Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Tomorrow's War Strike Force Project: Test Paint

Test color scheme
Here is my first stab at the color scheme I'll be using for the  Strike Force competition. The model is an Art Crime Productions Rim Mercenary.

The base is unpainted, and the photo has come out very dark... I think I need to build a softbox and get a decent lamp if I'm going to try photography at night again.It was done like so:

Base coat of Vallejo Russian Green
Badab Black ink wash
Repaint large areas with original color
Highlight with 50/50 GW Knarloc green/Russian green
Highlight with Knarloc green
Highlight with 50/50 Knarloc green/Gretchin green
Highlight Gretchin green

Packs and weapon:
Basecoat Adeptus Battlegrey
Badab Black ink wash
Paint surfaces with Adeptus Battlegrey
Highlight with 50/50 Adeptus battlegrey/Codex grey
Highlight edges with Codex grey
Pick out buttons and grenade pins with boltgun metal

Vallejo Flat Blue
highlight up to white in blobs
paint some mid blue/white onto surrounding edges to try and simulate light.

This is a level of highlighting I do not normally do. In fact 2 highlights is pretty much my rule most of the time. However, the work I put into my Garn Flesheater was at a similar level and while it's probably unnecessary effort, I can tell the difference. If I'm going to do this I may as well do it was well as I can.

I found the trick with the OSL effect was to keep it small. I originally had it spilling out down his left arm, but it looked better when more understated. If the figure doesn't have a gun near it's face I don't think there will be much to do with this effect on other models.

Monday, 28 November 2011

Khurasan Pit Fiends Preview

Here are 2 interesting models for Khurasan. Pit fiends or "Jersey Devils"intended for eldritch horror games. In my house they will also find use as summoned monsters for my barbarian heroes to face in Crom.

I tried doing some source lighting from the eyes on these minis.. It worked OK, not great IMO. I obviously need practice.

These guys are BIG, the base pictured is a 25mm, below is a comparison picture with a standard 15mm mini on a 20mm round slotta base.

I don't think these are available yet, but I'd guess they are in Jon's rather long queue at the caster's. 

Thanks for looking!

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Tomorrow's War: Strike Force competition

Osprey/Ambush Alley games are running a compettion:

Ambush Alley Games and Osprey Publishing are looking for the best Tomorrow's War painted sci-fi forces (any figures of any scale) in the world!

Grand Prize for Best army wins $200.00 USD (or the UK£ equivalent)  SRP of Osprey books
First Prize and Fan Favorite win $100.00 USD SRP each of Osprey books

...And I'm going to enter! I'm not normally into competitions because I don't like to think of painting minis as competitive, but a competition can also be a great motivational push for both productivity and creativity. It also helps if you are sponsored.

That's right, Jimbo from ACP games recently contacted me , proposing that ACP would provide the models if I wanted to have a stab at this event. An incredibly generous offer! I agreed (of course) And I really want to do the guys proud, so will be covering my progress as in-depth as I can. What does this mean for you?

Some of the figures I will be painting
More tutorials! 
I hardly ever do them because it slows me down, but for a project like this I'd like to share the goodwill. I'll try to do as much additional detail and small converting as I can.. In fact my initial plan is for every piece to have a small conversion or basing element added.

I am very lucky to occasionally paint unreleased models, but am usually prohibited from showing them until they are "in the wild". This makes perfect sense of course. This time around though, ACP have let me off the leash and are sending some unreleased models that I may actually blog about for a change. This is fun for me, as I get to blog about what I'm doing day to day instead of weeks after I finished painting something.

The Plan
My initial idea is to paint the strike force in a scheme very similar to the Tomwar cover. Green plating over black suits, with glowing blue visors and bits. I will do very heavy Urban rubble basing on all models.

The force is a Valkyrie supported Urban Interdiction team with an AFV command vehicle. They are conceptually veterans that specialize in city fighting. I already have some ACP infantry that I am going to do a test-paint of while I wait for the extras to arrive in the post.

My Chances
Well, I don't know. Winning isn't my main goal here though, it's a fun blogging and painting project first and foremost. I'm expecting fierce opposition.
If I do win, I will either donate or distribute the bulk of the prize, minus one copy of tomorrow's war of course, as I don't have one yet. ;)

Vote Spacejacker!

