Tuesday 30 July 2019

Vampifans Views 121 - Monthly Musings 91

This has been a big month for me, which I'll tell you about shortly. To the left is an unusual portrait of Vampirella by Jim Silke. It is unusual due to the fact that Vampi is wearing normal casual clothing over her iconic costume. Sometimes in the comic books, Vampirella has to appear incognito. More often than not she just wears a trench coat over her costume. I must admit that I do like this costume.

Currently on my painting table are the Galactic Corps Cops and Security Guards from my Core Space set, plus a bunch of WW2 Bolt Action German and American infantry, which brings me round to my newest project - WW2 gaming.

Ever since last November I have had a hankering for getting back into WW2 wargaming. When I first started wargaming way back in the 1970's I started out by playing WW2 games with my big collection of figures and vehicles from 20mm scale Airfix, Matchbox and Japanese companies like Fujimi and Hasegawa. I nearly always played the Germans and my brother played the Allies. We mainly concentrated on the D-Day Landings and the breakout from France. That period still remains my favourite.

So what happened in November? That was when I backed the Reichbusters Kickstarter boardgame with miniatures by Mythic Games. Delivery is expected this November. The miniatures are just gorgeous and from the play-through videos I've seen on YouTube, it looks like a whole load of fun as a small unit of four assorted elite larger than life Allies infiltrate a German mansion and secret base to cause all sorts of havoc. Interestingly enough, the mansion is named Wewelsberg Castle, where the SWD operate from in Secrets of the Third Reich. Coincidence? I don't think so! As more and more stretch goals were released, the more I realised I very much wanted to get back into WW2 and WWW2 gaming. I already had the SOTR rules and a fully painted German infantry army so that should have been my obvious choice. But the fact that West Wind has ignored this game for many years made me question whether it was a viable long-term option. So I spent a while looking for other options but in truth, it wasn't a hard decision.

Bolt Action for its WW2 rules and the Konflict 47 Weird World War 2 rules (both produced by Warlord Games with similar rules) provided me with all I was looking for. That, plus the fact that both games are incredibly well supported as well as being a popular choice amongst many gamers made them "must have" purchases. My first purchases were the Bolt Action hardback book and three army book supplements for the American, British and German armies.
I also bought the Band of Brothers starter boxed set, which was described on the On Table Top
website as the standard by which all starter sets should be judged. You can see all that this set contains in the photo to the left. The forces are 24 American Airborne infantry verses 12 German Panzer Grenadiers and a Hanomag SdKfz. 251/10 with PAK 36 Anti-tank gun. It also contains a ruined farmhouse, Pin markers, HE Template and order counters, 5 order dice for each army, 12 regular d6 dice, an A5 soft-backed version of the basic rules and a handy quick reference sheet. I bought my starter set from Amazon UK for £55, a considerable saving over the £70 price on the Warlord Games website. I've actually found it pays to check out other sources such as eBay, Wayland Games or Element Games to find cheaper priced Warlord Games products. However, not all Bolt Action products can be found cheaper on other sites but it still pays to shop around.
Seeing as most of my games will take place in the late war period in Europe (1944-45) I plan on collecting the following forces. For the Americans, the Airborne troops and the regular infantry troops; for the British I'll be collecting the regular infantry troops, the Airborne troops and possibly some Commandos; for the Germans I plan on fielding Panzer Grenadier troops and Waffen SS troops. That's a lot of figures I need, but this will be a long term project and I'll be adding to my forces slowly. I'm mainly interested in small force (platoon level) infantry battles with a limited amount of vehicles (no more than one tank, self-propelled gun, tank destroyer or armoured car per platoon) which is exactly what the Bolt Action rules cater for. Once I master the Bolt Action rules I'll move onto the Konflict 47 rules for my Weird World War 2 fix. Again, that will be a long term project.
I've already painted an American Airborne HQ section and a German Panzer Grenadier HQ section. Currently on my painting table are a 10 man veteran Panzer Grenadier squad plus the American Kelly's Heroes squad. I had planned on getting the Kelly's Heroes set (called the Oddball's Heroes by Warlord Games) but they were low down on my wish list. However, someone on eBay was selling them for £7.00 and I won the auction. Considering the RRP for them was £20.00 this was a fantastic bargain. Now I'm going to have to get Oddball's Sherman tank. Both the Oddball's Heroes and the elite Panzer Grenadier squad plus the American and German HQ squads are made of metal. The figures in the Band of Brothers plus the Hanomag and ruined farmhouse are made of plastic. However, they do mix together very well.
This is a project that excites me greatly, not least because of the memories it evokes from the 1970's. Of course I am a much better painter and modeller now than I was back then. I'm looking forward to playing my first few games as I slowly build up my forces. Figure reviews and batreps will follow soon.

