Thursday, 27 October 2016

7th Voyage: Jason and Medea


We just had another day of gaming, so I've got a couple of battle reports to make.  I'm going to describe this one first, for reasons that should become obvious in due course (don't be concerned by this; it's nothing sinister or anything).  So, without further ado, let's enter the world of Greek Mythology for a game of 7th Voyage!

The Scenario

Medea, the sorceress, has retired deep into the untamed woods, intending to take the waters in the lost and forbidden bathhouse of Queen Semiramis and thus refresh both her body and her mystical powers.  Annoyingly, a palace servant has revealed her plans to the Argonauts who are visiting her father's kingdom.  A band of these adventurers plans to capture the princess in the act and drag her back to the palace in order to curry favour with the king.  [I'm taking some liberties with the classical story of Jason and Medea here; if that bothers you then just think of this as some other sorceress called "Medea"].

This will be variant of the standard "Steal" mission from the 7th Voyage rulebook.  Instead of trying to obtain a magical item, the Argonauts intend to capture the sorceress herself.  Can't be that hard, can it?  One woman, on her own, against a large band of armed warriors?

Medea heard the sounds of men crashing through the bushes near to where she was standing.  She cast her sight through the undergrowth to find that a number of her father's guests were creeping up on her, their very presence defiling the holy site of the ancient ruins.  Annoyed, she started to summon the spirits of wood and water to punish the invaders...

The Forces

Jason and the Argonauts

Jason's force was made up from the following:
  • Jason, Hero/Guest Star
  • Atalanta, Hero/Co-star.  For her Gift of the Gods, Atalanta chose the Girdle of Venus, thus upgrading her seductive form to hypnotic beauty.
  • Meleager, Hero/Co-star
  • Antigone, Also Starring Amazon.
  • 10 Argonauts, armoured veterans with a mixture of spear and sword.
  • 5 Camp Followers, psiloi with a mixture of javelins and bow
That's quite a big cast (19 models), with a great deal of martial prowess.  It'll be difficult to stand up to them in a straight-up fight!

Medea and the Woodland Spirits

The sorceress was able to call on these spirits as her defenders:
  • Medea, Hero/Guest Star
  • 5 Hesperides, stealthy, seductive wood nymphs.
  • 4 Treemen, slow but powerful mid-range monsters
  • 1 Water Elemental, an untamed force of nature!
This is a strange, mystical cast.  Half of it is highly mobile and armed with seductive powers, whilst the other half is slow but unstoppable (well, almost).

Note that of these 11 figures, only Medea herself and the 5 Hesperides would start on the table.  The treemen had their positions plotted on a map; their Infiltrate rule would keep them hidden for at least a turn or two, whilst the Water Elemental could only be brought into play via a successful Conjure Elemental spell.

The Game

Medea spent the first turn chanting, then cast a spell to summon the water elemental [success was never in much doubt: she threw 2d6 + 4 (int) + 2 (chanting) and only had to reach a score of 10.  If by chance the spell had failed on turn 1, she'd just have tried the same thing again on turn 2].  Waters rushed from the bath and surrounding bushes to form the shape of a gigantic horse just in front of the sorceress.

Jason's party decided to split up, in a rather feeble attempt to distract the dangerous-looking water creature.  The hero himself went north around the ruined columns, Atalanta went south through the trees and a reserve stayed in the middle, ready to march forward when needed.

On the other flank, Meleager and Antigone advanced their men without meeting any real opposition.  This was just a walk in the park, right?

First blood was drawn by Atalanta's group.  They advanced rapidly and started to slaughter all the wood nymphs they could find.  This despoiling of nature was quite brutal, really...

Suddenly, the forest came alive!  Near all the groups of Argonauts, the trees themselves stirred and reached for the invaders with long, supple branches.

Atalanta, sensing danger, was quick to react.  She ran away from the copse in which she had been sheltering just in time; the newly-activated tree monster could only roar in frustration as it failed to catch the nimble archer.

Others were not so lucky.  Jason was caught by one of the treemen and then battered by the water horse as well.  He may have been a great hero, but this was a fierce assault and he wouldn't last long unless the attackers were distracted or driven off.

