Thursday, 27 February 2014

Flying Lead, Cops, Coats and Aliens.

This is why I love these rules.
I can pinpoint exactly when the plan crashed.
 So we did a couple of games based around a bit of a town like Wimborne in the UK.
 We started with an armoured car robbery.
 The bad guys got away, one trooper had his outline painted in a hail of lead.


Second game, dodging the traffic,
Frank's mob ram an armoured car right in front of the cop on the doughnut run.
 Frank leaps out of the front, grenade launcher to ready – click, a one!
So there he is, out in front with a useless weapon. Deputy 2ic sniper gets 2 activations so Frank end up with an extra hole in his head, a 6:1 no less, a gory death. So that's bit of a morale test, then. All pass!
 But the element of surprise is lost, the driver's taking fire so everyone piles back in. One trooper had got near, so she hops up onto the barrier and lets loose with her shotgun at no range into a crowded, open vehicle. Two dead and a third wounded. Driver panics, goes into reverse and slams into a building. Score one for law and order. You have to play with, not against, to get the best from these rules.

Here are the what? Warbands, gangs, concepts? Nothing big but enough to have fun with. Sometimes a force like this is spawned by a figures range, a vehicle find or some inspiration. I look for one to complement another. You need an antagonist for your protagonist. I don't expect you to replicate these forces exactly, but rather to take inspiration, go “aaaaaaah” a lot. Plot, scheme. With your version of these forces, you can take over the world!

Here's local Sheriff Mediumarch and his deputies. As we all know, any alien not choosing Cardiff will land in a small American community. The odd monster or zombie outbreak will occur at regular intervals.
 These are a selection from GZG's armed colonists, security and specialist packs*. The wee doggy is from Museum Miniatures. Kit limits their range, but I feel up to using them on a colony world. There's just over £3 worth here. Khurasan does several versions from the 1920's upwards, including British that I aught to get so they can annoy UNIT.
  I trawled the local toy shops and scoured what I could find of my collection for a good selection of vehicles. As these cost about £1 you've a total of £10. Painting took a few hours spread over a weekend.

The White (duster) Coat Wild Bunch.

Frank, he's the tall chap with very blue eyes, and company have seen service as VSF nasties to the wayward crew of a freetrader called the Hornet. If you need to be told the inspiration, you're either too young or no wargamer! In contrast to the above, these guys have taken a few years to assemble from Khurasan (free trader crew supplied Frank) The Store and GZG. The converted military cargo hauler was a present from Matt Hay many years ago and I think was part of the old Laserburn range that is now produced by Can I just say that I didn't get to boldly go to where I am today without mixing a few metaphors.
The Posse all Q3 C1

(A) Sheriff Mediumarch, Leader, Semi auto rifle with scope, Pistol, Handcuffs, Danger sense @116

(B) Specialist, Pistol, Commo, Handcuffs @36 (driver, radio or drone controller)

(C) Deputy, Rifle, Pistol, Sniper, 2ic, Handcuffs @106

(D) Specialist dog handler, driver, Heavy Pistol, Crackshot, Handcuffs @46

(E,F,G) Trooper, Shotgun, Pistol, Crackshot, handcuffs @60

(H) Specialist/Forensics/Medic, Pistol, Handcuffs, @36

Ralph Q4 C3, Cbt fiend, Eager, Dashing, Junglecraft, Long move, @ 83

You could make the handler 2ic, as once dog deployed at least part of the force is then tasked with support. I count handle and dog as one activation as with heavy weapons team.

The Vehicles

Tracked Overlanders. I can see these providing long term support – a mobile cop-shop for a small number. Q4 C1, Armoured+1, Off road, wide tracks, 6 passengers, @47

SWAT van, Thin armour, 6 passengers, @41

Cruiser. Standard cop-car. Q4, C1, Normal move, 3 passengers @ 24

Pursuit vehicle, faster version. Q4, C1, Long move, 3 passengers, @39

The Posse on a bad day (When the bad guys guns never empty, any hit or bump sends a car flying and exploding, plus they cannot hit or stop anything)

The  Mook Posse all Q3 C1

(A) Sheriff Mediumarch, Leader, Semi auto rifle with scope, Pistol, Handcuffs, Danger sense @116

(B) Specialist, Pistol, Commo, Handcuffs, Mook @33 (driver, radio or drone controller)

