Wednesday 30 October 2019

Vampifans Views 124 - Monthly Musings 94

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday 25 October 2019

Core Space - Crew of the Yamato

Here I present the final of the six crews who are part of the Core Space sci-fi skirmish game by Battle Systems Ltd. This means that I have painted all of the figures supplied with the starter boxed set and supplements, which is always a great feeling.
Captain Johann Weiss, a 50-year old human, served the military of his homeworld faithfully for thirty years but was retired against his will due to cutbacks. Knowing only how to be a soldier he struggled to adapt to civilian life. Feeling both betrayed and lost he drifted on the fringes, moving from system to system attempting to find a commission as a soldier in a different military. The Galactic Corps beckoned but he'd never liked the look of it.
Weiss found work amongst the Traders mostly as a pilot, and eventually took the command of the Yamato where he has made a new life for himself. He still has a stiff military bearing but has learned  that his crew aren't soldiers and that sometimes a soft approach works better than barking orders.He is in general an avuncular man but with tendencies to brood.

Alecia Tunde is a 22-year old human who was fast heading for trouble. Loud mouthed and scornful of authority as a child she passed from one institution to another before being dumped out in the cold on her sixteenth birthday. She moved from one gang to another trying to find a family but soon realised that she wasn't cold or hard enough for that life. Brutality was common and criminality expected, but by then she had nowhere else to go.
Eventually Weiss caught her in a botched attempt to steal cargo from the Yamato. Weiss didn't see a hardened criminal, just a scared child, so instead of handing her over to the local security he offered her a job. Leaving the gang was no hardship and she settled in quickly and found she had a talent for engineering. Although she would never admit it openly, she sees Weiss as the father she never had.
Third in line is Ellen Koharu, a 36-year old human. Although looking little more than a child Ellen has had a long and hard life as a mercenary. She ran guns through the most dangerous sectors of the galaxy and considers the borders of Purge space to be just another job. She struck on the idea of selling her skills as "Beast and Master" when she found the  broken wreck of a Merg living in a freak show.
Ellen learned to control the "beast" via a neural network patched directly to her  bracelets. In reality the relationship is far more symbiotic and over the years the beast, a Merg called Brutus, has become, in many ways, an extension of herself. The responsibility of this relationship has softened her slightly but you wouldn't know it if you met her in a firefight.

Brutus  is a large and powerful being from a species known as the Merg. He has an intelligence on a par with a higher primate and is able to articulate his thoughts and feelings in a fashion, but on the whole keeps his own counsel. Mentally he is like a child who needs comfort and security but will fly into a destructive rage if handled poorly.
He was a broken wreck after several years of abuse before Ellen found him. He accepts Ellen's control and without her guidance would succumb to the destructive nature that caused his species to be hunted to near extinction. Brutus is near uncontrollable when riled and the empathic link is broken. He may take a new link from someone other than Ellen, but this is highly unlikely. The rest of the crew keep their distance from him, regarding him as a trained attack dog that could turn savage at any moment.

Tuesday 22 October 2019

Core Space - Crew of the Skylark

Here is the fifth crew of the Traders from the Core Space sci-fi skirmish game by Battle Systems Ltd. They comprise three humans and one robot.
At the far left is Jonathan Weaver, a 42-year old human who is in charge of the Skylark and he lets you know it. He has no time for insubordination or ineptness - on his ship you pull your weight or you're out. He is a hard and ruthless taskmaster but knows how to repay loyalty. He is also surprisingly good with animals. Weaver has his thumbs in many pies in enterprises that are dubious at best. Weaver will fence stolen goods and run arms; in fact, he'll do anything to make a profit. Whether he enjoys the life of a Trader is unknown as he rarely shares his feelings. What thoughts lie behind those hard eyes are his alone.
His closest companion is Marlowe, although they constantly argue, mostly about Weaver's conduct. At some point Weaver may step completely into the criminal world leaving behind the conflicts and grey areas of the Trader life.

