Sunday 30 October 2011

Vampifan's Views 14 My Monthly Musings part 3

Vampirella by Enrich (aka Enrique Torres)
I was hoping my blog would attract 200+ followers by the end of the year and now it has. Yippee! The Hit Counter is well over 100,000, so in the words of my dad, I must be doing something right! It's very heartening to know that my blog has such a devoted following. My thanks to you all!

Well, my figure buying sabbatical came to an end as I sent away to Eureka Minis in Australia for some clowns with meat cleavers riding unicycles and a group of 7 Mangaesque schoolgirls armed with firearms. It would seem that my interest in clowns has been reawakened following the unprecedented support for the evil leader of the Killer Klowns, Sunny, in my last batrep, "Who's Laughing Now?" If anyone hasn't got the message by now, Sunny will return. I still have some painted clowns that I haven't shown you but I will also be adding some new figures to the gang.

This month I finished painting 18 Foundry 28mm scale misfits and outcasts from their Street Violence range. Currently getting painted are 20 zombie figures - 9 from Studio Miniatures' wedding party and Halloween sets and 11 from Wargames Foundry's Undead range.

On the card modelling front I managed to build the Finger and Toe Models' Quonset Hut, which you'll have seen in my last batrep and more recently, in a dedicated review. Work has restarted on completing my WWG Mayhem Police Station, so don't worry, I haven't forgotten about it. I'm busy working on furnishing the station's evidence room.

After reading the hugely enjoyable Rise Again by Ben Tripp I moved away from undead literature to something more mainstream - Spider Bones by Kathy Reichs. I'm a big fan of her forensic crime novels and of the TV series tie-in Bones. I finished reading Spider Bones last night and I have to admit it is not one of her better Temperance Brennan novels. Next up, I plan to read Rise of the Governor by Robert Kirkman. This is a tie-in novel to his comic series The Walking Dead. Fans of the comics will know exactly who the Governor is and what an evil piece of work he is!

October has been a barren month for cinema going as I didn't see any films at my local flea pit this month.

The picture of Vampirella that I've used to illustrate this post is the same one that I'm using as the background to my blog-site. I thought you'd like a better look at it. There aren't that many good illustrations that feature Vampirella with zombies but this one by Enrich is a cracker!

I'd just like to close by wishing you a very Happy Halloween. Have fun!

Wednesday 26 October 2011

Foundry Vampires

With the amount of coverage I give to zombies, you'd be forgiven for thinking that they are my favourite type of undead. But they're not. Vampires are. Vampires are so much cooler than zombies and having played Vampire:The Masquerade role-playing game (both the White Wolf and GURPS versions) I have quite an affinity with them. Plus, of course, Vampirella (all praise her name!) is a vampire. What this long-winded intro means is that I have some new vampire figures to review. These four 28mm scale figures come from Wargames Foundry's Undead set UND034 Vampires.
Dante the Cruel is the name of the vampire at the far left of the the two photos above. That's the name given to him by the chaps at Foundry and I have no reason to change it. He is dressed as a high class Victorian gentleman, which doesn't preclude being able to use him in a contemporary setting. Having attended a few vampire Halloween weekends at Whitby I can attest that quite a few Goth Guys (and Girls) like to dress up in Victorian clothing. Dante carries a skull-topped cane. His cloak is a separate casting and I painted it and the rest of the figure before gluing it in place, because otherwise, it would have been very fiddly trying to paint the spiral patterns on the inside of the cloak. He is very well sculpted and the sculptor has captured his haughty arrogance and potential cruelty very well.
Next to him is Cynthia Black and I just can't get over how closely she resembles Angelina Jolie. There is the mere hint of pointed fangs in her mouth. She is dressed very seductively in a basque and long dress split down the middle to reveal her panties and thigh-length boots. She also wears very long gloves. If she looks tall, then that is because she is. Although Foundry advertise these figures as being 28mm scale they are closer to 35mm scale. Cynthia is 35mm tall from sole of feet to top of head. Dante is not far behind at 34mm tall.
Next in line is Ophelia von Hagen, another sexy female vampire. She is dressed in a figure-hugging long crimson dress that flares outwards at her feet. She is armed with a long knife with a curved blade. I painted her eyes bright red to indicate she is not human and also that she is about to attack. She is much shorter than Cynthia and Dante, being 31mm tall but still taller than 28mm. I see this figure as being on the verge of uncontrolled blood lust. Very dangerous for whoever she's facing!
The final figure of the group is called Nosferatu. Oh dear, I'm sorry, Foundry, but Nosferatu is not a vampire name but a type of vampire. Players of Vampire: The Masquerade will know that the Nosferatu were one of the seven clans who made up the Camarilla. I have named my figure, Graf Orlok, after the vampire played by Max Shreck in F.W. Murnau's silent film, Nosferatu. Orlok is the least human looking vampire out of the group. In V:TM the Nosferatu were noted for their ugliness. This figure has a hunchback, long bat-like ears and a very ugly face. In other words, a perfect Nosferatu vampire.
I was very pleased to see Foundry release this set and I had no hesitation to buy them. All four are very well sculpted although I have no doubt that some of you will be put off by the size of them. To me, their size is not a problem as they should be larger than life. I do not see any of this group as being fledgling vampires. They look like they've been around for a century or two (or longer) so I'd imagine they'd be formidable opponents in any game. I'd also have no qualms in using them in a contemporary setting. Too many companies make vampires that are designed to fit in a fantasy setting and not nearly enough make contemporary based vampires. These are designed in such a way that you can use them with a fantasy army or in the modern day. Top marks, Foundry!
This set of four figures retails for £10.00 from the Wargames foundry website. Incidentally, I have loads of painted vampires that I'd like to review, even though many of them are long out of production. I amassed quite a large collection of vampires during the 1990's when V:TM was at its peak. Rest assured, I will get round to reviewing them sometime.

