Saturday 30 November 2019

Vampifans Views 125 - Monthly Musings 95

It is time for another of my Monthly Musings and I start with another Jim Silke panting of Vampirella. It has been an interesting month for me. Of late I have been doing a lot of painting and modelling but hardly any gaming. That changed this past month. I have played many games of Judge Dredd: Helter Skelter (it's very addictive!), a few games of Wacky Races and even a game of Zombicide:Invader. It felt so satisfying to play so many games.

On the painting and modelling front I have been concentrating on my German Panzer Grenadier army for Bolt Action. I have just about finished painting 30 plastic Warlord Games Panzer Grenadier infantry, a Panzer IV Ausf. H, an Sdkfz 251/10 Hanomag half track with 37mm gun and two Sdkfz 251/1 Hanomag half tracks. All vehicles were produced by Warlord Games. Speaking of them, I made use of their Black Friday sale and bought a King Tiger tank, 3 Tiger 1 tanks and an American M10 Wolverine tank destroyer. The reason for buying so many tanks is that I bought the Tank War supplement for Bolt Action earlier this month. I do plan on buying more Sherman tanks later. I was most impressed with Tank War but my main focus for Bolt Action still remains infantry vs infantry with just a small smattering of vehicles. However, playing Tank War will be an interesting diversion from the norm.

The big news for me is that yesterday I received my Mega package of the Judge Dredd: I Am The Law skirmish game from those fine folk at Warlord Games. A full review of it including the rules and figures will appear on my WOIN blog. Initial impressions are highly favourable. The figures are absolutely first rate although they are rather large at 35mm tall on average. Some may see this as a bad thing and yet another example of scale creep. This does not bother me at all as it means they fit in well with some of my older Judge Dredd miniatures and scale creep has never bothered me that much. As I keep saying, people come in all shapes and sizes so why shouldn't our miniature figures reflect that?

Having played Warlord Games' Strontium Dog sci-fi skirmish game before I am very familiar with the new rules in the Judge Dredd game, which are based on them. By the way, my Judge Dredd WOIN campaign is ready to go and will be played alongside any Judge Dredd: I Am The Law games. I haven't decided yet if they should be connected by running them at the same point in time with the same characters or not. Most likely I will. It would seem to make sense.

There's not much more to report here so I'll sign off and remind you to check out my WOIN blog for all my Judge Dredd news. Cheers, folks!

Wednesday 27 November 2019

Bolt Action - Geman Sniper Teams

During the battle of  Stalingrad, Russian snipers took such a heavy toll upon the beleaguered  Wehrmacht that the Germans began to train and equip their own marksmen to undertake a specialist role as snipers. A variety of rifles were used for sniping including the standard KAR-98K and the semi-automatic Gewehr 43, all fitted with the high quality ZF39 telescopic sight, and equipped with precision-manufactured ammunition.
These four 28mm scale figures are produced by Artizan Designs and are classed as German Late War Snipers. I was a bit surprised that Warlord Games do not make any Panzer Grenadier sniper teams. They do make a Waffen SS sniper team, which could be used but I'll be using those in my SS army. These Artizan Designs figures are perfect for a couple of Panzer Grenadier sniper teams.
In Bolt Action sniper teams usually consist of a sniper and a spotter and these figures represent two snipers and two spotters. I do like them a lot and snipers can be very deadly if used well. These will certainly see action in my Western Europe games of 1944-45.

Sunday 24 November 2019

Bolt Action - German High Command

This set of three 28mm scale German High Command figures is available from Warlord Games as part of their Bolt Action range.
 They are poring over a map spread out on a small table, which is also included in the set.
Although they are shown all grouped together on a single 60mm diameter base on the Warlord Games website I have based them all individually.
These are not named characters but I probably will name them some time soon. As well as using them as possible high ranking leaders (Captain level or higher) for your German forces, they would make for a fine objective, much like the downed RAF pilot I showed recently. An Allied mission could be to capture one or all of them, or perhaps an assassination mission in the style of the Dirty Dozen.

