Friday, 26 August 2016

Vampifan's Views 83 - Monthly Musings 57

This has been a fantastic month for me. I have a lot of good news to share but first I will start, as always with another picture of the gorgeous Vampirella as painted by Joe Jusko.

On the painting front, I have been extremely busy working on my Shadows of Brimstone 30mm scale figures. I have painted two thirds of my collection and have taken photos of most of them. That's over 60 figures all done this month! Expect to see lots of reviews of these Weird West figures next month. Shadows of Brimstone is a game that greatly excites me and I can't wait to start playing my campaign and of course, chronicling it on my blog. In a related topic I have been buying more MDF scenery for my Wild West games. I bought two more log cabins from 4Ground and lots of furniture items from TTCombat (chairs, tables, bar counters, bottles and coffins). I haven't made any of these yet as I only recently received them, but they will get made sooner rather than later.

The best news ever for me, was that I received my huge parcel of goodies for the Battle Systems Urban Terrain sets. Good grief, but that parcel was HEAVY! I spent far more on this Kickstarter project than any other project I have backed. I won't say how much, but I consider it money very well spent as these sets are going to totally transform the way I play so many games. Let's take a look at some of the stuff I got. Note these photos were taken from the Battle Systems' website.
I bought four cityscape sets. The photo above shows just what you can do with four sets. Each set comes with a gaming mat measuring 60cm by 60cm (roughly 2 feet square), which are made from synthetic cloth with a 2mm thick rubber foam backing, much like a mouse mat, making them very durable. The four sets combined as above will cover an area four feet square. Just imagine gaming on a board like that! These sets are ideal for zombie apocalypse games or contemporary 7TV2e games but I also plan on using them for my forthcoming Judge Dredd campaign (more of which later).
I also bought two shanty town sets. The photo above shows the contents of one set. Again, this set is ideal for any post apocalypse game or even a contemporary setting that takes place in the slum area of a city. This set will also see extensive use in my Judge Dredd campaign. Mega City One is now just a shadow of its former glory as much of the vast metropolis was destroyed in a recent war and its population greatly depleted. Shanty towns are now prevalent there.
Here we see one of each of the cityscape and shanty town sets combined, which just goes to show how versatile they are. This is how I want my Mega City One to look like. This is what I love about these sets - you can mix and match to your heart's content. Later this year, Battle Systems will be launching a new Kickstarter campaign - this time featuring sci-fi terrain. I can't wait for it to be released as it will give my Mega City one a more futuristic feel and allow me to recreate the interiors of the vast city block buildings. I have cut back on the Kickstarters I'd like to back but this one just fills me with excitement. Best of all, it will be fully compatible with the urban terrain sets.
Here's a preview shot of what you can expect to find in the sci-fi terrain sets. I am drooling over this already as my mind fills with ideas for gaming possibilities. In a rather prescient move on my part, I bought a couple of the sci-fi terrain mats which were on offer as an add-on extra. That's forward planning for you!
In addition to the four cityscape and two shanty town sets I also bought numerous add-ons, including these fine houses to make a suburban housing estate set up. Other sets that I bought were the fire station and police station, the art deco buildings set, the diner set, the generator set and a fair few duplicates of sets from the cityscape and shanty town sets.
Bear in mind, these sets are made of thick card, they can be assembled by means of plastic clips and when you've finished, disassembled and stored away flat. Roofs and floors can be removed easily to gain access to a building's interior. In addition to the buildings the sets also contain loads of furniture items, scenery items and scatter terrain. For these smaller parts, I'm glueing them together. One other thing I'm doing, which is a pain in the ass, but essential in my opinion is to paint the white edges of the components. This is something I do with all of my card scenery and the results speak for themselves as a sofa, for example, that has been edged looks like a proper miniature sofa and not a cardboard cut-out. It is very time-consuming but well worth doing. Note that everything shown in the photos above have been edged, so Battle Systems also think it is worth doing.
Finally, I also bought a couple of these transition game mats to better combine the cityscape mats with the shanty town mats. I really do love these mouse mat style gaming mats. These sets are incredibly versatile. I remember that World Works Games attempted to make buildings and scenery that could be assembled without glue and taken apart after use. They were the TerrainLinx range, often abbreviated to TLX. I really disliked them and I never made any of them as they were overly complicated to make. Plus, I much preferred buildings that did not come apart. What Battle Systems have done is solve the construction problem that WWG failed to grasp properly and they have made these flat pack sets such a must have item for gamers with storage problems. I'm a convert to their way of thinking. These sets most definitely appeal to me and I rate them the best thing to happen to my gaming hobby!