Sunday 23 October 2011

Finger and Toe Models Quonset Hut

My latest card building, the Quonset Hut, appeared in my last batrep "Who's Laughing Now?" and I thought you'd like to see a much closer look at it. I've only just recently discovered Finger and Toe Models, who make this model and although they only have a few contemporary 28mm scale models, I like what they do, especially as they offer building interiors with their models. Mind you, the Quonset Hut comes without an interior, but that wasn't going to stop me from adding one!
According to the blurb given with the instructions, Quonset Huts were intended as temporary structures to create bases quickly. Although actually invented in the First World War (as Nissen Huts), Quonset Huts didn't achieve their widespread distribution until redesigned and mass-produced for the U.S. Navy in the Second World War.
This model represents a 20' by 40' version with corrugated steel ends, instead of the plywood found on the original versions. Quonset Huts can be any type of structure you like, from an airport terminal, base operations to barracks and offices, even a research station plunked down in the Antarctic. The structure is so simple, some version will likely continue to be used for many decades to come. I decided to use my model as a small barracks, configured for four residents.
 This photo shows the front of the Hut, with the door still open from Team Vampifan's visit. I cut the windows out and replaced the "glass" with an offcut of transparency paper.
The front and back walls were easy to make. I just glued the printout of the interior and exterior to a piece of mounting card. With the walls and roof being a curved structure I did wonder if reinforcing them with mounting card would work. I was considering using thin card to reinforce my printouts but in the end I was able to use thick mounting card.
If you look closely at the front and back walls, you can see that the curve is made up of 12 angled straight edges.
This made making the walls and roof much easier as I was able to score the mounting card about halfway through, so it could fold and match the shape of the front and back walls. The roof is reinforced and kept in shape by two inserts glued at either end that match the shape of the upper part of the front and back walls. There is a thick black line that runs a third of the way up along both sides of the roof/walls, which would have made a good place to separate the roof from the walls. The only problem was that it gave a lot less room to get your fingers inside to move stuff about. So, I made the side walls three sections high and the roof consists of six sections. The join between the two is more visible than if I'd used the cut where the thick black lines are but against that, I can reach inside far more easily. It's a compromise between aesthetics and playability
This photo shows an overhead view of the interior of the Hut. All of the furniture and props inside come from the Ebbles Ambient Elements set, specifically the Barracks, Storeroom and Workshop sets. I know that these sets are now no longer for sale but Chris Roe (aka Mel Ebbles) is reintroducing his back catalogue of models to the WWG webstore, so hopefully they will be available for sale soon. For the interior walls I simply printed out a second set of the external walls and used them. The only thing I had to change was the position of the door knob. For the interior doors I painted it out and repainted one on the opposite side of the door.
Here is a side view of the interior that you never got to see in my last ATZ batrep. As well as a bunk bed in each corner, there are two locker cupboards and a stack of four foot lockers, where the occupants can keep their clothes and whatever gear they need. The cupboards and foot lockers came from the Ebbles Storeroom set. The two cupboards had to be cut down in height and have their sides reshaped so that they would fit flush to the walls. Fiddly work that required some precise measurements to get the cupboard walls the correct shape.
This is the interior view that appeared the most in my last ATZ batrep. There is a bunk bed in each corner again. The table in the middle had to have its support base trimmed so that I could fit the chairs under the table at the two short ends. The support base originally ran the length of the table. I cut it in half. I added an Ebbles laptop computer and a sheet of notepaper on the table for some decoration. The table came from the Ebbles Workshop set and the chairs and bunks from the Barracks set
This is a view from the back of the barracks, showing the cramped conditions inside. You can see that on the front and back windows I painted a cross on them to indicate the window frames, rather than just leave them blank. It's the little details like this that add to the overall feel of the model.
I haven't commented on the window shutters on the side walls. They certainly help break up the drabness of the walls and roof but the way they're angled I do wonder how much light they would allow inside. The shutters do not come with interior detail, so I was able to counteract that when I printed out my second set of walls.
The Quonset Hut was not an easy model to make because of the curved roof and walls but I'm very happy with the final outcome. Mind you, if you were to build it as per the instructions, without any interior detail, then I'd describe it as an easy model to build. It fits in very well the Ebbles Folding Unit Structures. As I mentioned earlier, it is the kind of building you could find anywhere from World War One up to the near future. You could just imagine a load of these being used in the early stages of the zombie apocalypse to house refugees fleeing from the zombie menace. 
I should mention that if you do purchase this model, it comes with a 15mm scale version as well, which will be of use to some of you who prefer gaming in a much smaller scale.

