Monday, 26 January 2015

Spectres and Spooks

Introduction

Last time, I showed some models that I had prepared with a white undercoat.  Well, I've now completed the apparitions that I plan to use in Fear and Faith.  These will be opposition for Mystery Incorporated and should, I think, strike terror into the hearts of Scooby Doo and company (not that that's very hard, mind you!).  I've also painted up their boss, so read on...

The Skeleton Knight

The big baddie for my planned game is the Skeleton Knight.  He's from a pack of Black Tree Design undead knights that I obtained a long time ago, though I cannot remember why I bought these.  Perhaps they came in some bulk eBay purchase rather than direct from the manufacturer?  I'm not sure, but it doesn't really matter now.

He's quite a big model, though if anything I think that just increases his suitability to be a Scooby Doo villain.  After all, if it is just a costume then there needs to be room inside for the operator.  In any case the teenagers wouldn't be as frightened of something smaller, I think!

This was a very easy model to paint.  I undercoated in grey, then touched up the plate armour with steel.  All of the metal parts were then given a wash of metallic black (this is my favourite way of painting chainmail - just undercoat and wash!).  The bone was painted with a pale tan and then given a darker brown wash.  That just left the gauntlets, the belt and the horns on the helmet, which were all painted individually.  Oh, and the base, but that's pretty simple too.

In the game, he'll be mobile and quite terrifying, at least to start with.  However, if Mystery Inc. can find some clues before a final confrontation then his stats might just melt away!

The Spectres

As I mentioned in the previous article, these models are also from Black Tree Design.  Again, they're quite big (they are on 25mm bases), but that's OK since I want them to tower over the humans.  I'll give them the Haunt trait from the Fear and Faith rules - that will tie each to a single location and prevent all the evil forces from just ganging up on Shaggy and Scooby!  This also fits my intended background for such apparitions: they're really just film projections onto white walls or clouds of dry ice.  Maybe!

The spectres were undercoated in white.  After that, I applied a brown wash over the bony bits, followed by a bright green wash over the lower parts.  I deliberately extended the green wash a little way over parts of the ribcages and also over the dirt on the bases.  The scythes were done with further washes and finally the eye sockets were painted in solid black and topped off with red spots.  Very simple!

Conclusion

Right, now I need an assortment of innocent and suspicious-looking bystanders (I'm working on some!) and a suitable setting.  Then I'll be able to put on a small game with Scooby Doo and company in it - awesome!

Thursday, 22 January 2015

White Out!

Introduction

I'm going to be doing 2 things in this post that are somewhat unusual, for me.

  • Firstly, I don't normally show pictures of models that aren't finished.  It would be all too easy to fill the Internet with images of my started-but-on-hold model mountain.  However if I did that regularly then I would lose all credibility as someone who can actually complete anything.
  • Next, I normally undercoat models in grey.  I've tried black before and it's really difficult to lay down pale colours on top of this.  White undercoat, in my experience, doesn't coat too well.  Unless a model is to be predominantly black or white, I compromise and use grey.
Strangely, this week I've found myself undercoating a number of models in white, though..,

The Apparitions

I'm trying to collect some figures that I can use in games of Fear and Faith.  Last week, I posted details of Mystery Incorporated (better known as "the Scooby Doo gang") and I can probably come up with some suitably suspicious civilians to use as allies, bystanders and low-level enemies.  However, I wanted some monsters as well.


These spectre models come from Black Tree Design, though they only seem to be available in a regiment-sized pack.  I've had a large bag of them sitting in the lead pile for many years and now seemed like a good time to paint a few.  They'll be used as haunts in Fear and Faith - but in the best traditions of Scooby Doo they may turn out not to be real ghosts.  Instead, they could be just images projected onto clouds of smoke by the demented janitor.  Or maybe not!

I plan to paint these spectres to be as pale and ethereal as possible.  This might be a challenge, since they're quite solid models and I don't have any transparent paint.  Still, I'll give it a go...