As I mentioned above, I am keen to start a Judge Dredd campaign. I will be using the Judge Dredd Miniatures Game rules by Mongoose Publishing. I am currently building up my collection of Judge Dredd figures, which is fairly extensive anyway, with the figures and vehicles I'm missing from the Warlord Games range of Judge Dredd miniatures. Warlord Games currently sell the largest range of 28mm scale Judge Dredd figures. Their various boxed sets are a cheaper way of buying the figures when compared to buying each one individually. You're usually saving £10.00 per box.
My plan for my campaign is to use a small force of Mega City One Judges, who will all be named after my blogging friends. The force will be led by me, Senior Judge Scott. The other Judges I'm planning on using are Street Judge Gilbert (my good friend and co-editor of The Gamers Cupboard, Steve), Street Judge Hillers (Steve's wife), Street Judge Moore (Simon/Blaxkleric), Street Judge Webb (Roger/Dick Garrison), Street Judge Crowe (Jez, who asked to be called Judge Crowe instead of Judge Winstanley), Street Judge Burnett (Clint), Med Judge Nash (Andy/Da Gobbo) and Psi Judge Tarot (Tarot from the Gamers Cupboard). These names and posts are not yet set in stone. So if you want a name change (Hil and Jez did), just let me know. Also, if you want to play another role like for example Cadet Judge (surely not!), Rookie Judge (again, surely not), Exorcist Judge (unusual), Heavy Weapons Judge, Riot Judge, or Tek Judge, just let me know and hopefully we can work something out. The campaign will be more combat oriented and less investigative. If anyone doesn't want to be included or wants to be included but hasn't been mentioned, do let me know. I don't know when I'll be starting this campaign but anywhere between one and two month's time is most likely. Depending on interest I may well run a play-by-blog scenario to run alongside the campaign, using the same characters. This however, will likely happen next year after everyone has gained some experience and risen in levels.
If you are interested in my look at a history of gaming Judge Dredd on the tabletop, please check out my article on the Gamers Cupboard blog which you can find here -

Generally speaking, my Monthly Musings post comes at the end of the month but I've posted this one a few days early because my next few posts will be a Zombicide batrep, which I wanted to run over consecutive posts without a break in the middle. It features the return of Elsa and Gary, who fled from a growing horde of Zombies and Crowz.