Second from the left is Faye Millicent, a 19-year old human, the new recruit, the rookie who still finds everything exciting. Escaping a life of dullness on a backwoods planet, she moves from ship to ship, learning new skills and experiencing dangers and triumphs she'd never dreamed of. She detests travelling by Core Space but considers it a necessary evil for her life.
Faye is rough around the edges when it comes to social graces, but this tends not to be a problem in Trader circles. She also has an intuitive knack for technology with a Trader's eye for mastering the bodge - getting long expired parts to work in new and interesting ways. At this point in her career she's berthed with Weaver's crew and wondering whether she should. A Trader's life is full of hard choices and it's becoming harder to tell who's right and who's wrong. She has found a friend in Marlowe and to an extent, MAC.
Next up is Marlowe Chibueze, a 36-year old Augmented human who tries to do no harm. Although many Augmented let the power go to their heads, Marlowe knows it's all a game. He studies the universe, trying to see where he best fits in. For him this life is but a passing moment, one that he doesn't wish to sully or through inaction allow to be sullied by others.
Born to a wealthy family, Marlowe found himself  becoming more and more distant from his peers eventually losing himself in the fringe worlds. Here he is free to make his own decisions and decide his own future without the crushing weight of expectation that his family upholds. Marlowe often acts as the conscience of Captain Weaver curtailing his excesses. Their relationship is often strained and at some point will most likely snap. Marlowe sees a core of goodness in Weaver but is increasingly alarmed by his captain's actions.

MAC is approximately 150-years old, a human origin robot who is tentatively a member of the crew, on a rolling contract as a mercenary. Originally a semi-autonomous loader machine employed in docking bays MAC has, over its long existence, upgraded its hardware and software, achieving a form of sentience. Machine awareness is contentious depending on which part of the galaxy you're from but MAC has been granted provisional rights to earn and keep its own money.
MAC uses its money for further upgrades, slowly reaching for an ideal that eludes it. Despite being created y humans, MAC doesn't see them as a pinnacle of evolution but rather as an interesting and fundamentally ridiculous bunch - along with all other biological forms. MAC finds the Purge fascinating but repellent, and considers them their own evolutionary dead end. MAC wants something else from this journey but is unsure of what.

Friday 18 October 2019

Core Space - Crew of the Poseidon

I'm taking a short break from showcasing my Bolt Action figures to concentrate on the last three crews for the Core Space sci-fi skirmish game by Battle Systems Ltd. In this post, I'm highlighting the crew of the Poseidon.
At the far left is Captain Oberon Teelac, a 36-year old human. He crashes through life drawing all eyes and derision. Delusional and gung-ho with a penchant for the glory days of Hollywood, he seems to think he is the hero of his own story, recklessly careering into situations and risking everyone's lives. However, his abrasive attitude hides a deeply insecure and fearful man.
Forced into a life he didn't choose he brazens it out in the best way he can. He has been scarred in part, by the destructive relationship with his twin sister, Satiene, a woman prepared to sacrifice her closest family for her own gain. Oberon prefers action to talk, spontaneity to plans. In many ways it is amazing that he is still alive. Disinherited from a once powerful family, Oberon blunders through life without a goal, looking for approval and rarely finding it.

The crew's only female is Helene Hoskins, a 30-year old human. Born to Trader parents, a childhood accident in Core Space has left Hoskins dimensionally unstable. Part of her physical, living brain is melded into the fabric of Core Space itself. Her condition puzzles neurologists who have concluded that her brain is a direct conduit to Core Space and that she functions because her missing brain is still alive, albeit elsewhere. Over time this conduit has made her increasingly unstable, leaving her delusional and aggressive with a hair trigger temper.
She is an excellent close combat fighter and has drifted from ship to ship, spending as much time in Core Space as possible, as only then does she feel completely whole and sane. The Trader life has been chosen for her, something she laments but is powerless to do anything about. She is close to her shipmate, Pi, who she considers an equal unfortunate.
Pi is a 20-year old Augmented human. He grew up on the streets, an orphan who doesn't know his own given name. He is a true cyberpunk, young and self-taught, a survivor, intelligent and resourceful, he has augmented himself using repurposed junk and outdated tech, often writing the source code himself.
Pi mistakenly believed that the Augmented were higher beings and his ascension to their ranks  would alleviate all his suffering. However, augmentation is stressful under the best of conditions and the rough self-surgery has taken its toll. His implants cause him constant pain, inflamed and interfering with his nervous system. His attempts to reverse the condition have failed and he desperately needs funds to afford corrective surgery. He is still an effective Augment when out in the field, his system flooded with synthetic neuropeptides, the price being a long and uncomfortable comedown. Pi has an uncertain future as his mind is slowly coming apart, but he can still fight, for now...

