Monday 30 May 2011

Super Agent

The constant threat of meta-human activity has lead to some governments in the world to seek to control meta-human activity. One such government is the United States, whose draconian laws governing meta-humans have often been criticised by civil rights campaigners.
The US Government's principle agency to deal with meta-humans is MACE (the Meta-human Activity Central Executive), whose mandate covers meta-human crime and threats to homeland security.
Special Agent Mari Lopez is just one of many agents of MACE, specially trained and equipped to deal with a wide range of meta-human threats.

I am not sure who manufactured this miniature- I got it of my mate Leon, who decided he was probably not going to get round to painting her. I rather hope there are more of them, because I wouldn't mind building up a little team of MACE agents.

Sunday 29 May 2011

Scum and Villainy (Part 1): Pirate Captain

The universe is a big place, and one it it easy to hide a warship in. Little wonder then that some former Naval officers, when they fall out of favour with their respective governments, take to piracy to earn a living. Hal'ethar is one such individual.
Having fallen foul of the complex political machinations of Ethak high society, the warship captain Hal'ethar was sentenced to death in his absence. His loyal crew helped him evade the Death-hunters sent to 'terminate his command' and now they lurk amongst the Elysium Nebular, praying on free traders and sometimes even navy patrols. He is particular vicious when ever he comes across a Ethak ship.

There is a bit of a story to this miniature. It is one I have had in my collection for at least 20 years, but for some reason never got around to painting. Eldar was one of the first 40k armies I started with, back in the days of the oddly idiosyncratic 'Rogue Trader' version of the rules.
I found this miniature in a tin in my mum and dad's loft and thought it would make good eBay fodder. Oddly enough, when I listed it it did not sell, despite a low listing price, and being a very collectible model. I wasn't too sad, because I think I had already made my mind up that I wanted to paint it.
The sculpting and casting on this miniature is first class, especially given its age. It was a pleasure to paint. I chose a paint scheme reminiscent of Storm Trooper armour, because it contrasted nicely with the plate/chain mail look. I opted to give him blue skin and white hair to make him look more alien (and also in a nod to 2000AD's Rogue Trooper and Star Trek's Andorrans)

Friday 27 May 2011

Brigadier '38 Review

Solway crafts and Miniatures, the publishers behind 1938: A Very British Civil War (VBCW), have just brought out a rules set called Brigadier '38. This is the first rules set published for VBCW, although some homes spun rules have been freely available on the net for some time.

I should explain, for the uninitiated, that VBCW is somewhat unusual, in that it is more of a concept, that a game. The setting is in 1938, and is based around a fictional "what if?" scenario when King Edward refuses to abdicate, sparking of a British civil war. When the writers of the background came up with the idea, they felt that small games could be adequately managed using any rules set the players felt drawn to. This proved very popular amongst the players, as they didn't have to buy new rules etc, and could adapt systems they were used to.
For our games Leon and I adapted FUBAR which is a game written for participation games at events. FUBAR is a well thought out, well play tested, and very simple rules. It lacks a point-based army building system, which we got round by writing our own army list. FUBAR has the added advantage of being freely available in the net as a PDF.
Brigadier '38 has been developed primarily with larger games in mind, where lots of players bring their armies and participate in what the VBCW community refer to, not surprisingly, as a "Big Game". I myself attended Big Game 3 last year, and it was immense fun, but readers might recall I was underwhelmed with the rules set we were using as it was confusing, and open to interpretation. It is hoped that Brigadier '38 will overcome that problem.

I should add, at this point, that Brigadier '38 is not the rules for VBCW, it is just a rules set. It is not intended to become the only rules used, but I imagine it will become the de facto rules set for the Big Games.

When I first got the rules out of the envelope I was surprised: It is quite small. It is a handy sized A5 rulebook, ideal for slipping into the old gaming bag. The production values are quite high, like all of Solway's products, with high quality illustrations and lost of nice pictures of VBCW miniatures.

There is no 'fluff' background in this book- it is a pure rule book. For the details of the background you really need to buy the source books from Solway. The rules themselves cover most of the things you would want a VBCW game to consist of, like tanks, artillery, cavalry, communications, bicycles etc, and a simple and concise enough to speed up even the largest Big Games.

The games is turn bases, and each turn consists of Initiative, Orders and Movement, Firing (which is split into artillery, primary fire and secondary fire), Rations and Melee. The orders rules are the stand out bit for me, as I haven't played a game which used a system like this. officers can give commands out the the entire Brigade, or just a Battalion, or even an individual company (the basic unit of the game), and the rules cover the many problems with communication in 1938- crummy radios, telephone lines being shelled, signalmen being shot etc.