Friday 26 July 2019

SOTR German Mech Grenadier Squads 01

This will be the first of two posts showcasing my four Mech Grenadier Squads for Secrets of the Third Reich. Squads 1 and 2, shown here form the core of my 1st Platoon and Squads 3 and 4, which I'll show in a later post, form the core of my 2nd Platoon. I could have included all four squads in a single platoon but I decided to split them into two units.
Mech Grenadier Squads are made up of 10 men. 3 men may swap their Rifles for an Assault Rifle or an SMG. 2 men can form an LMG team  and 1 man may choose a Panzerfaust.
I have given the NCO an Assault Rifle. 2 men have swapped their Rifles with SMGs. I have also added an LMG team comprising the Gunner and his Loader.
 4 men are armed with Rifles and 1 man has taken a Panzerfaust.
This being the 1st squad of the 1st platoon I would class them in Bolt Action or Konflict 47 as veterans. They stand apart from my other squads by wearing camouflage helmets.
 For my 2nd squad I have once again given my NCO an Assault Rifle and 2 men have SMGs.
 1 man has taken a Panzerfaust. They have not taken an LMG team.
That leaves 6 men armed with Rifles - 5 shown above and the last one shown second from right in the previous two photos.
These wear dunkelgrau (dark grey) helmets.
All of these figures come with separate heads. To help identification, I have given my NCOs peaked caps.

Tuesday 23 July 2019

SOTR German Lieutenants & Snipers

I now get into my rank and file troops of my Secrets of the Third Reich 28mm scale German army. In this post I'm reviewing my 1st and 2nd Lieutenants and my two Sniper teams.
At the far left is my 1st Lieutenant and his two retainers. The 1st Lieutenant is only armed with a Pistol, whilst his retainers are armed with Assault Rifles. A Lieutenant may be accompanied by up to two retainers. These are Mech Grenadier Lieutenants  and they take command of a minimum of two Mech Grenadier Squads plus a variety of support teams
At the far right is my 2nd Lieutenant and his retainer. The 2nd Lieutenant is armed with a Pistol and an SMG whilst his retainer is armed with a Rifle.
Next up are my two Sniper teams, made up of a Sniper and a Spotter. The Snipers are armed with standard issue rifle which are fitted with telescopic sights. Use of the telescopic sights increase the range of the rifles and allows the Sniper to chose which target to potentially kill.
The Spotter at the left is armed with a Rifle and the other Spotter is only armed with a Pistol.
Note that in SOTR, the infantry of all nations wear gasmasks due to the prevalence of V-Gas, which kills the living painfully then reanimates them as a flesh-eating zombie.

