Sunday 28 May 2017

Plotting Away...


I like my wargames to be fought over something important.  It's not very interesting to play to inflict casualties on the enemy for the sake of it, or to gather more "plot points" than the opposition if these are in the abstract form of yellow tiddlywinks.  No, victory (or defeat) has to be tangible.

With that in mind, I've written articles about modelling plot points for my Pulp games on a couple of occasions previously:
Well, the collection continues to grow...

Yet More Plot Points

I think that I have described the pouch of diamonds before, but the dynamite is new.  It was formed from 7 identical lengths of plastic rod, glued into a bundle [and oddly that was much harder to build than it sounds; I had glue and lost pieces of rod all over the place].  Two thin strips of paper were wrapped round the bundle and I finished the model off with a thin piece of wire as a fuse.

The missionary's luggage is a commercial casting.  It comes with the "Lady Isabel Poppington" model from North Star, though obviously I have based it separately from her.

The pile of skulls also comes from North Star; if I remember correctly then it was part of the "Cannibal King" pack.

The crate of rifles is a bit more complex.  The crate itself is based on a small MDF/Greyboard kit [I cannot remember the manufacturer at the moment], but with a scratch built lid.  The rifles came from the Wargames Factory Zulus set.

Lastly, the enormous footprint was made very simply by pressing the foot of a toy dinosaur into Milliput.  Note that I mixed the putty and then left it for quite a while before making the print; I wanted the mixture to be malleable but have lost all its stickiness.


Back row: 4 totems/skulls on sticks
3rd row: Missionary's baggage, pile of skulls, suitcase, whip & hat
2nd row: radio, dynamite, jewelled sword, crate of guns, giant snail
Front row: pouch of diamonds, journal, Spratchett's Quintail, enormous footprint

These plot points are intended for use in my Pulp games, which are roughly speaking based around Tarzan, The Lost World, King Solomon's Mines, King Kong and the like (so tropical wilderness).  But there's no reason why the concept shouldn't be used for any objective-driven game.  In fact, I should really build myself something similar for games of 7TV set in Star Trek, Captain Scarlet or similar "space opera" settings.  Hmm, ideas are forming...

Tuesday 23 May 2017

ATZ: The Race


I've been putting off this article for nearly a month now; battle reports are a lot of effort.  Still, I promised a description of our last, one-off All Things Zombie game and so here it is...

The Scenario

I decided, at short notice, that this game would involve a race for safety.  Mark, Will and Barbara have spotted a helicopter parked on top of a police station several blocks away.  They'd really like to leave the zombie-infested city - but will the chopper pick them up?  Will the pilot (if indeed he or she is still alive) carry them away?

Without telling the players, I chose a 10-turn limit for the helicopter.  On the 11th turn, it would try to stat its engine, just as a car would (and making noise like any other vehicle).  On the turn after the rotors are spinning, it will depart, whether or not the players have made it that far.  The pilot is just performing some reconnaissance and, whilst not hostile to a request for a lift, isn't aware that there are (live) people in the area.

10 turns is tight, but doable.  With a REP5 leader, the party should activate on 8 or 9 of the 10 turns.  It should only take 3 or 4 turns to cross the square and another 3 or 4 to work their way upstairs once inside the police station.  So, no dawdling then!  Of course, the players don't know about the time limit...

The Characters

Today's victims survivors are as follows:
  • Mark: REP 5 Poser with machete and pistol
  • Barbara: REP 4 Medic with sword
  • Will: REP 4 Fast with crossbow

The Game

All started reasonably well, as Mark, Will and Barbara ran along the pavement.  Will even paused to shoot a zombie at long range with his crossbow.

On hearing the noise, there was movement in the open-top car and 3 people clambered out.  [In other words, a PEF was revealed as civilians].  Jade, Curly and Jenny had been hiding from the zombies and hoping not to be noticed, but the near approach of the moaning undead had spooked them:
  • Jade, REP 4 civilian with pistol.
  • Curly: REP 3 civilian with shotgun
  • Jenny: REP 3 civilian with shotgun.

The newcomers immediately ran over to the players, begging them for help [the players won the talk very decisively!].  Mark was a bit distracted by trying to break in to the gun shop [naughty!] and didn't immediately appreciate just how many zombies had seen the movement and were now converging on the strengthened party.

