Tuesday, 12 November 2019

Bolt Action - Oddball's Sherman Tank

I have spent a lot of my time these past couple of months making and painting infantry figures to use in my Bolt Action games. The time felt right to start work on some vehicles. So, my first choice of vehicle to make and paint was Oddball's Sherman Tank from the excellent movie, Kelly's Heroes.
The tank is produced by Warlord Games as part of the official Bolt Action range and comes with a booklet giving its stats for use in the game. Stats are provided for a realistic version as well as the Hollywood version, which is so over the top.
The main body, turret and tracks are made of resin and all of the other parts are made of metal. As you can see, it comes with four figures - Sergeant Oddball sitting in the turret, Turk sitting on the turret, Private Moriarty the loader in the hull and the unnamed driver sitting next to him.
I have glued all the figures in place. Note the loudspeaker at the right side of the turret. At the end of each turn, Oddball's Sherman and any other Sherman within 12" loses D3 pin markers, such is the soothing power of Hank Williams.
There is a 90mm drainage pipe sitting next to the turret. If placed over the main gun barrel any enemy vehicle which can trace line of sight to the drainage tube must pass an order test to  activate, even if it does not have any pin markers. The Sherman's crew are immune to Tiger Fear because 90mm is greater than 88mm.
The Sherman is festooned with all sorts of gear, such as backpacks, jerry cans, crates and sacks. Who knows what loot they may contain?
The engine has been replaced by Moriarty's Detroit Motors engine, which allows the tank to move at wheeled speed instead of tracked speed. It also has the option of firing paint ammunition, which may be fired intentionally or by accident.
Oddball's Sherman is a great model, full of character and humour. As my only Sherman tank so far I'll be using it as a veteran Sherman tank using the standard rules. I'll use the Hollywood version rules in a special Kelly's Heroes scenario.

Friday, 8 November 2019

Bolt Action - US G.I. Squad 01

When I was putting together my Easy Company figures I purchased a few sets of American G.I.s from Artizan Designs. With the figures I had left over (they come in packs of four figures) I had enough to make up a single squad of infantrymen to use in Bolt Action. Here they are -
The section is led by a corporal at the far left. He is  armed with a Carbine. These are all regular Late War infantrymen.
Three of the squad are armed with .45 Thompson SMGs. Whilst not strictly legal rules-wise I am including them anyway. At the far right is the squad's Browning Automatic Rifle user.
 The remaining five men are all armed with M1 Garand Rifles.
I like this range a lot because the figures are very well sculpted in a variety of realistic poses. They certainly complement the Warlord Games plastic American Infantrymen very well. I have a box of 30 of them to make and they're high on my to do list.I am now expanding my American army to include airborne troops and regular G.I.s.