Friday 19 July 2019

SOTR - German HQ Command

I am going to start a new series of posts showcasing my Secrets of the Third Reich German Infantry. The SOTR rules by West Wind Productions are quite good although I have never played them. I never got round to collecting a second army. So my figures have just languished in a storage box for years until now. I have just started to get into Warlord Game's WW2 game, Bolt Action and plan to also get into their Weird World War 2 game, Konflict 47 sometime in the future. Obviously my SOTR German army will fit in perfectly with Konflict 47 and if I omit the supernatural elements it will also fit in with a Bolt Action force.
I start my review with a look at my HQ Command figures.
First up is my army commander, Colonel Erhard Schilling. He is a very old Ral Partha figure that I bought many, many years ago. He is the only figure in this army not produced by West Wind.
Next to him is his bodyguard and adjutant, Big Bruno Metzger the Butcher. He is sold by West Wind as Big Thug, which is quite appropriate for him.
The black uniform of the figure at the far right indicates he is a member of the Special Weapons Development (SWD) team. SWD devised a means to establish battlefield control over zombies. A radio transmitter can be wired to a former officer or "pinger" who is in a sense "radio controlled" by an SWD operative. Other zombies in the horde within 6" recognise his former status and will follow him where he leads. Accordingly, the zombie horde could move in any direction rather than shambling towards the nearest living enemy.
At the far left is Live Wire. Frau Elli Anselm led an SWD expedition to Antarctica in 1942. What she found there is unknown to any but the highest ranks of the SWD. What is known is that the U-boat sent to rendezvous with her party found her standing alone and naked on an ice shelf with bale fire flickering in her eyes, totally unharmed despite the -40 degree Celsius temperature and the biting wind... or so the awe-stricken sailors believed. None made it back to Germany "alive" so it was no matter. Cattle mutilations and strange lights above the skies of Europe became a common occurrence upon her return. She was called Elli the doppelgänger by some. Others called her Live Wire because of the punishing whips that spouted from her voluptuous form and flayed her enemies. She challenges the Junker elite and even those mighty vampires fear her unearthly infection. What she has become is unspeakable. Elli Anselm is a herald of the Nihl, an alien race and is no longer human.

Frau Tear is widely known to be the most savage of the Junker elite and is thought to be the matriarch of the new breed of German vampires. That she is prolific in her spawning is unquestionable. Her throng of thralls attend her and the inner circle of the SWD elite at Wewelsberg Castle where unspeakable acts occur. Hermann Goering, known for his taste in ostentatious display and debaucherous feasts is often in Frau Tear's company. When she hunts, she does so with an entourage of thralls. Often this is in the form of a foray into enemy held territory to seek hapless victims from the ranks of the enemy. Other times, it is more directly related to matters of importance. The Junker vampires are a sporting bunch who relish the chase and recklessly hunt their prey in the hottest of combat zones for the sheer thrill of it. Tear is no exception. When she feasts, she cries tears of blood. Some speculate that the tears are an outward manifestation of a small spark of humanity that is still buried inside of the monster that she has become.
The vampire with the dagger is Radomir and the vampire at the far right is Davoric, two of Frau tear's thralls.
All of these figures are beautifully sculpted, with my favourites being Frau Tear (obviously!) and Live Wire.

Tuesday 16 July 2019

Core Space - Crew of the Cygnus

Here are the four Traders who make up the crew of the Cygnus.
At the far left is Captain Sondar, a 136 year old Ohma dreamer. He considers the excitement and danger of Trader life to be an adventure, and death but a short inconvenience. His species are pantheists and believe they can never die - a point of conflict with his non- Ohma crew. This belief is so ingrained into the Ohma that they had no concept of religion until they encountered other intelligent species and were dismayed to find there were many different points of view.
Sondar has a  romantic notion of Trading; even the hardships and boring bits are like a thrilling novel to him. He is literally without fear and will dive headlong into any danger for the merest of rewards. His species are generally of a similar vein, but he is considered extreme and no longer a part of polite society. Although gentle and charismatic in nature, other Ohma consider Sondar a rogue and a pirate.

Next up is Chit, a 12 year old Chit'chit'ah alien. As a species, the Chit are much sought after by Traders as jacks of all trades. Bootstrapped into space by a neighbouring species the Chit soon established themselves as reliable, trustworthy and quick learners. Chit has been on the crew of several Trader ships in the last few years. Benign, but large enough to intimidate troublemakers, Chit is nonetheless highly intelligent and enjoys the life of a Trader, making no plans beyond the next few days. He lives in the moment, never afraid to try something new.
Despite his terrestrial age he is a mature adult who has sired many children. The Chit raise their young in large communal broods and have a complex set of sexes and genders, none of which affects Chit's abilities. In their own society Chit employ a form of democracy based on family groups, although they will adopt the beliefs of any society they are in direct contact with so long as it is not considered destructive.
Second from the left is Hunter, a 45 to 55 year old human. Hunter is a man so serious about his business no one knows if "Hunter" is his name or job description! Tough as a face full of broken bottles, Hunter has spent his adult life shooting at people for one reason or another. He spent time as a soldier-for-hire, as a security warden and several years as a bounty hunter. He is good at his job and keeps himself to his himself. If he has any hopes and dreams, he keeps them close to his chest. Despite his reserve he is not a cold-blooded killer and tries to capture his bounties alive. In recent years he has tired of being a bounty hunter and is considering a permanent post on a Trader ship. Currently he is on extended hire to the Cygnus and seems to prefer the company of aliens. He sees straight through Satiene's charms and outright ignores her.