Poor Nauplios was sandwiched between a nymph and the 3rd tree monster.  He was knocked to the ground and then torn limb from limb as he lay there, stunned.

Apologies for the poor quality of this photo.  I didn't notice at the time that the camera had focussed on the treetops, not on the models at ground level.

The final treeman strode from the forest near to Meleager and scared the cr*p out of him!  It then pummeled one of the other Argonauts into the ground, but the day was saved when Antigone charged over and slew the monster with a couple of quick blows.  "They're not so tough", she called out in encouragement to her fellow warriors.  "Just hit them in the buds."  But Meleager couldn't get over the shock; he just curled into a ball and could be heard whispering softly "the trees, the trees..."

Despite the best efforts of his immediate support, Jason was being hammered.  The water elemental had him pinned on the ground and was debating which was the best way to finish the hero off for good.

Elsewhere, Pheidippides killed another of the tree monsters, though it took him rather more effort than Antigone had suggested.  More Argonauts poured forwards from the east, even threatening to overrun Medea herself.

Medea made a run for it, whilst Argonauts rushed from all sides to assist their beleaguered leader.  Those coming round the north of the ruined bath paused briefly to dispatch the dryad and treeman that blocked their way.

Jason may have been bruised and bloody, but he wasn't finished yet.  As the melee swirled around him and his friends were tossed aside by either the water monster or the enraged treeman, the hero stood up and stabbed the elemental.  His sword must have hit a vital spot for the creature hissed in pain [that's 1 of its 3 wounds gone, then.  Took a lot of effort to achieve even a single point of damage...].

To cap this, Antigone effortlessly slew the last tree monster, albeit assisted by several other Argonauts this time.

The water horse may have been alone, but it was by no means defeated.  It rounded on Jason and smacked him down again; once again the leader of the Argonauts lay groaning in the mud.  Brave Ialmenos smote the monster in the flank and (miraculously) managed to wound it [it's now lost 2 wounds out of 3].

However, the final word went to Atalanta.  After hanging around the fringes of the fight, looking for an opportunity to shoot with her bow, she suddenly remembered the Girdle of Venus.  The water elemental was an extra [it's a stop-motion monster, which counts as an extra rather than as a hero or villain] and was therefore theoretically vulnerable to an attempt at Seduction.

Atalanta called to the water horse with her most soothing, persuasive voice.  Probably she had an apple or two to hand as well - horses like those.  Hmm, to be successful, she needs to win an opposed morale test; her base morale is 3 and the elemental's stat is 5, so this is going to be tricky!  I decided to use an event card to gain +2 to my chances [event cards can be used for this minor effect rather than for the major effect which is printed upon them], thus making the base scores 5 vs 5.

Both sides rolled a dice to add to their total; both dice came up with a '2'.  This wasn't enough; Atalanta had merely equalled the necessary score and hadn't beaten it.  I had almost given up in despair when I suddenly remembered that Atalanta had Luck and could re-roll the die.  Excellent!  The re-roll was a '5', thus the heroine's total was a 10 vs the elemental's '7'.  Atalanta succeeded in hypnotising the water horse and bringing it over to the Argonaut's side!

Even though the Argonauts seemed to be running away with the game, the nymphs weren't quite done yet.  Dryope used her seduction successfully on Pheidippides.  As the pair were out of sight and a long way from any other models, I suspect that they walked off together into the sunset and that the warrior was never seen again (though his beautiful child might have returned to the world of men in 18 years or so)...

The game was sealed for the intruders when Antigone ran after Medea.  She found the sorceress cowering behind a tree and dragged her back roughly to the victorious Argonauts.


This was pretty much a total victory for the Argonauts.  Medea's forces were all but exterminated, whilst relatively few men were killed, seduced or otherwise lost.

The Argonauts had a few scary moments, mostly when the treemen burst from cover.  Despite their initial successes, these monsters couldn't handle the sheer numbers of veterans who counter-attacked them; the fearsome effect wasn't as useful as it might have been against less battle-hardened warriors.

Medea and the Hesperides had many interesting abilities, but these were barely used as the woodland cast tried to match the Argonauts in a straight-up fight.  The "hitty" treemen and water horse were given all that cast's activations, whilst the nymphs were left to be slaughtered.

