Thursday, December 13, 2018

Jack & Benny's Old Time Diner

Jack & Benny's Old Time Diner is a Sarissa Precision 28mm MDF building - here being defended by the Linden Daos
 After purchasing the Sarissa "City Block" 28mm MDF buildings from Wargame Tools LLC, and being incredibly pleased with them, I ordered some more buildings awhile back. Two were for shops or businesses for my city, and the third was a factory. I had already painted up the smaller of the shops before, and so started in on the second one a week or so ago. I was actually quite shocked how much larger this second turned out to be! It measures 10.5"x9.25" length by width, and is 3.5" tall. Thankfully, it will fit in the boxes my terrain gets stored and transported in!
The sign, awning, interior floors, and graffiti are all printed paper glued onto the MDF surface
 I decided to make it into a diner, so actually Googled famous diners in my hometown of Columbus, Ohio. It was hard to pass up a name like "Jack and Benny's Old Time Diner," so I picked that one! For some reason, this shop went together easier than the first, smaller shop. Maybe I am just getting better at assembling and gluing these together. I use Tacky Glue and use rubber bands to hold pieces together while the glue is drying. This building has a combined wood and brick exterior, along with a long awning running along the front of the building. The awning was definitely the trickiest part to assemble, but it went together well.
Hated rivals of the Daos, the Bexley Blockwatch checks out the premises, including the roof flocked with gray ballast
After my less than impressive paint job on the smaller shop's awning, I decided to print out a striped pattern and simply glue it on. First, though, the assembled building and separate roof/awning piece was primed with Krylon Fusion black spray. I then painted the wood exterior in sky blue, following that up with a white dry brush. Next, I painted the bricks red brown, dry brushing them Howard Hues Middle East flesh. Next, I picked out the trim and doors in a medium blue, dry brushing it a light blue. I finished off the exterior walls with a light black wash.
The interior of the building is divided into three areas, which I envision as the diner seating area, kitchen & office
The interior walls were done in a craft paint "Quaker Gray." I painted the doors the same blue but left out the dry brushing because I figured the interior would not be weathered like the outside. Then it came time for the floors. I had decided on a black and white checkered floor -- that seemed suitably Diner-ish! I downloaded a Google image of a black and white checkered pattern, resized it in Photoshop, and then exported it into a PDF file for printing at the local print shop. I actually created my own blue and white stripe pattern for the awning and similarly printed it off at the Staples office supply. Likewise, I created my own sign for Jack & Benny's, to be pasted onto the front of the building.
I really like the floors of the diner - the black checkered pattern really makes it stand out
The awning is part of the roof, which I did similar to previous roofs on Sarissa buildings. I like the way the gravel flocking gives the buildings a three dimensional character. One issue I sometimes have with MDF buildings is they can look two dimensional without proper texturing or modifying.
The Grandview Gurkhas have tagged their own wall of the diner, which is sure to provoke a rumble with the Daos
I had gone back and forth while doing these Sarissa Precision buildings on whether to "urbanize" them. Since I will be using these for my urban gangs project, I finally decided to give it a try. I decided to print off graffiti for the walls, too, rather than try freehand painting it on. I did a Google image search of graffiti and found lots of cool images. I picked out two for the long side walls. Then I found a website that lets you type in your own graffiti lettering and save the file. I created a "tag" for both the Linden Daos and the Grandview Gurkhas. In Photoshop, I pasted them onto a "transparent" background, then pasted that image onto the colorful graffiti I had downloaded. The graffiti was rectangular, so in Photoshop, drew an irregular black outline following the images of the graffiti to be the border. I cut these out, painted white glue onto the back of them, and stuck them onto the walls.
The printed graffiti is a nice touch, I think, but could be supplemented by more plain graffiti on future buildings
I like how the graffiti adds a splash of color to the wall. I think I made the graffiti too large, though, and will double-check my measurements next time. All in all, I am very happy with how Jack & Benny's Old Time Diner turned out. Doubtless, it will be the scene of many turf wars once my Urban Gang Warfare project is underway!