OK, keep your heads.  Don't panic and scatter like startled bunnies.  Ah, heck!  Mark and Jenny ran forwards, towards the police station.  Barbara raced back round to the other side of the gun store as if all the hounds of hell were after her.  Curly and Will followed her more slowly, leaving a startled Jade all on her own.

So, here's the situation a turn or two later:
  • Mark and Jenny have been accosted by 5 zombies, but are manfully (and womanfully?) fighting them off.
  • Barbara has made it round 3 sides of the building at top speed and is about to come into the open again.
  • Jade has caught up with Curly and Will; they're somewhere on the other side of the store.  It was about now that Will twisted his ankle...


For a moment, it looked as if Barbara might be clear and away.  Only for a moment, mind: she was caught by a fat zombie in a dirty nightdress and couldn't escape from her clutches.  Before she could even scream for help, the pack was upon her, tearing the poor girl apart and feasting on her remains.

Jade, Curly & Will

Jade wasn't having a good day.  No sooner had she caught up with the boys and mouthed off at them for leaving her in the lurch than they were beset by the trailing zombies.  She and Curly fought off the first pair, but there were more lurchers coming.

One of the zombies grabbed Jade, just as Curly and Will turned and fled round the corner.  She couldn't break the cold grasp of the creature; with the odds against her she died cursing and screaming.

The guys didn't do a whole lot better, though.  Their way was cut off by the zombie pack which had just finished feasting on Barbara, so they turned and fled.  Fortunately for them, Jade's body was still attracting all the attention of the original group of zombies, so Curly ran and Will hobbled past them in safety.  Both men fled off the board into the city, to an unknown fate.

Mark & Jenny

Jenny seemed welded to Mark now; even though she was only a REP 3 civilian she was sticking with him like glue!  The pair shook off the zombies in the square and burst through the front doors of the police station.  There were more zombies inside, but these were destroyed with very little effort.

"Hurry!  Up the stairs!" called Mark.  The pair charged onwards, only to be confronted by another pack of monsters.  Truly this place was infested with them!

At that moment, there was a noise from the roof.  Before Mark and Jenny could disentangle themselves from the latest set of zombies, the helicopter's engine whined and burst into life.  It paused for a moment, then took off and was soon lost to sight in the clouds.  Had the pilot been frightened off by zombies?  Or maybe he/she had just finished their business and departed without even noticing the survivors?  We'll never know...

Hearing the helicopter departing, Mark and Jenny knew that they were in trouble.  There was no rescue - and the noise of the aircraft had attracted a lot of zombies.  They didn't bother to run onto the roof [to shout and shake their fists at the injustice of the universe?] but rather doubled back, down the stairs and into the lobby.  The pair could see through the front windows that many zeds were approaching so they looked for another way out.

The back corridor past the line-up room was also full of zombies.  Jenny followed Mark's lead and charged into combat, but this time she wasn't successful.  Her opponent bit her shoulder and then fell on top of her, so that she smothered to death.

There was nothing that Mark could do to save his companion.  He did manage to take revenge on the remaining zombies, killing two and knocking the other one down.  Once his route was clear, he didn't hesitate in running through the back door and away - just as more zombies came pouring into the building in search of him.


Well, 3 humans started the mission and 3 finished it - just not the same ones.  Oddly, it was the 3 guys who survived and the 3 women who didn't, though they were evenly mixed in abilities and equipment.

Was it a failure?  Realistically, the helicopter was going to be hard to catch (and wouldn't have been able to carry all 6 passengers anyway), so I wouldn't fault the players for not making the rendezvous.  However, the loss of 50% of the party cannot really be anything other than a disaster!

Monday 15 May 2017

Carronade 2017: Mixed Feelings


As is my habit in recent years, my son (A.) and I went to Carronade yesterday.  This is one of the biggest wargames events in Scotland, possibly even the largest.  It's held in Falkirk every year, sometime near the middle of May.

So, Saturday 13th May, 2017: the day was overcast and showery (quite a relief after 3 solid weeks of warm sunshine!) and therefore seemed like a perfect day to be indoors at a show.  A. and I travelled by car (the journey from Helensburgh takes about 1 hour and 25 minutes) and arrived some 15 or 20 minutes ahead of the official opening time.  Not to worry, though - the doors were open and we walked straight in.

As in the previous year (see here), the entrance "tickets" were small MDF plaques; these should find a useful second life as bases.  Of course, I haven't used the 2016 ones yet, so I now have 4 of these MDF tokens...