(C) Deputy, Rifle, Pistol, 2ic, Handcuffs @91

(D) Specialist dog handler, Mook, driver, Pistol, Poor shot, Handcuffs @30,

(E,F,G) Trooper, Mook, Shotgun, Pistol, Poor shot, handcuffs @44

(H) Specialist/Forensics/Medic, Mook, Pistol, Poor shot, Handcuffs, @30

Ralph Q4 C3, Mook, Dashing, Junglecraft, Long move, @ 74

Frank's Gang all Q3 C3

Frank Leader, Grenade Launcher grenade cbt3, move @ shoot, Long. Hero, bodyarmour, cbt fiend, Strong @160

(U) Mr Red Heavy Pistol, Body armour, CQB, Crackshot @ 64

(V) Mr Yellow 2ic, SMG, Pistol, Body armour, CQB, Crackshot, Jungle craft, @134

(W) Mr Blue Shotgun, Pistol, Body armour, CQB, Crackshot, slippery @100

(X) Mr Brown, Semi auto Rifle & scope, Sniper, Pistol, Body armour, CQB, Climber @114

(Y) Miss Black, Machine Pistol, Pistol, Body armour, CQB, Specialist, Dashing @88

(Z) Mr White Pistol, Knife, Smoke/flashbang Grenades, Body armour, CQB, Chucker, combatfiend, stealth, weapons expert @120

Vehicle, Q3 C3, Armoured +1, Long, Off road, 9 passengers, @120

I'm not going to do grades of this lot. They either be themselves, or if they can't they're pirates

*Jon's packets these in 2 each of 4 sculpts. These provide an excellent opportunity for headswapping and a good stock can soon be drafted into service as I did with the cops above. I have a plan to do both an UNSC and Japanese boarding/ground assault party with added specialists.

Lhurggs. These, in my opinion, are one of the best-buy alien infiltrators. I have used them as mercenaries working for a Dai-Oni vs Japanese warrior monks (Flashing Blades), perfect for VSF.

Mutant. This is a big boy, a good boy, do you want to talk pure animal magnetism?
Q5 C4,  body armour, Heavy machinegun, cbt fiend, poor shot, short move, strong, @132

Chieftain/Hero/Leader Q4 C3, Machine pistol, Poor shot, cbt fiend, long move @128

Warrior Q5, C3, Machine pistol,  long move, poor shot, @35

You could make 'em into a nice Battlesworn force, say-
Mutant as Tank/Shooter or Warmage 2
Chief as Brute/Leader 2
5 Warriors as fighters 5
3 Warriors asshooters 3  About 3/4 of the page down.

Watch this space, I'm planning to “upgrade” this force with some matchbox “acquired technicals” mounting unaimable rocket launchers. The sort of low grade merc's you'd drop into the sticks to draw off regular forces away from the real incursion forces. Now who would employ mercenaries like these?
The Old Indian Burial Ground farm.
 Strange sightings reported and the inhabitants have not been seen, missed appointments.
 So the Posse goes in-.

3 boards, the road turning, farm (opposite)  and the burial ground.

Made lots of use of nearly finished matchbox vehicles.

Ended with slowest "drive by" shooting in history!

Thursday, 20 February 2014

CD movement trays and scrap plastic vehicle bases

Movement trays

CD's and no-more-nails* have a natural affinity. I've seen articles sanding CD's then flocking them. Too much for me, plus there's still the hole and it's only one sided. Double thickness of NMN also means easier to pick up.
 Tear some scraps of cornflakes cardboard, cover both holes (shiny side of cardboard down) at same time with minimum NMN. Thump. Cover one side with good splodge, leave to dry. Paint or flock.

These are about a year old with no attempt to keep fresh.

Vehicle bases.

I've always used ply but without the need to have measured bases these days it's a bit, well, wooden. I admit it's still the best method for fragile models like walkers.
Tried using shard of CD to create a shadow-base for a grav or ground effect vehicle, I like the effect, but cutting up CD's is a pain. I hate having a nice textured and decorated base, then it's in the wrong environment and it looks naff.
I'm sold now on waste plastic from food packaging plus a layer of NMN. If you use toy cars** a few drops of superglue does wonders. For dirt roads I run the vehicle up and down before gluing to produce tracks and dirty up the tyres.


Here's a thickness comparison. .8mm ply and sand/pva vs plastic and NMN. Not only is this method cheaper, it's a lot quicker. Cut, splodge, press. Paint underside. Glue when dry, paint.