Saturday, December 8, 2018

New Gang: Bexley Blockwatch

The Bexley Blockwatch - a fictional gang of suburban men fed up with gangs preying upon their middle class streets
One of the cool parts about getting into gaming modern urban gang warfare is that I could scrounge through my collection and use all those cool 25mm-28mm figures I picked up over the years but had no real use for. Rooting through my trays of unpainted lead, I found I had a lot of 20th century types that looked nothing like what you would consider gang members. So, I came up with the idea of a neighborhood of ordinary, middle-aged folks who were fed up with the crime on their streets and decided to do something about it. Thus was born the Bexley Blockwatch!
The figures come from a variety of periods/sources - including the posh gentleman in the center armed with a golf club!
Bexley is a relatively high to middle income suburb surrounded by a sea of low income neighborhoods in Columbus. So in my fictional gang warfare Columbus, the residents react to an inner city gang moving in on their middle class streets and preying upon their families. All the hotheads and ex-rugby and football players meet to hash out a plan. The next time the gang wanders through the neighborhood, they are surrounded by a growing mob of angry, middle class men. Before long, the men wade in with walking sticks, pool cues, golf clubs -- whatever they had handy, and beat the snot out of the gang. A few weeks of quick reactions to gang members coming in trying to get payback, and the Bexley Blockwatch has control of its neighborhood. The more hot-headed among them decide it was fun busting some heads again, and agree to export their protection services to other neighborhoods in exchange for compensation (of course).
The leaders of the Bexley Blockwatch - from left, The Captain, Cueball, and Wilberforce
The miniatures are from a wide variety of manufacturers, of course. There are few that I actually know where they came from, so I'll mention them in the closeups. For example, the imposing green-suited guy in the center above is a Reaper Henchman -- I think supposed to be Odd Job, the hat-throwing villain from James Bond movies. I don't know where I got The Captain, who dresses in his old ship captain's uniform, or Wilberforce, who looks like a wealthy gentleman out for a stroll with his walking stick. Since the figures come from a number of manufacturers, they are of different sizes. These three are the tallest, so I decided to make them my leaders.
Many of the figures required modification, such as taking the guns out of the hands of the two on the right
A lot of the figures I culled from the unpainted bins for this gang were armed with pistols, including the two on the right. I did my best to trim away excess metals so that it isn't noticeable, but I never claimed to be the best modeler when it comes to that skill! I really like the guy in the center, and think his color combination came out great. He stands ready to wade in with his fists should any young gang punk show his face. The guy on the right has brought a fire axe to the fight, and looks ready to use it! And finally, the civilian on the left is modeled on my friend (and Bexley resident) Allen. I added the bushy gray beard and hair (and the pool cue as a hastily-snatched weapon). Allen does wear glasses, and was an architect at one point in his career. So, the briefcase has his last name on it in tiny letters!
Three more upper crust, middle-aged men keep watch on their streets, ready to deal out a thumping to any miscreants
The figure in the center is one of my favorite. I chose a number of these figures for this gang because they had no obvious weapons other than walking sticks. This guy leans on a golf club driver. What with his baggy golf pants and suit jacket and tie, he personifies Bexley's reputation in Columbus as a wealthy suburb. His jaunty pose and arrogant stare really make the pose come to life! The one on the right, I believe, is a 25mm Ral Partha model because it is noticeably shorter than most of the others in the gang. Speaking as someone who has been noticeably shorter than most other males throughout his life, I can vouch for the realism of including bigger and smaller figures in a unit. He is obviously meant to be a private detective model, and it is hard not to like the flinty stare as he sucks on his cigar. He's unarmed...unless that left hand is reaching for something in his pocket? The left-hand figure was armed with a pistol, as well, and looks like an Indiana Jones type miniature. I kept in the overall brown scheme of Indiana Jones, but added in a more colorful straw yellow vest and red tie. I also added in a brass rod painted to resemble a pool cue.
The final three members of the gang epitomize the variety of sources I gleaned the miniatures from
So, these last three somewhat epitomize the variety of sources I pulled figures from for this gang. The one in the middle is an Old Glory figure from its newspaper reporters pack (from the Spanish-American War, I believe). Thus his campaigning boots, shoulder bag, and cowboy-esque hat. I think he was supposed to be holding a microphone in his left hand, but I switched it to cigar. His rough and ready look shows he would be one of the first residents to volunteer to smash some heads to protect the neighborhood. The one on the left looks like a genteel Victorian gentleman, but his glare shows that he's quite ready to use that cane to thrash any insolent punk that shows his face. I really like his hairstyle, too, the mutton chops giving the look of someone immersed in his bygone age or respect and proper treatment for society's "betters"! Finally, the slighter figure in the suit jacket and tie on the right originally held some sort of electronic device (flashlight, maybe?). I changed this to a steel rod with a nice length of chain attached. I plan on arming a number of gang members in this project with chains, as I have a nice length of it I scavenged from some broken piece of jewelry.

