Monday, 28 May 2012

Doctor Who game report

Today is apparently one of the last days of sunshine we are going to have in the UK before normal weather service is resumed, so how better to spend it than sitting indoors pushing lead men around?

A good buddy of mine also works part time and has Mondays off, so we were able to take advantage of this coincidence (finally) and play a game of Doctor Who.

We modified a scenario from the main rulebook, which has Sea Devils attacking a UNIT base while the Master searches buildings for a vital component for his escape from earth. Our version had Cybermen attacking a village while the Master searches buildings for a vital component for his escape from earth...

I took the part of the good guys, controlling the 4th Doctor, K-9, Leela, the Brigadier, Sgt Benton and several UNIT soldiers. My friend took control of the Master, a Cyber-Leader and several Cybermen.

Here is a summery and some pictures:

The Cyberman assault begins!

The Master sneaks into a building which also happened to contain material the Doctor could use for inventions

Leela entered the house to confront the master but ended up being hypnotised by him!

Cyberman advancing on the right flank, soon to be shot!

The Cyberman left flank approaches the village

You can see UNIT forces deployed along the road with the intention of slowing the Cyberman advance and buying the Doctor time to deal with the Master or come up with a useful invention!

The Doctor stuns Leela with his sonic screwdriver!
 The above picture requires a bit of explanation. After hypnotising Leela and conducting a search of the building, which showed it did not contain the device he was after, the Master left and ran into the nearby woods.  Under his control, Leela attacked the Doctor with her poisoned blowpipe, fortunately missing. As she attacked an ally, she was entitled to make a check to break the hypnotism at the end of the turn. However, the Doctor was not taking any chances and stunned her with his sonic screwdriver. Fortunately she made the hypnotism roll and came back under the control of the good side. Unfortunately she failed every single stun recovery roll for the rest of the game except the last couple of turns! This kind of 'narrative' event which spontaneously happens in the game is absolutely fantastic and makes it a great experience.

Cybermen fall to concentrated fire from UNIT

The view from the UNIT battleline

Man down!

The left UNIT flank starts to buckle. Cybermen distruptors are brutal when they hit...

More dead Cybermen...

The casualties mount up.

Okay, this is how it went... I was so pleased with my defence of the village that I took a few pictures of the dead Cybermen. My buddy insisted I return the favour and photograph the UNIT casualties. The result? A load of picture of miniatures on their backs... Ah well...

The Master breaks cover from the forest and is confronted by K-9 and his nose laser!

The Master makes it to the church, where he will again search unsuccessfully.

UNIT starting to feel the pressure. Their fire was most effective when concentrated on a single foe. By this point he Cybermen were gaining ground and able to bring their superior weaponry to bear. Nasty...

Cyberman viewpoint along the road

Sgt Benton falls, the Brigadier fails a morale test and starts to run!

At this point the good side had about 4 figures left and the Cybermen had breached the village.

The stunned (quite literally) Leela looks on as the Doctor finally completes his invention. A quick d6 roll shows it to be a weapon designed to take out Cybermen with ease! Hurrah! Just a shame it is a little late...

A view of the village and UNIT corpses...

A Cyberman makes his ominous way along a hedgerow.

The Brigadier looks on, helpless in the face of the Cyberman advance.

"Delete! Delete!" The Brigadier falls!

The Doctor and companians make a last ditch effort to stop the Cybermen.

Regeneration time... the Doctor falls.
So, the good side didn't do too well at all. It all seemed to be going okay at the start and I rolled some excellent damage dice against the Cybermen, but when they got close enough to use their slightly shorter range weaponry they really started to take a toll on my forces.

The Doctor was fairly slow in creating an invention and by the time he did, most of the UNIT force was dead. The Master didn't have much luck with finding what he was after, but in the end it didn't matter too much! UNIT definitely should have tried to avoid the full on firefight with the Cybermen.

Final Victory Points: Bad Guys 12, Good Guys 1. But a very fun game!