Very thin plastic sandwich and a thin layer- you have a modern road surface, but you have to wash the plastic first, and it can curl where a single layer base doesn't. Do everything wet and be prepared for a mess.
This method also does road damage, cut and peel back the top layer.

Plus, try this shadow method as it goes anywhere. Just offset base and highlight the other side. The main difference is that the surface method the vehicle is in, the shadow method it is on.
 Be prepared to change your mind. Wheeled and tracked AFV's, construction vehicles go into the ground, look wrong with just a shadow- unless you want them for urban, in which case I'd suggest a vey minimal base.
I first got the idea last year during the snow/freezing part of our UK annual 51-week monsoon. Regardless of the surface, there's always the shadow. Even now, during the middle cycle (we get one overcast week, as soon as the kids go back to school at end of summer) there's a shadow-blurring to the underside of vehicles. Or is it just a fine shower of dirt, salt and rust?

Watch out for texture! Cake packaging makes perfect 15mm cobbles. Watch this space for figure bases and lamp posts. I'm thinking a roofing nail topped by either a toothpaste top or rawlplug. If you've got any ideas, please post here!  Now if I can only get it to photograph-.

*Abreviated to NMN. Actually I use the generic 151 product Hard as Nails available from the Poundshop in the UK. I get through 1 tube a week in the slack times and 1 every 2-3 days when in full flow. I could give it up, couldn't I?

** I'm always collecting these. Now they're filler or A-B movers that get thumped. Blue ink on the windows to disguise the lack of driver, tone down the paintwork and dirty up. Jobs done.

Credit card (based) scenery

For every large building, you need several small pieces. Credit cards, or similar, provide a nice base. Match them with roofing nails (which have big heads and come in convenient sizes) and small buildings, lean-to's and large tents can be made very quickly. Set up a production line.

Open buildings, used as garages, market stalls, workshop, storage or open walkways. Nail in each corner, pierce corners of a second card to make a roof. The usual NMN floor. Add any internal detail and paint bottom half. Roof, if you want it removable plastic hair beads would work. Smaller nails or “V” folded card insert added to make an apex, suggest add coffee stirrer support to cover nails. Paint inside and bottom. Over this you add roof of cardboard, thin flock,  tile, cardboard or papier mache.  the one's below use one tongue depresser for a flat, strips of stretched scourer to make a thatched roof or simple one-piece scourer.  Simple thick paint job and it's done. Finish off with more coffee stirrer bits if required.
 If you want a stepped building, punch nails through bottom card then add a vinyl tile lower level(s). The depth of the nails will add a small step.
Remember, these go “boom!” or “whoosh!” if even glanced at by a Hero, so make some destroyed ones as well-.
Ran out of "A's, so battery is an "AA"

Sandbag sided tent. As above, but supports a little further in and a wall made by cutting scourers into 5mm strips and built up to 10mm height. You can go mad and cut into individual sandbags. Good coat of NMN. You could even add 6x15mm scourer beds.

Closed buildings, add walls of crinkled paper, stirrers or corn flakes packet card. Don't use silver foil, it discards paint. Makes lots of shanties. Consider a modular stable block.

Vehicle or building lean-to. Many parked military vehicles have the “makings” to put up a simple lean-to. I'm using bamboo skewers for the top. Yes, the uprights are too thick, but they do. Paint black with a smaller stripe to thin down. Building add-ons usually have pretty poor walls or roof.

Market place/larger tents. I've added nails of different heights then built up the roof and stalls with coffee stirrers. A little change and you can use same for bronze age to star colony. Remember that pursuits often bring these down, so make some collapsed path-blockers.

Smaller tents and soldiers lean-to's can be made using cardboard formers and match, pin or nail supports bedded in a punched hole and NMN floor. Using the card bases you can get some uniformity.
The type of thin packaging foam you find in chocolates and fragile stuff makes a fantastic roof, as it droops.  paints well.


Thursday, 13 February 2014

Battlesworn our first series of test games

In the Hall of the Mountain King Liche Mage.*

This is an idea for a quick n easy Battlesworn test game. Inspiration, Solomon Kane scenes at start (Arab fort) and end (castle) plus Stargate's (film) first fight, and a particularly poor fight in Troy, just of the beachead. Too many Conan novels.

Four floor tiles, as this is 15mm, gives a basic playing area. Spare dice (forgot bluetac) marks positions of support pillars. 

Smaller pieces of tiles can make raised areas.
A few bits of clutter to break things up.

 I may add treasure and/or prisoners to be rescued in later games.