I'm really enjoying painting figures for this project! Already primed on my desk is the next gang from the south side of Columbus, German Village. Stay tuned to see what their theme is...!

Sunday, November 25, 2018

New Gang: Grandview Gurkhas

The Grandview Gurkhas - a fictional Nepali gang protecting their home turf of Grandview Heights in Columbus
Another gang is painted up and ready to fight for control of my fictional mean streets of Columbus. This is a gang composed of Nepali immigrants (my city actually has a very high number of recent immigrants from Nepal, so it seemed appropriate). I decided to reflect the colorful traditional garb of Nepal, those these figures are actually not meant to be Nepali. They are from an Old Glory 25mm bag of (I believe) Moros from the Spanish-American War. I did my best with the brush to make them look the part with color choices, vests, etc., though the turban is not exactly a Nepali Dhaka Topi!
Fists ready to pound intruders into the pavement, these gang members were originally Old Glory Moros, I believe
Each fictional gang is given an actual Columbus neighborhood as their home turf, and so I chose Grandview Heights, as it is close to downtown and the alliteration fit to call them Grandview Gurkhas. As most History buffs know, the Gurkhas were elite British army units recruited from people of Nepali ancestry. So, it made sense that a gang would hearken back to its past for a name. My gang symbol painted on the backs of the vests didn't turn out as nice as my sketch of it did (a 6-pointed red star with a black scales of justice inside). Oh well...maybe I should have chosen white on the red star, instead of black!
I thought the leaders came out pretty well - they were the only ones I got fancy with, adding stripes on the pants
There were five basic poses I had to choose between. One leader pose with a staff needed little modification, though I did try to bend the arms of one of them a bit to make it look different. There were two sword armed poses. I did my best to bend the swords sharply to make them look more like Gurkha knives, which have a backward curve. I was fairly happy with how they turned out. The remaining two poses were supposed to be spearmen. I bent the arms around to make them look less like spearmen without a spear and hopefully more like guys with their fists up in a boxing pose.
The swords of these figures were bent backwards to make them look more like Gurkha knives
For the colors, I did Google searches of traditional Nepali costume, and saw that darker vests with lighter shirts seemed fairly common. The headgear tended to be very brightly colored, so I painted the turbans in a variety of colors, as well. Each figure has its own color combination, what with the vest, shirt, pants, sash, and headgear. I find it helpful to temporarily base miniatures on stiff cardboard, which allows me to write notes on the base to remind myself of what colors I'd picked out for that figure.
Gang members keep watch from the roof of a three-story Sarissa Precision MDF building
I was pretty happy with the look of the bases on the Linden Daos (my first gang painted up for this project). However, I thought the ballast I used was a little big, so I went to the store and bought some Gray Blend of medium size. This turned out much better, I thought. And my black wash wasn't as dark, which also makes it look like good city flocking, so to speak.
The exterior of the three story MDF building - I like how the gray dry-brushing turned out
The figures are posed against one of my Sarissa Precision City Block buildings. One of the cool things about these Sarissa MDF buildings is that you can buy extra floor sections of most of the city block styles to make them go from 2-story, to three, four -- whatever you want. This one I painted gray with dry brushing on the stones to give it more of a three dimensional effect. I added a structure atop the roof to be where the roof entrance lets out, and added more of the coarse Gray Blend Woodland Scenics ballast for the roof. 
I also like the printed paper floors I added to these buildings - they give them a nice touch, I think!
I have a few more gangs in the pipeline, so stay tuned for more posts about this project!

Monday, November 19, 2018

Finally giving "Of Gods And Mortals" a Try...

