Sunday 30 January 2011

Cat Lady

Cecilia the Cat Lady is the local eccentric homeless person. Many view her with deep suspicion; or at least those who see her at all- most look right through here as if she wasn't there. However, the wise know that Cecilia, and people like her, can be a valuable source of information, as not much happens on the city streets they don't know about.

I have just finished reading Neverwhere, by Niel Gaiman (one of my favorite writers). It's the story of the the people who 'slip through the cracks' in socialty, and enter a shadow world below the streets of London, a world occupied by strange and wonderful people.

This figure reminds me of the characters in the books (there isn't a Cat Lady in the book, but there could have been). I bought this miniature from Black Cat Bases. I have to be honest and say that some of the stuff from BCB is a bit ropey, but this miniature is really well sculpted and characterful.
She will make a useful addition to my collection of civilians and by-standers, and being based on a 30mm base, will also be useful for Pulp City too.

Thursday 27 January 2011

Predator Alien

Something is stalking the Superheros and villains alike. In the last few months a number of super powered individuals have been killed, their bodies having been found later, skinned, decapitated or otherwise mutilated. No one knows who, or what, is responsible for the killings. So far the only eye witness, a meths-addled tramp, has failed to throw any light onto the mystery: The only thing he could say was "The night came alive and took them!"

Predator aliens make a neat villain for a one off supers campaign. With their preference for hunting dangerous prey, what could be a more suitable victim than a gun touting cyborg or a 7 foot wall of living rock? The fact that they kill villains and heroes indiscriminately makes them a bit of a head-scratcher in a who-dun-it type adventure. Added to that the fact they are invisible, super strong and have cool high-tec gadgets too, any you have a ready made plot for a great evenings adventure.

I got this figure of Leon, who gave me a big bag of his hand-me-downs (thanks Leon). It's Copplestone Castings. It's also going to be useful for my scifi campaign, and for AE Bounty - I do like figures that are multi-functional.

Wednesday 19 January 2011

VBCW Cornhil Farm Battle

Time now for the second instalment in the 1838: A Very British Civil War (VBCW) campaign. In the second battle, Leon took control of Juan Caballero and the Wirral Socialists again, while I took Captain Webster’s Manchester Legion of the British Union of Fascists (BUF).
Helsby is a small town on the River Mersey, fairly unremarkable were it not for the fact a prominent outcropping of red sandstone, known as Helsbey Hill, overlooks it. The hill is the location of four fixed-gun emplacements that are one of the cornerstones of the Socialists defences, as they dominate the Mersey, the mires and the surrounding area. As such, the Socialists have seen fit to ensure Helsby has its own garrison, as well as fortifications and trenches. Taking Heslby will be no small task, but one that is essential if the Royalists are going to capture Helsby Hill.
Captain Webster of the Manchester BUF has taken upon himself to take Helsby Hill, as he believes that will be sufficient to draw him to the attention of the commanders of the army, and perhaps even the King. He desperately wants to earn status, with the eventual goal of becoming ennobled. To this end he has been probing the defences of Helsby in preparation for a push as soon as the weather bucks up. He has been given permission to commandeer Hoole Hall, just outside of Chester, to use as his head quarters, and he had a large force of BUF billeted in Hoole.
In preparation for the attack he has established a forward base and supply depot at Cornhill Farm, just south of Helsby. During his push he plans to relocate his head quarters there, and use it to resupply his troops. He has managed to scrounge a tanker of fuel from the army, and has sent it to Cornhill Farm until it is needed. A small garrison of BUF guard the farm, along with the farmer and his sons, who are die-hard royalists. Juan Caballero, while recovering from his wounds in Helsby, heard tell of the BUF’s planned push, and also of the location of the depot at Cornhill Farm. He hatched an audacious plan to capture the fuel tanker before the attack, thus delaying the push, and buying more time for the Socialists to reinforce the defences of Helsby.
Juan’s forces attacked at dawn, catching the defenders of the Farm by surprise. The bulk of the Socialists crossed the open fields surrounding the farm, coming under light sporadic fire from the defenders, but Juan sent one squad, supported by a pair of Russian-trained snipers from Liverpool, up the railway tracks to try to hold off any reinforcements that might arrive by rail.
The Socialist force stalled trying to find a way through the barbed wire stretched across the field. Although shots were exchanged with the defenders, casualties on both side were low. Finally word got through to Hoole Hall, and Captain Webster, grabbing what men he could (a platoon of BUF guarding the train station in Hoole) and raced to reinforce Cornhill Farm. The train arrived under full steam, its carriage laden with BUF fighters. Just as the heroic Spaniard led his men through the wire, Webster’s train drew to a screeching halt alongside the farm and the BUF pour out. Captain Webster, not as heroic as Juan, directed his troops from the safety of the carriage. The Socialists ambush the BUF as they scrambled off the train, wiping out one squad, and the sections HMG. The remaining squad, and Captain Webster’s command squad, struggle through the hedgerow to the farm, just as Juan’s Socialists storm the barricades and wipe out the last of the defenders.
The Socialist succeed in outflanking the BUF reinforcements, and the last BUF squad was wiped out, leaving Captain Webster and his command squad facing the whole of Juan Caballero’s force. The Captain surrendered to the Spaniard, and the BUF banner was captured, along with the fuel truck.
Later Captain Webster was handed over to agents of the BUF in Frodsham in exchange for some of the prisoners captured previously, along with a crate of good scotch whiskey and two packs of rough shag pipe tobacco. To Captain Webster’s continuing humiliation, the Socialists refused to hand over the BUF banner, and instead hung it in the dance hall in New Brighton, where it became an object of ridicule, referred to as ‘The Spaniard’s dish cloth.’