Cheap shops sell poker chips that paint easy, better for larger scales but works for 15/18mm. Other colours can be used to track spell effects, reloads and the spell-raised. I'm all in favour of anything that prevents confusion. Get graded D6, big as betting dice to keep tabs of initiative/reaction, another medium set for shooting/combat betting and 8D6 for combat & shooting.

This game starts with skeleton rabble doing the job of statues in niches against the walls. Liche Mage is at the other end protected by others. The aim is to rattle through various combinations, so the 10 bet maximum rule is a good way to go as you get a good idea as to who's going to win by then. I'd recommend this approach as a club intro. Respectfully suggest that any youngster requiring weaning off any other game system that seeks to restrict choice and imagination this might be an ideal choice.

Liche Lord's Lads

Liche Sorcerer Leader 2

5 Fighters 5

2 Brutes 2

3Skeleton rabble (6 figures) 3

14 figures

We tried this (pictured above) first with 4 fighters and 3 tanks. Tanks end up as a slugging match, you tend to use “6” each time as they can take the hits. Leaving all the shooting to the mage is deliberate, making this a “get stuck in” force. Skeletons are like the prawns in chess.

Achaean Warband
Leader/Brute 2
7 Spearmen Fighters 7
3 Shooters 3
11 figures
This works quite well, a good, solid force giving a good game. A balanced force will always be fun to play with. You could get a “winning” army of tanks, shooters and sorcerer – but who's going to fight you?

Mention in dispatches Spearperson Big Bertha the Bone Buster, who “killed” four skeletons and in the 10th took on the Mage in hand to hand, being the only “ranker” in our games to do so. I used my normal shooter/spearman teams and these worked very well. One team shot a brute to red.

Amazon Warband
Leader/Brute 2
Sorcerer 1
7 Spearmen Fighters 7
2 Shooters 2
11 figures
With two sorcerers you have the initial game of spell-choosing.

Rogue/Leader 2
Rogues 4
Brute/Warmage 2
Fighters 4
10 figures.
 Rogues are fun to use, this force naturally splits into 2, or rogue-fighter-rogue “battles”. It's another get stuck in force. The warmages spell can change the nature of the force.

Tank/Leader 2
4 fighters with blades 4
1 Arquebusier 1
1 Sniper pistolier 1
4 rogues 4
11 figures

Sniper and Arquebusier
make an attempt on the mage,
 skeleton getting in way.

The sniper is the type of pirate who has lots of pistols and throwing knives to get around the reload problem. Both sniper and arquebusier are skeleton magnets. Main advantage was to keep the mage moving, so that there was no LOS, effectively forcing it out of the game. They “soaked” up the rabble sent in to deny other targets.

Tank vs Tank, our most boring fight to date.

A solid line of rogues being snuck up on be ye olde rattlin' bones.
These are pendrakens 10mm giant skeletons done up for OGAM, hence the tower shields.
A solid line up of fighters face off a baby ('is mum loves 'im!) liche -
watch out, he's behind you!
Trained Men (Napoleonic)
Brute/Leader 2
Brute Sgt 1
4 Arquebusier/Brutes 8
Sniper 1
7 figures

These chaps in green are a rough, tough bunch. All hangs on the shooting. In our game the Officer made a sharp charge against the mage early on only to be defeated and killed by the intervention of a raised Tank (a giant snail, so possibly French?).  Brute on brute fights are furious fun rather than the boring tank on tank fight. Break the multiples rule and you pay the numbers penalty. Must fight the pirates sometime!

Adventurers Club (VSF)
Rogue/Leader 2
Fighters Stewards or stout chaps 4
Sorcerer Professor (or Dok-tor) 1
Professors Niece Warmaster 1
Sniper Hunter 1
Rogues 3
11 figures

Everyone concentrates on the protection of the magic users. Raised “creatures” can be fun, mechanical creations on biological horrors!

Near Future (Modern/SF)
Shooter/Leader 2
4 Shooter/Brutes 8
Brute/Sniper (sgt) 2
6 figures

This was our quickest game to date, both sides saw the benefit of being fast and aggressive. Brutes might seem an odd choice, but if you think of a modern soldier armed with grenades, knife and a machine pistol you'll find it fits. These need to advance by fire and movement, often facing combat odds of 3:1. Change leader to Shooter/Tank and you could do original Stargate baddies. Another force of Shooter/rogues with a shooter warmage and Shooter/Tank makes the other force.

*Sound track available