On the neighboring battlefield, Angels war against an army from Celtic legend using "Of Gods and Mortals" rules
So, we had been talking about trying Osprey's "Of Gods And Mortals (OGAM)" a try for a couple years now. Seriously -- it has been that long that at least three of us in our Sunday night gaming group owned the rules, but none of us stepped forward to set up an evening to try it out. Well, Keith finally shouldered the load and scheduled an evening and sent out lots of sample lists and tip sheets.
My Elves, led by the Valar Orome and assisted by Ents, war against an army from Norse mythology
One of the main reasons we'd wanted to try it out was that we have tons of 15mm fantasy armies for Hordes of the Things (HOTT) which we don't play anymore. I brought along three Plano boxes and another larger box with 28mm creatures to use as Legends and Gods for the 15mm rank and file. As it turned out, we had only four of us show that evening, so only one loaner army was needed. I pulled out my 15mm Elves and sat down and created a list when I arrived. It contained:
• 1 God (Orome, Huntsman of the Valar)
• 2 Legends (Ents)
• 2 units of 6 Elven spearmen
• 1 unit of 6 Elven archers
The Huntsman Orome positioned atop a rocky area dealt "Legolas-style" barrages of arrows across the battlefield
My small army faced off against a Norse mythology list with a couple giants, several units of spear, and a Thunder God of sorts (not Thor, though). My opponent, cleverly seeing I'd purchased Forest Walk for a number of my Elven units, placed no forests as defender, but did put a rather large rocky area in the center of the table which I seized with my first deployed unit. OGAM has players alternately deploy units anywhere on the board, as long as they are not within two medium distance sticks of an already-deployed enemy unit.
Orome comes down from his rocky hilltop to drive the Norse god onto the spears of the elves and secure final victory
My plan was to seize the rocky area as a firebase, and have Orome and the archers pepper any enemy units within range. I ended up feeling kind of cheesy with how I purchased my Valar. I gave him Shooter (Long), Legendary Shooter, and Combat Master. I maxed his statistics out with a Quality of 2 (best in the game - lower is better) and Combat of 5 (similarly best).  The rules allow you to forego activating Mortal units (my spear units and archers) and have them "Invoke" the god instead, giving him an extra die to roll for activation. That was pretty much my mode, giving Orome up to six activations each turn. Legendary archer allowed him to make multiple attacks. So, if his target was a Legend (my opponent's giants), I would take one shot at the maximum +3. If targeting rank and file, I took individual shots -- one per activation, withering their ranks.

My opponent quickly gave the center firebase a wide berth, but he had to engage us sooner or later -- otherwise my elves would shoot them to pieces. We did have our losses, too, though. Their god had a Lightning Bolt he could cast each turn, which he used to fry my Ents, and begin to wear down my archers. However, we had the upper hand pretty much all game. After Orome killed their god with a well-placed shot, he was re-invoked by his mortal worshippers. I realized I needed to kill half of his Mortals and all his Legends, and THEN kill his god to end the game. Orome decimated a Norse spear unit and then proceeded to engage their got in melee. He pushed him back into a unit of Elven spear, who got in the final strike and banished the Norse god forever, securing victory.

We discussed the rules afterwards. There are certainly a lot of Traits you can use to customize virtually any army from mythology or fiction. Even though I benefited from it, I felt the system is definitely open to some clever min-maxing and Trait combinations to produce devastating forces. I think we were all a little disappointed that it did not have that "big battle" HOTT feel. The play seemed more like simply a big game of Song of Blades and Heroes, rather than a tactical battle. I have never been a huge fan of "units" of 6-8 men. Of course, we were playing the minimum 900-point size forces in one-on-one battles. Mike S suggested we try it with bigger forces and utilized the multiplayer rules.

So, perhaps my Elves (or many of my other HOTT armies) will see the tabletop again, one day. Either way, it was fun to see them on the tabletop again.