Finally is Thoman Thomansson, a 26-year old human, who is an ex-soldier, disillusioned with the Galactic Corps and looking for a cause and a leader to follow. He grew up believing that the Corps represented all that was good and noble in humanity but first-hand experience of the brutality and corruption endemic at its core has made him reassess his life and his very being.
A skilled soldier, he is however, incapable of making decisions without doubting himself. He craves discipline and order and the freedom to trust his superiors. He has become rudderless and has drifted to the Poseidon, known to other Traders as a ship of fools. He struggles to relate to the other crew members and constantly looks for other ships to berth with or militia to join - but deep down believes he is where he deserves to be and chooses to do nothing.

Tuesday 15 October 2019

Bolt Action Sgt. Steiner's Recce Squad

I vividly remember the first time I watched Sam Peckinpah's iconic WW2 film, Cross of Iron at the cinema in the 1970's and was just blown away by it. It certainly left a deep and lasting impression on me as it was unlike any other war film I'd seen with it's gritty, very bloody battle scenes and most unusually, it featured the Germans as the "good guys" fighting the Russians. I have since acquired it on Blu-ray and it still packs a hell off a punch.
There are a small number of companies who make Sergeant Steiner (played by James Coburn) 28mm scale figures but the set I liked the most is this one below by First Corps Miniatures. Not only does it feature Steiner but also six of his squad, all of whom are recognisable as the characters they play in the film. For Bolt Action purposes I have split the figures into a five-man veteran Panzer Grenadier squad, all armed with sub-machine guns and a veteran two-man Sniper team.
So, from left to right we have Sergeant Steiner, Private Anselm, Private Maas, Private Schnurbbert and Private Kern.
Note that Steiner has replaced his MP40 SMG with a Russian PPSH SMG. Private Anselm is the radio operator, Maas is the squad's cook, Schnurbbert is nicknamed "Moustache" for obvious reasons and Kern is a bookworm and intellectual.
The Sniper team is made up of Corporal Kruger, the spotter armed with a KAR 98 Bolt Action Rifle and Private Dietz the sniper, whose KAR 98 is fitted with telescopic sights. Both men have stick grenades tucked into their right boots and Kruger has a Walther P38 Pistol tucked into the back of his belt.
As a bonus, you got an MP40 SMG resting against a tree stump. I added a KAR98 Rifle and a Panzerfaust to it to make a small ammo dump objective.
These figures have a lot chunkier feel to them than those by other companies like Artisan or Warlord Games but I have no problem in wanting to add them to my Bolt Action German army.

Friday 11 October 2019

Bolt Action Panzer Grenadiers Infantry 02

My first German Panzer Grenadier squad that I showed last month were all metal figures. This second squad that I'm showing here were made from the plastic sprues by Warlord Games.
This ten-man squad is led by an NCO at the far left, holding a pair of binoculars and a map in his hands. His STG44 Assault Rifle is slung across his back. 
With him are five men armed with STG44 Assault Rifles. Four are shown in the two photos above and the remaining one, throwing a stick grenade, is in the two photos below at the far left.
To maximise the squad's firepower I have included two LMG teams. Veteran Panzer Grenadier squads are one of the very few squads that are allowed to take two LMG teams. With the Hitler's Buzzsaw army rule, the two LMGs have 10 fire dice and the six Assault Rifles gives the squad a further 12 fire dice for a total of 22 dice to hit using ranged attacks. That's a scary amount of firepower from just ten men!
Note that the dark green tubes carried on the backs of the two machine gunners and their loaders contain spare barrels for the MG42s, which were prone to overheating.
These figures went together very well and they come with a very good selection of weapons and equipment. I can highly recommend them. I am not a big fan of prone figures so I was pleased to see no prone figures in this set.

