Sunday, 28 May 2017

Vampifan's Views 92 - Monthly Musings 65

Reflection of Vampirella by Mike Mayhew
I have had a great month, which I can't wait to tell you about. But first, I begin as always, with a portrait of my beloved Vampirella. This stunning piece was painted by Mike Mayhew, a highly talented comic artist, whose work has featured on a few of my previous blog postings.

So, what have I been working on these past four weeks? On the painting and modelling front, I have mainly been concentrating on my N.E.W. sci-fi campaign. I have repainted and rebased a lot of my old sci-fi figures so that I can use them in this new venture. I have also been buying some new figures of alien races to use in the campaign. The heroes of the campaign will be the all female crew of "The Ace of Spades" scout ship. They are all completed and I have photographed them so that I can show them to you soon. The miniature starship I'm using for "The Ace of Spades" has been painted and based.
To help aid in any starship combats I may do in the campaign, I bought a 3' by 3' stars mousepad gaming mat made of synthetic cloth from Deep Cut Studios. I'm a huge fan of these types of gaming mats. I paid a bit extra to have a hex grid printed on the mat, which they did in a very subtle, understated manner. You have to look very closely to see the hex grid. Note that the photo to the left of here is of the 6' by 4' mat without the hex grid, but it gives you a good idea of what the mat looks like.
In addition to this, I have also been churning out NPC record sheets and printed gaming aids. There is a lot of work to do when setting up a sci-fi role-playing campaign but I am extremely enthusiastic about this project that it is all time well spent.

Just over a week ago I received this bundle of Doctor Who goodies from Warlord Games, containing the Exterminate! miniatures skirmish game, which pits the Cybermen against the Daleks, and the two expansion packs featuring Davros and 12 more Daleks and Missy and 12 more Cybermen. Davros and Missy are metal figures, whilst the Cybermen and Daleks are multi-piece plastic kits, that can snap together very easily. As most gamers will probably do, I glued mine together. Despite some criticism of how awkward the Daleks were to assemble, I had no problems with mine. They all fitted together perfectly. The Cybermen come with three different bodies and three different right arms, allowing for lots of variety. Although the Daleks are all in the same pose, I found it very easy to bend their eye-stalks,  manipulator arms and weapon arms to give them some variety as well. Plus, you can paint leader or named Daleks in different colours. I haven't played the game yet but having read the rules, it looks like a simple game to play. The rules remind me a lot of the Project Z rules (also by Warlord Games), which I was highly critical of. Until I actually play a game or two I'll keep an open mind on the rules. I certainly can't fault the figures. They are all beautiful sculpts. Incidentally, the rules do allow for the inclusion of the Doctor and his companions and a few alien races (Judoon, Silence and Zygons).

I forgot to mention in last month's musings that I had been invited to take part in Tim's (aka Dark Eyed Warrior) Pathfinder fantasy campaign called "Keep on the Borderland". It is a very long time since I did any fantasy role-playing and whilst I have never played Pathfinder before, it shares much in common with Advanced Dungeons and Dragons, so I wasn't too far out of my depth. I play a mightily strong 1st Level human fighter called Per, who has only recently joined the party of adventurers in their quest to clear a passage through the Menador Mountains for caravans to travel safely between the five towns that border the pass. You can read about how the party is getting on here -
Tim weaves a fascinating tale in his play by e-mail campaign and I'm thoroughly enjoying the experience, simply because it is such a huge departure for me.