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Solopalooza Day 5: Mini Board with Zombies!

SO last night I worked on modifying a "7 in 1" classic game box into a mini skirmish board and storage solution.. Otherwise known as arm's reach desktop gaming table.

My new 12"x12" game box
The gaming surface is some textured wallpaper stuck to the original lid with 3m spray adhesive. There is another sheet on the reverse side that I plan to paint in earth and grass tones, but it's white for now.

With Khurasan Containment Protocol minis
The scenery is all resin vehicle parts from Ramshackle games. Most were less than £2 each and were simply painted without any further modeling. The exceptions are the Hexagon (Imex leftover and foamcore) and the building in the top left corner, which is a Ramshackle thin plate glued on top of a foamcore box with GZG vents glued on the outside.

As all the pieces are rectangular and not fixed to the surface, it is easy to make complex layouts like re-arranging building blocks. The board is so small that it absolutely requires a lot of LOS blocking obstacles.

Tonight I had a lot to do (flat inspection tomorrow) so only had time for a quick game. Here is the scenario I made up for the rules I'm now calling "Space Guns", which is TRWNN more or less re-written by yours truly. PDF almost ready to share too, plus a fancy shooting chart and damage tracking data cards (!)

Zombie Survival
Zombies all activate on a zombie activation chit. They can only shuffle around (relocate 2"). In combat they count as using fists. They count as fighters. They don't take Nerve tests.

The Zombie hound has it's own activation chit, counts a fighter with a knife in CQC, and moves 2d6.

If a human is wounded by a zombie, it must roll above it's total wounds every time it activates to see if it succumbs to Zombie plague and "turns", becoming a zombie. Killed humans become zombies but still activate on their original chit.

Setup: Set an entry and exit point. The player wins if he can get 50% of the team off the board.

Place 6 spawn points on the board. When an enemy has it's first activation, roll a d6 to see which point it emerges from, out of LOS of the player's forces.

Okay ramblers, lets get rambling..


Spoiler alert. I had to cut the game short. Normally I wouldn't even bother posting it, but this is part of solo gaming so here you go.

The very first thing I realized was that having all zombies activate on the same counter was good, except I shouldn't have put a counter in for each one of them. This meant that they basically moved too fast and swarmed my men before I got more than 2 out of the entry point! This wasn't right at all.

The other rules are fine, but I think I will put split the z's into mobs of 3 and activate each mob with it's own counter. Sadly I have to stop for tonight, so goodnight and thanks for reading about my week of solo gaming... My girlfriend is home tomorrow so I'm back to my regular schedule...

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Solopalooza Night 4: Death Angel!

I figured it out!

Well, after a morning walk and delicious fry-up, I read back over the Death Angel rules and started playing. Like all card/board games I try to play solo, it's difficult to get going at first as there's nobody else around to help remember everything.. But still, once I'd played a few turns the game is actually very easy to understand and run. 

I played a lot of the original Space Hulk board game and loved it. The key thing about Space Hulk was/is the tension. As the marine player you knew you were only ever a hair's breadth from your bolter jamming and meeting your death under an avalanche of Genestealer claws. I have been meaning to get back into this realm with VPG's Forlorn Hope, but haven't got around to it. Mainly because I tried to recreate the whole thing in miniature and to be honest, it was too big a job.

But I digress. Death Angel does an admirable job of re-creating the atmosphere of tension that the board game did , with just a few columns of cards.

Each turn you choose which actions your terminators will perform, Attack, Move or support. Each option has additional strategic benefits depending on what combat teams you have chosen. The Assault cannon gets to shoot 3 times with an attack instead of 1 for example.

Then the Genestealers get a swipe at your troops. Like in the board game, they are fairly ineffective singly, but once a few build up, you are in serious danger of losing some men.

Then you resolve an event cards and the dirty Genestealers scuttle about.. That's it, start a new turn.

The game is set up into several locations, each one requiring you to exhaust or destroy one of the blip decks set up when you enter it. In all the games I played there were 3 locations. I lost all 3 of the games I played.