Model of the Match: has to be Antigone.  She cut her way through 2 (or was it 3?) treemen and was the one to capture the sorceress at the end.  Brava!

Most Disappointing: I'd say it was a tie between Medea (who just sat around looking pretty after her initial summoning spell - not what one would expect from a major league sorceress) and Meleager (who was scared witless when the forest started to move and is, for all I know, still cowering in fear).

Sunday, 23 October 2016

Zomtober 2016, Week 4

<== For week 3, go this way


Another Sunday, another duel - it must be Zomtober!  Here are another pair of figures, one from each side of the zombie apocalypse, for your amusement, education or whatever else you gain from the brief time it takes you to skim over this article :-) !

The Duel

For today's show, we have a couple of older gentlemen (though I use that term cautiously; I'm not really certain that either of them is particularly genteel or well-mannered).  On the motorbike, we have Storm, whilst moaning at him from the side of the road is Old Man Zombie (OMZ).

It is possible, at least in my mind, that OMZ isn't really a zombie at all, but just an angry old sod.  He has made some strange wardrobe choices: the smiley tee shirt might have been a present from a favourite grandchild, but it doesn't really fit with the cold-weather hunter's cap.  Maybe OMZ is just a confused, older guy who is shouting at the biker for having thrown a beer can and cigarette butts at him?

OMZ is a Studio Miniatures plastic zombie, mounted on an Escenorama resin base and decorated with a home made tee shirt decal.

 Storm doesn't seem to have any doubts about OMZ's status: he's a target!  At this range, the biker's sub machine gun shouldn't have any difficulty at all in cutting down the zombie if it is used properly.  But (and this is one of my pet peeves with some wargames models and some Hollywood movies) if the bike is moving then aiming a gun sideways whilst retaining control of a vehicle is nigh on impossible!  One or the other will give: either the bike will crash or the shots will be essentially random.

Before anyone claims that just strafing a target with an automatic weapon will be good enough, I've done some simple maths.  If the SMG fires at 600rpm (not uncommon for such weapons) then there is 1/10th second between each successive bullet.  That doesn't sound like much, yet a vehicle travelling at a mere 36Kph (i.e. around 20 miles per hour) will move 100cm (about 3 1/4 feet) in that time.  Which gives you about a 50% chance of hitting a 50cm wide man at all, let alone achieving a crippling head or centre body shot on a zombie.

Storm is a Westwind Productions model, placed on a base of my own construction and decorated with a home made jacket decal.  There are very few 28mm biker-on-bike models around, yet I'd hesitate to recommend these kits.  They can be finished nicely and are not at all badly sculpted.  However, they are a real pain to put together and require quite a lot of cutting, filling and repositioning to achieve this result.  Not for the novice!


What happens next?  I think that Storm is attempting a drive by shooting and isn't prepared to take the chance that OMZ is really human.  As I've discussed above, I don't think his chances of hitting and killing the potential zombie are very good, but OMZ isn't going to catch the moving bike either.  However, the noises of the shooting and the motorcycle together are going to draw a lot of attention to this area.  Perhaps there are enough other zombies nearby to block the road and pull Storm off his machine?

Sunday, 16 October 2016

Zomtober 2016, Week 3

<==  For week 2, follow this link


This is a slightly late posting, but it's still Sunday and therefore within the Zomtober rules.  Phew!  I've been away for the weekend (it was my wife's birthday), so it's just as well that I had prepared these figures earlier last week than usual.

So, as is my custom for these posts, here's another duel between a zombie and a survivor.  What do you think happens next?

The Duel

Tonight's main attraction is a contest between Nadim and Chicken Man Zombie (CMZ).  Nadim is using an unusual anti-zombie weapon: a giant firework rocket ("The Big One").  He is wearing a handkerchief over his face, possibly to protect against sparks or to protect himself from inhaling zombie bits if his planned rocket attack is successful.  That may also explain the hoodie pulled up over his head.