We wandered the halls for a while, intending to find a game to play.  Straightaway we felt that the atmosphere of the show was subtly different from before, though.  It seemed that on the one hand it was much more crowded and on the other hand none of the participation games were well manned (and often we felt blanked by the hosts; they weren't exactly encouraging us to join their games).  Was this all my imagination?  It's possible: I was tired and maybe a bit cranky, so I might have seen issues where there really weren't any.  In any case, I should stress that this didn't apply to all the games uniformly; just some.

Game 1: Dragon Rampant

The first game we played was "Conan and the Princess", put on by Glasgow and District Wargames Society.  The game was played using the Dragon Rampant fantasy rules and the scenario was something like this: an evil priest (he had a name, but I forgot it) has captured a princess (she had a name too...).  Conan the barbarian and Hadratus the wizard have been tasked with rescuing her; the king has even provided some troops to assist.

So, we'd simply stroll up to the castle walls, look fierce and receive our rewards, right?  It didn't quite work that way.  My horse archers (I was playing Hadratus) and Conan's bowmen were very reluctant to move over the river.  Consequently, my spearmen were a bit isolated when they were ambushed by a pack of giant hyenas.  Although they gave as good as they got, the spearmen panicked and fled (snake eyes!).  The remnants of the hyenas were atomised by Hadratus, who turned out to be a dab hand at zapping spells.

Conan and his boys were pestered by a giant snake which slithered in and out of cover.  The men hurt the monster considerably, but repeatedly it ate the odd footman before being driven off, only to return a few moments later.

Further up the road, demons leaped out and slaughtered my horsemen, before following up into Conan's archers (off-picture to the right) and slaughtering them too.

The remnant's of Conan's group (after the snake had finally vanished) were zapped by the evil priest.  This was too much for the big man and he ran away.  Thus the assault party was reduced to just Hadratus, who was running up the road, pursued by the pack of assorted demons.  At least he then made it up on to the ramparts to confront the evil overlord, where he was thoroughly outclassed and minced.

So, we didn't rescue the princess after all.  Oh, well - at least Conan survived...

Game 2: Devil's Run: Route 666

Our second event was a short demonstration of this post-apocalyptic car racing/fighting game.  The game was hampered considerably by the fact that it was on a small, end table in a main thoroughfare; it was busy!  In addition to being cramped, the (single) demonstrator kept having to stop to answer questions from passers by; this disrupted the flow of play considerably.

We each took a car and did a 1-lap race around a short circuit.  There was relatively little mayhem, mainly because A. had chosen the fastest (but lightest) car; he raced ahead early and it proved all but impossible to catch up in order to ram him or otherwise interfere.

The models for this game look very nice indeed.  However, what we saw of the rules seemed uninspired and flat.  Of course, caution should always be used in such situations: a convention game may well have been dumbed down or used an "introductory" variant of the rules.  Or indeed, in our very short acquaintance with the game we may have misunderstood or missed some subtleties.  But I won't be racing out to buy this one...


We had to go outside for lunch; there was absolutely no seating space available indoors and there were queues waiting for the few chairs and tables.  This was quite welcome anyway; it was becoming quite hot and stuffy inside the premises and even though it was spotting with rain outdoors, we ate our packed lunch in relative comfort.

Once back inside, I picked up a pre-order from Colonel Bill's stand (definitely an easy way to shop and with a 10% discount for show collection as well!).

Game 3: Turf War Z

Another zombie game?  There are so many sets of such rules available already - and I think a newcomer would have to be very special to displace All things Zombie and Zombicide.  Well, this one advertises itself as a game about gang warfare in a post-apocalyptic city - with zombies.

A. took a Latino gang (near side) against some other guy's policemen (far side).  The rules for this game seemed very old-fashioned (compare attacker and defender's skill to get a "to hit" number, then roll "to wound" for each hit).  This didn't feel a million miles away from old skirmish games such as Combat Zone or even Warhammer 40K.  We also felt that the zombies didn't really add anything much to the scenario.

I did like the buildings on the table, though...

Game 4: Relic Knights

For our final game of the afternoon, we took on a demonstrator at Relic Knights.  As soon as A. saw this anime-styled table, his eyes lit up and we couldn't just pass by.  The rules and figures are by Soda Pop Miniatures (probably better known for Super Dungeon Explore) and are obviously very heavily based on popular Japanese comic styles.