Game 1: Messed up what happens when a marine dies and had to start over.
Game 2: Got positively slaughtered in the second and third turns by some really nasty Genestealer attacks. I limped on but was quickly overwhelmed.
Game 3: I made it to the Toxicarium (Toxic-something or other anyway) and was 1 roll of the dice from victory, but with only 1 marine left, I got overwhelmed at the last second. Epic stuff!

Brilliant little game, if you like the Space hulk theme and enjoy a good card game this will not disappoint. I think it would be pretty good fun with more people as well.

I'm going to spend the rest of the evening painting minis, as I haven't done any of that yet and I have a lot to get going on. Some really big news regarding the AAG Tomorrow's War Strike force competition, but that will have to wait for the moment.

I am so excited about TRWNN/Street Violence that I'm going to work on V2.0 cards and chits then play some more games tomorrow on my modular terrain that I've just realized I've never actually used.

Solopalooza Interlude

Well, I did a lot of riding my motorcycle today and not a lot of Solo gaming. I spent some time working on cards for Street Violence/TRWNN, but all that did was make me think about the best way to track damage... My goal being zero use of pencil and paper during a game.

On the painting front, I finally got my Ramshackle Games "buildings" undercoated, and began building a 12"x12" game board/box out of a £10 chess/backgammon set I saw at the local DIY shop. A bit unscheduled, but thats how I roll. It came out quite nice, but the surface needs more paint and I think I need to get hold of some MDF instead of using foamcore for the gaming surface. It warps too much when I try to paint the textured wallpaper I am using stuck to the top. Intrigued? More on this tomorrow.

Here are the PDFs of the chits I made for last night's game, in case you want to have a quick go. If you have some minis and some D6 I really recommend it!

Click HERE to download PDF from Google Docs
Click HERE to download PDF from Google Docs

Tonight I broke out Lego Heroica, Draida bay.

(Sneak peek of undercoated game box I converted today)

 It was fun assembling the  pieces, but the game is too simplistic to enjoy alone. I tried normal mode solo (boring) and battle mode after that (still boring) and came to the conclusion that I will possibly need to write my own rules altogether.  I want to stick to the actual game components though, so this might not take long. I have all the other sets, so I think there is a lot of scope for a fun game here.

So for tonight's second game, I set out to play Space Hulk: Death Angel... The small boxed Space Hulk card game. 

The rulebook is fairly difficult to understand on first read, as it doesn't seem to explain concepts in any kind of order. Or maybe it's just too late at night. I am giving up in the name of sleep tonight, I will return to the game (all set up now) tomorrow morning and hopefully get a game in before I try to paint some bad guys for Crom.

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Solopalooza Night 3: TRWNN in Space!

I have pieced together an old version of "The Rules With No Name" from a 1996 free version on the web. The game is now a full color Foundry hardback set of rules for shootouts in the old west.

Low figure count,  random draw activation.. Sounded perfect for the basis of a "Throwdown" game. Our old Necromunda games were very old-west flavored back in the day, and western style gunfights are more my speed than army actions so I had high hopes.

I also made my own damage chits for the game. TRWNN's downloads page has a nice western flavored set, but for sci fi I wanted something a little more thematic. Plus mine have blood explosions.

Custom Fate Chits
I chose 4 characters, co-responding fate chits for them and ranked them:

Blak's Crew, figures are GZG and Khurasan
"Ace" Black, Legend with Pistol.
"Bruiser" Grakk, Veteran with 2 pistols.
"Lady" Alice, Fighter with 2 Pistols
"Sniper" Mc Gillicutty with a rifle.

Wasteland Raiders, figures are all post-apoc raiders from Khurasan
"Boss" Sixkiller, Legend with Pistol
"Pistol" Eevan, Veteran with 2 pistols
"Blaster" Skedge, Fighter with Shotgun
"Rifle" Sal, Fighter with rifle.

I set up a run down colony mining outpost, with mostly the same terrain as last night's game and quickly came up with a scenario.