Saturday, 26 May 2012

Warhammer 3rd Edition - Empire Army

I'm undertaking a fairly large project at the moment: painting my first Warhammer army. Yes, I have posted a small solo game with Empire facing Skaven before, but since then I have convinced a buddy that Warhammer 3rd Edition is where the action is and we are both preparing for our first game. It has also reminded me that it has been many, many years since I have played a game where each player provided their own army. Most of the time one person has supplied both sides or the games have just been small skirmishes or DBA. In fact the last time I had my own army playing against someone else's was playing Man O'War in my teens. Craziness!

So I am pretty psyched about this upcoming game. The date is still to be determined, mainly as I need to paint my army and buy some wooden boards for a 'proper' 6x4 table. It's pretty cool to feel excited in this way about the hobby again, it definitely has the feeling of recapturing something of my youth.

Skaven were my first choice of army, but the amount of painting for a 2000 point army was a bit daunting, so I decided to expand my Empire force, my other favourite army. Here is the work I am facing:

  • General and 9 Temple Knights
  • Champion and 14 Halberdiers
  • Champion and 14 Halberdiers
  • 14 City Knights
  • 10 Handgunners (including champion, musician, banner)
  • 10 Handgunners
  • 10 Crossbows
  • 12 Crossbows
  • 9 Foresters
  • 2 Cannon

That little lot comes to 1997 points. It actually looks a lot less typed up than it does in my notepad and it certainly looks a lot less in any written form than it does in physical form waiting to be painted!

I've decided to post progress on my blog as a form of motivation and you can look forward to hopefully regular updates. So far I have nothing on that list completed, although I am only 4 halberdiers away from completing one unit! I have a cannon done too. Hurrah!

So, I want to really work hard and get this done. I have an army of elves to beat!

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

The Department: Working The Streets

Today I took the opportunity to have a couple of games of The Department. The first go was largely uneventful, the second less so. It is the second game which is reported here:

All in all I felt it had a lot of potential. There were a couple of gaps in the rules and NPC AI, which was a little dissapointing. If the AI was actual software, it would have crashed a couple of times, but a couple of tweaks sorted it out. I am surprised this wasn't picked up in playtesting though. All in all, however, a good game and I look forward to more.

Monday, 21 May 2012

The Department: A rough neighbourhood

I'm waiting for varnish to dry on some figures before I can play my first game, but in the meantime I've been messing about a bit with terrain to gauge what I have and what I still need.

 The city sprawl, where the commercial district meets the industrial sector and all kinds of dubious transactions take place.

Phil Gibson exits his patrol car, pistol at the ready. You can never be too careful.

The executives at Logi-Core Consulting are so above the law they don't care about parking regs...

In the industrial sector, a worker plies her trade. She could be a low grade fabricant or a human, but it makes no difference to her approaching client.

A briefcase and shades usually signify trouble. Someone for Detective Gibson to look into.

Hopefully I'll play a full scenario later this week. It's been useful in encouraging me to paint my civilians, so I might be able to start my zombie campaign as well!

Friday, 18 May 2012

The Department: Character Creation

Last week I discovered I had a few pounds left in my PayPal account and that this amount was freakishly similar to the cost of the PDF of The Department, a recently released 15mm future-noir, investigative skirmish game. I had been on the fence about this for a while, but fate was clearly pushing me in a certain direction. It also helped that I could use a lot of my growing 15mm zombie game collection (or at least the human part of it) and just consider it to be 'near future' while I tried out the rules.

In this post I want to cover a bit about my first attempt at creating a character. Characters in The Department are investigators in the employ of the Department of Fabricant Management (think Blade Runner style noir) and a campaign involves them undertaking a series of missions with the ultimate aim of defeating the Prime Suspect behind the illegal goings on.

Character creation is a straightforward step-by-step process, but it has plenty of choices and it is possible to create a wide range of detectives to suit your play style and particular feel for the genre. In fact one thing this game has surprised me with, even before playing, is the amount of goodness crammed into less than 80 pages. But before I get distracted, let's move onto the first step of character creation as I introduce you to Detective Phil Gibson:

Step 1: Purchase Attributes
Characters in The Department have 3 primary attributes and 3 derived attributes. You need to pay to receive dice in the primary ones and then these are added in various combinations to determine the derived ones. Each die costs incrementally more than the last, so it is easy to go overboard with sepnding points! Detective Gibson was given 3 in Prowess, 2 in Intuition and 2 in Logic. This yielded derived attributes of 5 in Reaction, 4 in Deduction and 5 in Resolve.

