-class light scout walker.

Making their way through the wreckage of the reconnaissance craft to the right are 3 more squads (2 regular with a single chaingun and 1 militia with a grenade launcher).

The Game

 Everything was quiet as the PDF squads started to move through the hole in the perimeter fence.

This was the point where a small swarm of bugs erupted from a tunnel near to the first building.  Immediately, the creatures raced round the corner and straight towards the troopers.

The front squad managed to gun down a few of the bugs as they approached, but not enough to avoid being assaulted by 8' long chitinous monsters!  One trooper fell immediately, torn apart by the ferocity of the attack.  However the other 2 (the squad leader and the blonde chain-gunner) both held their own, even when faced by 2 bugs at once.

Rather than get involved in the fracas at the fence breach, the militia squad from the left ran sideways "to help open the gates".

Once inside the base, the 3 squads from the gates fanned out and started to search all the buildings (a good Scooby Doo moment: "let's split up and look for clues").  They spent much of the rest of the game doing this, but without finding anything of interest.


At the breach, the second squad of regulars couldn't fire into the melee without risking hitting their comrades.  Instead, they decide to charge into hand-to-hand combat (!).  Even though the humans outnumbered the bugs 5 to 3, the troopers kept losing every fight.  Fortunately, for some reason, the bugs only managed to knock down the soldiers instead of slaughtering them, time after time.

At one point, it even looked as if the humans were winning.  Blonde chain-gunner managed to pick herself up off the dirt and kill the bug that was attacking her, just as the remains of the second squad knocked down their opponent.

Yep, she's still going.  Blondie tried to save a colleague by charging into yet another melee, but ended up facing the last bug on her own.

Just then, another group of bugs erupted from beside the road, just outside the base.  The Valkyrie pivoted on the spot and started hosing the swarm with its vulcan cannon.

In this, it was aided by one squad of militia, though their fire was more noise than substance.  In particular their grenade launcher guy, who could have made a huge difference if he'd hit the tightly-packed bugs, managed to hit just about every other piece of scenery apart from where he was aiming!

Once the bugs closed with the walker, there was little it could do to prevent the creatures from clambering all over it, tearing out cables and jamming moving parts.  A few critters fell off and were crushed as they climbed the machine, but most were nimble enough to cling on.

Within moments, the machine suffered multiple systems checks (requiring a turn of activation to reset before it could do anything) and the motors in one of its legs were badly damaged (so it had difficulty in moving).  Although the crew were safe inside the armoured cabin for the moment, it was only a matter of time before the bugs would strip the machine of all its working parts.


A third bug hole appeared, this time in the middle of the base.  This swarm was much bigger than the previous two and it should have been obvious to any observer that the remaining humans had no chance at all if they stayed.

The humans were jubilant as the squad with the missile launcher managed to land a round right in the middle of the new swarm, killing or knocking down 7 enemies.  There were lots of (metaphorical) high-fives and "oorah"s from the soldiers.  The bug player just shrugged and ate them up anyway.

The final scene, as groups of bugs hunted down the last few PDF soldiers, was not a pretty one.  Some of the militia tried to run for shelter inside a hut, but didn't quite make it to the door before the swarm caught up with them.  No-one lived to tell the tale!


For anyone who thinks that this all seems very familiar, I did run a somewhat similar game some time ago:  In both games, the players stuck to their assigned objectives way past the point where they might have realised how impossible they were.  Sometimes you have to know when to run away!

The next time I bring the Viridian PDF to the games club, I think I'll have a completely different set of enemies (or maybe none at all!).  The players will be so fearful of "bugs" that they'll not even consider any other possibilities.  Mua-hah-ha-ha!