Wednesday 19 October 2011

My ATZ Campaign - Day 50 - Who's Laughing Now? Part 2

Last time, I left you with a dramatic cliff-hanging ending as Mr. Punch just beat Hannah to the draw and fired his Pistol at her and Billy. Yikes!

TURN 2.   Activation - Vampifan = 4, Clowns = 3, Zombies = 1, PEF = 6
If you were hoping Punch would miss, sorry! He hit Hannah and Billy and scored two Knock Down results. Hannah passed 2d6 on the Recover From Knock Down Test and was just Stunned. However, Billy only passed 1d6 and was placed Out Of the Fight (OOF). This forced the other members of Team Vampifan to take the Leader Lost Test. All passed 2d6. They could Carry On with Big Sil taking over the leadership mantle until Hannah recovered.
 As per the "Walk the Walk" rules (see p.46 of BDTZ) both sides had to make an Activation Roll to see who, out of those left standing, reacted first. It is unclear if this happens on this turn or on the next. I went with it happening this turn to keep the momentum going. I rolled a 3 for Team Vampifan and a 4 for the Killer Klowns. Those darned clowns had won by one again! Judy fired her Pistol at Gap and Jamie. She hit Gap but missed Jamie. Judy scored a Knock Down result on Gap. Gap only passed 1d6 on the Recover From Knock Down Test but because he was wearing Body Armour he was Stunned instead of going OOF. This caused Big Sil, Angie and Jamie to take the Man Down Test. Big Sil and Angie passed 2d6 and would Carry On. Jamie passed 1d6 but because she had friends within 4" who were Carrying On she would also Carry On.
Big Sil fired a three round burst at Punch. He hit once and blew the back of Punch's head off in a spray of blood and brain matter.
Angie fired a three round burst at Judy. She also hit once but could only manage an OOF result.
However, Jamie stepped up to Judy and repeatedly stomped on her head until the only female member of the Killer Klowns was dead. Young Jamie had a lot of pent-up aggression to get rid off and by the time she'd finished, tears were streaming down her face
Now it was the clowns' turn to activate. The two who were hunkered down at the back of the Quonset Hut would remain there until they were rallied. That just left Sunny, the Rep:5 Star and leader of the Killer Klowns. Last turn he got Stunned by Hannah. Furious at the loss of so many of his friends he regained his feet. The look on his face could only be described as evil. Someone would suffer for this carnage!
 The 12 zombies on the board moved closer to the Quonset Hut, scene of much gunfire this turn.
I rolled 10d6 for zombie reinforcements and four turned up. Two of them arrived in the picnic park at the back of the Quonset Hut...
 ... and the other two arrived in the same place as Team Vampifan had when they entered the board at the start of the game.
TURN 3.   Activation - Vampifan = 3, Clowns = 5, Zombies = 6, PEF = 1
Sunny could see Angie with her back to him through the front door of the Quonset Hut.
"Your pretty red head will make a fine trophy!" he thought as he charged at her. Being a Star he automatically passed 2d6 on the Wanting to Charge Test. Angie took the Being Charged Test, but alas, only passed 1d6. She could melee, but would suffer a -2d6 penalty for being attacked in the rear. In addition, she suffered a further -1d6 penalty for having the Runt Attribute. This meant she'd be rolling 2d6 (5d6 for her Rep minus 3d6), whilst Sunny would be rolling 6d6 (5d6 for his Rep and an extra 1d6 for having the Knife Fighter Attribute if he fought with a knife). This did not look good for poor Angie. She scored 0 successes in the first round of melee combat, whilst Sunny scored 3 successes. Sunny grabbed hold of Angie's hair with his left hand, whilst his right hand swung his large knife through Angie's neck with well-practiced ease. As Angie's body fell to the floor with blood fountaining from her neck stump, Sunny held her head aloft and screamed, "laugh that one off, you bitch!"
"Noooooooooooooooooo!!!!!" Big Sil cried out in horror and despair. He passed 2d6 on the Man Down Test and was able to Carry On. Jamie also passed 2d6. Tears filled her eyes but she too, would Carry On.
"You utter bastard!" Big Sil swore as he raised his 5.56mm M16 Assault Rifle at Sunny. He fired three times and two of the bullets slammed into the evil clown's body, sending him crashing to the ground, severely wounded and Out Of the Fight.
Hannah and Gap recovered from being Stunned and stood back up. Jamie dropped to her knees to stem the flow of blood oozing from the left side of Billy's chest. "Don't die, Billy," she sobbed.
PEF:1 passed 1d6 on the PEF Movement Table and moved diagonally forward into sector 6, which placed it at the back of the Quonset Hut. Gap had a line of sight to it through one of the rear windows, so I rolled 1d6 to resolve what the PEF was. I rolled a 5 for result D - false alarm. It was just a trick of the light that momentarily fooled Gap.
I rolled 3d6 for zombie reinforcements but this time none turned up.
TURN 4.   Activation - Vampifan = 4, Clowns = 2, Zombies = 1
Big Sil stepped outside and bent down beside Sunny to slit his throat from ear to ear. He then dragged the Killer Klown's body a few yards to the middle of the road, where he left it for the approaching zombies to devour.
"Gap!" he called out, "bring Angie's body with you. We're not leaving her here. She'll get a proper burial back home."
Gap did as he was told. He slung his empty Assault Rifle over his shoulder and carried Angie outside, pausing only to retrieve her head from the ground where Sunny had dropped it.
Back inside the Quonset Hut, Hannah took in the scene of carnage in an instant. "Jamie, leave Billy alone and get back home as fast as you can," she commanded. "I'll deal with Billy."
"Okay, mum," Jamie sniffled. She took off at a very rapid pace and reached the edge of the board with a single Fast Move.
Hannah lifted Billy up and clung on to him with one arm as she stepped outside. In her other hand was her .44 Magnum revolver. She pointed it at the two zombies shuffling towards her and fired twice. One shot missed but the other blew the brains out of the back of the head of the chav zombie wearing the navy blue tracksuit.
The two clowns hunkered down at the back of the Quonset Hut couldn't move so it was time for the zombies to activate. Four of them reached the fresh corpse of Sunny and began to feed on him. Their feasting would last for three turns.
"I hope you rot in Hell for all eternity," Big Sil growled.
The two zombies at the side of the Quonset Hut reached the OOF Killer Klowns lying in their path. They each chose a clown to feed upon. Their feasts would last for 1 and 4 turns as indicated by my red dice.
The two zombies in the picnic park almost made contact with the two hunkered down clowns but just failed to reach them.
The second chav zombie charged at Hannah. She passed 2d6 on the Being Charged test and was able to shoot at him before he reached her. She fired twice and hit once, scoring an OOF result which was upgraded to an Obviously Dead result because her target was a zombie. Zombies can never go OOF. They are either Knocked Down or killed.
I rolled 4d6 for zombie reinforcements and two showed up near the entrance to the skateboard park.
TURN 5.   Activation - Vampifan = 3, Clowns = 6, Zombies = 2
The two hunkered down clowns couldn't activate. They were effectively out of the game now. Team Vampifan was able to leave the board, thus ending this scenario. Their mission was a complete failure.