Tuesday, 5 November 2019

Bolt Action US GI Easy Company

Easy Company of the American World War 2 General Infantry was the unit that Sergeant Franklin John Rock served in and in this post I'm going to highlight him and his squads of men. Sergeant Rock is a fictional character appearing in American comic books published by DC Comics. Sgt. Rock first appeared in Our Army at War #83 (June 1959), and was created by Robert Kanigher and Joe Kubert. The character is a World War 2 veteran who served as an infantry non-commissioned officer. During World War 2, Sgt. Rock fought in the infantry branch of the U.S. Army in the Italian and European Theatres and eventually rose to authority within his unit, Easy Company. The unit was a collection of disparate individuals who managed to participate in every major action in the European war. Rock's dog-tag number was 409966, which had been, it was claimed, Robert Kanigher's own military serial number.
At the far left is the Warlord Games figure of Sgt. Rock. Being ambidextrous, he is shown holding a .45 Thompson Sub-Machine Gun in both hands. Naturally his uniform is torn because he is always in the thick of any action. There were a number of figures I could have used for Sgt. Rock but this is the one I liked best of all.
Next to him is Corporal Horace "Bulldozer" Nicholls, Rock's second-in-command. Big as an ox with a heart to match, he's had the closest relationship with the Sarge and calls the shots whenever Rock is out of action. His figure is a Heroclix version of Sgt. Rock but because of his size and physique he is a perfect version of "Bulldozer".
Ex-heavyweight champion Jackie Johnson is a private in Easy Company's roster. He was a Heroclix unnamed G.I. who I thought was a good match for Private Johnson.
Last in line is the fourth figure to be armed with a Thompson SMG, Worry Wart, who is convinced that every enemy bullet has his name on it. He is an unconverted Artizan Designs American infantryman with SMG.
Moving on, at the far left is Harold Shapiro, a mild-mannered history teacher who becomes "Wildman" when pushed too far. He was a Heroclix G.I. Medic whom I converted by adding his distinctive red beard and moustache and losing his medic markings.
"Four Eyes" is so nicknamed because he wears glasses. His figure was another Heroclix version of Sgt. Rock, which, in my opinion, was too static for an a iconic action hero but perfect for "Four Eyes". I added his glasses, backpack and assorted pouches.
Third in line is Private Terry O'Riley who hated the heat but became the perfect "Ice Cream Soldier" when the weather was freezing. A native of the hard-scrabble New York City streets, he's the company's wise guy. He is an unconverted Artizan Designs American Infantryman with Rifle.
Kneeling down is "Farmer Boy" who refused to let the war stop him from doing what he was born to do - grow crops. He is a Warlord Games plastic US Infantryman depicted growing a flower in his helmet, which he has adapted to be a flower pot.
These next four figures are all produced by Artizan Designs from their WW2 American Infantry range. At the far left is "Sunny" so called because of his ever cheerful disposition. He is the spotter for the team's sniper, "Little Sure Shot".
"Little Sure Shot" is a full-blooded Apache Indian tracker and is regularly Easy Company's point man. He is an expert marksman and what he lacks in size he makes up for with stealth, speed, accuracy and cold blooded efficiency. I added his trademark feathers to his helmet out of Milliput.
The bazooka team is made up of Short Round the loader and Long Round the bazooka firer. They replaced Zack, the one-armed bazooka operator who was killed in action.
Sadly, there are no rules for using Easy Company in Bolt Action. However, I would definitely class them all as veterans and I would give them the Stubborn and Tough Fighters special rules.

Saturday, 2 November 2019

Judge Dredd: Helter Skelter - a Review

This world is not the only one. That was the painful lesson learned by the denizens of Mega City One when Judge Death descended upon the city from Deadworld. With him, they first encountered dimension jump. The Dark Judges came again and again, ravaging the people of this world in their judgement. 
The Sovs' dimension shield flung nukes into alternate worlds during the Apocalypse War. Judge Cal brought old enemies to Mega City One, colliding different realities to destroy Dredd once and for all. Each time, the very fabric of reality was stretched and the line between worlds blurred.
Now, whatever was holding the world and its neighbours apart has shattered. Buildings flicker in and out of existence. Horrifying creatures roam the streets. People long-dead and from the far future are appearing, joined by many who had never existed in this world at all. Death and destruction rule supreme.
It's Helter Skelter.
But there is hope for those with the willpower to brave the chaos. As the worlds bleed together, some fragments of reality remain pure, untouched by the cataclysm around them. By finding and connecting these fragments, they can restore the world they're from and its inhabitants can return.
This is the rationale behind the Judge Dredd: Helter Skelter boardgame. The game is designed for two to four players but I have been playing it solo with two factions. The game board is double-sided with the Dan Tanna and Enid Blyton blocks shown on one side (see photo above) and the Grand Hall of Justice on the other side. To win, a faction must collect five of their fragments of reality and/or kill five enemies or any combination adding up to five. The game uses no dice but is entirely card driven. Gameplay is very simple and easy to learn. The rulebook is only 12 pages long. There are four factions in the game, each comprising of five unique 28mm scale figures.

The Judges
The Judges are the Law in Mega City One, the last bastion of order in a world gone mad. The Judges are fierce fighters who excel when working closely together, but they are more than capable on their own.
Judge Giant is a steadfast soldier and a fierce warrior, wielding his shotgun to deadly effect.
Judge Anderson's psi abilities weaken her opponents, leaving her foes vulnerable.
Chief Judge Hershey is a savvy strategist, excellent at manoeuvring herself and her team to deadly effect.
Judge Dredd is a force of nature, firing high-explosive rounds to destroy his foes.
Mean Machine has been drafted to join the Judges in the chaos, and his extreme capacity for violence is a welcome addition to the team.