Friday 14 January 2011

VBCW Skirmish in Frodsham

This week Leon and I fought our first battle (well two battles) of our 1938: A Very British War (VBCW) Campaign. Our campaign is centered around the goings on in Wirral and Cheshire.
The Wirral is a peninsula that juts out into the Irish Sea between the rivers Dee and Mersey, and it holds a great deal of tactical importance to the siege of Liverpool. The Liverpool Free State (the Socialist lead government of the now independent city of Liverpool) is battling the forces of the Royalists and the British Government (in the form of the Manchester Legion of the British Union Of Fascists).
The Wirral is of great importance because its farms produce food for the besieged forces of Liverpool, while it’s industry (e.g., Birkenhead’s Shipyards, Ellesmere Port’s Chemical and cement factories) help the Liverpool Free State (LFS) maintain its control over the city.
The LFS controls most of the Wirral, but in the south of the peninsular Royalist forces from Chester and Manchester contest their control. Siege lines are drawn up between Ellesmere Port and Chester, and the Royalists know that if they can take the Wirral then the will be able to tighten their siege on the city of Liverpool.
Our opening battle was a skirmish between two patrols, around the town of Frodsham. Frodsham is a small town north of Delemere Forest. As neither the Royalists nor the LFS have a presence in the town it has become a haven for spies, smugglers, refugees and profiteers. Sergeant Major Ramsey, of the BUF was leading a patrol of twenty members through the farms on the outskirts of Frodham, when he encountered a similar sized patrol of Socialist Militia, lead by the Spanish Civil War veteran Juan Caballero (some time poet, some time painter, lover and fighter).

The Socialists seized the initiative and raced off to occupy the farmhouse. They use their van as a roadblock to stop the BUF outflanking them.