AFTERMATH. Once back home I rolled to see if Billy would recover from his wound. Hannah used one of the team's medi-packs to help aid his recovery. It worked, as it allowed Billy to roll 3d6 on the Recovery After The Encounter Test (see p.23 of BDTZ) and he passed 2d6, meaning he made a full recovery at his normal Rep.
Next, I rolled 1d6 five times to see if any of the team lost a level from their Rep for failing the mission (see p.61 of BDTZ). On a roll of 1 on the d6 a character would decrease their Rep score by one. Only one person rolled a one and that was Gap. He is now Rep:4. Now, I'm not a big fan of the Phobias and Quirks rules in the I, Zombie supplement but I felt that in this instance Gap's Rep loss warranted him picking up a phobia. I know you're meant to dice for a character's phobia but when I saw that one of the phobias was Clowns, I just knew that Gap had to have it. (see p.8 of IZ). So now Gap has a morbid fear of clowns. Being knocked down and stunned by Judy must have triggered this phobia.
Angie Johansson was buried alongside Rhiannon Marlow (the young Goth Girl who, for a brief time, was a member of Team Vampifan).
There was no doubt that this was a bad day for Team Vampifan, and yet despite the death of Angie it could have gone a lot worse. Hannah, Billy and Gap could all have suffered worse injuries or death if Punch and Judy had rolled better (or worse depending on your point of view) to wound them. Thankfully, they were only armed with Pistols, making death a far less likely option when rolling to wound. Imagine the devastation they could have caused if either of them picked up the Squad Automatic Weapon that was the Resource hiding in the Quonset Hut! Did you notice that no one picked up the S.A.W? An oversight, although not as big an oversight for failing to notice that Sunny was only stunned.
There is a reason why I wanted Jamie and Billy to fail to spot that Sunny was just stunned and it has everything to do with telling the story. The kids are not combat veterans and so why should they think that Sunny was still a threat when he was lying flat on his back on the ground? In future they'll act differently but only because they learnt a harsh lesson. That's what life is all about. We learn from our mistakes. I did not want to lose Angie but the dice were stacked against her once Sunny initiated melee combat.
Inevitably, there were repercussions for Team Vampifan. Big Sil has lost his confident swagger and has turned to alcohol to drown his sorrows. He'll need close watching in future. Gap, as has been mentioned, has developed a phobia of clowns. Hannah will develop into a stronger leader and will, by default, become Vampifan's second in command. She will also take to wearing Body Armour when she goes out on a mission. Jamie will mature. She wants to study medicine and become a nurse. Seeing Billy lying bleeding and being unable to help him has brought this change of attitude in her. She will never leave home without medical supplies in her bag. Plus, she wants to upgrade her Pistol to a BA Pistol. Billy remains unchanged. He has no memory of being shot. He's still a little boy who isn't as grown up as he thinks he is. Vampifan is wracked by guilt for not being with his team. Would it have made a difference if he'd been there? Who knows?
Despite the outcome, this was one of the most enjoyable games of ATZ I have ever played. It was so dramatic, intense and action packed. I only have one slight regret about the game and that is I never got to use the skateboard park. It just ended up being background scenery. Ah well, I suppose there's always another time. I hope you enjoy reading this as much as I did playing it.