Last up is Satiene Teelac, a 36 year old augmented human. Satiene is an example of how power and privilege can corrupt. As a child she was spoiled, devious and manipulative, and she has become  more so with adulthood. She uses guile, seduction and outright threats to get what she wants, and is a ferocious and unnecessarily cruel fighter.
Her augmentations have thrown the darker elements of her character into a terrible sharp relief. Although not without compassion she secretly considers all life but her own as trivial. She is estranged from her twin brother, Oberon Teelac; both of whom are considered black sheep of a once proud family. her machinations have resulted in her expulsion from her"house", the confederacy aligned to the Teelac dynasty. Eventually her actions will drive her out of the world of the Traders and into the arms of a criminal gang where she will rise quickly to the top.

This is a very eclectic crew of mixed races all of whom have fascinating back stories. I like them a lot.

Saturday 13 July 2019

Core Space - Purge Annihilators & Gatherers

I come to the last of the Purge machines - the deadly Annihilators and Gatherers. These were a Kickstarter add on and I only have one set of them.
The Annihilator has only one function and that is to kill everything living. It doesn't care about collecting biomass or the collateral damage of its cohorts. When it appears there's little point standing your ground, it's a signal in humanoid form to run for your life. Although its function is similar to the Devastator it is like comparing a grenade to a tank. Its firepower is awesome and it's extremely resilient to damage. Both the Gatherers and the Annihilators have shielded cores that can be salvaged by a technician before dissolving.
Gatherers comprise of the Mother and "her" Spiders. The Mother is a large insect-like machine that gathers both the living and dead biomass. She will appear towards the tail end of a conflict but is formidable in her own right with a devastating attack. Her Spiders are knee-high machines with a nasty temperament that are more of a nuisance to a well armed Trader than an outright threat. However, they will mindlessly protect the Mother from assaults and may be the difference between life and death.
It will be rare for these Purge machines to appear in a game of Core Space but when they do they will be a serious threat to the Trader crews and anyone else who is foolish enough to get in their way. As with all the other Purge robots, these could be used in a wide variety of sci-fi games. Note that there are five Spiders in this set but I've only shown two as they are all identical sculpts.

Wednesday 10 July 2019

Core Space - Purge Elite

Purge technology is very rare, as destroyed Purge start decaying on deactivation leaving nothing but a puddle of common polymers. A wily Trader, however, may be able to distil a flask of Raw Blue, the energy source of the Purge, or retrieve the shielded core of some of the larger Purge machines.
In this post I'm showcasing three elite Purge machines, the ones that Traders do not want to encounter. All of them are part of the starter boxed set of Core Space.
At the far right are two Devastators. Devastators are built like tanks and just as subtle; their job is to destroy not to capture. The Devastator's arms are high energy beam weapons that can be used as bludgeoning weapons in close combat. As they are nothing but walking weapons Devastators are equipped with the bare essentials - arms without hands, a face with a single large eye. They are monsters in robot form.
Next in line is a Purge Assassin. Assassins are infiltrators, able to target individuals in the heart of enemy territory and remove them. Assassins are semi-autonomous and able to make decisions when away  from the group. They will always target the greatest threat and will attempt to kill any high-ranking or dangerous individuals present. The Assassins resemble an eerie robotic skeleton, and along with their spider like movements are particularly unsettling to humans. Like all Purge machines the Assassins "head"is actually a sense cluster, the brain being housed in the chest cavity.