Saturday, November 17, 2018

"Can you dig it, suckas...?" The Linden Daos, my First Gang

The Linden Daos, the first of my 28mm modern urban gangs inspired by the movie, "The Warriors"
The quote, "Can you dig it, suckas?" is from the cult classic 1979 movie, "The Warriors." Cyrus seeks to unite the gangs of New York City into one force and take over the city. This world, with its bizarre-uniformed gangs is the inspiration for my latest painting project. If you read my earlier post, "What Project Next?", you now know it was the winner of the two choices. I've decided to run games of modern gang warfare in the city using the Tribal rules with their Brutal supplement.
Most of the figures come from a Mega Minis blister pack, Kung Fu fighters, including these four
Here is my first purposefully painted gang for this project: The Linden Daos. Loosely modeled on the The Riffs from the movie, they are a black gang devoted to Kung Fu martial arts. I have chosen to set my games in my hometown of Columbus, Ohio, using various actual neighborhoods for each gang's home turf. Since the movie was set in the 1970s, I've given this gang a very 1970s color scheme -- yellow and purple. I chose yellow because I thought it would be a good contrast for African-American skin tone, and purple because it would look like something from the 70s.
Three more Linden Dao gang members posed in front of their turf - my newest 28mm Sarissa Precision MDF building
Nine of the figures for this gang are what I had left over from a blister pack of Mega Minis Kung Fu fighters. Mega Minis is no longer in business, which is a shame. They always had a wide variety of some pretty unusual miniatures. They weren't the highest quality figures, but they hit niches that other better quality figure lines miss entirely. Plus they were always a good deal, price-wise. I used the rest of the blister pack earlier for my secret martial arts society for my Pulp games, The Order of the Fire Coral. I think those boys will make an appearance as a gang, too. It just so happens I painted up exactly 12 Fire Coral figures, which is the size I am painting each gang to -- at least initially.
These three figures are from Bob Murch's Pulp Figures (I believe) and are meant to represent the leaders of the gang
All nine of the figures for the Linden Daos are unarmed, using only their fists for weapons. The Brutal rules accounts for this, and units are not really be penalized for brawling only with their fists. The other three figures in the unit are from (I believe) Bob Murch's Pulp Figures collection. The woman was supposed to be holding up a pole with a large parasol attached. However, I felt her hands were in a nice Kung Fu pose without the pole. So, I left her that way. The other two figures, the one with the sword and the other with the walking stick and pipe, are meant to represent that bad-as-Hell elderly master of the order. The cane-using gentleman will be the main leader, with the other as a hero.
Two gang members on lookout atop the roof of my new storefront building - note the darker flocking after a black wash
I decided to have their uniforms emblazoned with a gang symbol on their back. I Googled "Kung Fu symbols" and over and over, the Yin Yang symbo popped up as the response. The more I thought about it, the more I believed it would be relatively easy to paint. As it turns out, it is harder than it looks! Some of my Yin Yangs look good. On others, you probably can't tell what it's supposed to be...ha, ha! I also felt the black would complement the black sashes they wore. I think they turned out okay, but I really felt they would look better.
Street level view of the Linden Daos gathered in an alley, ready to go on a raid - note the funky 1970s colors!
Since most of the battles will occur in the city (cue the Joe Walsh song here), I gave them a different kind of flocking. I painted the basing a medium gray, then flocked them with Woodland Scenics Gray Blend Ballast. I used the coarse size, but will likely go up to the store and buy some Medium to make it look a bit less rocky and more gravelly. Once dry, I gave the ballast a black wash -- probably too dark on this first attempt. Later, I added a couple patches of grass and green tufts to break up the all gray appearance. I like how the flocking looks -- urban, but not too jarring. It should blend in well with the tabletop.

The figures are posed around my latest 28mm Sarissa Precision MDF building. This is meant to be a mini market, or some similar storefront. I haven't decided to do it as a convenience store, or diner, or what. When I do decide, I intend to add some posters to the exterior walls to jazz it up a bit.

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Some Indians and Frontiersmen

Some 28mm Native Americans originally intended for the raffle for Advance the Colors 2018, but not finished in time
This batch of 6 Indians and 5 Frontiersmen were intended to be my donations to the Advance the Colors 2018 raffle. However, with about a week before the convention, I realized that I wouldn't get them done in time. So, I stopped work on them and donated some from my collection. Since then, I was able to continue working and now finally complete them.
28mm Native Americans from (I believe) Irregular Miniatures
Only one of the 28mm Indians is from my favorite manufacturer, Conquest. He's the guy in blue loading his musket. The others are -- I believe -- from Irregular Miniatures. I am happy to be corrected if what I'm saying is not true. I am pretty sure the two poses that are firing are Irregular, but I can't swear on it. Anyway, I painted them up in my standard way, and decorated them each with individual warpaint. My favorite is paint is probably the one with the half blue, half red face. I should do more like that, but I think I'm worried about it not turning out and "ruining" the figure.
Some 28mm Frontiersmen from a huge bag I picked up at a flea market long ago
The frontiersmen are all from the large bag I bought at a flea market years ago. I am not 100% sure of their manufacturer, but I have painted a number of these up already. I painted them in a buckskin kind of theme, and was fairly happy with how they turned out (like the Indians). They're not the greatest figures in the world, but when painted up, they do the trick. Not that I really need more French & Indian War figures right now, but since I'd begun painting them I felt I had to complete them.