Without a doubt, the highlight of the month was getting to meet Dave Stone, the head of Wargames  Terrain Workshop. As readers of this blog will know, I'm a huge fan of Dave's work and he kindly agreed to come and visit me so that we could spend a full day gaming and chatting. Dave is every bit as enthusiastic about our hobby as I am, and was a great conversationalist. He told me of many of his plans for future projects, which whilst I was not sworn to secrecy about, I'd rather keep quiet about until Dave is ready to reveal the relevant info. Suffice to say, I was drooling at the prospect of just what is planned!
We got to play two games during a very late evening session. The first game was Dave's sci-fi gladiatorial game called Death Match, which has only just been released on his webstore. This game really appealed to me. Dave kindly sent me a pre-release copy of the rules to play-test, which I did. I even made my own Death Match arena. I ordered the four-player game from Dave, which he brought with him to save posting it to me. What was even better, he also brought along all of his painted figures for the game. WOW! I was gob-smacked at A) how well painted they were (you can tell that Dave is a master painter) and B) just how tall many of them are. Believe me, the photos on his webstore give you no indication of how tall they actually are. For example, the female Arachnid must be about 4-5" in diameter and 2-3" tall. She is a beast in every sense of the word!
So, we played a game with Dave taking a Ceratid male (a rhino-like humanoid) and me taking a Scabendi male (a reptilian humanoid). And, yes, we did use Dave's painted figures. Before we began, Dave told me he always got beat at Death Match, especially when playing against his wife. Well, it was to be Dave's lucky night because things went bad for me from the start, rolling double ones for my activation (the worst possible result!) and proceeded to go downhill from there. I was soundly beaten by Dave, but I can't complain. He was by far, the better player on the night, and I refuse to blame my bad dice rolling.
I plan on giving this excellent little skirmish game a full review on my blog in the near future. I just want to get my figures painted for it first. I also plan on investing heavily in this game. I especially want the full 3D arena Dave is hoping to bring out for it. Dave has also told me about the new expansion races he wants to add, and one of them, the feline race, has me very excited.
The second game we played was the Judge Dredd Miniatures Game. This was a continuation of my campaign and I let Dave play the Justice Department (led, of course, by Judge Stone) and I played the perps. Full details will appear in my next post as another Comic Life batrep. This was the first time Dave had played this game and he took to it very well.
It is unusual for me to get any visitors, seeing as I live so far north, and even rarer to have a gaming friend come visit, so I'm sure you can imagine just what a thrill this was for me. Dave was the perfect guest and I'm sure this visit will cement our friendship even further. It will certainly linger in my memory for a very long time. Dave, mate, you more than made my day - you made my year!

Finally, I haven't forgotten about the prize draw competition I set a couple of weeks ago. I'll post the results of the winners some time in June, just in case anyone else still wants to enter. One change I am prepared to make, seeing as some entrants came from abroad, is that if you'd prefer a straight cash prize instead of a gift voucher I can do that providing you have a PayPal account. This also applies to UK-based entrants. Have fun and thanks for reading!

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

JDMG MC1 CitiDef Soldiers 02

Here I present another small group of Citi-Defence soldiers. These come from the James Caan block in Sector 13 of Mega City One, where my Judge Dredd Miniatures Game campaign is set. All five figures were pre-painted 28mm scale sci-fi troopers produced by EM4 Miniatures. Sadly, this set is out of production now, so these are very rare figures. I won't go into any background info for the Citi-Defence squads as I'd only be repeating what I wrote here - JDMG MC1 Citi-Def Soldiers 01
The only painting I added to these figures was on their bases.
At the far left is the squad's officer, Byron Hazlett, a Level:3 Infantry Hero. He is armed with a Spit Gun Rifle and he wears a Shell Jacket. His four Talents are Agile, Quick Dodge, Rallying Cry and True Leader. He costs 165 Credits.
His second in command is a Citi-Def Soldier and Level:2 Infantry Hero called Joe Markowitz. He is armed a Spit Gun Rifle and Hand Bombs and he wears a Shell Jacket. His three Talents are Aim, Frag Out and Suppressing Fire. He also has the Special Rule, Trigger Happy. He costs 205 Credits, making him the most expensive recruit in this squad.
In the centre of the group is Nick Lewis, another Soldier, but this time, a Level:1 Infantry Hero. He is armed with a Spit Gun Rifle and is protected by a Shell Jacket. He has two Talents - Aim and Suppressing Fire and the Special Rule, Trigger Happy. He costs 150 Credits.
Second from the right is another Level:1 Soldier and Infantry Hero, Russ Kokin. He is identical in every respect to Nick Lewis.
Bringing up the rear is the squad's Medtech, Semel Javan, a Level:1 Infantry Hero. He is armed with a Spit Pistol and is less well protected, wearing Pad Armour. He has the Talents of First Aid and Medic and the Special Rule of Lifesaver. He is worth 105 Credits.
They are not a great force by any means but on the plus side, they are made up entirely of Heroes, making them more resistant to arrest attempts by the Judges. I am planning on featuring this squad in the next episode of my JDMG campaign, which should appear next month.