Finally, is a Live One. The only organic Purge ever encountered, the Live Ones are both commander and scout. They control the other Purge but also double as infiltrators using their holographic tech and intelligence to mingle with other races. Live Ones are intelligent but seemingly no more open to reason than a Harvester. They were born for one job and they do nothing else. They are self-aware and can think and feel but they're no freer than their brethren. The Purge are essentially a slave race with a tragic backstory. Live Ones don't eat or drink but recharge from a socket in their back. The full extent of their cybernetics is unknown as like all Purge they rapidly decay upon death.

These are really cool minis that could certainly fit into other sci-fi settings. Incidentally, I got a second set of them as a Kickstarter stretch goal. They have also been painted.

Saturday 6 July 2019

Core Space - Purge Harvesters

The Purge are a semi-sentient race of humanoid machines whose sole task is to harvest worlds. They have a hive mind, much like insects, and almost no sense of self-preservation. The Purge appeared suddenly from the Barrens, the sterile area surrounding a black hole, and immediately attacked all living beings within their reach. In less than fifty years they have rendered parts of the galaxy uninhabitable and cemented their reputation in the galactic consciousness as monsters.
The Purge aren't evil in any real sense. They are machines, driven to perform their tasks with no free will, but this doesn't stop them from terrifying people the galaxy over. Little is known bout the Purge including their motivations or their drive to catch their victims alive and drag them away screaming to an unknown end... Rumours are rife and this ambiguity has, in part, pushed the galaxy back into a superstitious and fearful age. To humans the Purge provoke the primal fear of being eaten alive.
The Purge Harvesters are the rank and file, the foot soldiers, and often the first (and last) point of contact for anyone encountering the Purge. They have no long range weaponry and always attempt to disable their victims. With no evident fear, Harvesters will stride relentlessly towards their targets and attempt to overwhelm them.
The Core Space boxed set comes with these five figures all in unique poses, which I greatly appreciate. I received a duplicate set of them as a Kickstarter stretch goal, thus giving me ten of them, which is more than enough for most games. They are very slender but you couldn't mistake them for anything else but robots. Sure, they are cannon fodder but I still like them.

Tuesday 2 July 2019

Core Space - Criminals

In Core Space the prominent criminal gang is Zed's Crew. Self-styled as a "crew" it is true that occasionally they will hijack a ship and indulge in piracy. However, they don't have the cohesiveness to work as Traders due to their leader's uncaring nature and the subsequent high turnover of gang members.
First in line is Zed, the gang leader. Charismatic and dangerous, Zed spends his time controlling, cajoling and bullying his "family" to do his bidding. Although superficially charming he is an extremely dangerous man with a hair trigger temper and no regard for life at all. He is an endless font of risky get-rich-quick schemes that often end badly for his "crew"; hapless beings conned into an endless cycle of easily replaced hired muscle.
Evangeline is a hired killer with a talent for violence. Once only interested in profit she has been drawn to the chaos of Zed's crew, fascinated and disgusted by Zed's machinations and the unknown folly of his crew. She is a skilled and merciless fighter masking her fury with grace. Emanating a hard exterior she is no longer interested in money, sex or power, only the cold oblivion she finds when killing.
Whatever Chunk started life as he is now just a huge, drug fuelled meat-puppet who does what Zed tells him and questions nothing but his next fix. This unhappy creature is the fusion of both technology and medication at the far end of "experimental". A pet project of Zed's, Chunk is never far from his side and will fly into a berserker rage at the merest nod from his master.
Collectively, the three gangers to the right of the two photos are known by the charming term slumscum - someone who has grown up in a poor neighbourhood, with no education, poor nutrition and dogged by a lifetime of bad decisions. With no real choices left to them they easily fall into the roles of lowlifes and thugs for hire.
From left to right are Hobb, Razor and Milly. Hobb has tried to live a normal life but his anger and selfishness has pushed him further and further away from normal society. Razor is a collection of impulses and drives that seem to bypass the smartest parts of the human brain - he takes what he wants and cares nothing for consequences. Milly has a lifetime of regrets made worse by bitterness and a blind hatred of everyone.

These are a great set of figures, making excellent starport scum or perps. They would fit in well in Mega City One as a perp gang and I have already used some of them in my The Ace of Spades Campaign. Regarding Evangeline, she very much reminds me of Battle Angel Alita as played by Rosa Salazar in the 2017 film of the same name. Definitely a cool character.