Monday, 22 August 2016

Zombicide: Black Plague - Dork Tower Survivors

Back in 2015, I posted a rather unusual review of four cartoon Survivor figures I wanted to use in some games of Zombicide. You can check it out - here.
For those who can't be bothered to check it out, here's a pair of photos of the four figures from that review.
They are from left to right, Matt, Gilly, Igor and Carson from the Internet cartoon strip, Dork Tower. These were specifically designed for use in Zombicide. I said at the time that I would review my Zombicide: Black Plague versions of them, plus two of the characters, Ken and Kayleigh, who were missing from the contemporary set. Well, here they are. I have had the fantasy versions of them for nearly a year now and painted them as soon as I got them. I was just waiting for the right opportunity to show them and that time is now.
There is a story to tell about how I came to own these six figures. Steve Jackson Games made a boxed set of six 28mm scale Dork Tower figures. When I went to purchase this set last year I discovered to my dismay that it was out of production. Bummer! So, I instigated plan B and luckily found one eBay seller who had a set for sale at a very reasonable price. The box art was correct and he included a photo showing the three heroes, Carson, Kayleigh and Ken, who you can see after these three directly below (Matt, Gilly and Igor). His description suggested it was a full set of figures but when I received it I found it was missing Matt, Gilly and Igor. This was not good. Should I return the parcel, claiming I had been mis-sold due to the set being incomplete? That was kind of a grey area. Sure, his photo showed the three figures that came in the box but there was no warning that three figures were missing. Plus, no one else was offering a set for sale. In the end I decided to keep them and I bought a second set of the contemporary Dork Tower Zombicide Survivors shown above. Once they arrived I set about converting the figures of my missing trio. I based my conversions on the box art of the Dork Tower fantasy figures set and a few photos from the Internet of the missing trio.
At the far left is Matt McLimore, an every-gamer, and the person most likely to be in the middle of things. Gaming is in Matt’s blood — he was born to live La Vida Dorka, and worships the game, Warhamster. Still, he tries to reconcile his love of gaming and popular culture with a desire to function in Society. Society appears to be on the losing end of that proposition more often than not. Friendly, unassuming, and sometimes personally insecure about his role in the world, Matt will thus always manage to be at Ground Zero for the fanboy excesses of his Mud Bay pals. His fantasy character is a Ranger. His conversion had the most work done to him. I kept his head and part of his upper body. Everything else was discarded. His bow and quiver of arrows came from my spare parts box. The rest of him was sculpted out of Green Stuff modelling putty, which effectively meant his hat, body, arms, legs, belt and dagger. He turned out okay and I'm quite happy with him, although, obviously, I'd have preferred to have the metal version of him.
Next up is Gilly Woods, who is Goth by design and perky by nature, a combination which is a constant embarrassment to her brother, Walden, the Dark Lord of Mud Bay’s Goth community. Though close friends with Igor, it was a long time before she actually got to meet Igor’s buddy, Matt. Once they did encounter one another Matt was immediately smitten, and the pretty Perky Goth and the shaky but sincere young gamer appear to have a great deal in common — including chronic datelessness and a feeling of not quite fitting in. Timing is everything, however, and Matt’s was characteristically bad, meeting Gilly only days after hooking back up with his ex-girlfriend, Kayleigh. Gilly has taken on the role of a Magician. She was the easiest of the three to convert. I cut her in half at the waist and removed her twin pistols and her pigtails. I gave her a long dress and let her hair down so it flowed all the way down her back. I remodelled her left hand. I think she has come out really well. I'm very happy with her conversion.
To Igor, anything worth doing is worth overdoing. He throws himself into every new game, comic, craze, hobby and pastime with an overwhelming enthusiasm that has made him the official poster boy for Reckless Abandon. As the Power Gamer’s Power Gamer, Igor Olman is a die-hard, take-no-prisoners action junkie. He is in love with Apollo Smile. He is a god to min-maxing RPG munchkins everywhere, and a games-master’s worst nightmare. Igor had to be a fighter, although I am somewhat surprised he is not very heavily armed, although  I bet his sword is probably the best magic sword in the game. He was easier to convert than Matt but not as easy as Gilly. I cut off his arms and all of his weapons, and I carefully removed his headband. His sword arm and sword originally came from an old GW plastic Skeleton, I fleshed out the hand and the arm. His shield came from my spare parts box. His tabard and chain-mail armoured arms were made out of Green Stuff. I am happy with this conversion. It is interesting to compare my conversions with the original trio just to see how much they have changed. This is another reason why I included those two photos at the start of this review.
These next three are the official Dork Tower fantasy figures. From left to right are Carson the Muskrat, Kayleigh Hardcastle and Ken Mills. Let's take a closer at them and their backgrounds. These figures are made of metal and came with small integral bases. I glued them to 25mm diameter MDF bases.
Sweet-natured and easygoing, Carson is everyone’s friend and seems to fit in everywhere — which is somewhat surprising in itself because Carson is a muskrat. He is equally at home rolling dice in Matt’s various role-playing games, playing the latest console combat extravaganza, or just surfing the web. More a follower than a leader, Carson trustingly goes into role-playing situations secure in the knowledge that his boon companions will probably end up using him for a battering ram or attracting the attention of a hungry beastie who will suddenly develop a craving for Muskrat Surprise. He has a job as a part-time worker at the local Internet cafe. Carson has chosen the role of a Thief to play as his fantasy alter ego. He appears to be unarmed but he could be hiding anything in his robes.
If there was ever an Odd Couple for the new millennium, it is Kayleigh and Matt. Kayleigh Hardcastle is prim, sensible, conservative, and can’t understand what Matt sees in games, science fiction, pop culture — and, especially, his dorky friends. Nonetheless, she’s decided to give it a chance, joining Matt’s gaming group. Ken is amused. Igor is appalled. And Matt is stuck in the middle because Gilly has joined the group, too. Torn between his commitment to Kayleigh and his attraction to Gilly, Matt’s only remaining refuge is in the friendly confines of the local games shop, Pegasaurus Games, run by Bill Blyden. Being a woman of virtue, Kayleigh chose to play a Paladin. She is heavily armoured in full plate armour and shield and she carries a sturdy sword. Against all the traditional conventions of heraldry she has painted her shield pink with a white female symbol.
Ken Mills is the Thinking Man’s Fanboy, often providing a much-needed Voice of Reason. Nonetheless, Ken is 110 percent Dork (and I mean that in the nicest way), as capable of exceeding the legal limit for pop culture in-jokes and marathon game-and-junk-food consumption as anyone in Mud Bay. Even so, he appears to be closer to what Society deems Normal. Ken has opted to play a Cleric character and he is armed with a studded mace.
Here is a group shot of all six Survivors grouped together. I think they fit together as a unit very well and I wonder how many of you would have guessed that three of them were conversions if I hadn't told you? I will be using them in Zombicide: Black Plague but I have yet to create their character stats. I won't be using their contemporary Zombicide skills as some like Helicopter Pilot are not relevant in a fantasy setting. With their character archetypes of Cleric, Fighter, Magician, Paladin, Ranger and Thief, they have all the bases covered and they should work well together. Well, that's the theory!