CMZ has been described by the owner of Studio Miniatures (who make the figure) as "the unluckiest man in the zombie apocalypse".  I'm paraphrasing here rather than providing an exact quote, but I expect you get the idea.
After all, having a job that involves dressing up as a giant chicken is fairly unlucky in the first place.  Being bitten by a zombie and therefore infected yourself whilst at work in a job that requires you to dress up as a giant chicken is just stupendously unlucky!
[Hmm, that could be another theme for someone to pursue in Zomtober: "the unluckiest man/woman in the apocalypse".  Please feel free to use this if you wish...]

As mentioned above, CMZ is from Studio Miniatures, specifically from "Zombie Mob 002".  Like many of my recent urban figures, he's on an Escenorama base.  In this case, CMZ is trampling a sign that had been placed on the grass.  I found a picture on the internet of a suitable admonition, scaled it down, printed it and stuck it to the sign.  In case you cannot read the sign under CMZ's foot, the it reads "Please do not feed the birds".  There is also a small sheet of green paper on the ground nearby; perhaps this is an advertising flyer that has been dropped by CMZ?

Nadim is yet another of the young thugs from Offensive Miniature's "12 Street Kids" pack, in the Near Future, Rioting Mob range.  His base is also from Escenorama, though in this case it's a rather simpler pattern.  There's nothing on the ground here other than a small metal cover and a cigarette butt (visible in the earlier pictures).  Maybe that's what Nadim used to light his firework?

So, here's my reading of the situation: if Nadim hits CMZ with the rocket and if the firework catches on the zombie's costume then I've no doubt that the resulting explosion will do a lot of damage to the zombie.  But there are a lot of "ifs" here:
  • A firework is going to be hard to aim, firstly because of its inherent lack of directional stability and secondly because of the uncertainty over when exactly it will ignite.  It might have some value as an area effect weapon, fired into the middle of a mob (note that I wrote might, not should).  However, targeting an individual, even at close range, is going to rely on a lot of luck!
  • Even if the firework hits the intended target, the motor will probably still be running for at least a few seconds.  I reckon there's every chance that the rocket will just bounce off and keep going in a semi-random direction, unless of course the target has a lot of nooks and crannies in which the missile might become jammed.
  • A firework rocket contains gunpowder (or some close equivalent) as a bursting charge, but it doesn't have a metal case or anything else which might produce a lot of shrapnel.  Whilst blast damage isn't to be taken lightly by a human, a firework, even a big one, won't necessarily destroy a zombie.  If you're lucky (there's that word again) then the zombie will be sufficiently disabled to allow your escape.
No, I think that this is what happens: the rocket ignites but the backblast burns Nadim's face and blinds him.  The firework then skids off CMZ or misses him completely and the zombie attacks immediately and bites the stunned human.  Assuming, of course, that CMZ can bite anything whilst wearing that ridiculous costume rooster head...

Week 4 is here ==>

Sunday, 9 October 2016

Zomtober 2016, Week 2

<==  Week 1 is this way


Another Sunday in October; here's another Zomtober post.  As ever, the rules are that I have to show at least 1 zombie or 1 survivor.  However, I've made a habit of showing one of each, posed as a duel.  This week, its "B.B." versus "Cocktail Waitress Zombie" (CWZ).

The Duel

I've talked before about the possibility of zombies retaining some form of instinctive need to finish a task, notably with my zombie ballerina.  I imagine that in a few, extreme cases, a fresh zombie may attempt to carry on with some activity in which they were engaged before they were "converted", at least for a short time.  This might be used to explain those rare cases where the living dead wield a weapon including, on rare occasions, a firearm.

Thus it is with Cocktail Waitress Zombie: she's attempting to carry a tray of drinks without spilling them.  This is complicated by the fact that her high heels have caught in a drain cover.  The proximity of the interfering human isn't helping either!

"B.B." is a young hooligan with a catapult.  Some may sneer at this as a weapon, but it has many advantages:

  • It's quiet.
  • Ammunition is free and readily available.
  • A powerful catapult using 1/2" steel ball bearings will do a lot of damage to a target.  Not as much as a powerful handgun, admittedly, but perhaps equal to a .22 rifle?
Of course, there are some disadvantages as well:
  • Effective (accurate) range is quite short.
  • Once the rubber perishes, you probably can't replace it in an apocalypse.