On a critical note, the rules are a bit scant on explanation, and that can lead to a lot of scratching of heads as you try to figure out exactly what it means. Once you have figured it out though, it is usually quite easy and obvious, but a few "for examples" would have helped clarify what is going on. In addition, there is often confusion around some of the terminology used. For example, you have the terms Battalion commanders, Brigadiers and officers used frequently, without an explanation for the exact meanings of the terms. Another criticism is the use of abbreviations without an explanation. One class of vehicle is described as "Softskin small in MC or MC combination"- I still have no idea what that means.

Even taken into account these criticisms, Brigadier '38 looks like a well thought out and well produced rules set, that will allow fast paced, and highly characterful games based in the VBCW world. I think it will be well suited to the games I play at home, with about 60-70 models on the table top, but will come into it's own for multi player games like the Big Games.

Tuesday 24 May 2011

Some News

Here's a few bits and bobs of news for me to pass on.

My old pal and gaming buddy Leon, aka Pulp Citizen, has completed his version of our 'Rooftop Rumble' battle report for Pulp City, over on his blog. I have to say, it's an amazing report, add one that I wholeheartedly recommend you check out- Seeing is believing.

The scores are finally in for Lead Painters League 2011. I came in at 43 out of 72. Not as good as last year, when I was just in the top 50%, but to be honest I thought the standard was very high this year. Well done to Frank who was the clear winner, and to everyone else who entered in the spirit of the game.

I have just posted a battle report of a VBCW battle we fought in Stourbridge last month. I posted it on the Gentleman's Wargaming Parlour on behalf of Ash, who organised this game. Ash had a computer problem, and lost all his photographs of the battle, so asked me to do the report for him. Here's a link.

Sunday 22 May 2011

What Every Villain Needs

What self-respecting supervillain does not have a secret underground lair, and what is the one thing that no supervillain lair should be without?


The ultimate status symbol amongst the supervillain community, nothing quite says 'megalomaniac' like a shark pool to dangle unfortunate heroes over.

These hungry critters are part of a pack of rubberised plastic sharks I bought from Toys 'R' Us for £5 (for about 20) a while ago. I chopped these three in half with a small saw, and positioned them on 40mm bases. The spay is just DIY filler (plaster) roughly blobbed on and allowed to dry. It was so cheap and easy to do that I might have to do some more- with frickin' laser beams!

These will be good for Superhero games (suitably Four Colour for my tastes) as well as for Pulp-Era, fantasy and even Kiss Kiss Bang Bang.

The Lead Painters League 2011

The Lead Painters League is over for 2011, and all that remains is for the judges to collate the points. In the past ten weeks I have painted a staggering 59 miniatures and 5 tanks, which has gone a long way to reducing my lead mountain and finishing of some half finished projects that, in all honesty probably wouldn't have been finished if it weren't for the competition.
Score wise I think I haven't done as well as last year. I was unfortunate enough to be drawn against some of the big hitters early on, but I made a better show of it in the later rounds- I won 4 and lost 6 rounds. I will post the final results as soon as they are available.
This years competition saw some remarkable entries from many people. I was particular impressed by two painters known as Hammers and Frank on the LAF. They consistently amazed me with the quality of their work.

Round 10's entry was themed 'From the Movies'. I opted for The Great Escape. Most of the figures for this round were from Ebob, but a couple of the Germans were from Artizan Designs. I was in a bit of a panic when my figures hadn't arrived a week before I was due to start painting them. I contacted Bob, of Ebob, and he said they were out of stock, and he was having difficulty getting more due to Salute 11. Eventually they arrived, and I managed to get all 10 painted in just five days, which I thought was quite an achievement.
I envision the Germans getting used for Pulp-era games, or perhaps a weird world war 2 theme. The British airman and Steve McQueen will get pressed into service somewhere in my VBCW armies, as air crew, mechanics and drivers.

Friday 20 May 2011

Rooftop Rumble for Pulp City

Skyline Looking Cool

Leon and I fought another Pulp City game yesterday- but one with a bit of a difference. We styled this one a Rooftop Rumble, as all of the action took place on the tops of the high-raised buildings in Pulp City. All the heroes and villains had to swing, jump or fly from on rooftop to the next. The big clock tower in the middle effectively limited lines of sight, to make the game a bit more strategic.

I was on the side of Justice two of the big hitters in Pulp City's hero community, taking the newly reworked Solar, the brilliant Dr Mercury. I also took the two rooftop vigilantes, Jade Hawk and Skyline (Obvious choices, given the terrain we would be fighting over).

To counter my force, Leon opted for Supreme Zed (a zombie supervillain!), The Avatar of The Jaguar, and his side kick, Stalker, and then, for a bit of long range poke, The Gentleman.

We both opted to take a reporter covering the story. I took Jane Summer, from Channel 4 News, while Leon opted for Channel 1's notorious glory hound Lance Waverly.

Now, unfortunately most of the pictures came out bad, so You will have to use your imagination a bit.