Friday, 19 August 2016

Zombicide: Black Plague Male Walkers 01

This is the last of my posts reviewing all of the figures that are contained within the Zombicide: Black Plague core set. I have left the most numerous type of Zombie until last - the Male Walkers. There are 21 figures of Male Walkers, which are sculpted in three different poses. Apart from the gender change, Male Walkers are identical to Female Walkers regarding the rules of the game.
Two of these three Male Walkers have not been converted. For the one at the far left, I copied his colour scheme from the rulebook. The one in the middle has the red and blue livery that I used on one of each Zombie sculpt.
The Walker at the far right sports my dark brown and ochre yellow colour scheme, which has also been used on one of each of the nine Zombie sculpts. I drilled a hole through his chest and inserted a short spear from my spare parts box into the hole. The pointy bit is sticking out of his front but is rather obscured by a lot of blood. Actually, the spear was a lot longer but I had to cut a good bit off from the back because it stuck out too much and made it difficult for me to store him in the box with the others.
These next four have all been converted. Starting with the Walker at the far left, I drilled a big hole into his stomach. I don't know why I didn't have any intestines spilling out of it. A lapse on my part! Next to him, this Walker had his left arm hacked off at the elbow.
For the Walker second from the right I glued the severed gloved arm of a Fatty to the back of his base. It looks huge, doesn't it? The Walker at the far right had his lower body swapped with the lower body of another Walker, whom you can see below in the final two photographs. I like how he is lurching to one side.
These next three Walkers are all unconverted. Only their paint schemes makes them look different. The Walker at the far left is leaning forward more than the other two next to him.
I have nothing to say about the other two other than they sport the by now familiar red and blue and brown and ochre colour schemes.
These next four Walkers have all had minor conversions done to them. The Walker at the far left had a few holes drilled into his body. The next Walker in line had his arm chopped off below the elbow.
The Walker second from the right had a severed arm glued to the back of his base. For the Walker at the far right I repositioned his right arm so that it is bent at the elbow and pointing forward instead of to his side.
These three are the last of my unconverted figures. It was just a coincidence that the Walker at the far right shared the same dark brown and ochre yellow colour scheme to the Walker at the far right, but I did swap round where the colours went on them.
The Walker in the centre of this trio is entirely unremarkable except to say he bled a lot from that stomach wound. Once again, where are the spilled intestines? I clearly wasn't thinking straight when I painted and converted these!
Finally, we have four more converted Male Walkers. The guy at the far left had a hole drilled into his heart. Next to him is another victim of hacked off arm syndrome.
The Walker who is second from the right has had a severed hand glued to the front of his base. Last of all, is the Walker who had the lower body swapped with the Walker I showed above. I had to remodel the end of his hood with Milliput.
It is a wonderful feeling whenever I complete a collection of figures. I know this collection is not finished yet, thanks to the many expansion sets and add-ons I received, but I'm just happy to have completed everything from the core set. That in itself is a worthy achievement and it gives me another set of figures for which I'm very proud of.
I do have one more set of Zombicide: Black Plague Survivors to show you, but they are not official figures for the game. Let us just say, they are very different and leave it at that for now. I haven't decided whether to show them in my next post, which would round off this series of articles very nicely, or to keep them as a surprise for a future post. I'll mull it over and you'll find out what I've decided next week. Of course, if you do have an opinion on what I should do in this instance, please let me know in the comments section below.