A. (with me advising) took the Cerci Speed Circuit faction; these are a bunch of adventurers/adrenaline junkies/racers, as far as I can tell.  We were up against a group that claimed to be some kind of space knights or paladins, but they had dull red armour rather than bright shiny stuff.  I reckon they weren't quite the good guys they claimed!

The game is heavily based around a small number of heroes; squads of minions support them but don't achieve anything much in their own rights.  Game play is via a deck of cards; each character has a number of special abilities which need cards of the right colour in order to activate.  From that point of view, it reminded me very slightly of Malifaux, though it seemed much easier to understand.  There was definitely a sense of the main characters pausing every so often in order to build up to some stupendous move, attack or psychic power!

Although the main plot for this scenario was about espionage, we only made a single attempt on an enemy secret (they made none on ours).  Instead, we finally won quite convincingly when the hostile leader was held up by our pit crew squad and then counterattacked and beaten by our sword-wielding, showboating second-in-command (with the white hair and cloak).

[Once we were home, A. has been looking up Relic Knights on the Internet.  This is the first time I'm aware of him taking such an interest in something we saw at a show].

Homeward Bound

The journey home was something of a trial.  Firstly, the rain was torrential; this reduced visibility and the surface water made driving stressful.  On top of that, the police had closed the road through Gartocharn; I'm guessing that there had been an accident, but don't know for sure.  This meant that we had to take a 40 minute detour around the Kilpatrick hills.

Finally, as we were crossing the last hill on our return to Helensburgh, we encountered a bad accident, with at least 2 smashed cars, 3 or 4 police vehicles and a couple of ambulances.  Fortunately for us, the traffic in our direction kept moving, albeit slowly, and we weren't held up for long.  We didn't see any obvious casualties, but it was clearly not a very good day for someone...

All in all, I was somewhat tired by the end of the day.


Not a lot of loot, really:
  • Some varnish (always need that; it beats paying courier fees to have it delivered to home since Royal Mail/Parcel Force stopped carrying aerosols).
  • A pre-order of some more Darkest Africa figures (Livingstone and Stanley, a lady in tropical garb and her maid).  Also, a 17th century ducking stool which will be useful in Witch Hunter scenarios, I think.
  • Some 50mm "pill" bases.
  • Another set of "Nightfolk", mainly for fun.  I might end up using these as a whimsical warband for Frostgrave.
  • Finally, the MDF show tokens, which will be used as bases for something, eventually...


Both A. and I felt that Carronade hadn't been as good for us this year as it had in previous years.  The high school in which it is held seemed very hot and very crowded.  A friend that I spoke to suggested that this might be because the Triples show isn't being held this year and therefore at least some folks from the north of England might have decided to visit Carronade instead and swell the usual numbers.  I don't know the rights and wrongs of this, but it sounds plausible.

In addition to physical discomfort, we felt that too many of the participation games just weren't very inviting.  Maybe my memory and mood are playing tricks on me, but it seems that in the past all we had to do was look vaguely in the direction of a table and we'd be invited to sit down and take part.  There were several games this Saturday that we would have liked to try, but we just couldn't get the hosts' attention or otherwise gain access.  Not all the games were like this, of course.  In particular, the Fury game was so popular that we couldn't even see it past the ring of spectators at the end of the afternoon!

So, final conclusion: tiring and slightly disappointing.  I hope for better next year.

Thursday 11 May 2017

Pulp? Trucks...


Yes, I know that I promised to write a battle report for a (not so recent) game of All Things Zombie.  However, it's too hot, I'm too tired and just not in the mood (especially after having spent time this evening arguing with a junk telephone caller.  I was escalated to a supervisor, which scores bonus points, I think...)

Opel Blitz

For quite a while, I've been thinking about ground transport for my pulp leagues.  Some of them could certainly use some wheels and it would change the dynamics of a game somewhat - or vehicles could be used as objectives or just add to the scenery.

Here are a couple of trucks for a league's mooks and whatever top secret cargo they need to transport:

These are, of course, Opel Blitzes (Blitzen?), a German truck that was very common during WWII.  As such, they are exactly right for my Nazi league, even though I tend to think of my Pulp games as being set in the late 1930s rather than during the war itself.  There's no reason why my Safari or the Cult leagues couldn't use them either, though I'm not so sure about Tarzan and his followers (have you ever seen a gorilla driving a 3-ton truck?)