What's next on the painting table? Well, I have done the flesh on a big batch of 13 28mm Dark Ages archers for Saga. I thought I was cleaning out my unpainted bin of them, but recently found another stash of them in my "Unarmored Vikings" bag. Not all in that bag were Vikings I noted. So, I may pull out  more and do them up more specifically for Viking, Briton, Saxon, etc. Or I may leave them sitting and do something new. We'll see...stay tuned!

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

What Project Next? Post-Apocalyptic or Gangs Warfare?

The two rules sets and periods that I am deciding between: post-apocalyptic vs. urban gangs
About a month or so ago, I was fairly certain that the next project that I would be painting up would be post-apocalyptic. I even had a rules set that I hadn't played, but my friend Jason of Miros Games blog had and recommended. However, we playtested the Tribal skirmish rules, and I liked them. Even more, they had a supplement which covered gang warfare, and I felt that fit perfectly for the feel of the rules. I love the 1980s movie "The Warriors," and thought that'd be an incredibly fun and visually exciting game.
If I go post-apocalyptic, I already have F Troop painted up (from Sergeant Major Miniatures)
So, now I'm in a quandary: which project do I do next? Trying to do both means it'll take forever to get either on the tabletop. I know that I have my Ghost Archipelago games that I'm still running, but I think seeing concrete progress towards my goal will keep me motivated. Maybe setting them out, side by side, will help me make my decision. So, here they are: Across the Dead Earth by Dead Earth Games vs. Brutal: Close Up and Personal Combat by Mana Press.

Comparing the Rules

First off, I have both already in PDF format, so no knew rules purchases will be necessary. The Dead Earth rules were a free download off of their website, while for Brutal I paid $10 each for the Tribal base rules and Brutal supplement. Both seem reasonably well thought out. Across the Dead Earth has a detailed world of post-apocalyptic Britain you can use (though I'd likely change that to Ohio). Brutal gives you a number of periods to choose from, including Gangs of New York (more for a century earlier than the period I want to recreate), Pulp superhero, Renaissance Italy, London gangs -- you name it!
If I go with urban gangs, I already have this group of Kung Fu Fighters from Mega Minis painted up
Both are man-to-man skirmish rules. In Brutal, the ordinary rank and file are in bands of five figures, while the heroes are individual. In Dead Earth, all figures are individual. The average player force in Brutal is about a dozen figures -- or at least that is the size of games we've played. The forces are much smaller in Dead Earth, with the sample groups shown as five figures. All are detailed characters, so it doesn't seem like they're supposed to die very often. You can customize heroes in Brutal, but the character generation (and advancement) system in Dead Earth is much more detailed. There is technically not a campaign with experience point generation in Brutal.
The Blood Brotherhood are an argument to go for post-apocalyptic and Across the Dead Earth rules
I have not played Dead Earth, but it appears that characters shoot or melee and if they cause a hit, the target must make a saving roll. If failed, they are out of action, but can be revived by a medic. They can also be "finished off" by a player in base contact. In Brutal, warrior figures take one wound each and there is no saving throw. Leaders and Heroes take significantly more, and are intended to be able to take on warrior bands of five on their own. It would be easy to consider "dead" figures in Brutal simply knocked out, and returning in subsequent games.
All shields and weapons are separate, and I have PLENTY more, so this could be the core of an exotically-dressed gang
My thought is that Dead Earth is going to play a lot like Ghost Archipelago, with bands of characters out hunting treasure and gaining experience. Brutal plays more like a skirmish game, with more tactical level decisions than role-playing like decisions to make. Which has the edge? Not sure. I'd say a slight edge to Brutal as I have played it and enjoyed it. Just as importantly, so has my Sunday night gaming group. I think Dead Earth may simply feel like Ghost Archipelago in a post-Apocalyptic world.