CWZ is a Wargames Factory "Zombie Vixen", built straight out of the box.  I've added a couple of wine glasses to her tray; these come from Black Cat Bases.
B.B. is one of Offensive Miniatures "Street Kids", from their near-future rioters section.  I made the catapult elastic from a length of plastic rod, but otherwise he is also unmodified.
Both models are mounted on resin urban bases from Escenorama.

Here are the questions in my mind about this encounter:

  • Is B.B. trying to fell the zombie, or is he just interested in plinking at the wine glasses as a form of target practice?
  • At what point will CWZ give up her balancing act, discard the tray and just go for the human?
  • When CPZ finally tries to eat B.B., will she be able to catch him by surprise, or will he be nimble and alert enough to escape her clutches?
  • Will B.B be able to kill the zombie with his catapult?  If not, will he keep trying, or will he get bored and run off?

What do you think?  What happens next?

Week 3 is this way ==>

Thursday, 6 October 2016



Regular readers may remember my Witch Hunters and Witches warbands for the Song of Blades and Heroes rules.  Well, it's been on my mind for quite some time to expand my game by adding new factions.

Various ideas for forces which might fit into a loose version of mid-17th century England have come and gone.  I have recently built a 3rd, small force of French musketeers (on a secret mission abroad to find Milady, or fighting for or against the Puritans?).  Additionally, I may someday do a troop of hidden ghouls/cannibals (think Sawney Bean or "The Hills Have Eyes").  I might even build a force of Scots Covenanters, if only to have someone more fanatical than the English Puritans!

However, tonight I'm going to describe my 4th faction: the rats!

The Head Rat

So, here's the fluff: somewhere in the growing towns and cities of 1650s England, at least a few super-rats have evolved.  Either these are the discarded experiments of some careless natural philosophers, or they are the product of satanic dark magic.  However they came to be, the dark alleys and deserted barns are now infested with a huge number of variously-sized plague-carrying vermin!

The leader of the band is the creature above.  He (she?) doesn't have a name - at least, not one that I could pronounce.  However, the head rat is man-sized, intelligent, bipedal and understands people well enough to attempt to disguise its appearance so as to be able to pass amongst them without challenge.  I suspect that it has unholy powers as well...

This model is from Black Tree Design.

Little Rats

As I understand it, all swarm models of the same type in Song of Blades and Heroes must remain in base contact.  That makes this just one very large swarm of rats, rather than a number of smaller swarms.  Hopefully this will provide an unusual challenge for their enemies!

The rat swarms are from Black Cat Bases, who make (in my opinion) all of the best swarms for 28mm figures.  They really do look like a seething mass of small animals, rather than 4 or 5 separate models which just happen to be sharing the same base.

Mind you, looking at the other models in this band, the rat swarms' bases seem a bit bare.  Hmm, perhaps I ought to put a little grass on them, to add a bit of different colour and texture?

Big Rats

About the size of a large dog, these critters aren't a match for a human soldier one-on-one.  But whoever said that they would attack one at a time?  There are enough of them to surround a careless person and give him a whole load of grief.

Models are old Games Workshop plastics; I've had these for quite some time.

Biggest Rat

At the other end of the spectrum, the warband has one huge, nightmare rat monster!  Although sold as a "Giant Wererat" (it's a Reaper Bones model), the animal has huge chunks of flesh peeling away from both flanks.  Either someone has already carved it up a bit or the stress of its mutation is tearing its body apart.

I think that I prefer the latter explanation; it's clearly a diabolical abomination and if such a creature was unstable (with a lifetime measured in hours after its transformation, at most) then the world would be a safer place for people like me.  Not much safer, but every little bit helps, right?


I've collected and painted these models over quite a period of time, so the styles and colours aren't quite the same.  Rather than repainting any of them, I'm tempted to just paint up more models instead (I've still got many of the dog-sized rats).    I'll probably add some grass to the swarms, but other than that these are all completed.

So, is this a good warband?  What powers or vulnerabilities might it have?  Are there any obvious gaps in its composition?  What do you think?

Sunday, 2 October 2016

Zomtober 2016, Week 1


It's the first Sunday of the 10th month in the year, which means that it's Zomtober!  I've not seen much evidence that anyone else plans to mark this, but I've been presenting articles for the past 3 years (2013, 2014 and 2015); I don't intend to break the pattern now.  So, here is another duel; a pairing of a zombie and a survivor, both recently finished models.  Who will win this one?