Anyscale Models

Right, some details:

These models come from Anyscale Models.  I had never heard of this company before, but I hunted the Internet high and low for 28mm-compatible German truck models and these were considerably cheaper than any of the others.  Delivery time was excellent as well.

Each truck comes in 3 main parts: the cab, the body and the chassis/rear wheels.  In addition to these bits, there are 4 metal hoops supplied for the rear, plus an optional resin cloth/tarpaulin to represent a folded canopy.

Obviously, these straightforward, cheap kits are intended for wargamers - and that's just what I wanted!  The 3 parts went together very quickly, though some slight shaving was needed on one truck to fit the front and rear sections together.

Casting quality is good, with only a few tiny bubbles that I didn't bother to fill.

Slightly more worrying than the minute bubbles were a few larger blemishes or intrusions, typically in the mudguards or around the wheel hubs.  These could be from deteriorating moulds or from poor master models - I don't know.  For what it's worth, I didn't put any effort into correcting these (by cutting or filing them away), so if you haven't noticed any imperfections in the pictures so far then the imperfections are less significant than I thought.  See if you can spot any, now that you know they are present!

I decided to build the 2 trucks differently; one with a full canopy and the other with an open back.  The canopy was made very simply, by gluing some real cloth over the provided metal hoops.


I have very deliberately not added any identifying marks to these vehicles.  Equally, they're painted in some fairly drab colours, so that they can be used in a wide variety of settings.

Now all I need is a staff car or something similar for the boss.  Plus an important cargo and a hero pursuing the convoy across the desert on horseback...

Tuesday 2 May 2017

A May Mixture...


I'm supposed to be writing an All Things Zombie battle report, but I'm procrastinating.  Battle reports are a lot of effort!  Instead, here's a bunch of oddments that I'm working on or have just finished...


The Golem

This guy is a Reaper Bones golem; I intend to use him as a large construct for Frostgrave.  He is certainly large: that's a 40mm base on which he is standing!

This was a very easy model to paint.  I used a pale grey base coat with gold bands and fittings, all covered with a black wash.  Once that was dry, I added some colour to make the eyes glow and that was it!  A cheap, simple model, but I think he's quite effective.

More Ruins

I recently ordered a fair quantity of MDF ruins from Blotz.  The package arrived promptly and I spent part of a couple of evenings gluing it all together.  Now comes the tricky part, though!  I intend to mount these permanently on building-sized bases; the picture above shows one possible configuration that would give 3 separate ruined houses of roughly equal size.  But obviously there are other ways in which this could be done.

Once glued together, I plan to add more detail to the bases so as to make these a bit more "lived in" (although that's not really the best turn of phrase for abandoned structures, is it?).  But that's where I'm having difficulties: how to turn these base pieces into plausible, but still playable, ruined buildings.  Hmm...

Super Dungeon Explore

Not so long ago, I discovered that has a fair number of Super Dungeon Explore sets available at a very reasonable price.  I've now bought more of these than I should and I still have the best part of 2 complete warbands to paint up.  Here are some heroes and villains that I've finished recently:

Dragon Blade

This hero comes from the Kobold warband set "The Claws of the Wyrm".  It's not clear from the short description on the packaging whether he's an elven hero with a magic sword or a kobold hero with a magic elven sword.  Either way, he's growing on me...

Candy and Cola

Candy is something of a mascot for Soda Pop Miniatures.  In this incarnation, she has (some) armour and a large sword.  She's always accompanied by her pet, a 3-tailed squirrel-thing called Cola.

Nyan Nyan

Nyan Nyan is another hero, though in this case she looks as if she'd be more at home at a pyjama party.  She's dressed up in a tiger costume and wears a pair of oversized gauntlets equipped with large talons.  Very odd...

Captain R

Finally, here's an evil mini-boss: Captain R.  He's an undead pirate captain - I really don't know where they get these ideas!  Most of the front of him is beard and face, whilst most of the back is coat.  He's carrying quite an array of weaponry, as might be expected.


I'm a bit surprised to see that all these models are for either Frostgrave or Super Dungeon Explore, as it doesn't feel to me that I've been concentrating solely on these two games recently.  Indeed, my painting table is full of stuff for Pulp Alley, Saga and Congo right now.  Perhaps I'll show some of them soon - right after I write up the ATZ game I should have produced last weekend!