The Strontium Dogs
The Search/Destroy agents, better known as the Strontium Dogs, are space-travelling bounty hunters and mutants warped by the fallout from the Atomic War. The Strontium Dogs rely on their ranged capabilities, but they aren't afraid to get up-close and personal.
Middenface McNulty is a seasoned warrior, well-equipped and hard-headed.
Durham Red is a powerful mutant with vampiric abilities, and a lethal close-up combatant.
Johnny Alpha, their leader, combines the supernatural abilities of his eyes with excellent gunmanship.
Wulf Sternhammer is a brawler through and through, and goes toe-to-toe with the strongest of them.
The Gronk is a timid soul and not much for combat, but it's always on hand to heal its friends.

Nikolai Dante
Nikolai Dante and his allies are well versed in war and chaos, hardened in the battles between the Makarovs and the Romanovs. They rely on their speed to get close to their foes, quickly trading range for melee powers.
Viktor Romanov is a solitary warrior, with his power to transform into an eagle granting him great mobility and strength.
Tsarina Jena Makarov is a born leader, commanding her allies on the battlefield with natural ease.
Nikolai Dante is an expert with his sword and his rifle, the courageous leader of the team.
Elena Kurakin Nikolai's bodyguard, promises a swift and violent end to anybody who threatens him.
Lulu Romanov has the power to create swarms of demons to overpower her foes, extending her reach.

Slaine MacRoth
Slaine MacRoth leads a small group of his closest; his wife and son, and his chronicler Ukko. Outnumbered and Outgunned, they rely on brute force and cunning play to reach victory.
Ukko is a cunning and stealthy dwarf, who causes a lot of damage when he gets up close.
Slaine MacRoth wields his massive axe Brainbiter, demolishing his foes, and is capable of transforming into a berserking hulk.
Niamh is a vicious and strong-willed fury across the battlefield, unmatched for speed.
Kai is trained in the Druidic arts, and is able to wield his magic for rejuvenation or destruction.
Warp-Spasm Slaine does not start the game but must be transformed into by Slaine. Once transformed, he remains in this form for the rest of the game.

The figures have all been ink-washed, which really shows of their stunning detail. I mainly bought this game for the figures but instantly fell in love with the gameplay. Up till now, no-one has ever made Nikolai Dante figures, so they are a most welcome addition. I was asked to provide a size comparison photo and here it is.
From left to right are a Wargames Foundry Judge, a Mongoose Judge, a Warlord Games Judge and the Osprey Games Judge Dredd. He is a good match size-wise but is more realistically proportioned. I will, of course, be painting all of the Helter Skelter miniatures.The sculpting of them is excellent. They are made of hard plastic.
Each player sets up on the board in five of 40 zones randomly selected by an opponent. Players receive seven action cards at the start of the game and can play any amount of them to activate their characters providing the card has a symbol that matches the chosen character. It costs one card to move one zone or to make an attack or defence, two cards to climb to a higher level and three cards to pick up a fragment of reality token. Fragment of reality tokens are randomly assigned to five zones not occupied by a player. Each turn, players receive three new cards to restock their hands but can't go over seven cards. The key to winning is knowing what cards to play on what characters, making it a very tactical game and a lot of fun.
For any 2000 AD fan, this is a must have game as I can't recommend it too highly. It's fast, it's fun, it's easy to play but hard to master, so give it a try. I have played it quite a few times now using different factions against each other and all my games have been very closely fought with either side having a good chance of winning so it would seen all four factions are evenly matched. As I said in my last Monthly Musings, Amazon UK are selling it for £39.00 instead of £60.00 - a massive saving.

Wednesday, 30 October 2019

Vampifans Views 124 - Monthly Musings 94

I have had yet another incredibly prolific month painting and model making. But first, I present another portrait of Vampirella as painted by Jim Silke. It certainly shows her in a playful and naughty mood. It does not offend me as I really like this picture. It does show just how skimpy Vampirella's costume is.