Sunday, 21 May 2017

JDMG Chainsaw Warriors Citi-Def Squad

One of the best solo boardgames I have ever played was Chainsaw Warrior, produced by Games Workshop way back in 1987. In this game, designed for solo play, you took on the role of a battle-hardened warrior who has to clear a large building full of zombies, mutants and a powerful evil creature known as the Darkness. To complement the game, Citadel Miniatures produced a small range of 28mm scale figures. Although you were only meant to use one Chainsaw Warrior in the game, I decided to build a small squad of them to use in other sci-fi games. I boosted the squad size with very early versions of the Warhammer 40,000 Imperial Guardsmen. These were all slightly converted to match the official Chainsaw Warriors. I ended up with a squad of 10 Chainsaw Warriors. I recently dug them out and rebased them in order to use them as a Citi-Defence squad for my Judge Dredd Miniatures Game.
The three figures to the left of the photos directly above and below were the official Chainsaw Warriors. Because these are meant to be an elite squad I made them all Jaeger Squad Commandos. I have named all the squad but haven't worked out their JDMG stats yet. So, at the far left is Jan Podoski, who is armed with a Missile Launcher, a Spit Pistol and a Knife. All of the Chainsaw Warriors wear Shell Jackets and are equipped with Respirators, Stim-Packs and Sucker Guns.
Next in line is Stephen Craven, who is armed with a Heavy Spit Gun. In the boardgame, this powerful weapon was known as "the Reaper"!
In the centre of this group is Brett Andrews, the leader of the squad. He is a Citi-Def Officer armed with a Chainsaw, a Knife and a Spit Pistol. This figure is the default Chainsaw Warrior who is used in the boardgame. He is named after Brett Ewins and Dave Andrews, who did much of the artwork for the Chainsaw Warrior game.
The figure second from the right was a limited edition figure of the Chainsaw Warrior that Citadel Miniatures made for use in the Talisman game. I have named him Mark Dixon and he is another Jaeger Squad Commando armed exactly the same way as Brett Andrews.
Last in line is Tony Oliver, who is armed with a Laser Pistol, a Spit Pistol and a Knife. I converted him by adding the helmet visor and the ammo pouch bandolier slung across his chest and back.
The next five figures are all converted Imperial Guardsmen. The four to the left are Jaeger Squad Commandos. At the far left is Dan Rockford, who is armed with a Spit Gun Rifle, a Spit Pistol and a Knife. I added the visor to his helmet.
Standing next to him is Chris Faulkner who is armed with a Spit Gun Rifle and a Knife. Once again, I converted him by adding the green helmet visor.
In the centre is Graeme Wooton, who is armed with a Spit Gun Rifle, Laser Pistol and Knife. He underwent quite a lot of conversion work. From top to bottom I added his helmet visor, body armour, webbing over his back and chest, communicator on his left chest, studded gauntlets, holstered pistol and a knife in a scabbard on his right boot. He is unrecognisable from his original figure.
At the second from the right is Dave Gallagher, who is armed with a Spit Gun Rifle, a Laser Pistol, a Hand Bomb and a Knife. I added his shoulder straps, pistol in shoulder holster and his communicator on his left chest.
Finally, is Patricia MacDonald, a Citi-Def Med-tech, who is armed with a Spit Gun Rifle, Electra Zap Gun Pistol and a Knife. I converted her by switching her sex from male to female. I remodelled the chest armour by adding larger breasts and shoulder straps. I also gave her a ponytail and a knife in a scabbard on her right boot.
Although I have yet to work out their JDMG stats I know they will all be Hero characters, most of whom will be Level:1 to reflect their elite status. Brett Andrews, the officer, will be a much higher Level, possibly 4 or 5. These guys are nothing like a normal Citi-Def squad. They are well trained professionals with good combat experience and training. If they go up against the Justice Department they will be tough opposition.