Blak and his crew had got wind of an outpost that had been abandoned due to dangerous wildlife. The inhabitants had reportedly left some large deposits of Solonium throughout the place. Blak's team dusted down nearby and walked into town trying to keep a low profile. 

I chose an approach edge and then placed 6 entry points out of my model's LOS. When an enemy fate chit was drawn, it would appear at a random one of these spots. These spots could also be used to exit from if out of LOS of my models, representing the raiders superior local knowledge.

The board before the first fate chit was turned
Additionally, I scribbled down some simple AI rules. After activating, an enemy model rolls a d6. on a 1-3 it would put all it's efforts into getting to the objective (in this case, the Blue Solonium deposits) on a 4-6 it would instead attack the nearest enemy model.

One piece of Solonium was on the roof of the bar, and the other two were locked in shacks. It would take 1 full turn to break into a shack and another to enter, grab the Solonium and then be placed back outside the door that was entered through. 

Once in possession of  Solonium, the same rule applied (1-3 pursue objective, 4-6 kill nearest) except instead of moving to get it, the enemy would move to escape via an available exit point.

Blak's crew walk into town...
I turned the first chit...

Ace Blak activated first and moved up to the bar.  Then Boss Sixkiller activated (then rolled a 1 for deployment) appearing in the ruins right next to my crew, and took a Move+Fire action. 
The Legendary bandit blazed away and hit McGillicutty twice with a big-bore pistol at close range.. I drew two kill shots to the chest. McGillicutty hit the dirt gushing blood, stone dead. Before anyone could react, the turn ended! Reshuffle the Fate chits and start again.

Lady Alice, splattered with McGillicutty's blood,  spun in place and blazed at Sixkiller, but missed and emptied her clip. Bruiser Grakk went next and ran for cover.

The black chits are extra action cards that have been claimed and used up
The coolest thing about the fate chits is that as a solo player you can lay them out in a row as they are drawn, so you always know what's going on.

Both sides scrambled through the shanty town trying to get a good angle to attack or grab some loot. Bruiser emptied his guns at Sixkiller to no avail. Blaster Skedge let rip at Alice with his Shotgun. 

Shotgun spread represented by 2 blast markers
His shot went a little wide though, and while he managed to catch Alice with both barrels, he also caught Eevan in the blast.

Aggh.. You idiot!
Alice got off lightly..

Eevan was not so lucky. Friendly fire is a bitch.
The raiders got some good fate chits and were greedily breaking into shacks and running off with Solonium while Alice lost her nerve and slipped away from the battle.
Bruiser managed to dash around and blow Skedge away

Bruiser takes out the shotgunner

Oof! Ace rolls triple 1's and falls over. What a guy.
"So long, suckers!" Yelled Sixkiller as he escaped down an allley, arms full of Solonium.

Ace and Bruiser dusted themselves off sheepishly and took stock of the situation. "Well, at least one of us didn't fall over, Ace." Said Grakk. 

With all the raiders off the board, it was time for the butcher's bill.

Blak's crew loses,7 pts to 8.
With a Solonium shard worth 3 VPs and a kill worth 2, Blak's crew came up short.

What a riot! These rules are exactly what I look for in a solo game.. Suspenseful and fun, yet you can keep the main rule mechanics in your head because they are so simple, meaning very little referring to the rules during play. Using skills for the models would increase the complexity somewhat, but using data cards for the models would fix that too.

TRWNN are a blast in my book, and I'm looking forward to tinkering with it some more. My simple "50-50" AI rolls worked a treat. Easy enough to remember without any trouble, and providing uncertain yet sensible enemy behavior.

Next game I'm going to use playing cards for the fate deck and simply mark a card ID on each character card.. eg: Grakk=Jack, Alice =Queen. Diamonds for enemy and Spades for me (Hearts will be used for the extra action cards that make the game so much fun). I loved my damage chits, much more fun than reading text.

All in all, a very successful game. But t's 2:20 am.. I'm off to bed!

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Solopalooza Day 2: 5150 Star Army

Main Stage: 5150: Star Army
Lt. Duke and 1st squad head out on patrol against the ruthless Zeig
With handy card sized QRS charts in hand, I set off on another 5150 adventure. After a lot of intel and weather rolls, I set up the terrain for a Patrol mission. I used my new CD based shacks and rocks.