The BUF, slower to respond, skirted their way around the outskirts of the farm.
Sustained fire from the Socialists forced the BUF to skulk in cover, but Sergeant Major Ramsey managed to keep his squad moving, dashing from one patch of cover to the next. A lucky round of shooting from Ramsey and his men saw Juan Caballero go down, along with most of his squad, swinging the odds in the favour of the BUF. This allowed the BUF chance to regroup and press on. The Socialists move into the farmyard, seeking to push the BUF out of cover. Ramsey took a gamble, charging his squad into the open to counter the Socialists in the farmyard. Shots were exchanged at close range, and although Ramsey’s squad lost a couple of men, they all but wiped the Socialists out, forcing them to withdraw. The BUF capture the farm and some prisoners. The wounded Juan Caballero escapes with the remnants of his force in their vans.
This was a very basic battle, designed more to get us both familiar with the rules we were using that to test our metal. For the rules set we opted for FUBAR, a free downloadable game designed for demonstration games and alike. As such the FUBAR rules are very simple and quick to learn. They are printed on a single page of A4 paper. We felt that the rules performed well enough, but that they would be better if there were more squads involved. Also, because there is no points based system in the game, we felt that the BUF’s slight superiority in firepower games them a tactical advantage. (Although I was spooky-lucky when I rolled seven 6s on fifteen dice for shooting, mowing down the best part of a Socialist squad).

Thursday 13 January 2011

Here's My Gaming Table

My gaming table is, I think, rather unique. It’s my own invention, and I don’t know anyone else who has one like it, so I thought I would share with you how I made it.
For starters I wanted a roughly 6 foot by 4 foot table, that was light, easy to store, easy to move from place to place and was inexpensive. After trolling around the hardware and DIY stores I happened upon something that gave me a great idea- decorating tables!
Decorating tables are used when you apply paste to wallpaper. They are roughly six foot by two foot, and fold up. They are lightweight, and even come with a handle on the side!
My tables ready to be packed away in the garage- note the convenient carrying handle! Could they make it any easier?

I bought two of them, for about £14 each. Then, on a rare sunny day, set them up in the garden. I covered them in a layer of PVA glue, and then sprinkled on various grades of sand, to create areas of differing texture. When this was dry I used a roller to apply a couple of coats of thin white emulsion paint and PVA glue (50-50 mix) to seal the sand down and prime it at the same time. When this was dry I stippled the surface with paints. Initially I painted it red-brown, using Games Workshop paints. I would not really recommend this though, because it is too damn expensive. That was a few years ago. I have recently repainted it so it looks more desert coloured, to go with my wild west stuff, and I used some old GW paints and various coloured testers (little pots of emulsion paint you can buy from DIY stores to test your paint before you invest a load of money I buying a big pot).

Two tables clamped together makes a fairly stable, roughly 6x4 table

The two tables are clamped together with a couple of G clamps I bought from a pound shop. This creates a reasonably stable gaming surface. I made these tables years ago, and they have stood the test of time. They have been repainted, and have needed a few very minor repairs, but all in all, I think that for an initial investment of about £30, I think that have been well worth it.
Chuck a battle cloth on it, from Games Workshop, and it's easily transformed from Wild West, to rural England!

Wednesday 12 January 2011

Axles and Alloys Battle Report #1

Having built and painted four battle cars each, my son Charlie and I finally got round to a battle using our post-apocalypse cars. We chose to use the Axles and Alloys rules set for a number of reasons- firstly it promised to be fast and furious, secondly, it was highly recommended by a number of people on the Lead Adventure Forum, but mostly because it's free to download! (Here).
We started off on opposing sides of the table. Charlie had Dynamite (heavy chassis with turret mounted medium gun, armoured crew compartment and smoke launcher), The Exorcist (medium chassis, with two light guns and one medium gun, all in the front arc), The Destroyer (Medium chassis, with medium gun front, fire extinguisher, and ram) and Hulk (medium chassis, ram, front mounted medium and light gun). I went for a sporty Blue Lighting (Light chassis, two light guns- front, and nitro), Battle Bug (light chassis, light gun front, armoured wheels and napalm dropper), Disco Inferno (Medium chassis, Flame thrower- front, ram, rear mounted light gun) and Grunge (heavy chassis, Twin light guns in a turret, smoke launcher, armoured crew compartment).
Charlie proceeded cautiously; unwilling to risk a skid he kept his speed down, hugging train for cover. I went hell for leather, pedal to the metal, racing towards him as fast as I could. Initially things looked grim for my team. The longer range of charlies medium guns proved very effective, at least until I managed to close the gap. Then my superior speed and maneuverability started to come into its own.
Disco Inferno hunts The Destroyer- His flame thrower hits home- fortunately The destroyer had the good sense to pack a fire extinguisher!