Thursday 21 November 2019

Wacky Races Deluxe Edition Boardgame

I recently received the Wacky Races Deluxe Edition boardgame produced by CMON. The Deluxe Edition differs from the standard edition in that it comes with pre-painted cars, which was a huge deciding factor in me buying it. I wanted the pre-painted cars - they are gorgeous (see photo below). Painting all eleven cars would have been far too time consuming for me, especially considering how many other projects I have on the go.
The game is really simple to play and I've found it a lot of fun. Although designed for 2-6 players I've been playing it solo by randomly choosing three cars to control and adding three random neutral cars. There must always be six racers plus Dick Dastardly (whom no one controls) in the game.
Here are the game contents - rulebook, a deck of 40 racer specific cards (four per racer), a deck of 64 movement cards, a deck off 16 Dick Dastardly trap cards, a quick play rule sheet, 11 miniature cars, 10 racer dashboards, assorted terrain tiles and the starting grid. The components are very well made and produced.
Here is a close up of the 11 highly detailed pre-painted cars. I love them!

Each racer starts with a dashboard to place their special cards on. They can be played at any time in the game but once played are turned over to show they have been used. They feature various tactics that are specific to each racer and as such are very flavourful.
Here is an example of the board layout. The terrain tiles are placed randomly to make the race track consisting of four different terrain types. Players  each receive three movement cards per turn and must match them with the tile they are on to advance. For the first tile they move to each turn they can play any movement card, ensuring they always move at least one tile per turn. After that they must match the ties they are on with the appropriate movement card, so they could move one, two or three tiles per turn depending on the cards they pick. No dice are used in this game - it is entirely card driven. Tactic cards play a big part of the game. Knowing when to play them is key. For example, when I was playing the Red Baron in his Crimson Haybailer, I kept his advance 4 tiles card to the finale and won with it as he overtook the two cars in front of him who were closer to the finishing line!
Race cars are placed at either side of a game tile when they move. If both sides are occupied the car advances to the next available tile. Dick Dastardly, however, moves along the centre of each tile.
Dick Dastardly randomly moves by moving onto a tile that matches the movement card on top of the discard pile at the end of each player's turn. If he moves into the lead, he stops and lays a trap card then retreats to the back of the pack of racers. Note that he can never win the race but he does cause much mayhem.
I really like  this game a lot. It brings back so many happy memories of watching the cartoons. Indeed, I also bought the DVD with all 34 episodes of the original Wacky Races cartoons on three discs. So who is my favourite racer? Obviously it is the Creepy Coupe driven by the Gruesome Twosome. It is the only car with a vampire driver!

Monday 18 November 2019

Bolt Action - US Deuce and a Half Trucks

At the same time I made my Oddball's Sherman Tank I made and painted a pair of American 2.5 trucks made by Warlord Games.
Like Oddball's Sherman these are a combination of resin and metal parts. The cab, main body and tarpaulin cover are made of resin and the rest of metal.
Sometimes referred to as the "deuce and a half" the 2.5 ton truck was the standard US general purpose army cargo truck used for haulage as well as troop transportation and as a prime mover for howitzers and anti-tank guns. Nicknamed "Jimmy" at General Motors, over 800,000 were built and these vehicles contributed enormously to the Allied victory.
 The model comes with an option for having a pintle mounted HMG with 360 degree arc of fire for +25 points. I have fitted one to the truck to the right.
 Note that the cab and front engine part must be glued to the main body.
 You could leave the tarpaulin covers off or just clipped on. I have glued mine in place.
These are very fine models and useful in games of Bolt Action for transporting your American forces. It can transport 18 men, which is a lot. They went together very well and were fun to paint.

Tuesday 12 November 2019

Bolt Action - Oddball's Sherman Tank

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

Friday 8 November 2019

Bolt Action - US G.I. Squad 01

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

Tuesday 5 November 2019

Bolt Action US GI Easy Company

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

Saturday 2 November 2019

Judge Dredd: Helter Skelter - a Review

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

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

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

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

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

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