Step2: Purchase Background
Every person has a reason behind why they do what they do, and characters in The Department are no different. The game provides various backgrounds to choose from, each of which has a different effect. Detective Gibson has the Tragic background. His family were killed by renegade Farbricants and this influences how he behaves towards them by giving modifiers to certain interactions.

Step 3: Select Your Training
Time at the academy equips your character with certain skills and in this stage you pick what they specialised in. Phil Gibson took his anger and channeled it into aggression towards criminals. He has the Pacification Training, giving him bonuses in Melee but penalties in questioning suspects. He'd rather let his fists do the questioning.

Step 4: Select Your Division
The division a character currently works for also provides specific effects. Det Gibson used to be a primal force on the streets, stopping at nothing to take down fabricants, but in doing so he put one too many innocent lives in danger and he is currently on administrative duty. It is the worst form of punishment for him. The Administrative selection gives a bonus to the Bureaucracy skill.

Step 5: Purchase Skills
Selections up to this point have provided bonuses and penalties to specific skills. In this stage players can choose to add dice to any of their character's skills, as long as they pay the points cost. To reflect his policing preferences, Phil Gibson was given additional dice in Ranged Attack and Melee Attack.

Step 6: Purchase Special Traits
Characters can be personalised further by selecting special traits. Det Gibson has Famous, to reflect that he is well known by the media and public, especially those who support anti-fabricant legislation. He has become a bit of a poster boy for the cause. Unfortunately for the Department, it means it is not always possible to hide him away behind a desk, the media starts to ask too many questions. Being so well known means Gibson cannot start missions 'hidden'. Someone always spots him. He also has the trait Ladies' Man, as with fame comes certain... oportunities, and Gibson is not afraid to make the most of them. Anything to forget the pain of his dead family, even for a moment. Finally he has Questionable Associates. He quite openly targets criminals who are suspected fabricants and cuts confirmed humans slack. He willingly risks the attentions of Internal Affairs if making a bargain or deal can get him the evidence he needs to make his case.

And that, in a rather large nutshell, is character creation in The Department. The opportunities are huge for a miniatures game, which is why I wanted to dedicate a whole post to them. It certainly has a RPG feel to it and it is good fun looking at the different options. I hope this provides a bit of information to those who are wondering what these rules are like.

Saturday, 12 May 2012

A Grave Situation...

Apologies for the terrible pun. I have recently acquired a rather nice little product from Fantascene ( Despite a name which sounds like they are purveyors of the type of magazines and videos best carried in a brown paper bag, they are in fact a husband and wife team who produce and sell wargames terrain.

I came across them on another blog (sorry, don't have the link, but if the author reads this, please post it in the comments section) and just had to try it out. £4 for a gravestone set, plus £3 to have the hard work of painting done for me. £7 puts it into the 'worth a shot' category. There was a delay of a couple of weeks due to a backlog of painting orders, but the company did email me to apologise and inform me of this, so no real problem there. All in all I am very happy and look forward to buying other products from them in future.

I bought these as I need a graveyard terrain feature for my planned Doctor Who scenario. I tested a set up and put it into comic format using the wonderful Comic Life software. Here are the results (click to enlarge and zoom in):

Credits (in their own section as I always forget to include them!):
Doctor and Sarah-Jane Figures - Black Tree,
Weeping Angels - Doctor Who Adventures Magazine,
Walls - Games Workshop,
Cardstock Church - Wizards of the Coast (free from their website).

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

On the workbench

Here is a picture of the last three companions I'm painting for Doctor Who:
(L-R) Sarah Jane, Leela, Nyssa

I think they are okay, but I got so fed up with Nyssa that I just settled for a single colour and a wash. Too frustrating trawling Google and finding page after page of pictures of her in some kind of velvety looking brown/purple clothing which seemed to be the costume the figure had on. So she just got what she was given in the end.