Sunday 16 October 2011

My ATZ Campaign - Day 50 - Who's Laughing Now? Part 1

Hannah's two children, Jamie and Billy were bored. They wanted to go somewhere they could play and have fun. Big Sil mentioned that there was a skateboard park not too far away. That was it - the kids wanted to go there and for a full day they pestered their mum to take them to the park. Hannah wasn't too sure. Venturing outside was incredibly dangerous what with roving gangs and hordes of zombies to contend with. However, the rest of Team Vampifan thought it would be a good idea, especially if the adults all accompanied the kids. So it was decided - they would make the journey to the skateboard park.
Unfortunately, the day they chose to go was the day that Vampifan was on guard duty to watch over their home at the abandoned warehouse. Each of the adults took it in turn to do a six hour shift keeping an eye out for anyone or anything hostile approaching the warehouse. When the rest of the team set off on that fateful day, Vampifan was stuck back at home. His presence would be sorely missed but at the time they didn't realise how much. Perhaps the team got overconfident after their last mission out into the suburbs of Mayhem City had been such a cakewalk and they thought they could do without him.
Because this mission was on behalf of the children, Vampifan put Hannah in charge of the team. It was up to her how long they'd stay at the park. No one had any objections to taking orders from Hannah. She'd proved herself to be a capable fighter. Here, then are the stats of those taking part -
Hannah Vaughn; Rep:5 Grunt, Stone Cold, armed with BA Pistol and Knife.
Big Sil; Rep: 5 Grunt, Knife Fighter armed with Assault Rifle, Knife and Body Armour.
Angie Johansson; Rep:5 Grunt, Runt, armed with Assault Rifle, Knife and Body Armour.
Gap; Rep:5 Grunt, No Attribute, armed with Assault Rifle, Knife and Body Armour.
Jamie Vaughn; Rep:4 Grunt, Brawler, armed with Pistol.
Billy Vaughn; Rep:3 Grunt, Wuss, armed with Catapult.
SCENARIO: The kids, Jamie and Billy, had to spend 8 + 2d6 turns playing in the skateboard park without any interruption or interference. The adults' mission was to protect the kids and to make sure they had a good time. The best way to accomplish the mission was to clear the board of all threats, then let the kids loose on the park. No Ragers or Smarties would be generated during this scenario.
The game was played on a 3' by 3' board divided into nine one foot square sectors with sector 1 being in the top left hand corner of the photo above where the trees are. Sector 9 is in the bottom right hand corner where Team Vampifan is situated.
There are two new buildings on this board that I have never shown before. First, is the Quonset Hut, which is made by Finger and Toe Models. You'll see a lot more of it as the scenario progresses. The other "new" building is my ruined barn, which I've had for years. It's a one-piece hard styrene casting that may have been made by Ziterdes, but I'm not sure as it was a very long time since I bought it. I painted the wood bits and the muddy ground. The stone bits were inked in when I bought it. Sadly, you won't be seeing any more of it in this game. The skateboard park is from the WWG Urban Grind set.
Here is Team Vampifan, starting the game in sector 9 and crossing the road to check out the Quonset Hut to see if it was occupied. Their mood was jaunty and confident, apart from Hannah who couldn't shake a sense of deep foreboding.
I rolled for the placement and Rep of the three PEFs.
PEF:1 was Rep:2 and was placed in sector 2 at the side of the big ramp.
PEF:2 was also Rep:2 and was placed in sector 6 at the back of the Quonset Hut.
PEF:3 was Rep:4 and was placed in sector 5 at the side of the stands by the entrance to the skateboard park.
None of the PEFs were in sight of Team Vampifan so all that remained to do before rolling for activation for Turn 1 was to test for lack of sleep. Fortunately, everyone passed the test and so were unaffected.