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Vampifan's Views 91 - 1,000,000 Page Views & Prize Giveaway

My blog has just reached a major milestone. One million page views. Yes, one million page views. Okay. I know a lot of them will have come from me (I check my blog at least five times per day) and of course, the dreaded spammers. But for those of you genuine followers I would say a massive THANK YOU!
Since starting my blog way back in March 2009, I never expected it to be quite so popular. It has been an absolute labour of love for me. Even if it wasn't quite so popular, I'd still post it twice per week. It lets me showcase my vast collection of 28mm scale miniatures, which is a good record for myself to remind me of what I have. Plus, it's a great platform for me to record my batreps, which I so enjoy doing. I am at heart a gamer and the reason I collect miniature figures is to game with them. I am not a competition painter... never have been and never will be. My painting is of a good standard but not great. I have certainly developed as a painter this century as I try out new techniques like dry-brushing, ink washes, highlighting and shading. When I look at my old figures from the 1970's and 1980's I think, "oh my God, did I really paint that?" But I have developed a lot and I'm very comfortable with my painting style nowadays, even though it is more time-consuming.
Thanks to my blog I have made some amazing friends from all around the globe, which is what the Internet should be about. Without your continued support this blog would never have achieved the respect and reputation it has. What I do may not be everyone's cup of tea, and I'm fine with that, but for those of you who do get it, my heartfelt thanks.
Incidentally, this is my 799th post, so maybe I should have a double celebration for 800 posts and 1,000,000+ page views. How about a celebratory competition? Yep, I thought that would attract your attention! I'm feeling flush, so I'm going offer three cash prizes in the form of gift vouchers that can be redeemed at online stores. First prize will be for a £50.00 gift voucher and the two runners up prizes will be for £25.00 gift vouchers. You get to chose which store you'd like your gift voucher for. Doing a quick cursory glance, I noticed that Amazon, Games Workshop, Mantic Games, Warlord Games and Wayland Games all offer gift vouchers that can be redeemed at their online stores. There are probably others but I'll leave them for you to decide on if you are one of the lucky winners. To enter the competition all you have to do is leave me a comment saying why you like this blog. Simple, huh? I'll get my mum to draw three names out of a hat (my baseball cap) sometime next month. I'll then announce the winners on my blog and they can tell me what store they'd like their gift voucher for.
Once again, many thanks to every one of you who have viewed my blog.

Bryan aka Vampifan.

Late news extra. 
Dave Stone from Wargames Terrain Workshop has a further gift to offer for the lucky prize winners. He'll add a resin cast miniature of Tweak and/or Ape Judge Heston to the prizes. Note that these rare figures are not available from his webstore.
Tweak the good alien from the Judge Dredd Cursed Earth Saga.

Ape Judge Heston. Both figures painted and sculpted by Dave Stone.