The Angels

It came as quite a surprise to me recently to discover that I had not one but two packs of the Daredevil Sisters from Crooked Dice.  I don't normally forget a purchase so completely that I buy another copy of the same thing!

Now, as anyone with an interest in Marionation knows, the Daredevil sisters are based very closely on the Angels from the Captain Scarlet TV series (gosh, is it really almost 50 years?).  The Angels were the 5 female pilots of Spectrum's fleet of fighter and passenger aircraft; they were young, international and glamorous!  As with the other members of the organisation, they all had code names, in this case Destiny, Harmony, Rhapsody, Melody and Symphony.

Since the Angels wore white uniforms, I've decided to undercoat these models in white (well, obviously!).  I bought a separate pack of helmeted heads to customise them a bit, so at least I won't have 2 sets of 3 identical figures.

Actually, I went a bit further than this and also changed around the equipment the Angels were holding or wearing as well as their heads.  This gives me 6 models that are all unique, though it's easy enough to spot the duplicate bodies.

Of course, there were only 5 Angels in the Captain Scarlet show.  I've decided that in my universe there is another Angel who isn't quite as well known.  Perhaps she's been on leave, or on special assignment somewhere.  I'm thinking of naming her Serenity; I had to abandon the musical theme when the only name in that area which I could find was Cacophony!

So, there you are - some of the recent works from my "White" period!

Monday, 19 January 2015

7th Voyage: The Argonauts go forth!

Introduction

Finally, time for my first game of 7th Voyage!  As all my regular readers will know, I've been preparing a heroic cast based on Jason and the Argonauts and I have various groups of possible opponents available (satyrs, harpies...).  I've got some event cards and I spent part of yesterday making quick-reference cards & status counters and designing the 2 introductory forces.  So...Lights, Camera, Action!

The Scenario

For our first game, we'll use the Skirmish scenario from the 7th Voyage rulebook.  In this case, 2 small bands meet each other; the winner is the first one to slay or drive off the other.  Simples!

So, Jason and a small group of followers are exploring a small, seemingly deserted island.  They're looking for fresh water and supplies for their ship, but maybe the island isn't as deserted as it seems.  Without realising it, Jason's party are trespassing on the meadows and woods of a band of satyrs.  Hylaeos, chief of the satyrs, has followed their progress as they trek inland.  He's not entirely keen on tackling the intruders alone, so he's talked a very large (but somewhat dim) cyclops into helping to chase off the intruders!

The Forces

Argonauts

  • Jason, Hero (straight from the 7th Voyage book - he's an average sort of hero with lots of leadership abilities and swimming)
  • Meleager, "Also Starring" Veteran, with Swimming skill
  • 5 Argonauts, Veterans (4 with spear, 1 with sword)
The Argonauts were the nominal defenders and deployed first.  They set up in the quadrant which contained the woods, as this would protect them somewhat from early archery.

Monsters

  • Hylaeos, "Also Starring" Satyr leader.  Importantly, he has the Hypnotise skill as well as the usual satyr's Seduce.
  • 6 Satyrs (3 with spear, 3 with bow)
  • un-named Cyclops (pumped-up Guardian Beast.  Note that he causes Fear in all models, friendly as well as enemy!)
Hylaeos deployed the satyrs just across the river from the woods, intending (I think) to use the ford as a choke point against the better-armoured Argonauts.  The cyclops was placed in a different table quarter; at least there he wouldn't scare the friendly satyrs!

The Terrain

  • The woods were classed as difficult ground which would reduce speed to 1d6 for most models.  The cyclops could just stomp through the trees without slowing down, though!
  • We decided that the river would be deep and fast flowing, apart from at the 2 fords (which were easy going).  So, a model who wished to cross at any point other than the fords would either have to swim or would have to leap across.  Once again, the cyclops could ignore such concerns; he was too big to be put out by such a puny stream.