Day 50 - Who's Laughing Now? Part 1
This special scenario took place in the suburbs of Mayhem City during the hours of daylight. Note that any references to the basic rulebook, Better Dead Than Zed, will use the abbreviation BDTZ, whilst references to the supplement I, Zombie will use the abbreviation IZ.
TURN 1.   Activation - Vampifan = 1, PEFs = 2
All of the PEFs were eligible to move this turn but because PEF:3 had the highest Rep it got to roll first on the PEF Movement Table (see p.57 of IZ). It passed 2d6 and moved into sector 9, in sight of Team Vampifan but behind cover if possible. The fast food van was handily placed to provide it with cover. I rolled on the PEF Resolution Table (see p. 58 of IZ) to determine what it was. I rolled a 1 on the d6 for a result of A - Encounter. To decide what the encounter was I used the Random Road Encounter Table (see p.56 of BDTZ) and scored a 7 on 2d6 for a result of Gangers. There were five of them and I decided to make them Killer Klowns. I'd had a request to show them when I reviewed the WWG fast food vans. I rolled to see what their Reps were but not their weapons, as I wanted them to be armed as the figures were. So, the leader was Bozo, Rep:5 and armed with a shotgun and a custard pie. The others were all Rep:4 and were armed as they appear in the photo above with a machete, a sickle, a spiked club plus Flash Bang Grenade, and a BA Pistol.
Next, I rolled on the Encounter Awareness Table (see p.115 of IZ). Team Vampifan rolled 5d6 for Hannah's Rep but the clowns only rolled 4d6 (5d6 for Bozo's Rep but -1d6 because they were active). Team Vampifan won the roll off by 1 die and so were allowed to take an In Sight Test using 2d6. Hannah, Big Sil, Angie and Jamie passed 2d6 and could open fire normally. Gap and Billy only passed 1d6, so any shooting from them would be classed as snapfiring.
Hannah fired first but the two shots from her BA Pistol missed her target, the clown armed with a BA Pistol.
Gap fired next at the same target. One of his three round burst from his Assault Rifle hit the grinning clown between the eyes, blowing a big hole in the back of his head.
Jamie and Billy fired at the clown with the spiked club and Flash Bang Grenade but they both missed.
Angie fired a three round burst from her Assault Rifle at Bozo. She hit once but only scored a knockdown. Bozo passed 2d6 on the Recover From Knock Down Test and was only stunned.
Big Sil fired three shots at the orange-haired clown with the machete. He missed with every one.
Because the clowns' leader was down, even though he was only stunned, the other clowns had to take the Leader Lost Test. They all passed 2d6 and so halted and would chose a new leader when they were next active.
Now it was time to see if the other two PEFs moved. PEF:1 passed 0d6 on the PEF Movement table and so stayed put in sector 2. However, PEF:2 passed 1d6 and so moved into the sector with the closest PEF - PEF 3 in sector 9. As there was no available cover for it, I placed it in front of the Quonset Hut. Rolling on the PEF Resolution Table I scored a 4 for result C - Hostile Encounter. I rolled 1d6 to see if they were human (1-3) or zombie (4-6). They turned out to be human, so I thought it would be perfectly logical for them to be part of the same gang encountered earlier this turn. Yep, more Killer Klowns - nine of them, in fact. I rolled for the Reps of the newcomers and two were Rep:5, one of whom was also a Star. I decided to make Sunny, the clown with the severed heads and knife the Star. I also gave him the Knife Fighter attribute, which seemed appropriate. Yama, the other Rep:5 was the clown balanced on the big brown ball and he was armed with a Flash Bang Grenade. The clown in the back and white costume carrying the knife and black balloons was only Rep:3. The rest of the clowns were Rep:4 and all were armed with one-handed melee weapons.
I rolled on the Encounter Awareness Table and once again Team Vampifan rolled 5d6, whilst the clowns rolled 4d6. This time, Team Vampifan won by two successes and were allowed to take the In Sight Test using 3d6. Everyone passed 2d6 and were allowed to fire normally.