The Good Guys started out with an aggressive move from Solar, who flew across to the Villains building, ready to perform some serious beat down on Supreme Zed. Unfortunatly, Supreme Zed charged him and pummeled him out of the sky. Before he could recover The Gentleman took him out with a shot right between the eyes. This was a bit of a shock result, given how tough Solar is, and threw my battle plan into chaos.

Stalker and The Avatar of the Jaguar advanced across the rooftops on the opposite side of the board, and as soon as Avatar came in range he was pounced on by Jade Hawk and Skyline.

Normally the two level one heroes wouldn't have been a match for The Avatar and Stalker, but up on the rooftops Jade Hawk and Skyline are in their element, and they managed to take both villains out. Jade Hawk was badly wounded in the attack, but survived.

Elsewhere The Gentleman and Supreme Zed overpowered Dr Mercury, leaving Supreme Zed free to race across to the Hero's building, where he attacked Jane Summers, the reporter. She was no match for his brutal attack.

Skyline took out Lance Waverly, but not before the reporter could bag some impressive footage of the roof top vigilantes in action. Skyline then tried and failed to take out Gentleman, who had remained in the Villains building, and so the game ended with a very close result: Villains won by 1 Agenda Point because of Lance's film!

Sunday 15 May 2011

Argh! Zombies!

Reports are just in of a new outbreak of what experts have named the 'Z-Contagion'. It seems that police were called to an incident in a kebab shop is Sparkbrooke, Birmingham, when one of the customers reportedly 'went bazerk' and started biting other customers. The Z-Contagion soon spread, affecting another four customers before armed police could 'contain' the outbreak. Experts from the Department of Health and the Ministry for Zombies have been on scene, and say it is too early to attribute the Z-Contagion outbreak to a 'dodgy kebab'.
These rotten fellows are another Lead Painters League entry. I got them of Leon, who was chucking out some old lead. They are by Copplestone castings, and like all Mark Copplestone stuff, was a pleasure to paint. I have now got a hoard of 15 zeds, if I include those Christmas themed ones form studio miniatures I painted for Christmas Madness 2010. I plan on using them in my supers campaign, but also for a proposed zombie invasion Pulp City game, as some paint in the future- expect to see more zombies in 2011.

Friday 13 May 2011

Operation Ratcatcher Part 2 -Battle Report

Belatedly, I have managed to get around to writing up the battle report for the second battle of Thaunton Le Moors, our last VBCW game. we fought this battle on the same day as Part 1, but with the Lead Painters League and going on holiday, I just didn't get round to posting it until now.

If you would like to see it, pop over to the Gentleman's Wargaming Parlor (Link), the home of all things VBCW. Post a comment here, or on teh forum, to let me know what you think.

Sunday 8 May 2011

First FOW Tanks

My Flames Of war army continues to progress very slowly. I added Five StuG III panzer to the list of completed minis as part of my Lead Painters League entry. The StuG Assault Gun was a workhorse of the German tank companies, even if it was not as respected as the bigger tanks. I just had to have some in my German army after playing Company of Heroes on the PC.

I am rather pleased with the paint job on the camouflage, which involved a lot of blending and so on. I painted on the badge, as I hate using decals, especially tiny ones. The tracks I am not so happy with, however; I might dry brush some weathering onto them to finish them off.

I have found that painting tanks for FOW is much more fun than painting infantry, and on the plus side, you don't need to paint so many either, as they cost more points value.With this in mind my FOW armies in the future will probably feature a lot more armour, and minimal infantry.

Wednesday 4 May 2011

Confrontation War Band Begins

Lead painters league, the annual painting competition on Lead Adventure Forum, is always a good excuse to paint some projects that have been half-finished for some time. This latest lot is a perfect example of that. Me Old Pal, Leon, encouraged me to buy these guys, which are now out of production. I had to source them on Ebay, which is all part of the fun. Leon's idea was that we would each build up out war bands and duke it out as an alternative to warhammer etc.
That said, I didn't need much encouragement, as these are lovely miniatures, as all of the Confrontation minis are. It's a pity they are no longer being made.
With these five finished, I have the beginning of a war band. I think I will need about 15 models in total. As yet, as far as I know, Leon hasn't even started his yet, so perhaps this will serve as some encouragement to him.

These miniatures are produced by the now defunct French gaming company Rackham, for their game Confrontation. This faction is a human faction known Griffins. They are stunning models, and a joy to paint.
When painting them, I chose a tight pallet, drawing on the ecclesiastical purple to reinforce the idea that these guys are holy warriors. Following a style I ready about in an old White Dwarf 'Eavy Metal article I added the same purple, in tiny amounts, to all the other colours on the model, including the metallics, leather and even the flesh. This adds to a cohesive pallet that makes the models very eye catching. In addition I deliberately chose the same highlight colour (Bleached Bone) for the entire model.
I think that these might be the best figures I have ever painted.