The Game

"Come on, lads!  I can hear running water nearby.  It can't be far now" called Jason in encouragement to his followers.  They were all cursing and grumbling at the thorns in the underbrush - moving in a forest is not easy when you carry a large shield and long spear.  "It's all right for the hero, marching ahead there as if he's the gods' own chosen one", they thought.  "But we didn't sign on to this cruise to trek through mud and branches like this!"

The Argonauts won the initiative for the first turn (and the maximum number of Audience Appreciation tokens as well - not that they were much use at this point in the game),  Jason strode ahead of his men and stepped out from the edge of the trees whilst the other adventurers were struggling with undergrowth.

Immediately, he was set upon by 3 satyrs who ran screaming at him across the ford in the river.  Despite the apparent ferocity of their attack, not one of the creatures managed to land a damaging blow on the startled hero.

Hearing the sounds of fighting, Meleager and Amphion ran up to help.  Meleager arrived just in time to see Jason dispatch one of the fauns and then turn to face a large, ugly satyr who appeared to be their leader.  Amphion came out of the woods onto the river bank, but before he could even get his bearings, a satyr shot him through the neck and he dropped down, dead ('6' to hit, '6' to wound' and '1' for the armour save.  Truly a remarkable shot - not even audience appreciation could save this!)

More Argonauts rushed in to help their leaders.  Even as Meleager slew his opponent, Pheidippides pushed past him to face the next satyr.  The 3 fauns on the far bank of the river were still annoying the men by showering them with arrows, though all of these shots went wide.  More worryingly, the Argonauts could hear something very large crashing through the trees behind them!

Since he was now unengaged, Meleager ran towards the noises to find out what was coming up behind the Argonauts.  He came face to face with the largest, ugliest beast that he had ever seen.  Mastering his fear briefly, he sliced at the monster and missed.  In return, it swatted him aside contemptuously.

The archers continued to shoot at Meleager, though again this was ineffective.

Augeas, another veteran, had been struggling to keep up with the rest of the Argonauts as they made their way through the woods.  He now changed course to head towards the loudest noise of fighting, but instead of finding his comrades he stumbled right into the cyclops.  The bold man stabbed the creature in the thigh and drew blood, but in return it smashed him aside.  Amphion's lifeless body flew through the air, hit a tree trunk and slid to the ground.

The dazed Meleager picked himself up and shook his head to clear it.  More arrows were landing close by him, so he made a quick decision to tackle the archers rather than charge back into combat with the monster.  He crouched and sprang, clearing the river with ease and ran towards the satyr bowmen (I wasn't particularly worried by taking the chance of falling short and landing in the water since Meleager had Swimming as his "Also Starring" skill).

Whilst Jason continued to fence with Hylaeos, the satyr leader wasn't really fighting back.  Instead, he was defending whilst making eyes at Jason's friend Laokoon.  Indeed, various satyrs had been trying their Seduce powers (and Hylaeos's Hypnotise power) throughout the game, but without much luck.  This time was different though and Laokoon became bewildered and confused as to why he was trying to fight the beautiful wild creature that was in front of him.

In the heat of the moment Exion, one of the other Argonauts, followed Meleager's example and attempted to leap across the stream.  He failed with a miserable roll of '2', which would have left him just short of the far bank.  I chose to use one of Jason's "Luck" points to re-roll this - but my son countered with a Hand of Fate event card to reduce my re-roll.  The die came up with a '3' this time, so after taking off the -2 for the event, Exion plunged fully into the deep, cold water!

Suddenly, things were not looking good for the Argonauts.  They only had 4 models still active out of a starting total of 7, so they were perilously to having to take a morale check for 50% losses.  Worse, one of the 4 remaining men was struggling in the water (Exion couldn't swim) and Jason had been trading blows with the satyr leader for what seemed like forever with neither side managing to do any damage.  At least Meleager might cause mayhem amongst the lightly-armed archers, I hoped!

Sadly for me, it seems that Meleager was more shaken from his encounter with the cyclops than I had realised.  The very first archer thumped him so hard that the Argonaut collapsed in a groaning heap.  The giggling satyr then dragged the half-conscious Meleager to the edge of the river and pushed him into a deep pool.  They've got quite a sense of humour, these wild party animals...