I mentioned above that I have been doing a lot of model making this past month. For Bolt Action I have made my first vehicles - two "Deuce and a Half" trucks for my American forces and Oddball's M4A3 Sherman tank. I have just about finished painting them so expect reviews of them very soon. Once they are finished I plan on making three German Hanomag Sdkfz 251 half tracks. These are plastic models. The two "Deuce and a Half" trucks and Oddball's Sherman were part resin and part metal, so were very quick to assemble. I thoroughly enjoyed making them as I very rarely make vehicles.

I was especially pleased to finish painting the last of my Core Space Trader crews. Expect a Core Space batrep very soon. I am still painting lots of figures for my Bolt Action project. I finished painting two American G.I. squads, one of which was led by Sergeant Rock and features about a dozen named characters, which I'll be showing very soon. I am currently painting some German specialist teams - a medium machine gun team, a medium mortar team, two sniper teams and a high command squad. They should get finished in the next couple of days. I am trying to get as many Bolt Action figures painted during November because of the following.

Warlord Games will be releasing the new Judge Dredd skirmish game in late-November, just in time for my birthday. Because I want everything to do with this game I have pre-ordered the Mega One Launch offer package, which features everything available from the first wave. At £230.00 it is definitely expensive but it is cheaper buying everything in one go than in buying the components individually. My favourite figure out of this launch is Judge Dredd on the Mk.III Lawmaster bike - a quite exceptional sculpt. The timing of this launch is perfect for me as I am very close to starting my Judge Dredd Role Playing Game campaign on my WOIN blog. I am more interested in collecting the figures than in playing the game, which is based on the Strontium Dogs rules. That's not to say I won't play the game but how often will be determined after I read the rulebook.

With me spending so much pre-ordering the Judge Dredd Mega One pledge I was hoping not to spend any more money on gaming items but lo and behold I spot this item to the left here on Blaxkleric's blog and knew I had to have it. This is Zombicide 2nd Edition, which has upgraded the rules for easier play and what I found most exciting, offers the Zombicide Role-Playing Book. That is something I am very keen to play. The new figures are a vast improvement over the ones in the original Zombicide boxed set. I was pleased to see that the original six survivors are still present with stunning new sculpts. In addition, I have also ordered the Washington ZC expansion supplement in which the survivors get the chance to meet the president of the USA. This is a Kickstarter game so won't be released until November 2020 barring any delays. I'm patient, so I don't mind waiting. Once again, I want everything that is available for this game so I have gone for the All Out pledge for £141.00. Given the huge amount of free stretch goals you get this is really good value for money. On the down side I am going to have loads of zombies to paint as well as a large amount of survivors. Ah, well, it'll keep me busy! Also, the figures and tiles from the previous contemporary Zombicide sets can be used with 2nd edition.

Yesterday I received the Judge Dredd: Helter Skelter boardgame by Osprey Games. This is based on  the Helter Skelter story from 2000 AD comics #1250-1261 written by Garth Ennis. Martin Wallace is at the helm once again here, bringing his Wildlands format to the tabletop but with a Judge Dredd spin. This miniatures board game has you playing as unique and iconic characters from the worlds of 2000 AD like Judge Dredd, Slaine, Nikolai Dante and Strontium Dogs as you rush around Mega-City One trying to find aspects of their shattered universe and of course crushing, blowing up, and shooting anyone who gets in their way. The game comes with 20 superbly sculpted 28mm scale plastic figures - five unique characters from each of the four factions. All of them are ink-washed in order to bring out the detail in the figures which means that you don't need to go that extra step to pretty them up if you don't want to! I have played the game once and absolutely loved it. The Strontium Dogs defeated the Judges in a very closely fought fight. I bought it primarily for the figures but the gameplay has really won me over and I want to play it again and again. The production values of this game is excellent and I have no criticisms to make. A review of the figures will appear in my next post. It has a RRP of £60.00. Amazon UK has it for sale at only £39.00, which is an absolute bargain.