Just because I know wargamers are a nosey bunch, here is the current state of my work area. Roughly going from left to right:
  • Dug out my 15mm zombies after watching the first season of The Walking Dead back to back on Monday. Okay, it is only six episodes, but still! I need to base these properly but have been putting it off. I've got more figures out of shot which need working on. As for the TV show, it was good, but I had to force myself a little to take it on its own merits rather than compare it to the comic, which (ironically some might say) managed to convey the humanity of the characters much better than the show did. Characters were added to the show for no real reason and major plot points added or removed for zero benefit. But let's be clear, both myself and my wife really enjoyed it, it probably just helps if you haven't read the comics.
  • Behind this are some unpainted Skaven which used to be my Blood Bowl team but are going to be reappropriated for Warhammer 3rd Edition.
  • To the right of the Skaven is the unit of beastmen I rush-painted in a day to see what would happen. I'd put them on the table, but there is a reason I have not posted a photo!
  • On the mat, in the back row, several plastic Space Marines in various states of paintedness, for Rogue Trader. There are more still on sprues in the top left of the picture. There is something strangely exciting about knowing you are working on figures which are about 20 years old and haven't been used before.
  • In front on the left are Sarah Jane, Leela and Nyssa waiting for their flock to dry.
  • Finally, to the right of the Doctor Who figures are the Skaven who started all this mess on my table. I find painting blocks of troops to be hugely dull, so I need other projects around to break things up a little. It doesn't help that once I have these done I have another 20 waiting for me. Will I ever manage to paint a whole Skaven army?!
(As an aside, blogger has lost its 'follow' option on the toolbar when I am logged in and is just showing 'share', regardless of whether I already follow the blog or not. Is anyone else experiencing this? It's hard to add blogs at the moment!)

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Doctor Who update and skirmishes

Right, it's about time for a real update to my blog... I've been working on some UNIT soldiers, including the Brigadier and Sgt Benton, for a scenario I have planned and yesterday I finally finished them!

Sgt Benton leads his troops in the defence of rural England!
Scouting the edge of a forest
The Brigadier ponders having a swift pint at lunchtime
The characters and SMG armed figures are all Black Tree, the rifle armed figures are from Gripping Beast and are an affordable option for fleshing out forces.

As regular readers may know, the scenario I am working on has several monsters which may emerge to menace the players during the game. One of them is this bad boy:

Some say scarecrows are 'corny'.
I've had a peculiar affinity for scarecrows ever since I was unexpectedly attacked by one while crossing a field playing a Fighting Fantasy gamebook. Just to be clear, the scarecrow was in the book, not attacking me while I was reading it.

So I thought I'd pit my newly painted soldiers against some cybermen to get a feel of how the game plays. A Cyberman ship has crashed near a village and the survivors are looking to cause trouble.

Cybermen emerge from a crater.
Sgt Benton and co pass a familiar looking car while on patrol
UNIT destroy a Cyberman in a puff of special effects...
The first game proved to be far too easy for the UNIT forces, so I doubled the Cyberman force and included a leader.
Back with a vengeance...
UNIT makes a final stand against overwhelming odds.
The second game was pretty devastating for UNIT, especially compared to how easy the first game was. It wasn't just down to the number of Cybermen though, and I learnt a couple of valuable lessons.

1) Leaders are very important: As you can only activate half your forces on your turn, having characters which give you additional activations can make a huge difference.

2) Keep it together: The 50% activation means it is quite easy to leave some of your force behind, but this greatly reduces your options and effectiveness. Even with only one additional activation from leadership, the Cybermen and leader had no problem against UNIT when they kept together as it meant they could take a few losses without losing the momentum of their attack. Againtst a divided enemy, UNIT could focus their fire on one or two Cybermen at a time and whittle them down.

This was, of course, just a simple test of the rules. The scenarios based on episodes of the show are much more varied and interesting. I can see these rules getting a lot of play in the future.