As if things couldn't get any worse for the Argonauts, the cyclops chose this moment to come crashing along the bank.  It grabbed Pheidippides from behind, crushed the unfortunate man to death and hurled the corpse over the heads of the other combatants.  One of the satyrs was terrified by the sudden appearance of this fearsome monster, but for most of the humans it was too much.  They took a Shaken test, failed it - and suddenly Jason found himself alone as all the other Argonauts vanished.

Feeling utterly desperate Jason used a "Ropey CSO" event card to disengage from Hylaeos without taking a parting strike.  (Mind you, Jason would probably have been quite safe from Hylaeos' parting blow anyway.  I had considered using this event card to push the cyclops into the river instead, but the big lump wouldn't even have noticed...)

In the manner of true heroes, Jason then attacked the cyclops (before it could attack him in the back!) and stabbed it.  The great beast roared in pain as the sword cut into it, but the monster stayed upright.  With 2 out of its 3 wounds gone, if Jason could topple the beast then that might just turn the tide?

It wasn't to be, however.  The last Argonaut had to take a Wiped Out morale test now that his cast had taken over 75% losses - and he failed.  He also failed the re-roll permitted by his Martial Training special effect.  Ah...

Result: Jason fled from the battlefield as if the hounds of hell were after him!  Cut!

Conclusion

Well, that was fun.  I have a number of issues that came up in our first game of 7th voyage and I'll need to seek clarification on those, but none of them spoiled our enjoyment.  We'll need to play again, of that I am sure!

Observations:

  • A small cast is likely to evaporate very quickly when it reaches 50% losses, since a failed Shaken test will remove 1d3 models.  This in turn is quite likely to trigger a 75% loss Wiped Out test the very next turn, which will probably eliminate the survivors!
  • I was surprised at how long Hylaeos and Jason traded blows with neither managing to wound the other.  Jason should have had a very decisive advantage here, since his abilities and armour were considerably the better of the pair, but he just wasn't on form today.  Still, kudos to the satyr leader for not chickening out and hiding behind his even lesser followers.
  • For me, Meleager stole the scene for the Argonauts; he killed a satyr, tackled the monster, was sent flying, leaped across the river and then...collapsed.
  • The cyclops did pretty much as expected, once it finally managed to reach the battle.  It crashed through the undergrowth, throwing adversaries about as if they were nothing and generally scaring the cr*p out of everyone!  It wasn't invulnerable, though; this suggests that a more concentrated attack could have taken it down.
  • The monster player split his forces.  I thought that the Argonauts could defeat them in detail, but the satyrs proved surprisingly hard to kill and the cyclops caught up with the fight before any decisive losses had been taken.
  • Equally, the satyrs were somewhat frustrated that their archers and their Seduce powers were unlucky.  Although many arrows were expended and many alluring looks given, they only shot one Argonaut and confused another.  Still, that was probably enough...
  • The Argonauts won initiative for all the early turns, but the Audience Appreciation tokens that they earned never seemed to be enough to change any of the results.
  • In the second half of the game, the initiative rolls were all tied, which meant that there were a lot of turnovers.  It also meant that the monster player never got any Audience Appreciation tokens at all!
That's a wrap!


Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Mystery Incorporated

Introduction

I've mentioned Fear and Faith a few times recently, either in one of my own articles or in a comment on someone else's blog.This has reminded me how much I want to get out some figures and play this game.

So, what is Fear and Faith?  It's a set of rules for skirmish wargaming, based on Ganesha Games' very successful Song of Blades and Heroes fantasy offering, but with an emphasis on horror.  In particular, it's really aimed at Gothic through to modern horror, so any time in the last 3 centuries or so.

In addition to the main Fear and Faith rules, I have purchased a supplement called (sic!) Kooky Teenage Monster Hunters!  It expands on the main rules by providing profiles and scenarios aimed at the modern, American, urban monster genre.  Think Buffy, Twilight and the like and you won't be far wrong!