Tuesday 8 October 2019

Bolt Action Resistance Fighters 01

I bought these six 28mm scale figures from a seller on eBay. They were described as Partisans/Resistance Fighters for Bolt Action, which they certainly are. Unfortunately, he neglected to say who produced them and my Google-fu has come up blank. Warlord Games does sell packs of Partisans to use in Bolt Action so I'll combine them for a larger force. The Warlord Games Partisans are predominantly male, whilst these figures are all female.
At the far left is my favourite figure from this set - the leader armed with a Luger pistol. The next two figures in line are armed with MP40 SMGs.
The lady who is fourth in line is armed with an MP40 SMG slung over her left shoulder and carries a German stick grenade in her right hand. The two women at the far right are armed with bolt action rifles. Note that I converted the woman in the olive green long-coat by adding a plastic rifle with sling from one of my German Panzer Grenadier sprues.
Rules and stats for using Partisans/Resistance Fighters can be found in the campaign supplement, Market Garden, where they are classed as Green. They count as inexperienced at the start of a battle but do have a chance of upgrading to regular status during the game when they first take a casualty. On a d6 roll of 5-6 they upgrade to regular status, increasing their morale value from 8 to 9.
Being an all-female force, I really like this set. Female resistance fighters were a reality of WW2 but very little is heard about them.

Saturday 5 October 2019

Bolt Action RAF Downed Pilot

Still sticking with my new Bolt Action 28mm scale figures, here is something different from my usual American and German forces - a British RAF downed pilot.
This is Squadron Leader "Topper" Redfern who has just bailed out of his Spitfire, having been hit by a German pilot. He has landed in no-man's land, hoping the Allies will rescue him before the Germans capture him.
In the Bolt Action rulebook, there is a scenario called Top Secret, in which both sides must locate the crash site of a downed plane to retrieve a briefcase containing secret documents. There is no reason why the objective couldn't be this downed pilot instead, making him an ideal objective marker. Try to rescue him before your opponent catches up with him.

Wednesday 2 October 2019

Bolt Action US Pathfinder Infantry Sections 01

On the plastic sprues for the US Airborne Infantry are two heads with Mohican haircuts. I thought these would be perfect for making a Pathfinder Section. I had enough heads to make two 6-man squads and you can see them below.
This is the 1st Pathfinder squad of the 101st Airborne Division. They are led by an NCO armed with a M3 "Grease Gun" SMG and a machete. Of the other men, one is armed with a Thompson SMG, whilst the other four are armed with M1 Rifles and Carbines.
American pathfinders were not drawn from a dedicated unit in the same way as the British 21st Independent Company, but from the main body of parachute infantry regiments or in some cases, from a battalion level "scout" platoon. The men were chosen on the basis of skill-at-arms, dedication and proven initiative. Pathfinder units could be as small as three 4-man teams and no larger than three 6-man teams. For Bolt Action purposes the latter choice is used. Given their very specific task and high level of training the teams did not really have a command structure as such; every man had a task to perform and knew exactly when and where to carry it out without direction.
The 2nd squad is made up exactly the same as the 1st squad - an NCO and one private armed with SMGs and the rest with Rifles and Carbines. US Pathfinders are classed as veteran units. The stats for them can be found in the campaign supplement Market Garden.
Pathfinders have the following special rule - Exceptional Training. This exceptional level of training and motivation means that Pathfinder teams always use their unmodified morale of 10 for any and all morale-based tests (i.e. order tests, morale checks, tank fear, etc.).