Grunge, being slower than the rest of my team got caught up in an ambush, and had to use his smoke launchers, and a lot of burring rubber, to speed his way out of danger. I began to wonder why I fitted two light guns to Grunge's turret, when a medium gun would have given me better range and more fire power for the same cost. 'Still, it looks cool!
Quick, deploy smoke and get the frag out of here!

The Exorcist's formidable fire power takes out Disco Inferno in a ball of fiery death when he lights up the fuel tanks. Boom!

My team begin to feel the pressure as The Exorcist takes out Disco inferno. Blue Lightning punches his nirto to accelerate out of danger. Meanwhile Hulk catches Battle Bug unawares, and smashes into her with his ram, then blazes away with his guns at short range. Battle Bug only manages to escape by dropping a barrel load of napalm behind her. Hulk wisely swerves off to avoid it.
Crunch! Hulk Smash!

A generous application of napalm to the road surface discourages anyone from following the now badly damaged Battle Bug!

Now it came down to a matter of speed vs brute force. Blue Lighting and Battle bug, being lighter cars, were able to consistently out-maneuver their enemy, but lacked the punch to take them out. This wasn't helped when Blue Lighting lost one of his lasers off the front.

Battle Bug Deploys Napalm directly in front of The Exorcist, and he had no choice but to race through it, bursting into flames- he's taken out when he looses control and plows into a wall. Grunge takes a hit from Dynamite that blows out his fuel tank, and yet another of my team dies in a fiery ball of doom. Things are looking grim now with just two light cars left, and just two light guns between them.

Grunge dies in a big bang! Armoured fuel tanks are beginning to look quite useful.

The game comes to a conclusion when Hulk races through a pool of burning napalm to ram Blue Lighting. Both cars are destroyed out right, leaving only a dilapidated Battle Bug to face an almost unscathed Dynamite. Wisely Battle bug withdrew, limping away and leaving as mass of burning fuel, twisted metal and carnage behind.

To conclude- this was a great game. A+A is a fantastic little system- simple enough to be easily picked up, yet with enough complexity to allow tactics and cunning. Charlie had a great time (especially because he won- and I wasn't going easy on him). The lighter cars with their speed and manoeuvrability were not overshadowed by their heavier opponents, but the light guns lacked the punch compared to charlie's heavier weapons. My next plan to build some cars with heavier weapons.

More bang for your buck!

Tuesday 11 January 2011

Two More Battle Cars to Welcome in the New Year.

The first post of the New Year features a little project my son Charlie and I have been working on over the Christmas break, namely a couple more Mad Max style battle cars. Yet again Charlie, being a brutal, no nonsense type of guy, has opted for an army green people-carrier sporting a blood splattered ram (form running over post-apocalypse zombies), a belt-fed auto cannon strapped to the side, and a roof mounted heavy bolt gun. I opted for a more subtle sports car, fitted with a tank of nitro and two military grade pulse lasers on the front, hoping that speed and cunning will win out over brute force.

Yet again I am very proud of Charlie, because the painting on his car is with out doubt first class. He seems to have embraced this slightly bonkers topic with great enthusiasm. He is already pestering me to make some more.

If you like this, I will be posting our first battle report soon. We will be using the Axles and Alloys system available free of the net.