Zomtober 2016, Week 1

For the humans, today's contender is "Postie".  He's a teenager or young adult, wearing a leather jacket and crash helmet.  I'd give him points for the level of protection provided by such clothing, though the helmet might reduce his hearing and peripheral vision a bit.  However, his choice of weapon (an unused fence post) is probably sub-optimal and his posture suggests that he's a bit hesitant and afraid.

Facing him is "Mantic Plague Zombie".  I had wanted some zombies in army uniform for a while.  Earlier this year, I saw a box of Mantic's sci-fi infected troopers on sale (for a rock-bottom, bargain price) and I just couldn't resist.

MPZ has full battledress, including helmet and body armour - apart from any boots.  He is (was?) also a large man and therefore looks capable of overpowering Postie quite easily.  However, the zombie seems to be putting most of his effort into thrashing about and roaring, though whether this is an attempt to intimidate his victim or is a reaction to his own pain and anguish isn't entirely clear.

The human figure is from Offensive Miniatures; he's one of their "street kids".  I've mounted the figure on a resin base from Escenorama (I still have many of their bases remaining, even though it's 2 years since I first obtained them: here).

Annoyingly, the paint on the base has "silvered".  In my haste to prepare the figure for today, I haven't let the wash dry completely before varnishing it.  I'll have to re-paint the base.

As mentioned before, the zombie is a model from Mantic Games.  These are hard plastic figures in a variety of contorted, agonised poses.  Most wear uniforms and have body armour, but quite a few are bursting out of their clothing ("hulk-ing") and have spiny bits growing from their flesh.  That's all very well for a science fiction plague, but doesn't really fit in with my world of zombies, so I've removed the spikey bits wherever possible.


If this was a typical, urban zombie then it's possible that Postie might be able to impale the creature and keep it at a distance with his stake while he works out what to do next.  However, I cannot see this working against a large, raging monster that is wearing body armour.

Keep the stakes for vampires, Postie!  Run away, as fast as you can.  If your motorbike is handy then use it instead; that would be even better...

Week 2 is here ==>

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

28mm Captain Haddock

You Wait For Ages...

I'm annoyed.  I've just gone to the trouble of converting a figure to use as Captain Haddock.  For anyone who doesn't already know, the Captain is Tintin's best friend and sidekick (after Snowy, the dog) and you can't really have one without the other.  I previously built Copplestone's excellent Tintin and Snowy and needed a Haddock to go with them.  So, here's my model:

Haddock is a perpetual and extreme drunkard, but is fiercely loyal and has an impressive command of nautical-themed invective.  He is usually dressed in a blue roll-neck pullover, captain's cap and a black blazer, but I couldn't find any model quite like that.  There were the occasional U-boat commanders or similar models that just about had these elements, but they really looked too thin and fit to be the past-his-prime Haddock.

In the end, I used a figure from Black Cat Bases - a seaman with gun and pipe - but I've removed the pistol and replaced it with a whisky bottle.  Haddock is sometimes seen without the blazer, so I think this is acceptable.  I'd have liked my model to have less in the way of sideburns, but that's perhaps a bit picky.

Then Two Come At Once!

So, if you have read this far then I bet you're wondering why I'm annoyed.  After all, this is a pretty good figure, right?  Well, I had just finished this figure and was wondering how to model Professor Calculus, Thomson & Thompson and possibly other members of the gang.  I'd even gone so far as to inquire on The Miniatures Page after sources of 28mm umbrellas (basically, there aren't any available as separate pieces).

Then I discovered that someone else, with rather more sculpting talent than I have, has done this.  Not only has he worked out Pulp Alley stats for Tintin and his mates already, but he has made his own figures for at least some of them!  And there's more: reading down the thread, there's an intimation that these models will soon be available from 1st Corps Miniatures (note that there is no mention of this on the 1st Corps website, though - and this would seem to be a bit of a departure from their usual offerings).

So, maybe if I'd just waited a month or so then I wouldn't have needed to make my own conversion or spend long hours pondering how to make the other models needed for a game...