Comparing Figure Availability/Cost

In the beginning, I thought this category would be a slam dunk for Dead Earth. This past summer, I purchased a couple dozen Foundry figures to supplement the handful of post-apocalyptic Sergeant Major Miniatures figures I'd been collecting. What's more, I have two groups painted up already -- the Blood Brotherhood and F Troop. No figure conversions would be necessary. I have an interesting variety of miniatures on hand. I just need to paint them.
With separate shields and weapons, these Foundry figures could easily be jeans-wearing street toughs with crow bars, chains, bats -- you name it
For a Gangs of New York period, I went through my figure collection. Pretty much all my Pulp and post-apocalyptic figures which could be painted up for it have firearms -- which is a no-no in gang warfare (except there are really cool rules for their use and subsequent arrival of the police). Upon closer examination, and including my Dark Ages figures, I was able to piece together a half-dozen interesting gangs -- Asian Kung-Fu fighters, turbaned SE Asian or Middle Eastern types, a Celtic "Sons of Alban" gang, and others. Plus, I have access to more Foundry's Ancient German line at $1 a figure. They have lots of guys wearing pants with open hands for chains, crow bars, clubs, ball bats -- whatever. There would be a lot of modification, and I would need to find a source for (or hand create) gang warfare melee weapons. If the variety sounds too weird, remember the movie that inspired me -- there were gangs in mime face paint, fancy top hats and suspenders, a gang in baseball outfits -- you name it!
The sheer variety and color of various unique gangs on the tabletop is an argument for the Brutal rules
So, which will be easier? The edge goes to Dead Earth here, obviously. Fewer figures to paint (5-7 per player), and everything is all purchased.

Comparing Terrain

Since most of my players know that going overboard on terrain is the way I roll, I think this is an essential consideration. For Gangs of New York, I have been steadily expanding my 28mm modern buildings for my Wars of Insurgency games. I recently finished four Sarissa two or three story city block buildings. All of these would port over easily to this game. And as I collect more for one period -- like the Factory with Office and two stores I have on my desk now -- I accumulate more for the other. A miniature cityscape always is an eye-catcher on the tabletop, so the games will look really cool, I'm sure.
More of F Troop
For a post-apocalyptic world, I could always use the same stuff, but it won't look degraded and ruined, as people will expect. I honestly have very little for this. I would have to scratch-build or buy ruined buildings if I wanted it to have the proper flavor. So, that would mean a lot more terrain creation and collection. Advantage goes to Brutal here.

Comparing Long-term Campaign possibilities

This was discussed a bit above under Rules. However, to restate, Dead Earth is already set up with skill advances and an experience point system. Players can easily see their characters advance and get better as we play more games. I know this is important to some. For Brutal, this would have to be created. However, I think a "controlling turf" possibility would add a competitive dimension that perhaps wouldn't exist as much in Dead Earth. The accumulation of Honor is a key part of the game in Tribal/Brutal, and in fact determines the winner of each scenario. This could make it easy to create a simple "league" or campaign for control of the city (whether New York or Columbus, or whatever).

Of course, the Street Wars line from Funky Skull game would be the ultimate figs -- but at more than $4 per fig, they are out of my range for fielding multiple dozen figure gangs!

So, despite the rules being in place, I call this one about even. It would be very easy to give players more Honor to create their gangs as the campaign progresses.  Looking back and tabulating the categories, each side period had a clear winner (figures for Dead Earth, terrain for Brutal). Each had one that was a close call. So, I think I figured out why I'm torn on this decision. The advantages and disadvantages are pretty much dead even. I think it is simply going to come down to which I am more excited about: adventuring in a Mad Max era wasteland, or kicking some butt in the urban jungles of the 20th century? Hopefully, by my next post, we'll know which I have decided upon!

Monday, October 29, 2018

A Viking Hall Burning - no! Two Hall Burnings!!

Viking warriors fights their way to the door of their Jarl's hall and kick away the incendiaries to rescue their chieftain
I was intrigued by the last time we played Tribal a couple weeks ago. I'd quizzed the players and they seemed interested in giving the game a go, again. Only one player didn't like it, but he's like the Life Cereal Mikey and doesn't like anything...ha, ha! Seriously, most had tweaks they might like to see, but were willing to try it again.
The Viking raiders cheer as they set fire to the barricaded doorway, trapping the rival Jarl and his family inside
I was debating between two periods to use the rules for. Seeing as how they had an expansion called "Brutal," which dealt with gang warfare on the dirty streets of New York City or otherwise, I was thinking that would be an appropriate use for these rules. I also have always thought about Mayan warfare representing the "Flower Wars," with the goal to kidnap prisoners and sacrifice them.