Hannah fired first. Her target was Sunny, the leader of the Killer Klowns. One of her two shots hit but just scored a knock down. Sunny passed 2d6 on the Recover From Knock Down Test and was merely stunned.
Gap fired next. Only one of his three shots hit the clown wearing the green shirt, but it was good hit, killing him in an instant.
Angie fired a three round round burst at Yama, the second Rep:5 clown. Again, just one bullet hit. It put Yama Out Of the Fight (OOF).
Big Sil's three round burst was more accurate, hitting two clowns and placing them both OOF. He hit the clown riding the unicycle and the clown wearing the brown dungarees, both of whom were directly behind Sunny and Yama. 
Jamie fired her Pistol just once and scored an OOF result on the clown in the red suit and pointed hat.
Last to fire was young Billy. His catapult shot knocked yet another clown OOF, this time the one wearing the bowler hat.
The two remaining Killer Klowns passed 0d6 on the Leader Lost Test and retired to the back of the Quonset Hut, where they would remain hunkered down until rallied.
Now it was time for Team Vampifan to activate. Hannah walked up to the front door of the Quonset Hut and turned to face the Killer Klown holding the studded club and Flash Bang Grenade. She fired her Magnum Revolver twice at him. Unable to claim cover, the clown was hit twice. One shot just knocked him down but the other put him OOF.
Gap moved to the corner of the skateboard park to get a clearer view of the clown armed with a sickle. He fired a three round burst and rolled 5, 1 and 1, indicating a hit then a loss of ammo. His hit was a good one and he killed the clown. Gap's shooting was proving to be uncannily lethal. This was his third kill of the day.
Jamie and Billy advanced far enough to reach their mum. They had failed to notice that Sunny was only stunned and so ignored him. This could prove to be a fatal oversight.
Angie moved to just past the front of the fast food van to get a clear shot at the orange-haired clown armed with the machete. Of her three shots, two hit and one killed him outright.
Big Sil sauntered alongside his girlfriend to "pop the weasel" on Bozo, the Rep:5 clown, who was only stunned. A single shot to the side of the head put an end to the Killer Klown's evil life.
Wow, what an incredibly action-packed first turn! All that remained to do was to dice to see how many zombies had been attracted by the sound of so much gunfire. I had to roll 32d6 and zombies would appear on the roll of 5 or 6 because this was taking place in the suburbs of Mayhem City. My dice rolling resulted in 12 zombies appearing. You can see ten of them in the photo above. Don't include my counter for PEF:1.
The other two zombies appeared at the side of the Quonset Hut. It was only when I was clearing everything away that I noticed I had Litko tokens for Hunkered Down, which I should have placed next to those two scared clowns. D'oh! I totally forgot I had them. I won't make that mistake again!
TURN 2.   Activation - Vampifan = 4, Clowns = 3, Zombies = 1, PEF = 6
Hannah ordered the team to move inside the Quonset Hut, as she led the way. I shuffled my deck of ATZ Risks and Rewards cards and turned over the top card to see who and/or what was inside. The card revealed that there were two Gangers present, one of whom was Rep:4 armed with a Pistol, and that the resource to be found was a Squad Automatic Weapon (S.A.W.). I had to turn over a second card to reveal the stats and weapon of the second Ganger. This one was Rep:5 and was also armed with a Pistol. I had just the two figures to use - Punch and Judy, both members of the Killer Klowns. Punch was Rep:5, naturally, and Judy Rep:4.
It would have been totally illogical to roll on the Talk the Talk Table to see if Punch and Judy would join Team Vampifan given the carnage our noble heroes had already inflicted on the Killer Klowns, so I went straight to the Walk the Walk Test (see p.46 of BDTZ). The leaders of each side had to roll 1d6 each and add their Rep scores to the result. Whoever rolled highest got to shoot first. Both leaders were Rep:5, so it was all down to the dice rolls. I rolled a 2 for Hannah and a 3 for Punch. Bummer! Punch quickly raised his Pistol and fired twice, once at Hannah and once at Billy.