Monday, 15 August 2016

Zombicide: Black Plague Female Walkers 01

I have almost come to the end of my reviews of the figures from the Zombicide: Black Plague core set. I only have the Walkers left to look at and because they are so numerous, I'm splitting my review into two parts - female Walkers this time and the male Walkers in my next post. The core set contains 14 female Walkers and their rules remain unchanged from the contemporary Zombicide set, i.e. they have one Action per Turn, one Wound each and they grant one experience point to the person who kills one of them. Individually, they are very weak, but their strength lies in their numbers. The more that appear, the bigger the threat they become.
The first three Walkers have not been converted. I copied the colour scheme for the Walker at the far left from the rulebook with one minor alteration. I painted her with a gouged out left eye.
The other two Walkers are in my red and blue chequered pattern and my dark brown and ochre yellow livery. Remember, I gave one of each Zombie sculpt one of these two colour schemes.
Next we move onto my conversions. The Walker at the far left has had a short sword thrust through her heart. I drilled a hole through her and inserted a sword from my spare parts box, which was then glued in place with superglue. The next Walker in line had her left hand chopped off. This is one of the simplest conversions you can do. These seven Walkers all wear head scarves.
The Walker second from the left had a severed arm glued to the front of her base. Otherwise, she remains unconverted. The last Walker in line had the biggest conversion done to her. She has had an upper body and lower body swap with the second female Walker sculpt, which you can see after the next two photos below.
Moving on to the second batch of female Walkers, this trio have not been converted at all. Only their colour schemes makes them look different.
They all have very long hair, which has been tied back in a pigtail. I prefer this sculpt to the first one I showed. I'm not a big fan of those head scarves.
These last four have all been converted. Starting with the Walker at the far left, she had a wide hole drilled into her left thigh, representing a savage Zombie bite, which resulted in her bleeding out. Next to her, this Walker had her right hand chopped off.
The Walker standing second from the right has had a severed arm attached to the back of her base. Never throw away any body parts you cut off your figures. With Zombies especially, they are very useful to add to their bases or even to have a Zombie holding a limb. Finally, the Walker at the far right had her lower body swapped with the Walker I showed you above. There was a slight gap between her two body halves, which I filled with Milliput. I also had to re-sculpt the end of her pigtail, which got lost when I cut her in half. As you can see, it is slightly bushier than the other women's.
Once again, I had a lot of fun painting these and converting them. I find painting Zombies intensely satisfying.

Friday, 12 August 2016

Zombicide: Black Plague Runners 01

The core set for Zombicide: Black Plague contains the same number of Runners as Fatties, which is 14. Like the Fatties, they come in two poses. I have converted some of them, just so they don't all end up looking the same. Runners in Zombicide: Black Plague follow the same rules as they do in other games of Zombicide. They have two Actions per Turn, just one wound will kill one and they grant one Experience Point to the Survivor who kills each one. After all Zombies (including the Runners) have gone through the Activation step and resolved their first Action, the Runners go through the Activation step again, using their second Action to Attack a Survivor in their Zone or Move if there is nobody to attack.
These three Runners have not been converted. For the one at the far left, I copied his colour scheme from the rulebook.
The Runner in the centre has been painted in red and blue livery, one of two colour schemes that I adopted for one of each Zombie sculpt in the boxed set. The second common colour scheme that I used was dark brown and ochre yellow, as shown on the Runner at far right.
Here are some of my converted Runners. The guy at the far left had a hole drilled all the way through his stomach. Then I slotted in a metal spear from my spare parts box through the hole. It probably caused his death as a human but won't affect him as a Zombie. The next runner in line has had his right arm chopped off above the elbow. A severed arm lies beside him. I think it is unlikely that it is his. It looks too fresh.
The Runner third in line has had a severed head added to his base, which you can see by his right foot in the previous photo. The Runner at the far right was most complex conversion. He has had an upper and lower body swap with the second Runner sculpt. The two body parts were drilled and pinned to hold them in place whilst the superglue set.
These three show the second of the two sculpts for the Runners. None of these Runners have been converted.
The Runner at the far right should have been in the dark brown and ochre yellow colour scheme but I got him mixed up when I was setting them up to be photographed and didn't spot my mistake until after I'd cleared everything away. It didn't seem worth the effort to re-shoot.
At the far left is the Runner who should have appeared in the previous two photos. He is not converted but the other three shown here have been converted. The Runner in the bright yellow trousers has had his left hand bitten off.
The Runner second from the right has had the arm of  a plague victim added to his base. It has a cadaverous green tinge to it and is covered in boils. The Runner at the far right is another upper and lower body swap conversion. Being made of plastic you can cut the body in half with a craft knife, but I find that takes too long, so I use a small saw instead. Once again, the two halves of the body were drilled and pinned.
I've said this before, but I do not like fast moving Zombies in games, books or films. I'm a traditionalist and I like my Zombies to be slow and shambling. That said, I am happy to accept Runners in the Zombicide games. They just seem to fit in so well and are always a dangerous threat to the Survivors whenever they appear. Go figure!