Handy Cards I made earlier
The lay of the land
Our Intel was " Bad" which means a different chart to roll on when the first PEF (the counters with tiny orange dice embedded in them) are spotted.

Although the mission didn't "go bad" as a result, once my men deployed onto the table edge in sector 9, 2x PEFs were immediately visible. This actually kind of annoys me about the terrain system in 5150. In future games I'm going to change the way I do this.. It's nice not knowing what you'll be heading into, but there is a strong possibility you will also get some pretty dull terrain as a result.

Anyway, I rolled a lot of dice to see what the first two PEFs were. One was a false alarm, the other was 2 squads, with an asset in a defensive position. Talk about almost walking right into them!

Those guys managed to keep pretty quiet.. Gulp.
I had split my squad. The Rapid Fire Laser was with my Star, Lt. Duke, and the grenade launcher and medic were with Sgt. Lewis on the other side. 
I included a medic just to see how they worked, as I had a new one painted. In fact every model and piece of terrain was non-proxy and fully painted..  Solopalooza Sub-goal achieved!

Not sure if splitting up was such a great idea now...

As Duke and his 1/2 squad hurried to cover, the Zeig squads (counted as PDF in hard armor) and their robot SAW operator (counted as exo armor) made their in-sight rolls and poured a hail of fire into them. Their assault rifles got 3 dice each, but as Duke's men were all in cover the Zeig with Rep 4 needed 6's to hit them. They didn't, but the Robo-SAW took out the Rapid Fire Laser trooper. Uh oh.

Duke and his remaining 2 men active fired, Duke blowing the head off the Robot, raising a cheer from the unit. A cheer that was cut short when the Zeig passed their received fire/man down tests and shot back, Obviously-deading another Star army soldier. The medic was unfortunately on the other side of the table.

Ow, ow, ow!
Over on the other side, the other 1/2 squad led by Sgt. Lewis tried to suppress the Zeig enough to get a grenade launcher shot into their position. The Zeig reaction fire took down the pointman, and no other Star Army fire was effective. Things looked grim.

A new activation roll put the Star Army on the offensive. 

The Grenade launcher operator stepped out into the street to get a clear shot into the Zeig position. A Zeig trooper reacted, snap fired and missed. The GL trooper passed his received fire test and fired back.. With a 6. With his grenade launcher.

It turns out that an impact 5 weapon (grenade launcher vs hard armor) is pretty nasty. A hit model will only even get a chance at survival if I roll a 6 on the damage test. A big chunk of the Zeig force was blown in all directions. It was still his activation, so he active fired into the red mist.

Hey man, nice shot.
Well that was unexpected. The second grenade did just as much damage as the first.

Somebody get a mop.
The medic quickly attended to the Pointman, managing 2 passes and getting him back in the fight.

Get up... You're fine!
Only the Zeig Elite squad was left. Their REP of 5 made their fire a lot deadlier than the Zeig regulars

(muffled breathing)
Rep 5 troops are really dangerous.
They took down the GL trooper, and only Duke's laser fire forcing them back stopped the slaughter...

I have 1 figure left on each flank. Uh.. Oops.
The Zeig fell back firing and shot up every member of the squad except for Lt. Duke and Sgt. Lewis. It was at this point I called it quits and narrated a speedy withdrawal.

Overall, a good game that took less than 2 hours to finish. It had thrills and spills, but I did get the feeling that the whole thing boiled down to a lot of dice rolling from the get-go. 

This brings me back to my original niggling complaint.. The terrain setup. I think any further games I play of 5150 will have terrain setup work like this:
  • Set up the terrain in a dense and well distributed way as I like.
  • Roll randomly to determine which side I get to deploy from. 
  • Set up PEFs normally.
I think this will be not only more fun, but a lot faster.

I'm too tired for any more cards or rules.. I'm going to play Batman: Arkham City for the after-party. My girlfriend loved watching me play Uncharted 2 (Which is awesome if you haven't played it, and cheap nowdays!) but doesn't enjoy the Batman so much. But that's what Solopalooza is all about.  
See you tomorrow folks!