Wednesday 12 October 2011

Rise Again by Ben Tripp

This is a review of yet another zombie novel recommended to me by one of my followers. Colin Nash who runs the "Down Among the Lead Men" blog site ran an excellent review of Rise Again by Ben Tripp on his original zombie blog, which sadly no longer exists. It is unfortunate that his review is lost in the ether as I'd happily post a link to it. Clearly his review worked, because it made me want to go out and buy the novel.
The story starts in a small town of Forest Peak in the mountains of California on the Fourth of July. Sheriff Danielle (known to everyone as Danny) Adelman is the town's sheriff. She is an ex-Iraq war veteran with a drink problem and an inability to communicate meaningfully with her younger sister, Kelley, who lives with her. Earlier that day, Kelley ran away from home, leaving Danny angry and frustrated because she couldn't chase after her. Danny was going to be presented with the keys to the town at an award ceremony at midday. Things took a turn for the worse shortly after the ceremony. Hordes of refugees fleeing some unspecified disaster in Los Angeles threatened to swamp the little town. But, inexplicably, the horde fell to the ground and seemed to have died en masse. On the following day, the corpses returned to life and to use a well worn cliche, all hell broke lose! Danny and a small group of survivors who hadn't been affected had no choice but to leave the town in a motor convoy in the hope of finding answers to the strange disease that had affected so many. Los Angeles and all the other major cities and towns were no-go zones, overrun by vast hordes of the undead. Danny and her co-survivors were forced to take refuge at an abandoned airfield in the California desert. At first they thought they'd found sanctuary but their troubles were about to get a lot worse.
This is the debut novel by Ben Tripp and I have to say, it's an absolute cracker. Danny Adelman is a very flawed individual. She becomes obsessed with finding her missing kid sister, a quest that doesn't end until the last pages of the novel. Because she has so many flaws, she is a more believable individual. After all, none of us are perfect. We all have our faults. But amongst the faults are strengths and Danny's greatest strength is a determination never to give up. It takes her quite a while and a good deal of pain before she realises her friends can be an asset to her and that she doesn't have to do everything on her own. It's a message we should all heed.
The way the zombies are created is one of the most original I've read even though I wasn't convinced about the concept. Still at least Ben was prepared to offer something different. For the most part, his zombies are of the slow-moving variety that I like but as the story moves on, some zombies evolve, becoming faster and far more cunning.
The story is fast-paced and exciting and a worthy addition to any zombie fan's collection. One of the things that I particularly liked about Colin's review was that he stated in no uncertain terms that you should not read the last page ahead of time. He did, and regretted it, because knowing what the sting in the tail was, and believe me, the last five words of the novel are a HUGE sting in the tail, diluted his enjoyment. Now, I never skip ahead to read the last page anyway, but some folk do. Please, if you are at all tempted, resist! I should also mention that it was Colin's mention of the ending that drew me to this novel more than anything else. I was curious to know how it ended. Was the ending worth waiting for? Oh, yes! It most certainly was. It also begs the question, will there be a sequel? I honestly don't know. Hopefully, my review will pique your curiosity as much as mine.

Sunday 9 October 2011

Eolith Zombies 2 and Heresy Zombies 2

The three zombies I'm going to review today are from the second half of the Eolith range of 28mm scale fantasy zombies sculpted by Steve Buddle. Even though Steve's zombies are designed primarily with the fantasy gamer in mind, these work just as well in a contemporary setting, as I shall show you. Shortly after I bought these, Steve closed down the Eolith website as he was going off to sculpt figures for the evil empire known as Games Workshop. Fortunately he had the good grace to sell most of his 28mm scale moulds to Andy Foster at Heresy Miniatures. So now Heresy are making these figures and that ought to explain why I have titled this post the way I have. Enough waffle, let's look at the figures.
There is something about grossly fat and obese zombies that I like. I just can't get enough of them. So hats off to Steve for sculpting this magnificent specimen at the far left of my two photos. His trousers were meant to be tied up by a piece of cord, but I've painted the two ends of the cord that hang down as a small piece of chain and painted the rest of the cord as a black leather belt. A simple paint job was all it took to transform him from a fantasy zombie into a contemporary zombie. Also, by painting his trousers denim blue was another way of "modernising" him. He has a mass of wounds all over his bloated body, the biggest of which is to the left side of his face and neck.
In the centre of the group is a very dainty sculpt of a small girl zombie. This cute little critter still keeps a tight hold of her dolly. I painted her with her throat ripped open and so blood has soaked down the front of her dress. From behind she looks just like any other normal human little girl. From the front she's the stuff of nightmares.
Finally, we come to my hoodie zombie. Once again, it is the paintwork that has transformed him into a contemporary zombie. He only has one shoe but I have painted it as a trainer, even though it looks like his foot is bandaged from the front. I should have taken a sideways photo to better show it off. I deliberately chose drab grey colours for his clothing to reinforce the drab existance of his prior human life. His life as a zombie is probably not much different to his life as a human. He'll still hang around on street corners with his undead mates offering nothing positive or productive to human society. Yet another waste of skin!
I am a big fan of Steve's work and I'm sorry he's no longer working on his own but I understand that bills have to be paid and even though I'm no fan of GW, he'll certainly earn more with them than if he'd carried on with Eolith. I wish him well for the future. He will be missed.
As for these figures, I think they are delightful. There is a lot of fine craftsmanship in the sculpts of them and they will grace anyone's zombie horde. You can now purchase them from Heresy's website for the very reasonable price of £5.00 for the set of three. At less than £2.00 per figure that is a good price to pay.