Monday, 15 May 2017

Rum and Bones Wellsport Brotherhood Heroes

Last time I reviewed the Bone Devils undead faction of the Rum and Bones boardgame with miniatures. This time I'm highlighting the British pirate faction known as the Wellsport Brotherhood. Note that not all of the crew are British, but most are. Captain Pale and his Wellsport Brotherhood have sacked ports and ships from the Spanish Main to the far Mediterranean to the East Indies.They appear in an area, linger for a year, then vanish out into the blue. No one quite knows where "Wellsport" is, and none of the crews are talking. Theory has it that Wellsport captains can conjure their ship far across the waves to a magical island of piratical delights; ale, women (and men), song, and feasting... but it only works if you've got the coin. Either that or "Wellsport" is whatever local destination they've chosen as their home base. The magic one has a much better ring to it, eh?
The five Heroes shown directly above and below are part of the original boxed game. At the far left is Captain Daniel Pale the Bastard of Wellsport. He commands the Brotherhood with an iron fist and a velvet glove. He's tolerant of their excesses at port and utterly ruthless in his discipline at sea.
To his left is Brute "Stumper" Pete the Chief Wellsport Bosun. He earned his nickname "Stumper" in the Royal Navy after he lost his leg battling the Wellsport Brotherhood. He didn't take well to the constant jokes about his peg leg, so he deserted and sought down Captain Pale, who readily accepted him as a loyal crew member.
In the centre of the group is Gunner Blackout Bart the Drunken Marksman. He is another RN washout. Captain Pale recruited him when he witnessed Bart was just as accurate with his pistols and cannon when drunk as he was when sober. Alcohol has no affect on his aim!
Next in line is Quartermaster Margaret "Miss Mags" Hale the Wellsport Paymaster. She grew up as a seafarer and when she managed to find the semi-mythical island of Wellsport, Captain Pale recruited her on the spot. The two have an obvious affection for one another and as such she has become the de facto First Mate (and any new crewman making the obvious pun only does so once!).
Finally, is Swashbuckler "Mad Ivan" the Dervish of Wellsport. A former officer in the Bey of Algiers navy, Danar ibn Mohammed was forced to flee his post when the Captain-Bey was deposed in a bloody uprising. He soon found employment with Captain Pale and his crew. His nickname resulted from an encounter with Blackout Bart who, whilst drunk, slurred the name "ibn" into "Ivan" and the name stuck.
These five Heroes were all included as stretch goals during the initial Rum and Bones Kickstarter project. I start with Captain Anne Bonny the Ruthless Commander. By joining the Wellsport Brotherhood she was able to fulfil her lifelong dream - being able to command a ship of her own.
Next to her is Brute Baston the "Not So Noble". Twin brother to the French pirate Gaston Duchampe, Baston and his brother cut a dashing pair through the ranks at Parisian court. Where Gaston was lucky in love, Baston was lucky in cards (he was a brilliant cheat). Both brothers were forced to flee Paris by angry men for pursuing their wives and purses. Baston now travels with the Wellsport Brotherhood where his shocking talents with swords and cards earn him praise and renown.
In the centre of the group is Gunner Grace O'Malley the Sea Queen of Connaught. As a leading figure in the Irish resistance to English conquest in the late 1500's, it could be argued that she commanded the whole Irish naval forces at one time. Her skill with paired pistols is the wonder of Wellsport.
Second from the right is Quartermaster Theo the Terror of Nova. Theodore MacAdler was the bastard son of a long-dead captain's widow. He was press-ganged into the HMS Nova at age 17. He eventually jumped ship and found his freedom with the Wellsport Brotherhood.
Last in line is Swashbuckler Slevin the Lucky. Quick with a smile smile or joke, "Lucky" Slevin is renowned for his sunny disposition and brilliant swordsmanship. He's a welcome addition to the Wellsport Brotherhood and a boon to any ship as his luck seems to rub off on anyone he spends time around.
I like this faction very much. I think the three female pirates are just terrific. I love the idea of running an all-female pirate crew. The Wellsport Brotherhood are well matched against the Bone Devils. In the four games that I have played with these two factions, both sides have won twice and lost twice. I have yet to try them out using the new rules from Second Tide. So a rematch is definitely on the cards. I do plan on showcasing the game with a batrep in the near future, so most likely I'll use these two factions for it.