However, there's one set of profiles in KTMG that I've just got to play!  I've made up some quick reference cards for this band; let's see if anyone can recognise them.  Note that I've changed the names from those given in the booklet; I think that my names work much better.

Without further ado, I present my band "Mystery Incorporated":






Conclusion

I am a little puzzled by some of the traits that have been assigned to these characters; they're not always what I would have done myself.  Still, I can always change them if I want, can't I?

Of course, I'll need to get them some transport (maybe the Crooked Dice van with Company B decals?)  More importantly, I'll need some adversaries and some special scenario rules.  I have a feeling that dog treats might be important...

Sunday, 11 January 2015

More Argonauts

Introduction

It's been a quiet time for model-making recently.  Too many things (world events, hospital visits, work, depressing weather...) have been getting in the way.  However, I did recently manage to finish off some more Greeks for my Jason and the Argonauts project.  These are the last Greek Myth figures from my unpainted model mountain, so if I want more then I'll need to buy something else!

The Figures

First up is Exion.  He's a regular hoplite - just one of the grunts, really.  However I think I did a much better job of the shield decal on this model than on previous ones.  The earlier hoplites (here) suffered rather a lot from silvering of the decals.  This time, I made sure that I moistened the shield with Klear (liquid floor wax/varnish) before applying the decal - it seems to have done the trick.

Next is another Greek king: Phineas.  He was blinded by the gods for some misdemeanour and was then cursed with visits from the harpies.  These creatures would foul or steal all food that was placed in front of him, until they were finally driven off by the Argonauts.

I'm wondering if I should repaint his eyes to make it more obvious that he is blind.  On reflection, it may have been a mistake to paint them in my normal manner.

My next character is Coronos.  He's made with the last of my Warlord Games plastic hoplite bodies, but with a sling and head taken from the Gripping Beat Dark Age Warriors set.  The left arm is, oddly enough, from the Studio Miniatures Zombies plastic set; it doesn't quite match the right arm, but is close enough for me.

I see this man as an elderly shepherd or something simple like that.  It's possible that his left arm is deformed or paralysed, hence the slightly unusual appearance.

Lastly, I have 3 new archers.  These models are from Black Tree Designs, just like the Greek king above.  Although the models are well enough detailed and moulded, their postures are all a bit unusual for archers.  I suspect that people who don't look closely enough will mistake them for swordsmen or something else.  Still, I had the models sitting there unpainted and it didn't take a whole lot of effort to complete them...

Conclusion

These figures give me some more options for the Argonauts (especially the archers).  I just need to make up some 7th Voyage quick-reference cards for all my characters and then I'm ready to play the game!

Thursday, 8 January 2015

Sunday, 4 January 2015

The Way Ahead...

Introduction

I've noticed that recently a lot of other gamers have put up a blog article that is part retrospective and part future plans.  I suppose that the turn of the year is indeed a good time to examine your gaming activities.  I've never done that before, but this year I'm feeling more than a little introspective, so here goes...