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Solopalooza Night 1

Here I am at the Solopalooza pre-party. My girlfriend is off to the airport and I'm finishing up work for the evening.
Homebrewed game: Plastic Slam,  Pro wrestling action figure rules 

Kicking things off, some bodyslamming action featuring Minis acquired via the power of the blog barter. Thanks again Harry!

These rules have been through 3 distinct versions. The first one was Dice pool based, it was good, but quite complex. The second one was a custom card based system where you made up your own cards inspired by 1000 White Cards.. It wasn't great solo and required a lot of work to play. The final version of the rules which will be tearing it up here at Solopalooza tonight are based on ordinary blackjack.

The basic mechanics are based on the risk mechanics of blackjack. On your  wrestler's turn, you declare an action (selected from a chart) then draw a playing card. If the card beats your wrestler's stat in that area, it works. If it is too low, it does not. You may keep trying actions and drawing cards until you either rest (stay), allowing you to heal one step of damage, or Bust when your card total exceeds 21.

If you bust, you don't get to recover and it is immediately your opponent's turn.

Apart from a deck of cards, all you need is wrestling toys. The figure's arms pose is used in place of counters to indicate damage states and the movement requires no measuring.

I completed a game after a couple of false-starts and hastily re-written rules and am pretty pleased with it. You will be seeing a lot more of this as I refine it, but it's already fun!

Main stage: The Gears of War Board Game.
The Box
The big beast from Fantasy Flight Games finally saw action tonight. There's a lot in the box and I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the figures. They would certainly look nicer painted, but for now I don't have the time.
The non-figure bits on my new game surface
I played on an office pin-board with some kind of neoprene-like surface that is completely non-stick... Good for keeping cards still, not as good for trying to pick them up. Still, it puts my mind at rest about damage to components and looks nice to play on. It even has a nice wooden frame.

I started playing much too late tonight.. About 10:30 pm. This meant I was a bit tired and found it more stressful than normal to learn a new rules system. The good news is that the game employs a great deal of regular miniature wargame concepts, like Line Of Sight... So I knew what to do very quickly.

Set up took a while mainly because I had to learn what all the components meant and there are a lot. I played "Emergence" the suggested introductory mission.

The gameplay is basically this: Draw up to 2 cards into your hand. Play 1 card and follow the directions on it or discard more cards for additional effects like saving a wounded buddy. The gimmick is that your hand is also your health, so the more you do the more dangerous it becomes. I like it.

Then the locust (alien enemy) side takes it's turn by flipping an AI card. This has simple instructions on it that can do anything from make all wretches on the board move toward you, to spawning Drones and more. I really like this system.

And that's the basic game. You roll dice to attack, with bonus dice for full or hard cover. Cover spaces are clearly marked on the board and movement is a breeze. The ruler you see is only for determining line of sight. Everything else is handles by counting "areas".

My game started well. I used the "Forced entry" card to leap into cover, dislodging the wretch hiding there, then blast him with my Lancer rifle. As the game proceeded, I advanced and blasted apart two Drones and another wretch.
All that stood between me and victory were two Drones...

The AI cards were not kind however. A Drone spawned right out of the emergence hole in front of me and his buddy ran in behind me, spraying with his blaster. He rolled 3 hits and I got Zip in defense. Leaving that cover may have been a big mistake, considering it turns out I could have thrown the grenade in from where I was... Oh well, live and learn.

..Just. The backshooting Drone took me to 0 cards in my hand.. Which I thought would end the game.. But no! A Cog is only bleeding out when he goes below zero cards.. I was still in by a hair!

I drew my two cards and managed to blast the emergence hole shut, kill the drone and empty my clip into the other Drone, killing it. I flipped the mission card as the emergence hole was sealed.

No way.
Unfortunately, this is the bit where the mission card tells me that a Boomer and a wretch spawn in the exit. The Boomer rolled his 4 attack dice..

Game Over
BOOM. I was bleeding out and with no other Cogs to revive me, that wrapped up the game.

That's it for opening night of Solopalooza, plenty more to come tomorrow night. What game will be on the main stage? You'll have to wait and see!