The Raiders deployed in an arc to prevent the Rescuers from getting to the barricaded, on fire, doorway
I wanted to be smart, though, and playtest the game again before I went all-in and started buying or painting figures. I have lots of Dark Ages figures, and one of the periods they suggest for Tribal is Viking warfare, so I decided to host a Hall burning. Or more properly, since there were seven of us, TWO hall burnings. I set up one 4-player game and one 2-player one, to also see how it works in a multiplayer mode. Both would have a Jarl's Hall being raided by a rival. The raiders had struck at midnight while all were asleep (except for the guards on duty, which they killed off-screen). They piled wood and straw, barricaded the door, and were going to burn the hall down with the Jarl inside, ala The Last Kingdom, for those who have seen it.
My six players testing the Tribal rules again, the 2-player game in front and the 4-player behind
The attackers (or Raiders) would set up within two card lengths of the bonfire in front of the door. The defenders (or Rescuers) would either march on board from any edge they chose in the first turn if they showed up in clear, or arrive in one of the patches of woods on the second turn. For the four-player game, they would draw for initiative each turn, with no consideration of whether they were Rescuer or Raider. This meant the turn order did not alternate, and one Raider turn could be followed by the other Raider player, if the initiative worked out that way.
The 2-player game's climax was a duel between opposing Leaders - one a valkyrie-esque Brunhilda
Since there were seven of us, I did not play and instead was the GM. The Rescuers objective was to fight their way to the door and spend three turns kicking the flammable material away from the door to free the Jarl and his family. The Raider objective was to frustrate that, and of course, kill lots of the enemy. We went with the same size forces as last time, with each player controlling a Leader, Hero, and two Warrior units. We didn't use any skills. I figured if this playtest went well, we could start using those, too. We also played the rules as written, with none of the suggestions my players had about the Panic rules, which they said they weren't crazy about after I pointed out we did it wrong in our first game.
The Rescuers seize the doorway and face off against enemy before beginning to kick away the incendiaries
The games went well, with two new players who had not been present in the initial run-through two weeks ago. Everyone said they enjoyed them, and gave a thumbs up to my pursuing this as a project to run. In the two-player game, the new player was the Rescuer and succeed in driving off the enemy and saving the Jarl. Mike W triumphed over Mike S, who continued to have questionable card draw luck. In the four player game, it took quite a bit longer. By the end of the game, Allen's Rescuer command was totally eliminated (hmm...that happened to him last game, too). Joel's was battered, but grossly outnumbered by the combined Raider forces of Keith and Brian. The players decided to call it and declared it a Raider victory.  One crispy Jarl, with a need to select a new one from among the surviving settlement members.
The Raiders in the 4-player game surround the Jarl's Hall as the entrance begins to burn
So, I guess this means I'm cleared to get ready to use the Tribal rules, with Brutal supplement, for a new project -- gang warfare in NYC, ala "The Warriors." I went through all my 28mm figures from my Pulp, post-Apocalyptic, and even Ancient ranges, and picked out gangs of a dozen or so. As bizarre as the costumes were in the movie "The Warriors," I feel pretty confident that most figure choices and modifications I utilize will fit the theme.
The panorama as the Rescuers arrive and the battle rages around the burning hut of the Viking Jarl
Of course, I DID say I was starting my post-Apocalyptic project, using the Across the Dead Earth rules. Hmmm. Maybe I need to do a new post where I talk my way through this choice...
Rescuer Allen, left, decides upon a card to play in the tensely-fought, 4-player game

Allen's Hero blows upon his horn to summon aid as Keith's warrior unit attacks him in the outskirts of the woods
The card-play aspect of the Tribal rules hits home with the tactical sensibilities of our gaming group

The 4-player battle rages across the board, with heroes and leaders suffering wounds and warriors slain
At this point, the sole surviving Rescuer from the 4-player game (Joel) decides that retreating to fight another day is the best option when presented with a losing hand