2014

I have a very poor memory for events that are more than 1 week old, but I'll try to remember some of the major hobby-related events of the year.
  • The major event of 2014 for me was the folding of the Helensburgh Games Club in the first quarter of the year.  The club had been struggling with numbers for some time; it was basically a couple of parents (me and another dad) and a bunch of young boys.  There had been some adult gamers as well, but they tended not to mix with the juveniles and eventually their numbers fell below the critical limit.
    There is another nearby wargames club that has become quite successful in recent years, in Dumbarton, some 10 miles/16Km from me.  They're close enough to be plausible for me to visit, but the Dumbarton club meets on a Sunday evening.  Sadly, that's a deal-breaker for me as my Sunday is inviolable family time.
    The upshot of all this is that my main source of battle reports for this blog has dried up completely.
  • On a brighter note, I took my 2 boys to London in April and (amongst other things) visited Salute 2014.  While we did enjoy the event, it was perhaps a bit too big and somewhat soulless in the huge, echoing hall at the Excel centre.  I might go back again some day, but I don't think that this will be a regular visit for me.
  • Continuing with shows, I made my annual visit to the much closer Claymore, in Edinburgh.  This time I took only 1 son, but we had a really good time.
  • There was no Wappinshaw wargames show in Glasgow in 2014 (something to do with the Commonwealth Games).  I would certainly have attended had it been on, as this is a really easy event for me to visit.
  • On to games.  I spent much of 2014 not playing All Things Zombie because my model hospital isn't ready (and I need that for the next outing of the B-team!).  However, I was recently persuaded to carry on playing, using minor characters and side-quests instead of following this blocked main story arc.
  • I did manage to play some other games during the year.  These were mostly Black Powder, SAGA, Full Thrust and Song of Blades and Heroes (both my Robin Hood and Witch Hunter settings).
  • Once again, I put up relevant zombie & survivor blog posts during Zomtober.  These seem to have been received well, which is always very gratifying!
  • In terms of model-making, I completed the usual mixture of pieces for all sorts of different games.  However, if any themes stand out at all then I would say that this was the year of Dreadball and Jason and the Argonauts.  I completed a number of teams or groups for both of these settings.

Looking Forward

I don't really know what 2015 will bring me, but here are some ideas that I hope to implement.  In 12 months or so I expect to review this list and discover that I've gone off in a completely different direction, of course!
  • For ATZ, I'd like to make progress on my large model hospital.  That's a big enough model that I'll need to use my conservatory and/or garage to build it, so I'll wait until the weather is a bit better first!  I might manage something in the springtime - by Easter, perhaps?
    Even without the hospital, I intend to play rather more ATZ in 2015 than I have in the last 9 months!
  • Full Thrust is always near the top of my list of games to play.  I'm not expecting to make any major new models for this, but I should be able to play some games.
  • I'm still very taken with Song of Blades and Heroes.  I'd be very surprised if I cannot manage a few games of this in 2015.
  • Black Powder (in 6mm) is another of my "go to" games; I'd like to play more of this during the next 12 months.
  • I've now got plenty of figures and some terrain for 7th Voyage, using my Jason and the Argonauts setting.  All that remains is to get some 7th Voyage event cards (which I've ordered recently from Crooked Dice) and then play some games.  I'm looking forward to this!
  • 5150 Fighter Command has been on the back burner for a long time now.  I need a space mat marked with large hexagons before I can play the game.  Quite a while ago, I purchased a template for marking hexes from Litko, so all that remains is to find a suitable piece of material and mark it out; then I can play the game.  Sounds simple, right?
  • My 4th force for SAGA (the Strathclyde Welsh) and my village of stone huts are both languishing, unfinished.  I need to make some progress on these models.
  • Similarly, I've got 2 armies for Hordes of the Things at least partly completed.  These are my Barbarians and my Wicked Witch of the West forces; I'd like to make progress on both of these collections.
  • Dreadball continues to attract much of my attention: I'm currently working on my 4th and 5th teams, along with star players for several of the others.  The trouble with this game is that neither of my sons are interested in playing it, so it might just end up gathering dust after all!
  • Ever since I got my copies of Hasslefree's versions of Mystery Inc (i.e. Scooby Doo and friends), I've wanted to play a game based on that show.  Fortunately for me, Ganesha Games publish a set of rules designed for this genre: Fear and Faith and (particularly) the Kooky Teenage Monster Hunters supplement.
    The only thing that's holding me back is the scenarios, since the Scooby Doo show wasn't really about fighting but rather about finding enough clues to unmask the villain before everyone had run away screaming!  It should be possible to do something here, but it'll take a little work to come up with suitable victory conditions and special rules.
    I'd also like to complete my graveyard model, since this would be a good setting for such a game.

Conclusion

I think that this is the first time I've made my plans public in such detail, so I really don't know what to expect (both in terms of reactions from readers and my own reactions on re-reading this in 6 or 12 months time).
It may also be the first post I've ever published that has no pictures in it!  Don't worry - normal service will be resumed next week.